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10 most popular Netflix movies of all time

In 2015, Netflix changed the film industry forever when it purchased the distribution rights to Beasts of No Nation, releasing it in theaters via Bleecker Street and on the streamer on October 16, 2015. Two months later, The Ridiculous 6 became the first film distributed solely through Netflix. Hundreds of films later, Netflix releases original movies globally every single week.

Netflix is now one of the most powerful and prolific studios in the world. Because of that, many established and successful filmmakers and actors have worked with Netflix, including Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas), Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant), and Meryl Streep (Let Them All Talk). From prestige dramas to expensive action blockbusters, many films on Netflix have streamed for hundreds of millions of hours. What are the most popular films (English) on Netflix? Find out below!

Note: The number next to each film represents the number of hours viewed in the first 28 days.

10. The Irishman - 214,570,000 (2019)
10. The Irishman - 214,570,000
94 %
r 209m
Genre Crime, Drama, History
Stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci
Directed by Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver), one of the most important filmmakers of the last 50 years, made a move that many thought would never happen. Scorsese teamed up with a streaming service, in this case, Netflix, to release The Irishman, an epic gangster film that reunited the director with frequent collaborator Robert De Niro (Amsterdam). In the film, De Niro stars as Frank Sheeran, also known as “The Irishman,” a truck driver who rose to power working as a hitman for Russell Bufalino (Casino’s Joe Pesci) and his crime family.

Sheeran is introduced to union hero Jimmy Hoffa (Hunters’ Al Pacino), the head of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the two become very friendly. The film spans multiple decades as it chronicles the rise and fall of Sheeran. The Irishman is one of Netflix’s most critically acclaimed films ever, receiving 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

9. The Unforgivable - 214,700,000 (2021)
9. The Unforgivable - 214,700,000
41 %
r 112m
Genre Drama, Crime
Stars Sandra Bullock, Viola Davis, Vincent D'Onofrio
Directed by Nora Fingscheidt

Sandra Bullock (The Lost City) is one of Netflix’s most bankable stars as she finds herself as the lead in two of the 10 most popular films on Netflix. The first film is The Unforgivable, where Bullock stars as Ruth Slater, a woman released from prison after serving a 20-year sentence for murder. Ruth killed the sheriff coming to evict her along with her five-year-old sister, Katie (God’s Creatures’ Aisling Franciosi).

Upon her release, Ruth searches for Katie, who has no memories of her older sister, while struggling to adjust to life on the outside. As Ruth fights to see her sister again, her past begins to catch up with her as someone from the past seeks revenge for her wrongdoings.

8. Purple Hearts - 228,690,000 (2022)
8. Purple Hearts - 228,690,000
30 %
pg-13 122m
Genre Romance, Drama
Stars Sofia Carson, Nicholas Galitzine, John Harlan Kim
Directed by Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum

Based on Tess Wakefield’s novel, Purple Hearts follows Cassie Salazar (Descendants 3), a struggling songwriter who works at a bar to make ends meet. Cassie is a Type 1 diabetic and struggles to pay for her insulin. Luke Morrow (Cinderella’s Nicholas Galitzine) is a marine who owes $15,000 to a local drug dealer. In need of money, Luke proposes a fake marriage to Cassie, as they will both receive financial and medical benefits if they are married.

Though hesitant, desperation forces them to go through with the fake marriage before Luke is deployed. They plan to stay married for one year and then get divorced. But the young couple must tell no one that it’s fake because it violates military law, which would result in a prison sentence. As the two spend more time together, their feelings for one another grow, complicating their entire arrangement.

7. Extraction - 231,340,000 (2020)
7. Extraction - 231,340,000
56 %
r 116m
Genre Drama, Action, Thriller
Stars Chris Hemsworth, Rudhraksh Jaiswal, Randeep Hooda
Directed by Sam Hargrave

If you want action, look no further than Extraction. Chris Hemsworth (Thor: Love and Thunder) stars as Tyler Rake, a former Australian special ops soldier and current black ops mercenary hired to save an international crime lord’s son, Ovi (The Tenant’s Rudhraksh Jaiswal), in Bangladesh. However, Tyler is double-crossed when the contract is nullified. Yet, he chooses to protect the son and escort him to safety.

The film features incredible action sequences, highlighted by a 12-minute tracking shot in the middle of the film. At the time of its debut, Extraction became the most-watched original film in Netflix’s history. Because of the success, the film spawned a sequel, Extraction 2, scheduled to be released on June 16, 2023.

6. The Adam Project - 233,160,000 (2022)
6. The Adam Project - 233,160,000
55 %
pg-13 106m
Genre Adventure, Science Fiction
Stars Ryan Reynolds, Walker Scobell, Mark Ruffalo
Directed by Shawn Levy

In 2022, Netflix released a time-traveling adventure, The Adam Project, featuring one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool 3). In the film, Reynolds plays Adam Reed, a time pilot from the year 2050 who travels back to 2018 to save his wife, Laura (Avatar: The Way of Water‘s Zoe Saldaña). However, Adam never makes it to 2018 and instead crash lands in 2022, where he meets his 12-year-old self (Secret Headquarters’ Walker Scobell).

As the two Adams bond, they are attacked by Maya Sorian (Yes Day’s Jennifer Garner), one of the most powerful women in the world who is after Adam. To further complicate things, both Adams travel back to 2018 to meet with their father, Louis Reed (Avengers: Endgame’s Mark Ruffalo), who wrote a formula to control time travel before dying in a car accident in 2011. This all sounds confusing, but the film presents sci-fi in a way that’s entertaining and easy to digest so the audience can focus on the adventure, not the science.

5. The Gray Man - 253,870,000 (2022)
5. The Gray Man - 253,870,000
49 %
pg-13 128m
Genre Action, Thriller
Stars Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas
Directed by Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

In their post-Marvel lives, the Russo Brothers (Avengers: Infinity War) have directed two films: Cherry, the crime drama about a former soldier who robs banks to pay for his drug addiction, and The Gray Man, Netflix’s action thriller that became one of the most expensive films for the streamer. Ryan Gosling (The Fall Guy) stars as Courtland Gentry, a prisoner presented with a chance to work as an assassin for the CIA’s Sierra program in 2023. Almost 20 years later, Gentry is now named Sierra Six and has become one of the program’s top hitmen.

Before Six kills his next target in Bangkok, he learns the target once worked for the Sierra program and hands over an encrypted drive detailing the CIA’s corruption. With the drive in his hands, the CIA hires a ruthless mercenary named Lloyd Hansen (Captain America: Civil War’s Chris Evans) to retrieve the drive and take out Six. The star-studded action film is a global cat-and-mouse adventure, culminating with one final battle between Gosling and Evans.

4. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery - 279,740,000 (2022)
4. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery - 279,740,000
81 %
pg-13 140m
Genre Comedy, Crime, Mystery
Stars Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe
Directed by Rian Johnson

After the success of 2019’s Knives Out, Rian Johnson (The Last Jedi) is back with another mystery in the sequel, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. Tech billionaire Miles Bron (The French Dispatch’s Edward Norton) invites his closest friends – Claire Debella (WandaVision’s Kathryn Hahn), Lionel Toussaint (Hamilton’s Leslie Odom Jr.), Birdie Jay (Truth Be Told’s Kate Hudson), and Duke Cody (Dune’s Dave Bautista) – to his mansion on a private island in Greece to take part in a murder mystery weekend.

Benoit Blanc (No Time to Die’s Daniel Craig) and Bron’s former partner, Cassandra “Andi” Brand (Antebellum’s Janelle Monáe), also receive invites to Bron’s mansion, The Glass Onion. Although Bron stages a fake murder for the game, a real crime occurs, much to the shock of the guests. With Blanc on the scene, it’s up to the world’s greatest detective to solve another case. Glass Onion is a worthy addition to the Knives Out franchise, as the sequel will keep you guessing up until the very end.

3. Bird Box - 282,020,000 (2018)
3. Bird Box - 282,020,000
51 %
r 124m
Genre Thriller, Drama, Science Fiction
Stars Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich
Directed by Susanne Bier

In Bird Box, you cannot look at the entities outside, or you will kill yourself. To survive, people must live inside and board up their windows to block the view of the outside. When outside the house, a blindfold must be placed over your eyes to block your sight. The story starts with Malorie Hayes (Bullet Train’s Sandra Bullock) preparing to enter a rowboat with her two children, Boy and Girl, instructing them to never remove their blindfolds.

Five years earlier, a pregnant Malorie winds up in a stranger’s house with a small group of survivors as the entity outbreak begins. Malorie bonds with Tom (Moonlight’s Trevante Rhodes) as the two try to instill a sense of normalcy in a post-apocalyptic world. The interesting premise and Bullock’s performance are enough to make Bird Box an engaging watch. Bird Box became Netflix’s most-watched film after its release in December 2018, a title it would hold until late 2021.

2. Don't Look Up - 359,790,000 (2021)
2. Don't Look Up - 359,790,000
49 %
r 138m
Genre Comedy, Science Fiction
Stars Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep
Directed by Adam McKay

What if the world was coming to an end? Would you believe the scientists trying to warn the population of Earth’s demise? That’s the premise of Don’t Look Up, the satirical black comedy by Adam McKay (Vice). Dr. Randall Mindy (Killers of the Flower Moon’s Leonardo DiCaprio) and his student, Kate Dibiasky (Causeway’s Jennifer Lawrence), are two astronomers who discover a comet that will destroy Earth in six months. When they bring this information to President Janie Orlean (Streep), the administration is indifferent, refusing to act and causing widespread panic.

Mindy and Dibiasky leak the information to the media, but it gets buried and becomes a non-issue. Thanks to an A-list cast and witty script, Don’t Look Up is an interesting take on how humans would react to the world ending in a universe full of disinformation. The film was nominated for four Oscars and set the record for most hours viewed in one week on Netflix.

1. Red Notice - 364,020,000 (2021)
1. Red Notice - 364,020,000
37 %
pg-13 118m
Genre Action, Comedy, Crime, Thriller
Stars Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot
Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber

Three of the biggest stars in Hollywood – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Black Adam), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), and Ryan Reynolds (The Adam Project) – combined forces for the 2021 action comedy Red Notice. John Hartley (Johnson) is an FBI agent tasked with finding a bejeweled egg from Queen Cleopatra that was stolen from a museum in Rome. Hartley links the theft to international art thief Nolan Booth (Reynolds) and captures Booth and the egg at his home in Bali.

Unbeknownst to the two men, Sarah “The Bishop” Black (Gadot) stole the egg and replaced it with a fake one. When Hartley is accused of stealing the egg, he’s forced to team up with Booth to capture Black and prove his innocence. The fast-paced action and star power carried Red Notice to the top, as it’s currently the most-watched film on Netflix.

Movie images and data from:
Dan Girolamo
Dan is a passionate and multitalented content creator with experience in pop culture, entertainment, and sports. Throughout…
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