Trying to find the best movie to watch on Netflix can be a daunting challenge. We’ve all been there. You’ve decided you’re going to watch something. You have the entirety of Netflix at your disposal, including even a pared-down list of films you’ve already bookmarked to watch at a future date. But then there’s the choosing. You’ve gotta find something that fits your mood, or something you and your friend/significant other/couch companion can agree on. You spend hours browsing, and by the time you stumble on something you think maybe is the one, it’s too late, you’re too tired, and indecision has won out.
Never fear, though, because we here at Collider have a guide to help you find the perfect Netflix movies available in the U.S. We’ve thumbed through the library and assembled a list of some of the best films currently available for streaming, from classics to hidden gems to new releases and beyond. This list of the best movies on Netflix is updated weekly with all-new choices, so be sure to return the next time you’re looking for something great to watch
1. The Power of the Dog
Director/Writer: Jane Campion
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Kodi Smit-McPhee
The Power of the Dog is a slow, sly movie that reveals itself to you in subtle, measured glimpses at tenderness that are otherwise caked in grit, cruelty and crudity. Set in 1920s Montana, Jane Campion‘s awards contender stars Benedict Cumberbatch, giving one of his best performances yet as Phil Burbank; a gruff and bitter cowboy who takes an immediate disliking to his brother’s (Jesse Plemmons) new wife, Rose (Kirsten Dunst). In turn, her son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee) takes a disliking to him, determined to protect his mother, setting the stage for fascinating, subtle power plays and dynamic shifts as the contentious new family attempts to settle in together. As with all Campion films, you can expect exquisite shots and stunning glimpses into small moments of human vulnerability, but The Power of the Dog is also a challenging, often caustic film about tracing the ripples of toxicity. It certainly isn’t your average Neo-western, so don’t go in expecting standoffs our shootouts, but even without those flashy calling cards, The Power of the Dog makes a striking impact that seems to land all in one final blow.
2. If Beale Street Could Talk
Director: Barry Jenkins
Writer: Barry Jenkins, James Baldwin
Cast: KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King, Teyonah Parris, Colman Domingo
If there was ever a film that deserves more love and admiration, it is Barry Jenkins’ magnificent If Beale Street Could Talk. Adapted from the novel of the same name by one of history’s greatest writers, the great James Baldwin, and could not be a more graceful honoring of his legacy. In addition to being a gorgeous cinematic experience, every single frame is overflowing with compassion for characters trying to find a way to live a life together. Set in 1970s Harlem, it centers on Tish (KiKi Layne) who is about to have a child with her artist fiancé Alonzo Hunt (Stephan James). As they dream of a future together, the couple’s hopes are dashed when Alonzo is arrested for a crime he did not commit. A moving look at the tragedy found in the everyday, both Layne and James are outstanding in every single moment. When your film also has a supporting cast of Regina King, who won an Oscar for her role as Tish’s mother, and Coleman Domingo as Tish’s father, it becomes a masterclass in acting from start to finish.
Directed by: Ben Affleck
Written by: Chris Terrio
Cast: Ben Affleck, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, Tate Donovan, Scoot McNairy
Argo is one of those Best Picture winners that has gained more criticism as a result of its success. While it may not have deserved to take home the top prize over Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, or Django Unchained, Argo is hardly a safe crowd pleaser like The Artist or Green Book. Ben Affleck tells the fascinating story of Tony Mendez, a real CIA operation to rescue American Embassy employees in Iran. Mendez disguises the hostages as the crew of a fake science-fiction film, and courts in some Hollywood names to help him make the premise believable. While there are sequences of unbearable tension, Affleck mixes in a good deal of Hollywood satire as well.
4. The Nice Guys
Director: Shane Black
Writers: Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi
Cast: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley, Keith David, and Kim Basinger
Between Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and The Nice Guys, writer/director Shane Black has proven himself to the be the king of crackling neo-noir. In The Nice Guys, you have private eye Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and fixer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) teaming up to investigate the disappearance of a young woman (Margaret Qualley), but it’s all about how Black plays with genre conventions and film tropes to constantly upend expectations. Gosling has never been funnier, and in an alternate, better universe, The Nice Guys would have been a massive hit and we’d have an amazing comic franchise. As it stands, we only have this movie, so at least we can treasure this outing of March and Healy.
5. Tick, Tick… Boom!
Writers: Jonathan Larson and Steven Levenson
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesús, Joshua Henry, Judith Light, Vanessa Hudgens
Hamilton and In the Heights creator Lin-Manuel Miranda directs the long-awaited film adaptation of RENT creator Johnathan Larson‘s Tick, Tick… Boom! The result is an excellent movie musical that’s every bit a love letter to theater itself as much as it is to Larson and his tragic tale of short-lived genius. Which is perhaps what makes Miranda such an exceptional fit for the material in his filmmaking debut, and not just because his every-damned-award-winning musical Hamilton is all about capturing the beauty and tragedy of short-lived genius: the Broadway polymath has also been vocal about how Tick, Tick… Boom! influenced and inspired him as a creator, and he even starred in a production of the show several years ago. Equally at home is Andrew Garfield as Larson himself, showcasing a hell of a singing voice and yet another outstanding performance that will lift you up, rake you through the anxiety of excellence, before absolutely breaking your heart. It’s a beautiful film based on a beautiful piece of writing, and whether you’re a fan of Garfield’s, Miranda’s, Larson’s, or just the theater dahling, it’s a moving testament to those who openly embrace ambition, earnestly love performance, and believe that both give them the power to change lives.
6. Hell or High Water
Director: David Mackenzie
Writer: Taylor Sheridan
Cast: Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, Gil Birmingham, Dale Dickey, William Sterchi
When it comes to heist movies, Hell or High Water walks amongst the most emotional, contemplative, and Texan experiences of them all. David Mackenzie (Starred Up) and Taylor Sheridan’s (Sicario) raging critique of classism and corruption endemic to the modern American financial system is on full display from the opening of the film. Graffiti and billboards paint the picture of poverty and desperation many folks struggle with throughout the country. The Midland setting, southern accents, and numerous six-packs of texas treasures Lone Star and Shiner give the film a specific tone despite the thematic elements being more ubiquitously relatable. Ben Foster and Chris Pine truly shine as two brothers built of different character, morals, and functions. Their fraternal love is at once silly and tender. Jeff Bridges and his partner Gil Birmingham chew and churn through conversations about history, life, and crime in a way that endears and enchants. Their chemistry is natural and comedic, and their calm approach to the chase is starkly contrasted against the adrenaline-pumping, unpredictable actions of the Howard brothers on their bank-robbing binge.
7. Big Fish
Director: Tim Burton
Writer: John August
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange, Helena Bonham Carter, Alison Lohman, and Marion Cotillard
While filmmaker Tim Burton is best known for making films that are whimsical and/or fantastically dark, 2003’s Big Fish is his most successful dramatic effort by far. Burton made the movie in the immediate wake of his father’s death, which brings added emotional heft to the story of a dying man (Albert Finney) telling his life’s story to his son (Billy Crudup). The father embellishes just about everything (or does he?), and flashbacks find Ewan McGregor playing his younger self as he goes on a series of fantastical adventures. It all builds to a really emotional finale that will have you in tears.
Director: Michael Mann
Writer: Stuart Beattie
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Tom Cruise, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo, Peter Berg, Bruce McGill, and Javier Bardem
Tom Cruise so rarely plays “the bad guy” that his performance in Michael Mann’s masterful 2004 thriller Collateral remains a unique thing of beauty. The story takes place largely over one night in Los Angeles when an average cab driver (played by Jamie Foxx) gives a ride to a sharply dressed man (Tom Cruise), only to realize after the fact that he’s an assassin and he just drove him to a hit. The destiny of these two men becomes intertwined, but Mann laces the thriller with touches of beauty throughout, elevating above a simple “assassin movie” and into one of the best films of the 21st century, full-stop.
Director: Sam Mendes
Writers: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan
Cast: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris
Just when you think you’ve seen it all in the James Bond franchise ,Sky fall comes along. The third outing starring Daniel Craig as 007 had a lot riding on it, and director Sam Mendes and the writers came out swinging. From the opening sequence the film set itself apart—Bond was part of a team, and Bond was not invincible. The twists and turns of what follows is unpredictable and gripping. The action scenes are jaw-dropping, but it’s the character development that keeps you hooked. There’s no denying that the film suffers from the franchise’s inherent misogyny, but it also takes risks that one wouldn’t expect from the 23rd installment of the franchise. Mendes brings the best of Bond together to craft a fantastic film. Skyfall isn’t just a great James Bond entry, it’s a great film!
10. The Imitation Game
Director: Morten Tyldum
Writer: Graham Moore
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Charles Dance, and Mark Strong
One of the most highly acclaimed films of 2014, The Imitation Game has largely faded into obscurity in the years since its release. This is a shame because it really is a pretty great movie. The Imitation Game draws a portrait of the life and times of Alan Turing, one of the most brilliant scientists of his time. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing, it shows how the mathematician and computer scientist was recruited by the British government to crack the German Enigma code during World War II. It also, perhaps more importantly, shows how despite his contributions, Turing was ostracised and subjected to a horrible fate after it came out that he was gay. Is it a truly accurate historical piece? Not really, but this Academy Award-winning film is certainly a great watch and deserves praise for bringing Turing’s once-forgotten story to a global audience.
11. I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Writer/Director: Charlie Kaufman
Cast: Jessie Buckley, Jesse Plemons, Toni Collette, and David Thewlis
Charlie Kaufman is no stranger to films that make you feel like your brain is leaking out of your head, like with his directorial debut Synecdoche, New York, or with screenplays like Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. With I’m Thinking of Ending Things, Kaufman adapts Iain Reid‘s novel of the same name, in which Jake (Jesse Plemons) brings his girlfriend (Jessie Buckley) to meet his parents (Toni Collette and David Thewlis). But of course no Kaufman story could be that simple, as I’m Thinking of Ending Things becomes a twisty, strange, and remarkable experience unlike any other film. By the end, I’m Thinking of Ending Things becomes one of the most insane and towering achievements of Kaufman’s career, which is really saying something.
12. Phantom Thread
Director/Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, and Vicky Krieps
Some of Paul Thomas Anderson‘s finest films have focused on captivating pairings, such as The Master, Punch-Drunk Love, or his first collaboration with Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood. The second Anderson/Day-Lewis film, Phantom Thread, told the story of a unique, rich, and often extremely hilarious romance between Day-Lewis’ fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock, and his muse-turned-wife Alma (Vicky Krieps). Phantom Thread has a stillness and beauty unlike any other Anderson film so far, a stunning Anderson masterpiece, with an expectedly great performance by Day-Lewis, but also tremendous supporting roles by Krieps and Lesley Manville.
13. Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs
Directors/Writers: Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Cast: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Bruce Campbell, Mr. T, Benjamin Bratt, and Neil Patrick Harris
Before filmmakers Phil Lord and Chris Miller upended convention with wildly entertaining films like The LEGO Movie and the Jump Street films, they wrote and directed the delightful 2009 animated feature Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. The film is a great feel-good movie as it’s absolutely in the same vein of Lord and Miller’s other films; a mix of goofy humor, gloriously intricate jokes, inventive visuals, and most importantly genuine compassion. Bill Hader voices a wannabe scientist named Flint who lives in a tiny town called Swallow Falls, which is thrown into peril when one of Flint’s wild inventions starts turning water into food, at which point it literally starts raining all sorts of delicious—and gigantic—treats. It’s a great film for all ages really, and a terrifically science-positive story.
14. Eyes Wide Shut
Director/Writer: Stanley Kubrick
Cast: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Sydney Pollack, and Marie Richardson
Divisive, controversial, erotic, meandering—all of these adjectives and more could accurately describe filmmaking giant Stanley Kubrick’s final film, but it’s a must-watch regardless of the divided opinion. Eyes Wide Shut finds Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman—still married at the time—playing a couple in New York City working through some issues of their own, when an admission from Kidman’s character that she’s thought about infidelity leads Cruise’s character on a sexual odyssey of insecurity. Almost nothing in this film is to be taken literally, as Kubrick crafts something more along the lines of a daydream (or nightmare), and subsequent watches only further illuminate the film’s various themes and motifs. What does it all mean? Is there one right answer? You be the judge. But on a pure carnal level, the sexiness of this one is off the charts.
Director: David Yarovesky
Writers: Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis
Cast: Winslow Fegley, Krysten Ritter, Lidya Jewett
A delightful “gateway horror” film for the whole family (ok, maybe not the super young kids), Nightbooks is adapted from the book of the same name and follows two kids trapped by a vicious (but fabulous) witch who demands a new scary story each night. Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23 and Jessica Jones star Krysten Ritter is giddily glamorous and genuinely menacing as the big bad witch in question, and director David Yarovesky (Brightburn) does a fantastic job translating horror staples into family-friendly fare, making for a film that’s genuinely spooky, but still a whole ton of fun. Further credit to Yarovesky, Nightbooks is also one of the best and most distinct-looking Netflix originals in recent memory and it takes care to build out its world of magic and horror with a stylish flourish. Speaking of style, don’t even get me started on Ritter’s glittering costumes because I could write a novel of praise. Whether you’re looking for a new spooky season favorite, or you’re just looking for a good spooky movie regardless of the season, Nightbooks is a creepy, creative treat.
Director: Sara Colangelo
Writer: Max Borenstein
Cast: Michael Keaton, Amy Ryan, Stanley Tucci, Tate Donovan, and Lauren Benati
I know a drama set in the wake of 9/11 is a tough sell, but Worth is absolutely one of the best films of 2021. Based on a true story, it follows an attorney in Washington D.C. who is tasked with figuring out exactly how much each of the 9/11 victims’ families will receive as part of insurance payouts, literally deciding each person’s worth. He battles bureacracy and cynicism at every turn, and is touched by his interactions with the victims’ families. Michael Keaton and Amy Ryan give terrific performances here, and Stanley Tucci is a scene-stealer as always. — Adam Chitwood
17. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Director: George C. Wolfe
Writer: Ruben Santiago-Hudson
Cast: Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo, and Michael Potts
The 2020 film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is a powerhouse showcase for the acting talents of all involved, including Chadwick Boseman in his final live-action performance. Based on the stage play of the same name, the film chronicles a day in the life of iconic recording artist Ma Rainey as she assembles her team to record a new album on a hot summer day in 1927. Tensions rise and the dialogue crackles between these various characters, as Boseman’s trumpeter dreams of making it big on his own while the temperamental Ma Rainey knows what lies ahead all too well. This is an excellent performance-driven drama.
18. The Lost Daughter
Director/Writer: Maggie Gyllenhaal
Cast: Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, Jessie Buckley, Paul Mescal, Jack Farthing, Peter Sarsgaard, and Ed Harris
In her directorial debut, Maggie Gyllenhaal has to handle a complex balance in telling the story of Leda Caruso (Olivia Colman). Leda takes a holiday to Greece and upon watching young mother Nina (Dakota Johnson) with her child, Leda reflects back on her own struggles with motherhood. Adapting ElenaFerrante‘s novel of the same name, Gyllenhaal presents a lead character whose impulsiveness could easily have been seen as selfish, but instead, Gyllenhaal and Colman present Leda as an intricate and extremely complicated character. The Lost Daughter provides not only another great Colman performance, but a fantastic introduction to Gyllenhaal as a commanding filmmaker.
19. Boogie Nights
Writer/Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Burt Reynolds, John C. Reilly, Don Cheadle, Heather Graham, William H. Macy
Yes, the stuff that happens in the 80s when all their lives fall apart is less than sexy, but when it’s the 70s, writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson taps into what makes the porn lifestyle so alluring. It’s a non-stop party, and while the party has to end, while you’re in it, you can see what makes it a fun world and a twisted kind of family. There’s an air of tragedy that hangs over everything, especially once you know where the plot is going, but when Boogie Nights is living it up, it’s a big, bright shining star.
20. The Fear Street Trilogy
Director: Leigh Janiak
Writers: Leigh Janiak and Phil Graziadei (Part One), Zak Olkewicz (Part Two), Phil Graziadei and Leigh Janiak and Kate Trefry (Part Three)
Cast: Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Sadie Sink, and more
Inarguably one of the best Netflix originals ever, the Fear Street trilogy is the perfect binge-watch. This adaptation of the R.L. Stine book series is an interconnected trilogy of horror movies, each with its own tone and twist on the slasher genre, bound by characters and mythology. The action begins in Fear Street: 1994, which introduces the town of Shadyside where everything bad always tends to happen. A group of teenagers finds themselves hunted down by a bevy of serial killers from the town’s past, only to discover the culprit may be a centuries-old curse. The second film, Fear Street: 1978, is a summer camp slasher that goes into Shadyside’s past to recount a horrific event while revealing more of the mythology until the third and final movie, Fear Street: 1666, works as an origin story for the curse and the Shadyside Witch. These movies absolutely rule, and are perfect for a Friday night date night.
21. Sorry to Bother You
Writer/Director: Boots Riley
Cast: Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, Terry Crews, Patton Oswalt, David Cross, Danny Glover, Steven Yuen, and Armie Hammer
It’s best to go into Sorry to Bother You as cold as possible, but if you need to know the brief synopsis, it follows Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield), a young black man who discovers he’s a wiz at telemarketing when he puts on his “white voice”, but as he starts becoming more successful, he begins to compromise his values. But that’s just the basic premise of Boots Riley’s scathing satire on race, capitalism, art, masculinity, and commerce. It’s not a film that works 100% of the time, but its ambition is undeniable, and the film is at turns hilarious, damning, and completely bonkers.
22. The Mitchells vs. the Machines
Director: Mike Rianda
Writers: Mike Rianda and Jeff Rowe
Cast: Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Mike Rianda, Olivia Colman, Fred Armisen, and Beck Bennett
You’ve seen a zillion animated family comedy movies, but The Mitchells vs. the Machines is undoubtedly one of the best. Produced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller and originally made by Sony Pictures Animation – the studio behind Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – the film finds a father and daughter struggling to connect, and follows the family as the father decides they should take a road trip to send her off to college where she’s studying to be a filmmaker. Along the way, the robot apocalypse occurs, forcing them to work together to make it through. At every turn The Mitchells vs. the Machines is surprising. It puts in the work so that the emotional scenes hit hard, but it’s also wildly colorful and beautifully artistic as Mike Rianda pushes the boundaries of visual expression. On top of all that, the film is hilarious, bringing to mind the colorful comedy of Lord and Miller’s other films – most notably Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. This movie will have you cackling and crying in equal measure, and it’s one of the best films of 2021 full stop.
23. Crimson Peak
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writers: Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, and Charlie Hunnam
The first thing to know about Guillermo del Toro’s misunderstood 2015 film Crimson Peak is that it’s a Gothic romance, not a horror movie. There are ghosts to be sure, and definitely spooky parts, but the film is more inspired by Jane Eyre or Rebecca than it is The Conjuring. And that’s why it’s so great. Set in 1901, the story follows an aspiring author (Mia Wasikowska) who meets a dashing English gentleman (Tom Hiddleston) and falls in love. The two quickly marry, and she moves to a remote part of England to live in an aging estate with her new husband and his icy sister (Jessica Chastain). The estate ends up being full of ghosts, and twists abound as our young protagonist finds herself in over her head. It’s a haunting, romantic, and chilling ghost story that’s lovingly crafted by one of the best filmmakers working today.
Director: Ron Howard
Writer: Peter Morgan
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, and Pierfrancesco Favino
2013’s Rush is a tremendously underrated film, but if you’re a fan of racing dramas or true stories about perseverance, it hits the spot. Chris Hemsworth plays Formula One driver James Hunt, and the story follows Hunt’s rivalry in the 1970s with Austrian driver Nikki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl). It’s one of Ron Howard‘s most exciting directorial efforts in recent memory, as he invigorates the frame with unique camerawork and a strong focus on point of view.
25. Bad Trip
Director: Kitao Sakurai
Writers: Dan Curry, Eric Andre, and Kitao Sakurai
Cast: Eric Andre, Lil Rel Howery, and Tiffany Haddish
If you just want to watch something that’s going to make you laugh really, really hard, check out Bad Trip. The film is a riff on the Jackass formula as it tells the story of two friends who take a road trip cross country, but their encounters are almost all pranks that are caught on hidden cameras. Eric Andre and Lil Rel Howery star, and their pranks and stunts range from silly and innocuous to genuinely life-threatening — all for the audience’s benefit, and all extremely R-rated.