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The best movies on Netflix right now

What’s the best movie I can watch on Netflix? We’ve all asked ourselves the question, only to spend the next 15 minutes scrolling through the streaming service’s oddly specific genre menus, and getting overwhelmed by the constantly shifting trend menus. Netflix’s huge catalogue of movies, combined with its inscrutable recommendations algorithm, can make finding something to watch feel more like a chore than a way to unwind when really what you want are the good movies. No… the best movies on Netflix.

We’re here to help. For those suffering from choice paralysis, we’ve narrowed down your options to 25 of our favorite current movies on the platform. These run the gamut from taut thrillers to international hits to some newly minted classics. We’ll be updating this list monthly as Netflix cycles movies in and out of its library, so be sure to check back next time you’re stuck in front of the Netflix home screen.

THE AMERICAN

In 2010, George Clooney starred as an aging man with a gun who was ready to hang up his scope. Very few people saw the movie, and based on the movie’s “D-” Cinemascore in exit polls, those who did were caught off guard. Instead of a slick, Bourne-esque espionage thriller, The American was a Euro-mood piece in which photographer-turned-director Anton Corbijn descended deeper and deeper into Clooney’s ice-cold gaze. Set in Rome, the film is steamy and noir-ish, finding exhilaration in the assassin’s attempts to complete one last job with as little emotion as possible. But for all the seriousness and atmosphere, there’s still a pulpy, page-turner quality to the film’s second half — think of the whole package as Bond for the art house crowd. —Matt Patches

AT ETERNITY’S GATE

Julian Schnabel’s 2018 biographical drama stars Willem Dafoe as Vincent van Gogh, following the late Impressionist master in the final years of his life as he struggles with aspersions towards his artistic career and ability as well as his own tortured psyche. Named for van Gogh’s 1890 painting, At Eternity’s Gate is a dreamlike work of art, diving into the painter’s point of view as the picture violently spasms and shakes as his life becomes increasingly more dire. Dafoe’s performance was celebrated at the time of the film’s release, earning him his fourth Oscar nomination at the 91st Academy Awards. —TE

BAAHUBALI: THE BEGINNING

In Western terms, this Tollywood production — the most expensive Indian film ever at the time of its release — is like a biblical epic by way of Marvel Studios, with a little Hamlet and Step Up thrown in for good measure. The Beginning chronicles the life of Shivudu, an adventurer with superhuman strength who escapes his provincial life by scaling a skyscraper-sized waterfall, aides and romances a rebel warrior named Avanthika, then teams up with her to rescue a kidnapped queen from an evil emperor.

Exploding with hyper-choreographed fight sequences and CG spectacle (not to mention a handful of musical numbers with equal bravura), The Beginning is 159 minutes of mythical excess. The film goes big like only Indian film can, and rests on the muscular shoulders of its hero, the single-name actor Prabhas. If you fall hard for it, get pumped — this is only part one. The twist leads into Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, another two-and-a-half-hour epic currently streaming on Netflix. —Matt Patches

THE BIG LEBOWSKI

The Coen brothers’ amiable slacker chronicle has been analyzed a thousand different ways, in the search for metaphor and meaning. But ultimately it’s best appreciated for what it is, as fundamentally a movie about the lack of meaning. A couple of thugs break into the home of “laziest man in Los Angeles” Jeffrey Lebowski (Jeff Bridges), a low-key hippie burnout who goes by “The Dude.” They demand he pay his debts and they piss on his rug, but he quickly realizes they have the wrong Jeffrey Lebowski.

So he goes on a wandering quest to find the other one, and ask him to pay for the ruined rug. (“That rug really tied the room together.”) Something like a rambling comic noir, The Big Lebowski operates as a string of encounters, as The Dude hangs out with friends and acquaintances (played by John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro) and meets new people (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tara Reid, Peter Stormare, Julianne Moore, David Thewlis, Flea). The cast alone makes the film worth watching, but the film’s endless quotability also makes it a cultural necessity. —Tasha Robinson

THE FLORIDA PROJECT

Central Florida is a weird place to be a kid from a poor family. You grow up in the shadow of corporate dreamlands, where people from around the world come to live out a fantasy of a weekend at the “happiest” places on Earth, fueled by workers who historically have made an average of $10 an hour.

Directed by Sean Baker, The Florida Project is one small story set in this shadow, about a six-year-old girl named Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) who lives in a Kissimmee motel called The Magic Castle with her mother Halley (Bria Vinaite), who, trying to make ends meet, often leaves Moonee to her own devices, and the reluctant supervision of motel manager Bobby (Willem Defoe). The Florida Project is one of the best stories about Central Florida and Walt Disney World, a story about childlike wonder and joy a stone’s throw away from its monolithic commercialization, and the economic hardship that keeps the monied dreams of tourists afloat. —Joshua Rivera

A GHOST STORY

With David Lowery’s The Green Knight finally headed to theaters in July, it’s as good a time as ever to get caught up on his extremely diverse and distinctive work. It’s a little hard to believe the same man who made the Disney live-action reboot Pete’s Dragon, the parched romance Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, and the amiable bank-robbery charmer The Old Man & the Gun.

But easily the biggest outlier in his filmography is the fantastically weird cosmic romance A Ghost Story, about a man who dies young and winds up haunting his own house. It’s a slow-moving, melancholy movie about love, death, and grief, until abruptly it’s none of those things, and is instead about time and change. But throughout it all, it’s swoony and weird and unique, the kind of movie that baffles comfort-seekers and delights cinephiles, because no one else could have made this particular movie, or come up with this particular story. —TR

THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER

The Killing of a Sacred Deer, director Yorgos Lanthimos’ follow-up to his 2015 breakout The Lobster, sees the return of actor Colin Farrell, this time in the role of cardiac surgeon Steven Murphy. Steven is ensnared in an insidious situation with a young teenager named Martin (Barry Keoghan) following a mysterious incident, one which demands that he sacrifice the life of one of his family members in order to spare all of them the pain of a horrifying death. Chilling in its abject inscrutability and malice, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a engrossing psychological thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat. —TE

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