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Best movies on Netflix (July 2019): 20 films you need to watch right now

Best Movies on Netflix: TechRadar’s round-up of the best films on Netflix’s massive US catalog.

If you’re anything like us, you can spend hours searching for the best movies on Netflix only to come up empty handed two hours later. It’s a whole bunch of wasted time and – if you lead a busy life – it’s a huge time suck.

Thankfully, we’ve done all the searching so you don’t have to.

In an effort to determine the best movies and films on Netflix, we’ve put together a list of the greatest possible films you can watch – curated by TechRadar editors and backed up with ratings from IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes.

To that end, you can find four pages of Netflix’s best films. The films aren’t ranked in any particular order – and will change out over time – but this is a good starting point when you can’t find something to watch.

We’ll try to keep this list as updated as possible each month with the latest must-binge movies – but, if you see something that’s left the service or you have a film that you think is worthy of inclusion on this list, drop us a line.

  • Wanting to watch from abroad? Then you need the best Netflix VPN
  • Don’t miss our guides to the best Netflix movies UK
  • Or the best Netflix movies Australia if you live there instead
  • Are TV shows more your scene? Here are the best TV shows on Netflix!
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1. Roma

Image Credit: Netflix

Genre: Period drama/Foreign film

Who’s it for? Cinema buffs and anyone looking to get a jump on Awards Season

An astonishing ode to motherhood in all forms, Roma is the most personal film to date from visionary director Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Gravity). On paper, Roma is not the easiest sell – a subtitled black and white film about a live-in housekeeper spoken almost entirely in Spanish and the indigenous Mixtec language, Cuarón’s latest is nonetheless riveting from a cinematic standpoint. More a series of vignettes than a traditional three-act story, Roma examines the life of a Mexico City family in the early 1970s during a time of great social upheaval. Described by Cuarón as 90% autobiographical, the film provides some insight into the famous director’s early life, although the story is witnessed primarily through the eyes of his caretaker, Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), who would become a loved member of the family. One of the most gorgeously photographed films of the year, Roma deserves to be seen on the largest screen possible. Shot entirely in 65mm, Roma would make for an ideal theatrical experience. However, if that isn’t an option, you won’t be disappointed by the Roma’s breathtaking 4K Ultra HD presentation on Netflix – just make sure you keep tissues on hand, because it’s very likely you’ll shed a few tears during the film.

IMDB Rating: 8.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

2. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Image Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Genre: Sci-Fi

Who’s it for? Fans of sci-fi based around people named Skywalker.

Love it or hate it, the 8th film in the Star Wars franchise is immortalized in the canon now. It stumbles in parts, slows to a crawl in others, and fails to do what you’d expect. Some might call these the markings of a failed film. But we’d say it’s these traits – this break from tradition – that gave us a Star Wars film that we couldn’t have ever imagined. Beyond simply defying expectations for the sake of it, The Last Jedi grapples with complex themes of morality in a new republic – with minority characters leading the charge as tried-and-true characters are laid to rest. This is jolting for a franchise that’s been dominated by the same few characters for the last two decades but it’s this change that pushes The Last Jedi in a new direction – one in which it can survive without its main heroes. It might not have the nostalgia of the originals or the fast, fun nature of Solo: A Star Wars Story, but sometimes we need to shed the skin tradition to create something new. (Hint: In case that’s lost on you, that’s the exact point that Yoda makes abundantly clear to Luke at the temple.)

IMDB Rating: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

3. Blackfish

Best movies on Netflix

Genre: Documentary

Who’s it for? Activists and folks ready to be exposed to animal cruelty

Blackfish, the controversial nature documentary that follows a misunderstood and often violent killer whale in captivity at SeaWorld, made a huge splash when it was released in 2013. Its story has moved audiences to take action in a way that few other films have ever done, going so far as forcing lawmakers’ hands to introduce legislation that will demand that SeaWorld release killer whales back into the wild. It’s an emotional ride through the highs and lows of the aquatic entertainment industry, one that reveals the real consequences of keeping animals where they don’t belong.

IMDB Rating: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%

4. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Image Credit: Sony Pictures

Genre: Animated superhero film

Who’s it for? Fans of the famous wall-crawler, super heroes in training

There’s little doubt that Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse is the best animated Spider-Man film ever made but, in all honesty, it might even steal the title as the best Spider-Man movie ever made. A harrowing tale that takes place across universes and timelines, the original Spider-Man Peter Parker must teach a new Spider-Man how to save the world one web at a time. As more Spider-Men (and Spider-Women!) get involved in Miles’ training, everyone involved soon realizes that it’s not the mask that makes the hero, it’s the hero that makes the mask. Inspiring, heart-warming and extremely well-written, Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse is worth the watch.

IMDB Rating: 8.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

5. The Theory of Everything

A still from the movie The Theory of Everything

Genre: Romance / Drama

Who’s it for? Empathetic scientists and romance fans

The Theory of Everything is the romance-heavy version of Stephen Hawking’s life. The stars Eddie Redmayne in the role of Hawking who, despite the overwhelming challenge of playing a character with progressive ALS (commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease), puts on an Oscar-worthy performance as the man who solved some of the greatest mysteries around black holes and their lives. While the film glosses over most of the science behind Hawking’s greatest revelations, it does an exceptional job depicting the challenge of providing care for someone whose health is progressively declining. It’s based on source material from Hawking’s first wife, author Jane Hawking and her book Traveling to Infinity.

IMDB Rating: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 78%

6. Always Be My Maybe

Image Credit: Netflix

Genre: Romance

Who’s it for? Fans of romance fans and the one who got away

You may know Always Be My Maybe’s leading lady Ali Wong from her raucous Netflix stand-up specials but it’s as a successful celebrity chef that she really hits her stride. After a failed engagement Wong’s character Sasha Tran heads to her hometown of San Francisco to setup a new restaurant only to run into her old bff played by Randall Park. Through the turbulence of the relationship, a sudden fling with actor Keanu Reeves and despite the differences in careers, the two try to make it work, and the journey from old friends to lovers is a joy to watch.

IMDB Rating: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

7. Schindler’s List

Genre: Drama

Who’s it for? Anyone in need of a lesson in human compassion

This is one of the most affecting movies that you will ever see. Based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, a factory owner who begins to help his Jewish workers during World War II after he sees them persecuted by the Nazi Germans, the movie is a study in brevity. Steven Spielberg manages to find the human stories in the atrocity of WWII without shying away from the true horror of what happened during the conflict. Winner of several Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, Schindler’s List is a film you won’t soon forget.

IMDB Rating: 8.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

8. Beasts of No Nation

Best movies on Netflix

Genre: War Drama

Who’s it for? Joseph Conrad enthusiasts

Beasts of No Nation stars Idris Elba as a war lord, and follows the story of Agu, portrayed by child actor Abraham, who is forced to become a child soldier during the civil war of an unnamed African country. What follows is a nightmare: boys stolen from their families are forced to kill and through blood take their vengeance on the world. It’s a war movie with a profound message, and is probably the closest equivalent of Apocalypse Now that we’re like to see in the 21st century.

IMDB Rating: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

9. Fyre Festival

Genre: Documentary

Who’s it for? Anyone who needs a heaping dose of schadenfreude

Billed as a luxury music experience on a private island, Fyre Festival was tirelessly promoted by social media influencers – but ended up being a complete and utter disaster, with multiple lawsuits being brought against the promoters. This illuminating documentary explores what went wrong, with some extremely personal accounts from the people who helped create it, and it’s a must-watch.

IMDB Rating: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

10. The Dark Knight

Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Genre: Action/Thriller

Who’s it for? Brooding comic book fans

While it’s not quite the visual treat that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is, Batman The Dark Knight is the quintessential super hero film blending the sometimes silly story of the comics with the hyper-realistic tone of Christopher Nolan film. The result is a picture long-remembered for its iconic portrayal of The Joker by Heath Ledger who posthumously won the awards for Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards, SAG Awards, Golden Globes and BAFTAs. If you haven’t seen this masterpiece of a film, now’s the time to watch it.

IMDB Rating: 9.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

11. The Hateful Eight

Who’s it for? Desperadoes looking for a modern masterpiece

There are few directors who have filmographies as celebrated as Quentin Tarantino, and The Hateful Eight only goes to further add to his illustrious career. Based several years after the Civil War in a cabin in Wyoming in the dead of winter, this high-intensity thriller puts a wide variety of suspicious individuals together in the same room, and it’s uncertain whether or not anyone will make it out alive. This film heavily features Tarantino’s masterful use of dialogue and cinematography to really make you feel like you’re part of the action as you suspiciously watch everyone in the room – trying to figure out who is trustworthy.

IMDB Rating: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 74%

12. Bird Box

Who’s it for? Hardworking moms who aren’t afraid of suspense

Horror movies have fallen on hard times. There, I said it. Spending the past decade relying on jump shocks and excessive gore to win over new audiences, it’s rare to find a film as well-made, thought-out and genuinely suspenseful as Bird Box. While the film draws some obvious comparison to 2018’s The Quiet Place, Bird Box pits survivors against post-apocalyptic horrors who cause people to commit suicide when they’re seen. Cue copious blindfolds to keep the monsters out of sight, but never are they out of mind for a mother tasked with ferrying two kids to safety.

IMDB Rating: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 63%

13. Avengers Infinity War

Who’s it for? Marvel super fans and… nihilists, I guess?

Infinity War is a feat of film-making. The Russo Brothers (the film’s directors) were tasked with creating a unified Marvel crossover event with every character from the last 10 years. It’s a big, bold vision for a universe that so innocently began with Iron Man one short decade ago, but it’s woven seamlessly together via a cast of heroes and one singularly misguided villain with the power to wipe out half of all life in the universe. It’s a bit heavy on action sequences but in between all the fighting lies a wonderfully wrought world that’s straight from the panels of Marvel’s comics.

IMDB Rating: 8.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 84%

14. Her

Who’s it for? Anyone looking for love in all the wrong places

While it’s a film that’s almost certainly mocking tech lovers like us, Her is a beautiful look at a lonely man who’s rescued by a futuristic fictional smart assistant. At times a bit heavy-handed with its messaging, Her provides a solid foundation for why human connection is more intimate than machines, even if the latter can remove the awkward initial dating phase using a personalized algorithm.

IMDB Rating: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

15. The Incredibles 2

Genre: Animated Action

Who’s it for? The kids and kids-at-heart in your house

While there’s no shortage of endearing animated films on Netflix (see: Coco, Moana, Spider-Man, etc…) The Incredibles does something none of the others do by building a successful sequel on a fondly remembered original film. The second Incredibles film might not hit the same star status that the original hits, but following the family through their new life as re-instated heroes is as adorable this time around as it was before thanks to Mr. Incredible’s role as a stay-at-home dad. If you need something for the kids and don’t want to sit through the same movie again, The Incredibles 2 shakes things up while building upon the 10-year-old franchise.

IMDB Rating: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

16. Good Will Hunting

Good Will Hunting is playing a game of hide and seek on US Netflix. It’s there one minute and gone the next – but, for now, it appears to have landed semi-permanently on the streaming service. In what is arguably the late Robin Williams’ best performance, Good Will Hunting shows us a brilliant mind robbed of its potential by falling in with a bad crowd, only to be saved by an unconventional psychologist who’s willing to get a bit too personal with his clients. Matt Damon’s character’s transition from broken toy to intellectual aspirant is beautiful behold and is a close second to Williams’ meteoric performance.

IMDB Rating: 8.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

17. The Fundamentals of Caring

Best movies on Netflix

The Fundamentals of Caring is proof that you can take actor Paul Rudd, put him in literally any movie about any subject and he automatically makes it 10 to 20 times better. With any other actor in the leading role, The Fundamentals of Caring – based on the book by Jonathan Evison – would’ve likely had no lasting appeal. And yet, with Rudd behind the wheel of the ship the film becomes a comical road trip movie with a compelling twist that’s one part Eurotrip and two parts 50/50. The stakes here are that Rudd is taking care of an emotionally sheltered, physically handicapped teen whose bark is fiercer than his bite. The friendship the two form ultimately help the other grow out of their shells. It may come off as trite, cliché and over-wrought at times, but if you stick through the saccharine, there’s a well-crafted story here that might melt your heart.

IMDB Rating: 7.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 79%

18. Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Best movies on Netflix

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is the uplifting documentary of one man who never gave up on his … uh, dreams. Jiro became the first three-star Michelin sushi chef in Japan and has been called a national treasure, all the while honing his mantra of being his best self. Jiro’s commitment to his craft that carries the film – but it’s his two sons, both famous sushi chefs like their father that make the film one of the best documentaries ever made. If you’re hungry for a bit of inspiration in an evermore depressing world, pull up a seat.

IMDB Rating: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 99%

19. Coco

With Moana officially off Netflix for the time-being, Coco is the new de facto must-watch animated film on the streaming service. A gloriously colorful romp through a Dia de Los Muertos in the land of the dead, Coco teaches us about the importance of family and the power of chasing your dreams simultaneously. Though it follows all the familiar Disney beats that we’ve come to expect over the years, Coco is well written, wonderfully animated and terrifically acted. You may also find its many catchy songs stuck in your head for days after watching it.

IMDB Rating: 8.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

20. Dallas Buyers Club

This is a movie that was close to not being made. Just as shooting began, funding was pulled and it means that star Matthew McConaughey may have had to drop out, as he needed to put all the weight on he had lost for playing Ron Woodroof, an electrician diagnosed with Aids. Money was found, though, and we’re glad it was as this is a sometimes harrowing but strangely uplifting account of someone who goes to the extra mile to get their hands on an experimental Aids drug that can lessen the effects of the disease. McConaughey is fantastic as the makeshift drug runner while his partner in crime is Jared Leto as Rayon, a trans woman who helps him on his journey. Despite the budget cut, there was Oscar nominations aplenty for the film with it winning Best Makeup. Considering the makeup was done on $250 budget, this is an impress feat.

IMDB Rating: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

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