50 best movies on Netflix UK right now (February 2024) – Radio Times

Some of the best movies on Netflix right now include The Killer, Talk to Me and Dune. Updated weekly.
With awards season in full swing, and the BAFTA and Oscar ceremonies on the horizon, there has never been a better time to indulge in watching some prestige, critically acclaimed fare.
Netflix's own Maestro and Society of the Snow are both up for a number of awards this year and are, of course, available to stream on the platform, but there are plenty of other options also worth your time.
There are nominees from years past such as The Favourite and Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, as well as classics such as Good Will Hunting, Lawrence of Arabia and Scarface
Meanwhile, other recent hits that are still available on Netflix this February include long-awaited Aardman follow-up Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget, Wes Anderson's short film The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, David Fincher's The Killer and animated favourite Nimona, all of which were released in 2023.
There's also the entire Harry Potter catalogue, which can also be binged right now, including the Fantastic Beasts films. However, with all this choice, it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees and find the really good stuff – that's where we can help.
Read on for our latest picks of the best films on the streaming service below – updated weekly – or head over to our guides to the best series on Netflix and best comedies on Netflix.
Alternatively, check out our helpful list of Netflix secret codes which help you unlock hidden movies and TV shows.
Updated: 2nd February 2024
With news being reported that Brad Pitt is set to star in Quentin Tarantino's final film, The Movie Critic, now's a great chance to revisit their last collaboration, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.
The film was notable for teaming up two of the world's biggest movie stars, Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, while also starring Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate, and telling an alternate history version of what, in real life, were the film star's final days.
Tarantino's love for the period exudes from the screen and is truly infectious – while there's little in the way of plot here, it's a joy simply to hang out in this world with these characters. Meanwhile, the finale is one of the goriest, but also funniest and most cathartic climaxes Tarantino has ever put on screen.
Poor Things has proved to be hugely popular with critics, audiences and awards bodies, and is currently in contention to win Best Picture at the Oscars. It's perhaps no surprise – the last time that director Yorgos Lanthimos and star Emma Stone collaborated was in 2018, which produced multi-award-winning film The Favourite.
Alongside Stone, that film starred Olivia Colman in what turned out to be an Oscar-winning performance, starring as Queen Anne in early 18th-century Great Britain. The film told a historical story but did so with Lanthimos's trademark wit, style and personal flavour, which may be divisive for some, but means that none of his films are ever boring.
In actuality, it's one of Lanthimos's most accessible films to date, and while it may not be the faint of heart or those looking for a traditional period piece, it is a pitch black comedy which is well worth your time.
With the latest film in the Planet of the Apes series on the way this year, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, now is a perfect time to go back to the most recent trilogy of prequel films, and the best of them all is available now on Netflix.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the middle chapter of the trilogy starring Andy Serkis as Caesar, is one of the strongest blockbusters of the 21st century, utilising motion capture to incredible effect and telling a compelling, character driven story, which also neatly acts as a bridge between the first and third films.
As well as Serkis being phenomenal in the central role, and bringing a huge degree of empathy to the leader of the apes, the human cast are impressive here too, including Gary Oldman and Jason Clarke, while Toby Kebbell's Koba is a fantastic villain, both understandable in his motives but also so easy to hate.
Dune: Part Two may have been delayed from its intended 2023 release into 2024, but that just gives viewers more time to catch up with the original – especially now it has been added to Netflix's library.
The sci-fi epic, based on the 1965 novel of the same name, sees director Denis Villeneuve at perhaps his most cinematic yet, producing incredible, gorgeous imagined landscapes to provoke awe in viewers, while still managing time for some epic action sequences, wonderful character development and deeply textured world-building.
The film features a who's-who of incredible acting talent, from Timothée Chalamet to Oscar Isaac, Zendaya to Rebecca Ferguson, and tells the story of Paul Atreides, who is thrust into a war on the desert planet Arrakis. This is sci-fi at its most epic – no wonder it won six Oscars back in 2022.
Bradley Cooper announced himself as a major new directorial voice with his Oscar-nominated remake of A Star Is Born five years ago, and his second feature Maestro proves that was no fluke. Focusing on one of the most iconic American musicians of the 20th century in Leonard Bernstein (played by Cooper himself), the film shines a light on his sometimes volatile relationship with wife Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan).
Filmed in both black and white and colour, it is a consistently gorgeous film to look at and also includes a brilliant soundtrack full of some of Bernstein's finest work. Meanwhile, the performances are superb – with both Cooper and Mulligan correctly emerging as possible frontrunners for major awards attention.
The film runs the full gamut of emotions and there are several standout scenes: from a joyous dance sequence during a rehearsal for On the Town and a breathtaking six-minute scene of Bernstein conducting Gustav Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony, to a blistering argument between Bernstein and Montealegre at their New York apartment and several heartbreaking moments when the latter falls ill. It's well worth a watch.
More than twenty years after the first film became an instant claymation classic, Ginger, Rocky and the rest of the flock return in this joyous sequel, where we find them on a utopian island paradise following their audacious escape from the evil Mrs Tweedy.
But when Ginger (voiced by Thandiwe Newton) and Rocky (Zachary Levi) discover that their intrepid daughter Molly (Bella Ramsey) has set off on her own adventure, old enemies rear their heads and only an expertly orchestrated heist can avert a calamity.
The increased scale compared to the original offers director Sam Fell plenty of opportunities to showcase a number of highly innovative and intricately designed set pieces. And, as ever with Aardman, there's also a terrific assortment of verbal and visual gags to delight audiences, while the film crucially retains the handcrafted, eccentric charm that has become synonymous with the studio.
With the final season of The Crown having recently arrived on Netflix, now is as good as time as any to check out this alternative royal drama from Chilean director Pablo Larrain (with a script by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight).
Billed as a "fable from a true story", the film sees Kristen Stewart put in an incredible performance as Princess Diana, following her as she has an existential crisis while staying at the Sandringham Estate over Christmas 1991.
A melodrama with a dreamlike tone and moments of surrealism, it's markedly different in feel from the more straight-laced The Crown, but it offers a fascinating interpretation of Diana's mindset during a troubling time – and it also looks beautiful throughout.
Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes wrote the script for this star-studded period murder mystery, but with legendary New Hollywood director Robert Altman, the film has a very different feel to the popular ITV drama.
Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren and the late Michael Gambon are among a host of brilliant British thespians to feature in the film, which follows events after a murder is committed during a weekend of shooting and socialising at an estate in 1930s rural England.
The cast – which also includes the likes of Kelly Macdonald, Charles Dance, Kristin Scott Thomas, Stephen Fry and Emily Watson – are all in fine form, and Altman incorporates several of his trademark directorial flourishes, including overlapping dialogue to create a period drama that feels fresh and alive rather than stuffy and old-fashioned.
When Parasite was announced as the first non-English-language Best Picture winner at the 2020 Oscars, few film fans had any complaints. Bong Joon-ho's masterpiece functions equally well as a suspenseful Hitchcockian thriller, a pitch-perfect black comedy and a biting class satire – complete with some extraordinary performances from its cast.
The film follows events after four members of a working-class family sneakily take it in turns to find work at the plush home of a more well-to-do family, before their elaborate ploy eventually leads to a nail-biting showdown in the latter stages. Tense, intelligent and extremely entertaining, it's unquestionably one of the finest films of the 21st century.
David Fincher has quite the back catalogue of directorial efforts – from Fight Club to Gone Girl (also on Netflix), Seven to The Social Network, Fincher has made a name for himself as one of the greatest auteur directors working today.
Therefore, when fans and critics say that Fincher's latest, The Killer, which is now available on Netflix, isn't amongst his best, that doesn't mean it's not still a thrilling ride with a gripping central performance and style to spare.
The film stars Michael Fassbender as an unnamed assassin who embarks on a brutal killing spree to avenge an attack on his girlfriend. It's a stripped back thriller, with a small cast list and a real sense of focus on Fassbender's titular character. If you're looking for intimate, stylish and intricately crafted filmmaking, look no further.
For his most recent film, Edgar Wright looked to classic Italian 'giallo' films for inspiration and came up with this hugely entertaining time-travel thriller starring Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Matt Smith. McKenzie stars as fledgling fashion student Eloise who is obsessed with the 1960s and moves to London to begin her studies shortly after the death of her mother.
After an unpleasant experience in student halls, she takes up residence with an elderly lady named Miss Collins – played superbly by the late Diana Rigg in her final big-screen performance – and soon finds herself inexplicably whisked back to the '60s Soho every night, where she soon learns that not everything about the past is as rosy as she imagined. Unsettling, eminently watchable, and consistently visually arresting, it's another enjoyable film from Wright which also includes a typically excellent soundtrack.
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were only in their mid-20s when they co-wrote this film, but it's a remarkable achievement that deservedly won them a Best Screenplay Oscar. The film follows Will Hunting (Damon), a troubled but fiercely intelligent janitor at MIT who seeks help from psychiatrist Dr Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) when he suffers an emotional crisis and risks a jail sentence.
It's a tender, heartfelt drama with several standout scenes and a brilliantly melancholic soundtrack consisting of songs by the late singer-songwriter Elliott Smith, while the performances from Damon, Minnie Driver, and especially the Oscar-winning Robin Williams are uniformly superb. A real crowd-pleaser.
It's difficult to believe that this film was Jordan Peele's directorial debut – instantly marking him out as one of the most influential cinematic voices of his generation and justifiably winning him all sorts of acclaim, including an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. A psychological horror film with a generous dose of social satire, it follows Black photographer Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) as he spends a weekend with the family of his wealthy white girlfriend Rose (Alison Williams).
When he arrives, he almost immediately has the uneasy feeling that something isn't quite right, and it gradually becomes clear that the family's veneer of kindness is shielding a seriously sinister secret. Kaluuya's superb central performance, Peele's incredibly sharp script, and a host of well-chosen film influences combine to make Get Out an irresistible experience – at once top-quality entertainment and intelligent food for thought.
Rob Marshall's Oscar-winning adaptation of the classic Kander & Ebb stage musical was a huge hit in 2002 – at the time becoming the highest-grossing live-action musical ever (a record that was broken by Mamma Mia! six years later). It follows Velma, an infamous nightclub singer who kills her husband and sister after finding them in bed together, and Roxie, an aspiring Vaudevillian who murders her paramour, as they are both defended by sleazy but successful lawyer Billy Flynn.
Complete with tremendous performances from Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, and John C Reilly among others, and a superb assortment of standout musical numbers – All That Jazz and Cell Block Tango are just two of the highlights – this is an irresistibly entertaining spectacle that was good value for its Best Picture triumph.
Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio's latest collaboration, Killers of the Flower Moon, received critical acclaim this year, meaning there's never been a better time to revisit one of their most successful previous works together – The Wolf of Wall Street.
In the 2013 biographical film, DiCaprio plays Jordan Belfort, a former stockbroker who pleaded guilty to fraud and related crimes in 1999. The Titanic star is electric in the role, which earned him a nomination for Best Actor at the Oscars.
Meanwhile, the film is notable for showing us the dramatic talents of Jonah Hill, and introducing many filmgoers to Margot Robbie. It's a thrill-ride of a film, which more than earns its length and seeps viewers in its own excesses, before masterfully pulling the rug from under them and showcasing the horror beneath.
This 2010 comedy, based on the book by Joe Dunthorne, comes from director Richard Ayoade and Executive Producer Ben Stiller, and features a stellar cast including Craig Roberts, Sally Hawkins, Noah Taylor, Paddy Considine and Gemma Chan.
The film is a perfectly crafted coming-of-age comedy, following the awkward Oliver Tate as he tries to keep his parents' marriage together, while also dealing with his first teenage relationship. Not only does the comedy land spectacularly, in large part thanks to an uproarious performance by Roberts, but it also has its own distinct visual style and a ear-worm filled soundtrack from Artic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner.
Ayoade's next film, The Double, might not have managed to recapture the spark, but this first film set a marker down for the actor as a filmmaker, one he will hopefully pick up on again someday.
DC has had a somewhat rough time in cinemas of late, with many of their releases failing to set the box office alight. 2021's The Suicide Squad suffered the same fate, in part likely due to the pandemic suppressing audience turnout. Whatever the reason, it's a shame, because James Gunn's re-invention of the comic book property is one of the DCEU's best.
The film, which acts as a semi-sequel, semi-reboot to 2016's Suicide Squad, stars Idris Elba, John Cena, Margot Robbie and more, and, unlike its predecessor, manages to capitalise on the anarchy inherent in its own premise.
The cast all do stellar work, while Gunn brings his own visual and comedic sensibilities to the piece, making the action fun and frenetic, yet easy to follow, and the dialogue zip with his trademark wit.
You know you're always in for an interesting ride with an A24 horror film, but this year's Talk To Me proved to be a real unexpected thrill ride. The supernatural horror comes from YouTubers turned directors Danny and Michael Philippou, and follows Mia, a young woman who gets involved with a group of friends who have found a mystical ceramic hand, which can grant spirits access to your body.
It's an already chilling premise which is only heightened by extremely successful execution. Some of the sequences are so terror inducing and stressful that you'll need a long lie down afterwards, but for those looking for some properly thrilling horror then look no further.
Sophie Wilde is hugely impressive in the central role, while the supporting cast all do stellar work. The film's thematic storytelling also hits home come the end, as it explores topics around grief and addiction more successfully than many a drama.
Having previously turned Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox into a delightful stop-motion animated feature, Wes Anderson has returned to the iconic children's author's oeuvre with this adaptation of one of his lesser-known tales – The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.
At just 41 minutes long, it's a brief but hugely enjoyable experience, full of all the intricate design and wit we've come to expect from the director's work.
It tells the story of the titular socialite (Benedict Cumberbatch) after he chances upon a book that contains information about a guru named Imdad Khan who could reportedly see without using his eyes – something that gives Henry inspiration to become an accomplished card cheat.
Ralph Fiennes, Dev Patel, Richard Ayoade, Ben Kingsley, and Rupert Friend all star, and those same cast members can also be seen in three other short Dahl adaptations by Anderson that have landed on Netflix alongside this one.
This animated adventure started its life at Blue Sky Studios only to be shelved following Disney's acquisition of 21st Century Fox in 2021, eventually being picked up by Netflix for release in 2023. And it's a good job it was rescued: it's a rollicking, inventive, and amusing fairytale that deftly touches on LGBTQ+ themes, with some impressive voice performances from the likes of Chloë Grace Moretz and Riz Ahmed.
The film tells the story of Knight Ballister Boldheart (Ahmed) who has to turn to the titular shape-shifting teen (Moretz) for help when he is falsely accused of murdering the Queen. Nimona is the only person willing to help him prove his innocence, but things are somewhat confused by the fact she is also the monster he has sworn to kill. Cue an enjoyable adventure that features all sorts of havoc and makes for top-tier entertainment for the whole family.
Matt Damon and Jude Law have arguably never been better than they were in this mesmerising adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's thriller novel from director Anthony Minghella. The pair respectively play expert conman Tom Ripley and wealthy heir Dickie Greenleaf, with the former growing obsessed with the latter after inserting himself into his glamorous life in Italy – with all sorts of dramatic consequences.
Damon and Law are joined by a stellar supporting cast including terrific performances from Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett and Phillip Seymour Hoffmann, while the beauty of the Italian landscape is shot superbly to create an enticing atmosphere that viewers can't help but get caught up in. Consistently suspenseful and enthralling, it's also a film that manages to have an emotional centre despite the sociopathic tendencies of its main character.
The fifth entry in the Evil Dead film franchise – following Sam Raimi's beloved original trilogy and Fedé Alvarez's more divisive 2013 reboot – takes the action away from the traditional cabin in the woods setting and into a high-rise apartment block in LA, which lends the film a fresh feel while still delivering many of the things fans love about the series, including no shortage of Deadite-driven mayhem and some rather nasty bursts of violence.
In the absence of franchise stalwart Bruce Campbell, the film also introduces us to a new family, who prove to be a likeable bunch of characters, with some great performances from the likes of Lily Sullivan and Alyssa Sutherland – the latter of whom is the first to be preyed upon by the demonic parasites. There are buckets of blood, chainsaws, and an ending that could well set up another entry in the franchise. If it's anything like this one, it will be very welcome.
Wes Anderson’s aesthetic is without any doubt one of the most distinctive in modern cinema – even when he’s dabbling in the world of stop motion animation, such as in the case of this delightful Roald Dahl adaptation.
Full of the kind of deadpan line deliveries and quirky jokes you’d expect in an Anderson picture, it boasts a typically star-studded cast, with George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray and Willem Dafoe among the many A-listers to lend their voices to the film’s menagerie of woodland creatures. And of course, it’s gorgeously designed – with the impeccably detailed, symmetrical sets on their own enough to provide audiences with plenty to purr over.
The latest work from legendary Telegu filmmaker S. S. Rajamouli, RRR became a major international hit upon its release – enrapturing viewers all around the globe. It’s not difficult to see why it resonated so much – across its epic three-hour running time the film packs in all manner of superbly executed action scenes (sometimes involving CGI animals) and splendidly choreographed dance scenes, including one to Oscar-winning song Naatu Naatu.
Set against the backdrop of the brutal British Raj, RRR is a thrilling tale of revenge. The film chronicles a charming fictional friendship between real-life revolutionaries Komaram Bheem (NT Rama Rao Jr) and Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan) as they seek to rid the nation of British rule.
When the Film BAFTA nominees for 2022 were announced, it came as something of a shock that Edward Berger’s adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's classic novel had scored an incredible 14 nods. But most of those who watched the film quickly understood the acclaim – it’s an immense technical achievement filled with visual action and first-rate performances.
The film makes a few changes from its famous source text but remains unflinching in its anti-war stance, following idealistic German soldier Paul Bäumer as he discovers the horrors of war. Those horrors are made all the more stark when put against the comparatively luxurious conditions enjoyed by those negotiating to reach an armistice – a plot strand that was absent from Remarque's novel.
The comedy murder-mystery has been enjoying something of a moment in recent years – thanks to everything from British flick See How They Run to hit TV series Only Murders in the Building. But arguably no one has done it better than Rian Johnson, whose two star-studded Knives Out mysteries are both available on Netflix, with a third expected to follow at some point in the future.
The films see Daniel Craig’s heavily accented sleuth Benoit Blanc attempt to unravel a couple of very mysterious cases – first the death of a revered crime writer in a cosy mansion, then an even more puzzling death on a private island owned by tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton). Craig is on terrific form throughout, and both films are as humorous as they are exciting, each packed with intriguing twists that keeps the audience guessing until the end.
Guillermo Del Toro’s first foray into stop-motion animation – alongside co-director Mark Gustafson – is one of many new takes on the tale of the wooden boy to have been released in recent years. It also happens to be by some margin the best of the bunch, ingeniously transposing Carlo Collodi’s classic tale to Benito Mussolini’s Italy.
Many of the story beats are, of course, familiar: Geppetto makes a puppet that comes to life, with the pair then getting tangled up in adventures alongside a talking cricket. But, this new version also laces its narrative with profound meditations on grief, death, religion, and authoritarianism, adding up to a truly beautiful and visually sumptuous piece of work.
French filmmaker Celine Sciamma has made some of the best films of the last decade – and this period romantic drama arguably ranks as the finest of the lot, winning a major prize at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, where it opened to glowing reviews. Set in France in the late 18th century, it follows the romance that develops between a reluctant bride-to-be and the artist hired to paint her portrait.
Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel are luminous in the lead roles, and the whole film is superbly put together by Sciamma, whose direction is frequently subtle and intelligent. Certain scenes will linger long in the memory, none more so than the heartbreaking final shot.
After long having been absent from major streaming platforms, all eight Harry Potter flicks arrived on Netflix in 2022, giving fans the chance to once again relive the magical adventures of Harry, Ron and Hermione in Hogwarts and beyond.
In addition to kickstarting the careers of leads Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, the film also featured many of the finest thespians Britain had to offer, with Robbie Coltrane, Michael Gambon and Alan Rickman among the stars to bring beloved characters to the screen. A new TV adaptation of the books is currently in the works at Max, but these films – released between 2001 and 2011 – will take some beating.
Denis Villeneuve has recently been working mostly in the sci-fi genre, but he’s equally adept when it comes to crafting a thriller – and this 2013 effort stands as a testament to that. Villeneuve’s first feature in the English language, it boasts an all-star cast that includes Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis and Paul Dano, each of whom delivers an engrossing performance.
Jackman is Keller Dover, a man whose daughter – along with his neighbour's daughter – is abducted. Although Gyllenhaal’s Detective Loki is drafted in to work on the case, Dover soon pursues a vigilante form of justice convinced that intellectually disabled man Alex Jones (Dano) is the person responsible. What follows is a gritty and gripping thriller that features its fair share of shocking violence – but that is near impossible to turn your eyes away from.
Armando Iannucci's Westminster satire The Thick of It is one of the best British sitcoms of the 21st century, so it’s no surprise that this feature-length spin-off – which features many of the same actors playing different characters – makes for such a hilarious 90-minute flick.
Tom Hollander leads the ensemble as Simon Foster, the Secretary of State for International Development who finds himself embroiled in political games on both sides of the Atlantic, but it's Peter Capaldi who once again steals the show as spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker – the scariest and sweariest comic creation of recent years.
The first Paddington film in 2014 had already proved irresistibly charming to audiences across the world – but this sequel took things up a notch to deliver arguably one of the best family films ever made. The film picks up with the Peruvian bear – still living with the Brown family – as he embarks on a journey to get the perfect gift for his Aunt’s 100th birthday.
Only there’s a spanner in the works – and that spanner comes in the shape of a scene-stealing Hugh Grant, who stars as narcissistic thespian Phoenix Buchanan, who would like Paddington’s preferred gift all for himself. What follows is a delightful, rip-roaring adventure that was deservedly heaped with praise. We’re still waiting for a planned third instalment, but for the time being this one is always ripe for a revisit.
Inglourious Basterds marked something of a change in direction for Quentin Tarantino – who until that point had largely made films set in contemporary times. All of his films since Basterds have been period pieces – not that this change in approach led to any watering down of his instantly recognisable style or his fascination with revenge narratives.
Starring Brad Pitt as a lieutenant leading a troop of vengeful Jewish-American soldiers, and an Oscar-winning Christoph Waltz as the chilling Nazi villain Hans Landa, this film is electric throughout – from the unbearably tense opening scene to the immensely cathartic conclusion. Complete with plenty of Tarantino's trademark dialogue and a handful of perfectly constructed set pieces, this two-and-a-half-hour epic is the writer/director at the very top of his game.
Da 5 Bloods went somewhat under the radar when it arrived on Netflix at the height of the COVID pandemic in 2020 – but this is another terrific Spike Lee joint, following hot on the heels of his high-profile return to form with BlackKklansman two years earlier. That this film didn’t manage nearly as many nominations at the Oscars can be seen as something of a snub, particularly given the quality of some of the performances.
Delroy Lindo (The Good Fight), Clarke Peters (The Wire), Norm Lewis (Scandal) and Isiah Whitlock Jr (BlacKkKlansman) star as a group of Vietnam vets who return to the country to search for the remains of their fallen commander, played in flashback by the much-missed Chadwick Boseman – whose portrayal is even more poignant in light of his tragic death in 2020. On their journey, the group confronts their traumatic memories of the conflict while also reckoning with the different paths they’ve each taken since.
Writer/director Noah Baumbach has teamed up with Adam Driver on a number of occasions, but this divorce drama is arguably the peak of their collaboration. The film earned six nominations at the 92nd Academy Awards – winning one – and proved every bit as popular with audiences as it did with critics.
Based in part on Baumbach’s own divorce, Driver and Scarlett Johansson star as a director and actor couple whose marriage has reached its end, but things only get more bitter when lawyers are called in to begin divorce proceedings. By turns funny and tear-jerking, this film is a real winner – worth it for a scene that sees Driver singing Stephen Sondheim’s Being Alive alone.
There was a time a few years ago when Netflix was gladly giving a number of acclaimed big-name auteurs big budgets and free rein to make their passion projects, and the greatest result of that era was Martin Scorsese’s superb gangster epic.
Of course, the great director has famously dabbled in the gangster genre many times before, but what marks The Irishman out from the likes of Goodfellas and Casino is the more sombre, elegiac tone. The film follows Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran (Robert De Niro), as he recalls his involvement in the disappearance of his longtime friend Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), whilst also reflecting on a number of relationships, including that with his daughter, Peggy (Anna Paquin).
The title of Ava DuVernay’s searing documentary refers to the 13th Amendment in the US Constitution, which declares: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.”
The film goes on to draw parallels between slavery and the major flaws in America’s modern-day criminal judgment system, examining the prison-industrial complex and the ways in which the system disproportionately affects Black Americans and other minority communities. The film won huge acclaim on release and secured Netflix its first BAFTA – while it found an audience again following the murder of George Floyd in 2020.
Most of the Adam Sandler films you’ll find on Netflix are of rather dubious quality, but every so often the actor picks a project that shows just how good he can be – and there’s never been a better example of that than Uncut Gems. This unbearably tense, blackly comic offering from the Safdie Brothers was a huge critical hit when it debuted in 2020, with many feeling that Sandler was unfortunate not to nab an Oscar nomination.
He stars as a New York City jeweller with a gambling problem, who must risk everything to banish his debts and escape the collectors after him – whilst also balancing his role as a father, a crumbling marriage with his soon-to-be-ex-wife (Idina Menzel) and an affair with an employee (Julia Fox).
Hollywood icons Robert De Niro and Al Pacino famously both starred in The Godfather Part II, but it wasn’t until the infamous diner scene in Michael Mann’s crime epic that the pair finally shared the screen.
The film sees De Niro take on the role of seasoned criminal Neil McCauley – who is preparing for his last heist before waving goodbye to a life of crime – while Pacino plays the troubled LA cop desperate to take him down. Across a gripping, gruelling three hours, the psychology of both men is examined, leading up to one of the most memorable shootouts in cinema history.
The kind of film you can watch over and over again, Groundhog Day features one of Bill Murray’s finest comedic performances and an ingenious plot device that is now as famous as the film itself.
Murray stars as misanthropic weather reporter Phil Connors who is extremely disgruntled to be covering the titular celebration in the Pennsylvanian town of Punxsutawney. Unable to leave due to adverse weather conditions, Phil is further alarmed when he repeatedly wakes up on the same morning – forced to relive the same day on repeat with seemingly no way to end the loop. Often imitated but never bettered, Groundhog Day remains the gold standard when it comes to time-loop narratives, with both Murray and co-star Andie MacDowell in fine form. It’s a doozy!
Netflix’s library is not quite so well stocked when it comes to films made before the 1990s, but one bonafide classic of British cinema available on the streamer is David Lean’s epic Lawrence of Arabia.
The film, which unfolds over more than three hours, is based on the life of archaeologist and army officer T. E. Lawrence, and specifically his experiences in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War – including his involvement in the Arab National Counsel. It won seven Oscars and is regarded as one of the finest ever film achievements, remembered for its visual style, storytelling, themes, and performances from the likes of Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif.
Monty Python remain one of the most influential comedy acts of all time, and their 1979 film The Life of Brian ranks up there with their very best work. Controversial with religious groups upon its initial release, the film follows a young man named Brian (Graham Chapman) who was born in close proximity to Jesus – and is often confused for the Messiah.
There’s the usual blend of absurdist humour, juvenile japes and biting satire, with a huge variety of delights sprinkled throughout – from a cameo by Spike Milligan to the iconic rendition of the original song Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. All in all, it’s a consistently hilarious film that rightly stands as a landmark in British comedy.
Steve McQueen’s astonishing Oscar-winning drama tells the true story of Solomon Northup – a free Black man living in 1800s New York who was captured and sold into slavery in the Deep South. Brutal scenes of suffering ensure it can be a tough watch, but it’s directed with sensitivity and grace by McQueen and makes for a truly powerful piece of filmmaking.
The performances from the cast are also uniformly exceptional – Chiwetel Ejiofor is a magnetic force in the lead role, while the supporting turns from the likes of Michael Fassbender and Oscar-winning Lupita Nyong’o are equally impressive.
Jake Gyllenhaal turns in one of his greatest performances in this electrifying neo-noir – which exists as both an intimate character study and an uncompromising societal critique. Gyllenhaal plays Louis Bloom, a man inspired to enter the world of ‘night-crawling’ – the act of taking lurid videos of shocking incidents including car crashes and shootouts, with the intention of selling the clips to the press.
The film offers a fascinating insight into Bloom’s psyche as he acts in increasingly sociopathic ways to get the best footage, while also asking very relevant questions about the exploitative and unethical nature of the news ecosystem.
Christopher Nolan had already made waves with the ultra-low budget Following, but this was the film that really announced him as a cinematic force to be reckoned with. Based on a short story by his brother Jonathan, it tells the story of an amnesiac insurance investigator desperately attempting to piece together clues from tattoos and notes he has left to himself.
The film's fascinating non-chronological structure has become the stuff of legend – although perhaps ensures that no rewatch will ever quite live up to the thrilling experience of solving the puzzle the first time around. But complete with neo-noir trappings, a mood of distinct unease, and an impressive turn from Guy Pearce in the lead role, this is a terrific piece of cinema.
The second instalment in the Spider-Verse saga arrived in cinemas to rave reviews in 2023, but this first entry in the series is perhaps even better. The film follows Miles Morales after he is bitten by a radioactive spider and becomes the titular superhero – only for his life to become even more complicated when he finds himself fighting alongside alternate versions of himself in a bid to save the multiverse.
The film’s hugely inventive approach to animation – blending a range of different styles, and superbly adopting a comic book aesthetic – has already proved hugely influential. But as well as being impressive from a technical point of view, it also serves as an inspiring story about who gets to be a hero.
Pretty much the whole Studio Ghibli oeuvre is available to stream on Netflix, giving subscribers a huge range of wonderful animated flicks to enjoy including Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Whisper of the Heart. And there can be no doubt that this delightfully charming little film – just their third feature – is one of the greatest.
It follows two girls who move with their father to the countryside while their mother is ill, where they find themselves having a number of magical encounters with the titular friendly monster and other surreal beings. The story itself is fairly minimalist, but the gorgeous animation and the way the film captures a youthful sense of wonderment make it a must-watch.
Few films can be said to have truly changed the face of cinema – but Jaws is one for whom that statement is by no means an exaggeration. After being subject to a famously disastrous production process, the film went on to achieve monumental success, becoming known as the first-ever blockbuster and launching the career of a young Steven Spielberg in the process.
Almost 50 years on, it very much endures as a classic – still a thrilling example of building suspense by withholding the terrifying shark for as long as possible. The character work is also tremendous – with Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss all bringing great heft to their roles – and John Williams’s iconic score is one for the ages.
Al Pacino plays one of his most iconic roles in Brian De Palma’s operatic crime epic, which takes the excesses of the gangster genre to their most extreme degree. Pacino plays Tony Montana, a Cuban who arrives in Miami and builds a drug empire – only to come undone by his own hubris and growing paranoia.
It’s certainly one of Pacino’s more overstated performances, but his extravagant turn is the perfect match for De Palma’s virtuosic direction, while Michelle Pfeiffer gives a hugely memorable supporting performance as Tony’s love interest Elvira. Although criticised upon release for its excessive violence, it’s correctly come to be regarded as a classic.
Greta Gerwig has emerged as one of the most vital cinematic voices of her generation – a status only further bolstered by the recent groundbreaking success of Barbie. Her Oscar-nominated adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved coming-of-age novel is perhaps her richest work to date, innovatively reworking the structure of the classic text to bring fresh insights to a tale adapted many times before.
It helps that the performances are exceptional across the board. Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh were both nominated for Oscars for their roles as Jo and Amy March respectively, while Emma Watson, Eliza Scanlen, Timotheé Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, James Norton and Bob Odenkirk are among the others to produce fine work.
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