The 10 Best Movies On Netflix
#1 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Of course, Netflix has movies to suit just about any taste and age, so if your kids aren’t quite old enough for The Godfather yet, you can sit them down in front of this Steven Spielberg classic and feel safe in the knowledge that they’re in good hands. The tale of a boy who discovers an alien in the shed out the back of his house and becomes best friends with the little lost creature was a phenomenon when it was released; and still holds up well today, mostly thanks to its timeless story. Netflix’s version is beautifully remastered in HD, as usual for Spielberg’s films.
#2 The Godfather
There are plenty of movies around about the Italian “mob”. But this one is the graddaddy of them all – a sprawling, complex, almost perfect film that pretty much set the tone for the entire genre for the following decades. The story of the young son of a Mafia “don” who inexorably gets drawn into the family’s world of organised crime, rising up the ranks brutally along the way, it’s gripping from start to finish. The film and its two excellent sequels were all painstakingly restored a few years ago, and the good news is that Netflix has these restored versions available to stream (in HD, of course).
#3 Fight Club
The first rule of fight club is… oh, never mind that, we do have to talk about Fight Club, mainly because it’s such a twisted masterpiece of a movie. Edward Norton plays a man (we never find out his name) who suffers from insomnia and spends his nights visiting various support groups for conditions he does not have. All that changes when he encounters Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) who shows him another, unique way of looking at life. Director David Fincher’s best film, and a modern classic.
#4 American Beauty
Kevin Spacey seems to have made a career out of chewing up the scenery of every film (and TV show) he’s in, but it was this brilliant, dark drama that really cemented his reputation. Spacey plays Lester Burnham, and ad executive who hates his life and decides to liberate himself from it by quitting his job and behaving like a man in the grip of a very strange mid-life crisis. Written by Alan Ball, the man behind True Blood and Six Feet Under, this won Best Picture and four other awards (including Best Actor for Spacey) at the 2000 Oscars.
Christopher Nolan, when not making Batman movies, has a habit of coming up with incredibly imaginative, creative stuff such as Memento, Inception – and this masterpiece. It’s a long (nearly three hours) and suitably epic story about people in the not too distant future travelling to distant galaxies in an attempt to find a new planet for humans to live on, and like many of Nolan’s films, it doesn’t necessarily go where you think it’s going. Heavily influenced by Kubrick’s classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, but nowhere near as wilfully obscure as that one was.
#6 La Femme Nikita
Though Netflix lists this one under its US title – the “La Femme” was added because the distributor thought Nikita sounded like a man’s name – this is one of French director Luc Besson’s finest moments. It’s the story of a troubled, unredeemable girl who is arrested after being part of a robbery that turns into a brutal massacre – and is then trained by a secret organisation to become a murderer for the state instead. Super-stylish and absolutely gripping, this superior original was the basis for an American movie and, later, a TV series.
#7 Moulin Rouge!
Yes, the exclamation mark is part of the title! Baz Luhrmann’s next film after his brilliant reboot of Romeo & Juliet was this visually stunning piece of cleverness, and while it won’t be to everyone’s taste (it’s a musical!) it’s a stunningly crafted, visually sumptuous piece of cinema. Right from the meticulously crafted opening sequence, every single shot counts as the story is told as much with the visuals themselves as it is by the actors and their (mostly competent) singing. Watch in HD on a nice big screen for best effect.
#8 The Princess Bride
If you’re one of the two or three people that hasn’t seen this brilliant fantasy/adventure/comedy classic, you’re in for a treat with Netflix having a beautifully remastered HD version ready for you to enjoy for the first time. Most others who’ve seen it won’t need much persuasion to fire it up again – the comedy’s just as fresh as it was when the film came out nearly 30 years ago, and it’s a finely crafted classic that just doesn’t age at all. House of Cards fans, Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) made her film debut in this one!
#9 Back to the Future
Netflix recently added the HD remasters of all three films in this series, and the first one is obviously the place to start if you feel like it’s a good time to revisit them all – or see them for the first time. Michael J Fox was famous for a TV sitcom when he took on the role of Marty McFly, accidental time traveller, and by the time this was in cinemas, he was a superstar. The two sequels have higher budgets and better effects, but this one’s the source of all the magic.
#10 Guardians of the Galaxy
One of a bunch of Disney-owned movies that are available on Netflix Australia but not, as yet, on the US service (thanks to a global deal that kicked in early here), Guardians is a brilliant romp from the Marvel Comics cinematic universe that’s a little unique. Rather than being a movie based around familiar characters from a comic series, this one tells new, original story featuring characters created for a comic most have never heard of. It turned out to be one of the most enjoyable sci-fi films in years. And one of its stars is a raccoon. With a gun. The streaming behemoth with years of experience under its planet-sized belt, Netflix has been spending much of its time and money in recent years on building a list of New releases and original content. Initially, they’ve aimed strictly towards high-quality TV shows and the occasional documentary, but they’re slowly moving into the world of feature films – watch this space! The Netflix movie library is a broad and diverse one, something reflected in our top 10 watch list.
With the sheer number of movies on Netflix, you’re sure to find others there that you consider favourites or want to discover for the first time. But if you’re looking for suggestions, you can’t really go wrong with any of the above ten superb movies. Do you agree with the ones we’ve picked, though? Be sure to let us know!