The 25 best movies on Netflix (August 2018)

15. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Region: UK, 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 watching: 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. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)

Region: UK, US

The movie: A bunch of teenagers out for a good time cross paths with a couple of overall-wearin’ rednecks. That premise typically spells disaster for the youngsters in question, particularly if they’re in a horror movie. Thing is, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil isn’t your typical horror flick, twisting the meta element into a new direction. When this film’s gang of kids encounter Tucker and Dale, a coupla greasy locals, they’re terrified of them. But what they don’t know is that this pair of locals are the sweetest guys ever, who are actually more scared of the teenagers...

Why it's worth watching: For fans of modern horror who like their scares with a giant dollop of ingenuity, this is the movie for you. Writer-director Eli Craig brings everything a horrorhound would want to the table, including some seriously nutty death scenes.

12. The Descent

Region: US

The movie: Ask yourself how you’d like to spend a weekend getaway with your besties, and it might not involve navigating through an unmapped cave system. That’s what makes The Descent so great from the off; a group of friends decide to explore something many of us would find utterly horrifying, and the results are… well, utterly horrifying. As you might expect from Dog Soldiers director Neil Marshall, things tend to err on the bloody side, but there’s also a healthy dose of shocks and scares to keep your nerves on edge. And depending on where you’re watching the film - US or UK - you’re in for one helluva twist.

Why it’s worth watching: A true modern classic that continues to get better with age, and - shock, horror! - it has an all-female cast. Turning that stagnant old trope of dumb women hobbling towards the killer on its head, The Descent moulds a cast of strong, ass-kicking women. Yes, they have flaws, and they’re not perfect, which is why the real horror below ground is less about monsters and more about people. Oooh.

Read more: ‘The extended delusion of a shattered woman’ - the rock tunnel is The Best Bit of The Descent

11. Annihilation (2018)

Region: UK

The movie: We’re half way through 2018 and Annihilation is already a strong contender for the year’s most ambitious film. 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 watching: 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 watching: 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 watching: 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 20 best Stephen King movies you need to see (but can't unsee)

7. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

(Image: © Marvel)

Region: UK

The movie: Despite what the world thinks about The First Avenger, I think it’s excellent. It is, however, trumped by its sequel that is better in every way imaginable. The first Russo Brothers entry in the MCU is a slick outing, packed to the gills with ambitious action sequences and surprisingly tender emotional beats. Catching up with Cap two years after the events of The Avengers, the whole world comes crashing down when the patriotic avenger learns some harsh truths about his employers. 

Why it’s worth a watch: From the insane car chases, to the twisted ‘70s thriller vibe, to *that* elevator moment, there’s no other film in the MCU that touches its prowess. The Winter Soldier is arguably the best Marvel movie in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Read more: Every new Marvel movie coming until 2019 and beyond

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 in theaters, 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