The Best Films on Netflix Right Now

Even with the streaming company’s sophisticated algorithms, it’s not always easy to decide what to watch on Netflix. The right mood is difficult to find and whether you’re feeling a sober classic like “Schindler’s List” or a heart-warming Disney-Pixar flick like “Coco,” there are options to fit every movie palate. Here are 20 films worth watching to begin your transition into the holidays.

The Irishman

Martin Scorsese’s latest is a long-form epic about the real-life mafia action of the ’70s. Frank Sheeran, truck-driver-turned-hitman played by Robert De Niro, gets involved with the Bufalino family — led by Joe Pesci’s Russell — and Jimmy Hoffa, played by Al Pacino. With three and a half hours of runtime, we recommend settling in with a smooth scotch. — LaTesha Harris


David Fincher’s iconic thriller follows three real-life characters as they attempt to solve the mystery of the Zodiac serial killer in the ’60s and ’70s-era San Francisco Bay Area. San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal), who becomes obsessed with the Zodiac murders, teams with Chronicle journalist Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) and Detective Dave Toschi (Mark Ruffalo), traveling around California to track down the killer. Fincher and his team spent 18 months researching the Zodiac murders, and the film was praised for its historical authenticity, writing, directing and acting. — Erin Nyren

“Rosemary’s Baby”

Popular on Variety

A titan in the history of horror film, Roman Polanski’s “Rosemary’s Baby” features Mia Farrow in her breakout role as a woman who becomes pregnant with the child of the devil after her eerie neighbors turn out to be part of a Satan-worshipping cult. — EN

“Y Tu Mama Tambien”

Alfonso Cuaron’s Mexican road trip film starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, and Maribel Verdu makes you fall in love with its subjects, adding you as a fourth to the film’s love triangle. — Dano Nissen


Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Emma Stone, Seth Rogen, and Bill Hader star in one of the most quintessential high school films of all time. Written by Rogen and Evan Goldberg and produced by Judd Apatow, “Superbad” follows Seth (Hill) and Evan (Cera), two high school seniors and childhood best friends on their way to a party who get sucked into bizarre and random events as their impending separation for college looms overhead. Surprisingly poignant, the raunchy comedy examines masculinity and friendship with an authenticity not frequently seen. — EN


This Academy Award-nominated black comedy follows a group of heroin addicts navigating life amidst a economic depression in Edinburgh. Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Kevin McKidd and Kelly Macdonald star in the cult classic. — LH

“Black Panther”

The first Marvel film to feature a nearly all-black cast and crew, “Black Panther” totaled $700.1 million domestically and became the second highest grossing film of 2018. Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, and Michael B. Jordan star in the film, directed by Ryan Coogler. — EN

“The Witch”

“The Lighthouse” director Robert Eggers’ directorial debut was touted as one of the scariest films of the year in 2015. “The Witch,” set in the 1630s, centers on a family that’s banished from a village over a religious dispute and must make their own homestead up against the forest. Soon, things fall apart as the family is terrorized by a witch who lives in the woods. — EN


The Disney-Pixar film tells the story of a young musician (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez) who goes on an adventure to find his great-great-grandfather in the land of the dead, hoping to find someone to help him pursue his dreams in music. Directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina, this Academy Award-winning film is a fun and colorful take on the cherished Day of the Dead holiday. — DN

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
CREDIT: Sony Pictures Animation

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

Phil Lord’s take on Spider-Man’s origin story, which won the Academy Award for best animated film last year (the first time a non-Disney or Pixar film did so since 2011), stands out from a crowded field of superhero movies with its eye-candy visuals and tender, funny moments. — DN

“Raging Bull”

Martin Scorsese’s film inspired by the famous boxer Jake LaMotta earned two Academy Awards: Robert De Niro won for best actor in a leading role and Scorsese’s longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker won for best film editing. Scorsese explores LaMotta’s violent temper, which led him to the top of the ring while at the same time destroyed the life that he had outside of it. — Lorraine Wheat

“Schindler’s List”

Steven Spielberg’s best picture winner will probably be remembered as one of the most powerful films to portray the horrors of the Holocaust. Spielberg and his talented cast pull no punches in taking on the historic atrocity. — DN


Barry Jenkin’s beautiful coming-of-age film explores black masculinity and homosexuality; rightfully cited as one of the best films of the decade, the three stages of protagonist Chiron’s life unfold on screen. Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali star in this Academy Award best picture winner. — LH

“Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark”

This beloved first installment to the Indiana Jones franchise was directed by Steven Spielberg and written by George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan. A young Harrison Ford stars as Indy, an archaeologist hired by the U.S. government to find the ark of the covenant before Adolf Hitler’s Nazis. There’s action and adventure, plus a romance between Ford’s Indy and actress Karen Allen’s Marion. — LW


Korean director Bong Joon Ho works on a simple premise for his first English-language feature: a rag tag group on a train traversing a post-apocalyptic snowscape must fight their way from the caboose to the front. Highly stylized balletic action sequences provide the entertainment and the political message provides the food for thought. — DN

“Ex Machina”

Alex Garland won the 2016 Final Draft Screenwriters Choice Awards for his script “Ex Machina” in the original screenplay category and went on to direct this science fiction film, which stars Domhnall Gleeson as a young programmer selected to participate in an experiment that evaluates the human qualities of a humanoid machine named Ava (Alicia Vikander). The film examines the definitions of humanity and femininity, becoming a modern-day “Frankenstein” story. — BreAnna Bell

“20 Feet From Stardom”

Director Morgan Neville’s documentary gives voice to the backup singers, finally shining a light on the stories that exist behind the headliners packing the stadiums. Neville features interviews with Judith Hill, who sang backup to Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, and Tina Turner’s backup singer Claudia Lennear. While showcasing the beauty of backup singing, it points to the harsh reality that one needs more than raw talent to be successful in music. — LW


Viewers who missed out on Beyoncé’s iconic 2018 Coachella performance have the chance to experience it as a documentary on Netflix. The film is an intimate look into how the performance developed from concept to cultural movement. Highlights of the documentary include shots of Queen B’s rarely seen twins and Blue Ivy singing with her mother. — LH


Director Ava DuVernay’s Oscar-nominated documentary features interviews with Angela Davis, Cory Booker and Newt Gingrich while providing an in-depth look at how the U.S. prison system is being used today to perpetuate a history of racial inequality. DuVernay’s film became the first documentary ever to be selected as the opening night film of The New York Film Festival. — LW

“Pulp Fiction”

Quentin Tarantino’s pastiche of dime-store crime stories has you hanging out with gangsters and low lifes in between the scenes that usually make it on screen. The oft-quoted dialogue, achronological interweaving stories, and fierce originality galvanized ’90s independent cinema. — DN

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