Netflix offers roughly a gazillion different movies available through its streaming platform. While the landmark service is 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 choices. As such, 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 movies currently available on the platform, whether you’re into found-footage films or a trip through Hollywood’s Golden Age, our list has you covered. Planning your weekend has never been easier.
Editor’s note: This list is updated monthly to showcase films currently streaming on Netflix, whether we’re talking classics or modern gems.
New for April
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Like many horror movies of the ‘80s, Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street spawned a dynasty of mostly inferior sequels, but the original still holds up as a ghoulishly inventive slasher film. A Nightmare on Elm Street follows teenager Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) and her friends, who are stalked in their dreams by a disfigured man called Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund). As if the shared nightmares were not disturbing enough, any wounds they suffer in the dreams carry over to real life. Nancy and friends struggle to stay awake and solve the mystery behind the horror pursuing them, in a film that remains creepy decades later. The surreal, terrifying nightmare sequences that Freddy conjures, and Englund’s fiendishly fun performance, make this one of Craven’s best films.
Based on historical events, Schindler’s List tells the story of Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a German industrialist looking to make a profit during World War II. Schindler, having bribed Nazi officials, sets up a factory in Poland hiring mostly Jewish workers. When he sees Nazi soldiers massacre a Jewish ghetto, Schindler decides he must do what he can to save as many Jews as possible, draining his fortune and trying to curry favor with a sadistic SS officer, Amon Göth (Ralph Fiennes). Known primarily for his blockbuster fare, Steven Spielberg shows the depth of his talent throughout Schindler’s List, shooting the film in stark black and white, and employing some beautiful, subtle tracking shots.
An American Tail
One of the classic animated films of the ‘80s, An American Tail follows a family of mice called the Mousekewitzes, who flee their European village following an attack, and make a pilgrimage to America in search of a better life. The journey is harsh, and although they reach New York City alive, they find that life in America may not be as safe as they hoped; son Fievel is separated from the rest of the family, and the mouse community in New York is beset by cats and corruption. Directed by legendary animator Don Bluth, An American Tail is a lovely — and dark, for a children’s film — rendering of the American immigrant’s story. The old-fashioned animation and memorable soundtrack give the film an enduring beauty.
Fire At Sea
Gianfranco Rosi’s 2016 documentary examines the refugee crisis in Europe through a narrow lens, zeroing in on the small island of Lampedusa, which lies between Sicily and Tunisia. The film follows two disparate stories: That of a group of refugees crossing the sea to Lampedusa, and that of the islanders, including a young boy named Samuele. Although many have criticized the film’s structure, citing a lack of connection between the two stories, Rosi’s approach is striking. The refugees, crammed onto rafts and thin with hunger, make for a shocking juxtaposition to the story of the islander’s, living in such innocent solitude, it seems incomprehensible that war and famine could be so close. Fire At Sea takes a bold approach to documentary filmmaking, regardless of your political views.
This parody of action movies and Hollywood personalities follows the disastrous filming of Tropic Thunder, a fictional big budget adaptation of Vietnam veteran “Four Leaf” Tayback’s (Nick Nolte) memoir. The fake film assembles an all-star cast, including action star Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller), junkie comedian Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black), and method actor Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.) who, suffice to say, goes to absurd lengths to portray his African-American character. The production gets off to a terrible start, thanks to the diva antics of the stars, prompting Four Leaf and director Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan) to throw the cast into the jungle with minimal support, hoping to get authentic suffering on film. Unfortunately, the jungle is under the control of an armed and vicious drug syndicate eager to eliminate the outsiders. Tropic Thunder is a frenetic action comedy, with outlandish characters and some stunningly accurate parodies of Hollywood tropes.
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
One of Wes Anderson’s most iconic films, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou follows the titular explorer (Bill Murray), an oceanographer and documentarian, who sets out to hunt the shark that ate his best friend. Unfortunately, Zissou’s films have been on a downward trajectory, so he must steal equipment and take a donation from his fan — and possibly his son — Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson). Along the way, Zissou must confront his declining career and worth as an artist. Those who hate Anderson’s quirky style of filmmaking will probably not be swayed by The Life Aquatic. Those who appreciate his idiosyncrasies, or want to see something far from mainstream filmmaking, will surely appreciate the film’s droll humor and vibrant charms (the soundtrack includes several excellent Portuguese covers of David Bowie songs).