The 50 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now

The sheer volume of films on Netflix — and the site’s less than ideal interface — can make finding a genuinely great movie there a difficult task. To help, we’ve plucked out the 50 best films currently streaming on the service in the United States, updated regularly as titles come and go. And as a bonus, we mention 50 more great movies on Netflix within many of our writeups below. (Note: Streaming services sometimes remove titles or change starting dates without giving notice.)

Our list of the best movies on Amazon Prime Video is here.

Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight.” Stephen Vaughan/Warner Bros. Pictures
‘The Dark Knight’ (2008)
Three years after reinventing the Batman franchise with “Batman Begins” (also streaming on Netflix), the director Christopher Nolan returned to Gotham, making a rare sequel that surpasses the original. Nolan crafts some of the sharpest, tightest set pieces of the series to date — its opening bank robbery and nighttime prisoner transfer are astonishingly assured — while Heath Ledger pierces in an Oscar-winning turn as the Joker, a frightening, take-no-prisoners snapshot of nihilistic evil. Our critic wrote, “it goes darker and deeper than any Hollywood movie of its comic-book kind.”

Watch on Netflix

From left, Hector (voiced by Gael García Bernal) and Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) in “Coco.” Disney/Pixar
‘Coco’ (2017)
A young boy’s search for his mysterious heritage and his musical voice takes him, quite literally, beyond this world in this charming, touching and joyful treat from Disney and Pixar. Set in Mexico on the Day of the Dead, the screenplay (by co-director Adrian Molina and Matthew Aldrich) cheerfully interweaves the traditions of the holiday and culture with its own rules of death and afterlife. Our critic wrote, “it plays a time-tested tune with captivating originality and flair.”

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Daisy Ridley in “The Last Jedi.” Lucasfilm
‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ (2017)
In this, the eighth installment of the “Star Wars” saga, the writer-director Rian Johnson (“Looper”) bends the boundaries of the series in fascinating ways — tinkering with iconography, exploding expectations and taking the universe in unexpected directions. “The Last Jedi” delivers the blockbuster goods, with chases, dogfights and lightsaber battles galore. But it is also a subtle and thoughtful meditation on the franchise itself, and the necessity of storytellers who are willing to take big risks. Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, and John Boyega all shine, but the powerhouse performer is Mark Hamill, who brings a lifetime of hope and disappointment to his long-awaited revival of Luke Skywalker. Our critic called it “a satisfying, at times transporting entertainment.” (Johnson’s first feature film, the scorching neo-noir “Brick,” is also streaming on Netflix.)

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Grainger Hines in “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.” Netflix
‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ (2018)
The latest from Joel and Ethan Coen is an anthology film set in the Old West, a series of stories of varying length and style, some as short and simple as jokes, others with the richness and depth of a great short story. Our critic wrote, “It swerves from goofy to ghastly so deftly and so often that you can’t always tell which is which,” and what seems at first like a filmed notebook of ideas and orphans instead becomes something of a workshop; it’s a place for the Coens to try things, experimenting with new styles and moods, while also delivering the kind of dark humor and deliciously ornate dialogue that we’ve come to expect. (Admirers of this post-modern Western may also enjoy Sam Peckinpah’s classic “The Wild Bunch,” also on Netflix.)

Watch on Netflix

Jake Gyllenhaal in “Zodiac.” Merrick Morton/Paramount Pictures
‘Zodiac’ (2007)
Director David Fincher’s breakthrough film was the serial-killer thriller “Seven,” but he had no intention of repeating himself with this 2007 mystery. Because the real-life Zodiac killer was never apprehended or tried for his crime, Fincher sidestepped the big payoff of most true crime stories, crafting instead a film that focuses on the kind of obsessiveness it takes to follow that trail, year after year, without a satisfactory conclusion. Our critic called it “at once sprawling and tightly constructed, opaque and meticulously detailed.”

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Sam Sparks (voiced by Anna Faris) and Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) in “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.” Sony Pictures Animation/Columbia Pictures
‘Cloudy With a Chance
of Meatballs’ (2009)
Flint Lockwood (energetically voiced by Bill Hader) creates a satellite that can turn water into food, transforming his forgotten fishing island into a gourmet destination and a tourist hot spot. But when the portions start to mutate into oversized super-foods, Flint has to find the courage to finish what he started. Anna Farris, James Caan, Mr. T and Bruce Campbell are the standouts in the voice cast, and while the little ones will love the images of hot dogs and spaghetti falling from the sky, there’s also a lesson to learn about being yourself and doing what’s right. Our critic called it “a single serving of inspired lunacy.”

Watch on Netflix

Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino in “Scarface.” Universal Pictures, via Everett Collection
‘Scarface’ (1983)
Freely updating Howard Hawks and Richard Rosson’s 1932 bootleg-gangster classic to the coke-fueled era of early ’80s Miami, “Scarface” gives us some of Al Pacino’s most operatic overacting (and that’s saying something), Brian De Palma’s wildest filmmaking (ditto), and Oliver Stone’s most memorable dialogue. (“Say hello to my little friend!”) Throw in Michelle Pfeiffer as the slinkiest mob moll since Virginia Mayo, and you’ve got a certified ’80s classic; our critic called it “as terrifying as it is vivid and arresting.”

Watch on Netflix

Alex Hibbert, left, and Mahershala Ali in “Moonlight.” David Bornfriend/A24
‘Moonlight’ (2016)
The 2017 Academy Award winner for best picture, this triptych about a young, gay African-American man’s coming of age in Miami is a quietly revelatory piece of work, exploring and challenging modern perceptions of masculinity, family, power and love. Director Barry Jenkins (adapting a play by Tarell Alvin McCraney) creates a world so dense with detail and rich with humanity that every character gets a chance to shine; the themes and ideas are all above board, but conveyed with subtlety and understatement. Our critic described it as “a poem written in light, music and vivid human faces.”

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