There’s less than a week now until cinemas finally reopen their doors, but even though all film fans are eagerly awaiting the return of the big-screen experience, Netflix will continue to play a vital role in providing feature-length entertainment for its millions of subscribers.
In recent weeks the streamer has released a wealth of well-received new films onto the platform – with the likes of animated family comedy The Mitchells vs. the Machines and survival adventure film Love and Monsters both going down a treat with both critics and viewers.
And the streamer is also still adding several older films to the platform as well, with relatively new arrivals for including Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, Denis Villeneuve’s 2016 hit Arrival, and Richard Linklater’s classic School of Rock.
Here’s everything you need to know about the films available on Netflix.
Updated 11th May.
School of Rock (2003)
Jack Black turns in one of his most memorable performances as fraudulent substitute teacher Dewey Finn in this eminently rewatchable classic from the early 2000s – forming an unlikely bond with a class of schoolchildren after teaching them the virtues of rock and roll. Black is joined by a tremendous young cast, while Joan Cusack is also wonderful as the uptight Principal Roz Mullins – who it transpires is hiding a wilder side. The film is hilarious and heartwarming with an excellent classic rock soundtrack and some great original tunes thrown in for good measure. It’s sure to keep the whole family entertained, and will almost certainly leave you humming at least one song from the soundtrack for the next few days.
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.
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.
This superb sci-fi flick was deservedly nominated for best picture at the Oscars, and is easily one of the best American films from the last few years. Director Denis Villeneuve has gone on to helm sci-fi films on a slightly grander scale in Blade Runner 2049 and the upcoming Dune adaptation – but this slightly more intimate affair remains the Canadian director’s most beguiling movie to date. Based on a short story by Ted Chiang and boasting a remarkable performance from Amy Adams, Arrival focuses on the sudden appearance of mysterious spacecraft in twelve seemingly unrelated parts of the world, each housing bizarre aliens called Heptapods.
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.
A Star is Born (2018)
Get your tissues at the ready – Bradley Cooper’s 2018 remake of A Star is Born has arrived on Netflix. Starring Lady Gaga as undiscovered singer-songwriter Ally, this romantic drama charts her journey to stardom when she meets famous country rock singer Jackson Maine (Cooper) and the two strike up a relationship. Featuring Oscar-winning song Shallow, A Star is Born is an emotion rollercoaster with Sam Elliott, Dave Chappelle, Anthony Ramos and Rafi Gavron in supporting roles.
Do the Right Thing (1989)
Spike Lee’s made many classics in his career – but very few are quite at the level of this extraordinary film, which was first released back in 1989. Lee himself stars as Mookie, a pizza delivery man going about his day on one of the hottest days of the year. Throughout the film we are introduced to various characters in Mookie’s Brooklyn neighbourhood, with resentments simmering up until its unforgettable conclusion. The film is packed with humour, romance and tragedy – in addition to social commentary which remains fiercely relevant more than 30 years on.
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.
Currently the most-watched film on Netflix, 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.
They Live (1988)
John Carpenter’s sci-fi classic is now available to stream on Netflix. The film follows an unnamed drifter who discovers a mysterious set of sunglasses that allows him to see the true nature of the world around him: the ruling class are, in fact, aliens that are manipulating people to consume, breed and conform by burying subliminal messages in all kinds of mass media. The film has gained a substantial cult following since its debut and its messages on the society in which we live have never been more relevant.
With Dreamworks juggernaut Shrek turning 20 this year, there couldn’t be a more perfect time for the 2001 animated comedy to arrive on Netflix.
Shrek stars Wayne’s World’s Mike Myers as the titular green ogre who’s solitary swamp life is interrupted when all of fairy-tale creatures of nearby kingdom Duloc are exiled to Shrek’s territory by ruler Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow). After begrudgingly teaming up with a talking donkey (Eddie Murphy), Shrek is challenged with rescuing Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz), who’s been imprisoned in a castle tower since childhood – although the rescue mission doesn’t turn out to be a straight-forward as he thought it would be.
Featuring a star-studded vocal cast, a non-stop parade of jokes and a funny take on some fairytale classics, it’s no surprise that Shrek became one of the highest-grossing animated films at the box office in 2001 and spawned various sequels, a musical and even a rollercoaster ride at Universal Studios.
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.
Pet Sematary (2019)
Zero Dark Thirty’s Jason Clarke stars in this adaptation of Stephen King’s classic novel Pet Sematary as Louis Creed, a doctor who moves from Boston to Maine with his wife, two young children and their cat. When Louis finds a haunted graveyard behind their new house, he begins to experiment with its ability to resurrect the dead despite various warnings from his neighbour (John Lithgow) and the ghost of a patient he couldn’t save.
If you’re a fan of the horror genre, Pet Sematary is a must-watch. From its frequent jump-scares to its dark tone, the 100-minute film is a solid take on King’s horrifying tale.
Eighth Grade (2018)
The directorial debut from Bo Burnham, this coming of age drama is a superbly empathetic portrait of adolescent social anxiety, with a standout performance from Elsie Fisher in the lead role. It follows Kayla, a 13-year-old who posts motivational videos about confidence on YouTube, during her last week at a New York public school as she struggles to connect with her peers and her single father, with tear-jerking results.
Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
Constance Wu and Henry Golding star in the excellent modern rom-com Crazy Rich Asians about a professor who travels with her boyfriend to Singapore only to discover that unbeknownst to her, he belongs to one of the richest families in the country. His snobbish family aren’t immediately welcoming to her – and she is faced with the difficult challenge of winning them over during her stay.
Saint Frances (2020)
Released in UK cinemas during the small gap where they were allowed to reopen in Summer 2020, this charming comedy centres on an unlikely friendship that forms between a 34-year-old nanny and the six-year-old child she’s been hired to watch, shortly after the former has had an abortion. Praised for both its empathy and humour, the film has been lauded as one of the best new releases of last year.
Jordan Peele had a tough job following up his Oscar-winning smash Get Out, but he did an excellent job with this chilling slice of horror. Inspired by an old episode of The Twilight Zone, the film follows a family who are enjoying their holidays in Santa Cruz only to find that they are being stalked by a group of terrifying doppelgängers – who very soon make their life a living hell.
Steel Magnolias (1989)
This enjoyably sentimental comedy drama is packed to the brim with stars – with the likes of Shirley MacLaine, Sally Field, Daryl Hannah, Julia Roberts and Dolly Parton all given time to shine. The film follows a group of very different women living in America’s Deep South, who meet to discuss their ups and downs over the course of many years – with serious themes shining through among the humour.
Bridge of Spies (2015)
Mark Rylance won an Oscar for his role as Soviet intelligence officer Rudolf Abel in this excellent true-life cold war drama from legendary director Steven Spielberg. He stars alongside Tom Hanks who plays James B Donovan, a laywer who is called upon to negotiate an exchange of Rudolf with US pilot Francis Powers – who is captive in the USSR.
Blinded by the Light (2019)
Based on writer Sarfraz Manzoor’s childhood memoir Greetings from Bury Park, this charming film tells the coming-of-age story of a young Muslim man in 1980s Luton who becomes enamoured with the music of Bruce Springsteen. With a tremendous soundtrack – featuring several of The Boss’ greatest tunes – and an interesting relationship between the main character and his father at the heart, the film is a brilliant and energetic crowd-pleaser.
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.
The Sisters Brothers (2018)
Joaquin Pheonix and John C. Reilly team up to star in this modern Western from French director Jacques Audiard, based on a novel of the same name by Patrick deWitt. The pair play brothers Charlie and Eli Sisters, who set out on a dangerous trek through the Northwest states in 1851, a journey which puts their family ties to the test.
There’s been a lot of great American High School film released in recent years, and this raucous comedy – the feature directorial debut of Olivia Wilde – is among the best of the bunch. Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever star as two bookish friends who decide its finally time to let loose on the night before their graduation, with hilarious consequences.
American Graffiti (1973)
Although George Lucas is best known as the creator of Star Wars, his first hit film was a rather different proposition – a coming of age film set in 1960’s California. Produced by his then close friend Francis Ford Coppolla, the film was released at the height of the New Hollywood era and features early performances from a couple of actors who would go on to star in huge blockbusters – including Harrison Ford and Richard Dreyfuss.
This 1984 supernatural comedy has spawned several sequels – including an upcoming film helmed by Jason Reitman, son of original director Ivan Reitman – but the first in the series remains comfortably the best of the bunch. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis star as three eccentric scientists who start a business that aims to fight evil ghosts lurking in New York City. Who ya gonna call?
The Best of Enemies
Based on Osha Gray Davidson’s book of the same name, The Best of Enemies looks at the rivalry between civil rights activist Anne Atwater (Taraji P. Henson) and Ku Klux Klan leader C.P. Ellis (Sam Rockwell) in 1970’s Durham, North Carolina. With West Bentley, Babou Ceesay, Anne Heche and John Gallagher Jr making up the supporting cast, this 2019 is a political drama worth watching for Henson’s performance alone.
The Art of Self Defense
This 2019 black comedy stars Jesse Eisenberg as a socially awkward accountant who takes up karate after being attacked by a local motorcycle gang. After joining a dojo, led by a charismatic yet mysterious sensei, he begins to uncover a secret fraternity of violence and toxic masculinity, leading him on a frightening journey of self defence.
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.
This 2011 romcom stars Ginnifer Goodwin as Rachel, who single lawyer in New York City who finds herself falling in love and beginning a secret affair her best friend Darcy’s (Kate Hudson) fiancé and her university pal Dex (Colin Egglesfield). Full of awkward moments, strained friendships and forbidden relationships, Something Borrowed is a fun flick featuring an excellent performance from John Krasinski.
Based on true events, Capone tells the story of Chicago bootlegger Al “Fonzo” Capone, at 47 years old, just after his release from an 11-year prison sentence on the grounds of ill-health. The film finds the gangster in his Miami pad, suffering from dementia and deeply disturbed by memories of his violent past – with Tom Hardy taking on the lead role.
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.
Late Night (2019)
Written by Mindy Kaling, this 2019 comedy-drama stars Emma Thompson as legendary late-night talk show host Katherine Newbury, who decides to refresh her all-male all-white writing staff by hiring Molly (Kaling), an Indian-American woman with little comedic experience but a lot of enthusiasm.
A timely workplace comedy with a stellar cast – including Amy Ryan, John Lithgow, Denis O’Hare, Hugh Dancy and Ike Barinholtz – Late Night is a sharp yet entertaining comedy in which Emma Thompson shines as an acerbic woman in power.
The first of two collaborations between director Brian de Palma and star Al Pacino, Scarface remains one of the definitive gangster movies of all time. Based on the 1932 Howard Hawks film of the same name, this updated version of the story charts the rise and (brutally violent) fall of Cuban gangster Tony Montana after he arrives as a refugee in ’80s Miami. Pacino is at his bombastic best in the lead role, while there’s also a memorable supporting turn from Michelle Pfeiffer and a truly iconic climatic set-piece.
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.
Mean Girls (2004)
Tina Fey’s classic Noughties teen comedy stars Lindsay Lohan as Cady, a homeschooled American teen who grew up in Africa before joining a new school. Navigating the ‘jungle’ of high school cliques, she joins The Plastics, headed up by queen bee Regina George (Rachel McAdams). However, things take a Machiavellian turn after Cady falls for Regina’s ex.
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.
Happy Death Day 2U (2019)
This sequel to the 2017 slasher hit goes in a completely different direction, veering closer to wacky sci-fi comedy than it does to horror – but that’s no bad thing. In fact, such a radical tonal shift allows Happy Death Day 2U to feel like a truly fresh follow-up, rather than yet another derivative rehash. Jessica Rothe returns as college student Tree Gelbman, who once again finds herself trapped in a time loop while a killer stalks campus. However, the circumstances are quite different and writer-director Christopher Landon is clearly having a great time flipping scenes from the first film on their head. It’s fun for us too!
Les Miserables (2019)
Not to be confused with the musical – or indeed any other adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic novel – this tremendous film follows events unfolding over one day in a Paris suburb after France’s victory in the 2018 World Cup and instantly drew comparisons with Mathieu Kassovitz iconic ’90s banlieue film.
The plot centres on a young teenager who, after stealing a lion cub from a traveling circus, becomes the victim of an increasingly hardline pursuit by the Anti-Crime Squad, including uncertain new recruit Stéphane. Exploring themes of police violence, poverty and discrimination, this is a biting, incredibly relevant piece of work.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Directed by veteran filmmaker Martin Scorsese, this black comedy follows real-life figure Jordan Belfort as he rises up the ranks of a Wall Street stockbroker before becoming embroiled in corruption and fraud in the financial district.
Based on Belfort’s memoir of the same name, The Wolf of Wall Street stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the ambitious stockbroker, with standout performances from Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey and Cristin Milioti.
Starring Little Women star Eliza Scanlen, coming-of-age drama Babyteeth follows Milla, a 16-year-old girl recently diagnosed with cancer who falls in love with 23-year-old drug addict Moses (Toby Wallace) despite her wealthy parents’ disapproval.
Featuring a stellar cast which includes Ben Mendelsohn (Captain Marvel), Essie Davis (Game of Thrones) and Emily Barclay (The Light Between Oceans), this Australian indie lives up to its award-winning reputation thanks to a heartbreaking performance from Scanlen and Shannon Murphy’s delicate direction.
Outside the Wire (2021)
Avengers: Infinity War’s Anthony Mackie plays an android soldier in Netflix’s latest action film offering, Outside the Wire. Set in the near future in 2036, we follow drone pilot Thomas Harp (Damson Idris), whose recent disobedience has landed him in hot water. As punishment, he’s tasked with assisting Captain Leo (Mackie), a classified robot soldier, in acquiring a doomsday device in the midst of a civil war in Eastern Europe.
Easy Rider (1969)
Along with a handful of late ’60s films including The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde and Midnight Cowboy, Dennis Hopper’s iconic road movie was one of the key films responsible for ushering in the New Hollywood period in American cinema, and remains a counter-culture classic to this day.
Boasting a unique editing style, memorable performances from Hopper, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson, and one of the best soundtracks of all time, the film explores the rise of the hippie movement across the United States as two freewheeling bikers encounter opposition to and curiosity about their lifestyle while making their way to New Orleans for the Mardi Gras festival.
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.
Based on a true story published in The Wall Street Journal, 2018 comedy Tag follows a group of friends, who’ve kept the same game of tag going since 1983, as they attempt to catch the only member of the group who hasn’t been tagged before he retires from the game.
Starring The Avengers’ Jeremy Renner, The Hangover’s Ed Helms, New Girl’s Jake Johnson, Mad Men’s Jon Hamm and Broad City’s Hannibal Buress with Isla Fisher (The Great Gatsby), Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation) and Annabelle Wallis (Peaky Blinders) in supporting roles, Tag is a fun and outrageous action romp, perfect for family movie night.
All is True (2019)
Noted Shakespearean actor Kenneth Branagh takes on the role of the Bard himself, in this gentle film about William Shakespeare’s final years.
Co-starring Dame Judi Dench, All is True begins in 1613, when the Globe Theatre burns down and famed playwright Shakespeare is forced to leave London and return home to Stratford-upon-Avon – only to be met with a chilly reception from his own neglected family.
The Prom (2020)
Based on the musical of the same name and featuring an all-star cast (Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, James Corden and Andrew Rannells), The Prom‘s plot revolves around two queer high schoolers (newcomer Jo Ellen Pellman and Hamilton’s Ariana DeBose) who just want to go to their prom together – but who face prejudice and homophobia from their local community.
Enter a group of down-but-not-out Broadway stars who hope to take up the girls’ plight as a charity case (and revamp their public images at the same time).
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.
The Prestige (2006)
Between making Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan teamed up with Christian Bale again for this mystery thriller about two magicians who become fierce rivals in 1800s England, based on a novel of the same name by Christopher Priest.
Hugh Jackman and Bale play the lead roles, and as we’ve come to expect from Nolan there’s also a killer supporting cast – featuring Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson and David Bowie, who turns in a memorable performance as Nikola Tesla. There’s great invention and intrigue on show, with a twisty narrative that will keep you in a constant state of captivation.
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.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Steven Spielberg’s iconic sci-fi movie was his first film after Jaws, and had been something of a pet project for the director, who also has the sole screenwriting credit. It follows Roy (Richard Dreyfuss), an electrical lineman who becomes obsessed with the existence of aliens after an encounter with a UFO, eventually teaming up with a woman with similar fixations.
The Handmaiden (2016)
Highly acclaimed Korean director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy) masterfully adapts Sarah Walters’ 2002 novel Fingersmith in this sumptuous period thriller. Setting against the backdrop of Korea under Japanese colonial rule (as opposed to the Victorian England setting of the source material), the film is full of shocking twists and turns and is home to a wonderfully macabre atmosphere.
Coming in at almost three hours long, the epic story starts with an orphaned pickpocket and a con man devising an elaborate plot to seduce and bilk a Japanese woman out of her inheritance. Intricately plotted and beautifully realised.
Fish Tank (2009)
Andrea Arnold is one of the finest British directors working today, and her second feature film Fish Tank arguably remains the strongest entry in her impressive filmography. The film follows a volatile teenager, Mia, who lives in an East London council estate and has a fractious relationship with her mother and sister.
Over the course of the film, she becomes close to her mother’s new boyfriend, Conor – played to chilling effect by Michael Fassbender – who it soon turns out is an exploitative and deeply unsavoury presence.
It’s a hard-hitting slice of social realism that has at its core some truly excellent performances, with Kierston Wareing, Fassbender and newcomer Katie Jarvis all excelling in the lead roles.
Sorry to Bother You (2018)
This darkly comedic drama turned heads upon release back in 2018, with its unpredictable story about a telemarketer whose success at work finds him inducted into a shocking corporate conspiracy.
While the plot becomes increasingly unpredictable as it progresses, the absurd moments are all in service to an important message about how capitalism can exploit and abuse the working classes.
Lakeith Stanfield (Knives Out) gives a superb performance in the lead role, with a stellar supporting cast that includes Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok), Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead) and Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name).
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.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Directed by House of Cards’ David Fincher, this romantic drama was one of the biggest films of 2008 and stars Brad Pitt as the titular character, a man born in 1918 who ages in reverse.
Loosely based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story of the same name, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button follows Benjamin throughout his life as he ages unconventionally, with A-listers Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson, Julia Ormond, Tilda Swinton, Mahershala Ali, Jared Harris and Elle Fanning making up the star-studded cast.
This epic fantasy is an inspired two-and-a-half hours of storytelling, featuring stellar performances from some of Hollywood’s biggest names.
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.
A romcom classic, 1995 film Clueless stars Alicia Silverstone as popular, wealthy student Cher who believes she has a talent for matchmaking at her Beverly Hills-based high school and decides to give new student Tai Frasier (Brittany Murphy) a makeover.
Loosely based on Jane Austen’s Emma, this mildly satirical look at 90’s Valley Girl culture features an array of now-famous stars, including Paul Rudd, Stacey Dash, Wallace Shawn, Donald Faison, Jeremy Sisto and Breckin Meyer.
Game Night (2018)
Anyone in the mood for a wacky comedy need look no further than this hidden gem from two years ago, which stars Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams as a couple who arrange frequent game nights with their friends. On one of these nights, a kidnapping occurs that the attendees believe to be staged in service of an elaborate competition. Little do they know that the abduction was very much real and they are haplessly wandering into a very dangerous situation.
Bateman and McAdams are electric, demonstrating hilarious comedic chemistry throughout, while the movie is able to pack in belly laughs and a few genuinely thrilling moments. Game Night‘s star-studded cast also includes Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad), Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe) and Lamorne Morris (New Girl).
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.
Enola Holmes (2020)
Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown is back on our screens as Sherlock Holmes’s sleuth younger sister in this brand-new Netflix Original, alongside the likes of Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin and Helena Bonham Carter.
Based on American author Nancy Springer’s novels of the same name, Enola Holmes stars Brown as the titular character, a smart and perceptive young woman who sets out to find her eccentric mother (Bonham Carter), who disappears on the morning of her 16th birthday.
While avoiding her strict older brothers, who try to place Enola in a finishing school for “proper” young ladies, the amateur detective finds herself becoming involved in a much bigger mystery surrounding fellow runaway Viscount Tewkesbury.
Featuring a star-studded cast, including Killing Eve‘s Fiona Shaw and Chewing Gum’s Susie Wokoma, this Netflix film isn’t one to miss, especially considering Henry Cavill’s “softer” take on the iconic Sherlock. And it has proved a real hit with Netflix viewers already.
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).
The Social Network (2010)
This hit drama from prolific screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) was an awards frontrunner when it hit cinemas back in 2010, chronicling the troubled early years of a website that has transformed the modern world: Facebook. Jesse Eisenberg stars as Mark Zuckerberg, who begins the film by creating a site that spreads like wildfire across his college campus.
It’s enough to get the attention of investors looking to muscle their way into the online world. The Social Network is an excellent and illuminating feature, packing a standout performance from Andrew Garfield as Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin. Listen out for the killer score from Nine Inch Nails duo Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
Captain Marvel star Brie Larson broke out in this acclaimed drama that tells the harrowing story of a woman and her five-year-old son, who have been held captive for years in an isolated shed. They hatch a daring escape plan, which allows young Jack his first look at the outside world, but integrating into society after such a traumatic childhood will be no easy task.
Larson gives a powerhouse performance in the lead role, earning an Academy Award for her performance, while young Jacob Tremblay is equally heartbreaking in his feature debut. Room was directed by Lenny Abrahamson, who went on to direct BBC Three’s Normal People, so it’s no surprise how well it juggles heartfelt scenes and hard-hitting drama.
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 could well be recognised during this year’s 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).
Former Spooks actor David Oyelowo was robbed of the best actor Oscar in 2015, not even getting a nomination, for his stoutly convincing and multilayered turn as civil rights legend Martin Luther King. Director Ava DuVernay’s (The 13th, When They See Us) heartfelt tribute concentrates on Dr King’s marches in Alabama in 1965, with Tom Wilkinson anything but a caricature as President Johnson. Oprah Winfrey also appears as Annie Lee Cooper, whose attempts to register to vote are quashed by an official.
Dr King’s unshakeable belief that peaceful protest has the power to change lives packs a serious punch, as does John Legend and Common’s anthemic, Oscar-winning Selma theme song, Glory.
It’s Marvel – but not as we know it – as Ryan Reynolds’s sweary, lairy, kick-ass avenger gives the X-Men series an X-rated shake-up in this oddball spin-off.
He stalks the Marvel universe but, as the man himself tells us time and again, Deadpool is no hero – he has the super strength, just not the mind-set. There’s no doubting that Ryan Reynolds is in his element, cracking wise as well as knocking heads together with a delicious dark sense of humour.
Reynolds spent years trying to persuade studio suits to give this movie the green light, his character having made a brief appearance in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. For them, it’s a dicey proposition because it so relentlessly (and refreshingly) mocks the superhero ethos that has made Marvel billions, regularly breaking the fourth wall to bring the audience in on the joke.
Christopher Nolan’s latest offering Tenet has recently been wowing – and confusing – cinema-goers in equal measure, and Inception is another of the director’s mind-bending movies. It really does have the capacity to make your brain hurt, so you’ll need to remove all distractions.
Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a talented thief uses hi-tech devices to enter other people’s dreams so he can steal their secrets. An industrialist hires him to perform a far more challenging job – to implant an idea into a corporate heir’s mind, so he will think it is his own. However, the mission is compromised by the thief’s own troubled psyche…
Elliot Page, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine and Cillian Murphy also feature in the all-star cast.
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.
… And if you’re a Spike Jonze fan, there’s good news for you – new to Netflix in October is this inventive comedy drama based on the BAFTA-winning screenplay by previous collaborator Charlie Kaufman. It features a marvellous double turn by Nicolas Cage, who plays both a neurotic screenwriter with an uphill struggle trying to adapt a book into a film script, and his interfering twin brother, who has decided to make a serial thriller of his own. Meryl Streep also stars in Adaptation., and clearly has a lot of fun.
Dark and hilarious in equal measure.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019)
The third entry in Keanu Reeves’s action saga doesn’t disappoint, delivering yet more brutal fights and ambitious stunts, while also expanding the world of the title hitman.
As the entire assassin underworld turns on him, John Wick will have to use every weapon in his arsenal if he has any hope of survival, which includes calling in a favour from an old friend: Halle Berry’s Sofia (and her particularly deadly pets). Quite possibly the pinnacle of modern action film-making.
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 this award season.
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Looking for something else to watch? Check out our best series on Netflix, best Netflix comedies and best Netflix horror movies. Want to see what’s on the other streaming sites? Take a look at our best Disney Plus shows guide or best Disney Plus movies.
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