25 best movies on Netflix to stream tonight

Alright, you want the best of the best? Then we’re gonna give it to you.

After scouring Netflix for the best thrillers, best action flicks, best romantic comedies, best horror movies, best family films, and more, it’s finally time for us to narrow down our streaming suggestions to the best movies, period. That’s right — it’s superhero sagas vs. biopics vs. war dramas vs. musicals vs. comedies vs. so much more. This is the ultimate film list for when you have no idea what you want to watch outside of the general concept of an excellent movie that delivers top-tier performances, a killer script, and an engaging world.

Without further ado and in no particular order, here are the 25 best movies now on Netflix.

1. Inception

Two men in suits fighting in a rotating hallway.

Come on, this is awesome.
Credit: Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock

Christopher Nolan’s soft sci-fi stunner is over a decade old, and it’s safe to say we’ve never recovered from the movie’s ending. (We won’t go into further detail lest you get spoiled or upset!) It’s fair to assume that anyone interested in Inception has seen it by now, but there’s a new generation of moviegoers who haven’t watched Joseph Gordon-Levitt float through a hallway or headbanged to Hans Zimmer’s „Mombasa“ with a face full of popcorn. All these years later, Inception still makes a helluva Friday night movie when you’ve got time to kill. — Alexis Nedd, Senior Entertainment Reporter (*)

How to watch: Inception is streaming on Netflix.

2. Saving Private Ryan

Some movies stand the test of time better than others. Saving Private Ryan is among the very best.

Director Steven Spielberg’s World War II epic stars Tom Hanks as Captain John Miller, a soft-spoken officer and leader who is tasked with an impossible mission. After a gripping intro that recreates the Battle of Normandy D-Day landing in excruciating detail, Capt. Miller and his unit are dispatched to rescue Private First Class James Ryan, the last surviving brother out of the four who were sent off to war.

The nearly three-hour journey amounts to a bloody tour through the sweeping and frequently chaotic battlefields U.S. forces encountered as they arrived in Europe. From strategically overpowering a Nazi-held hill to staging a pitched urban defense against superior forces, Private Ryan offers stirring ground-levels view of the conflict that mix in alongside an equally compelling story. — Adam Rosenberg, Senior Entertainment Reporter

How to watch: Saving Private Ryan is now streaming on Netflix.

3. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

This 2016 adventure about bad egg Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) and his curmudgeonly foster father Hec (Sam Neill) is the kind of eccentric delight that writer/director Taika Waititi specializes in (this time co-writing with Barry Crump, who wrote the original book). 

After losing his foster mother, Ricky flees into the forests of New Zealand, pursued by Hec only to learn that the older man also feels no need to return to civilization. Together they become the wilderpeople, living off the land and evading capture from authorities, including Thor: Ragnarok’s Rachel House. Wilderpeople is equal parts stirring, hilarious, and absurd — a story of found family and adventure that can be loved by all. —Proma Khosla, Entertainment Reporter (*)

How to watch: Hunt for the Wilderpeople is now streaming on Netflix.

4. Lady Bird

Two young women in school uniforms stand in the street.

Bask in the glory of „Lady Bird.“
Credit: Moviestore/Shutterstock

In her solo directing debut, Greta Gerwig serves up a clear-eyed portrait of growing up in the early 2000s. Every detail is note-perfect, from the Dave Matthews soundtrack to the floppy disk drives to the Howard Zinn-loving love interest. What makes Lady Bird really special, however, is the way it showers empathy on everyone in its heroine’s orbit, including her loving but difficult mother. Each and every single character feels like the lead of their own movie. — Angie Han, Deputy Entertainment Editor (*)

How to watch: Lady Bird is now streaming on Netflix.

5. How to Train Your Dragon

Vikings! Dragons! Epic battles! How to Train Your Dragon has it all. This animated fantasy from Dreamworks is a high-flying delight, featuring exceptional animation that will transport you to the village of Berk and the starry skies above. Berk is at war with the dragons who constantly attack them, making killing a dragon a rite of passage for any Berk resident. However for Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel), things are a little more complicated than that. He meets a Night Terror dragon named Toothless and develops a real bond with him, learning that dragons may not be as deadly as they appear. Will Hiccup be able to change years of brutal tradition? You’ll have to ride along with him and Toothless in order to find out. — Belen Edwards, Entertainment Reporter

How to watch: How to Train Your Dragon is now streaming on Netflix.

6. Da 5 Bloods

Mashable’s Adam Rosenberg reviewed Da 5 Bloods in summer 2020, writing: „In the midst of widespread IRL social upheaval that many hope will finally start to undo the trauma wrought by centuries of deeply embedded prejudice, this new movie delivers a powerful sense of perspective.“ Spike Lee’s war film, a keenly impactful meditation on systemic racism, stars Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, the late Chadwick Boseman, and more. — Alison Foreman, Entertainment Reporter

How to watch: Da 5 Bloods is now streaming on Netflix.

7. Sir

First-time feature director Rohena Gera sticks the landing with 2018’s Sir, which only released in cinemas in November 2020 and hit Netflix early in 2021. It’s essential Indian cinema. Tillotama Shome stars as Ratna, a live-in housemaid to upper-middle class Ashwin. Housemaids are common in India, where the film is set, but Ratna and Ashwin develop a slow-simmering and socially unthinkable love. 

With Gera’s writing and direction, this unlikely story never feels forced. The love blooms organically, in furtive looks and hefty silence and the trust they develop as Ashwin recovers from a broken engagement and Ratna tells him about her late husband. The result is a film so soft and stirring that it will stay with you long after it ends. —P.K. (*)

How to watch: Sir is now streaming on Netflix.

8. The Mitchells vs. The Machines

A family of four ride robots through the sky with a rainbow behind them.

The Mitchells are one tremendous family.
Credit: 2021 SPAI

Take your typical family road trip comedy, toss in a robot apocalypse, and top it all off with a heavy smattering of meme-worthy filters, doodles, and GIFs, and you might end up with something like The Mitchells vs. The Machines: a truly fun-for-the-whole-family feature that hinges on whether an artsy teen (voiced by Abbi Jacobson) and her luddite dad (voiced by Danny McBride) can set aside their differences long enough to save all of humanity from being launched into space by Siri Pal.

Come for the jokes about our impending AI-led dystopia, stay for the heart-tugging moments of Mitchell family bonding. Seriously, we might never hear T.I. and Rihanna’s „Live Your Life“ without tearing up ever again. — A.H. (*)

How to watch: The Mitchells vs. The Machines is now streaming on Netflix.

9. Taxi Driver

Directed by Martin Scorcese and starring Robert De Niro, Taxi Driver is the stick by which all neo-noir thrillers are measured. Set in New York City’s late-1970s decline, the story of Travis Bickle and his fluctuating connection to reality remain a legendary triumph in cinema — not to mention an unnerving, nail-biting meditation on tension just as stressful today as it was upon release. — A.F.

How to watch: Taxi Driver is now streaming on Netflix.

10. Creep

In his directorial debut, found-footage genre genius Patrick Brice stars as Aaron, a freelance videographer who accepts a job working for a strange client, played by Mark Duplass. A spectacular combination of comedy and chills, Creep does a lot with a little — delivering a horror gem so good it merited a phenomenal sequel starring Desiree Akhavan that’s also on Netflix. — A.F.

How to watch: Creep is now streaming on Netflix.

11. The Power of the Dog

A man in a cowboy hat.

Benedict Cumberbatch dazzles in „The Power of the Dog.“
Credit: Kirsty Griffin/Courtesy of Netflix

The Power of the Dog is a masterful Western from director Jane Campion — who made history as the third woman to win the award for Best Director. Benedict Cumberbatch dazzles with quiet menace as cowboy Phil Burbank, while his co-stars Jesse Plemons, Kirsten Dunst, and Kodi Smit-McPhee also deliver award-worthy performances. A gorgeous film layered with subtle dangers, The Power of the Dog is proof that it’s Campion’s world. We’re all just living in it. — B.E. (*)

How to watch: The Power of the Dog is now streaming on Netflix.

12. The Social Network

David Fincher’s moody study of Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg may need some serious updating given the political powerhouse the company has become. But as a matter of viewing, The Social Network is as strong as ever. Taking home Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score at the 83rd Academy Awards, this movie remains a quintessentially immersive and entertaining experience. — A.F.

How to watch: The Social Network is now streaming on Netflix.

13. The Exorcist

It’s hard to overstate just how revelatory William Friedkin’s The Exorcist was for 1973 moviegoers.  We’ve all heard the stories of people fainting in theater aisles, but to actually imagine a viewing experience so intense your body nopes the hell out of there? Sounds incredible.

The Exorcist hasn’t aged so well as to give modern viewers that experience; the first act is especially slow with an extended opening archaeology sequence that never fails to put yours truly to sleep. However, tremendously committed performances from Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller, Max von Sydow, and a 14-year-old Linda Blair, paired with some gnarly special effects, make it a timelessly excellent piece of horror. It tells the tale of a little girl taken over by an ancient demon, but you know that already. It’s a classic for a reason. Good luck with that crucifix scene. — A.F.

How to watch: The Exorcist is now streaming on Netflix.

14. Blade Runner

A man in a trenchcoat holding a gun.

Our titular „blade runner“ Deckard.
Credit: Warner Bros./Archive Photos/Getty Images

Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is a sci-fi classic, combining a techno-dystopian future with an engrossing film noir atmosphere. Harrison Ford stars as Deckard, a „blade runner“ tasked with tracking down and killing humanoid replicants. The film takes its time (the pacing can be a little too plodding at times), but the end results are stunning: Striking cinematography, gripping action sequences, and a moving final monologue from Rutger Hauer help cement Blade Runner as one of the greats. — B.E.

How to watch: Blade Runner is now streaming on Netflix.

15. The Edge of Seventeen

This whip-smart and painfully funny cousin of Booksmart comes from writer and director Kelly Fremon Craig. The Edge of Seventeen stars Hailee Steinfeld as Nadine, an anxious and neurotic adolescent still mourning her father. She continues to spiral when her best friend starts ostensibly dating her brother, pushing the friends apart and Nadine even further into solitude and self destruction. Steinfeld is at her most hysterical in every sense of the word, striking the perfect balance in Nadine’s frenzy and unrelenting humor. Craig’s script is confident, with a voice beyond its years and still unabashedly emotional in the way that only youthful emotions are. Woody Harrelson plays reluctant mentor and confidante Mr. Bruner, while Kyra Sedwick plays Nadine’s mother in a layered Lady Bird-esque relationship. — P.K.

How to watch: The Edge of Seventeen is now streaming on Netflix.

16. Marriage Story

Yes, interpretations of Noah Baumbach’s Academy Award-winning film have varied substantially among audiences. But, for the most part, critics agree that the character-driven divorce film saga represents a resonant and important viewpoint in modern relationships. Career-best performances from Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver will turn you into a sobbing puddle while Baumbach’s artful narrative-building slowly makes you whole again. — A.F.

How to watch: Marriage Story is now streaming on Netflix.

17. tick, tick… Boom!

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s feature directorial debut packs a potent musical theater punch from every angle. He brings to life the selective reality and theatrical phantasmagoria of Rent writer Jonathan Larson’s life and career, based on an autobiographical show from 1992.

Miranda, whose In the Heights was spectacularly adapted for film by Jon M. Chu, proves as adept at moving from stage to screen as he does sucking the marrow of his medium. Andrew Garfield fully inhabits Larson, from voice to body to towering, buzzing hair and a frenetic urgency to create — to write, to sing, to matter, as Larson so clearly did to legions of dreamers who followed. — P.K. (*)

How to watch: tick, tick…Boom! is now streaming on Netflix.

18. Monty Python and the Holy Grail

A group of knights stand in a group.

„One, two, five!“
Credit: Moviestore/Shutterstock

There are tons of great Monty Python films to pick from (including Life of Brian, which is also streaming on Netflix), but The Holy Grail holds a special place in our hearts. It’s endlessly quotable, stupidly funny, and captures everything that made this comedy team spectacular. Not to mention it forever changed how we see coconuts, swallows, hamsters, and elderberries. — A.F.

How to watch: Monty Python and the Holy Grail is now streaming on Netflix.

19. Okja

Fall under the spell of Parasite director Bong Joon-ho once more with Netflix’s Okja. When a terrible fate befalls a genetically modified kind of „super pig“ named Okja thanks to the evil Mirando corporation, Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun) will stop at nothing to save her friend and take down Mirando’s CEO Lucy (Tilda Swinton.) — A.F.

How to watch: Okja is now streaming on Netflix.

20. Uncut Gems

Leave it to the Safdie brothers to create what is easily the most panic-inducing selection on this list. Adam Sandler stars in x as a jeweler and gambling addict who must navigate increasingly slippery circumstances to pay off his debts and save his business from ruin. A breakneck ride that never stops, this is over two hours of seat-grabbing agony that pays off. — A.F.

How to watch: Uncut Gems is now streaming on Netflix.

21. Roma

A woman and two children in the backseat of her car.

‚Roma‘ is timelessly beautiful.
Credit: Netflix

The first foreign-language film to win an Oscar for Best Director, Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma greets viewers at the intersection of personal reflection and cinematic excellence. The black-and-white film follows live-in housekeeper Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), an Indigenous woman who works for an affluent family in Mexico City, finding a sense of humanity that is uniquely memorable. — A.F.

How to watch: Roma is now streaming on Netflix.

22. Nightcrawler

In writer-director Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler, Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a strange dude (putting it mildly) who stumbles into the lucrative but not-at-all ethical business of ambulance chasing for a local news station. Deeply fascinating and profoundly disturbing, this eerie journey chews you up and spits you out in a way only the best thrillers can. (For another great Gilroy project, cue up the underrated horror comedy Velvet Buzzsaw.) — A.F.

How to watch: Nightcrawler is now streaming on Netflix.

23. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

If Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom can’t quite escape the rhythms of the stage (it’s based on a play by August Wilson), it’s more than dynamic enough to hold its own as a movie. Set during an eventful recording session in 1927 Chicago, the film is at once a full-throated tribute to the “Mother of the Blues,” a lively celebration of Black culture and its place in history, and a sharp exploration of racial dynamics then and now — not to mention a stunning showcase for its cast, including Viola Davis as the towering legend of the title and Chadwick Boseman in his thrilling, heartbreaking final performance. — A.H. (*)

How to watch: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is now streaming on Netflix.

24. I’m Thinking of Ending Things

A man and a woman in fancy dinner attire.

This one’s trippy in ways you’re not expecting.
Credit: Mary Cybulski/NETFLIX

Emotional demolitions expert/filmmaker Charlie Kaufman destroys audiences once more in the mind-boggling I’m Thinking of Ending Things. Adapted from Iain Reid’s novel of the same name, this cryptically titled psychological thriller follows a woman, played by Jessie Buckley, and her boyfriend, played by Jesse Plemons, on a disturbing visit to his parents’ remote farmhouse. What follows? Well, that depends on who you ask.

A transfixing meditation on art, existence, value, authorship, isolation, and more, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a truly one-of-a-kind experience as profound as it is disquieting. You may not have a great time in this house of abstract horrors (especially when Toni Collette is onscreen doing those classically terrifying Toni Collette things), but it will be a lasting one. — A.F. (*)

How to watch: I’m Thinking of Ending Things is now streaming on Netflix.

25. The Hateful Eight

Netflix has a handful of Quentin Tarantino titles, among them Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight. The latter, a western from 2015 that was controversial for its handling of racism and sexism, stars Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and more in a high-octane action-adventure that is unquestionably well-executed in terms of technique and craftsmanship. Results on your feelings about the story itself may vary. — A.F.

How to watch: The Hateful Eight is now streaming on Netflix.

Need even more streaming recommendations? Mashable Streaming Guides can help. You can find:

Asterisks (*) indicate the entry comes from a previous Mashable list.

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