The 25 best movies on Netflix to stream now

What did we do before Netflix? Hit the video store, grab a couple of new releases, and pray that we'd made at least one good viewing choice, usually. Ah, those troublesome days are long gone now (*sniff*), with the advent of streaming. It's hard to imagine a time when thousands of movies and TV shows weren't at our fingertips, right there on our screens, waiting to be watched. But with so much available, just what should we be hitting play on? 

Finding the true gems can be a challenge. Lucky for you, some very kind person took a trawl through the Netflix catalogue to pick out the must-see movies that should be on your watch list. There's a cracking selection of all genres. And if you'd rather catch up on some of the best TV around, here's our 30 best shows on Netflix right now.

25. Jackie Brown (1997) 

Region: UK

The movie: Quentin Tarantino adapted Elmore Leonard's novel Rum Punch for this, his most understated and underrated movie. It's recognisably his, with lengthy monologues about mundane activities, but it feels somehow less interested in fancy narrative gimmicks and more concerned with telling a good story. Pam Grier stars as an air hostess who gets roped into a dodgy money-laundering scheme by Samuel L. Jackson's shifty gangstah, Ordell Robbie.

Why it's worth watching: Oh, that opening sequence - it's glorious! Watching Grier come down the moving walkway, coolly exiting the airport without a care in the world. It's a sign of what's to come.  

 24. Hot Fuzz (2007) 

Region: US 

The film: The juicy filling in the middle of Edgar Wright's Cornetto Trilogy brings back his trusted comrades Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as two cops in a quiet English 'burg. One is straight-laced, the other, more of a free spirit. Things inevitably go awry as they often do in quiet, idyllic movie villages.

Why it's worth watching: Imagine your favorite buddy cop movie. And now imagine it retold through the cheeky, meta-tinted eyes of Pegg, Wright and Frost. This is how you homage. 

23. Ghost In The Shell (1995)

Region: UK 

The film: It inspired everybody from the Wachowskis to James Cameron, and now the anime is available on UK Netflix! A super-smart genre blend that follows a cyborg assault team leader who's ordered to take down a computer hacker, it's unbelievably weird and beautiful and has some pretty interesting things to say. 

Why it's worth watching: A gorgeous visual dip into the world of anime, that'll have you easily pointing out elements later recycled and torn apart by those aforementioned auteurs. 

22. Clerks (1994) 

Region: UK, US 

The film: Kevin Smith's black-and-white slacker opus which revolves around a pair of clerks. Dante works (begrudgingly) in a convenience store, while his best friend Randal is supposed to run the video store next door. Which he never does, as he's too busy chatting with Dante.

Why it's worth watching: This is dry, witty stuff, from the verbose writer-director. The humdrum travails of the service industry are never more astutely observed or ridiculously subverted. 

21. The Big Short (2015)  

Region: UK, US 

The film: A star-studded cast tells this behind-the-scenes story of the financial meltdown. It's both funny and heartbreakingly sad at times, as the likes of Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling and (albeit in a large cameo) Brad Pitt reveal the people behind the 2007-2008 crisis. 

Why it's worth watching: The guy from who directed Anchorman directed this. Yep, this is Adam McKay's work; an assured drama with flashes of wry humor you might not expect from the man who gave us Ron Burgundy.  

20. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)  

Region: UK 

The film: Marvel took a risk in moving away from the Earth-bound adventures of the Avengers, and somehow managed to one-up those antics with this galactic tale. Chris Pratt's goofy scavenger Peter Quill bands together with a bunch of other misfits to take down the big bad who has his eye on an Infinity Stone. 

Why it's worth watching: This is the most fun Marvel movie to date as director James Gunn lets loose with the comedy. That's really the best way to describe this film first and foremost, a comedy. With space-set action.  

19. Beasts of No Nation (2015) 

Region: Worldwide

The film: One of Netflix's first steps into simultaneous streaming and theatrical releases. Hot off True Detective, Cary Fukunaga directs this harrowing tale of a young African boy enlisted into the dangerous ranks of a fearful militia crime lord played by Idris Elba. 

Why it's worth watching: At times a brutal watch, it's nevertheless a solid piece of gritty filmmaking from a director with masses of empathy for the tragedy depicted onscreen. 

18. Clueless (1995) 

Region: UK, US

The film: The teen flick against which every new teen flick will forever be measured. Alicia Silverstone stars as Beverly Hills brat Cher, who discovers she's clueless in matters of the heart. Director Amy Heckerling's film is still stupidly witty and hasn't aged a day, despite turning 20 last year.

Why it's worth watching: What's brilliant still about this amusing Jane Austen update is how its teenagers are both remarkably foolish and smart at the same time. The scene on the freeway in particular is evidence of Dionne's utter cluelessness. 

17. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) 

Region: UK

The film: Robert Redford and Paul Newman crackle with energy in George Roy Hill's caper about a couple of crooks hoofing it to Bolivia from a gang of outlaws. The leading duo slam this one home, delivering some killer lines and delving deep into their characters. 

Why it's worth watching: It stands apart from other Westerns populating cinemas at the time; because it's absolutely crackers in its carefree tone. The "Raindrops Are Falling On My Head" scene... probably wouldn't occur in any Tarantino Western. 

16. Zootopia (2016)

Region: US 

The film: This is an absolute delight. I mean, who's not going to get drawn in by a movie about anthropomorphic animals that live in a bustling metropolis? Now that's got your attention, the main plot tells of a young bunny from the sticks who relocates the big bad city to live the life of her dreams: that of a cop. 

Why it's worth watching: Disney's fun, colorful tale appeals to both youngsters and parents alike with a very funny, rather unusual plot that doesn't try too hard to mask its true message.  

Topics

SFX
We recommend