With a recommendation algorithm more complicated than long division, and a catalogue stuffed to the gills with top films, finding the best movies on Netflix can be an ordeal. But then again, who doesn’t like a good challenge? This is the frontier of modern streaming entertainment folks, where you’ve got to be willing to dive into the trenches and wade through the gunk and crud before retrieving a diamond! Should you prefer to, you know, not do that, we’ve had a right good nosey about Netflix's movie selection (even watching El Camino for you).
It’s always tricky knowing which film to hit play on when presented with a bounty of seemingly-amazing movies. We’ve all been drawn in by the promise (i.e. alluring cover art) of a life-changing piece of cinema, only to have our hearts broken, but let that happen no more! With our recommendations for the best movies on Netflix, you’re getting the absolute creme de la creme, the top-notch, the ones you really can’t miss. So what are you waiting for? Get streaming!
Best shows on Netflix | Best movies on Amazon Prime | Best TV shows on Amazon Prime | Best Netflix documentaries | Best Netflix original series | Best Netflix original movies | Best horror movies | Best true crime podcasts | Movie release dates
30. The Edge of Seventeen (2016)
The movie: After pretty much stealing the show from Jeff Bridges in the 2011 True Grit remake, Hailee Steinfeld comes into her own in this spiky coming-of-age comedy. Sure, she’s absolutely slayed in her supporting roles, but it’s here that she’s in her element. Cast as edgy (geddit?) high school junior Nadine, it’s Steinfeld’s central performance that grounds this most excellent teen comedy, which dabbles with troubles and strife of being a kid who no-one takes seriously. Nadine’s journey begins when she tells her teacher Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson) that she’s going to kill herself, and the movie unfolds as we learn why she feels that way.
Why it's worth a watch: This is head and shoulders above the rest of the so-called “teen comedies” out there, most of which are bereft of actual jokes. Steinfeld’s brilliant as Nadine, nailing the line deliveries perfectly, but it’s writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig’s zingy script that recalls the best of Heathers and the warmth of Juno.
29. Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)
The movie: A young Jeff Bridges and a grizzled Clint Eastwood (is there any other kind?) co-star as a couple of grifters in Michael Cimino’s directorial debut. Bridges, then a baby-faced 24-year-old, plays Lightfoot, a scrappy bandit with aspirations of becoming a career thief. Shortly after stealing a car, he crosses paths with Thunderbolt… whose day job is as a preacher. From there, the pair adventure across the states, bumbling through whatever the road throws at them with humour, even bumping into a couple of Thunderbolt’s old pals-turned-enemies, until the perfect opportunity presents itself: a bank robbery.
Why it’s worth a watch: It might feel unfocused at first (the plot doesn’t really kick in until you’re more than halfway through the movie) but that’s the draw. It mixes together the slow-paced happenings of life with action and comedy, sandwiching one of cinema’s earliest ever bromances between achingly cool car chases.
28. Robocop (1987)
The movie: Ten years prior to his supreme satire Starship Troopers, Paul Verhoeven delivered this stonker, dripping with graphic violence. 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.
Why it’s worth a watch: 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 Verhoeven’s Robocop is in another class entirely. This is an ‘80s R-rated creation, after all. Catch it while you can.
27. Bridesmaids (2011)
The movie: A good comedy needs to meet certain criteria. It has to pack in a high ratio of laughs per scene. But that’s not all. It’s got to have heart, too. What sets Bridesmaids apart from its closest competitors (ahem, The Bachelorette) is how it manages to balance those two elements perfectly. The story follows Annie (Kristen Wiig), a struggling baker who accepts her best friend Lilian (Maya Rudolph)’s offer to be her maid of honour. While trying to arrange fun activities for all the bridesmaids, she keeps bristling up against Lilian’s other best pal, Helen (Rose Byrne).
Why it's worth a watch: Forget whining, nagging wives trying to spoil their husbands’ fun, or the sumptuous, cleavage-tastic tempresses who serve only as eye candy. The women of Bridesmaids are not these women. Like their male counterparts have done in comedy for decades, they embark on all sorts of debacles. They’re thrown off planes, they get drunk, accidentally high, soil themselves in the streets and… uhh… steal a lot of labrador puppies.
26. The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018)
The movie: A festival smash set during the early ‘90s, this dive into LGBTQ intervention camps is one of 2018’s best films. Led by a career-best performance from Chloe Grace Moretz, as the title character Cameron, it charts her journey as a gay teen whose experiences in the closet come to light when she’s caught fooling around with the prom queen. Shuttled off to a camp to be cleansed of her “sins” Cameron makes a lot of discoveries about who she truly is, what she wants, and what real friends look like.
Why it’s worth a watch: Moretz is an absolute revelation, diving into the role wholeheartedly, giving us one of her best performances to date. The emotional yo-yoing Cameron goes through is all right there, on her face, or simmering just beneath the surface. A much-needed entry into the gay cinema canon that will only get better with age.
25. Groundhog Day (1993)
The movie: What would you do if you had to live the same day over and over? Harold Ramis' 1993 classic takes that concept and runs with it. Sick of covering the news that he deems unimportant, grumpy weatherman Phil Connors begrudgingly follows his producer Rita and cameraman Larry to the small town of Punxsutawney to shoot a segment on groundhog day. The next morning he discovers that he's living the same 24 hours on a loop.
Why it's worth a watch: Arguably Bill Murray's finest comedic role is as the constantly disgruntled Connors. The amusement lies in the montages wherein Phil experiments with the same scenarios again and again and again. The Ned Ryerson segment, in particular, is divine. Groundhog Day simply wouldn't have its classic status without Murray’s spot-on performance, that wrings laughter and poignancy out of his predicament.
24. Snowpiercer (2013)
Region: UK, US
The movie: In his English-language debut Bong Joon-ho mashes up every genre under the sun, as the story takes place within a gigantic train hurtling across the planet, during a post-apocalyptic, never-ending ice age blizzard. The aftermath of a global warming experiment gone awry is far more violent than you'd expect. Chris Evans stars a rugged everyman who refused to accept his situation as a back-of-the-train dweller. His journey to the front of the vessel finds him in dire straits on multiple occasions at the hands of Tilda Swinton's deliciously twisted villain.
Why it’s worth a watch: This tale of class war is a cut above the rest, Tilda Swinton's snooty Deputy-Minister Mason is a glorious creation. You'll loathe her while unable to take your eyes from the screen.
23. Ex Machina (2015)
The movie: 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. His background leads Nathan to believe Caleb is the perfect candidate 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.
Why it’s worth a watch: 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…
22. To All the Boys I've Loved Before (2018)
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. Scream (1996)
The movie: What's your favourite scary movie? That question would ordinarily fuel a night of horror-soaked discussion, but in the town of Woodsboro, it prompts a bloodbath. A cast of ‘90s up-and-comers, including Neve Campbell as the tormented teen Sidney Prescott and Courteney Cox as the relentless reporter who won't leave her be, Gale Weathers, confront slasher movie cliches in this knife-sharp horror. The masked killer, who’s seen one too many scary movies, stalks and taunts a bunch of high schoolers armed with a hunting knife and a serious bounty of horror trivia. Still the best of the franchise.
Why it’s worth a watch: One of Wes Craven's finest post-Freddy engagements is the perfect balance between genuine scares and black comedy, a true modern horror classic. This packs in the gore, the creeps, and the absolutely bone-chilling opening is a testament to the power of Craven’s directorial eye. That sequence alone is reason to hunker down for this ‘90s classic with the lights off.