BINGE-R #50: The 50 Best Movies on Netflix
THE 50 BEST MOVIES ON NETFLIX
13th (2016, 100 minutes): A blistering, detailed explanation from Selma director Ava DuVernay of how America’s racial inequality is advanced through the incarceration of black men.
Amour (2012, 127 minutes): An ageing Parisian couple – played by Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant – have their great love tested in a heartrending drama from Michael Haneke.
Annie Hall (1977, 93 minutes): If there’s one Woody Allen film for that desert island, this is it – the possibility of happiness and the dilemma of neurosis, with the incomparable Diane Keaton.
The Babadook (2014, 93 minutes): One of the great Australian debuts, and an equally great horror film from Jennifer Kent, where the monster is not only under the bed but also inside a besieged parent.
Barbara (2012, 105 minutes): The partnership of German filmmaker Christian Petzold and actor Nina Hoss reaches a tenderly powerful realm in the story of a banished East German doctor looking to escape.
Beasts of No Nation (2013, 137 minutes): The savage, scarring plight of African child soldiers is captured with vivid strokes and lasting pain in this drama from True Detective helmer Cary Joji Fukunaga.
Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013, 180 minutes): An intensely detailed dissection of the love affair between Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos’ young women that comingles passion and time’s passing.
Boogie Nights (1997, 155 minutes): Paul Tomas Anderson’s second feature, set in the Los Angeles porn industry at the end of the 1970s, is full of filmmaking brio and touching familial vulnerability.
Clueless (1995, 97 minutes): A knowingly sweet teen comedy from Amy Heckerling whose best lines live on as memes, but the film itself remains a perfectly calculated pleasure.
Collateral (2004, 115 minutes): Michael Mann makes great use of Tom Cruise’s otherworldly coldness in this L.A. hitman drama, with the nocturnal city mesmeric as Jamie Foxx’s cabbie traverses it.
Contagion (2011, 106 minutes): It’s the end of the world as we know it, and Steven Soderbergh feels more than fine. A very scary vision of a worldwide pandemic beginning with Gwyneth Paltrow’s death.
Drive (2011, 100 minutes): Luscious neon streetscapes and Ryan Gosling’s best Steve McQueen vibe combine in this violent automotive noir that is elevated by Carey Mulligan’s presence.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982, 115 minutes): “I’m keeping him.” Steve Spielberg’s heartfelt embrace of childhood possibility and loss will always be one of his best movies.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, 108 minutes): When former lovers – Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey – have their memories of each other wiped the result is warped humour and screwball heartbreak.
Fight Club (1999, 139 minutes): David Fincher supplies one of the defining documents of Generation X, with this mind melt black comedy where Edward Norton and Brad Pitt play bonded protagonists.
Frances Ha (2012, 86 minutes): The 20something New York experience has rarely been as funny or as deceptively telling as it is in this black and white comedy from star Greta Gerwig and director Noah Baumbach.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014, 101 minutes): A vampire western. A cross-cultural comedy. A David Lynch fever dream. Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut is all of those possibilities and more.
Gone Baby Gone (2007, 114 minutes): Ben Affleck’s directorial debut remains his best film, mulling over the bonds forged and broken within a Boston community when two detectives seek out a missing child.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966, 161 minutes): Sergio Leone’s classic spaghetti western, with Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach as the titular gunslingers, is grisly widescreen elegance.
Her (2013, 126 minutes): In a calm near future where your operating system is an A.I., Joaquin Phoenix’s loss-laden lead memorably falls in love with software voiced by Scarlett Johansson.
Hot Fuzz (2007, 121 minutes): Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg go so deep in their send-up and celebration of cop buddy films that this very British comedy refuses to separate the two approaches.
I am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (2016, 87 minutes): A sparse, moody horror film starring Ruth Wilson where the shock of discovery is nothing compared to the moment of confirmation.
I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (2017, 93 minutes): Macon Blair’s Sundance Film Festival winner is a comic vigilante thriller where common decency motivates the unlikely heroes.
In the Line of Fire (1993, 128 minutes): John Malkovich goes full sociopath as the aspiring Presidential assassin who engages with Clint Eastwood’s veteran Secret Service agent in this astute thriller.
The Incredibles (2004, 115 minutes): One of Pixar’s finest animations, where the hiding of superpowers speaks to the struggle of every family to find itself.
Inside Man (2006, 129 minutes): Spike Lee proves that he can make a commercial thriller, with Denzel Washington as the cop and Clive Owen the bank robber, in his own gripping way.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001, 104 minutes): Juvenile, silly, doused with Star Wars gags. I won’t hear a bad word against this ludicrous Kevin Smith comedy.
Kung Fu Hustle (2004, 98 minutes): A delirious mix of Looney Tunes and martial arts mayhem, Stephen Chow’s comic Hong Kong blockbuster is a delight.
Lawrence of Arabia (1962, 216 minutes): The oldest film here, and the longest. David Lean’s epic about the British officer who helped inspire an Arab insurgency during World War I is a sumptuous classic.
Little Women (1994, 115 minutes): Gillian Armstrong’s version of Louisa May Alcott’s tale is both genuine and smart, with Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, and a tremulous, teenage Christian Bale.
Locke (2013, 85 minutes): A solo piece set entirely in a car driving toward London and vast personal upheaval, Steven Knight’s drama is carried by the charged performance of Tom Hardy.
Marie Antoinette (2006, 123 minutes): Sofia Coppola charts a young woman’s downfall – she’s the Queen of France and played by Kirsten Dunst – in this intriguing biopic about life (and death) at Versailles.
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003, 138 minutes): Peter Weir’s masterful seaborne adventure, set during the Napoleonic Wars, clashes discovery with conflict, duty with friendship.
Mean Streets (1973, 112 minutes): Martin Scorsese, with Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro as his compromised leading men, announced himself with this Little Italy drama where minor gangsters wrestle with their purpose.
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004, 141 minutes): Perhaps the only truly essential music documentary, metal juggernauts Metallica go through a collective crisis in the studio and enter group therapy.
Midnight Special (2016, 112 minutes): In Jeff Nichols’ Deep South science-fiction thriller the true wondrous force to behold is the love Michael Shannon’s father has for his young and possibly super-powered son.
No Country for Old Men (2007, 122 minutes): A spooky meditation on the limits of violence and the final frontier from Joel and Ethan Coen that perfectly encapsulates Cormac McCarthy’s novel.
The Prestige (2006, 130 minutes): My favourite Christopher Nolan film – a Victoria-era mystery about the death wish rivalry between Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale’s magicians; has bonus Bowie.
Pulp Fiction (1994, 154 minutes): Somehow 23-years-old, Quentin Tarantino’s joyous dive into the mores of L.A. crime, narrative illusion, and conversations between men and women still crackles.
Results (2015, 105 minutes): An offbeat independent romantic comedy that boasts a remarkable performance from Cobie Smulders as a personal trainer with a furious certainty about what she doesn’t want.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991, 118 minutes): A gripping serial killer procedural and somehow a chaste romance between two lonely souls, the late Jonathan Demme’s smash is intricately executed.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015, 136 minutes): Yes, it goes back to the original Star Wars, but we can live with that. When Rey summons her lightsabre the franchise becomes pure fulfilment.
Short Term 12 (2013, 96 minutes): An unsparing study of trauma’s terrible grip, with Brie Larson as a counsellor for at risk teens who must finally deal with the pain she’s buried in the service of others.
The Terminator (1984, 107 minutes): Forget the sequels. James Cameron’s lean, pulsating B-movie, made cheap and propulsive, is still a science-fiction great and the perfect use of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Tower (2016, 96 minutes): A riveting, fluid documentary that mixes archival tenseness and tone-shifting animation, this incredibly intimate invocation returns to a 1966 that is year zero for American mass shootings.
Trainspotting (1996, 94 minutes): Scabrous, stinging and sometimes surreal, Danny Boyle’s black comedy about Edinburgh junkies has survived carrying generation-defining weight to resonate.
The Truman Show (1998, 103 minutes): A comic critique of reality television before we knew what it actually was, Peter Weir’s satire about a man (Jim Carrey) whose life is televised is richly allusive.
Under the Shadow (2016, 84 minutes): Set in 1980s wartime Tehran, Babak Anvari’s horror film about a menacing spirit nightmarishly mixes ancient myth and contemporary political repression.
Victoria (2015, 138 minutes): A true one take wonder, as a lonely Spanish woman’s night out in Berlin takes an unexpected turn when her new companions commit a serious crime that unfolds without an edit.
Zodiac (2007, 157 minutes): Provocatively contemporary in the way it documents how obsession and conspiracy are intertwined, David Fincher’s vast true crime mystery is a frightening procedural.
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