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The 15 best Netflix original movies for you to watch right now

From Power of the Dog to Okja, these are the best movies that Netflix has produced since it first launched

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog

When it became the first major streaming service, Netflix was best known for being host to a wide array of great movies and shows that had been produced by other studios. As it continued its rise to the top, though, Netflix also began to produce its own content, including some truly excellent Netflix original movies.

In fact, Netflix has produced a number of great movies over the course of its history as a studio and even financed some movies that might not have been made otherwise. This is not to say that everything Netflix has ever made has been great, but when they hit, they really hit.

We’ve handpicked a list of the best movie to stream right now on Netflix that the streamer made itself. You can also check out our list of the best Hulu series, best Amazon Prime series, and best Disney Plus series for more options.

Bird Box (2018)

Bird Box
Genre Thriller, Drama, Science Fiction
Stars Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich
Directed by Susanne Bier
This thriller film was more known for the silly internet challenge it created in which viewers would walk around blindfolded all day (what could ever go wrong with that scenario…), but Bird Box is an entertaining film nonetheless. Sandra Bullock plays a mother who tries to protect her children from evil forces whose gaze force victims to suicide. The characters go to great lengths to avoid self-destruction, with blindfolds being one of the options.

Bo Burnham: Inside (2021)

Bo Burnham: Inside
98 %
r 87m
Genre Comedy
Stars Bo Burnham
Directed by Bo Burnham
Few comedians have the same artistic skill as Burnham, who filmed Inside over the course of COVID-19 lockdown alone in his guest house. The special features plenty of songs and the self-reflexive humor that Burnham has become known for, but it’s also an examination of what being alone does to a person’s brain. Inside is painfully funny, but sometimes, it’s willing to emphasize the pain as much as the funny.

The Dig (2021)

The Dig
73 %
pg-13 112m
Genre Drama, History
Stars Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, Lily James
Directed by Simon Stone
An underseen gem released in the first months of 2021, The Dig is about excavating the past and allowing it to inform the present. The film stars Carey Mulligan as a wealthy landowner who hires an amateur excavator (Ralph Fiennes) to excavate the mounds of dirt on her property. Although the film is ostensibly about archaeology, its 1930s setting transforms it into a riveting depiction of England on the verge of a World War. The Dig is a subtle, humanistic film about the small part individuals have in the enormous swath of history and the beauty and pain of being alive.

The Irishman (2019)

The Irishman
94 %
r 209m
Genre Crime, Drama, History
Stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese is one of the world’s greatest living filmmakers, and The Irishman is proof that his movies don’t lose all of their magic on a smaller screen. The film, which stars Robert De Niro as a gangster who dedicates his life to organized crime, is really about the hollowness of that life. It features terrific supporting turns from Joe Pesci and Al Pacino and feels like the culmination of the gangster films that have been the cornerstones of Scorsese’s career. If Goodfellas is about the wild ride, The Irishman is about the wreckage that ride leaves behind.

Private Life (2018)

Private Life
83 %
r 123m
Genre Drama, Comedy
Stars Kathryn Hahn, Paul Giamatti, Kayli Carter
Directed by Tamara Jenkins
There are plenty of dark, heartbreaking movies on this list, but Private Life may be the most quietly devastating. The movie follows Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn as a New York couple who are trying to have a baby. After numerous, expensive attempts at IVF, they decide to use a surrogate, even as they fight to keep their marriage from falling apart. Private Life is a small, intimate film about the pains of wanting a child, and it’s beautifully performed by its two leads, who don’t get to flex these muscles as often as they should.

Marriage Story (2019)

Marriage Story
94 %
r 137m
Genre Drama
Stars Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern
Directed by Noah Baumbach
The obvious joke about Marriage Story is that it’s very poorly named. The movie opens with divorce and chronicles the messy legal battles that come when two people decide to stop sharing their lives. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson play the couple on the road to divorce, and the movie chronicles their uncoupling as it becomes more and more acrimonious. Even as they battle with one another, though, director Noah Baumbach makes sure both characters remain sympathetic and human. These are not monsters at war. They’re people who are trying to reorient their lives in the wake of a relationship that’s come to its end.

Mudbound (2017)

85 %
r 135m
Genre Drama
Stars Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell
Directed by Dee Rees
Carey Mulligan is the queen of the period piece, and Mudbound is another great team-up between the actress and Netflix. Mudbound tells the sprawling story of two families, one white and one Black, as they attempt to work and live together in rural Mississippi around the time of the Second World War. The film takes on multiple perspectives and is unflinching about the racism that was so common in the South at that time. Mudbound is a bracing, difficult watch, but a rewarding one. It’s a reminder of all the good things humans are capable of, and all the petty resentments that often stand in the way of common decency.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (2018)

To All the Boys I've Loved Before
64 %
pg-13 100m
Genre Comedy, Romance
Stars Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Janel Parrish
Directed by Susan Johnson
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is not weighty or particularly serious. Its premise, which features the release of an introverted, romantic girl’s secret love letters to the world, is as silly as they come. What makes the first entry in the To All the Boys series work, though, is that it’s a deeply effective teen romantic comedy about allowing yourself to be open and vulnerable, even if it means you might get hurt. Featuring star-making performances from Noah Centineo and Lana Condor, the film is remarkably well directed, and it’s a sensitive portrait of the beauty and frustrations of young love.

Da 5 Bloods (2020)

Da 5 Bloods
82 %
r 156m
Genre War, Drama
Stars Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters
Directed by Spike Lee
Netflix has been able to poach some of the world’s biggest filmmakers in the years since it began making original films, and getting Spike Lee to make Da 5 Bloods for them was one of their biggest coups to date. The film follows four Black Vietnam veterans who reunite in Vietnam 50 years after the fighting to dig up a treasure they buried in the countryside long ago. From there, the personalities and politics of each member of the ensemble begin to unravel their bond, even as Lee makes salient points about the way Black soldiers are used and thrown out by their country. Delroy Lindo didn’t even get an Oscar nomination for his work in the film, and that in and of itself was an injustice worthy of protest.

Roma (2018)

96 %
r 135m
Genre Drama
Stars Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Over its years of dominance, Netflix has put money behind plenty of questionable projects. For every Kissing Booth movie, though, there’s something like Roma, Alfonso Cuarón’s deeply personal movie about a housekeeper to a wealthy family living in Mexico City during the 1970s. Roma is not a movie filled with plot, but it sweeps you up in part through the verve of its direction. Cuarón is one of the best directors working today, and his dedication to this small-scale story is what really makes it sing.

I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2020)

I'm Thinking of Ending Things
78 %
r 135m
Genre Drama, Mystery
Stars Jesse Plemons, Jessie Buckley, Toni Collette
Directed by Charlie Kaufman
First as a writer and now as a director, Charlie Kaufman has always made films that felt both experimental and deeply personal. The writer behind Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind knows how to weave a compelling, moving story, but those stories take plenty of weird turns along the way. In I’m Thinking of Ending Things, Kaufman focuses on the relationship between two characters played by Jessie Buckley and Jesse Plemmons as Buckley’s character contemplates a breakup. Things spiral out of control from there, creating a kaleidoscopic film about the impossibility of ever really knowing someone else.

The Power of the Dog (2021)

The Power of the Dog
Genre Western, Drama
Stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons
Directed by Jane Campion
A tense thriller that is also beautifully crafted, Power of the Dog tells the story of a repressed man who begins to torment his brother’s new wife when she comes to live on their family ranch. It’s a fairly self-contained story, and one that’s ultimately about what happens to a person when they try to bottle up part of who they are. Benedict Cumberbatch is incredible in the lead role, and he’s matched by great performances by the rest of this intimate ensemble. That, coupled with the stunning vistas that director Jane Campion uses as a backdrop, make this movie unmissable.

All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)

All Quiet on the Western Front
Genre Drama, War, History
Stars Felix Kammerer, Albrecht Schuch, Aaron Hilmer
Directed by Edward Berger
A stunning war movie that adapts one of the most beloved books ever written, All Quiet on the Western Front was the rare German movie to lodge itself firmly in the Oscar conversation. The film tells the story of Paul, a young idealistic soldier who joins the German army in World War I, believing that he is headed to the front to honor his country. When he arrives there, all he learns is that war is both unendingly violent and unendingly boring. Along Paul’s journey, we get plenty of beautiful images that only underscore how horrific this conflict is.
All Quiet on the Western Front | Official Trailer | Netflix

Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio (2022)

Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio
Genre Animation, Fantasy, Drama, Music
Stars Gregory Mann, Ewan McGregor, David Bradley
Directed by Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson
A stop-motion adaptation of this eternally beloved children’s story, Pinocchio is an important reminder that animated movies are not always for children. The film tells the story of a young wooden boy who wants to be real, even as he confronts his father’s grief about the boy he lost before Pinocchio even existed. It’s a movie about life and death, and also, perhaps shockingly, about the rising tide of fascism in Italy in the 1930s. As such, it feels like the kind of movie that only Guillermo Del Toro could have made, and one that we’re all the better for having.
GUILLERMO DEL TORO'S PINOCCHIO | Official Trailer | Netflix

Okja (2017)

Genre Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Stars Tilda Swinton, Ahn Seo-hyun, Paul Dano
Directed by Bong Joon-ho
Director Bong Joon-ho has made a number of masterpieces over the course of his career, including the Oscar-winner Parasite. For all of Parasite‘s perfection, though, Okja may be his most heartbreaking film. It tells the story of a superpig living in rural Korea who is collected by the company that created her with the goal of slaughtering her for her meat. The movie is not subtle, but its pointed criticism of mass-produced meat feels harder to ignore every day, and will have you searching for vegan recipes the second you finish it.
Okja | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

Looking for more things to watch? We’ve also found the best documentaries on Netflix as well as the best underrated movies on Netflix.

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Movie images and data from:
Joe Allen
Joe Allen is a freelance culture writer based in upstate New York. His work has been published in The Washington Post, The…
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