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MoviesThe 30 best movies on Netflix UK right now

The 30 best movies on Netflix UK right now

Netflix has had its ups and downs in recent years, but subscription numbers show it’s still the king of the streamers, in America and the UK. It’s not just brand recognition, either: the platform has seriously picked up its film output, with everyone from Martin Scorsese to Rian Johnson producing original content for the studio. But at this point, everyone knows the deal with Netflix: while there are large, gleaming gems in its collection, they’re often obscured by piles of lineup-filling dross. So let’s help you dig out the quality watches. Here are the 30 best movies currently available on the platform.

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The best films on Netflix UK

All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)

Photograph: Reiner Bajo

1. All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)

  • Film
  • Action and adventure

A 2023 Oscar nominee in practically every non-acting category, this visceral adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s anti-war novel is actually built on the quality of its actors. Sure, the Great War battle scenes – great blasts of blood-flecked carnage filmed at the tip of a bayonet – are thunderous, the central three-note musical motif underpins it all with deep foreboding and its two storylines are expertly stitched together. But it’s newcomer Felix Kammerer as raw recruit Paul Bäumer and Albrecht Schuch as his pal Kat who’ll stay with you: perfect embodiments of haunted young men under fire.

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The Irishman (2019)

Photograph: Niko Tavernise/Netflix

2. The Irishman (2019)

  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Martin Scorsese 

Cast: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro

Yes, it’s long, but so is your all-day Peaky Blinders rewatch. And yeah, the much-ballyhooed ‘de-aging’ technology is not particularly effective when Robert De Niro still walks (and kicks) like a man in his late ’70s. Still, a three-and-a-half-hour crime epic from the undisputed living master of the crime epic is worth the investment, particularly in the case of this sprawling biography of Frank Sheeran, the career gangster who may know a thing or two about the ‘mysterious’ disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. If you must, there are ways to break it up into smaller chunks so it plays like a miniseries. However you want to watch it, just do it. 

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Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022)

Photograph: Netflix

3. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022)

  • Film
  • Thrillers

Everyone seems to be having a blast on this sun-kissed murder-mystery that sticks a gentle knife into the back of the careless super rich and the odd tech baron. That is not always the sign of a good film, but here writer-director Rian Johnson keeps a willing, fun cast (Kate Hudson, Ed Norton, Dave Bautista, Janelle Monáe) note-perfect so that the tone – part comic caper, part spoof, part thriller – lands throughout. And the plot? Well, someone gets offed and Daniel Craig’s Southern sleuth Benoit Blanc turns up to find out who did it. 

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The Lost Daughter (2021)

Photograph: YANNIS DRAKOULIDIS/2021

4. The Lost Daughter (2021)

  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Maggie Gyllenhaal

Cast: Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Dakota Johnson, Ed Harris, Peter Sarsgaard

Olivia Colman is quietly devastating in this psychological drama, which also marks an assured directorial debut for Maggie Gyllenhaal. While vacationing on a small, somewhat claustrophobic Greek island, Leda (Colman) grows increasingly fixated on a young mother (Dakota Johnson) whose struggles have her flashing back to her own difficulties adjusting to being a parent. Few films have ever observed the mental hardships of motherhood with such frankness. 

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The Harder They Fall (2021)

Photograph: David Lee, courtesy of Netflix

5. The Harder They Fall (2021)

  • Film
  • Action and adventure

Director: Jeymes Samuel

Cast: Jonathan Majors, Regina King, Idris Elba, Delroy Lindo, Zazie Beetz and LaKeith Stanfield

Each member of The Harder They Fall’s cast is a headturner on their own, so imagine the rush of seeing them as dueling posses. But the red-hot ensemble is just one of the draws of Jeymes’ hyper-stylized, ultraviolet Black western, which is chock full of kinetic camera work, frenzied action, expertly deployed needle drops and desert landscapes painted crimson amid heavy gunfire. This isn’t your daddy’s oater. It’s the western wrested from its more contemplative roots and reinvented as something it hasn’t been in decades: fun. 

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Boyz N the Hood (1991)

6. Boyz N the Hood (1991)

  • Film
  • Drama

Director: John Singleton

Cast: Cuba Gooding Jr, Laurence Fishburne, Ice Cube

Equal parts compassionate and shocking, John Singleton’s searing debut shook audiences with its depiction of South Central LA’s gang culture. Arriving in the middle of the gangsta rap boom of the ‘90s, the film is a rejoinder to vintage hip-hop’s  glamorisation of the thug life, via a tragic tale of youth trapped in a cycle of violence by an uncaring system. Even 30 years later, it leaves a mark.

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Tick, Tick... Boom! (2021)

Photograph: MACALL POLAY/NETFLIX © 2021

7. Tick, Tick… Boom! (2021)

  • Film
  • Musical

Director: Lin-Manuel Miranda

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesus, Vanessa Hudgens

If the phrase ‘a musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda’ makes you nauseous, please, take an antacid and consider giving this Lin-Manuel Miranda musical a shot. Adapted from late Rent scribe Jonathan Larson’s semi-autobiographical play, it eschews big, over-the-top song-and-dance numbers for more realistic performances favouring narrative over flash. But it’s Andrew Garfield, playing a young Larson struggling to finish his first play, who really ties the whole thing together. 

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Roma (2018)

Photograph: Netflix

8. Roma (2018)

  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Cast: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira 

In his deeply personal black and white marvel ‘Roma’, director Alfonso Cuarón dives into his Mexican boyhood with this absorbingly rich tribute to the resilient women who raised him – before expanding to gradually reveal the social and political canvas of 1970s Mexico City.

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Da 5 Bloods (2020)

Photograph: David Lee/Netflix

9. Da 5 Bloods (2020)

  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Spike Lee

Cast: Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, Chadwick Boseman

A powerful tale of brotherhood on the battlefield, Spike Lee puts the focus on the Black Americans who sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War for a country that would just as soon erase them from history. But Da Five Bloods isn’t just a political screed but a gripping thriller with a search for lost treasure driving the action and some incredibly poignant performances – most notably from Delroy Lindo and the late Chadwick Boseman – at its centre.  

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Spirited Away (2001)

Photograph: Studio Ghibli

10. Spirited Away (2001)

  • Film
  • Animation

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Cast: Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino, Mari Natsuki

Miyazaki’s first digitally animated feature (the highest-grossing Japanese film ever) initially seems like a ‘Through the Looking-Glass’ fantasy, but rapidly picks up a resonance, weight and complexity that make it all but Shakespearean. Chihiro, a sullen ten-year-old, is moving house with her parents when they stumble into the world of the Japanese gods – where the greedy parents are soon turned into pigs. A truly magical fable unfolds as she navigates this fantastical kingdom.

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Marriage Story (2019)

Photograph: Netflix

11. Marriage Story (2019)

  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Noah Baumbach

Cast: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern

At this point, Marriage Story might be more widely remembered for the ‘Adam Driver banging on a wall’ meme – 2019 was, after all, several lifetimes ago now. But Noah Baumbach’s heartbreaking slow burn about a dissolving relationship represents the apex of Netflix’s original projects. It’s among the most nuanced and realistic depictions of the emotional toll of divorce ever put to film, and contains career-highlight performances from both Driver and Scarlett Johansson.

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The Hand of God (2021)

Photograph: Venice Film Festival

12. The Hand of God (2021)

  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Paolo Sorrentino

Cast: Filippo Scotti, Toni Servillo, Teresa Saponangelo, Marlon Joubert, Luisa Ranieri

Italy’s 2022 Academy Award entry is based on director Paolo Sorrentino’s youth in Naples, which, as portrayed by his teenage avatar Filippo Scotti, is all colourful family dinners and Diego Maradona worship until a sudden tragedy spurs his coming of age. It’d be called this year’s Romaif that designation wasn’t already going to Best Picture contender Belfast. But as cine-memoirs go, Sorrentino’s might be better.

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RRR (2022)

Photograph: Dreamz Entertainment

13. RRR (2022)

Director: SS Rajamouli

Cast: NT Rama Rao Jr, Ram Charan Teja, Ajay Devgn

It’s almost a shame to have to watch this Telugu-language epic at home – it begs to be seen in with an audience, to witness everyone losing their minds in unison. But it’s a must-watch no matter how it’s watched. A crazy, sweeping blast of historical fiction, it focuses on two revolutionaries who defended India against British colonialists in the 1920s. It truly has it all: musical numbers, over-the-top action sequences, lavish set design. Just make sure to take your shoes off, because you’re certain to end up leaping up and down on your couch. 

The Mitchells vs the Machines (2021)

Image: Netflix

14. The Mitchells vs the Machines (2021)

Directors: Michael Rianda

Voice cast: Danny McBride, Abbi Jacobson, Olivia Colman, Maya Rudolph 

Imagine Clark Griswold driving his family straight into the robot uprising from The Terminator – only with less swearing and nuclear blasts blowing people’s skin off – and you get this wildly imaginative, legit funny animated comedy. Danny McBride voices Rick, patriarch of the Mitchell clan, who shoves his wife and kids into the station wagon for one last family road trip before his daughter (Jacobson) goes off to college, only to encounter a digital apocalypse along the way. It’s insanely fun, which you can guess just by looking at the voice cast – and that doesn’t even include some of the truly awesome cameos.

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Uncut Gems (2019)

Photograph: A24

15. Uncut Gems (2019)

  • Film
  • Drama

Directors: Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie

Cast: Adam Sandler, Lakeith Stanfield, Julia Fox, Idina Menzel

The Safdie Brothers’ electrifying and abrasive drama about the week in the 2012 life of a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants Diamond District dealer is an intense high-stakes triumph.

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The White Tiger (2021)

Photograph: Tejinder Singh Khamkha

16. The White Tiger (2021)

Director: Ramin Bahrani

Cast: Adarsh Gourav, Priyanka Chopra, Rajkummar Rao

Sharp-edge class commentary meets visceral gangland violence in a rollicking Indian thriller that throws rural ingenue Balram (Adarsh Gourav) into the Delhi fast lane as a chauffeur who charms his way into a high-caste dynasty. The themes, as translated from Aravind Adiga’s Booker-winning novel, are Shakespearean; the execution seriously visceral and cinematic – and newcomer Gourav is a revelation as the smart, savvy Balram. 

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The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

Netflix

17. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

  • Film
  • Drama

Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen

Cast: Tim Blake Nelson, Zoe Kazan, Tom Waits

The Coen brothers’ comedic Western felt like another of their patented silly diversions designed to placate audiences before the arrival of another ‘serious’ work, but with the future of the siblings’ partnership up in the air, it could end up being their swan song as a duo. Told in six parts, the film contains both the odd laughs and existential drama the brothers are known for, along with their signature stylisation. Honestly, there are worse notes to go out on. 

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Mank (2020)

Photograph: Netflix

18. Mank (2020)

  • Film
  • Drama

Director: David Fincher

Cast: Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Charles Dance, Lily Collins, Tom Burke

In this behind-the-scenes dramatisation of the making of Citizen Kane, Gary Oldman plays screenwriter Herman J Mankiewicz as a drunken, loudmouth force of nature, and he’s an absolute blast to watch. Other aspects of David Fincher’s moody, monochromatic biographical drama were polarising for both critics and audiences, but a few years removed from the buzz and it’s easier to see as a masterful depiction of Hollywood’s Golden Age that’s at once cynical and celebratory.

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The Forty-Year-Old Version (2020)

Photograph: Netflix

19. The Forty-Year-Old Version (2020)

Director: Rahda Blank

Cast: Rahda Blank, Peter Kim, Oswin Benjamin

This smart, zippy and meaningful comedy about finding a voice, breaking through and being true to yourself comes from the pen – and real-life experiences – of New Yorker Radha Blank. ‘The Forty-Year-Old Version’ feels fearless, letting all the hang ups hang out when it comes to sex, success and hitting your fourth decade.

The Old Guard (2020)

Photograph: Netflix

20. The Old Guard (2020)

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood

Cast: Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Chiwetel Ejiofor

Released to great fanfare mid-pandemic, this R-rated comic book flick has pretty much everything that the Marvel movies are lacking, including innovation action, front-and-center queer characters and a willingness to go big with its lore without being beholden to 30 other character arcs. It also has Furiousa herself, Charlize Theron, as an immortal axe-wielding ass kicker leading a cadre of unkillable warriors in an effort to keep us mere mortals safe. If only the Fast movies would let Theron rip this much…

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Annihilation (2018)

Photograph: Netflix

21. Annihilation (2018)

  • Film
  • Science fiction

Director:  Alex Garland

Cast: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Oscar Isaac

In a rare example of Hollywood sci-fi-horror thoughtfulness, ‘Annihilation’ has grand concepts in mind, ideas about self-destruction and rebirth. The film follows cellular biologist Lena (Portman) as she ventures to The Shimmer, an anomalous electromagnetic field, to discover the truth about what happened to her husband Kane (Isaac), who visited The Shimmer and returned in poor health and his memory missing. 

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The Dig (2021)

Photograph: LARRY HORRICKS/NETFLIX © 2021 

22. The Dig (2021)

  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Simon Stone

Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Carey Mulligan

Just as olde-worlde feeling as you might expect when your main characters are called ‘Edith’ and ‘Basil’ (and they aren’t using codenames) – and all the better for it – ‘The Dig’ packs a stealthy emotional punch. Carey Mulligan (Edith) and Ralph Fiennes (Basil) are the wealthy widow and the amateur archaeologist that she hires to investigate the ancient burial site on her land. It turns out to be world-renowned Saxon site of Sutton Hoo, though we’re really here for gently profound musings on mortality and the passing of time. 

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Society of the Snow (2023)

Photograph: Netflix

23. Society of the Snow (2023)

  • Film
  • Action and adventure

Director: JA Bayona

Cast: Enzo Vogrincic, Agustín Pardella, Matías Recalt

JA Bayona really knows his way around a flare gun and a first-aid kit. The Spanish filmmaker broke through with tsunami drama The Impossible and his status as a kind of arthouse Irwin Allen gains more kudos with this gripping account of the 1971 Andes plane disaster. If you’ve seen Alive, the Hollywood version of the story, you’ll know what to expect: a dwindling bunch of young men resort to cannibalism to stay alive in the mountains awaiting rescue. Bayona’s version balances thrills with tragedy with real sensitivity. Grab a blanket and hold on tight.

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The Gray Man (2022)

Photograph: Netflix

24. The Gray Man (2022)

  • Film
  • Thrillers

Director: Anthony and Joe Russo

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas

Netflix’s best action flick in ages – maybe ever – stars Ryan Gosling with his levels of stoicism cranked to 12, playing a convicted killer recruited to be a spy for the CIA. He eventually ditches the organisation and finds himself hunted by a hitman (Chris Evans) perhaps even more skilled in the art of murder than him. Directed by the sibling duo behind Avengers: Endgame, it’s a rip-roaring blast from start to finish.

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American Factory (2020)

Photograph: Aubrey Keith/Netflix

25. American Factory (2020)

  • Film

Directors: Julia Reichert, Steven Bognar

2020’s Oscar-winning documentary is a film of two halves: the first records the resurrection of a shuttered Ohio car glass factory by Chinese corporation Fuyao; the second takes us to China to see how the company operates on its own turf. Suffice to say there’s more than an ocean between the two working cultures. Co-directors Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar take a gentle, non-polemical approach to this uneasy partnership, but there’s no shortage of ouchy moments – as when the Chinese workers are caught disparaging their American counterparts’ work ethic or the Americans gamely try to join in on the company song. An essential watch.

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Moneyball (2011)

Photograph: Columbia Pictures

26. Moneyball (2011)

Director: Bennett Miller

Cast: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright

Like an out-of-form batter, sports films can be hit and miss. Baseball movies, though, are steady performers – and in this case, much better than that. Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane, a journeyman MLB player who became a watchword for the analytics-based innovation that revolutionised not just baseball, but other sports too. Sound dry? There’s barely a spreadsheet in sight, just crackling Steven Zaillian/Aaron Sorkin-scripted dramatics as Beane turns his sport on its head with some help from Jonah Hill’s stats genius.

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Atlantics (2019)

27. Atlantics (2019)

  • Film

Director: Mati Diop

Cast: Mame Bineta Sane, Amadou Mbow, Ibrahima Traoré

Young lovers are separated in this wistful, atmospheric first feature from Mati Diop, the first black female director to compete for the Cannes Palme d’Or. Soon after we meet spirited teenager Ada (Mame Bineta Sane) in Dakar, she is grinning at Souleiman (Ibrahima Traoré) across the road as traffic whizzes past, his solemn, lovelorn face holding secrets she doesn’t yet know. Soon there will be an ocean between them, and she will be left to wonder if he is alive or dead, while marrying a wealthy man she doesn’t love.

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The Two Popes (2019)

Photograph: Peter Mountain

28. The Two Popes (2019)

  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Fernando Meirelles

Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Pryce

The title makes it sound like the world’s most unlikely buddy movie, and that’s essentially what this talky but endlessly likeable and thought-provoking adaptation of Anthony McCarten’s play is – like ‘The Odd Couple’ set in the Vatican. Welsh acting legends Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce share the screen for the first time as Pope Benedict XVI and the more liberal cardinal who might end up replacing him, Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Watching the two of them shooting the shit (our words, not theirs) is a pure pleasure, as their uneasy respect blossoms into an unexpected friendship. 

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Maestro (2023)

Photograph: Netflix | Carey Mulligan and Bradley Cooper in ‘The Maestro’

29. Maestro (2023)

  • Film
  • Drama

There’s a thin line separating a ‘passion project’ from a ‘deranged act of vanity, and Bradley Cooper’s Leonard Bernstein biopic nuzzles up pretty close to it. Ultimately, though, it stays on the right side of the divide, predominantly through the writer-director-star’s remarkable transformation into the legendary composer, which goes far beyond his controversial prosthetic proboscis. He also deserves credit for avoiding both hagiography and a typical cradle-to-grave structure, instead focusing on his tumultuous marriage to Felicia Montealegre (Mulligan, also fantastic) and closeted bisexuality. The uninitiated won’t really get a sense of what made Bernstein such a towering 20th century figure, but hey, that’s what Wikipedia is for.

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Enola Holmes (2020)

Photograph: ROBERT VIGLASKI /LEGENDARY ©2020

30. Enola Holmes (2020)

Director: Harry Bradbeer

Cast: Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Helena Bonham Carter, Sam Claflin

Proving that her Eggo-scoffing breakout turn in Stranger Things was no flash in the pan, Millie Bobby Brown single-handedly turns this Sherlock Holmes spin-off into a giddying, galloping delight. She’s Enola, the brainy but belittled sister of the great detective (Henry Cavill), who heads off a crime-solving escapade of her own to find her missing mum (Helena Bonham Carter) and demonstrates that strong-willed genius runs in the family. The dame is afoot!

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