24 best movies on Netflix right now

There you are again, sitting on the couch, staring at Netflix. You're wondering whether to take a chance on that indie thing with the obscure cover art or just give in to your darker impulses and watch Face/Off for the sixth time. Life shouldn't have to be this hard, and we're here to make it just a little easier. From incredible underrated gems to timeless favorites that you haven't thought about in years, we've rounded up the best movies on Netflix right now.

Hot Fuzz (2007)

Edgar Wright's 2007 hit Hot Fuzz is arguably the best of the "Cornetto Trilogy," which also includes Shaun of the Dead and The World's End (it's a close three-way tie, anyway). The story starts with super-cop Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg), a London policeman who's so good at his job that he's making the rest of the department look bad. To save their image, the brass reassigns him to Sandford, a sleepy little town in the English countryside where he'll be safely out of their way. Of course, it's only a matter of time before he uncovers an insidious plot hiding beneath Sandford's perfect façade, and the only way to bring the truth to light is to do what he does best: blow up everything in sight. Inspired by every action movie ever and packed with more jokes than a Mitch Hedberg special, Hot Fuzz is one of the best action comedies ever made, hands down.

Hush (2016)

Shh…hear that? It's the sound of a smart, sexy horror thriller. With a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, 2016's Hush is definitely a movie you can't miss. The premise is simple: Maddie, a deaf/mute author, is staying in her isolated house deep in the Alabama woods when a masked killer appears at her window. While that concept could easily devolve into another run-of-the-mill suspense flick, Hush has no problem upping the thrill factor with deft camera work, unrelenting suspense, and a truly amazing performance from largely unknown actress Kate Siegel. Without saying a word, Siegel portrays Maddie as strong, capable, and intelligent, a breath of fresh air for a female role in a horror movie.

Of course, the sound design in Hush is top-notch. It has to be. Just as he manipulated our perceptions of reality with 2013's Oculus, director Mike Flanagan here uses Maddie's disability to keep the constant threat of danger looming. He never gets gimmicky with his portrayal of Maddie's deafness, giving us exactly as much as we need to feel the fear of never knowing what's behind us. It's not always what you hear, it's what you don't hear.

Beasts Of No Nation (2015)

Beasts of No Nation is Netflix's first original feature film (they bought the distribution rights, but didn't actually finance the film) and was released simultaneously in theaters and online. Unfortunately, the resulting controversy—several large theater chains boycotted the film, saying it violated theater exclusivity—overshadowed the film itself. That's a shame, because Beasts is an amazing first choice for Netflix to break into original films.

Starring Idris Elba (Prometheus, Thor) as a ruthless commander and newcomer Abraham Attah as the boy soldier Agu, Beasts of No Nation is powerful, shockingly real, and heartbreaking in its portrayal of the unspeakable horrors of war. It's not an easy film to watch—the pace is relentless, the imagery visceral. But it's a film you should watch, if only for a brief glimpse into the struggle of daily life in war torn Africa.

The country in the film is never defined, although the story could presumably fall into any of the African nations embroiled in turf wars. It was filmed in Ghana, and director Cary Joji Fukunaga spent years researching the conflict in Sierra Leone before finally settling on the 2005 novel as the source material for his film.

The Wailing (2016)

Equal parts drama, psychological horror, and supernatural thriller, The Wailing sounds like a winner out of the gates, but here's the rub: you've kinda gotta stick with it for the first half hour. It starts out fairly slow—but then again, so do spaceships. And once it picks up speed, The Wailing never stops to take a breath. In a quiet South Korean village, a mysterious disease leads to an outbreak of violent behavior among the residents. When his daughter starts showing symptoms, a bumbling police officer digs deeper into the plague and stumbles into a battle between good and evil that threatens to tear the village to pieces. Beautifully shot, terrifying at times, and scientific proof that Korean exorcisms are way cooler than ours, The Wailing should be on every horror fan's watch list.

Boyhood (2014)

Boyhood might just be the most unique movie ever made. Filmed over the course of 12 years with the same cast, it tracks a child's life as he develops from a young boy to a college-bound adult. The boy, Mason, is played by Ellar Coltrane, who was seven when filming started and 19 by the time of its release. You literally watch him age onscreen as the story progresses. Similarly, his parents, played by Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, age alongside him. In fact, director Richard Linklater specifically asked Arquette not to get plastic surgery in real life for those 12 years, since any real changes the actors made over that decade would be reflected onscreen.

But the money question is: did it work? Absolutely. Probably, if anything, even better than Linklater and the cast could have dared hope. The runtime can be a little intimidating—it clocks in just under three hours—but Boyhood is well worth the investment.

It Follows (2014)

In an era during which horror movies now get top billing at the box office and every shot is calculated to give us the maximum level of scare, it's refreshing to see a poverty-budget indie horror movie—with an actual story (looking at you, Paranormal Activity 1-6)—that genuinely delivers on the creep factor. "No clichés, no disappointments" must have been the mantra of writer/director David Robert Mitchell when he set out to put It Follows on celluloid. The movie follows a simple premise, but sticks with it the whole way and makes an effort to only let the premium chills make it past the cutting-room floor.

The story: a young woman (Maika Monroe) finds she's been saddled with a curse after sleeping with her new boyfriend. Something is coming for her, something slow but persistent. The only way to pass the curse on is to sleep with someone else. It Follows comes in strong with a strong, unique, vaguely '80s aesthetic and keeps you guessing until the end.

The Hateful Eight (2015)

Quentin Tarantino's eighth film needs little introduction. In the aftermath of the Civil War, eight people get snowed in at a roadside pitstop, and as the title asserts, none of them are particularly savory characters. There's a lot of talking, a lot of bloodshed, and a lot of Tarantino-ness all around. Perhaps too much, according to some critics. With a 74 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, The Hateful Eight is one of Tarantino's worst-reviewed films.

As a Western, sure, The Hateful Eight is no Fistful of Dollars. But as Nerdist very effectively argues, it's not a Western at all—it's a horror movie. For starters, as Tarantino himself explained, it was most directly inspired by John Carpenter's 1982 body horror film The Thing. The pieces are there—the icy landscape, the claustrophobic setting, people trapped in close quarters by a raging blizzard, and the undercurrent of someone in the group who isn't what they seem. Also, Kurt Russell. On top of that, the musical score includes Ennio Morricone tracks from The Exorcist II and The Thing, deliberately adding to the sense that monsters are lurking, even if they turn out to be human after all.

So why is The Hateful Eight on this list instead of, say, Inglourious Basterds, which is higher rated and also on Netflix? Simply because The Hateful Eight is a better horror movie than Inglourious Basterds is a Western (seriously). Give it another watch and see if you don't agree.

The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Even after 17 years, The Fellowship of the Ring feels like a blockbuster that could have been made yesterday. The sweeping intro to Peter Jackson's epic trilogy may have been overshadowed by The Return of the King a few years later, but it's easy to forget how incredible the first one was. The Mines of Moria. The Balrog. Gandalf escaping from Isengard on an eagle. Heck, the intro monologue alone is usually enough to get a Rings fan on the couch.

Sure, it was kind of a jerk move on Netflix's part to only add the first installment, but let's face it: The Lord of the Rings is cinematic Lays potato chips. You can't watch just one. If you're like most people, having the first one on Netflix is simply the gateway drug, an invitation to dig out the DVDs for the rest of the trilogy and have yourself an accidental movie marathon. One does not simply walk into Mordor, but one can easily sit back for nine hours and watch Frodo do it.

The Godfather (1972)

Time and time again, The Godfather has been rated as one of the best movies of all time (usually second, right behind something called Citizen Kane). The story needs little introduction — Don Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando, is retiring as the head of the infamous Corleone crime family and passing the mantle to his son, Michael Corleone (Al Pacino). But that's simply the ice covering the surface of a pond that plumbs depths few films have ever managed. These characters may exist in a violent world most of us have never experienced, but they feel as real as your next door neighbors.

A lot of people toss around the word "masterpiece" when they're talking about movies, but The Godfather is one of the few films that truly deserves the moniker. In fact, it's probably only rivaled by The Godfather: Part II — and fortunately, that one's on Netflix, too.

Wind River (2017)

When a girl is found murdered on a Native American reserve in Wyoming, the discovery launches a harrowing investigation led by Cory Lambert, an expert tracker with his own dark past.

It's tempting to say that Jeremy Renner's performance as Lambert is the highlight of Wind River, but the movie is so deftly woven together that there's no one standout. From the gorgeous, icy landscape shots to the heart-pounding pace, Wind River is just an all-around incredible movie. Which shouldn't be a surprise, coming from the writer of Sicario and Hell or High Water, two similarly intense films.

In this case, Taylor Sheridan has shouldered both writing and directing duties, and Wind River is proof that Sheridan just as talented with a camera as he is with a pen. This is a thriller in the best possible sense, a character-driven murder mystery that'll chill you to the bone. If this one passed you by in 2017, now's your chance to remedy that while it's still on Netflix.

The Truman Show (1998)

Before 1998, Jim Carrey was just a man of many zany characters. He was Ace Ventura, the Mask, and Lloyd Christmas, a loveable goof whose extreme comedy style could both entertain and alienate, depending on the audience. Then came The Truman Show, and all those oddball layers were stripped away to reveal a serious actor who could be both silly and sincere.

In The Truman Show, Carrey stars as Truman Burbank, a quiet, everyday guy who just so happens to be the star of the world's largest reality show. The catch? Truman doesn't know he's on a show. Since birth, every moment of his life has been filmed and broadcast to the world. All his neighbors and friends — even his wife — are actors in the show. He's never left his hometown, because his hometown is a giant film set inside a dome.

Over the course of the movie, Jim Carrey shows the first inklings of the remarkable depth that he'd later plumb for other serious roles like Man on the Moon and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Couple that with beautiful direction and a heartfelt story, and The Truman Show is easily one of the best movies of the late '90s, and one of the best on Netflix right now.

Room (2015)

So this is the formula for Room. You take a room. You put two people in it. And then — and this is the most important part — you center it all around a thrilling, emotional struggle that builds and builds until the entire audience is quietly weeping and questioning everything they thought they knew about life, family, and love.

That's, uh, the important part.

But oh boy, does it work. Once Room starts going, it never slows down. And by the time you realize that watching a kid get rolled up in a carpet was just more nerve-wracking than the entire Insidious franchise, you have no choice but to stick around for the ride.

The beauty of Room comes unquestionably from Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, who play the mother and son locked in a room. They're visited periodically by a mysterious man with unpleasant motives, and the rest of the time they occupy themselves by playing games, telling stories, and — for Larson's character — trying not to focus on the hell of spending the rest of their lives in the room. It's their bond, with all its ups and downs, that anchors the movie and drives everything that happens. If you've been on the fence about Room, queue it up now and don't worry. It won't disappoint.

Black Panther

During the '90s, Wesley Snipes tried like crazy to get a big-screen version of Marvel's Black Panther into production. For a myriad of reasons, it never quite came together — which turned out to be a good thing, because it allowed Snipes to bring his version of Blade to theaters instead. A couple of extra decades also allowed CGI technology to advance enough to bring the radical, tech-centric world of Wakanda to life. That's just what director Ryan Coogler accomplishes in Black Panther, delivering a vividly realized vision of the fictional nation that appears advanced beyond our wildest dreams, but also feels like human beings actually live there. 

Of course, the high-tech world-building is only part of the fun in Black Panther. Coogler also ingeniously uses the setting as a plot device in a Shakespearean tale of palace politics, tribal traditions, and ideological conflicts. That he populates that narrative with richly developed characters (both heroes and villains) and propels it forward with some of the most electrifying action sequences the MCU has ever seen (the casino scene is a legit all-time great) is what makes the film so much fun to watch. That he also delivers a politically subversive film along the way is what may qualify Black Panther as the best Marvel movie to date.

Brick

There was genuine excitement when Rian Johnson was announced as the director of the middle film in the new Star Wars trilogy. To the surprise of many, the Looper filmmaker wound up delivering the most divisive film in the Star Wars universe, but however you feel about The Last Jedi, it's hard to deny that it's a refreshingly original take on the saga that was crafted with skill, ingenuity, and passion. If you'd been following Johnson's career, you expected nothing less. The director had, after all, been pushing the limits of genre filmmaking since making his feature debut.

For the uninitiated, that debut came in the guise of a slick little neo-noir by the name of Brick. Essentially a Sam Spade detective tale set in a high school, the film is driven by crackling dialogue, superbly drawn characters, an astonishingly complex/intelligent narrative, and a captivating performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt. From its riveting opening to its heartbreaking finale, this audacious, often hilarious tale of high schoolers running amok never hits a false note. It gets into your head and refuses to leave — the sort of film that makes you wish you could always be watching it for the first time. Count yourself lucky if you get to experience it that way now. Otherwise, relish the chance to revisit the shifty, noir-drenched delight that is Brick.

Out of Sight

The year was 1989, and a brash young director by the name of Steven Soderbergh had just stunned Sundance with his debut narrative feature Sex, Lies, and Videotape, setting the table for the filmmaker to take Hollywood by storm. Soderbergh, it seems, had other plans. While he's widely viewed as one of the most important voices in American cinema today, he spent most of the '90s honing his unique vision with largely experimental films that flew under the Hollywood radar, and it wasn't until 1998 that he brought his vision to a legit mainstream release.

With George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez in the leads, adapted from a book by legendary crime scribe Elmore Leonard, and released by Universal Pictures, Soderbergh's Out of Sight is no less edgy than his artier fare — a stylishly ambitious, meticulously realized crime drama that also scores a few hearty laughs and includes a genuinely (if wildly unconventional) romantic narrative. He also drew career-best work from his cast, with Lopez and Albert Brooks in particular delivering performances that really should've gotten more awards talk. Out of Sight showed up at the Oscars with nominations for screenwriter Scott Frank and legendary editor, Anne V. Coates; 20 years after its release, it remains one of Soderbergh's finest moments, and a must-see for fans of crime fiction.

The Witch

With new classics hitting theaters or streaming platforms almost every week, genre fans are experiencing what appears to be a full-on horror renaissance — and Robert Eggers' haunting, New England-set folktale The Witch is one of the films that helped set the bar for current horror trends. Eggers' masterfully executed chiller wowed audiences at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, and actually made a few bucks in its initial theatrical release, even if it didn't exactly set the box office on fire. It didn't fare quite as well when the folks at A24 cleverly re-released the film on 666 screens a couple of months later.

Behind marvelous critical buzz and equally solid word of mouth, The Witch has more than found its audience after the fact, with many hailing it as the one of the best horror films of the decade. We're inclined to agree. Eggers' film follows a 17th century family whose devoutly puritanical existence falls apart under the weight of unspeakable tragedies, which may or may not be the cause of an evil lurking in a nearby forest and a demon spirit inhabiting the family goat. That last bit may sound silly, but there's nothing to scoff at in The Witch. Eggers' film is a bleak, intensely atmospheric study in gothic Americana that features a star-making turn from Ana Taylor-Joy. It's the sort of film that you simply have to see to believe. And if you haven't, well, prepare thyself to live deliciously.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

In the pantheon of video game movies, there have been far more misses than hits. There was a time when the same could've been said about graphic novel adaptations as well. That Scott Pilgrim vs. The World arrived in theaters as both a video game flick and a graphic novel adaptation was reason enough to get excited about it in 2010. That the film was also directed by Edgar Wright — then a burgeoning cult icon hot off the success of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz — was reason to be downright impatient for the film.

Wright delivered the goods with Pilgrim, crafting an action-packed, genre-busting romantic comedy with enough razor-sharp wit and eight-bit charm to claim success on both the video game and adaptation fronts. It also featured a hip young cast including Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth WInstead, Kieran Culkin, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, and Jason Schwartzman, not to mention scene-stealing appearances from future MCU stars Chris Evans and Brie Larson. With that pedigree (and reviews to match), Scott Pilgrim vs. The World seemed destined for box office glory. That didn't happen. In fact, the film was an outright bomb that seemed doomed to claim little more than "cult classic" status. Luckily, Wright's hipster opus found second life on video, and is now counted amongst the director's best work. If you've been sleeping on that fact, now's the time to get into the game.

The Shining

In the winter of 1977, Doubleday Books published the third novel from an up-and-coming writer by the name of Stephen King. Thick with moody scares and a bone-chilling narrative, The Shining was instantly heralded as one of the scariest horror novels ever written. It also served as the source material for one of the scariest horror films ever made in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. While hardcore fans of King's book — including King himself — are generally quick to deride Kubrick's film, few can argue that Kubrick's moody, slow-burning nightmare of a movie matches (at times even surpasses) King's source material. 

He does so by focusing less on the characters from KIng's original, and a little more on the ominous, supernaturally charged environment they inhabit. As haunted houses go, the stoic, isolated Overlook Hotel, with its winding hallways, hushed interiors, and scores of empty (and not so empty) rooms is one you won't soon forget. Kubrick sees to that by letting his camera stalk through its every cursed corner with an eerily omnipotent menace. He doubles down on the film's relentless unease by giving face to the hotel's evils in deeply unsettling ways, and then letting those evils shine through in the twisted eyes of Jack Nicholson, who delivers nothing short of an iconically unhinged performance. However you feel about the source material, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining remains a staggering achievement in cinematic horror that will forever change the way you view the genre — not to mention the way you view elevator doors.

Her

One of the primary functions of cinema is to act as a sort of mirror image of the real world. In the case of science fiction cinema, the scope of that mirroring seeks to show not just the world as is, but the world as it may become. If Spike Jonze's wildly romantic, Oscar-winning sci-fi drama Her is any indication, artificial intelligence is going to complicate our lives in ways we cannot yet fathom — and probably sooner than we think. 

Set in a vividly realized, not-too-distant future, Her follows a kind, lonely man who finds love in a most unexpected place — with an AI-driven operating system named Samantha. On paper, that plot sounds a bit ridiculous, and in the hands of a lesser filmmaker, it probably would've been. With Jonze at the helm, Her's potentially silly setup becomes a tenderly observed study of longing for and finding connection in a tech-obsessed world driven to isolationism. 

At the center of that world is a transcendent performance from Joaquin Phoenix, who brings a warmth, wit, and compassion to this role barely glimpsed in his prior work — not to mention a scene-stealing turn from Amy Adams and dynamic voice work from Scarlett Johansson, who makes a fully developed character of her artificial persona. As a sci-fi film, Her is a towering, deeply personal achievement in style and substance. As a social document, it's an all-too-prescient reflection on the world as it likely will be. If you don't believe that, just ask Alexa what she thinks.

The Endless

In 2015, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead teamed up to deliver a wildly innovative, Lovecraftian romance about a young man falling in love with a mysterious woman while traveling in Europe. It was called Spring, and despite scoring well with critics — who lauded its genre-bending ambition — not many people actually saw it. Those who did likely discovered Spring on Netflix, where the film eventually garnered its well-deserved "cult classic" status. 

Fans of that film were quick to hail Benson and Moorhead as filmmakers to watch, anxiously awaiting the duo's next innovative offering. It arrived in The Endless, another critically acclaimed, mind-bending genre mashup that finds Benson and Moorhead following a similarly grounded, slow-burning dramatic approach to horror/sci-fi tropes while expanding their cinematic palette in ways their genre peers have yet to dare.  

This go-round, Benson and Moorhead spin a complex tale of two brothers who make the fateful decision to revisit the "alien death cult" they managed to escape in their youth. That's all the synopsis you're gonna get from us, because part of The Endless' narrative magic is uncovering the film's unnerving existential mysteries for yourself. Just know that whatever you think you know as the film untangles its intricately woven web, you're probably wrong. That's a good thing, by the way — and further proof that The Endless is almost certain to cement Benson and Moorhead as two of the most daring genre/cult filmmakers of this generation.

Hold the Dark

Over the past decade, Jeremy Saulnier has gone from the little-known writer/director behind the kooky, no-budget cult favorite Murder Party into a bona fide indie auteur. One whose penchant for tightly wound, blood-soaked narratives about normal people in impossibly tense scenarios led to the formidable one-two punch of 2013's caustic revenge tale Blue Ruin and 2016's gory, punk-tinged drama Green Room.

Those films worked because Saulnier had all but unfettered creative control over each. Saulnier found even more freedom with Netflix when he set his sights on the unforgiving Alaskan wilderness to shoot Hold the Dark, and it's a big reason his latest opus is one of his best offerings to date.

Adapted from William Giraldi's novel of the same name, Hold the Dark follows a tracker/wilderness writer (Jeffrey Wright) called to an isolated Alaskan village to hunt down a pack of wolves who may have killed a local boy — and he quickly finds nothing is quite what it seems in the eerily secretive community. We wouldn't dream of spoiling those secrets; just know that, as a mystery, Hold the Dark unfolds under an icy cloud of ambiguity, but those who stick with Saulnier's harrowing journey will find a bold, fiery beast of a tale about loss, regret, lust, and vengeance that functions simultaneously as existential mystery, survival drama, and straight up slasher. Yes, that combination is as confounding and enthralling as it sounds, and it's why Hold the Dark is an absolute must-see.

Children of Men

Since capturing our imaginations with 1995's fantastical period drama A Little Princess, Alfonso Cuarón has crafted one of the more eclectic catalogues in Hollywood. He waxed poetic about life, death, and love with the indie road trip Y Tu Mamá También, corrected course on the Harry Potter franchise with Prisoner of Azkaban, and controlled chaos in space with his Oscar-winning thriller Gravity. He's also set to join the streaming game when his Netflix-produced drama Roma hits the platform later this year. While we await Roma's arrival, rejoice in knowing Cuarón's 2006 sci-fi masterpiece Children of Men is already there.

Set in a dystopian near future, Children of Men unfolds in a world on the brink of collapse after a plague of infertility has left a childless future for mankind. Amidst the anarchy — which feels downright prophetic in today's perilous, fear-mongering political climate — hope flickers when a woman miraculously finds herself with child. Tasked with delivering the woman and her unborn offspring to a safe location away from the evils of man is a disillusioned activist-turned-bureaucrat haunted by his own tragic past.

Of their journey, we can tell you words like "harrowing" or "enthralling" don't do it justice, that Cuarón — aided by Emmanuel Lubezki's gorgeously gloomy cinematography — vividly recreates a decaying world that feels both foreign and all too possible, and that he immerses viewers in that world for every breathless second of Children of Men's spellbinding action. Of the film, we'll say that it's a pitch-perfect blend of brains and cinematic bravado that'll be talked about, re-watched, and analyzed for decades to come — assuming, of course, we still have that long.

Win It All

Some filmmakers revel in the bombast of Hollywood, but over the years, indie auteur Joe Swanberg has eschewed those stupefying reveries in service of crafting incisive micro-budget features of all genres, winning a fiercely loyal fanbase along the way. Those fans helped make Swanberg's work — Drinking Buddies, Happy Christmas, and Digging for Fire surprising hits on Netflix. It seemed natural, then, that the streaming giant would invest in Swanberg's vision. They did so by producing his mostly marvelous anthology series Easy, then went all in by greenlighting Swanberg's latest feature, Win It All.

Netflix's filmmaker-friendly approach proved an excellent match for Swanberg's fiercely independent style. Win It All finds the director re-teaming with Jake Johnson to deliver the tragi-hilarious tale of Eddie Garrett, a charismatic Chicagoan with a crippling gambling addiction. Eddie's unstable existence is completely upended when a pal entrusts him with a duffel bag full of cash before serving a lengthy prison sentence.

That's the last thing you'd want to hand over to a gambling addict, of course, and what follows is a cringe-worthy, if often hilarious, spiral into addiction madness that plays out about the way you'd think (i.e. the money is lost and must be won back). Like the best of Swanberg's films, he tempers the madness by focusing the film's narrative on the human that drives it. In turn, Win It All proves itself insightful, irreverent, romantic, and laugh-out-loud funny.  

Heat

In 1974, cinema fans grew giddy when Francis Ford Coppola announced Robert De Niro and Al Pacino — already established as two of the greatest actors of their generation — would star in his epic sequel to The Godfather. To the chagrin of many, dual narratives set in separate timelines kept the lauded duo from sharing a single second of screen time in The Godfather: Part II

Another 20 years passed before they appeared in another film together. They did so at the behest of another iconic director in Michael Mann, who finally let the screen titans square off in his epic crime saga Heat. The moment was worth the wait, with each actor bringing decades worth of cool confidence and fiery intelligence to Mann's thriller about cops and robbers going toe to toe in Los Angeles.  

If De Niro and Pacino's smoldering face-off were the only intriguing element of Heat it still would've been worth the wait, but it's not even the best scene in a movie that also features stellar work from Val Kilmer, Amy Brenneman, Tom Sizemore, and Ashley Judd. That moment comes about three quarters of the way through Heat, in the guise of heist gone wrong and a daring getaway through the streets of L.A. It's one of the most thrilling and ingeniously executed shootouts ever committed to film, and it's a big reason Heat is considered one of the best crime films ever made.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Michel Gondry spent much of the 1990s and early 2000s bringing a visually arresting, charmingly D.I.Y. aesthetic to music videos for the biggest names in pop music (Björk, Radiohead, Beck, and The White Stripes among them). With each music-fueled experiment, Gondry grew bolder and more confident as a director, making a jump into narrative filmmaking all but inevitable. The irascible auteur finally dipped his toe into Hollywood waters with the Charlie Kaufman-scripted comedy Human Nature, a film that sadly proved even visionary filmmakers often get it wrong the first time out. 

In spite of Human Nature's issues, Gondry and Kaufman re-teamed for 2006's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Equal parts quirky sci-fi farce and heartfelt romantic drama, the film follows a man (a never better Jim Carrey) and woman (an Oscar-nominated Kate Winslet) who each have memories of their relationship scientifically removed from their brain after a rocky breakup. 

Sounds silly, right? In lesser hands, it probably would be. With Gondry and Kaufman guiding the narrative, Eternal Sunshine instead plays out as a near-flawless mix of genres that seamlessly blends Gondry's lo-fi craftsmanship with Kaufman's grounded, devastatingly insightful romantic fable. Anchored by powerful lead performances (and bolstered by spot-on supporting work from Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood, and Tom Wilkinson), Eternal Sunshine is a bold, funny, endlessly creative little film that manages to be wildly romantic and anti-romantic in equal measure, and somehow satisfies emotionally on both fronts.

Enemy

Netflix has long been a haven for independent cinema. More often than not, it's the primary source for indie movie lovers to discover lesser known films and filmmakers. Netflix recently doubled down on that legacy by adding almost the entire slate of films produced by indie powerhouse A24, including gems like Ex Machina, Green Room, and Under the Skin.

One of the more unsung films in the A24 lineup is Denis Villeneuve's harrowing mindbender of a thriller Enemy. Based on a novel from subversive Portuguese scribe Jose Saramago, and starring Jake Gyllenhaal in a revelatory dual performance, the film follows a quiet man who unwittingly finds his doppelgänger and proceeds to have a full-blown crisis of identity. Along the way, the pair's lives become a tangled web of secrets, obsessions, and lust that threatens to upend each of their existences.

Just FYI, those lives are upended in ways we can't even begin to cover in a simple blurb. Enemy is an artistically and narratively ambitious film worthy of the sort of in-depth examination typically reserved for great works of literature, and Villeneuve utilizes the film's setup to craft one of the most hauntingly ambiguous thrillers you'll ever see, with a bold blend of stark visuals and a near-suffocating sense of atmospheric dread. Enemy is a vividly realized, surprisingly satisfying art film that you'll never be able to unsee — especially if you're afraid of spiders.

Seven

It's hard to believe that over 20 years have passed since David Fincher terrorized the moviegoing public with this brutalist tale of twisted biblical morality run amok, but somehow, the decades haven't dulled the soul-crushing impact of Fincher's corrosively alluring detective tale. In fact, Seven may be even more disturbing today than it was when it hit theaters in 1995. 

For those who have yet to experience this intensely unnerving, unholy masterpiece, the film follows a rookie detective and his veteran partner (Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, respectively) on the hunt for a vicious serial killer who's using the seven deadly sins for motive. As you might expect from that setup, the murders themselves figure prominently in Seven's nightmarish narrative, so before you press play, please note that this film is not for the weak of heart.

If you're still on board, then get ready to have a few nightmares of your own, 'cause Seven is the sort of movie that seeps into your skin and never really scrubs clean. That's generally a good thing, because as difficult as Fincher's film can be to sit through, it's an exquisitely executed, genuinely unsettling crime thriller crafted with undeniable skill and uncompromising vision. It's also a first-rate slice of noir-tinged detective fiction that giddily dices up the official "cop film" playbook, packs it in a box, and… well, the less said about that, the better.

The Lobster

The Lobster is without a doubt one of the weirdest movies ever made. Period. It's such an oddly unsettling movie that you'll likely be concerned for the overall mental state of every single person involved. It's also one of the funniest, most emotionally devastating movies you'll ever see about people desperately searching for love in hopes of avoiding being turned into an animal.

No, you did not misread that synopsis. The Lobster really does unfold in a dystopian near future where single people are rounded up and given 45 days to find true love or be turned into an animal of their choosing and released into the wild alone.

Again, The Lobster is one of the weirdest movies ever made — and a cinematic experience unlike any other. Here's all you really need to know going in: Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz (who both deliver career-redefining performances) are in it, that the film is funny as hell, but that its sense of humor is drier than the Sahara, and that The Lobster is one of the more surprisingly humane and romantic films produced in the past decade, though it often feels devoid of romance or humanity. Enjoy!

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Since breaking into Hollywood with 1984's remarkably assured debut Blood Simple, the Coen brothers (a.k.a. Joel and Ethan) have gone on to produce a near-unimpeachable body of work that's found them working as easily in slapsticky farce and romantic comedy as in the crime, western, and musical genres. Whatever story they choose to tell, you can be certain of one thing — the Coens are always going to push to do something they haven't done before. Though it features all the staples of a Coens movie (i.e. brutal/hilarious outbursts of violence, schticky genre setups, crackling dialogue, and stark human drama), their Western anthology The Ballad of Buster Scruggs finds the Coens pushing themselves farther than ever.  

Of course, the thing that most obviously sets The Ballad of Buster Scruggs apart from the rest of their films is that it is, in fact, an anthology (comprised of six short tales of the wild west) and not a single, straightforward narrative. Those six tales are thrilling, and hilarious, and frequently downright heartbreaking. They feature stellar work from an all-star cast including Tim Blake Nelson, Zoe Kazan, James Franco, Tom Waits, and Liam Neeson. And they're each fueled by the sort of mirthful madness only Joel and Ethan Coen can conjure. Coupled with Bruno Delbonnel's jaw-dropping digital cinematography and pitch-perfect Western themes from composer Carter Burwell, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is easily one of the best movies Netflix has ever produced, if not one of 2018's best films.

Obvious Child

Jenny Slate would probably tell you 2009 was a big year for her. It did, after all, see her land gigs on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live, and HBO's egregiously underrated comedy series Bored to Death. It was also the year she met an up-and-coming filmmaker by the name of Gillian Robespierre, who cast her in a charming short film by the name of Obvious Child. That short would eventually become the feature film that served as Slate's breakthrough role five years later.

Initially dubbed a "romantic comedy about abortion," Obvious Child actually does follow a twenty-something comedian who finds herself unexpectedly with child, and decides to terminate the pregnancy. So yes, on the surface Obvious Child is a romantic comedy about abortion, but it's more a story about a young woman coming to terms with the realities of being independent in a world that requires independent women to make complicated life choices about work, and family, and healthcare, and sex, and love, and yes, sometimes about an unplanned pregnancy.

While it's wildly romantic, often surprisingly dramatic, and always deeply insightful, Obvious Child is first and foremost a comedy. As such, every aspect of this woman's perpetually complicated life serves as fodder for her standup act, which Slate delivers with an increasingly confessional air that teeters gingerly between caustic hilarity and flustered humility. So too does Obvious Child, with Slate and company ultimately delivering unto the world the abortion rom-com it never knew it needed.