Netflix offers just over 2,500 movies on its UK streaming service so the choice is immense. 15 years ago you couldn’t even make a decision on what movie to watch when confronted with just a couple of hundred choices in the local Blockbuster Video. So how is it possible to pick what to watch now?
Well, I can’t. So I watch a lot of my old favourites. If I know my attention span is going to be short then I’ll put on Cocktail, Jackie Brown, F/X 2 or maybe even a thought-provoking documentary. I’m also always pleasantly surprised at the number of classics from my youth that are making their way on to Netflix, such as Speed, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club and Hackers.
Netflix are adding new titles every week, so I spend more time looking through the “Recently Added” section than anywhere else.
So when it came to choosing my top 20 best movies available on Netflix I didn’t look at IMDB ratings or even Netflix’s own rating system. I chose movies that I feel are classic, movies that I can watch to cheer me up as well as newly released movies under the Netflix Originals banner.
Tom is a teenage boy living on a grimy London estate. His life is turned upside down when he stumbles in on his friend, Lucy, being sexually assaulted. As he flees her apartment to call the police he is chased down by her attackers and shot at distance. Tom survives but still has fragments of his mobile phone in his head. Tom soon realises he can control electronic equipment and communication devices.
iBoy has some great visuals and is a very good premise for a movie. It has a gritty feel to it, very similar feel to British drama Top Boy. The performances from Bill Milner (Tom) and Maisie Williams (Lucy) are excellent, both of whom already have some high profile acting roles to their names.
iBoy is a Netflix Original.
Daniel Craig stars as an unnamed crook in this British Crime drama from 2004. Mr X is a cocaine distributor but he wants to put his crooked life behind him. Before his retirement he is tasked by Jimmy Price, his supplier, to find the daughter of a business partner and to negotiate the purchase of one million ecstasy tablets from a low-level gangster, The Duke.
The twists and turns in this movie are incredible and the list of top notch British acting talent on show makes this one of the best British movies around, let alone one of the best movies on Netflix. It’s also been said that it was Daniel Craig’s performance in this that got him the James Bond gig.
Ryan Gosling plays the lead in this dark and mysterious gangster drama. Gosling’s character, The Driver, is a mechanic and stunt driver whilst in his spare time, he manages to fit in being a getaway driver. After helping her out with her car Gosling starts to become close to his female neighbour, Irene. Irene is played by the British actress Carey Mulligan.
Irene’s husband is in prison and on his release it becomes clear he’s gotten mixed up with some dangerous people and needs the help of The Driver.
Drive is very moody but slick and the mood is offset even further with the 80’s style electronic music. It’s one of my favourite soundtracks in recent years and is fully deserving of a place on the list of best soundtracks of all time.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
This film makes my list because it’s a classic. We all know that the movie is based on the lives of Robert LeRoy Parker (Butch Cassidy) and his partner in crime Harry Longabaugh (The Sundance Kid).
With Paul Newman and Robert Redford onboard this movie was bound to be a huge success, and it was. Both parts were acted brilliantly and the story was thrilling. And the final scene will go down in history as one of the best movie finales of all time, even though no-one is actually sure this is how they died.
Fantastic Mr Fox
Wes Anderson brings Roald Dahl’s characters to life in this start studded animation. George Clooney stars as Mr Fox with Meryl Streep as Mrs Fox.
Mr Fox returns to a life of crime after a 2-year hiatus brought on by the birth of his child, Ash. The farmers find out who is stealing their produce and make it their mission to rid them of their homes. All of the other wildlife are suffering because of this destruction, so Mr Fox must find a way to bring home food to the starving families.
The animation is clever and the story told very well. The cast list is enviable by anyone’s standards. Alongside Clooney and Streep are Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, Jarvis Cocker and Jason Schwartzman.
Girlfriends Day tells the story of a greetings card writer who is struggling with inspiration since his wife left him for another man. Now he must struggle to write a greeting for a brand new holiday, Girlfriends Day. Throw in the murder of a former colleague and talented poet, Taft, and you have the makings of a romantic murder mystery.
The story of a greetings card writer might not be an exciting one, it might not even be an interesting one but Bob Odenkirk has written an interesting story and he plays his part well.
It didn’t get great reviews and it’s a bit of a slow starter so just stick with it and you won’t be disappointed.
Girlfriends Day is a Netflix Original.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Michael Caine (Lawrence Jamieson) and Steve Martin (Freddy Benson) star in this remake of the 1964 movie Bedtime Story starring David Niven and Marlon Brando.
Lawrence Jamieson is a sophisticated English conman, plying his trade on the French Riviera who comes across a lowly grifter trying to muscle in on his territory. After working together for a number of weeks conning rich women, Freddy Benson decides he wants to be paid for his part but Lawrence refuses. A bet is placed and the loser must leave town.
The parts are played wonderfully and Steve Martin’s character, Ruprecht, is one of the funniest in movie history. A movie that can be watched over and over again.
When Ted Striker boards a plane so he can be with the love of his life, Elaine, not even he can foresee the dramatic events that follow after the pilots become ill with food poisoning.
The jokes come thick and fast and from all angles. Lesley Nielsen is the doctor onboard, Peter Graves as the pilot and Lloyd Bridges as the tower supervisor all show their great comic acting ability and deliver some of the funniest, quotable lines in movie history.
The Fundamentals of Caring
Paul Rudd stars as Ben, a writer, still coping with the loss of his son and his impending divorce. Ben decides he needs to find work and takes a course so he can become a caregiver. Once trained he takes a job looking after Trevor, an 18-year-old with muscular dystrophy. Ben and Trevor embark on a journey, meeting Dot (Selena Gomez) along the way.
The film is an adaptation of The Revised Fundamentals of Caring by Jonathan Evison and is a Netflix Original.
Precinct Seven Five
Precinct Seven Five is a documentary about the police corruption in East New York’s 75th precinct and whose ringleader, Michael Dowd, was arrested in 1992. Each of the perpetrators of the corruption is interviewed as well as some of the major drugs players of the time.
The interviews are frank if not bordering on bragging. All the time has been served so there’s nothing really to hide but the conversations with the crooked cops are very honest and no stone is left unturned.
Emily Blunt plays FBI Agent Kate Macer who is recommended for a joint task force overseen by the CIA. Their mission is to find and apprehend a cartel lieutenant in Juarez, Mexico.
The movie received 3 Oscar nominations, including Best Cinematography and you can see why. Some of the shots, including the aerial shots at the beginning of the movie are outstanding.
Gone Baby Gone
Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan are private investigators in Boston investigating the disappearance of a missing girl. She is found to be with a local drug lord and when the exchange for her goes bad it’s assumed that she has drowned.
Gone Baby Gone is an adaptation of a Dennis Lehane book. If you’ve read the book then you’ll note that the plot of the movie follows the book very closely and the tone of the book transfers to the movie extremely well.
Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan play their parts to perfection in this dark mystery/thriller.
Eddie the Eagle
The story of Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards is one that’s been a part of British Olympic folklore for almost three decades. The movie shows The Eagle as a child as he dreams of becoming an Olympic athlete and his subsequent journey to become Britain’s most famous ski jumper.
It’s a feel-good movie and we get to see the pain that he went through just to get to the top of the slope at a Winter Olympics and how he became a legend despite finishing last in the event. Taron Egerton’s transformation is superb and his supporting cast is something to behold.
It has everything that Cool Runnings had but it doesn’t feel like a copy. But let’s not forget that they’re both true stories.
Serpico is a true story based on the life of Frank Serpico, a NYPD officer and whistleblower in the 1960’s. The movie documents Serpico’s movements in the NYPD and transferring between divisions as well as the conflict between him and other officers in his division.
This was one of Pacino’s earliest movies, made shortly after the Godfather and one of his best though choosing one of Pacino’s best movies would be as difficult as finding the top 20 movies on Netflix.
Big Fish is a whimsical, fantasy tale following the life of Edward Bloom as his life is recounted and pieced together by his son, Will. Will has grown up with his father’s tall tales and during his adult years, their relationship fell apart. Now his father is dying and Will wants to find the truth, though what he finds out about his father isn’t so far from the stories.
Big Fish is a fantasy movie but it also has a great feel to it. Tim Burton and John August did a great job of turning this novel into a movie and as with any Tim Burton movie, the sets and costumes are superb.
Gene Wilder stars in this hilarious re-imagining of a classic horror story which once again brings to life Frankenstein’s Monster. It was Wilder’s third outing with Mel Brooks with whom he wrote it.
A great movie to re-acquaint yourself with if you’re looking for an easy watching comedy.
Fargo is a comedy thriller that revolves around Jerry Lundegaard, a car salesman at a Minneapolis dealership. He finds himself in debt and owing money to a motor finance company and he must repay the money before he is found out. He concocts a plan to have his wife kidnapped and collect a ransom from her rich parents.
The movie is set in a cold and snowy Minnesota and the tales that the Coen brothers weave are intriguing and very well written. It’s a definite watch if you decide you’d like to see the TV series which I would also highly recommend.
The Butterfly Effect
The Butterfly Effect is a movie that really needs to be watched a number of times to be understood, though that shouldn’t put you off watching it.
Evan, played by Kutcher, has suffered from severe blackouts as a child and normally during some kind of psychological trauma. As he gets older he realises that he can go back in time and redo some past events, with terrifying consequences.
This is a movie that is hugely underrated and I think really showed the acting talent of Ashton Kutcher. It spawned a couple of sequels but they never really matched up to the original.
The Return of the Pink Panther
This would be one of the originals of course and not the much more inferior version with Steve Martin. Peter Sellers will always be Inspector Clouseau.
The name refers to the diamond in the movie which is the world’s largest and it has a flaw in it which looks like a leaping panther. The series of movies will always be remembered for Clouseau’s bumbling behaviour and his fights with Cato, played by Burt Kwouk.
If I have one criticism of Netflix it’s that they add titles from a series of movies but not always in order. This is the second Pink Panther movie but the first one is nowhere to be seen.
This movie is a real Sunday afternoon treat and should never be forgotten.
Flight is the story of a commercial airline pilot, William Whittaker Sr., who has a drink and drug problem. During a scheduled flight, Whittaker has a sneaky drink and falls asleep whilst his copilot takes charge. He’s awoken as the plane takes a steep nose dive and amazingly takes over the controls, inverts the plane and makes an emergency landing.
The movie bravely tackles the ensuing investigation and prosecution as well as Whittaker’s broken relationship with his son and ex-wife. Denzel Washington plays Whittaker, and if Denzel’s in it then you can’t go wrong. It’s a life rule I always stick by!!