Wondering what to watch next on Netflix? Here, we bring you a list of 30 brilliant movies available to stream on Netflix UK right now, ranging from action and adventure to thrillers and documentaries. There is so much choice on Netflix, but sometimes it can be too much choice and it’s really tricky to search through so we’ve sifted through the lot to come up with the ultimate list of movies that we think you’ll enjoy. (Our tips on how to navigate Netflix will help too). Here are the best films to watch on Netflix.
This list was updated in January 2017, but movies are changing on Netflix every day. That might mean that one or two of these movies are no longer available to watch by the time you come to read this article, and some brilliant new movies may have emerged. Let us know in the comments section below if your favourite movie is available on Netflix but not included here and we’ll endeavour to add it very soon.
Let’s get down to business then. Here are the best movies to watch on Netflix in the UK right now.
You might also want to read: How to avoid the latest Netflix scam.
If you’re looking for TV shows to watch on Netflix UK, check out our best TV shows on Netflix article.
Not only is Die Hard the best Christmas film of all time, it’s also one of the best action movies ever made. Bruce Willis’s John McClane is the epitome of the everyman action hero, Alan Rickman made his impeccable Hollywood debut as the villainous Hans Gruber, and that bit with the broken glass is just as good as you remember it. Yippee ki-yay, etc. etc.
Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Southern’ takes on slavery with the sort of black, anarchic tone that only he could get away with. Jamie Foxx is the titular former slave out for revenge, Christoph Waltz the gleeful bounty hunter at his side, and Leonardo DiCaprio gets a rare chance to show his sinister side as plantation owner Calvin Candie. Django Unchained doesn’t pull any punches, but then it wouldn’t be Tarantino if it did.
You haven’t seen Airplane!? Surely you can’t be serious. This is quite possibly the silliest film ever made, assaulting the audience with a relentless bombardment of jokes, so densely packed that you’ll find something new to laugh at every time you watch it. It’s surreal, it’s stupid, and it’s absolutely the funniest film on Netflix right now.
If they were as colourful and exciting as they are in this ‘70s cult classic, we’d all be a lot more accepting of criminal gangs. After being framed for murder, the Warriors have to trek across New York to their Coney Island home, along the escaping the likes of the Baseball Furies, the Lizzies, and the Rogues. Any time someone sticks a load of empty beer bottles on their fingers and starts clinking them together, you have The Warriors to thank.
In our new David Bowie-less world, we have to try and take comfort where we can. Namely in Labyrinth, which boasts his rightly legendary turn as the goblin king Jareth. Look, it’s basically David Bowie with enormous hair surrounded by Jim Henson puppets and singing about babes for an hour and a half, and if that’s not enough to convince you then we just don’t know what is.
Stanley Kubrick’s only comedy still manages to be one of his most political films, its farcical take on the Cold War cutting uncomfortably close to the bone. Peter Sellers is brilliant in three (!) separate roles, the script is endlessly quotable, and it’s just about the only film out there that can leave you in fits of laughter over the nuclear apocalypse.
Under the Skin
Scarlett Johansson cruises round Glasgow in a white van picking up men to take home with her, but this is no Scottish sex fantasy – she’s an alien luring the men back to be… processed? Killed? Consumed? It’s never made clear, but then not much else is in this enigmatic sci-fi masterpiece. Don’t go in expecting a simple plot or exciting action, but if you want something unsettling, cryptic, and utterly beautiful, you can’t do much better than Under the Skin.
Not many films climax with a five-minute sex scene between two stop motion-animated puppets, and even fewer could make that sex scene one of the most genuine and human in years, but then Anomalisa isn’t just any film. Charlie Kaufman’s latest may explore the mundanity of the ordinary, but it is anything but.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Marvel’s interstellar adventure is one of the company’s best films yet – and undoubtedly its funniest. Chris Pratt leads a ragtag group of space outlaws including a talking raccoon and a sentient tree as they begrudgingly end up saving the galaxy. Worth it for the impeccable ‘70s soundtrack alone.
This absurdist comedy imagines a world in which it’s illegal to be single, and those without a partner are given 45 days to find love – or be turned into an animal of their choice. The tone is unlike anything else out there, the dialogue is as weird as it is hilarious, and the cast is impeccable. You may not entirely understand everything about The Lobster, but you certainly won’t forget it.
The Coen Brothers’ classic black comedy recently inspired an anthology TV show of the same name (also on Netflix, as it happens), and it remains one of their best. The plot – a desperate car salesman hires two criminals to kidnap and ransom his own wife – is great, but it’s the none-more-quaint Minnesota setting that makes Fargo utterly unique.
There are plenty of Woody Allen films on Netflix right now, but Annie Hall is almost certainly his best – and makes a brilliant introduction to his work if you’re new to it. It’s a wall-to-wall barrage of jokes, from high-brow philosophical references to low-brow slapstick and sex jokes, but behind it all there’s some genuine insight into modern relationships.
Dazed and Confused
Richard Linklater’s breakout hit perfectly captures the ‘70s high school experience over the course of one woozy, beginning-of-the-summer day. It’s got all the drink, drugs, and underage sex you’d expect, but the real heart of the film is the exploration of the teenage mindset amid the turbulent ‘70s. Oh, and the ridiculously brilliant soundtrack doesn’t hurt either.
There have been a fair few Predator films now (with yet another on the way), but none have even come close to matching the original. Arnold Schwarzenegger proves once and for all that he’s the baddest dude not just on Earth, but on any planet, and teaches all of us a valuable lesson about getting to the chopper on the way.
From Dusk Till Dawn
Written by (and co-starring) Quentin Tarantino and directed by Robert Rodriguez, From Dusk Till Dawn was always going to be a bit nuts. There are vampire strippers, a penis pistol, and holy water guns, and that’s barely scratching the surface. The only part we can’t quite get our heads around is buying that Tarantino and George Clooney are brothers.
Setting aside the excellent Making a Murderer series, Netflix generally punches below its weight when it comes to documentaries. It may not look like it, but Pumping Iron is a notable exception, following a pre-fame Arnold Schwarzenegger as he trains for the 1975 Mr. Olympia and Mr. Universe bodybuilding competitions. It’s a great look into a weird sport, and an amazingly candid insight into the actor before he learnt to manage his public image.
It’s now a franchise mostly associated with finding the tallest possible thing to hang Tom Cruise off (a cliff, the Burj Khalifa, a plane), but the first Mission: Impossible had more modest intentions. This reinvention of the ‘60s spy show is filled with twists, turns, and dramatic reveals, bolstered by some surprisingly convincing spywork and that CIA break-in scene.
A true love letter to film itself, Cinema Paradiso is a touching reminder of just how deeply cinema can affect us all. Framed as a flashback, the film follows a young film-obsessed boy in post-WWII Sicily, charting his youth and adolescence, ever accompanied by the flicker and whirr of the projector. It’s sweet, heartfelt, and absolutely beautiful.
You might worry that Boyhood only received the attention it did because of its striking gimmick: it was filmed over the course of 11 years, revisiting the actors at regular intervals in order to show them aging and growing in real-time. The good news is, behind all that Boyhood is also a truly excellent film, with all of director Richard Linklater’s gift for naturalistic dialogue, realistic characters, and thoughtful exploration of complex themes.
If you ever find yourself in some sort of elaborate supervillain trap that you can only escape by crying on command, try watching Brooklyn. You will weep. Buckets. Huge, horrible torrents of tears. This story of a young Irish girl moving moving to New York in the ‘30s is emotionally abusive from the get-go, and never really lets up. It’s brilliant, and you should definitely watch it, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.
There are a few Hitchcock classics on Netflix these days, but Rear Window is our recommendation for its combination of clever cinematography, white-knuckle plot, and the fact that there was a really great Simpsons parody of it that one time. James Stewart is great as the wheelchair-bound photographer who begins to suspect one of his neighbours is a murderer, but the real star is Hitchcock’s insight into the everyday lives of the residents.
Teen comedies have a reputation for being, well, not very good. There are a few exceptions (looking at you, Mean Girls), but Clueless is probably the best of the bunch. Alicia Silverstone is the ‘clueless’ teen obsessed with nothing more than popularity, clothes, and the state of her hair, who along the way makes new friends, learns life lessons, and falls in love with Paul Rudd. We’ve all been there.
A Single Man
People were understandably sceptical when fashion designer Tom Ford announced he was making a film, but A Single Man proved the sceptics wrong. Helped by sterling performances from Colin Firth and Julianne Moore, this tale of a grieving gay man in ‘60s California is as moving as it is stylish. And given it has Ford as a director, it’s very, very stylish indeed.
Beasts of No Nation
Netflix’s first original film may boast Idris Elba in its cast, but great as he is, he’s not the real star here. That honour belongs to Abraham Attah, the Ghanaian teenager who makes his acting debut here as a young boy dragged into service as a child soldier in a vicious civil war. Unsurprisingly it’s pretty troubling stuff, but it’s undeniably powerful and difficult to forget.
This gothic fairytale comes from the warped (and genius) mind of Guillermo del Toro, following a young girl visited by a faun in Francoist Spain. This is no Disney film though, and she comes across some utterly terrifying monsters – and even worse humans. Creative creature design and a challenging story combine to create a modern classic.
The Shawshank Redemption
Regularly hailed as the best film of all time, Shawshank has become one of those films that you just have to see at some point in your life, even if you feel like you’ve already had most of the plot ruined by other people’s constant references to it. It’s smart, it’s touching, and it has the archetypal wise-old-Morgan-Freeman character. What more could you want?
Love Is Strange
Love Is Strange is undeniably gentle, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it doesn’t pack a punch. The emotional impact of the film creeps up on you as it explores the relationship between two elderly gay men, temporarily forced to live apart, and there’s insight into love of all kinds: romantic, familial, and platonic. Worth it for John Lithgow’s astonishing performance alone.
Under the Shadow
Set in Tehran during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, this Persian-language is that rarest of things: a horror movie that feels genuinely new. That’s in part thanks to the relatively novel monster (the shadowy Djinn), partly the setting, and partly the brilliant central performance from Narges Rashidi. It also manages the neat trick of being totally terrifying while shedding hardly a single drop of blood.
‘Charming’ doesn’t quite cover how delightful Sing Street is. This musical jaunt is set in ’80s Dublin, following the endlessly earnest Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) as he sets up a school rock band with the purest of intentions: to win over a pretty girl. The group veers from genre to genre (and outfit to outfit), charting the shifting landscape of ’80s pop music, but every iteration is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
If your only association with New Zealand and the cinema is The Lord of the Rings, you need to watch Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Taika Waititi’s weird coming-of-age film in the New Zealand bush (ahem) is as endearing as it is unique. Julian Dennison is unforgettable as the foul-mouther wannabe rapper child who gets thrown into the foster care of Sam Neill’s outdoorsman, in the finest double act we can remember.