5 best Netflix movies of 2024 so far, ranked

A man aims his camera in Scoop.

We’re at the point of the year when enough movies have been released for us to wonder which are the best of them all? Netflix in particular has been very productive in the first half of 2024, releasing a wide variety of movies that have ranged from surprisingly decent (Damsel) to downright awful (Lift).

From a documentary chronicling one of the most well-known songs of all time to a thriller about an ill-fated interview with a member of the British Royal Family, the best Netflix movies of 2024 encompass almost every genre and feature a galaxy of talented stars. You may disagree with the selections on this list, but you can’t deny the sheer creativity and entertainment value that each of these movies possesses.

Interested in more best of 2024 articles? Then check out the 10 best movies of 2024 so far, ranked and the 10 best TV shows so far, ranked.

5. The Greatest Night in Pop

Cyndi Lauper and Bruce Springsteen sit together in The Greatest Night in Pop.

A lot of people are fascinated with how major works of art are created. Hell, there’s even an entire Stephen Sondheim musical, Sunday in the Park with George, about that curiosity. Documentaries are the ideal movie genre to showcase this kind of behind-the-scenes action, and there’s no doc more compelling this year than The Greatest Night in Pop, which chronicles the making of one of pop music’s biggest songs ever, We Are the World.

Full confession: I don’t much care for the song, but that didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the documentary. In telling how producers Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian gathered music’s biggest stars to sing on a charity single aimed at fighting world hunger, The Greatest Night in Pop spins a consistently fascinating tale that involves big talent and even bigger egos. One anecdote I particular liked was how Omartian determined the lineup of vocalists involved with the production. Just how do you put Bob Dylan, Huey Lewis, and Cyndi Lauper on the same song, and make it sound good? That question, and so much more, are asked and answered, and by the end, you’ll have a better appreciation for how one of the most popular songs of all time came together.

4. Society of the Snow

The survivors huddle around in the wreckage of the plane in a still from Society of the Snow
Society of the Snow Netflix / Netflix

On October 13, 1972, a plane carrying 45 passengers crashed in the Andes mountains. Twenty-nine people survived the initial crash. When they were discovered two months later, only 14 people were left alive. This simple, devastating story is told in graphic detail by director J.A. Bayona in Society of the Snow, which debuted in limited release in December 2023 before making its Netflix streaming debut on January 4, 2024. It was nominated for two Oscars, including for Best International Feature and Best Makeup and Hairstyling, and appeared on several “Best of” lists.

Society of the Snow could be accurately described as punishing since it faithfully depicts not only the horrific crash, but the period afterwards when the survivors endured harsh weather conditions and depleting resources that led some of them to resort to cannibalism. Society of the Snow is the kind of movie you watch in a daze and only afterwards feel like you’ve just gone through the tragic event yourself. It’s that good, and that visceral.

3. City Hunter

A man aims a gun in City Hunter.

Sometimes, you just need a silly action comedy to brighten your mood. And while Hollywood continues to churn out action movies of varying quality like Monkey Man and Boy Kills World, they don’t hold a candle to the Japanese import City Hunter, which features crazy stunts and a silly sense of humor that is both wondrous and juvenile at the same time.

Based on a popular 1980s manga and anime series, City Hunter is the name of the detective agency run by Ryo Saeba, a brash, turtleneck-wearing P.I. who likes to bust heads and charm the ladies. When his partner dies, he teams up with his partner’s sister to stop a drug cartel from taking over Tokyo. The narrative is your basic action movie plot, but what makes City Hunter so fun to watch is the sheer energy it exudes through its kinetic filmmaking. It constantly surprises you, and keeps you guessing as to what will happen next.

2. Orion and the Dark

A boy leans on a dark spirit in Orion and the Dark.

When you think of Charlie Kaufman, you don’t usually think of kids animated movies. The director/screenwriter, who is best known for his dark comedies like Being John Malkovich and I’m Thinking of Ending Things, may seem like a strange choice to adapt Emma Yarlett’s beloved children’s book Orion and the Dark, but after you’ve watched it, it makes sense. Who better to understand the darkness that lurks within a child’s mind, and the imagination that helps him navigate through it?

Eleven-year-old Orion is afraid of the dark, but his constant complaints about it cause Dark, the embodiment of Orion’s worst fear, to confront him one night and take the child on a journey to nighttime to meet other entities like Sleep, Insomnia, and Sweet Dreams. Things only get more fantastical from there, but one of the great elements about Orion and the Dark is discovering all of its wonderful twists and turns. Like many classic children’s stories, the movie can be dark and serious when it needs to be, but it displays such imaginative visuals and unforgettable characters that you wish Netflix would make more animated movies like this instead of Woody Woodpecker Goes to Camp.

1. Scoop

Two people sit facing each other in Scoop.

It’s hard to make a thrilling movie when the climax involves two people sitting across from each other talking, but that’s why Scoop works so damn well. In recounting the disastrous 2019 interview Prince Andrew gave to BBC reporter Emily Maitlis about his relationship to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, Scoop provides a broader context that allows it to comment not only on a society that allows young women to be preyed upon by the rich and powerful, but also on how a changing media industry needs to chase after scoops that will engage an increasingly hungry social media audience.

Directed by Philip Martin, Scoop has a relentless, nervous energy that is aided by a wonderful techno-infused score by Anne Nikitin and Hannah Peel and glossy cinematography by Nanu Segal. This is a slick-looking movie, one that pops out from the rest of  Netflix’s library of original movies, which can often look flat.

Scoop | Official Trailer | Netflix

But it’s the performances, particularly from Billie Piper as tough-talking talent booker Sam McAlister, The X-Files star Gillian Anderson as Maitlis, and Keeley Hawes as Prince Andrew’s too-trusting private secretary Amanda Thirsk, that makes Scoop the best Netflix movie of 2024 so far. There hasn’t been a movie yet this year that’s provided a wealth of roles and characters like the ones Scoop gives its talented cast of actresses, and it’s a ball to watch Piper, Anderson, and Hawes sink their teeth into the material.