With thousands of films at your fingertips, browsing the Netflix catalog can feel like a full-time job. If you're feeling a little overwhelmed, take a look at our picks for the 50 best movies currently streaming on the service.
1. The Nice Guys (2016)
Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe co-star in this buddy comedy from Shane Black, who helped pioneer the genre with 1987's Lethal Weapon. PI Gosling and enforcer Crowe team up to find a missing girl in the seedy underbelly of 1970s Los Angeles.
2. Molly's Game (2017)
Idris Elba co-stars alongside Jessica Chastain stars in this Aaron Sorkin-helmed drama about Molly Bloom, the queen of underground poker games that attracted the attention of both big stars and the FBI. Though Sorkin (The West Wing) had long been in demand as a feature writer, this was his first film as a director.
3. Men in Black (1997)
Will Smith is a new agent tasked with monitoring aliens alongside mentor Tommy Lee Jones in this summer blockbuster that spawned two sequels, an animated series, and one reboot.
4. Skyfall (2012)
Someone is sabotaging MI6. Can Bond find him before it's too late? The plot may be worn, but Daniel Craig's third outing as James Bond is widely considered his best.
5. Donnie Brasco (1997)
Al Pacino and Johnny Depp headline this true story of Joseph Pistone, who went undercover in the mafia in 1970s New York. Although his intent is to bring down organized crime, Pistone takes a liking to "Lefty" Ruggiero (Pacino), an aging mobster who may have to pay the ultimate price for Pistone's infiltration.
6. I Care a Lot (2021)
Rosamund Pike and Peter Dinklage co-star in this razor-sharp black comedy about a grifter (Pike) who fleeces the elderly. Complications arise when she picks the relative of a mob boss (Dinklage) as a target. Director and writer J Blakeson said 1997's Jackie Brown and its heroine Pam Grier were one inspiration for the movie.
7. Moxie (2021)
Amy Poehler co-stars in this dramedy about a teen (Hadley Robinson) who expresses herself—and voices her anger at gender imbalances—in an anonymous 'zine she circulates around school.
8. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)
Aaron Sorkin wrote and directed this look back at the true story of anti-Vietnam protestors who came to be known as the Chicago Seven, including Abbie Hoffman, who were arrested at the 1968 Democratic National Convention and charged with conspiracy and inciting riots. While there is some dramatic license taken, Hoffman and Jerry Rubin really did wear judicial robes into the courtroom one day.
9. Point Break (1991)
Keanu Reeves is an eff-bee-eye agent who goes undercover to bust Patrick Swayze's tribe of surfing bank robbers.
10. Clear and Present Danger (1994)
Before John Krasinski, Harrison Ford was Jack Ryan. In this follow-up to 1992's Patriot Games, Ryan discovers a covert CIA operation to destroy a drug cartel. The actor was initially approached for 1990's The Hunt for Red October, but the Ryan role went to Alec Baldwin. Ford was also expected to reprise the part for The Sum of All Fears, but when the script didn't pass muster, it went to Ben Affleck.
11. The Irishman (2019)
Martin Scorsese’s long-in-the-making epic brings together three of the mob genre’s heaviest hitters in Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci. But the story of Frank Sheeran (De Niro), who alleged he befriended and then betrayed union leader Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino), isn’t your typical organized crime movie. It takes its time to examine the toll of a criminal life, from the alienation of Sheeran’s family to the fate that awaits old men no longer capable of resolving their problems with violence. The de-aging effects aren’t always convincing, but Scorsese’s ability to weave a captivating gangster tale remains timeless.
12. Marriage Story (2019)
Director Noah Baumbach drew raves for this deeply emotional drama about a couple (Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson) whose uncoupling takes a heavy emotional and psychological toll on their family. Baumbach has said that his own divorce (from Jennifer Jason Leigh) did not directly inspire the movie, though it's also not completely divorced from it, either. “This movie is not autobiographical," he said. "It’s personal, and there’s a true distinction in that."
13. High Flying Bird (2019)
Steven Soderbergh directs this amiable and offbeat comedy-drama about a basketball pro and his agent (André Holland) who decide to upend the status quo during an NBA lockout and start up their own league.
14. Dolemite Is My Name (2019)
Eddie Murphy ended a brief sabbatical from filmmaking following a mixed reception to 2016's Mr. Church with this winning biopic about Rudy Ray Moore, a flailing comedian who finds success when he reinvents himself as Dolemite, a wisecracking pimp. When the character takes off, Moore produces a big-screen feature with a crew of inept collaborators.
15. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
Fans of the Coen brothers get a trail mix of stories in this anthology set in the Old West. A gunslinger (Tim Blake Nelson) proves to be a little too arrogant when it comes to his skills; an armless and legless man (Harry Melling) who recites Shakespeare for awed onlookers begins to grow suspicious of his caretaker’s motives; a dog causes unexpected grief while following a wagon train. Knitted together, the six stories total are probably the closest we’ll get to a Coen serialized television series that this feature was once rumored to be.
16. Roma (2018)
Alfonso Cuarón’s tribute to his upbringing in 1970s Mexico City tells the story of a housekeeper (Yalitza Aparicio) watching over the children of her employers after their father runs off with his mistress. Cuarón’s film is a living photograph, an intensely personal story that holds no major surprises aside from the sheer craft it took to make it a reality.
17. Paddington (2014)
The loveable and marmalade-gorging bear gets an affectionate live-action/CGI makeover from writer and director Paul King. After leaving his home, Paddington (Ben Whishaw) finds himself in London and under the care of the Brown family, who hope to prevent him from being taxidermied by a villainous Nicole Kidman. Actor Colin Firth was the original voice for the bear but dropped out of the production.
18. Small Crimes (2017)
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) stars in this lean thriller about an ex-cop recently released from prison who finds that his past isn't quite done with him.
19. Monster (2003)
Charlize Theron delivers an Oscar-winning performance as Aileen Wuornos, one of the few (known) female American serial killers. Director Patty Jenkins went on to helm 2017's Wonder Woman.
20. Gladiator (2000)
Russell Crowe stars in one of the great sword-and-sandal epics as enslaved Maximus, who navigates the cruel world of Roman combat so he can enact revenge against Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix).
21. Loving (2016)
Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga star in this true story about an interracial couple in 1950s Virginia who run into the state's oppressive anti-miscegenation laws. What should have been a simple union between two people who love each other turns into a fight for personal liberty before the Supreme Court.
22. Hush (2016)
A Deaf woman who is isolated in a remote cabin finds herself trapped with a killer lurking at her door. Directed by Mike Flanagan (Midnight Mass), there are few frills here—just a well-crafted and time-tested tale of courage up against unexplained malevolence.
23. RRR (2022)
In pre-independent India, a police officer (Ram Charan) and a freedom fighter (Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao Jr.) form an unlikely friendship. Rao is seeking a young girl kidnapped from the Gond tribe by the malicious Governor Scott Buxton and his wife; Charan has sworn to the governor he'll locate his pursuer. unaware it's his new bromance partner. One of the highest-grossing movies in India, RRR throws the kitchen sink at viewers, from man vs. tiger face-offs to set pieces worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster.
24. The Power of the Dog (2021)
Benedict Cumberbatch headlines this slow-burning Western about a rancher who disapproves of his brother's new wife—a distaste that threatens to undermine everything he and his sibling have worked for. Jane Campion, who co-wrote and directed the movie, made Oscar history by becoming the first woman to ever be twice-nominated for a Best Director Academy Award; in March 2022, she became the third woman ever to take home the award (following The Hurt Locker's Kathryn Bigelow and Nomadland's Chloe Zhao).
25. The Harder They Fall (2021)
Jonathan Majors is an outlaw out for revenge against Idris Elba in this kinetic Western that co-stars Lakeith Stanfield and Regina King.
26. Steel Magnolias (1989)
Julia Roberts scored an early hit with this ensemble about a tightly-knit group of Southern women who lean on one another when one of them faces death. Nicole Kidman once appeared in a Sydney version of the stage play the film is based on.
27. Worth (2021)
Michael Keaton stars in this intense drama about an attorney responsible for the legal and emotional burden of placing a monetary value on the lives lost during the September 11 attacks.
28. Collateral (2004)
Tom Cruise takes a rare turn as a villain in this Michael Mann actioner. As hitman Vincent, Cruise enlists cab driver Jamie Foxx into escorting him through a long night of bloody mayhem.
29. Risky Business (1983)
Tom Cruise is a teen who gets a little too wild in his parents' absence in one of the quintessential '80s films. If you remember Cruise dancing in his underwear and sunglasses, you may be experiencing an example of the Mandela Effect.
30. Sorry to Bother You (2018)
Director Boots Riley scored a hit with this satire about a black telemarketer (Lakeith Stanfield) who ascends the corporate ladder by affecting a "white" voice on the telephone. What begins as a biting commentary on capitalism takes a turn into fantasy as Riley deftly navigates a journey through an increasingly surrealistic—yet culturally resonant—landscape. Part of Riley's inspiration for the film was his own experience as a telemarketer for fundraisers.
31. The Mitchells vs. the Machines (2021)
The minds behind 2019's Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse have another winningly irreverent animated film on tap. The slightly dysfunctional Mitchell family has to contend with technology gone awry. To save the human race, they'll have to interrupt their vacation. The movie was such a critical hit that Netflix decided to offer it as a limited theatrical release six months after it began streaming.
32. Passing (2021)
Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga star in this acclaimed feature about two Black women in 1920s New York City who explore their racial identities when they discover they can "pass" as white.
33. Road House (1989)
Patrick Swayze keeps the peace--or tries to--in this cult classic about a philosophical bouncer who agrees to clean up one of the worst dives in Missouri. Co-star Sam Elliott once said he gets recognized for this film more than any other.
34. The House (2022)
A single home is the site of three stories in this strange, winning stop-motion animated feature.
35. Wedding Crashers (2005)
Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson scored a hit with this comedy about two bachelors who prowl for partners at weddings. Bradley Cooper, who plays a jerk, said the role helped get him out of the nice-guy casting prison he had found himself in.
36. The Dirty Dozen (1967)
Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson lead an all-star cast of misfits and murderers who agree to a deal: Their freedom for some Nazi heads.
37. The Imitation Game (2014)
Benedict Cumberbatch headlines this true story about a codebreaker during World War II whose efforts are overshadowed by the hysteria over his personal life.
38. Croupier (1998)
Clive Owen delivers a star-making turn as a downtrodden man who takes up as a croupier at a casino but soon finds himself gambling his life while caught up in a heist.
39. The Highwaymen (2019)
Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson team up for this fact-based action drama about the Texas Rangers assigned to capture notorious outlaws Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker.
40. Ip Man (2008)
Donnie Yen stars as the famed martial artist who taught Bruce Lee the ways of the fist in this Hong Kong hit that spawned several sequels.
41. Rush Hour (1998)
Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker pursue the kidnapped daughter of a Chinese diplomat in Chan's first major American hit. Chan, however, didn't quite understand why the movie resonated with audiences and declared it "terrible."
42. The Hurt Locker (2008)
The Iraq War is the backdrop for this tense drama about bomb disposal experts. Future Avengers Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie co-star.
43. Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)
Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling compare notes on love in this romantic comedy with a clever twist: Emma Stone co-stars.
44. Nocturnal Animals (2016)
Fashion designer Tom Ford directed this thriller about a woman (Amy Adams) who believes her late husband's book holds the secret to a double life better left uncovered. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon co-star.
45. Hell or High Water (2016)
Jeff Bridges is a lawman out to bust brothers and robbers Chris Pine and Ben Foster, who only want to save the family property from foreclosure in this thriller from writer Taylor Sheridan (Yellowstone).
46. Menace II Society (1993)
This unflinching look at life in low-income Los Angeles was a breakout hit for directors Albert and Allen Hughes.
47. She's Gotta Have It (1986)
Spike Lee’s feature directorial debut also sees him playing one of three men under the thumb of Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns). None of them can stand Nola’s gender-reversing approach to casual relationships, and the three hope to goad her into living a monogamous life. Nola, however, wants to pursue happiness on her own terms, not society’s. Lee’s love letter to Brooklyn is still a standout in his filmography, which quickly grew to include 1989’s Do the Right Thing and 1992’s Malcolm X.
48. Synchronic (2020)
A new designer drug hitting the streets changes the lives of two EMT workers (Jamie Dornan and Anthony Mackie) who have the misfortune of running across it in this surprising thriller.
49. Legends of the Fall (1994)
Brad Pitt, Aidan Quinn, and Anthony Hopkins tackle this period drama about love and loss in early 20th century Montana.
50. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
The Monty Python team delivers their best-known work, a silly and sharply satirical feature that uses the King Arthur legend as a springboard for sequences that feature brave-but-armless knights and highly aggressive rabbits. Opening to mixed reviews, it has since become a perennial entry in lists of the best comedies ever made.
A version of this story ran in 2019; it has been updated for 2022.