Last Updated: April 9th
Even though the streaming wars are heating up and every studio/network seems to be building their own platform, Netflix still has, arguably, the best movie library of them all. They’re getting better at categorizing them too, but when you have a film library that big, it’s hard to make sure all of the worthwhile titles get seen. That’s where we come in. Let this must-watch list be your guide to the overcrowded streaming landscape and an end to the mindless scrolling through Netflix’s movie catalog. There’s something for everyone here and it’s all good.
1. The Dark Knight (2008)
Run Time: 152 min | IMDb: 9.0/10
The second film in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is undoubtedly its best. Not only does Christian Bale fully immerse himself in the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, playing the tortured-billionaire-turned-vigilante with a singular conviction, the film also boasts Heath Ledger’s Joker, a maniacal villain worthy of sharing the screen with our hero. The film marks one of Ledger’s final roles before his death, but it’s a viscerally gripping portrait of a man burdened by past trauma and driven by his madness for chaos and destruction. Sure, we’re all rooting for Batman to win, but we can’t deny the fun in seeing Ledger blow sh*t up for two-plus hours.
2. The Departed (2006)
Run Time: 151 min | IMDb: 8.5/10
Leonard DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, and Alec Baldwin star in this crime thriller from Martin Scorsese about an undercover cop and a mole in the police department who attempt to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang in Boston. DiCaprio plays the good guy (or as close as) with Billy, a disturbed officer playing the part of a criminal to get close to Nicholson’s kingpin, Frank. Damon plays the rat, Sullivan, who serves as a police officer on the force, but really works for Frank. The two unknowingly thwart each other at every turn, playing a thrilling game of cat and mouse before their secrets eventually come out.
3. There Will Be Blood (2007)
Run Time: 158 min | IMDb: 8.2/10
Daniel Day-Lewis stars in this gritty, Oscar-winning drama from Paul Thomas Anderson playing a turn-of-the-century prospector, who risks his faith and his family for oil. Daniel Plainview is a shrewd, callous businessman who adopts the orphaned son of a dead employee to make himself look more appealing to investors. When he hits oil in California, he wages a war with a local preacher and his family who stand in the way of Daniel’s progress. Violence and yes, plenty of blood, follow.
4. The Irishman (2019)
Run Time: 209 min | IMDb: 8.7/10
Martin Scorsese delivers another cinematic triumph, this time for Netflix and with the help of some familiar faces. Robert De Niro and Al Pacino team up (again) for this crime drama based on actual events. De Niro plays Frank Sheeran a World War II vet who finds work as a hitman for the mob. Pacino plays notorious Teamster Jimmy Hoffa, a man who frequently found himself on the wrong side of the law and the criminals he worked with. The film charts the pair’s partnership over the years while injecting some historical milestones for context. It’s heavy and impressively cast and everything you’d expect a Scorsese passion-project to be.
5. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Run Time: 169 min | IMDb 8.6/10
Steven Spielberg netted a slew of Oscars for this war epic that’s since gone on to be named one of the best military dramas of all time. Most of that has to do with Spielberg’s eye for crafting visually arresting landscapes and transporting audiences into the war-torn setting of period France, but the cast is ridiculously stacked here, too. Tom Hanks plays a captain who’s forced to lead his men behind enemy lines to rescue Matt Damon’s paratrooper after all of his brothers are killed during the war. It’s brutal, unforgiving, and one of the more authentic portraits of World War II that you’ll see.
6. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020)
Run Time: 94 min | IMDb: 7.2/10
This dramatic interpretation of August Wilson’s iconic play is already garnering considerable awards buzz. That’s mainly due to Viola Davis, who turns in a stunning performance as the legendary Blues singer, and the late Chadwick Boseman, who plays a frustrated young Jazz musician whose ambition disrupts a fateful recording session.
7. Roma (2018)
Run Time: 135 min | IMDb: 7.8/10
Oscar-winning writer/director Alfonso Cuaron delivers what may be his most personal film to date. The stunningly-shot black-and-white film is an ode to Cuaron’s childhood and a love letter to the women who raised him. Following the journey of a domestic worker in Mexico City named Cleo, the movie interweaves tales of personal tragedy and triumph amidst a backdrop of political upheaval and unrest.
8. Casino Royale (2006)
Run Time: 144 min | IMDb: 8/10
Casino Royale marks Daniel Craig’s first James Bond entry, but he plays the suave MI6 agent like he’s been doing it for decades. The film gives fans of the spy franchise a soft reset, as we’re introduced to the new Bond when he sets off on his first mission as 007. Bond’s tasked with catching a private banker funding terrorist operations by beating him in a high-stakes game of poker in Montenegro, and he’s joined by Vesper Lynd (a terrific Eva Green), an MI6 accountant with a secret that threatens to derail the mission and may cost Bond his life.
9. The Pianist (2002)
Run Time: 150 min | IMDb: 8.5/10
An Oscar-winning Adrien Brody leads this World War II drama based on a true story about a Polish-Jewish pianist forced to survive during Nazi occupation. Władysław Szpilman, a talented musician, finds himself in Warsaw during the height of WWII where he helps to lead an uprising in a Jewish ghetto before being forced to flee for his life from German soldiers. Brody went full method for the role, losing a dangerous amount of weight to play a tormented, tortured Szpilman, so you kind of owe it to the guy to watch this one.
10. Spotlight (2015)
Run Time: 129 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
Public scandal often makes for good drama, but that’s not why Todd McCarthy’s biographical re-telling of one of the most shocking cases of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church makes this list. Yes, the film has a famous list of names attached, including Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, and Michael Keaton. Yes, it’s a true story about a group of Boston Globe investigative journalists, who uncovered decades-worth of corruption and molestation accusations buried by leaders of the church. Yet with McCarthy’s restrained direction, the film rejects the trope of glorifying its heroes and sensationalizing its narrative to instead give us an accurate, detailed, and unbiased look at history.
11. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Run Time: 118 min | IMDb: 8.2/10
Guillermo Del Toro’s fantasy war epic focuses on a young girl named Ofelia, who grows up during a time of political unrest in her native Spain after a brutal Civil War ravages the country. Ofelia escapes the horrors committed by her stepfather when she accepts a challenge from a magical fairy, who believes her to be the reincarnation of Moanna, the princess of the underworld. If she completes three tasks, she’ll achieve immortality. The film is a play on folklore and fables from Del Toro’s youth, but there’s an undercurrent based in reality — the real cost of war — that grounds this film and makes it even more compelling.
12. Django Unchained (2012)
Run Time: 164 min | IMDb: 8.4/10
Another Quentin Tarantino classic, this violent visit back in time to America’s era of slavery carries major Western vibes and gives Lenoard DiCaprio a refreshing turn as the film’s big bad, a plantation owner named Calvin Candie. Tarantino favorite Christoph Waltz plays a German bounty hunter who teams up with Jamie Foxx’s Django, a former slave looking to free his wife (Kerry Washington) from Candie’s clutches. There’s a lot of gore and uncomfortable dialogue and over-the-top action, really, everything you’d expect, but DiCaprio, Waltz, and Foxx make it all worth it.
13. Mank (2020)
Run Time: 131 min | IMDb: 7.2/10
David Fincher directs a who’s-who for this biographical drama centering on screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz during the time he was crafting the script for Citizen Kane. Gary Oldman plays Mank, a singular kind of man engaging in emotional affairs with Hollywood actresses (played by Amanda Seyfried) and on-set feuds with directors like Orson Welles, and we watch as work on perhaps his greatest project slowly upends his personal life.
14. Nocturnal Animals (2016)
Run Time: 116 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Amy Adams turns in a haunting performance as a woman being, well, haunted by her ex-husband. More specifically, by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she assumes is some kind of threat or tale of revenge. As Adams’ Susan reads the novel — which plays out as a kind of separate film — she reminisces on her relationship with her ex-husband (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) and her current relationship with her cheating spouse (Armie Hammer). It’s a beautifully-shot neo-noir that feels like the most dangerous break-up drama you’ll ever see.
15. Blackfish (2013)
Run Time: 83 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
The film that turned the tide of public opinion on Sea World and convinced Pixar to change the ending of Finding Dory, Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s animal rights muckraker is more than just 83 minutes of theme=park shaming. In telling the story of Tillikum, the psychologically damaged orca who spent his life in captivity and was involved in the deaths of three people, the movie is an elegy for the freedoms that marine creatures like him were once able to enjoy. Is there an ethical way to view creatures like Tillikum up close and personal, and if so, should we trust a private company to deliver it to us?
16. The Social Network (2010)
Run Time: 120 min | IMDb: 7.7/10
It’s hard not to watch this Aaron Sorkin-penned, David Fincher-directed masterpiece and have your viewing experience colored by Facebook, and founder Mark Zuckerberg’s, many political misdealings. Jesse Eisenberg plays the boy genius, an outcast whose brainchild is the product of a bad breakup and sexism. He partners with Andrew Garfield’s business-minded Eduardo Saverin and the two create the famous social networking site before Zuckerberg outs his friend and alienates himself. The story isn’t new, but watching it play out is still thrilling, mostly because Eisenberg is just so damn good at being a dick.
17. Superbad (2007)
Run Time: 113 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
Jonah Hill and Michael Cera play a couple of best friends in search of a good time in this raunchy high school comedy from pals Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Seth (Hill) and Evan (Cera) hope to close out their senior year by getting wasted and getting laid with a blow-out to end all blow-outs. Their mission to get booze for the party, impress their crushes, and have a memorable night is derailed rather quickly thanks to fake IDs, a couple of incompetent cops, bar fights, and their own bickering. It’s a gross, over-the-top, and surprisingly poignant look at friendship and what happens when we outgrow people.
18. The Trial Of The Chicago 7 (2020)
Run Time: 129 min | IMDb: 8/10
Aaron Sorkin’s star-studded courtroom drama is finally here, and besides carrying some serious Oscar buzz, it’s also delivering a handful of ridiculously good performances from its impressive cast. That cast includes everyone from Succession’s Jeremy Strong to Sacha Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, Eddie Redmayne, and Watchmen breakout Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. The film follows the true story of a group of anti-Vietnam war protesters charged with conspiracy counts and inciting riots during a demonstration at the 1968 Democratic Convention. We heard that Strong asked Sorkin to tear-gas him for this thing so, yeah, it should be an intense watch.
19. Fruitvale Station (2013)
Run Time: 85 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Michael B. Jordan carries this powerful drama from Ryan Coogler. The film marks Coogler’s debut and covers the true story of Oscar Grant III, a Bay-Area resident who was killed in 2009 by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale district station of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system in Oakland. Rather than focusing solely on the tragedy, Coogler weaves a compelling story of a young man who wrestled with his past and had hope for his future just before his life was taken from him.
20. Legally Blonde (2001)
Run Time: 96 min | IMDb: 6.3/10
Reese Witherspoon is a certified icon, and she owes at least some of her popularity to this film about a privileged young woman who defies the odds in order to chase her unavailable ex-boyfriend. Witherspoon plays Elle Woods, a bubbly, air-headed blonde sorority girl who gets into Harvard (what, like it’s hard?) in order to impress a guy who dumped her. She ends up surprising herself, though, when she reaches the top of her class and is given the chance to serve on a high-profile case by her slimy professor and his well-meaning T.A. (Luke Wilson). Sure, this movie’s been quoted and meme-d twice over, but there’s no way you won’t have fun watching Witherspoon mine as much humor as she can from her dumb-blonde routine.
21. Good Time (2017)
Run Time: 101 min | IMDb: 7.3/10
This gritty crime drama hailing from the Safdie brothers transforms star Robert Pattinson into a bleach-blonde sh*t-stirrer from Queens who’s desperate to break his developmentally disabled brother out of prison. Pattinson plays Connie, a street hustler and bank robber with grand plans to break out of his urban hood while Benny Safdie plays his brother Nick, who gets roped into his schemes. When Nick is sent to Rikers Island for a job gone wrong, Connie goes on a downward spiral to get him back. Pattinson’s manic energy carries this thing, and there’s plenty of police run-ins, shootouts, and heists (however botched) to keep the adrenaline pumping.
22. Julie & Julia (1992)
Run Time: 118 min | IMDb: 7/10
Julia Child is deep in the American home-cooking psyche. The funny, charismatic, often eccentric TV chef made her mark in the culinary world by bringing French cuisine to American shores via television and cookbooks. This film follows the true-life story of a young food blogger struggling to find her voice and decides to parse Child’s seminal Mastering the Art of French Cooking by cooking all 524 recipes and giving her review of each. Meryl Streep’s transformation into Child is profound, and Amy Adams brings it as the earnest and inquisitive food blogger on a quest. It’s really hard not to love this movie … especially if you’re a foodie or Francophile.
23. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
Run Time: 112 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Edgar Wright’s 2010 action comedy about a hapless boy, who must defeat evil ex-boyfriends in order to win the hand of the girl he loves, is a fast-paced ride that bombards the senses. Michael Cera plays a loveable goof in the titular hero, a young man enamored with a woman named Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). In order to be with his lady love, Scott must fight her evil exes (six guys, one girl), who challenge him to truly strange contests. The film is a cinematic mash-up of Japanese anime and gamer culture, intended for the crowd who grew up on Nintendo and comic books, but it brings plenty of laughs all the same.
24. Lady Bird (2017)
Run Time: 94 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Greta Gerwig’s love letter to her hometown of Sacramento, California follows Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf as they navigate the often-frustrating relationship between mother and daughter. Ronan plays “Ladybird,” a young woman attending Catholic school who longs for the culture and change of scenery that New York City promises. Her mother, Metcalf, is overbearing and overprotective, and the family’s lack of money and social standing contributes to a rift between the two. Some hard truths are explored in this film, but watching Ronan manage teenage angst, first love, and everything in between will give you all kinds of nostalgia.
25. I’m Thinking Of Ending Things (2020)
Run Time: 134 min | IMDb: 6.8/10
Charlie Kaufman’s latest film is based on a book of the same name and stars Chernobyl’s Jessie Buckley as a young woman meeting her boyfriend’s parents for the first time, which normally would be a happy event except she’s secretly been planning to break up the with the guy. That guy is Jesse Plemons, who seems to be in everything these days, and along with Toni Collette and David Thewlis who play his parents, they make for hellish dinner mates. There’s a sinister vibe permeating everything about this straightforward plot so if you think you know how this ends, let us be the first to tell you: You don’t have a clue.
26. Moonlight (2016)
Run Time: 111 min | IMDb: 7.4/10
Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight will always be remembered for winning the Academy Award for Best Picture after a mix-up that initially named La La Land as the winner. But that’s just an asterisk attached to a momentous coming-of-age story set over three eras in a young man’s life as he grows up in Miami, grappling with the sexuality he feels will make him even more of an outcast while searching for guidance that his drug-addicted mother (Naomie Harris) can’t provide. The film is both lyrical and moving and won justifiable acclaim for its talented cast, including a Best Supporting Actor award for Mahershala Ali as a sympathetic drug dealer.
27. Marriage Story (2019)
Run Time: 136 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
Noah Baumbach’s star-studded divorce drama is pure Oscar bait, but in the best way. The film takes a look at messy breakups with Scarlett Johansson playing an actress and mother named Nicole, who is intent on separating from her stage director husband Charlie (Adam Driver). Laura Dern and Ray Liotta play their hard-hitting lawyers, who don’t help in diffusing the tension and resentment building between the pair when Nicole moves herself and their son across the country. It’s an intimate look at the emotional wreckage of a divorce and the struggle to put a family back together again, and it’s carried by some brilliant performances by Driver and Johansson.
28. Uncut Gems (2019)
Run Time: 135 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
This adventurous mindf*ck starring Adam Sandler finally landed on Netflix, and our only advice before watching this criminally-good romp is this: prepare yourself for a wild, over-the-top ride. Sandler gives one of his best performances, and the Safdie Brothers prove they’ve got a knack for crafting thrillers textured with grit and a realness that just can’t be beaten.
29. The Devil All The Time (2020)
Run Time: 138 min | IMDb: 7.1/10
This time-hopping drama set in the backwoods of West Virginia is basically an excuse for director Antonio Campos to assemble his own Avengers-style squad of Hollywood A-listers. Seriously, everyone’s in this thing — Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Bill Skarsgård, Eliza Scanlen, Sebastian Stan, Mia Wasikowska, Riley Keough, Jason Clarke, Haley Bennett, that kid who played Dudley in the Harry Potter franchise. The whole gang’s living in shacks and picking up hitchhikers only to murder them later and speaking in tongues and falling victim to generational trauma. It’s a heavy watch, and there’s not really a happy ending, but boy does Pattinson deliver a batsh*t crazy turn as a perverted preacher.
30. Into The Wild (2007)
Run Time: 148 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
Your love or hate of this film will squarely fall on who you feel about the film’s lead (real-life) character, Chris McCandless. On the one hand, McCandless struck out on an adventure to eschew the doldrums of modern life in the Alaskan wilderness. On the other hand, his woeful underestimation of the wilds and unpreparedness is maddening and cost him his life. Still, the kid gets a lot of points for at least trying when so many don’t.
31. Chef (2014)
Run Time: 114 min | IMDb: 7.4/10
Before he was bringing The Mandalorian to Disney+ and helming Marvel movies, Jon Favreau wrote, directed, and starred in this foodie gem about an overworked chef who upends his life to rediscover his passion. Favreau plays Carl Casper, a head chef at a high-end eatery who, fed up with his life, decides to quit and buy a food truck in order to get back to his neighborhood roots. Come for the food porn, stay for Favreau, who’s just as good an actor as he is a director.
32. I Lost My Body (2019)
Run Time: 81 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
This beautifully animated French fantasy film follows the story of a young man named Naoufel, or rather, his hand which has been severed from his body and spends most of the film escaping labs and trying to get back to its owner. The film flits between the past and present, watching Naoufel’s life unfold from a young orphan to an accidental carpenter’s apprentice — which is how he lost his appendage — all while exploring themes of love, loss, and destiny.
33. Da 5 Bloods (2020)
Run Time: 154 min | IMDb: 6.9/10
Any Spike Lee joint is worth a watch, but this genre-bending thriller about a group of black Vietnam War vets returning to the battlefield decades later feels especially timely. That’s because Lee manages to shed light on a little-known part of our shared history: the way our country treated Black soldiers returning from the war, but he also raises the stakes with a subplot that includes a buried treasure hunt and a heartwrenching mission to retrieve the remains of a fallen comrade. The cast, which includes Black Panther’s Chadwick Boseman, is brilliant, the story is gripping, and you’ll probably be seeing more talk of it come awards season, so go ahead and watch it now.
34. Shutter Island (2010)
Run Time: 138 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
DiCaprio and Scorsese team up again, this time for a dramatic thriller that feels different from their normal fare but still just as intense. DiCaprio plays a detective drawn to a mysterious island that houses a psychiatric facility for the criminally insane. He’s investigating the case of an escaped convict, but a conveniently-timed storm, a hostile staff, and some strange happenings lead him down a rather dark and dangerous rabbit hole. There’s a twist ending here worthy of its build-up, and DiCaprio shares the screen with some notable talents including Mark Ruffalo, Michelle Williams, Sir Ben Kingsley, and Emily Mortimer.
35. Nightcrawler (2014)
Run Time: 117 min | IMDb: 7.9/10
Jake Gyllenhaal stars in this truly bonkers crime thriller from Dan Gilroy about a con-man who muscles his way into L.A.’s crime journalism scene and very quickly becomes the star of his own reporting. Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is a petty thief who stumbles his way into the stringer profession — photojournalists who chase crime scenes to sell the footage to local TV stations. As Lou begins to record more exciting crimes, demand for his work grows and he starts staging scenes, obstructing police investigations, and inserting himself in high-speed chases to get the best shot. It’s a twisted, depressing look at the ethics of journalism and the consequences of consumerism, and Gyllenhaal has never been better.
36. Mudbound (2017)
Run Time: 134 min | IMDb: 7.4/10
Netflix spent much of 2017 trying to establish itself as an alternative to movie theaters as a place to find quality new films. The results were mostly strong, and none stronger than Mudbound, Dee Rees’ story of two families — one white and one black — sharing the same Mississippi land in the years before and after World War II. Rees combines stunning images, compelling storytelling, and the work of a fine cast (that includes Jason Mitchell, Carey Mulligan, Garett Hedlund, Jason Clarke, and Mary J. Blige) to unspool a complex tale about the forces the connect black and white Americans and the slow-to-die injustices that keep them apart.
37. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Run Time: 158 min | IMDb: 7.8/10
Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara star in this muted crime thriller from David Fincher based on a best-selling series of books. Mara plays a gifted young hacker with a dark past who teams up with Craig’s journalist to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a wealthy woman from a prominent family 40 years earlier.
38. Snowpiercer (2013)
Run Time: 126 min | IMDb: 7.1/10
Chris Evans stars in this sci-fi thriller from auteur Bong Joon-ho. The film, set years into the future following a devastating ice age caused by mankind, follows Evans’ Curtis who lives in poverty on a train that continuously circles the Earth and contains all that remains of human life. Curtis is part of the “scum” that the people relegated to the back of the train while the “elite” enjoy the privilege of wealth and status that comes with living in the front. Curtis sparks a rebellion that ends in bloodshed and a devastating reveal when he makes it to the train’s engine room and discovers just how the elite have been fueling their operation. It’s a dark, grimy action piece that should give fans a new appreciation for Evans’ talent.
39. I Am Not Your Negro (2016)
Run Time: 93 min | IMDb: 7.8/10
This documentary, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, is based on the unfinished manuscript, Remember this House, by James Baldwin. The author and civil rights activist recounts the history of racism in the United States through personal observations and his relationships with friends and leaders like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. It’s a beautifully-shot, sobering reminder of how far we have yet to go when it comes to equality.
40. It Comes At Night (2017)
Run Time: 86 min | IMDb: 7.4/10
Writer/director Trey Edward Shults followed up his unnerving family portrait in 2015’s Krisha with a look at another family under the most desperate of circumstances. After an unknown illness has wiped out most of civilization, a number of threats — both seen and unseen — come for a family held up in their home out in the wilderness. It’s a subtle, dream-like tale that stars Joel Edgerton and Christopher Abbot as two patriarchs intent on keeping their families safe, no matter the cost.
41. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Run Time: 117 min | IMDb: 8/10
Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith share the screen in this Oscar-nominated tearjerker about a struggling salesman trying to provide for his family. Smith plays Chris Gardner, a man at the end of his rope who’s looking to make a fresh start in a new career. When Gardner’s ex splits, leaving him to take care of their young son, we watch as he attempts to create a better life for them both despite the setbacks and roadblocks put in his path. It’s heavy, emotional work that Smith does here. It’s also some of his best.
42. Prospect (2018)
Run Time: 100 min | IMDb: 6.3/10
This sci-fi drama is a bit of a hidden gem over on Netflix but we think it’s time more people checked it out. That’s because it features some terrific performance, most notably from Pedro Pascal who plays a miner with nefarious designs, and Jay Duplass, who plays a dad who travels to an alien moon with his teenage daughter to mine precious gems and ends up in a fight for both their lives.
43. Midnight Special (2016)
Run Time: 112 min | IMDb: 6.6/10
Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, and Adam Driver star in this thrillingly dark road trip flick from director Jeff Nichols. The story follows a father (Shannon) and his young, gifted son, who are on the run from the Feds and a religious cult after both groups learn of the boy’s special abilities. The sci-fi here is played more for mystery — we’re never quite sure what the boy can do, but it’s dangerously big — big enough to have Driver’s government investigator spooked. Shannon is terrific as a father scrambling to do right by his kid, and Edgerton is sturdy as the friend/hired gun who transports them where they need to go.
44. The White Tiger (2021)
Run Time: 125 min | IMDb: 7.2/10
Priyanka Chopra stars in this crime drama based on a NY Times bestselling book. Adarsh Gourav plays Balram, an academically gifted young man hailing from one of the lowest castes in Indian society. He longs to break free of the poverty and systemic oppression that prevent him from going to school and bettering his station, so he becomes a driver for a very wealthy family. Chopra plays the wife of Balram’s employer and over the course of the film, their lives become intertwined in extreme ways as Balram does whatever he must in order to rise through the ranks and earn a better life.
45. Carol (2015)
Run Time: 118 min | IMDb: 7.2/10
Patricia Highsmith made her name with dark, misanthropic thrillers like The Talented Mr. Ripley and Strangers on a Train. But her early work also included The Price of Salt, a novel about the relationship between a shopgirl and an older married woman. Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett bring this doomed romance to life, playing a pair of lovers kept apart by societal conventions. Their heartbreaking romance ends as well as can be expected, but the journey definitely involves some tears.
46. The Two Popes (2019)
Run Time: 125 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce play off each other in this fictionalized comedy about two of the most powerful men in the Catholic Church. Hopkins plays Pope Benedict XVI near the end of his tenure as he struggles with the disillusionment of his role and his faith. Pryce plays Cardinal Bergoglio (who would later become Pope Francis) who’s also going through a crisis of faith and wishes to leave his post. What follows is two hours of two of the greatest actors paling around with each other, delivering some laughs as they get deep about the philosophical leanings of these two great men.
47. The Florida Project (2017)
Run Time: 111 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
Willem Dafoe lends his name to this little indie that generated plenty of buzz during awards season just a few years ago. It follows the story of six-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) who lives with her mother in a run-down motel near Walt Disney World. Moonee, along with a couple of kids also living at the motel, gets into all sorts of mischief while her mom works first as an exotic dancer, then resorts to prostitution when things get rough. Poor and neglected, Moonee still finds joy in her unforgiving environment and though things end on a bittersweet note, this feels like one of the more hopeful movies on this list.
48. Burning (2018)
Run Time: 148 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
Walking Dead alum Steven Yeun stars this psychological thriller from South Korean filmmaker Lee Chang-dong. Yeun plays Ben, a rich millennial with a mysterious job who connects with a woman named Shin Hae-mi on a trip to Africa. The two journey back home together where Ben meets Shin’s friend/lover Lee Jong-su. The three hang-out regularly, with Lee growing more jealous of Ben’s wealth and privilege while he’s forced to manage his father’s farm when his dad goes to prison. But it’s when Shin disappears, and Lee suspects Ben’s involvement, that things really go off the rails.
49. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga (2020)
Run Time: 123 min | IMDb: 6.6/10
Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams take on the planet’s most-watched singing competition with this campy comedy about an Icelandic duo named Fire Saga, who are set on achieving glory on the world’s biggest stage. Ferrell and McAdams play Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdottir, artists chosen to represent their nation in the Eurovision Song Contest, a real competition that features musicians from all over the world, who are often performing in wild get-ups. Dan Stevens almost steals the show while Pierce Brosnan and Demi Lovato make appearances. We’re calling it now: “Volcano Man” is going to be a bop for the ages.
50. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Run Time: 134 min | IMDb: 7.7/10
Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal star in this beautifully moving Queer love story that felt very much ahead of its time when it premiered over a decade ago. Ledger plays Ennis, and Gyllenhall plays Jack. The two are friends and shepherds whose bond deepens during a herding trip they take one summer. Afraid to reveal their feelings for each other, the two men go on to marry and have children, meeting up over the years as the film explores the resilient nature of true love and the cost of embracing an identity that the world doesn’t want you to have.
Recent Changes Through April 2021:
Removed: Inception, Taxi Driver, Kung Fu Hustle, Perks of Being A Wallflower
Added: Saving Private Ryan, The Pianist, Legally Blonde, Brokeback Mountain