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Good movies on Netflix that you really need to watch

Netflix best movies
Fruitvale Station and A Clockwork Orange. Pic credit: The Weinstein Company/Warner Bros.

If you’re looking for some really good movies to watch on Netflix but aren’t sure which ones to go for, then don’t worry because we have a simple list of some of the best movies you really need to watch, right here.

Netflix has thousands of movies on its streaming platform, and sometimes it can be a little overwhelming and downright confusing to locate a perfect film.

Many of us suffer from spending hours just trying to decide what film to dedicate our precious time to watch. How many of you have ended up going to bed without having selected anything? We feel your frustration.

Well, hopefully, this list of outstanding movies will set you on the right track. In no particular order, here are 15 very entertaining watches.

Updated in May 2021: Every month, Netflix adds new movies and drops many others from the streaming service. As a result, many movies we add to the list might end up axed from the site, but the good news is that other great movies come along to take their place.

Every month, we will update this article by removing movies that are no longer available to watch while we add great movies to replace them.

Scarface (1983)

Scarface (1983)
Al Pacino in Scarface (1983) . Pic credit: Universal

In 1983, Brian De Palma directed what some consider one of the best gangster movies of all time, and one of the best remakes in cinema history.

Al Pacino came up with the idea to remake the 1932 movie Scarface, they brought in Brian De Palma to direct it, and Oliver Stone wrote the script.

What resulted was a movie that even Martin Scorsese praises.

Pacino is Tony Montana, an ex-convict and Cuban refugee who sets his sights on becoming a major drug lord in Miami.

The Pianist (2002)

The best sad movies on Netflix (June 2020)
Adrien Brody in The Pianist. Pic credit: StudioCanal

Roman Polanski directed the Holocaust movie The Pianist in 2002 and watched as the film won him an Oscar while actor Adrien Brody picked up one as well.

Brody stars as a Jewish pianist living in Poland during World War II. Just when it looks like Britain and France might save Poland when they join the war, Germany overruns the country.

Through the movie, the pianist loses everything, including his family, to the Nazi extermination camps, and has to go into hiding thanks to protection from a sympathetic member of the Jewish Ghetto Police.

The Master (2012)

The Master (2012)
Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix in The Master. Pic credit: The Weinstein Company

Paul Thomas Anderson returned in 2012 with the movie The Master, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix.

Hoffman is Lancaster Dodd, who has started his own religion and built a large following. Phoenix is Freddie Quell, a former military man who buys into the new religion completely.

There was some controversy when the movie came out, with many speculating that Anderson was targeting scientology. However, the film has spectacular acting performances and is wonderfully filmed.

The movie picked up three Oscar nominations, all for acting (Hoffman, Phoenix, and Amy Adams).

Training Day (2001)

Training Day
Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke in Training Day. Pic credit: Warner Bros

Denzel Washington had made his name in several dramatic roles over his career, but in 2001 he took a huge left turn.

Washington took on a rare villain role in the crime thriller Training Day. Denzel starred as Alonzo “King Kong” Harris, a corrupt and deadly cop in Los Angeles.

Ethan Hawke co-stars as Jake Hoyt, a youngster assigned for an evaluation by Alonzo. The two then end up on a series of adventures where Jake realizes how corrupt Alonzo is and learns his life is in great danger.

Denzel won the Oscar for Best Actor, while Hawke picked up a nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Shutter Island (2010)

Shutter Island
Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo in Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island. Pic credit: Paramount

The Martin Scorsese horror-thriller Shutter Island hit Netflix in February 2021, based on the suspense novel by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River).

This movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo as two federal agents sent to Shutter Island, a mental prison, to investigate a patient that disappeared.

This is a movie where nothing is as it seems, and there are deep mysteries to unfold. It is also one of Scorsese’s rare journeys into the horror film genre.

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Pan's Labyrinth
Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. Pic credit: Warner Bros

It might be easy to look at the scary-looking monsters and creatures in Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth and think it is just another horror movie.

This fantasy tale is much more than a horror film. Having more in common with fairy tales than horror, this is a movie that looks at the real fear based in the real world and sees the world of creatures as a place to escape.

Ofelia is a 10-year-old girl whose mother marries Captain Vidal of the Francoist Spanish military, hunting down rebels. He takes his new family to a remote destination to live, as the war rages around them.

It is here that Ofelia finds a way into the underworld and discovers her destiny.

The Departed (2006)

The Departed
Leonardo Di Caprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson in The Departed. Pic credit: Warner Bros.

In 2006, Martin Scorsese won an Oscar for his remake of the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs, which he renamed The Departed.

The movie stars Leonard DiCaprio as a Boston cop who goes undercover as part of the mafia, working directly under the mob boss himself, portrayed by Jack Nicholson.

Meanwhile, Matt Damon is a member of the mob sent to the police academy and has gone deep as a mole inside the police. This movie shows both stories, as the two men get very deep into their respective undercover jobs, and both know they might not make it out in one piece.

There Will Be Blood (2007)

There Will Be Blood
Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood. Pic credit: Paramount Vantage

Paul Thomas Anderson has created some of the most breathtaking indie-style films of the last three decades, and There Will Be Blood might be his best.

Daniel Day-Lewis stars as Daniel Plainview, an oilman in this loose adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s Oil! Plainview is striking oil at the expense of towns that he leaves dead in his wake in the film.

He meets a young evangelist named Eli (Paul Dano), who tries to stand in his way. What results is a battle of wills where one man must fall.

The film, which can be compared to classic horror movies like Dracula, picked up eight Oscar nominations with Day-Lewis winning Best Actor.

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

A Clockwork Orange
Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange. Pic credit: Warner Bros

In 1971, Stanley Kubrick directed an adaptation of the Anthony Burgess novel about a dystopian society that has nosedived into debauchery and depravity.

Malcolm McDowell stars as Alex, the leader of his own street gang who abuses, assaults, and brutalizes people on a regular basis. However, when Alex is brought in and arrested, he ends up undergoing experimental psychological conditioning to “cure” him of his criminal impulses.

The problem is that when he is released, Alex is incapable of protecting himself from his former gang, and those people he hurt in the past come gunning for him.

The film is a morality tale, asking if it is okay to use aversion therapy to stop immoral behavior.

Fruitvale Station (2013)

Fruitvale Station
Michael B. Jordan and Kevin Durand in Fruitvale Station. Pic credit: The Weinstein Company

With the recent spotlight on police violence in the United States, the 2013 film Fruitvale Station proves this is nothing new in the country.

The movie is based on the true-life story of Oscar Grant, who was murdered by a police officer who shot him in the back and claimed he thought he was using his taser.

The movie was a critical success and allowed debut director Ryan Coogler and star Michael B. Jordan to move on to make some major Hollywood blockbusters in Creed and Black Panther.

The movie won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and the Best First Film award at Cannes.

Dolemite Is My Name (2019)

Eddie Murphy in Dolemite Is My Name
Eddie Murphy stars in Dolemite Is My Name. Pic credit: Netflix

We start with a delightful comedy featuring a glorious return to the big screen from Eddie Murphy. As the lead, Eddie portrays real-life legend Rudy Ray Moore, who, in the ’70s, created the comic character Dolemite the Pimp.

The ridiculously flamboyant and foul-mouthed character was a beloved antihero who went on to become a regular feature in the Blaxploitation era. Murphy embodies this wonderful character perfectly, and he picked up a couple of Golden Globe nominations for his troubles too.

As well as Murphy, it also stars some rather big names, including Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps, and Craig Robinson. Wesley Snipes also makes a fascinating return to the big screen.

The Irishman (2019)

A shot from The Irishman
Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro were just two of many big names to star in The Irishman. Pic credit: Netflix

And we’re back with Martin Scorcese for his 2019 gangster epic made especially for release on Netflix, The Irishman. This movie runs for a whopping 209 minutes, but it’s worth every second.

Loosely, very loosely, based on the true-life story of the antics of Frank Sheeran, aka The Irishman, a mafia errand boy who managed to get himself involved in the infamous murder/disappearance of Teamster union boss Frank Hoffa.

The movie used groundbreaking age altering technology to be able to track the lives of the main characters for decades, without having to change actors.

It’s wonderful to see Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro back working together, and throw in Al Pacino as Frank Hoffa… What are you waiting for?

The Social Network (2010)

A shot from The Social Network
Jesse Eisenberg plays Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. Pic credit: Sony

The Social Network is back on Netflix, and despite being ten years old, it’s proving that it still holds up well. This is mainly down to Aaron Sorkin’s sparklingly good screenplay coupled with the stylish directorship of David Fincher.

Starring Jesse Eisenberg as young entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg, along with Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake, it tells the story of the origins of social media platform Facebook.

The movie picked up a whopping eight Oscar nominations and managed to bag three of them, including Best Adapted Screenplay. The script is witty and razor-sharp even if it does now feel a little strange and dated ten years later.

Roma (2018)

Scene from Roma
The movie Roma follows the fortunes and misfortunes of cleaner Cleo in Mexico City. Pic credit: Netflix

Alfonso Cuarón’s beautiful film is set in 1970s Mexico City and revolves around Cleo (played by Yalitza Aparicio), who is a cleaner for a middle-class family. She is no ordinary cleaner as she’s considered almost like a member of the family.

Her employers agree to take her in when she accidentally falls pregnant. The movie follows a year in the life of Cleo as she comes to terms with motherhood and deals with the other major upheavals in her environment.

It is a semi-autobiographical look at Cuarón’s childhood growing up in Mexico City. Roger Ebert described this movie as a “masterful achievement in filmmaking as an empathy machine, a way for us to spend time in a place, in an era, and with characters, we never would otherwise.”

The Oscars agreed with Ebert and gave it three awards.

Uncut Gems (2019)

A shot from Uncut Gems
Adam Sandler plays a New York jeweler in this gritty crime thriller. Pic credit: Netflix

Adam Sandler, as we all know, cut his teeth doing comedy, so it’s rather strange and even a little unsettling to see him starring in this very tense thriller. However, he puts in a fantastic performance.

Written and directed by Josh and Benny Safdie, the script tells the story of Howard Ratner (Sandler), a New York jeweler with a severe gambling problem. As he gets further into trouble, he resorts to doing whatever it takes to stay afloat.

This taut, anxiety-driven film, is one of the best movies of 2019.

Interesting fact, Sandler was nearly choked to death on the set by a couple of extras in a stunt that almost went very wrong indeed.

That’s it, folks, enjoy your Netflix viewing.

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