The best movies on Netflix (May 2022): the best Netflix films
The best Netflix movies right now - fantastic movies to stream.
There is nothing like loading up Netflix with the intention of watching a movie and then getting TOTALLY overwhelmed with the amount of choice available. We have been there, believe us, and that is what prompted us to create this best Netflix movies guide.
UPDATE: We've added a number of new movies to our best movies on Netflix list. They include the superb drama Souvenir, sci-fi fable The Adam Project and the beautiful Blade Runner 2049.
That's right, these are the best movies on Netflix, the great flicks old and new that have arrived on the service recently and are already proving to be popular.
Netflix has made quite the name for itself as a purveyor of top quality, original TV content. But that’s only half the story for the world’s premier streaming service. It’s also a great source of films, from Originals to classics, blockbusters to indie films.
That's one of the main reasons we love the Netflix film library, it may not be comprehensive, but it does turn up its fair share of established cinematic treats. Netflix also seems to be getting better and better at producing its own original movies - you only have to look at The Power Of The Dog and The Irishman to see this.
Here, then, is a round up of some of the best recent additions to the Netflix film library. Do keep in mind that the non-Netflix Originals will likely be on borrowed time, so don’t drag your feet on pressing that play button if you see something you like. Some titles tend to stay on Netflix for years, others are gone within a month or so.
Additional reporting: Becca Caddy
NOTE: The following Netflix movies are available in the UK. We have added other regions where we can.
The best movies on Netflix right now
1. Se7enStream now (Netflix)
Yes, the serial killer in the movie is now more problematic thanks to its actor, but if you can look beyond this then Se7en is a classic of the crime genre. Based on a killer who is offing people using the seven deadly sins, it’s a twisty tale that keep surprising you right up until the horrific end reveal.
2. Monty Python’s Life of BrianWatch now on Netflix
You can take your pick of Python movies as both The Holy Grail and The Meaning of Life are also on Netflix but, for us, The Life of Brian is Monty Python’s absurdist masterpiece. The movie caused controversy when first released but that doesn’t really come through now, given the likes of the South Park crew pushing this even further. But what remains is a fantastically funny movie that shows Python in its prime. Lovely stuff.
3. NightcrawlerWatch now on Netflix
Jake Gyllenhaal shines in the lead role of Nightcrawler as Louis Bloom, a man who records violent scenes and car crashes late at night around Los Angeles before selling the footage to a local TV station. It's a hard-hitting thriller that raises important questions about journalism and the public's desire to be the first to see horrific scenes on their TV. It received widespread critical acclaim when it was released in 2014 and was nominated for an Academy Award.
4. 12 Years A SlaveWatch now on Netflix
Some movies aren't meant to be enjoyed, but experienced. This is one of these movies. Whatever brutality besets those on the screen, just remember that these events happened in real life. 12 Years A Slave is an astonishing piece of work by director Steve McQueen. It holds a mirror up to a part of US (and British) history that should not be forgotten - watch this movie and we assure you that you won't forget it anytime soon.
5. MoneyballWatch now on Netflix
This is old-school filmmaking at its finest. Based on a true story, Brad Pitt stars as general manager of the Oakland As. He needs to build a team, with little money, and decides to ‘moneyball’ the situation - choosing players that aren’t exceptional but they all have certain characteristics needed to make a great team. Jonah Hill also stars as the economics graduate that helps Pitt come up with his analytics. As with all the best sports movies, you don’t need to know a thing about baseball to enjoy this movie.
6. PrisonersStream now on Netflix
Before he ventured into Blade Runner territory, director Denis Villeneuve made this superb, dark thriller about a missing girl and her friend. Hugh Jackman stars as the father who takes matters into his own hands when the police leads lead to nothing. Things get very dark indeed, but this is a brilliant edge-of-you-seat rollercoaster.
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7. ScarfaceWatch now on Netflix
If there was an '80s movie that reeks of the decade it was made, Scarface is it. It is full of excess: Al Pacino’s acting, the coke mountains, the costumes and the houses - all over the top and brilliantly so. It’s perfect for a film that’s about the rise of Tony Montana, an immigrant who, in search of the American dream, leads a lavish life of crime.
8. ContagionWatch now on Netflix
We don't think it's a coincidence that Netflix has added Contagion to its movie catalogue this month – and it's already proving to be a big streaming hit. It turns out there must be something oddly cathartic about watching a movie about a pandemic that has similarities to what we're going through right now – but in actual fact is much worse. Of course you'd expect that from a Hollywood movie about a pandemic. There's great performances here from the likes of Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon and Laurence Fishburne. But having said that, if you're worried about what's happening right now, it might be best to skip this one and check out something lighter instead.
9. Spirited AwayWatch now on Netflix
Perhaps the greatest animation ever made (it's certainly the best thing by Studio Ghibli), Spirited Away is a masterclass of emotions. Filled with the supernatural and the wonderful you have some to expect from anime, the movie focuses on Chihiro, a 10-year-old girl who is unhappy about moving house. It turns out, though, her new home is near something called The Land of Spirits. Beautiful stuff.
10. ZodiacWatch now (Netflix)
If you are a fan of David Fincher’s Mindhunters then you will love Zodiac. It’s like a movie version of the show, with Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr all trying to find out just who the Zodiac killer is. Based on the brilliant book by Robert Graysmith’s fantastic book this is one of the best movies about a serial killer - just don’t go in expecting a conclusion that wraps everything up.
11. The IrishmanWatch now on Netflix.
"I hear you paint houses?" That line sets the scene for The Irishman, an epic 3.5 hour movie that is everything you want from a Martin Scorsese / Robert DeNiro link-up. This is a film about Frank Sheeran, a hitman and his ties to the mob. It spans decades and while the de-aging doesn't always work, this is a movie that demands to be watched on the biggest screen possible - slightly ironic, given many of you will be giving it a spin on your smartphones first.
12. The DigStream now (Netflix)
The Dig is fantastic old-school filmmaking. Based on a true story, it tells the tale of one of the most important archeological finds in the UK of all time and the person person whose land in Sutton Hoo is at the centre of it all Edith May Pretty. Carey Mulligan is superb as Pretty (although it does mean that her age is somewhat skewed as a result) and Ralph Fiennes is great as the archeologist hired for the dig.
13. Uncut GemsStream on Netflix now
One of the most stressful movies you will ever watch, Uncut Gems should come with an anxiety warning. But it is worth it as this is one of the best movies of the year, and some of the best work Adam Sandler has done. The plot is slight: a jeweller tries to pull off something that will make him a whole lot of money - unless it goes wrong and then everything is at stake.
14. The Trial of the Chicago 7Stream now (Netflix)
The Trial of the Chicago 7 is Aaron Sorkin on top form. He writes and directs this true story about the uprising at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. There’s an all-star cast that bolsters the movie but the real star is the dialogue.
15. My Neighbour TotoroWatch now on Netflix
Studio Ghibli classic My Neighbour Totoro is now on Netflix - and will be one of the first of many new Ghibli movies coming to the streaming platform soon. This 1988 animated movie written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki tells the story of two girls (Satsuki and Mei) who befriend wood spirits.
16. WarriorWatch now on Netflix
Gavin O'Connor’s exceptional drama is wrought with emotion, packed with punches and contains a trio of towering performances from Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy and Nick Nolte. The plot is slight: two estranged brothers find themselves against each other after they both decide to compete in an MMA tournament. It’s a sports movie, sure, but there’s enough here for everyone to like.
17. Dolemite Is My NameWatch on Netflix
It's great to see Eddie Murphy back to his best in this biopic of Rudy Ray Moore, a comedian in the 70s who hits the big time with his rude, crude alter ego - a pimp named Dolemite. Moore made a big-screen version of Dolemite, dipping his toes into the blacksploitation movement at the time but he's also seen as one of the forefathers of rap. This movie brilliantly shows off all of this and more.
18. 1917Watch now (Netflix)
A stunning achievement in cinema 1917 is shot like it's one long take, following a young office (George MacKay) as he takes an important message over a World War One battlefield. Along the way it's cameo central, with the likes of Mark Strong, Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch all making an appearance
19. There Will Be BloodWatch now on Netflix
One of the greatest films of modern times, based on the book Oil! it centres on Daniel Plainview, an oil tycoon who is hellbent on becoming the biggest oil magnate in the world. Daniel Day-Lewis is mesmerising as Plainview, as is Paul Dano as baptist Eli. Oh, and so is the magnificent score by Radiohead's Johnny Greenwood.
20. Marriage StoryWatch now on Netflix
Marriage Story is a devastating but poignant look at a marriage slowly breaking up and the effects it can have when there is a child in the picture. This is Noah Baumbach’s latest, and best, drama and is loosely based on the filmmaker’s own divorce experience. It stars Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson and is a must watch (but bring some tissues).
21. The Iron GiantStream now (Netflix)
One of the very best animations of all time sees director Brad Bird create a wondrous film about an Iron Giant (voiced by Vin Diesel) who is befriended while on the run from the US military. There’s echoes of ET in the film but this is based on a story by Ted Hughes which predates Spielberg’s lovable alien. This is Bird at his best - and that is saying something, considering he made The Incredibles.
22. HereditaryWatch now on Netflix
It’s always good when a horror movie transcends the schlock and seediness that the genre pumps out at a regular rate (which is still great, if you are in that sort of mood). Hereditary is brutal and breathtaking - focused on an artist, played perfectly by Toni Collette, whose mother passed away. The death uncovers some shocking truths and even more shocking supernatural goings on.
23. The Mitchells Vs The MachinesWatch now (Netflix)
From the geniuses behind Gravity Falls, The Mitchells Vs The Machines is a fun, frantic look at what technology is doing to the world and how if you stick together as a family things might well be okay. A great mix of animation and some stellar voice acting makes this one a must watch.
24. Don't Look UpStream now (Netflix)
Adam Mckay's satire on environmentalism doesn't hit as hard as it should - boy, we would have loved to have seen someone like Armando Iannucci tackle this one - but there is a lot to like about Don't Look Up. A team of scientists have found that a comet is hurtling to earth and will almost definitely hit the planet. The problem is that the government doesn't want to believe the facts, the general public don't want to believe the facts and everyone is told (literally) 'don't look up'. The all-star cast, including Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, are ace and well worth the watch.
25. MidsommerWatch now (Netflix)
A frankly terrifying look at the Swedish tradition, Midsommar is a high-art horror movie that will get under your skin. Packed with grizzly deaths, bizarre rituals and Florence Pugh in the biggest flower garland you will ever see - this is a brutal, brilliant movie.
26. News of the WorldStream now (Netflix)
No, it isn't about the rise and fall of the British newspaper but News of the Worldis swooping drama focused on a civil war vet that goes from town to town reading the news to people. Along the way he picks up an abandoned girl and tries to get her back to her relatives. Both Tom Hanks and newcomer Helena Zengel are superb, as is director Paul Greengrass' adept eye.
27. SicarioWatch now on Netflix
This tense thriller about border agents and their battle with drug lords is a fantastic watch, with electrifying performances from Emily Blunt and Benicio del Toro. This isn't an easy watch but it is uttery compelling throughout.
28. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindWatch now on Netflix
Even some 18 years on, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind has lost none of its power to stun. One of the most inventive movies in recent years, it's a sci-fi movie about someone who is offered the opportunity to erase bad memories. What ensues is a strange, mesmerising love story.
29. AkiraStream now (Netflix)
One of the greatest depictions of a future dystopia ever committed to film and perhaps the most famous anime ever, Akira is a beautiful and brutal post apocalyptic cyberpunk tale that showcases the events after a future World War (well, in 2019). It’s hard to believe the movie is now over 30 years old as it looks like it could have been made today.
30. RomaStream now (Netflix)
Alfonso Cuarón directed and wrote this fantastic fable about a housekeeper of a middle class family in Columbia. The movie, shot in stark black and white won Cuarón another Oscar, which is utterly impressive given the non actors who appear in the film. The movie is a semi autobiographical and has more heart in its two hour run time than most of the movies you can watch on Netflix right now.
31. Saint FrancesStream now (Netflix)
A raw, funny and truthful look at motherhood, Saint Frances follows Kelly O’Sullivan as someone who gets pregnant by accident and becomes the nanny to six-year-old Frances. There's a big bunch of taboo busting in this movie and it's fresh and exciting because of it.
32. Tick...Tick...Boom!Stream now (Netflix)
An emotional rollercoaster, Tick...Tick...Boom! is the true story of Rent creator Jonathan Larson and his struggle to get a play made that audiences love, all while trying to figure out his own life. It's beautifully told by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Andrew Garfield is utterly mesmerising in the main role. There won't be a dry eye in the house after this one ends.
33. The HuntWatch now on Netflix
The Hunt's US release was mired in controversy. Its release date was shunted after two mass shootings and it never really recovered financially as a result. This is a shame as the movie is a fantastic, nihilistic look at rich people 'hunting' strangers for their kicks. Director Craig Zobel always makes interesting films and this is one of his best.
34. The White TigerStream now (Netflix)
This adaptation of the exceptional novel by Aravind Adiga which won the Man Booker Prize in 2008. The White Tiger centres on Balram Halwai, a village boy who rises from his caste but hides some pretty dark secrets while he does it. As book adaptations go, this is faithful to the text and is a great watch.
35. The NightingaleWatch now on Netflix
Jennifer Kent, the director of The Babadook, decided to focus on a whole new area of horror for Nightingale Clare - that of revenge. Set in 19th Century Tanzania it’s a tough watch, following Aisling Franciosi Clare, a Irish servant, who is sexually abused and assaulted by her boss, Lieutenant Hawkins (Sam Claflin). As retribution, she heads with a black guide to track down Hawkins and his group. What ensues is not for the faint-hearted.
36. Pieces of a WomanStream now (Netflix)
Pieces of a Woman has a central performance by Vanessa Kirby that's nothing short of Oscar worthy. But, be warned, it's not for the faint hearted as she goes through a traumatic pregnancy that's show in a heart-wrenching 23-minute sequence. The rest of the film shows the aftermath of what happens and is a devastating but compelling watch.
37. Blade Runner 2049Watch now on Netflix
While Dune has cemented Denis Villeneuve as one of the best directors around right now, Blade Runner 2049 had already proved how adept he is at adapting classic sci-fi fare.
38. I’m Thinking of Ending ThingsStream now (Netflix)
Charlie Kaufman movies are always unconventional and brilliant and I’m Thinking of Ending Things is of no exception. The movie is conventional enough in its plot - a woman (Jessie Buckley) spends time with her boyfriend’s family after the weather turns bad. But what ensues is an exploration of the mind and all the complications that come with this.
39. Army of the DeadWatch now (Netflix)
God it's brainless, man it's an hour too long, but Army of the Dead is also a fun movie that see Zak Snyder creating an amazing world where the dead have taken over Las Vegas and a group of mercs are flown in to raid a vault of all of its money. Even if you just watch the credit sequence on this one, it's well worth your time.
40. The Adam ProjectWatch now on Netflix
Not all Netflix original movies work but we have a soft spot for The Adam Project, an old-school family sci-fi movie that gives its own unique twist to time travel. Ryan Reynolds is a fighter pilot who travels back in time to help save the world with his 12 year old self and late father.
41. Ma Rainey’s Black BottomStream now (Netflix)
Sadly this is the final film of Chadwick Boseman, who died of cancer in 2020. But what a film it is, based on the play of the same name by August Wilson. Based on the life of Ma Rainey (Viola Davis), an under-appreciated but hugely influential blues singer. The movie is set, mostly. in the confines of a recording studio but its themes of race and racism echo what was happening in 20s America at the time.
42. The SouvenirWatch now on Netflix
Joanna Hog used her own experiences at film school to create this story of a young women who embarks on a career as an artist, but her relationships with her mother and new love are costing her. The sequel to this movie is out now, so it's well worth catching up on this brilliant first film.
43. The Lost DaughterStream now (Netflix)
You could watch The Lost Daughter with 10 people and all of you will come out with a different interpretation of what happened - as is the brilliance of the movie. Directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal (her debut), it focuses on Olivia Coleman, a college professor who goes on holiday and starts to see similarities in her relationship with her daughter (in the past) with what is happening with another woman in the present. The film isn't afraid to show that unequivocal love doesn't always happen between parents and their children.
44. Yes. God, YesWatch now on Netflix
This is a decent stab at a coming-of-age story that has a focus on the coming, thanks to Alice (Natalia Dyer) having a sexual awakening that makes here start to question her Catholic faith. This film is lean, at just 77 minutes so it breezes by with a fantastic central performance by Dyer.
45. His HouseWatch now on Netflix
Netflix has got something of a gem with His House. It's a scary film, focus on a haunted house of sorts that an immigrant family moves into. But the horror doesn't start there but within the system of trying to make a life for themselves in the UK. This really is a pertinent must watch.
46. BabyteethStream (Netflix)
There is no better actress than Eliza Scanlen right now and she is fantastic in Babyteeth, where she is an ill teenager that falls in love with a drug dealer. It's an eccentric high-school romance that superbly played out. Ben Mendelsohn is also great as her psychiatrist father.
47. The Power Of The DogWatch now on Netflix
A masterful movie that has been given a lot of Oscar love, and for good reason. Jane Campion has created a western that's all about identity, both physical and sexual. This is a taut psychological thriller that will stand the test of time - and if there is a better performance by Benedict Cumberbatch, then we are yet to see it.
48. The VigilStream now (Netflix)
Netflix has a decent amount of chilling horror on its roster right now and The Vigil is definitely one of the scariest. It focuses on a possession of sorts that happens when a man is watching over a deceased lady, as per the Hasidic Jewish faith. It's set over one night and is filled with dread and jumps.
49. MankWatch now (Netflix)
A thrill ride through 30s Hollywood, Mank is David Fincher at his finest, offering up a love letter to the movies and using every inventive trick to make you think that you are in that period. At its heart, the movie is about a bed-ridden, rather obstinate, Herman Mankiewicz, the writer of Citizen Kane. Throughout we see the Hollywood system at work, shot with a deft eye that homages the 30s brilliantly. Fincher here is actually directing his late father's script. He doesn't just do it justice, but has created a classic in the process.
50. Da 5 BloodsWatch now on Netflix
Spike Lee's latest joint is one of his best movies. Delroy Lindo heads up a fantastic cast, in a film which sees four black army veterans return to Vietnam to find the remains of their squad leader (played by Chadwick Boseman). Shot in differing aspect ratios, with numerous flashbacks, the movie tackles black discontent, both in the Vietnam war and now. Given what's happening in the world at the moment, there is no better time to watch this movie.
Need more of a Netflix fix? Then these guides are for you:
- Best horror movies on Netflix
- Best Netflix hidden gems
- Best documentaries on Netflix
- Best crime dramas on Netflix
- Best Netflix UK Shows
- Best Netflix Originals
- Best Netflix stand-up shows