From Forgotten Love (2023) to Under the Shadow (2016), here are the best movies on Netflix, streaming as of January 14, 2024.
Alright, movie buffs and couch potatoes, gather around! It’s time to dive into some of the best films streaming on Netflix. Now, let’s face it. Scrolling through Netflix sometimes feels like trying to find a needle in a haystack, except the haystack is made of movies, and you’re just really, really indecisive.
Fear not! We’ve done the heavy lifting (or should we say, heavy scrolling?) to bring you the ultimate list of must-watch films on Netflix. From coming-of-age stories to edge-of-your-seat horror and slow-burn thrillers, we’ve got it all. And let’s not forget those tear-jerkers that require a box of tissues on standby – we’re looking at you, romantics!
But this isn’t just any list. Oh no. We’re here to guide you through the highs, the lows, the ‘what on earth did I just watch?’ moments that only Netflix can provide. We’ll tell you why each film is a must-see and maybe share some quirky trivia that you can use to impress your friends at your next (virtual) movie night. So, pop some corn, grab your favorite spot on the couch, and let’s get started.
Best Movies on Netflix
1. Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret (2023)
Kelly Fremon Craig’s second film adapts from Judy Blume’s 1970 classic novel. Set in the 1970s, it revolves around 11-year-old Margaret Simon (Abby Ryder Fortson), who grapples with her parents’ decision to move from New York to New Jersey. She is particularly sad to leave behind her paternal grandmother (Kathy Bates). Despite quickly finding new friends in her neighborhood, Margaret faces the complexities of puberty, sparking new uncertainties. Raised in a household with a Jewish father and a Christian mother, she also begins exploring questions about religion and faith.
Kelly offers an earnest, engaging portrait of adolescence without resorting to tasteless humor and heavy-handed messages. Abby Ryder Fortson’s performance stands out, likely to be remembered as a highlight in the genre of coming-of-age stories. Rachel McAdams is exceptional as Abby’s beloved mother.
2. Forgotten Love (2023)
A beautiful, poignant, sensitively made film about a gifted Polish surgeon who loses his memory but thanks to muscle memory continues to help people in a small village. He expects nothing, charges nothing, leads a farmhand’s life and discovers the love of a rustic woman who takes him in and believes in his extraordinary power to redeem ordinary lives. A brilliant performance embellished with restraint, resilience and stoicism by Leszek Lichota.
A slow-burn, unfussy, life-affirming tale of loss and redemption, the enduring father-daughter bond and the essential goodness in humanity.
3. Society of Snow (2023)
It’s a disturbing film to watch. Cannibalism, to survive, isn’t pretty, or edible (sorry for the pun) but the film is to be seen in the context of anthropology. The sheer will to live, the devouring sheets of snow and the indomitable human spirit becomes an evolutionary study of what men must do when they face extinction, the choices they have to make or is there a choice at all?
Darwinian at one level, kinship and camaraderie at another, Society of the Snow cannot be bracketed into a slot. While the movie is shot with all the drama, desolation and desperation, with death looming large in a corner, no cinematic recreation can capture what the 16 survivors must have lived through. Experience and enactment are a world apart but director J.A. Bayona comes close to merging the two.
The premise may be perverse but perseverance has to climb many a mountain. And the river of life must break through the snow country!
4. The Batman (2022)
Matt Reeves’ ominous and deeply satisfying interpretation of Batman is perfectly in sync with the original comic book vision. Batman is never a conventional family-friendly super-hero. And Matt Reeves only adds more complex layers to the super-rich masked vigilante. Christopher Nolan’s magnificent realist style is taken further and it’s evident in the labyrinthine and gloomy imagery of Gotham City. Reeves turns Batman into a flawed sleuth here, as the comic-book hero attempts to uncover a criminal conspiracy.
5. The Dig (2021)
In 1939, in Sutton Hoo in rural Suffolk, a widowed landowner, Edith Pretty, invited an excavator, a self-taught archaeologist and writer of many books on the subject, to dig burial mounds on her estate. Based on a true story, The Dig is ultimately about human decency and justice for that humble and erudite digger and his landowner who trusted him, saved his life and tried to shine light on him. Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes play their parts with restraint and brilliance, and bring understated dignity to their characters.
6. Da 5 Bloods (2020)
In what is one of the best films Spike Lee tells a layered and complex story of four African American vets who return to Vietnam in search of the remains of a fallen comrade and a secret treasure they hid. Hailed as one of Lee’s most impactful films, Da 5 Bloods goes beyond a regular war film to encompass racial injustices and the sacrifices of war through the prism of black experiences.
7. Tigertail (2020)
A film that depicts the immigrant experience in America, Tigertail is a heartfelt drama of one man’s struggle to come to terms with his childhood memories and everything he has lost in order to grasp an understanding of his current situation. The film sways between the past and present to effectively convey comparisons between his hopes as a child and hardships as an adult, standing out with delicate performances and sensitive details.
8. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)
In 1969, seven conscientious objectors to America’s depredations in Vietnam were picked up by Chicago cops on trumped up charges of inciting riots and conspiracy. What followed was a mockery of justice in the land of the free and the brave, the judge being brazenly biased and incompetent. It was an amoral political trial. And the world watched in rage. What began as countercultural protests in Chicago at the 1968 Democratic National Convention turned into a spooky trial that showed a mirror to the American justice system and the paranoia of the then US government.
Academy award winner, Aaron Sorkin, scripts and directs the story of the infamous trial of The Chicago 7 in this thrilling film. Eddie Redmayne and Sacha Baron Cohen shine like beacons of hope in a bleak world.
9. K.D. (2019)
A feel-good comedy drama that charms you with its wit, humour and a sparkling chemistry between its leads. K.D. chronicles the journey of an innocent, compassionate 80-year old K.D. (Mu Ramaswamy) trying to escape his family when he finds out they’re out to kill him, and the orphaned, witty and affectionate 8-year old Kutty. A gentle, heartwarming story, with characters that tug at your heart, K.D. is sprinkled with life lessons abound without sermonising. A well-narrated effort, the film boasts of brilliant performances from the leads.
10. The Irishman (2019)
Martin Scorsese’s highly anticipated Netflix original gangster epic thankfully lived up to its hype. This sweeping tale of infamous criminal figures hits on themes not usually encountered in gangster genre. Scorsese and Zaillian’s contemplative tone showcases the inviolable connection between crime and politics. Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci’s fantastic performances make this a memorable work in Scorsese’s oeuvre.
11. Marriage Story (2019)
Marriage Story masterfully portrays the complexities of love, marriage, and divorce, delivering a poignant narrative that resonates deeply. Directed by Noah Baumbach, the film features stellar performances from Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, who bring authenticity to their roles. The story navigates the intricate and often painful journey of a couple grappling with the dissolution of their marriage while striving to maintain a family bond. The film’s balanced perspective ensures neither party is demonized, offering a nuanced exploration of relationship dynamics.
12. Roma (2018)
This is the story of Mexico City in the 1970s, of Cuaron’s childhood and the maid that brought him up, and the sisterhood of two women, even with the attendant hierarchy of class, who realise that they are ultimately alone in this world. Roma is an absolute classic that will grow on you. Like vine and slow time. Initially, I was unnerved by its tepid pace and ultra-realistic unfolding but once you get the design, you begin to appreciate the subtle and sublime touches that draw you in. At once mellow, at once intense, it feels like real life and is languorously and aesthetically shot.
13. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
A lush charming film, it reinstates my faith in art and an industry that’s precariously teetering between the allure of a movie hall and the comfort of the drawing room. A timely triumph; wondrously shot Western which is not confined by the screen size of your Netflix device, one that captivates your imagination and extends like the horizons of the pristine west.
14. Sila Samayangalil (Sometimes) (2018)
Priyadarshan’s film benefits from hearty characters and precise observation of the human condition. The storyline is simple. Seven frustrated strangers await their HIV test results and bribe the staff to get them early. Priyadarshan uses an aggravating atmosphere to reflect on the ultra-sensitive social environment. The cast includes Prakash Raj, Ashok Selvan, Sriya Reddy, MS Bhaskar, Shanmugarajan, and Anjali Rao. Unlike most Tamil films, Sila Samayangalil eschews both melodrama and sermonising.
15. Under the Shadow (2016)
It’s a masterful blend of psychological thriller and supernatural horror, set against the backdrop of post-revolutionary Iran. Director Babak Anvari crafts a tense, atmospheric narrative that delves deep into the psyche of its characters, particularly the female protagonist, played with compelling intensity by Narges Rashidi. As a mother struggling to protect her daughter amidst the chaos of war and societal collapse, her performance is both heart-wrenching and powerful. Read: 13 Best Horror Films on Netflix
16. The Meyerowitz Stories (2017)
The perils of old age, the angst of parent-child relationships and the beauty of sibling relationships are beautifully explored. Headlined by two actors known for their slapstick comedy, it is refreshing to see Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller sink their teeth into a serious role. Also starring Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson, the film is staged like a play with long conversations and is one of the better dysfunctional family dramas of the year.
17. Mudbound (2017)
Mudbound is an interesting take on racism in midst of human hopes, dreams, love and friendship. The story of a mother’s sacrifice, a soldier’s dreams and a wife’s struggle to raise her kids is a poignant and touching depiction of war and freedom. What remains with you long after the film is over is that sometimes the ugliest battles are fought not on the battlefield but in our own neighborhood.
18. Udaan (2010)
Udaan explores the life of a budding artist who struggles to survive with the harsh realities of this world. The story is deeply moving and relatable. If you’ve ever harbored a dream and fought to keep it alive, you’ll be able to connect with this film. The realism is almost frightening, there’s no escape. We are thrust into and pitted against the bitter realities of our own world. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, there’s hope even in the face of despair.
19. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Howl’s Moving Castle revolves around Sophie, a young, 18-year old, hat maker whose life changes one day when she comes across the mysterious and handsome wizard Howl. Soon, she falls under a spell cast by Witch of the Waste that turns her into a 90-year old woman. To find a cure for the spell, old Sophie enters as a housekeeper into the wizard’s gorgeous moving castle. Miyazaki mesmerizingly intertwines the journey of Sophie and the deadly adventures of Howl.
These are the 19 best movies on Netflix. Over to you now! What did we miss? let’s talk in the comments below.