Entertainment Best Netflix Movies | TechRadar
Best Netflix Movies | TechRadar
Compiling a list of the best Netflix movies in 2022 is no easy task.
Films come and go on the streamer on an almost weekly basis, so it can be tricky to keep track of what’s available at any given time. What’s more, with increased competition from the likes of HBO Max and Disney Plus – services whose parent studios want exclusive streaming rights to their respective back catalogs – Netflix’s movie offering is being squeezed year-on-year.
That being said, the streaming giant has been dropping a new Netflix movie every week throughout 2022, and, in addition to those original flicks, its existing deals with other studios remain in place – meaning there’s still plenty of choice when it comes to deciding what to watch.
To take the heavy lifting out of choosing, then, we’ve put together a list of the 30 best Netflix movies available to stream right now. We regularly update the below entries with the latest original films and returning classics alike, and also replace the titles taken off Netflix to keep our recommendations as fresh as possible.
Blonde, Gladiator and Call Me by Your Name count among the latest additions to our list, though many of the movies included below are also Netflix originals, which is why Netflix remains, for us, the best streaming service in 2022 – despite the ever-improving competition (and its recent subscriber woes).
Below, you’ll find our pick of the best movies on Netflix in the US right now.
The first thing to say about Blonde is that it isn’t a Marilyn Monroe biopic – not in the traditional sense of the genre, anyway. Instead, Andrew Dominik’s controversial Netflix production plays more like a psychological horror movie in which Monroe (an exceptional Ana de Armas) is the troubled protagonist.
Blonde loosely chronicles the rapid rise to fame (and equally uncompromising demise) of the 1950s icon, but the film is also a hallucinatory thriller – shot mostly in black and white – about a young star haunted by her troubled past and swallowed up by the industry around her. Adrien Brody, Bobby Cannavale, Xavier Samuel and Julianne Nicholson star alongside Armas in this divisive conversation-starter.
Epics don’t come much more epic than Gladiator. Ridley Scott’s brutal tale of a Roman general-turned-gladiator scooped five Oscars at the 2001 Academy Awards (including Best Picture and Best Actor for its star, Russell Crowe), and once you’ve sat through the journey that is its 155-minute runtime, it’s easy to see why.
We placed Gladiator at a more-than-respectable number four in our ranking of Ridley Scott movies (that’s fourth out of a possible 27, by the way), and quite frankly, it’s necessary viewing for any serious cinema lover. Are you not entertained?
Call Me by Your Name
2017 was a stellar year for cinema. Get Out, Dunkirk, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Blade Runner 2049 were among the titles lighting up theaters across the globe, but it was Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name that perhaps left the greatest impression on audiences.
An adaptation of André Aciman’s 2007 novel of the same name, the movie follows Timothée Chalamet’s Elio, a precocious teenager who develops feelings for his father’s temporary research assistant, Oliver (Armie Hammer), in 1980s Italy. Praised for being an honest exploration of young love and a launchpad for Chalamet’s burgeoning career, Guadagnino’s film is one of the most beautifully-shot in recent memory, and a reminder that quiet, careful cinema can still triumph among today’s superhero-heavy releases.
The Nice Guys
Buddy comedies don’t come much better than The Nice Guys. Director Shane Black’s still underappreciated action comedy stars Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe as a private eye and a tough enforcer, respectively, who team up to determine the whereabouts of a girl-in-hiding (Margaret Qualley) in 1970s Los Angeles.
Reminiscent of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights in both its setting and black humor, the movie is fast-paced, suitably adult and a perfect example of how to elicit chemistry between two big-time leads (Gosling, in particular, is hilarious).
Judging by the likes of Top Gun: Maverick and the Mission: Impossible movies, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Tom Cruise can only play action heroes. But Collateral, director Michael Mann’s underappreciated neo-noir thriller, sees the veteran actor ditch his usual Hollywood charm in favor of a ruthless talent for murder.
Cruise plays Vincent, a silver-haired hitman who gets more than he bargains for when he decides to take a Los Angeles cab driver, Max (Jamie Foxx), hostage for an evening of location-hopping ‘work’. Heat is widely (and correctly) considered by many to be Mann’s best film – but with Collateral, the director returned to the same stylized grit for which his 1995 masterpiece was so celebrated.
If Beale Street Could Talk
Director Barry Jenkins followed up on the success of his Oscar-winning Moonlight with If Beale Street Could Talk, a powerful portrait of love and loss in 1970s New York that deserves more attention that it garnered upon release in 2018.
Based on James Baldwin’s novel of the same name, the film stars KiKi Layne as a young woman, Clementine “Tish” Rivers, who we follow as she desperately attempts to clear the name of her wrongly charged partner (Stephan James). Diego Luna, Pedro Pascal, Brian Tyree Henry and Regina King also star in If Beale Street Could Talk, which is anchored by a stellar score from Succession composer Nicholas Britell.
A surprise addition to Netflix in August, Skyfall – the twenty-third James Bond movie and one of the very best entries in the decades-spanning series – is about as close to perfect evening entertainment as it gets.
Sam Mendes directs this darker take on 007, which finds Bond forced to return to action when a disgruntled agent from M’s past comes back to haunt her. Javier Bardem is exquisite as the villainous Silva, proving more than a match for Daniel Craig’s usually indestructible Bond – though Skyfall as a whole is a much more emotional affair than we’ve come to expect from the franchise. Lives are lost, tears are shed, and Adele kicks the whole thing off with an absolutely killer title track.
The Sea Beast
Another new addition to our list of recommendations is The Sea Beast, a Netflix-produced animated adventure that proves Disney doesn’t have a monopoly on layered, child-friendly storytelling.
Directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Chris Williams (Moana, Big Hero Six), the movie follows Jacob Holland (voiced by The Boys’ Karl Urban), a celebrated sea monster hunter whose life is upended when a young girl, Maisie Brumble (newcomer Zaris-Angel Hator), stows away on his ship.
Charming, action-packed and beautifully-rendered, The Sea Beast was praised by audiences and critics alike upon its release in July, and serves as further proof that Netflix should think twice about scaling back its animation department in response to recent subscriber losses.
It may not include Spider-Man: No Way Home, but Sam Raimi’s beloved web-crawler trilogy finally made its way onto Netflix in August. Spider-Man 2, in particular, remains one of the best superhero movies ever made, but we’ve decided to highlight the entry that set the template for every superhero origin movie that would follow.
In 2002’s Spider-Man, a young student, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), gets bitten by a radioactive spider that imbues him with special powers. After learning a harsh lesson about power and responsibility, he decides to become the titular superhero, Spider-Man – saving New York from all manner of criminals, eventually including the villainous Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe). Raimi’s series debut feels slightly dated in a couple of ways, but it’s still great fun, boasting an incredible ensemble cast that includes Kirsten Dunst, James Franco and, of course, J.K. Simmons.
If you were frustrated by the sudden disappearance of Uncut Gems from the US version of Netflix in May, fear not: Hustle, a surprisingly entertaining basketball drama, landed on the streamer in June to fill its Adam Sandler-sized hole.
After discovering a once-in-a-lifetime player with a rocky past abroad, a down-on-his-luck Philadelphia 76ers scout, Stanley Sugerman (Sandler), takes it upon himself to bring the young phenom to the States without his team’s approval. Against the odds, the pair must work to prove that they both deserve to make it big in the NBA.
That synopsis might sound like standard sports drama fare, but Hustle earned unexpectedly glowing reviews ahead of its muted release earlier this year. In our own assessment, we called the movie a “rousing redemption tale that provides further evidence of Sandler’s ability as a damn fine actor.” Trust us: this is no Jack and Jill.
The Hurt Locker
Kathryn Bigelow’s searing bomb disposal thriller, The Hurt Locker, returned to Netflix in June to take its place among the very best war movies on the streamer. The Best Picture-winning 2008 film follows an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit who, while fighting in the Iraq war, find themselves feeling the pinch of intense psychological stress.
The Hurt Locker stars Marvel movie regulars Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie, as well as the likes of Ralph Fiennes and Guy Pearce, and was recently selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Yes, it’s really that good.
Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen is, well, quintessentially Guy Ritchie – and that’s a great thing. The British director’s latest foul-mouthed crime caper follows an American marijuana kingpin’s (Matthew McConaughey) efforts to sell off his narcotics empire. Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Marsan, Colin Farrell and Hugh Grant make up the movie’s stellar supporting cast, with every character boasting their own brand of humor (and unique style of violence).
We recently reported on Netflix’s ongoing negotiations to green-light a new TV show based on The Gentlemen, so there’s never been a better time to get yourself acquainted with Mickey, Raymond and the rest of this motley (though admittedly dysfunctional) crew.
The Hand of God
The Hand of God marks the movie-making return of beloved Italian director Paolo Sorrentino, and tells the semi-autobiographical of tale of a young man (Filippo Scotti, standing in for a teenage Sorrentino) grappling with the pressures of growing up in 1980s Naples.
As well as referring to the infamous goal scored by Argentine footballer (and Napoli legend) Diego Maradona at the 1986 World Cup, the film’s title alludes to a tragic and life-affirming event that forces its protagonist to grow up quicker than he’d otherwise like. To say more risks spoiling The Hand of God’s most tender moments, though the movie’s beautiful locations, hypnotic camerawork and larger-than-life characters ensure it ranks among Sorrentino’s best work. If you’re a fan of Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name, add this one to your watchlist.
Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood
If you’re keen to mix up your movie-watching diet in 2022, they don’t come much more unconventional than Netflix’s Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood. Boyhood director Richard Linklater returns to filmmaking duties with this animated feature, which tells the story of the 1969 moon landing from multiple perspectives.
The movie shares the visual style of Linklater’s previous animation, 2006’s A Scanner Darkly, and features the voice talents of Jack Black, Zachary Levi and Glen Powell. Despite its needlessly lengthy title, Apollo 10 1/2 is a genuinely unique take on one of history’s most iconic moments, and serves as yet more proof of Netflix’s willingness to invest in boundary-pushing storytelling.
Shortly after director Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest effort, Licorice Pizza, hit this year’s awards circuit, Netflix added his previous film, Phantom Thread, to its content library in the US. One of 2017’s best movies, this one tells the story of a dressmaker (Daniel Day-Lewis) in 1950s London who falls for a young waitress (Vicky Krieps).
That might sound like a potentially boring narrative, but Phantom Thread is actually masterfully-shot, poignant exploration of what it means to be an artist, combining Oscar-winning costume design with a stunning soundtrack (from Radiohead and frequent Anderson collaborator Johnny Greenwood) to rank among its director’s finest work. Catch it before it’s gone.
The Power of the Dog
It’s safe to say that Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog was the critical hit – and potentially best movie – of 2021. Widely praised for its slow-burning psychological drama, it follows the story of a menacing rancher (Benedict Cumberbatch) who doesn’t take kindly to the arrival of his brother’s new wife (Kirsten Dunst) and her son (Kodi Smit-McPhee).
Cumberbatch arguably gives a career-best performance as the volatile Phil Burbank here, which undoubtedly made interesting prep for next year’s Doctor Strange 2. It’s a slow-burner, for sure, but The Power of the Dog is a masterful piece of filmmaking – so much so that Campion picked up a BAFTA and an Oscar for her troubles.
Well, it turns out that Spider-Man (okay, Andrew Garfield) can sing.
In Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut, promising young theater composer Jonathan Larson (Garfield) navigates love, friendship and the pressures of life as an artist in New York City on the cusp of his 30th birthday.
Incidentally, tick, tick…BOOM! is actually based on the semi-autobiographical musical of the same name by Larson himself, whom Garfield plays in this one, so fans of the playwright (and musicals in general) should find lots to love here.
The Harder They Fall
Arriving nine days before the most expensive film Netflix has ever made – the Dwayne Johnson-starring Red Notice – The Harder They Fall marks the feature film directorial debut from Jeymes Samuel. Its budget might be a lot smaller than The Rock’s globe-trotting caper, but The Harder They Fall is one of the best Netflix movies to come out to date, which says a lot about Samuel’s eye for detail, the movie’s all-star cast and its pulsating plot.
After Rufus Buck (Idris Elba) is sprung from prison by his former gang, Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) rounds up his own posse of lawmakers to exact revenge on the man who murdered his parents. The likes of Delroy Lindo (Da 5 Bloods), Zazie Beetz (Deadpool 2) and Lakeith Stanfield (Knives Out) also star in this Western flick that pays tribute to the Black cowboys who are often overlooked in similar productions.
Another Netflix original movie, The King stars Timothée Chalamet as Henry V, a young man forced to navigate the worlds of politics, war and treachery after unexpectedly becoming king of England in the 15th century. This one contains all the fanfare you’d expect from a modern medieval movie, and boasts an excellent cast including Robert Pattinson, Joel Edgerton and Sean Harris. For a reported budget of just $20 million (although you wouldn’t know it), director David Michôd managed to produce one of the most engaging and visually stunning historical dramas around.
Saving Private Ryan
One of the greatest World War II movies ever made, Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan landed on Netflix in April 2022 to add some Hollywood heritage to your watchlist. A winner of five Oscars, it follows a group of soldiers tasked with finding – and sending home – a paratrooper (Matt Damon) stationed deep in occupied France.
Tom Hanks leads a squad comprising Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Adam Goldberg and Jeremy Davies in this one, whose brotherhood and sacrifice makes for frequently poignant viewing. Saving Private Ryan’s opening sequence, a visceral re-enactment of the D-Day landings, is also among the most iconic of any film in history. If you’re keen on war dramas, Spielberg’s epic is necessary viewing.
Army of the Dead
Army of the Dead is Zack Snyder’s first feature film since his increasingly acrimonious split with Warner Bros, and it’s everything that his DC superhero movies weren’t: bright, colorful, action-packed, funny and topical, even if its 45-minute introduction is a little self-indulgent.
Dave Bautista leads a strong cast as Scott Ward, a former zombie-stomping war hero who’s approached with an intriguing proposal by casino owner Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada). The assignment? Enter a zombie infested Las Vegas, break into Tanaka’s casino vault, escape with his $200 million assets and Ward and his group will receive $50 million to split between them as a reward.
Yes, the movie is as chaotic as that plot makes it sound, and with a sequel on the way in the near future, Army of the Dead is a must-watch for fans of gratuitous blood and gore.
The Mitchells vs the Machines
Originally intended for a theatrical release, Netflix bought this new animated movie from Sony and producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller – best known as the minds behind The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street, and also part of the team behind Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (opens in new tab). It’s exactly as charming and funny as those movies, too.
Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson) is an aspiring filmmaker who’s about to head to college – until her dad, conscious that they’ve been drifting apart, cancels her plane ticket and insists on a family roadtrip. Halfway through this fraught journey, an AI takes revenge on its billionaire creator, and the world is suddenly under duress from smart robots.
A lot of Spider-Verse’s visual touches cross over into this film, too, with 2D annotations and drawings on the already-pretty 3D visuals. Most of all, it’s nice to see Netflix backing a family movie that’s not just full of talking dogs and other hackneyed nonsense so often seen in CG kids’ fare.
Rush is a biographical sports movie about the heated rivalry between Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda – played here brilliantly by Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl respectively, in one of Ron Howard’s best movies in recent memory. The film portrays their rivalry as lucky playboy vs hotheaded strategist, and while it might exaggerate real-life events somewhat, it’s a riveting movie. Along with documentary Senna and dad-friendly flick Ford Vs Ferrari, Rush is one of the best movies about racing around – don’t miss it on Netflix.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Based on the play by August Wilson – and despite the gorgeous period set dressing and costume design, it definitely feels very stage-y – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is one of the best Netflix original movies of recent years. Viola Davis stars as legendary ‘Mother of Blues’ Ma Rainey, and the film focuses on one fraught recording session with Ma and her band, and the tension between the musician and her white producers and management.
Meanwhile, the late Chadwick Boseman stars as Levee, an innovative trumpet player who struggles to find his place in the music scene, amid bandmates who don’t always take him seriously. It’s a sad but insightful movie that explores how culture is worth protecting and valuing, in a world where it’s easily taken and monetized, and the film truly comes to life in its amazing musical sequences. Don’t miss it.
Always Be My Maybe
You may know Always Be My Maybe’s leading lady Ali Wong from her raucous Netflix stand-up specials, but it’s as a successful celebrity chef that she really hits her stride. After a failed engagement, Wong’s character Sasha Tran heads to her hometown of San Francisco to setup a new restaurant, only to run into her old bff played by Randall Park. Through the turbulence of the relationship, a sudden fling with actor Keanu Reeves and despite the differences in careers, the two try to make it work, and the journey from old friends to lovers is a joy to watch.
Beasts of No Nation
We won’t beat about the bush – Beasts of No Nation is a tough watch. No Time to Die’s Cary Fukunaga directs this harrowing feature, which follows the journey of a young orphan (Abraham Attah) forced into becoming a child soldier by a fierce warlord (Idris Elba) during an unnamed African civil war.
An adaptation of Uzodinma Iweala’s novel of the same name, Beasts of No Nation is a masterfully-shot story documenting the human cost of conflict, and places the uncomfortable realities of war front and centre. This isn’t one to watch with the kids, but sitting through its two-hour narrative is an enlightening, dare-we-say necessary movie experience.
This threateningly long Scorsese pic attracted attention for the extensive effects work used to de-age its old stars (opens in new tab), and it’s a creative decision that’s sometimes distracting. But there’s no denying the appeal of seeing De Niro, Pesci and Pacino in the same movie together for likely the last time, and this life-spanning, mostly rewarding crime epic is a suitable tribute to their collective talents. It’s a languid film – and not a patch on Goodfellas – but absolutely among the best Netflix movies the streaming service has financed to date. The Irishman is about the life of Frank Sheeran (De Niro), as he recounts his long association with the Bufalino crime family, and infamous union leader Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino).
Da 5 Bloods
Spike Lee’s entry in the Vietnam War canon is unlike anything else before it. Focusing on the black American experience of the war, it’s about a group of soldiers who return to the country decades later in their old age to retrieve the remains of their squad captain (played in flashback by Chadwick Boseman). At the same time, they seek out buried gold they left behind years before – though they’re not alone in this pursuit. The movie flips from being a mournful tale of trauma to a bonkers action film with almost no notice, too, but the mix here works.
If you’ve enjoyed Bong Joon Ho’s Best Picture winner Parasite, you might want to check out his previous movie, Okja, which is still one of the best Netflix originals on the platform. It tells the bizarre tale of a young girl and her best pal, an enormous creature called Okja, whose friendship comes under threat when a nasty CEO (Tilda Swinton) has evil plans for the titular animal. It’s a refreshing movie with a nice angle of animal activism – a very different proposition to Parasite, for sure, but one that also demonstrates the director’s ability to blend genres.
An astonishing ode to motherhood in all forms, Roma is the most personal film to date from visionary director Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Gravity). On paper, it’s is not the easiest sell – a subtitled black and white film about a live-in housekeeper spoken almost entirely in Spanish and the indigenous Mixtec language. But Cuarón’s 2018 critical hit is nonetheless riveting from a cinematic standpoint (especially when watched through the streamer’s 4K Ultra HD setting). More a series of vignettes than a traditional three-act story, it examines the life of a Mexico City family in the early 1970s during a time of great social upheaval. Roma is still necessary Netflix viewing for cinema aficionados in 2022.