The 40 Best Movies on Netflix This Week
Netflix has plenty of movies to watch, but it’s a real mixed bag. Sometimes finding the right film at the right time can seem like an impossible task. Fret not, we’re here to help. Below is a list of some of our favorite films currently on the streaming service—from dramas to comedies to thrillers.
If you decide you’re in more of a TV mood, head over to our collection of the best TV series on Netflix. Want more? Check out our lists of the best sci-fi movies, best movies on Amazon Prime, and the best flicks on Disney+.
The Sea Beast
It’s easy to imagine that the elevator pitch for The Sea Beast was “Moby Dick meets How to Train Your Dragon”—and who wouldn’t be compelled by that? Set in a fantasy world where oceanic leviathans terrorize humanity, those who hunt down the giant monsters are lauded as heroes. Jacob Holland (voiced by Karl Urban) is one such hero, adopted son of the legendary Captain Crowe and well on the way to building his own legacy as a monster hunter—a journey disrupted by stowaway Maisie Brumble (Zaris-Angel Hator), who has her own ambitions to take on the sea beasts. However, after an attempt to destroy the colossal Red Bluster goes disastrously wrong, Jacob and Maisie are stranded on an island filled with the creatures, and find the monsters may not be quite so monstrous after all. A rollicking sea-bound adventure directed by Chris Williams—of Big Hero 6 and Moana fame—this has secured its standing as one of Netflix’s finest movies with a nomination for Best Animated Feature at the upcoming Oscars.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
The classic British comedy troupe’s finest movie (deal with it, Life of Brian fans) is once again available on Netflix, and it remains as delightful and hilarious a fantasy farce as it was on release back in 1975. A spoof of Arthurian legend, Holy Grail loosely follows King Arthur’s (Graham Chapman) quest to gather the Knights of the Round Table before being ordered by God (also Chapman) to find the eponymous chalice. It’s a journey packed with endlessly quotable scenes and memorable characters, from the Knights Who Say “Ni!” to the not-so-terrifying Black Knight, and even the occasional earworm of a musical number. While its production values were low even for its time—something the Pythons regularly poke fun at during the film’s sprightly 92 minutes—it still earns its standing as one of the most enduringly popular comedies ever committed to film.
Wendell & Wild
Kat went off the rails following the deaths of her parents five years ago. Now she’s got one last chance to steer her life back on track at a new school and finally conquer her personal demons. Unfortunately, she’s marked as a Hell Maiden on her first day, attracting the attention of actual demon brothers Wendell and Wild (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, respectively). Tempted by the scheming siblings’ promise to resurrect her parents if she summons them to the living world—where they plan to out-do their infernal father at his own game—Kat (Lyric Ross) is drawn into a macabre plot that threatens the living and dead alike. Directed by Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline) and produced by Jordan Peele (Nope, Get Out), this is another fantastic entry in Selick’s canon of mesmerizingly dark stop-motion masterpieces.
This gleefully entertaining giant-monster movie eschews tearing up the likes of New York or Tokyo in favor of director Roar Uthaug’s (Tomb Raider 2018) native Norway, with a titanic troll stomping its way toward Oslo after being roused by a drilling operation. Although the plot and characters will be familiar to any fan of kaiju cinema—Ine Marie Wilmann heads up the cast as Nora Tidemann, the academic with a curiously specific skillset called in to advise on the crisis, while Kim Falck fits neatly into the role of Andreas Isaksan, the government advisor paired with her, and Gard B. Eidsvold serves as Tobias Tidemann, the former professor chased out of academia for his crazy theories about trolls—the striking Nordic visuals and the titular menace’s ability to blend in with the landscape allows for some impressively original twists along the way. Although Troll could have easily descended into near-parody, Uthaug steers clear of smug self-awareness and instead delivers one of the freshest takes on the genre in years.
The latest from director Noah Baumbach sees him re-teaming with his Marriage Story lead Adam Driver for another quirky look at disintegrating families and interpersonal angst—albeit this time with an apocalyptic twist. Driver stars as Jack Gladney, a college professor faking his way through a subject he’s unable to teach and struggling to work out family life with his fourth wife, Babette (Greta Gerwig), and their four kids from previous relationships. Neurotic familial squabbles prove the least of their worries, though, when an “airborne toxic event” hits their town, sending everyone scrambling for cover with exponentially disastrous results. While the contemporary Covid-19 parallels are none too subtle, keeping the 1980s setting of Don DeLillo’s original novel proves an inspired choice on Baumbach’s part, one that accentuates the film’s darkly absurd comedy. By contrasting big hair and materialist excess against a rush for survival, White Noise serves up some authentic moments of humanity amid its chaos.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Daniel Craig reprises his role as detective Benoit Blanc in this brilliant follow-up to 2019’s phenomenal whodunnit, Knives Out. Writer-director Rian Johnson crafts a fiendishly sharp new case for “the Last of the Gentlemen Sleuths,” taking Blanc to a Greek island getaway for a reclusive tech billionaire and his collection of friends and hangers-on, where a planned murder mystery weekend takes a deadly literal turn. While totally accessible for newcomers, fans of the first film will also be rewarded with some deeper character development for Blanc, a role that’s shaping up to be as iconic for Craig as 007. As cleverly written and meticulously constructed as its predecessor, and featuring the kind of all-star cast—Edward Norton! Janelle Monáe! Kathryn Hahn! Leslie Odom Jr.! Jessica Henwick! Madelyn Cline! Kate Hudson! Dave Bautista!—that cinema dreams are made of, Glass Onion might be the best thing Netflix has dropped all year.
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
The modern master of the macabre brings the famous wooden would-be boy to life like never before in this exquisitely animated take on Pinocchio. While this stop-motion masterpiece hews closer to the original 1880s tale by Carlo Collodi rather than the sanitized Disney version, del Toro adds his own signature touch and compelling twists to the classic story that make it darkly enchanting. Expect a Blue Fairy closer to a biblically accurate many-eyed angel, a Terrible Dogfish more like a kaiju, and complex themes of mortality that will leave audiences old and young thinking about it for days after the credits roll. Perfect for fans of The Nightmare Before Christmas or Coraline, and likely to be discussed in the same breath as them for years to come.
Florence Pugh dazzles in this not-quite-horror film from Oscar-winning director Sebastián Lelio. Set in 1862, English nurse Lib Wright (Pugh) is sent to Ireland to observe Anna O’Donnell, a girl who claims to have not eaten in four months, subsisting instead on “manna from heaven.” Still grieving the loss of her own child, Lib is torn between investigating the medical impossibility and growing concern for Anna herself. Facing obstacles in the form of Anna’s deeply religious family and a local community that distrusts her, Lib’s watch descends into a tense, terrifying experience. Based on the book of the same name by Emma Donoghue, The Wonder is a beautiful yet bleakly-shot period piece that explores the all-too-mortal horrors that unquestioning religious fervor and family secrets can wreak.
When spoiled Jesper Johansson is charged by his father, the powerful postmaster general, with setting up a new post office in the isolated town of Smeerensburg, it seems an impossible task. With the strange town divided between two warring clans, the only thing the residents are likely to send each other is a frosty glare. Yet after Jesper crosses paths with surly woodsman Klaus, who has spent a lifetime carving toys, he stumbles on a way to potentially bring the town together—and starts a tradition in the process. While Christmas films delving into the origins of Santa are usually saccharine dives into schmaltzy sentimentality, Klaus offers a slightly darker take, from the murky, decrepit setting that evokes the indefinable discomfort of A Series of Unfortunate Events to its version of the jolly gift-giver starting out as an imposing, intimidating figure—all of which, naturally, makes it even more captivating for kids than your typically cheery, festive pabulum. A BAFTA and Annie Award winner, this beautifully animated film delivers plenty of heart along with its more mature tone, making this almost otherworldly tale a modern Christmas miracle.
Kosuke and Natsume are childhood friends whose relationship is strained as they approach their teenage years. When the apartment complex where they first met is scheduled for demolition, they sneak in one last time, looking for some emotional closure. Instead, they and the friends who joined them find themselves trapped by torrential rain. After the mysterious storm passes, the world is changed, with the entire building floating on an ethereal sea, and a new child in their midst.
Adolescent feelings and magical realism collide in this sumptuously animated movie from the makers of A Whisker Away (also available on Netflix and well worth your time). Director Hiroyasa Ishida (Penguin Highway) may not be up there with the likes of Hayao Miyazaki in terms of name recognition in the West, but Drifting Home should put him on your radar.
All Quiet on the Western Front
Hopped up on nationalism and dreams of battlefield glory, Paul Bäumer (Felix Kammerer) is an eager young recruit for the German army during the last year of the First World War. His romantic view of the conflict is shattered on his first night in the cold trenches, surrounded by death and disaster, and dealt a tragic blow with the easy, meaningless loss of a dear friend. It’s all downhill from there in this magnificently crafted adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s groundbreaking novel, one of the most important pieces of antiwar literature of the 20th century. Paul’s journey is one of a loss of innocence, of naivete crushed by the relentless machine of war and state, and how soldiers on the ground are chewed up in the name of politicians and generals. Director Edward Berger’s take on the material is the first to be filmed in German, adding a layer of authenticity and making for a blistering, heart-rending cinematic effort that drives home the horror and inhumanity of war. Often bleak, but an undeniably brilliant piece of filmmaking.
Enola Holmes 2
2020’s original Enola Holmes proved to be a surprisingly enjoyable twist on the world’s most famous detective, focusing instead on his overlooked sister, Enola. No surprise, then, that this follow-up is just as exciting a romp through Victorian London. Despite proving her skills in the first film, Enola struggles to establish her own detective credentials until a missing-person report leads her to a case that’s stumped even Sherlock, and sees her crossing paths with his arch nemesis, Moriarty. Snappy action, clever twists, and bristling sibling rivalry from Stranger Things‘ Millie Bobby Brown and The Witcher‘s Henry Cavill as the Holmes siblings make this another fun couple of family-friendly hours’ viewing. It even crams in a touch of vague historical accuracy by making the 1888 matchgirls’ strike a key part of Enola’s latest adventure.
Goreng (Iván Massagué) awakes in a cell in a vertical prison, where food is provided only by a platform that descends level by level, pausing only long enough for inmates to eat before traveling ever lower. While there’s food enough for all, prisoners on higher levels gorge themselves, leaving those below to starve. It’s the perfect recipe for violence, betrayal, and rebellion in director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s tense Spanish thriller. Equal parts horror, dystopian sci-fi, and social commentary, The Platform works as a none-too-subtle commentary on consumption culture, but also a stark examination of the depths to which desperate people can sink. It’s absolutely not for everyone—scenes involving cannibalism and suicide make it a particularly troubling watch in places—but thanks to its claustrophobic, brutalist setting and stellar performances from its cast, The Platform is one of the most visually striking and narratively provocative films on Netflix.
The Fear Street Trilogy
Spread over three time periods—1994, 1978, and 1666—the Fear Street trilogy is one of the cleverest horror releases in Netflix’s catalog. The first installment introduces viewers to the cursed town of Shadyside, where a string of bloody killings has labeled it the murder capital of America. Soon, a group of genre-typical teens are drawn into a horrific legacy dating back to the 17th century, dodging serial killers, summer camp slayings, and vengeful witches along the way. The trilogy was originally released over the course of three weeks, emphasizing its connected nature, and transcends its origins as a series of teen-lit novels by R. L. Stine, with lashings of gore and a tone drawing on ’80s slasher flicks that delivers some genuine scares over the three films. Director Leigh Janiak masterfully walks a tightrope between lampooning and paying homage to horror classics—it’s impossible to miss contrasts to the likes of Scream, Halloween, and even Stranger Things—but it’s all done with such love for the form that Fear Street has established itself as a Halloween staple. It’s a bit too self-aware in places, but definitely one for the shouldn’t-be-as-good-as-it-is pile.
When Hannah’s (Jurnee Smollett) daughter Vee is kidnapped, she turns to the only person who can help—her neighbor Lou (Allison Janney), whose normally standoffish nature hides a dark and violent past. Janney is phenomenal as the grizzled, broken, dangerous Lou, delivering action scenes that stand alongside some of Hollywood’s greatest. While it would be easy to reduce Lou to a gender-flipped Taken, with Lou painted as a similarly unstoppable force in hunting down the lost child, there’s much more going on in director Anna Foerster’s gritty thriller. This is ultimately a film centered on failed families and generational abuse, and how sometimes blood isn’t enough to bind people together. A dark, gripping action epic.
At a glance, Do Revenge seems cut from the same cloth as Heathers and Mean Girls, simply bringing the high school retribution flick into the 2020s. However, writer-director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson (cowriter of Thor: Love and Thunder) adds a heavy layer of Strangers on a Train to her deliciously petty tale of grievance and teenage angst. When queen bee Drea (Riverdale’s Camila Mendes) has a sex tape leaked by her boyfriend, she teams up with school outcast Eleanor (Stranger Things’ Maya Hawke), victim of a rumor that she forced herself on another girl, to swap vendettas and socially destroy the other’s bully. Of course, matters descend into chaos. But with a cast of brilliantly detestable characters making satisfyingly awful choices, a smart script that knows exactly how to play with (and poke fun at) the genre’s tropes, and an incredible soundtrack, you’ll be too hooked to look away.
Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood
Written, directed, and produced by Richard Linklater and using a style of rotoscope animation similar to that used in his films A Scanner Darkly and Waking Life, Apollo 10 1/2 is a mix of lazy summers, Saturday morning cartoons, and idealized memoir. Loosely based on Linklater’s own childhood growing up in Houston in the midst of the space race, the coming-of-age story follows a young boy named Stanley as he’s recruited to pilot the lunar lander—which NASA accidentally built too small for full-grown astronauts. Blending period social tensions (“Yeah, that’s a hippy”) with childhood imagination and excitement for the future, this is a distinctive piece of filmmaking dripping with an almost innocent sense of nostalgia.
Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus
Nickelodeon never quite knew how to handle Invader Zim. Back in 2001, Jhonen Vasquez’s sci-fi comedy about an inept alien attempting to take over the Earth was a massive underground hit, but it skewed a bit too dark for the kids’ network. Fast-forward two decades, and Zim—along with deranged robot companion GIR—is back to continue his invasion, with Vasquez let loose to create an animated movie without restraint. Channeling the classic series’ ludicrous sense of humor but with an even darker edge, this update sees Zim become a serious threat for once, and the Earth’s only hope is his arch enemy Dib—a paranoid schoolboy who’s spent the years since the show obsessively waiting for Zim’s resurgence. Packed with laugh-out-loud moments, big sci-fi ideas worthy of blockbuster franchises, and even some oddly touching—if appropriately nihilistic—moments exploring Dib’s family, Enter the Florpus is a very welcome return for a cult classic. Hopefully we won’t be waiting another two decades for Zim’s next invasion.
One of India’s biggest films of all time, RRR (or Rise, Roar, Revolt) redefines the notion of cinematic spectacle. Set in 1920, the historical epic follows real-life Indian revolutionaries Alluri Sitrama Raju (Ram Charan) and Komaram Bheem (N. T. Rama Rao Jr.), but fictionalizes their lives and actions. Although drawn from very different walks of life, both men prove to be opposing the colonialist forces of the British Raj in their own way, their similarities drawing them together as they ultimately face down sadistic governor Scott Buxton (Ray Stevenson) and his cruel wife Catherine (Alison Doody). No mere period piece, RRR is a bold, exciting, and often explosive piece of filmmaking that elevates its heroes to near-mythological status, with director S. S. Rajamouli deploying ever-escalating, brilliantly-shot action scenes—and an exquisitely choreographed dance number—that grab viewers’ attention and refuse to let go. Whether you’re a longtime fan of Indian cinema or just looking for an action flick beyond the Hollywood norm, RRR is not to be missed.
A stop-motion animated anthology film, The House is a dark, strange, borderline-experimental piece where the eponymous domicile is the main character. The first chapter follows a young girl called Mabel, whose impoverished parents are offered free residence in the impressive home but never seem to notice the shifting layout or their own increasing resemblance to the furniture. Things only get weirder as the house next appears in a world populated by anthropomorphic rats, where a property developer is trying to renovate it for sale but is plagued by very peculiar buyers, before shifting to a seemingly flooded world where its new inhabitants struggle to leave even as the waters around them continue to rise. A deliciously eerie triptych of tales, all centered on themes of loss and obsession, The House will delight fans of Coraline or The Corpse Bride.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
You either “get” the Eurovision Song Contest or you don’t—and chances are, if you’re outside of Europe, you don’t. But whether you can recite every winner back to 1956 or have only maybe-sorta heard of ABBA, this Will Ferrell passion project (his Swedish wife, actress Viveca Paulin, hooked him on the contest) will entertain both crowds. Following Icelandic singer-songwriter duo Fire Saga—Ferrell as Lars Erickssong and Rachel McAdams as his besotted bandmate Sigrit Ericksdóttir—as they aim for superstardom, for the Eurovision faithful it’s a loving nod to the long-running music competition, packed with gleefully camp in-jokes and scene-stealing cameos from Eurovision royalty. To the uninitiated, it’s a wild, weird comedy with plenty of hilariously farcical turns and enough catchy tunes to convert newcomers into Eurovision acolytes. Bonus: You’ll finally understand the “shut up and play Ja Ja Ding Dong!” meme.
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson
An icon and figurehead of the gay rights movement, Marsha P. Johnson is perhaps best known for being at the Stonewall Inn the night of the infamous uprising, but went on to become a noted activist, forming STAR with Sylvia Rivera and helping pave the way for LGBTQ+ progress—until her body was found floating in the Hudson River in 1992. Johnson’s death was ruled a suicide and never officially investigated, despite occurring during a peak of homophobic attacks in New York City. Director David France’s documentary, produced a quarter-century after Johnson’s suspicious demise, follows trans activist Victoria Cruz on a quest to uncover the truth, while incorporating archival footage and interviews with Johnson’s peers to reflect on their life and celebrate their legacy. Powerful, poignant, and timely viewing.
I Lost My Body
An award winner at Cannes in 2019, this tale of burgeoning young love, obsession, and autonomous body parts is every bit as weird as you might expect for a French adult animated film. Director Jérémy Clapin charts the life of Naoufel, a Moroccan immigrant in modern-day France, falling for the distant Gabrielle, and Naoufel’s severed hand, making its way across the city to try and reconnect. With intersecting timelines and complex discussions about fate, I Lost My Body is often mind-bending yet always captivating, with brilliantly detailed animation and a phenomenal use of color throughout. Worth watching in both the original French and the solid English dub featuring Dev Patel and Alia Shawkat, just to try to make the most sense of it.
The Mitchells vs. the Machines
Aspiring filmmaker Katie Mitchell (voiced by Abbi Jacobson) has a strained relationship with her technophobic father Rick (Danny McBride)—not helped by his accidentally destroying her laptop right as she’s about to begin film school in California. In an effort to salvage their relationship, Rick decides to take the entire Mitchell family on a cross-country road trip to see Katie off. Unfortunately, said road trip coincides with a robot uprising that the Mitchells escape only by chance, leaving the fate of the world in their hands. Beautifully animated and brilliantly written, The Mitchells vs. the Machines takes a slightly more mature approach to family dynamics than many of its genre-mates, with the college-age Katie searching for her own identity and having genuine grievances with her father, but it effortlessly balances the more serious elements with exquisite action and genuinely funny comedy. Robbed of a full cinematic release by Covid-19, it now shines as one of Netflix’s best films.
Don’t Look Up
Frustrated by the world’s collective inaction on existential threats like climate change? Maybe don’t watch Don’t Look Up, director Adam McKay’s satirical black comedy. When two low-level astronomers discover a planet-killing comet on a collision course with Earth, they try to warn the authorities—only to be met with a collective “meh.” Matters only get worse when they try to leak the news themselves and have to navigate vapid TV news hosts, celebrities looking for a signature cause, and an indifferent public. A bleakly funny indictment of our times, bolstered by a star-studded cast fronted by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up is, somewhat depressingly, one of the best examinations of humanity since Idiocracy.
The Power of the Dog
In 2022, Netflix made its biggest play yet to win a Best Picture Oscar with The Power of the Dog. It lost to Apple TV+’s CODA, making it seem as though the streaming giant had lost to a much newer, younger player. It had, of course, but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that Jane Campion’s film is a wildly evocative tale about a brash rancher (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) in 1920s Montana who horribly mistreats his brother’s new wife and son. A critique of masculinity, Dog is beautifully shot and masterfully tense. While it didn’t win Best Picture, it’s still a great one—and nabbed Campion an Oscar for Best Director.
Fleeing war-torn South Sudan, Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) are now living in a run-down house at the edge of London, harassed by their neighbors even as they try to fit in. The couple are also haunted by the lives they left behind—both figuratively and (possibly) literally, with visions of their late daughter Nyagak, who did not survive the journey, fading in and out of the walls of their dismal new home. The real horror of His House isn’t the strange visions, haunted house, or potential ghosts, though—it’s the bleakness of the lives Bol and Rial are forced into, the hostility and dehumanization of the UK asylum process, the racism both overt and casual, all coupled with the enormous sense of loss they carry with them. Blending the macabre with the mundane, director Remi Weekes delivers a tense, challenging film that will haunt viewers as much as its characters.
Based on the life of alleged mob hitman Frank Sheeran, captured in Charles Brandt’s book I Heard You Paint Houses, The Irishman essentially functions as a Martin Scorsese greatest-hits album. Featuring digitally de-aged Robert De Niro (as Sheeran) and Al Pacino (Jimmy Hoffa), the movie was trapped in development hell for years before Netflix arrived with the willingness to give Scorsese the creative license (and money) to make the movie his way. It’s perhaps too long, at three and a half hours, and that de-aging technology still needs a little improvement, but the 10 Oscar nominations speak for themselves.
A woman wakes up in a cryonics cell after a few weeks in suspended animation. She doesn’t remember her name, age, or past except for a few disturbing flashbacks. But one thing she knows—courtesy of an annoying talking AI—is that she has just over an hour before she runs out of oxygen. Can she get out of the coffin-shaped chamber quickly enough? This thriller is as claustrophobic as it gets, and it manages to find that rare sweet spot of being static and unnerving at once. The actors’ strong performances help the film win the day, despite a ludicrously far-fetched ending.
An intricate study of a cinematic masterpiece? Or two hours and 11 minutes of Gary Oldman lying around and getting tanked in bed? Mank is both. After Roma, David Fincher gets his turn at a monochrome, prestige Netflick with this look at screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, otherwise known as the guy who wrote Citizen Kane with Orson Welles. Or, more accurately, as the film demonstrates, for Orson Welles. All that old Hollywood fancy and snappy dialog is here, but Fincher is also interested in movie moguls, fake news, the women behind the men, and creative credit. Bonus points for Amanda Seyfried’s wonderful turn as actress Marion Davies.
The Wandering Earth
A colossal hit in its native China, The Wandering Earth earned more than $700 million (£550 million) at the country’s box office, prompting Netflix to snap up the rights to stream the sci-fi sensation internationally. The film follows a group of astronauts, sometime far into the future, attempting to guide the Earth away from the sun, which is expanding into a red giant. The problem? Jupiter is also in the way. While the Earth is being steered by 10,000 fire-blowing engines that have been strapped to the surface, the humans still living on the planet must find a way to survive the ever changing environmental conditions.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Chadwick Boseman’s final film before his untimely death is one set almost entirely in a sweaty recording studio in 1920s Chicago. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom centers on the mother of the blues, played by Viola Davis, as she clashes with bandmates and white producers while trying to record an album. Davis delivers a stellar performance, perfectly reflecting the tensions of the time, but it’s Boseman who is completely electrifying onscreen, stealing every scene he’s in. The actor truly couldn’t have done any better for his final outing as trumpeter Levee.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Much as with his previous films Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, director Charlie Kaufman created quite the head-spinner with this Netflix drama. In I’m Thinking of Ending Things, Lucy (Jessie Buckley) travels with boyfriend Jake (Jesse Plemons) to meet his parents for the first time at their secluded farmhouse. But all the while Lucy narrates her desire to end things with Jake, and questions why she’s going on this trip in the first place. Cue an incredibly uncomfortable dinner with parents Toni Collette and David Thewlis (both excellent) and a confusing journey that flits through time. It should be noted that you simply won’t understand all (or frankly, any) of the elements of this mind-bending film. However, once you get all the answers, it’s hard not to admire and appreciate the complexities of loss and loneliness Kaufman has imbued in this drama.
The Old Guard
Netflix’s The Old Guard broke records on release and remains one of the streaming service’s most watched original films ever, reaching a whopping 72 million households in its first four weeks. But just how good of a watch is it? Charlize Theron leads a group of immortal mercenaries who use their self-healing powers to help those in need. When a new immortal joins their crew, they find themselves being chased down by scientists who want to experiment on them. The Old Guard’s action scenes are its strongest, with Theron and new recruit KiKi Layne having some serious fun dishing out and taking their fair share of hits. It may not be especially original in its plot, but The Old Guard delivers exactly what it promises.
Da 5 Bloods
After finding Oscar success with BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee returned with an even more powerful, violent, anguished take on another aspect of America’s history of racial injustice. This time it’s in Vietnam, where four Black military veterans have returned to find the remains of their fallen squad leader and a gold fortune they left behind. The film is a multilayered analysis of the racism suffered by the Black soldiers who were defending a country that simply did not value their lives, and the brutality the Vietnamese people were subjected to in the long, painful, and—as it’s known in the film—American War. As you would expect, a film that focuses so closely on these difficult themes is no easy watch, and there are moments of intense brutality. But at the heart of Da 5 Bloods is an incredibly human story of friendship, humanity, and the inherited trauma our main characters experience.
A Senegalese romance, a story of construction workers turned migrants, and a paranormal revenge tale—Mati Diop’s genre-busting Atlantics won the Grand Prix at Cannes in 2019, and Netflix showed its impeccable taste in international films by picking it up. The first-time feature director takes her time as she follows 17-year-old Ada, who is in love with Soulemaine—one of the workers at sea—but is obliged to marry another man, and Issa, a police officer who gets mixed up in the lives of Ada and other women left behind in Dakar. Diop uses genre tropes and traditional folklore to get under the skin of families, corruption, and class in urban Senegal.
Dolemite Is My Name
After the credits roll on Dolemite Is My Name, we guarantee you’ll be 10,000 times more likely to go out and stage a horndog nude photo shoot for your next cult comedy record. The only person having anywhere near as much fun as Eddie Murphy, playing real-life club comedian/singer Rudy Ray Moore, is Wesley Snipes, goofing around as the actor-director D’Urvill Martin. Together with a madcap crew, they make a truly terrible 1975 Blaxploitation kung fu movie based on Moore’s pimp alter ego, Dolemite. A brash showbiz movie with a heart of gold, there’s shades of The Disaster Artist and music legend biopics all over this film. Yet with the cast flexing in Ruth Carter’s glorious costumes—the suits!—and a couple of triumphant sex and shoot-out scenes, it’s a wild ride, whether you know the original story or not.
How did a Panamanian law firm orchestrate the biggest global tax evasion operation of all time? In The Laundromat, Steven Soderbergh takes an incredibly dry (yet important) real story and makes it into one of the weirdest films released in recent memory. Antonio Banderas and Gary Oldman play Ramón Fonseca and Jürgen Mossack, the despicable scoundrels running a scandal-ridden Panamanian law firm as it slowly collapses. Meryl Streep plays a widow turned amateur detective whose husband could not collect insurance because it was tied to a shell company that doesn’t exist—then bizarrely dresses up in disguise as a Panamanian employee. If you don’t know about the real-world scandal, this film won’t help to explain it, but it’s certainly entertaining.
Roma is very different from any film that director Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) made before it. Set against the backdrop of unrest in Mexico City in the early 1970s, the film follows Cleo (Yalitizio Aparicia), who works as a housekeeper for a young, well-off family. Based on Cuarón’s real-life nanny, Libo, much of the movie’s mise-en-scène is derived from his own childhood, giving it an incredibly intimate feel. Fans of Cuarón who have watched Gravity or Children of Men might be surprised by this black-and-white family drama from the director, but it’s among his best, nabbing three Oscars and two BAFTA Awards.
Everyone in this period drama from director Dee Rees is trying to drag themselves out of the Mississippi mud in one way or another. Henry McAllan (Jason Clarke) moves his young family to a farm on the Mississippi Delta, although his wife, Laura (Carey Mulligan), is less than pleased by the news that he’s also bringing his horribly racist father to live with them too. Also on the farm are the Jackson family, led by Hap Jackson (Rob Morgan), who hopes he can work his way out of sharecropping and own his own slice of land one day. When Hap’s son and Henry’s brother return to Mississippi from World War II, the two men find themselves locked in a struggle against the ugly oppression of Jim Crow America.