This list is updated monthly to reflect recent availability and to showcase films currently streaming on Netflix, whether we’re talking classics or modern gems.
Netflix offers roughly a gazillion different movies available through its streaming platform — well, approximately a gazillion. While the landmark service might become surprisingly accurate with its suggestions once you’ve been using it for a while, it’s still often tough to find something worth watching amid the trove of terrible choices.That being the case, we’ve taken the time to wade through the ridiculous amount of content in order to bring you a list of some of the best films currently available on Netflix. Planning your weekend has never been easier.
New for November
The Ivory Game
In this Netflix Original, filmmakers Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani tell the story of the elephant poaching and the inner workings of the ongoing ivory trade — from the inside out. The film paints a dire picture of the economies, both political and financial, that have emerged as a result of ivory’s value in regions where legal loopholes allow the black-market commodity to move unfettered. From Africa to China to Italy, the film looks to expose the brutality of the ivory trade and help support those looking to make it extinct. It exists in the same vain as heartbreaking documentaries such as Blackfish and The Cove, and as such, it often feels more like a loudspeaker for animal-rights activists than a work of pure journalism. Thankfully, it’s a commanding watch either way.
Burn After Reading
Another day, another wacky comedy from the Coen brothers that quickly spirals way out of control. In this black comedy, a former CIA analyst (John Malkovich) loses a CD-ROM that contains meaningless ramblings on various government activities, many of which are intended for his soon-to-be memoir. When two certifiable dimwits (Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt) find the disc and think they’ve stumbled upon a treasure trove of valuable secrets, hilarity ensues. George Clooney and Tilda Swinton provide excellent supporting performances as well, but it’s the film’s neurotic score and the tight scripting that truly makes it an anti-spy thriller worthy of the Coen name.
So much has been said about the lengthy process behind Richard Linklater’s Boyhood — the film’s 12-year production cycle has been praised both as an undertaking and mocked as a gimmick — that the results are often overlooked. The film, which follows a boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from childhood to his first day of college, is staggering in its portrayal of time. The film is made up of various vignettes from Mason’s life: a baseball game he attends with his father (Ethan Hawke), a high-school party, the small events that comprise a life even though they may not stand out.
By the time a teenage Mason creeps through the front door after a “little bit” of drinking and smoking, the weight of the years really hits. Like Mason’s mother (Patricia Arquette), whose attempts to balance work and motherhood form their own narrative, the viewer may be shocked how quickly everything went by.
The African Queen
The African Queen, first released in 1951, is a star-studded Hollywood classic. Directed by John Huston and co-starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn — two silver-screen legends — the film still holds up more than 60 years later. It was adapted from the C.S. Forester novel of the same name, and takes place East Africa in 1914. In the film, Bogart plays the surly captain of The African Queen, a steamboat that routinely delivers provisions and mail to a British missionary (Hepburn) in the remote village of Kungdu.
Once World War I ensues, however, Hepburn is stuck in enemy territory with nowhere to hide. Bogart agrees to help her escape on board his ship, and the former eventually convinces Bogart that the two must do their part to support the British war effort by sinking a nearby German warship. Disheveled and stuck within the limited confines of The African Queen, Bogart and Hepburn deliver one of the best dialogue-driven performances of the era — one that garnered Bogart his only Oscar. Needless to say, watching two masters of the craft share a stage isn’t something you see everyday.
The Jungle Book (2016)
Disney’s recent rehash of Rudyard Kipling’s eponymous originals was something to behold at the box office, namely because of the superb CGI and the stunning cast of Hollywood heavyweights. The film still sees Mowgli & Co. return to the jungle to face evil tiger Shere Khan, except this time it’s no cartoon. The blue-ribbon voicework — which includes the likes of Christopher Walken, Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, and Idris Elba, among others — is just as impactful as the film’s gorgeous vistas, all of which capitalize on director-producer Jon Favreau’s keen sense of direction. It’s also one of the few remakes that’s actually faithful to its source material and better than its predecessor, which should render it appealing to children and adults alike.
The titular Paddington Bear is one of the most endearing and beloved characters in all of children’s literature, one first concocted at the hands of Michael Bond and a ragtag group of artists in the late-’50s. Thankfully, director Paul King’s family-friendly film adapts Paddington’s cheeky escapades for the 21st century without ceding the bear’s whimsical charm and penchant for marmalade. The live-action film makes heavy use of CGI — though, it does so beautifully — and manages to intersperse plenty of comical, good-natured gags with a few oriented toward mature audiences. For a film about a Peruvian bear who must acclimate to middle-class London after an earthquake rattles the rainforest he calls home, it’s more than bearable (pun intended).
When first released in 1999, Sleepy Hollow was the strangest and most fully-realized of Tim Burton’s works since Batman Begins. It was based on Washington Irving’s short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which reeled around New York detective Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) and his investigation into the deaths of a host of decapitated victims. The charismatic cast and excellent set design give what would be an excessive slasher flick its true character, while Depp’s steadfast performance and the film’s bizarre special effects endow an age-old tale with a modern touch.
It all makes for a film that excels when it comes to atmosphere, even if the tongue-in-cheek nature of the story sometimes retracts from the film’s overall image. And if that weren’t appealing enough, it features a dude who stalks the town headless…
“It’’s not a monster; it’s just a doggie.” Or is it? The apt-titled Cujo is a cult-classic based on Stephen King’s best-selling novel of the same name. At first, Cujo is just your average, cuddly St. Bernard. However, once bitten by a rabid bat, the dog quickly transforms into a snarling, bloodthirsty beast that’s hellbent on maiming anything in his four-legged path. Donna Trenton (Dee Wallace) and her son (Danny Pintauro) star as the canine’s owners, both of which spend the majority of the film holed up within a stalled Ford Pinto, hiding from their beloved pet as he attempts to wait them out. The film might be comical at times — it was made in 1983, after all — but it benefits from a level of unpredictability that renders it far better than anything in the Beethoven heptalogy. Now, if only Cujo knew to aim for the Pinto’s defective gas tank….