The 25 best movies on Netflix (January 2019)

 An image from Ex Machina - one of the best movies on Netflix

The dilemma: what are the best movies on Netflix to stream, right now? The solution: the article you’re reading at this very moment! Worry no more about what you’re going to hit play on tonight, I’ve got you covered with a crackin’ selection of the absolute best movies on Netflix. Want something recent? No problemo. 

This here list includes several titles that are new on Netflix and they’re from both sides of the pond. So, whether you’re in the UK or US, you’re getting a sterling crop of films. And to be honest, with our recommendations for the best VPN for Netflix, where you live doesn’t matter when it comes to this lot. So why wait a minute longer? Check out one of the 25 best movies on Netflix right now.

25. The Truman Show (1998)

Region: US

The movie: Jim Carrey turns his comedic schtick into charm as Truman Burbank in this late ‘90s gem. Truman is a happy-go-lucky guy who doesn’t realise how unique his life truly is. Adopted from birth by a corporation, he is planted into a simulated world that’s kitted out with hidden cameras and microphones capturing his every move. At the controls is Christof (Ed Harris), the director of The Truman Show, a reality series that the entire globe watches religiously. Things start to change for Truman when all of a sudden a giant light falls from the sky...

Why it’s worth a watch: Twenty years old, and yet? Still utterly relevant. What is the cost of our entire lives being lived through screens? Will we ever really achieve happiness through consumerism? Is reality TV a load of old bunkum? All these questions are asked through some gorgeous cinematography, a dizzying plot and an ending that will make your heart ache. 

24. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018)

Region: Worldwide

The movie: You’ve seen the Black Mirror series; now experience something altogether different. And when I say experience, I mean, surrender yourself to a truly interactive viewing adventure. This is unlike anything you’ve watched before as you have control over the actions of a wannabe game designer. Set in 1984, the story revolves around Stefan, who writes a game based on an in-world novel called Bandersnatch. The book is in the Choose Your Own Adventure format, popularised in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and so is this Netflix Original. As Stefan’s day progresses you makes his decisions for him. Does he sign with a game publisher or decline their offer? Does he bang his fist on the desk or shout at his dad? No, seriously: whatever you select affects the outcome of the movie.

Why it’s worth a watch: The technology-driven world of Charlie Brooker’s TV show spills out of the screen into your hands. Seriously. This is the next step in narrative entertainment; Netflix created new technology to make it work. No matter what your thoughts on Black Mirror, this is impressive. 

Read more: Every Black Mirror: Bandersnatch ending explained and how to get them

23. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Region: US

The movie: Where Scream makes its horror references explicit, Shaun of the Dead pays homage to the genre in subtler, sillier ways. Edgar Wright’s first movie plays almost like a feature-length version of a Spaced episode. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost play best friends and roommates, Shaun and Ed, whose lives undergo a drastic transformation when the dead start to rise. Together, the duo hatch a cunning plan to save their nearest and dearest, and it involves getting to their local, The Winchester. That is, if they can just navigate the swarms of zombies plaguing the streets.

Why it’s worth a watch: Jumbling together horror and comedy is one thing, and Wright knows how to bring out the best of each genre. Moments of terror and moments of laughter exist side-by-side here, yet it’s the surprising swells of poignancy that give the movie an added layer. 

Read more: The 25 best zombie movies that will turn you veggie

22. To All the Boys I've Loved Before (2018)

Region: Worldwide

The movie: Netflix’s Original Content isn’t just about hard-hitting TV serials. Part of ‘flix’s attempt to reboot the rom-com, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a refreshing, lighthearted tale that revolves around the love life of one Lara Jean Covey (Lara Condor). After her older sister moves away to college, Lara Jean’s life changes when five secret love letters she had kept hidden somehow find their way into the hands of their recipients. One of the boys, Peter, enters into a fake relationship with Lara Jean - to wind up HIS ex, and to prove Lara Jean doesn’t fancy her sister’s ex. Confused? You won’t be, but you’ll love the optimism and John Hughes-esque atmosphere.

Why it’s worth a watch: For a high school rom-com set in 2018, it’s surprisingly light on teen tech. The kids use their cell phones (obviously), but the central conceit here revolves around a surprisingly sweet one - handwritten love letters. The rest of the movie’s charm spirals off from that notion, making this a rom-com likely to leave a lasting impression.

Read more: The 25 best romantic comedies that won't make you throw up

21. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Region: US

The movie: Five years after the Spanish Civil War, Spain remains turbulent, with Allied forces set to free Europe from the Nazi regime. This troublesome time in Spanish history serves as the oppressive backdrop for Guillermo Del Toro’s glorious fantasy. While the war rumbles on, life for young Ofelia isn’t easy either, what with her mother marrying her evil stepfather, Captain Vidal. His orders, to flush out rebels in the countryside, lead their family to a rural retreat, where Ofelia befriends a faun who lives within a labyrinth filled with both wonder and terror.

Why it’s worth a watch: Del Toro’s take on wartime horrors is handled with imagination like you wouldn’t believe, a wondrous moodscape of darkness and delight. This grown-up fairytale meanders between the reality of war and the dream of the labyrinth, and does so with such a light touch, you’ll wonder where one ends and the other begins. 

20. Ex Machina (2015)

Region: US

The movie: Computer programmer Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) wins a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend a week with his firm's CEO Nathan (Oscar Isaac). Given the chance to pick his boss’s brain and perhaps score points excites Caleb, who doesn’t realise the entire set-up wasn’t a lottery - he was specifically chosen. His background leads Nathan to believe Caleb is the perfect candidate to take part in an experiment, wherein he administers the Turing test to evaluate a robot's consciousness. As it turns out, Ava (Alicia Vikander) the robot has other plans. 

Why it’s worth a watch: Movies concerning robots imbued with artificial intelligence tend to make a case for their 'souls' being equally as important as ours, and all that they need is love and understanding. Alex Garland's directorial debut dallies with robotic sentience, therefore tussling with a similar topic, except Ava ain't no Bicentennial Man or Iron Giant. This is the darker side of AI, a world where Skynet could very easily exist...

19. The Night Comes For Us (2018)

Region: UK, US

The movie: A stomping riot of a film that barely gives you room to breathe is the only way to truly describe this actioner. The Night Comes For Us tells the tale of a triad enforcer with a change of heart. When his group raids a village, Ito (who you’ll recognise as Iko Uwais from The Raid) refuses to slay an innocent child, instead opting to wipe out his entire crew. Departing the massacre with the young girl in tow, he must choose a different path for himself… but albeit one that’s not *too* different. I mean, it’s still bloody as hell.

Why it’s worth a watch: A non-stop relentless barrage of violence, that’s at times dizzying, the sheer wealth of gore is astounding. Is this really just an action movie? No, this is splatter-tastic. The ingenuity behind the set-pieces borders on ridiculous: you absolutely will not seen another movie like this. 

18. Roma (2018)

Region: Worldwide

The movie: All filmmakers put themselves in their work. It’s unavoidable. Alfonso Cuaron brings his past to the fore in his latest opus, Roma, that uses the director’s upbringing on the Mexico City streets as inspiration. An entirely no-name cast makes this exhilarating movie shine, with a story that follows live-in housekeepers for a middle-class family.  Set during the 1970s it spins on ideas of class and culture, and places them inside some of the most breathtaking shots you’ll likely ever watch on Netflix. 

Why it’s worth a watch: Cuaron’s simply one of the most visually ambitious directors working today. Scratch that - he’s ambitious, period. After the likes of 2013’s Gravity - a complex space-set thriller, hung together by cutting-edge CGI - Roma is a breath of fresh air. A simplistic dive that’s already being heralded as a masterpiece, and one of the best movies ever made, why wouldn’t you want to see that? 

Read more: The 25 best black and white movies that don't need color to shine

17. Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)

Region: UK, US

The movie: Now approaching its 40th anniversary, Life of Brian still stands as one of the funniest films ever made. To prove that Holy Grail wasn’t a fluke, and eager to craft a winning follow-up, the Monty Python crew got together and gave us Life of Brian. Another period film, another set of ridiculous circumstances blended together to be as offensive as possible. This time, the focus is on a young Jewish man named Brian, who, through an unfortunate mixup, is heralded as being the Messiah. But he’s not. He’s a very naughty boy...

Why it’s worth a watch: Razor-sharp dialogue, witty one-liners, daft slapstick scenarios… there isn’t a type of comedy that Life of Brian doesn’t wrangle into its story. This is classic comedy cinema which will no doubt still be topping ‘best of’ lists in another forty years.

16. Unforgiven (1992)

Region: US

The movie: Arriving some 25 years after Eastwood’s original foray into the Western genre, playing Leone’s “The Man With No Name” he takes the reins himself here, writing, directing and starring. He reworks the traditional ideas of what a Western really is, as the movie opens in the late 1800s, with cowboys, thieves, and ne’er-do-wells of the West all approaching old age. Eastwood stars as William Hunny, a hog farmer and former thief, whose small Wyoming town remains rife with crime. After a prostitute is attacked, her friends post reward for the murder of her attackers. Town sheriff Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman)’s distaste for violence doesn’t stop two groups of outlaws, one led by Hunny, from seeking the reward.

Why it’s worth a watch: This is the Western that will appeal to all movie fans,  even if you’re not a devout lover of the genre. It’s a riveting watch, with a timeless story told by a seasoned filmmaker and a cast who knows this genre well. 

Continue to Page 2 for more of the best movies on Netflix