The best movies on Netflix Australia

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There’s never been a better time to chill out on the couch and put on a great movie. People are ditching traditional free-to-air TV and cinema, instead staying at home both to save a buck and avoid the hassle of having to go out. This has given rise to subscription video on-demand (SVOD) services such as Netflix. We’ve highlighted the worst movies to watch on Netflix, but if you’re strapped for time, you don’t want to be stuck watching something you hate. At the same time, Netflix’s huge log of movies makes it a nightmare for an indecisive person – such as this author – to decide what to sit down and watch.

Back in the day you paid $5 for an overnight video rental, so you were pretty much pigeonholed into watching it. Nowadays Netflix gives you possibly too much choice, and all for a low price. Well, we endeavour to help people make better-informed decisions about what they’re buying, and movies are no exception. Here’s a list of the top 10 movies to watch on Netflix, and it’s unashamedly subjective. Hit the links below to go straight to a movie that interests you:

American Sniper

Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper, American Sniper is the biopic of the world’s most lethal sniper, Chris Kyle. With over 160 confirmed kills in the Iraq War, Kyle has to juggle country duties and family duties, while reconciling his job with God. This 2014 film is about as ‘Murca’ as you can get, with patriotism tugging at the heart strings, heroic actions and tragic downfalls.

Cooper was praised for his depiction of Kyle, and credit must be given to his weightlifting regime to resemble the real life U.S. soldier – his weightlifting depicted on screen is real. It’s somewhat rare for such a recent blockbuster to be on Netflix, but we’re not complaining. Turn the sound up, and the lights off for this one.

The Babadook

If you’re a parent whose child has an imaginary friend or who claims monsters scare them, you might want to stay away from this one. The Babadook is an Aussie psychological horror film released in 2014. Directed by Jennifer Kent, the Babadook’s cinematographer Radek Ladczuk also did a marvellous job constructing beautiful shots, and somehow makes grim Adelaide neighbourhoods look starkly gorgeous.

The Babadook follows the story of single mum Amelia and her son Sam, whose overly active imagination turns out to be a reality. The film touches on the particularly haunting effects of insomnia, prescription pill abuse, and paranoia. It’s got all kinds of flavours to keep you hooked. And, there’s a huge almost laughable twist at the end. This author suspects this film is a huge metaphor for ‘The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself’, and you won’t know what to believe by the end of it.

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The Big Short

As we reach the one-third point of this list, why not emulate what the stock market did in 2008, and peak then crash? Only kidding, but the Big Short is a comedy/drama based on a true story that will make you think. It will get your blood boiling over the people and financial institutions that led to the greatest financial crisis in our lifetime.

The Big Short follows one of the many GFC causes. Banks and lenders are selling subprime mortgages to unstable people who have almost no hope of paying it back. The banks are then packaging these mortgages up into bonds and selling them unscrupulously, with credit agencies in on the act too. The results are as you’d expect, and the main characters predict this.

It’s a film that will make you want to withdraw all your money, stash it under your pillow and go and live your life with some Tibetan Monks. If it weren’t for Margot Robbie explaining things, you’d damn near need an economics degree to totally understand The Big Short. It’s a frustrating – yet powerful movie – with notable performances from Christian Bale and Steve Carell. It all ends on a chilling note and you will be left second guessing the pillars of capitalism and its downfalls.

Dallas Buyers Club

Alright, alright, alright. If you ever wanted to see Matthew McConaughey depict a rather unlikable protagonist with HIV, this is your film. Dallas Buyers Club is a 2013 biopic depicting the story of Ron Woodroof, an AIDS patient diagnosed in the 1980s when AIDS was just a ‘gay cancer’ or one that only ‘queers’ got. Woodroof – in the film anyway – has to come to grips with this ‘gay cancer’ and his masculine lifestyle of bullriding, losing his friends and accepting the HIV community who have taken him in.

This was a film 21 years in the making, when screenwriter Craig Borten interviewed the real life Woodroof in 1992, and polished the script in 2000 with cowriter Melisa Wallack. Arguably the best performance in the film is by Jared Leto who plays transsexual AIDS patient ‘Rayon’. The film can be difficult to watch at times, and there is not exactly a happy ending, so sit down and be prepared for a reality hit.

Dunkirk

If you didn’t get to see Dunkirk in the cinema, then you’ll probably never see this movie in full glory. While still a great film in its own right, the presence on a huge screen cannot be denied. Dunkirk details the evacuation at, well… Dunkirk… which is a legendary tale in British and World War II folklore. Shot in 70mm film with Christopher Nolan at the helm, Dunkirk is sparse in dialogue and linear story progression. Those looking for a ho-hum movie to just sit down and enjoy may want to look elsewhere.

Dunkirk is basically a two-hour tense scene, shot from three different non-linear storylines for a bit of variety. In the cinema, you felt as if you were on the beaches – the gunshots are loud, the whir of the German planes are terrifying and the anxiety is excruciating. Watch this on the biggest and best home theatre system you can get access to – you deserve it.

Good Will Hunting

If you haven’t got a sense that this author likes films set in Boston yet, then we’ve got news for you. Good Will Hunting is another all-time favourite that stars Matt Damon as a fairly rebellious and reluctant genius roughhead from South Boston. Will Hunting (Damon) wants to just lead a normal life like his friends but his genius is inescapable. Will’s life ebbs and flows as he largely avoids confronting his genius, until he meets a girl and fatherly figure. His love interest is played by Minnie Driver, whose oddball charm is irresistible.

The most standout performer, however, is the late, great Robin Williams, whose character is a tortured-soul type psychologist who is frustrated by Will and wants to help him out. Good Will Hunting will have you nearly crying and then laughing, tugging at your heart strings until it ends on a cheeky note. It’s one of Williams’ finest performances ever, and the film cements his legacy as one of America’s greatest actors.

Icarus

Icarus is a straight-to-Netflix documentary film fresh from 2017. It is directed by Bryan Fogel, himself an amateur cyclist exploring doping and how it is so prevalent in cycling – even amateur cycling. This film gets straight to the nitty gritty, and Fogel himself experiments with PEDs (performance enhancing drugs) while training for a big race to see if he could pass a doping test. In his travels, he happens upon an international doping scandal, which then sets the movie and the world of athletics alight. This is an honest take on doping in sports, and to have such a ‘Ground Zero’ approach to the topic is rare.

The Imitation Game

Seriously, another biopic?! Okay, they’re so good. Ever heard of Alan Turing? Maybe not. He tops lists for the most important British people of all time, but chances are if you were around before the 1990s you wouldn’t have heard his name. That’s because his job was classified, as he was tasked with cracking encrypted German communications in WW2 at a secret location in England… it’s called Bletchley Park – you now may have heard of it.

This hard task leads to him – along with a band of others – to decrypt the ‘Enigma’ code using a newly invented codebreaker called Christopher. This enabled Allied forces to decipher where German armed forces were going to strike next, and to put a stop to it. This had a major effect on the outcome of WW2 but was classified for so long. The Imitation Game is a great movie to watch that’s easily digestable on a Friday night. Settle in and grab the popcorn.

Nightcrawler

Despite what the trailer above may lead you to believe, this is not exactly an uplifting film. In one of Jake Gyllenhaal’s most memorable performances, Nightcrawler follows Louis Bloom, a sociopathic yet weirdly charming guy out to find his niche in Los Angeles. He discovers ‘stringing’ – a quasi-journalism group of contractors who prowl the LA streets at night to be first to shoot car wrecks, robberies, shootings and more. They then sell this footage to mainstream news media. Except, how far is too far? Where does the line of morals and ethics get crossed? Nightcrawler is shot in glittering form, showing off the beauty and ugliness of Los Angeles and sheds a light on a profession that shines when there is no light.

The Revenant

We’ll be honest, this movie can be a hard slog. The Revenant is a semi-biographical film and is classified as an ‘epic western’. It certainly is epic. In the early 1800s much of America’s west was untamed and was largely run by Native American tribes who were slowly dying out due to western colonisation.

It was a rough time for almost anyone in the west, let alone Hugh Glass – Leonardo DiCaprio – who guides trappers through rough untamed wilderness before he himself is attacked by a bear. The trappers decide to ditch him, and what follows is a monumental film about Glass’s navigation back through the wilderness and to camp. It’s a two-and-a-half hour epic about vengeance and resilience. It’s also very bloody, graphic and… unforgettable.

Spotlight

Catholics look away, this film may trigger. Spotlight details the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists from the Boston Globe who were among the first to crack the Catholic Church cover-up of paedophile priests in the Boston area. It is based on the book ‘Betrayal’ written by the very same journalists, and stars Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Liev Schreiber. Spotlight is a methodical portrayal of how these Globe journalists uncovered the seedy underbelly of the Catholic Church and its all-knowing power in the Boston area. It’s not exactly an easy watch as the film tends to shy away from sensationalism, but it does leave you with a sense of uneasiness, especially when the credits roll and you realise many Dioceses in Australia were also found to contain ‘bad apples’.

What internet plans offer data-free Netflix streaming?

Considered the golden goose of internet plans, finding a provider that offers data-free Netflix streaming can be a hard task. While very few providers offer data-free Netflix all the time with no hoops to jump through, there are a few providers that may offer it as part of a package or bonus deal. Providers such as Dodo, Optus, Internode and iiNet all allow customers to subscribe to a Fetch TV entertainment bundle. This usually costs about $5-$20 on top of base plans, and this is usually the best way to get unmetered Netflix, but only if you stream it through Fetch.

One other provider to offer data-free Netflix streaming is Teleron. This is usually part of a deal that comes and goes, so you may want to strike while the iron’s hot. Another thing to consider is if it’s really worthwhile trying to seek a provider that offers unmetered Netflix. Unlimited data is often quite cheap these days, and many providers don’t offer anything but unlimited data – as is the case with Optus. All in all, providers with unmetered streaming are a rare phenomenon, but they are out there. Here are some featured plans below:

What movie should I watch on Netflix?

While this list is incredibly subjective, we hope it gives you some idea as to what to watch next time you fire up Netflix. Though, it’s probably best to avoid watching most of these films on a stormy night alone, and they are best watched with the kids put to bed! Pairing your binge watching with a new unmetered internet plan may be an ideal way to get more ‘bang for buck’ and see your data go further. If you’ve got a spare weekend or three, these movies are well worth a look into. Fire up the telly, dim the lights and get comfy because you probably won’t want to move!

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