Netflix UK is absolutely stacked with great movies, as well as a fair few lesser films, which can make choosing your night’s streaming entertainment quite stressful. Here we round up the best films to be found on Netflix right now, to save you the bother of flicking through the entire catalogue.
Netflix, probably the most famous video streaming service in the world, has more visual and audio goodness than your brain could ever hope to absorb. To save you from trawling through guides ridden with spoilers or navigating the Netflix library until you forget why you’re even there, we’ve come up with a guide to our favourite films available to watch on Netflix right now.
Best action and crime movies for a thrilling Netflix night in
Want a bit of action, some tense drama and general thrills? Here’s the Netflix picks for you.
Stand-out performances from the likes of Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe and Kim Basinger, along with some stunning sets and cinematography, really help to bring 1950s LA to life in this Ellroy adaptation. Of course, underneath a thin layer of glitz and glamour, the city’s corrupt and blackened heart beats strongly. This is one of the best period crime movies of all time, with a shocking twist and some truly tense moments.
Finally, we got to see DeNiro and Pacino squaring off as professional criminal and troubled cop. That alone would make this Michael Mann thriller worth a watch, but the action scenes still get you right in the gut, while the cat and mouse antics will have you glued to your screen until the credits roll.
The titular down-on-his-luck hitman, played perfectly by a more grizzled than ever Keanu Reeves, is out of the business and grieving for his deceased wife at the start of the film. That is, until the son of a local gangster steals his car and kills his dog. Wuh-oh. The result is utter carnage, as this movie could have quite happily been called ‘People being shot point blank in the face, over and over’. The body count is high, although the fantastic fight choreography and slick style makes it a fun watch for those with reasonably strong stomachs.
Tom Hanks turns in yet another attention-grabbing performance here, although it’s Barkhad Abdi as a desperate and ruthless Somali pirate who really steals the show here. When Abdi and his ragged band take over a cargo ship captained by Hanks, what follows is one of the most tense and thrilling 90 minutes of recent times.
A Bronx Tale
You probably wouldn’t be shocked to discover that Robert DeNiro’s directorial debut was a gangster flick, set in 1960s New York. However, although DeNiro co-stars in this brilliant tale of loyalty, friendship and both kinds of family, you won’t find him waving any gats at chumps. Instead he puts in a terrific performance as a hard-working, honest bus driving father, who is troubled by his son’s sudden attraction to the local wise guy.
Kurt Russell is on top form as a grizzled sheriff in this ultra-violent western, which sees him leading a small band of brave souls into cannibal territory to rescue some kidnapped locals. Few films are this tense and so utterly gripping, and you can check it our for yourself right now on Netflix.
Okay, maybe Fargo is the superior Coen classic in some people’s eyes. This is another crime flick, although this time with a more serious, desperate tone. You won’t find any cartoonish behaviour here; just some very real, very troubled characters, who come together after William H Macy pays some messed-up criminals to kidnap his wife.
Best Netflix drama movies and documentaries to make you think, cry and generally emote
If you’d rather have some a bit more stimulating than an all-out frag-fest, here’s our selection of favourite Netflix watches.
From the award-winning director of Selma comes this cutting documentary about the mass incarcerations of the African-American population of the US. If you’ve not seen this already, it’ll really open up your eyes. But be warned: you may end up hating America a wee bit, or perhaps even lose all hope in the human race. Brilliant, necessary, attention-grabbing stuff.
This is not a light hearted film, but it is a very good one. Spotlight got Best Picture at the 2015 Oscars. It tells the true story of the Boston Globe journalists uncovering a Catholic church coverup of child abuse that spans far further than anyone knew. Brilliant acting from Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo and more make for a movie that will stay in your mind forever.
The spiritual prequel to News Room, Network is a smart, sweary, cynical look at an American news studio and a crazed news anchor who loses the plot, with unexpected and rather hilarious effects. Despite being 40 years old, it’s lost none of its satirical bite.
The Big Short
As money films go this one is pretty light hearted, funny and compelling. That’s largely down to a great cast with the likes of Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and Christian Bale putting in cracking performances. If you don’t know about the ridiculous events that led to the 2007 financial crisis, this will be a real eye opener too. The question is: were those involved really that dumb, or really that corrupt?
This movie won Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars and tells the tale of the Mexican drug cartels fighting against two vigilante groups on both sides of the border. Start watching to learn about the street-level wars and stay to find out just how high up into government the rotten branches reach. Chilling.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
This documentary is about a simple Japanese sushi chef. Yet it’s awesome. This guy has a waiting list longer than most restaurants can imagine – despite operating a tiny restaurant inside a train station. This shows what true passion and pride in your work is all about – inspiring stuff.
Best scary Netflix films to make you scream
Horror is one of Netflix’s weaker points, yet you’ll still find some suitably creepy scary movies on there.
If you’re a horror film fan, this is pretty solid Netflix viewing. One of the most original and effective horror flicks in recent years, It Follows combines a kick-ass eighties inspired soundtrack with an original story to unsettle and entertain in equal measures. It doesn’t always follow its own movie rules, ironically, but that doesn’t take away from some of the seriously unsettling images.
Super violent and constantly tense, Green Room is a classic case of ‘wrong place, wrong time’. A punk rock band find themselves trapped inside of a grungy bar inhabited by unfriendly locals, after witnessing something rather shocking. Green Room is a brutal watch but one of the best horrors found on Netflix right now.
One of our favourite British horror movies of recent times is definitely The Descent. Claustrophobic, terrifying and also beautifully shot by Neil Marshall, this creature feature grabs you right in the gut and doesn’t let go until the final harrowing scene. If you have Netflix and haven’t seen this shocking movie yet, now’s your chance.
Best Netflix comedy movies to make you laugh
If comedy is what you’re in need of, check out these hilarious
The Young Offenders
A hilarious and heart-warming tale of two young Irish lads making their way across Ireland on stolen bicycles – while being followed by an irked policeman. Light-hearted and charming, this is an original and thoroughly entertaining story told in a fun way.
Big Trouble In Little China
Big Trouble In Little China is a pop culture masterpiece. Blending high-wire stunts, a not-exactly in-shape Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall over a decade before Sex and the City was a thing, along with some truly bone-headed one-liners (“I’m a reasonable guy, but I’ve just experienced some very unreasonable things.”) Big Trouble is an odd and unique product of its time, gleefully cherry picking from martial arts and Wild West tropes with a healthy dose and Chinese mysticism.
It’s perhaps best summed up early on in the film by Victor Wong’s sorcerer Egg Shen: “Chinese religion is all mixed up. Look what we have to work with. Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Chinese black magic… we take what we want and leave the rest. Just like your salad bar.”
Hilarity ensues when Robert DeNiro’s bounty hunter find himself hired to find and return the rogue Mafia accountant Charles Grodin to his bail bondsman. The finding part proves rather easy. It’s the getting him back alive part that’s tricky, as Bobby finds himself fleeing from a hapless rival bounty hunter and the understandably angry mafia boss who was ripped off by Grodin. Genuinely laugh out loud funny and occasionally thrilling, this is one of the best buddy movies from the 80s and highly underrated.
The King of Comedy
Kind of a difficult movie to label with a genre, this one. Martin Scorsese’s brilliant film about desperate wannabe-stand-up-comedian Rupert Pumpkin, played to perfection by Robert DeNiro, is certainly one of their best collaborations. Pumpkin’s increasingly erratic actions in his quest for fame are both jaw-dropping and hilarious.
The Big Lebowski
The Coen Brothers’ best film (in our opinion anyway), this dark-as-night black comedy is so packed with quotable one-liners that we could fill a dozen features by listing them all. John Goodman, John Turturro, Steve Buscemi and Julianne Moore turn in brilliant performances, although it’s Jeff Bridges as ‘The Dude’ (or Dude-arino) who really lights up the screen as a chilled-out bowling maestro who finds himself drawn into a mysterious kidnapping plot, by pure chance.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
Even if you’ve not seen the first film and regardless of your age, this incredibly energetic animation will keep you glued to the screen until the credits roll. Steve the monkey and his caffeine addiction alone are worth the price of admission (nothing, since you’ve already paid that monthly fee).
Inexplicably, this has chalked up just one and half stars on Netflix. Ignore that; Beyond Clueless is a mesmerising hour and a half long ode to the teen movie genre, blending clips from over 200 films, mainly American movies from the mid ‘90s to early ‘00s narrated by none other than Fairuza Balk. Beyond Clueless is the brainchild of Charlie Lyne of Ultra Culture fame who more recently made headlines after he forced the BBFC to watch 607 minutes of paint drying.
The Return of the Pink Panther
The Return is a both return to form for the Pink Panther franchise and for Peter Sellers, who came back to role of the bumbling Inspector Clouseau for the best in the series. In another ‘return’ Clouseau is once again signed up to recover the stolen ‘pink panther’ diamond.
Cue double and triple crossing, slapstick brawling and buffoonery, which nearly results in the destruction of Nice. Burt Kwouk’s Cato appearing from out of nowhere to attack his employer. It should be noticed that while Clouseau’s treatment of Cato is a send-up of racist attitudes, some scenes might not sit well with everyone.
Ninja Vengeance is so bad it goes way beyond the territory of so-bad-its-good. But unlike the recent vogue for deliberately bad monster movies (cheers Asylum) and faux ‘80s throwbacks this is a genuine train wreck of a movie – the yang to Big Trouble In Little China’s yin, if you will.
The premise of Ninja Vengeance is that motorbike-riding loner cruises into a lonely Texan town; while looking for a place to repair his ride, he walks in on a secret Klan meeting and witnesses a murder. Plot twist: the motorbike-riding loner also happens to be a NINJA. In theory, it sounds like it’d be one of the best films ever. In practice… your enjoyment of Ninja Vengeance will depend on whether or not you find cringe-inducing failures funny or not. This is probably best enjoyed/tolerated with mates and at least two slabs of beer.