Best movies to watch on Netflix right now
Some of the best movies on Netflix right now include The Gray Man, Okja and The Father. Updated weekly.
The start of October means one thing: it's time to pack in as many horror films and other Halloween favourites as you can muster – and luckily Netflix has you covered.
As well as including a huge range of horror flicks, the streamer has just re-added the classic Tim Burton film Sleepy Hollow, a spooky whodunnit for the ages with all the macabre production design you'd expect from the best of the auteur's work.
And of course if you're not into Halloween, the streaming giant boasts a seemingly endless collection of other content, from brand new Marilyn Monroe biopic Blonde to Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling hit The Gray Man.
With so much to come over the next few months in the film world, including Knives Out sequel Glass Onion and the Enola Holmes sequel, there'll be plenty to watch throughout the autumn - but for now, there's plenty to dive into on Netflix.
Whether it's romantic drama Purple Hearts, Adam Sandler's sports drama Hustle or psychological thriller Spiderhead, there's something for everyone, as well as brand new dark comedy Do Revenge, starring Camila Mendes and Maya Hawke.
To help you choose from the mammoth catalogue, RadioTimes.com has compiled a list of Netflix recommendations to suit all.
Alternatively, check out our helpful list of Netflix secret codes which help you unlock hidden movies and TV shows.
Updated 6th October 2022.
What are the best movies on Netflix to watch right now?
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Arriving on the streamer just in time for spooky season, Sleepy Hollow is one of Tim Burton's finest creations – a supernatural gothic whodunnit based on the similarly titled 1820 short story by Washington Irving. Johnny Depp takes on the starring role of unorthodox detective Ichabod Crane, who is sent to the titular hamlet to investigate a mysterious slew of decapitations – only to encounter some rather unconventional beliefs among the populace.
Packed with all the eccentric supporting characters and macabre production design you'd expect from the best of Burton's work, this is a thrilling and eerie mystery filled with humour, romance and no shortage of imagination. Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson and Christopher Walken are among the stars to turn in memorable performances.
Do Revenge (2022)
When it comes to comedies, Netflix loves to churn out fluffy teen titles to the extent that it's a hard task highlighting the few that are worth any streaming time. Do Revenge – the platform's brand new black comedy – is one of the exceptions within the dense genre thanks to its sharp script, surprising twists and satirical tone reminiscent of classic 90s films like Clueless.
Featuring the stars of nearly every hit teen drama – from Riverdale's Camila Mendes and Euphoria's Austin Abrams to 13 Reasons Why's Alisha Boe and a short but sweet cameo from Game of Thrones's Sophie Turner – Do Revenge is a loose adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers of a Train, following unlikely friends Drea (Mendes) and Eleanor (Maya Hawke). When the pair meet after being betrayed by their ex's, they decide to team up and, as the title suggests, do revenge.
While the stylish flick takes a somewhat left climactic turn that may put off viewers, it manages to find its way back to being the fun, rompy comedy that ultimately teaches you that you don't want to get on the bad side of a teenage girl.
The Devil All the Time (2020)
Tom Holland may be wrapped up with swinging webs for the most part, but in 2020 he took time out from Spidey to appear in The Devil All the Time, an adaptation of the book of the same name by Donald Ray Pollock. It follows several characters as their stories intersect between the end of World War II and the 1960s, with Robert Pattinson, Sebastian Stan, Eliza Scanlen and more co-starring.
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It's an ultra dark film with very few glimmers of hope or humour throughout, which can make it a bit of a slog. However, Holland and Pattinson's performances in particular elevate the piece, and sometimes through the sheer grimness emotion does shine through. Make sure you're in the right mood to tackle it though - it can be harrowing.
James McAvoy shines in M Night Shyamalan's best film in years, Split. McAvoy plays a man with dissociative identity disorder, with 23 distinct personalities, a number of which the actor gets to try his hand at. The story follows the man, Kevin Wendell Crumb, as he kidnaps and imprisons three teenage girls, including one played by Anya Taylor Joy.
The film clips along at a pace, keeping things engaging and thrilling throughout. A last minute scene connecting it with Unbreakable held promise, which unfortunately failed to fully materialise with the baffling Glass. However, it's best to view this as a one-off, an original story which, no matter what you think of Shyamalan, he has often been very good at concocting.
Earlier this year, Alex Garland's latest film Men provoked some strong and highly divided reactions. It perhaps shouldn't have been a surprise - he's never been one to go for the safe and easy route. Annihilation was Garland's second directorial effort following Ex Machina, and follows Natalie Portman's Lena, a biology professor and army veteran. When her husband returns from a mysterious zone called the Shimmer and goes into a coma, Lena leads a group on an expedition to uncover the truth.
This film could have played out as a traditional sci-fi action film, but instead treads into far more thematically rich and interesting territory. With elements of horror sprinkled throughout it consistently defies categorisation, and at times becomes more of a mind-bending trip than anything else. A final big sequence may have audiences divided, but whatever your stance, it's undeniable that Annihilation is a hugely ambitious film which is well worth experiencing.
Before there was Dune, Blade Runner 2049 or Arrival there was Prisoners, the thriller that marked director Denis Villeneuve's first foray into English language filmmaking. It stars a killer cast including Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis and Paul Dano, and is a hugely tense and disturbing film that gets under your skin from the word go.
Jackman is Keller Dover, a man whose daughter, along with his neighbour's daughter, is abducted, while Gyllenhaal plays the detective trying to find the girls. He arrests intellectually disabled man Alex Jones (Dano), but when he is released due to lack of evidence, Dover takes matters into his own hands. It's a thriller that's not for the faint of heart and includes some truly shocking acts of violence, but it's utterly gripping, affecting and creates an atmosphere which will stay with you in a way all the best thrillers do.
Bong Joon-ho may now be known primarily for his Oscar-winning drama Parasite, but only a few years back he made an equally powerful film for Netflix - Okja. A co-production between South Korea and the United States starring an ensemble cast including Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton, the film tells the story of Mija, a young girl who raised a genetically modified 'super pig', the titular Okja.
Tragedy strikes when Okja is taken to the US, and it's fair to say that from then on the film isn't an easy watch. A heartbreaking and brutal assessment of the meat industry, while also touching on capitalism and other prescient themes, make sure you're in the right frame of mind to watch this one - if you are, it's a stunningly thoughtful and powerful film.
The Bad Education Movie (2015)
With news having dropped earlier this year that we'll be getting a revival of Bad Education, starting this Christmas with a special followed by a new season next year, now is the perfect time to dive back into the antics of bumbling teacher Alfie Wickers, played by Jack Whitehall.
This film sees Mr Wickers take his class, Form K, on a trip to Cornwall, but as you'd expect it's not exactly smooth sailing, as they get wrapped up in the exploits of the 'Cornish Liberation Army'. It's broad comedy and the often crude jokes won't be for everyone, but if you're a fan of the series then this film does end its initial run on a fun, big-scale note, with the action ratcheted up while retaining the heart and humour of the show that made it so popular.
Purple Hearts (2022)
Netflix’s romance movie Purple Hearts has become the biggest movie of the summer. After landing on the streamer in July, it has now officially become the seventh most-watched movie in the history of the streaming platform.
The romantic drama depicts a love affair between an aspiring singer-songwriter (Sofia Carson) and a troubled US Marine (Nicholas Galitzine). While initially the duo are forced into a marriage of convenience, they eventually fall in love.
While the film doesn't have the biggest budget, there are heartfelt moments aplenty and Carson and Galitzine have undeniable romantic chemistry.
Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie (2022)
For decades, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise has been depicted in various incarnations in comic, animated series, movies, video games and even toys. Now, the pop culture phenomenon is back in an animated action feature from Netflix and Nickelodeon.
Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie, which made its debut on Netflix earlier in August, follows Casey Jones as he's sent back in time by Leonardo following an apocalyptic Krang invasion. The plan is simple: find the Turtles in the past so that the apocalyptic future will never unfold.
While the plot is pretty basic, there’s action galore and all the fights and jokes we expect from a Turtles movie.
School of Rock (2003)
This school comedy from 2003 is undoubtedly an absolute classic and a real highlight in the careers of both star Jack Black and director Richard Linklater. Black plays Dewey Finn, a wannabe rock star who's down on his luck and, when needing a job, poses as his flatmate in order to take a substitute teacher job. Once there, he recognises the kids' musical talents and puts them to work creating a group which can win the Battle of the Bands.
It's an ultra-charming, hugely funny film, one in which the comedy truly stands up and its heart remains firmly in the right place. Black is on top form as Finn, while the cast of students is surely one of the best groups of child actors in recent memory. You'll also be humming along to some of the songs long after the credits roll.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
With Amazon's The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series nearly here, why not dive back into Tolkien's Middle-earth ahead of time, with The Hobbit series now available in full on Netflix. For our money, this middle chapter, The Desolation of Smaug, is the uneven series' strongest point, matching Jackson's ambition with enough story and spectacle.
Martin Freeman, Sir Ian McKellen and the whole cast give their all here, and Bilbo's confrontation with Smaug is a definite series highlight. The final film in the trilogy may not have fully realised the promise of this chapter's killer cliffhanger, and there's no doubt this story should have been condensed, but if you're looking for a fun time and a rip-roaring adventure, when it comes to The Hobbit trilogy this is your best bet.
This Siegfried Sassoon biopic from legendary British filmmaker Terence Davies, which premiered at last year's Toronto International Film Festival, is one of the very best films to have been released in UK cinemas this year. A beautiful but melancholy portrait of the wartime poet, the film explores some of the obstacles he faced as a gay man in the first half of the twentieth century, charting his marriage to Hester Gatty and eventual conversion to Catholicism.
Despite often being a deeply sad piece of work, Davies also injects some real wit into proceedings, and the film is anchored by two absolutely superb performances from Jack Lowden and Peter Capaldi, who play the poet at different stages of his life. There are some stunning scenes that feature extracts from Sassoon's celebrated poetry, and the final shot is one for the ages.
The Gray Man (2022)
If you're looking for heart-pumping action and stylish spy intrigue, then The Gray Man is here to liven up your summer. From director the Russo Brothers (of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame fame) and starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans, this is blockbuster filmmaking through and through, with an enormous budget, star power and plenty of spectacle throughout.
Gosling plays Sierra Six, a CIA black ops assassin who is on the run from Evans' mercenary, after he discovered a conspiracy regarding his superiors. It may not exactly be subtle, but what The Gray Man lacks in that department it makes up for in edge of your seat thrills with plenty of twists and turns along the way.
The Big Short (2015)
The world of finance is notoriously difficult for a general audience to understand on a macro-sense, but The Big Short tries its hardest to make the financial crash accessible and comprehensible. It doesn't necessarily do so perfectly, but this is probably the closest a film will get, while also being a thoroughly entertaining and thought-provoking ride.
Adam McKay's film stars Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt amongst others, and tells the story of those who saw the crash coming essentially bet against the US economy, making a tidy profit when it hit after nobody would listen to their warnings. It's a shocking, timely and often satirical retelling of true events that may not make you understand the financial world inside out, but is certain to make your blood boil.
The Father (2020)
Anthony Hopkins won the Best Actor Oscar for his work in this film last year, and for anyone who's seen it that really won't come as much of a surprise. Hopkins shines in his role as Anthony, a man living with dementia through whose eyes we see the world shift and change, making for a frightening, occasionally funny but oftentimes heartbreaking portrayal of the disorder which touches so many lives.
Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell, and Olivia Williams are all strong in their supporting roles, often playing the same character as one another as faces blend for Anthony in a confusing haze. The film repeats segments of time, gives its audience false information and changes the narrative frequently - this could have been gimmicky in lesser hands, but director Florian Zeller pulls it off magnificently.
One of the ultimate teen comedies of the 2000s, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's film feels utterly authentic, likely because they actually wrote an original draft of the script while in high school. We follow three friends about to go off to college - Jonah Hill's Seth, Michael Cera's Evan and Christopher Mintz-Plasse's Fogell, AKA McLovin.
What follows may stick largely to the teen comedy format (they want to get drunk and party with the girls they have crushes on) but the dialogue is so sharp, the characters so charming and the situations a brilliant mix of ridiculous and relatable, that Superbad will have you laughing and quoting its lines for days.
The latest New Yorker story to be adapted into a film, Spiderhead is a psychological thriller for fans of all things dystopian.
Directed by Top Gun: Maverick's Joseph Kosinski, Spiderhead stars Miles Teller as Jeff, a prisoner who volunteers to take part in a scientific programme ran by its pleasant yet unnerving director Steve Abnesti (Chris Hemsworth) in a bid to reduce his sentence. While Jeff gets to know his fellow inmate Lizzy (Jurnee Smollett) over the course of the experiment, he starts to question Abnesti's motivation for the drug tests when disturbing revelations come to light.
While Spiderhead doesn't manage to reach its full potential, the film still makes for a gripping watch thanks to its stellar cast and unsettling yet fascinating source material.
Enola Holmes (2020)
With an Enola Holmes sequel afoot, what better time than to catch up on the original?
Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown plays Sherlock Holmes's sleuth younger sister in this Netflix Original, alongside the likes of Henry Cavill and Sam Claflin. It's a role she'll reprise in Enola Holmes 2, which wrapped filming back in January 2022 and will likely release later this year.
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 has proved a real hit with Netflix viewers.
When you say Oscar-winning drama about a drummer, you don't necessarily think you're going to need a long sit down and a breather once you get to the end. But that's exactly how Whiplash plays out, as a nail-biting, intense thriller with two men locked in a battle of psychological strength and determination.
The film stars Miles Teller as an ambitious jazz drummer and JK Simmons as his abusive instructor, with the two actors bringing their all to the roles. You'll have nightmares about Simmons for weeks. It's written and directed by Damien Chazelle, who knows this world inside out and famously wrote the script in order to vent his frustrations about not being able to get a little film called La La Land made at the time. Let's just say that frustration shines through, but that this film was made in such circumstances makes the accomplishment all the more impressive.
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019)
If you're waiting on tenterhooks for the final episodes of Better Call Saul but dreading the series ending like the rest of us, then why not dive back into the Breaking Bad universe with this feature-length spin-off El Camino? Picking up after the end of the Breaking Bad finale, El Camino focuses on Jesse Pinkman as he attempts to make his way to freedom and a new life.
The lack of a clear-cut ending for Jesse was one of the very few gripes fans had about the Breaking Bad finale, with this film picking up the pieces and tying up loose ends in satisfying fashion. It may not be the most thrilling chapter in the Breaking Bad story, and it can be distracting how much some cast members have visibly aged in flashbacks, but overall it's a solid story and, as always, Aaron Paul is absolutely mesmerising in his role as Jesse.
In The Loop (2009)
If you're a fan of Armando Iannucci's The Thick of It then you'll love this big screen spin-off from 2009. It stars Tom Hollander as Simon Foster, the Secretary of State for International Development who finds himself embroiled in political games on both sides of the Atlantic, as the UK and the US navigate a potential upcoming war in the Middle East.
The film features an array of The Thick of It cast members (although not all of them in their original roles) but, as always, the stand-out is Peter Capaldi as Malcolm Tucker – the scariest and sweariest comic creation from recent years. Whenever Tucker's on screen, you just know the laughs won't be letting up, and at just over an hour-and-a-half, the film hits that perfect comedy sweet-spot of not outstaying its welcome.
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Now, this is how you do a decades-on sequel. Blade Runner 2049 arrived to both anticipation and apprehension in 2017, as fans of the original feared the new film would falter under the weight of its predecessor's classic status. Not so. This follow-up, starring Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas and, of course, Harrison Ford, continues the 1982 film's story of sci-fi existentialism, while also living up to its reputation as a visual ground-breaker.
The story follows K (Gosling), a replicant Blade Runner who uncovers a shocking secret. Directed by Denis Villeneuve – proving once and for all that he's one of the strongest filmmakers working today – the film doesn't shy away from complicated questions or emotionally resonant themes, and takes its time to tell a slow-paced yet always engaging story. It's a must-see.
Adam Sandler returns to Netflix in Hustle – a basketball drama produced by LeBron James. In this brand new film, the Happy Gilmore star plays Stanley Sugerman, a scout for the Philadelphia 76ers who is becoming disenfranchised with his career and the frequent time spent away from his family when he discovers Bo Cruz, a man playing on the streets of Spain with extraordinary talent.
With a stellar cast featuring Hairspray's Queen Latifah, X-Men's Ben Foster, The Twilight Zone's Robert Duvall, Saturday Night Live's Heidi Gardner and countless cameos from basketball stars, Hustle is a charming sports drama with a lot of heart and a slam-dunk of a performance from Sandler.
A Perfect Pairing (2022)
Netflix is no stranger to a cheesy romcom – and the latest movie to land on the streamer fitting that description is A Perfect Pairing.
The movie explores the surprising relationship that forms between an Australian sheep farmer and an LA wine company executive when the latter starts working as a farmhand to secure a major client.
The cast is led by Victoria Justice (MTV thriller Eye Candy) and Adam Demos (Netflix series Sex/Life). Though not the most radical of movies, A Perfect Pairing is a light-hearted and escapist fantasy that is well worth a watch, and it even manages to avoid most of the harmful tropes some romcoms still perpetuate (like the Gay Best Friend or funny fat friend).
Senior Year (2022)
Senior Year is the latest comedy to come from Netflix and, while it's by no means perfect, it's a fun, nostalgia-filled watch. Starring Rebel Wilson, the film follows 17-year-old Stephanie Conway, an Australian living in 2002 America, whose life as a popular cheerleader is upended when she falls into a coma and wakes up 20 years later in the year 2022.
Virtually a teenager in a 37-year-old's body, Stephanie decides to head back to high school to finish her Senior Year and attempt to climb back up the social ladder in a very different era whilst trying to win her now-married ex-boyfriend back.
While the story and character development could certainly be stronger, Senior Year is the romcom for you if you're looking for a light, fluffy film with an excellent cast, including This Is Us' Justin Hartley, Rick and Morty's Chris Parnell, Veep's Sam Richardson and The Afterparty's Zoë Chao.
The Social Network (2010)
The film that catapulted both Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield into the big time, while also solidifying David Fincher's status as one of the greatest directors working today, The Social Network is a masterpiece. It tells the story of the founding of Facebook, including all the backstabbing and legal battles that went on behind the scenes, in such succinct, understandable terms, while making sure that the focus at all times remains on the central relationship which led to it all.
Charting the rise of an impossible yet oft-times brilliant head of a corporation has almost become a sub-genre of its own, but this was one of the originals and the best. It moves at a pace, and with sublime central performances by Eisenberg, Garfield and Justin Timberlake, it will have you gripped right up until the credits roll.
Doctor Sleep (2019)
This adaptation of Stephen King's sequel to his classic novel The Shining handles the material in rather a different way to Stanley Kubrick's 1980 masterpiece but still manages to be an effective and interesting horror film in its own right, as Ewan McGregor's Danny Torrance struggles to overcome his traumatic past at the Overlook hotel.
Helmed by The Haunting of Hill House and Midnight Mass director Mike Flanagan, the film includes plenty of visual flair and enough frightening images to keep you up at night for weeks – with Rebecca Ferguson particularly excelling as the leader of a terrifying witchy cult.
The King of Staten Island (2020)
Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson stars in this semi-autobiographical comedy-drama, directed by romcom king Judd Apatow.
Released in 2020, The King of Staten Island follows high school dropout Scott Carlin (Davidson), a 24-year-old living with his mother (Marisa Tomei) and sister in the titular borough of New York City as he continues to deal with the effect his firefighter father's death has on his mental health.
While The King of Staten Island isn't perfect, it makes for a sweet, dark comedy with a raw performance from Davidson and a stellar cast, featuring the likes of Bill Burr, Bel Powley, Maude Apatow, Steve Buscemi and Pamela Adlon.
365 Days: This Day (2022)
After the first movie proved a hit on Netflix back in 2020, 365 Days: This Day has arrived on the streamer to continue Laura and Massimo’s love story.
Once again adapted from a novel by Blanka Lipińska, the sequel picks up from the first movie’s cliffhanger when a rival Mafia family put a hit out on Laura, leaving her fate up in the air. Laura is back with a vengeance at the start of 365 Days: This Day, tying the knot with Massimo. However, their wedded bliss doesn’t last long, as their fresh start soon gets complicated by a surprise development from Massimo’s past...
365 Days: This Day is comprised of a mixture of Polish and Italian actors. The dialogue might be cringey at times but, if you’re looking for plenty of drama, sex, mafia dealings, and twists and turns galore, then this soapy sequel will likely fit the bill.
Taxi Driver (1976)
Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro have worked together on nine feature films (with a tenth, The Killers of the Flower Moon, set for release later this year) but this landmark descent into madness remains perhaps the pinnacle of their creative relationship. One of the finest films of the '70s, it follows the attempts of Vietnam veteran and taxi driver Travis Bickle to save an underage prostitute from her pimp, as he is eventually driven to extreme acts of violence.
At once a fascinating character study and a compelling psychological thriller, Bickle is one of the finest film characters of all time, and De Niro's performance was instantly iconic – including the classic (and improvised) line "You talkin' to me?" That performance, alongside Scorsese's masterful direction and Paul Schrader's faultless script, combine to make this a film that remains just as shocking and disturbing to this day.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Although Jim Carrey remains best known as a comic actor, his forays into more serious-minded fare have often yielded successful results, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – alongside The Truman Show – remains one of the best examples of this. Carrey plays Joel, a man who falls in love with a woman at first sight only for it to become clear that they have a past which has been erased from both of their memories.
The script from Charlie Kaufman – who had already scored offbeat hits with Being John Malkovich and Adaptation – is typically innovative, and director Michel Gondry proves a good match for his quirky imagination. An intriguing and emotional experience packed with some great performances from the likes of Kate Winslet and Kirsten Dunst, this remains one of the most unique films of the new Millennium.
This 2019 DC adaptation caused quite the storm when it arrived in 2019, picking up a Best Picture nod at the Oscars and with Joaquin Phoenix winning Best Actor.
It's a tour-de-force performance from the actor who dives deep into the role of Arthur Fleck, a troubled clown and aspiring stand-up comedian who descends into insanity and violence, amassing an army of followers along the way. Joker wears its inspirations on it's sleeve (the most blatant of which being Martin Scorcese's The King of Comedy, but if you're looking for a dark and introspective thriller that doesn't feel beholden to its comic book roots, this will likely fit the bill.
The Sparks Brothers (2021)
You may not have heard of the band Sparks, but once you've finished this wild, weird and wonderful documentary about them you're going to wish you had a lot earlier. If you're not a fan going in, you will be coming out.
The film comes from Shaun of the Dead and Baby Driver director Edgar Wright, so will already have his in-built fanbase - if you like his style then you'll love what he does here. The documentary about the pop-rock duo Ron and Russell Mael includes black and white interviews with them both, as well figures from the entertainment world such as Jonathan Ross and Weird Al Yankovic, all of which are intercut with archive footage and animated anecdotes. It's equal parts entertaining and unbelievable.
Don't Look Up (2021)
Netflix film Don’t Look Up by director Adam McKay (Anchorman) is a biting satire about the world's response when it faces an imminent apocalypse.
When Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence leading the Don’t Look Up cast) discovers a comet is on its way to Earth, her professor Dr Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) discovers it will wipe out most of life on Earth unless action is taken. However, US President Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep) is apathetic about tackling the crisis.
As our own Don’t Look Up review notes, the film "has all the sledgehammer subtlety you’d expect from an apocalyptic satire about a world-ending comet, but it does manage to deliver some good laughs – and enjoyable performances – along the way.”
Boiling Point (2021)
If you don't want to be kept on the edge of your seat, this one might not be for you. But if you're up for a breathless thrill-ride through the stressful world of a restaurant, you really could do no better. Stephen Graham shines as Andy, the head chef of an up-market London restaurant, and is surrounded by a stellar supporting cast including Vinette Robinson and Jason Flemyng.
The film was shot in just one take, with four attempts taken to get the finished article that you see on screen. It's a phenomenal technical achievement, and well worth checking out even just to marvel at how they accomplished it.
Call Me by Your Name (2017)
Call Me by Your Name is a beautiful love story between a teenage boy and a slightly older man. Based on André Aciman's book of the same name, the movie is set in during an Italian summer in 1983 and revolves around an intense love affair between teenager Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and Oliver (Armie Hammer), an American academic who comes to live with his family.
With terrific direction by Luca Guadagnino (A Bigger Splash, I Am Love) and outstanding performances from Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer, this tender coming-of-age love story is deeply moving and brimming with sensuality.
The Power of the Dog (2021)
It's been over a decade since Jane Campion last released a feature film – although she did create acclaimed TV series Top of the Lake in that time – and The Power of the Dog is a brilliant return to moviemaking for the former Oscar winner. Equal parts Western and psychological thriller, the film is based on Thomas Savage's 1967 novel of the same name, and deftly delves into issues including toxic masculinity and repressed homosexuality.
This is an impeccably crafted film, complete with a superb Jonny Greenwood score and a terrific cast – including a career-best turn from Benedict Cumberbatch as brutish rancher Phil Burbank and equally accomplished performances from Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons. The film bagged a hatful of Oscar nominations, and don't be too surprised to see some involved walking away with a golden statuette.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)
Barry Keoghan is on his way to Hollywood superstardom, with his rise fuelled by recent roles in both the Marvel and DC cinematic universes, playing Eternals member Druig and a certain Batman role respectively. If you're curious to see more from the acclaimed Irish actor, consider watching this gripping psychological thriller from Yorgos Lanthimos, the filmmaker who also brought Olivia Colman to international attention with his pitch black comedy The Favourite.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer chronicles the unusual relationship between an accomplished heart surgeon and a teenage boy, who he invites to stay with his family for reasons that aren't initially clear. Keoghan gives a chilling performance as unwanted house guest Martin, playing brilliantly off the seemingly perfect married couple Steven and Anna, played by Colin Farrell (The Batman) and Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos) respectively.
The Lost Daughter (2021)
Maggie Gyllenhaal makes an accomplished directorial debut with this brilliant adaptation of Elene Ferrante's novella of the same name – which finds a college professor reflecting on her past when she encounters a young mother struggling with her child while on holiday in Greece.
The performances across the board are sublime – with Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley particularly shining as older and younger versions of the lead character as she confronts the difficult choices she faced when raising her children Bianca and Martha. The Lost Daughter has provoked plenty of interesting discussions since release, recently picking up three nominations at this year's Academy Awards (for Colman, Buckley and Gyllenhaal).
The Tinder Swindler (2022)
Netflix subscribers around the world were appropriately hooked by this catfish saga, which chronicles the shocking true story of how several trusting women were conned out of vast amounts of money by the same cunning fraudster. As the title suggests, Simon Leviev would make contact with his victims through a popular dating app and quickly woo them with an illusion of massive wealth – but the truth was something else entirely.
While The Tinder Swindler does suffer from some rather unambitious presentation – primarily told via talking head interviews and bland faceless reconstructions – the shocking nature of the true crime story makes it very easy to get wrapped up in regardless. You'll gasp at the lengths of this staggering deception and come away with a valuable lesson not to believe everything a stranger on the internet tells you.
The Gentlemen (2020)
After a decade spent crafting Hollywood blockbusters, director Guy Ritchie went back to his roots for this star-studded gangster flick. The Gentlemen follows marijuana kingpin Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), who has decided he wants out of his dangerous line of work for a quiet retirement with wife Rosalind (Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery). Of course, it's not as simple as handing in your notice, especially with so many rival organisations eyeing his market share.
The Gentlemen stands out as one of the more overtly comedic crime flicks Ritchie has produced, with each character more eccentric than the last and a script overflowing with risqué quips. Fortunately, this results in a riotous and unpredictable ride that absolutely flies by, featuring standout performances from Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim), Henry Golding (Snake Eyes), and Hugh Grant (The Undoing) as sleazy private investigator Fletcher.
Meet the Parents (2000)
It's been 22 years since Meet the Parents – Jay Roach's comedy starring Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro – made its cinema debut, which means it's high time for a rewatch (or in the case of many twenty-year-olds, a first watch).
The film, which has just arrived on Netflix, follows Greg Focker (Stiller), a nurse who visits his girlfriend Pam's (Teri Polo) parents for the first time and while he hopes to impress them as much as possible, everything seems to go horribly wrong when Pam's over-protective ex CIA agent father Jack (De Niro) takes a disliking to Greg.
Full of cringeworthy, laugh-out-loud moments and hilarious performances from Stiller and DeNiro, Meet the Parents is a comedy classic.
Tick, Tick...BOOM! (2021)
Lin-Manuel Miranda has already achieved monumental success as a writer, performer, composer and musician, but new film Tick, Tick...BOOM! marks new territory for the Hamilton creator – his first film as a director. Based on Rent composer Jonathan Larsen's semi-autobiographical musical of the same name, the film essentially serves as a biopic of Larson's life while he was writing his high concept sci-fi musical Superbia in between waiting tables at the Moondance Diner, and includes several catchy songs including acapella number Boho Days.
Andrew Garfield steals the show with an all-singing, all-dancing performance in the lead role, perfectly capturing the nervous energy of a man determined to write a masterwork before it's too late, and is helped by some great supporting turns from the likes of Robin De Jesus as his best friend Michael and Alexandra Shipp as girlfriend Susan. And there are lots of special treats in store for Broadway fans – with a glut of stage legends making cameo appearances in the film, especially during the Stephen Sondheim-inspired number Sunday.
Scream 4 (2011)
With the latest instalment of the Scream franchise currently playing in UK cinemas, now is the perfect time to revisit the previous entries – and the most recent film in the series has now been added to the Netflix library. Scream 4, which was released more than a decade after the third film, saw Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) return to her hometown of Woodsboro following a book tour to catch up with old friends and family.
Of course, this being a Scream film, it didn't take long for Ghostface to show up all over again, once more wreaking havoc in the town and causing Sidney to join forces with her old allies Dewey Riley (David Arquette) and Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) to try and unmask the latest iteration of the villain. As self-referential as ever, the film packs some brilliant twists and very enjoyable performances from both the old stars and new cast members such as Emma Roberts and Hayden Panettiere.
The Mitchells vs. the Machines (2021)
The directorial debut of Mike Rianda, this animated family film boasts The Lego Movie's Phil Lord and Christopher Miller among its producers and has already been singled out as one of the best feature animations of recent years. Telling the story of a dysfunctional family who suddenly find themselves tasked with staving off a robot uprising during a road trip, the film packs plenty of visual gags, stellar voice performances, and playful comments on the nature of technology into its runtime. Above all, The Mitchells vs. the Machines is supremely entertaining and should pretty much guarantee some big laughs for the whole family.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Ang Lee's western romance was famously overlooked for the Best Picture Oscar in favour of Crash – but it has endured as one of the best American pictures of its decade, thanks to a superb screenplay, Lee's terrific direction and a pair of outstanding lead performances from Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal.
The story concerns two shepherds who fall in love while employed to mind sheep on the titular mountain, only for matters to be complicated when they each get married to their girlfriends. An incredibly moving portrayal of forbidden love and repressed passion, it is also considered a major landmark in LGBTQ+ cinema.
The Royal Treatment (2022)
The Royal Treatment is an original film about a New York hairdresser named Izzy (Laura Marano) who falls for a prince (Mena Massoud) when working at his wedding.
This is a fuzzy ‘anything is possible’ rom-com following two-star crossed lovers. The movie might be full to the brim of character stereotypes and hammy lines, but the rom-com’s charm is undeniable – and offers laughs aplenty and heart-warming moments galore.
Munich: The Edge of War (2022)
Munich – The Edge of War is among the best movies that have been added to Netflix in recent weeks. Blending fact and fiction, the film is adapted from a historical fiction novel by Robert Harris.
It stars Jeremy Irons as British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, as he tries to bring about a peaceful solution and negotiate with Adolf Hitler to avoid the outbreak of War in 1938. The movie also follows a fictional political aide named Hugh Legat, who becomes involved in a plot to secure Hitler’s demise at a conference in Munich.
The film succeeds as a slightly familiar but nevertheless entertaining spy thriller, and features a delightful performance from Jeremy Irons.
The Nest (2020)
This excellent drama from Martha Marcie May Marlene director Sean Durkin is one of the best new films released in the last few years – and has recently made its way onto Netflix.
Finding Jude Law and Carrie Coon at the top of their game, the film explores the fallout after an English man relocates his family from their American home to a grand country manor in his homeland, with it quickly coming apparent that his financial situation isn't nearly as rosy as he's made it appear.
At times, the film takes on the appearance of a ghost story as the family adjusts to life in their strange new home, and there are some truly haunting images in the final act which will live with you long after watching. Superbly directed and impeccably acted, this is a truly terrific film.
The Unforgivable (2021)
The Unforgivable has already gripped the nation’s imagination, storming its way to the number one position on Netflix’s top 10 list over the weekend following its release on 10th December.
We might be counting down to Christmas, but don’t expect a festive movie with this December debut. The plot follows the plight of Ruth Slater (Sandra Bullock), a woman released from prison after serving a sentence for murdering a police officer. Ruth sets out on a mission to reunite with her younger sister, but her plan risks being derailed when she’s hunted down by the son of the man she shot all those years ago. Vincent D'Onofrio stars as Ruth's lawyer, while Viola Davis plays the role of his wife.
Though Bullock’s character lacks nuance, the score, which comes courtesy of Hans Zimmer and David Fleming, does a good job at evoking a broader range of emotions. With few lighter moments, the film is certainly unrelenting, but if you're up for an emotional ride, then The Unforgivable is certainly worth a watch.
The Hand of God (2021)
The latest film from esteemed Italian director Paolo Sorrentino is his most autobiographical work to date – telling the story of Fabietto, a teenager growing up in Naples during the 1980s.
In the first half, the film sketches a very realistic and hugely enjoyable portrait of adolescence, as we get to know Fabietto, his extended family, and their various eccentricities – but in the second half, the tone changes somewhat when a tragic event casts a dark cloud over Fabietto's life. Many aspects of the film are taken directly from Sorrentino's own life and as a result it is a film that feels intimate and personal, while there are several standout scenes throughout the runtime – including overt nods to master Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini.
As the title would suggest, Argentine footballing legend Diego Maradona also has a key role to play in the narrative – although for the most part the Napoli superstar only appears in the background, as a focal point for Fabietto's conversations with those around him.
The most ludicrous horror movie of 2021 has finally landed on Netflix. The Spanish-language film certainly has a disturbing premise: the plot follows the characters of David (Pablo Derqui) and Sara (Marina Gatell), two strangers who wake up in a random place and slowly come to the realisation that someone has sewn their stomachs together. Neither David nor Sarah have any memory of the events leading up to their current predicament, but can they work it out – and will they escape alive?
Viewers are forced to walk through the events with the victims as they slowly recall what's happened to them, and telling the story through the eyes of just two characters in this way certainly puts body horror centre stage. If you have a strong stomach, then the movie offers an enthralling mystery that you won’t be able to tear yourself away from – but prepare yourself for a scary ride.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
With Spider-Man: No Way Home now in cinemas, now is as good a time as any to revisit Tom Holland's first solo adventure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Homecoming spins out of the events of Captain America: Civil War, where high school student Peter Parker became a protege of billionaire superhero Tony Stark. Dispensing with the origin story we all know off by heart, director Jon Watts drops us straight into an exciting Spidey story that sees the wisecracking wall-crawler face off against comic book foe The Vulture (played by Michael Keaton in his third bird-man role).
Indeed, the film benefits greatly from having such a complex and engaging villain at the centre of it, with Keaton's performance standing out as one of the best villainous performances the MCU has seen to date. The film also boasts fleeting appearances from Robert Downey Jr, who is charismatic as ever in his famous Iron Man role. Meanwhile, balancing out the blockbuster action sequences are quieter moments expanding on Peter's personal life, introducing friends Ned (Jacob Batalon), MJ (Zendaya) and Liz (Laura Harrier), as well as Marisa Tomei in the role of his beloved Aunt May.
A treat for Marvel fans and undoubtedly one of the best Spider-Man films ever made, Homecoming kicks off what has been a glorious new era for arguably the company's most popular hero.
V For Vendetta (2005)
Based on the seminal graphic novel, V For Vendetta takes us to a dystopian future where the UK has become a totalitarian state, closed off from the rest of the world which has supposedly been ravaged by a deadly virus. Residents are bombarded with vitriolic propaganda as their freedoms are gradually eroded, ultimately becoming docile and submissive to the new world order – all but V (Hugo Weaving), a mysterious masked man intent on bringing down the establishment.
Wearing a now iconic Guy Fawkes mask to disguise his identity, the revolutionary crosses paths with Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman), who reluctantly agrees to aid him in his mission. It's a rollercoaster story that packs strong social commentary, visual flair and some powerful emotional moments, including a heartbreaking tale of persecution that will stick with you long after the credits roll. Purists will argue that it's not a patch on the source material – and that may be true – but it's a gripping watch nonetheless.
Red Notice (2021)
As you'd expect from a film headlined by Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds, Red Notice is a big deal for Netflix and the most expensive movie the streaming service has released - a gamble that paid off with the best ever opening day for a Netflix film. Red Notice follows stoic FBI agent John Hartley (Johnson) who is assigned to arrest wisecracking art thief Nolan Booth (Reynolds) for stealing one of Cleopatra's bejeweled eggs. However the plan goes awry, and soon Hartley reluctantly decides to team up with Booth to capture notorious criminal The Bishop (Gadot) - cue plot twists, action set pieces and an awful lot of quips.
Johnson and Reynolds have gained a bit of a reputation for playing exaggerated versions of themselves in most movies, and that does not exactly change here - but when the results are this fun, it's hard to complain. The more interesting turn however comes from Gadot, shedding her wholesome Wonder Woman image for a rare villain turn she clearly enjoyed playing, showcasing her action chops once again and delightfully smirking through every scene as stylish career criminal The Bishop. There's little here that is particularly original or memorable, but the charisma of the three stars makes this an entertaining two hours.
BAFTA-winning actress Rebecca Hall makes her directorial debut with this thoughtful period drama, which is based on a 1929 novel by Nella Larsen. The story follows childhood friends who meet again later in life and discover they have taken radically different paths in life. Irene Redfield (Tessa Thompson) has stayed true to her African-American roots, while Clare Bellew (Ruth Negga) has taken steps to "pass" as a white woman, making their experiences in a deeply prejudiced society very different.
Passing has received acclaim from critics, some of whom pitch it as a major awards contender, with Hall praised for her delicate handling of a sensitive topic as both writer and director. Negga could be on track for her second Oscar nod following 2016's Loving, while Tessa Thompson continues to balance bold independent work with her blockbuster appearances. The supporting cast includes Moonlight alum André Holland and True Blood's Alexander Skårsgard. Netflix acquired the film after it generated serious buzz at the Sundance Film Festival – now you can find out why.
The Harder They Fall (2021)
The Harder They Fall was always bound to be a hit with one of the strongest casts of any movie this year. The star-studded line-up includes Jonathan Majors (Loki), Idris Elba (Luther), Zazie Beetz (Atlanta), Regina King (Watchmen), Delroy Lindo (Da 5 Bloods), and Lakeith Stanfield (Judas and the Black Messiah) among others, teaming up for a Western revenge story with a distinctly modern feel to it.
The story kicks off as Nat Love (Majors) discovers his mortal enemy Rufus Buck (Elba) is being released from prison, bringing his gang together to track him down and seek vengeance for the murders of his parents many years earlier. However, Buck catches on to the plot and has allies of his own to fall back on, setting the two groups on a collision course that can only end in an epic confrontation.
Singer-songwriter and music producer Jeymes Samuel makes his directorial debut with The Harder They Fall, which features real historical figures as its main characters (albeit within the confines of a fictional story). The filmmaker wished to draw attention to the fact that Black cowboys did exist in the Old West, a fact that has been widely ignored by many earlier entries in the genre. The film's glowing reviews suggest he has done to great success.
Army of Thieves (2021)
Army of the Dead got a lot of attention for its horror-heist mash-up - and now this spin-off is adding even more genres, mostly ditching the zombies but zeroing in on the safecracking for a rom-com heist caper that's quite unlike anything out there. Army of Thieves is a prequel focusing on breakout fan-favourite Ludwig Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer), telling the story of how he went from an amateur safecracking enthusiast to the veteran heist legend we meet in Army of the Dead. This happens when the mysterious Gwendoline (Nathalie Emmanuel) recruits Ludwig to her criminal team who are aiming to break into three uncrackable safes - with Ludwig quite possibly unlocking the key to Gwendoline's heart as well.
Horror fans may bemoan the lack of zombies, but Army of Thieves does manage to find the heart that its predecessor was lacking somewhat, with Schweighöfer's enthusiasm spilling onto the screen as both the film's star and director. The overseriousness of Army of the Dead is gone here, for a light, comical romp across Europe stuffed with gorgeous visuals, a surprisingly sweet love story and some well-used supporting characters. Especially as a prequel, you can likely already guess how the film ends from way off - but that doesn't stop the film being a fun, engaging thrill ride.
The Trip (2021)
Not to be confused with the lighthearted sitcom of the same name starring Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan, this Norwegian Netflix original is also a comedy - but in a darker and far, far more violent way. The Trip stars The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's Noomi Rapace and The Cloverfield Paradox's Aksel Hennie as Lisa and Lars, a married couple who have hit a rough patch and head to a remote cabin to reconnect. However little do they know that each is planning to kill the other - until some surprise guests change the plan somewhat...
The Trip starts off somewhat like a black comedy version of Mr. and Mrs. Smith - but ends much more like a Quentin Tarantino movie. So there's a warning there that this film is not for those averse to gore, with the film moving from absurd laugh-out-loud comedy to some truly gruesome violence to a macabre mix of both. But for those who can stomach it, The Trip is a wildly unpredictable rollercoaster ride with twists and turns that just keep on coming - with inventiveness flowing through the script (as well as the choice of weapons...).
The Forgotten Battle (2020)
The title may be a tad generic, but it nicely sums up the film's premise - the lesser-known Battle of the Scheldt gets the big-screen treatment here, a campaign which proved key to supplying Allied forces and liberating Holland. However, rather than a straightforward military history lesson, The Forgotten Battle instead follows three different perspectives - a Zeeland resistance member, a British Allied pilot and a Dutch Axis soldier - and shows how their stories interweave until they fatefully collide at the titular battle.
One of the most expensive Dutch films of all time, The Forgotten Battle adds a fresh perspective to the established pantheon of American war films, humanising the war by keeping the focus at a micro level and highlighting the civilian cost. Harry Potter star Tom Felton will be the big-name star in The Forgotten Battle cast for UK audiences, but he's only in a supporting role - it's the Dutch cast who steal the show, with Susan Radder and Gijs Blom superb as two people on opposite sides of the war who have to make similarly difficult decisions. One of the most interesting war movies in a long time.
The Guilty (2021)
Helmed by Training Day director Antoine Fuqua from a script written by True Detective scribe Nick Pizzolatto, The Guilty has an awful lot going for it even before you get to the lead performance from Jake Gyllenhaal. A remake of the award-winning 2018 Danish film of the same name, The Guilty follows Joe Baylor, a troubled police officer who has been demoted to operator duty at an emergency call centre. One day he gets a call from a woman claiming to be kidnapped - and his efforts to save her will reveal that nothing is as it seems.
Films that mostly take place in one location following a single character require some seriously impressive acting to keep interest engaged - and Gyllenhaal is more than up to the job. Often relying on nothing but other actors' voices to bounce off, Gyllenhaal takes the audience on a tense, taut and agonising thrill-ride, ramping up the suspense as Joe has nothing but a phone with which to save a woman's life. Indeed a film focused on phone calls thankfully uses sound to chilling and creative effect, with the lack of visual aids only worsening our mental images of events - and playing a crucial role in the twists.
Carlito's Way (1994)
Perhaps Scarface is the Brian De Palma and Al Pacino collaboration which is the more well-known, but this later effort, released in 1993, is every bit as good – perhaps even better. Mixing suspense, engaging dialogue and some brilliant melodrama, Pacino stars as Carlito Brigante, a Puerto Rican criminal who hopes to go straight but finds it tricky to leave his criminal ways behind.
Sean Penn also turns in a wonderful performance as Carlito's somewhat sleazy lawyer David Kleinfeld, while the supporting cast includes Penelope Ann Miller, John Leguizamo and Luis Guzman. Despite initially receiving rather lukewarm reviews, the film has since emerged as one of the finest films of its era – and a key part of the gangster canon.
The Farewell (2019)
Lulu Wang's terrific 2019 drama tells the poignant story of a young Chinese-American woman named Billi, who travels to China with her family to arrange a wedding before her elderly grandmother passes away. Billi is initially shocked to learn that the entire family apart from her grandmother herself is aware that her days are numbered, but soon finds herself reconnecting with her heritage in a way that frames the lie in a new light.
Off the back of acclaimed supporting roles in Crazy Rich Asians and Ocean's 8, Awkwafina stars in the leading role – and she went on to become the first-ever woman of Asian descent to win a lead acting award at the Golden Globes for her performance. The film was billed as "based on an actual lie" and intelligently explores themes of family connections and rediscovering identity, while boasting some superb acting and a script that is equal parts funny and moving.
The holder of a record seven World Drivers' Championship titles, there are few racing drivers more deserving of a documentary than German Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher. This Netflix documentary chronicles Schumacher's rise to racing prominence, his widely reported skiing accident and the subsequent recovery process, supported with exclusive interviews and archival footage.
Interviewees include F1 icons such as Jean Todt, Bernie Ecclestone, Sebastian Vettel, Mika Häkkinen, Damon Hill, Flavio Briatore, and David Coulthard, who recount Schumacher’s career from his early karting days in Kerpen to his seventh world title in 2004, a record that has only recently been matched by Lewis Hamilton. However, what is most notable about Schumacher is that it is the first film supported by his family - and thus includes rare interviews with his wife, father and brother, revealing an intimate insight into his private life and showing a side of the man Schumacher is once he steps off the track.
Netflix has had success in the past with sporting documentaries such as Untold and The Last Dance - and Schumacher is an equally impressive must-watch for any sporting fan.
With the horrific 9/11 attacks now reaching their 20th anniversary, there have been quite a wealth of new releases focusing on the tragedy, but few are quite as hard-hitting as this dramatisation of real events. Worth follows lawyer Kenneth Feinberg as he is named lead of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, and soon faces the indescribable task of determining the financial worth of a life in order to help bereaved families. However, it's only when he butts heads with a widowed community organiser that he begins to understand the human cost of the tragedy, and is soon battling bureaucracy and politics to get victims the compensation they deserve.
The subject matter immediately saddles the film with dramatic weight and most importantly responsibility, but Worth thankfully manages to forgo most biopic pitfalls for a nuanced and complex take on a side of the disaster that is all too often forgotten. The film's focus on people talking in rooms for extended scenes may rob the film of some of its power, but it also gives actors such as Amy Ryan, Stanley Tucci and, most notably, Michael Keaton to shine. It also allows for plenty of philosophical debate: what is the value of a human life?
The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf (2021)
Netflix has gone all-in on The Witcher franchise, commissioning not one, but two spin-offs ahead of the long-awaited and long-delayed The Witcher season two. Live-action spin-off series The Witcher: Blood Origin is still a while away, but this anime feature film has arrived relatively speedily - and will do more than sate fan's appetites for more Witcher content. Nightmare of the Wolf tells the origin story of Geralt's mentor Vesemir, rewinding to when he was a cocky young witcher enjoying the money and glory of his monster-hunting work. However when a strange new monster starts terrorising the kingdom, Vesemir must confront his dark past - and question what it really means to be a witcher.
Vesemir will appear as a wisened witcher-trainer in season two of the main show, but this spin-off provides a rare opportunity to see the Continent from a fresh perspective and delve deep into Vesemir's character and indeed witchers themselves. Fans of the lore, in particular, will get a kick out of this film, which shows us in detail how witchers are created and explores mages and their complex relationships with witchers. Viewers who never embraced the original Henry Cavill-led series to begin with will find little extra to entice their interest in this spin-off, but those with at least a passing knowledge of Strigas and Kikimoras will find a swashbuckling adventure well worth their time - along with wonderful animation and inventive action.
Castlevania fans in particular will enjoy this fellow Netflix anime, with the two projects sharing voice actors Theo James and Graham McTavish.
John David Washington's career is only going up after starring in BlacKkKlansman and Tenet, and now the actor is headlining his second major Netflix movie after Malcolm & Marie (see below). Beckett follows Washington's titular protagonist, an American tourist vacationing in Greece with his girlfriend. However after his involvement in a terrible accident, Beckett soon becomes the target of a manhunt - and must make it to the American embassy to clear his name as political unrest rises, the authorities close in and a dangerous conspiracy begins to unravel.
Despite a year of travel restrictions Beckett may just be enough to put you off foreign trips for life, as this effective political thriller brings great acting, propulsive energy and surprisingly good action to this story of a holiday from hell. Nevertheless Greece makes for a stunning backdrop to the many film's many twists and turns, making the most of filming on location in Athens and a low budget for a film that harkens back to the international political thrillers of the '70s. A great cast helps too, with Washington joined by awards darling Alicia Vikander as girlfriend April and Logan's Boyd Holbrook as CIA employee Stephen.
It's been a big year for Hamilton star Lin-Manuel Miranda, who has been working non-stop with his first musical In the Heights receiving a big-screen adaptation, as well as his first-ever animated film Vivo also seeing a Netflix release. Also the first musical from Sony Pictures Animation, the film tells the story of Vivo, a music-loving kinkajou voiced by Miranda who must deliver a long-lost love song to a famous singer on behalf of his owner.
Despite being the colourful and comical adventure one would expect from a family animation, Vivo is not afraid to sensitively touch upon difficult topics such as death and loss early on. It's far from a gloomy affair however - much like Coco, Vivo uses music to explore themes such as family, fatality and local cultural traditions, with Miranda's always consistent originals songs and a dazzlingly bright depiction of Cuba making this a charming and delightful adventure for all ages.
It's yet another critical hit for Sony Pictures Animation - after years of struggling to compete with the likes of Pixar and Dreamworks, the studio has received consistent acclaim since scoring an Oscar win for the excellent Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Vivo will be their third film for Netflix, following the similarly well-received Wish Dragon and The Mitchells vs. the Machines (also on our list).
Despite being set over 40 years later, 2021's Halloween Kills is stuffed with references to the original John Carpenter classic - and it's not hard to see why. The 1978 Halloween practically invented the slasher genre, spawning a whole wave of imitators and establishing now common tropes such as a final girl surviving, POV shots from the killer's perspective and a theme song for the masked murderer. While critically panned upon release, Halloween has since been re-evaluated as one of the best and most influential horror films of all time - and Jamie Lee Curtis has become just as iconic as Michael Myers himself, going down in history as one of the very first scream queens.
For the uninitiated, Halloween tells the saga of Michael Myers (Nick Castle), who murdered his sister as a child. Fifteen years later Myers escapes from custody - and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield to kill again, putting him on a fateful collision course with Laurie Strode (Curtis). The success of this first film has led to several sequels and reboots, the first four of which are also available on Netflix.
The cinematic landscape was a very different place back in 2002, particularly in terms of superhero films - and despite the rise of several interconnected screen universes, this first Tobey Maguire effort and its sequel Spider-Man 2 remain two of the best comic book films around. While we're all familiar with Spider-Man's origin story by now, this Sam Raimi film was its first retelling on the big screen, depicting how mild-mannered teen Peter Parker (Maguire) gets bitten by a radioactive spider, falls in love with Mary-Jane (Kirsten Dunst) and becomes Spider-Man by learning that with great power comes great responsibility.
Maguire's Spider-Man may lack the quips of his successors, but it's his tender, doe-eyed Peter Parker that is the true strength of this film, and the character's earnest romance with Mary-Jane, complete with that kiss, still makes for one of the more engaging superhero love stories. Maguire is assisted by a truly chilling villain turn by Willem Dafoe - who is far scarier than the Green Goblin mask he is often lumbered under - while J.K. Simmons proved for the first time that he is the quintessential J. Jonah Jameson.
When Spider-Man: No Way Home broke trailer viewing records back in August 2021, it was partly because fans were excited for more of Tom Holland’s take on the webslinger. But it was also because they were excited by rumors of Maguire, Dafoe and more reprising their roles, showing just how enduring the legacy of this movie is – not bad for a twenty-year-old film that has since had two reboots.
Fear Street Part 1: 1994 (2021)
Ever wondered what Stranger Things would look like if it were a full-on slasher horror? The answer is probably very similar to Fear Street: Part 1: 1994, the first of a trilogy based on the classic teen horror novels by Goosebumps scribe R.L. Stine. Always one to shake up how we watch movies, Netflix has marked a streaming first by releasing the entire trilogy over a three week period, eliminating the usual years-long wait for sequels and serving a triple treat of scares all within one murderous month.
Part 1: 1994 acts as a homage to the slasher movies from the film's '90s setting, with echoes of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer complete with plenty of era-appropriate songs. While not a direct adaptation of any of Stine's novels, the film instead draws inspiration from the whole series, including the Shadyside location where a group of teenagers discover the cause of a curse that has been plaguing the area for 300 years. Appropriately enough, several Stranger Things stars appear in this nostalgic horror also - Robin actress Maya Hawke appears in a brief but key scene in Part 1, while Sadie Sink can be seen in sequel Fear Street Part 2: 1978 which is also now available.
Blood Red Sky (2021)
After similar claustrophobic creature features such as Snakes on a Plane and Train to Busan, Netflix Original Blood Red Sky has settled on vampires on a plane as their terrifying threat and transportation of choice. A phenomenal concept, this German film follows Nadja, a woman with a mysterious illness who boards a transatlantic flight with her son in hopes of finding treatment in New York. However, when a group of terrorists hijack their overnight flight, it's revealed that Nadja has no ordinary illness - and she must use her monstrous secret to save her son and the other passengers before the sun comes up.
Netflix has had a string of unique horror hits recently with the likes of Army of the Dead, Awake and the Fear Street Trilogy, and Blood Red Sky has cemented the streaming service as a fertile breeding ground for experimental and high concept horror. Surprisingly human for a film with a vampiric protagonist, amongst all the gory slasher action is a story of the lengths a mother will go to to protect her son while simultaneously doing everything she can to hide her true form from him. The Last Kingdom's Peri Baumeister stuns in the lead role as Nadja, while Graham McTavish adds another vampire outing to his filmography after voicing Dracula in Castlevania.
Shot Caller (2017)
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is still known to many as the multifaceted Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones, and he plays a character just as morally complex in this gritty crime thriller. Coster-Waldau stars as Jacob Harlon, a white-collar family man who is transformed into a hardened gangster after being imprisoned for a DUI incident. Gang life does not end upon release however, and he's soon forced to commit a major crime against a rival California gang.
Many of the most famous prison films focus on escape, but Shot Caller is fully preoccupied with the impact of the penal system and the impact it can have on even a seemingly moral family man. Shot Caller acts in many ways a condensed Breaking Bad, also boasting a strong central performance with Coster-Waldau absolutely pouring himself into this difficult and nuanced role as a family man who makes a terrible mistake who slowly becomes desensitised to the horrors around him. The movie belongs to the Game of Thrones alumni, but also boasts a strong supporting performance from Jon Bernthal and a tight script from director Ric Roman Waugh.
With the continued improvement of CGI and special effects, it's perhaps unsurprising that a beloved IP such as Paddington got a big-screen adaptation - what is surprising, however, is just how good the finished product ended up being. Paddington, of course, follows the polite Peruvian bear as he travels to London, and is adopted by the Brown family after getting lost at Paddington station. However, the bear's misadventures in the city are soon under threat - with Nicole Kidman's taxidermist villain determined to add him to her collection.
Paddington could easily have been a soulless cash-grab relying solely on the public's affection for the classic character, but instead director Paul King has crafted a film that is an absolute delight. Retaining the humour and charm of the books but also giving the bear's story a slight 21st Century update, Paddington sneaks in a gentle message about xenophobia and fitting in for an endlessly wholesome experience that's as sweet as a bottle of marmalade.
A talented cast helps also, with James Bond star Ben Whishaw lending his voice to the famous Bear and Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins as his adopted parents Mr. and Mrs. Brown. A who's who of British acting legends rounds out the cast, including the likes of Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi, Jim Broadbent and Imelda Staunton. A sequel starring Hugh Grant in a rare villain role is just as good and perhaps even better - and briefly held the honour of being the top film on Rotten Tomatoes - with Paddington 3 also in the works.
Army of the Dead (2021)
It's been a busy year for Zack Snyder – first, he finally got to release his long-awaited cut of the Justice League movie, and now he's made his first film for Netflix in the shape of zombie thriller Army of the Dead. It was in this genre that the director first made his name with his 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake, and this is largely a successful return for Synder – an imperfect film perhaps, but one with enough gore and new ideas to keep horror fans happy. The film is set in the aftermath of a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, following a group of surviving mercenaries as they prepare for a daring heist, and it overcomes its slight tonal imbalance to deliver a compelling piece of cinema with a likeable ensemble cast and some excellently executed horror moments.
Love and Monsters (2021)
This enjoyable adventure film was an unlikely Oscar nominee – in the best visual effects category – and has proved to be a big success since arriving on the streamer in April. The film concerns Joel Dawson (Dylan O’Brien) and his dangerous attempts to reach his high school sweetheart seven years after they were separated at the outset of the 'Monsterpocalypse'. As is to be expected by the title, his journey is not without danger – and Joel must fight off all manner of monsters if he is to truly reconnect with his love interest. This is an unpretentious family-friendly romp that provides two hours of excellent escapist fun.
Elisabeth Moss turns in a fine performance in this fictionalised biopic of legendary horror fiction writer Shirley Jackson – one of the best new films of 2020. Taking inspiration from the work of Jackson herself, this is a dark, sometimes unnerving film that works as much as a psychological thriller as a traditional biopic . It tells the story of Fred and Rose Nemser, a newlywed couple who are taken in by Jackson and her husband – eventually providing inspiration for the writer's latest book.
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Everyone has a different favourite Quentin Tarantino film, but this gloriously violent World War Two tale will feature near the top of a lot of people's lists. Starring Brad Pitt as a lieutenant leadining a troop of righteously vengeful Jewish-American soliders, and an Oscar-winning Christoph Waltz as the chilling Nazi villain Hans Landa, the film is electric throughout – from the unberably tense opening scene to the immensely cathartic conclusion. Complete with plenty of Tarantino's trademark dialogue and a handful of perfectly constructed set pieces – including one of the most suspenseful card games ever seen on film – this two and a half hour epic is the writer/director at the very top of his game.
Thunder Force (2021)
This superhero comedy stars Bridesmaids' Melissa McCarthy and Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer as estranged friends Lydia and Emily living in a world terrorised by supervillains. When Lydia accidentally imbues herself with amazing abilities, the two must reconcile to become the first superhero duo and save Chicago from villain The King (Bobby Cannavale). Featuring Jason Bateman, Melissa Ponzio, Kevin Dunn and Pom Klementieff, this Netflix blockbuster makes for a fun Friday night watch.
Netflix has turned a lot of heads with its latest documentary, which explores the terrible damage that humans have inflicted on the ocean and its inhabitants. You'll learn new and alarming information about the environmental impact of plastic, fishing equipment and techniques such as bottom-trawling, as well as the consequences this poses for the entire planet. Seaspiracy has been hailed for providing vital information on an often overlooked topic, with many viewers deciding to give up seafood altogether after learning the ugly truth about its source.
The most-watched film on Netflix when it was released, this psychological thriller from Searching director Aneesh Chaganty stars Kiera Allen as Chloe, a Chicago-based teenager who's been confined to a wheelchair as long as she remembers and home schooled by her protective mother Diane (Sarah Paulson). However, when Chloe picks up on her mother's strange behaviour and starts prying into private letters she's kept hidden away, she starts to suspect Diane has been keeping a very dark secret all this time.
A suspenseful drama featuring a terrific performance from Paulson, Run is a gripping watch with a constantly changing pace.
Concrete Cowboy (2021)
Idris Elba and Stranger Things star Caleb McLaughlin lead the cast in this modern Western drama, which explores the urban African-American horse-riding culture. The film centres on Cole a rebellious 15-year-old who is sent to live with his estranged father in Philadelphia, and quickly finds himself drawn to the city's "urban cowboy" subculture, which offers him an alternative to a life of crime. The film has attracted praise from critics, especially for the performances from the two leads.
Bad Trip (2021)
Starring comedians Eric Andre (The Lion King) and Lil Rel Howery (Get Out), this hidden-camera comedy follows best friends Chris and Bud as they take a road trip from their small town in Florida to New York City so that Chris can declare his love for his high school sweetheart Maria (Michaela Conlin). However, with Bud's criminal sister Trina (Tiffany Haddish) on their tail after escaping prison, the two find themselves in a number of sticky situations as actual members of the public look on in shock.
With Bad Trip currently one of the most-watched flicks on Netflix, this 80-minute film is worth the watch for Andrew and Howery's stellar chemistry and a stand-out performance from Haddish.
Yes Day (2021)
This Netflix original family comedy film stars Jennifer Garner and Edgar Ramirez as a normally strict mother and father who decide that for one day only, they will say yes to all of their children's requests. What follows is a whirlwind adventure around Los Angeles, that bring the family closer to each other than ever before.
Directed by Parks and Recreation's Amy Poehler, Moxie stars Hadley Robinson as Vivian, a 16-year-old student who draws inspiration from her mother's rebellious past and launches an anonymous zine, challenging the sexist behaviour at her high school. What starts off as a passion project soon sparks a school-wide revolution, with students and teachers alike banding together to support the magazine.
Featuring the likes of Josie Totah, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Ike Barinholtz and Lauren Tsai, this star-studded coming-of-age flick is a timely comedy with lots of heart.
Penguin Bloom (2020)
Based on Cameron Bloom and Bradley Trevor Greive's book of the same name, Penguin Bloom stars Naomi Watts as Sam, an avid surfer who, whilst on a family holiday in Thailand, falls from a balcony and breaks her back, resulting in partial paralysis. Whilst struggling to adjust to life in a wheelchair, her three sons find an injured magpie chick and begins to form a bond with the bird, which they name Penguin.
Featuring Jacki Weaver, Rachel House and particularly strong performances from Andrew Lincoln and Watts, this 2020 drama is an uplifting tale with a lot of heart.
Namaste Wahala (2020)
Set in Nigeria, Netflix's first Nollywood-Bollywood movie is a ground-breaking foray into world cinema for the streaming giant, and follows a cross-cultural budding romance between Raj (Ruslaan Mumtaz) and Didi (Ini-Dima Okojie). But what could be a soapy love story is tempered by the xenophobia and intolerance exhibited by the couple's families.
To All the Boys: Always and Forever (2021)
Based on Jenny Han’s bestselling novels, this is the third and final instalment of Netflix teen franchise To All the Boys. Lana Condor and Noah Centineo reprise their roles as high school sweethearts Lara Jean Covey and Peter Kavinsky once more, as they count down to their college acceptance (or rejection) letters.
News of the World (2021)
Tom Hanks reunites with director Paul Greengrass for the first time since the Oscar-nominated Captain Phillips in 2013 in this brand new feature – but it's a rather different affair from the pair's last collaboration. The western drama sees Hanks star as a traveling non-fiction storyteller in the post-Civil War USA, who finds an unlikely traveling companion in 10-year-old child Johanna – who had been raised by the Kiowa people as one of their own.
Feature-length documentary film Pele follows the rise of the Brazilian footballing legend as he goes from teenage prodigy to global superstar, set against the backdrop of a turbulent period in Brazilian political history. Including archive footage, brand new interviews and access to Pele himself, the film sheds new light on a player often regarded to be the best to have ever played the game.
Malcolm & Marie (2021)
Zendaya and Tenet's John David Washington star in this brand new black-and-white feature film from the creator of Euphoria, filmed during quarantine. In Malcolm & Marie, Washington plays Malcolm, an infantile up-and-coming director who returns home buoyed by the success of his film premiere and accompanied by his longterm girlfriend, Marie, a former actress who has struggled with drug addiction.
The Dig (2021)
Based on the John Preston 2007 novel, The Dig focuses on the events of the famous 1939 excavation of the Sutton Hoo burial site, and features an all-star cast with the likes of stars Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, Lily James, EMMA.'s Johnny Flynn. Mulligan plays British landowner Edith Pretty, on whose property the excavation takes place.
The White Tiger (2021)
Netflix's latest original film is an adaptation of Aravind Adiga's novel of the same name, which follows the story of Balram Halwai (Adarsh Gourav) as he attempts to escape poverty and rise to the highest levels of society. Produced by Priyanka Chopra, who also appears in a supporting role, The White Tiger has been widely praised by critics, who have been particularly impressed by its stylish direction by 99 Homes helmer Ramin Bahrani as well as the compelling performances across the board.
Pieces of a Woman (2020)
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.
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020)
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.
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.
Maybe not one to watch to unwind - or if you're claustrophobic - most of Oxygen takes place in a box no bigger than a coffin. The film follows a woman who wakes up in a medical cryogenic chamber with no memory of who she is or how she got there. With oxygen starting to deplete, time is running out to rebuild her shattered memories to discover who she is, and find a way out of this nightmare.
Netflix has long helped bring acclaimed foreign films to mainstream attention, and this American-French co-production is one of the latest international showcases following the likes of The Platform and Under the Shadow. Thrillers don't get more tense than this with Elizabeth's panic at being trapped in a small space terrifyingly relatable, with the very limited cast outside of flashbacks adding to the isolation. There may also be a few twists along the way...
The film features a terrific French cast - Mélanie Laurent (6 Underground) deserves the highest praise as she spends the bulk of the screentime alone, with only Mathieu Amalric's (Quantum of Solace) robotic M.I.L.O. for company.
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.
His House (2020)
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.
His House 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.
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.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
John Hughes was the master of coming-of-age films, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off is up there with The Breakfast Club as one of his best films. Despite being made in the 80s, the movie has a timeless premise - a school slacker wants to bunk off school for a day, and uses ingenious measures to ensure his parents and principal never find out.
Endlessly parodied and referenced - as well as popularising a certain catchy song - Ferris Bueller's Day Off managed to capture a fleeting moment in young people's lives and share a pretty powerful message among all the schoolboy antics. The film is full of '80s stars, as not only is it one of Matthew Broderick's most famous roles but Dirty Dancing's Jennifer Grey also plays his on-screen sister Jeanie while Charlie Sheen can also be seen in one of his early film roles. Ferris Bueller's Day Off also boasts an early use of a post-credit scene before they featured in every Marvel movie - something Deadpool paid homage to during its own self-referential after-credit teaser.
Florence Pugh may now be a certified member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe thanks to her role as Yelena Belova in Black Widow, but it was this 2019 horror hit that helped put the young star on the radar. Forget the brightly coloured flowers and pleasant imagery seen in many of the promotional materials - Midsommar's choice of a summer festival setting rather than a traditional haunted house only serves to make events even creepier. One of the few cult films actually about a cult, the film follows a couple on the verge of breaking up who visit a fabled mid-summer festival in Sweden, only for the celebration to spiral into a violent and bizarre affair thanks to a pagan cult.
Director Ari Aster followed up his well-received Hereditary with this equally acclaimed horror, promising bright things ahead for both the genre and Aster himself. Aster knows how to pick a great cast too - following Toni Colette's critically acclaimed turn in Hereditary, Pugh too was praised for her unsettling performance in Midsommar, supported by great co-stars including Jack Reynor (Sing Street), William Jackson Harper (The Good Place) and Will Poulter (Black Mirror).
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.
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.
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 The Forty-Year-Old Version 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.
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, I'm Thinking of Ending Things this is about as unconventional as it gets - but will be sure to leave you both haunted and scratching your head...
The Old Guard (2020)
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).
Chicken Run (2000)
Aardman Animation has built up a reputation for consistently churning out high-quality stop-motion showcases, and outside of the phenomenally popular Wallace and Gromit series Chicken Run may well be their most successful. The highest-grossing stop-motion film of all time, Chicken Run follows the inhabitants of a chicken farm who see a chance to escape when rooster Rocky seemingly flies into their pen. They implore Rocky to teach them how to fly - before Mrs. Tweedy's pie machine is ready...
Aardman Animation's trademark sharp humour and attention to detail are on full display here, with several visual gags hidden within some of the painstakingly crafted frames. The film's critical acclaim also led to the introduction of Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards, as well as leading to future feature films from Aardman such as Flushed Away, the Shaun the Sheep movies and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. The stop-motion hit has arrived on Netflix ahead of the belated Chicken Run sequel, which is being made in collaboration with the streaming service.
Da 5 Bloods (2020)
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 should have been recognised during the 2021 awards season - so get ahead of the curve and watch Da 5 Bloods now.
Marriage Story (2019)
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…
To All the Boys I've Loved Before (2018)
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).
The Irishman (2019)
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).
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.
Uncut Gems (2020)
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 in the 2020 awards season.
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