The best films on Netflix UK
Mike Williams | On 21, Nov 2020
It’s not only during times of social-distancing and self-quarantining that Netflix can become an essential part of a person’s day. With its original movies and extensive library of classics, hidden gems, and modern masterpieces, we can all breathe a sigh of relief (no pun intended) that it’s readily available to us at the touch of a button.
From action thrillers and moving dramas to hard-hitting documentaries, here’s your guide to the best films currently available on Netflix UK:
A Quiet Place
A recent addition is the Emily Blunt and John Krasinski led horror that dawned a new era of an ultra intense sub-genre. While waiting to catch the edge-of-your-seat sequel, indulge in this – one of the best horror efforts in years.
Lost in Translation
Sofia Coppola’s oddly charming tale of two displaced souls visiting Japan – an ageing, renowned actor, played by Bill Murray, and a young, impressionable woman, played by Scarlett Johansson, accompanying her photographer boyfriend – who embark on a genuinely touching and poignant friendship that’s hugely satisfying.
Arguably living legend Hayao Miyazaki’s finest hour, this story of a young girl named Chiriro who wanders into a magical world won Best Animation at the 2002 Oscars.
Martial Arts master Donnie Yen crafts an entire film of mind-blowingly great cinematography, in a tale of a man forced to fight during the 1937 Japanese invasion.
Is it a comedy or a horror film? Imagine waking up to relive the exact same day. That’s what Bill Murray’s narcissistic weatherman Phil goes through. Sure, he deserves it and perhaps he does learn a thing or two along the way, but it’s also brilliantly funny.
Michael B Jordan stars in the powerful and prevalent true story of Oscar Grant III, a black man experiencing his final day alive, in a narrative that illustrates societal and institutional racism in modern America.
Oscar bait for sure, but that doesn’t take away how breathtakingly brilliant Leonardo DiCaprio is as he battles the frosty elements in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s brutal survival drama. Couple that with superb support from Tom Hardy and Will Poulter and it’s a winner.
Cabin in the Woods
Overlooked by some as just another teen horror, Drew Goddard’s clever dissection of the genre is not only intelligently constructed and self-aware but it’s helluva fun ride, too.
Trapped in a house and nowhere to go? Don’t panic, you’re not the one incapacitated during a snow-in with crazed stalker/carer Kathy Bates. Just keep an eye out for any blunt instruments.
One of Netflix’s best originals, Hush depictions a home invasion from the perspective of a deaf protagonist – and works to brilliant effect.
A Netflix original doc, Ava DuVernay’s powerful and often-infuriating dive into the US prison system is an eye-opening and shocking depiction of the racial injustice of a nation riddled with inequality.
A flick that many overlooked, Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron forge a strong team in this politically-charged, mildly romantic comedy.
Adam Sandler’s not generally known for serious roles, but here he’s on top form in arguably one of the best films of 2020. The increasing tension, as it goes on, is like no other.
One of the biggest documentaries to emerge from the streaming giant, Fyre looks at the extraordinary unravelling of Fyre Music Festival, which saw a string of false dreams and broken promises leave thousands of revellers stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere.
Having gained a lot of traction during Oscar season in 2020, Noah Baumbach’s portrayal of a couple going through divorce (played by Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver) will take you on a journey through all of the emotions.
Alex Garland’s slick and thought-provoking script makes his direction effortless, as inventor Nathan (Oscar Isaac) creates artificial life that’s as real as you or I – but can his lab rat Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) tell the difference?
One of Netflix’s most acclaimed successes reunites Scorsese with De Niro and Pesci, and throws Al Pacino in there for good measure. Up for Best Picture at the Oscars, The Irishman’s a true feat in filmmaking.
The Great Escape
An apt title for those suffering from proverbial cabin fever, this 1963 Steve McQueen classic following a group of POWS digging their way out of a German WWII camp has so many memorable moments – and masses of generational appeal.
My Neighbor Totoro
Out of all the Studio Ghibli movies added to Netflix UK, Totoro is by far the most iconic. Following the lives of two little girls moving to the countryside after their mother gets sick, we’re whisked away to a world somewhere between reality and fantasy.
Arnie may be globally known for a number of roles, but his part of the menacing, unstoppable T-800 in James Cameron’s classic has to be one of the greatest in the sci-fi/action genre.
The King’s Speech
Love or loathe the Royal Family, Colin Firth’s Oscar-winning turn as stuttering King George VI during the 1930s is endearing and surprisingly charming.
La La Land
Crowd-pleasing modern musicals can be hard to come by, but 2016’s La La Land nails it by casting the perfect duo in Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, while director Damien Chazelle throws in a number of inspiring, not to mention catchy, songs.
Another of Netflix’s original hits, Alfoso Cuaron’s Best Foreign Film winner is a powerful depiction of a maid in 1970s Mexico, following a year in her life while working for a middle-class family.
The Truman Show
Jim Carrey’s Truman Burbank is a sweet and mild-mannered man who seemingly has his life sorted, until he starts to suspect he’s the star of an elaborate reality TV show, broadcasting his most intimate moments to the entire globe.
As far as documentaries go this has to be one of the most explosive of its kind. What starts out as an exploration into the world of sports doping quickly turns into something much bigger.
The 2010 Coen brothers remake of the 1969 John Wayne vehicle is a sight to behold. Brilliantly crafted, the acting on offer from Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon is top notch as a young Hailee Steinfeld is introduced to Hollywood.
Known for its adrenaline junkie car chases down a number of precarious and narrowing roads, this 1998 crime thriller packs a punch with its action and plot alike.
Mission Impossible: Fallout
It might be the sixth spy adventure in the franchise, but it’s possibly the best. With Henry Cavill (Superman) joining the ranks, Chris McQuarrie’s 2018 thriller hits all the right notes.
One of Spike Lee’s finest movies in years stars John David Washington in the true stor of a black police officer infiltrating the notorious KKK. It’s slick and has a deep, powerful message that bears stark meaning in 2020.
Nightcrawler was a dramatic change of pace for reliable hunk Jake Gyllenhaal, as he became a skeletal version of himself in this creepy, deeply unsettling portrait of a man dangerously obsessed with getting into the world of crime journalism.
One of the most recent entries on this list is Mati Diop’s tale of Senegalise lovers separated by migration and dealing with profound loss.
One of the most devastating docs in recent memory, Blackfish not only exposed the cruel nature of SeaWorld’s treatment of a killer whale, but also began a worldwide movement to end the for-profit captivity these creatures are forced to endure.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
We’ve seen more incarnations of Spider-Man that you can sling a web at, but this gloriously animated tale places teenager Miles Morales as the famous superhero, with an impeccably-written script and a lot of laughs and heart throughout.
12 Years a Slave
Steve McQueen’s brutal retelling of Solomon Northup’s life, which saw him abducted and sold into slavery despite being a free man.
David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet
When it comes to wildlife documentaries, there really is nothing quite like a David Attenborough effort, and A Life on Our Planet is no exception, as 2020 gifts audiences another exquisite feature from the legendary conservationist.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
The third outing in the ultra-violent Keanu Reeves vehicle is arguably the best, with its high-octane, meticulously crafted fight scenes that leaves even viewers gasping for breath, as Mr Wick takes on the world and his dog.
One of Studio Ghibli’s finest is also one of their most culturally relevant. Ancient curses and forest spirits make up an exciting story with a significant environmental message. Hayao Miyazaki clashes the concepts of gods that protect nature and humankind that seeks to drain its resources and destroy it for their own benefit.
If you look beyond Studio Ghibli you’ll discover a world of beautifully rendered possibilities – notably Makoto Shinka’s sci-fi romance tale of a young boy and girl that inexplicably swap bodies. Glorious animation, held together by a complex narrative, saw it become the highest grossing anime of all time.
Steven Spielberg’s 1993 dino epic needs little introduction, as its animatronics still hold up almost 30 years later, which should be enough to convince anyone unfortunate enough to have never seen it. There’s also the pull of a shirtless Jeff Goldblum, so it accommodates all needs.
The Social Dilemma
On the face of it, a documentary around the algorithmic use of online user interactivity and social media doesn’t sound like the most thrilling of times, but the way we are shown the intricacies and indeed horrors of how we are manipulated and have had our free choice essentially removed, is particularly eye-opening.