The 70 Best Movies on Netflix – June 2018
It’s Friday night, but the weather’s bad and you refuse to leave your home. A couple friends have come over to hang out and watch a movie, but your DVD collection is looking pretty sparse for new releases. You could watch You’ve Got Mail again for the dozenth time, but you really want to see something new that will hit hard, make you laugh, or stay in your mind for days. The last video store in your town closed down years ago, and rentals on iTunes are just too expensive to justify the purchase. Flipping your television over to Netflix is not just the best idea, it’s an obvious one. But as you scroll through your queue and your suggested recommendations, one thing becomes apparent: you have no idea which film to pick.
Netflix is overrun with television shows, but that doesn’t mean the service has lost out on some great films. It can actually be pretty tough to find classic films on the service among all the Netflix original shows now streaming on the platform, so we’ve done the hard work for you. We’ve rounded up fifty of the best films streaming on Netflix right now, so that you can skip the endless browsing and scrolling through films on your television and just get to watching the movie. We’ll update this list every month with new recommendations, and we’ll always make sure that the films listed here haven’t been taken off of Netflix’s offerings, so whether it’s a film you’ve never seen or a classic you want to revisit, you’ll always be ready to stream a great film.
So throw the popcorn in the microwave, kick your feet up, and relax with one of these incredible films. These are seventy of the best movies streaming on Netflix right now, in no particular order.
Though it doesn't quite meet the highs of 2015's The Force Awakens or the Original Trilogy, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story proves that a spin-off in the universe of Star Wars can stand strong on its own. Rogue One tells the exciting story of Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones, who joins forces with leaders of the Resistance in an effort to rescue her father and stop the dastardly plans of the Galactic Empire, who are in the process of building a super-weapon that may be familiar to any fans of A New Hope. Taking place in between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, Rogue One manages to build onto the original Star Wars tales with its action-packed espionage tale, introducing new characters and even featuring a couple cameos from Original Trilogy characters that fans will love. It's not a perfect film, but it's essential for Star Wars fans everywhere.
The second film by critically-lauded director Paul Thomas Anderson, Boogie Nights is an unforgettable tale from a director who has since made some of the best films of the 21st century. Boogie Nights, his first major critical and financial success, tells the story of Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg, in one of his best dramatic roles), who leaves his abusive mother behind for a life destined for stardom in the pornography industry. With an incredible cast including Julianne Moore as Maggie, Burt Reynolds as Jack Horner, Don Cheadle as Buck Swope, John C. Reilly as Reed Rothchild, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Scotty, and William H. Macy as "Little" Bill Thompson, the performances are steller, the script is fantastic, and the story as a whole holds up on its own. Don't sleep on this one; it's a classic.
Mysteries and thrillers are perfect for dark and stormy nights, and The Invitation might be the ideal film to chill you to your core. The film stars Logan Marshall-Green as Will, a divorcee who drive his girlfriend Kira to a dinner party hosted by his ex-wife at his old house in the Hollywood Hills. Will's ex, Eden, alongside her new husband David, welcomes Will and Kira to the party, though immediately, something feels wrong. As Will continues to deal with the grief of his deceased son (the reason Eden and him split up), he begins to feel like something is wrong with his ex-wife and her husband's motivations. The tale is dark and grim, and as the night advances, you'll begin to put the pieces together in this thrilling tale of mystery and murder.
The directorial debut from writer Taylor Sheridan, the concluding chapter in his frontier trilogy that included films Sicario and Hell or High Water, three stories unconnected to each other but with similar themes about rural America. Wind River stars Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen as a US Fish and Wildlife Reserve officer and an FBI agent, respectively, whose paths cross on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming following the discovery of a body and questions surrounding whether it was a homicide. When the autopsy reveals the woman found dead was also raped, Jane Banner (Olsen) arrives to investigate, teaming with Officer Lambert (Renner) to find the culprit. Quickly, the two realize they may be in over their head while trying to solve the mystery of the woman's death.
One of many classic films by director Stanley Kubrick, Full Metal Jacket is consistently regarded as one of the best films about war ever made. Intense, violent, and occasionally chaotically funny, Full Metal Jacket follows a group of Marine recruits as they advance from basic training to serving in the midst of the Vietnam War. Perhaps best known for its poster, featuring a military helmet adorned with both "Born to Kill" and the peace button representing the "duality of man," the film is also well-known for the sadistic, cruel drill sergeant played by R. Lee Ermey, who used his actual Vietnam experience to ad lib his dialogue on set, the film explores the psychological costs of war.
One of the most original and brilliant horror films of the past decade, It Follows is perfect for any fan looking for some spooky entertainment to bring some fright into your night. Made for just $2 million, everything about this film—the acting, the direction, the cinematography, and the music—help to create an atmosphere that makes this film simultaneously unsettling and bone-chilling. The premise of the film is simple, but effective: a teenage girl, Jay, finds herself followed around by a supernatural entity after she has a sexual encounter with her boyfriend. The entity is visible only to Jay, and can take the form of anyone around her, from a close friend to a complete stranger. A fantastic score, an incredible cold open, and an ending so chilling it'll stay with you for weeks make this a memorable experience, one not to be missed.
A film by the Wachowskis, Speed Racer was the highly anticipated follow-up to the Matrix saga when it was released in 2008, originally seeing negative reviews and bombing at the box office. Nevermind all that—2008 was a lifetime ago, and plenty of the criticisms of that film at the time simply don't match up with what we expect from modern filmmaking ten years later. Speed Racer is responsible for plenty of the visual design choices we seen in film today, from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World's video game-inspired fight scenes to Guardians of the Galaxy's comic book aspirations. An adaptation of the 1960s anime, Speed Racer tells the story of Speed, an 18-year-old racer who finds out that the top leagues aren't quite what they were cracked up to be. From the dynamic, oversaturated visuals to the analogous message Speed Racer sells about filmmaking and art, the film is a must-see for any cinephile.
This 2008 biographical film follows Harvey Milk, who was a major gay rights activist in California and the first openly gay person ever elected to hold office in that state. Directed by Gus Van Sant (director of Good Will Hunting and Finding Forrester), and written by Dustin Lance Black (J. Edgar), the film tells the story of Milk throughout the 70s until his death in 1978. The fil;m has been critically lauded as a return to form for Sant, and both Sean Penn's portrayal of Harvey Milk and the script by Black went onto win Oscars in 2009. The film co-stars Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, James Franco, Alison Pill, and Rogue One's Diego Luna, and is absolutely worth watching for its riveting, surprisingly sensitive look at this man and his political and real-world opponents.
Following up his previous films Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, 2013's Before Midnight is the third and currently final film in Richard Linklater's incredible romantic Before trilogy, telling the story of two young people who meet on a train from Budapest and fall madly in love with each other for a single night. All three films are worth watching, both for Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy's incredible chemistry, acting, and romance, and for the incredible story weaved over three films. Nine years pass between each film, as both Sunrise and Sunset capture the feelings of falling in love at first sight and letting the right one get away. No spoilers for Midnight, but those who have concerned themselves with the lives of Jesse and Celine will need to see the third film to see how their relationship has progressed, changed, and whether it still holds up.
National Treasure is, in our eyes, the ultimate adventure film, an ode to Indiana Jones that might not live up to the greatness of its predecessors, but manages to create a historial heist movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat for the entire runtime. The film follows Benjamin Gates (Nicolas Cage, in one of his most famous roles), a historian and treasure hunter whose grandfather told him the story of the fabled national treasure held secret by the Founding Fathers, a rumor that Gates, now an adult, continues to chase. On an expedition with his colleague Ian Howe (Sean Bean) and his friend Riley (Justin Bartha), Gates discovers a clue that leads the group to believe the next hint is on the back of the Declaration of Independence. Betrayed by Ian and his men and laughed out of the offices of the National Archives, Gates realizes he has no choice but to do the only thing possible to save the day: steal the Declaration of Independence.
*Coming to Netflix June 1st
Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Amelie tells the story of Amelie Poulain, played here by Audrey Tautou, a shy woman working as a waitress in Montmartre, a central area in Paris. Amelie was home-schooled by her parents, who believed her to have a heart defect at the time, which fed Amelie's loneliness as a woman, in addition to her mischievous personality and her highly-active imagination. Despite being shy, Amelie lives to interfere with people's lives, ever trying to improve them and make them better while existing in her own world. She escorts a blind man to a metro station, persuades her father to travel the world, and even helps to start a romantic relationship between her co-worker and a customer at the bar. Most importantly, however, is when Amelie finds a box of belongings in her apartment, which motivate her to get the box back to the boy who left them there.
Another film from the great Stanley Kubrick, Eyes Wide Shut was the final film ever directed by the man before his death in 1999. The film, which came out following his death, is a nearly-three hour tale of eroticism and broken hearts starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman as a young married couple who undergo a life-changing event after a Christmas party gone wrong. Bill (Cruise) begins to question both his and his wife's dedication to each other when both are approached with sexual opportunities, and as the two begin to split further apart, they'll find themselves given opportunities they never thought they would have. Despite the deeply-mature material at hand, the film was a box office success, and helped to end Kubrick's multi-decade career on a high note.
Plenty of people remember Space Jam, the first theatrically-released Looney Tunesfilm, either through nostalgia goggles or ironically. The film was a box office success but was panned by critics upon release. Fewer people remember the follow-up to that film, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, but that's unfortunate—it's undoubtedly the better of the two films. Directed by Joe Dante, one of Hollywood's most inventive and underrated directors (Gremlins and Gremlins 2, The 'Burbs, Small Soldiers), Looney Tunes: Back in Action is far more in tone with the original cartoons. While the plot is convoluted and a bit of a mess, the entire experience of watching the film is reminiscent of watching those classic shorts. With plenty of gags, silly jokes, and moments designed purely for laughter, the film—which also stars Brendan Fraser and Jenna Elfman as the human leads—is worth revisiting.
Though certainly not one of the Coen Brothers most-accessible films, A Serious Man is often lauded for its balance of black comedy and razor-sharp wit. The film stars well-known actor Michael Stuhlbarg as a Minnesota Jewish man whose life begins to crumble both professionally and personally, as his wife asks for a divorce and he faces a vote on his tenure at a local university, leading him to question his faith and his religion. The film is bleak, dry, and in some cases, absolutely absurd—all comments meant as compliments. This is an odd film that won't please everyone, but the Coen Brother completionists, it's a must-see film.
A feel-good movie about getting a second chance in life, St. Vincent is one of those crowd-pleasing movies that will win over even the most-curmudgeonly people in the room. Starring Bill Murray as a grumpy, retired neighbor, Vincent meets his new neighbors after they move in following an accident with his 30-year old Chrysler LeBaron. Despite his annoyance, Vincent takes to his new neighbors, divorcee Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) and her son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher, It and The Book of Henry). Despite Maggie's busy schedule, Vincent begins to spend time with her kid, taking him under his wing and teaching him some of the life lessons he lived along the way. The film doesn't do anything unexpected, but it's sweet and an enjoyable watch start to finish.
Disney's animation studio is no stranger to critical acclaim, and Moana was no exception to this rule. In addition to becoming a major worldwide box-office success, Moana managed to impress critics with its incredible animation, the characterization of the titular hero, and the music from Opetaia Foa'i, Mark Mancina (Tarzan), and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton). The film tells the story of Moana (played by newcomer Auli'i Cravalho), a sixteen-year-old daughter of the chief of a Polynesian village who feels destined to leave her small island despite the rules of her father and the other elders. When the ocean calls on her to leave the town to find a mystical relic to save the dying island, Moana sets out to find Maui (Dwayne Johnson), a demigod who stole the relic in an effort to present the humans with the power of creation. Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin), the film is a true adventure, filled with fantastic jokes, some catchy songs, and great performances from Cravalho and Johnson.
Based on Frank Miller's comics of the same name and directed by Miller himself (with assistance from Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino), Sin City was a groundbreaking film in 2005 starring Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis, Benicio Del Toro, Brittany Murphy, Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke, and Elijah Wood. Told in multiple chapters, the film tells four stories set in a neo-noir world of mystery and violence. A vigilante (Rourke) seeks justice in the criminal underbelly looking for a lost love. A former prostitute (Murphy) attempts to evade her ex-pimp (Del Toro) with the help of her new boyfriend (Owen). An aging cop (Willis) attempts to protect an innocent girl from being raped and murdered by the son of a senator. It might sound like hell, but it's just another day in Basil City. A sequel, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, followed in 2014.
You need to be prepared to handle some graphic content with Raw, a 2016 critically-acclaimed French-Belgian horror film that garnered controversy from some critics for its unrelenting visceral gore. The film follows Justine, a lifelong vegetarian who is just beginning her first semester at veterinarian school as a legacy student. When brought to a hazing ceremony for new students, Justine feels uncomfortable until running into her older sister Alexia, another student at the school, who shows her photos of students—including her parents—covered in blood. As the hazing continues, Justine begins to experience cravings for meat after being forced to devour a rabbit kidney. Those cravings begin to push Justine further into grotesque experiments that will churn your stomach and leave you haunted for nights.
Based on the novel of the same name, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist is a 2008 romantic comedy-drama film set in the indie music scene of New York in the 2000s. The film begins with Nick (Michael Cera) dealing with the heartbreak of his ex-girlfriend Tris, whom he continues to make breakup mix CDs for despite the breakup happening more than three weeks ago. Tris, who attends a private Catholic school in Manhattan, throws these CDs in the trash—but not until they're fished out of the trash by Tris's classmate, Norah. When Nick's band plays a club on the Lower East Side, Tris, Norah, and Caroline, the friend who holds them together. When Norah, trying to convince Tris she has a boyfriend, kisses an unexpecting Nick, the two end up on a wild adventure through New York hunting for their favorite mutual band, "Where's Fluffy?". The soundtrack features all of the 2000s indie rock you could ever hope for, from bands like Vampire Weekend, We Are Scientists, Band of Horses, and Modest Mouse.
*Coming to Netflix June 1st
Directed by Francis Lee in his feature debut, God's Own Country is a haunting tale of love and loss in the English countryside. The film follows Johnny Saxby (Josh O'Connor), a young man who lives on his family farm with his father Martin, and his grandmother Deidre. Johnny takes care of most of the farm by himself, his father unable to assist after experiencing a stroke and his grandmother aged out of the farm life. Johnny's life is a mess, drinking heavily and having sexual encounters with men in his spare time. When Johnny's actions result in the loss of a calf, Martin hires help in the form of Gheorghe (Alec Secăreanu), a Romanian farm hand who is initially treated harshly by Johnny. When Johnny refers to Gheorghe by a slur, the two men find themselves in a fight that quickly turns sexual. With the nature of their relationship, Johnny must learn quickly who he is, less he face the consequences of a broken heart. The film was critically-acclaimed upon its release last year.
From acclaimed director Sofia Coppola comes her third feature-length film, following The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation. Kirsten Dunst stars as Marie Antoinette in this historical retelling of the queen's life leading up to the French Revolution. As an Austrian teenager, Antoinette marries the Dauphin of France (played by Jason Schwartzman), becoming queen in the process after the death of King Louis XV. As she adjusts to and takes advantage of the privilege granted to her by the position she's married into, Antoinette continues to find new ways to spend her money, moving into the Palace of Versailles and eventually is forced to reckon with the rage of the French population. Despite mixed reviews from critics at the time, the film has been recognized some as an essential part in the canon of Coppola's output.
This documentary from filmmaker Ava DuVernay promises to explore "the intersection of race, justice and mass incarceration in the United States," and it sticks the landing. Taking its name from the 13th amendment, which freed the slaves in the United States and prohibited slavery unless as punishment for a crime, the film takes a long, hard look at how the prison system in the United States was built to continue the idea of slavery through the enablement of white police officers to more easily arrest black persons in the USA to force them to work under convict leasing. The result is a chilling documentary that covers Jim Crow laws, the suppression of African Americans by disenfranchisement, and the war on drugs created to target minority communities. The film won an Emmy, and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary.
An American Tail is a surprisingly-dark animated children's movie (although one with a happy ending, in case you need to know that going in). It tells the story of a young Russian mouse named Fievel whose family emigrates to America in the late 1800s. They and the other immigrants have heard that "there are no cats in America," but the reality turns out to be more dangerous.
Considered an achievement in filmmaking and nominated for six Academy Awards in 2015, Boyhood tells the story of Mason Evans Jr., from 2002 to 2013, as he grows from a six-year-old boy to a young adult headed to college, following each year in his life over its nearly-three hour runtime. Director Richard Linklater (School of Rock, the aforementioned Before Midnight) is no secret to playing with time, as he did with the Before trilogy, and Boyhood follows a similar premise. The film shot each year from 2002 to 2013, essentially being written as the crew and cast grew up around the film. The child actor cast as Mason, Ellar Coltrane, was seven when the film began shooting, and was 19 when the film wrapped in 2013. Also starring in the film: Before's Ethan Hawke as Mason's father, and Patricia Arquette as his mother, who won an Oscar for her performance.
The ultimate breakup movie, Forgetting Sarah Marshall tells the tale of Peter Bretter (Jason Segel, How I Met Your Mother), a struggling musician who is best known for dating TV star Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell), an actress who stars on a CSI-like show opposite Billy Baldwin. When Sarah returns home from a trip, she promptly breaks up with him for the rockstar Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), whom she's been sleeping with behind Peter's back. Reduced to a broken shell of a man and unable to compose music for his job, Peter purchases a flight to Hawaii, arriving unannounced at a resort without reservations. Things quickly turn messy when Peter realizes Sarah and Aldous are also guests of the resort, leading hotel concierge Rachel (Mila Kunis) to take pity on Peter. Stuck at the resort with his ex-girlfriend, Peter will have to learn how to move on with his life, possibly with the help of some new romance.
M. Night Shyamalan got everyone's attention with this movie's famous twist ending (which we won't explain here, for the benefit of the few remaining unspoiled), but the movie works because it's a convincing thriller, twist or no twist. Haley Joel Osment plays a young boy who is afflicted with visions of ghosts almost everywhere he goes; Bruce Willis plays the child psychologist who has seen this once before, and is determined to help the boy.
When Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan), a rookie director trying to adapt the biography of Vietnam war hero John "Four Leaf" Tayback (Nick Nolte) runs into issues on the set with his actors, he realizes the dangers of his set-based action film simply isn't provided the actors with an accurate depiction of war. After a multi-million dollar pyrotechnics stunt costs the studio millions and puts the project behind by months, Cockburn makes the decision to place his group of lead actors—portrayed here by Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Jay Baruchel, Brandon T. Jackson, and Robert Downey Jr., who was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in the film—in the jungle to shoot the film guerrilla-style. What the actors and crew don't understand, of course, is they've been dropped in the middle of the Golden Triangle, a part of Vietnam known for its drug trafficking. How long will it take for the less-than-brilliant actors to realize the dangers in? Will they make it out of Vietnam alive? Is Tom Cruise wearing a fat suit? You'll have to watch to find out.
Unrelated to the aforementioned Paul Thomas Anderson, director Wes Anderson is often seen as an auteur director in his own right. The filmmaker behind works like Rushmore and the Oscar-nominated The Grand Budapest Hotel also gained critical acclaim for his 2012 coming-of-age story, Moonrise Kingdom. The film takes place in 1965, centering around the tale of 12-year-old orphan Sam Shakusky, a Khaki Scout attending Camp Ivanhoe in New England. While at camp, he rekindles a friendship with Suzy Bishop, a 12-year-old girl who resides in a house called Summers' End with her parents. The two had met the prior summer and become pen pals in the time since, and they've secretly planned to meet and runaway with each other. The film is gorgeous, with the distinct Wes Anderson style only he has mastered, and both the young Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward are fantastic. They're joined by an all-star cast of Anderson regulars, including Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel, and Jason Schwartzman.
The first of two Noah Baumbach films on this list, Frances Ha won't please every reader of this list. The film has been criticized as aimless, but for those it connects with, Frances Ha represents a modernization of the principles and ideas first shown in films from the French New Wave era of the 1960s. From the black and white film aesthetic to the impromptu trip to Paris halfway through the film, the inspiration from titles like Breathless and The 400 Blows is all over this title, co-written by director Baumbach and star Greta Gerwig (who later brought her wit and talent for writing to 2017's critically acclaimed Lady Bird). It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but the films topped several year-end lists and found critical acclaim with the film community. Baumbach's films are generally fairly bleak, and it makes for a great mixture with Gerwig's brightness and sense of joy found within dark.
A quintessential entry in the catalogue of great American sports movies, Miracle tells the story of the 1980 United States Olympic hockey team, from their formation through their training and, eventually, their victory against the Russian hockey team at the height of the Cold War. The story begins when University of Minnesota head coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) meets with the US Olympic Committee to discuss strategies for winning the 1980 Olympics. Brooks pitches the group on picking amateur players as opposed to pro-level athletes, leading to doubts that the American team will make it far in their quest for gold medals in any way. Even if you know the story, Miracle is a worthy retelling, an entertaining and fascinating story of training hard for the things you want and for sticking with the ideas you believe in.
*Coming to Netflix June 1st
Director David Fincher's second theatrical film, Seven helped right the director's career after a rocky start making Alien 3. In many ways, Seven sets the course for what Fincher's career would become. It's a neo-noir crime film containing some gratuitous violence and a mystery to solve, similar to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Fight Club, and most of all, Zodiac. While Seven doesn't quite hold a candle to the masterpiece that is Zodiac, but it stands as an excellent crime film to this day. Starring Morgan Freeman and a young Brad Pitt, Seven follows to cops—a rookie and a soon-to-retire detective—as they investigate a serial killer murdering people by using the Seven Deadly Sins as inspiration. As the detectives grow closer to identifying their John Doe, the game becomes personal in a way neither man was ready for.
In the directorial debut of Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, Funny People, Trainwreck), The 40-Year-Old Virgin follows Andy Stitzer (played in a star-making performance by Steve Carell), the titular virgin who lives alone in an apartment filled with nerdy paraphernalia, including action figures and comic books. When his co-workers invite him to a poker game, Andy reveals he's still a virgin, and the group decide to unite in order to get Andy to lose his virginity. As the group teaches Andy to socialize and casually date, he'll learn to have an actual relationship, while simultaneously trying to his his virginity from his newfound crush, Trish (Catherine Keener, Get Out). The film has an all-star supporting cast, including Paul Rudd, Seth Rogan, Romany Malco, Jane Lynch, Elizabeth Banks, Leslie Mann, Kat Dennings, and more, and was one of the best reviewed films of 2005.
In the sequel to the stoner classic Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, the film picks up where the previous entry left off: with Kumar convincing Harold to follow his new girlfriend and neighbor to Amsterdam after returning home from White Castle. Things get rocky at the airport when passengers on the plane mistake Kumar's bong for a bomb, leading to sky marshalls apprehending the two before they can reach the Netherlands. Held in captivity by a racist, power-hungry Deputy of Secretary of Homeland Security Ron Fox, the two are sent off to Guantanamo Bay after being mistaken for agents of a joint Al-Qaeda and North Korea conspiracy. The film covers their misadventures as they escape from prison, paddle their way to Miami, and attempt to make their way back to Texas to clear their names.
Jake Kasdan wrote and directed this musical-biopic parody in 2007, produced and co-written by Judd Apatow and starring John C. Reilly as the titular character, Dewey Cox. Following the story of the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, Walk Hard introduces viewers to Dewey Cox, a fictional Cash-esque persona who grew to popularity throughout the 1950s and 1960s as a rock star. Featuring fictional cameos and parodies of stars like Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, and The Beatles (portrayed by Paul Rudd, Jack Black, Justin Long, and Jason Schwartzman in one of the funniest scenes in the film), Walk Hard is an absurdist take on the biopic genre of filmmaking, yet also manages to tell a compelling story without devolving into the worst trappings of the parody genre. Though the film wasn't commercially successful, Kasdan later went on to write and direct 2017's breakout hit Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
Oldboy is the middle entry in a thematic trilogy from filmmaker Park Chan-wook, with all three films concerned, in some way, with revenge and the faults of those who obsess with the idea of achieving it. The best of the three, Oldboy begins when the audience meets Dae-Su, a drunk bailed out of jail moments into the movie, only to be kidnapped and held captive for fifteen years. When he's finally released, he pursues his captor, while finding himself wrapped in a web of lies, conspiracy, and ultra-violence. Oldboy is dark, grim, and something that demands your attention, but it's also one of the best South Korean films ever made, and one of the best films of the 2000s. Skip the 2013 Spike Lee remake; the original is still the best experience for this dark, twisted plot.
Our second Noah Baumbach tale is also his newest film, and a Netflix original. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) tells the story of three children: Danny, Matthew, and Jean Meyerowitz, played here by Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, and Elizabeth Marvel, respectively. Danny and Jean are siblings, with Matthew as their half-brother, all tied together by their rocky relationship with their father Harold (Dustin Hoffman). Though the three children are relatively estranged from each other, their father's upcoming career retrospective brings all three to New York City to reunite, bicker, and deal with their life's problems. Despite the prominence of Sandler and Stiller, don't expect this to be a laugh-riot; like Baumbach's other tales, this is drama first, comedy second, though critics have praised Sandler's dramatic turn here as his best since Punch Drunk Love.
Set in 1930s Foshan, Ip Man begins as the town is known as a popular hub for learning Southern Chinese Martial Arts, with numerous schools that often compete against one another. The film follows the titular Ip Man (Donnie Yen, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), a Wing Chun master whose wealth and skills have led him to keep a low profile, choosing to avoid working within the schools as a teacher and instead focusing on his training. This changes with the 1937 Japanese invasion, which cause Ip Man to lose his house and his wealth, forcing him into a rundown apartment and into working within coal mines. When Ip's friend Lin fails to return from a fight, Ip begins a quest to destroy the Japanese army at any cost, even if it destroys himself in the process. The film is loosely based on the real life of Ip Man, the Wing Chun grandmaster and the man who trained Bruce Lee.
Donnie Darko was Richard Kelly's cinematic debut, and on some level, it's difficult to believe the film ever got made at all. Featuring a prominent cast, including Mary McDonnell, Patrick Swayze, Katharine Ross, Drew Barrymore, and young stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Jena Malone, the science-fiction tale is hard to comprehend on your first watch, featuring heavy amounts of symbolism and foreshadowing, along with clues that aren't explained in the theatrical cut of the film (the one streaming). Yet, there's something about the mystery of the film that has won so many viewers over, and though the Director's Cut isn't necessarily bad, the lack of mystique surrounding the film is disappointing. If you've never experienced Donnie Darko, it's a must-see film, the bizarre tale of a troubled teenager whose visions lead him through destruction.
In this sequel to 2004's Hellboy, Academy Award-winning director Guillermo del Toro returns behind the camera to tell a new story from the comics. In The Golden Army, the dark gothic tone of the first movie takes a backseat to the fantasy aspects of the comic, as del Toro frames the story similar to his critically-acclaimed Pan's Labyrinth. The story begins when Hellboy (Ron Perlman), his girlfriend and pyrokinetic Liz (Selma Blair), and their aquatic friend Abe Sapien (Doug Jones, who recently portrayed another fishman for del Toro in the Oscar-winning The Shape of Water) are forced to fight an underworld prince when he makes clear his intentions to take over the Earth. When the prince awakens an army of killing machines to destroy humanity as we know it, only Hellboy and his team of gothic fighters can stop them.
In this Best Picture-winning crime drama, Martin Scorsese directs an A-list cast in this remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film Internal Affairs. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Billy Costigan Jr, a student at a police academy who is recruited to go undercover in a crime syndicate in South Boston, thanks to his family ties that make him the perfect candidate. Years prior to that, Colin Costello (Matt Damon) is introduced to that same crime life by Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), who grooms Costello to become a mole inside the Massachusetts State Police. As each man infiltrates their respective targets, the two men will start to chase each other, each having to protect both their own life and the lives of those they care about. Also starring Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, and Vera Farmiga, The Departed was both a critical and commercial success, and is a much-see entry in Scorsese's filmography.
*Coming to Netflix June 1st
The story of three entrepreneurs who start up a new business, Ghostbusters is often considered one of the best comedies of all times. Director Ivan Reitman, who had previously worked with Bill Murray and Harold Ramis on Meatballs and Stripes, joins Murray, Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Rick Moranis, Sigourney Weaver, and Ernie Hudson in a paranormal science-fiction comedy that has become a critically-acclaimed comedy, renowned for the mixture of horror and comedic elements, Bill Murray's deadpan delivery, and some fantastic visual elements that still hold up to this day. When Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, and Egon Spengler are all forced out of their positions at Columbia University, the three men start Ghostbusters, a ghost elimination service. Just in time, too: a serious evil has begun to threaten New York City, putting the lives of every citizen at peril.
A recent Netflix Original film, Mudbound tells the story of two World War II veterans living in rural Mississippi following the conclusion of the war. The film begins when Henry McAllen (Jason Clarke) and his wife Laura (Carey Mulligan) purchase a farm alongside Henry's brother Jamie and their father, Pappy (Jonathan Banks, Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul). The Jackson family, led by Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell) works the farm for the McAllens, until Ronsel and Jamie are pulled away to fight in the war. Upon returning, Jamie deals with PTSD and alcoholism, while Ronsel deals with readjusting to southern racism following his life in Europe. As Ronsel and Jamie begin to strike up a friendship, despite the objections of Pappy, the struggle to readjust to American life threatens to break apart both families. Mudbound is the first Netflix film nominated at the Academy Awards, up for eight awards at the 2018 Oscars.
Fans of the 2011 action-drama Drive were thrilled when Ryan Gosling re-teamed up with Drive's director Nicolas Winding Refn for 2013's Only God Forgives, a film which featured a trailer that made the entire movie look like a return to the slow-burn, visceral violence featured in Drive. That isn't necessarily too far off base, but we'd be lying if we said Only God Forgives played like another film in the Drive canon. The film follows Julian Thompson (Gosling), a drug trafficker in Thailand whose mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) sends him on a mission to avenge the murder of his older brother, a criminal who was killed after he beat a prostitute to her death. The film was famously booed following its premiere at Cannes Film Festival (while some gave a standing ovation), and features controversial scenes of violence and sexuality. Since that premiere, the film has continued to feature a polarized reaction from both critics and audiences; even five years later, it remains a difficult watch.
It's crazy to think about Scarface as a cult classic, considering its consideration as one of the best films of the 1980s and its inclusion in dozens of comic books, movies, and in hip hop culture. But when Brian De Palma released Scarface in 1983, it was far from a critical success. Reviewers found the film's excessive violence and graphic drug use to be a bit extreme. Lucille Ball famously hated the film, and director Martin Scorsese warned actor Steven Bauer that Hollywood would hate the film. Still, the film made money, and later became known as one of the best crime films ever made. The film follows Tony Montana (Al Pacino), a recent green card recipient who stakes his claim on the Miami-based drug trade. Montana slowly becomes the biggest drug lord in Florida, killing anyone who tries to stop him in his thirst for power, but as they say, the mighty do have a habit of falling.
Winner of the 2016 Oscar for Best Picture, Tom McCarthy's Spotlight tells the story of a team of journalists at the Boston Globe in the early 2000s, nicknamed "Spotlight," who come together to investigate cases of systemic and widespread child sex abuse by the Roman Catholic church in the Boston area. The film is, of course, based on the true story of the Spotlight team, and features an ensemble cast, including Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Brian d'Arcy James, Stanley Tucci, and Billy Crudup. The film was critically acclaimed and is considered one of the best dramas of the 2000s.
Okja is another Netflix-exclusive film, and the second English-language film made by Bong Joon-ho, the director of South Korean films The Host, Mother (neither of which should be confused with the American films of the same name), and Snowpiercer. Like Snowpiercer, Okja is an action-adventure film that uses its plot as a major metaphor for a real-life lesson, this time concerning factory-farming and the concept of environmentalism. The film may not be subtle with its messaging, but that doesn't stop it from being an excellent, spellbinding, and infinitely sad tale. The main character is played here by South Korean actress Ahn Seo-hyun, but don't think you won't see some recognizable faces. Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Lily Collins, Giancarlo Esposito, and Jake Gyllenhaal all turn up here among their South Korean counterparts.
This month saw the removal of more than two dozen Disney Channel original movies from Netflix, but it also saw the arrival of one of the best Disney Channel sequels ever created. Unlike the previous two films, High School Musical 3: Senior Year was released into theaters, marking the first time that a sequel to a Disney Channel movie made the jump to a feature film. As implied by the sequel, the film follows Troy, Gabriella, Chad, Taylor, Sharpay, and Ryan as they start their senior year at East High. With college and other career prospects facing them down the barrel, the six high school seniors will have to learn how to prepare for the real world outside of high school, while simultaneously participating in the final basketball season and the group's final musical on stage. While the film won't win over new viewers, it's easily the most fun you can have watching a musical on Netflix today.
Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda both won Oscars for their role as an elderly couple dealing with aging, memory loss, and generational conflicts while at their summer house by the lake. Their daughter (Henry Fonda's real daughter, Jane Fonda) is off to spend a month with her fiancé (Dabney Coleman) in Europe and asks her parents to look after his teenage son (Doug McKeon) while they are away. Henry Fonda spends the summer learning to communicate with the boy and to be a father to his daughter at the same time. It's a sweet story, and especially relatable to anyone who grew up around a lake. Henry Fonda won an Oscar for his performance, and watching him, Hepburn, and Jane Fonda interact with each other is the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon.
*Leaving Netflix June 30th
In the third Thor movie and the seventeenth film set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor is back in an all-new adventure that more or less resets the universe and ignored the events of the previous two movies. By far the most-successful Thor film both critically and financially, Thor: Ragnarok is directed by Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows; Hunt for the Wilderpeople). The film starts as Thor escapes from a fire demon, who prophesied the end of Asgard by way of Ragnarok; when Thor defeats him in combat, taking his crown, he believes he has ended the threat. Returning home to Asgard, Thor reveals Loki has been masquerading as Odin, king of Asgard. When the real Odin dies of old age, Thor and Loki's long-lost sister Hela returns to claim her right to the throne. The film is visually incredible, hilarious in parts, and features some incredible performances from the likes of Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson, and the great Jeff Goldblum.
*Coming to Netflix June 5th
Though most often praised for its incredible screenplay, Hot Fuzz manages to pull off multiple layers of filmmaking at once. Director Edgar Wright's (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Baby Driver) second theatrical film and the middle entry in his Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy of films stars, as expected, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, returning from Shaun of the Dead and the television series Spaced. In Hot Fuzz, Pegg plays Nicholas Angel, a London officer who is transferred to the small town of Snadford when his fellow officers realize his excellent police work will put them out of a job. While there, Angel begins to suspect a violent conspiracy is erupting from within the town, and together with police constable Danny Butterman (Frost), he attempts to crack the case behind a series of deadly "accidents" to bring the culprit to justice. Part paroday and part homage, Hot Fuzz is a hilarious sendup to American action films with a British sensibility, even going as far to directly parody Bad Boys 2 and Point Break. It's a must-see.
And now the story of a sweet little bear from Peru, whose wild adventures unfold for the first time in live-action. Paddington follows a bear named Paddington, raised in the jungles of Peru with his aunt Lucy and uncle Pastuzo, who gained their names when an explorer nearly hunted them down. Attuned with a taste for marmalade sandwiches, Paddington is forced to leave the comfort of his jungle after an accident during a storm costs uncle Pastuzo his life. Now a small bear in a big city, Paddington must find the explorer who cared for his aunt and uncle and adapt to life with the humans, including the Brown family, who take him in upon finding him in Paddington Station. Featuring an all-star cast of English and Australian actors (Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Peter Capaldi, Nicole Kidman, and the voice of Ben Whishaw) and a ton of Harry Potter alumni (including Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, and the voices Imelda Staunton and Michael Gambon), Paddington is a family-friendly film everyone will love to watch again and again.
Speaking of movies about bears, Kung Fu Panda is one of Dreamworks' most-popular series, spinning off two follow-up films, a Nickelodeon television show, several short films and holiday specials, five video games, and an upcoming attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood. The first film that kicked everything off, however, starts out as a pretty sweet, simple movie. Kung Fu Panda stars Jack Black as Po, an overweight kung fu fanatic, who is accidentally identified as the Dragon Master, over the Furious Five kung fu masters everyone had assumed would be chosen. Po is forced to undergo serious training by his leaders, angry and jealous of his selection, but when Tai Lung, an evil kung fu master, breaks out of his prison, only Po can save the day.
Once a critical and commercial flop, Wet Hot American Summer has undergone a transformation in the public eye since it premiered nearly two decades ago in 2001. Roger Ebert famously tore the film apart with a parody of "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh," and audiences failed to show up at the theater. Slowly, however, the film began to grow an audience online, becoming a cult classic thanks to its irreverent humor and over-the-top ridiculous satire of the summer-camp comedies of the 1970s and 1980s. The cast here is stacked, including Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, Christopher Meloni, David Hyde Pierce, and so many other incredible, recognizable comedians and actors. In addition to the original film, two Netflix Original miniseries have been produced, including First Day of Campand Ten Years Later, a prequel and sequel series respectively. As for the plot, the film is fairly bare: Wet Hot American Summer chronicles the last day of camp as the counselors try to have one final romantic encounter at camp.
Blue is the Warmest Color tells the story of Adèle, an introverted, quiet French teenager who is unsatisfied with her life. She feels disappointed by her current relationship with Thomas, and upon passing by a woman with short blue hair on the street, feels an immediate sense of attraction. Troubled by her sense of sexual identity, her openly-gay friend Valentin takes her to a gay bar. At a lesbian bar the same night, Adèle meets Emma, the girl from the street with the short blue hair, an aspiring artist and grad student. The two slowly become friends and, eventually, lovers, and the film begins to track their relationship as Adèle grows from a girl into a woman. At three hours and with an NC-17 rating, the film isn't an easy watch, but Blue is the Warmest Color is one of the best romance films of the past decade, and is absolutely worth watching in its entirety.
One of the biggest animated hits of the 2000s, Shrek is a 2001 animated comedy directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson and based on the book of the same name by William Steig. The film stars Mike Myers as the titular Shrek, an ogre who prefers his privacy and a sense of calm and quiet, spending his days scaring villagers and hunters away from his swamp. That is, until the evil Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow) banishes all fairy tale creatures into Shrek's swamp, destroying his home and property and prompting him to put an end to Farquaad's madness. Joined by Donkey (Eddie Murphy), Shrek sets out to rescue Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) from a faraway castle so that he may marry, in exchange for the return of his swamp. Along the way, Shrek might just learn to accept the company of others—and Fiona may end up being something more than originally thought.
Often praised as one of the best science-fiction character studies of the past decade, 2009's Moon was directed by Duncan Jones (Source Code, Warcraft), son of David Bowie. Moon stars Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell, a worker for Lunar Industries who resides alone in a lunar-based factory. Though the factory is almost entirely automated, Sam resides as a single human to ensure operations maintain at their standard pace. Two weeks before the end of his three-year contract, Sam falls unconscious after an accident involving his lunar rover. When Sam awakes, he has no memories of the crash, but overhearing the computer AI GERTY (Kevin Spacey) receive instructions to not let Sam out of the base, he fakes an accident and arrives at the scene of the lunar crash, only to find his doppelganger still unconscious. Together, the two Sams must figure out what this means for both of their lives, and resolve the truth behind their existence. Moon was followed by a spiritual successor in Mute, a 2018 film directed by Jones and released on Netflix.
A cult classic, V for Vendetta is the adaptation of the popular graphic novel of the same name, directed by James McTeigue, written by the Wachowskis, and starring Natalie Portman as Evey Hammond and Hugo Weaving as the titular V. In V for Vendetta, an alternate near-future has seen the United Kingdom taken over by neo-fascists, with the rest of the world facing war, famine, and turmoil. A dictator-like leader commands the United Kingdom, and all political opponents, immigrants, non-Christians, homosexuals, and any other "non-desirable" citizens have been locked away. It isn't until V, a man hiding his identity beneath a Guy Fawkes mask, who plans to start a revolution through a series of high-profile terrorist attacks. The film has been critically acclaimed, both for its themes and its visual styling, though some bemoan the differences between the adaptation and the original graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd.
Pixar's had something of a rough stretch for the last few years. Although the company's streak of film's between 1995 and 2010 are largely indisputable as incredible (with the single exception of Cars and, arguably, parts of Up), the production company's films between 2011 and 2018 have been mixed. Some have held up well, including 2015's Inside Out, and plenty of them (Monsters U, Finding Dory, Brave) have been warmly received, but others like The Good Dinosaur were largely ignored or met with a shrug. Coco is closer to Inside Out in this regard, a warm hit that has a slow first act but picks up in the halfway point of the movie, coming around in the third act to hit you with the Pixar-signature emotional punch. It's a great film, and if you're looking for something new to watch on Netflix with the entire family and missed this one in theaters, it's a perfect time to revisit it.
Though perhaps not as well-received as the first Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 manages to up the ante in a way that doesn't just succeed in following up on the original film's crowd-pleasing humor and action, but also manages to tell a more-human story—albeit one with a living planet and a talking raccoon. Guardians Vol. 2 picks up just a few months after the first film, in which Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) have decided to take up protecting the universe from threats both small and large. While trying to escape from a rogue alien race upset by the Guardians' actions, the team crashlands on a planet only to find that the man who saved the gang is none other than Quill's long-lost father, Ego. While Quill returns to Ego's home to learn about his mysterious past, the team must deal with conflicts as their big personalities continue to clash. Guardians manages to be one of the few Marvel films that truly feels different; even the big final battle has larger stakes than most of the Marvel finales. Definitely check this one out.
If there was ever a movie that hits harder today than it did when it was first released, The Truman Show might be that film. Directed by Peter Weir (Witness, Master and Commander) and starring Jim Carrey, The Truman Show is at once a comedy, a science-fiction drama, and a social satire, following the life of Truman Burbank, a man taken as a baby by a corporation to star in the first always-on reality show about a single man. Truman lives his life inside a dome located in Hollywood known to Truman as "Seahaven," where everything from his wife to his parents and even his friends are simply actors reading from a script or reciting lines fed to them through an earpiece. In the era of reality television and always-active online social media presences, The Truman Show constitutes a must-watch piece of media.
Whatever you might think of Martin Scorsese's films, you can't deny that the man knows style. Gangs of New York is one of the man's few true epics, a sweeping story of revenge and gang warfare in the slums of New York City throughout the 1860s. At 168 minutes, the film is one of the longest on this list, using its running time to tell the story of its three main characters: Bill the Butcher, played here by Daniel Day-Lewis in usual top shape; his leader Boss Tweed, portrayed by Jim Broadbent (Harry Potter, Game of Thrones); and Bill's rival gang leader, Amsterdam Vallon, played by Leonardo DiCaprio in his first team-up with Martin Scorsese. Gangs of New York isn't a perfect film, but between the set design and Day-Lewis' masterful performance, it's one that must be seen.
Brought to the big screen by Paul Greengrass and based on the book of the same name by Robert Ludlum, The Bourne Ultimatum is the third chapter in the original Bourne trilogy, following Doug Liman's The Bourne Identity and Greengrass's own The Bourne Supremacy. The film picks up after the events of Supremacy, with Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) on the run from Moscow police while wounded. Meanwhile CIA deputy director Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) meets with her team to discuss the audio confession of the leader of Operation Treadstone, of which Bourne was a direct part in. As Bourne works to uncover the truth about his past and the mysterious experiments he was a part of, he'll need to stay on the run as he moves from location to location around the world.
Though not nearly as big of a hit as Disney's remake of The Jungle Book, this 2016 reimagining of the 1977 animated musical Pete's Dragon won over critics and audiences alike with its soft sensibilities. In this version of the film, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) believes her father's (Robert Redford) tales of dragons within the woods are simple fairy tales, until she meets a 10 year old orphan named Pete (Oakes Fegley), who claims to live in the woods with a giant, friendly dragon. Directed by filmmaker David Lowery (Ain't Them Bodies Saints, A Ghost Story), the film manages to be simultaneously sweet and charming, feeling closer to the independent films Lowery typically films despite the backing of Disney. With Lowery set to take on Disney's Peter Pan remake over the next few years, Pete's Dragon is the perfect warm-up film for the director.
One of Spielberg's best films of the past decade, Lincoln is a brilliant epic historical drama, following President Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) through the final four months of his life, including the end of the Civil War and his efforts to have the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution passed and ratified by Congress. The film is worth watching for plenty of reasons—the script by Tony Kushner, based on the book Team of Rivals; Spielberg's direction; and the supporting cast, which include Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field as Mary Todd, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The real reason to watch the film, however, is for Daniel Day-Lewis. His now-penultimate performance before retiring in 2017, Day-Lewis brings everything you could want as Lincoln to the table. The film earned Day-Lewis his third Best Actor award from the Oscars, making him the first actor to do so.
Before The Incredibles, before Ratatouille, before Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocoland Tomorrowland, Brad Bird made a 2D/CGI animated film for Warner Bros. called The Iron Giant. Released in 1999, the film was praised for everything from its story and animation to the performances of its entire cast. Set in 1957, The Iron Giant is based on the 1968 novel The Iron Man. Set in 1957 during the escalating tensions of the Cold War, The Iron Giant follows Hogarth Hughes, a curious 9-year-old boy who finds a giant metal robot from space. Aided by local beatnik artist Dean McCoppin (Harry Connick Jr.), Hogarth must keep the robot away from both the US military and Kent Mansley (Christopher McDonald), a federal agent who intends to destroy the robot they assume is a Soviet weapon. The Iron Giant is one of the best animated films of the 1990s, and if you've recently seen it brought to life in Ready Player One, you owe it to yourself to see the original.
We could argue all day about what we consider Quentin Tarantino's best film. Pulp Fiction seems like the obvious answer, though you could make your case for Reservoir Dogs or perhaps, if looking at his more recent films, Inglourious Basterds. Jackie Brown is often hailed as his best piece of work that the fewest of his diehard fans have seen, but we think you could make the case for Kill Bill being one of his best. Originally designed as a single film, Kill Bill was released in two volumes in the fall of 2003 and the spring of 2004, and Volume One is often seen as the better of the two pieces of work. Following the Bride (Uma Thurman) as she goes on a revenge-fueled quest to take down her former Assassination Squad, Kill Bill: Volume One is a bloody, violent, and thrilling cinematic experience. The final fight scene between the Bride and the yakuza armies of O-Ren (Lucy Liu) are as exciting as anything you could ever imagine. Volume Two is also streaming.
Steven Spielberg is, perhaps, one of the most famous filmmakers in the world, and though his resume isn't perfect, no one has made as many incredible, jaw-dropping films as he has. From crafting the original blockbuster with Jaws to recreating dinosaurs with Jurassic Park, it's obvious that the man has more movie magic in his body than any living director. Schindler's List isn't one of his feel-good films, but it is an incredible document to the life of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman and member of the Nazi party who is credited with saving the life of 1,200 Jewish men and women during the Holocaust by employing them. Liam Neeson portrays Schindler in a spellbinding performance, with Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, and Caroline Goodall all appearing in supporting roles. At 195 minutes, it's one of the longest films on our list (beaten only by The Godfather Part II below), but it's a must-see for any and all film completionists or historical buffs.
A landmark film in crime movies, Michael Mann's Heat is often considered a career high for the trio of high-profile stars in the movie. Starring an ensemble cast, including Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Ashley Judd, Natalie Portman, Tom Noonan, Hank Azaria, and Danny Trejo, Heat follows De Niro and Pacino as Neil McCauley and Lt. Vincent Hanna, respectively, the former a professional thief, the latter a member of the LAPD robbery-homicide department tasked with tracking down McCauley's crew. When McCauley hires an outside criminal to help his group of thieves steal $1.6 million in bearer bonds, things go south fast when the outside help murders a guard, risking the entire mission and putting the heat on McCauley's back. The film is one of Mann's best, and despite it's nearly three hour runtime, the film feels half its length.
It's a shame that only the first of the three Lord of the Rings films are streaming online, but nevertheless, it's impossible not to recommend to some degree. Peter Jackson's trilogy of fantasy films based on J.R.R. Tolkien's epic saga of high fantasy adapts each of Tolkien's three volumes (often mistaken as individual books) into a film. The first film, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring begins the adventure, casing young Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) into an adventure he didn't ask for after inheriting the One Ring from his uncle Bilbo. With Middle-Earth in danger of being plunged into darkness and the One Ring too dangerous for any individual to wield its power, Frodo sets off on a journey stirred on by Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan) and accompanied by his best friend Samwise (Sean Astin), fellow hobbits Pippin and Merry (Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan, respectively), prince Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and Boromir (Sean Bean), among others. Netflix has the theatrical version instead of the Extended Cut preferred by hardcore fans, but for those looking to dip their toes into the deep pool that is The Lord of the Rings, the theatrical cut will do just fine.
Often considered one of the best films ever made, The Godfather, along with The Godfather Part II, which is also streaming on the platform, are must-sees for any diehard film lovers. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola and based on Mario Puzo's novel of the same name, The Godfather paints the portrait of the Corleone family, an Italian-American clan of criminals and mobsters headed by Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando, in his signature roll). When Michael (Al Pacino), Vito's youngest son, joins the mafia, he finds himself out of his element, leading to his transformation from innocent son to ruthless mafia boss. Released two years later, Part II follows Michael as the new Don of his family, attempting to protect his empire after an unsuccessful attempt on his life. Robert De Niro also appears in Part II, playing the role of a young Vito. Both films are essential to understanding the evolution of American cinema in the 1970s, and both still have ripple effects on film as an industry to this day. The controversial Part III, released in 1990, is also streaming.