The 25 best movies on Netflix (October 2018)

15. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Region: US

The movie: How do you follow up a film like Thor: The Dark World? Easy. Make it light, springy, and… well, that sounds like the cinematic equivalent of a Victoria sponge cake, doesn’t it? And to be honest, Taika Waititi’s movie is just as much fun to devour. Forget Thor’s dark, brooding episodes. This flick picks up with the beefcake Avenger two years after the events of Age of Ultron, where Thor is lost on trash planet Sakaar and must find his way back to Asgard to prevent its destruction. Oh, and Hulk is there too...

Why it’s worth a watch: It’s a while since we’ve had a standalone movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that’s THIS MUCH FUN. Taking over from Kenneth Branagh and Alan Taylor, who helmed the previous two Thor films, Waititi is the perfect choice to imbue the God of Thunder with some comedy. You’ve got one-liners galore, great set-pieces, and Hemsworth’s best performance as Thor to date. 

Read more: Thor: Ragnarok ending - 5 questions we need answered

14. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

Region: US

The movie: Of all the Star Wars movies ever made, perhaps the one which has generated the most… debate, yes, let’s use that word, debate is The Last Jedi. The second entry in the new trilogy takes the Skywalker saga to a whole new level, as we pick up exactly where The Force Awakens left off with Rey handing over Luke’s old lightsaber to the wise Jedi. From thereon out, writer-director Rian Johnson kicks into high gear, as Rey demands Luke train her, while Leia’s Resistance must fight off General Hux and Kylo Ren’s First Order troops.

Why it's worth a watch: A visually ambitious entry into the Force canon, its writer-director Rian Johnson approaches the story in a similar way to how George Lucas did the original trilogy -- by taking risks. It’s that desire to craft something new that makes this a unique Star Wars movie, that’s nevertheless entertaining from start to finish. Paying a suitable amount of homage to the original trilogy (Luke spending most of the film training) while bringing in the newbies (Hurrah for Rose!) to carry forward the journey brings a nice balance.

Read more: The Last Jedi – What the world is saying about the most divisive Star Wars yet

13. Gravity (2013)

Region: UK

The movie: Set in the eerie silence of space, Alfonso Cuaron's ambitious sci-fi drama is a visual feast... that will have you on the verge of hyperventilating throughout. By introducing state-of-the-art effects, the prospect of being all alone in space is brought to life. With some help from Sandra Bullock, of course, who delivers a lifetime best performance as Dr. Ryan Stone, whose medical prowess and engineering skill finds her on the space shuttle explorer with George Clooney's wisecracking astronaut Matt Kowalski. Things - as you might expect - go terribly wrong when a routine space walk (yes, it's as terrifying as it sounds) goes awry.

Why it's worth a watch: This might be the scariest film that's not a bona fide horror movie. Go in for the mind-boggling spectacle and be amazed at how the boundless echoes of space can seem so darn claustrophobic. No wonder it won 7 Oscars!

12. No Country For Old Men (2007)

Region: US

The movie: A crazed hitman Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) runs rampant after cop Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles across a drug deal gone very, very wrong. What follows is a pulsating chase across state lines as Tommy Lee Jones’ aging cop, Ed, tries his level best to stop things escalating. It doesn’t go well. It comes packed in with some of the greatest twists committed to film – and an ending to die for.

Why it’s worth a watch: Why isn’t it worth watching? Javier Bardem gives a career best performance as the instantly iconic Chigurh; the Coen Brothers somehow transcend their lofty legacy, too, and the cast – from minor character right through to the pair or two stoic, heroic leads – is one of the best ever assembled. Stay for the shootouts, be in awe of the existential commentary and beautiful landscapes. This really is a must-watch movie.

11. Annihilation (2018)

Region: UK

The movie: We’re over halfway through 2018 and Annihilation is absolutely a strong contender for the end-of-year best movie lists. Very loosely based on Jeff Vandermeer’s novel of the same name, it revolves around a parcel of land referred to as ‘Area X’. After something crash lands in Florida, the area develops and grows, gobbling up land at an alarming rate, cut off from the world by an enormous barrier called the Shimmer. All previous exploration groups bar one survivor have failed to return from Area X and the government body in charge, Southern Reach, has no idea why. Still, why not try sending yet another expedition into its fatal clutches? Enter Lena, a scientist whose husband was the sole returnee from the previous mission, who joins four other women desperate to figure it out.

Why it’s worth a watch: A gloriously trippy jaunt into a world previously hinted at in Garland’s Ex Machina, Annihilation bursts at the seams with ideas. With less emphasis on a traditional plot, go into this film with the willingness to soak up the mood, feeling and gorgeous visuals. Part body horror, part survivalist thriller, this stands out for its stellar all-female lead cast, who bring a feminine edge to the traditionally male sci-fi genre. Combine that with the daring, WTF aspects of the story, and you’ll find the hairs standing up on the back of your neck several times throughout. Do not miss this. 

Read more: Annihilation ending - 5 questions we need answered

10. Okja (2017)

(Image: © Netflix)

Region: Worldwide

The movie: A near-future sci-fi flick by Snowpiercer director Bong Joon-ho, this is exactly the type of Netflix Original the world needs: funny, weird, and utterly charming. Part environmental parable, part bleeding heart manifesto, the movie follows, Mija, a 10-year-old whose best friend is a super-pig called Okja. When the lab that created her friend steal the swine away from her, Mija embarks on an adventure to retrieve Okja that takes her across the globe. Unlike the brutal, bleak landscape of Snowpiecer, Okja showcases Joon-Ho’s softer side. It’s still oddball and wacky, but packed with a ton of heart. 

Why it’s worth a watch: One of Netflix’s first movies that manages to juggle different ideas without losing sight of the goal; a real genre-blending effort. Oh, and Tilda Swinton. Anything that involves Tilda Swinton is worth watching.

Read more: Netflix is getting booed at the Cannes film festival. Here’s why that's wrong

9. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Region: US

The movie: The first of Peter Jackson’s SIX movies set in Middle-Earth is a jaw-dropping piece of cinema. It remains even now, nearly two decades after its initial release, a captivating tale. The story of an unlikely hero, the young Hobbit Frodo, as he bands together a fellowship to journey across the world to save all of Middle-Earth is… well, it’s about as cookie-cutter as you can get. But there’s nothing common about Jackson’s fantastical retelling of the Tolkien classic. 

Why it's worth a watch: Bold, exciting filmmaking that weaves character, action, plot, heart, and some mightily ambitious world-building? That’s what you’re getting with the first chapter of the Rings trilogy. It’s a reminder that despite The Hobbit trilogy’s misfire, Fellowship is the real deal. 

Read more: Is it just me, or is An Unexpected Journey the best Middle-Earth movie?

8. Carrie (1976)

Region: UK

The movie: Starting with that rite-of-passage bloody rags encounter, arguably the best King adaptation opens on one of the toughest times for ostracised teen Carrie White (Sissy Spacek). Carrie’s high school struggle is made all the more confusing due to her blossoming telekinetic talent and zealous, manic mother. As the film culminates in an outburst of a lifetime’s pent-up rage, some 40 years later, Brian De Palma’s flick still persists in wringing terror from life’s unsuspecting moments. 

Why it’s worth a watch: A heavily-stylised horror from the late ‘70s? It’s bound to be cheesy as hell, right? You might think it wouldn’t have a lasting impact, Carrie continues to pack a hefty emotional wallop, thanks to Spacek’s central performance. Oh, and let’s not forget the scene with Piper Laurie as Carrie’s mother chopping carrots like her life depends on it.

Read more: The 25 best horror movies of all time, whatever your taste in terror

7. The Shining (1980)

Region: US

The movie: It's quite something when an author shuns an adaptation of their work. Stephen King is not a fan of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. He's stated on more than one occasion that Kubrick's haunting version of his fictional events lacks the depth and characterisation of his source novel. And he's right; it doesn't delve into backstories, or provide answers to why The Overlook hotel - and the evil within its walls - prey on winter caretaker Jack Torrance. That's why it's so effective, because the story is a remarkably simple one. A writer-turned-teacher, struggling with alcoholism, relocates his family to an isolated hotel in the mountains for the winter. Soon after their arrival, his son Danny discovers he has a gift, his wife Wendy discovers her husband’s changing, and Jack? Well, Jack’s making friends with the staff...

Why it's worth a watch: What Kubrick orchestrates is a lesson in mood. The tingles up your spine as Jack shoots the shit with Lloyd the bartender: it's mundane chatter made creepy because there's no-one else in the place except for Jack, his wife Wendy and son Danny. It's an icy blast of a film, perpetuating little in the way of reason and plenty in the way of mystery. Isn't that how true horror gets under the skin? By never telling us how to feel - or why our pulses are racing. That foreboding feeling as Danny trundles through the Overlook's never-ending hallways, stopped dead in his tracks by the sight of two girls who, like Danny and his family, have no place being in the Overlook.

Read more: Heeeeeeere’s 7 things you didn’t know about The Shining

6. Jurassic Park (1993)

Region: US

The movie: 65 million years after dinosaurs are rendered extinct, billionaire John Hammond ponders the ultimate question: “What if I sink a considerable chunk of my fortune into locating dino DNA?” Spielberg’s classic 1993 blockbuster picks up years after that pondering, with Hammond’s dream now a reality, at a safari park wherein the prehistoric animals may indeed munch down on you. 

Why it’s worth a watch: With Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom now on VOD, it’s a good time to revisit the one that started it all. With its legendary effects, that are for the most part, practical, this is one blockbuster that’s aged supremely well. From the characterisations, the iconic set pieces, the wide-eyed wonder of its impossible story, Jurassic Park is the very best of this franchise. Oh, and the first T-Rex attack, that’s always a good reason to watch it. 

Read more:  The 10 craziest Jurassic Park book scenes that should have made the movie