Uncut Gems has arrived on Netflix in the United States, so now our friends across the Atlantic can stream one of the best Netflix movies. So, what else should you be watching? Look no further as we delve into al the best movies on Netflix right now.
We have science-fiction greats, gangster masterpieces, and animated classics. But, how did we come up with our list of the best Netflix movies? Well, we brought the great minds at GamesRadar+ and Total Film together to bring you what's hopefully one of the more varied and assured lists currently going on the internet. To accommodate for our worldwide readership, we've got movies streaming in the US and the UK and separated them into different sections. Best of all, if a movie is not streaming in your part of the world, then check out our handy piece on the best VPN for Netflix to help you access these movies wherever you are. So, without any more waffle, here are the best Netflix movies currently available to stream.
The best Netflix movies available in the US and UK
Why Ex Machina is one of the best Netflix movies: 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 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.
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…
Why Step Brothers is one of the best Netflix movies: Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly are the modern-day Laurel and Hardy: two comedians who work in together perfect harmony. While some of their projects have been atrocious (we need to all forget about their take on Sherlock), Step Brothers marks the duo's greatest movie to date.
Step Brothers centres on two grown-ass man-babies, played by Ferrell and Reilly, whose parents get married, making them stepbrothers. As pampered toddlers do, the duo initially hate each other, but soon enough find common ground in a shared enemy: Derek, played by the always great Adam Scott. A modern comedy classic.
Why Marriage Story one of the best Netflix movies: Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson play a couple looking to get a divorce. He's a controlling theatre director; she's an actress looking to break out into the movies. Together, they are a mess whose only real bind remains their son.
Marriage Story really is a warts-and-all piece of filmmaking, with all the horrible details of divorce – having to look for lawyers, questioning who gets to keep the child, parents who seemingly go out of their way to worsen the situation – being portrayed on screen. That realness comes from director Noah Baumbach's impeccable screenplay, which he wrote after completing his own divorce. Not one to watch if your relationship isn't emotionally stable.
Region: UK, US
Why Inglourious Basterds is one of the best movies on Netflix: There are few directors as well regarded as Quentin Tarantino – and for good reason. Watch any of his flicks and you can see how each one – whether crime-caper or reimagined Western – falls into the Tarantino style. Inglourious Basterds is Tarantino's war movie and centres primarily on the huge battles, Basterds focusses on one a small group of soldiers, the Basterds, who go hunting Nazi scalps.
Of course, every group of heroes needs a worthy advisory. Enter a revelatory Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa, an SS Colonel, and one of the silver screen's best villains. Waltz plays the creepy neurotic murderer to perfection. A performance for the ages.
Why The Irishman one of the best Netflix movies: Scorsese’s adaptation of I Heard You Paint Houses – Charles Brandt’s book chronicling the life of mob underling Frank Sheeran – took its time getting here, and takes a fair amount of time to watch. Packed with a show-stopping cast, Robert DeNiro leads the show as the former truck driver who falls in with a Pennsylvania crime family led by Joe Pesci’s Russell Bufalino.
This is a classic Scorsese pic that’s all the better for its three-and-a-half-hour runtime, which delves deep into a previously-unexplored territory: the loneliness of a lifelong crook. Alongside Al Pacino as Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa, Pesci and De Niro receive two of their meatiest parts to date. The movie’s CGI de-aging techniques will wow you.
Why Roma is one of the best Netflix movies: All filmmakers put themselves in their work. It’s unavoidable. Alfonso Cuaron brings his past to the fore in his opus, Roma, using his 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 '70s, Roma spins on ideas of class and culture, and places them inside some of the most breathtaking shots you’ll likely ever watch on Netflix.
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?
Why Uncut Gems is one of the best Netflix movies: The Safdie brothers proved themselves a deft hand at adrenaline-pumping action with Good Time (also available on Netflix). Uncut Gems, however, sees the directing duo working on another level entirely. Adam Sandler plays Howie, a Jewish jeweller based in New York. Howie owes a lot of people a lot of money, and also has a gambling addiction. Cue a movie that will tear your nerves apart as you watch the strangely likeable central character (put that down to Sandler's awards-worthy performance) do everything wrong. One to watch if you're ready to really get your blood pumping.
I Lost My Body
Why I Lost My Body is one of the best movies on Netflix: A French animation about a severed hand trying to reconnect with its owner is a darkly funny adventure-drama that’s packed with pathos. I Lost My Body is a study of scaled-down, ground-level danger, with great comedy found in the detail. It’s also a meditation on fractured identity, heightened by the hand’s poignant hope for reconciliation. Director/co-writer Jeremy Clapin sensitively combines melancholy with an ultimately life-affirming message.
The best Netflix movies to watch in the US
Back to the Future
Why Back to the Future one of the best Netflix movies: Where to begin? Back to the Future is a quintessential sci-fi classic that's left its imprint on everything from Rick and Morty to pretty much every show and movie involving time travel. But it's not just a clever concept done right. The story of Marty McFly's misadventures in the past with the hare-brained scientist Doc Brown is filled with energetic action, a race against time and, at its core, plenty of heart. The sequels may have stretched the idea of time travel further, but it was perfected here.
Why The Witch is one of the best Netflix movies: 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, 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.
The Witch gloriously melds its period setting with familial drama and supernatural beings. It's most scary when Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy in her star-making role) and her mother are at odds. Oh, and of course, Black Philip makes it worth a watch. Who? Hit play and find out.
Why Lady Bird one of the best Netflix movies: Greta Gerwig's directorial debut showed the world her incredible talents as a filmmaker. Lady Bird's a true coming-of-age classic, focusing on a young woman leaving her hometown to go to college.
Yes, there's heartbreak, family-friction, and – of course – a whole lot of self-discovery. Yet, Lady Bird's true strength is being able to elicit such strong emotions thanks to one important factor: nostalgia. Gerwig planned, with cinematographer Sam Levy, for the movie to look like a memory, the image somewhat blurred while also warm and fuzzy. Even if you're not a redhead from Sacramento, California, it's hard not to relate and empathise with Lady Bird's central character, making for a wonderful story that will shred your emotional core.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Why Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the best Netflix movies: Action adventures don’t come as iconic as Raiders of the Lost Ark. Steven Spielberg’ charts the escapades of archeologist Indiana Jones, who, aside from having *the* coolest name ever, does double duty as a professor and treasure hunter. Thrown into scrapes during his globe-trotting antics is simply part of the job.
Raiders embodies the spirit of pure popcorn cinema. Never silly or dull, the love and attention paid to each aspect of the production shows. And, while Star Wars fans may argue otherwise, it’s his performance as Indie that highlight Ford at his matinee idol peak, cementing his status as a smooth, action hero. It's a damn near perfect movies – and if you haven't seen Raiders, then get streaming now!
Why Her is one of the best Netflix movies: The tender tale of a lonely man who finds companionship with his operating system – only Spike Jonze could take that concept and craft a sweet, tender story. This 2013 Oscar-winner follows the life of professional letter writer Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix). Recently separated from his wife (Rooney Mara) and struggling to move on, he befriends his new A.I. operating system, Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson).
A forbidden love story between humans and technology? I hear you: this topic can get a little icky, but Her gracefully sidesteps any gross scenarios due to Samantha’s lack of physicality. At its core, the movie explores the topic of impossible romance while revealing a lot about our relationships with devices.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Why Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is one of the best Netflix movies: Peter Parker gets bitten by a spider, his Uncle Ben dies, and… zzz. Sorry, nodded off there for a moment. We all know Spidey’s origin story. That’s why Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse opts to bypass that retelling and dive into something new. The socially-awkward New York teen Miles Morales is the lead, and this is his story – one of diversity, acceptance, and compassion, that fuels one of the best Marvel movies made that’s not in the MCU.
It’s hard to find fault Spider-Verse – one of the best superhero movies of all time. Considering how well we know this character, it's miraculous that Spider-Verse makes the Spidey universe feel utterly original. It’s a blast, it feels fresh, the soundtrack is dynamite, and it’s visually stunning.
Why Raging Bull is one of the best Netflix movies: The Irishman may be Martin Scorsese's attention-grabbing Netflix original, but Raging Bull is its leaner, sharper, and more bruising black-and-white cousin. Following the life and career of rugged boxer Jake LaMotta (Robert DeNiro in what might be his finest physical performance), it charts the personal and professional downfall of one of the hardest hitters to ever practice the sweet science.
Tied together by a remarkably restrained performance by that other Scorsese stalwart Joe Pesci, this is 12 rounds you’ll be happy to sit through time and time again. A classic for a reason – get Raging Bull on the telly now.
There Will be Blood
Why There Will Be Blood is one of the best movies on Netflix US: Few movies have received the critical adoration that There Will Be Blood has. Paul Thomas Anderson's masterpiece, the movie picked up nominations for every major award under the sun in 2007.
So, what makes There Will Be Blood so special? Put simply, it's Daniel Day Lewis's stunning central performance as charismatic oil baron Daniel Plainview. The actor grows to become truly terrifying in this epic period drama that captures the hardships of the early 1900s. Paul Dano plays dual roles as the twins Paul Sunday and Eli Sunday, and is wonderfully strange in both roles.
Why Moonlight is one of the best Netflix movies: A coming-of-age drama with a difference, Moonlight tells the tale of Chiron throughout three stages in his life. Each chapter unveils the troubles he’s overcome, both internal and external, from his burgeoning sexuality to the abuse he suffers as a child. Choosing to focus on the truth of his characters over a complex plot or distracting visuals, writer-director Barry Jenkins lets the movie float along as if we are spectators to Chiron’s life.
The Academy doesn’t always get it right when it comes to Best Picture. With Moonlight, they were spot on, giving the most prestigious accolade to the most deserving movie. A timely, sensitive piece that deals with the heavy topics of Chiron’s life with the lightest touch, most of which is highlighted by the superb central performances from the Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, and Alex Hibbert. Mahershala Ali’s turn as the drug dealer-turned-father figure Juan is sublime.
The best Netflix movies to watch in the UK
Why Robocop is one of the best movies on Netflix UK: Blood! Guts! More blood! That’s why! Robocop harks back to an era, albeit in the recent past, where action blockbusters weren’t beholden to a PG-13 rating. Sure, we’ve now got the likes of Deadpool, but Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop is in another class entirely.
In Robocop, Detroit runs rampant with violent crime, leading the police department into privatisation. Enter shifty corporation Omni Consumer Products, which brutally murders a beat cop Alex Murphy in order to use his barely-living body to test their new cyborg cop tech. That’s all well and good, except Murphy retains much of his human memories, giving him an added edge and a score to settle with OCP. This is pure ‘80s R-rated action. Ignore the reboot (also available on Netflix).
True Romance (1993)
Why True Romance is one of the best Netflix movies: Notoriously overlooked in favour of Reservoir Dogs and its narrative gimmicks, this is arguably the best ‘90s Tarantino movie. Except, of course, he didn’t direct it. Tony Scott handles this bloody tale of love triumphing over crime, penned by Tarantino while he was still working at the video store and eager to squeeze in as many snatches of cinema as possible into his pacy script. Christian Slater snags top billing as Clarence Worley, a seemingly-nice guy with a love of Sonny Chiba movies who gets caught up with mobsters when he falls for Alabama (Patricia Arquette), a prostitute.
True Romance cuts away the fat that sometimes Tarantino delights in. Slater’s at the top of his game here, and that’s largely down to the direction of Scott, whose eye for nailing set-pieces gave us one of the best movie scenes of the ‘90s as Slater’s nervous nerd tries to shake down his buddy in an elevator, while the chucklesome cops (Tom Sizemore and Michael Madsen) listen in. Superb stuff.
Why The Terminator is one of the best Netflix movies: Low budget, high concept – The Terminator remains a solid sci-fi horror that borrows from oodles of genres to tell a love story set in a world of machines. James Cameron’s 1984 flick cast Arnold Schwarzenegger as the title character, a cyborg sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) the mother of future resistance leader, John. The resistance sends her a protector in the form of Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), who will do anything to keep her safe. Over thirty years later, this movie still has the power to give you chills.
The Terminator put James Cameron on the map, proving his skills at world-building, character development, and genre were on point for a relative newbie. While its sequel had a huge budget in comparison, it’s impressive to witness the ingenuity of the production, giving us a tightly-plotted thriller with some of the best ‘80s set pieces.
Why Annihilation is one of the best Netflix movies: Very loosely based on Jeff Vandermeer’s novel of the same name, Annihilation is a gloriously trippy jaunt into a world previously hinted at in Garland’s Ex Machina. With less emphasis on a traditional plot, this movie requires you to go into it 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 leading 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 your hairs standing up on the back of your neck several times throughout. Do not miss this.
You Were Never Really Here
Why You Were Never Really Here is one of the best Netflix movies: Lynne Ramsey has only directed a handful of movies, yet she has established herself as one of the UK's premiere filmmakers. You Were Never Really Here, Ramsey's follow up to We Need To Talk About Kevin, is a visceral revenge flick that centres on Joaquin Phoenix's former American military man who's afflicted with PTSD.
The action is brutal, the editing is unlike anything else, and Phoenix's performance is awards worthy – arguably even stronger than his portrayal of the Joker in that controversial supervillain blockbuster. Come for the Oscar-winning actor, stay for the thrilling direction.
Why Misery is one of the best Netflix movies: One of those rare Stephen King adaptations that faithfully recreates all the best parts from the novel, while adding its own elements of fear, Misery still stands up 28 years later. James Caan stars as famed novelist Paul Sheldon, whose writing rituals include finishing each book at a secluded locale in Colorado. Except, this time as he begins the drive back to New York, he encounters a storm and his car veers off into a ravine. Lucky for him, his number one fan Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates, in the role that won her the Oscar) is there to save him and nurse him back to health.
Director Rob Reiner perfectly meshes the over-zealous fanaticism of Bates’ character with the genuine terror of Caan’s imprisoned writer. It’s a near-perfect page-to-screen movie.
La La Land
Why La La Land is one of the best movies on Netflix: Frankly, you need a heart of pure concrete not to be moved by Damien Chazelle's modern musical. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are the perfect star-crossed lovers. One's a jazz musician who enjoys the finer things; the other a budding actress striving for the big-time. In the end, though they seem almost perfect for each other, their ambitions drive a wedge in their relationship.
The songs, the jazz, the colours, the dancing... La La Land remains one of those rare movies that immediately transports you to another, beautiful world. One where people spontaneously burst into song, and your biggest worry is making it in hollywood.
Why Spirited Away is one of the best Netflix movies: Studio Ghibli finally earned an Oscar in 2002 when Spirited Away won Best Animated Picture. It’s hard to believe this movie is nearly 20 years old when it still feels so fresh. Directed by Ghibli stalwart Hayao Miyazaki, the anime follows 10-year old Chihiro, who enters into a mysterious world after her parents undergo a strange transformation when they eat at an abandoned amusement park. Chihiro’s journey begins as she ventures past the park into a bathhouse where she meets Yubaba, the owner, who tells her about the world of spirits she’s been whisked away to...
Gorgeous, pain-staking animation that pays attention to detail in every single frame. Miyazaki himself would often scribble thousands of frames. It’s that commitment to every moment, making Chihiro’s journey burst with unique visuals and magical interludes, that elevate this to one of the best-animated movies ever made. Plus, many of the other Studio Ghibli movies are currently available to stream! They are, for the most part, all excellent – we just picked our favourite for this list.
Why Phantom Thread is one of the best Netflix movies: Paul Thomas Anderson has become one of the most critically adored directors in Hollywood. Phantom Thread re-teams the filmmaker with Daniel Day Lewis for the actor's apparently last movie. And if this is Lewis's final performance on-screen, then what a way to go out. He plays Reynolds Woodcock, an egotistical, infantile fashion designer for the wealthy who, in short, needs to be reigned in. Enter Vicky Krieps as Alma Elson.
Their's is a love story – one that's twisted and turned into something wholly original. There's a reason this picked up multiple Oscar-nominations, just don't start streaming Phantom Thread expecting a conventional ending.
Why Blue Velvet is one of the best Netflix movies: Off the back of Dune, David Lynch returned from sci-fi to what he knew best: the dark, seedy underbelly of American life. White picket fences are the backdrop for his 1986 indie, that waves away the tiresome idea of a quaint affair being the biggest mystery behind closed doors, and instead dives into the brutality of what lies beneath. Kyle MacLachlan plays Jeffrey, a squeaky-clean college guy who returns home and ends up discovering a severed ear in a nearby lot. With his butter-wouldn’t-melt girlfriend Sandy (Laura Dern), the pair aim to solve the mystery and find themselves crossing paths with singer Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rosselini) and beastly thug Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper).
Blue Velvet is one of *those* movies that's continually stuck on best lists. If you’ve yet to see Lynch's masterpiece, now is the time to find out what all the fuss is about. The director's deranged, twisted vision of the real America is lush, replete with iconic visuals and some epic one-liners. Hopper, Rossellini, Dern, and MacLachlan make for a thoroughly unique central quartet.
12 Years A Slave
Why 12 Years A Slave is one of the best Netflix movies: Steve McQueen's tale of a freed black man who's captured by whites and forced into slavery is, as you would expect, a harrowing but important tale. Based on the true story of Solomon Northup, 12 Years A Slave has become a modern classic, thanks to its astonishing cinematography and incredible performances.
Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon with the gravitas only someone classically trained on stage could offer. Meanwhile, Michael Fassbender terrifies as a malicious slave owner, and Lupita Nyong'o gives a stunningly real performance as a cotton picker. This is powerful cinema that takes a long while to digest.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Why The Silence of the Lambs is one of the best Netflix movies: Anthony Hopkins’ turn as the flesh-eating Hannibal Lecter is so embedded in our culture, that, with a quick sizzle of the tongue and a mention of Chianti, people know what you’re referencing. The Silence of the Lambs is more than Lecter’s churlish behaviour, however. It’s a stunning masterpiece, trimmed of all fat, that tells a story of good versus evil with distinct areas of grey to make the entire experience all the more thrilling. Jodie Foster’s recent FBI graduate Clarice Starling is a cut above the rest of her class, earning the respect of her superior Jack Crawford, who sends her to a psychiatric hospital to interview the notorious serial killer Hannibal Lecter with the hopes of gaining insight on another criminal who currently has a Senator’s daughter held hostage.
Often copied but seldom bettered, The Silence of the Lambs is a gripping, watchable-as-hell thriller. From the script choices to the casting, from the direction to its skilled editing, which transforms a standard cat-and-mouse ending into one of cinema’s most inventive finales, the film remains some thirty-something years later, a chilling piece of work.
Why Goodfellas is one of the best Netflix movies: “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.” So goes Goodfellas’ opening voiceover; an iconic one-liner that sets the stage for the movie to come. Directed by Martin Scorsese, the film is based on the true story of mobster Henry Hill, whose exploits are so outlandish you’ll be gobsmacked to learn they actually happened. With excellent turns from Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Lorraine Bracco, this is, simply put, terrific cinema.
The fast pace, the action sequences, that gorgeous tracking shot, and Liotta’s superb voiceover mark Goodfellas as a classic, but it’s the inevitable downfall of the major players involved that makes it so much damn fun to watch.