The country is coming out of lockdown and cinemas are now open, but film lovers aren't rushing out in their droves just yet.
It’ll be a little while before things get back to normal completely. In the meantime, watching movies indoors has been providing us with some much needed comfort and escapism.
Netflix has come into its own over recent weeks, providing the much-needed laughs, cathartic tears, and all the thrills of the cinema for fans stuck indoors. It’s even had to reduce the quality of some of its streams to keep up with demand.
We’ve put together a guide to 50 of our favourite feature films available to watch now, listed in no particular order. Check out our picks of the best documentaries here, be sure to check out our guide to the most underrated films on the platform here and our guide to the best foreign-language movies on streaming services as well.
For now, here’s hoping popcorn has been part of your essential shop.
La La Land
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling cemented their status as one of the most charismatic on-screen couples with La La Land, following their performances together in Gangster Squad and Crazy, Stupid, Love. Damien Chazel’s movie channels the wonder of Hollywood’s golden age, with an aching love story at its heart and one of the most pitch-perfect endings of recent years.
One of the most impressive filmmaking feats of the 21st century, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood follows the life of Mason Evans Jr from the age of six to 18. Shot between 2001 and 2013, the film is a moving reflection on ageing and loss of youth, with top performances from Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane and Ethan Hawke.
More 90s than tamagotchis, Sunny-D and pogs all rolled into one, teen comedy Clueless is a smart take on wealth and privilege in the US, detailing the cliques and cliches of American High School life. Loosely based on Jane Austen’s Emma, it deserves its reputation as one of the most-loved cult favourites of the decade.
The Truman Show
Jim Carrey’s life is the focus of the world’s most popular reality TV programme, only he doesn’t know it. His entire life is broadcast around the world continually, and it’s heartbreaking to see Truman grow up to realise his concept of reality is a lie. Carrey is excellent in the title, giving one of his most sympathetic and moving performances, with vivid direction from Peter Weir
Al Pacino is at his bombastic, bloodthirsty and screen-dominating best as Scarface, the Cuban immigrant who rises to become the most powerful drug lord in Miami. There’s a new version on the way from Call Me By Your Name filmmaker Luca Guadagnino, but before it arrives, revisit the visceral 80s classic.
A Taiwanese man makes a new start in America, leaving behind the woman he fell in love with. Years later, after marrying a woman he has far less in common with, he opens up to his daughter in New York about his experiences. Written by Master of None’s Alan Yang, it’s a lovelorn, profound and quietly affecting drama, with beautifully shot sequences of Taiwan’s sweeping fields and chaotic cityscapes.
Alison Brie, perhaps best known for charming performances Mad Men and Glow, gets the chance to show off her full range in Horse Girl – one of the trippiest Netflix films since the excellent Anhilliation. The psychological drama is a meditation on mental health, with a plot that tips over into surreal sci-fi territory, leaving the viewer doubting the film’s entire reality. One of the more interesting originals.
All Day and a Night
The People v. O. J. Simpson and Black Panther writer and producer Joe Robert Cole stepped into the director’s chair for All Day and a Night, which follows a young rapper coming to terms with the murder he committed, and turbulent life that proceeded it. There are stylised, yet gritty depictions of life on the streets of Oakland, California, as well as a fantastic cast including Moonlight’s Ashton Sanders, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Regina Taylor and Jeffrey Wright.
Tarantino presents an alternate take on history in WWII drama Inglourious Basterds, a real return to form after the indulgent Death Proof two years earlier. The director’s masterstroke was in scouting Christoph Waltz from German soaps to play the SS colonel Hans Landa – one of the most unsettling villains of recent times – a performance which saw him win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.
No Country for Old Men
This sprawling adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel features one of the ultimate antihero performances from Javier Bardem in his first English-speaking role. Cutting a terrifying figure with a lethal cattle gun and a terrible haircut, his hitman sets out to find two million dollars from a botched drug deal, deciding people’s fates on the flip of a coin. It’s arguably the Coen Brothers’ finest work, with an incredible atmosphere and some of the most memorable set pieces in contemporary Westerns.
The Two Popes
Critics including the Standard’s Charlotte O’Sullivan tipped this two-hander drama for success at the Oscars a while back. It’s gone under the radar slightly since then, and might not have come out on top, but the performances from Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio respectively are electric.
The Big Short
The Big Short did a better job than most of explaining the conditions that led to the financial crash of 2008. How? By enlisting the likes of Margot Robbie, who explained the impact of subprime mortgages all while drinking champagne in a bubble bath. It’s more than just an economics lesson, too, thanks to the bombastic direction of Adam McKay and riotous turns from Christian Bale and Steve Carrell.
Noah Baumbach’s tale of a demoralising and dehumanising divorce process is, despite itself, uplifting and surprisingly funny. Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver manage to bring their frailties and flaws to the fore, crucially while remaining essentially likeable people, as their lives fall down around them. Laura Dern and Ray Liotta’s performances as the street-fighting lawyers Nora Fanshaw and Jay Marotta are enjoyable too – albeit, both have a touch of the pantomime villain.
There’s a genius that threads itself through this tale of underage drinking and infantile dick doodles, which raises it from the puerile to the profound. Jonah Hill made his Hollywood debut in this brilliant, frequently obscene comedy, which follows a bunch of misfits attempting to buy alcohol underage to impress girls. Surprisingly, it works over and over again – give it another watch if you haven’t in a while.
Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma is a stunning ode to Mexico, following a young housekeeper and the middle-class family that employ her in the early 70s. It’s vast in scale, exploring both intimate relationships, family dynamics and expansive geopolitical themes. There’s a timeless beauty to the film, and it’s deeply moving and heartbreaking in parts.
Bloodthirsty revenge flick Blue Ruin is a slow-burning delight, and one that might easily go unnoticed on Netflix without an A-list cast to entice viewers. It’s a violent and visceral watch at times, but it’s also a compelling look at human endurance and the impacts of reopening old wounds.
Vacuous investment banker and self-confessed “insane” serial killer, Patrick Bateman welcomed in a new generation of movie villian in 2000’s thrilling blacker-than-black comedy American Psycho, set in the world of 80s executives in coke-addled New York. Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman is one of the most troubling and insidious screen presence of all time, and 20 years later the film still stands up as one of the smartest and most brutal satirical horror ever made.
Jake Gyllenhaal delivered the most physical and unnerving performance of his career in Nightcrawler, which captures the seedy underbelly of video journalism. It’s one of the creepiest and atmospheric films of the past six years, with Gyllenhaal playing a videographer who immerses himself further and further into the world of criminality in Los Angeles to capture shocking footage.
This brilliantly weird high-concept sci-fi is one of the best original Netflix movies yet, following cellular biology professor Natalie Portman as she ventures deeper into a mysterious zone called the Shimmer. Think Heart of Darkness with added aliens.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Chloë Grace Moretz plays the titular role in this powerful drama. After she’s discovered kissing the prom queen, Cameron is sent to the gay conversion camp called God’s Promise, where she rallies together with fellow “disciples” in the face of terrible adversity.
A genetically-enhanced super pig and a young girl form an unlikely and beautiful friendship in this gem, going head to head with a superfood conglomerate. This Netflix original from Parasite’s Bong Joon-Ho was dismissed as vegan propaganda by some when it came out in 2017, but it’s so much more.
I Am Mother
A teenage girl is raised by a robot with the intention of repopulating a devastated earth in this bold and ambitious sci-fi drama, packed with twists and turns. There’s one of the best performances from Hilary Swank in years, playing a mysterious stranger who throws the validity of the programme into doubt.
The Great Escape
Steve McQueen is at the height of his powers in this compelling and often funny look at the lengths members of the Allied Forces went to escape imprisonment from POW camps during WWII. It’s not merely a vehicle for McQueen, though; alongside him are many stars of the day, including Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, James Garner and Gordon Jackson.
West Side Story
Before the remake from Stephen Spielberg arrives later this year, head back and rediscover this timeless musical, inspired by Romeo & Juliet and following an aching romance between two members of two rival gangs.
Normally, Adam Sandler and a ridiculous pair of fake teeth is a recipe for a bonafide dud. Not this time. The Safdie brothers’ Uncut Gems emerged as one of the most compelling movies of the year so far when it arrived on Netflix in January, with Sandler giving a magnetic performance as a compulsive and capricious jeweller who acquires a black opal to pay off rising gambling debts. Make sure to watch Good Time too – the equally brilliant and anxiety-inducing movie from the Safdie’s, also available on Netflix.
The film that turned the romcoms on their head. Back in 1993, Bill Murray’s misanthropic weather reporter is forced to live the same day over and over again, until he can make things right with his co-worker (Andie MacDowell). A total joy from start, to start, to start to finish.
My Neighbour Totoro
The glorious Studio Ghibli back catalogue arrived on the streaming service, helping more people than ever discover their awe-inspiring animations. This fantastical, touching tale following two young girls who befriend a spirit form in bucolic Japan is the perfect place to start.
When Harry Met Sally
The chemistry between Billy Crystal as Harry and Meg Ryan is some of the most convincing in movie history, with this perfect romcom attempting to answer the question, ‘can men and women ever truly be friends?’. There’s more to it than that, though; When Harry… has something honest to say about the messiness of love and relationships, and about the way we struggle to find order in our feelings. It’s light-hearted fun, but oddly life-affirming, too.
Under the Shadow
A mother and a daughter are haunted by a shapeless evil force in 80s Tehran in this strange and inspired supernatural horror. The threat of air-raids during the Iraq-Iran war looms large over the film, which is claustrophobic, affecting and unforgettable.
Private Life is one of the few Hollywood movies of recent times that tackles the subject of middle-aged couples trying to have children. It’s sensitive and quietly devastating, featuring the best Paul Giammatti performance in years and a great turn from Kathryn Hahn.
The Life of Brian
One of the most quotable comedies ever made, this inspired film follows a man in Judea who is wrongly identified as the messiah. If this doesn’t scratch your Monty Python itch, the Holy Grail is also on there too.
The Wizard of Oz
Visit the fantastical world of Oz for some of the most vibrant characters ever put to screen in this timeless adventure, which has been transcending generational divides ever since it was released. There’s no place like home, after all.
Boyz N the Hood
One of the finest coming-of-age dramas of the 90s, John Singleton’s drama captures the lives of three young men negotiating the tough streets of Crenshaw, Los Angeles, painting one of the most enduring pictures of inner city America. The impressive cast includes Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Laurence Fishburne, Regina King, and Angela Bassett.
A wide-eyed Texan (Jon Voight) moves to the Big Apple who heads with the intention of becoming a male prostitute and forms an unlikely friendship with conman Enrico Salvatore ‘Ratso’ Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman). It’s a bleak but brilliant buddy movie, with cult and commercial appeal, which won Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director for John Schlesinger at the Oscars in 1970.
The epitome of 80s action movie bombast, Arnold Schwarzenegger brings a ruthless killing machine to life in this endlessly rewatchable thrill-ride. The movie also introduced us to Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor, who proved one of the most compelling movie heroines of all time.
The debut from Quentin Tarantino established him as one of the most exciting talents in Hollywood, with a script sharper than a razor blade and some of the most uniquely violent and brutally brilliant scenes put to film. As darkly gripping now as it was in 1992.
The Half of It
If you like your coming-of-age romcoms with just enough of a twist, then The Half Of It could be your perfect match. A shy girl who writes essays for money is paid by a jock to write letters for a girl he likes, only to fall for the girl herself and discover her true identity. Still following? Good. It’s a tender and articulate film from writer and director Alice Wu, which will leave you feeling nicely fuzzy without ever tipping into cliche, and it was named Best U.S. Narrative Feature by the 2020 Tribeca festival.
Tim Burton established himself as a master of weird with this brilliantly quirky fantasy comedy. The ghosts of a couple who haunt their former house along with Michael Keaton’s abhorrent and deceptive poltergeist Beetlejuice.
The movie that confirmed Reservoir Dogs was no fluke, and marked Quentin Tarantino as one of the brightest writing talents in Hollywood. His razor-script sharp and the memorable performances from Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette help make this blood-thirsty road movie unforgettable – not to forget a priceless turn from Brad Pitt as stoner Floyd. Worth watching for one of the most brutal fight scenes between Arquette and a young James Gandolfini, too.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
The ultimate teen rebellion movie; follow the ineffably cool and fourth-wall breaking Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) as he tears across Chicago causing chaos with his friends after skipping school.
Having the main character shot and killed is an odd way to start a love story – Ghost begins in fairly harrowing circumstances, but the movie is soon bubbling over with steamy romance and thrills. It features one of the great performances from Patrick Swayze, playing the ghost of a young woman’s lover (Demi Moore), who comes back from beyond the grave to protect her from the corrupt business partner.
Stanley Tucci's passion project Big Night follows a pair of brothers working in a struggling Italian restaurant, albeit one with superb food, who take a big risk to save their business. Surprisingly touching, with some of the most mouth-watering food sequences put to film.
A Quiet Place
Director John Krasinski achieved something remarkable with A Quiet Place, managing to produce a horror which isn’t overly gory and doesn’t rely on cheap jump scares to keep audiences interested. The central premise – make a sound and you die – is as simple as it is effective, and Emily Blunt delivers one of the strongest performances of her career as family matriarch Evelyn Abbott.
Lost in Translation
Scarlett Johansson was just 17 when she filmed this perfectly-pitched comedy from Sofia Coppola, where she proved a captivating screen presence and in turn launched herself an A-list career. The movie centers on two strangers going through two very different life crises, who form a deeper connection after meeting by chance in a Tokyo hotel bar.
Roman Polanski’s harrowing war drama brings the story of Władysław Szpilman, a pianist and composer who survived the Holocaust, to the screen. The remarkably moving, harrowing tale follows Szpilman as he is taken from Warsaw to Treblinka extermination camp, becoming separated from his family and joining the Jewish revolt.
Beasts of No Nation
Idris Elba is at his best in this stark war drama, delivering a scary and charismatic performance as the Commandant – the leader of a rebel faction in West Africa populated by child soldiers. Rarely has the sheer depravity and nihilism of war been captured in such a striking way.
One of the first Netflix originals that really struck a chord with critics, Mudbound is the story of two veterans, one black and one white, who experiences racism and PTSD after returning to Mississippi after WWII. There are excellent performances from Carey Mulligan, Jason Mitchell and Mary J Blige.
The Breakfast Club
More than an 80s nostalgia trip, Molly Ringwald stars in a teen drama packed with social commentary and satire, telling the story of a disparate group of high school kids who discover a common connection while spending Saturday in detention.
12 Years a Slave
Harrowing, haunting and devastating, 12 Years a Slave is the film that won Steve McQueen Oscars for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. It tells the true story of Soloman Northup, a free American who was kidnapped and put to work on plantations for 12 years before being released, featuring one of the most impressive ensemble casts of recent times. Northup’s book of the same name is worth reading, too.
One of the smartest sci-fi hits of the past decade, with a perfectly uncanny performance from Alicia Vikander as an AI robot created by Oscar Isaac’s tyrannical tech genius. The film considers what it means to be alive, and how technological advancements can stretch even further than the depths of human depravity.