A Visual Guide to All 37 Villains in the Batman TV Series

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

Here they all are with a little extra Bam! Pow! Zap! for good measure. 


SEASON 1 (EPISODES 1, 2, 11, 12, 23, 24, 31, 32), SEASON 3 (EPISODE 2) 

The quintessential (and first) Batman villain to star in the 1966 series, Frank Gorshin would end up playing The Riddler in all of the character’s appearances in the series except for a two-episode span during season two when John Astin stepped into the green tights.



Perhaps best known for playing Gomez Addams in The Addams Family, John Astin donned The Riddler’s costume for a short two-episode arc during Batman’s second season.


SEASON 1 (EPISODES 3, 4, 21, 22, 33, 34), SEASON 2 (EPISODES 17, 18, 27, 28, 37, 38, 39, 42, 43, 44), SEASON 3 (EPISODES 1, 4, 5, 20)

Burgess Meredith’s portrayal of The Penguin may be the most iconic of the entire series (at least in appearance). With his purple top hat, monocle, and long cigarette, Meredith’s Penguin appeared in more Batman episodes (20) than any other villain. 


SEASON 1 (EPISODES 5, 6, 15, 16, 25, 26), SEASON 2 (EPISODES 21, 22, 37, 38, 39, 47, 48, 57, 58), SEASON 3 (EPISODES 10, 16, 17, 24)

Second only to Burgess Meredith as The Penguin, Cesar Romero appeared in Batman as The Joker in 19 episodes in total. Known for his bright green hair, stark white makeup, and wide smile, Romero’s Joker would become one of the show’s most memorable villains. The actor famously refused to shave his signature mustache and you can see it under the white face paint particularly well on the high-definition transfers included on this Blu-ray box set. 



Appearing as Mr. Freeze for only two episodes during the show’s first season, George Sanders's Mr. Freeze was quite low-tech compared to the getups that Otto Preminger and Eli Wallach would wear during season two. When he did eventually don his signature suit, Sanders looked more like an astronaut than a villain with super freezy powers. 



Legendary, groundbreaking director Otto Preminger (Laura) took over the role of Mr. Freeze for two episodes during Batman’s second season and gave perhaps the most bizarre (and cool) performance of the three actors that would play the character.



Eli Wallach played the frigid villain for the final two episodes of season two. His Mr. Freeze, who discovered an instant ice formula, is easily the most mustache-twirlingly and villainous of the three versions. For many fans, his version is also the most memorable.



The great Anne Baxter (All About Eve, The Ten Commandments) played Zelda the Great in a two-episode arc that includes the kidnapping of poor Aunt Harriet. This isn’t, however, the last time fans would see Baxter on the series ... 



Screen and stage veteran David Wayne played The Mad Hatter in four episodes spread over two seasons of Batman. The villain, who is obsessed with getting his hands on Batman’s cowl, concealed a Super Instant Mesmerizer in one of his many hats in an attempt to get the job done. The Dynamic Duo, of course, had other plans. 



Malachi Throne was a staple of geek TV throughout his career: He made appearances in Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Lost in Space, The Six Million Dollar Man, Babylon 5, and many more nerd-centric shows. We don’t even really get to see his recognizable face in Batman, however, as he played a villain named False Face, who looked different nearly every time we saw him.


SEASON 1 (EPISODES 19, 20), SEASON 2 (EPISODES 3, 4, 10, 29, 30, 33, 34, 40, 41, 49, 50)

Appearing in 13 Batman episodes over the show’s first two seasons, Julie Newmar’s Catwoman tussled with The Dynamic Duo more than any other female villain in the series. Not only did her appearance on the show make her the object of many a young man's affections, but it also helped establish the general look of the character on-screen for years to come.


SEASON 3 (EPISODES 14, 16, 17)

Julie Newmar left some mighty big paws to fill when she didn’t return to the role of Catwoman for Batman’s third season. But, if you’re going to try to fill them, you might as well do it with a legend like Eartha Kitt. The singer, actress, and all-around dynamo donned the catsuit and purred her way into the hearts of Batman fans everywhere.

Lee Meriwether played Catwoman in the 1966 movie.


SEASON 1 (EPISODES 27, 28), SEASON 2 (7, 8, 53, 54), SEASON 3 (6, 23)

Ever the performer, Victor Buono’s over-the-top performance as Batman original villain King Tut earned him appearances in eight separate episodes over the show’s three seasons. The actor reportedly loved playing the character because it allowed him the opportunity to overact, one of the aspects of the character that makes King Tut so beloved (and if there’s ever a place to overact, the Batman series was a great place to do it). 



Between film, TV, and theater, Planet of the Apes star Roddy McDowall’s resume is a mile long—so it should come as no surprise that he was able to sneak in two episodes as an original villain named Bookworm on Batman. Committing crimes inspired by literary works, Bookworm was created for the show, but would later come to figure in the Batman comic books as well. 



Once you realize that The Honeymooners veteran Art Carney is playing Batman villain The Archer in the first two episodes of the show’s second season, you should immediately know that the character is mostly going to be played for laughs. Based on the classic Robin Hood character, The Archer did his own brand of robbing the rich to feed the poor along with two henchmen (and one henchwoman) cleverly named Maid Marilyn, Big John, and Crier Tuck. 



Minstrel only appeared in two season-two Batman episodes, but he’s a tough one to forget because Van Johnson’s performance is so mesmerizing. The villain was about as milquetoast as one gets—he abhorred violence and sang songs about the crimes he had committed (or was about to commit)—but it’s still hard to get Minstrel out of your head.



Season two villain Ma Parker was all about Shelley Winters's hilariously evil performance. Full of bravado and a pun a minute, the character was a simple country mother who has an affinity for powerful guns. Along with her three sons Pretty Boy Parker, Machine Gun Parker, and Mad Dog Parker, and one daughter named Legs Parker (that Ma really couldn't stand), they gave The Dynamic Duo a run for their money.



Tony Award-winning actor Walter Slezak suited up as Clock King for two season-two episodes of Batman using an antique clock to loot a jewelry store before Batman and Robin are on his tail. Though Clock King actually had pretty deep roots in the DC Comics universe, this version was a wonder all its own with Slezak’s trademark expressions and villainy leading the way. Oh, and one really big hourglass.


SEASON 2 (EPISODES 13, 14), SEASON 3 (EPISODES 8, 9, 15)

It’s hard not to love Vincent Price’s hilariously campy portrayal of Egghead during five episodes in Batman’s run. With his signature white and yellow suit and enormous bald head, Price overacted to perfection as the extremely intelligent, eggcentric (get it?) villain. The character had a lair decked out with bacon and egg drawings on the wall and tossed laughing and tear gas eggs at his foes. Egghead is, quite possibly, the most lovable of all Batman villains.



For two episodes, the piano virtuoso played both Chandell (the piano player) and his twin brother Harry (who, it turns out, is the real villain here), and the results were a lot of fun. If only we could have seen Liberace play more villains throughout his career, TV would have been a far more interesting place. 


SEASON 2 (EPISODES 23, 24, 42, 43, 44)

Here’s a bit of cool trivia for you: Carolyn Jones, who played the diamond-loving villainess Marsha, Queen of Diamonds in five season-two Batman episodes, also played Morticia Addams in ABC’s The Addams Family. We already told you about John Astin’s connection to that series, but there’s also a brief appearance by Ted Cassidy (who played Lurch in that show) during one of Batman’s iconic Batclimbs. How’s that for synergy!



Clearly a spoof of the classic 1953 Western movie character Shane (from the movie of the same name), Cliff Robertson’s villain Shame appeared in four Batman episodes with two different posses. In the first, he was joined by Okie Annie (Joan Staley)—an obvious riff on Annie Oakley—and, in the second, he had Calamity Jan (Dina Merrill) by his side.



Not to be confused with The Riddler, Maurice Evans as Puzzler also liked to keep Batman and Robin confused with clever puzzles, word games, and tricks. He was often seen reciting Shakespeare and had a thing for aviation. According to Wikia, Puzzler’s appearance only came about because Frank Gorshin no longer wanted to play The Riddler during season two, so the show slotted Puzzler into these two episodes instead. Of course, John Astin would play The Riddler later in season two and Gorshin would return to the green tights in season three.



Portrayed by veteran actor Michael Rennie, Sandman’s two-episode appearance during Batman’s second season was often overshadowed by the fact that he was working alongside the beautiful Julie Newmar as Catwoman. But fans should give the shifty Dr. Somnambular his due—the guy did have sleep powers after all!



Roger C. Carmel’s performance as Colonel Gumm is mostly remembered for the villain’s penchant for wearing pink, being surround by pink, and being obsessed with stamps. The real memorable thing about Colonel Gumm’s two-episode arc, however, is the fact that the episodes featured crossover appearances by Green Hornet (Van Williams) and Kato (Bruce Lee).



The most tragic thing about the great Tallulah Bankhead’s fantastic performance as season two villainess Black Widow in Batman is the fact that it would be her final on-screen role. Decked out in her signature black and red outfits, the character was unforgettable—whether she was stealing from a bank or hanging out in her stunning spider-themed lair. 



Siren, played by Joan Collins, began her entrance into the world of Batman as a bit of a sidekick in The Riddler’s devious plan to take over Gotham City’s boxing game. By her second episode, however, the singing Siren made a plan to uncover Batman’s true identity all by herself. Memorable for her beauty, luxurious outfits, and her ability to mesmerize men with her high-octave tunes, Siren made an indelible mark on the series in the span of only two episodes. 



Despite the charming and talented Ethel Merman’s performance, Lola Lasagne was one of Batman’s least interesting and memorable villains. For one, her weapon of choice was the parasol. Secondly, she mostly played in the shadows of one of the show’s most memorable villains, The Penguin. If it weren’t for Ethel Merman, we might not remember Lola at all.



Louie the Lilac, on the other hand, made a huge mark on Batman by being such a bright, colorful character (with such a recognizable face behind it) that two episodes are more than enough to make fans remember him. There’s a whole lot of Milton Berle himself in Louie’s demeanor, even down to the actor’s signature cigar, which is part of what makes the character (created specifically for the show) work. Louie the Lilac also went on to appear in five episodes of the animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold



Remember how we told you that Zelda the Great would not be the last you’d see of Anne Baxter in Batman? That’s because she’s the show’s only guest villain to ever return to play a different villain on the show later. This time around, she portrayed Egghead’s main squeeze, Olga, Queen of the Cossacks. The showy villainess mostly sat back while Egghead and his henchmen took care of business, but she’s a memorable character nonetheless. 


SEASON 3 (EPISODES 11, 12, 13)

The coolest thing about Lord Marmaduke Ffogg (who appeared in three episodes as the co-villain alongside his sister Lady Penelope Peasoup) was easily his Pipe of Fog. All the venerable lord had to do is light that thing up and the room would start to fill with a white, puffy smoke—perfect to conceal his getaway. Played by Rudy Vallee, the villain also wore a special cast on his foot to make people think he had the gout and was, therefore, incapable of pulling off his crimes. Clever man.


SEASON 3 (EPISODES 11, 12, 13)

Though Lord Marmaduke Ffogg appeared to be the main villain in this three-episode arc, his sister Lady Penelope Peasoup actually came across as more interesting and charismatic. Despite being relegated to mostly taking charge of the female criminals in their charge, Lady Penelope (played by Glynis Johns) makes her mark on the series.



It’s almost a shame that someone as talented as Barbara Rush (It Came from Outer Space) was saddled with another of Batman’s least memorable villains. In her one appearance on the show, Nora Clavicle used her wits and charm to convince Mayor Linseed to give her the Commissioner job, which is all part of a devious plan to destroy Gotham City and collect on an insurance claim. How did she plan to do it, though? With mechanical mice. Since she replaced the police force with housewives, they’re all afraid of mice. Pretty sexist, right? Ahh, those crazy 1960s. 



It’s a shame that Batman didn't really let Dina Merrill’s Calamity Jan be much more than arm candy for their western spoof villain Shame, but at least the actress does the best she can with the material she’s got. Calamity Jan came across as adorable and silly, but just smart enough to probably be able to ditch Shame and bring Batman and Robin to their knees. Sadly, we’ll never know if that’s true since she’s mostly playing second fiddle to Cliff Roberston’s Shame. 



Ida Lupino helped pave the way for female directors of our time, so it should come as no surprise that she was very much the leading power in the villainous duo that headlines Batman’s penultimate episode. Dr. Cassandra Spellcraft comes from a long line of female alchemists, but she’s determined to be the only successful one. So she uses her power to bring down the Bat. Or tries, at least. She’s a bright, colorful character in many ways, but the way she puts her silly husband Cabala in his place is the very best thing about her.



After a few episodes that featured female villains mostly relegated to storylines dominated by male power (Nora Clavicle and Calamity Jan), it was great to see one where the man completely and utterly does anything he can to make his wife happy. Played by Howard Duff, Cabala is less a villain and more a sidekick to Dr. Cassandra Spellcraft. He’ll do anything to please her, calls her “Doccy Baby,” and can often be caught checking himself out in the mirror rather than plotting villainous schemes.



Batman’s final villain is also one of its most glamorous. Played by Zsa Zsa Gabor, Minerva opened a health spa in Gotham City and used her Deepest Secret Extractor to run amok. She’s pulling off robberies left and right, and even Alfred gets involved going undercover to help The Dynamic Duo. What makes Minerva so memorable, however, is the star power of Gabor. Sure, she’s mostly just said “Darlings…” a lot, but her appearance as the platinum-dressed villainess will likely never be forgotten. 

All images courtesy of Warner Home Video unless otherwise noted.

6 Protective Mask Bundles You Can Get On Sale

pinkomelet/iStock via Getty Images Plus
pinkomelet/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Daily life has changed immeasurably since the onset of COVID-19, and one of the ways people have had to adjust is by wearing protective masks out in public places, including in parks and supermarkets. These are an essential part of fighting the spread of the virus, and there are plenty of options for you depending on what you need, whether your situation calls for disposable masks to run quick errands or the more long-lasting KN95 model if you're going to work. Check out some options you can pick up on sale right now.

1. Cotton Face Masks; $20 for 4

Protective Masks with Patterns.

This four-pack of washable cotton face masks comes in tie-dye, kids patterns, and even a series of mustache patterns, so you can do your part to mask germs without also covering your personality.

Buy it: $20 for four (50 percent off)

2. CE- and FDA-Approved KN95 Mask; $50 for 10

A woman putting on a protective mask.

You’ve likely heard about the N95 face mask and its important role in keeping frontline workers safe. Now, you can get a similar model for yourself. The KN95 has a dual particle layer, which can protect you from 99 percent of particles in the air and those around you from 70 percent of the particles you exhale. Nose clips and ear straps provide security and comfort, giving you some much-needed peace of mind.

Buy it: $50 for 10 (50 percent off)

3. Three-Ply Masks; $13 for 10

Woman wearing a three-ply protective mask.

These three-ply, non-medical, non-woven face masks provide a moisture-proof layer against your face with strong filtering to keep you and everyone around you safe. The middle layer filters non-oily particles in the air and the outer layer works to block visible objects, like droplets.

Buy it: $13 for 10 (50 percent off)

4. Disposable masks; $44 for 50

A batch of disposable masks.
Odash, Inc.

If the thought of reusing the same mask from one outing to the next makes you feel uneasy, there’s a disposable option that doesn’t compromise quality; in fact, it uses the same three-layered and non-woven protection as other masks to keep you safe from airborne particles. Each mask in this pack of 50 can be worn safely for up to 10 hours. Once you're done, safely dispose of it and start your next outing with a new one.

Buy it: $44 for 50 (41 percent off)

5. Polyester Masks; $22 for 5

Polyester protective masks.

These masks are a blend of 95 percent polyester and 5 percent spandex, and they work to block particles from spreading in the air. And because they're easily compressed, they can travel with you in your bag or pocket, whether you're going to work or out to the store.

Buy it: $22 for five (56 percent off)

6. Mask Protector Cases; $15 for 3

Protective mask case.

You're going to need to have a stash of masks on hand for the foreseeable future, so it's a good idea to protect the ones you’ve got. This face mask protector case is waterproof and dust-proof to preserve your mask as long as possible.

Buy it: $15 for three (50 percent off)

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

The 45 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now

Adam Sandler stars in Uncut Gems (2019).
Adam Sandler stars in Uncut Gems (2019).

With thousands of titles available, browsing your Netflix menu can feel like a full-time job. If you're feeling a little overwhelmed, take a look at our picks for the 45 best movies on Netflix right now.

1. Uncut Gems (2019)

Adam Sandler is Howard Ratner, a gambling addict who sees opportunity in every game and in every customer who walks into his Diamond District jewelry store. When NBA player Kevin Garnett insists on taking a rare opal out on loan and giving his championship ring as collateral, Howard can't resist the urge to use it as fuel for his vice. Directed by Josh and Benny Safdie, the film has been called among the best of Sandler's career. —Jake Rossen

2. 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. —JR

3. Marriage Story (2019)

Director Noah Bambauch drew raves for this deeply emotional drama about a couple (Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson) whose uncoupling takes a heavy emotional and psychological toll on their family. —JR

4. 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. —JR

5. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

When Marvel promised a comic book film of unprecedented scale with Avengers: Infinity War, they were not messing around. This film, one of 2018’s biggest, was the culmination of a decade of planning, casting, and cinematic storytelling all pulled into one massive movie event. It would be impressive for its ambition and scope alone, but it’s also perhaps the best attempt yet to tell a comic book crossover story on the big screen. —Matthew Jackson

6. 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. —JR

7. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Spider-Man may have been in the middle of a Disney and Sony power struggle, but that didn't stop this ambitious animated film from winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature at the 2019 Academy Awards. Using a variety of visual style choices, the film tracks the adventures of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), who discovers he's not the only Spider-Man in town. —JR

8. 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. —JR

9. Okja (2017)

If you didn’t think the adventure of a young girl and her super pig could make you pump your fist in the air, it’s time to check out this quirky firecracker from Parasite director Bong Joon-ho. Thought-provoking and breathtaking? That’ll do, super pig. —Scott Beggs

10. Green Room (2016)

Here's a film that starts with an uncomfortable arrangement (a young punk band has booked a gig for a den of Nazi skinheads) and descends from there into expertly crafted cold-sweat terror. Though it's primarily a siege scenario, the band barricading themselves in the dressing room after witnessing a skinhead-on-skinhead murder, the story goes in more directions (figuratively and geographically) than you'd expect. Writer-director Jeremy Saulnier never lets it get stagnant. He barely lets you catch your breath. —Eric D. Snider

11. Hell or High Water (2016)

Taylor Sheridan's Oscar-nominated Hell or High Water follows two brothers (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) who take to bank robberies in an effort to save their family ranch from foreclosure; Jeff Bridges is the drawling, laconic lawman on their tail. —JR

12. Moonlight (2016)

Barry Jenkins’s trailblazing film, which won the Oscar for Best Picture, chronicles the life of Chiron (Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes) as he grows up under the burden of his own and others’ responses to his homosexuality. It’s a stirring portrait anchored by phenomenal performances (including an Oscar-earning turn from Mahershala Ali). —SB

13. Swiss Army Man (2016)

Vibrant, effervescent, and deeply weird, Paul Dano stars in this musical collage as a depressed loner stranded on an island until he finds a talking, farting corpse played by a very post-Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe. They save one another and, together, attempt to get back to civilization while singing the praises of Jurassic Park. —SB

14. The Witch (2015)

Delicately crafted with an eye toward historical accuracy, this existential horror film focuses on a New England farming family in the wilds of 1630 who believe a witch has cursed them. Anya Taylor-Joy’s standout performance acts as a guide through the possessed-goat-filled insanity. —SB

15. The Lobster (2015)

Colin Farrell stars in a black comedy that feels reminiscent of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's work: A slump-shouldered loner (Farrell) has just 45 days to find a life partner before he's turned into an animal. Can he make it work with Rachel Weisz, or is he doomed to a life on all fours? By turns absurd and provocative, The Lobster isn't a conventional date movie, but it might have more to say about relationships than a pile of Nicholas Sparks paperbacks. —JR

16. Room (2015)

A woman (Brie Larson) is held captive by a deeply disturbed man for seven years. During that time, her son (Jacob Tremblay) has never experienced the outside world. That kind of set-up is usually reserved for thrillers, but Room is not as interested in Larson’s potential escape as much as it is in her courage giving her son sanctuary in an unsafe space. Larson won an Academy Award for the role. —JR

17. Ex Machina (2014)

Alex Garland's quiet—and quietly subversive—robot parable didn't arrive with all the hype of a major studio sci-fi release, but still manages to outdo most big-budget android tales. As the enigmatic CEO of a robotics company, Oscar Isaac uses an underling (Domhnall Gleeson) to test his eerily lifelike AI (Alicia Vikander). But Gleeson may be the one who's really being tested. —JR

18. Locke (2013)

The camera rarely wavers from Tom Hardy in this existential thriller, which takes place entirely in Hardy's vehicle. A construction foreman trying to make sure an important job is executed well, Hardy's Ivan Locke grapples with some surprising news from a mistress and the demands of his family. It's a one-act, one-man play, with Hardy making the repeated act of conversing on his cell phone as tense and compelling as if he were driving with a bomb in the trunk. (Oscar-winner Olivia Colman and her fellow Fleabag co-star Andrew Scott, a.k.a. "The Hot Priest," are two of the people whose voices we hear on the other end of the line.) —JR

19. Snowpiercer (2013)

Years before Bong Joon-ho made Oscar history in 2020 with Parasite, he adapted French graphic novel Le Transperceneige into Snowpiercer (which was recently turned into a television series with Jennifer Connelly). In a dystopian future—in sci-fi, there may not be any other kind—a train carrying cars separated by social class circles the globe. Soon, the have-nots (led by Chris Evans) decide to defy authority and get answers from those in charge. —JR

20. Enemy (2013)

Jake Gyllenhaal has an uneasy feeling that his exact double—a man who looks like him but is substantially more successful—is intruding on his own life. The Gyllenhaal collision is the foundation for this psychological thriller from director Denis Villeneuve, who offers no pat answers but an effective undercurrent of dread. —JR

21. Under the Skin (2013)

Scarlett Johansson explores alien seduction as a being from another world who arrives on Earth to pursue companionship. Unfortunately, she prefers short-term commitments. This erotic sci-fi drama was nominated for Best British Film at the BAFTA awards, the British equivalent of the Oscars. —JR

22. Her (2013)

The perils of falling in love with artificial intelligence are at the core of Her, which features a terrific performance by Joaquin Phoenix as a rumpled office worker who finds his soulmate in something without a soul: An Alexa-esque disembodied voice (Scarlett Johansson). —JR

23. The Master (2012)

Director Paul Thomas Anderson delivers a steady but absorbing tale of a World War II veteran (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls under the spell of a charismatic philosopher (Philip Seymour Hoffman) whose teachings soon become the focus of a cult movement. Both Phoenix and Hoffman were nominated for Academy Awards. Of the films he’s directed, which include 1997’s Boogie Nights and 2004’s There Will Be Blood, Anderson has said The Master is his favorite. —JR

24. Drive (2011)

On paper (like in the pulp novel it's based on), Nicolas Winding Refn's tale of a taciturn getaway driver whose life spins out of control is familiar. But on the screen, the combination is uniquely intoxicating—a fresh, lurid, melancholy neo-noir with a hint of existential crime thriller and, for some reason, an '80s-ish techno-pop soundtrack. Spinning its uncommonly entertaining yarn out of perilous characters and nightmarish scenarios, it feels dazzlingly original. —ES

25. The Social Network (2010)

This exhilarating account of how a total jerk started Facebook is even more alarming given what we've learned about Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook since then. Jesse Eisenberg's crisp lead performance, Aaron Sorkin's verbose dialogue, and David Fincher's energetic direction combine to make this a cautionary tale of Shakespearean proportions. It might be the best document of how the internet and social media have fundamentally changed us. —ES

26. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)

A rare adaptation for writer/director Edgar Wright brings Bryan Lee O’Malley’s popular graphic novel series to life. Michael Cera is perfectly cast in the title role as an awkward young man who is determined to win the heart of the woman he loves (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) by literally winning video game-style battles against her “Seven Evil Exes.” Wright throws every trick in his book at the screen, and the result is a film you can watch again and again. —MJ

27. The King's Speech (2010)

From laughingstock to maestro of one of Great Britain’s finest public addresses, The King’s Speech tells the true story of King George VI’s triumph over stuttering. The film took home Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director (Tom Hooper), Best Actor (Colin Firth), and Best Original Screenplay (David Seidler). —James L. Menzies

28. A Serious Man (2009)

Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) is a man whose faith is being tested at home, at work, and all points in between. A Serious Man is equal parts dark comedy and existential drama, and it’s a perfect encapsulation of why the Coen brothers are masters at their craft. —JS

29. Brooklyn's Finest (2009)

An ensemble cast (Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, and Wesley Snipes) navigate the temptations and pitfalls inherent in police work in this drama from director Antoine Fuqua. Producer John Langley also created the long-running reality TV series Cops for Fox. —JR

30. Moon (2009)

Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) has been alone on a lunar mining mission for three years, but his isolation comes to an end one day when a stranger shows up at his facility—and this mystery man happens to look just like him. —Jay Serafino

31. Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Quentin Tarantino’s Nazi-hunting, scalp-retrieving mission is available to stream without the danger of highly flammable nitrate film reels. Our introduction to Christoph Waltz as a charming villain, who faces off against Brad Pitt’s American GI and Mélanie Laurent’s French Jewish cinema owner as everyone tries to kill Hitler. —SB

32. The Duchess (2008)

Few people can pull off the role of an 18th century aristocrat as well as Keira Knightley. In this case, she's forced to contend with a cruel and philandering husband (Ralph Fiennes) who makes it clear that his only use for his wife is for her to produce a male heir. But the Duchess knows that two can play at this game, and begins a scandalous (and not-quite-hidden) affair with a rising politician (Dominic Cooper). Come for the compelling period drama, stay for the stunning costumes. —Jennifer M. Wood

33. There Will Be Blood (2007)

It was Citizen Kane for the new century: a sprawling epic about a flawed, wealthy man who lets his own power destroy him, directed by a wunderkind already revered by most of Hollywood. Paul Thomas Anderson and stars Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano all do some of their best work in the story of a duplicitous oilman who meets his match in the fiery son of a preacher. —ES

34. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Following the end of the Spanish Civil War, a young girl (Ivana Baquero) escapes the turmoil of her militant stepfather and ill mother by exploring a hidden labyrinth that houses a variety of strange creatures. Director Guillermo del Toro was praised for his specialty: weaving a fairy tale with sharp edges. —JR

35. The Pianist (2002)

Chronicling the true story of Polish-Jewish pianist Władysław Szpilman (Adrien Brody), The Pianist is widely considered one of the best World War II accounts ever committed to film. As Nazis overrun Warsaw, Szpilman tries to maintain his sanity by clinging to the only thing that makes sense in an increasingly senseless world: His love of music. —JR

36. Y Tu Mamá También (2001)

The controversially sensual road movie that put Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna on the international map scored an Oscar nomination for writer/director Alfonso Cuarón. It's hard to believe he followed up this drug-and-sex-filled coming-of-age trip with a Harry Potter movie. —SB

37. The Matrix (1999)

Keanu Reeves utters many a "whoa" on his way through this sci-fi classic about a computer programmer who discovers reality is just an artificial simulation. Bullet Time is still just as spectacular as it was when the film premiered more than 20 years ago. —JR

38. Jerry Maguire (1996)

Sports agent Tom Cruise wrestles with clients—including the charismatic and Oscar-winning Cuba Gooding Jr.—as well as love in Cameron Crowe's winning dramedy that continued Cruise's run of '90s hits. —JR

39. Howards End (1992)

James Ivory's adaptation of E.M. Forster's 1910 novel tells the story of free-spirited Londoner Margaret Schlegel (Emma Thompson) who befriends a dying woman, Ruth Wilcox (Vanessa Redgrave), who ends up bequeathing Margaret her beloved country home, Howards End. It's a stroke of luck for Margaret, who is about to be ousted from the home she has leased for years, but the Wilcox family feels that something is amiss. As Ruth's widower attempts to investigate the situation, he finds himself falling under Margaret's spell. —JMW

40. Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Not only did a gory horror film win Best Picture at the Oscars that year, it also won the other four top categories—Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay—a feat achieved only twice before (by It Happened One Night and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest). Turns out America has a taste for cannibalism when it’s impeccably acted, smartly directed (by Jonathan Demme), and creepy as all hell. It remains one of the best examples of "art-house" horror.

41. 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 Malcom X. —JR

42. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

The 1980s were a pretty great decade for Steven Spielberg (even more so if you believe he's the true director of Poltergeist), and followed up Raiders of the Lost Ark with this instant sentimental classic about a boy and his alien friend. Spielberg's sappiness would get the better of him in duds like Always, but here he found the right blend of emotion and nostalgia by giving it a bitter undercurrent (Elliott's parents' divorce, the inevitable farewell) to remind us that even the sweetest memories often have tinges of sorrow. —ES

43. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

All four Indiana Jones movies are on Netflix, but the original still stands its ground as the best in the series and one of the finest action movies ever made. Indy (Harrison Ford) pursues the Lost Ark of the Covenant while evading and diverting Nazis chasing the power the Ark is believed to contain. —JR

44. Taxi Driver (1976)

Robert De Niro drew justifiable accolades for his portrayal of Travis Bickle, a mentally askew cab driver in the hellscape of 1970s New York City in director Martin Scorsese's gutter noir masterpiece. —JR

45. 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’s since become a perennial entry in lists of the best comedies ever made. —JR