The 50 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now

The 50 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now

The sheer volume of films on Netflix — and the site’s less than ideal interface — can make finding a genuinely great movie there a difficult task. To help, we’ve plucked out the 50 best films currently streaming on the service in the United States, updated regularly as titles come and go. And as a bonus, we link to 50 more great movies on Netflix within many of our writeups below. (Note: Streaming services sometimes remove titles or change starting dates without giving notice.)

Martin Scorsese re-teams with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci for the first time since “Casino” (1995), itself a return to the organized crime territory of their earlier 1990 collaboration “Goodfellas” — and then adds Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa. A lazier filmmaker might merely have put them back together to play their greatest hits. Scorsese does something far trickier, and more poignant: He takes all the elements we expect in a Scorsese gangster movie with this cast, and then he strips it all down, turning this story of turf wars, union battles and power struggles into a chamber piece of quiet conversations and moral contemplation. A.O. Scott called it “long and dark: long like a novel by Dostoyevsky or Dreiser, dark like a painting by Rembrandt.”

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Noah Baumbach’s searing, Bergman-esque drama is the story not of a marriage, but of its end — of a loving couple who just, as they say, grew apart, but whose uncoupling is nowhere near that organic. Their shifting of priorities and geographic preferences prompts the hiring of lawyers, the spending of savings, and the stating of old resentments and regrets better left unsaid. Baumbach’s screenplay is full of tiny, human touches and graceful tonal shifts; he can move from screwball comedy to open-wound drama in the blink of an eye. “It’s funny and sad, sometimes within a single scene,” writes A.O. Scott, “and it weaves a plot out of the messy collapse of a shared reality, trying to make music out of disharmony.” (If you like this prickly comedy/drama, queue up the Oscar-winning “As Good As It Gets.”)

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This 2003 Oscar nominee from the director Fernando Meirelles renders its oft-told tale of neighborhood crime with such brash energy and intoxicating exuberance that it feels brand new. Meirelles and his co-director, Kátia Lund, construct their film as a slum-kids “Goodfellas”; like that film, “City of God” is based on true events, capturing the awful seductiveness of the criminal life and the dire consequences for those who choose it. Our critic called it a “scorching anecdotal history of violence.” (Meirelles’s latest, “The Two Popes,” is also on Netflix.)

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The latest from Joel and Ethan Coen is an anthology film set in the Old West, a series of tales of varying length and style, some as brief and simple as jokes, others with the richness and depth of a great short story. Our critic wrote, “It swerves from goofy to ghastly so deftly and so often that you can’t always tell which is which,” and what seems at first like a filmed notebook of ideas and orphans instead becomes something of a workshop; it’s a place for the Coens to try things, experimenting with new styles and moods, while also delivering the kind of dark humor and deliciously ornate dialogue that we’ve come to expect. (For wilder comedy, check out “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar,” “Stripes” or “Kingpin.”)

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Sofia Coppola takes on conspicuous consumption, Millennial malaise, and upper-class entitlement in this darkly funny and stylishly thought-provoking true story (adapted from a Vanity Fair article by Nancy Joe Sales). Emma Watson leads a crew of young, attractive rich girls who spent years helping themselves to the homes (and spoils) of their famous neighbors, partying in Paris Hilton’s “nightclub room” and casually lifting Lindsay Lohan’s jewelry. Coppola refuses to condemn their crimes or apologize for them; it is, A.O. Scott wrote, “neither a cautionary tale of youth gone wrong nor a joke at the expense of kids these days.”

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The story of a troubled child’s return home for a big family event isn’t exactly untold. But Jenny Lumet’s script is filled with keenly observed details and emotional truths, brought to vivid life by the director Jonathan Demme. And the performances are astonishing: Rosemarie DeWitt’s work as the bride easily conveys the years spent tolerating and apologizing for her sister, while Anne Hathaway is a marvel, raw and tempestuous, perpetually and precariously balanced between keeping it together and melting down. “It has an undeniable and authentic vitality,” wrote A.O. Scott, “an exuberance of spirit, that feels welcome and rare.”

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This series-spawning smash is a gloriously inventive stew of dystopian future sci-fi, Hong Kong-style “gun fu,” turn-of-the-century paranoia and jaw-dropping special effects. Its big action set-pieces have been imitated to death, but rarely with the visceral energy and giddy enthusiasm brought by the Wachowskis, two independent filmmakers who were given the tools and budget of a big studio picture and had an absolute blast. Our critic called it “a furious special-effects tornado.” (If you like your video game-influenced action movies a little funnier, try out “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.”)

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The 2017 Academy Award winner for best picture, this triptych about a young, gay African-American man’s coming of age in Miami is a quietly revelatory piece of work, exploring and challenging modern perceptions of masculinity, family, power and love. Director Barry Jenkins (adapting a play by Tarell Alvin McCraney) creates a world so dense with detail and rich with humanity that every character gets a chance to shine; the themes and ideas are all above board, but conveyed with subtlety and understatement. Our critic described it as “a poem written in light, music and vivid human faces.”

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The director Danny Boyle brought the cult novel by Irvine Welsh to the screen as a visceral experience, chasing the relentlessly energetic narrative like the drug addicts at its center chase a high. Ewan McGregor found a star-making role in the protagonist, Renton, a Scottish miscreant who insists he chooses the dangers of addiction over a life of suburban prescription; Robert Carlyle is the supporting standout as the scariest member of his crew. “It rocks to a throbbing beat,” our critic wrote, “and trains its jaundiced eye on some of the most lovable lowlifes ever to skulk across a screen.” (“Strictly Ballroom,” another ’90s indie sensation, is also available on Netflix.)

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This brainy sci-fi story from director Duncan Jones (“Mute”) is almost entirely a one-man show, and Sam Rockwell, as a working-class astronaut on a solo mission, is the man for the job — he’s alternately tragic, funny, driven and bitter, often in the same scene, frequently playing to himself. “Moon” is thrilling and thought-provoking, with a stunning finale. Our critic called it a “modest, haunting first feature.” (Fans of thoughtful sci-fi dramas will also enjoy “Ex Machina.”)

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The British comedy troupe Monty Python created its funniest, wildest and cult-friendliest feature-length comedy with this 1975 send-up of the legend of King Arthur — and of medieval literature in general, and of big-screen epics. Graham Chapman is the ostensible lead as Arthur, leading his Knights of the Round Table on a quest for the Grail, but the plot is merely a clothesline on which to hang blackout sketches and self-aware gags, and there are many. Our critic called it “a marvelously particular kind of lunatic endeavor.” (For more fun with Python, queue up the button-pushing 1979 Biblical spoof “Life of Brian.”)

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This vivid, evocative memory play from Alfonso Cuarón is a story of two Mexican women in the early 1970s: Sofía (Marina de Tavira), a mother of four whose husband (and provider) is on his way out the door, and Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), the family’s nanny, maid and support system. The scenes are occasionally stressful, often heart-wrenching, and they unfailingly burst with life and emotion. Our critic called it “an expansive, emotional portrait of life buffeted by violent forces, and a masterpiece.”

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Three years after reinventing the Batman franchise with “Batman Begins” (also streaming on Netflix), the director Christopher Nolan returned to Gotham, making a rare sequel that surpasses the original. Nolan crafts some of the sharpest, tightest set pieces of the series to date — its opening bank robbery and nighttime prisoner transfer are astonishingly assured — while Heath Ledger pierces in an Oscar-winning turn as the Joker, a frightening, take-no-prisoners snapshot of nihilistic evil. Our critic wrote, “it goes darker and deeper than any Hollywood movie of its comic-book kind.”

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Two young men weather their Park Slope parents’ nasty divorce in this ruthlessly intelligent and mercilessly evenhanded coming-of-age story from the writer and director Noah Baumbach, who drew upon his own teen memories and put himself, not altogether complimentarily, into the character of the 16-year-old Walt (a spot-on Jesse Eisenberg). Laura Linney is passive-aggressive perfection as his mother, while Jeff Daniels, as the father, masterfully captures a specific type of sneeringly dissatisfied Brooklyn intellectual. The film is “both sharply comical and piercingly sad,” as A.O. Scott wrote, as Baumbach dissects this family’s woes and drama with knowing precision. (Fans of misanthropic comedy may also enjoy “Her or “The Lobster.”)

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The fashion designer turned filmmaker Tom Ford made his feature directorial debut with this moving, melancholy (and, unsurprisingly, aesthetically stunning) adaptation of the novel by Christopher Isherwood.  An Oscar-nominated Colin Firth stars as George, a college professor and “bachelor,” as gay men in his era were so often euphemistically known. Accompanying George through one long, difficult day — the anniversary of the death of his boyfriend — Ford burrows deep into the tortured psyche of his protagonist, and Firth is up to the challenge, playing the role with what Manohla Dargis called “a magnificent depth of feeling.” (Period drama lovers will also love “The Natural”; Firth shines again in “The King’s Speech.”)

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A Puritan family, banished to the woods of New England by its community, encounters a frightening force of true evil in this potent mixture of art-house drama and supernatural thriller from the writer and director Robert Eggers. Resisting jump-scares and cheap thrills in favor of slow burns and discomforting dread, Eggers builds his story to a climax that seems both terrifying and inevitable. Our critic called it “a finely calibrated shiver of a movie.”

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Tom Hanks won his first Academy Award for what our critic called his “brave, stirring, tremendously dignified performance” in this 1993 drama from director Jonathan Demme, which was among the first studio productions to address the AIDS crisis. Hanks plays an H.I.V.-positive lawyer, fired from his firm because of his illness; Denzel Washington stars as the homophobic personal-injury attorney representing Hanks in an unlawful termination suit and learning the error of his prejudices in the process. (Fans of challenging drama should also seek out “A Serious Man.”)

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Osgood Perkins — son of the “Psycho” star Anthony Perkins — writes and directs this unnerving and disturbing story of creepy goings-on at a near-empty girls’ boarding school. The performances (from Kiernan Shipka, Lucy Boynton, and Emma Roberts) are sharp and the scares are genuine, while Perkins’s orchestration of mood and atmosphere is chillingly effective. Our critic called it “perfectly acted and gorgeously filmed.”

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Brie Larson won an Oscar for her powerful leading performance in this moving adaptation of the novel by Emma Donoghue, in which a woman held for years in captivity tries to escape from her kidnapper with the help of her young son. Lenny Abrahamson’s intimate direction emphasizes the claustrophobia of their surroundings, but tantalizes with the promise and possibility of escape. (For more Oscar-winning drama, stream “Milk” and “The Crying Game” on Netflix.)

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Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti shine as two New York creative types whose attempts to start a family — by adoption, by fertilization, by whatever it takes — test the mettle of their relationships and sanity. The wise script by the director Tamara Jenkins is not only funny and truthful but also sharply tuned to their specific world: Few films have better captured the very public nature of marital trouble in New York, when every meltdown is interrupted by passers-by and looky-loos. “Private Life,” which our critic called “piquant and perfect,” is a marvelous balancing act of sympathy and cynicism, both caring for its subjects and knowing them and their flaws well enough to wink and chuckle. (The funny, moving “Obvious Child” is another wise look at living, and getting pregnant, in New York City.)

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We’ve seen countless stories of nasty, selfish people who go on a voyage of self-discovery and come out the other side as better, wiser souls. This acidic comedy-drama asks: What if that journey didn’t take? Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron, in take-no-prisoners mode), a bitter young-adult author, returns to her hometown in the hope of reuniting with her high-school boyfriend, his picture-perfect married life be damned. A film that zigs when you’re certain it will zag, “Young Adult” tells a satisfying story that is also a sly critique of the conventions of modern moviemaking. Our critic praised its “brilliant, brave and breathtakingly cynical heart.” (Also streaming on Netflix: “Up in the Air,” the previous film from “Young Adult” director Jason Reitman.)

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A 52-year-old Georgian woman shocks her family, and her entire community, when she decides to move out of the cramped apartment she shares with her husband, children and parents in order to begin a life of her own. “In this world, there are no families without problems,” she is told, and the conflicts of the script by Nana Ekvtimishvili (who also directed, with Simon Gross) are a sharp reminder that while the cultural specifics may vary, familial guilt and passive aggression are bound by no language. Manohla Dargis praised its “sardonically funny, touching key.” (For more critically acclaimed foreign drama, try the Oscar nominated Hungarian film “On Body and Soul.”)

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Director David Fincher’s breakthrough film was the serial-killer thriller “Seven,” but he had no intention of repeating himself with this 2007 mystery. Because the real-life Zodiac killer was never apprehended or tried for his crime, Fincher sidestepped the big payoff of most true crime stories, crafting instead a film that focuses on the kind of obsessiveness it takes to follow that trail, year after year, without a satisfactory conclusion. Our critic called it “at once sprawling and tightly constructed, opaque and meticulously detailed.” (“Zodiac” star Jake Gyllenhaal also impresses in “End of Watch”.)

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The Iranian director Asghar Farhadi won a richly deserved Academy Award for best foreign film for this story of a man, his wife, their child and the family they disastrously intersect with. In dramatizing the moral, social and legal fallout of a domestic episode that was either a misunderstanding or an assault, Farhadi displays his gift for telling stories that hinge on the tiniest events. A.O. Scott called it “tightly structured” and “emotionally astute.” (Fans of this foreign morality play may also enjoy “Burning.”)

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Mati Diop’s Cannes Film Festival Grand Prix winner is set in Senegal, where a young woman named Ava (Mama Sané) loses the boy she loves to the sea, just days before her arranged marriage to another man. What begins as a story of love lost moves, with the ease and imagination of a particularly satisfying dream, into something far stranger, as Diop savvily works elements of genre cinema into the fabric of a story that wouldn’t seem to accommodate them. A.O. Scott called it “a suspenseful, sensual, exciting movie, and therefore a deeply haunting one as well.”

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Jonathan Demme’s final feature film was shot on the last two nights of Justin Timberlake’s “20/20 Experience” world tour, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The pairing of director and subject is unexpected, but Demme is up to the job; as in his Talking Heads film “Stop Making Sense,” he deftly captures the energy, electricity and playfulness of a live concert performance, a directorial feat that is harder than it looks. (Love music documentaries? Check out “Amy” and “20 Feet From Stardom.”)

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The director Mark Osborne (“Kung Fu Panda”) took an unconventional approach to adapting the classic children’s book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry for the screen, placing its story of an aviator’s encounters with a magical little boy inside a contemporary tale of a little girl’s friendship with that aviator (now a grizzled old man). It sounds like a recipe for disaster, fixing a book that isn’t broken, but “The Little Prince” is a small miracle, maintaining the magic and sweetness of the original while contextualizing it for a new generation. Our critic called it “unusually forceful and imaginative.” (Younger viewers will also enjoy Alfonso Cuarón’s “A Little Princess,” also streaming on Netflix.)

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Ava DuVernay (“Selma”) directs this wide-ranging deep dive into mass incarceration, tracing the advent of America’s overcrowded (and disproportionately minority-filled) modern prison system back to the 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution. It’s a giant topic to take on in 100 minutes, and DuVernay understandably has to do some skimming and slicing. But that necessity engenders its style: “13TH” tears through history with a palpable urgency that pairs nicely with its righteous fury. Our critic called it “powerful, infuriating and at times overwhelming.” (Documentary fans should also seek out “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” and “Paris Is Burning.”)

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Before “Captain Marvel,” the directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck teamed with Ben Mendelsohn (and another superhero movie star, Ryan Reynolds) for this laid back, on-the-road gambling picture, featuring Mendelsohn and Reynolds as a pair of longtime losers reaching for that one big score that will make everything right. The supporting cast is rich — Alfre Woodard, Sienna Miller and Analeigh Tipton all shine — and like the 1970s cinema it so clearly draws from, “Mississippi Grind” has what our critic called “a loose, behind-the-beat rhythm.” (Card sharps will also want to add “Rounders” to their queues.)

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Paul Thomas Anderson burst onto the scene with “Boogie Nights,” his blazing, energetic, Altman-esque tapestry of life in the seedier corners of the San Fernando Valley, circa 1977. His follow-up is much in the same style (and brings back much of the same cast), but with the filmmaker going for broke, creating a rich, lengthy (over three hours), mournful and often scathingly funny narrative of several interlocking lives over a single, extraordinary day. Operatic in its emotions and ambitions, it’s Anderson’s messiest work, yet one of his very best. (Indie drama lovers may also enjoy “Burning Cane,” “I, Daniel Blake” and Anderson’s later “The Master.”)

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As the married couple Cindy and Dean, Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling are “exemplars of New Method sincerity,” according to A.O. Scott, “able to be fully and achingly present every moment on screen together.” Their director, Derek Cianfrance, tells this story in pieces as they come together and fall apart, in timelines separated by six years of hard, unsatisfying living (but shot with only a month between them, an astonishing feat of physical and psychological acting). Aching and heartfelt, the film is an often upsetting yet undeniably powerful account of how not all love stories end in “happily ever after.” (Gosling is similarly forceful and effective in the cult hit “Drive.”)

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Guillermo Del Toro’s 2006 Oscar winner is many things: a lush period drama, a dark fairy tale, a special-effects showcase, a harrowing fable of Fascism. Yet Del Toro’s filmmaking is so confident that the picture’s tone never wavers; he’s such a thrilling storyteller that we follow his protagonist (the marvelous Ivana Baquero) through every dark passageway and down every mysterious rabbit hole on her mystical journey through Franco-era Spain — and out of the clutches of her evil stepfather. It’s both scary and enchanting, terrifying and dazzling; “If this is magic realism,” writes A.O. Scott, “it is also the work of a real magician.”

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The 2013 winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, this “hugely appealing documentary” (per Manohla Dargis) functions as both celebration and investigation. The director Malik Bendjelloul tells the fascinating story of Rodriguez, a Mexican-American singer-songwriter who recorded one brilliant album in 1969 and watched it sink without a trace, only to resurface years later as a cult smash in South Africa. How that happened, and what happened to Rodriguez in the meantime, forms the spine of this inspiring picture, which deftly incorporates archival footage, new interviews, dreamy animated sequences and Rodriguez’s spellbinding songs. (Netflix is also streaming the acclaimed documentaries “The Look of Silence,” “Elena” and “Icarus.”)

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A young man’s coming of age becomes a group project when his single mother (Annette Bening) reaches out to their housemates and friends for help, resulting in a slightly more complicated education than she envisioned. This touching and personal dramedy from the writer-director Mike Mills (“Beginners”) deftly conveys the period without relying on caricature, and resists resorting to cheap villainy or soapboxing. Every character is brought to life with humor and sensitivity, and Bening’s work is among her very best. Manohla Dargis deemed it “a funny, emotionally piercing story.” (Love tender teen coming-of-age flicks? Queue up “The Edge of Seventeen.”)

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It looks, at first glance, like the perfect New York City romance: a roomy apartment on the Upper West Side, a gorgeous wife and her handsome actor husband, a bouncing baby on the way. Look closer. Roman Polanski’s “mainstream masterpiece” is a chilling examination of the terror that lurks just beneath those shiny surfaces, beneath the wide-eyed good intentions of new friends and the cheerful opportunism of the young couple at its center. Mia Farrow does some of her finest acting as the increasingly sickly (and paranoid) mother-to-be. (Fans of ‘60s genre cinema will also want to queue up “The Dirty Dozen.”)

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Maybe she’s just a really good teacher. But there also seems to be something outsized and intense about the interest Lisa (Maggie Gyllenhaal) takes in little Jimmy (Parker Sevak) and his gift for composing and reciting brilliant poetic verse, seemingly out of nowhere. There’s no simple explanation for her behavior, or for how it escalates, because this is not a simple movie. The writer-director Sara Colangelo (adapting the Israeli film by Nadav Lapid) follows the teacher’s impulses to an upsetting but unnervingly logical conclusion, and Gyllenhaal, our critic noted, “somehow makes us all her accomplices, imprisoning our sympathies even when Lisa’s inappropriate behavior escalates to inexcusable.”

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It sounds like the setup for an ’80s sex comedy: Two horny teenage boys take an impromptu road trip and talk a seductive older woman into coming along. But the director, Alfonso Cuarón (“Gravity,” “Children of Men”), “Y Tu Mamá También” frames their story partly through the unexpected but effective lens of class and political struggle, constructing a delicate film with much to say about masculinity, poverty and mortality. And then it’s sexy, on top of that. Our critic called it “fast, funny, unafraid of sexuality and finally devastating.” (For more adventurous foreign cinema, check out “Happy as Lazzaro.”)

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Robert De Niro won his second Academy Award for his fiercely physical and psychologically punishing performance in this searing adaptation of the autobiography of the middleweight champion Jake LaMotta. It’s a relentlessly downbeat piece of work, but the force of De Niro’s performance and the energy of Martin Scorsese’s direction are hard to overstate, or to forget. Our critic called it Scorsese’s “most ambitious film as well as his finest.”

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Paying loving tribute to the exploitation movies of multiple eras and cultures, this double-feature dabbles in kung fu, anime, spaghetti Western and blaxploitation, its writer/director Quentin Tarantino deliriously hopping styles like a movie-crazy kid swapping out VHS tapes. But in all the pyrotechnics, he maintains his gift for quotable dialogue and charismatic characters, ending his blood-soaked saga with on a surprisingly warm and human note. Our critics praised the “odd, feverish integrity” of “Vol. 1,” and called “Vol. 2” “the most voluptuous comic-book movie ever made.” (Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” is also streaming on Netflix.)

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The fates of two families — one white and one black, connected by a plot of land one owns and the other sharecrops — are inextricably intertwined in this powerful adaptation by the director Dee Rees of the novel by Hillary Jordan. Rees gracefully tells both stories (and the larger tale of postwar America) without veering into didacticism, and her ensemble cast brings every moment of text and subtext into sharp focus. Our critic called it a work of “disquieting, illuminating force.”

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When Steven Spielberg set out to make a film about Abraham Lincoln, the early scripts encompassed the entirety of his presidency. But the director and his screenwriter, Tony Kushner, wisely chose to focus on a single moment in Lincoln’s life – the passage of the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery – and ingeniously use that struggle as emblematic of not only Lincoln the politician, but Lincoln the man. In doing so, this biographical snapshot tells us far more about its subject than the typical, shallow, cradle-to-grave biopic. Nominated for a dozen Oscars (Daniel Day-Lewis won for his towering work as the 16th president), “Lincoln” is, according to A.O. Scott, “a rough and noble democratic masterpiece.”

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Gene Wilder created one of cinema’s most enduring characters in this 1971 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic novel “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” directed by Mel Stuart. As the gloriously eccentric owner of the best candy factory in all the land, Wilder invests his character with not only a sense of wonder and imagination, but also a surprising edginess — this is ultimately a morality tale, in which a guided tour of the factory becomes a lesson in the consequences of childish behavior. Innovatively crafted and filled with memorable songs and supporting characters, this is a family film with a welcome dash of darkness. (Viewers looking for more offbeat family fun should queue up “Coraline.”)

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The director David Mackenzie (“Starred Up”) draws on the mythos of classic Westerns to tell this contemporary story of robbers driven to crime not by greed and status but by economic distress and desperation. Ben Foster’s trigger-happy thrill-seeker, Chris Pine’s rational man with a purpose and Jeff Bridges’s wise old lawman are so well drawn and authentically acted that the dialogue scenes are as thrilling as the shootouts. Our critic praised the “verve and tongue-tickling texture” of Taylor Sheridan’s dialogue.

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A marvelously absurd, stingingly satirical and unexpectedly moving story of a girl and her genetically engineered super-pig, this Netflix original from the director Bong Joon Ho is the kind of movie that goes in so many wild directions at once — urban mayhem one moment, character drama the next — it leaves you breathlessly off-balance. Bong coaxes game and unpredictable performances from his gloriously unhinged cast, with particularly juicy turns by Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal. A.O. Scott raved, “Mr. Bong juggles delight and didacticism with exquisite grace.” (For more Bong, check out his previous film, “Snowpiercer.”)

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Steven Spielberg adapts Tintin, the beloved creation of the Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, for this charming family adventure. In doing so, Spielberg reconnects with the spirit of his Indiana Jones adventures, which were similarly globe-trotting and fun-loving in the manner of the old Saturday serials — though he adds a decidedly modern sheen in the form of motion-capture animation. The result is a cheerful intermingling of old and new, which our critic called “a marvel of gee-wizardry.” (For more seafaring family fun, stream Robert Altman’s “Popeye” on Netflix.)

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Between his second and third Batman outings, the director and co-writer Christopher Nolan crafted one of his twistiest and most satisfying entertainments, a mystery/thriller that delves into nothing less ambitious than the human dreamscape. Leonardo DiCaprio is in fine, tortured form as a high-tech dream manipulator on a high-stakes caper inside the head of a slumbering CEO; Tom Hardy, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Marion Cotillard are among the stacked supporting cast. Our critic praised “Mr. Nolan’s virtuosity as a conjurer of brilliant scenes and stunning set-pieces.” (Thriller fans will also enjoy Matt Damon in “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”)

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Ang Lee received an Academy Award nomination for best director for this enthralling mixture of martial arts adventure and heartfelt romance. His narrative is a busy hive of deception, betrayal, loyalty and pride, and while the personal and emotional stakes are high, “Crouching Tiger” is most memorable for its awe-inspiring action sequences — bone-crunching and balletic, thrilling and lyrical, as heroes and villains alike transcend gravity itself. Our critic called it “a heady and delirious brew.” (Wuxia admirers will also want to stream “Shadow”; fans of high-intensity action should queue up “Train to Busan.”)

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Fresh off the success of his genre-bending “spaghetti westerns,” the director Sergio Leone brought his signature dusty landscapes, offbeat music, brutal violence and morally flexible protagonists to this Hollywood studio production. Henry Fonda is truly chilling as a ruthless villain, conveying a pure evil not even hinted at in his decades of good-guy turns, and the film’s heroine (Claudia Cardinale) and her tough-guy companions (Charles Bronson and Jason Robards) make an unlikely but effective team. Atmospheric, bracing and effortlessly cool, with an unforgettable closing confrontation. (For a more traditional western, check out John Wayne in the original “True Grit.”)

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