Netflix's library has long been chock full of awards fare, but more than ever that seems to be the case now.

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From this year's nominees such as Past Lives and Maestro, to those from the recent past such as The Martian and 1917, and beyond, it's a good time to be a film fan with a Netflix subscription.

The streamer continues to add to its library, with recent acquisitions including last year's critically acclaimed Godzilla movie, Godzilla Minus One, Stephen Merchant's Fighting with My Family, Jordan Peele's Nope and quirky British comedy Brian and Charles.

It also continues to bring out popular new originals, such as Richard Linklater's Hit Man and the Jessica Alba-led thriller Trigger Warning, and that looks set to continue throughout the rest of the year.

There really is something for everyone on the platform at the moment, but it can be difficult to sort through everything and make that all important choice. That's where we come in.

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Read on for our latest picks of the best films on the streaming service below – updated weekly – or head over to our guides to the best series on Netflix and best comedies on Netflix.

Alternatively, check out our helpful list of Netflix secret codes which help you unlock hidden movies and TV shows.

Updated: 18th July 2024

Best movies to watch on Netflix right now

1917 (2019)

George MacKay in 1917, looking out from a trench and surrounded by soldiers engaged in gunfire
George MacKay in 1917 NBC Universal

This epic war film from Sam Mendes may have been pipped to the post at the 2020 Oscars by Bong Joon-ho's Parasite, but don't let that make you think it was unworthy – on the contrary, 1917 is an absolute filmmaking masterclass, featuring some of the most stunningly realised battle sequences ever put to film.

The plot is fairly simple – two soldiers are rushing to get a message to another squadron to warn them that their impending attack is doomed. However, what's not at all simple is the way the film is constructed, made to look like one long tracking shot following them on their journey.

The direction is absolutely seamless and the cinematography is breathtaking – meanwhile, George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman also give two tremendous central performances, particularly given they're surrounded by some true British acting royalty in smaller roles.

Superbad (2007)

Superbad
Superbad. Sony Pictures

A film which is wholly representative of an era of American comedy, Superbad still manages to stand out from the crowd as a terrifically well-structured, warm-hearted film with some sequences which have gone down in history and become utterly iconic.

The film, from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, stars Michael Cera and Jonah Hill as two teenagers hoping to lose their virginities before moving on from high school and going to college.

While the hijinks, crude humour and gross-out sequences are significant, the film really lives in the friendship between the two central characters – and in the hilarious subplot featuring their friend Fogell, AKA McLovin, and two hugely irresponsible cops.

The Martian (2015)

Jessica Chastain as Melissa Lewis, Kate Mara as Beth Johanssen, Sebastian Stan as Chris Beck, Matt Damon as Mark Watney and Aksel Hennie as Alex Vogel in The Martin, stood and sat in a space base looking at a screen
Jessica Chastain as Melissa Lewis, Kate Mara as Beth Johanssen, Sebastian Stan as Chris Beck, Matt Damon as Mark Watney and Aksel Hennie as Alex Vogel in The Martin. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

As fans get excited for Ridley Scott's latest historical epic, Gladiator 2, they can head to Netflix to revisit one of his best films of recent times, The Martian.

The sci-fi movie based on the novel of the same name features an all-star cast, led by Matt Damon as Mark Watney, an astronaut stationed on a base on Mars who is presumed dead by the rest of his crew, who depart on their ship and leave him behind. Once they become aware of his survival, they attempt to rescue him, but he must learn to survive by himself on the red planet until that time.

The film's success lies in not only its expansive scope but also in its attention to detail, its devotion to science and its emotional resonance. Damon is fantastic in the central role, while Scott proves once again why he is known as such a master of the craft.

In Bruges (2008)

Colin Farrell as Ray, Brendan Gleeson as Ken and Ralph Fiennes as Harry in In Bruges
Colin Farrell as Ray, Brendan Gleeson as Ken and Ralph Fiennes as Harry in In Bruges. Focus Features

Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and writer-director Martin McDonagh's most recent team-up in 2022's The Banshees of Inisherin received a huge number of critical plaudits and awards, but one of the only reasons it was so highly anticipated in the first place was because of the strength of their first collaboration, In Bruges.

This darkest of dark comedies follows Ray and Harry, two hit men who are sent on holiday to Bruges to hide out by their boss Harry, after Ray made a catastrophic mistake.

It's a laugh-out-loud funny film which also has some serious heart and emotional heft behind it, as well as some perfectly staged action sequences and stunning visuals. McDonagh is known for his dialogue, and its rarely stronger than it is here, with some iconic lines which have gone down in cinema history.

Fighting with My Family (2019)

Florence Pugh in Fighting with My Family
Florence Pugh in Fighting with My Family. Lionsgate

A biographical movie about professional wrestler Paige, produced by Dwayne Johnson and WWE Studios? This could have gone so wrong. However, in actuality it turned out to be one of 2019's best, a heartwarming and constantly funny tale of aspiration, family and not only following your dreams, but also knowing when they just aren't going to become a reality for you.

The film follows Saraya Knight, also known by her wrestling name Paige, who was brought up in a family of wrestlers and, along with her brother, dreams of making it big in WWE. When she gets into the training programme but her brother fails, it causes a rift in the family.

So, what made the film go so right? Stephen Merchant. Getting the writer, actor and comedian in to write and direct the film was a stroke of genius, as he found the heart and distinct British specificity in this globe-trotting tale. The casting is also spot on, with the always excellent Florence Pugh leading the way, along with Vince Vaughn, Slow Horses star Jack Lowden, Game of Thrones' Lena Heady and the inimitable Nick Frost.

Nope (2022)

Nope
Keke Palmer and Daniel Kaluuya in Nope. Universal

Jordan Peele had set very high standards with his first two features Get Out and Us, and his third effort Nope only further cemented his reputation as the real deal. The film tells the story of siblings OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Em (Keke Palmer), who run a business training horses for work in Hollywood films at their ranch in southern California and whose world is rocked by several UFO sightings.

This leads them to an encounter with Jupe (Steven Yeun), a former child actor who once experienced a traumatic incident on the set of the sitcom he starred in and now runs a theme park that makes money from that incident. Jupe is similarly keen to profit from this strange presence in the sky, and although OJ and Em are wary of his methods, they too are desperate to document evidence of the phenomenon.

What follows is a spectacularly tense drama – which is clearly indebted to the work of Steven Spielberg but very much goes in its own thrilling and often enigmatic directions. The precise meaning of the final act prompted much discussion upon the release, but regardless of your interpretation, no one could argue that it offers terrific spectacle – a thought-provoking, funny and at times terrifying film with images that will stay with you long after viewing.

Hit Man (2024)

Glen Powell as Gary Johnson and Adria Arjona as Madison in Hit Man.
Glen Powell as Gary Johnson and Adria Arjona as Madison in Hit Man. Brian Roedel/Netflix

The latest film from acclaimed director Richard Linklater, Hit Man is loosely based on the incredible true story of a man named Gary Johnson– a Houston-native who, over a 10 year spell, was hired to kill more than 60 people while posing as a hitman. Little did his prospective clients know, he was working undercover for the police, and their arrests were secured soon after they had handed over cash.

A version of Johnson is played by Glen Powell – who also co-wrote the script with Linklater – with the film using the real tale as a jumping off point to tell a fictional love story that ponders what might have happened if he had become romantically involved with one of the clients. The result is a romcom that sees Gary continue to adopt the fake hitman guise he had used on his first encounter with love interest Maddy (Adria Arjona) – which, unsurprisingly, leads to a couple of issues later down the line.
Equal parts farcical screwball comedy and philosophical musing on the nature of identity, the film asks fascinating questions about the capacity of a person to change while never being anything less than brilliantly entertaining. The chemistry between Powell and Arjona is palpable and there are some superbly executed set pieces, leading up to an enjoyably twisted conclusion.

Godzilla Minus One (2023)

Godzilla Minus One
Godzilla Minus One.

If the increasingly silly tone of Hollywood's monster franchise isn't your cup of tea, then consider trying out this distinct and unrelated Japanese version, which earned acclaim upon release last year. Far from the Saturday morning cartoon-style fisticuffs of Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, this feature is an altogether more sombre affair.

Taking place after the end of the Second World War, when Japan was still in a state of shock and grief from the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the country is dealt another devastating blow when Godzilla emerges just off the coast. The story unfolds primarily from the perspective of deserter pilot Kōichi (Ryunosuke Kamiki), who is grappling with PTSD and a desperate desire for redemption.

Not an easy, popcorn-munching watch by any means, but if you like your sci-fi with a philosophical and emotional edge, Godzilla Minus One is for you. The film also looks utterly dazzling, which is why it took home the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects at the 2024 ceremony.

Knives Out (2019) and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022)

Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc in Glass Onion in an orange shirt sat in a glass building
Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc in Glass Onion. Netflix

The comedy murder-mystery has been enjoying something of a moment in recent years – thanks to everything from British flick See How They Run to hit TV series Only Murders in the Building. But arguably no one has done it better than Rian Johnson, whose two star-studded Knives Out mysteries are both available on Netflix, with a third confirmed to follow.

The films see Daniel Craig’s heavily accented sleuth Benoit Blanc attempt to unravel a couple of very mysterious cases – first the death of a revered crime writer in a cosy mansion, then an even more puzzling death on a private island owned by tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton). Craig is on terrific form throughout, and both films are as humorous as they are exciting, each packed with intriguing twists that keeps the audience guessing until the end.

The Death of Stalin (2017)

Jason Isaacs as Georgy Zhukov in The Death of Stalin
Jason Isaacs as Georgy Zhukov in The Death of Stalin. MITICO - MAIN JOURNEY - GAUMONT - FRANCE 3 CINEMA - AFPI - PANACHE PRODUCTIONS - LA CIE CINEMATOGRAPHIQUE - DEATH OF STALIN THE FILM LTD.

Armando Iannucci may be best known for his work with Alan Partridge and for crafting excellent British political satire The Thick of It, but his take of this period in Russian political and social history is also well worth your time. A pitch black comedy, the film follows the jockeying and positioning for power which took place following the death of Stalin in Soviet Russia, and stars the likes of Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Jeffrey Tambor and Jason Isaacs.

Its sharp turns between the serious subject matter and its razor sharp comedy may not be for everyone, but for the most part they are superbly executed, never forgetting the horrors which are going on beneath but also not letting them overwhelm the comedy. The decision for the stars to use their varying, natural accents is smart, and also gives the film a unique flavour and flair.

Brian and Charles (2022)

David Earl as Brian in Brian and Charles.
David Earl as Brian in Brian and Charles. SEAC

This quirky comedy from first-time feature filmmaker Jim Archer is a brilliantly eccentric slice of British humour. It follows a down-on-his-luck inventor, Brian Gittins (David Earl), who crafts all sorts of offbeat contraptions which rarely produce successful results. But after recovering a discarded mannequin's head and using it as the basis for his latest robotic invention, something miraculous and deeply strange happens: after a violent thunderstorm, Brian awakens to find that the robot has gained sentience and named itself Charles Petrescu.

What follows is a charming and often uproarious film, which both offers plenty of absurdist fun but also delivers a moving story about friendship and combatting loneliness. Expanded from a short film of the same name, not all the narrative choices fully work – especially when it takes a more dramatic turn later in the runtime – but there is so much joy and heart along the way that those imperfections hardly matter. Charles's hilarious dancing scenes in particular are a comic highlight, while voice actor Chris Hayward does a great job of imbuing the character with genuine warmth.

The Karate Kid (1984)

Karate Kid (1984)
Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita. Sony Pictures Television International

If you're a Cobra Kai fan itching to get your hands on the three-part final season, consider going back to where the martial arts saga began with this bona fide classic of the 1980s – now streaming on Netflix.

A young Ralph Macchio and William Zabka, currently starring in the streaming revival, are the stars of the show, playing teen rivals Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence respectively. Meanwhile, Pat Morita earned an Academy Award nomination as the former's mentor, Mr Miyagi, a war veteran who teaches him karate to ward off bullies and compete in a high-profile tournament.

The film remains popular decades on from its release, telling a classic underdog story in an earnest and heartwarming way. It's hardly unpredictable viewing – particularly if you've seen Cobra Kai – but there's still lots of fun to be had from this family flick.

Gladiator (2000)

Russell Crowe stars in Gladiator (2000) in gladiatorial gear holding a sword, screaming
Russell Crowe stars in Gladiator (2000). SEAC

The hype is steadily building for Ridley Scott's upcoming Gladiator sequel ahead of its release in November, and so now is the perfect time to reacquaint yourself with the Oscar-winning historical epic almost a quarter of a century on from its original release.

Russell Crowe stars as Maximus, a once favoured Roman general who is humiliated and thrown out when power is seized by the corrupt and odious Commodus (played with relish by Joaquin Phoenix), who also orders that his family are murdered. Starting again from rock bottom as a gladiator, Maximus embarks on a long and violent road to revenge and redemption.

A masterwork of the revenge genre, the film unfolds with pace, wit and no shortage of glorious visuals, while it also boasts a number of strong performances from a uniformly excellent cast – including the great Oliver Reed in his final role. The set-pieces are also frequently breathtaking... are you not entertained?

The Talented Mr Ripley (1999)

Matt Damon in The Talented Mr Ripley standing overlooking a canal in Venice
Matt Damon in The Talented Mr Ripley. Miramax

Matt Damon and Jude Law have arguably never been better than they were in this mesmerising adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's thriller novel from director Anthony Minghella. The pair respectively play expert conman Tom Ripley and wealthy heir Dickie Greenleaf, with the former growing obsessed with the latter after inserting himself into his glamorous life in Italy – with all sorts of dramatic consequences.

Damon and Law are joined by a stellar supporting cast including terrific performances from Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett and Phillip Seymour Hoffmann, while the beauty of the Italian landscape is shot superbly to create an enticing atmosphere that viewers can't help but get caught up in. Consistently suspenseful and enthralling, it's also a film that manages to have an emotional centre despite the sociopathic tendencies of its main character.

Lady Bird (2017)

Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird leaning against a wall in a plaid dress
Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird. A24, Universal Pictures, Focus Features

Greta Gerwig boasts the impressive record of having had all three of her solo directorial efforts nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars – and the first of the bunch was this immensely likeable coming-of-age comedy-drama.

Lady Bird finds star Saoirse Ronan on typically excellent form as Christine McPherson, a somewhat eccentric teenager who insists on going by the moniker Lady Bird and is desperate to escape what she views as her mundane upbringing in Sacramento in search of greater thrills.

The film deftly explores first love and teenage relationships with wit and empathy, but it's the sometimes volatile dynamic between the title character and her mother (Laurie Metcalf) which stands out as its strongest throughline.

Arrival (2016)

Amy Adams as Louise Banks in Arrival
Amy Adams as Louise Banks in Arrival Paramount Pictures

Any Dune fans wanting more thought-provoking science fiction from Denis Villeneuve need look no further than Arrival. This 2016 film sees a mysterious extraterrestrial species land on Earth, with linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) tasked with finding a way of communicating with them.

Don't go in expecting explosions and action sequences – Arrival is a quieter take on alien encounters than we typically see from Hollywood. Nevertheless, it remains thoroughly compelling throughout with knockout performances from Adams as well as co-stars Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker.

If you were impressed by the visuals in Dune, you'll be pleased to hear that this offering is also a feast for the eyes, with Villeneuve conjuring up some mesmerising imagery as Banks seeks a connection with her mysterious new acquaintances. Brace yourself for a surprisingly moving finale!

Call Me By Your Name (2017)

Call Me By Your Name
Call Me By Your Name.

Luca Guadagnino's latest film Challengers has been causing quite a splash since its release in cinemas in April – becoming his best received film since this Oscar-nominated drama from 2017, which helped launch Timothée Chalamet to super-stardom. The Dune star plays Elio, a teenager spending an idyllic summer with his family in Northern Italy in 1983, who finds himself developing unexpected feelings for his father's 24-year-old intern, played by Armie Hammer.

As with most of the Italian director's movies, the film is chiefly interested in the theme of desire, and Elio's gradual – and sometimes painful – journey to discovering his sexuality is beautifully written and performed. Guadagnino also brings great tactility and sensuality to proceedings, including one memorable scene involving a peach, while the original songs provided by singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens give the film even more emotional depth.

Widows (2018)

The cast of Widows
Widows (2018) Twentieth Century Fox

Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen will release his latest film Blitz at some point in 2024, so now's a good time to catch up with some of his earlier efforts. One of those films is Widows, his 2018 thriller which was inspired by the '80s British TV show of the same name, but with the action transposed to contemporary Chicago.

Among the film's many virtues is the all star cast, which includes top-notch performances from the likes of Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez, Daniel Kaluuya and Colin Farrell – while Viola Davis is on especially electric form.

The film's twisty and suspenseful plot – which tells of an audacious robbery attempt by the widows of three career criminals – packs in plenty of social commentary while, as usual with McQueen, there is also a lot of visual flair on display.

Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Tom Cruise stars in Top Gun: Maverick
Tom Cruise stars in Top Gun: Maverick. SEAC

If you've seen this action sequel starring Tom Cruise already, then you'll know why it did such gangbusters at the box office when it was first released, and why it was nominated for six Oscars. It a sequel which is far superior to its predecessor, which is thrill-ride throughout but also manages to retain its heart.

Cruise is his usual magnetic self as he reprises his role as Maverick, who has to teach a group of younger Top Gun graduates to pull off a daring but vital mission, including Goose's son, played by Miles Teller.

It's a film which manages to rid you of any cynicism you may have had going in, and simply fill you with awe as you watch the stunts being pulled off and the action sequences being accomplished.

Room (2015)

Brie Larson as Ma and Jacob Tremblay as Jack in Room, sat together on the floor
Brie Larson as Ma and Jacob Tremblay as Jack in Room.

Brie Larson and a young Jacob Tremblay star in this hugely moving adaptation of Emma Donoghue's novel of the same name. It tells the harrowing yet hopeful story of a woman taken hostage and held captive in a man's basement, who later manages to escape alongside her young son.

It's the type of story which could easily be bleak and tough to watch, and while there are scenes that fit that bill, for the most part its an uplifting story, told with sensitivity and a necessary, light sprinkling of humour, while never failing to acknowledge the horror of what the characters are going through.

Larson rightly won Best Actress at the Oscars for her performance, while Tremblay marked himself out as a young performer to watch.

The Matrix Resurrections (2021)

Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss return in The Matrix Resurrections
Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss return in The Matrix Resurrections Warner Bros

This one is an acquired taste, for sure. However, if news of a fifth film in The Matrix franchise has piqued your curiosity, you may want to see exactly how Lana Wachowski ended things in her recent solo directing gig.

The Matrix Resurrections picks up with Neo and Trinity seemingly back in their old, artificial lives, unaware of exactly who they are or how important they once were to each other. The film proceeds to veer off in some strange directions, including a meta narrative that some have interpreted as a scathing critique of the modern Hollywood studio system.

Some of it works, some of it doesn't – in the latter camp is replacing Laurence Fishburne with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, which feels odd opposite the returning Keanu Reeves and Carrie Anne-Moss. But like any project from the Wachowskis, it's certainly interesting. You'll have an opinion on it and, if you're a fan of the original films, you might even find something to love.

Ford v Ferrari (2019)

Matt Damon in Le Mans '66
Matt Damon in Le Mans '66. Fox

Originally titled Le Mans '66 for its UK release, this Oscar-nominated motor racing drama from James Mangold is an energetic crowd pleaser featuring a starring turn from Christian Bale – who steals the show as the eccentric and somewhat obnoxious driver Ken Miles.

The film sees Ken team up with Matt Damon's designer Carroll Shelby as they try to build a car worthy of winning the famously challenging 24 Hours of Le Mans race, under the watchful eye of Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts).

The tussle for control between the by-the-book methods of the corporate suits and the more maverick sensibilities of the motorsport diehards makes for a gripping and entertaining viewing experience, and the film has a playful swagger to it which majes the two-and-a-half-hour runtime zip by. Meanwhile the thrilling climax at Le Mans makes for exhilarating viewing.

Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

Punch Drunk Love
Punch Drunk Love.

Alongside his outstanding performance in Uncut Gems, Adam Sandler's turn in this excellent Paul Thomas Anderson romantic drama must surely rank as the comedian's finest hour. He plays Barry Egan, a frustrated, lonely and easily agitated bachelor who unexpectedly finds love while also dealing with a blackmail threat from the owner of a phone-sex line.

The film has an offbeat, absurdist humour to it, and there are excellent supporting performances from Emily Watson as Barry's love interest Lena and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as his chief intimidator, while Anderson also makes great use of the song He Needs Me – first heard in Robert Altman's live action Popeye film from 1980.

Far less epic and sprawling than many of the filmmakers other works such as Magnolia and There Will Be Blood, it nonetheless ranks as another triumph for the director – a truly original and often very funny look at mental health and falling in love.

Snatch (2000)

The cast of Snatch stood in a line and looking into the camera against a white background
Snatch. Sony/Columbia Pictures

Guy Ritchie has been on a big journey as a filmmaker, starting off in gritty yet somewhat comic British crime films, going through a period of IP filmmaking with the likes of Sherlock Holmes and Aladdin, before returning to his roots. Now, with his original Netflix series The Gentlemen having just been released, it's the perfect time to revisit one of his earliest and most beloved film efforts.

Snatch, which stars Brad Pitt, Vinnie Jones, Benicio del Toro and Jason Statham, follows a group of characters operating in the London criminal underworld, with plotlines involving the search for a stolen diamond and a boxing promoter's run in with a ruthless gangster.

Like many of Ritchie's films it may be somewhat divisive with viewers, but it has style to spare, some uproarious comic moments and some brilliant action which proves why Ritchie has become the household name that he is today.

Past Lives (2023)

Greta Lee as Nora and Teo Yoo as Hae Sung in Past Lives smiling together
Greta Lee as Nora and Teo Yoo as Hae Sung in Past Lives. StudioCanal

The idea of past lives and lost love are the two major themes that form the backbone of this film, which rightfully garnered a lot of praise and five star reviews when it debuted last year. Now available to watch on Netflix, the film follows Nora (Greta Lee) and Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) who start off as childhood friends with a deep connection but when Nora's family emigrates to America, they lose touch.

Years later, they reconnect on Facebook and find that their feelings for one another haven't been lost but are actually even stronger despite the many differences in their lives now. Things come to an eventual head in the movie when Hae Sung finally comes to New York to visit Nora who is married to Arthur (John Magaro) but his arrival signals more than just a reunion.

Often poetic and deeply thoughtful, Past Lives interrogates the ideas surrounding fate and destiny against a backdrop of changing identities, making for a film you'll be left thinking about long after watching.

Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019)

Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio star in Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio star in Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood. Columbia Pictures

Tarantino's most recent film Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood was notable for teaming up two of the world's biggest movie stars, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, while also starring Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate, and telling an alternate history version of what, in real life, were the film star's final days.

The writer-director's love for the period exudes from the screen and is truly infectious – while there's little in the way of plot here, it's a joy simply to hang out in this world with these characters. Meanwhile, the finale is one of the goriest, but also funniest and most cathartic climaxes Tarantino has ever put on screen.

The Favourite (2018)

Emma Stone sat down in 18th century dress in The Favourite
Emma Stone in The Favourite. 20th Century Fox

Poor Things has proved to be hugely popular with critics, audiences and awards bodies, and is currently in contention to win Best Picture at the Oscars. It's perhaps no surprise – the last time that director Yorgos Lanthimos and star Emma Stone collaborated was in 2018, which produced multi-award-winning film The Favourite.

Alongside Stone, that film starred Olivia Colman in what turned out to be an Oscar-winning performance, starring as Queen Anne in early 18th-century Great Britain. The film told a historical story but did so with Lanthimos's trademark wit, style and personal flavour, which may be divisive for some, but means that none of his films are ever boring.

In actuality, it's one of Lanthimos's most accessible films to date, and while it may not be the faint of heart or those looking for a traditional period piece, it is a pitch black comedy which is well worth your time.

Maestro (2023)

Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro wearing a suit, conducting an orchestra
Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro. Netflix

Bradley Cooper announced himself as a major new directorial voice with his Oscar-nominated remake of A Star Is Born five years ago, and his second feature Maestro proves that was no fluke. Focusing on one of the most iconic American musicians of the 20th century in Leonard Bernstein (played by Cooper himself), the film shines a light on his sometimes volatile relationship with wife Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan).

Filmed in both black and white and colour, it is a consistently gorgeous film to look at and also includes a brilliant soundtrack full of some of Bernstein's finest work. Meanwhile, the performances are superb – with both Cooper and Mulligan correctly emerging as possible frontrunners for major awards attention.

The film runs the full gamut of emotions and there are several standout scenes: from a joyous dance sequence during a rehearsal for On the Town and a breathtaking six-minute scene of Bernstein conducting Gustav Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony, to a blistering argument between Bernstein and Montealegre at their New York apartment and several heartbreaking moments when the latter falls ill. It's well worth a watch.

Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget (2023)

Mrs Tweedy in Chicken Run 2 looking sly
Mrs Tweedy in Chicken Run 2. Netflix/YouTube

More than twenty years after the first film became an instant claymation classic, Ginger, Rocky and the rest of the flock return in this joyous sequel, where we find them on a utopian island paradise following their audacious escape from the evil Mrs Tweedy.

But when Ginger (voiced by Thandiwe Newton) and Rocky (Zachary Levi) discover that their intrepid daughter Molly (Bella Ramsey) has set off on her own adventure, old enemies rear their heads and only an expertly orchestrated heist can avert a calamity.

The increased scale compared to the original offers director Sam Fell plenty of opportunities to showcase a number of highly innovative and intricately designed set pieces. And, as ever with Aardman, there's also a terrific assortment of verbal and visual gags to delight audiences, while the film crucially retains the handcrafted, eccentric charm that has become synonymous with the studio.

Spencer (2021)

Kristen Stewart as Diana in Spencer.
Kristen Stewart as Diana in Spencer.

With the final season of The Crown having recently arrived on Netflix, now is as good as time as any to check out this alternative royal drama from Chilean director Pablo Larrain (with a script by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight).

Billed as a "fable from a true story", the film sees Kristen Stewart put in an incredible performance as Princess Diana, following her as she has an existential crisis while staying at the Sandringham Estate over Christmas 1991.

A melodrama with a dreamlike tone and moments of surrealism, it's markedly different in feel from the more straight-laced The Crown, but it offers a fascinating interpretation of Diana's mindset during a troubling time – and it also looks beautiful throughout.

Parasite (2019)

A woman on a staircase looking shocked
Parasite. SEAC

When Parasite was announced as the first non-English-language Best Picture winner at the 2020 Oscars, few film fans had any complaints. Bong Joon-ho's masterpiece functions equally well as a suspenseful Hitchcockian thriller, a pitch-perfect black comedy and a biting class satire – complete with some extraordinary performances from its cast.

The film follows events after four members of a working-class family sneakily take it in turns to find work at the plush home of a more well-to-do family, before their elaborate ploy eventually leads to a nail-biting showdown in the latter stages. Tense, intelligent and extremely entertaining, it's unquestionably one of the finest films of the 21st century.

Get Out (2017)

Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out
Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out Blumhouse Productions

It's difficult to believe that this film was Jordan Peele's directorial debut – instantly marking him out as one of the most influential cinematic voices of his generation and justifiably winning him all sorts of acclaim, including an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. A psychological horror film with a generous dose of social satire, it follows Black photographer Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) as he spends a weekend with the family of his wealthy white girlfriend Rose (Alison Williams).

When he arrives, he almost immediately has the uneasy feeling that something isn't quite right, and it gradually becomes clear that the family's veneer of kindness is shielding a seriously sinister secret. Kaluuya's superb central performance, Peele's incredibly sharp script, and a host of well-chosen film influences combine to make Get Out an irresistible experience – at once top-quality entertainment and intelligent food for thought.

Chicago (2002)

Catherine Zeta Jones as Velma Kelly in Chicago
Catherine Zeta Jones as Velma Kelly in Chicago SEAC

Rob Marshall's Oscar-winning adaptation of the classic Kander & Ebb stage musical was a huge hit in 2002 – at the time becoming the highest-grossing live-action musical ever (a record that was broken by Mamma Mia! six years later). It follows Velma, an infamous nightclub singer who kills her husband and sister after finding them in bed together, and Roxie, an aspiring Vaudevillian who murders her paramour, as they are both defended by sleazy but successful lawyer Billy Flynn.

Complete with tremendous performances from Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, and John C Reilly among others, and a superb assortment of standout musical numbers – All That Jazz and Cell Block Tango are just two of the highlights – this is an irresistibly entertaining spectacle that was good value for its Best Picture triumph.

Talk to Me (2023)

Mia in Talk to Me with a person leaning behind her
Sophie Wilde as Mia in Talk to Me. Umbrella Entertainment

You know you're always in for an interesting ride with an A24 horror film, but this year's Talk To Me proved to be a real unexpected thrill ride. The supernatural horror comes from YouTubers turned directors Danny and Michael Philippou, and follows Mia, a young woman who gets involved with a group of friends who have found a mystical ceramic hand, which can grant spirits access to your body.

It's an already chilling premise which is only heightened by extremely successful execution. Some of the sequences are so terror inducing and stressful that you'll need a long lie down afterwards, but for those looking for some properly thrilling horror then look no further.

Sophie Wilde is hugely impressive in the central role, while the supporting cast all do stellar work. The film's thematic storytelling also hits home come the end, as it explores topics around grief and addiction more successfully than many a drama.

Nimona (2023)

Two characters from Nimona chatting
Nimona. Netflix

This animated adventure started its life at Blue Sky Studios only to be shelved following Disney's acquisition of 21st Century Fox in 2021, eventually being picked up by Netflix for release in 2023. And it's a good job it was rescued: it's a rollicking, inventive, and amusing fairytale that deftly touches on LGBTQ+ themes, with some impressive voice performances from the likes of Chloë Grace Moretz and Riz Ahmed.

The film tells the story of Knight Ballister Boldheart (Ahmed) who has to turn to the titular shape-shifting teen (Moretz) for help when he is falsely accused of murdering the Queen. Nimona is the only person willing to help him prove his innocence, but things are somewhat confused by the fact she is also the monster he has sworn to kill. Cue an enjoyable adventure that features all sorts of havoc and makes for top-tier entertainment for the whole family.

RRR (2022)

RRR on Netflix
RRR Netflix

The latest work from legendary Telegu filmmaker S. S. Rajamouli, RRR became a major international hit upon its release – enrapturing viewers all around the globe. It’s not difficult to see why it resonated so much – across its epic three-hour running time the film packs in all manner of superbly executed action scenes (sometimes involving CGI animals) and splendidly choreographed dance scenes, including one to Oscar-winning song Naatu Naatu.

Set against the backdrop of the brutal British Raj, RRR is a thrilling tale of revenge. The film chronicles a charming fictional friendship between real-life revolutionaries Komaram Bheem (NT Rama Rao Jr) and Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan) as they seek to rid the nation of British rule.

Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio (2022)

Pinocchio
Pinocchio Netflix

Guillermo Del Toro’s first foray into stop-motion animation – alongside co-director Mark Gustafson – is one of many new takes on the tale of the wooden boy to have been released in recent years. It also happens to be by some margin the best of the bunch, ingeniously transposing Carlo Collodi’s classic tale to Benito Mussolini’s Italy.

Many of the story beats are, of course, familiar: Geppetto makes a puppet that comes to life, with the pair then getting tangled up in adventures alongside a talking cricket. But, this new version also laces its narrative with profound meditations on grief, death, religion, and authoritarianism, adding up to a truly beautiful and visually sumptuous piece of work.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)

Adele Haenel as Heloise and Noemie Merlant as Marianne in Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Adele Haenel as Heloise and Noemie Merlant as Marianne in Portrait of a Lady on Fire Lilies Films / Hold Up Films & Production / Arte France/Curzon Artificial Eye

French filmmaker Celine Sciamma has made some of the best films of the last decade – and this period romantic drama arguably ranks as the finest of the lot, winning a major prize at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, where it opened to glowing reviews. Set in France in the late 18th century, it follows the romance that develops between a reluctant bride-to-be and the artist hired to paint her portrait.

Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel are luminous in the lead roles, and the whole film is superbly put together by Sciamma, whose direction is frequently subtle and intelligent. Certain scenes will linger long in the memory, none more so than the heartbreaking final shot.

Paddington 2 (2017)

Hugh Grant in Paddington 2
Hugh Grant in Paddington 2 StudioCanal

The first Paddington film in 2014 had already proved irresistibly charming to audiences across the world – but this sequel took things up a notch to deliver arguably one of the best family films ever made. The film picks up with the Peruvian bear – still living with the Brown family – as he embarks on a journey to get the perfect gift for his Aunt’s 100th birthday.

Only there’s a spanner in the works – and that spanner comes in the shape of a scene-stealing Hugh Grant, who stars as narcissistic thespian Phoenix Buchanan, who would like Paddington’s preferred gift all for himself. What follows is a delightful, rip-roaring adventure that was deservedly heaped with praise. We’re still waiting for a planned third instalment, but for the time being this one is always ripe for a revisit.

Marriage Story (2019)

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

Writer/director Noah Baumbach has teamed up with Adam Driver on a number of occasions, but this divorce drama is arguably the peak of their collaboration. The film earned six nominations at the 92nd Academy Awards – winning one – and proved every bit as popular with audiences as it did with critics.

Based in part on Baumbach’s own divorce, Driver and Scarlett Johansson star as a director and actor couple whose marriage has reached its end, but things only get more bitter when lawyers are called in to begin divorce proceedings. By turns funny and tear-jerking, this film is a real winner – worth it for a scene that sees Driver singing Stephen Sondheim’s Being Alive alone.

The Irishman (2019)

The Irishman
The Irishman Netflix

There was a time a few years ago when Netflix was gladly giving a number of acclaimed big-name auteurs big budgets and free rein to make their passion projects, and the greatest result of that era was Martin Scorsese’s superb gangster epic.

Of course, the great director has famously dabbled in the gangster genre many times before, but what marks The Irishman out from the likes of Goodfellas and Casino is the more sombre, elegiac tone. The film follows Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran (Robert De Niro), as he recalls his involvement in the disappearance of his longtime friend Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), whilst also reflecting on a number of relationships, including that with his daughter, Peggy (Anna Paquin).

13th (2016)

Angela Davis in 13th
Angela Davis in 13th Netflix

The title of Ava DuVernay’s searing documentary refers to the 13th Amendment in the US Constitution, which declares: “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.”

The film goes on to draw parallels between slavery and the major flaws in America’s modern-day criminal judgment system, examining the prison-industrial complex and the ways in which the system disproportionately affects Black Americans and other minority communities. The film won huge acclaim on release and secured Netflix its first BAFTA – while it found an audience again following the murder of George Floyd in 2020.

Uncut Gems (2020)

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

Most of the Adam Sandler films you’ll find on Netflix are of rather dubious quality, but every so often the actor picks a project that shows just how good he can be – and there’s never been a better example of that than Uncut Gems. This unbearably tense, blackly comic offering from the Safdie Brothers was a huge critical hit when it debuted in 2020, with many feeling that Sandler was unfortunate not to nab an Oscar nomination.

He stars as a New York City jeweller with a gambling problem, who must risk everything to banish his debts and escape the collectors after him – whilst also balancing his role as a father, a crumbling marriage with his soon-to-be-ex-wife (Idina Menzel) and an affair with an employee (Julia Fox).

Groundhog Day (1993)

Bill Murray in Groundhog Day
Bill Murray in Groundhog Day Sony Pictures Television

The kind of film you can watch over and over again, Groundhog Day features one of Bill Murray’s finest comedic performances and an ingenious plot device that is now as famous as the film itself.

Murray stars as misanthropic weather reporter Phil Connors who is extremely disgruntled to be covering the titular celebration in the Pennsylvanian town of Punxsutawney. Unable to leave due to adverse weather conditions, Phil is further alarmed when he repeatedly wakes up on the same morning – forced to relive the same day on repeat with seemingly no way to end the loop. Often imitated but never bettered, Groundhog Day remains the gold standard when it comes to time-loop narratives, with both Murray and co-star Andie MacDowell in fine form. It’s a doozy!

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia
Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia Columbia Pictures

Netflix’s library is not quite so well stocked when it comes to films made before the 1990s, but one bonafide classic of British cinema available on the streamer is David Lean’s epic Lawrence of Arabia.

The film, which unfolds over more than three hours, is based on the life of archaeologist and army officer T. E. Lawrence, and specifically his experiences in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War – including his involvement in the Arab National Counsel. It won seven Oscars and is regarded as one of the finest ever film achievements, remembered for its visual style, storytelling, themes, and performances from the likes of Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif.

Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)

Monty Python's Life of Brian
Monty Python's Life of Brian FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images

Monty Python remain one of the most influential comedy acts of all time, and their 1979 film The Life of Brian ranks up there with their very best work. Controversial with religious groups upon its initial release, the film follows a young man named Brian (Graham Chapman) who was born in close proximity to Jesus – and is often confused for the Messiah.

There’s the usual blend of absurdist humour, juvenile japes and biting satire, with a huge variety of delights sprinkled throughout – from a cameo by Spike Milligan to the iconic rendition of the original song Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. All in all, it’s a consistently hilarious film that rightly stands as a landmark in British comedy.

12 Years a Slave (2013)

Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave
Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave E1 Entertainment

Steve McQueen’s astonishing Oscar-winning drama tells the true story of Solomon Northup – a free Black man living in 1800s New York who was captured and sold into slavery in the Deep South. Brutal scenes of suffering ensure it can be a tough watch, but it’s directed with sensitivity and grace by McQueen and makes for a truly powerful piece of filmmaking.

The performances from the cast are also uniformly exceptional – Chiwetel Ejiofor is a magnetic force in the lead role, while the supporting turns from the likes of Michael Fassbender and Oscar-winning Lupita Nyong’o are equally impressive.

Memento (2000)

Memento
Memento Twentieth Century Fox

Christopher Nolan had already made waves with the ultra-low budget Following, but this was the film that really announced him as a cinematic force to be reckoned with. Based on a short story by his brother Jonathan, it tells the story of an amnesiac insurance investigator desperately attempting to piece together clues from tattoos and notes he has left to himself.

The film's fascinating non-chronological structure has become the stuff of legend – although perhaps ensures that no rewatch will ever quite live up to the thrilling experience of solving the puzzle the first time around. But complete with neo-noir trappings, a mood of distinct unease, and an impressive turn from Guy Pearce in the lead role, this is a terrific piece of cinema.

My Neighbour Totoro (1988)

My Neighbour Totoro
My Neighbour Totoro Studio Ghibli

Pretty much the whole Studio Ghibli oeuvre is available to stream on Netflix, giving subscribers a huge range of wonderful animated flicks to enjoy including Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Whisper of the Heart. And there can be no doubt that this delightfully charming little film – just their third feature – is one of the greatest.

It follows two girls who move with their father to the countryside while their mother is ill, where they find themselves having a number of magical encounters with the titular friendly monster and other surreal beings. The story itself is fairly minimalist, but the gorgeous animation and the way the film captures a youthful sense of wonderment make it a must-watch.

Jaws (1975)

Crowds run out of the water in a scene from the film 'Jaws', 1975
Jaws Universal/Getty Images

Few films can be said to have truly changed the face of cinema – but Jaws is one for whom that statement is by no means an exaggeration. After being subject to a famously disastrous production process, the film went on to achieve monumental success, becoming known as the first-ever blockbuster and launching the career of a young Steven Spielberg in the process.

Almost 50 years on, it very much endures as a classic – still a thrilling example of building suspense by withholding the terrifying shark for as long as possible. The character work is also tremendous – with Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss all bringing great heft to their roles – and John Williams’s iconic score is one for the ages.

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