The 25 best movies on Netflix (February 2019)

After this weekend's swanky Valentine's Day dinner has concluded, we all know where most dates are going to end up... No, no, not that! I'm talking about watching one of the best movies on Netflix, of course. 

It really is the best way to end any day. Question is, what are you going to hit play on? There are loads of cracking films new on Netflix right now, plus a bunch of modern classics and golden oldies, like The Witch and Jaws, to make your romantic night full of fright if that’s more your thing.

And don’t fret if the movie you see isn’t playing in your region; check our selections for the best VPN for Netflix and that will be a worry of the past. See? I’ve basically sorted out your entire Valentine’s Day weekend for you. Plus, I keep my keen eye on Netflix’s catalogue to ensure that this article stays up-to-date to include the best movies on Netflix every single week. So there’s no need to worry that these movies aren’t available - I’ve double checked. Go on, Casanovas, get streamin’. 

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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. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Region: US

The movie: After breaking up with his girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet), Joel (Jim Carrey) hires Lacuna Inc, a rather ramshackle firm, to scrub all memories of her from his mind. This fantastic wedge of quirky genre cinema hails from the pen of Charlie Kaufman and the unique eye of Michel Gondry, who brings gorgeous visuals to this wacky tale. Much of the movie takes place inside Joel’s memories, as we see him revisit personal moments before they disappear, realising at the last minute that he actually still loves Clem. All the while, the employees of Lacuna Inc. are watching, with one of the workers (Elijah Wood) taking notes from Joel’s mind to try and woo Clem himself.

Why it’s worth a watch: Science fiction typically falls into one of two camps: slickly polished and gleaming or dystopian and grimy. Eternal Sunshine falls squarely in between, into the realm of the everyday and affordable. It’s the best kind of science fiction, taking us to places that don't exist, but that we recognise just the same.

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. The End of the Tour (2015)

Region: US

The movie: Rather than a straight adaptation - as if that's even possible with the book in question - of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, this movie delves into biopic territory. It's actually based on the non-fiction book by Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) who tags along for five days of Wallace (Jason Segel)'s book tour, hoping to get insight and perspective on the legendary author. Director James Ponsoldt, whose prior successes Smashed and The Spectacular Now dabbled with individuals on the fringe of their demographics, he’s the perfect person to decipher the story of Wallace’s process, in all of its beauty and struggle.

Why it's worth a watch: For fans of Wallace, it's the closest we'll ever get to an autobiography. For everyone else? It’s a glimpse into the non-starry side of the artistic journey, the down-to-earth grit of what it’s like to be a creator. Watching Segel tap into another side of his acting persona is mesmerising, and Eisenberg nails it as the reporter desperate to find himself in Wallace. 

19. The Witch (2015)

Region: US

The movie: Arriving to mass critical acclaim upon its Sundance debut, Robert Eggers’ creepy-as-hell period chiller The Witch absolutely deserves its place in the horror pantheon. The movie takes place in 1630s New England, when William and Katherine and their family are cast out of the Puritan church and break for a new life on a remote settlement edging a spooky forest. As if being ostracised from everything they know isn’t bad enough, the couple are devastated when their baby Samuel is snatched while their daughter Thomasin watches over him. Things get worse from there. Much, much worse.

Why it’s worth a watch: Granted, this is a slow burner that’s not heavy on the visuals of the big bad witch, but that’s not the point. This is a glorious meld of period piece, familial drama and supernatural foray, that’s its most scary when Thomasin and and her mother are at odds. Oh, and of course, Black Philip always make it worth a watch. Who? Hit play and find out.

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. 

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