With cinemas closed for the foreseeable future, now is the time to dive back into streaming services and their back catalogue of films. Those who have time on their hands and a Netflix subscription to use will find a huge number of films to pick from. We've picked fifteen(-ish) of our favourites, from Netflix Originals to hidden gems, for you to get your teeth into.
And for those who want to watch movies with their friends virtually, why not try the Google Chrome add-on Netflix Party? This will synchronise video playback and add group chat to your favorite Netflix watches. We may not be able to go out but that doesn't mean we can't share our love of cinema together.
The best of the Netflix Originals
Few films in recent years have been so sweeping and yet so intimate as Alfonso Cuarón's Roma. The three-time Oscar-winner charts a year in the life of a middle-class family's maid in Mexico City during the 70s through a series of staggering, immersive single takes. There are few films that have achieved such a level of potent, personal beauty as Roma.
Director Noah Baumbach makes devastatingly effective dramas on divorce, and his best work is certainly Marriage Story. With career-best turns from Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as duelling exes, and an ensemble that also includes Alan Alda, Laura Dern and Ray Liotta, it is a masterclass of acting, a tenderly written, tragicomic look at a painful subject.
Another equally impactful work about a couple going through a tough time, Private Life is also one worth watching, with Tamara Jenkins' drama instead focusing on fertility treatment.
Having seen his most recent film, Parasite, take cinemas by storm, now would be the perfect time to dive back into one of Bong Joon Ho's previous works. Okja follows a young girl and her pet (who happens to be a genetically modified giant pig) as they attempt to evade the corporation that made him. With a cast that includes Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano and Jake Gyllenhaal, and a script co-written by Jon Ronson, this is one of the best and most approachable sci-fis in recent years, a deliciously bonkers undertaking.
It feels utterly bizarre to think that Adam Sandler was robbed of an Oscar nomination. But the performer is so compelling in Uncut Gems, the Safdie Brothers' latest cinematic anxiety attack, that you can't help but wish he'd been considered. The film is an exhausting watch, with one of the tensest third acts I've seen, but it is a brilliant distillation of what the Safdies do with cinema.
Netflix also has their previous work, Good Time, currently showing. Just as brutally tense and anxiety-drenched as Uncut Gems, the two films would make one of the most exhausting doubles on the platform.
Dolemite is My Name
You may never have heard of Rudy Ray Moore, but the rap and comedy pioneer became something of a Blaxploitation phenomenon in the 1970s, and Dolemite Is My Name chronicles the struggle he went through to make his first film. With a career-best performance from Eddie Murphy and a talent-filled ensemble, it is an utter hoot to watch, reaffirming a belief that cinema can be a gateway for different people to tell their story. Even if that story is rude, crude and filled with kung-fu.
Studio Ghibli catalogue
Netflix landed a coup at the start of the year, with the back catalogue of Japanese animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli coming to their service. That's 21 films for viewers to dive into, from the more familiar like My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away to the ones that may have passed you by (Porco Rosso, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, The Cat Returns).
The best of a strange run of romantic time travel films (please avoid the likes of The Lake House and The Time Traveller's Wife), About Time is a touchingly-crafted piece about finding the beauty in the everyday. With terrific turns from the likes of Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams and Bill Nighy and a potent sentimental wedge, the film is a flawed but charming British comedy and certainly Richard Curtis' strongest directorial effort to date.
A David Fincher double
With David Fincher currently working on his first film in six years, now would be a good time to dive into a double from his back catalogue. The Social Network is his propulsive take on the birth of Facebook that has become more potent as we feel the full impact of this website, while Gone Girl is a dizzying thriller depicting one of the most toxic couples in recent cinema. Both are exceptional examples of the auteur's work.
And while not by the same director, Moneyball shares stylistic and narrative traits with Fincher's work and will (almost) convince you to like baseball.
The Silence of the Lambs
Tense and dripping with dread, The Silence of the Lambs is a taut thriller with one of the most unforgettable villains in cinematic history. Come for Antony Hopkins' iconic Hannibal Lecter, a monstrous cannibal locked away in a Gothic basement, stay for one of the all-time best procedural dramas.
Making her solo directorial debut, Greta Gerwig essentially made the perfect coming-of-age movie with Lady Bird, which is set in the early 2000s and follows Lady Bird McPherson through her last year at school. Humorously drawn and heartbreakingly affecting, there is so much to praise here, not least another exceptional turn from Saoirse Ronan.
Equally powerful and moving is Call Me By Your Name, Luca Guadagino's beautifully-crafted love story, which is always worthy a revisit.
The Night Comes For Us
Featuring much of the team behind The Raid films, there will be few delightfully violent, action-filled films as The Night Comes for Us. When an enforcer betrays his gang to save a young girl's life, all hell comes down upon him in a series of extraordinarily bloody encounters. Not for the squeamish, it is nevertheless an exceptional watch.
With news that Blumhouse Studios is set to reinvent Dracula with Karyn Kusama in the director's chair, now would be the perfect time to revisit her horror thriller The Invitation. A tense dinner party escalates terrifyingly to one of the best climaxes in recent years - this is the kind of film that encapsulates the very best of recent horror.
Two from Laika Studios
Laika Studios make incredible stop-motion animations that can often feel a bit missed on their release. Two of these are currently on Netflix and are such charming watches we can't choose between either. The Boxtrolls follows the exploits of an orphaned boy and some cave-dwelling creatures and is packed with a charming weirdness, while Missing Link is perhaps the company's most visually stunning piece, finding a touching sentimentality amongst the romping humour.
It feels strange to recommend a Christmas film in spring but Klaus (Missing Link's fellow nominee for Best Animation at this year's Oscars) is such a charmingly put together work; a funny, silly, often touching piece that is worth watching any time of the year.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Desiree Akhavan's adaptation of The Miseducation of Cameron Post really feels like it should have been seen by more people. Following Chloë Grace Moretz's Cameron as she is sent to a conversion therapy centre by her family, the film offers a subtle, affecting look at the bigotry and complications faced by the LGBTQ+ community. This is arguably the best performance of Moretz's long career (which totals nearly 70 appearances) and Akhavan brings a wealth of humour and humanity to what could be a tough subject to cover.
The endlessly quotable, delightfully silly Hot Rod is one of the more painful cinematic flops, with the film finding its audience long after its initial release. Following the exploits of self-proclaimed stuntman Rod Kimble, and from the creative minds behind The Lonely Island, this is a film guaranteed to make you laugh, with wonderfully strange tangents and a host of pitch-perfect comedic turns.
When it arrived in 2018, few people were prepared for the unique charms of Thoroughbreds. Cory Finley shoots his debut with a dreamily intense quality, matched by two outstanding performances from Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy as friends who plot the murder of one of their stepdads. Oh and this is the final film to star the much-missed Anton Yelchin, so you can bask in the brilliance that this young performer had.