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The 15 best classic movies on Netflix (January 2022)

Stand by Me and Taxi Driver
Stand by Me and Taxi Driver. Pic credit: Columbia

What are the best classic movies on Netflix?

Maybe the question should be, “what is a classic movie?” For some people, a classic movie is from the ’60s or ’70s and earlier, but for some younger audience members, it could be something from as late as the ’90s, since 20-year-olds weren’t even born during the last century.

With that said, Netflix has something for everyone, but in this case, we will stick with movies that are from no later than the early ’90s, and in the case of 2022, we will cut it off in 1993.

Here is a look at 15 great classic movies you can stream right now on Netflix.

Updated in January 2022: Every month, Netflix makes major changes to its streaming service. Several movies and TV shows leave the service, replaced by a new batch of shows and movies that replaces them. This means some of our picks are no longer available.

The good news is that we check in every month to ensure that the movies on the list are current. We remove any movies that are no longer on Netflix and replace them with movies of equal or better quality to keep this as the best Netflix picks on the Internet.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Edward Furlong in Terminator 2
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Edward Furlong in Terminator 2. Pic credit: Tri-Star Pictures

After finding success with the sci-fi horror movie Terminator, James Cameron returned to the franchise and directed the sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

While the first movie was a survival horror movie with an unstoppable robot killer trying to murder a young woman to prevent her from having a baby. However, T2 arrived and showed a glimpse of the apocalypse that was coming.

It also moved the focus to more of a sci-fi setting, with the original killer robot now returning to protect the woman’s son and a new robot killer showing up to finish the job the first one couldn’t.

He movie remains one of the best action movies of the 1990s and holds up as the best in the franchise.

Stand by Me (1986)

Stand by Me
Stand by Me. Pic credit: Columbia Pictures

One of the greatest Stephen King movies ever made wasn’t even a horror movie. While everyone knows about The Shawshank Redemption, more people need to seek out and rediscover Stand by Me.

Directed by Rob Reiner (Misery), Stand By Me tells the story of a group of young boys who set out on a great adventure when they learn there might be a dead body in the woods.

The cast was fantastic, with Corey Feldman, River Phoenix, Jerry O’Connell, and Wil Wheaton as the young boys and Keifer Sutherland as the dangerous older teen that threatened their lives.

This is one of the best coming-of-age movies of the 1980s and might be the most understated Stephen King adaptation of all time.

Taxi Driver (1976)

Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver
Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. Pic credit: Columbia Pictures

Martin Scorsese is one of the most respected voices of ’70s cinema and directed some of the best crime drama movies you will see on Netflix

One of these movies was the brilliant Taxi Driver in 1978, a film that picked up four Oscar nominations but was passed up for all four, including Best Director (Scorsese), Best Actor (Robert De Niro), and Best Supporting Actress (Jodie Foster).

The movie has De Niro starring as a Vietnam vet who takes an interest in a political intern (Sharon Stone) and a teenage prostitute (Foster) and is determined to protect them both at all costs.

Gremlins (1984)

Gremlins
Gremlins. Pic credit: Warner Bros

One of the best Christmas horror movies ever made arrived in 1984 with Joe Dante’s Gremlins.

The movie had a father bring home a special Christmas gift for his son – a unique animal known as a mogwai. There were some simple rules. Don’t get it wet, expose it to light, or feed it after midnight.

Exposing it to light would kill it, but the other rules were broken, which caused Gizmo to spawn more mogwais, which eventually turn into Gremlins – destructive little monsters who try to destroy everything in sight.

This is a unique Christmas movie that fans can watch anytime of the year and never fails to entertain.

Stripes (1981)

Bill Murray, John Candy and the cast of Stripes
Bill Murray, John Candy and the cast of Stripes. Pic credit: Columbia

In 1981, Bill Murray was one of the top comedians working in Hollywood and he starred in the comedy war movie Stripes.

He was also joined by his Ghostbusters partner in crime Harold Ramis and the brilliant John Candy in this movie directed by Ivan Reitman.

Murray is John Winger, a guy whose life is falling apart so he joins the Army and convinces his buddy (Ramis) to join with him. While mostly getting into trouble, the two eventually find themselves in a position where they have to save all their fellow soldiers.

The Guns Of Navarone (1961)

The soldiers in The Guns of Navarone
The soldiers in The Guns of Navarone. Pic credit: Columbia

The Guns of Navarone is a 1961 epic war film directed by J. Lee Thompson. It is based on Alistair MacLean’s 1957 novel of the same name.

The classic war film stars Gregory Peck, David Niven, and Anthony Quinn, and follows the efforts of an Allied commando unit to destroy a seemingly impregnable German fortress threatening Allied naval ships in the Aegean Sea.

The movie was a critical hit, picking up seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. It won an Oscar for Best Special Effects.

Awakenings (1990)

Robert De Niro and Robin Williams in Awakenings
Robert De Niro and Robin Williams in Awakenings. Pic credit: Columbia Pictures

Penny Marshall directed the 1990 drama movie Awakenings, based on the 1973 novel of the same name.

This was a rare Robin Williams drama movie, where the actor played a neurologist named Dr. Sayer who developed a drug he gave to catatonic patients who survived an epidemic that took place between 1917 and 1928.

However, the patients wake up in 1969, after decades in the catatonic state, and have to deal with living in a very different world. However, when they learn that their revival is only temporary, the movie takes a sad turn.

The movie, based on a true story, had an incredible cast, with Robert De Niro, John Heard, Penelope Ann Miller, and Max von Sydow joining Williams. A 23-year-old Vin Diesel also has a small role in the movie.

Blade Runner (1982)

Harrison Ford on the Blade Runner poster
Harrison Ford on the Blade Runner poster. Pic credit: Warner Bros

The movie considered the seminal science fiction movie and one of the greatest in film history hit Netflix in September 2021.

Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is on the streaming giant, and it is the Final Cut, adding in what Scott created but the studio edited out in the original release.

Harrison Ford is Deckard, a Blade Runner whose job is to hunt down replicants – androids created to serve humanity. The replicants he is sent to take out are ones that have developed an advanced level of being and consider themselves living beings.

The one he hunts down in this movie is Roy Batty, played by Rutger Hauer, and the entire movie is the template for what smart sci-fi should look like.

My Girl (1991)

My Girl's first kiss
My Girl’s first kiss. Pic credit: Columbia

Fans know Macaulay Culkin from the Christmas movie Home Alone, but he was in another movie that might be the best one he starred in as a child actor.

This was My Girl in 1991.

In this movie, Culkin starred as Thomas, and he became best friends with a young girl named Vada, played by Anna Chlumsky.

Vada is a young girl who is a hypochondriac and believes she was responsible for her mother’s death because her mom died days after giving birth to her. Her father (Dan Akyroyd) does not understand her and avoids her as a response.

Shortly after Thomas and Vada share their first kiss, tragedy strikes and it changes everyone’s lives forever.

My Fair Lady (1964)

My Fair Lady
Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. Pic credit: Warner Bros

My Fair Lady was a 1964 musical drama adapted from the stage musical of the same name by George Bernard Shaw.

In the movie, Audrey Hepburn played a poor flower seller named Eliza Doolittle who has an arrogant professor named Henry Higgins make a bet that he can teach her to speak proper English to make her more “proper” in high society London.

My Fair Lady won eight Academy Awards and was named one of the best movies of all time by the American Film Institute.

Rain Man (1988)

Rain Man
Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise in Rain Man. Pic credit: United Artists

Released in 1988 by Barry Levinson, Rain Man is a movie starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman.

Cruise is Charlie, a wealthy and successful businessman who returns home to settle his estranged father’s estate after his death. However, he then learns he has an older brother.

This brother is Raymond, an autistic savant who lives in a mental institution. He then tries to use his brother’s skills to make money in Las Vegas, but realizes that there is more to his brother than he expected.

Dances with Wolves (1990)

Dances with Wolves
Kevin Costner in Dances with Wolves. Pic credit: Orion Pictures

Kevin Costner directed and starred in Dances with Wolves in 1990, based on the novel by Michael Blake.

In the movie, Costner is a Union Army lieutenant named John J. Dunbar who travels to the American frontier, searching for a military post. Along the way, he deals with the Native American tribe, the Lakota.

Dances with Wolves received 12 Oscar nominations and won seven of them, including Best Picture and Best Director.

She’s Gotta Have It (1986)

She's Gotta Have It
Tracy Camilla Johns in She’s Gotta Have It. Pic credit: Island Pictures

Spike Lee has become one of the top voices in African American cinema for over three decades.

Netflix subscribers can watch his newest movie, Da 5 Bloods, and now they can also watch his very first feature-length movie on the streaming giant as well.

She’s Gotta Have It was shot in black and white in 1986 and tells the story of a young woman who is dating three different men. When she is forced to make a decision, things get complicated.

There is also a Netflix original series released in 2017 based on Spike Lee’s debut film.

Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)

Life of Brian
Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Pic credit: Warner Bros

The second Monty Python movie on Netflix is the Christian satire Life of Brian.

The movie tells the story of a man named Brian, a child born in the stable next to Jesus Christ. This causes the Three Wisemen to find him and initially confuse him with the King of the Jews.

Brian then falls in love with a young rebel and joins the People’s Front of Judea, a freedom movement that spends as much time in-fighting as getting anything done.

The movie found protestors from every religious sect, but it might be the funniest movie from Monty Python.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Pic credit: EMI Films

The Monty Python comedy troupe was already a legend before they started making movies with a popular and hilarious British comedy sketch series.

In 1975, they made Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which was a re-telling of the King Arthur legend, but in a hilarious manner.

With everything from the Knights Who Say Ni to the Black Knight, there are so many legendary moments that this is one comedy classic that stands up well 45 years later.

This might be Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin’s finest moment.