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. But we all have horrific stories about searching for hours for something to watch on Netflix, and just because you’re strapped for time doesn’t mean you should be stuck watching something you hate. Frankly, 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 20 movies to watch on Netflix, and it’s unashamedly subjective. Hit the links below to go straight to a movie that interests you. Prefer to start a new series? See our list of the best Netflix shows here.
- All the Bright Places
- Uncut Gems
- 6 Underground
- El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
- The Laundromat
- Falling Inn Love
- The King
- The Perfect Date
- Wanda Sykes: Not Normal
- Velvet Buzzsaw
- Unicorn Store
- Always be My Maybe
- Murder Mystery
- Isn’t It Romantic
- Bird Box
- Outlaw King
- 22 July
All the Bright Places
Based on the bestselling YA novel of the same name by Jennifer Niven, All the Bright Places tells the story of two people – a popular girl and an outcast ‘freak’ – who accidentally form a powerful bond as fate leads them to helping each other deal with grief and mental illness. Elle Fanning stars as leading lady Violet Markey, who is dealing with survivor’s guilt, and Justice Smith as Theodore Finch who is struggling with an undiagnosed mental illness and can’t stop thinking about death. Directed by Brett Haley, All the Bright Places is about two people, unsuspectingly falling in love while they unsuspectedly save each other.
This is Adam Sandler like you’ve never seen him before. Uncut Gems follows Howard Ratner (Sandler), a gambling addict and gemstone dealer who runs a jewelry store in New York’s Diamond District. His gambling addiction has left him with debt up to his eyeballs and a broken marriage – but after discovering a rare uncut rock of Ethiopian gems, he thinks he’s finally found the solution to all his problems. With an interest from Boston Celtic’s Kevin Garnett (who plays himself in the movie), Ratner is feeling confident and makes a chaotic and high-stake bet in the NBA playoffs, with disastrous consequences. Adam Sandler himself said this movie was snubbed at the Oscars this year – and to be honest, he’s not wrong – Uncut Gems will have you on the edge of your seat for its entirety. He also promised he would come back and make a movie “so bad on purpose just to make you all pay” if the movie didn’t win. So… Grown Ups 3?
From suiting up as everyone’s favourite mischievous superhero, Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds returns to the screen with a team of untraceable mercenaries on a “bold and bloody mission” to bring down a brutal dictator”. Directed by Michael Buy, 6 Underground follows an elite group of international operatives who fake their own deaths in an attempt to erase their past and begin work in the shadows to help save the world.
The agents recruited by the man behind it all, One (Reynolds), are all known by their code names. Two (Mélanie Laurent) is hired as the resident spy, Three (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) is enlisted as hitman, while Four works as the parkour runner and Five (Adria Arjona) as the team’s doctor. Dave Franco similarly joins the gang as the driver known as Six, with sniper Corey Hawkins also working as Seven.
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Reunite with Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) and get your Breaking Bad fix with El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. After the hit show aired its final episode in 2013, the writers have made a comeback with this sequel and will finally reveal what really happened at the end of the series when Pinkman was kidnapped by a drug gang and kept in captivity. The crime thriller is written and directed by Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan.
The Laundromat is one of this year’s most anticipated movies, giving audiences a suitably big name cast to cover what is said to be the largest data leak in history. Steven Soderbergh’s fictional take on the Panama Papers follows a retired woman named Ellen (Meryl Streep) who gets caught up in all sorts of trouble when she starts investigating why she wasn’t able to sue those responsible for the terrible accident that led to her husband’s death. After finding out this was all due to a fake insurance policy and dodgy dealings involving two lawyers (Antonio Banderas and Gary Oldman) from a Panama-based firm, Ellen quickly learns her problem is linked to a huge offshore tax scheme helping the world’s richest and most powerful get away with tax evasion. From then on, Ellen does everything she can to track down and expose the duo behind it all.
Falling Inn Love
If you love cheesy romantic comedies, get ready to eat up Falling Inn Love on Netflix. After dumping her non-committal boyfriend of two years, Gabriela Diaz (Christina Milian) wins a New Zealand inn and leaves her corporate job and insufferable boss to remodel an unexpectedly worn down property on the other side of the world. Thankfully though, there’s Jake Taylor (Adam Demos) — a handsome, and of course single, contractor available to help flip the inn and Gabriela’s life around.
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All hail King Henry in one of Netflix’s most anticipated films of the year. Timothée Chalamet takes on the role of Hal, a reluctant heir to the English throne, who left royal life and went to live among the people. But everything changes when his tyrannical father dies and is forced to embrace the royal life as the newly crowned King Henry V. Follow the young king as he tries to deal with not just the palace politics and war he inherited, but also the emotional strings of his past life and his relationship with his closest friend and mentor, the ageing alcoholic knight, John Falstaff (Joel Edgerton).
The King is directed by David Michôd and also features Ben Mendelsohn, Robert Pattinson, Lily-Rose Depp and Sean Harris. The military drama is expected to be released on Netflix later this year.
The Perfect Date
Some teens get a job at Woolies or McDonalds to earn money, while boys like Brooks Rattigan (Noah Centineo) pose as a stand-in date for other young girls to rack up enough money for college. Like many high-schoolers, Brooks dreams of going to Yale in order to make a difference in the world. But he’s worried his good grades and after-school jobs isn’t enough, especially with the costly Ivy League fees. So, he creates an app where others can hire him for any event as their fake boyfriend. The girls can also pick his personality and mould him into the date of their dreams.
Like any romantic comedy, Brooks questions whether his school crush is the right person for him. Maybe it’s the girl who suggested the idea of being a rent-a-boyfriend all, Celia (Laura Marano).
Wanda Sykes: Not Normal
Get ready to belly laugh, silent laugh, and even the classic ‘wheeze and snort’. Wanda Sykes doesn’t hold back in her Netflix comedy special when she takes a hilarious and sharp-witted look at the state of the world. She tackles everything from politics and racism, to reality TV. The comedian is well-known for popular shows such as Curb Your Enthusiasm and Blackish. Wanda was also the first African-American woman to perform at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, as well as the first to star in her own sitcom, ‘Wanda at Large’.
If you’re a fan of the weird and wacky, Velvet Buzzsaw is a horror film which revolves around the art scene in Los Angeles, and a stash of paintings by a deceased artist that unleashes a supernatural force that “enacts revenge on those who have allowed their greed to get in the way of art”.
The Netflix Original stars Jake Gyllenhall as Morf Vandewall, a supposedly “feared critic, an icy gallery owner and an ambitious assistant” who quickly realises he got more than he bargained for when he purchased the artwork. It turns out Vetril Dease, the artist whose sinister paintings rose to fame after their death, was also a murder who never wanted his work to be seen or sold after he died. Dease’s spirit haunts anyone who goes against his wishes and hunts down each person in a range of ways.
Velvet Buzzsaw also features John Malkovich, Rene Russo, Billy Magnussen, Toni Collette and Daveed Diggs.
“Everybody needs some magic in their lives, even if they’re all grown-up.” After flunking out of art school and taking an unfulfilling job as an office temp, a whimsical painter (Brie Larson) receives a mysterious invitation that would make her childhood dream of adopting a unicorn come true.
Larson makes her director debut in Unicorn Store, a movie in which she plays a twenty-something woman named Kit who others are still yet to see properly ‘grow up’. After the aspiring artist is forced to move back in with her parents, played by Joan Cusack and Bradley Whitford, she encounters The Salesman (Samuel L. Jackson) in a unicorn store. But if Kit wants to finally get the pet she’s dreamed of, she’ll have to prove she’s worthy of one.
This comedy also stars Mamoudou Athie, Hamish Linklater, Martha MacIsaac, Karan Soni and Annaleigh Ashford.
Always Be My Maybe
Netflix’s season of love continues with the Internet’s latest obsession, Always Be My Maybe. Starring Ali Wong and Randall Park, this romantic comedy follows the journey of two childhood sweethearts who reunite after 15 years.
When Sasha (Wong), now a famous chef, returns to her hometown to open a new restaurant, she runs into her old friend, Marcus (Park). Despite being hesitant on reconnecting, it’s clear there are still some old sparks – but both of them have trouble igniting the fire as they struggle to adjust with each other’s new lives. Sasha’s romantic flames also provides some seriously hilarious obstacles. Whether it’s the heartthrob fiancé played by Daniel Dae Kim, or the overly affectionate and seemingly perfect boyfriend that is Keanu Reeves, you’re bound to fall head over heels with this Netflix film. Always Be My Maybe also features James Saito, Michelle Buteau, Vivian Bang, Susan Park, Karan Soni and Charlyne Yi.
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Back to Netflix Movies
Beats begins on a heavy note, with August (Khalil Everage) becoming a recluse after the death of his sister Kari (Megan Sousa). With no intention of leaving his room, the soon-to-be discovered hip-hop prodigy stays inside his room producing music to deal with his PTSD and agoraphobia. But everything changes when Romelo (Anthony Anderson), a music manager turned security guard, visits August’s home to try to get him to return to school and ends up hearing what the young teen is capable of. Directed by Chris Robinson, the Netflix film also features Uzo Aduba, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Paul Walter Hauser, Dave East, Seandrea Sledge and Ashley Jackson.
Need a killer flick to pass the time? Keep one eye open for Murder Mystery, a Netflix Original which takes a comedic spin on Agatha Christie’s classic Murder on the Orient Express. Watch how everything unfolds after Nick (Adam Sandler) and his wife Audrey (Jennifer Aniston) unexpectedly find themselves in a modern whodunit after taking up a once-in-a-lifetime vacation opportunity offered by viscount Charles Cavendish (Luke Evans).
Despite leaving for a holiday intended to keep their marriage alive, it seems the couple must first survive their European trip and figure out what to do when they’ve been framed for the murder of an elderly billionaire on a yacht. The other prime suspects responsible for entertaining your night include Gemma Arterton, Adeel Akhtar, Luis Gerardo Méndez, Dany Boon and Terence Stamp.
Isn’t It Romantic
Schedule a date with Rebel Wilson and her new movie, Isn’t It Romantic. It’s a hilarious take on romantic comedies and strikes a jab at some of Hollywood’s most common clichés. The PG-13 rating also creates even bigger laughs, with intimate scenes and fiery language purposefully bleeped out with comical noise and substitutions.
The story begins with Natalie (played by Wilson) being struck by a car and sustaining a head injury, which mysteriously sends her into a parallel universe. After being unlucky in love, she suddenly catches the attention of all the men – including Blake (Liam Hemsworth), a dreamy client who barely noticed her before. The similarly disinterested neighbour also becomes the new best friend. On top of this, her dirty city block is cleaned up with flower beds and cupcake shops!
But to return to her normal life, she needs someone to fall in love with her. With so many men swooning at her feet, this shouldn’t be a problem. But will Natalie get the fairytale ending? Whatever happens, the quirky movie is sure to pick you up off your feet. Other stars include Adam DeVine, Priyanka Chopra, Betty Giblin, Jennifer Saunders and Brandon Scott Jones.
Get the tissues ready because Paddleton is a movie that will pull every heart string you’ve got. Starring Ray Romano and Mark Duplass, the movie follows the friendship of Andy and Mike, but their time together starts to run out. Why? Mike has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and he wants his best buddy to help him end his life before the disease does.
Things kick off when the two men head on a roadtrip to collect the life-ending medication in a quaint town six hours away. The long drive hits a few bumps and Andy isn’t always on board with his friend’s final wish. Although there are a few light moments that make this drama comedy just as heartwarming as it is heart-wrenching.
You’ve seen the memes, but you might be wondering if the record-breaking Bird Box is all its cracked up to be. The Netflix original film stars Sandra Bullock as Malorie, alongside John Malkovich and Aussie icon, Jacki Weaver. The film, based on the novel of the same name by Josh Malerman, takes place in a world where mysterious creatures have decimated the population, as the moment you look at them, you’ll see something that drives you to commit suicide.
To survive, you must stay inside with all windows to the outside blocked out. If you venture outside, you’ll need to be blindfolded and preferably have some birds with you, as they can sense the creatures. While much of the film switches between the past (when the outbreak first happens) and the present (with Malorie taking two children down a river while blindfolded), it’s easy to follow along with and it’s full of twists, turns and ‘aha’ moments. If you enjoy suspenseful, supernatural, post-apocalyptic thrillers, it’s a good one to settle into, even if you just want to understand what all the fuss is about.
Don’t think beauty pageants aren’t a big deal? Willowdean Dixon’s story might prove you wrong. This movie is about a young plus size girl who rebels against her former beauty queen mother, Rosie, by signing up for her mum’s pageant in protest.
The charming coming-of-age film is based on Julie Murphy’s novel, Dumplin’, which primarily explores two common issues many teenagers face: insecurity and body issues. In doing so, the film tackles these topics by rewarding audiences with strong female characters, body positivity, and fabulous drag queens who alone earn the movie a perfect score. Dumplin’s love interest, who is played by Luke Benward, is also claimed to rival other Netflix-born heartthrobs like Peter Kavinsky. Danielle Macdonald stars as Dumplin’, while Jennifer Aniston plays the mother.
You’ll remember Mel Gibson riding a horse around the Scottish countryside, throwing spears at the English, and going on about freedom… Well, Outlaw King is basically the sequel – and an epic one at that! It tells the story of Robert the Bruce (you’ll remember that name for sure) who transforms from ‘defeated nobleman’ to ‘outlaw hero’ during the oppressive occupation of medieval Scotland by Edward I of England.
It’s the year 1304 and the English have seized power in Scotland. But despite grave consequences, Robert the Bruce seizes the crown of Scotland, and rallies an impassioned group of men to fight back against the mighty army of the tyrannical King and his volatile son. Braveheart certainly wasn’t short on violence, but Outlaw King takes it to the next level in places. If you’ve ever wondered what being hanged, drawn and quartered really entailed, you’ll find out. The Scots aren’t just baring their backsides against the English as they did in Braveheart either. The violence goes both ways, and isn’t for the fainthearted.
22 July is the most harrowing movie you’ll watch on Netflix. It seems almost perverse to add it to this list of best Netflix movies, but the fact is it’s a compelling watch. You’ve probably swiped past it on your daily browse of things to watch, and may not even realise what it is. However, a few seconds in, you’ll realise exactly what the film depicts and what’s about to unfold. 22 July tells the story of the terrorist attack on Oslo and the island or Utoya on July 22, 2011. Far-right extremist Andres Breivik is shown preparing for, and then executing, his heinous act of violence, mostly against teenagers who had gathered on the seemingly safe and idyllic island a short drive from the Norwegian capital. Now you remember the story.
The movie is noteworthy for many reasons; it’s graphic violence (the horrors of July 22 are not sugar-coated – far from it); is the movie’s focus on Breivik and his motives appropriate? (it has proven controversial); and should the film have even been made in the first place?
You can decide for yourself after watching, but it’s hard to imagine that all the families of the victims would have been overjoyed about it. The movie also tells the story of some of the survivors, their families and their painful road to recovery, but you can see why this movie hasn’t been received well in some quarters. Judged purely on its merits as a movie, it’s an incredible watch.
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!