Ahh Netflix, what would we do without you? With a plethora of movies, TV shows, and documentaries to instantly stream on almost any device, it is the essential item for a rainy day or the night before an essay due. However, it is difficult to pick which one would be your true favorite, which is why I have compiled a list of the top 10 movies on Netflix’s instant watch.
To emphasize: This list only contains movies that are on the instant watch service from Netflix.
This list is also based on the movies that are on the site at the time, availability of these films is subject to change.
This list has been based on four key factors:
Are you not entertained? Well you should be after watching this sword and sandal classic that took home Best Picture at the 2000 Oscars. The film follows a respected Roman general who is forced into the gladiatorial arena after he is accused of murdering the emperor. With a combination of Oscar nominated performances from both Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix (Crowe won the Oscar for Best Actor) this film is without any cringe worthy performances that will leave you scrambling to exit out of the site entirely. The watchability factor for this film is above par when it comes to actual gladiator battles, but it falls short when there really isn’t anything going on. With that being said, this film is overall a good quality movie to kick back and watch when you’re in the mood to watch two gladiators go at it while dodging a bunch of tigers or if you need a quick lesson on gladiators for a school project.
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
Coming in at number nine is easily one of the best westerns in film history. Directed by Sergio Leone, who is known for perfecting the art of the Spaghetti Western (Italian made westerns), this film is one of the hidden jewels of Netflix. It is usually identified as a masterpiece and has even been selected to be preserved by the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”. It really says a lot when a western has this much success and it wasn’t starring Clint Eastwood, who is the undisputed king of western films. Although it does not star Eastwood, it does have a star studded cast featuring Charles Bronson, Henry Fonda, Jason Robards and Claudia Cardinale. This role for Fonda was pretty big because he plays the villain of the film as he is usually type cast as the good guy in his films. The film is about a mysterious harmonica playing who helps a recent widow defend her land from an unstoppable assassin and the railroad that hired him. There other parts to the story including a dark past that drives the mysterious man and a notorious bandit who aids the man in his mission. Overall this is a pretty watchable movie because of the many exciting shootouts and solid performances from both Fonda and Robards. Go check it out.
This was a hard decision to make. In contention for the number eight spot was Snowpiercer and Mel Gibson’s Braveheart (1995). I chose Snowpiercer because it beats out Braveheart in all the categories. Snowpiercer delivers a strong combination of story, performances and watchability. The story deals with a failed climate change experiment that creates a new ice age and forces humanity on to a never stopping super train. This train is divided by social class meaning the wealthy live in leisure at the front and the poor live in the back. The poor end of the train eventually revolts and fight their way to the front of the train in order to gain control. It delivers great performances from Chris Evans, John Hurt, Ed Harris, Jamie Bell and Tilda Swinton. The watchability for this film is fantastic because there isn’t a painfully slow scene in this movie. Overall this film is interesting because it basically is a huge violent battle on a post-apocalyptic super train but at the same time it features a very interesting study on social class issues.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Okay, I’m going to get a little biased here so bear with me. A big part of the reason I chose this film for the number seven spot was the fact that it was directed by Martin Scorsese. That alone should be a good enough reason. The man is a living legend. With films like Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Gangs of New York, and The Departed on his list of directing credits along with eight best picture nominations, it is no wonder why he is usually mentioned in the discussion for greatest director of all time. The Wolf of Wall Street is a biopic on the story of real life stockbroker Jordan Belfort. It follows his rise to power on Wall Street and the inevitable downfall that comes after. Leonardo DiCaprio masterfully portrays Belfort, even being nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor. Another strong performance comes from Jonah Hill who plays Belfort’s business partner, Donnie. Hill steals the show in almost every scene he is in which really compliments DiCaprio’s performance. Hill was also nominated for an Oscar for his performance. Without a doubt this movie is sure to peak your interest, whether it’s DiCaprio flaunting his wealth in your face, the record breaking amount of F bombs used or extreme Quaalude induced outbursts.
Django Unchained (2012)
Another movie that set records for explicit language is Django Unchained, directed by Quentin Tarantino. The film broke records for the most N words used in film. Obviously this would upset people but that doesn’t mean it detracts from the overall quality of the film. Django Unchained is set in 1858 and follows a slave named Django who is freed by a German bounty Hunter, named King Schultz, to help track down his former slave handlers, The Brittle Brothers. In exchange for his aid, King agrees to help Django find and recover his wife from the ruthless slave owner Calvin Candie, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. In addition to DiCaprio, there are many great performances, especially Christoph Waltz (King) and Jamie Foxx (Django). Waltz even won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of King. What this movie is also known for is the extreme amount of blood and gore. One scene in particular is when Django gets into a massive shootout with dozens of Candie’s men. The scene is about as bloody and violent as it gets. So with that said go check out this film.
Taxi Driver (1976)
Another Martin Scorsese masterpiece, Taxi Driver is a vigilante film with aspects of both a psychological thriller and a neo-noir film. It centers on a Vietnam veteran named Travis Bickle. Bickle suffers from chronic insomnia, so to cope, he becomes a taxi driver. As he is driving his taxi, Bickle begins to recognize all the crime and violence within the city. He buys a gun and starts training for means of self-defense but he soon becomes a vigilante when he befriends a teenage prostitute named Iris. Taxi Driver doesn’t have that many quality performances besides Jodie Foster (Iris) and Robert De Niro (Bickle). This doesn’t mean this film is deprived of good performances because the film is mainly centered on Bickle who either alone or with characters that maybe get two minutes of screen time. The film is a great character study because it is interesting to determine whether Bickle’s actions and motives are justified or not, as well as watching Bickle’s overall change throughout the movie. Unlike some of the previous films on this list, Taxi Driver does not have pulse pounding action. Its watch ability is based around the aspect of suspense. Another reason you should watch this film is the fact that it is the film that started the saying “You talkin’ to me?” which is a staple in American pop culture.
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
In Quentin Tarantino’s directorial debut, Reservoir Dogs is a crime thriller that centers around the before and after events of a botched diamond heist. It involves eight robbers whose names are colors such as, Mr. Pink, Mr. White, Mr. Orange, in order to conceal their identities to the associates. One of the best scenes in the movie is when the group holds a meeting and they chose each other’s names. It features a great back and forth argument between Mr. White and Mr. Pink, when Mr. White choses Mr. Pink’s name/color to be pink. Reservoir Dogs is considered to be the greatest independent film of all-time. It stars Harvey Keitel (Mr. White), Steve Buscemi (Mr. Pink), Tim Roth (Mr. Orange), and Michael Madsen (Mr. Blonde). Although it never shows the robbers in the jewelry store it shows events that happened right before the heist and immediately after it. Reservoir Dogs is a great quality film because it deals with deception among the men as they try to find a mole within their group that gave them up to the police before the heist. Go check it out.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
The third Tarantino film on this list actually comes in at number three. Pulp Fiction features the best non-linear storyline in cinema history, other than Memento. It features three subplots that come together to form a coherent story. The three subplots include two hitmen, one of the hitmen’s personal affairs, and a boxer who is on the run from a mob boss after he doesn’t take the fall in a fixed fight. The film also features on of the best MacGuffins in film history. For those of you who are unaware of what a MacGuffin is, it is the central plot device in a film that has little to no explanation behind it. So the MacGuffin in Pulp Fiction takes the form of a mysterious briefcase that the two hitmen are sent to recover. Nothing is ever said about what is inside of it, but the only clue the viewer’s get is a bright golden light that is emitted when the case is opened. It is mentioned with The Maltese Falcon from The Maltese Falcon and Rose Bud from Citizen Kane as the best MacGuffin in film history. Pulp Fiction stars Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta as the two hitmen, Bruce Willis as the Boxer, Ving Rhames as the mob boss and Uma Thurman as his wife. The film isn’t known for its performances, that doesn’t mean they aren’t bad, but you do get one hell of a monologue and performance from Samuel L. Jackson. So please go check this out because you cannot call yourself a movie lover without having seen Pulp Fiction.
This is my personal favorite. I love a good noir/neo-noir film and Chinatown fits the bill almost to a tee. In a masterpiece in every way from the acting, to the style, the story, and the soundtrack. Trust me, a soundtrack can make or break a movie. Chinatown is set in 1930s Los Angeles during a terrible drought. It follows a private investigator named J.J. “Jake” Gittes played by Jack Nicholson. Gittes is hired by a woman named Evelyn Mulwray who asks him to investigate her husband, the chief engineer at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, because she believes he is cheating on her. Later, Gittes is then confronted by a woman who reveals herself to be the real Evelyn Mulwray and tells Gittes he has been hired by an imposter. When Mr. Mulwray is discovered dead, Gittes is thrown into a case a corruption, deceit, and dark family secrets as Evelyn’s father soon becomes suspect. Jack Nicholson, as always, gives a masterful performance as J.J. Gittes. Along with Nicholson is Faye Dunaway who plays Evelyn Mulwray and John Huston who plays Noah Cross, Evelyn’s father. So regardless of what you may perceive as a good movie, Chinatown is without a doubt the perfect movie, but surprisingly it falls short of our number one spot.
Leon: The Professional (1994)
Blues Brothers (1980)
Black Hawk Down (2001)
The Master (2012)
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
There Will Be Blood (2007)
It was hard to decide which film, Chinatown or There Will Be Blood, would make the number one spot. Like I said about Chinatown, it is the perfect movie, but There Will Be Blood squeaks by because of two reasons: Daniel Day Lewis’ performance and the overall plot. The film is about a silver miner named Daniel Plainview who starts an oil drilling business after he sold all his silver. He soon hears about a massive amount of oil that is underneath the town of Little Boston, California and sets out with his adopted son, H.W., to claim the land and amass a large fortune. What soon follows is Plainview becoming bankrupt in both his moral and ethical standards. Like I said before, Daniel Day Lewis’ performance is masterful. In my opinion it ranks with that of Heath Ledger’s Joker from the Dark Knight and Javier Bardem’s performance as Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. Along with Paul Dano’s uncomfortable yet encapsulating performance as a crazed self-proclaimed prophet it is a tour de force in means of acting ability. Also, considering the film’s cinematography, story, directing, and tone it is sure to be a great film to watch at any time.
With many of film’s to choose from, Netflix happens to offer many great films. So hopefully you took something away from this article, whether it’s a new list of movies you can’t wait to binge watch or just the idea that you read a meaningless article, please go check out at least one of these amazing films.