Another evening, another scroll through a list of “best movies on Netflix”.
But this isn’t just any movie. Netflix list. Oh no! This list has a little more to offer: a rundown on what’s new each Monday, regardless of whether they’re watchable or not. The list is limited to movies that have earned a Metacritic score of 70 or more. Metacritic is. according to its About page, an aggregator that collects the opinions of the most respected critics online and in print.
It’s more snooty and sexier than Rotten Tomatoes. Here are this week’s new releases, as well as the top Netflix movies, based on highly rated critics.
What’s New This Week (January 16-22, 2018)
Note: These movie descriptions were pulled directly from Netflix press releases, and sometimes IMDb.
- The Devil to Pay (2019): Thriller. “After the disappearance her husband, a struggling farm in an isolated Appalachian town fights for her son when the coldhearted matriarch from the oldest family on the mountain demands payment to a debt that could ruin a decade-old truce.”
- Alkhallat+ (2022): Comedy from the Middle East. “These four stories explore trickery, deception, and everything from tire thieves crashing weddings to a man’s desperate attempt to bury a secret about a friend who has died.”
- The Pez Outlaw (2022): Documentary. “Steve Glew spent his 1990s smuggling rare Pez dispensers into the USA, from Eastern Europe. He made millions of dollars.” It was all magic until his arch-nemesis The Pezident decided he wanted to destroy him.
- Big Mäck: Gangsters and Gold (2023): Documentary. “This riveting documentary from the team behind How To Sell Drugs Online, (Fast),” features Donald Stellwag’s own words.
- Mission Majnu (2023).Spy movie. “In the 1970s an undercover Indian spy embarks on a deadly mission in order to expose a covert nuclear weapons programme in the heart of Pakistan.”
- Jung_E (2023): Sci-fi. “This sci-fi action-drama from Yeon Sangho stars Kang Soo, Kim Hyun-joo, and Ryu Kyungsoo.”
- Sweetie (2022): Turkish documentary.
- The Post-Truth World (2023). Taiwanese mystery. “When Liu Limin is held hostage by a convicted star of sports, Liu Limin becomes a news anchor and gets a chance at fame.”
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These films all scored at least 70 on the Metacritic scoreboard as of this writing.
Spike Lee’s war drama, “The Fight,” follows a group aging Vietnam War veterans returning to the country to search for the remains of their squad leader. buried treasure. With a frenzied energy coursing through it, Da 5 Bloods gives you a look at the Vietnam War through Black experiences, delivering an all-too-timely critique of racism and warfare.
Spanning the lives of its mobsters over multiple decades, The Irishman pulls off a 3-and-a-half-hour crime saga. But don’t worry — you can break up this tour de force if you need to. Always clever and entertaining, with Martin Scorsese favorites Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci commanding the screen, The Irishman creeps up on you, offering a haunting look at aging mobsters and the havoc they wreak.
Beasts of No Nation (2015)
Director Cary Joji Fukunaga gives you a sobering look at the life of a boy who becomes a child soldier in a West African country embroiled in civil war. Idris Elba stars as the ruthless Commandant along with the astonishing Abraham Attah as the young Agu. A confronting yet quietly hopeful snapshot of war from a human perspective, Beasts of No Nation needs to be on your radar if it isn’t already.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022)
Some would say Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is better than 2019’s Knives Out. Some. Rian Johnson’s followup to his masterfully subversive whodunit wisely puts on a different coat. It sends Daniel Craig’s benevolent private investigator Benoit Blanc abroad to a mysterious get-together with tech billionaire Miles Bron and his friends. The satirical characters are big, the laughs are big and there’s even a stunning message about bending the truth. Is it at least comparable to 2019’s Knives Out? Definitely.
Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical (2022)
The film adaptation of Tim Minchin’s hit musical, based on Roald Dahl’s classic book. It offers something different from the 1996 movie starring Mara Wilson — what you want when retreading familiar territory. Alisha Weir plays Matilda, the child genius who stands up to a stunningly realized Miss Trunchbull, played by Emma Thompson. A clear theme of how to handle bullies runs through this retelling, with impressive child performers and surprisingly pump-you-up tunes. Not as memorable as the original, but still a supremely entertaining time.
The Forty-Year-Old Version (2020)
The title of this comedy-drama might sound familiar, but its focus is an unconventional tale. The Forty-Year-Old Version follows Radha, a playwright and teacher who finds herself drawn to the forgotten passion of her youth: rapping. Inspired by writer, director and star Radha Blank’s real life, this beautiful diary of a struggling artist will inspire and hit home, with relatable themes of failure and unfulfilled potential.
Tennis-playing buddies Michael (Mark Duplass) and Andy (Ray Romano) receive devastating news: Michael has terminal stomach cancer. Struggling to let go of his dying friend, Andy joins Michael’s road trip in search of medication to end things before they get too painful. Folding comedy into melancholy, Paddleton eases the touching friendship at its core into deftly-affecting places.
Dolemite Is My Name (2019)
Eddie Murphy returned from his acting break with a glorious performance as Rudy Ray Moore, a comedian who played a character called Dolemite in stand-up routines and blaxploitation films from the ’70s. Dolemite Is My Name follows Moore from his job at a record store to the big screen. Tracking Moore’s rise to fame and its bizarre and enthralling turns, Dolemite Is My Name does justice to both Moore’s and Murphy’s talents.
Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn starring in a comedy-drama with something to say about modern marriage? Private Life is a unique and relatable slice of a New York middle-age couple’s struggles with different avenues to have a child. But because Hahn and Giamatti are in it, it sparkles with wit and charm. Add Kayli Carter to the mix as Sadie, a college dropout, and you have another layer to this compelling movie about the unpredictability of heading into a new stage of life.
Jake Johnson co-writes this comedy from prolific indie director Joe Swanberg (he was behind the Netflix anthology TV series Easy as well). Win It All follows Eddie, a gambling addict who agrees to stash a duffel bag of cash for a local thug heading to prison. Making one of many questionable decisions, Eddie dips into the funds. If you’re a fan of simple, grounded storytelling with a focus on character, Win It All is a delight that brings out Johnson’s humor and charisma.
The Meyerowitz Stories (2017)
The Meyerowitz Stories is a bittersweet comedy-drama told through Noah Baumbach’s grounded lens. The titular stories concern dysfunctional adult siblings, played by Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller, trying to live in the shadow of their father. An effervescent cast, including Dustin Hoffman, play these intelligent, albeit miserable, characters as they weave their poignant tales.
This indie gem might have flown under the radar, so if you’re looking for a modern romcom overflowing with charm, definitely give Tramps a watch. Callum Turner and Grace Van Patten star as Danny and Ellie, a sincere good kid and a streetwise girl who attempt to carry out a shady deal for a little cash. Tightly scripted and deftly avoiding hackneyed territory, Tramps will effortlessly win your heart.
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (2022)
Guillermo del Toro rarely disappoints and his take on Pinocchio is no exception. More than just a kids’ story, del Toro unfurls a trademark moving gothic fairy tale rooted in what it means to be alive. With significant deviations from the story we all know and memorable new creature creations, including skeletal rabbits and an ethereal wood sprite, this version of Pinocchio might just be the very best — not least because it keeps the astonishing art of stop-motion animation alive. A must-watch. Warning: You will shed a tear at least once.
The Sea Beast joins Netflix’s collection of stellar family-friendly animated adventures. A young girl named Maisie (Zaris-Angel Hator) stows away on the ship of sea monster hunter Captain Crow (Jared Harris), becoming wrapped up in a thrilling journey through uncharted waters. Bringing originality to the high seas and swashbuckling characters, The Sea Beast is a must-watch chapter of enchanting fantasy.
The Mitchells vs. the Machines (2021)
One of the best family movies on Netflix. From some of the same people who made Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse comes this adventure to save the world involving Mom, Dad, the kids and their slobbery, bug-eyed dog. But amid the robot apocalypse, led by Olivia Colman’s sinister Siri, really The Mitchells vs. the Machines is about a strained relationship between movie-loving daughter Katie and her technophobe father. The technology-inept parent gags are rife, the colors frenetic and the character growth moving. A near-perfect package with the timeless message that embracing your weirdness is a superpower.
This award-winning French film begins with a severed hand escaping a refrigerator in a laboratory and embarking on a Paris-wide search for the rest of its body. What an opening! With a few flashbacks and elegant animation, this strange, satisfying story delves into loss, both physical and emotional, in the most poetic of ways.
Vampires vs. the Bronx (2020)
Vampires vs. the Bronx is a unique comedy-horror in more ways than one. Set in the New York borough of the Bronx, it follows young Miguel Martinez, a big-hearted kid helping to raise money for his struggling local bodega. But it’s not just new designer clothing stores threatening to move in: Creepy pale residents with a taste for blood are eating up people and their properties. A commentary on gentrification with goofy charm, twists and thrills, Vampires vs. the Bronx is a fresh, entertaining spin on the genre.
His House is a horror flick that, yep, hits close to home. Revealing its supernatural evils through a harrowing human story, it follows Bol and Rial, a refugee couple from Sudan, who struggle to adapt to their new life in an English town. Don’t expect straightforward jump scares — His House plays into the psychological specters of the past, adding even more corridors of torment. A heartrending, powerful piece.
This smart psychological horror is partially drawn from co-writer Isa Mazzei’s experiences as a camgirl (or webcam model). Yet Cam is no documentary, following Alice Ackerman, a young camgirl who one day discovers an exact replica of herself has taken over her show. This unique thriller flashing red with the threat of technology is an excellent feature to hit play on.
One of the more successful Stephen King adaptations, this horror drama based on the novella 1922 is a slow burn with a mesmerizing performance at its core. Thomas Jane, who you’ll also know from Boogie Nights and 2004’s The Punisher, gives one of his career best performances as the ever proud Wilfred James, a farmer who makes the totally wise decision to murder his wife with the help of their teenage son. The consequences are harrowing on multiple levels (if you don’t like rats, you really won’t like rats after this).
If you were mesmerized by The Haunting of Hill House, then Mike Flanagan’s adaptation of Stephen King novel Gerald’s Game is a must-watch. A couple goes on holiday at an isolated lake house, where one thing leads to another… and Carla Gugino’s Jessie ends up handcuffed to the bed with no visible escape. Gugino puts in an immense performance, packing out the enclosed bedroom setting. Expect narratively and emotionally satisfying conclusions, with melancholy-suffused horror that surges into quiet triumph for its haunted characters.
The Power of the Dog (2021)
More than a decade after her previous film, Bright Star, extraordinary filmmaker Jane Campion has unfolded the director’s chair again to oversee The Power of the Dog. She ended up winning an Oscar, so it was a good move. The Western centers on Phil Burbank, a domineering rancher who uses the power of toxic masculinity to have his way, mocking his brother for falling in love. The Power of the Dog is a mesmeric exercise in the subtle shifts of emotion and power in relationships. Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst are immense, helping to bring Campion’s masterful vision to life.
Paul Greengrass (Jason Bourne) directs Tom Hanks in this moving Western. Civil War veteran Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd discovers a young girl years after she was captured by Native Americans as a baby. While helping return her to her family, he does his usual job of traveling to towns and reading newspapers for a small fee. Don’t expect high-octane action: This road movie is fueled by character development and the beautiful views. Still, you’ll want to settle in for a comforting ride with pure sympathetic Hanks at the steering wheel.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
The Coen Brothers kick up the western dust with an anthology film that gives you six vignettes all set on the American frontier. One of them is about the titular Buster Scruggs, a chipper singing cowboy who casually sets off a shoot-up in a cantina. But there’s a dark twist that keeps you on your toes. Sewing the rest of its stories together with a constant black humor, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a Coen Brothers winner.
From Netflix’s impressive stash of international films comes Spanish sci-fi horror The Platform. Its high-concept story centers on a tower that delivers food to people on each of its many levels via a platform. Those at the top snag the best and most abundant spread, which is devoured as the platform lowers down the levels. Social commentary rings throughout this dystopian thriller, which takes shocking, occasionally gruesome turns all the way to the bottom.
This psychological period drama from Chilean director Sebastián Lelio opens its storybook in the most surprising of ways. Asking you to believe in the power of storytelling, The Wonder centers on an English nurse (Florence Pugh) who’s tasked with watching a young girl in 1862 rural Ireland — a girl who appears not to have eaten for months. Nurse Wright gets to the bottom of what’s going on, while discovering the benefits of her own storytelling. The Wonder can be slow going and owes a lot to Pugh’s simmering performance, but it holds you until the gripping end.
Rebecca Hall makes her directorial debut in magnificent fashion with her adaptation of Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel Passing. It tells the story of two light-skinned Black women, one of whom chooses to “pass” as white. Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga embody the duality at the heart of this delicate story, shot in black and white. Gracefully handled, Passing is a tender portrait revealing powerful psychological depths.
Tick, Tick… Boom! (2021)
Andrew Garfield takes the spotlight for this biographical musical drama about Jonathan Larson, the late composer behind Rent and Tick, Tick… Boom! The movie, helmed by Lin-Manuel Miranda in his directorial debut, follows Larson’s career and the time pressure he feels to leave a lasting impression. With joy-inducing music, a meaningful narrative about the creative process and a passionate performance from Garfield as Larson, Tick, Tick… Boom! is a graceful and feel-good tribute.
This fine British drama excavates a whole lot ofBurial Treasure with a distinguished cast in Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, Lily James and Johnny Flynn. It is based on true events surrounding the 1939 excavation at Sutton Hoo. This resulted in an incredible treasure trove of Anglo-Saxon artifacts, which was hidden in a burial vessel. The Dig is elegant, romantic, intellectual and moving.
The Boys in the Band (2020).
The Boys in the Band sets a new stage for an ensemble cast who all performed the classic play-by-the-same-name’s 2018 Broadway revival. Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, and Matt Bomer are just a few of them. The movie offers new perspectives on a 1968 New York City birthday party that was celebrated by a group gay men. When a visitor from the past calls, the party takes a surprising turn. The Boys in the Band is an engaging drama that provokes thought and offers a variety of themes, such as self-loathing or internalized homophobia.
This is a black-and-white David Fincher story about Herman Mankiewicz, the screenwriter who helped Orson Wesley write Citizen Kane. You can step back into Old Hollywood with stunning cinematography and see the behind-the scenes of how studios functioned in a different era. This biographical drama is filled with the lightness, darkness and joy of its hero’s story.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020).
A true story is the basis for an Aaron Sorkin drama. The Trial of the Chicago 7 has a real-life case that involved anti-Vietnam War protestors who were charged with conspiring to incite violence. The Trial of the Chicago 7 has a stellar cast, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Eddie Redmayne), Sacha Baron Cohen, Yahya Abul-Mateen II and Sacha Cohen. It’s both current and full of theatrical energy.
This 2019 sports drama was the second time that Steven Soderbergh used his iPhone to film a feature film. The first was Unsane in 2018. High Flying Bird tells of the story a sports agent faces the axe unless he executes a company-saving plan within 72 hours. High Flying Bird captures professional sports’ high tensions through a unique shooting style. This fascinating piece is edited and edited with great direction.
While a movie about divorcing might not sound like the best experience, Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story is one you will want to see. Scarlett Johansson (Scarlett Johansson) and Adam Driver (Adam Driver) give their best performances as Nicole, and Charlie, who are faced with the emotionally and logistically difficult legal challenges of dissolving a relationship. This is happy-sad at the best. It’s a beautiful portrayal of emotional complexity that includes some very funny and some very sad moments.
This biographical drama is set primarily in Vatican City and follows Pope Benedict XVI as well as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio after the Vatican leaks scandal. It’s as fascinating and entertaining as it sounds. The Two Popes offers a slice from real-life drama, featuring a first-class twohander featuring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce.
Alfonso Cuaron’s semi-autobiographical snapshot of the Colonia Roma neighborhood of Mexico City tells a small story with staggering prowess. Cuaron will guide you through the ups, downs, and struggles of a housekeeper for a middle-class family. Cuaron’s lens captures exquisitely beautiful scenes in an album that quietly surrounds you with wonderment and grace.
This Italian film is the seal of approvalBong Joonho is the director of Parasite. Let’s listen to him and add Parasite to this list. Happy as Lazzaro was written and directed by Alice Rohrwacher. It is set in the 1970s on a tobacco plant, where a young, kind-hearted peasant Lazzaro diligently works. A nobleman convinces him that he can fake his own kidnapping and the story of friendship, innocence, and social commentary begins. A cinematic fairytale beautifully shot.
This Spanish film is a beautiful example of Spanish cinema. It has stunning imagery and two outstanding performances by its leads. Susi Sánchez and Bárbara Lennie star as Anabel and Chiara respectively, an estranged mother and daughter who reunite for reasons that aren’t as clear as they first seem. This film is a masterpiece that anyone who loves carefully paced meditations about pain, love, loss and the universe should enjoy. Masterful.
The Kindergarten Teacher (2018)
Maggie Gyllenhaal delivers a career-best performance in The Kindergarten teacher, a drama about a kindergarten teacher. Lisa is unhappy in her own life and makes some unwise decisions regarding one her young students. Lisa may or not take credit for Jimmy’s child prodigy in poetry writing talent. Although the Kindergarten Teacher’s somewhat disturbing character study may leave you feeling conflicted about Gyllenhaal’s captivating performance, there is no denying that Gyllenhaal is a talented writer.
Mudbound is a historical view of class struggle through the eyes a Black veteran and a White veteran who still have one foot in World War II. Mudbound is a drama about PTSD and racism in Mississippi Delta. It stars Jason Mitchell and Garrett Hedlund.
This YA movie is about Ellie Chu, a shy Asian American who discovers her sexuality in the remote village of Squahamish. Ellie is a straight-A student, but she is also a friendless student. She writes papers for her classmates and helps Paul Munsky to write a love letter. It turns out that Aster Flores is the perfect match for Ellie. The Half of It is a story of self-acceptance told in a gentle touch. It’s a joy.
The Incredible Jessica James (2017)
The Incredible Jessica James introduces an equally charming and self-possessed main character played wonderfully by Jessica Williams. Jessica James, confident and independent, meets a blind date and ends up talking about her ex. This is a refreshing take on the movie about a breakup with an empowering lead. It’s a great choice for an entertaining night in.
Parasite director Bong Jon-ho directed 2017’s Okja. That should be enough to get you watching it. Okja is a surreal environmental thriller that mixes humor and dark comedy. It follows a young South Korean farmer girl who has a pet pig genetically modified to become a super-pig. Okja is however the target of a large corporation who wants her delicious flesh. Okja is supported by Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton in English. She will seduce you with her sweetness, before giving you a disturbing close-up of the meat industry.
This Australian crime drama is based on a true story and is a psychological thriller that is both disturbing and dark. Sean Harris stars as a suspect in the murder and abduction of a teenager. Joel Edgerton plays an undercover officer who is assigned to uncover the truth through an unlikely friendship.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things in 2020
A psychological thriller that delves deep into the unreal. I’m Thinking of Ending Things definitely won’t be for everyone, but it connects you to the frustrations of the young woman (Jessie Buckley) at its heart, who grapples with breaking off her seven-week-relationship with her boyfriend Jake (Jesse Plemons). It may be a little too long, but I’m thinking of Ending Things is always entertaining. The film’s atmospheric cinematography and strong performances by Toni Collette (as Jake’s eccentric parents) keep you interested. Fans of Charlie Kaufman, the director-writer, will be delighted.
Two movies were named The Callwas released in 2020. The South Korean version is a time travel thriller that revolves around, yep a phone call. Twenty-eight-year-old Seo-yeon finds a phone buried in a closet in her childhood home. It rings. The caller turns out to be the same person who called her from the closet in her childhood home. 20 years earlier. This is a must-see.
This taut thriller is set in the remote Scottish Highlands and is anything but a relaxing getaway. It will be a nightmare for its protagonists that will leave them unable to sleep. Vaughn, Marcus and their hunting party embark on a weekend of hunting. But after a night of drinking, the group finds themselves in a series of unexpected events. Calibre delivers a gripping package of drama and grimness that lives up to its name. Calibre will wreak havoc on your soul.
First They Killed my Father (2017)
The fifth film on Angelina Jolie’s directing CV turned out to be her best. The biographical thriller is based on the memoir of Loung Ung, a Cambodian author and human right activist. It recounts the horrors Ung experienced as a child living under the Khmer Rouge regime. First They Killed My Father, a war movie with finesse and control, uses an empathic lens to tell a horrifying story from the point of view of a child.
I don’t feel at home in this world (2017)
This movie is for you if your day has been bad. Ruth, a nursing assistant, and Tony, her strange neighbor, refuse to help in a robbery. I Don’t Feel at home in This World Anymore explores the peculiarities of everyday life and then takes it into dark places with more humor. The perfectly packed 96 minutes of this film will leave you feeling quite emotional.
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