Last updated: May 4, 2020
While Netflix remains far and away the most popular streaming subscription service out there, it’s fair to say that their selection of movies isn’t quite what it once was. Netflix is opting more and more to focus on their own original content, and while much of that content is good, it doesn’t do much for those looking to take in a great movie that Netflix didn’t produce.
Reduction in library size aside, Netflix still plays host to some truly great films, ranging all the way from relatively recent superhero adventures to bonafide Oscar-winning classic dramas. Here are the 25 best films on Netflix that you can watch right now. This list is updated regularly – to ensure availability of the movies listed. Also, the list isn’t ranked from worst to best, so a lower number is not meant to denote higher quality. It’s just a list of 25 great movies.
Before the list proper, there are some notes to be made. First, Netflix offers a different selection in every country it services, and this list focuses solely on films available to U.S. subscribers. That said, those outside the U.S. are encouraged to still check their country’s line-up, as some of these picks may also be available to them. Secondly, these 25 films are available to stream as of this writing. If and when included titles are removed from Netflix, this list will be updated with new selections.
25 Monty Python and the Holy Grail
A feature-film offshoot of the classic sketch comedy series Monty Python’s Flying Circus, 1975’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail is regularly cited as one of the funniest comedies of all time, and is also one of the most influential movies in history. Monty Python and the Holy Grail is the film that launched a thousand memes, and anyone who watches it for the first time on Netflix is likely to come away in awe at how many common pop cultural references they now understand. For those who can’t get enough, Monty Pyton’s Flying Circus’ full run is also available to stream.
24 Taxi Driver
Often cited as one of legendary director Martin Scorsese’s best films, 1976’s Taxi Driver also features one of the greatest performances to come out of the long acting career of Robert De Niro. Written by Paul Schrader, Taxi Driver stars De Niro as Travis Bickle, an already tightly wound Vietnam veteran who finds himself slowly becoming more and more disillusioned with society after witnessing the rampant crime and corruption in New York City. Bickle of course eventually snaps, going on one of cinema’s most infamous violent rampages, and it’s just as effective over 40 years later on Netflix.
Just one of many terrific films directed by modern master Christopher Nolan, 2010’s mind-bending sci-fi action blockbuster Inception started off its decade with a bang, earning raves from both critics and audiences. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Dom Cobb, a highly skilled professional thief that steals secrets from his targets by entering their dreams without permission. Cobb is offered the chance to escape his criminal past, provided he can successfully plant an idea into a particular person’s subconscious mind. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, and Cillian Murphy also star in this great Netflix pick.
Once upon a time, Tom Hanks wasn’t yet cemented as one of the best dramatic leads in Hollywood history. Instead, he was mostly known for doing comedies, such as Splash and Big. While he’d done some dramatic work beforehand, it was 1993’s Philadelphia that really proved just how good Hanks was, winning him his first Oscar. Directed by Jonathan Demme, Philadelphia stars Hanks as Andrew Beckett, a corporate lawyer and gay man who’s fired by his firm after being diagnosed with AIDS. Beckett sues his former employer, and is eventually represented by Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), who initially struggles with his own homophobia. A landmark film when it comes to Hollywood’s representation of the LGBTQ community, Philadelphia is a sad, but moving Netflix pick.
21 Minority Report
Loosely based on a story by author Philip K. Dick, 2002 hit Minority Report brought together legendary director Steven Spielberg with A-List movie star Tom Cruise to create a sci-fi/thriller that proved a success with both critics and audiences, and remains a worthwhile Netflix pick. Cruise stars as John Anderton, the head of a controversial “PreCrime” division of law enforcement, which uses psychics to prevent crimes before they happen. When Anderton himself is pegged as a future murderer though, he’s forced to do whatever it takes to clear his name.
Directed by Barry Jenkins, 2016’s coming-of-age drama Moonlight will – for better or worse – probably always be known as the movie that won Best Picture only after the award had been mistakenly given to La La Land. That aside, Moonlight deserved the awards love, and is definitely in the top tier of Netflix’s movie selection. The film follows three stages in the life of Chiron Harris (Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes), a young black man trying to both make his way in the world and come to terms with his sexuality, despite dealing with homophobia and his drug-addicted mother. Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Janelle Monae, and Andre Holland also star.
19 Child’s Play
In theory, a killer doll should be an easy villain to defeat. After all, it’s tiny, and made of plastic. The wrinkle 1988’s Child’s Play adds into the mix is that Chucky has been possessed by the spirit of a dead serial killer via voodoo, and is thus supernaturally indestructible. Director Tom Holland’s (no, not that one) film earned praise from both critics and audiences, and would go on to spawn a still ongoing franchise starring Chucky, voiced by Brad Dourif. A remake came and went without much fanfare in 2019, but the original remains a terror tale worth watching on Netflix.
18 My Girl
Movies can evoke a wide range of emotional reactions from audiences. One such possible reaction is sadness, and for those who grew up in the 1990s, few movies provided a more soul-crushing moment than 1991’s My Girl. Despite mixed reviews from critics, director Howard Zieff’s coming-of-age dramedy is now fondly remembered by many, and is worth catching up with on Netflix. Be ready though to witness the infamously heartbreaking death of lead Vada (Anna Chlumsky)’s best friend Thomas J. (Macaulay Culkin), fresh off his Home Alone stardom. My Girl’s upbeat marketing campaign certainly didn’t prepare viewers for that kick straight to the gut.
17 The Irishman
One of the most anticipated additions to Netflix’s original movie catalog to date, The Irishman is the latest crime epic from legendary director Martin Scorsese. Based on a true story, The Irishman stars Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran, a trucker turned mob assassin. Frank works for powerful organized crime figure Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci), and eventually gets involved with teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). Eye-popping CGI de-aging techniques help these iconic actors play their characters over decades of story in this latest Scorsese triumph.
16 Raiders of the Lost Ark
Directed by legendary hit-maker Steven Spielberg, 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark introduced the world to one of the greatest action/adventure franchises in cinematic history, and also one of cinema’s greatest heroes. Harrison Ford stars as Indiana Jones, a university professor professionally, but a crusading archaeologist and adventurer in his off time. In his film debut, Indy outruns giant boulders, punches out giant Nazis, and quests for the fabled biblical artifact known as the Ark of the Covenant. All three Indiana Jones sequels are also now on Netflix.
15 The Matrix
One of the biggest pop culture phenomenons of its time, 1999’s The Matrix put sibling directors The Wachowskis on the map. The Matrix’s quite brilliant premise is that the world and everyone in it is in fact a computer simulation powered by the very humans that dwell there, after a catastrophic war between mankind and machines. One day, Thomas Anderson aka Neo (Keanu Reeves), a mild-mannered computer programmer by day and hacker by night, is woken up to the sad reality of his situation by Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), leaders of a human resistance effort seeking to expose The Matrix to the public. Sequels The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions are also available on Netflix.
14 Back to the Future
Back to the Future, one of the most beloved films of all time, is now on Netflix, as are sequels Back to the Future Part 2 and Part 3. There’s not much left to say about Marty McFly’s (Michael J. Fox) adventure through the past, trying to save his very existence after accidentally undoing his conception, all while seeking the help of a younger version of his friend Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd). It’s a terrific movie, and a classic for a reason.
Vampires and werewolves have been rivals for the attention of horror fans since the early days of film, but in 2003’s Underworld, bloodsuckers and lycanthropes finally got to go to war. Kate Beckinsale stars as Selene, a vampire death dealer who comes to fall in love with a human that also happens to be a werewolf descendant. Add in an ancient conspiracy, and one has the recipe for action/horror fun. Underworld‘s first two sequels are also on Netflix.
12 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
A treasured film for generations of kids, 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory manages to accomplish the odd feat of alternately being delightful family fun and creepily terrifying. As fanciful as the basic premise of a golden ticket tour through a magical factory is, Gene Wilder’s Wonka seems wildly unstable, employs what are essentially slaves, and seems to enjoy torturing children. Yet, none of those things will prevent Netflix users from streaming this fantasy classic.
11 Pan’s Labyrinth
Director Guillermo del Toro has a resume bursting with terrific films, but 2006’s dark fantasy drama Pan’s Labyrinth is arguably his best work. Set in 1944, five years after the Spanish Civil War ended, the story follows young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero). Ofelia’s life isn’t easy, as her mother grows increasingly sicker, her stepfather is a sadistic monster, and she’s discovered the titular place, a magical realm containing creatures beyond imagination. Anyone who hasn’t seen Pan’s Labyrinth owes it to themselves to check out del Toro’s masterpiece on Netflix.
10 Sin City
Rendered mostly in black and white – with splashes of color – Sin City is a neo-noir crime thriller with style to burn, and a great addition to the Netflix roster. Co-directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller – based on Miller’s graphic novel of the same name – Sin City is an anthology of hard-edged tales, and features a star-studded cast. Just some of the big names on hand include Bruce Willis, Benicio Del Toro, Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba, Clive Owen, and Mickey Rourke.
9 Avengers: Infinity War
Arriving on Netflix just in time for Christmas 2018 is Marvel Studios’ MCU blockbuster to end all MCU blockbusters, Avengers: Infinity War. Well, at least until the story continues in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. It’s hard to imagine anyone reading this hasn’t seen Joe and Anthony Russo’s $2 billion-grossing, critically acclaimed hit, but that doesn’t mean there”s no reason to stream it again. Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Chris Pratt, Josh Brolin, Tom Holland, Scarlett Johansson, and more fill-out Marvel’s most star-studded project to date.
8 Groundhog Day
Bill Murray is generally regarded as one of the most beloved actors of all time, and boasts a resume most performers would be jealous of. Truly one of his best turns came in 1993’s Groundhog Day, playing acerbic weatherman Phil Connors. To call Phil a huge jerk would be putting it mildly, but fate has decided to make him relive the same titular day over and over again, until he learns to be a better man. A critical darling, the film was directed by Murray’s old Ghostbusters pal Harold Ramis, and is a top-tier Netflix addition.
With Get Out and Us director Jordan Peele soon to produce a Nia DaCosta-directed “spiritual sequel” that hits theaters next year, there’s never been a better time to stream the original Candyman on Netflix and see just why the property commands respect. Released in 1992, Candyman stars Virginia Madsen as Helen Lyle, a graduate student writing a thesis on urban legends. Unfortunately, some legends are true, such as the titular Candyman, a hook-handed phantom famously played by Tony Todd. Helen can try to survive, but her odds aren’t good.
6 The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!
Most would likely argue that no director ever made better parody films than Mel Brooks, and while that might be true, the Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker team sure came close with 1988’s The Naked Gun. Based on the short-lived TV series Police Squad!, the new to Netflix film made a comedy icon out of Leslie Nielsen, who stars as bumbling lieutenant Frank Drebin. The Naked Gun’s jokes fly at a rapid pace, never letting viewers catch their breath, and while they don’t all hit, enough do. Infamously, O.J. Simpsons also appears, prior to his murder charges.
5 Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Mike Myers may be known for many things – his years on Saturday Night Live, the Wayne’s World movies, voicing Shrek – but arguably his greatest creation to date is Austin Powers. In his debut film, 1997’s Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, the 1960s super-spy finds himself awoken from cryogenic stasis in the 1990s, upon the return of nemesis Dr. Evil (also Myers). A pitch-perfect parody of the James Bond series, Austin Powers would become a pop culture icon, and his two sequels are also available on Netflix.
4 Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Since 2016, Peter Parker’s live-action film incarnation has been swinging under the auspices of Marvel Studios’ MCU franchise, but last year, Sony did something outside those bounds, creating an Oscar-winning animated masterpiece called Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Featuring the voice of Shameik Moore as Miles Morales, Into the Spider-Verse sees an experiment ordered by Kingpin go awry, and rip a hole in reality that allows Spider-people from various alternate universes to journey over to Miles’ world. It’s then up to the group of heroes to close the rift, and get everyone back to the dimension they belong in.
The feature directorial debut of Duncan Jones, Moon is a sci-fi film for hardcore fans of the genre, and is by no means something one can just half-watch and still fully grasp the plot. It would be a disservice to reveal too much about said plot, but Moon stars Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell, a space mining worker nearing the end of a three-year contract that’s kept him away from his family and almost entirely isolated. Kevin Spacey also stars as the voice of GERTY, an AI colleague and companion to Sam. Before long, Sam’s life takes a turn for the crazy, and things just get more complex from there. Any sci-fi fan owes it to themselves to watch Moon on Netflix.
2 Bad Boys
The original box office smash that began Will Smith’s rise to superstardom, 1995’s Bad Boys was also the first film from divisive director Michael Bay. The start of a blockbuster action franchise, Bad Boys remains a blast and a half, with Smith and co-star Martin Lawrence wreaking havoc and busting criminals as renegade Miami cop duo Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett. Bad Boys 2 is also available on Netflix.
1 Inglourious Basterds
Inglourious Basterds is an alternate history story revolving around two interconnected plots to kill Nazi leaders. Directed by Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds stars Brad Pitt as Aldo Raine, leader of the titular squad. The film also helped make stars of Christoph Waltz, Diane Kruger, and Michael Fassbender.Tarantino’s Basterds isn’t quite his best film, but it’s still one of the best currently on Netflix and worthy of subscribers’ time.