What’s the best movie I can watch on Netflix? We’ve all asked ourselves this question, only to spend the next 15 minutes scrolling through the streaming service’s oddly specific genre menus and getting overwhelmed by the constantly shifting trend menus. Netflix’s huge catalog of movies continues to expand day by day, week by week, month by month. This makes the challenge of keeping up to date with best the service has to offer — let alone finding something the best of what to watch after a long day — a task that feels herculean at best and impossible at worst for someone not plugged into its inscrutable rhythms.
We’re here to help. For those suffering from choice paralysis in July, we’ve narrowed down your options to not only our favorite current movies on the platform, but the best movies Netflix has to offer.
If you’re looking for a specific genre, we’ve got the best action movies on Netflix, the best horror movies on Netflix, the best thrillers on Netflix, and the best comedy movies on Netflix ready for you. And for our readers across the pond, we have a list of the best movies on Netflix U.K.
We’ll be updating this list weekly as Netflix cycles movies in and out of its library, so be sure to check back next time you’re stuck in front of the app’s home screen. Our latest update added Dredd as our editor’s pick.
This week’s editor’s pick
Genre: Sci-fi action
Run time: 1h 35m
Directors: Pete Travis, (reportedly) Alex Garland
Cast: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey
If you love The Raid and somehow haven’t seen Dredd yet ... holy shit, are you in for a great time.
Karl Urban stars as the gravel-voiced authoritarian super-cop, who along with his apprentice partner (Olivia Thirlby), is forced to bring law and order to a 200-story high-rise block ensnared in the vice grip of resident drug lord, Ma-Ma (Lena Headey).
While a commercial flop during its initial release, Dredd has amassed a passionate cult audience of fans in the two decades since, attributable in no small part to its scintillating action sequences, gorgeous special effects, and a powerhouse performance by future The Boys star Karl Urban as the perpetually pissed-off Dredd. Penned by screenwriter-turned-director Alex Garland (who, according to Urban, might’ve been more instrumental in the film’s production apart from just writing the script), Dredd is an exceptional sci-fi action thriller that balances explosive action sequences with pitch black satirical humor. —Toussaint Egan
The best movies on Netflix
Run time: 1h 45m
Director: Mati Diop
Cast: Ibrahima Traoré, Mame Bineta Sane, Amadou Mbow
It’s hard to talk too much about Atlantics without giving away what makes the experience of watching it so special. It’s a beautiful, haunting love story with a tangibly beating heart, touching on romance as well as grief, class, labor, and the lingering effects of oppression. Shot gorgeously by director Mati Diop and cinematographer Claire Mathon, it was the first movie directed by a Black woman to be featured in competition in Cannes (it won the Grand Prix award, losing out on the Palme d’Or to Parasite), and is one of the most remarkable feature film debuts for a director in recent memory. —Pete Volk
The Baahubali movies
Genre: Epic fantasy
Run time: 2h 39m (Baahubali: The Beginning); 2h 47m (Baahubali 2: The Conclusion)
Director: S.S. Rajamouli
Cast: Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Anushka Shetty
In Western terms, this Tollywood production from the future director of RRR, the most expensive Indian film at the time of its release, is like a biblical epic by way of Marvel Studios, with a little Hamlet and Step Up thrown in for good measure. The Beginning chronicles the life of Shivudu, an adventurer with superhuman strength who escapes his provincial life by scaling a skyscraper-sized waterfall, aids and romances a rebel warrior named Avanthika, then teams up with her to rescue a kidnapped queen from an evil emperor. Exploding with hyper-choreographed fight sequences and CG spectacle (not to mention a handful of musical numbers with equal bravura), The Beginning is 159 minutes of mythical excess, going big like only Indian film can and resting on the muscular shoulders of its hero, the single-name actor Prabhas. If you fall hard for it, get pumped — this is only part one. The twist leads into Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, another two-and-a-half-hour epic currently streaming on Netflix. —Matt Patches
Genre: Crime thriller
Run time: 2h 13m
Director: Michael Mann
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tang Wei, Viola Davis
A sleek and sexy thriller that makes hacking look extremely cool, Michael Mann’s unfairly maligned Blackhat stands tall as a high mark in digital filmmaking. It is peak Mann — if you’re not a fan of the Heat director’s work, your mileage may vary. In the film, Chen Dawai (Wang Leehom), a captain in the PLA’s cyber warfare unit, is tasked with getting to the bottom of a computer attack that melts down a nuclear power plant in Hong Kong. While liaising with the FBI investigation, Chen insists on the aid of his old friend Nicholas Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth, who has never been hotter or cooler), an imprisoned genius hacker. When Hathaway and Chen’s sister (Tang Wei), a networking engineer also helping with the case, fall for each other, it adds an extra wrinkle to an already high stakes situation. Viola Davis and Holt McCallany feature as FBI agents who aren’t super happy to have to rely on a notorious criminal.
With sharp digital cinematography and unforgettable set pieces, Blackhat explores our changing global relationship to technology. Mann makes tangible the microscopic computer systems that run the world: an extreme close-up of internal wires leading to a motherboard like a vast interconnected highway; a computer fan that sounds like a jet engine. Events that in other films would be shown as a boring stroke of keys are instead depicted as hypnotic processes happening under the surface of the visible world. —PV
Genre: Neo-noir action thriller
Run time: 1h 55m
Director: Michael Mann
Cast: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo
Tom Cruise delivers one of the most unique (and terrifying) performances of his career as the antagonist of Michael Mann’s 2004 crime thriller Collateral. Starring alongside Jamie Foxx, Cruise plays Vincent, a steely-eyed contract killer hired to commit a series of murders around LA in a single night. Vincent’s modus operandi is to abduct cabbies to chauffer him between targets, pin his murders on his unwitting accomplices, and then promptly execute them in order to erase all ties of his own involvement. Things hit a snag in his perfect plan when his latest victim, Max (Foxx), destroys his briefcase filled with all the information on his targets. As Vincent works to improvise and ultimately finish his contract, Max must devise a way to escape from Vincent’s clutches and bring him to justice.
Collateral’s nocturnal lighting and brilliant cinematography courtesy of Dion Beebe and Paul Cameron combine to make for one of the most hypnotic and memorable portraits of LA’s metropolitan sprawl ever committed to film. It’s hard to choose a favorite Michael Mann movie, but for all these reasons and more, Collateral sits firmly in my personal top five ranking of the director’s best. —TE
Genre: Gothic horror romance
Run time: 1h 59m
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston
The late David Foster Wallace once wrote, “Every love story is a ghost story.” And he didn’t even get to watch Crimson Peak.
Set in Edwardian-era America and England, Guillermo del Toro’s film follows the story of Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), a wealthy heiress and budding author who suffers a terrible personal tragedy shortly after meeting Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), an English baronet whose fortune rests in a clay mine situated beneath the grounds of his family’s ancestral estate of Crimson Peak. After marrying Thomas and moving to his home along with his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain), Edith is plagued by visions of ghastly apparitions and premonitions of a terrible fate awaiting her if she does not flee from the mansion. What follows is a taut horror drama that relies heavily on mood, music, and mise en scène, with gorgeous gothic set designs, lavish period-appropriate costumes, a beautiful classical score by composer Fernando Velázquez, and wonderfully grotesque practical effects for the film’s ghosts.
Like many of del Toro’s films, Crimson Peak is a love letter to the movies the director grew up on, in particular Robert Wise’s The Haunting, Jack Clayton’s The Innocents, and William Friedkin’s The Exorcist. While the film doesn’t quite rise to the lofty heights of those classics, it’s still a great watch and one more than worthy enough of appreciation. —TE
The Debt Collector movies
Genre: Action comedy
Run time: 1h 35m (The Debt Collector); 1h 37m (Debt Collectors aka The Debt Collector 2)
Director: Jesse V. Johnson
Cast: Scott Adkins, Louis Mandylor, Vladimir Kulich
A buddy comedy by way of direct-to-video action specialist Jesse V. Johnson, The Debt Collector is the first of a series of two very good movies starring Scott Adkins (Avengement) and Louis Mandylor (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) as a wise-cracking duo collecting debts for the mob. Adkins plays French, a down-on-his-luck martial arts instructor who turns to debt collecting to pay his own debts off. Mandylor plays a boy named Sue, the veteran debt collector French is paired up with for his first day of work.
As the two get deeper into their work, they discover a scheme that puts a young child at risk, and consider risking it all themselves to help. Adkins and Mandylor have terrific chemistry in the lead roles, bringing this out of the echelon of “solid DTV movies” and into the realm of “great hangout flicks.” Also, Tony Todd (Candyman) plays a mobster named Barbosa. And the sequel rules, too. —PV
Don’t Go Breaking My Heart
Genre: Romantic comedy
Run time: 1h 55m
Directors: Johnnie To, Wai Ka-fai
Cast: Louis Koo, Daniel Wu, Gao Yuanyuan
Johnnie To is one of our great modern directors, equally adept in hard-boiled triad crime dramas and light-hearted romantic comedies alike. 2011’s Don’t Go Breaking My Heart falls in the latter category, and is one of the many high marks of the Hong Kong director’s legendary career. Fresh off the end of a long-term relationship, Chi-yan (Gao Yuanyuan) is an analyst for an investment bank who finds herself in the middle of a love triangle. On one side, there’s Sean (Louis Koo), a CEO who works across the street from Chi-yan and yearns for her through the tall corporate glass windows that separate them. On the other, there’s Kevin (the always-dreamy Daniel Wu), an alcoholic former architect who helps Chi-yan move on and is inspired by her to start creating again. What follows is a sincere, funny, and truly charming romantic time. —PV
Genre: Revenge thriller
Run time: 2h 14m
Director: S.S. Rajamouli
Cast: Sudeepa, Nani, Samantha
Eega is a delightful slapstick romantic comedy from the director of RRR, about a fly and his human girlfriend conspiring to ruin a man’s life and then murder him for vengeance. If that doesn’t sound up your alley, I’m not sure what will.
S.S. Rajamouli has wowed audiences worldwide with his bombastic, exciting historical epic RRR, Polygon’s #1 movie of 2022 (and recent winner for a Golden Globe for best original song for the incredible “Naatu Naatu”).
In this very post, we’ve encouraged readers to watch his previous two historical epics, the Baahubali series (also available on Netflix). But one of his earlier entries, made a decade ago, was recently added to Netflix, and it is one of the most fun movies you could ever possibly watch.
Eega tells the story of a man who is murdered by a wealthy businessman. After being reincarnated as a fly, he makes it his mission to exact vengeance on the man who killed him. As a fly.
With groundbreaking visual effects that pushes digital filmmaking forward, Rajamouli injects a delightful energy and lighter tone into the genre of “dark revenge thriller,” with thrilling set pieces (stakes include “our hero gets stuck on a tennis ball being used in a cricket match” and “our hero causes a traffic jam by buzzing in the ears of a crossing guard”) and plenty of visual gags inspired by slapstick and screwball comedies alike. It’s all balanced by a compelling romance that sells you on the movie’s emotional stakes in the first half hour, culminating in an experience unlike any other. Rajamouli is just special. —PV
Ghosts of Sugar Land
Genre: Documentary short
Run time: 21m
Director: Bassam Tariq
Director Bassam Tariq recently got replaced on Marvel’s upcoming Blade movie, and it’s as good a reason as any to catch up with his masterful 2019 short. Best known for the hip-hop drama Mogul Mowgli starring Riz Ahmed, Tariq’s previous movie is an enthralling documentary well worth the 21-minute running time.
Ghosts of Sugar Land is about a young group of friends in the suburbs of Texas, and what happens when one of them becomes radicalized by ISIS. A compelling portrait of an America we don’t often get to see depicted on screen, Tariq offers no easy answers, instead leaning on the shock and despair of the friends left behind, and on the dangers of isolation and loneliness in a country that often seems on the brink of collapse. A winner of multiple festival awards, including the 2019 Sundance Short Film Jury Award, Ghosts of Sugar Land is not to be missed. —PV
Genre: Action thriller
Run time: 1h 51m
Director: Joe Wright
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Vicky Krieps
Hanna is an absolute knockout, packed with bracing action sequences, stylish visuals, and a pitch-perfect score courtesy of British EDM maestros The Chemical Brothers. Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird) stars as Hanna, a 15-year-old girl living in rural northern Finland with her survivalist father (Eric Bana). When Hanna is kidnapped by special forces and detained in an underground CIA complex, she’ll have to rely on all that her father taught her in order to escape her captors and learn the truth about her own past. Clocking in at just shy of two hours, Hanna is an exhilarating action thriller that features two standout performances in the form of Ronan and Cate Blanchett as Marissa Wiegler, a CIA official with intimate knowledge of Hanna’s family and history. —TE
Genre: Symphonic heist drama
Run time: 2h 50m
Director: Michael Mann
Cast: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer
Michael Mann’s Heat is one of the greatest movies of all time. Don’t bother debating with me on this; if you know you know, and if you don’t, you’re flat-out wrong.
What other film has Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, two of the greatest performers of their generation, starring in a cat-and-mouse crime thriller that erupts into a full-blown shootout in the middle of downtown Los Angeles and climaxes on a bustling airport tarmac at night?
What other film has Al Pacino screaming “’Cause she’s got a great ass” at the top of his lungs like a lunatic while interrogating one of his nemesis’ terrified accomplices? Or Tom Sizemore signing up for one final heist with De Niro’s crew by coolly replying, “For me, the action is the juice”? For that matter, what other movie ends with a needledrop of Moby’s “God Moving Over the Face of the Waters,” one of the most inspired end-credits music choices of all time?
With blistering action sequences capped by impeccably staged gunfights, a visceral and moving plot of self-destructive obsession and loneliness, a stunning supporting cast studded with pitch-perfect performances from the likes of Amy Brenneman (The Leftovers) and Dennis Haysbert (Far From Heaven), and a powerful score composed by Elliot Goldenthal (Drugstore Cowboy), Heat is more than just great heist thriller. It’s a bona fide masterpiece. —TE
Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids
Genre: Concert movie
Run time: 1h 30m
Director: Jonathan Demme
Cast: Justin Timberlake
In 1984, director Jonathan Demme made one of the finest concert films of all-time with the Talking Heads in the raucously triumphant Stop Making Sense. A little more than three decades later, Demme’s final feature film was another joyous concert movie.
Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids depicts the final show of a long tour for Timberlake and his excellent backing band at the gigantic MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. In typical Demme fashion, the staging and framing of the energetic pop numbers is electric, but he also takes time to show just how much work goes into setting up and breaking down such a large production.
Demme and Timberlake’s collaboration spurred from a mutual respect — Timberlake, like anyone else with good taste, is a massive fan of Stop Making Sense, and Demme reached out after watching The Social Network. The movie is dedicated to Prince, who died shortly before the movie’s release. —PV
La La Land
Genre: Romantic musical
Run time: 2h 8m
Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend
I have a confession to make: I’m not really big into musicals. With the exception of a particularly memorable rendition of Les Misérables I attended back in high school, I’ve just never quite found myself particularly attracted to a genre defined by spontaneous outbursts of song and dance, much to the chagrin of my Hamilton-loving spouse. Which makes the fact that I enjoy La La Land so much all that exceptional. I hadn’t watched the film since first seeing it in theaters way back in 2016, but after rewatching it recently I can definitely say it’s inspired me to watch more entries in the genre.
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone star as Sebastian “Seb” Wilder, a struggling jazz pianist, and Mia Dolan, an aspiring actress, who meet and fall in love. Encouraging one another to pursue their respective dreams, the couple is faced with a myriad of personal and professional trials and hurdles that test not only the tenacity of their aspirations, but the strength of their love for one another. That’s the story in a capsule-sized, no-spoiler nutshell, but c’mon, you don’t come to a musical for the “plot”; you come to a musical for the extravagant costumes, inventive dance numbers, and heart-wrenching solos and duets, all of which La La Land has in spades.
I’m well aware that Chazelle’s film lifts heavily from the several other classic musicals, including An American in Paris, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and Singin’ in the Rain. I can totally understand how such blatant allusions to these aforementioned films would chafe an astute and discerning appreciator of the genre. But speaking as a musical neophyte, I admire La La Land as a wholehearted homage to a style of film inseparable from the mythos of Hollywood, and as an entry point for audiences to explore the vast history of the musical genre. —TE
Genre: Sports drama
Run time: 3h 43m
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Cast: Aamir Khan, Gracy Singh, Rachel Shelley
Ashutosh Gowariker’s timeless sports movie classic stars Aamir Khan as Bhuvan, a confident young man from a village that is dealing with both British oppression and a long-standing drought. When the wicked Captain Russell (Paul Blackthorne, who is deliriously good in this) challenges the village to a game of cricket (which they do not know how to play) as a bet, with their owed taxes (which they cannot afford to pay) on the line, Bhuvan takes it upon himself to form a team and learn the game. What follows is a soaring sports drama with humor, heart, and a show-stopping match finale. Lagaan was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 74th Academy Awards. —PV
The Lost Bullet movies
Run time: 1h 32m; 1h 38m
Director: Guillaume Pierret
Cast: Alban Lenoir, Stéfi Celma, Nicolas Duvauchelle
I’m excited to watch AKA this weekend, the new hardboiled French crime thriller from Netflix. Co-written by Morgan S. Dalibert (who directed the movie) and former stuntman Alban Lenoir (who stars in it), the movie also prominently features former international soccer superstar Eric Cantona.
Dalibert and Lenoir previously collaborated on the excellent pair of Lost Bullet movies, where Dalibert served as the director of photography and Lenoir starred as Lino, a genius mechanic who finds himself pulled into a world of corrupt police officers.
Both Lost Bullet movies are pure jolts of adrenaline, filled with vehicular mayhem and explosive action. The first movie is leaner, with a simple premise executed to perfection, while the sequel ramps things up with even more jaw-dropping stunts, led by car stunt coordinator David Julienne, who also worked on the incredible Athena and is the grandson of the great Rémy Julienne.
We’ve highlighted these movies before on this list, but it’s worth doing so again this week because of their relevance to AKA. I’m sure it’ll make one hell of a triple feature. —PV
Run time: 2h 12m
Director: Michael Mann
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell, Gong Li
Michael Mann has made a number of certified cinematic bangers across his long and illustrious career, like his 1995 symphonic crime drama Heat — one of my all-time favorite movies. But no other film of his oeuvre is more quintessentially “Mann-core” than Miami Vice, the feature-length adaptation of the 1984 crime drama series Mann produced starring Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas.
This time, Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx star as James “Sonny” Crockett and Ricardo “Rico” Tubbs, a pair of Miami police detectives working in the underbelly of the city’s criminal element. While working a late-night sting operation targeting a notorious sex trafficker, Sonny and Rico are drawn into an undercover FBI investigation involving white supremacists and a Colombian drug cartel. While Sonny unexpectedly finds himself enamored with Isabella, the lover of a dangerous cartel kingpin, Rico is faced with a devastating situation when his girlfriend is kidnapped by the Aryan Brotherhood.
The plot couldn’t be any further from the point, though. Here’s the real heart of Miami Vice’s enduring appeal: It simply doesn’t look or feel like any other crime drama of its era. Mann’s experiment with digital photography yields a level of uncanny realism through its landscape of crushed brown and black textures and bleached white beach vistas. It’s a carefully calibrated and intimate crime drama that has more on its mind than just guns and chase sequences, though it certainly has its share of those. It’s a film that oozes a sense of cool entirely on its own terms, a grand experiment that has yielded a cult following and reappraisal as one of the director’s best. In short, Miami Vice is a vibe. —TE
The Metamorphosis of Birds
Run time: 1h 41m
Director: Catarina Vasconcelos
Cast: Manuel Rosa, Ana Vasconcelos, Henrique Vasconcelos
Catarina Vasconcelos’ 2020 feature debut is a difficult one to sum up in a trailer, let alone in words, and therein ultimately lies its appeal. Essentially an avant-garde documentary drama, The Metamorphosis of Birds chronicles the director’s own family history: the meeting and love affair between her grandparents, the childhood of their children growing up in the absence of their mariner father, and the fatal tragedy that rends their lives asunder and haunts them to this day like a lingering ghost.
Every shot and sequence of Vasconcelos’ experimental 16mm opus is beatific in its Magritte-like strangeness. It’s a series of images and sounds accompanied by the narration of letters and conversations between the members of the family that coalesce into a cinematic tableau of uncanny beauty and heart-wrenching tenderness. True to the spirit of its title, The Metamorphosis of Birds is a truly transformative work of emotional storytelling, one which beckons the audience to stare deeply into the intimate, unspoken corners of another family’s decades-long process of turning pain into wisdom and thereby gleaning a deeper insight into their own lives. Turn off your phone, find the largest screen possible, and give yourself over to this film. You’ll be thankful you did. —TE
Run time: 1h 51m
Director: Will Merrick/Nick Johnson
Cast: Storm Reid, Joaquim de Almeida, Ken Leung
This standalone sequel to the 2018 screenlife mystery thriller Searching and a spiritual sequel to Aneesh Chaganty’s 2020 psychological thriller Run is not only one of the best thrillers of the year, but one of the best movies available on Netflix. The directorial debut of co-directors Will Merrick and Nick Johnson, Missing stars Storm Reid (A Wrinkle in Time) as June Allen, a teenage girl struggling to cope with the loss of her father who died of a brain tumor. When June’s mother Grace (Nia Long) seemingly disappears after a week-long trip to Columbia with her boyfriend Kevin (Ken Leung), she resorts to all her skills as an amateur online sleuth to uncovering the mystery.
Brilliantly edited, well-performed, and riveting throughout, Missing is inventive take on the screenlife subgenre of mystery thrillers for our hyper-online times. The film is the best sort of surprise: An unassuming movie with a simple premise that quickly spirals into a terrifying and engrossing drama anchored by a strong lead performance. If you enjoyed similar screenlife films like Searching, Unfriended: Dark Web, or Dashcam, Missing will be right up your alley. —TE
The Nice Guys
Run time: 1h 56m
Director: Shane Black
Cast: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice
Shane Black’s other neo-noir, Los Angeles-set action comedy is a worthy spiritual successor to 2005’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and an uproariously hilarious movie in its own right. The story centers on Holland March (Gosling), an alcoholic single father and licensed PI, and Jackson Healy (Crowe), a muscle-for-hire freelancer. The two end up as an odd couple of idiot-genius sleuths whose respective investigations involving a missing girl converge to unveil a much larger and more sinister conspiracy involving Detroit automotive companies, government collusion, and organized crime.
Crowe and Gosling’s on-screen chemistry as two incorrigible, stubborn assholes with secret hearts of gold is terrific, as is Angourie Rice’s performance as March’s whip-smart daughter Holly. The Nice Guys may not surpass the pure comic genius of Black’s aforementioned classic starring Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer, but it confidently ranks as one of the director’s better films in recent memory. —TE
The Night Comes for Us
Genre: Martial arts thriller
Run time: 2h 1m
Director: Timo Tjahjanto
Cast: Joe Taslim, Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle
The Night Comes for Us just fucking whips, OK? Why waste time on subtlety and preamble; the film certainly doesn’t! Indonesian action thrillers have been enjoying a renaissance period ever since Gareth Evans’ 2011 film The Raid kicked the door down and mollywhopped everything else in sight. Timo Tjahjanto’s 2018 film certainly follows in the footsteps of Evans’ own, with The Raid star Joe Taslim starring here as Ito, a gangland enforcer who betrays his Triad crime family by sparing the life of a child and attempting to flee the country.
Fellow The Raid star Iko Uwais shows up here as Arian, Ito’s childhood friend and fellow enforcer, who is tasked with hunting down Ito and recovering the girl. The action comes fast and frenzied here, with kinetic choreography and dazzling handheld cinematography that makes every punch, fall, and stab count. If you need to get your adrenaline pumping, throw this one on. —TE
Genre: Fantasy adventure
Run time: 1h 41m
Directors: Nick Bruno, Troy Quane
Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Riz Ahmed, Eugene Lee Yang
Set in a futuristic medieval world, the film follows the story of Ballister Boldheart (Riz Ahmed), a knight who is framed for the murder of the kingdom’s ruler on the biggest day of his life. Disgraced, dishonored, and inadvertently disfigured by his lover Ambrosius Goldenloin (Eugene Lee Yang), Ballister must search for the identity of the true culprits in order to clear his name. He’s not alone though: Enter Nimona, a hell-raising shape-shifter with a penchant for mischief who imagines herself as the sidekick to the kingdom’s newest villain. It’s not long, however, before Nimona’s connection to the history of the kingdom is unearthed, leaving Ballister to question just who or what he can actually trust anymore.
Nimona, much like the film’s namesake, is colorful, bubbly, and full of surprises. Chloë Grace Moretz does a terrific job in her performance as an outcast who hides her grief over being considered a monster behind an aura of cartoonish exuberance, while Ahmed disappears into the role of the straightlaced and ever-suffering paragon that is Ballister. While certainly not as visually impressive as either Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, Nimona nonetheless stands out as one of the year’s most unique and exciting animated films of the year, with an allegorical storyline that encourages audiences to embrace all of life’s challenges and changes as they come. —TE
Genre: Historical drama
Run time: 2h 10m
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, Vicky Krieps
Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2017 historical drama Phantom Thread follows the story of Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), an irascible haute couture dressmaker in 1950s London whose carefully cultivated lifestyle is upset by his ongoing love affair with his muse Alma (Vicky Krieps), a strong-willed woman with ambitions and desires of her own. His final film role to date, Day-Lewis is unsurprisingly masterful in his portrayal of Woodcock as an artist whose capricious infatuations and fastidious inflexibility prove unbearable to all except Alma, who discovers a ... let’s say unconventional way of leveling the power dynamic in their relationship. Top that with exquisite score by Jonny Greenwood and beautiful costume designs by Mark Bridges and you’ve got what is undoubtedly one of Anderson’s finest films to date. —TE
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
Genre: Adventure comedy
Run time: 1h 40m
Director: Joel Crawford
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek Pinault, Harvey Guillén
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is easily the best DreamWorks movie in ages.
Antonio Banderas returns to voice the swashbuckling tabby cat who, after several lifetimes of death-defying adventures, finds himself staring down the sickle blade of the reaper himself. Driven into hiding and desperate to return to his life as a dashing vigilante folk hero, Puss in Boots embarks on a quest to find the fabled Wishing Star to restore his lost lives before Death (Wagner Moura) hunts him down.
The Last Wish is a spectacle and accomplishment comparable to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It’s a brilliantly funny and exhilarating adventure with spectacular action sequences, gorgeous linework, keen camerawork, and a stirring story of personal growth that grapples with themes of mortality, humility, and what it means to be a hero. It’s a film that resuscitates the once-vibrant Shrek franchise while building its fairy-tale world out into ever more fantastical dimensions. It’s easily one of the best animated films currently streaming on Netflix, and thus an absolute must-watch for anyone looking for a spirited adventure bursting with charisma and heart. —TE
Genre: Action thriller
Run time: 1h 41m
Director: Gareth Evans
Cast: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Yayan Ruhian
There are action movies before The Raid, and then there are action movies after The Raid.
Gareth Evans’ Indonesian action thriller sent a 3000-volt shockwave throughout the world of cinema when it premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, garnering a reputation as one of the most electrifying and distinctive action films of its time. That reputation has not wavered one iota in the decade-plus since.
Iko Uwais stars as Rama, a rookie SWAT officer who joins a 20-man squad led by Sergeant Jaka (Joe Taslim) to assail a tenement complex run by a ruthless gang and apprehend their leader. When the leader catches wind of this plot, the squad is trapped inside the building and forced to fight their way out while completing their mission. Where The Raid may lack in narrative complexity, it in no way lacks in scintillating cinematography and unrelentingly abrasive action. If you’re looking for a viscerally entertaining action thriller with ample gore and dazzling martial arts choreography, The Raid is just the film you’re looking for. —TE
Genre: Sports drama
Run time: 2h
Director: John G. Avildsen
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Carl Weathers
Sylvester Stallone and John G. Avildsen’s 1976 sports drama is so enmeshed in the fabric of American popular culture, one could conceivably go their entire life without ever having watched it — and yet still confidently be able to quote its most iconic moments line for line. Or, at least, such was the case for me; I had never seen Rocky when I was younger, nor did I especially feel any urgency to see it despite my fondness for the Creed series and its reputation as one of the most iconic sports films ever produced.
After finally sitting down and watching it, I realized just how much of an unforced error my hesitation to watch it was. Rocky is one of the greatest sports movies I have ever seen, not for what it has to say about the sport of boxing itself, but for what it says about why the sport means anything to anyone at all. It’s a love letter to a downtrodden and disaffected working class of people who — despite embodying the virtues that American society would otherwise claim to hold in highest regard — are too often overlooked and neglected by that very society.
The strength of the film ultimately rests on Stallone’s disarming and achingly earnest performance as the film’s eponymous protagonist, a small-time amateur club fighter from Philadelphia who moonlights as a debt collector for a local loan shark. Pushing 30 with no other prospects to speak of, Rocky seems convinced that his life was over before it even started. That is, until he’s serendipitously presented with the opportunity to face off against Apollo Creed — the reigning heavyweight boxing champion — for the chance to claim the title. “It really don’t matter if I lose this fight,” he tells his love interest, Adrian, lying in bed beside her. “It really don’t matter if this guy opens my head either, ’cause all I wanna do is go the distance.” For Rocky, the chance to fight Creed is even more than just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; it’s vindication for everything he’s ever fought and struggled for.
Rocky is so much more than a “boxing movie.” It’s a story about how the American dream itself is inextricably the summation of every thwarted hope, missed opportunity, precarious mistake, and inevitable heartbreak that precedes it. The reason it has endured, and continues to endure as a staple of American cinema, is as plain and elemental as the film itself: It’s an unapologetically earnest story about the stubborn yet unassailable persistence of hope in the face of adversity, of choosing to believe in yourself when no-one else will; save for those who stand closest to you in your darkest moments. It’s not just about boxing; it’s about the life-changing power of simply choosing to take your shot in this life. Question is: What shot are you gonna take? —TE
Genre: Historical epic
Run time: 3h 7m
Director: S.S. Rajamouli
Cast: N.T. Rama Rao Jr., Ram Charan, Ajay Devgn
One of our favorite movies of the year, RRR is an epic bromance for the ages filled to the brim with jaw-dropping action sequences, unforgettable music numbers, and two guys just being dudes. If you can, you should consider watching it in the original Telugu language version on Zee5. If you can’t, the Hindi dub on Netflix is still well worth your time. —PV
Run time: 2h 16m
Director: Jo Sung-hee
Cast: Song Joong-ki, Kim Tae-ri, Jin Seon-kyu
Space Sweepers: Set in the year 2092, Jo Sung-hee’s Space Sweepers follows the crew of freelance garbagemen in space who discover a strange child-like robot named Dorothy containing a nuclear device. Hoping to ransom Dorothy in exchange for enough money to escape their poverty-stricken lives, their plan quickly escalates into a chase to stay one step ahead of the military force of a corrupt corporation. Though it’s far from the most original of sci-fi premises, Space Sweepers is still a visually impressive film with great action and a likable cast of dysfunctional characters with great chemistry. —TE
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy
Run time: 2h 1m (Spider-Man); 2h 7m (Spider-Man 2); 2h 19m (Spider-Man 3)
Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco
Long before Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse raised bar for superhero action films and American animation back in 2018, a bar raised yet again by its 2023 sequel Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Sam Raimi made the case for why Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s friendly neighborhood web slinger was the best superhero to make the leap to the big screen with his extraordinary trilogy of films.
Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 are the platonic ideal of superhero cinema; a pair of films that exemplify the heart of Peter Parker’s appeal as an ordinary person gifted with extraordinary powers and thrust into perilous battles with life-or-death stakes for himself and those he loves. The principal cast of performances on display in these films are perfect, from Tobey Maguire’s iconic turn as a young Peter struggling to balance his life as an everyday student with his responsibilities as a masked vigilante hero for justice to Kirsten Dunst’s stunning turn as Peter’s longtime friend and love interest Mary Jane Watson. To say nothing of Willem Dafoe’s role as Spidey’s nemesis Green Goblin or Alfred Molina as Peter’s mentor-turned-adversary Dr. Otto Octavius (both of whom would reprise their respective roles in the 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home).
With all this talk about the first two films, you might think that Spider-Man 3 is being given short shrift, but not at all. While it may have been maligned upon release and hasn’t quite lived up to the same legacy compared to the first two films, Raimi’s 2007 movie is still a thoroughly entertaining film bursting with more personality and panache than most live-action superhero films being produced today. —TE
The Summit of the Gods
Run time: 1h 35m
Directors: Patrick Imbert
Cast: Lazare Herson-Macarel, Eric Herson-Macarel, Damien Boisseau
This 2021 French-language animated drama centers on Makoto Fukamachi, a tenacious reporter who accidentally stumbles upon the biggest mountaineering story of the century: Proof that George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, not Sir Edmund Hillary, were the first climbers to reach the peak of Mount Everest in 1924. However, his only lead to break the story — an elusive mountain climber known as Habu Joji — has been missing for several years. Poring over the details of Joji’s life in the years preceding his disappearance, Makoto finds himself inadvertently drawn by the very same sense of accomplishment and meaning that has compelled countless climbers to crest Everest themselves.
Based on Jiro Taniguchi’s 2000 manga series, The Summit of the Gods is a gorgeously animated drama about the elusive quest for personal and professional validation and the perils of hubris and selfishness. The backgrounds are spectacular, the character animation is impressive, and the film’s final moments are as exhilarating as they are profoundly edifying. Brace yourself for a film that exemplifies “adult animation,” not as a juvenile display of hyper-violence and superficial titillation, but as a story about what it means to move through the world as an adult and find one’s place and purpose in it. —TE
They Cloned Tyrone
Genre: Sci-fi mystery thriller
Run time: 2h 2m
Director: Juel Taylor
Cast: John Boyega, Teyonah Parris, Jamie Foxx
If a pulp mystery-thriller that plays out like a Blaxploitation-style take on Jordan Peele’s Us by way of the anti-authority storytelling of Boots Riley sounds enticing to you, They Cloned Tyrone is an absolute must-watch.
John Boyega stars as Fontaine, a streetwise hustler who is gunned down after an altercation with a rival drug dealer. Miraculously, Fontaine wakes up the next morning completely unharmed with no memory of the confrontation whatsoever. Together with the help of local pimp Slick Charles (Jamie Foxx) and a retired sex worker Yo-Yo (Teyonah Parris), Fontaine stumbles upon a terrifying secret: His neighborhood is the site of a clandestine government operation experimenting with cloning technology and subliminal manipulation. Faced with the existential terror of this revelation, the trio must either expose this conspiracy or surrender to the roles ordained to them.
Sharply well written, brilliantly performed, and studded with satisfying surprising and twists up to its very last minutes, They Cloned Tyrone is not only one of the best movies available to stream on Netflix, but one of the best films of the year so far. —TE
Run time: 1h 23m
Director: Levan Gabriadze
Cast: Shelley Hennig, Moses Storm, Renee Olstead
Unfriended is a horror movie with a gimmick. The whole thing takes place on a laptop screen, as the action unfolds over a Skype call between a group of friends. When an unknown (and unseen) participant mysteriously joins the call, friends start to die one by one in a terrifying and captivating series of events. The immersion of Unfriended through the device of the computer screen is masterful, and I highly recommend watching it on a laptop if you can for maximum effect. —PV
From our list of the best horror movies on Netflix:
Levan Gabriadze’s Unfriended pulls the audiences through the screen — almost literally. Viewed entirely from the perspective of a computer desktop, 2014 supernatural horror film centers around a Skype call between a group of high school students who are joined by an unknown presence known only as “billie227.” What at first appears to be a prank swiftly morphs into something much more horrific, as the mysterious stranger begins to reveal terrifying secrets about each of the friends before killing them off one by one. Unfriended is thoroughly gripping extrapolation of our always-online world; a world where vengeful poltergeists and doxxing exist side-by-side and no secret or offense goes undiscovered or unpunished. —TE