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Netflix has built up such an extensive library that it’s not too hard to find a movie to suit your mood. Want to watch a raunchy comedy like “Caddyshack” or sci-fi thriller like “Snowpierecer”? It’s got those. If you’re in the mood for a best picture-winner, you can stream “Schindler’s List” and “No Country for Old Men.” There’s films for kids with “Hercules” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and films that are definitely not for kids like “Taxi Driver” and “A Clockwork Orange.”
Great directors made the cut, such as Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Joel and Ethan Coen, Alfonso Cuaron, Stanley Kubrick, Charlie Kaufman and Bong Joon-Ho. There’s also adaptations of great authors, such as Anthony Burgess, James Dickey, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and Cormac McCarthy.
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With summer coming to a close, the streaming platform affords you the opportunity from the comfort of your own home to cram in some good flicks before Oscar-season theatrical releases flood your movie-going schedule. Or if the blistering summer heat is keeping you inside, Netflix can keep you company as you lounge by the air conditioner. But where to begin? It’s easy to fall into the trap of scrolling forever, unable to find what you’re looking for on a Friday night. Thankfully, we’ve whittled down the options to some of the best movies across eras and genres.
Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader’s Palme D’or-winning character study of an alienated cabbie (Robert De Niro) on a messianic journey through the filth of New York City all set to a dreamy jazz score is one of the most heralded works in American cinema.
“A Serious Man”
The Coen brothers kick around their plaything every-man protagonist in a 1960s retelling of the Book of Job, inspiring introspection on life’s biggest questions — along with a few schadenfreude-induced chuckles.
“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”
Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen and more comedy players come together to help out a 40-year-old virgin drop the “virgin,” played by Steve Carell, from his moniker, all while engaging in banter written by director Judd Apatow and Carell.
Quentin Tarantino’s pastiche of dime-store crime stories has you hanging out with gangsters and low lifes in between the scenes that usually make it on screen. The oft-quoted dialogue, achronological interweaving stories, and fierce originality galvanized ’90s independent cinema.
“Synecdoche, New York”
The layers of meta stack up as high as the skyscrapers in the film’s replica sound-stage New York in Charlie Kaufman’s movie about a play about a play about a play about a man playing a man (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) about a…and so on.
Bare-chested leading men Jon Voight and Burt Reynolds take on backwoods murderers and dueling banjos in this river-rafting trip gone wrong.
“Bonnie and Clyde”
The violent, ahead-of-its-time crime movie about bank-robbing lovers is a standard bearer of the transition from old Hollywood to the gritty late 1960s and early 1970s cinema dominated by new, exciting filmmakers. The eponymous couple in crime owes its place in American folklore largely to Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.
Irish playwright Martin McDonagh’s opus depicts purgatory as a quaint Belgian tourist trap for vacationing hitmen. It’s thought-provoking, funny, totally bonkers and oddly sweet.
First-time director Robert Eggers creates a veritable time machine to the 1600s with his heavily researched portrayal of Puritan culture and dialect in this horrifying story of a family fraught with witchcraft.
“All the President’s Men”
Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford nail their real-life counterparts, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, in this verite retelling of the two Washington Post reporters that broke the Watergate scandal.
“Strangers on a Train”
The two titular strangers on a train strike up a conversation that leads to a murderous proposal in a film that proves why Hitchcockian is synonymous with well-crafted suspense.
The ancient Greek myth gets Disney-fied with a gospel chorus of muses belting out the backing vocals to some of the best tunes in the Disney canon.
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”
The animated film stands out from a crowded field of superhero movies with a unique spin on the Spider-Man origin story, replete with eye-candy visuals and tender/funny moments.
A trio of acting titans — Amy Adams, Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman — masterfully keeps the audience in doubt over an alleged sexual abuse case at a Catholic school.
Steven Spielberg’s best picture winner will probably be remembered as one of the most powerful films to portray the horrors of the Holocaust. Spielberg and his talented cast pull no punches in taking on the historic atrocity.
Korean director Bong Joon-Ho works on a simple premise for his first English-language feature: a rag tag group on a train traversing a post-apocalyptic snowscape must fight their way from the caboose to the front. Highly stylized balletic action sequences provide the entertainment and the political message provides the food for thought.
Bill Murray, Chevy Chase and Rodney Dangerfield — the great triumvirate of classic comedy — keep the laughs coming all the way to the golfing romp’s (literally) explosive ending.
“The Third Man”
Novelist Graham Greene penned the script to the murder mystery that famously features Viennese sightseeing, an Orson Welles in his prime, an epic sewer chase and of course, its breezy chart-topping theme song.
“No Country for Old Men”
Cormac McCarthy’s long-gestating pulp morality tale of a man who gets caught up in a drug deal gone wrong fell in good hands with the Coen brothers, who turned the Western maestro’s words into a best picture-winning movie.
“Y Tu Mama Tambien”
Alfonso Cuaron’s Mexican road trip film makes you fall in love with its subjects, adding you as a fourth to the film’s love triangle.
“The Lives of Others”
The German-language film places viewers in the head of a voyeuristic Stasi agent in the GDR who becomes infatuated with an artistic couple under a surveillance order from the state. Steamy romance and political intrigue collide for one of the best foreign-language films in recent memory.
“A Clockwork Orange”
Author Anthony Burgess and director Stanley Kubrick bring to life this coming-of-age tale set in a dystopian England about a teenager who loves Beethoven, wears diapers and leads a gang of vicious criminals. In the film’s invented Russian-English slanguage: have a real horrorshow time viddying droogs drinking moloko and committing ultra violence.
Paddy Chayefsky’s satirical script about a news anchor’s inadvertent rise to stardom is practically the screenwriter’s Bible — and for good reason. Page after page is full of razor-sharp dialogue, including the movie’s most famous line: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”