The 74 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now (October 2022)

Do you feel like the luckiest girl alive? You will after you watch the latest addition to our list of the best movies to watch on Netflix, Mila Kunis’ Luckiest Girl Alive, in which she plays a magazine editor who’s hiding a dark, true crime-style secret from when she was in high school. If psychological thriller isn’t the kind of thriller you’re looking for at the moment, you should check out the supernatural thriller Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, or the action thriller Carter, or any of the other entertaining movies on our list. 

This is a list of the best movies to watch on Netflix right now. To keep things relevant, we’re specifically highlighting the best recent releases, Netflix originals, and some of our own personal favorites.

Last updated Oct. 14; newer additions are at the top 

For fans of: Mediocre Netflix thrillers, Mila Kunis, trauma

Mila Kunis, Luckiest Girl Alive

Sabrina Lantos/Netflix

Director: Mike Barker
Stars: Mila Kunis, Finn Wittrock, Connie Britton, Scoot McNairy
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 54

Mila Kunis stars in this psychological thriller adaptation of a bestselling novel by Jessica Knoll. Kunis plays Ani, a New York magazine editor who by all outward appearances has put a traumatic high school event behind her, but the past has a way of causing problems in the present when you’re holding on to a dark secret. Was Ani the victim, the perpetrator, or a little of both? Find out in this polished, Hulu limited series-style movie. -Liam Mathews [Trailer

For fans of: Late-period Stephen King, late-period Donald Sutherland

Jaeden Martell and Donald Sutherland, Mr. Harrigan's Phone

Jaeden Martell and Donald Sutherland, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone

Nicole Rivelli/Netflix

Director: John Lee Hancock
Stars: Jaeden Martell, Donald Sutherland, Kirby Howell-Baptiste
Genre: Horror, Drama
Rating: PG-13
Metacritic score: 55

Here’s who’s behind the new Netflix film Mr. Harrigan’s Phone: Ryan Murphy, Blumhouse, and Stephen King. That’s a murderer’s row of inconsistency! Fortunately, this spooky new movie, about a teen (It‘s Jaeden Martell) who befriends a rich, elderly neighbor (Donald Sutherland) and continues to talk to him via text after the old man dies, is a pretty solid adaptation of a 2020 Stephen King novella. It’s actually more of a coming-of-age drama than a horror movie. And of course, it’s set in Maine. -Tim Surette [Trailer]

For fans of: Her, Judd Apatow, going outside

Adam Devine, Jexi

Adam Devine, Jexi

David Moir/CBS Films

Director: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
Stars: Adam Devine, Alexandra Shipp, Ron Funches, Charlyne Yi, Wanda Sykes, Justin Hartley, Kid Cudi, Miguel Peña, Rose Byrne
Genre: Comedy
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 39

This semi-spoof of Spike Jonze’s Her follows Phil (Adam Devine), a lonely San Franciscan who’s overly reliant on his phone. His life changes when he gets a new phone with a sentient digital assistant, Jexi (voiced by Rose Byrne), who bullies and browbeats him into getting outside of his comfort zone. It works, and he starts a relationship with Cate (Alexandra Shipp), an adventurous neighborhood bike store owner. But then Jexi gets jealous. It’s a silly, cliched little romantic comedy that has a bunch of story problems but more importantly has a few big laughs. And it’s less than 90 minutes long, which is wonderful. More movies should be short! -Liam Mathews [Trailer

For fans of: When extreme horror directors make family movies

Daniel Roebuck, Jeff Daniel Phillips, and Sheri Moon Zombie, The Munsters

Daniel Roebuck, Jeff Daniel Phillips, and Sheri Moon Zombie, The Munsters

Universal Pictures

Director: Rob Zombie
Stars: Jeff Daniel Phillips, Sheri Moon Zombie, Daniel Roebuck, Sylvester McCoy, Richard Brake
Genre: Comedy, Family
Rating: PG
Metacritic score: 57

Writer-director Rob Zombie (House of 1000 Corpses, Halloween 2007) goes gentle with this earnest, PG-rated remake of The Munsters, the ’60s sitcom about a family of monsters living an affectionately satirical Leave It to Beaver-style suburban life. The movie is an origin story for how Herman (Jeff Daniel Phillips) and Lily Munster (Sheri Moon Zombie) met and fell in love. The series clearly had a big influence on Zombie, who has spent his musical and theatrical career doing slightly ironic riffs on classic horror images and intellectual property. It’s the first thing he’s ever made that’s safe for the whole family, unless you take your family with you when you dig through the ditches and burn though the witches and slam in the back of your Dragula. -Liam Mathews [Trailer]

For fans of: Strangers on a Train, Gen Z icons Camila Mendes and Maya Hawke

Maya Hawke and Camila Mendes, Do Revenge

Maya Hawke and Camila Mendes, Do Revenge

Kim Simms/Netflix

Director: Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
Stars: Camila Mendes, Maya Hawke, Austin Abrams, Rish Shah, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sophie Turner
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rating: TV-MA
Metacritic score: 66

This stylish teen revenge comedy is inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Strangers on a Train, where two strangers swap targets in order to eliminate the motive and avoid being caught. In this version, high school seniors Drea (Riverdale‘s Camila Mendes) and Eleanor (Stranger Things‘ Maya Hawke) team up to punish each other’s bullies. “What it has going for it most is Maya Hawke, a very gifted performer who carries herself through the comedy quite well,” Jordan Hoffman writes in his review of the film. “Hawke makes funny faces when you least expect them, and it’s fun to watch.” -Liam Mathews [Trailer]

Sheng Wang: Sweet & Juicy

For fans of: Laughing a lot

Sheng Wang, Sheng Wang: Sweet & Juicy

Sheng Wang, Sheng Wang: Sweet & Juicy

Terence Patrick/Netflix

Director: Ali Wong
Stars: Sheng Wang
Genre: Stand-up Special
Rating: n/a
Metacritic score: n/a

Comedian Sheng Wang has delivered one of Netflix’s all-time great comedy specials, dissecting office printers, Costco pants, and snoring in his unique Texas drawl. Wang, based out of the Bay Area, keeps things irreverent but relatable with observational comedy about getting older and not giving a crap about it. It’s funny from the moment he steps on stage until the second he leaves it. -Tim Surette [Trailer]

More recommendations:

End of the Road

For fans of: Ludacris as an actor, “Netflix movies” as a genre

Queen Latifah and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, End of the Road

Queen Latifah and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, End of the Road

Ursula Coyote/Netflix

Director: Millicent Shelton
Stars: Queen Latifah, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Beau Bridges, Mychala Faith Lee, Shaun Dixon, Frances Lee McCain
Genre: Thriller, Action, Crime
Rating: R
Metacritic score: n/a

Netflix has an assembly line cranking out violent, overlit thrillers like this, but not all of them star Queen Latifah and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges. The rappers-turned-actors get their No Country for Old Men on as financially struggling siblings traveling through the Southwest who find themselves pursued by dangerous drug dealers after Luda takes a bag of cash he finds in their motel room. It’s painfully cliched — “Nobody messes with my family” is an actual line of dialogue — but it’s more watchable than, say, Kate. -Liam Mathews [Trailer]

For fans of: Devastating romance, wondering why a movie didn’t win more awards

Kiki Layne and Stephan James, If Beale Street Could Talk

Kiki Layne and Stephan James, If Beale Street Could Talk

Annapurna Pictures/Hulu

Director: Barry Jenkins
Stars: KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King, Teyonah Parris, Brian Tyree Henry, Colman Domingo, Dave Franco, Diego Luna, Pedro Pascal
Genre: Drama, Romance, Crime
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 87

Barry Jenkins’ 2018 follow-up to Moonlight is another stunner that cemented Jenkins as one of the most exciting directors in the biz today. His eye for color, lighting, and camera angles is poetic, and perfectly honors If Beale Street Could Talk‘s emotional source material, James Baldwin’s novel about a young couple who want to have a baby despite the father being behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit. If you missed If Beale Street Could Talk when it came out, fix that immediately now that it’s streaming on Netflix, and see for yourself why Regina King took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. –Tim Surette [Trailer]

Running with the Devil: The Wild World of John McAfee

For fans of: The AOL dial-up noise, but make it Tiger King

John McAfee, Running with the Devil: The Wild World of John McAfee

John McAfee, Running with the Devil: The Wild World of John McAfee

Netflix

Year: 2022
Director: Charlie Russell
Genre: Documentary, True Crime
Rating: TV-MA
Metacritic score: n/a

This is a documentary about the life of the late tech entrepreneur/attempted libertarian presidential candidate/fugitive/dark prince of Belize, whose eccentricity crossed over into criminality and whose death has become the center of conspiracy theories. Running With the Devil shows what it was like to be around McAfee himself — it was always chaotic, and often dangerous — but you won’t necessarily feel like you understand him better. -Liam Mathews [Trailer]

For fans of: The Sliding Doors concept, cute outfits

Lili Reinhart and David Corenswet, Look Both Ways

Lili Reinhart and David Corenswet, Look Both Ways

Netflix

Year: 2022
Director: Wanuri Kahiu
Stars: Lili Reinhart, Danny Ramirez, David Corenswet, Aisha Dee, Andrea Savage, Luke Wilson, Nia Long 
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Romance
Rating: TV-14
Metacritic score: 49

Riverdale‘s Lili Reinhart gets her “what if?” on in this sweet romantic dramedy. She stars as Natalie, an aspiring animator with a five-year plan of graduating from college, moving to Los Angeles, and starting her career. In one reality, she follows her plan; in the other, she gets pregnant from a one-night stand with her friend Gabe (Danny Ramirez) and stays home to raise her daughter. It’s an affable movie about how life has a way of working itself out, even if things don’t go according to plan. -Liam Mathews [Trailer]

For fans of: Saying “my cat is very empathetic”

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Pratuan Butthong / EyeEm

Year: 2022
Director: Andy Mitchell
Genre: Documentary, Family
Rating: TV-PG
Metacritic score: n/a

People like to say that cats are a mystery, but the truth is there just hasn’t been a lot of research into why our feline friends are the way they are. That’s starting to change. This family-friendly documentary explains the science of cats in a cute and fun way. For example, it’s scientifically proven that cats know their own names, but don’t always choose to respond. If you love cats, this film will help you understand them better, and if you love a cat-lover, it will help you understand them better. -Liam Mathews [Trailer]

For fans of: John Wick, horror comedies, Snoop Dogg

Jamie Foxx and Snoop Dogg, Day Shift

Jamie Foxx and Snoop Dogg, Day Shift

Andrew Cooper/Netflix

Year: 2022
Director: J.J. Perry
Stars: Jamie Foxx, Dave Franco, Snoop Dogg, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Meagan Good, Karla Souza
Genre: Action, Horror, Comedy
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 51

Jamie Foxx stars in this gory action-horror-comedy movie as an LA-area dad whose job as a pool cleaner is cover for his real job as a vampire hunter. But Foxx isn’t the real star. The real stars are the fight coordinators and stunt people who perform wild contortions in the film’s numerous bloodsucker brawls. The movie is directed by J.J. Perry, a longtime stunt coordinator and second-unit director specializing in action scenes making his feature debut, and produced by the people who make the John Wick franchise. It’s a lot of fun, and that’s not even mentioning Snoop Dogg’s supporting role as a vampire-killing urban cowboy. -Liam Mathews [Trailer]

Carter

For fans of: The Raid franchise

Joo Won, Carter

Joo Won, Carter

Netflix

Year: 2022
Director: Jung Byung-gil
Stars: Joo Won, Lee Sung-jae, Jeong So-ri, Kim Bo-min
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rating: TV-MA
Metacritic score: n/a

This is a South Korean action flick in the Indonesian style where a bare-bones plot functions as a loose justification for a constant stream of over-the-top action sequences that make your dopamine and adrenaline go crazy. Car chases, helicopter chases, gunfights, fistfights, you name it; if it’s action, it’s in this movie. Joo Won plays the Bourne-like amnesiac ass-kicker of the title, who is tasked with transporting a girl to North Korea during a devastating pandemic by a mysterious voice in his ear that tells him where to go and how to avoid being killed by CIA and North Korean operatives who want the girl for their own sinister ends. A fun thing about Carter is that sequels would presumably adopt a naming convention coincidentally also used by rapper Lil Wayne for his albums Tha Carter I-V. -Liam Mathews [Trailer]

For fans of: A lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing

Chris Evans, The Gray Man

Chris Evans, The Gray Man

Netflix

Year: 2022
Director: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jessica Henwick, Regé-Jean Page, Wagner Moura, Julia Butters, Dhanush, Alfre Woodard, Billy Bob Thornton
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rating: PG-13
Metacritic score: 51

Ryan Gosling’s first movie since 2018 is this mega-budgeted action thriller from Endgame and Infinity War directors the Russo brothers. He plays Court Gentry, a CIA black ops guy who’s trying to not get captured or killed by his former colleague Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans), who you can tell is a psychopath from his mustache. It’s Netflix’s attempt to build a James Bond-style franchise from scratch. We’ll see how it goes. The ubiquitous Ana de Armas and aspiring superstar Regé-Jean Page co-star. -Liam Mathews [Trailer | Review 

For fans of: Moana, nautical adventures arrr matey

The Sea Beast

The Sea Beast

Netflix

Year: 2022
Director: Chris Williams
Stars: Karl Urban, Zaris-Angel Hator, Jared Harris, and Marianne Jean-Baptiste
Genre: Family, Adventure, Fantasy, Comedy
Rating: PG
Metacritic score: 74

Most Netflix original kids movies are just re-dubs of second-tier CGI films from foreign studios, but The Sea Beast, from Moana and Big Hero 6 director Chris Williams, looks like a legitimate contender for best family film of the year. A young girl stows away on her idol’s ship to help him hunt gigantic sea creatures, leading to seafaring adventure and action. It’s getting great reviews, and features three TV Guide favorites as voice actors: The Boys‘ Karl Urban, Legion‘s Dan Stevens, and Chernobyl‘s Jared Harris. –Tim Surette [Trailer]

For fans of: The most messed up true crime you’ve ever seen in your life

The Girl in the Picture

The Girl in the Picture

Netflix

Year: 2022
Director: Skye Borgman
Genre: True Crime, Documentary
Rating: TV-MA
Metacritic score: n/a

This haunting true crime documentary tells the story of a young woman named Sharon Marshall, who was abused by her stepfather Franklin Floyd in unspeakable ways. Marshall was found dying by the side of a road in 1990, which led to an investigation that uncovered Floyd’s crimes. The documentary is structured around the unbelievable twists in the things Floyd did, but unlike most true crime documentaries like this, it always cares more about the victims than the perpetrator, which keeps it from getting too lurid. -Liam Mathews [Trailer]

For fans of: Father-daughter dynamics, survival skills

Thomasin Mackenzie and Ben Foster, Leave No Trace

Thomasin Mackenzie and Ben Foster, Leave No Trace

Scott Green/Bleecker Street

Year: 2018
Director: Debra Granik
Stars: Ben Foster, Thomasin Mackenzie, Jeff Kober, Dale Dickey
Genre: Drama
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 88

This acclaimed indie drama from Winter’s Bone director Debra Granik follows a PTSD-stricken military veteran (Ben Foster) and his young teenage daughter (Thomasin Mackenzie), who have their off-the-grid life in the forest uprooted when they’re forced to re-integrate into society. It’s a sensitive, empathetic film with extraordinary performances from Foster and Mackenzie. -Liam Mathews [Trailer]

For fans of: Stephen King adaptations, devastating endings 

Thomas Jane, The Mist

Thomas Jane, The Mist

Dimension Films/MGM

Year: 2007
Director: Frank Darabont
Stars: Thomas Jane, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher, Marcia Gay Harden
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 58

This 2007 adaptation of Stephen King’s 1980 novella is notable for a lot of things. It’s notable for being the first time writer-director Frank Darabont adapted one of King’s horror stories, after finding enormous success with the dramas The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. It’s also notable as a precursor to The Walking Dead, the revolutionary horror series Darabont created for television a few years later. The Mist and The Walking Dead share several cast members, including Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, and Melissa McBride, who has a small but memorable role in The Mist in one of her earliest screen appearances. (The Mist star Thomas Jane was Darabont’s first choice to play Rick Grimes on TWD, a role that eventually went to Andrew Lincoln.) But most of all, it’s notable for its shocking ending, which is one of the bleakest things you’ll ever see in a Hollywood movie. The rest of the movie is good, with some savvy metaphors for George W. Bush-era America, but the ending will stick with you forever. It’s not even in the book; Darabont came up with it for the movie. -Liam Mathews [Trailer]

For fans of: Dystopian thrillers, when Chris Hemsworth plays himbos

Chris Hemsworth, Spiderhead

Chris Hemsworth, Spiderhead

Netflix

Year: 2022
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Stars: Miles Teller, Jurnee Smollett, Chris Hemsworth
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Drama, Thriller
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 55

This expensive movie has unusually literary background for a Netflix dystopian sci-fi thriller. It’s based on a short story by MacArthur Fellowship recipient George Saunders originally published in The New Yorker. While that seems like source material that would have to be dumbed down a lot to get made into a Netflix movie — and some of the despairing story’s darkness has definitely been filtered out — Deadpool screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski actually kept it pretty smart. It’s unusually thoughtful for a Netflix blockbuster. It stars Chris Hemsworth as the warden of an experimental prison where mysterious pharmaceuticals are tested out on the prisoners, who include Jeff (Miles Teller) and Rachel (Jurnee Smollett). Jeff and Rachel form a special bond, which leads to them getting inflicted with some mind-bending, darkly funny psychological thrills. -Liam Mathews [Trailer | Review]

For fans of: Adam Sandler: Serious Actor 

Adam Sandler, Hustle

Adam Sandler, Hustle

Scott Yamano/Netflix

Year: 2022
Director: Jeremiah Zagar
Stars: Adam Sandler, Juancho Hernangomez, Queen Latifah, Robert Duvall
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Sports
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 67

In Uncut Gems, which sadly expired from Netflix in May, the game of basketball is essentially second billed, right behind Adam Sandler himself. Sandler is famously a huge basketball fan in general, so it was only a matter of time before he made a movie about it. Another reminder to the world that Sandler is a solid dramatic actor, Hustle is a sports drama that stars Sandler as a washed-up scout who makes it his mission to recruit a talented street ball player from Spain (Utah Jazz forward Juancho Hernangomez) into the NBA. -Allison Picurro [Trailer]

For fans of: Bromance, epics, insane action

RRR

RRR

Year: 2022
Director: S.S. Rajamouli
Stars: N.T. Rama Rao Jr., Ram Charan
Genre: Action, Epic
Rating: NR
Metacritic score: 87

As Americans, we’re pretty much just “Marvel movie, drrr drrr, Star Wars, drrr drrr,” but now’s your chance to expand your range to some quality action from international cinema. S.S. Rajamouli’s insane epic RRR is a global phenomenon, a dazzling period adventure about two real figures from India’s history who meet, form a friendship, and fight the British Raj together, and find a missing girl. With over-the-top, physics-defying action sequences, you won’t care that it runs over three hours long. –Tim Surette [Trailer]

For fans of: Terrifying stories of illegal insemination

Keith Boyle, Our Father

Keith Boyle, Our Father

Netflix

Year: 2022
Director: Lucie Jourdan
Genre: True Crime, Documentary
Rating: TV-MA
Metacritic score: 43

Ignore the low Metacritic score (The New York Times gave it an 80!) and you’ll find a horrifying story about Dr. Donald Cline, a fertility doctor who surreptitiously impregnated his patients with his own sperm. It’s hard to look away as interviews with victims and Cline’s children born from disconsent gradually show the scope of Cline’s crimes. While it does dabble in tabloid sensationalism, the facts are terrifying and the victims’ feelings keep the film centered. Plus, we all need to pay our respects to the poor actor who plays Cline in the reenactments showing him going to his office to make sperm. That guy deserves a raise. –Tim Surette [Trailer]

For fans of: WWII history, extremely British movies

Matthew Macfadyen, Colin Firth, and Johnny Flynn, Operation Mincemeat

Matthew Macfadyen, Colin Firth, and Johnny Flynn, Operation Mincemeat

Giles Keyte

Year: 2022
Director: John Madden
Stars: Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen, Kelly Macdonald, Penelope Wilton, Johnny Flynn, Jason Isaacs
Genre: War, Drama, History
Rating: PG-13
Metacritic score: 64

On Succession, Matthew Macfadyen does such a pitch-perfect impression of a sad Midwestern man that it’s easy to forget he’s actually British, so allow this film to be your reminder. A mustachioed Macfadyen stars alongside Colin Firth in this World War II drama based on the true story of two intelligence officers who devised an elaborate scheme to throw the Nazis off their plan to invade Sicily. Their plan involved a corpse washing up on the Spanish coast, armed with fake documents that would be intercepted by Nazi spies. I love when history’s weird. -Allison Picurro [Trailer]

Bubble 

For fans of: Attack on Titan, parkour

Bubble

Bubble

Netflix

Year: 2022
Director: Tetsuro Araki
Stars: Alice Hirose, Jun Shison, Mamoru Miyano, Marina Inoue
Genre: Anime, adventure, sci-fi
Rating: n/a
Metacritic score: n/a

This visually stunning anime from Wit Studios, the house behind Attack on Titan and Ranking of Kings, among others, comes from some of anime’s biggest names in director Tetsuro Araki and screenwriter Gen Urobuchi. And the visuals had better be good, too, because the story is a bit lacking, borrowing from The Little Mermaid as a girl who can’t speak learns to navigate a new world where parkour is the main mode of getting around Tokyo. But hey, it looks cool. -Tim Surette [Trailer]

For fans of: The good old days, childhood memories, Waking Life

Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood

Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood

Netflix

Year: 2022
Director: Richard Linklater
Stars: Jack Black, Zachary Levi, Glen Powell
Genre: Animation, Drama, Comedy
Rating: PG-13
Metacritic score: 81

Richard Linklater returns to his animation style of choice — rotoscoping, in which film is drawn over frame-by-frame for realistic movement with a dream-like feel — that he used in Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly. This time, it’s used to tell a story about his very real childhood growing up in Houston in the late 1960s and a very unreal story about a 10-year-old boy who goes to the moon in a secret NASA program. It’s a wistful, energetic tale of childhood innocence during a period of immense change, and Linklater nails the vibe of youthful exuberance and coming-of-age. Plus, it has a fantastic soundtrack. Watch this with your parents, they’ll love it. (You will, too.) -Tim Surette [Trailer]

For fans of: Jesse “Never Been in a Bad Movie” Plemons, psychological thrillers 

Jason Segel, Lily Collins, and Jesse Plemons, Windfall

Jason Segel, Lily Collins, and Jesse Plemons, Windfall

Netflix

Year: 2022
Director: Charlie McDowell
Stars: Jason Segel, Lily Collins, Jesse Plemons
Genre: Drama, Thriller, Crime
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 51

A limited but excellent cast consisting of Jason Segel, Lily Collins, and Jesse Plemons leads this claustrophobic single-location thriller Netflix describes as “Hitchcockian.” A rich guy (Plemons) and his wife (Collins) arrive at their vacation home while a man (Segel) is robbing it. He takes them hostage, and things get psychological. The characters don’t have names, only “CEO,” “Wife,” and “Nobody,” so you know this is a movie about ideas, man. The haves and the have-nots. Reviews range from raves to pans, so you can be assured that even if it’s not excellent, it’s at least interesting. A cast like that can elevate any script. Look at Jesse Plemons’ IMDb! The man has impeccable taste in roles. -Liam Mathews [Trailer]

For fans of: Gone girls, Gone Girl, bad vacations

Leighton Meester, The Weekend Away

Leighton Meester, The Weekend Away

Ivan Šardi/Netflix

Year: 2022
Director: Kim Farrant
Stars: Leighton Meester, Christina Wolfe, Ziad Bakri
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller, Crime
Rating: PG-13
Metacritic score: 51

Is this the greatest cinematic triumph of all time? Of course not. Do I feel comfortable recommending it because I think we as a society need to celebrate Leighton Meester whenever we can? You bet. This is just the latest film in the “woman mysteriously goes missing and someone else is psychologically tortured because of it” subgenre. In it, Meester plays Beth, a new mother who gets convinced to go on a girls’ trip to Croatia. After a night of raucous partying, one of the women disappears, leaving Beth questioning everything as she tries to find out what really happened to her friend. Parts of this movie are pretty clunky, but it’s so watchable! It’s the kind of stupid that’s pretty impossible to turn off, because you just have to see what happens next. And, most importantly, Meester is just so good. Let her star in more things, Hollywood. –Allison Picurro [Trailer]

For fans of: Exposing corporate greed, technical talk

Downfall: The Case Against Boeing

Downfall: The Case Against Boeing

Netflix

Year: 2022
Director: Rory Kennedy
Genre: Documentary
Rating: PG-13
Metacritic score: 67

Boeing, once considered the top of the class of commercial airliners, saw two of its new 737 Max models fall out of the sky within a span of six months starting in late 2018. The cause was a faulty safety system that the pilots didn’t even known about, and Boeing went out of its way to cover it up. Rory Kennedy’s documentary looks into Boeing’s greed that cost the lives of hundreds using interviews with former employees, journalists, and politicians. It’s not a dazzling documentary, but it’s incredibly thorough and makes its case. –Tim Surette [Trailer]

For fans of: Dating app nightmares, con jobs

The Tinder Swindler

The Tinder Swindler

Netflix

Year: 2022
Director: Felicity Morris
Genre: Documentary
Rating: TV-MA
Metacritic score: n/a

This frightening documentary about a con man who used Tinder to — you guessed it — swindle unsuspecting ladies into handing over their credit cards and taking out loans to funnel him cash will make you want to hunt down this scumbag yourself. By putting up a front of extravagance, paid for by his current mark, this man would woo women he met on the dating app and set them up to be his next source of cash before disappearing into the internet and tropical locales where he partied his ass off on their dime. It’s not a particularly well-made documentary, but the story is riveting and the victims are rightfully treated with compassion. –Tim Surette [Trailer]

For fans of: Olivia Colman, bad vacations, “Livin’ on a Prayer”

Dakota Johnson and Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Dakota Johnson and Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Yannis Drakoulidis/Netflix

Year: 2021
Director: Maggie Gyllenhaal
Stars: Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson
Genre: Drama
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 86

Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut is dark, psychological goodness. In this adaptation of the Elena Ferrante novel, Olivia Colman stars as Leda, a college professor on a solo trip to Greece, where she meets and becomes obsessed with Nina (Dakota Johnson), a young, overwhelmed mother. It all quickly turns into the vacation from hell as Nina forces Leda to confront memories of her own experience as a young mother. Jessie Buckley plays the younger version of Leda in flashbacks, while Peter Sarsgaard, Ed Harris, Dagmara Dominczyk, and Paul Mescal fill out the rest of the cast. -Allison Picurro [Trailer]

For fans of: Movie stars, righteous anger

Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, Don't Look Up

Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up

Niko Tavernise/Netflix

Year: 2021
Director: Adam McKay
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Jonah Hill, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Street
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 49

Director Adam McKay makes climate change funny with this furious satirical comedy. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence play astronomers who realize that an extinction-level comet is on a collision course with Earth and go on a media tour to warn humanity. But their warning is met with hostility, hysteria, or indifference by government, media, and the public. Everyone is just talking about the people who disagree with them about the comet instead of doing anything about the comet. It’s about as subtle as a comet smashing into the face of the Earth, but Adam McKay’s recent movies are given momentum by their emotion-driven political agendas. The gratuitously star-studded cast includes Jonah Hill, Tyler Perry, Cate Blanchett, and Meryl Streep. -Liam Mathews [Trailer]

For fans of: Coming-of-age dramas, world-class directors in their prime

Filippo Scotti and Marlon Joubert, The Hand of God

Filippo Scotti and Marlon Joubert, The Hand of God

Gianni Fiorito

Year: 2021
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Stars: Betty Pedrazzi, Biagio Manna, Ciro Capano
Genre: Drama
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 76

Italian movie magician Paolo Sorrentino (The Young Pope) is in peak form with his highly personal coming-of-age drama The Hand of God, which will almost certainly be nominated in the International Feature Film category at next year’s Oscars. Set in the 1980s in Naples, Italy, The Hand of God follows a teen through the ups and downs of life, and ties it together with soccer star Diego Maradona’s infamous “hand of god” play. Though some critics note its messiness, no one can deny that it’s absolutely gorgeous. –Tim Surette [Trailer]

For fans of: Tension, Benedict Cumberbatch being a big ol’ meanie

Kodi Smit-McPhee and Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Kodi Smit-McPhee and Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Kristy Griffin/Netflix

Year: 2021
Director: Jane Campion
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons
Genre: Drama
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 89

Jane Campion’s first film since 2009 heads out on the range with one mean cowboy in Benedict Cumberbatch. The 1925-set Western quickly reaches a boil and holds it as a rancher (Jesse Plemons) gets a new wife (Kirsten Dunst) whom his brother (Cumberbatch) takes a strong disliking to. It’s a masterclass of simmering tension and spellbinding acting, but if you’re here for shoot ’em ups, this Western ain’t it. –Tim Surette [Trailer]

For fans of: Healing, the power of art

Procession

Procession

Netflix

Year: 2021
Director: Robert Greene
Stars: Dan Laurine, Ed Gavagan, Joe Eldred, Michael Sandridge, Mike Foreman, Tom Viviano
Genre: Documentary
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 90

Robert Greene’s gutting documentary comes to Netflix just two months after making its debut at Telluride, a quick turnaround that belies how much time went into this movie. Shot over three years, Procession focuses on six men who each suffered abuse by Catholic priests in the diocese of Kansas City, Missouri, when they were boys. Greene’s project is unique: The men, working with both Greene and a therapist who uses theater in her work, create short films about their trauma. It’s an unmissable story of how to reckon with evil. –Kelly Connolly [Trailer]

For fans of: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Broadway

Andrew Garfield, tick tick...Boom!

Andrew Garfield, tick tick…Boom!

Netflix

Year: 2021
Director: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Vanessa Hudgens, Bradley Whitford
Genre: Drama, Musical
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 74

Lin-Manuel Miranda has a type: musicals about guys who are worried their time is running out. And why mess with success? Miranda makes his directorial debut with this film adaptation, already racking up good reviews, of Rent creator Jonathan Larson’s semi-autobiographical musical. Andrew Garfield stars as the struggling playwright, who’s anxious that he hasn’t accomplished enough by his upcoming 30th birthday. (The story is made more poignant by Larson’s real-life early death at the age of 35, the night before Rent‘s off-Broadway premiere.) Garfield is a hit in this, Vanessa Hudgens is in her element, and Bradley Whitford does a rock-solid Sondheim impersonation. –Kelly Connolly [Trailer]

For fans of: Stars wisecrackin’, dumb action, dumber twists

Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Dwayne Johnson, Red Notice

Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Dwayne Johnson, Red Notice

Netflix

Year: 2021
Director: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot, Ryan Reynolds
Genre: Adventure, Action, Comedy
Rating: PG-13
Metacritic score: 37

I watched this entire movie in one sitting and I had a great time, but in no reality would I say this is a good movie. It’s one of those, y’know? It’s a film in which the stars are secured and then you write the script. Those stars happen to be Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot, and Ryan Reynolds, some of the biggest celebrities on the planet, and the script sees them playing various combinations of FBI agents and art thieves, sometimes both! Add in a budget of about $200 million, and you’ve got yourself one of Netflix’s most popular original movies ever. This is streaming candy; they can’t all be Roma-Allison Picurro [Trailer]

7 Prisoners

For fans of: Quiet suspense, antiwork and the exploitation of the labor force, Rodrigo Santoro

Rodrigo Santoro and Christian Malheiros, 7 Prisoners

Rodrigo Santoro and Christian Malheiros, 7 Prisoners

Aline Arruda/Netflix

Year: 2021
Director: Alexandre Moratto
Stars: Christian Malheiros, Rodrigo Santoro
Genre: Drama
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 80

For a real eye-opening movie experience, watch the Brazilian film 7 Prisoners, a tense movie about the exploitation of desperate young men and women looking for work in South America. Rodrigo Santoro (Westworld) stars as the owner of a salvage yard who enslaves youngsters from rural Brazil who think they’re getting jobs in the big city. But the movie’s strength is how it shows how this happens from the perspective of one of the young men, who ends up working with the owner in order to ensure his survival at the cost of the others. Though heavy, director Alexandre Moratto manages to keep the tone raw and impactful rather than depressing. -Allison Picurro [Trailer]

For fans of: Where the line of racial equality blurs, gorgeous black and white photos come to life

Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson, Passing

Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson, Passing

Netflix

Year: 2021
Director: Rebecca Hall
Stars: Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, Andre Holland
Genre: Drama
Rating: PG-13
Metacritic score: 85

Would you give up your culture if it meant you could have an easier life? That’s the question posed in this stirring film set in 1920s New York City that stars Tessa Thompson as a Black woman who runs into a childhood friend (Ruth Negga) who has been passing for a white woman, bringing up questions of racial identity and whitewashing. Shot entirely in black and white, the film features wonderful performances from Thompson, Negga, and André Holland. -Allison Picurro [Trailer]

Found

For fans of: Heartfelt stories, discovering your roots and culture

Lily, Chloe, and Sadie, Found

Lily, Chloe, and Sadie, Found

Netflix

Year: 2021
Director: Amanda Lipitz
Genre: Documentary
Rating: PG
Metacritic score: 82

This documentary about three adopted Chinese high schoolers looking into their roots could also pass as a robot test, because if you aren’t moved to tears at some point, then you’re made out of tin. What makes it so effective is that it looks at adoption from every angle: the girls looking for answers and discovering their culture, their adoptive families looking to help them find their roots, the Chinese families who were forced to give up their babies under China’s one child policy, and the intrepid investigator who helps adopted children find their birth parents in China. It’s an emotional wallop. –Tim Surette [Trailer]

For fans of: Quentin Tarantino films, Red Dead Redemption, lots of shootin

Regina King, Idris Elba, and LaKeith Stanfield, The Harder They Fall

Regina King, Idris Elba, and LaKeith Stanfield, The Harder They Fall

Netflix

Year: 2021
Director: Jeymes Samuel
Stars: Idris Elba, LaKeith Stanfield, Regina King, Jonathan Majors
Genre: Drama, Western
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 68

This Netflix blockbuster is an action Western with a lot more style than you’re used to. Director Jeymes Samuel takes a tried-and-true cowboy premise — a gang gets together to exact revenge on the persons responsible for the deaths of loved ones — and infuses it with gorgeous violence, snappy dialogue, and a predominantly Black cast that includes Regina King, Idris Elba, LaKeith Stanfield, Jonathan Majors, Delroy Lindo, and Zazie Beetz. The result is a rollicking good time and one of the gosh dang coolest films you’ll see. -Allison Picurro [Trailer]

For fans of: Couples therapy, violence, Noomi Rapace 

Aksel Hennie and Noomi Rapace, The Trip

Aksel Hennie and Noomi Rapace, The Trip

Netflix

Year: 2021
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Stars: Aksel Hennie, Noomi Rapace
Genre: Thriller, Comedy
Rating: NR
Metacritic score: n/a

This Norwegian dark comedy follows a couple (Aksel Hennie and Noomi Rapace) who go to a remote cabin in an attempt to repair their dissolving relationship. Little do they know that they each plan to murder each other as their solution to their problems. Even littler do they know that others are out there in the wilderness to give them even more troubles. Spectacularly violent with humor as black as the night, The Trip is a trip. –Tim Surette [Trailer]

Fever Dream

For fans of: Artsy films, beautiful confusion, slightly supernatural films

Dolores Fonzi and María Valverde, Fever Dream

Dolores Fonzi and María Valverde, Fever Dream

Diego Araya/NETFLIX

Year: 2021
Director: Claudia Llosa
Stars: María Valverde, Dolores Fonzi
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 75

This Chilean film based on a novel by Argentine author Samantha Schwelbin dabbles in the supernatural while telling the story of a mother who realizes her friend’s young son may not be all she thinks he is. There’s some great philosophy inside — especially about how a parent protects their child from danger — but you’re more likely to come away from this wonderfully shot film peppered with a sense of imminent doom with only a hazy understanding of the open-to-interpretation storytelling as nothing is spoon-fed to the viewer. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find a chilling story of what a parent is willing do for their child. –Tim Surette [Trailer]

For fans of: One-man plays, Jake Gyllenhaal, thrilling phone conversations

Jake Gyllenhaal, The Guilty

Jake Gyllenhaal, The Guilty

Joe Bayler/Netflix

Year: 2021
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 63

Jake Gyllenhaal plays a cop sent to desk duty at a 9-1-1 call center and becomes embroiled in a case when a woman being held against her will calls to ask for help. An adaptation of a 2018 Danish film, The Guilty is the rare intense thriller without any action as it’s mostly set in the call center with Jake on the phone and only voices coming from the other end. But director Antoine Fuqua and Gyllenhaal keep things mesmerizing. –Tim Surette [Trailer | Review]

For fans of: The class division, the immigrant experience, spooks

Cristina Rodlo, No One Gets Out Alive

Cristina Rodlo, No One Gets Out Alive

Teddy Cavendish/Netflix

Year: 2021
Director: Santiago Menghini
Stars: Cristina Rodlo
Genre: Horror
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 43

A Latin American immigrant seeking work and housing in America shacks up in a boarding house where things aren’t not haunted, if you get my drift. It’s a great horror gem that taps into the immigrant experience and the difficulties the poor have with basic needs. –Tim Surette [Trailer | Review]

For fans of: Cinematography, the battle between sanity and madness, fast snow & slow burns

The Father Who Moves Mountains

The Father Who Moves Mountains

Netflix

Year: 2021
Director: Daniel Sandu
Stars: Adrian Titieni, Bogdan Nechifor
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rating: TV-MA
Metacritic score: n/a

This Romanian film follows a powerful man of means desperate to find his son after he goes missing on a mountain trek. It’s not an action film, but rather a contemplative exploration of how far a man will go to save his son and at what cost to others. You’ll understand why he does what he does, but you might not like him for it. -Allison Picurro [Trailer]

For fans of: Kids horror between Goosebumps and Fear Street, Krysten Ritter, hairless cats | Is it good?: It’s pretty cool for kids and tweens who can handle scares

Krysten Ritter, Nightbooks

Krysten Ritter, Nightbooks

Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix

Year: 2021
Director: David Yarovesky
Stars: Winslow Fegley, Lidya Jewett, Krysten Ritter
Genre: Fantasy, Horror
Rating: NR
Metacritic score: 65

This adaptation of the 2018 children’s fantasy-horror book by J.A. White is the perfect movie for the young horror fan in your life who is too old for things like Goosebumps but not quite ready for the teen-slasher gore of the Fear Street movies. It follows a young boy who is captured by a witch (a delectable Krysten Ritter) and bargains for his life by agreeing to tell her a new scary story that he writes each night. While there’s no real blood and gore, there are definitely some creepy things — Sam Raimi is a producer — that will give some young ones nightmares for weeks, so make sure your kiddo is mentally prepared before they sit down to watch this. –Tim Surette [Trailer]

For fans of: Incredibly difficult questions about life, sentimental biopics, Michael Keaton

Michael Keaton and Stanley Tucci, Worth

Michael Keaton and Stanley Tucci, Worth

Monika Lek/Netflix

Year: 2021
Director: Sara Colangelo
Stars: Michael Keaton, Amy Ryan
Genre: Drama, Biography
Rating: PG-13
Metacritic score: 67

Michael Keaton plays lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, who was assigned the task of formulating how money was distributed through the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, which the government granted to families whose loved ones were killed in the 9/11 attacks. It essentially asks how much a life is worth and whether they’re all equal. Strong acting and directing overcome some pretty melodramatic moments. -Allison Picurro [Trailer]

The Old Ways

For fans of: Witchcraft, Latin American demonology, creepy crawlies

The Old Ways

The Old Ways

Netflix

Year: 2020
Director: Christopher Alender
Stars: Brigitte Kali, Andrea Cortés
Genre: Horror
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 67

A young journalist goes deep into the jungles of Veracruz, Mexico, for a story on indigenous people who practice ancient witchcraft, only to be kidnapped by them when they believe she is possessed by a demon. It’s full of terrifying imagery, as is expected, but it’s the claustrophobia of being imprisoned that really drives the horror. On top of that, there are themes of cultural identity that take it to a smarter level than your typical horror film, and visually, it’s aces. –Tim Surette [Trailer]

For fans of: The Witcher, animated gore

The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf

The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf

Netflix

Year: 2021
Director: Kwang Il Han
Stars: Theo James
Genre: Fantasy, Animation
Rating: TV-MA
Metacritic score: 67

This anime Witcher prequel film follows Geralt’s mentor, Vesemir (voiced here by Theo James). The film, set several years before the events of the series, explores Vesemir’s origin story, showing him as a young lad who is only concerned with monster slaying and getting paid for monster slaying. -Allison Picurro [Trailer]

For fans of: Gruesome horror, not wanting to wait for the sequel

Fear Street Part Two: 1978

Fear Street Part Two: 1978

Netflix

Year: 2021
Director: Leigh Janiak
Stars: Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Fred Hechinger, Ashley Zukerman
Genre: Horror
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 67

R.L. Stine, the guy who wrote the Goosebumps books, set his sights on a slightly older crowd with his Fear Street novel series, which are now the foundation for one of Netflix’s biggest film experiments yet. The three teen-slasher horror films, which all tell the origin story of a cursed town, were each released over three consecutive Fridays in July 2021. Each film is set in a different year (1994, 1978, and 1666), culminating in a flashback to witch trials in the 1600s, and feature carryover cast members and plenty of gory deaths. Let’s just say you’ll be extra careful around a bread slicer. –Tim Surette [Trailer]

For fans of: Monstrous surprises, small-space horror

Peri Baumeister and Carl Koch, Blood Red Sky

Peri Baumeister and Carl Koch, Blood Red Sky

Netflix

Year: 2021
Director: Peter Thorwarth
Stars: Carl Anton Koch, Peri Baumeister
Genre: Horror
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 43

This German-English language action-forward horror film is set on a Transatlantic flight between Berlin and New York City that is besieged by hijackers. But they don’t know that one of the passengers on board possesses supernatural powers, and will do anything to protect her young son, which sometimes means eating the bad guys. It’s a taut thriller with a paranormal twist that’s one of Netflix’s better original horror films. –Tim Surette [Trailer]

For fans of: Existentialism, music

Bo Burnham: Inside

Bo Burnham: Inside

Netflix

Year: 2021
Director: Bo Burnham
Stars: Bo Burnham
Genre: Comedy, Musical
Rating: TV-MA
Metacritic score: 98

Indie auteur and certified bad movie boyfriend Bo Burnham surprised his fans when he announced he had orchestrated a return to his comedic roots during the pandemic. With Inside, which Burnham wrote, directed, and edited without a crew or an audience while stuck at home, he lets out his feelings through music, delivering a setlist of very catchy, very meme-worthy songs that have titles like “White Woman’s Instagram” and “FaceTime with My Mom (Tonight).” The special gets in touch with the collective mood 2020 inspired in all of us — the anguish, the despair, the horniness. Burnham’s comedy has always touched on the existential, but he goes deeper than ever here. -Aliison Picurro [Trailer]

For fans of: Realizing that the horrors of the past are still effecting the present

Pray Away

Pray Away

Netflix

Year: 2021
Director: Kristine Solakis
Genre: Documentary
Rating: PG-13
Metacritic score: 76

Ryan Murphy and Jason Blum executive produce this documentary about Exodus International, an Evangelical group formed in the ’70s that claims it could turn gay people straight through prayer and conversion therapy. What’s most interesting about this film is that it features interviews with ex-leaders who are now speaking out against the movement they were part of for so many years. -Aliison Picurro [Trailer]

For fans of: Eric Andre, the Sacha Baron Cohen effect

Eric Andre and Lil Rey Howery, Bad Trip

Eric Andre and Lil Rey Howery, Bad Trip

Netflix

Year: 2021
Director: Kitao Sakurai
Stars: Eric André, Lil Rel Howery
Genre: Comedy
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 61

How in the world is Bad Trip as great as it is? There is no plausible reason why a prank movie was able to feel so fresh and hilarious in the year 2021, and yet here I am, writing about the greatness of Bad Trip. It has a pretty loose plot (two listless best friends take a road trip so one can reunite with his high school crush), which is sort of unnecessary to the film’s broad comedy, but does help with providing structure and emotional beats when needed. Anyway, that’s not really why it’s on this list. Bad Trip shines thanks to its many interactions with the unsuspecting public, who have no idea they’re being filmed or that they’re part of a movie. The way the film’s stars, Eric Andre, Lil Rel Howery, and Tiffany Haddish, drag poor strangers into the bizarre world they’ve created and get them invested in their characters’ fictional problems (a particularly memorable scene in which Haddish recruits the patrons of a restaurant into helping her track down Andre and Howery becomes an instant classic thanks to the passionate reaction from one woman), ends up producing the best comedic moments. Clocking in under 90 minutes, Bad Trip is a quick, wholeheartedly joyful watch. -Aliison Picurro [Trailer]

For fans of: The struggles of hitting the big 4-0, the artist’s life

The Forty-Year-Old Version

The Forty-Year-Old Version

Netflix

Year: 2020
Director: Kitao Sakurai
Stars: Radha Blank
Genre: Comedy
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 80

Soon-to-be household name Radha Blank writes, directs, and stars in this poignant comedy about a playwright who is approaching her 40th birthday but still has nothing to show for it, even after winning a coveted “30 under 30” award nearly a decade before. To reinvent her life, she breaks into rapping, spitting rhymes from her unique viewpoint and fighting to stay true to her own artistic vision. –Tim Surette [Trailer]

For fans of: Idris Elba, riding horses

Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin, Concrete Cowboy

Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin, Concrete Cowboy

Netflix

Year: 2021
Director: Ricky Staub
Stars: Idris Elba, Caleb McLaughlin
Genre: Drama
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 67

The era of horse girls has made its natural progression into the era of horse boys. This film, based on the real-life Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, centers on a Detroit teen (Caleb McLaughlin) who’s sent to Philadelphia to live with his dad (Idris Elba), a cowboy who spends his time hanging out with other cowboys. It’s about fathers and sons, it’s about Black horse-riding culture, and it’s about coming of age. -Aliison Picurro [Trailer]

For fans of: The Coen brothers, dark comedy

Tim Blake Nelson, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Tim Blake Nelson, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Netflix

Year: 2018
Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Stars: Tim Blake Nelson, Tom Waits, James Franco
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Rating: NR
Metacritic score: 79

The Coen brothers strap on their spurs for this collection of short stories from the Wild West, all peppered with that trademark Coen absurdism made famous in their films Fargo and Raising Arizona. The stories range from a singing cowboy (Tim Blake Nelson) who’s quick on the draw to a mumbling prospector (Tom Waits) tracked down by an opportunist to an outlaw (James Franco) who’s no stranger to the gallows. It’s a gorgeous film about opportunity in a land where there’s nothing but opportunity. -Tim Surette [Trailer]

For fans of: Spike Lee, being reminded that war is bad

Da 5 Bloods

Da 5 Bloods

Netflix

Year: 2020
Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., Chadwick Boseman, Norm Lewis
Genre: Drama
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 82

Spike Lee’s latest is a sprawling drama split between two timelines: the first during the Vietnam War, where a group of Black soldiers band together, and the second during the present, where the surviving members, now aging veterans, return to the country in the hopes of recovering the remains of their fallen squad leader (Chadwick Boseman, in one of his last performances) and locating the gold they buried years ago. It’s a dazzling, stylized adventure, and the kind of movie that will make you walk away feeling like you learned something without skimping on character development. -Aliison Picurro [Trailer]

My Octopus Teacher

For fans of: Unlikely friendships, cephalopods

My Octopus Teacher

My Octopus Teacher

Netflix

Year: 2020
Director: James Reed and Pippa Ehrlich
Stars: Craig Foster, Tom Foster
Genre: Documentary
Rating: NR
Metacritic score: 82

This film about the intimate relationship between a man and his octopus won the Oscar for Best Documentary in 2021. Craig Foster, a diver, buddies up with an octopus in South Africa for a year, documenting her life as she sleeps, eats, and battles sharks. The whole experience teaches Foster about life and moves him to gain appreciation for humanity’s relationship with nature, as well as form a closer bond with his son. The whole thing feels a little like a more wholesome version of Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, but I’m not here to knock anyone who dares to explore interspecies friendships. -Aliison Picurro [Trailer]

For fans of: Aaron Sorkin’s whole thing, watered down history

Trial of Chicago 7

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Netflix

Year: 2020
Director: Aaron Sorkin
Stars: Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Jeremy Strong, John Carroll Lynch
Genre: Drama
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 76

In 1969, a group of anti-war activists were charged with conspiring to start a riot at the Democratic National Convention, and in 2019, Aaron Sorkin told an extremely Hollywood version of their story. Although Sorkin really simplifies a lot of the more radical politics people like Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen) and Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong) actually had, a big, showy courtroom drama — full of grandstanding and dramatic speeches and quippy dialogue — is a perfect vehicle for his style. It’s grounded by the performances of its sprawling, star-studded cast (which also includes Mark Rylance, Frank Langella, and Michael Keaton) and the writing, which earned Sorkin a Best Original Screenplay nod at the Oscars, and it’ll teach you something about the injustices of the American justice system, which, spoiler, has always been pretty bad! -Aliison Picurro [Trailer]

For fans of: Haunted houses, immigrant horror stories

Wunmi Mosaku and Sope Dìrísù, His House

Wunmi Mosaku and Sope Dìrísù, His House

Aidan Monaghan/NETFLIX

Year: 2020
Director: Remi Weekes
Stars: Wunmi Mosaku, Sope Dirisu
Genre: Horror
Rating: TV-14
Metacritic score: 72

A refugee couple from South Sudan find their new housing in England is not what it seems in this chilling and stylish horror movie from writer-director Remi Weekes. If you love ghosts and grief but are ready for a little more intensity, His House is a must-watch; it’s a haunted house story that blends serious scares with thoughtful commentary on immigration and trauma. Plus, it’s anchored by unmissable performances from stars Wunmi Mosaku and Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù. –Kelly Connolly [Trailer]

For fans of: Social justice, visual poetry, hard truths

I Am Not Your Negro

I Am Not Your Negro

Netflix

Year: 2016
Director: Raoul Peck
Genre: Documentary
Rating: PG-13
Metacritic score: 95

Raoul Peck’s 2016 documentary that’s an adaptation of James Baldwin’s manuscript about racism in America through the eyes of Black people — specifically civil rights activists Martin Luther King Jr. Malcolm X, and Medgar Evans — is a visual masterpiece with a clear message: America has failed the Black community. The powerful 2016 film brims with energy through old footage of segregation and current shots of protests in the streets in the wake of police violence against minorities. It’s an essential watch to better understand America’s shameful past and present. –Tim Surette [Trailer]

For fans of: Oscar winners, art films

Roma

Roma

Carlos Somonte

Year: 2018
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Stars: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Fernando Grediaga
Genre: Drama
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 96

Sorry Mank, you aren’t the best black-and-white film on Netflix. Not even close. Alfonso Cuaron’s 2018 personal tale of a housekeeper in Mexico to a wealthy Mexican family won Best Foreign Film, Best Director (Cuaron), and Best Cinematography (Cuaron) at the 91st Academy Awards, but could have won tons more. It’s both quiet and epic in scope, balancing a fascinating relationship between a hard-working woman named Cleo and the family that relies on her, unforgettable shots involving hundreds of extras, and a sensitive story on life bubbling under the surface. –Tim Surette [Trailer]

For fans of: Beyoncé, of course… and who isn’t?

Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé

Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé

Larry Busacca

Year: 2019
Director: Beyoncé, Ed Burke
Stars: Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Kelly Rowland
Genre: Documentary, Music
Rating: NR
Metacritic score: 93

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Homecoming is perhaps the best, most impactful concert film of at least the past few years. This is Beyoncé at the absolute top of her game, showing not only her historic performance at Coachella 2018, but the emotionally and physically taxing preparation that led up to it. It’s just a pleasure to watch, not only because Beyoncé’s unparalleled work ethic and commitment to precision, but because of how dedicated she and her team of artists, dancers, and musicians were to making sure the performance was a celebration of Black culture. It’s called Homecoming because of the way it evokes traditions made popular by homecoming concerts at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and it’s maybe the most entertaining history lesson you’ll ever get. Also, there’s a pitch-perfect Destiny’s Child reunion. We love to see it. -Aliison Picurro [Trailer]

For fans of: Fun spins on classics

Leah Lewis, Alexxis Lemire, The Half of It

Leah Lewis, Alexxis Lemire, The Half of It

KC Bailey/Netflix

Year: 2020
Director: Alice Wu
Stars: Leah Lewis, Daniel Diemer, Alexxis Lemire
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rating: TV-14
Metacritic score: 74

Alice Wu’s teen dramedy will surprise you in all the best ways. It starts out familiar: Outsider and introvert Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) begrudgingly agrees to help dumb jock Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer) woo the pretty and popular Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire) by writing her love letters in Paul’s name, but what Paul doesn’t know is that Ellie is also in love with Aster (yes, this is more or less the premise of Cyrano de Bergerac). Of course eventually the ruse is exposed and feelings hurt and hearts mended. In the end, however, The Half of It is less a movie that cares about who ends up with who and more about Ellie finally opening herself up to the world, letting people like Paul and Aster and her very sweet dad in, and well, living. It’s a smart and heartwarming coming-of-age story (that final train scene!) that uses well-worn rom-com tropes to its advantage. -Maggie Fremont [Trailer]

For fans of: Teen rom-coms, John Hughes references

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor, To All the Boys: Always and Forever

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor, To All the Boys: Always and Forever

Netflix

Year: 2018-2021
Director: Susan Johnson
Stars: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Janel Parrish, Anna Cathcart
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Rating: TV-14
Metacritic score: 64

Based on Jenny Han’s young adult trilogy, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before took the Netflix world by storm when it debuted in 2018. The teen rom-com stars Asian American actress Lana Condor as Lara Jean Covey, a hopelessly romantic high schooler who pens letters to all her crushes in order to get her abundance of emotions out. But when those love letters are mailed out to the crushes by her younger sister, she’s mortified — especially because one is delivered to her older sister’s boyfriend, Josh (Israel Broussard). To cover up her feelings for Josh, Lara Jean begins fake dating the popular and charming Peter (Noah Centineo) — another love letter recipient who wants to make his ex jealous — but old feelings die hard. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before has an inherent sweetness to it that calls back to classic ’80s films like Say Anything… or Sixteen Candles. Once you’ve finished it, check out its sequels, P.S. I Still Love You, which introduces yet another recipient of Lara Jean’s letters, and Always and Forever, the third and final film in the saga. –Kaitlin Thomas [Trailer]

For fans of: Keanu Reeves doing the most

Randall Park and Ali Wong, Always Be My Maybe

Randall Park and Ali Wong, Always Be My Maybe

Netflix

Year: 2019
Director: Nahnatchka Khan
Stars: Ali Wong, Randall Park, Keanu Reeves
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Rating: PG-13
Metacritic score: 64

Ali Wong co-wrote this 2019 romantic comedy in which she stars as Sasha, a celebrity chef who returns home to San Francisco to open a new restaurant and runs into her former childhood friend, Marcus (co-writer Randall Park). The romantic chemistry from their teenage years still remains, and after she breaks off her engagement to her fiancé after he delays their wedding yet again, Sasha attempts to embark on a new relationship with Marcus. However, his fears and her fame — and a great guest spot from Keanu Reeves — create obstacles that first have to be overcome before true happiness can be found. –Kaitlin Thomas [Trailer]

For fans of: The idiosyncrasies of Taika Waititi, unlikely friendships

Julian Dennison and Sam Neill, Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Julian Dennison and Sam Neill, Hunt for the Wilderpeople

The Orchard

Year: 2016
Director: Taika Waititi
Stars: Julian Dennison, Rachel House, Rima Te Wiata, Sam Neill
Genre: Adventure, Comedy
Rating: PG-13
Metacritic score: 81

Before he got recruited by the Marvel machine, Taika Waititi made Hunt for the Wilderpeople, an adventure dramedy about a young delinquent (Julian Dennison) and his reluctant foster dad (Sam Neill) who, after a series of mishaps and misunderstandings, become the targets of a manhunt. They go into survival mode as they hide out in the New Zealand wilderness, running into a cast of oddball characters as they evade the police. As is the case with these things, the longer they stay out on their own, the closer they get. Waititi’s signature comedic style is what makes the whole thing really shine. -Aliison Picurro [Trailer]

For fans of: Impressive de-aging CGI, looooong movies

Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Ray Romano, The Irishman

Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Ray Romano, The Irishman

Netflix

Year: 2019
Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci
Genre: Drama
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 94

Martin Scorsese loves telling stories about almost-great men undone by their own hubris, and The Irishman is the latest example of that. A lot was made of its three-hour runtime, and its use of CGI to de-age its stars, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino, but those aren’t the only things this film has to offer. De Niro plays Frank Sheeran, the titular Irishman, who works as a hitman alongside Russell Bufalino (Pesci) and famous Teamster Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino), both of whom are tied to organized crime. It’s an epic about power and betrayal, and contains easily the best performance De Niro’s given in years. -Aliison Picurro [Trailer]

For fans of: Laura Dern memes, Adam Driver memes, being sad

Laura Dern and Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story

Laura Dern and Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story

Wilson Webb/Netflix

Year: 2019
Director: Noah Baumbach
Stars: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, Ray Liotta
Genre: Drama
Rating: NR
Metacritic score: 94

A marriage unravels in Noah Baumbach’s latest, as Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) try to keep themselves afloat during their divorce. Yes, there’s definitely a lot movie going on in this movie emotionally, but isn’t the most important takeaway that we got two great memes out of it? I think so. -Aliison Picurro [Trailer]

For fans of: Underdog stories, Eddie Murphy doing something different

Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name

Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name

Francois Duhamel/Netflix

Year: 2019
Director: Craig Brewer
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Keegan-Michael Key
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Biography
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 76

In 1970s Los Angeles, struggling musician-comedian Rudy Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy) decides to create a raunchy alter ego named Dolemite in effort to get noticed. The movie highlights the way, through his work, Moore was able to help pioneer rap as a musical genre, provides wider commentary on the blaxploitation phenomenon, and touches on some of Murphy’s own feelings about the critics who have commented on his films. Spoiler: He doesn’t care! -Aliison Picurro [Trailer]

For fans of: Crying!

Dick Johnson Is Dead

Dick Johnson Is Dead

Netflix

Year: 2020
Director: Kirsten Johnson
Stars: Dick Johnson, Kirsten Johnson
Genre: Documentary
Rating: PG-13
Metacritic score: 89

You should break out a box of tissues before checking out Kristen Johnson’s tender documentary about her father. When we’re introduced to the 86-year-old Dick, the frightening, heartbreaking effects of his dementia are starting to show, marking what both Dick and Kristen accept to be the beginning of the end of his life. What makes this film unique is the way it blends fiction and reality: Kristen imagines ways for her dad to die that he gamely acts out, from falling down a flight of stairs to bleeding out from a head wound. The two have such an easy rapport that it’s easy to laugh at their antics one minute and be horribly upset the next when Dick describes the pain of feeling his memory slip away from him in real time. It’s a beautiful film quite unlike anything else. -Aliison Picurro [Trailer]

For fans of: Feeling confused and vaguely unsettled

Jesse Plemons and Jessie Buckley, I'm Thinking of Ending Things

Jesse Plemons and Jessie Buckley, I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Netflix

Year: 2020
Director: Charlie Kaufman
Stars: Jessie Buckley, Jesse Plemons, Toni Collette
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 89

It should be said straight up that I’m Thinking of Ending Things, Charlie Kaufman’s haunting adaptation of Iain Reid’s novel, is probably not for everyone. It’s also not the kind of movie that will tell you exactly what it’s about; it doesn’t really follows a linear, cause-and-effect plot, and the story unfolds according to dream logic. I’ll describe it in the best way I can, though: A woman (Jessie Buckley) goes on a trip with her boyfriend (Jesse Plemons) to visit his parents, all while she’s considering breaking up with him. It only gets trippier from there! The only things that are really made clear to the audience is that the woman is a wholly unreliable narrator and nothing is as it seems. If you like your movies a little out there, this one’s totally worth checking out. -Aliison Picurro [Trailer]

For fans of: Great performances from great actors, monologues

Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Netflix

Year: 2020
Director: George C. Wolfe
Stars: Chadwick Boseman, Viola Davis, Colman Domingo
Genre: Drama, Music
Rating: R
Metacritic score: 87

Chadwick Boseman’s final film role was in this Netflix original, which is based on the Tony-nominated August Wilson play. Viola Davis stars as Ma Rainey, a powerhouse blues singer in 1927 Chicago who holds up a recording session to butt heads with her white manager, and Boseman plays a trumpeter in the recording session angling to get a foothold in the music business. On its own, it’s a good film that has a lot to say about race and music ownership, but the performances from Davis and Boseman elevate it. -Aliison Picurro [Trailer]

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