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50 best movies to watch on Netflix right now

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

Gary Oldman, Mank

Film fans might not have been able to get their cinema fix during 2020, and although nothing quite compares to the big screen experience, Netflix has done a good job of making up for that this year.

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The streamer has added a huge number of films, both old and new, including some brand new movies from some of Hollywood’s most acclaimed directors, including Spike Lee, Charlie Kaufman and Aaron Sorkin.

The latest to fall into the category is David Fincher’s Mank, which arrived on the service on Friday 4th December, and there are still more potential awards contenders to come including Chadwick Boseman’s final film performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

If you’re after a festive film, then you’re also in luck: Netflix has added a bunch of new original Christmas movies to its already massive supply, including The Christmas Chronicles 2Holidate and Operation Christmas Drop as well as the musical fantasy  Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey.

And if you’re not quite ready for festive films just yet, then fear not: the platform is still adding several other older titles to its library, both old and new, with Steven Spielberg’s iconic sci-fi Close Encounters of the Third Kind one of the latest to be added to the library.

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

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

Last updated 4th December 2020

Mank (2020)

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

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

Watch on Netflix

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

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

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

The Handmaiden (2016)

The Handmaiden

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

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

Fish Tank (2009)

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

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

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

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The Christmas Chronicles 2 (2020)

Coming November 25th 2020.

Christmas Chronicles 2, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell
Netflix

Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn return as Santa and Mrs. Claus in this festive and action-packed sequel from writer-director Chris Columbus, following on from the success of the first Christmas Chronicles instalment two years ago.

Kate Pierce (Darby Camp) has grown up since we last saw her, and is now a cynical teen who needs help remembering the true meaning of Christmas – and that comes in the form of an unexpected reunion with Santa.

But trouble is on the horizon for the residents of the North Pole, as a mysterious troublemaker looks set to put a spanner in the works for Christmas.

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Venom (2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sorry to Bother You (2018)

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

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

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

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Rocks (2020)

Rocks

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

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

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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Paramount Pictures

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

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

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

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Holidate (2020)

Netflix Holidate
Netflix

With Christmas steadily approaching, Holidate is one of Netflix’s newest festive offerings, starring Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey as two single twenty-somethings who decide to be one another’s dates out of convenience for various family gatherings and events.

Of course it wouldn’t be a romcom if things didn’t go to plan, and the two gradually begin to develop feelings for one another despite their initial mutual dislike.

Featuring Kristin Chenoweth, Andrew Bachelor, Jessica Capshaw, Jake Manley and Cynthy Wu, Holidate is a fun and festive guilty pleasure, sprinkled with raunchy jokes and self-aware critiques of the genre.

Watch on Netflix.

Operation Christmas Drop (2020)

Operation-Christmas-Drop

A new romantic comedy-drama which stars Kat Graham as Erica and Alexander Ludwig as Andrew in the tale of a bureaucratic political aide who falls for a big-hearted Air Force pilot while looking to shut down his tropical base and its airborne Christmas tradition of dropping humanitarian aid to the poorest communities in Micronesia.

Netflix is becoming renowned for producing original Christmas movies and Operation Christmas Drop is described by Variety as a “friction-free romantic comedy that faintly distinguishes itself from its snow-sprayed genre brethren with enticingly balmy South Pacific scenery… it gives viewers something to daydream about while they keep half an eye on its story.”

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Citation (2020)

CITATION-THE-MOVIE-OFFICIAL

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

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

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The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run (2020)

SpongeBob

Oh no! Someone’s snail-napped SpongeBob’s best mate, Gary, so SpongeBob takes Patrick Star on a madcap mission far beyond Bikini Bottom to save their pink-shelled pal.

The duo have to navigate the perilous waters far from home…. Are they out of their depth trying to locate Gary in the Lost City of Atlantic City?

The third of the SpongeBob movies based on the long-running Nicktoon, Sponge on the Run is notable for its $60 million budget, the switch to total CGI animation and Keanu Reeves in a cameo as a talking tumbleweed. Classic kids’ fare.

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His House (2020)

His House
Netflix

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

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

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Rebecca (2020)

REBECCA
Netflix

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

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

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Read our full Rebecca review

Clueless (1995)

Clueless Alicia Silverstone & Stacey Dash © Paramount Pictures Intl

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

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

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Game Night (2018)

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

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

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Read our full Game Night review

Gerald’s Game (2017)

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

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

Watch Gerald’s Game on Netflix

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

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

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

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

Watch on Netflix

The Trial of the Chicago 7 true story explained

David Attenborough: a Life on Our Planet (2020)

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

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

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

The Forty-Year-Old Version (2020)

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

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Read our full The Forty-Year-Old Version review

Enola Holmes (2020)

Enola Holmes
Netflix

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

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

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

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

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More on Enola Holmes

I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)

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

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

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Read our full I’m Thinking of Ending Things review
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The Old Guard (2020)

The Old Guard (Netflix)
Netflix

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

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

Watch on Netflix

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

The Social Network (2010)

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

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

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Read our full The Social Network review

Room (2015)

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

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

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Read our full Room review

Da 5 Bloods (2020)

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

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

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

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

Watch on Netflix

Marriage Story (2019)

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

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

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

Watch on Netflix

Read our full Marriage Story review

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

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

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

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

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The Irishman (2019)

The Irishman
Netflix

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

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

Selma (2014)

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

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

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Read our full Selma review

Deadpool (2016)

Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool

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

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

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

Watch on Netflix

Read our full Deadpool review
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Inception (2010)

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

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

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

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

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Read our full Inception review

13th (2016)

13th
13th, Netflix

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

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

13th secured Netflix its first BAFTA.

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Read our full 13th review

Being John Malkovich (1999)

John Cusack in Being John Malkovich
SEAC

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

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

Watch on Netflix

Read our full Being John Malkovich review

Adaptation. (2002)

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

Dark and hilarious in equal measure.

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Read our full Adaptation. review

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019)

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

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

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Read our full John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum review
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The Martian (2015)

The Martian
SEAC

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

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

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Read our full The Martian review

Uncut Gems (2020)

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

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

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Adam Sandler responds to 2020 Oscars snub for Uncut Gems

BlacKkKlansman (2018)

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

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

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Read our full BlacKkKlansman review

Fighting with My Family (2019)

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

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

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Read our full Fighting with My Family review

Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)

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

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

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Read our full Mission: Impossible – Fallout review

Okja (2017)

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

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

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Read our full Okja review

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

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

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

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Read our full The Ballad of Buster Scruggs review

Zodiac (2007)

Robert Downey Jr and Jake Gyllenhall in Zodiac
Robert Downey Jr and Jake Gyllenhall in Zodiac

In the late 1960s and early 70s, the Zodiac Killer terrorised San Francisco and taunted the police and media with cryptic messages. New to Netflix this month is director David Fincher’s intricate take on the story.

Focusing on the police and press investigation into the murders, Fincher’s film follows cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal), flamboyant reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr) and grizzled police inspector David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) as they try to crack the case. It’s over two-and-a-half hours of obsessively gritty procedure that really finds the drama in the details.

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Read our full Zodiac review

Mamma Mia! (2008) and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

Admittedly, it helps to be an Abba fan watching these movies, but you’d have to have a heart of stone to fail to be touched by the heartwarming, feel-good messages. And the starry cast sing to varying degrees of success, which is all part of the fun.

Meryl Streep plays ageing rock chick-turned-hotel owner Donna, whose daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is about to get married on the Greek island where they live. But the wedding is thrown into chaos when three of Donna’s ex-lovers (Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård) turn up. Each has a case for being Sophie’s father, but only one stakes a claim on Donna’s heart.

The original film was followed up ten years later by Here We Go Again!, which was recently added to Netflix. It follows a familiar fairy-tale formula, but it’s a musical worth taking a chance on….

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Read our full Mamma Mia! review

Read our full Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again review

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Hereditary (2018)

Toni Collette in Hereditary

Few horror movies in recent times have petrified audiences quite as much as Ari Aster’s feature debut, which boasts an exceptional turn from Toni Collette in the lead role and some of the most memorable – and terrifying scenes – of all time.

The film is at once an exploration of grief, a discussion of the legacy of family and just a good old-fashioned horror movie, with a masterful command of mood and atmosphere. It draws on classics of the genre including Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist and The Shining – and just a year later Aster would prove that he was by no means a one-hit wonder, writing and directing an arguably even greater horror movie in Midsommar.

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Read our full Hereditary review

Annihilation (2018)

Controversial and divisive, Annihilation had a rocky start in life. After struggling to find a distributor, Netflix picked up the international rights to Ex_Machina director Alex Garland’s film. The sci-fi/horror film is based on book series The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer and follows a group of scientists as they head into Area X, a quarantined area of the planet, where a lot of weird things have started happening. They have no idea what they’ll find, and they’re not all being honest as to why they’re going. Natalie Portman stars and puts in a convincing performance when everything around her is, well, beyond comprehension. 

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Read our full Annihilation review

Spy (2015)

Melissa McCarthy stars in Spy (2015), directed by Paul Feig
Melissa McCarthy stars in Spy (2015), directed by Paul Feig

While it would be fair to say that Melissa McCarthy comedies are rather hit and miss, with noticeably more misses in recent years, Spy stands out as one of her rousing success stories. She teams up with Bridesmaids director Paul Feig for this story about a desk-bound CIA employee who is thrust into dangerous fieldwork when her partner is killed and many more active agents are put at risk. What follows is a truly hilarious take on a Mission: Impossible-style action flick, with McCarthy on top form as well as Jason Statham in a brilliantly utilised supporting role.

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Read our full Spy review

Mudbound (2017)

Dee Rees and Mary J Blige in Mudbound (Netflix, JG)
Dee Rees and Mary J Blige in Mudbound (Netflix, JG)

Director and screenwriter Dee Rees gathered together a potent cast, including singer/actress Mary J Blige, British star Carey Mulligan and rising Hollywood heavyweight Jason Mitchell, to tell the story of two families in 1940s rural America – one black, one white – who struggle to live and work together in post-Second World War America.

The movie created a lot of buzz at the time of release and was nominated for four Oscars, including best supporting actress for Blige. A moving and powerful exploration of bitter race relations, part of Netflix’s Black Lives Matter collection.

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Read our full Mudbound review

Demolition Man (1993)

Recently arrived on Netflix, this slick vision of the future comes pretty close to being Sylvester Stallone’s best ever film. Wisely keeping his tongue stuck firmly in his cheek, Stallone plays a maverick cop who is frozen alive in 1996 and held in cryonic suspension for a crime he did not commit. Decades later, he is defrosted to hunt down an old sparring partner, the spectacularly psychopathic Wesley Snipes, who has escaped from his deep frozen state and is creating havoc in the now crime-free Los Angeles (renamed San Angeles).

The writers have a lot of fun sending up modern-day political correctness in this caring vision of the future – violence, red meat and sex are among the items on the banned list – and director Marco Brambilla delivers the goods when it comes to the all-important action set pieces.

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Read our full Demolition Man review

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