Last Updated: March 12th
The Netflix name has meant many things during the company’s relatively short existence: a source for DVDs by mail, a pioneer of online streaming, a network responsible for some of the best shows not on TV, as the first half of the phrase that ends “and chill.” It’s never quite evolved, however, into what some have hoped it would, as the source for must see movies, new and old. When it comes to good films, Netflix’s streaming service isn’t close to being what it was at its height as a DVD-by-mail service: a place to watch anything from anywhere and any time. Looking for something new and indie? Netflix probably has you covered. Looking for something beyond that description? The service is hit or miss.
Which isn’t to say there aren’t great films on the streaming service right now. There are. Narrowing them down to just 30 of the best Netflix films wasn’t easy. Nonetheless, here’s a ranked list of the best movies on Netflix streaming no film lover should miss, all of them just a simple click away.
30. Moana (2016)
Moana suffered a bit by being released the same year as Disney’s Oscar-winning Zootopia (which is also a fine film, and also available on Netflix). But it more than stands on its own, thanks to its thoughtful coming-of-age story rooted in South Pacific folklore, a fun performance from Dwayne Johnson, and its earworm-y songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Opetaia. (“Consider the coconut…” Just try not finishing that line once you’ve seen the movie.)
29. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
With Disney and Netflix squaring up against each other in what’s shaping up to be a streaming service war, it’s unclear what future, if any, the Star Wars films will have on the service. But for now you can enjoy Rogue One, the first of a series of anthology films set alongside the action of the main saga. This one concerns the attempt to secure the plans to the Death Star that preceded Star Wars: A New Hope, following Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) as she joins a ragtag bunch of rebels determined to beat the odds and strike a blow against the Empire, no matter the cost. Directed by Gareth Edwards — but with significant reshoots overseen by Tony Gilroy — it’s an unusual entry in the series, one not afraid to plunge into the dark, morally ambiguous underside of the Star Wars universe while still remaining very much a Star Wars movie.
28. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004)
For his follow-up to The Royal Tenenbaums, Wes Anderson took to the high seas. But even with its hilariously awkward action scenes and underwater claymation interludes, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou remains unmistakably a Wes Anderson movie. Bill Murray stars as an oceanographer beloved for his documentaries but driven to alienate his friends and family. Though the film received a mixed reception at the time, it showed that Anderson could work on a larger scale and has since become one of his best-loved films.