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54 best movies to watch on Netflix right now

There are some award-winning, thought-provoking, genre-changing films streaming right now on Netflix – here's our pick of the very best.

OUTSIDE THE WIRE

Cinemas might still be shuttered – and the biggest movies subject to yet more delays – but film fans around the country can at least find solace in the excellent selection of flicks available on streaming services such as Netflix.

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The streaming giant has kept its library very well stocked throughout the pandemic, with a range of critically acclaimed films from years gone by complemented by a steady stream of brand new releases.

Already in 2021, the platform has debuted new movies such as futuristic flick Outside the Wire and moving drama Pieces of a Woman – and indeed plans are in place for a brand new film to be introduced to the library every single week of the year.

And then, of course, there’s the extensive catalogue – which includes ’60’s classics like Midnight Cowboy, sci-fi essentials like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and an almost endless supply of films from the ’90s onwards, encompassing just about every genre imagineable.

If you’re searching for something more bitesized, make sure to visit our list of the best series on Netflix for your next TV binge.

Here’s our selection of the best films Netflix has to offer.

Last updated 22nd January 2021

Les Miserables (2019)

Not to be confused with the musical – or indeed any other adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic novel – this tremendous film follows events unfolding over one day in a Paris suburb after France’s victory in the 2018 World Cup and instantly drew comparisons with Mathieu Kassovitz iconic ’90s banlieue film.

The plot centres on a young teenager who, after stealing a lion cub from a traveling circus, becomes the victim of an increasingly hardline pursuit by the Anti-Crime Squad, including uncertain new recruit Stéphane. Exploring themes of police violence, poverty and discrimination, this is a biting, incredibly relevant piece of work.

Watch on Netflix 

Midnight Cowboy (1969)

John Schlesinger’s exceptional 1969 drama won Best Picture at the 42nd Academy Awards and remains an essential landmark of the New Hollywood era – complete with two memorable performances from Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman and a superb soundtrack, notably including the frequent use of Harry Nilsen’s Everybody’s Talkin’.

It follows Voight’s wide-eyed New York newcomer Joe, whose attempts to fit into life in the big city leads to an unlikely friendship with the outspoken outcast Ratso Rizzo, played to brilliant effect by Hoffman (“I’m walkin’ here!”). At once darkly funny and achingly sad, this is an excellent examination of late ’60s New York, and one of the best odd couple films of all time.

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The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

The Wolf of Wall Street
Paramount

Directed by veteran filmmaker Martin Scorsese, this black comedy follows real-life figure Jordan Belfort as he rises up the ranks of a Wall Street stockbroker before becoming embroiled in corruption and fraud in the financial district.

Based on Belfort’s memoir of the same name, The Wolf of Wall Street stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the ambitious stockbroker, with standout performances from Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey and Cristin Milioti.

Watch on Netflix.

Babyteeth (2019)

Babyteeth
Universal Pictures

Starring Little Women star Eliza Scanlen, coming-of-age drama Babyteeth follows Milla, a 16-year-old girl recently diagnosed with cancer who falls in love with 23-year-old drug addict Moses (Toby Wallace) despite her wealthy parents disapproval.

Featuring a stellar cast which includes Ben Mendelsohn (Captain Marvel), Essie Davis (Game of Thrones) and Emily Barclay (The Light Between Oceans), this Australian indie lives up to its award-winning reputation thanks to a heartbreaking performance from Scanlen and Shannon Murphy’s delicate direction.

Watch on Netflix.

Outside the Wire (2021)

OUTSIDE THE WIRE
Netflix

Avengers: Infinity War’s Anthony Mackie plays an android soldier in Netflix’s latest action film offering, Outside the Wire.

Set in the near future in 2036, we follow drone pilot Thomas Harp (Damson Idris), whose recent disobedience has landed him in hot water. As punishment, he’s tasked with assisting Captain Leo (Mackie), a classified robot soldier, in acquiring a doomsday device in the midst of a civil war in Eastern Europe.

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Easy Rider (1969)

Along with a handful of late ’60s films including The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde and Midnight Cowboy, Dennis Hopper’s iconic road movie was one of the key films responsible for ushering in the New Hollywood period in American cinema, and remains a counter-culture classic to this day.

Boasting a unique editing style, memorable performances from Hopper, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson, and one of the best soundtracks of all time, the film explores the rise of the hippie movement across the United States as two freewheeling bikers encounter opposition to and curiosity about their lifestyle while making their way to New Orleans for the Mardi Gras festival.

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Pieces of a Woman (2020)

Pieces of a Woman
Netflix

Netflix original film Pieces of a Woman stars The Crown’s Vanessa Kirby as Martha, a pregnant young woman who suffers a traumatic home birth, leading to the death of her newborn daughter. Together with her husband (Shia LaBeouf), Martha learns to live with her unbearable grief whilst taking her midwife to court.

With a star-studded cast featuring the likes of Ellen Burstyn (Requiem for a Dream), Molly Parker (Lost in Space) and Sarah Snook (Succession), this harrowing exploration of bereavement is undoubtedly a career high for Kirby, who delivers one of her best performances to date.

Watch on Netflix.

Tag (2018)

Tag
Warner Bros

Based on a true story published in The Wall Street Journal, 2018 comedy Tag follows a group of friends, who’ve kept the same game of tag going since 1983, as they attempt to catch the only member of the group who hasn’t been tagged before he retires from the game.

Starring The Avengers’ Jeremy Renner, The Hangover’s Ed Helms, New Girl’s Jake Johnson, Mad Men’s Jon Hamm and Broad City’s Hannibal Buress with Isla Fisher (The Great Gatsby), Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation) and Annabelle Wallis (Peaky Blinders) in supporting roles, Tag is a fun and outrageous action romp, perfect for family movie night.

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All is True (2019)

Noted Shakespearean actor Kenneth Branagh takes on the role of the Bard himself, in this gentle film about William Shakespeare’s final years.

Co-starring Dame Judi Dench, All is True begins in 1613, when the Globe Theatre burns down and famed playwright Shakespeare is forced to leave London and return home to Stratford-upon-Avon – only to be met with a chilly reception from his own neglected family.

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The Prom (2020)

The Prom
Netflix

Based on the musical of the same name and featuring an all-star cast (Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, James Corden and Andrew Rannells), The Prom‘s plot revolves around two queer high schoolers (newcomer Jo Ellen Pellman and Hamilton’s Ariana DeBose) who just want to go to their prom together – but who face prejudice and homophobia from their local community.

Enter a group of down-but-not-out Broadway stars who hope to take up the girls’ plight as a charity case (and revamp their public images at the same time).

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Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020)

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020)
Netflix

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom stars Viola Davis as the real-life “Mother of the Blues,” Ma Rainey, opposite  the late Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman in his final on-screen performance as the mercurial trumpeter Levee.

Based on August Wilson’s play of the same name, the action takes place during a claustrophobic recording session, in which tempers flare, truths are revealed, and jealousies named. Inspired by real-life themes from the time, you can find out more about Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom true story here.

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The Prestige (2006)

Between making Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan teamed up with Christian Bale again for this mystery thriller about two magicians who become fierce rivals in 1800s England, based on a novel of the same name by Christopher Priest.

Hugh Jackman and Bale play the lead roles, and as we’ve come to expect from Nolan there’s also a killer supporting cast – featuring Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson and David Bowie, who turns in a memorable performance as Nikola Tesla. There’s great invention and intrigue on show, with a twisty narrative that will keep you in a constant state of captivation.

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Groundhog Day (1993)

Harold Ramis’ 1993 film is correctly regarded as one of the finest comedy films of all time, starring Bill Murray at his very best as Phil Connors, a cynical and misanthropic weatherman who is sent to the town of Punxsutawney with his producer Rita Hanson (Andie MacDowell) and cameraman Larry to cover the annual Groundhog Day ceremony.

In a set-up which has been regularly aped since (sometimes successfully, sometimes not so much) Phil soon wakes up to discover that he has entered a time-loop – which he can not escape unless he can do something about his unfriendly and antisocial manner. Incredibly tightly written and packed with some excellent jokes (including a memorable one about déjà vu) this is a film that’s hard not to fall in love with.

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Mank (2020)

David Fincher’s first film in six years, Mank is a stylish black and white drama that reevaluates Golden Age Hollywood through the eyes of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz – known to his friends as Mank. The film specifically deals with the issue of the authorship of seminal Orson Welles film Citizen Kane, which Mank claimed he should have had the sole screenwriting credit for.

The stellar cast includes Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Tuppence Middleton, Tom Burke, and many more, and the film is already winning rave reviews from critics. It is also something of a passion project for Fincher – the script was written by his late father, Jack, and he has reportedly been trying to get the film made for more than twenty years.

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Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Steven Spielberg’s iconic sci-fi movie was his first film after Jaws, and had been something of a pet project for the director, who also has the sole screenwriting credit. It follows Roy (Richard Dreyfuss), an electrical lineman who becomes obsessed with the existence of aliens after an encounter with a UFO, eventually teaming up with a woman with similar fixations.

The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning for cinematography, and has long been considered hugely influential – having been picked as a favourite movie by several prominent directors.

The Handmaiden (2016)

The Handmaiden

Highly acclaimed Korean director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy) masterfully adapts Sarah Walters’ 2002 novel Fingersmith in this sumptuous period thriller. Setting against the backdrop of Korea under Japanese colonial rule (as opposed to the Victorian England setting of the source material), the film is full of shocking twists and turns and is home to a wonderfully macabre atmosphere.

Coming in at almost three hours long, the epic story starts with an orphaned pickpocket and a con man devising an elaborate plot to seduce and bilk a Japanese woman out of her inheritance. Intricately plotted and beautifully realised.

Fish Tank (2009)

Andrea Arnold is one of the finest British directors working today, and her second feature film Fish Tank arguably remains the strongest entry in her impressive filmography. The film follows a volatile teenager, Mia, who lives in an East London council estate and has a fractious relationship with her mother and sister.

Over the course of the film, she becomes close to her mother’s new boyfriend, Conor – played to chilling effect by Michael Fassbender – who it soon turns out is an exploitative and deeply unsavoury presence.

It’s a hard-hitting slice of social realism that has at its core some truly excellent performances, with Kierston Wareing, Fassbender and newcomer Katie Jarvis all excelling in the lead roles.

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Venom (2018)

Tom Hardy plays the lead in this dark Sony superhero film based on the Marvel comics. Eddie Brock (Hardy) is an investigative journalist who is researching a top-secret project involving alien lifeforms inhabiting human bodies.

Predictably, Brock is accidentally inhabited by one of those lifeforms – ‘Venom’ – himself, but less certain is whether or not this violent and destructive alien will eventually turn Brock onto a darker path, or even erode his personality up until the point when he’s unrecognisable.

The film also co-stars Michelle Williams as Brock’s ex-fiancée and the district attorney, Anne Weying, whose alternate identity in the comics is ‘She-Venom’.

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Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018)

Peni (Kimiko Glen), Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), Peter Parker (Jake Johnson), Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage) in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Sony)

Critics and audiences alike were blown away by this refreshing new take on the Spider-Man story, which utilises an eye-popping style of animation to tell the origin of teenager Miles Morales.

After his own run-in with a radioactive spider, Miles becomes the latest person to take on the mantle of Spider-Man, only to discover that he’s joined a wild and wacky multiverse of people to have done so.

With a little help from Peter Parker, Gwen Stacy, Peni Parker, Spider-Ham and the hysterical Spider-Man Noir (voiced by none other than Nicolas Cage), Miles takes on the formidable comic book foe Kingpin.

A thrilling and hilarious superhero adventure, a technological triumph and a touching coming-of-age story, Into The Spider-Verse is a must-watch. It’s no coincidence that the film took home Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards.

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Sorry to Bother You (2018)

This darkly comedic drama turned heads upon release back in 2018, with its unpredictable story about a telemarketer whose success at work finds him inducted into a shocking corporate conspiracy.

While the plot becomes increasingly unpredictable as it progresses, the absurd moments are all in service to an important message about how capitalism can exploit and abuse the working classes.

Lakeith Stanfield (Knives Out) gives a superb performance in the lead role, with a stellar supporting cast that includes Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok), Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead) and Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name).

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Rocks (2020)

Rocks

This coming of age film from director Sarah Gavron was created in collaboration with the cast, and the result is one of the most moving, lively, and original British films for quite some time. The film has an incredible amount of heart, capturing the experiences of its young protagonists living in London in an incredible manner.

At its centre is a group of wonderful young actors, many of whom are making their screen debuts, and they all give exceptional performances, with lead star Bukky Bakray and supporting character Kosar Ali, in particular, standing out for their charisma and chemistry. A must watch for all film fans.

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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Paramount Pictures

Directed by House of Cards’ David Fincher, this romantic drama was one of the biggest films of 2008 and stars Brad Pitt as the titular character, a man born in 1918 who ages in reverse.

Loosely based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story of the same name, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button follows Benjamin throughout his life as he ages unconventionally, with A-listers Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson, Julia Ormond, Tilda Swinton, Mahershala Ali, Jared Harris and Elle Fanning making up the star-studded cast.

This epic fantasy is an inspired two-and-a-half hours of storytelling, featuring stellar performances from some of Hollywood’s biggest names.

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Citation (2020)

CITATION-THE-MOVIE-OFFICIAL

Based on a true story, this Nigerian thriller released earlier this year is about a bright university student, played by Temi Otedola, who takes on the academic establishment when she reports a popular professor who tried to rape her.

Director Kunle Afolayan has stated that his movie’s aim is to empower women to stand up and report cases of sexual harassment and the film tackles the “sex for grades” scandal which has afflicted educational institutions in West Africa. Earlier this year Nigeria passed an anti-sexual harassment bill.

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His House (2020)

His House
Netflix

Filmmaker Remi Weekes expertly blends kitchen-sink realism with more supernatural haunted house elements in this stunning debut feature which boasts incredible performances from Sope Dirisu and Wunmi Mosaku.

The film follows a couple who flee war-torn South Sudan and travel to the UK to seek asylum – tragically losing their daughter in the process. After being held in a detention centre, the couple are eventually provided with a dilapidated house to stay in by caseworker Mark (Matt Smith). But they soon find that a witch has followed them from their home, while they also have to deal with prejudice from unwelcoming neighbours.

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Rebecca (2020)

REBECCA
Netflix

This brand new adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel of the same name stars Lily James as a young woman who agrees to marry wealthy English widower, George Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer) and moves into his Cornwall mansion – the beautiful Manderley estate.

The new Mrs de Winter soon finds that her life is made increasingly difficult by Manderley’s formidable housekeeper Mrs Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas), who remains devoted to de Winter’s now-deceased first wife, Rebecca. Full of dramatic twists and turns, the faithful adaptation of Rebecca is perfect for fans of gothic romance.

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Read our full Rebecca review

Clueless (1995)

Clueless Alicia Silverstone & Stacey Dash © Paramount Pictures Intl

A romcom classic, 1995 film Clueless stars Alicia Silverstone as popular, wealthy student Cher who believes she has a talent for matchmaking at her Beverly Hills-based high school and decides to give new student Tai Frasier (Brittany Murphy) a makeover.

Loosely based on Jane Austen’s Emma, this mildly satirical look at 90’s Valley Girl culture features an array of now-famous stars, including Paul Rudd, Stacey Dash, Wallace Shawn, Donald Faison, Jeremy Sisto and Breckin Meyer.

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Game Night (2018)

Anyone in the mood for a wacky comedy need look no further than this hidden gem from two years ago, which stars Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams as a couple who arrange frequent game nights with their friends. On one of these nights, a kidnapping occurs that the attendees believe to be staged in service of an elaborate competition. Little do they know that the abduction was very much real and they are haplessly wandering into a very dangerous situation.

Bateman and McAdams are electric, demonstrating hilarious comedic chemistry throughout, while the movie is able to pack in belly laughs and a few genuinely thrilling moments. The star-studded cast also includes Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad), Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe) and Lamorne Morris (New Girl).

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Read our full Game Night review

Gerald’s Game (2017)

Already binge-watched both The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor in the run-up to Halloween? Have no fear (or rather, do), as it turns out there’s a spooky film offering by director Mike Flanagan, and it’s available on Netflix right now: Gerald’s Game.

Based on Stephen King’s book of the same name, this psychological horror flick stars Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood as a married couple who attempt to spice things up while holidaying in a remote house – only for husband Gerald to have a heart attack and die while his wife, Jessie, is still handcuffed to the bed and unable to free herself.

Watch Gerald’s Game on Netflix

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

This factual drama comes from acclaimed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, whose past work includes television series The West Wing and Mark Zuckerberg biopic The Social Network. Here, he turns his attention to a 1969 trial that dominated the US news cycle as it unfolded, charging seven anti-Vietnam War protestors with conspiracy and crossing state lines with the intention of inciting riots.

Originally planned for a cinema release before the coronavirus pandemic quashed those plans, The Trial of the Chicago 7 boasts a truly magnificent cast. Recent Emmy winner Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Watchmen), Sacha Baron Cohen (The Spy), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception), Michael Keaton (Spider-Man: Homecoming) and Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) are among the names assembled, all of whom are on top form.

Packing some powerful messages that remain highly relevant to this day, The Trial of the Chicago 7 is another smart drama from Sorkin that is likely to be a major awards contender this year.

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The Trial of the Chicago 7 true story explained

David Attenborough: a Life on Our Planet (2020)

Iconic broadcaster Sir David Attenborough has released his most personal documentary to date, reflecting on his incredible career touring the planet and seeing the wonders that nature has to offer. But there’s an urgent message to the piece: drastic action is required if the human race is to avoid climate disaster.

This feature-length documentary film reveals just how much damage environments around the world have endured in recent years, while also offering intelligent ideas for how we can work with nature, rather than against it. Essential viewing from one of the all-time greats.

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Read our full David Attenborough: a Life on Our Planet review
Sir David Attenborough’s stark warning in new Netflix documentary A Life on Our Planet: “It’s about saving ourselves”

The Forty-Year-Old Version (2020)

An African-American woman approaching middle age rediscovers her talent for rapping in the knockout debut of writer/director Radha Blank, who also stars. Beautifully shot in monochrome, the film follows Blank’s struggling playwright, who channels her frustrations into some sublime rhymes, , speaking her truth with lyrical aplomb and backed by the beats of collaborator D (Oswin Benjamin). Dodging cliché at every turn, Blank’s elegant, edgy film expertly challenges sexist and ageist assumptions while shining a light on patronising notions of cultural authenticity. The result is funny and formidably wise, and shows you really can be fresh at 40.

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Read our full The Forty-Year-Old Version review

Enola Holmes (2020)

Enola Holmes
Netflix

Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown is back on our screens as Sherlock Holmes’s sleuth younger sister in this brand-new Netflix Original, alongside the likes of Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin and Helena Bonham Carter.

Based on American author Nancy Springer’s novels of the same name, Enola Holmes stars Brown as the titular character, a smart and perceptive young woman who sets out to find her eccentric mother (Bonham Carter), who disappears on the morning of her 16th birthday.

While avoiding her strict older brothers, who try to place Enola in a finishing school for “proper” young ladies, the amateur detective finds herself becoming involved in a much bigger mystery surrounding fellow runaway Viscount Tewkesbury.

Featuring a star-studded cast, including Killing Eve’s Fiona Shaw and Chewing Gum’s Susie Wokoma, this Netflix film isn’t one to miss, especially considering Henry Cavill’s “softer” take on the iconic Sherlock. And it’s proved a real hit with Netflix viewers already.

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More on Enola Holmes

I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)

Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adapation) has established a track record as one of the most innovative writer/directors in Hollywood, and his latest – adapted from Iain Reid’s novel of the same name – is a nightmare journey into the psyche of a young woman who is taken by her boyfriend to meet her family in a secluded farm.

With a terrific cast that includes Jesse Plemons, Jessie Buckley, Toni Collette and David Thewlis, this is about as unconventional as it gets – but will be sure to leave you both haunted and scratching your head…

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Read our full I’m Thinking of Ending Things review
I’m Thinking of Ending Things explained: what happened in Charlie Kaufman’s surreal new Netflix movie? (spoilers!)

The Old Guard (2020)

The Old Guard (Netflix)
Netflix

Charlize Theron stars in this fantasy flick about a group of immortal warriors who have been fighting covert wars in humanity’s best interest for hundreds of years. But with a sharp rise in surveillance over the past few decades, their activities are becoming harder to cover up and they soon become the target of a ruthless businessman wishing to harness the secret behind their eternal life.

While not revolutionary, The Old Guard is a highly entertaining and stylishly executed film, with some excellent action sequences that showcase Theron at her very best. The cast also includes KiKi Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Doctor Strange) and Marwan Kenzari (Aladdin).

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The Old Guard locations guide: Where was the Netflix movie filmed?

The Social Network (2010)

This hit drama from prolific screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) was an awards frontrunner when it hit cinemas back in 2010, chronicling the troubled early years of a website that has transformed the modern world: Facebook. Jesse Eisenberg stars as Mark Zuckerberg, who begins the film by creating a site that spreads like wildfire across his college campus.

It’s enough to get the attention of investors looking to muscle their way into the online world. The Social Network is an excellent and illuminating feature, packing a standout performance from Andrew Garfield as Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin. Listen out for the killer score from Nine Inch Nails duo Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

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Read our full The Social Network review

Room (2015)

Captain Marvel star Brie Larson broke out in this acclaimed drama that tells the harrowing story of a woman and her five-year-old son, who have been held captive for years in an isolated shed. They hatch a daring escape plan, which allows young Jack his first look at the outside world, but integrating into society after such a traumatic childhood will be no easy task.

Larson gives a powerhouse performance in the lead role, earning an Academy Award for her performance, while young Jacob Tremblay is equally heartbreaking in his feature debut. Room was directed by Lenny Abrahamson, who went on to direct BBC Three’s Normal People, so it’s no surprise how well it juggles heartfelt scenes and hard-hitting drama.

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Read our full Room review

Da 5 Bloods (2020)

Da 5 Bloods on Netflix by Spike Lee
The cast of Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)

The latest Spike Lee joint seems to have flown under the radar somewhat, but that’s a crying shame as it truly is a superb and timely watch.

Da 5 Bloods follows a group of Vietnam war veterans as they return to the country in the present day, searching for the remains of their fallen commander and the treasure he left behind. It’s an emotional journey that will see them confront their traumatic memories of the brutal conflict and the men it turned them into, while also exploring broader themes about the experiences of black people in the United States.

Delroy Lindo (The Good Fight), Clarke Peters (The Wire), Norm Lewis (Scandal), Isiah Whitlock Jr (BlacKkKlansman) and the late and much-missed Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther) play the original Bloods, with Jonathan Majors representing the next generation. It’s a fantastic ensemble cast that provide strong performances across the board, some of which could well be recognised during this year’s awards season – so get ahead of the curve and watch Da 5 Bloods now.

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Marriage Story (2019)

Marriage Story Netflix
Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver in Marriage Story (Netflix)

On the face of it, Marriage Story shouldn’t be as an enjoyable watch as it is, given that it’s about a relationship falling apart and all the emotions that come with that. Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver play the couple who decide to get divorced in this award-winning masterpiece from writer/director Noah Baumbach and put in some of the best performances of their career, which really deserved more award attention than they got.

It will make you laugh. It will make you smile. And if you are married, it will make you pray that you never get divorced…

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Read our full Marriage Story review

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor in To All The Boys I've Loved Before
Noah Centineo and Lana Condor in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (Netflix)

A sweet, precisely executed romcom, which serves as an homage to the best films of the genre from the 1980s and 90s. Lana Condor stars as Laura Jean Covey, a Korean-American high-schooler whose world is turned upside-down when a box of private love letters that she penned to her crushes is distributed to its intended recipients. Based on the YA trilogy by Jenny Han, it became one of Netflix’s most successful original films in 2018. Watch out for a break-out performance from mini Mark Ruffalo, Noah Centineo (as Peter Kavinsky).

Once you’ve watched this, the long-awaited sequel PS I Love You is waiting for your attention, and there’s a third and final instalment on the way.

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The Irishman (2019)

The Irishman
Netflix

A passion project long in the making, Netflix’s The Irishman sees director Martin Scorsese reunited with Robert De Niro for their ninth collaboration. The gangster biopic centres on Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran (De Niro), who recalls his involvement in the disappearance of his longtime friend Jimmy Hoffa (played by Al Pacino). The film was constantly in the news up to its release; from its CGI de-aging used on De Niro, Pacino and Joe Pesci, to the sheer unwieldy length of this epic (it’s a whopping 3 hours 30 minutes, so you’ll need plenty of popcorn).

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The Irishman review: Scorsese’s film is a meditative, remorseful gangster epic

Selma (2014)

Former Spooks actor David Oyelowo was robbed of the best actor Oscar in 2015, not even getting a nomination, for his stoutly convincing and multilayered turn as civil rights legend Martin Luther King. Director Ava DuVernay’s (The 13th, When They See Us) heartfelt tribute concentrates on Dr King’s marches in Alabama in 1965, with Tom Wilkinson anything but a caricature as President Johnson. Oprah Winfrey also appears as Annie Lee Cooper, whose attempts to register to vote are quashed by an official.

Dr King’s unshakeable belief that peaceful protest has the power to change lives packs a serious punch, as does John Legend and Common’s anthemic, Oscar-winning theme song, Glory.

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Read our full Selma review

Deadpool (2016)

Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool

It’s Marvel – but not as we know it – as Ryan Reynolds’s sweary, lairy, kick-ass avenger gives the X-Men series an X-rated shake-up in this oddball spin-off.

He stalks the Marvel universe but, as the man himself tells us time and again, Deadpool is no hero – he has the super strength, just not the mind-set. There’s no doubting that Ryan Reynolds is in his element, cracking wise as well as knocking heads together with a delicious dark sense of humour.

Reynolds spent years trying to persuade studio suits to give this movie the green light, his character having made a brief appearance in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. For them, it’s a dicey proposition because it so relentlessly (and refreshingly) mocks the superhero ethos that has made Marvel billions, regularly breaking the fourth wall to bring the audience in on the joke.

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Read our full Deadpool review
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Inception (2010)

Joseph Gordon Levitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception
Joseph Gordon Levitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception

Christopher Nolan’s latest offering Tenet has recently been wowing – and confusing – cinema-goers in equal measure, and Inception is another of the director’s mind-bending movies. It really does have the capacity to make your brain hurt, so you’ll need to remove all distractions.

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a talented thief uses hi-tech devices to enter other people’s dreams so he can steal their secrets. An industrialist hires him to perform a far more challenging job – to implant an idea into a corporate heir’s mind, so he will think it is his own. However, the mission is compromised by the thief’s own troubled psyche…

Elliot Page, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine and Cillian Murphy also feature in the all-star cast.

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Read our full Inception review

13th (2016)

13th
13th, Netflix

Following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests across the world, Netflix recently made racial inequality documentary 13th free to watch to non-Netflix subscribers, which has seen a 4,000% increase in streams.

The title of this potent film refers to the 13th Amendment: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.” “Punishment for crime” is the key qualifier here, as Ava DuVernay’s (When They See Us) documentary explores the injustices at the heart of America’s penal system.

13th secured Netflix its first BAFTA.

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Being John Malkovich (1999)

John Cusack in Being John Malkovich
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As movie scripts go, few can be more bizarre than that penned by Charlie Kauffman for this 1999 film, which sees a struggling puppeteer Craig Schwartz find a secret passage that leads directly to the inside of John Malkovich’s head. The film, directed by Spike Jonze, is packed with irreverence and more than its fair share of offbeat humour, and was a huge critical success on its release.

Following his discovery, Craig and his attractive co-worker Maxine begin a business that allows people the chance to also experience the inside of Malkovich’s head, and the two strike up a relationship that also involves Craig’s restless wife. John Cusack, Catherine Keener and Cameron Diaz all star – in addition to Malkovich, who gamely plays himself.

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Read our full Being John Malkovich review

Adaptation. (2002)

..And if you’re a Spike Jonze fan, there’s good news for you – new to Netflix in October is this inventive comedy drama based on the BAFTA-winning screenplay by previous collaborator Charlie Kaufman. It features a marvellous double turn by Nicolas Cage, who plays both a neurotic screenwriter with an uphill struggle trying to adapt a book into a film script, and his interfering twin brother, who has decided to make a serial thriller of his own. Meryl Streep also stars, and clearly has a lot of fun.

Dark and hilarious in equal measure.

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Read our full Adaptation. review

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019)

The third entry in Keanu Reeves’s action saga doesn’t disappoint, delivering yet more brutal fights and ambitious stunts, while also expanding the world of the title hitman.

As the entire assassin underworld turns on him, Wick will have to use every weapon in his arsenal if he has any hope of survival, which includes calling in a favour from an old friend: Halle Berry’s Sofia (and her particularly deadly pets). Quite possibly the pinnacle of modern action film-making.

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Read our full John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum review
When is John Wick 4 out in cinemas? Cast, plot and more details

The Martian (2015)

The Martian
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Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig and Chiwetel Ejiofor star in this sci-fi thriller. A manned mission to Mars is abruptly abandoned and one crew member (Damon) is left for dead. But he survives and discovers it will take many years to get home but he only has enough resources for one month…

At times, The Martian can be really breathless and it will leave you racing towards the end to see if our plucky hero can make it home. And director Ridley Scott brings vivid life to the drama.

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Read our full The Martian review

Uncut Gems (2020)

Adam Sandler stars in Uncut Gems
Adam Sandler stars in Uncut Gems on Netflix

We should probably start by warning you you’re in for a tense and stressful two hours if you choose to watch Uncut Gems in one sitting. The Safdie brothers’ (Good Time) film takes funnyman Adam Sandler and turns him into a New York City jeweller risking everything to banish his debts and escape the collectors after him. Sandler is unrecognisable, but that’s no bad thing. We’d go as far as to say he was robbed this award season. 

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Adam Sandler responds to 2020 Oscars snub for Uncut Gems

BlacKkKlansman (2018)

A recent addition to Netflix, Spike Lee here is in raging and righteous form as he relays the extraordinary story of Ron Stallworth, the black police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in 1972 with the assistance of Jewish cop Flip Zimmerman. As playful as it is political, the vibe is authentic, the period detail tasty, yet BlacKkKlansman burns with contemporary anger and concludes on an impossibly affecting, painfully relevant note.

Winners of the best adapted screenplay gongs at both the Oscars and the BAFTAs in 2019.

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Read our full BlacKkKlansman review

Fighting with My Family (2019)

Florence Pugh in Fighting with My Family
Florence Pugh in Fighting with My Family

This feel-good charmer following the true journey of superstar wrestler Paige (Florence Pugh) from her humble beginnings in Norwich to becoming the youngest ever Divas Champion is an unqualified smackdown success. Written/directed by Stephen Merchant and executive produced by Dwayne Johnson, it’s an unapologetic soap opera in spandex…

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Read our full Fighting with My Family review

Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)

While the seventh Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible movie may be delayed due to COVID-19, in the meantime we can reminisce with Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, as they (mostly Cruise) defy the laws of gravity as they attempt to save a mission that’s gone wrong – and prevent a nuclear disaster – in 2018 instalment Mission: Impossible Fallout.

The film, which also co-stars Rebecca Ferguson and Superman actor Henry Cavill, includes Cruise’s real-life death-defying jump from one building to another in London – which saw the actor break his ankle.

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Read our full Mission: Impossible – Fallout review

Okja (2017)

Prepare to cry if you watch this heartwarming tale from Bong Joon-Ho (if he sounds familiar, that’s because he dominated the most recent award season with his latest film Parasite).

Okja is a slightly odd story following a girl and her best friend, a large, weird animal called Okja. Soon the pair find themselves battling the CEO (Tilda Swinton) of a huge company who wants to take Okja away. There’s a clear agenda underlying the story, animal activism is a strain throughout, and the film doesn’t shy away from that. Joon-Ho’s wonderfully refreshing odd style blends with slight preachy notes, but it comes together to give you a beautiful film.

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Read our full Okja review

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

Tim Blake Nelson in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Netflix)
Tim Blake Nelson in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Netflix)

This was meant to be six individual episodes for a Netflix TV series, but when you get movie legends the Coen brothers you kinda have to see where they take you. The result is this, an elegant anthology of frontier tales that affectionately celebrates the Western in inimitable style. Although the opening comic yarn starring Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Syriana) as a singing prairie hero in a white Stetson gives the film its potentially misleading title, it’s hardly typical of what follows, but then again nothing is…

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Read our full The Ballad of Buster Scruggs review

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Looking for something else to watch? Check out our best TV series on Netflix, best comedy on Netflix and best horror movies on Netflix.