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30 essential movies you should stream on Netflix today

Netflix isn't all about binge watching TV shows. It's also good for binge watching movies.

If you're looking for a cinematic adventure for the weekend, there's no need to lament the demise of Blockbuster or even head out to buy a new Blu-ray. Your trusty Netflix subscription offers a massive selection of feature films to choose from, with some even available to stream in 4K Dolby Vision.

We've pulled together our list of 30 films that everybody should watch on Netflix. So forget your plans to head to the cinema this weekend, curl up on the couch and hit play on one of these fantastic movies on the streaming platform.


1. The Incredibles

IMDB rating: 8.0 | Runtime: 115 minutes
Still one of the best superhero movies ever made, The Incredibles combines Pixar's passion for character development with story elements from iconic comics like Watchmen and produces a film that is both deep and endearing, and perfect for the whole family.


2. Drive

IMDB rating: 7.8 | Runtime: 100 minutes
2011's Drive tells the story of a Hollywood stunt driver who spends his nights as a getaway driver for a series of armed heists. The film is great in and of itself, but throw in the Gosling factor as the driver and you've got yourself an incredible viewing experience.


3. Trainspotting

IMDB rating: 8.2 | Runtime: 94 minutes
Danny Boyle's dark 1996 comedy revolves around heroin addict Renton, played by Ewan McGregor in the role that really shot him to super stardom. Somehow funny and depressing, the original is much-watch cinema (unlike its recent sequel).


4. The Sound of Music

IMDB rating: 8.0 | Runtime: 174 minutes
The hills are alive with Julie Andrews and Nazis (and the sound of music). The 1965 musical about the von Trapp family still stands up strong more than 50 years after its original release and is still worth spending a night in to watch (and sing along to).


5. Captain America: Civil War

IMDB rating: 7.9 | Runtime: 147 minutes
The third movie in the Captain America series was practically an Avengers movie aside from the lack of Thor and Hulk, but despite the massive raft of characters the Russo brothers still managed to make a coherent, spectacular blockbuster with some epic set piece battle scenes.

6. Beasts of No Nation

IMDB rating: 7.8 | Runtime: 137 minutes
The first real Netflix Original feature film, Beasts of No Nation tells the story of a child soldier in war-torn Africa. It's harrowing viewing and won't leave you with a warm, uplifted feeling inside, but is an incredible story all the same.


7. Back to the Future

IMDB rating: 8.5 | Runtime: 116 minutes
The story of a time-travelling Delorean, its high-school driver and its crazy old inventor changed lives in the mid-80s. It's spawned its own trilogy, a heap of video games and is the go-to reference point for time travel in popular culture.


8. The Jungle Book

IMDB rating: 7.5 | Runtime: 106 minutes
A real-life (well, real actors and CGI) recreation of the iconic animated Disney film, The Jungle Book is worth watching both for the incredibly detailed animals (who talk) and for Bill Murray singing Bear Necessities as the bear Baloo.


9. Schindler's List

IMDB rating: 8.9 | Runtime: 195 minutes
This black and white telling of the story of Oskar Schindler, the German businessman who saved more than 1,100 Jews during the holocaust in World War II, runs for more than three hours but is so powerful it won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director.


10. Fight Club

IMDB rating: 8.8 | Runtime: 139 minutes
The first rule might be that you're not allowed to talk about Fight Club, but the second rule clearly states that watching this film is mandatory viewing for anyone who enjoys watching movies or seeing Brad Pitt without a shirt.


11. The Dark Knight

IMDB rating: 9.0 | Runtime: 152 minutes
The best of the Dark Knight trilogy thanks to Heath Ledger's magnificent performance as The Joker, The Dark Knight set the benchmark for what films based on comic books could achieve with a good script, impressive visuals and epic performances.


12. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

IMDB rating: 8.3 | Runtime: 108 minutes
Jim Carrey built his film career playing the crazy goofball in films like The Mask, but his best acting chops come from more serious, romantic comedies like Eternal Sunshine, where he plays a man heartbroken by the fact his girlfriend underwent a memory-removal process to forget him, so decides to do the same.


13. The Discovery

IMDB rating: 6.3 | Runtime: 102 minutes
After a scientist proves the existence of an afterlife, the world is suddenly overwhelmed with people looking to end their current life in order to get to the next one. This Netflix Original stars Robert Redford and was an official selection in the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.


14. Philadelphia

IMDB rating: 7.7 | Runtime: 125 minutes
In one of Tom Hanks' most powerful roles (which says something in itself), Philadelphia tells the story of a gay lawyer fired from a prestigious law firm after he contracts AIDS, and the homophobic lawyer who decides to represent him in the court case.


15. How to Train your Dragon

IMDB rating: 8.1 | Runtime: 98 minutes
Arguably the best Dreamworks animated film to date (yes, better than Shrek), How to Train Your Dragon combines dragons with vikings and an incredible journey of friendship that is fun for the entire family.


16. Minority Report

IMDB rating: 7.7 | Runtime: 145 minutes
In the not too distant future, a special police unit arrests criminals before the crime is committed thanks to pre-cogs who can see the future, which is all going well until one of the lead police officers is targeted for a crime he was never going to commit. This is Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg at their best.


17. Braveheart

IMDB rating: 8.4 | Runtime: 178 minutes
Mel Gibson dons the kilt to play William Wallace, the Scotsman who used his intellect and anger to wage war against the cruel English King Edward in an attempt to free Scotland from the English empire. Epic action is matched by the incredible script and Gibson's performances in front of and behind the camera.


18. To Kill a Mockingbird

IMDB rating: 8.3 | Runtime: 129 minutes
Many Australians will recognise this film as part of their studies of the Harper Lee book of the same name, but the 1962 film version of To Kill a Mockingbird is so good it won lead actor Gregory Peck an Oscar in his portrayal of a Southern lawyer defending an African American against a false rape charge during the Great Depression.


19. Pulp Fiction

IMDB rating: 8.9 | Runtime: 154 minutes
This groundbreaking film made Quentin Tarantino a household name, with its honest depictions of violence, memorable script and strategic mixing up of the film's timeline. Even more than 20 years later Pulp Fiction stands apart as a cinematic piece of art.


20. The Little Prince

IMDB rating: 7.8 | Runtime: 108 minutes
Based upon the classic French children's book Le Petit Prince, The Little Prince is a charming tale about childhood, life and the magic you find when you allow yourself to feel.


21. I Don't Feel at Home in this World Anymore

IMDB rating: 7.0 | Runtime: 93 minutes
After she's burgled, nursing assistant Ruth has a bit of an existential crisis and decides to track down the thieves with the help of her neighbour. It's an enjoyable effort and another Netflix Original film to watch on the streaming service.


22. Argo

IMDB rating: 7.7 | Runtime: 120 minutes
He may be Batman to a whole new generation of filmgoers, but Ben Affleck is more than just the most recent actor to become the bat: he's also an accomplished actor and director. His directorial interpretation of an undercover Hollywood producer helping the CIA in Iran won him an Oscar for this film.


23. Whiplash

IMDB rating: 8.5 | Runtime: 107 minutes
How far do you need to go to be the best in the competitive world of music? Whiplash tells the story of a teacher who will stop at nothing to drive his students towards greatness, even if it's abuse. J.K. Simmons absolutely owns the role of Fletcher, the teacher.


24. The Silence of the Lambs

IMDB rating: 8.6 | Runtime: 107 minutes
While the books that The Silence of the Lambs was based on did well, it was really the performances of Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins in this film that made Hannibal Lecter one of the best known villains of the 20th century. And watching the movie, it's easy to see why.


25. Good Will Hunting

IMDB rating: 8.3 | Runtime: 126 minutes
Both Ben Affleck and best bud Matt Damon are bona fide superstars these days, but back in 1997 the duo hit the big time as screenwriters, winning an Oscar for their film Good Will Hunting. The movie's real star though is Robin Williams, whose turn as the psychiatrist Sean makes the movie so endearing.


26. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

IMDB rating: 8.2 | Runtime: 107 minutes
Guy Ritchie burst onto the global stage in a big way with this film, which tells the story of a bunch of friends thrown in the deep end after a night's gambling goes horribly wrong and of the complicated entanglement of drug dealers, loan sharks and debt collectors as they try and pay off the debt.


27. The Truman Show

IMDB rating: 8.1 | Runtime: 103 minutes
Another example of how good Jim Carrey can be as a leading actor, The Truman Show is a hyperbolic take on reality TV in a time before the Kardashians and the ubiquity of the Internet. It's also a stark reminder how much technology has changed in 20 years.


28. Seven

IMDB rating: 8.6 | Runtime: 127 minutes
This thrilling murder mystery starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman as cops hunting down a serial killer is intense, dramatic and oh so messed up when you get to the end that it will throw you out of your seat in rage and wonder, even on multiple viewings.


29. Life is Beautiful

IMDB rating: 8.6 | Runtime: 116 minutes
Only the second film to be nominated for both the Best Picture and the Best Foreign Film Academy Awards, Life is Beautiful manages to reflect on the atrocities of the Second World War and deliver a funny, beautiful experience.


30. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

IMDB rating: 8.1 | Runtime: 136 minutes
Under the expert guidance of JJ Abrams, Disney somehow managed to create a Star Wars film with the same spirit of the original trilogy while letting you forget that Lucas ever made the prequel trilogy. Rey and Finn are superb as the new protagonists and the inclusion of familiar faces makes it great for older audiences as well.


Nick Broughall

Nick is the Publisher for Tech and Telco at finder.com.au. He's also a certified gadget nut, passionate smartphone enthusiast and recovering wearable addict.

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