The 50 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now

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The sheer volume of films on Netflix — and the site’s less than ideal interface — can make finding a genuinely great movie there a difficult task. To help, we’ve plucked out the 50 best films currently streaming on the service in the United States, updated regularly as titles come and go. And as a bonus, we link to more great movies on Netflix within many of our write-ups below. (Note: Streaming services sometimes remove titles or change starting dates without giving notice.)

Here are our lists of the best TV shows on Netflix, the best movies on Amazon Prime Video and the best of everything on Disney Plus.

ImageJake Gyllenhaal in “Nightcrawler.”
Credit…Chuck Zlotnick/Open Road Films

Jake Gyllenhaal is unnerving and absorbing as a modern-day “Taxi Driver” in what A.O. Scott called “a modest and effectively executed urban thriller.” Slithering through the Los Angeles nightscape, armed with an HD video camera and a questionable sense of ethics, Gyllenhaal’s Louis Bloom will go anywhere for the story — and if he can’t find one, he’ll engineer one. The writer and director Dan Gilroy immerses the viewer in this sticky subset of crime journalism and bracingly dramatizes the ease with which this literal ambulance chaser traverses the bridge into mainstream media. Anchoring these increasingly relevant questions is a gripping performance by Gyllenhaal, who stares this savvy climber right in the eyes and reveals the horrifying hollowness behind them.

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Steven Spielberg’s gripping adaptation of the best seller by Michael Crichton is both a terrifying thriller and a thoughtful commentary on the moral challenges of scientific advancement. Richard Attenborough stars as a wealthy industrialist who has figured out how to isolate and reanimate dinosaur DNA; Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum are the scientists he invites to marvel at the fruits of his labor, until a power outage during their tour turns the whole expedition upside down. The special effects are still eerily convincing, the performances are quirky and compelling, and Spielberg mines his big set pieces for maximum tension. A.O. Scott recently deemed it “scary, scrappy and marvelously executed.”

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This 2004 breakthrough film by Michel Gondry is a miraculous combination of science fiction ideas, romantic-comedy meet-cutes and lovelorn drama, somehow delivering on all counts. Working from a typically clever screenplay by Charlie Kaufman (“Being John Malkovich”), he tells the story of a perpetual sad sack (Jim Carrey) who subjects himself to an experimental procedure in hopes of erasing all memory of his ex-girlfriend (Kate Winslet). Our critics called it “a wintry pop song of a film, one you want to play on repeat”; achingly melancholy yet riotously funny, it’s one of the great romances of our scrambled age. (The equally bonkers, Kaufman-penned “Being John Malkovich” is also on Netflix.)

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This joyful, exuberant musical celebration, winner of the 2014 Oscar for Best Documentary, introduces us to the backup singers behind the voices we’ve heard on dozens — if not hundreds — of classic records, giving these women long-overdue credit for their work. Priceless archival clips and timeless recordings accompany their beautifully spun stories. Still, “20 Feet” is more than a nostalgia trip; it values the hard work these women spent their lives doing, and raises important questions about why so much of it was relegated to semi-anonymity. Our critic called it a “generous, fascinating documentary.” (Music fans will also love “What Happened, Miss Simone?”)

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A delightfully playful bedtime story with a wicked sense of humor, this family adventure is adapted from a novel by Roald Dahl, and comes with his deliciously dark and cynical worldview intact. Younger viewers will treasure its inventive (and convincing) special effects, as well as the empathetic protagonist, a recent orphan whose grandmother helps him sniff out a society of witches. Meanwhile, parents will enjoy the vampy leading performance by Anjelica Huston, who invests her character with high style and an outrageous accent. Our critic called it “a fanciful film for savvy children and a witty, well-made movie for their parents.” (For more traditional family fun, check out “The Muppets.”)

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Winner of the Oscar for best picture of 2015, this ensemble drama focuses on the Boston Globe’s investigation of child sex abuse in the Roman Catholic church, which culminated in a bombshell series that won the Pulitzer Prize. But the accolades are merely the payoff; as with “All the President’s Men,” “Spotlight” is primarily interested in the unrelenting grunt work of shoe-leather reporting, of knocking on doors, digging through records, matching up names and praying for breakthroughs. Our critic called it a “gripping detective story” and “superlative newsroom drama.”

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Gina Prince-Blythewood’s adaptation of Greg Rucka’s comic book series delivers the expected goods: The action beats are crisply executed, the mythology is clearly defined and the pieces are carefully placed for future installments. But that’s not what makes it special. Prince-Blythewood’s background is in character-driven drama (her credits include “Love and Basketball” and “Beyond the Lights”), and the film is driven by its relationships rather than its effects — and by a thoughtful attentiveness to the morality of its conflicts. A.O. Scott deemed it a “fresh take on the superhero genre,” and he’s right; though based on a comic book, it’s far from cartoonish. (For more high-intensity action, queue up “Train to Busan” and “Shadow.”)

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Spike Lee’s latest is a genre-hopping combination of war movie, protest film, political thriller, character drama and graduate-level history course in which four African-American Vietnam vets go back to the jungle to dig up the remains of a fallen compatriot — and, while they’re at it, a forgotten cache of stolen war gold. In other hands, it could’ve been a conventional back-to-Nam picture or “Rambo”-style action/adventure (and those elements, to be clear, are thrilling). But Lee goes deeper, packing the film with historical references and subtext, explicitly drawing lines from the civil rights struggle of the period to the protests of our moment. A.O. Scott called it a “long, anguished, funny, violent excursion into a hidden chamber of the nation’s heart of darkness.” (Lee’s “Inside Man” is also streaming on Netflix.)

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Ava DuVernay (“Selma”) directs this wide-ranging deep dive into mass incarceration, tracing the advent of America’s modern prison system — overcrowded and disproportionately populated by Black inmates — back to the 13th Amendment. It’s a giant topic to take on in 100 minutes, and DuVernay understandably has to do some skimming and slicing. But that necessity engenders its style: “13TH” tears through history with a palpable urgency that pairs nicely with its righteous fury. Our critic called it “powerful, infuriating and at times overwhelming.”

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Salma Hayek spent the better part of a decade fighting for the opportunity to play the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, and it’s easy to see why: It’s a rich, earthy role, filled with tragedy, heartbreak and passion, and Hayek plays it to the hilt. (She was nominated for an Oscar.) Kahlo’s was no ordinary life, and, luckily, “Frida” is no ordinary biopic — the director is the groundbreaking stage artist Julie Taymor, who adds enough flashes of surrealism and bursts of theatricality to shake up the conventions of the biographical drama. In those moments, A.O. Scott wrote, “it honors the artist’s brave, anarchic spirit.”

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When the writing and directing team of David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker devised this spoof of the disaster movies of the 1970s (including “The Towering Inferno,” “The Poseidon Adventure” and, especially, the “Airport” series) they couldn’t have imagined it would handily outlast the dopey blockbusters it satirized. It helps that it works whether you’re familiar with those pictures or not; the team adopts a cheerful “everything but the kitchen sink” approach, assembling their comedy as a mile-a-minute combination of sight gags, spoofs, wacky wordplay and unexpected juxtapositions. The jokes fly so fast and furious that the occasional clunker doesn’t matter — another one will be along soon enough, creating (as our critic put it) “the happy, cluttered air of an old Mad Magazine movie parody.” (ZAZ’s later cop movie spoof “The Naked Gun” and Mel Brooks’s “Star Wars” satire “Spaceballs” are also streaming on Netflix.)

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Clint Eastwood directs and stars in this modest Best Picture winner, and it’s a smooth fit for his classical style: It has the feel, texture and tone of a 1940s boxing movie, but with the modern twist of a crusty old-timer taking a “girl fighter” under his wing. But it’s not really a sports movie. It’s about the comfortable, lived-in, longtime friendship between Frankie (Eastwood) and Scrap (Morgan Freeman); the subtle respect Scrap pays to Maggie (Hilary Swank) and her tenacity; and the evolution of Frankie’s irritation toward Maggie into grudging respect and, eventually, love and sacrifice. A.O. Scott called it “a work of utter mastery that at the same time has nothing in particular to prove.” (For more Oscar-winning drama, stream “Howards End” on Netflix.)

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After almost 20 years of popcorn moviemaking, Steven Spielberg proved himself to be not only a serious dramatist but also one of our most gifted historical chroniclers with this 1993 film. In it, he tells the true story of Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a German businessman and member of the Nazi party who became the unlikely savior of more than 1,000 Jewish workers in his factories. Our critic wrote that Spielberg directed the film “with fury and immediacy.” (For more historical drama, watch “Glory” on Netflix.)

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Greta Gerwig made her solo feature directorial debut with this funny and piercing coming-of-age story, set in her hometown, Sacramento, Calif. Saoirse Ronan dazzles in the title role as a quietly rebellious high-school senior whose quests for love and popularity bring her long-simmering resentments toward her mother (Laurie Metcalf, magnificent) to a boil. Parent-child conflicts are nothing new in teen stories, but Gerwig’s perceptive screenplay slashes through the familiar types and tropes, daring to create characters that are complicated and flawed, yet deeply sympathetic. A.O. Scott praised the film’s “freshness and surprise.” (“An Education” is another insightful look at teenage girlhood.)

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Few fictional characters have embedded themselves in the pop culture consciousness as firmly as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the brilliant monster brought to bone-chilling life by an Oscar-winning Anthony Hopkins in Jonathan Demme’s 1991 adaptation of the Thomas Harris best seller. The film also won awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actress — a quintuple play only matched two other times in film history — all deserving, none perhaps more so than Jodie Foster, whose indelible portrayal of the rookie F.B.I. investigator Clarice Starling sharply combines small-town naïveté with quick-witted strength. Our critic called it “pop film making of a high order.” (Hopkins is also wonderful, in a very different kind of role, in Netflix’s “The Two Popes.”)

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Josh and Benny Safdie have all but singlehandedly kept the tradition of the grimy New York street movie alive in the 21st century, with films like “Heaven Knows What” and “Good Time” (also streaming on Netflix) explicitly recalling the sweaty desperation of ’70s Gotham cinema. Their latest is also their best, featuring a career-high performance from Adam Sandler as a diamond dealer and inveterate gambler whose eternal quest for one big score puts his livelihood — and his very life — on the line. Manohla Dargis called it a “rough and glittering thing of beauty.”

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Martin Scorsese directs this exhilarating, informative and frequently funny chronicle of the early years of the folk singer, poet and provocateur born Robert Zimmerman but known to the world as Bob Dylan. Over its nearly four-hour running time, the film explores Dylan’s childhood, his immersion in the Greenwich Village folk scene, his groundbreaking “topical songs” and his still-controversial changeover to electrified rock music. But “No Direction Home” is more than your typical rock bio-doc (most of which are more like illustrated Wikipedia pages); thanks to Scorsese’s curiosity, Dylan’s candor, and David Tedeschi’s innovative editing, it becomes the story of an artist’s perpetual search for identity and truth. (Scorsese recently returned to the Dylan story with the playful Netflix original “Rolling Thunder Revue.”)

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“This camp changed the world,” we’re told, in the early moments of James LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham’s documentary, “and nobody knew about it.” The most refreshing and surprising element of this moving chronicle is that, title notwithstanding, the subject is not Camp Jened, the Catskills getaway that offered disabled kids and teens a “normal” summer camp experience. It’s about how that camp was the epicenter of a movement — a place where they could be themselves and live their lives didn’t have to be a utopian ideal, but a notion that they could carry out into the world, and use as a baseline for change. (Documentary fans should also seek out “Elena” and “Blackfish” on Netflix.)

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The rise (and rise and rise) of the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is loosely dramatized in this “fleet, weirdly funny, exhilarating, alarming and fictionalized” drama from the director David Fincher and the screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. Jettisoning the conventions of bio-drama and tech exposé, Fincher and Sorkin construct something akin to a 21st-century “Citizen Kane”: the haunting story of a media mogul who finds that all his riches and all his power cannot fill the hole in his soul. (Another Sorkin-penned story of a Silicon Valley giant, “Steve Jobs,” is also available on Netflix.)

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The Oscar-nominated director David France (“How to Survive a Plague”) pays overdue tribute to Ms. Johnson, affectionately nicknamed the Mayor of Christopher Street, telling the story of her eventful life through interviews with friends and fascinating archival footage. And by framing her story as an investigation into her mysterious death 25 years before — an investigation led by Victoria Cruz, another transgender activist — France draws an explicit and affecting parallel to the violence against transgender women of color today. The result is both a powerful look at our past and a frightening snapshot of our present.

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Edgar Wright (“Baby Driver”) helms this unique action/comedy with a zippy graphic-novel aesthetic. Though it’s based on a comic book series and filled with video game-inspired sequences, viewers need not be familiar with either; Wright merely borrows the high-energy visual language of those genres to tell his sweet story more exuberantly and playfully. “Pilgrim” snaps and crackles, veering from one disarming set piece to the next with verve and vitality; A.O. Scott praised its “speedy, funny, happy-sad spirit.” And it’s a “before they were stars” extravaganza, presciently filled with talented young actors (Brie Larson, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Mae Whitman, Alison Pill, and many more) who were just about to pop. (For more wild comedy, check out “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar.”)

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The director Steven Soderbergh built his first full-on action flick as a vehicle for the mixed martial artist Gina Carano and constructs its set pieces with reverence for her skill and athleticism. It’s a joy to watch her fight, and Soderbergh gives her plenty of opportunities to beat the daylights out of her male co-stars. Refreshingly, the sly, Bond-like script isn’t just filler between those encounters; instead, the globe-trotting story and its layers of deceptions and double-crosses give the director the freedom to make one of his most stylish and entertaining pictures. (For more stylish, auteur-driven action, check out “Django Unchained,” “Mad Max,” and “Drive.”)

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The director of “Tangerine,” Sean Baker, returns with another warm and funny portrait of life on the fringes, melding a cast of nonactors and newcomers with an Oscar-nominated Willem Dafoe as the manager of a cheap Orlando motel populated by confused tourists and barely-managing families. The script (by Baker and Chris Bergoch) captures, with startling verisimilitude, the anxieties of living paycheck-to-paycheck (particularly when the next paycheck’s very existence is uncertain) while also borrowing the devil-may-care playfulness of the children at the story’s center. Our critic called it “risky and revelatory.” (Fans of this risky drama may also enjoy “The Kindergarten Teacher.”)

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Documentary filmmakers have long been fascinated by the logistics and complexities of manual labor, but Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert’s recent Oscar winner for best documentary feature views these issues through a decidedly 21st-century lens. Focusing on a closed GM plant in Dayton, Ohio, that’s taken over by a Chinese auto glass company, Bognar and Reichert thoughtfully, sensitively (and often humorously) explore how cultures — both corporate and general — clash. Manohla Dargis calls it “complex, stirring, timely and beautifully shaped, spanning continents as it surveys the past, present and possible future of American labor.” (Netflix’s 2018 Best Documentary winner, “Icarus,” is also currently streaming.)

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Martin Scorsese re-teams with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci for the first time since “Casino” (1995), itself a return to the organized crime territory of their earlier 1990 collaboration “Goodfellas” — and then adds Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa. A lazier filmmaker might merely have put them back together to play their greatest hits. Scorsese does something far trickier, and more poignant: He takes all the elements we expect in a Scorsese gangster movie with this cast, and then he strips it all down, turning this story of turf wars, union battles and power struggles into a chamber piece of quiet conversations and moral contemplation. A.O. Scott called it “long and dark: long like a novel by Dostoyevsky or Dreiser, dark like a painting by Rembrandt.” (Pacino also shines in the mob movie “Donnie Brasco”; Paul Thomas Anderson’s similarly operatic historical drama “There Will Be Blood” is also streaming on Netflix.)

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Noah Baumbach’s searing, Bergman-esque drama is the story not of a marriage, but of its end — of a loving couple who just, as they say, grew apart, but whose uncoupling is nowhere near that organic. Their shifting of priorities and geographic preferences prompts the hiring of lawyers, the spending of savings and the stating of old resentments and regrets better left unsaid. Baumbach’s screenplay is full of tiny, human touches and graceful tonal shifts; he can move from screwball comedy to open-wound drama in the blink of an eye. “It’s funny and sad, sometimes within a single scene,” writes A.O. Scott, “and it weaves a plot out of the messy collapse of a shared reality, trying to make music out of disharmony.” (Paul Dano’s “Wildlife” is another heartbreaking portrait of separation and divorce.)

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This vivid, evocative memory play from Alfonso Cuarón is a story of two Mexican women in the early 1970s: Sofía (Marina de Tavira), a mother of four whose husband (and provider) is on his way out the door, and Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), the family’s nanny, maid and support system. The scenes are occasionally stressful, often heart-wrenching, and they unfailingly burst with life and emotion. Our critic called it “an expansive, emotional portrait of life buffeted by violent forces, and a masterpiece.”

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Two young men weather their Park Slope parents’ nasty divorce in this ruthlessly intelligent and mercilessly evenhanded coming-of-age story from the writer and director Noah Baumbach, who drew upon his own teen memories and put himself, not altogether complimentarily, into the character of the 16-year-old Walt (a spot-on Jesse Eisenberg). Laura Linney is passive-aggressive perfection as his mother, while Jeff Daniels, as the father, masterfully captures a specific type of sneeringly dissatisfied Brooklyn intellectual. The film is “both sharply comical and piercingly sad,” as A.O. Scott wrote, as Baumbach dissects this family’s woes and drama with knowing precision. (Fans of misanthropic comedy may also enjoy “The Death of Stalin or “The Lobster.”)

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The fashion designer turned filmmaker Tom Ford made his feature directorial debut with this moving, melancholy (and, unsurprisingly, aesthetically stunning) adaptation of the novel by Christopher Isherwood. An Oscar-nominated Colin Firth stars as George, a college professor and “bachelor,” as gay men in his era were so often euphemistically known. Accompanying George through one long, difficult day — the anniversary of the death of his boyfriend — Ford burrows deep into the tortured psyche of his protagonist, and Firth is up to the challenge, playing the role with what Manohla Dargis called “a magnificent depth of feeling.”

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Sofia Coppola takes on conspicuous consumption, Millennial malaise, and upper-class entitlement in this darkly funny and stylishly thought-provoking true story (adapted from a Vanity Fair article by Nancy Joe Sales). Emma Watson leads a crew of young, attractive rich girls who spent years helping themselves to the homes (and spoils) of their famous neighbors, partying in Paris Hilton’s “nightclub room” and casually lifting Lindsay Lohan’s jewelry. Coppola refuses to condemn their crimes or apologize for them; it is, A.O. Scott wrote, “neither a cautionary tale of youth gone wrong nor a joke at the expense of kids these days.” (Crime drama and social commentary also intersect, in similarly thought-compelling fashion, in “Killing Them Softly.”)

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Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti shine as two New York creative types whose attempts to start a family — by adoption, by fertilization, by whatever it takes — test the mettle of their relationships and sanity. The wise script by the director Tamara Jenkins is not only funny and truthful but also sharply tuned to their specific world: Few films have better captured the very public nature of marital trouble in New York, when every meltdown is interrupted by passers-by and looky-loos. “Private Life,” which our critic called “piquant and perfect,” is a marvelous balancing act of sympathy and cynicism, both caring for its subjects and knowing them and their flaws well enough to wink and chuckle. (For more character-driven comedy/drama, add “Cookie’s Fortune” and “The Lovers” to your list.)

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A 52-year-old Georgian woman shocks her family, and her entire community, when she decides to move out of the cramped apartment she shares with her husband, children and parents in order to begin a life of her own. “In this world, there are no families without problems,” she is told, and the conflicts of the script by Nana Ekvtimishvili (who also directed, with Simon Gross) are a sharp reminder that while the cultural specifics may vary, familial guilt and passive aggression are bound by no language. Manohla Dargis praised its “sardonically funny, touching key.” (For more critically acclaimed foreign drama, try “Burning” or On Body and Soul.”)

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Jennifer Lawrence won the Oscar for best actress for her spectacularly sassy and unapologetically haunted performance in David O. Russell’s (somewhat loose) adaptation of Matthew Quick’s novel. It’s a balancing act of seemingly contradictory tones and styles, slipping nimbly from serious mental-health drama to screwball comedy to romance thanks to the deceptive casualness of Russell’s approach and the skill of his cast — particularly Bradley Cooper as its unsteady protagonist and Robert De Niro and Jackie Weaver (all also Oscar nominees) as his parents. Our critic called it “exuberant” and “a delight.” (If you’re looking for a more conventional romance, try “The Notebook,” “Sleepless in Seattle” or “Pride and Prejudice.”)

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Gary Oldman is a marvel as George Smiley, the British intelligence agent at the center of this adaptation of the novel by John le Carré. It’s the kind of performance that draws its power from a character’s refusal to raise his voice: One gets the feeling he’s done what he’s done for so long, with such awareness of his own creeping obsolescence, that he can hardly be bothered. Manohla Dargis called it a performance of “delicacy and understated power,” and around it, the director Tomas Alfredson (“Let the Right One In”) mounts the best big-screen interpretation of le Carré’s work to date. (If this spy story is a bit too deliberately paced for your taste, there’s always “Casino Royale,” also on Netflix.)

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Mati Diop’s Cannes Film Festival Grand Prix winner is set in Senegal, where a young woman named Ava (Mama Sané) loses the boy she loves to the sea, just days before her arranged marriage to another man. What begins as a story of love lost moves, with the ease and imagination of a particularly satisfying dream, into something far stranger, as Diop savvily works elements of genre cinema into the fabric of a story that wouldn’t seem to accommodate them. A.O. Scott called it “a suspenseful, sensual, exciting movie, and therefore a deeply haunting one as well.”

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Jonathan Demme’s final feature film was shot on the last two nights of Justin Timberlake’s “20/20 Experience” world tour, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The pairing of director and subject is unexpected, but Demme is up to the job; as in his Talking Heads film “Stop Making Sense,” he deftly captures the energy, electricity and playfulness of a live concert performance, a directorial feat that is harder than it looks. (Fans of more traditional movie musicals should check out the classic “Fiddler on the Roof.”)

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The director Mark Osborne (“Kung Fu Panda”) took an unconventional approach to adapting the classic children’s book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry for the screen, placing its story of an aviator’s encounters with a magical little boy inside a contemporary tale of a little girl’s friendship with that aviator (now a grizzled old man). It sounds like a recipe for disaster, fixing a book that isn’t broken, but “The Little Prince” is a small miracle, maintaining the magic and sweetness of the original while contextualizing it for a new generation. Our critic called it “unusually forceful and imaginative.” (Younger viewers will also enjoy “The Princess and the Frog.”)

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The 2017 Academy Award winner for best picture, this triptych about a young, gay African-American man’s coming of age in Miami is a quietly revelatory piece of work, exploring and challenging modern perceptions of masculinity, family, power and love. Director Barry Jenkins (adapting a play by Tarell Alvin McCraney) creates a world so dense with detail and rich with humanity that every character gets a chance to shine; the themes and ideas are all above board, but conveyed with subtlety and understatement. Our critic described it as “a poem written in light, music and vivid human faces.” (Indie drama lovers may also enjoy “Burning Cane.”)

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Guillermo Del Toro’s 2006 Oscar winner is many things: a lush period drama, a dark fairy tale, a special-effects showcase, a valentine to fantasy cinema, a harrowing fable of Fascism. Yet Del Toro’s filmmaking is so confident that the picture’s tone never wavers; he’s such a thrilling storyteller that we follow his protagonist (the marvelous Ivana Baquero) through every dark passageway and down every mysterious rabbit hole on her mystical journey through Franco-era Spain — and out of the clutches of her evil stepfather. It’s both scary and enchanting, terrifying and dazzling; “If this is magic realism,” writes A.O. Scott, “it is also the work of a real magician.” (For a more traditional love letter to the movies, queue up “The Artist.”)

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A young man’s coming of age becomes a group project when his single mother (Annette Bening) reaches out to their housemates and friends for help, resulting in a slightly more complicated education than she envisioned. This touching and personal dramedy from the writer-director Mike Mills (“Beginners”) deftly conveys the period without relying on caricature, and resists resorting to cheap villainy or soapboxing. Every character is brought to life with humor and sensitivity, and Bening’s work is among her very best. Manohla Dargis deemed it “a funny, emotionally piercing story.” (Love tender teen coming-of-age flicks? Queue up “The Edge of Seventeen.”)

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The British comedy troupe Monty Python created its funniest, wildest and cult-friendliest feature-length comedy with this 1975 send-up of the legend of King Arthur — and of medieval literature in general, and of big-screen epics. Graham Chapman is the ostensible lead as Arthur, leading his Knights of the Round Table on a quest for the Grail, but the plot is merely a clothesline on which to hang blackout sketches and self-aware gags, and there are many. Our critic called it “a marvelously particular kind of lunatic endeavor.” (For more fun with Python, queue up the button-pushing 1979 biblical spoof “Life of Brian.”)

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It sounds like the setup for an ’80s sex comedy: Two horny teenage boys take an impromptu road trip and talk a seductive older woman into coming along. But the director, Alfonso Cuarón (“Gravity,” “Children of Men”), “Y Tu Mamá También” frames their story partly through the unexpected but effective lens of class and political struggle, constructing a delicate film with much to say about masculinity, poverty and mortality. And then it’s sexy, on top of that. Our critic called it “fast, funny, unafraid of sexuality and finally devastating.” (For more adventurous foreign cinema, check out “Happy as Lazzaro.”)

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This unsettling, unforgettable snapshot of urban decay and toxic masculinity from Martin Scorsese hauntingly captured the rotting core of post-Watergate American society when it was released in 1976, and it has remained nestled in our collective unconscious ever since. Robert De Niro had one of his most indelible performances as Travis Bickle, the haunted Vietnam vet who drives New York City at night like a coiled snake ready to strike. Our critic called it “one of the most compelling portraits of a lunatic personality I’ve ever seen on film.” (Scorsese and co-stars De Niro and Harvey Keitel previously collaborated on “Mean Streets,” also streaming on Netflix.)

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The fates of two families — one white and one Black, connected by a plot of land one owns and the other sharecrops — are inextricably intertwined in this powerful adaptation by the director Dee Rees of the novel by Hillary Jordan. Rees gracefully tells both stories (and the larger tale of postwar America) without veering into didacticism, and her ensemble cast brings every moment of text and subtext into sharp focus. Our critic called it a work of “disquieting, illuminating force.”

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Channing Tatum stars in this “funny, enjoyable romp” (per our Manohla Dargis), based on his own early-career exploits as a stripper — or, as the film puts it, a “male entertainer.” The director Steven Soderbergh offers a fairly traditional story about a young performer who must learn the ropes of show business, but he adds a few twists: a preoccupation with economic systems, for one, and a convincing portrayal of feminine lust — rare for a mainstream movie, particularly one directed by a man. Matthew McConaughey is hilarious as the ringleader of his bump-and-grind roadshow.

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A marvelously absurd, stingingly satirical and unexpectedly moving story of a girl and her genetically engineered super-pig, this Netflix original from the director Bong Joon Ho is the kind of movie that goes in so many wild directions at once — urban mayhem one moment, character drama the next — it leaves you breathlessly off-balance. Bong coaxes game and unpredictable performances from his gloriously unhinged cast, with particularly juicy turns by Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal. A.O. Scott raved, “Mr. Bong juggles delight and didacticism with exquisite grace.” (For more Bong, check out his previous film, “Snowpiercer”; for more Gyllenhaal, stream “End of Watch.”)

Watch it on Netflix

Credit…Universal Pictures

A typical ’80s teen gets zapped back to the 1950s, where he makes some uncomfortable discoveries about his then-teenage parents (and accidentally prevents them from meeting, imperiling his own existence) in this “sweet, ingenious” comedy from the director Robert Zemeckis. Michael J. Fox mines endless laughs from the character’s confusion and desperation, while Crispin Glover and Lea Thompson are marvelously eccentric as his mother- and father-to-be. But Christopher Lloyd steals the show as the likably mad scientist whose time machine sets the entire dizzy business into motion.

Watch it on Netflix

Credit…Lucasfilm
Credit…Netflix

The latest from Joel and Ethan Coen is an anthology film set in the Old West, a series of tales of varying length and style, some as brief and simple as jokes, others with the richness and depth of a great short story. Our critic wrote, “It swerves from goofy to ghastly so deftly and so often that you can’t always tell which is which,” and what seems at first like a filmed notebook of ideas and orphans instead becomes something of a workshop; it’s a place for the Coens to try things, experimenting with new styles and moods, while also delivering the kind of dark humor and deliciously ornate dialogue that we’ve come to expect. (The Coens’ “A Serious Man” is also streaming on Netflix.)

Watch it on Netflix

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