The best movies on Netflix (September 2020): 50 of the best Netflix films
The best Netflix movies right now - fantastic movies to stream.
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.
UPDATE: A number of movies new to Netflix have made our best movies on Netflix list, including the fantastic First Man, Peanut Butter Falcon and Deadpool. Some classics have been added, too, including The Blues Brothers and Vertigo.
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 Roma 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.
Need more of a Netflix fix? Then these guides are for you:
- Best horror movies on Netflix
- Best cult movies on Netflix
- Best documentaries on Netflix
- Best crime dramas on Netflix
- Best Netflix UK Shows
- Best Netflix Originals
- Best Netflix stand-up shows
The best movies on Netflix right now
1. The TerminatorWatch now on Netflix
The Terminator is a horror movie. A low-budget, cult one at that and a far cry from where the franchise had found itself. Watch the original again and you'll be surprised at just how grindhouse the film is. Arnold Schwarzenegger is terrifying at the Terminator, while Linda Hamilton's performance as Sarah Connor - the one being targeted - starts off as 'woman in peril' and morphs brilliantly into the heroine that we know and love from the second movie.
2. Reservoir DogsWatch now on Netflix
The film that put Quentin Tarantino’s name on the map, then proceeded to blow a hole through said map with a shotgun. Reservoir Dogs remains a visceral treat with one of the tensest denouements in cinematic history, as a crew of violent criminals pick through the bloody aftermath of a bungled jewellery store heist. The question of who is to be trusted soon becomes secondary to who will get to keep all their body parts.
3. A Quiet PlaceWatch now on Netflix
Starring real-life couple John Kransinski and Emily Blunt (and written and directed by the former), The Quiet Place is one of the tensest horror movies you will ever watch. The premise: monsters that prey on people are roaming the world. They have super hearing so any survivors have to walk around in silence to survive. It's a shame the sequel has been delayed but we're glad the original is now on Netflix.
4. Ex MachinaWatch now on Netflix
Written and directed by the fantastic James Garland (of The Beach and Annihilation fame), Ex Machina follows the story of Caleb (played by Domhnall Gleeson), who wins a contest at work to meet the founder of the company he works for, the reclusive Nathan (played by Oscar Isaac). But all isn't as it seems in Nathan's super fancy and futuristic home in the middle of nowhere. He claims he wants Caleb to test one of his AI creations, but really his motives are much more nefarious. This is a nail-biting sci-fi movie that not only looks fantastic and harks to classic gothic fiction, but poses some interesting philosophical questions about artificial intelligence, consciousness and what it means to be human.
5. The MartianWatch on Netflix now
While there are plenty other sci-fi gems on Netflix we could have chosen - including Looper - we have a massive soft spot for The Martian. Based on the book by Andy Weir (which you can devour in one sitting and is punch-the-air good), the movie sees Matt Damon's Mark Watney stranded on Mars, after his craft crashes. What seems like an impossible place to survive at the beginning starts to look liveable, thanks to Watney's ingenious fixes. Directed by Ridley Scott, this is the director's best work in years.
6. InceptionWatch now on Netflix
A heist movie set in the dream-state mind of someone. That's the basic premise of Inception, a high-concept, high-octane thriller by Christopher Nolan that's tough to understand but fantastic to watch. Leonardo DiCaprio leads the dream bandits who are looking to win big by delving into the subconscious of others. Nolan's next movie Tenet is said to have links to Inception, which makes us even more excited for it
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. Enter The DragonWatch now on Netflix
This movie singlehandedly moved Hong Kong kung-fu cinema away from the cult cinemas and into the mainstream and all thanks to its star, Bruce Lee. The plot is a little hackneyed (a bunch of fighters are brought to an island by a rich stranger and are told to fight each other) but the action is some of the best you will ever see. There's a reason this movie has been rehashed by the world's best action directors and doted upon by Quentin Tarantino - although the Bruce Lee scene in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is a disappointment -it's fantastic fun.
10. The FighterWatch now on Netflix
Director David O'Russel knows how to get performances out of his actors, and Fighter his perhaps his greatest achievement. The movie is about a boxer given a chance to achieve greatness and get out of the shadow of his older brother, who could have been a contender buy has been ravished by drugs. It's a tale of fighters delicately told, with duelling performance by Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale.
11. GladiatorWatch now on Netflix
Gladiator recently turned 20 years old so now is a perfect time to watch the sword and sandals epic. The cast here is just great. Russel Crowe bosses it as Maximus, as does Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus and Oliver Reed is masterful in what is his final role. Ridley Scott’s direction is frenetic, using high frame rate shooting which was new at the time, to bring the action alive.
12. 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.
13. 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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14. The Big LebowskiWatch now on Netflix
The Coen brothers have created the ultimate stoner movie in The Big Lebowski, a sprawling movie that’s part film noir with (literally) baked in black comedy. Jeff Bridges’ Dude is a cult figure now and with good reason - he’s fantastic in the part. But the supporting cast are equally as good, including the slimy Jesus (John Turturro), the picked-on Donny (Steve Buscemi) and the borderline psychotic Walter (John Goodman). And how can we forget Julianne Moore, as the unhinged Maude Lebowski.
15. The Big ShortWatch now on Netflix
Given we may well be slipping into yet another economic crisis, this true story is about the illegal hedge fund traders who shorted the market back in 2008, when many in the US were losing their homes, the people made money betting against the banks. The film is packed with star power, with Brad Pitt, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Christian Bale all starring and it manages to make light work of some heavy subject matter.
16. 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.
17. Monty Python’s The 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.
18. Jurassic ParkWatch now on Netflix
If you haven’t seen Jurassic Park for a while, then the good news is that the effects still hold up some 27 years later. The moment when you see the dinosaurs for the first time is still one of cinema’s finest set pieces and the rest of the movie is an absolute hoot. Unfortunately, it’s (now many) sequels have never lived to the brilliance of the original.
19. Lost in TranslationWatch now on Netflix
When it comes to screen chemistry, not many movies can beat the spark that can be found between Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation. It's a beautiful lo-fi movie, filled with fantastic music and an underlying feeling of alienation and being alone in a strange country. Murray is an actor in Japan doing a commercial, where he meets Johansson - someone who seems to give his life purpose.
20. 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.
21. Gone GirlWatch now on Netflix
Another David Fincher classic. Based on the hugely successful novel by Gillian Flyn, Gone Girl is the twisted tale of a man (Ben Affleck) who is trying to find his missing wife who’s mysteriously disappeared. In a story where nothing is what it seems, Fincher uses sleight of hand in his filmmaking to confuse things further - then everything comes together in a shocking conclusion. This, alongside Zodiac, can be seen as big-budget trials for the atmosphere he created in his crime show Mindhunter.
22. Children of MenWatch now on Netflix
If Contagion is the movie that best sums up the world right now, Children of Men is the chilling near future that will almost definitely happen. The premise is pure sci-fi: people have stopped reproducing for a mysterious reason and no children are being born as a result. Chris Owen becomes embroiled in a situation where he has to protect the one pregnant woman. Directed by Alfonso Cuarón, who went on to win Oscars for both Gravity and Roma, this is one of the best films made in modern times - it’s a masterpiece.
23. 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.
24. 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.
25. 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.
26. The Truman ShowWatch now on Netflix
There is so much about The Truman Show that was ahead of its time. Filmed before the glut of reality TV shows put ordinary lives in the spotlight, the movie showed what can happen to someone when their whole life turns out to be a lie that’s watched by billions. Jim Carrey is sublime here, perhaps offering up his greatest performance . He manages to give Truman enough wide-eyed innocence for you to believe that he has no idea what’s going on, then manages to flip this when everything is revealed. Fantastic stuff.
27. Midnight CowboyWatch now on Netflix
Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman star in this classic 1969 drama about an unlikely friendship between prostitute Joe Buck (played by Voight) and conman Ratzo Rizzo (played by Hoffman). Based on a 1965 novel of the same name, it scooped three Academy Awards when it was first released and is considered one of the best American films ever made.
28. BlackkklansmanWatch now on Netflix
Based on a true, dramatised story, Blackkklansman is about the first black Colorado detective that teams up with a Jewish colleague to infiltrate the Klu Klux Klan. Directed by Spike Lee, the movie is one of his most successful and has the feel of a 70s gritty thriller. By the end you’ll feel the power of Lee’s fiery views on race which mirror what’s still happening in the world right now.
29. 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.
30. 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.
31. Dumb and DumberWatch now on Netflix
Comedy classic Dumb and Dumber may be 26 years old now (wow!) but that doesn't mean it isn't as funny as it was the first time we saw it. Starring comedy duo Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels it's about two friends who go on a road trip to return a briefcase full of cash to its rightful owner.
32. The Social NetworkWatch now on Netflix
The beginnings of Facebook doesn’t sound like the most riveting of stories but it really is, thanks to David Fincher’s fantastic film. We follow Mark Zuckerberg from a geek who wants to get laid, to a geek that wants to rule the world - and it’s fantastic to watch. It’s played like a thriller and Fincher manages to make people typing just as riveting as them fighting for Facebook’s future in the courts.
33. You Were Never Really HereWatch now on Netflix
When a movie by Scottish director Lynne Ramsay arrives, everyone needs to sit up and pay attention. You Were Never Really here is perhaps her best yet. Starring Joaquin Phoenix as an enforcer embroiled in the capture of a teenage girl, it's a slow-moving brutal film that will leave a sour taste in your mouth. Not one for a fun Saturday afternoon viewing then, but make time for it and you will be rewarded.
34. The RevenantWatch now on Netflix
Leonardo DiCaprio finally nabbed an Oscar for his role in The Revenant. It’s not his best role but, blimey, what an endurance test he went through for the movie. The plot is wafer-thin: fur handler DiCaprio is left for dead on the side of the Missouri river. He has to use all his survival instincts to stay alive and find the person who tried to kill him. It may be famous for that bear scene, but there’s so much more to enjoy here - it’s proper epic filmmaking.
35. 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.
36. American PsychoWatch now on Netlfix
American Psycho recently celebrated its 20th birthday and it hasn’t aged a bit. It’s as sharp as ever, thanks to a sublime performance by Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman, the Wall street ‘psycho’ of the title. Director Mary Harron packs a lot into the movie: there’s a constant feeling that Bateman is close to being caught, yet he continues. He’s a symbol in the film - the 80s personified, showing that if someone represented all the greed, power, bad music tastes and everything else from that decade they would, well, flip.
37. 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).
38. 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.
39. 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.
40. WatchmenWatch now (Netflix)
Although we would recommend the directors’ cut, Zack Snyder’s Watchmen movie is a brilliant watch. Yes, it’s flawed but it does enough to make sure the seminal graphic novel isn’t ruined for the big screen - and the emphasis is very much on the graphic here, as he tells a tale of what happens when superheroes are outlawed.
41. UpgradeStream now (Netflix)
Now this is a lot of fun. Upgrade is a low-budget schlock-fest that takes its cues from number of '80s video nasties. There's a lot to like here - it's high concept but fun in the way it takes the story. Don't go in expecting anything epic but you will have fun with this violent revenge flick. Oh, and it doesn't star Tom Hardy but lookalike Logan Marshall Green.
42. Mission: Impossible - FalloutWatch now (Netflix)
The latest and the best Mission: Impossible. Even six films deep, this series gets better and better with Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt on the search for a group of terrorists who plan to detonate nuclear missiles in different places around the world. Henry Cavill and his moustache also star.
43. DeadpoolWatch now (Netflix)
Now he's part of the Marvel world, we may never see the likes of the Deadpool and Deadpool 2 movies again. Yes they are crude but they are also blisteringly funny with Ryan Reynolds nailing the part of Deadpool. Directed by SFX supremo Tim Miller, this isn't one for the kids but definitely one for those who want sex jokes, mixed in with their superhero adventures.
44. The Peanut Butter FalconWatch now (Netflix)
A few years back it was thought Shia Leboeuf's career was dead and buried but he's slowly but surely become one of the most important voices in cinema - The Peanut Butter Falcon proves this, where he plays Tyler, an outcast who trains up Zak, a person with Down syndrome who dreams of becoming a wrestler. This odd couple buddy movie is full of heart, as well as some laughs and heart-string tugging along the way.
45. The Blues BrothersWatch now (Netflix)
Originally a SNL skit, The Blues Brothers ballooned into a cultural moment when it hit the big screen. Jake (John Belushi) is fresh from a stint in prison when he meets up with his brother Elwood (Dan Aykroyd). Together they try and save their orphanage from closing down by forming The Blues Brothers. Packed with blues legends, great songs and some of the best car chases this side of Bullitt, the movie is an absolute joy to watch.
46. VertigoWatch now (Netflix)
Regularly voted the greatest movie of all time, Vertigo is a masterful suspense story that's far darker than people remember. A detective who has retired due to his fear of heights is brought back into a mystery about a friend's wife and gets obsessed in the process. James Stewart is brilliant as the retired cop but it's Kim Novak in dual roles who is standout here.
47. 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.
48. The First ManWatch now (Netflix)
The First Man is a poetic, personal look at Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon. Charting his rise from fighter pilot to astronaut, this is a tale about how men got on the moon and the families and staff that got them there. Ryan Gosling is great as Armstrong and the moment he goes to space is jaw-dropping to watch.
49. 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.
50. La La LandWatch now on Netflix
One of the loveliest movies to come out in recent years, La La Land is a great big throwback to the Hollywood musicals of old. Starring the brilliant Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as two people who fall in love while trying to make it big as an actress and piano player respectively. While it doesn't turn out quite how you expect, the movie is a love letter of sorts to movies.