We get it, there are a lot of good movies on Netflix; so much so that deciding on one (or 25) is no easy task and we end up spending an hour going through our queues and every random genre in the streaming giant’s massive library. To make the most out of our streaming time and maximize our movie-watching time and prevent ourselves from getting caught in the infinite abyss, we’ve put together a list of the best movies on Netflix, with a little something for everyone.
Whether it be new originals like The Mitchells vs. the Machines or modern classics like Lady Bird, Spotlight, and The Social Network, there a ton of good movies to watch on Netflix. Let’s take a look at a couple dozen of the best movies to watch on Netflix as of July 2021.
Air Force One (1997)
When a group of terrorists hijacks Air Force Once, it is up to President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) to get them off his plane before they can carry out their plan. One of the best movies with a subplot centering on the presidential line of succession, Air Force One also happens to be one of the best action movies of the ‘90s.
The Karate Kid (1984)
When Daniel LaRusso is forced to pack up his life and leave the East Coast, he lands in Southern California, where he finds himself the target of the evil Cobra Kai dojo; that is until he learns a few tricks of his own in The Karate Kid.
Boogie Nights (1997)
Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights follows a tight-knit group of porn actors in the 1970s as they experience all the ups and downs that come with stardom in “skin flicks.” One of PTA’s best movies, the 1997 drama is at times hilarious while at others beyond disturbing.
Love Actually (2003)
Celebrate Christmas in July with Richard Curtis’ 2003 romantic comedy Love Actually. Split into multiple intertwined stories about love, loss, and aggressive sweater zipping, this instant classic has a little something for everyone, even for certain ex-heroin addict searching for a comeback at any price.
Midnight Run (1988)
Martin Brest’s 1988 buddy action comedy Midnight Run follows bounty hunter Jack Walsh (Robert De Niro) as he sets out to capture mob accountant Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas (the late Charles Grodin), who has skipped out on his bail. What follows is a cross-country adventure with the mob and FBI hot on their tail.
The Strangers (2008)
One of the most atmospheric and tense horror movies of the early 21st Century, the 2008 psychological horror film The Strangers tells the story of a couple whose stay at a remote vacation home becomes the stuff of nightmares when a group of masked intruders plays a series of sick and twisted games.
Kung Fu Panda (2008)
When the villainous snow leopard Tai Lung (Ian McShane) invades his homeland, Po (Jack Black), a clumsy a kung fu-obsessed giant panda must rise to the occasion and fulfill his destiny. The 2008 Dreamworks animated comedy Kung Fu Panda is a good time for children and parents alike with flashy animation, a great voice cast, and an all-around fun story.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
James Cameron essentially redefined the summer blockbuster with Terminator 2: Judgment Day in 1991, forever changing how we picture big-budget action movies in the process. The sequel to 1984’s The Terminator, this sci-fi action epic sees Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 take on the role of the good guy going up against Robert Patrick's T-1000 to save Edward Furlong’s John Connor in a spectacle that still holds up 30 years later.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) is just trying to enjoy another lazy night in his Los Angeles apartment when a pair of goons rough him up and relieve themselves on his treasured rug. Joined by his closest friends Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) and Donny Kerabatsos (Steve Buscemi), The Dude finds himself in the middle of an intricate plot involving a kidnapping, a dismembered toe, and a group of nihilists in The Big Lebowski.
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
When an unknown yet talented boxer by the name of Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) walks into Frankie Dunn’s (Clint Eastwood) Los Angeles boxing gym looking to be coached by the prolific trainer, the closed-off old-timer is initially reluctant to help out in Million Dollar Baby. That soon passes and the two kindred spirits, alongside Eddie “Scrap Iron” Dupris (Morgan Freeman) pull off the impossible both in and outside of the ring.
The Mitchells Vs. The Machines (2021)
The 2021 Netflix original The Mitchells vs. the Machines follows Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson) and the rest of her dysfunctional family as they embark upon a cross-country road trip that will forever change their lives. Partway through their journey, the family finds themselves in the middle of a global takeover being carried out by a rogue artificial intelligence with an army of robots at its disposal.
Mystic River (2003)
Three childhood friends, forever connected yet torn apart by a shocking event, find themselves facing another crisis when one of their daughters is found murdered in their Boston neighborhood. Clint Eastwood’s 2003 crime drama Mystic River was nominated for six Oscars at the 76th Academy Awards, bringing home two for Best Actor (Sean Penn) and Best Supporting Actor (Tim Robbins).
The 2009 horror comedy Zombieland follows a group of four strangers as they travel the undead American landscape, becoming the closest thing to family each has ever known in the process. Directed by Ruben Fleischer and featuring an all-star cast consisting of Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, and Abigail Breslin, this gory good time of a film stands up 12 years later.
One of the best Kurt Russell movies out there, the 1994 sci-fi action thriller Stargate follows Russell’s Jack O’Neil, a U.S. Air Force Special Operations officer, as he and Daniel Jackson (James Spader), an Egyptologist, lead an expedition to another universe through a powerful and mysterious portal.
Legally Blonde (2001)
There are few, if any, Reese Witherspoon characters more recognizable and well-remembered than Elle Woods in the 2001 comedy Legally Blonde. Witherspoon absolutely owns this movie with her portrayal of a sorority girl who finds the best way to get back at her ex-boyfriend: join him at Harvard Law School. Now we just need to figure out the Legally Blonde 3 status.
Superbad, the 2007 raunchy coming-of-age comedy written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg is one of those movies that you knew was going to become a cultural phenomenon as soon as you saw the first trailer. Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, and everyone else in this all-around amazing cast are on top of their game throughout the movie that’s essentially about two longtime friends trying to make the most of their last shot at being the cool kids for a change.
Shutter Island (2010)
Martin Scorsese is typically known for his hard-hitting and obscenity-filled gangster films, but the Academy Award-winning director isn’t too bad with his branches out. That happens to be the case for the 2010 psychological thriller Shutter Island, which features Leonardo DiCaprio as a broken man attempting to get to the bottom of a mystery at a mysterious and heavily-fortified mental institution.
Uncut Gems (2019)
From the start all the way to the Uncut Gems ending, the Safdie brothers’ 2019 crime drama about a down-on-his-luck gambling addict Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) is one hell of an anxiety-inducing thrill ride. This movie, though remarkable in multiple ways, will leave you on the edge of your seat biting at your cuticles even after the ending credits roll.
When confident yet cantankerous chef Casper (Jon Favreau, who also wrote and directed the 2014 comedy) pushes things too far at his restaurant, he is forced to go on a soul-searching journey with his son and best friend to start a food truck and find out what got him cooking in the first place. Plus, there’s always the grilled cheese scene to help make Chef a must-watch.
David Fincher’s Mank (which was written by his late father in the 1990s) serves a flashy history lesson of 1930s Hollywood (and society as a whole) as experienced by alcoholic and sometimes unlikeable screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) as he writes Orson Welles’ crowning achievement Citizen Kane and deals with the fallout from the people on which his characters were based. This black-and-white affair is classic Fincher but with a “Golden Age of Hollywood” feel to it.
The Death Of Stalin (2017)
With a title like The Death of Stalin you would think Armando Iannucci’s 2017 film would be a more dramatic and deadly affair, and while the movie has its fair share of murders and other violence from the Soviet Union, this is one of the funniest movies to come out in the past five years. Centering on the upper tier of the Soviet state (including performances by Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Jason Isaacs, and Jeffrey Tambor) immediately after Joseph Stalin breathes his last breath, this farcical dark comedy plays out like an episode of Veep but with bigger stakes.
There Will Be Blood (2007)
Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2007 epic There Will Be Blood follows the insanely successful and outright insane oil baron Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) as he goes from a meager silver miner with a broken leg to a power-hungry and obsessive tycoon of the industry with a trail of blood (figuratively and literally) in his wake.
The Trial Of The Chicago 7 (2020)
Aaron Sorkin’s 2020 legal drama The Trial of the Chicago 7 follows the eight activists charged with starting a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago as they fight for their freedom (and rights) in a system that has the odds stacked against them. With outstanding performances from Sacha Baron Cohen, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Mark Rylance, and Frank Langella as the authoritative Judge Julius Hoffman, not to mention the classic Sorkin dialogue, it's not hard to realize why it’s one of the best Netflix movies of 2020.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020)
It is hard to say who is the protagonist and who’s the antagonist in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, but that doesn’t matter to the two leads (played by Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman) as their performances go above and beyond in this 2020 adaptation of a stage play about a high-tempered and heated recording session in 1920s Chicago. The biggest tragedy of this film is the fact that Boseman tragically passed away before he became aware of the universal acclaim his portrayal of Levee Green would receive upon its release.
The Night Comes For Us (2018)
Joe Taslim is the talk of the town following the release of the Mortal Kombat trailer (he plays Sub-Zero, by the way), so now’s the perfect time to watch not only one of the best movies on Netflix but also the most violent: The Night Comes for Us. When Ito (Taslim) decides to save the life of a young girl and turns his back on the deadly Triad, he finds himself on a collision course with his former life. Filled with bone-splitting (and head-splitting) action and a few of the best fight scenes not in The Raid, this can’t be missed.
Pieces Of A Woman (2020)
The release of Pieces of a Woman and its subsequent awards talk has been overshadowed by those Shia LaBeouf abuse allegations, and that’s a shame considering the phenomenal performance by Vanessa Kirby as a woman who finds herself isolated from the world following a home birth gone wrong and emotional and legal fallout from the heartbreaking and earth-shattering event.
Into The Wild (2007)
One of the most tense survival movies based on a true story, Sean Penn’s Into the Wild, follows Emile Hirsch’s Chris McCandless as he goes from a college graduate with nothing but opportunity ahead of him to Alexander Supertramp, a man not of the modern world seeking happiness and freedom even if it puts him in the face of danger (and death).
The Departed (2006)
The Departed explores how sometimes cops and robbers aren’t always too far apart, especially in a city like Boston. With memorable performances by Leonardo Dicaprio as a cop acting like a mobster, and Matt Damon as a mobster acting like a cop, not to mention Jack Nicholson as a criminal mastermind, everyone in Martin Scorsese’s 2006 modern-day Greek tragedy.
Always Be My Maybe (2019)
Even without the ridiculous cameo by Keanu Reeves, the 2019 Netflix original romantic comedy Always Be My Maybe is one of the most refreshing and hilarious movies to come out in the genre in years. Led by Ali Wong and Randall Park, this story of childhood sweethearts who reconnect later in life has everything that we have come to know and love about romantic comedies, with the pair’s chemistry at the top of that list.
About Time (2013)
There are few movies that hit as hard as About Time, and even after all these years, this 2013 comedy still gets me every time. Presented as a standard romantic comedy following a man (Domhnall Gleeson) who has the ability to travel back to any point in his life, Richard Curtis’ film is so much more than that. With a beautiful story about the bond between fathers and children and how there is no easy way out of life’s biggest problems, it’s about time to watch About Time again.
Alfonso Cuarón’s 2018 black-and-white drama Roma follows the lives of domestic workers and the families whose lives they tend to set in 1970s Mexico City. Nominated for 10 Academy Awards (winning three) following its release, Roma is a touching and daunting feat in filmmaking, and helped further cement Cuarón’s place in movie history.
The Social Network (2010)
The Social Network features not only an amazing cast anchored by Jesse Eisenberg’s Mark Zuckerberg but a creative pairing made in cinema heaven with a script by Aaron Sorkin and direction by David Fincher. From the very early days of (The) Facebook to its first brushes with controversy a few years into the platform’s astronomical ascent, this 2010 modern classic grabs the audience in the lightning-fast opening scene and doesn’t let up until the credits roll two hours later.
Nightcrawler? More like Skincrawler, am I right? Seriously, the 2014 thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Louis “Lou” Bloom is unsettling as it is exciting in its portrayal of a freelancing videographer who will stop at nothing, literally nothing to beat out the competition. There’s a level of mania in Gyllenhaal’s eyes throughout this exploration of human depravity that draws you in more than it pushes you away, and I just can’t get enough.
Spotlight, which won Best Picture at the 88th Academy Awards, remains one of the best journalism movies of the 21st Century and perhaps of all time, and there are a myriad of reasons why. The story which was based on true events that sent ripples through the greater Boston area and Catholic church as a whole, the stellar cast, and general feeling of the film have me coming back time and time again.
Lady Bird (2017)
There are few actor/director combinations that work better than Greta Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan, and the 2017 coming-of-age comedy Lady Bird helps make a strong case. Two years before the pair teamed up for Little Women, Gerwig and Ronan told the story of a strong-willed teenager as she struggles with the decision to leave her home and family following high school graduation for a new life in California is filled with teen angst, optimism, and plenty of heart.
This is just a small portion of the best movies on Netflix, as there are literally thousands of decorated films from all corners of the earth. If you want to see all of the good movies on Netflix that are set to come out this year, check out CinemaBlend’s 2021 Netflix Movie Guide.