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Best Movies on Netflix Right Now (March 2021)

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Trying to find the best movie to watch on Netflix can be a daunting challenge. We’ve all been there. You’ve decided you’re going to watch something. You have the entirety of Netflix at your disposal, including even a pared down list of films you’ve already bookmarked to watch at a future date. But then there’s the choosing. You’ve gotta find something that fits your mood, or something you and your friend/significant other/couch companion can agree on. You spend hours browsing, and by the time you stumble on something you think maybe is the one, it’s too late, you’re too tired, and indecision has won out.

Never fear, though, because we here at Collider have a guide to help you find the perfect Netflix movies available in the U.S. We’ve thumbed through the library and assembled a list of some of the best films currently available for streaming, from classics to hidden gems to new releases and beyond. This list of the best movies on Netflix is updated weekly with all-new choices, so be sure to return the next time you’re looking for something great to watch.

For even more curated streaming recommendations, check out our lists for the Best TV Shows on Netflix Right Now and Best Movies on Amazon Prime Right Now and Best Horror Movies on Netflix Right Now and Best Sci-Fi Movies on Netflix Right Now and Best TV Shows on Amazon Prime Right Now.

Training Day

Denzel Washington Training Day
Image via Warner Bros

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Writer: David Ayer

Cast: Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington, Scott Glenn, Cliff Curtis, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Eva Mendes

The film that won Denzel Washington his first Best Actor Oscar also still holds up pretty well as a nail-biting crime thriller. Training Day follows an LAPD officer named Jake (Ethan Hawke) on his first day as part of an evaluation by an esteemed narcotics officer named Alonzo (Denzel Washington), but as the day goes on Jake discovers that not only is Alonzo corrupt, but the entire day is a set-up for which he could take the fall. Washington give a phenomenal performance as an antagonist who is both charming and terrifying at the same time, while Hawke hods his own opposite the veteran actor. The third act is still a bit incredulous, but the film is worth watching for Washington’s performance alone. – Adam Chitwood

Batman Begins

Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writers: Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer

Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Katie Holmes, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Morgan Freeman, and Ken Watanabe

Before he crafted the masterful sequel The Dark Knight, filmmaker Christopher Nolan had to first reinvent the Batman franchise from the ground up with the “gritty reboot” Batman Begins. This movie came on the heels of the exceedingly goofy Batman & Robin and thus had to prove to audiences a grounded, realistic Batman story was one worth watching. Casting Christian Bale in the lead role helped, but Nolan’s sprawling, Gotham-centric story feels more in line with a compelling character drama than a superhero movie—and that was by design. Batman Begins spawned not only two direct sequels but a trend in Hollywood of revitalizing franchises with the “gritty reboot” treatment, and this wholly influential redo still holds up over a decade later as a terrific Batman origin story. – Adam Chitwood

The Dark Knight

Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writer: Jonathan Nolan

Cast: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine

One of the best superhero movies ever made, full-stop, The Dark Knight is a masterpiece. Christopher Nolan successfully introduced the world to the idea of a “gritty reboot” with Batman Begins, but for the follow-up he crafted an epic, surprising, and downright thrilling story of escalation. Heath Ledger’s take on The Joker is iconic, offering up an enigmatic villain who consistently throws Christian Bale’s Batman for a loop. Then you have Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent, as The Dark Knight crafts a meaty, fulfilling, and heartbreaking arc for this Bruce Wayne foil. On top of all of that, Nolan is essentially making a film about the post-9/11 world—one in which fighting “the bad guys” only leads to bigger and more severe devastation. How do you confront an enemy that just wants to watch the world burn? There’s a reason The Dark Knight has lingered in the public consciousness for a decade, and it still holds up as the best of the best in the face of the bevy of superhero movies that soon followed. – Adam Chitwood

Shutter Island

Shutter Island Leonardo DiCaprio Mark Ruffalo
Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Laeta Kalogridis

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, and Max von Sydow

What happens when a master filmmaker like Martin Scorsese decides to make a twisty little thriller? You get Shutter Island, a great and underrated movie in Scorsese’s vast filmography. Based on the Dennis Lehane novel of the same name, the film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo as a pair of U.S. Marshals who arrive on the titular island to investigate a disappearance at an enigmatic psychiatric facility. From the get-go something feels off, and Scorsese delights in following DiCaprio’s character around this island through the darkness, revealing twists and turns along the way. It’s the kind of dramatic thriller you immediately want to watch again once it’s over, and DiCaprio gives a terrific as a man who seems to be unraveling. – Adam Chitwood

ParaNorman

paranorman-cast
Image via Focus Features

Directors: Sam Fell and Chris Butler

Writer: Chris Butler

Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Casey Affleck, Anna Kendrick, John Goodman, Alex Borstein, Leslie Man, Jeff Garlin, Elaine Stritch, and Tucker Albrizzi

If you’re looking for a fun family movie that’s also genuinely spooky and has a surprising message, I urge you to check out ParaNorman. The stop-motion animated film hails from LAIKA, the same studio behind Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings, and it’s absolutely one of their best films. It revolves around a young kid named Norman who has the ability to see and speak with the dead, which comes in handy when his small Massachusetts town is overrun by terrifying ghosts. The story draws heavily from iconic 80s movies like The Goonies and E.T. but never feels derivative, and actually carries with it a surprising and emotional message about bullying and anger, and the complexity of emotions that kids can sometimes feel. It’s also just a ton of fun. – Adam Chitwood

Enola Holmes

enola-holmes-louis-partridge-millie-bobby-brown
Photo by Alex Bailey/Legendary

Director: Harry Bradbeer

Writer: Jack Thorne

Cast: Millie Bobby Brown, Louis Partridge, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin, and Helena Bonham Carter

Enola Holmes is one of the best and most charming Netflix original movies released thus far. Based on the book series of the same name by Nancy Springer, the period mystery follows Millie Bobby Brown’s titular character, who is the youngest Holmes sibling and has been raised nearly in solitude by her single mother. But when she awakes one day to find her mother is missing, she takes matters into her own hands and sneaks into London to solve the case. The film is tremendously fun as Enola fearlessly follows leads and hunts for clues, but it’s also a surprisingly touching mother-daughter story with legitimately feminist themes. The script actually takes time to consider what it means to be a woman in a man’s world in a way that’s organic (and important) to the story at hand. It’s one of Brown’s best performances, but Henry Cavill is also a delight as Sherlock Holmes himself. Once the movie ends you’ll be begging for Netflix to make many more sequels. – Adam Chitwood

The Conjuring

the-conjuring-patrick-wilson-vera-farmiga
Image via Warner Bros.

Director: James Wan

Writers: Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes

Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Mackenzie Foy, Joey King, Hayley McFarland

James Wan had already made a name for himself in the horror genre with mega-franchise starters SAW in 2004 and Insidious in 2010, and he pulled off the impossible once again with the 2013 pic, The Conjuring. This is a film that was “so scary and intense” at the time that Warner Bros. slapped it with an R rating despite the fact that there was no blood, gore, excessive violence, or profanity. I can remember a convention hall full of people muttering to themselves and shifting nervously as the “clapping game” scene played out, to gasps and thunderous applause. You can relive the same terrifying experience in the comfort of your own home. The Conjuring introduces Ed and Lorraine Warren (Wilson and Farmiga), based on the real-life paranormal investigators. They attempt to help the traumatized Perron family whose farmhouse harbors a dark and deadly presence. The Warrens themselves soon discover that this is no mere hoax, but something much more sinister. The Conjuring is a fantastic addition to the horror genre and the start of a solid franchise. – Dave Trumbore

Inception

inception-leonardo-dicaprio-cobb-social
Image via Warner Bros.

Director/Writer: Christopher Nolan

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, Michael Caine, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

After making one of the most critically acclaimed superhero movies in history, filmmaker Christopher Nolan set out to test whether Hollywood could still bet big on original ideas with his 2010 sci-fi actioner Inception. To the tune of $828.3 million at the box office and multiple Oscar nominations, audiences and critics alike responded enthusiastically, and thus a new classic was born. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a professional thief haunted by his past who takes on one last job. The catch? His heists take place inside people’s minds, as he’s tasked with either stealing or planting information in someone’s head. Inception is a visually stunning affair that also boasts one of the most exciting endings in recent memory. – Adam Chitwood

Rain Man

Rain Man Tom Cruise Dustin Hoffman
Image via United Artists

Director: Barry Levinson

Writers: Barry Levinson and Donald Bass

Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, and Valeria Golino

Oscars Won: Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, and Supporting Actor (Hoffman)

Rain Man was the film that was supposed to finally land Tom Cruise his Oscar, but in the end he didn’t even get nominated. The film itself was a success—it notably won Best Picture, Director, and Best Supporting Actor for Dustin Hoffman—but in hindsight while Hoffman’s role is more showy, what Cruise is doing here is wildly impressive. The film tackles 80s yuppie selfishness in a unique way, as Cruise plays an entitled and abusive younger brother who discovers that his estranged father has died and left everything to his older, mentally challenged brother (Hoffman). Cruise’s character breaks Hoffman out of a health facility and sets about using him to gain the money, but throughout their eventful road trip he comes to love and care for his brother. This is a road movie to be sure, but it’s anchored by a complicated story tackling complicated emotions. – Adam Chitwood

Taxi Driver

taxi-driver-de-niro
Image via Columbia Pictures

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Paul Schrader

Cast: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Harvey Keitel, and Albert Brooks

One of the greatest and most influential films ever made, Taxi Driver is a downright masterpiece. The 1976 neo-noir follows a lonely veteran and cab driver named Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) searching for purpose. Disgusted with the increasing filth on the streets of New York City—as he sees it—Travis decides to take matters into his own hands and clean up the streets himself. The film chronicles Travis’ descent into increasingly violent behavior, and how one’s worldview can be so warped that they see themselves as a hero, when instead they’re downright villainous. This is a complicated movie with no easy answers and no black-and-white, as Scorsese examines the morally grey world we live in. Through tremendous shot composition, an unforgettable score by Bernard Hermann, and one of the best performances of all time from De Niro, Taxi Driver remains one of the most intriguing and effective anti-hero movies ever made. – Adam Chitwood

Hook

hook-robin-williams
Image via TriStar Pictures

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writers: Jim V. Hart and Malia Scotch Marmo

Cast: Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, Julia Roberts, Bob Hoskins, Maggie Smith, and Charlie Korsmo

While Hook was critically derided when it hit theaters in 1991, with criticisms of its tame approach leading Steven Spielberg to directly go all-in on terror with 1993’s Jurassic Park, the film was actually a huge success… for kids. Spielberg taps into something special here in his retelling of the Peter Pan story, and while it’s hard to put a finger on—many still maintain it’s one of Spielberg’s worst movies—the impact it had on an entire generation of children is undeniable. Robin Williams plays a grown-up Peter Pan who’s forgotten all about his time in Neverland, until Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) steals his children and forces Peter to go back. It’s a struggle, as Peter keeps trying to deny any semblance of magic, and indeed at heart this is a story about reconnecting with your inner child. Perhaps that’s why it works so well for kids. Well that and the tremendous production design that brings Neverland to life in vivid fashion. Watch this one with your children and they won’t be disappointed. It’s also lowkey one of John Williams’ best scores. – Adam Chitwood

Superbad

superbad-image-9
Image via Columbia Pictures

Director: Greg Mottola

Writers: Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg

Cast: Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Emma Stone, Seth Rogen, and Bill Hader

Superbad was pretty much a coming-of-age classic as soon as it hit theaters in 2007, as writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, director Greg Mottola, and producer Judd Apatow crafted a high school comedy that was equal parts heart and humor. While the comedy is indeed R-rated, there’s a sweetness to the friendship between Michael Cera and Jonah Hill’s characters that elevates this above your average raunchy comedy. It’s as much a story about a kid being afraid he’s gonna lose his friend at college as it is a story about trying to score alcohol for a high school party, and the surprising twists and turns make it all that much more memorable. – Adam Chitwood

Casino Royale

casino-royale-daniel-craig
Image via EON

Director: Martin Campbell

Writers: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis

Cast: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Jeffrey Wright, Tobias Menzies

Considered by many to be the best Bond movie of them all, Casino Royale introduced the world to Daniel Craig’s 007 — a gritty, swaggering post-Bourne Bond who can rough and tumble with the best of them. GoldenEye director Martin Campbell returns to the iconic spy franchise, bringing a bit of old school to the new generation, perfectly toeing the line between the classic must-have Bond moments (fast cars, shaken martinis, beautiful women, etc…) while elegantly updating the material at the same time. Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd is easily one of the most memorable Bond women, afforded a compelling and intimate relationship with the superspy beyond the standard seduction and Mads Mikkelsen’s villainous Le Chiffre is equally memorable (pretty sure some men are still wincing from that torture scene.) The perfect balance of classic and modern, Casino Royale is one of the best spy movies ever made, jam-packed with stunning set-pieces and all the best bits of the Bond legacy. – Haleigh Foutch

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Image via Sony Pictures

Directors/Writers: Phil Lord and Chris Miller

Cast: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Bruce Campbell, Mr. T, Benjamin Bratt, and Neil Patrick Harris

Before filmmakers Phil Lord and Chris Miller upended convention with wildly entertaining films like The LEGO Movie and the Jump Street films, they wrote and directed the 2009 animated feature Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs—and it is delightful. The film is absolutely in the same vein of Lord and Miller’s other films; a mix of goofy humor, gloriously intricate jokes, inventive visuals, and most importantly genuine compassion. Bill Hader voices a wannabe scientist named Flint who lives in a tiny town called Swallow Falls, which is thrown into peril when one of Flint’s wild inventions starts turning water into food, at which point it literally starts raining all sorts of delicious—and gigantic—treats. It’s a great film for all ages really, and a terrifically science-positive story. – Adam Chitwood

Sherlock Holmes

sherlock-holmes-robert-downey-jr-jude-law
Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Guy Ritchie

Writers: Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham, and Simon Kinberg

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, and Eddie Marsan

In the months following Iron Man’s blockbuster success, Robert Downey Jr. doubled-down by filming a very different kind of iconic role: that of Sherlock Holmes. Filmmaker Guy Ritchie brings his tough guy sensibilities to this 2009 adaptation Sherlock Holmes, which positions Holmes as a bit of a superhero using slow-motion camera techniques and a punishing sound mix that makes you feel every punch landed by this surprisingly buff detective. The story finds Holmes (Downey) and Watson (Jude Law) investigating a plot to control Britain by supernatural means, with Rachel McAdams proving to be a bright spot as Irene Adler. This one’s fun. – Adam Chitwood

Django Unchained

Django Unchained Jamie Foxx Leonardo DiCaprio
Image via TWC

Director/Writer: Quentin Tarantino

Cast: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Johnson, Walton Goggins, and James Remar

Quentin Tarantino’s most financially successful film to date remains his 2012 Western epic Django Unchained, which is set in 1858 and tells the story of a freed slave’s (Jamie Foxx) quest to save his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from the clutches of a ruthless plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio) – all with the help of a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz). Django Unchained is tremendously unsettling in terms of providing an unflinching glimpse at the lives of slaves in America (and the cruelty inflicting upon them), but it also has that Tarantino touch that makes it wildly entertaining – a combination that may strike some as odd or in poor taste. However you fall, DiCaprio’s menacing performance is undeniably among his very best, Foxx’s arc is particularly impressive, and it’s hard to argue with Waltz’s Oscar win for his supporting turn. – Adam Chitwood

Carol

carol-image-cate-blanchett
Image via The Weinstein Company

Director: Todd Haynes

Writer: Phyllis Nagy

Cast: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Jake Lacy, and Kyle Chandler

Carol is a sumptuous, sensual love story told with elegance and grace. Based on the book The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, the film takes place in 1952 Manhattan, where an aspiring photographer (Rooney Mara) crosses paths with a glamorous married woman (Cate Blanchett), the titular Carol. The film explores homosexuality in the mid-20th century, as Carol has a couple decades more experience as a closeted lesbian than this young woman. The two strike up a relationship that is fraught with fear, lust, and true love, and director Todd Haynes captures it all in a way that never feels exploitative. Cinematographer Ed Lachman shoots the film to look like an old photograph or a half-forgotten memory, and before you know it you’ve been swept off your feet. – Adam Chitwood

Mank

mank-david-fincher-netflix-oldman-herman-marathon-st-social-featured
Image via Netflix

Director: David Fincher

Writer: Jack Fincher

Cast: Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, Arliss Howard, Tom Pelphrey, Tuppence Middleton, Charles Dance, and Tom Burke

Acclaimed filmmaker David Fincher’s first Netflix movie is catnip for cinephiles, as it charts the true-history behind the inspiration and writing of the screenplay for Citizen Kane. The film follows Hollywood screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) through his trials and tribulations as a charming and in-demand script doctor, but also a few years later as he develops and writes the first draft of what would become Citizen Kane. Mank chronicles the true-life inspirations for the characters and story of Kane, with Oldman delivering a towering performance as a beleaguered man who sees a shot at greatness and takes it. The execution is tremendous, as Fincher crafts a lush black-and-white feature that’s made to look (and sound) like it was released in 1941. Amanda Seyfried shines as actress Marion Davies and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross deliver a lush throwback score that underlines the entire affair. – Adam Chitwood

batgirl-zatanna-hbo-max
‘Batgirl’ and ‘Zatanna’ Projects Confirmed for HBO Max by Warner Bros.

Alison Brie’s schedule is pretty free right now, right?


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