The 50 best movies on Netflix New Zealand (February 2024)

Behold, Steve Newall has crafted the definitive list of the best films currently available to stream on Netflix NZ. We’ll update this post each month as films come and go from Netflix.

2001: A Space Odyssey

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Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke’s science fiction masterpiece is both a stunningly real vision of the future, and a psychedelic explosion. The breakthrough film for Douglas Trumbull, who would go on to be revered as a special effects legend, 2001‘s effects remain incredibly impressive over fifty years later—and its influence on cinema since its 1968 release is impossible to understate (would Kubrick have been chuffed by the start of Barbie? Probably!). It’s the gold standard by which all cinematic missions into space, interactions with artificial intelligence, and depictions of the future have been judged against ever since.

A Star is Born

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You know the drill—one part whirlwind fairytale romance, one part wish-fulfilment fantasy, a potent brew that’s sustained multiple tellings of this story to date. What makes this one work is the excellent chemistry of its leads, and the convincingly depicted musical world depicted here (you’d be hard-pressed to find another mainstream drama with such convincing live performances). Lady Gaga’s a revelation, Cooper a convincing music biz wreck, and even as this heads to an inevitable-feeling content-advisory-requiring ending, it’s hard to imagine not being invested in their tale.

The Age of Innocence

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Martin Scorsese’s period romance is a wonderfully crafted gut punch of simmering longing. 19th-century New York high society is the setting for this gripping tale of a young lawyer (Daniel Day-Lewis) who falls in love with a woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) scandalously separated from her husband—despite being engaged to her cousin (Winona Ryder)—all a delight to watch. Every transgressive glance or loaded word lands a powerful blow as we take in perhaps the most appropriate erotic tale of the post-COVID era, one where two people drawn to each other exist in an anguished orbit of not touching, their affections quarantined.

American Psycho

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An unholy trinity comes together to produce filmmaking magnificence—Bret Easton Ellis’s notorious novel, a Christian Bale performance for the ages, and director/co-screenwriter Mary Harron’s take on the source material. The pairing of Harron and Bale is vital to the sublime result, as opposed to the satire-free thriller that Lionsgate tried to make at one point, intended to star Leonardo DiCaprio with Oliver Stone directing. Yikes. While Harron’s film has no shortage of controversial content, her take demonstrates an understanding of Ellis’s novel as comedic social critique, and is an enduringly watchable one.

Athena

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Furious and frantic, Athena builds on director Romain Gavras’ previous work, most notably his music videos Stress for Justice and Bad Girls and Born Free for M.I.A. As many have noted, the rest of this feature can’t quite live up to its audacious, opening sequence—a spectacular oner moving from French police press conference to violent protest and a housing estate entering a state of siege. Amid the growing chaos and violence as riot squads descend on the estate, three brothers of Algerian descent pursue conflicting, desperate strategies as they’re backed into various corners. Despairing, urgent, tragic, brutal—and a strong showcase of Gavras’ talents.

Atlantics

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Set in Senegal’s capital Dakar, supernatural romantic drama Atlantics follows interweaving narratives—construction workers rail against not being paid to build a shining corporate tower above the impoverished city, and teenaged Ada prepares for her arranged marriage. Connecting the two is Ada’s romance with Souleiman, one of the aforementioned workers, who’s among a group of them to set sail in the middle of the night for Spain. Things get odd when illness begins to befall those close to these men, and Souleiman’s said to have made a reappearance. A deft blend of various elements, and a super promising first feature from Mati Diop (also the first black woman to direct a film in competition at Cannes).

Boy

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Taika Waititi’s second feature saw the multi-hyphenate return to his childhood—geographically (the East Coast’s Waihau Bay), temporally (the 80s), and emotionally (the title). The humour of Aotearoa permeates this pic, as does Waititi’s own creative streak, but there’s no reason to tell you this because you have literally all seen this film and experienced its intimate and heartrending depiction of disillusionment with a beloved parent, one that’s unfit for the pedestal they’ve been put on.

Carol

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Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara lead this measured, award-winning, 1950s-set romantic drama from Todd Haynes, chronicling their deepening connection during a closeted era. Haynes brings Patricia Highsmith’s novel to life in sumptuous fashion—this film is gorgeous—while Blanchett and Mara sell the spark, as well as completely inhabiting their characters. A glamorous society wife and mother and a department store attendant respectively, the stakes are very different for each as they fall in love.

Catch Me If You Can

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Supremely watchable entertainment, Catch Me If You Can has a breeziness that sometimes you need instead of a darker thriller. Steven Spielberg’s gently amusing tale of a young con man (Leonardo DiCaprio) who posed as a pilot, doctor and more, while pursued by a dogged FBI agent (Tom Hanks), doesn’t lack an emotional element, with the director and his leads all adept at lending this lighter swindle pic a suitable sense of gravity when needed.

Cousins

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A complex tale that spans decades and perspectives as it follows three Māori women through three distinctly different time periods—their childhood, teenage years and during their 60s—each setting boasting a different trio of actors chronicling their lives (standouts including Ana Scotney, Tioreore Melbourne, Tanea Heke and Rachel House). With two of the titular cousins trying to reconnect with the missing third in later years, and the impacts of systemic dislocation and colonisation on Māori evident throughout, Cousins is a deeply moving dramatic triumph.

Dirty Dancing

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Set ten years before Roe v Wade, the illegal abortion that’s pivotal to the plot of Dirty Dancing takes on even more resonance in the current political climate of the US. Yes, the film’s about coming-of-age, romance, catchy tunes, Patrick Swayze being hot, and “dirty dancing”—but it’s also about women’s rights, feminism and class. None of this is subtext, but is baked into the essence of a pic that is also a hell of a lot of fun, and sells the sizzle between its leads—something that wouldn’t be possible if resort dancer Penny didn’t get pregnant and seek a termination. In steps Baby, who starts rehearsing with Johnny, and sparks fly, in this deeper-than-may-seem dance romance hit.

Dune

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While counting the weeks until Dune: Part 2, you could do worse than revisiting the first instalment in Denis Villeneuve’s astonishing Frank Herbert adaptation. A confident Villeneuve had been working on this since his teens, and foreshadowed his great sense for sci-fi with Blade Runner 2049—leaving genre fans primed for Dune. Despite this preparation, I was still left floored by what he brings to the screen here: a mix of jaw-dropping visuals, fantastic casting (you could start by singling out Timothée Chalamet, Stellan Skarsgård, Zendaya, or Rebecca Ferguson—but you’d end up having to list the entire acting roster, really), plus an ability to carve through some of the dense lore of Herbert’s novel.

Edge of Tomorrow

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Supremely rewatchable, as befits its premise, a stymied release prevented Doug Liman’s sci-fi action pic making the box office impact it really deserved (and has deprived us to date of a much-wanted sequel). A nifty riff on video games, its characters have the ability to “live, die, repeat” while embracing nihilist gaming humour as they kick the bucket—Tom Cruise’s shriek when getting run over hilariously undercuts his movie star persona, as does his initially cowardly, slimeball character. The action rules, the devastated post-invasion world is stylishly depicted, and Emily Blunt proves she can more than hold her own opposite Cruise.

Eighth Grade

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As much precocious talent as was on display in Netflix special Bo Burnham: Inside, there’s little to suggest Burnham had previously made this stunningly empathetic and touching coming-of-age tale. An achingly vulnerable performance by Elsie Fisher brings every nuance of banality, awkwardness, comedy and awfulness to life as Eighth Grade chronicles her character’s horrible last week of a difficult year at middle school. Deeply moving and often squirm-inducing, despite some troubling subject matter Burnham displays a soft touch as director—even when conveying the multitude of horrors encountered every day on social media, the film resists over-sensationalising or finger-wagging, instead just leaving us in the hurt and confusion of growing up.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

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Wes Anderson’s fastidiousness in filmmaking took another leap with this painstaking stop-motion Roald Dahl adaptation, one that somehow shows more heart than some of his human-starring efforts. Anderson’s stylistic obsessions and retro inclinations are on full display alongside animated artistry that’s a beauty to behold. Capable of both silliness and seriousness, it’s an adaptation infused with Wes’s sensibility just as much as (more than?) Dahl’s.

Fast Five

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Despite escalating levels of physics-defying action as each film tries to better the last, Fast Five stands as the high water mark of the series to date. Declared by Flicks writers to be the eighth-best action film of the 2010s, there was no bettering the surprise factor of Fast Five’s audacity in abandoning much, if any connection to street racing, while the welcome introduction of Dwayne Johnson to the franchise further enhanced the adrenaline factor. Everything clicked here, even (especially) as the film leans into its ridiculousness for maximum enjoyment—a rush the franchise has chased to diminishing success since.

The Favourite

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It took five years for director Yorgos Lanthimos to follow up The Favourite, the director’s first collaboration with Emma Stone before recent superb Oscar contender Poor Things. In a sign of things to come perhaps, some Flicks readers who got an early look at this 2018 black comedy were a little unprepared for the language and sex on offer, perhaps not what some would have expected from Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz. If you’re the sort of pearl-clutcher that walks out of a preview screening because it’s too risqué, maybe steer clear. For those of us who like to be more challenged, this tale of women at court vying for the attention/affection of Queen Anne has plenty to offer—from bawdy laughs to excellent performances (Colman won a BAFTA, an Oscar and more) and a wonderfully-crafted tone.

Get Out

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This 2017 hit changed the way we looked at first-time director Jordan Peele, did what most horror pics can’t by getting deserved love from the Oscars, and added new vocab to the modern lexicon with the concept of “the sunken place”. With a great premise bolstered by fantastic performances (particularly Get Out‘s lead Daniel Kaluuya, although we must also praise the not-so-secretly racist family he visits), more than anything else, this is an elegantly effective horror, with all elements operating in unison. Peele hasn’t aimed for the razor-sharpness of this since, which is a bit of a shame—even if you can’t fault the ambition of follow-up Us or the more satisfying Nope.

Gone Girl

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What a combination of A-games Gone Girl is. There’s Gillian Flynn’s novel, which she adapts for the screen here; David Fincher’s grasp of tone from stylish cinema to trashy goodness; and the performances of Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike as the ill-matched Dunnes. Affleck, in particular, is a piece of pitch-perfect casting, drawing on his slimier, less sympathetic qualities as the kind of guy who it’s easy to believe would have actually killed his wife. As her disappearance is investigated, what unfolds is a thrilling sequence of events that doesn’t feel like it runs for anything like its two-and-a-half-hour viewing time.

GoodFellas

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Robbed at the Academy Awards (where it coincidentally found itself up against The Godfather: Part III in a number of categories), GoodFellas was beaten for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay by Dances With Wolves, which we can probably agree is completely, objectively wrong (though at least there was Oscar love for Joe Pesci). Audaciously, energetically directed and harnessing great performances from Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Pesci, GoodFellas turns gangster life into an exhilarating thrill, the counter-point to which Martin Scorsese explores in fellow Netflix title The Irishman.

Heat

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Pacino and De Niro duel as a detective and bank robber who have more in common with one another than any of the civilians in their lives. Sharing just a few minutes on screen together across the nearly three-hour running time, watching the pair orbit each other is a delight and when they collide, riveting. A complex thriller that’s proven highly influential since its 1995 release, not least of all its adrenaline-charged heist scene, the standard by which other action set-pieces have been judged since.

Heathers

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Meaner than Mean Girls, high school satire with a bit of John Waters’ view of white middle-class America, the biting Heathers is anchored by a Winona Ryder performance that balances the film’s bleak nihilism with genuine likability—tougher than it sounds. Opposite Ryder is Christian Slater’s OTT Jack Nicholson impersonation, the cast rounded out with spot-on supporting performances. Plot-wise, it’s a surprise some of this stuff ever made it to the screen, but Heathers is all the better for it. Rewatching (and re-quoting) ASAP.

Hustlers

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A crew of strip club workers turn the tables on their Wall Street clients in this crime film set around the 2008 financial crisis, when—for a time—money was being thrown around like it was going out of style (it was, and so was the Baby Phat, Juicy, Ed Hardy, Von Dutch etc fashion seen in the film). A revelation as the scam leader, Jennifer Lopez was herself robbed—of an Oscar nomination, for what is a career-best turn. Speaking of turns… when Usher turns up? Just try and keep the smile off your face (and the bills in your wallet).

In Bruges

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Forget the questionable Three Billboards (and definitely the terrible Seven Psychopaths), playwright turned director Martin McDonagh’s best film by far remains his startling debut—a darkly comic crime pic starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as hitmen holed up in the historic town of Bruges after a job gone wrong. The fairytale backdrop is at turns beautiful and claustrophobic, while the writing’s sharp, the performances are outstanding, and the overall vibe is tense, moving and hilarious. “That’s for John Lennon, you Yankee fucking c–t!”

John Wick

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Things get a bit convoluted in the Wick sequels (not that we’re about to stop watching). But it wasn’t the worldbuilding that made this breakout action pic such a hit—even if we were bizarrely deprived of a proper cinema release here in Aotearoa, crazy days!—but instead the lean, efficient plot, a style of action choreography to match, and of course, Keanu Reeves taking on a new signature role decades into his career. Frowning intensity, long take action, and tragic motivation all land wonderfully in his wheelhouse in this all-time classic.

Jurassic Park

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At the ripe old age of 30, Spielberg’s dino-venture is holding up just great, thanks. The film’s once-innovative technology may have been eclipsed by more sophisticated onscreen trickery, but the film still has plenty to offer audiences as a suspenseful adventure that has stood the test of time (and looks a lot better after three decades than many modern-day multiplex pics are gonna). We may not marvel quite so much at the mere sight of computer-created creatures these days, but you can rely on the master filmmaker to imbue this pic with something special—thrills and character beats that land as heavy as those T-Rex footsteps.

The Lord of the Rings

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Some 20-plus years after their release, we’re all due for another trip back to Middle-earth at some stage, perhaps even more so after Prime Video’s comparatively underwhelming Rings of Power. Peter Jackson’s staggering trilogy—The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King—are all here so you can revisit hours of compelling storytelling and adventure, marvel in Aotearoa’s glory, and perhaps indulge in just a little nostalgia for this turn-of-the-millenium moment in New Zealand history (the making of these films, that is: I know they aren’t historically accurate).

Mad Max: Fury Road

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George Miller’s action masterpiece is always deserving of a rewatch (or waiting to be discovered if you somehow haven’t seen it). Since its release in 2015, we can only think of a couple of action films to hold a candle to it, a desert-set spectacle with a tankful of creativity,  craziness and car-related carnage. A strong emphasis on practical effects is bolstered, not replaced, by CGI work, with choreography, world-building and tone doing the heavy lifting in place of minimal dialogue (Tom Hardy’s grunts notwithstanding). A masterpiece, and maybe the first and last of its kind to be made for a major studio at this scale and singular vision.

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster

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The most painfully honest and funny insight into the music biz since This is Spinal Tap, Some Kind of Monster perhaps ought to have buried Metallica, being such an unflattering portrayal of a musical juggernaut that had sold 80 million albums and now found itself creatively becalmed. Two years of crisis are captured on screen, from the band’s hiring of a therapist to their struggles with writer’s block, the hiring of a new bass player, James Hetfield’s departure to rehab, and the making of a pretty average album. Pretence falls away (except perhaps in their group dynamics and self-deception) and this document is a classic of doco makers being in the right place at the wrong time. All that and Lars’s dad (RIP).

Midsommar

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After “elevated horror” Hereditary‘s gloomy and claustrophobic meditation on grief, director Ari Aster moved to the colourful, wide-open vistas of rural Sweden. That’s not to say all’s well at all, with Dani (Florence Pugh) struggling with both the death of her family and an increasingly dysfunctional relationship with her boyfriend (Jack Reynor). Invited to their friend’s ancestral commune, the Hårga, Dani and her friends find themselves swept up in increasingly offputting rituals, even as the sun shines, the Swedish smile, the flowers bloom—and the mushies kick in.

Mister Organ

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An investigation into who’s behind a bizarre spate of car clamping outside an Auckland antique shop leads David Farrier on a strange and troubling journey in this doco, one that took a toll on the filmmaker as his subject turned the tables on him. “If I could not have made this, I would not have fucking made it,” Farrier told me at the time of Mister Organ‘s cinema release, and watching this, the idea of being in Organ’s orbit quickly begins to feel terrifying (and exhausting, depressing, boring). Trapped in a relationship with his subject, and documenting a history of similar manipulation, Farrier’s pain is our uncomfortable gain.

Moonlight

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Capturing three chapters of a young Black man’s life, this Best Picture winner at the 2017 Oscars is a remarkable portrayal of youth, adolescence and early adulthood. Three different actors play lead character Chiron at these different ages as he deals with emotional and physical abuse and their lasting impacts, as well as navigating his identity as a gay Black man. A great cast, including Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe and Mahershala Ali nail things on the acting front, while Barry Jenkins’s remarkably assured direction makes this heartfelt tale sing from the screen, incredibly moving and deeply personal.

My Neighbour Totoro

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Netflix delighted Studio Ghibli fans with the news that they’d acquired 21 classic films from Oscar-winning Japanese animation team Studio Ghibli (“feel free to cry big, globby tears of joy when you read this”, we said). But how to pick a fave, when the work of these animation masters is brimming with perfection? Even though we have ample love for Howl’s Moving CastleSpirited AwayThe Tale of the Princess KaguyaPrincess MononokeLaputa: Castle in the Sky and others you can see on Netflix, let’s appoint My Neighbour Totoro as Ghibli’s ambassador on this list (he’s their mascot, after all).

The Nice Guys

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Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe team up to winning effect in Shane Black’s black comedy crime pic The Nice Guys, a great odd-couple comprising a comically hapless PI (Gosling) and a rough-as-guts enforcer (Crowe). Careening around 1970s Los Angeles, the duo are trying to track down a missing young woman whose trail will lead them into the pornography industry, as well as conflict with the city’s bureaucracy (and of course some hoodlums and assorted cannon fodder). Black was back at his best here, and the chemistry between Gosling and Crowe is nothing short of magnificent (it’s also a must-see for everyone who found Gosling hilarious in Barbie).

The Night Comes For Us

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Surely the most over-the-top action you’ll find on Netflix, this Indonesian pic shares thrilling choreography and key cast members with The Raid, but gleefully embraces the gory end of the action spectrum. Director Timo Tjahjanto serves up a massive body count, and relishes coming up with as many different ways for a human to kill another human as he can, broken cattle bones in a freezing works being among our favourites (along with plenty of other shooting, breaking, and chopping manoeuvres). There’s probably a story in there somewhere but it escapes us just now—doesn’t stop this slice of splatter action from being incredibly entertaining.

The Piano

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Jane Campion’s history-making directorial accomplishment saw her become the first woman director ever to win the Palme d’Or, her film also earning Oscars for Holly Hunter, an astonishingly young Anna Paquin, and Campion herself. A decade before LOTR, it was also showcasing Aotearoa’s brutal scenery and black sand beaches on screens around the world—but all the above is just icing on the cake of a film that’s a gripping and moving study of power, sex and transaction. Thirty years on, The Piano remains as fascinating and unsettling as ever, observed Rachel Ashby in a recent retrospective for Flicks.

The Power of the Dog

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Jane Campion’s mastery shines through in this Oscar-winner, as the director goes about developing strong characters and setting in motion a chain of events that chillingly reveals itself in hindsight. Much less of a revisionist Western than some have billed it as, Campion nevertheless weaves a tale that hinges on performative masculinity, repressed emotion, and the weaponisation of desire. Patiently constructed, but not lagging, this is a period family drama with a sting in its tail that lingers.

Room

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An incredibly moving portrayal of the bond between mother and son, Room also functions as an unsettling captivity thriller. Inside a windowless, 10-by-10-foot enclosure, Brie Larson plays a mother raising and protecting her five-year-old son Jack—even as a sicko keeps them trapped there. Her efforts to preserve Jack’s optimism and innocence in this awful situation are deeply affecting, with Larson winning an Academy Award for her superb work in building an onscreen maternal relationship with the then seven-year-old Jacob Tremblay (himself kept innocent of the film’s true nature by the production).

RRR

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This Indian action sensation may run for just over three hours, but it doesn’t contain any padding. Instead, every minute of RRR is crammed full of creativity, this anti-colonial adventure laying down a huge challenge to bigger-budget, more technically-gifted Hollywood snoozefests. Cheer as the British Raj feels the might of two heroes teaming up (the Brits also having to contend with a literal truckload of wild animals at one point), and dance along to the soundtrack’s many contagious numbers. Truly thrilling, it stands on its own two feet, and is unlike anything Western audiences might have seen before. (It also placed third in our favourite movies of 2022).

The Shining

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Kubrick’s horror masterpiece needs no introduction. Like some of the other films on this list, it has permeated pop culture thanks to unforgettable imagery, a combination of creeping dread and outright terror, and magnificent performances led by a foaming mad Jack Nicholson. Stephen King might not be the biggest fan, but in the hands of Kubrick, King’s novel—inspired by the author’s alcoholism and his stay at The Stanley Hotel—transcends the B-movie ghetto usually assigned to horror, becoming something more profoundly affecting in the process.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

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Not only the best Spider-Man multiverse film, this Oscar-winner is also the most audacious, entertaining, stylish, and yeah, just the best of the whole Spidey bunch, actually. Infusing a great tale with the visual spirit and aesthetic of comic books, Into the Spider-Verse set a new animation bar—the gravity-defying web-swinging is thrilling, the physics-shattering dimensional crossover beautifully trippy, and as you can see above, this multiverse is about a lot more than just some familiar faces… All that and a super-strong introduction for Miles Morales, a young man with his own struggles ahead of him (and about time, after a string of Peter Parkers).

Step Brothers

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This comedy highlight soars thanks to its inspired pairing of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as squabbling man-babies forced to get along when their respective parents get together. It’s utterly ridiculous with completely committed performances and comes as significantly lighter viewing than some of the other entries on this list. Ferrell and Reilly are a joy to behold, while Adam Scott is great as an asshole (and shines leading an a cappella rendition of Sweet Child O’ Mine). Warriors players Shaun Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s Step Brothers-referencing photo shoot further illustrates its cultural legacy as a piece of high art.

The Stranger

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Mission: Impossible’s Sean Harris has possibly never been more terrifying—which is saying something—than in this utterly bone-chilling Australian thriller. In a departure from typical true-crime narratives, director Thomas M. Wright patiently ensnares us in the psychology, environment and relationships of his characters, before weaving in more expected procedural elements. Harris is paired with an on-form Joel Edgerton, and with their dangerous relationship at its core, The Stranger leaves us as on edge as the two key men on screen. A hard (if tough going) recommend.

Sweet Country

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At times exploiting the Western genre’s conventions and at others gently subverting them, Warwick Thornton’s Sweet Country sees an Aboriginal stockman and his wife flee across the Outback after committing the cardinal sin of killing a white man in self-defense. Among their pursuers, Bryan Brown is a mean bully, prone to erupting in spittle-flecked fury, while Sam Neill only sporadically emerges from myopic thrall to the Bible. An often searing portrayal of colonial racism and rage at a time when today’s cultural paradigm coalesced—a continent ruled by arrogant invaders, who’ve dispossessed the Indigenous people’s connection to culture and country.

The Talented Mr. Ripley

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20+ years on, Anthony Minghella’s adaption of Patricia Highsmith’s novel (itself 65+ years old) remains a masterful psychological thriller. Here the same qualities that allow Matt Damon to be one of cinema’s most reliable everyman movie stars—letting audiences project themselves into his characters (even when they are amnesiac assassins, for example)—are put to their most unsettling use. He might seem like a fun grifter at the beginning, but Tom Ripley’s unthreatening, boyish façade masks something much more sinister. As he appropriates the identities of others, it’s more than just a con. Ripley wants to be them, and it threatens everyone around him.

Top Gun: Maverick

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Not content with saving the world onscreen in lots of different outings, Tom Cruise set out to save cinema itself here during the COVID-19 pandemic—and with movie theatres still standing, how could we possibly prove him wrong? In an era oversaturated with disappointing, unasked-for nostalgia sequels and requels, Top Gun: Maverick overdelivered in thrills and (ok, a bit cheesily patriotic) emotion. Plus, as we’ve now come to expect, the excitement of watching Tom Cruise doing spectacular things for real cannot be overstated.

Uncut Gems

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Adam Sandler is in top form in this anxiety-inducing drama, frantic and self-destructive as he does a high-wire act under the weight of the multiple gambles of his life (literal gambling, high-risk gem deals, debts to unsavoury characters, juggling mistress and family relationships). Filmmakers the Safdie brothers populate their film with a great cast as we follow Sandler’s character through increasingly high stakes, with Uncut Gems also managing to be funny and tender around the pulse-pounding. Maybe the most intense movie you’ll find on Netflix, and yes, THERE IS QUITE A LOT OF SHOUTING.

The Unknown Saint

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This Morocco-set caper pic follows a thief released from prison only to find a major obstacle to regathering his stashed loot. His hiding place has been mistaken for a saint’s grave, and a shrine and village now stand between him and his ill-gotten gains. What happens next is a gentle delight for people to discover on Netflix, infused with a dry comic sensibility sometimes reminiscent of the Coens.

War for the Planet of the Apes

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Last decade’s Planet of the Apes reboot/requel trilogy got better as it went on. Following Rise and Dawn, War of the Planet of the Apes is a sensitive, sombre and thrilling blockbuster, taking place after the collapse of human civilisation in what may be the last stand for the militarised remnants of mankind. With stunning digital performances, you will likely find yourself rooting for ape over man—and if that wasn’t enough, this is worth revisiting with a new batch of Apes films on the way.

The Wolf of Wall Street

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Scorsese’s funniest film is an overlong tale of excess, but with so much to enjoy what would you cut? DiCaprio is ridiculously watchable as financial fraudster Jordan Belfort, sharing extremely memorable screentime with Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie (in her breakout film). Hopped up and energetic, The Wolf of Wall Street is as frantic and excessive as the lifestyle it depicts, trading in the more stylish elements of Scorsese’s gangster pics for a drug-fueled sprint through the excess of the 80s and 90s—even if it might not have a hell of a lot to say.