Looking for that *perfect* movie to watch? Don’t spend another minute clicking through the Netflix catalogue. See, to help get you on with your weekend faster, I’ve hustled together this here list of the best movies on Netflix. This, folks, is as good as it gets. Fancy a bit of drama? A comedy? Something absolutely terrifying? There’s a little bit of everything included here to assuage every type of cinematic palette.
But wait, there’s more! This article gets updated every single week by yours truly, so you’re getting not just excellent recommendations but excellent recommendations that are available to stream right this very second. There are currently oodles of Monty Python films - I only selected one - on the UK side of things, as well as Luc Besson’s nutty space blockbuster, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. So go on, enjoy your time off with a brilliant movie. Yes, I would say that, I picked them.
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25. L.A. Confidential (1997)
The film: Curtis Hanson’s ‘90s masterpiece still stands as one of the very best movies of that decade, making stars of its two unknowns - Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe - and giving its leading lady, Kim Basinger, a much-deserved Oscar. Things unravel amid the grime of 1950s Los Angeles where crime and corruption go hand-in-hand. A murder in a coffee shop serves to kick things off, as the film follows three very different characters and their attempts to solve it.
Why it's worth watching: A near-perfect riff on modern noir. Curtis Hanson and Brian Helgeland’s script might have gutted the book on which it’s based, but boy does it benefit from those streamlined efforts and those cut-throat edits. There’s no flab here whatsoever. The plot is tight, the performances killer, with more than a few twists to keep you satisfied.
24. Deep Blue Sea (1999)
Region: UK, US
The movie: In an attempt to combat serious degenerative brain diseases, a team of scientists venture down a previously-unexplored route: genetically-modified sharks. If you thought GMO veggies were bad for the environment, then Deep Blue Sea imagines a world where Jaws gets the GMO treatment. While the intentions of the team led by Saffron Burrows and Stellan Skarsgard, are to wipe out Alzheimer’s, that doesn’t really matter for the group of Mako sharks whose brains they’ve tinkered with.
Why it’s worth a watch: This is directed by Renny Harlin, the master of schlock action switch-off-your-brain entertainment. Imagine if Sharknado hadn’t become so horribly derivative and boring, and just planned to be good, solid popcorn fun. That’s what you’re getting with Deep Blue Sea. Great set-pieces, daft speeches, and Samuel L. Jackson in a brilliant moment when… nah, I can’t do it. Just watch.
23. Train to Busan (2016)
The movie: Your daily commute might be a nightmare, but trust me, it’s peachy compared to the antics people have to deal with in Train to Busan. This bunch find themselves in the unfortunate position of sharing a very busy train with a very hungry horde of the undead. Having to group together is the only way they’ll combat the flesh-munchers. Well, until the humans start squabbling and fighting amongst themselves, and then it’s anybody’s guess who will survive.
Why it's worth watching: Whoever said zombie movies are dead, is either trying to make a funny or hasn’t seen this crackin’ South Korean horror outing. Think of this as the perfect genre mashup: part 28 Days, part Snowpiercer, and entirely bananas, you haven’t seen anything quite like this before.
22. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)
The film: With its $200 million budget and killer source material, you could say that Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has plenty working in its favour. Throw in its director, Luc Besson, and that pretty much guarantees a solid two hours of entertainment. Brimming with ideas, Valerian starts as it means to go on, with an extravagant retelling of ‘first contact’, laying the groundwork for a fun, interstellar caper that revolves around Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevinge). The pair are tasked with keeping the peace across the universe, which is all well and good until Valerian has a vision that leads them down a dangerous path...
Why it's worth watching: Granted, the plot’s a bit shoddy in places and DeHaan’s miscast, but ignore those potholes and you’re left with a visually-delightful outing. This is absolutely worthy of a watch for the sheer ambition on display, that just so happens to include some of the best sci-fi set pieces in recent years.
21. Midnight Special (2016)
The movie: The willingness to do anything for your child is a common theme in movies. What’s less common is when the child in question has supernatural abilities. I know what you’re thinking: Is this is the superhero origin tale you’ve been waiting for? Well, hold on a second. Midnight Special does have certain superheroic echoes, but it’s more of an indie road movie spiked with sci-fi elements. The story follows Roy (Michael Shannon) and his son Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) as they try to evade capture from law enforcement and a religious cult. Why? Because Alton’s a very special boy.
Why it’s worth a watch: Director Jeff Nichols borrows from every major genre director, uniting elements of John Carpenter and Steven Spielberg to tell a truly unique story. It’s not often that homage works without seeming like an obvious rip-off, but in this case, Nichols hits a home run.
20. Seven (1995)
The movie: Following a disastrous experience on the set of his first feature, Alien 3, David Fincher swore off studio films. He had no interest. That is, until the script for Seven landed on his desk. Penned by a former record store employee with a penchant for dark cinema, something about Seven caught Fincher’s attention and he climbed aboard. Set in an unnamed, gloomy American city, the story follows two cops, Mills (Brad Pitt) and Somerset (Morgan Freeman) as they pursue a serial killer who models his murders after the seven deadly sins.
Why it’s worth a watch: Remember that surge of serial killer movies in the ‘90s? Seven is the one that started them all. And, like all good trendsetters, it’s stood the test of time, proving that a good twist can be an integral part of the plot, and not just a crappy gimmick.
19. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
The movie: Ever wondered about the Rebels mentioned in the opening scrawl of the first Star Wars movie? So did SFX guru John Knoll, who thought that band of resistance fighters deserved their own movie and pitched the idea to Lucasfilm. The result saw up-and-comer Gareth Edwards take directorial control of a new type of Star Wars film, a spin-off untethered from the central Skywalker saga and instead focused on Jyn Erso, an ass-kicking Rebel with the best one-liners.
Why it’s worth watching: Rogue One has its work cut out for it because anyone watching knows exactly where it’s going to end up. And yet, it comes packed with surprises and triumphs at every turn with new perspectives on a galaxy far, far away. Its handful of well-written characters (old and new) make for an absolutely killer connection to A New Hope.
18. Donnie Darko (2001)
The movie: What would you do if you woke in the night to a guy in a bunny suit ominously telling you of the world’s demise in 28 days? For Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal), the troubled teen at the heart of this stellar teen flick, it’s business as usual. With a reputation for being an oddball, no-one batters an eyelid when he starts to take orders from Frank (the bunny) and speak out against authority figures like Patrick Swayze’s bizzarro motivational speaker.
Why it’s worth watching: Taking the teen movie template and mashing it together with an existential crisis, a time travel paradox and a gigantic bunny, Richard Kelly’s directorial debut is bold, glorious filmmaking. The tale of teenage angst gets better with age, its main point of ‘finding yourself’ is a universal theme that still feels fresh because of how well it’s handled.
17. Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)
The film: 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 watching: 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. Deadpool (2016)
The movie: Years after his mouth was sewn up in the lacklustre X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Deadpool is resurrected for a special brand of superhero movie. Forget expensive CGI and long drawn-out action sequences. Deadpool’s origin tale is an irreverent genre blend. As back stories go, this one is bloody, action-packed, and funny-as-hell. Wade Wilson isn’t your ordinary mercenary. Well, he was once, but after signing up for the Weapon X program following a cancer diagnosis, he becomes a new man, who nevertheless has to stop the nefarious guy in charge of the program.
Why it’s worth a watch: The chatty Cathy of the superhero genre finally gets what he deserves - an R-rated movie. Nudity? Check. Bad language? Check. Witty breakaways where Deadpool addresses the camera? Check. Believe the hype and check it out before Deadpool 2 arrives in cinemas in May.