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Best movies on Netflix to watch right now (July 2020)

best movies Netflix
The Silence of the Lambs and Schindler’s List on Netflix. Pic credit: Orion/Universal

When It comes to Netflix, there are a ton of great movies to choose from, but sometimes the choices can seem overwhelming.

When someone is looking for a good comedy, drama, action movie, animated effort, or foreign-language film, there are plenty to choose from.

However, it is a little tougher when looking for something of high quality, whether an award-winning movie or a critically praised film.

We have you covered. From the best Oscar winners and contenders to the movies that sent critics into a state of euphoria, Netflix has the catalog.

Here is a look at some of the best movies on Netflix to see as of July 2020.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Silence of the Lambs
Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. Pic credit: Orion

In 1991, The Silence of the Lambs was a thriller-horror movie that ended up winning the Oscar for Best Picture – a rarity at the Academy Awards.

Based on the novel by Thomas Harris, this movie on Netflix tells the story of an FBI agent named Clarice (Jodie Foster) who is trying to stop a serial killer and interviews an imprisoned serial killer named Hannibal Lecter to try to get into the mind of the person she is tracking.

The film picked up seven Oscar nominations and won five of them, including Best Director (Jonathan Demme), Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins), and Best Actress (Jodie Foster).

Inside Man (2006)

Inside Man
Denzel Washington in Inside Man. Pic credit: Universal

Released in 2006, Inside Man was a very different Spike Lee movie. Rather than sticking in his wheelhouse, Lee created a heist story.

The movie starred Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, and Jodie Foster, where a detective, a bank robber, and a broker start negotiations when a heist turns into a hostage situation.

While the movie did not get any attention at the Oscars, it was named the Movie of the Year at the 2007 AFI Awards, Washington won Best Actor at the BET Awards, and Spike Lee won Best Director at the Black Movie Awards.

Uncut Gems (2019)

Uncut Gems
Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems. Pic credit: A24

Released in 2019, Adam Sandler shocked the world with his performance in the Netflix thriller movie Uncut Gems.

The actor, known mostly for his low-brow comedies, turned in an intense role as a jeweler who gets in too deep with his betting addiction and ends up fearing for his life as he continues to dig in deep to save himself.

Film fanatics shouldn’t have been surprised. Sandler proved he could be great with auteurs, as he showed in Punch Drunk Love with P.T. Anderson in 2002.

This time, he worked with Benny and Josh Safdie, the men who helped Robert Pattinson turn in one of his most critically acclaimed roles in Good Time.

Drive (2011)

Ryan Gosling in Drive. Pic credit: FilmDistrict

Ryan Gosling starred in the crime drama thriller movie Drive in 2011. Nicholas Winding Refn brought his brilliant style of filmmaking into this movie, which is available to stream on Netflix.

Based on the novel by James Sallis, Gosling is The Driver, a Hollywood stunt driver who also serves as a getaway driver for the underworld. When he moves into an apartment and meets a mother whose husband is in prison, he becomes overprotective and ends up putting his own life in peril.

Albert Brooks picked up a Golden Globes nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and the movie won several critics association awards.

Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

The best sad movies on Netflix (June 2020)
The cast of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Pic credit: Summit Entertainment

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is available to watch on Netflix and flew over the radar of many film fans when it hit in 2012.

The movie looks, on the outside, like a teen drama, but it deals with situations that are much deeper than hooking up or overcoming bullying. The main character is Charlie (Logan Lerman). He suffers from clinical depression and is suicidal, and that plays a large part in this story of friendship and fitting in.

The movie won several critics’ awards when it was released and was also the winner for Best First Feature at the Independent Spirit Awards in 2013.

Airplane! (1980)

Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty in Airplane!. Pic credit: Paramount Pictures

Not every critically acclaimed movie is a drama. Airplane! was a spoof movie released in 1980 that proved that spoof movies, at one time, were excellent.

Airplane! was a David Zucker film that spoofed disaster movies, but was better than most of the films it referenced. The film starred Robert Hays as a former pilot forced to help land an airplane when the pilot falls ill.

Airplane! picked up a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical and received the ultimate honor of being named to the National Film Registry in 2010 for films with cultural significance.

Groundhog Day (1993)

Groundhog Day
Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Pic credit: Colombia

Groundhog Day is another comedy movie available to screen on Netflix and is one of the most beloved Bill Murray movies based on critical reviews.

Only Ghostbusters has a higher Rotten Tomatoes score than Groundhog Day.

Harold Ramis directed this film, where Murray stars as a weatherman who ends up reliving the same day over and over again. While he initially used his life status to better things, he realizes that he has a lesson to learn if he is ever to get back to normal again.

Groundhog Day won the Best Screenplay award at the BAFTA Awards in 1994 and also picked up a nomination for the prestigious Hugo Awards.

Schindler’s List (1993)

Schindler's List
Schindler’s List. Pic credit: Universal Pictures

For years, Steven Spielberg was known as a blockbuster filmmaker with more style than substance. Even with prestige films like The Color Purple and Empire of the Sun, people still only saw his blockbusters that ruled the box office.

That changed in 1993. In that year, Spielberg directed Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List, proving he was a master filmmaker, regardless of genre.

Schindler’s List is a historical drama movie available to stream on Netflix and tells the story of the Holocaust and Oskar Schindler, a man who saved the lives of countless Jewish refugees.

Schindler’s List picked up 12 Oscar nominations and won seven of them, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Taxi Driver (1976)

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

Martin Scorsese is one of the best movie directors in the history of cinema, and he was also one of the most overlooked when it comes to critical acclaim.

Scorsese picked up nine Oscar nominations, but he did not win one until 2007 for The Departed. In 1976, he released one of the seminal movies of the 70s in Taxi Driver, and never picked up a nomination for it at all.

Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster both picked up Oscar nominations for their acting in Taxi Driver, though. De Niro is a Vietnam vet and cab driver who becomes very protective of a teenage prostitute, played by Foster.

Moonlight (2016)

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The Oscar-winning Moonlight. Pic credit: A24

Moonlight is an Oscar-winning film on Netflix that initially hit big screens in 2016.

However, this is an intense drama that many people missed out on before it picked up its Oscar moms.

Trevante Rhodes stars as the adult version of Chiron and Moonlight tells the story of his life, from his childhood to his teenage years, to his adult years, and how certain things changed the course of his life.

Moonlight picked up eight Oscar nominations, winning three of them, including Best Motion Picture of the Year.

Stand and Deliver (1988)

Stand and Deliver
Edward James Olmos in Stand and Deliver. Pic credit: Warner Bros.

Head back in time 32 years, and the classic inner-city high school drama movie Stand and Deliver will provide an excellent watch for anyone on Netflix.

Edward James Olmos, who years later would portray Admiral William Adama on Battlestar Galactica, starred as a high school teacher who teaches calculus to kids expected to end up as dropouts.

It may not sound intriguing, but this is a story of a real hero – a man who helps kids that no one believes in learn to believe in themselves. The world needs more teachers like Jaime Escalante.

Olmos picked up an Oscar nomination for Best Actor for the movie, and the film itself won six Independent Spirit Awards, including Best Feature, Best Director, Best Male Lead, Best Supporting Female, and Best Supporting Male.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Silver Linings Playbook
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook. Pic credit: The Weinstein Company

By 2012, director David O. Russell had developed a reputation as one of the best filmmakers on the independent scene, as well as one of the hardest to work with.

In 2012, it all came together for Russell with his movie Silver Linings Playbook. Bradley Cooper is Pat, a man with bipolar disorder who is released from the psychiatric hospital and moves back with his parents.

He then meets a girl named Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), with an undiagnosed disorder of her own, and the two try to see if they can strike up a romance and help the other connect.

Lawrence won an Oscar for her performance, and the movie itself picked up seven other Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.

The Social Network (2010)

Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network. Pic credit: Sony

David Fincher started working on more dramatic films in the 2000s after years of working on genre pics. In 2010, he released the biopic The Social Network.

The movie told the story of the genesis of Facebook. Jesse Eisenberg starred as Mark Zuckerberg, the co-creator of Facebook, while Andrew Garfield starred as Eduardo Saverin, his partner, on whose book the movie is based.

The Social Network picked up eight Oscar nominations, with Aaron Sorkin winning for Best Screenplay and Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor winning Best Original Score with his partner Atticus Ross.

The Theory of Everything (2014)

The Theory of Everything
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything. Pic credit: Focus Features

Before the world got to know him as Harry Potter character Newt Scamander, actor Eddie Redmayne starred in The Theory of Everything as the brilliant Stephen Hawking.

The film told the story of Hawking’s amazing life and focused on the relationship between the physicist and his wife, Jane (Felicity Jones).

The movie was a critical darling, with Redmayne winning the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance as Hawking. The film also picked up four other Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture.

Lady Bird (2017)

The best sad movies on Netflix (June 2020)
Saoirse Ronan and Tracy Letts in Lady Bird. Pic credit: A24

After learning under Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig has developed a great career of her own as a director.

Her film, Lady Bird, is now available to stream on Netflix and tells the story of a mother and daughter from different upbringings who can’t seem to connect, and how they finally were able to understand each other.

Both Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf picked up Oscar nominations for their roles as daughter and mother, and Gerwig picked up two nominations herself for Best Screenplay and Best Director, a considerable accomplishment for a female filmmaker.

Lady Bird also won the Golden Globes award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

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