So, to help you in this most important of tasks, we've compiled a list of the good films on Netflix. We're also updating this list with the latest releases and new finds most weeks. So check back for more recommendations.
La La Land
Los Angeles is a city where people go to chase their dreams, but wind up working dead-end jobs for a boss they hate. It's also a place where a traffic jam turns into a musical set-piece, complete with jazz hands on car roofs, at the drop of a hat. Ryan Gosling plays a gloomy pianist stuck playing jazz standards in restaurants while Emma Stone is an aspiring actor who can't quite seem to get a land her first acting gig. La La Land follows the pair as they make the agonising decision to choose between their relationship and their dreams, but along the way they manage to rattle off a handful of original songs, helped along by the film's superb score. The film received 14 nominations at the 2017 Oscars, and ended up winning six. You can watch it here.
Leonardo DiCaprio finally won his long lusted-after Best Actor Oscar, in 2016, for his role as a nineteenth-century American fur trapper who will stop at nothing to exact revenge on the man who once left him for dead. The Revenant is a beautifully-shot and relentless period piece that will leave you exhausted, but in a good way. Watch it on Netfilx here.
When Nasa or SpaceX sends the first humans to Mars, it's likely they won't return. The Martian sees this probable scenario acted out. Matt Damon, who stars in much of the film in a solo role, is left on the Red Planet after being presumed dead. In his mission to survive, he has very few resources at his disposal and his entire fate rests on the growing potential of Martian soil. It's a gripping, almost realistic portray of the perils of human space exploration. Watch it on Netflix here.
Bridge of Spies
Set during the Cold War, Bridge of Spies tells the story of a lawyer, played by Tom Hanks, who is tasked with negotiating the release of a US Air Force pilot shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960. Mark Rylance won an Oscar for his portrayal of Rudolf Abel, the Soviet spy imprisoned in America who is offered to the Russians in exchange for the life of the pilot. Director Steven Spielberg is on top for for this slow burning but gripping flick that's based on a true story. Watch it here.
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Spotlight is based on the true story of a group of investigative journalists working at The Boston Globe newspaper who uncover systemic child sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests going back at least 30 years. The cast, which includes Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams, all put in top-drawer performances as journalists battling to gather the facts and avoid the influence of the omnipresent Catholic church. The film won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay at the 2016 Oscars. Watch it here.
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The Nice Guys
Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe star in this classic buddy comedy that follows the screw-up filled antics of two private detectives. The script is pacy, the gags (both physical and spoken) are funny and the plot – while a little thin at times – keeps things going to an action-packed finale. The retro buddy movie feel is neatly complimented by a remarkably detailed recreation of 1970s Los Angeles, while the film’s somewhat adult themes ensure it doesn’t get lost in a sea of teen-friendly, wishy-washy action adventure films. In short: it’s something a bit different and the relationship that develops between Gosling and Crowe makes The Nice Guys a must-watch. Watch it here.
Is Amelia (Essie Davis) going mad or is she being haunted by a demon? The script of The Babadook blurs the lines between horror and grief, making you question exactly what is going on. The relationship between Amelia and her son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) veers from touching to haunting as the horror ramps up, before the ending deliberately raises more questions than it answers. An unconventional, if slightly stressful, 90 minutes. Watch it here.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Based on the novel by Stieg Larsson, this 2011 psychological thriller follows disgraced investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) and vigilante hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) as they try to get to the bottom of a young woman’s disappearance. The compelling mystery with its unpredictable twists will keep you hooked, and Craig and Mara’s full commitment to their characters means it's worth re-watching too. But be warned: there's some pretty graphic violence, including a particularly harrowing scene of sexual assault. Watch it here.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Rarely is a franchise reboot this successful. Fury Road is a manic, bewildering spectacle of a blockbuster that sticks two fingers up to the soulless CGI-filled action films that dominate the box office. The visuals are remarkable, the costume and prop design out of this world and the pace unrelenting. The big-budget treatment takes a vision dreamt-up in the late-1970s and puts on an eye-achingly epic show. Turn up the sound and let the madness wash over you. Watch it on Netflix here.
In Bruges is a rare film that manages to be both hilarious and traumatising. The 2008 black comedy follows a pair of Irish hitmen who retreat to Belgium to lay low after a job gone wrong. Here, they face two equally difficult challenges: dealing with the fallout of the botched assassination, and keeping themselves amused in the most boring town in Belgium. We follow the unlikely duo around the town’s picturesque tourist spots and seedier underworld as they grapple with their consciences – and, more urgently, their displeased boss. Featuring fantastic performances from Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes, it won’t fail to surprise you with its novel plot and motley cast of characters. Watch it on Netflix here.
Bright is Netflix's $90 million attempt at creating a blockbuster. Directed by David Ayer, the film stars Will Smith as a cop in Los Angeles. But the city is very different to the one we know: it's filled with elves, humans, orcs and fairies, all living together. Smith and his partner, the first orc police officer, find a magic wand that has the potential to destroy the world. Needless to say, there are a few people interested in taking the wand from the officers' hands. For an easy watch, Bright ticks many boxes: a thriller, action, sci-fi, and a healthy dose of crime. Plus, there's Smith. Watch it on Netflix here.
The Breakfast Club
A true classic. Five high school students, all from different backgrounds find themselves in detention together on a Saturday. There's the rebel, the spoilt child, the outcast, the jock and the brainy one. Naturally, their different social groups mean they don't get on, but when you're locked in the school library with nothing to do for an entire day things can change. The teens forge an unlikely friendship and each learn something about themselves as well. Watch The Breakfast Clubhere on Netflix.
What happened to Monday
What happened to Monday is so ridiculous that it’s brilliant. Part of the ever-growing list of sci-fi dystopian flicks, this Netflix Original tells the ever-unraveling story of six septuplets who had the misfortune of being born into a world with a strict one-child policy. To avoid government capture, they must pretend to be the same person. When one sister goes missing, this proves easier said than done. With an impressive performance by Noomi Rapace, as all six sisters, and Willem Dafoe as their guardian, watch it here.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Wannabe-gangster Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) and his misanthropic survivalist adoptive father Hector (Sam Neill) escape into the New Zealand jungle, sparking a manhunt for the mismatched pair when the latter is assumed to be mistreating his ward. Sometimes surreal, always charming, Hunt for the Wilderpeople explores grief, family, the merit of getting a bit lost — and oodles of gorgeous Kiwi landscape. Head here to watch Wilderpeople on Netflix.
Mudbound is tipped to be Netflix's first serious Oscar-worthy feature film. Directed by the up-and-coming Dee Rees and based on a novel of the same name, it's a period drama set in rural, post-war Mississippi as two veterans return home to deal with rural class struggle, racism and PTSD. Staring Carey Mulligan, Garret Headland and Mary J. Blige in leading roles, its 97 per cent Rotten Tomatoes rating has it marked it as one of 2017's leading indie films. Head over to Netflix to make your own judgement.
ByJames Temperton and Andy Vandervell
Let the Right One In
Swedish director Tomas Alfredson made his name with this cult 2008 romantic horror film based on a novel of the same name. Set in a sleepy 1980s Swedish town suffering a spate of murders, it centres on the relationship between a 12-year-old boy tormented by bullies and a mysterious young girl who moves in next door with her father. The twist? The young girl is a vampire. If you haven't seen this highly original horror movie before then it's not to be missed, especially as it does something different with the hackneyed vampire genre. Head over to Netflix for your fix.
The Dallas Buyers Club
Set in 1985 in Texas, a bigoted rodeo bull rider, Ron Woodroof, is diagnosed with AIDS. His refusal to accept his fate sends him on a journey to track down the drug AZT, the only known treatment. On his journey he meets a transgender business partner, who agrees to help him distribute the drug amongst the gay community. Based on a true story, Dallas Buyer Club is as harrowing as it is inspiring. Woodroof, played by Matthew McConaughey, subverts the macho man, making him an unexpected hero to a generation of gay men. McConaughey's celebrated performance won him an Academy award and Golden Globe for Best Male Actor. Watch it here.
The Fundamentals of Caring
This on-the road indie flick is many things at once. Based on a novel by Jonathan Evison, it's heartwarming, witty, thought-provoking and laugh-out-loud hilarious. The Fundamentals of Caring is lifted with just the right balance of dark comedy and drama making it both a poignant story and an easy watch. Paul Rudd stars as beaten-down Ben who decides to go on a course to become a carer after divorcing his wife, and Trevor (Craig Roberts) is wry, hilarious and complicated as the teenager Rudd begins caring for. It's refreshing to see disability presented in a way that feels honest without being afraid to address self-depreciation through comedy. Go have a slightly teary laugh over on Netflix.
Zero Dark Thirty
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, known for Hurt Locker and the upcoming Detroit, Zero Dark Thirty tells the story of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Starring Jessica Chastain as the lead, it's an outstanding thriller and doesn't shy away from some challenging topics. It's infamous for its depiction of "enhanced interrogation" and it was criticised for being both pro- and anti-torture. In any case, Zero Dark Thirty isn't a jingoistic celebration of US success, but a tough, unrelenting look at the sacrifices, moral and personal, made in pursuit of the war on terror and well worth a watch.
The Big Short
Witty, outrageous and at times chilling, The Big Short will reaffirm your cynicism of Wall Street. Starring Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling to name a few, this comedy-drama was one of the more unexpected films to come out of 2015. Originally a book by Michael Lewis on the financial crash, this BAFTA and Academy Award winning adaptation brings to the screen the crisis of 2008 and its roots. Be prepared to be enlightened and enraged. Go watch it on Netflix.
Quentin Tarantino's homage to Spaghetti Westerns from 2012 stars Jamie Foxx as a liberated slave in search of his wife, with Christophe Waltz along for the ride as a dentist-turned-bounty hunter. It could probably do with a being a tad shorter but this excellent modern Western showcases the director's eclectic range of influences from Italian 1966 film Django to seminal 1970s TV drama series Roots. Watch it on Netflix.
Before Ryan Gosling was mansplaining jazz to Emma Stone in La La Land, he was a Hollywood stunt driver moonlighting as getaway driver in Drive. This classy neon-noir thriller packs incredible action sequences, a strong cast, which includes Bryan Cranston and Christina Hendricks, along with a fantastic electro soundtrack that comes dangerously close to stealing the show. Get in the driving seat.
Unlike The Circle, South Korean film Okja was well received and falls under the Netflix Original[/link] banner. The film tells the tale of a young girl trying to save her best friend – a giant super pig called Okja from a powerful corporation. Directed by Bong Joon-Ho, who co-wrote the film with author of The Psychopath Test, Jon Ronson, this charming tale is a truly original creation. [link url=""https://www.netflix.com/title/80091936"]Watch it on Netflix here[/link].
Also known by as How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb, this 1964 jet black comedy shows Peter Sellers at his very best. Stanley Kubrick's whip-smart Cold War satire sees a disturbed US Air Force General attempting to trigger a nuclear apocalypse while the US President and his War Room aides try to avert disaster with the help of ex-Nazi scientific advisor Dr Strangelove. Watch it here.
One of director Sidney Lumet's many masterpieces, Network is a razor-sharp satire of the broadcast news world and the controversial influence of TV ratings. It's most famous scene features Peter Finch as longtime news anchor Howard Beale and his much-quoted onscreen meltdown when he angrily encourages viewers to shout out of their windows: "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" Watch it over on Netflix.