The best Netflix movies can be challenging to come by, but we’re not likely to run out of fantastic movies anytime soon. There’s plenty to select from, whether you’re looking for the finest action movies, the best horror flicks, the best comedy, or the best classic movies on Netflix. We’ve revised the list for 2022 to reflect the loss of outstanding films while showcasing underappreciated gems.
Rather than wasting time searching through categories and searching for the right movie to watch, we’ve made it easy for you at Paste by updating our Best Movies to Watch on Netflix list with new entries and neglected flicks.
Our recommendations are for Netflix’s top TV shows, Amazon Prime Video’s best movies, and Hulu’s and Disney Plus’s best.
Table of Contents
‘Where the Wild Things Are’ movie that tells the narrative of a group of animals who live in the woods (2009)
Spike Jonze (together with novelist Dave Eggers) created this “creative and disturbing” reimagining of a childhood favorite, enlarging Maurice Sendak’s small book while focusing on its most memorable themes: loneliness and fear of change, companionship, and love. The film delves more into the family life of the troublemaking, wolf-pajama-wearing Max.
His ensuing voyage is pure magic, with Jim Henson’s Creature Shop bringing Sendak’s Wild Things to life and giving voice to James Gandolfini, Lauren Ambrose, and others. It’s a stunning film that captures youth’s impulsiveness, loneliness, and misery and the exhilaration of escaping it, if only for a while. (Young viewers who are adventurous may like “ParaNorman.”)
Lady Bird is a fictional character
Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) watches a young man belt out the final notes to “Being Alive” from Stephen Sondheim’s Company before auditioning for the school musical. She had leaned her head against the glass in a car with her mother. Greta Gerwig wrote and directed the movie with the same name, Lady Bird, and she has ambivalence running through her veins because she is stuck in Sacramento, where she believes there is nothing to offer her while paying close attention to what her home does have to offer.
Stephen Sondheim and Greta Gerwig are a natural fit. Few filmmakers can capture the ambiguity and mixed feelings that come with refusing to make up one’s mind: consider 35-year-old Bobby in Company, who wants to marry a friend but never commits to any of his girlfriends; Cinderella’s “hemming and hawing” on the, ahem, steps of the palace; or Mrs. Lovett’s hesitation in telling Sweeney her true motives. Lady Bird isn’t as high-concept as many of Sondheim’s works, but it has a searing honesty to it and Gerwig’s work in general, making the film’s concerns and compassion resound with equal frequency in the viewer’s heart. Kyle Turner (Kyle Turner)
The Holy Grail is a Netflix movie and a comedy about Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
It’s a shame that the Holy Grail’s fame has dulled due to its widespread use. When we hear terms like “flesh wound,” “ni!” or “vast swaths of territory,” our first thought is usually of having entire scenes read to us by dumb, obsessive nerds. Or, in my case, as a dumb, obsessive nerd, reciting full episodes to strangers. Yet, if you try to separate yourself from the overabundance of jokes and revisit the film after a few years, you’ll find new tricks that feel as fresh and hysterical as the old ones. Holy Grail is, without a doubt, Python’s most-packed comedy.
There are many funny sides to this movie, and given its notoriety, it’s remarkable how we forget that. If you’re sweating blood over this film, watch it again with commentary to uncover its creativity’s second level of appreciation. It doesn’t appear to be a $400,000 film. It’s also entertaining to find out which gags (like the coconut halves) are rooted in a need for low-cost solutions. Terry Jones (who only directed after Python broke up) and lone American Terry Gilliam (who warped Python’s cinematic approach into his unique brand of nightmare fantasy) co-directed for the first time. It moves with a strange precision. —Mr. Techler, Graham Techler, Graham Techler, Graham Techler
The Shawshank Redemption is a Netflix movie that is rooted in a true story (1994)
In this heartbreaking adaptation of Stephen King’s non-genre novella, two “lifers” locked up together in Shawshank prison create a friendship that spans decades of their lives and incarcerations. Tim Robbins is fantastic as Andy Dufresne, a man convicted of a crime he didn’t commit who is hell-bent on establishing his innocence.
Morgan Freeman (who also narrates) delivers the archetypal Morgan Freeman performance as Red, the person who can get anything for anyone. It’s “a quiet, beautiful story of camaraderie and maturation,” according to our reviewer. (Netflix also has Darabont’s later version of another King prison novel, “The Green Mile.”)
“V for Vendetta” is a film led by V for Vendetta (2005)
Lana and Lilly Wachowski adapted Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s famous British graphic novel “V for Vendetta” for the big screen, their first project after the “Matrix” trilogy. And it feels as much a part of their worldview as Moore and Lloyd’s, set in a different setting (but not wholly different) from ours, with authoritarian governments and fascists in power.
The action and symbolism are rich, but this is not easy work, especially when dramatizing acts of terror, which asks the viewer to contemplate whether such acts are ever justified. Director James McTeigue arranges the action to excite and unnerve, and Natalie Portman is superb as an awakened young lady.
‘Gattaca’ is a science fiction film (1997)
The writer and director, Andrew Niccol, dramatizes a not-too-distant future in which the wealthy. As one critic called it, this “handsome and completely imagined masterpiece” is brainy in the vein of “2001:
A Space Odyssey” and “THX 1138,” daring to think that intriguing concepts may be as entertaining as chases and shoot-outs. Niccol plays with the clichés of not only dystopian sci-fi but also mystery and film noir, with a splash of off-the-beaten-path romance thrown in for good measure.
‘The Wedding of My Best Friend’ (1997)
When Julia Roberts starred in this 1997 romantic comedy, it was billed as a comeback vehicle, with appearances in darker films like “Mary” and “Michael Collins” hinting that she had strayed too far from her comfort zone. But this wasn’t your typical rom-com; director P.J. Hogan (“Muriel’s Wedding”) and screenwriter Ronald Bass (“Rain Man”).
Let Roberts play with the audience’s expectations, challenging their expected empathy for the actor with her character’s dubious (and even nasty) motivations and deeds. And Cameron Diaz is a superb choice as the object of her wrath—a heroine who is so lovely and cheerful that we can’t help but wonder whose side we’re on.
‘The Lost Daughter’ is a film about a woman who goes missing (2021)
Maggie Gyllenhaal, an actor-turned-filmmaker, wrote and directed this adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s novel, which stars Olivia Colman as a professor on vacation whose uncomfortable encounters with a vast, rowdy American family—particularly a young, worried mother (Dakota Johnson)—throw her down a memory rabbit hole, a switch-flipping intermingling of past and present.
There’s some backstory to figure out, making the film feel like a mystery. Yet, “The Lost Daughter” is notable for its courage to confront the darkest aspects of parenthood, such as the weird sense of giving up and a desire to flee. Colman gives a difficult character sympathy and even warmth, while Jessie Buckley’s younger version bridges the dots. It’s “a brilliant, plotted psychological thriller,” according to our reviewer. (The Gyllenhaal film “The Kindergarten Teacher” is similar.)
‘Monster’ is a term used for an awful person (2004)
Charlize Theron underwent a remarkable physical transformation to play real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos, rendering her unrecognizable. Her Oscar-winning performance has a broader impact. With her portrayal, Theron manages to elicit both terror and sympathy, capturing Wuornos’ rage and dangerousness and her love for a kind lady (Christina Ricci, who is also terrific), whom she hopes can save her despite all odds. Patty Jenkins (who went on to film “Wonder Woman”) makes no apologies for Wuornos’s actions. Still, she doesn’t diminish them, portraying the story with elegance and nuance and giving her actors room to bring these troubled souls to life.
Elm Street’s Nightmare
Of the three major slasher franchises—Halloween, Friday the 13th, and this—A Nightmare on Elm Street is the most comprehensive and polished of the original entries. This is undoubtedly a result of Wes Craven being the last to arrive, as he had the opportunity to observe and absorb influences from the gloomy Carpenter and the much more sleazy and tawdry Cunningham in numerous F13 sequels.
What resulted from that brew was a killer with the indestructibility of Myers or Voorhees but with a dash of Craven’s bizarre sense of humor. That isn’t to claim that Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) is a witty character. His gleeful approach to murder and after-gallows comedy makes for a very different breed of supernatural killer.
Rather than the self-parodying pastiche, he’d become in sequels like Final Nightmare—his gleeful approach to murder and later gallows The film’s simple idea of tapping into the horrors of dreaming. The skewed reality was like a gift from the gods, given to the artists and set designers with complete freedom to indulge their dreams and create unforgettable set pieces unlike anything else seen in the horror genre up to that moment. It’s a nightmare-inducing phantasmagoria of dark humor and nightmares.
‘The Social Network’ is a movie on Netflix about a social network (2010)
The unexpected pairing of screwball-inspired screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and icy visual stylist David Fincher resulted in one of their best works, a “fleet, funny, exciting, scary, and fictitious” portrayal of Facebook’s early days and its creator, Mark Zuckerberg (brought to sneering, hard-edge life by Jesse Eisenberg).
The Oscar-winning script by Aaron Sorkin depicts the Facebook birth tale as a Silicon Valley “Citizen Kane,” jumping back and forth between flashbacks and framing devices. Fincher’s brutal direction ties the film together, portraying Zuckerberg as the media magnate of the future and hinting at the turmoil it involves. (Netflix also has Fincher’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”)
She Has to Have It
She must Have It’s a thoughtful look at a young black woman named Nola (Tracy Camilla Johns), torn between three male partners while flirting with her plain bisexuality. First, film a documentary about what makes her happy.
The film is refreshing in that Lee raises the prospect that “none of the above” is a workable option for both Nola and single women—a game-changer in 1986. The DIY indie grainy black-and-white photography bolsters the film’s in-your-face reality.
Redux of Apocalypse Now
Let’s mention Truffaut because his spirit is as essential to a discussion of Francis Ford Coppola’s dreadful adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as it is to a war picture like Paths of Glory and to thinking about war movies in general. If we take Truffaut at his word, Apocalypse Now (and its enhanced version on Netflix with 49 more minutes of footage) can’t help but advocate war by recreating it as art.
That doesn’t mean the film doesn’t convey Coppola’s main points: War transforms humankind into monsters, leading them down a path toward a primordial, lawless state of mind, and war is hell in and of itself, an alarming phrase that has become a cliché due to its widespread use between 1979 and the present.
In reality, Apocalypse Now is still regarded as one of the most powerful depictions of the corrosive effects of state-sanctioned violence on a person’s soul and psyche. It’s cute that we’re OK with citing this movie in bad AT&T commercials 40 years later or recycling its period backdrop to have King Kong happen for modern audiences for a second time. Still, there’s nothing cute about it, and it’s not quotable.
‘Fast Color’ is a film that is set in a fast-paced environment (2019)
Most superhero films bombard the audience with special effects, sneering quips, and strained world-building.
Julia Hart’s indie drama is a rich, delicate character study of three women who can manipulate items with their minds. Ruth, who has suffocated her “abilities” in addiction and carelessness, returns home to join her mother (Lorraine Toussaint) and daughter (Saniyya Sidney) in an attempt to, well, save the world, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Our writer praised Hart’s complex screenplay (co-written with Jordan Horowitz) for its small-town authenticity and hard-won emotion, calling it “a modest, intimate drama that hints at far broader things.”
‘Blood Will Be Spilt’ (2007)
For his outstanding performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s period drama, Daniel Day-Lewis won his second Academy Award.
Which matches Upton Sinclair’s novel “Oil!” and is a sweeping, complex critique of greed, capitalism, religion, and the American spirit. For the first time, the filmmaker demonstrated his ability to direct a large-scale historical epic while keeping the personal touches and narrative eccentricities that made his previous films so distinctive. “A spectacular performance, among the greatest I’ve seen,” Manohla Dargis said of Day-Lewis’ performance. (You can also see Anderson’s “The Master” and “Phantom Thread” on Netflix.)
‘Gremlins’ is a fictional character (1984)
The guidelines are simple:
- Keep it out of direct sunlight.
- Avoid getting it wet.
- Don’t feed it after midnight.
It’s hard to believe Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) messes things up. This well-liked horror comedy from 1984 appears to draw inspiration from “E.T.”‘s mild, suburban neighborhood portraiture in its opening scenes. But then, with a smile, director Joe Dante bares his teeth as the film devolves into a bloodbath of death and destruction. Plus, a rant on how much he despises Christmas packs a genuine holiday punch. (Try “Jumanji” for more dark family fun.)
Netflix’s famous movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, a Willy Wonka-directed film (1971)
In this praised adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic tale “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” directed by Mel Stuart, Gene Wilder created one of cinema’s most enduring characters. Wilder, who plays the eccentric owner of the best candy factory in the land, imbues his character with a sense of wonder and imagination and a surprising edginess. That is a morality story in which a factory tour turns into a lesson in the consequences of juvenile behavior. That is a family film with a welcome spice of gloom, written and loaded with great songs and supporting characters.
‘The Dog’s Strength’ (2021)
“I’m curious about who made these small ladies?” The first hint of the basic theme of Jane Campion’s new film, an adaptation of Thomas Savage’s novel, comes when Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) inquires about Peter’s (Kodi Smit-McPhee) paper flowers.
When Phil’s brother and ranching partner George (Jesse Plemons) marries Peter’s mother, Rose (Kirsten Dunst), it brings out all of Phil’s nastiness as he tries to exert his power and display his dissatisfaction in many nefarious ways. For a lesser filmmaker, the tension and conflict would be plenty.
Still, Campion digs deeper, taking a performed turn to investigate his conflicting motivations Manohla Dargis called it a fantastic American narrative and a brilliant debunking of one of the country’s most enduring falsehoods.”
‘Procession’ is a term used to describe a large group of people or vehicles from now on in a controlled manner, particularly as part of a ceremony (2021)
Robert Greene’s films (such as “Bisbee ’17” and “Kate Plays Christine”) exist at the crossroads of documentary, drama, and process, fusing reality, fiction, and the challenges of achieving that most elusive of aspirations, truth.
The filmmaker spent three years developing a series of scenarios based on their experiences with a professional drama therapist and six survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the Midwest. And the significant emotional fallout. It’s a moving and harrowing narrative of survival and support.
Bonnie and Clyde
After the general public was tired of the mundane, cloying dramas and comedies of the 1960s, the studios discovered the lucrative benefits of franchises like Jaws and Star Wars. Which could pile sequel after sequel, rake in merchandise proceeds, and guarantee a steady stream of big money regardless of artistic merit.
There was a brief period in American film history. During that strange lull, studio bosses had no better notion than to throw money at great directors and hope for the best. Bonnie and Clyde, directed by Arthur Penn, has a gritty realism that is as sharp and insightful as the French New Wave. But, it was full of the freewheeling American spirit that corporate agendas had not yet suffocated.
I’m sorry for bothering you (Sorry to Bother You 2018)
Sorry to Bother You stars LaKeith Stanfield (Get Out, The Harder They Fall) as a black telemarketer who realizes that utilizing his “white voice” will catapult him up the corporate ladder. Only to discover that every inch of forward mobility comes with a hefty moral cost.
He was a fascinating, unpredictable takedown of corporate culture and viral celebrity. The 2018 bizarre comedy marked hip-hop musician Boots Riley’s directorial debut, earning a slew of honors and high praise from reviewers en route to becoming one of the year’s most underappreciated masterpieces. Tessa Thompson, Terry Crews, Patton Oswalt, David Cross, Danny Glover, Steven Yeun, and Armie Hammer feature in the picture, full of unexpected twists and turns while still delivering a powerful message.
I’m thrilled (Over the Moon 2020)
Fei Fei (Cathy Ang) clings to a legend about a moon goddess named Change while she mourns the loss of her mother. To her father’s chagrin and that of his new family, the daughter is determined to show that the goddess does exist.
To do so, she begins the development of a rocket that would transport her to the moon to prove Chang’e’s existence. The Oscar-nominated Over the Moon, filled with heart and hypnotic animation, looks and feels like a classic Disney epic. Still, the familiar structure and stunning soundtrack are enough to keep everyone hooked on the screen.
Why did Christine Chubbuck, a TV journalist, film her death in 1974? The greatness of Antonio Campos’ drama is that it seeks to answer that issue. In contrast, she remains respectful of the immensity and unknowability of such a violent, terrible situation.
Rebecca Hall portrays Christine, as a depressed woman whose ambition has never been in line with her abilities. As we get closer to Christine’s demise, we realize that Christine isn’t so much a gruesome mystery as it is an empathetic look at gender inequity and loneliness.
‘Failure to pass’ ( Passing 2021)
“She’s a girl I used to know from Chicago,” Irene (Tessa Thompson) says of Clare (Ruth Negga), a statement that appears to be factual on the surface but conceals a wealth of history. Conflict and secrets Both Irene and Clare are light-skinned black women who have made diverse life choices. But when they reconnect, they are both forced to confront who they are.
Rebecca Hall’s screenplay and direction (adapted from Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel) delicately plumb their psychological depths and wounds, while the sumptuous costumes and excellent black-and-white cinematography serve as striking counterpoints to what Manohla Dargis described as “an anguished story of identity and belonging.”
‘The Nightingale’ is a song about a nightingale (2019)
Jennifer Kent returns with this “rigorous, merciless” take on revenge myths, and The lens of white supremacy and violent patriarchy is reflected in Hollywood westerns. from the writer and filmmaker of the horrific “The Babadook.”
After a terrible assault by a strong commander, Aisling Franciosi plays an Irish woman in 19th-century Tasmania who embarks on a maybe ill-advised battle for justice. However, such a synopsis makes “The Nightingale” sound like a simple tale of good vs. evil; Kent confuses her characters at every turn, making us wonder which side we’re on. It’s a long, nasty, and challenging film, but an unquestionably powerful one.
Netflix has once again discharged a shotgun volley of content, this time with a wide selection of new movies and TV shows, many of which were excellent while others were not. While Netflix is best known for its television programming, it branches out into the prestige cinema market. This year has produced a few films that are likely Oscar candidates or, at the very least, entertaining to watch.