Looking for the best Netflix movies in the US? While increased competition from HBO Max and Disney Plus means Netflix isn’t the only streaming service where you’ll find great films in the US in 2020, the biggest streaming service is still a perfect destination for cinema, thanks to its mix of original films and classics licensed from other movie studios.
The best Netflix movies include a bunch of originals, as well as blockbusters like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Casino Royale, alongside prestige pictures like The Master and The Social Network. While many Netflix original movies are not worth watching, in recent years the service has been working with bigger and bigger directors to great effect – including Charlie Kaufman, Martin Scorsese, Noah Baumbach and Alfonso Cuarón, all of which make this list of the best Netflix movies.
These, then, are the 30 best Netflix movies in the US. If you’re an Amazon Prime user, check out our list of the best Amazon Prime Video movies for suggestions on what to watch.
The Devil All the Time
This star-studded adaptation of Donald Ray Pollock’s novel is the latest big Netflix original movie – and it certainly brings it when it comes to the cast. Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Sebastian Stan, Bill Skarsgård, Eliza Scanlen, Mia Wasikowska and Riley Keough star in this gritty small town America period drama. It focuses on the conflicting morality of its citizens, most of which have their own dark secrets and vices, with Holland’s character at the center of it – get ready for a hard watch rife with great performances.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Netflix’s latest big original movie is I’m Thinking of Ending Things, the newest movie from acclaimed, offbeat director Charlie Kaufman, who you’re probably familiar with from movies like Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. A woman (Jessie Buckley) heads off to meet the parents of her new boyfriend (played by Breaking Bad’s Jesse Plemons), but everything seems a little bit off once she gets there and meets his parents (played by Toni Colette and David Thewlis). It’s probably best not to spoil much more than that – but this is a genre-blending, fascinating movie that’s heavy going and very bizarre. You’re likely to enjoy it more if Kaufman’s previous films appealed to you. If not, you might wonder what the hell you’ve just watched…
At the time of publication, the first two Daniel Craig James Bond movies are available on Netflix. The first entry in the rebooted series Casino Royale is still his best, a (mostly) tight and back-to-basics film without any wild gadgets, and a truly nasty villain in Mads Mikkelsen’s sadistic Le Chiffre. With a memorable turn from Eva Green as love interest Vesper Lynd and an absolute gut punch of an ending, this is one of the few Bond movies we can entirely recommend without caveats. Its follow-up, Quantum of Solace – connected in some ways but not a satisfying sequel – is also streaming on Netflix right now.
Nightcrawler is a truly nasty – but compelling – film about a dubious photojournalist (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) who goes out of his way to capture the grizzliest crimes on camera in their immediate aftermath. This film features an outstanding performance from Gyllenhaal as a skeletal, amoral figure, and a matching great turn from Rene Russo as the desperate news director who’ll do anything for ratings. An unmissable film from Dan Gilroy.
Based on a series of articles published by The Boston Globe exposing a child abuse scandal in the Catholic church, Spotlight is a great journalists-doing-stuff movie in the vein of All The President’s Men. With an all-star cast featuring Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Michael Keaton – but all made to look slightly scruffier, because, y’know, they’re journalists – Spotlight was deservedly 2016’s Oscar Best Picture winner.
To tie in with the upcoming Jurassic Park animated show on Netflix, the streaming service is hosting the original trilogy of movies. The second and third films are pretty much a waste of time, but the first is still a classic adventure/horror story of a dinosaur theme park destined to go wrong. What’s remarkable about the original Jurassic Park is how well the effects have held up – a testament to the level of effort and investment placed into Spielberg’s 1993 classic.
Being John Malkovich
A classic ’90s film about toxic masculinity, the novel premise of Being John Malkovich – that there’s a doorway where you can control the actor John Malkovich, in real life – belies just how dark it is. John Cusack plays a puppeteer and all-round abusive jerk who find this place, which peels apart the different flawed elements of his personality, and reveals his obsessive nature. Cameron Diaz plays his mistreated wife, and the film also features a breakout performance from Catherine Keener.
David Fincher’s underrated masterpiece is back on the streaming service, and it’s easily one of the best movies on Netflix. Focused on the hunt for the Zodiac Killer who haunted the San Francisco Bay area in the late ’60s and early ’70s, Jake Gyllenhaal plays Robert Graysmith, a journalist obsessed with tracking the killer down. At times a mystery movie, at other times as scary as a horror film, you can’t miss this if you’ve never seen it. A pre-Iron Man Robert Downey Jr is part of the excellent ensemble cast.
Da 5 Bloods
Spike Lee’s entry in the Vietnam War canon is unlike anything else before it. Focusing on the black American experience of the war, it’s about a group of soldiers who return to the country decades later in their old age to retrieve the remains of their squad captain (played in flashback by Chadwick Boseman). At the same time, they seek out buried gold they left behind years before – though they’re not alone in this pursuit. The movie flips from being a mournful movie about trauma to a bonkers action film with almost no notice, too, but the mix here works.
This is the one of the best new Netflix movies of 2020. Make sure you check it out.
Told in the moments before three major launches in Steve Jobs’ life, this movie is a great companion piece to The Social Network (also written by Aaron Sorkin), even if it’s not quite as good. While some critics called him miscast, Michael Fassbender embodies Jobs so well across three timeframes in his life, and the movie doesn’t pull any punches about the personality of the late Apple mastermind and how he treated other people. There’s a hokey element to Steve Jobs – it’s essentially told through the prism of his relationship with his daughter, Lisa – that makes it feel like you’re watching something that only vaguely resembles the truth. But it’s still incredibly entertaining.
This sweaty-palmed thriller is about Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler), a jeweller and gambler who plans a gem sale that’ll solve all his problems. Instead, Howard makes more and more ill-advised bets, and the walls begin to close in. Uncut Gems is a stressful but enthralling film with a really impressive performance from Sandler, not to mention a fantastic ensemble cast. It’s a fascinating character study, as you watch Ratner begin to suffocate under the weight of his terrible decisions and inability to put anyone but himself first.
Probably the best of Tarantino’s revisionist history-flavored movies (including Inglourious Basterds and the recent Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Django Unchained is an 1800s-set Wild West picture about Django (Jamie Foxx), a liberated slave who joins up and works with the benevolent bounty hunter Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Django’s goal is to save his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), who’s owned by appalling plantation owner Calvin J. Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio in a scene-stealing, nasty performance). This has all the ingredients you want from a modern western.
Scott Pilgrim vs The World
Scott Pilgrim vs The World was Edgar Wright’s first Simon Pegg-less feature film, and while it was a box office flop, this adaptation of the beloved graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O’Malley is great fun on a rewatch. Scott Pilgrim, a guitar-playing nerd and jerk, starts to date the slightly closed-off but sweet Ramona Flowers. Soon after their relationship begins, though, Scott is tasked by Ramona’s abusive former boyfriend to fight all of her evil exes, a gauntlet of douchebags memorably played by the likes of Chris Evans and Brandon Routh.
This is as close to a comic book in motion as you’re ever likely to see in a live-action movie, with fantastic, vibrant set pieces. The comics are slightly better, overall, but isn’t that always the way?
Tragically killed at the San Marino grand prix in 1994, Brazilian Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna never got the chance to add to his three world titles, and become an all-time great. His driving ability was never in question, however, and his exciting, aggressive racing style ensured that he was both hero and villain in the F1 paddock. Amy/Diego Maradona director Asif Kapadia’s excellent 2010 documentary assembles home videos, race footage and expert analysis into a compelling narrative, revealing the man beneath the helmet. Deified in his home country, Senna was an intriguing enigma – there haven’t been any like him since.
This Netflix original action movie isn’t a classic, but it’s top-quality lockdown entertainment. Chris Hemsworth plays the mercenary Tyler Rake, and is sent to retrieve the son of a gang boss, who’s caught in a drug war. It’s familiar stuff, and basically just another riff on Man on Fire, but the action sequences are fantastic. It’s no surprise, given that the film is directed by Sam Hargrave, responsible for some of the MCU’s fight sequences. If you like the idea of long tracking shots where Thor kills a bunch of dudes, watch this. It doesn’t outstay its welcome, and Hemsworth is always an affable on-screen presence.
Among the many Netflix movies available to stream is every single Pierce Brosnan Bond movie. We’d argue that this is the only truly great one. GoldenEye is a post-Cold War Bond picture involving a deadly EMP satellite weapon. Really, though, it’s an excuse for Brosnan’s suave Bond to go up against Sean Bean’s fantastic Alec Trevelyan, the former 006 and James’ old best friend. Director Martin Campbell would later make Casino Royale.
The iconography of GoldenEye is perhaps best associated with the N64 first-person shooter game these days, but the film is great fun in its own right.
Killing Them Softly
Based on the novel Cogan’s Trade, Killing Them Softly is about a group of underskilled robbers who target an organized crime syndicate, before a hired gun played by Brad Pitt is paid to take them out. It features a short but memorable sequence with the late James Gandolfini as an acquaintance of PItt’s character, that’s worth watching the film for alone.
The movie uses the 2008 financial crisis as a framing device, with everyone in the film scrambling for the cash they can get hold of, at a heavy price. Killing Them Softly a very different film from Pitt and director Andrew Dominik’s first collaboration, The Assassination of Jesse James, and it’s a lot funnier than you might think it is based on the premise.
A band plays the wrong gig for a group of Neo-Nazis in a club, and things turn extremely nasty very quickly as they try to survive what happens next. That’s an amazing premise for this high-end cult horror film that you simply need to watch, from Blue Ruin director Jeremy Saulnier. The ensemble cast, including a terrifying Patrick Stewart, Arrested Development’s Alia Shawkat and the late, great Anton Yelchin, is terrific.
The Social Network
David Fincher’s movie about the founding of Facebook is essential viewing, with a sharp script from Aaron Sorkin based on the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich. Jesse Eisenberg portrays Mark Zuckerberg, and we see the social media network’s journey from an eyebrow-raising college project into the money-making, opinion-spitting beast it is now, and the bitter battles it caused between those who claimed to have a stake in it.
The only question, then, is when are we getting a sequel that covers everything that’s happened since then? The Social Network may be Fincher’s best film.
End of Watch
David Ayer, the writer of Training Day, gained enormous acclaim for this buddy cop drama, which is partially framed as a documentary (though it stretches the format to its limit). Those buddies are played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña, and their friendship is traditionally masculine but somehow wholesome at the same time. Well worth watching.
Paul Thomas Anderson is arguably the best filmmaker of his generation, with an enviable run of masterpieces, most recently the mesmerizing and twisted relationship drama Phantom Thread. The Master, starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman as the head of a cult called ‘The Cause’, and Joaquin Phoenix as a veteran who becomes a subject of the cult’s teachings, is another must-see film from the Magnolia director. The relationship between the two is transfixing, and the supporting cast boasts the always-great Amy Adams. When you’re done watching the film, read this essay, which posits the memorable theory that Phoenix is playing a dog throughout the entire film.
Bong Joon Ho’s English-language debut is set on a train carrying mankind’s last survivors in an ice-covered world ravaged by climate change. Like the director’s Oscar-winning Parasite, Snowpiercer is about class divide, with the wealthy at the front of the train, and the poor living at the back under dreadful conditions. Curtis (Chris Evans) leads an uprising against those living at the front. This movie is not for the faint of heart, but it’s a performance from Evans that’s completely against type and really engaging as a result.
If you’ve enjoyed Bong Joon Ho’s Best Picture winner Parasite (and you’ve watched Snowpiercer, discussed above), you might want to check out his last movie, Okja, which is one of the best Netflix originals so far. It’s the bizarre tale of a young girl and her best pal, an enormous creature called Okja. Their friendship is under threat when a nasty CEO (Tilda Swinton) has evil plans for Okja. It’s a refreshing movie with a nice angle of animal activism – a very different proposition to Parasite, for sure, but one that also demonstrates the director’s ability to blend genres.
The last great movie to win the Best Picture Oscar before Parasite, Moonlight follows a boy through three stages of an incredibly difficult life: childhood, his teenage years and adulthood. Chiron has to deal with his own struggles of identity and sexuality, while also contending with his emotionally toxic mother. Mahershala Ali won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as a mentor and much-needed father figure in this picture, but equally great is actor Trevante Rhodes, who plays Chiron in his adult life with a palpable repressed pain.
This threateningly long Scorsese pic attracted attention for the extensive effects work used to de-age its old stars, and it’s a creative decision that’s occasionally distracting. But there’s no denying the appeal of seeing De Niro, Pesci and Pacino in the same movie together for likely the last time, and this life-spanning, extremely rewarding crime epic is a suitable tribute to their collective talents. The Irishman is about the life of Frank Sheeran (De Niro), as he recounts his long association with the Bufalino crime family. It’s arguably the biggest awards play Netflix has ever made, and soon we’ll see if it pays off.
Ensure you’re in the right mindset to watch Marriage Story – i.e. skip this if you’re in the middle of a break-up – because this sympathetic movie about a failing marriage and the resulting fallout can be tough viewing. It’s the latest picture from director Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha), and features actors Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson at the top of their game in what are surely emotionally draining roles. Watch it before it gets memed and gif-ed to death on social media, and you only see Marriage Story as that movie where Kylo Ren cries a lot.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
The first Indiana Jones movie remains the best. It’s a beautifully-made, funny and exciting adventure, deliberately recalling George Lucas’s pulpy favorites from the first half of the 20th century. The entire trilogy is on Netflix US right now (that’s right, trilogy). Don’t stop and think too hard about Indy’s ethos that ancient artifacts belong in a museum, or the fact he dated his former student, or the generally eyebrow-raising stuff in The Temple of Doom. Instead, enjoy the wicked set pieces and the gorgeous locations of these three classics, before they inevitably move to Disney Plus forever someday.
An astonishing ode to motherhood in all forms, Roma is the most personal film to date from visionary director Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Gravity). On paper, Roma is not the easiest sell – a subtitled black and white film about a live-in housekeeper spoken almost entirely in Spanish and the indigenous Mixtec language, Cuarón’s latest is nonetheless riveting from a cinematic standpoint. More a series of vignettes than a traditional three-act story, Roma examines the life of a Mexico City family in the early 1970s during a time of great social upheaval.
Described by Cuarón as 90% autobiographical, the film provides some insight into the famous director’s early life, although the story is witnessed primarily through the eyes of his caretaker, Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), who would become a loved member of the family. One of the most gorgeously photographed films in years, Roma deserves to be seen on the largest screen possible. Shot entirely in 65mm, Roma would make for an ideal theatrical experience. However, if that isn’t an option, you won’t be disappointed by the Roma’s breathtaking 4K Ultra HD presentation on Netflix – just make sure you keep tissues on hand, because it’s very likely you’ll shed a few tears during the film.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
There’s little doubt that Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse is the best animated Spider-Man film ever made but, in all honesty, it might even steal the title as the best Spider-Man movie ever made. A harrowing tale that takes place across universes and timelines, the original Spider-Man Peter Parker must teach a new Spider-Man how to save the world one web at a time. As more Spider-Men (and Spider-Women!) get involved in Miles’ training, everyone involved soon realizes that it’s not the mask that makes the hero, it’s the hero that makes the mask. Inspiring, heart-warming and extremely well-written, Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse is worth the watch.
Always Be My Maybe
You may know Always Be My Maybe’s leading lady Ali Wong from her raucous Netflix stand-up specials but it’s as a successful celebrity chef that she really hits her stride. After a failed engagement Wong’s character Sasha Tran heads to her hometown of San Francisco to setup a new restaurant only to run into her old bff played by Randall Park. Through the turbulence of the relationship, a sudden fling with actor Keanu Reeves and despite the differences in careers, the two try to make it work, and the journey from old friends to lovers is a joy to watch.
Fyre: The Festival That Never Happened
Billed as a luxury music experience on a private island, Fyre Festival was tirelessly promoted by social media influencers – but ended up being a complete and utter disaster, with multiple lawsuits being brought against the promoters. This illuminating documentary explores what went wrong, with some extremely personal accounts from the people who helped create it, and it’s a must-watch.