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There Are Only 19 Near-Perfect Movies On Netflix According To Metacritic

If you're worried you've run out of good content to stream on Netflix — or simply find the idea of looking for something new too exhausting compared with the ready availability of that show in your "Watch It Again" list — Metacritic has made it pretty simple. With its weighted average (or "Metascore") of critic reactions, Metacritic is among the most widely revered internet authorities on what's worth watching. Anything with a score of 90 and above can be counted as just about perfect, and many of those cinematic triumphs are available to stream on Netflix.

There's something "near-perfect" for lovers of just about every genre too. Of the films that have landed in this extremely difficult-to-reach range, Netflix subscribers can enjoy documentaries, war epics, period pieces, biopics, romances, and more. The wide variety of subject matter and style also means that of these films, there are bound to be a few you haven't seen, perhaps in a genre you haven't yet ventured too far into. There's no better place to start than the best Netflix has to offer. So read on and find the perfect flick according to Metacritic.

I Called Him Morgan takes a deep look at a jazz legend

One of the best documentaries of the 2010s, I Called Him Morgan boasts a Metascore of 90 and tells the story of a young jazz musician and the woman who saved him from a death by heroin addiction ... only for him to wind up dying by her hand.

The subject of jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan and his relationship with his common-law wife, Helen, is a fascinating one, and the narrative is beautifully served by a film that goes beyond the expectations or parameters of a documentary and ventures into the realm, as The New York Times' A. O. Scott puts it, of "a delicate human drama." Most importantly, the 2016 film reclaims the life and love of Lee Morgan from the sensationalism of the tabloids, which had held the real story captive from most of the world.

On the surface, it does seem to have all the makings of tabloid fodder — addiction, passion, a large age gap between the partners in the romance. But instead, I Called Him Morgan elects to treat this relationship, and Morgan's life, with the depth and respect it deserves, all while keeping it just as interesting as a cover story.

Burning is a complex Korean thriller that you can watch on Netflix

International bestseller Haruki Murakami, a Japanese writer whose works have been translated into dozens of languages, had an adaptation of one of his short stories make it all the way to the Cannes Film Festival — as well as to the cream of the crop on Metacritic, with a score of 90. Based on Murakami's "Barn Burning," the 2018 psychological thriller Burning also became the first Korean film to make it to the Oscars shortlist for Best Foreign Language Film.

What you'll love about this movie, as so many have, is the burning — specifically, the slow, slow burning of the meditative narrative as it illuminates both the characters and plot with maddeningly sophisticated unease. But the film also sheds light on the duality of the society in which it takes place. The working-class lens of the main character, who becomes obsessed with the upper-class man who's stolen his love, highlights the juxtaposition between the leisure and tumult of the respective ends of the economic spectrum in South Korea.

Without spoiling too much — walk into this film knowing as little as possible — we'll say that Burning goes places you won't expect. It's a twisty tale of desire and desperation, and it features an absolutely brilliant performance from Steven Yeun of Minari and The Walking Dead fame. For a film that starts off as a quiet drama and then goes some very shocking places, be sure to check out this compelling Korean thriller.

Saving Private Ryan earned the hype

If you think that all war movies look pretty much the same, you might want to sit down and watch one of the best war films of all time. Saving Private Ryan isn't just a marvel in its genre but in the wider world of cinema, scoring a 91 on Metacritic and frequently ranking on lists of the best movies ever made. The story starts out with a bang, literally, with a battle scene that's recognized as one of the greatest ever put to film.

What's so intense about this scene is the fact that it relies very little on music or digital effects to convey the horrifying reality of World War II combat and the poignancy of the human emotions experienced by those who lived and died in it. This scene would become so iconic in the war genre that it would go on to influence masterpieces decades later. Christopher Nolan, for example, consulted with Saving Private Ryan director Steven Spielberg prior to making his award-winning 2017 film Dunkirk.

With a high-caliber cast that includes Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, and Vin Diesel, all working together on a heartbreaking premise that hits just as hard as the explosive opening, this film has only become more beloved with time. In its quality and enduring legacy, the 1998 tale has more than lived up to one of its many endlessly quotable lines: "Earn this."

Uncut Gems boasts a strong score on Metacritic and an all-time Sandler performance

Did you ever expect that an Adam Sandler movie would score a 91 on Metacritic? Of course, Uncut Gems isn't an "Adam Sandler movie" in the traditional sense of the phrase — comedies that are often panned by critics and that cast Sandler in the lead as the endearing underdog. Sandler, in fact, holds more Raspberry Award nominations than any other actor in Hollywood, with the exception of Sylvester Stallone (who has his own share of great movies, too).

But while many were initially skeptical of Sandler's apparent break from form, he proved his chops as an actor in 2019's crime thriller from Josh and Benny Safdie. Here, Sandler once again plays the underdog, but the stakes are much higher than a getting a high school flame or winning a football game. Instead, Sandler's character finds himself trapped in a world of gambling, mobsters, and priceless stones. The plot gets so convoluted and thick that it would be harder to cut than a diamond, frantically propelling the action forward even as its characters fall desperately behind.

The central element that keeps this wild escapade from playing as implausibly out of control is Adam Sandler's performance as jeweler Howard Ratner. Even when you know he doesn't, he'll never let go of the illusion of having a plan — or not needing one. Howard's delusional bravado has made him a mildly successful smooth-talker, but it's also his constant means of self-destruction throughout this film. This double-sided coin is the rarest artifact of all. Sandler's acting prowess lures the viewer into rooting both for and against him, meaning there's never a moment we're not engaged.

Cool Hand Luke is a real cool movie

Two years after Donn Pearce published his 1965 novel Cool Hand Luke, following the life of a prisoner in a Florida prison camp, Paul Newman starred in the titular role of the film adaptation. The plot follows "Cool Hand" Lucas Jackson as he finds himself on a chain gang after committing a petty crime. But when the guards try to break his spirit, Luke refuses to back down, and his rebellion inspires his fellow inmates and gives them hope.

Even if you haven't seen it yourself, you might recognize this movie for its quotability. The American Film Institute ranks the prison warden's iconic line — "What we've got here is a failure to communicate" — as the 11th greatest movie quote in the history of American film. But more than its quotability, its 92 Metascore, or 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating, the film was a defining moment of its era and a major cultural contribution. Released during the Vietnam War and the social upheaval of the '60s, Cool Hand Luke took a stand against the man, shedding light on the unjust domination happening on national and international scales. And Luke's character is a Christ-like figure who bucks against "the system," whether he's boxing bullies, eating eggs, or trying to make a break for it. In other words, it's a story that's still incredibly relevant today. 

The Florida Project is an endearing slice of life with indie vibes

"Living on the edge" isn't always presented in stories of espionage, wilderness survival, or drug addiction. The Florida Project shows us just how close to the edge millions of Americans live in their everyday existence. And the 2017 film has been praised for showing that existence — in all its facets — in such an empathetic light.

The socioeconomic divide in America is glimpsed through the eyes of a little girl named Moonee, who lives in the Magic Castle motel. Because of its proximity to Disney World, the young girl meets all sorts of amusing characters as a result of the area's tourism (one couple accidentally books the Magic Castle motel for their honeymoon instead of the Magic Kingdom). Though there's a pronounced difference between the weekenders spending their leisure time at an expensive theme park and Moonee and her mom struggling to make ends meet, it's all portrayed through the innocent and endearing point of view of a six-year-old.

The film, which earned a score of 92 on Metacritic, reflects a wider perspective on America from a new and utterly absorbing vantage point, buoyed by some phenomenal performances, especially Willem Dafoe's. Both the film itself and its protagonist are evidence of the power of imagination to make the best of the world. For example, the last scene in Disney World was filmed on an iPhone without Disney's knowledge. That's about as indie and underdog as it gets.

Platoon depicts a war for sanity

Released in 1986, Platoon boasts a 92 Metascore and takes place on the edge of morality and sadism. The contest between these two approaches is the true war at the heart of this film, which follows a platoon in the Vietnam War whose Sergeant Barnes and Squad Leader Elias (Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe, respectively) represent these opposing visions of morality in a time of war.

Director Oliver Stone had served in the infantry in the Vietnam War, and Platoon is his Oscar-winning, fictionalized account of the harsh realities he discovered there. While the unpopular war is infamous for atrocities committed by troops, especially against civilians, Platoon chooses to hone in more closely on the particular sadism of an individual — and also heighten it a little bit. Berenger represents the moral vacuum that gave way to the wartime abuses, and Dafoe embodies the ill-fated better nature of the opposing, more morally upright view.

This film is packed with the excitement and action of a military movie, but it also goes a bit harder than the typical war film as it depicts the tension between Sergeant Barnes and Elias through the eyes of a new-on-the-scene Army volunteer played by Charlie Sheen. The conflict between the two men reveals the chilling insanity and cruelty of Barnes, and it all escalates to a fever pitch that will keep you on the edge of your seat in disbelief.

Spotlight tackles hard topics with gripping drama

There are a few dramas based on books in this list, but Spotlight is a different brand of literary inspiration. It's based on a series of stories published in The Boston Globe that all centered around the same subject matter — the epidemic of child abuse in the Boston area by Roman Catholic clergy. The star-studded cast (including Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, and Michael Keaton) represents the investigative Spotlight team at the Globe, whose search for the truth about one priest uncovers a pattern of abuse (and cover-up) even deeper than they anticipated.

Though the 2015 film takes some artistic license — re-ordering some events and inflating or omitting others for the sake of drama — it's fundamentally accurate, and even this metric forces audiences to consider just how disturbing the story really is if even the minimum is true. And that's just what the film is trying to get at. The drama works because it focuses on just how high up the corruption goes and the lengths to which supposedly venerable institutions went to protect themselves at the expense of others. And that expense is well-documented, as this film rightly chooses to devote a lot of screen time to how deeply the abuse has impacted the victims over the years.

With a score of 93 on Metacritic, Spotlight is a rough journey into dark subject matter, but it's also a thrilling examination of a real-life conspiracy, showing how the Globe's investigation unfolded and how dangerously at odds the paper was with powerful people hiding the truth.

With its impressive Metacritic score, There Will Be Blood is basically prestige horror

Netflix houses a number of nearly universally-touted "masterpieces." There Will Be Blood scored a 93 on Metacritic and earned eight Oscar nominations, while Daniel Day-Lewis won a truckload Best Actor awards for his role in the 2007 period epic from various critical and entertainment industry organizations, from BAFTA and the Oscars to the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild. The film frequently features on lists of the best movies of all time, and it's a constant subject of critical, academic, and pop culture speculation and analysis.

It's not ... officially a horror movie, but Paul Thomas Anderson's film certainly shares — and even elevates — that genre's hallmarks. There's deep psychological and physical discomfort. There's slow-burning suspense and an almost supernatural air to this study of the all-consuming greed of the American dream, the American capitalist system, and the American man. The forces of creation and destruction in this film are one and the same, and they reside within — until they are methodically drilled out by a chilling original score from Radiohead's Johnny Greenwood, together with Anderson's meticulous pacing and direction. Everyone in this movie is a little crazy, but only one of them is crazy enough to survive.

Marriage Story examines love in all its facets

While Marriage Story details the fragmentation of a marriage, the critical opinion of this 2019 film, which garnered a 94 on Metacritic, couldn't be more unified. Across the stage, across the country, and across the room, Adam Driver and Scarlett Johannson's characters become disillusioned, first with their marriage and then with their divorce. It's undoubtedly a love story, just not the type we usually think of. Many romances are told from their beginnings, but it's a rare one that's told from the end. This makes it emotionally raw from the start, so bring your tissues.

There's love in this tale both between the family involved — the couple have a son together — and in the compassionate narrative created by director Noah Baumbach. And though the director made the film after his own divorce, there's something here that resonates with just about everyone. Baumbach wanted something more "expansive" than his own experience, and that required a lot of effort and research involving friends, acquaintances, lawyers, and mediators. Marriage Story might be more accurately titled Marriage Stories.

Part of this expansiveness and compassion requires another kind of perspective — not all of the love in the film is classically romantic. Some of it is nostalgic, some familial, and some even comes in the form of frustration and resentment, a form of love often unacknowledged or even condemned in more idealistic narratives. This narrative is refreshing because it's real. In their pain, the couple finds space for their story.

Lady Bird is a beautiful look at young adulthood

She gave herself her own name, and that's just the beginning of the commanding titular character Saoirse Ronan plays in Lady Bird. The 2017 coming-of-age drama is bold in its intimacy, illustrating the strained relationship between a mother and daughter and, like some sort of time capsule, the vast but minute world of adolescence.

While the film's through line centers around Lady Bird's relationship with her mother, it tells this story through a series of relationships that Lady Bird cycles through during her senior year of high school. Her interpersonal life is pretty turbulent. We see romances become friendships, friends become strangers, fathers become vulnerable, and a stranger become a daughter once again. It'll remind you affectionately of all the different besties and crushes you had at different stages of your life and how easily one phase gave way to another in the whirlwind of young adulthood.

Along the way, each interaction, each line, each nonverbal cue is exquisitely written and acted, weaving a story that we, and the critics who gave it its 94 Metascore, believe could actually happen. The warmth and depth of the film aren't sticky or pretentious — not the stuff of the prestigious East Coast "culture" Lady Bird craves — but simply real, like the imperfect sense of home that Lady Bird slowly comes to recognize.

The Irishman is an epic gangster masterpiece

Besides watching two movies from the rest of this list back to back, 2019's The Irishman is the best three-and-a-half hours you'll spend on Netflix this year. To earn a 94 Metascore, it has to be impressive ... and keep being impressive, hour after hour.

In many ways, this film takes a very unique approach to time that's partially responsible for its great success. It took a lot of effort, both physical and digital, to capture the full lifespans of the highly coveted cast, composed of multiple crime genre veterans and long-time (as in, spanning decades) Scorsese collaborators. But these life stories are what make the film hit so hard, with its tale of an Irish hitman rising through the Italian mob, growing older, and losing everyone who's close to him.

At first, there was no guarantee the film — and making veteran actors look like men in their 20s — was even possible. So Scorsese and De Niro recreated a scene from Goodfellas (which also starred Joe Pesci and came out way back in 1990) to test their de-aging technology. This required a three-camera digital setup while the rest of the piece was shot on film. Visual effects and cinematography departments worked extensively to make sure the two methods combined seamlessly.

The ability of the same actors to play the same characters at various points in their lives was essential to the success of the film and its theme, and for the most part, it works beautifully. More than just another crime drama, Scorsese's film explores the oblivion of age and the tragedy of reflecting on deplorable but long-buried choices while the world moves on without you. And Scorsese does it all while forcing us to watch our favorite actors grow old.

Carol is a truly thrilling love story you can find on Netflix

After almost 20 years of development, Carol was finally released in 2015, an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel The Price of Salt. The years of struggles with rights, financing, and multiple other conflicts paid off. Carol was one of the most critically successful films of the year and a major cultural touchstone for LGBTQ+ representation.

And for a romance, Carol is surprisingly thrilling, but as Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley are also based on Highsmith's work, that shouldn't be so shocking. After all, the author once said that murder is, in a way, "a kind of making love, a kind of possessing." So it becomes a bit less surprising that she's created such an enthralling story around one romantic entanglement, with the help of some wonderful performances in the film adaptation.

In addition to the allure of a thriller, Carol is also an aesthetically engaging period piece set in 1950s New York, whose protagonists are played beautifully by Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett. The costumes are an achievement in themselves, so keep your eyes peeled for wardrobe inspiration if you're feeling vintage, though that's definitely not all this film has to offer visually or emotionally. Armed with the aesthetics of '50s cinema (the movie was shot on Super 16mm film) that captures the soft textures of the era, the 94-Metascoring Carol and its love story between a young aspiring photographer and an older divorcée is one of the must-see movies of the century so far.

I Am Not Your Negro is a powerful documentary with an incredible score on Metacritic

This 2016 documentary is an exploration of James Baldwin's observations on race in America, primarily based on his unfinished work Remember This House. The documentary feature I Am Not Your Negro, which sits at 95 on Metacritic, reminiscences on his personal experience with civil rights leaders and American society and history. 

With a voiceover performance from Samuel L. Jackson, this film delves into the ideas of three civil rights leaders in a way we haven't seen them on film before — Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, all of whom were assassinated — from the perspective of Baldwin, a famous chronicler of the struggle against racial injustice in America and a man who knew them all. Director Raoul Peck chooses to focus overwhelmingly on the words of Baldwin himself rather than the analysis of academics, leading to a more intimate portrait of an era.

And though the four men at the heart of the film, the three assassinated activists and Baldwin himself, have been dead for decades, the story remains timeless. This fact alone is an indication of how far the US still has to go in the fight against white supremacy, and I Am Not Your Negro is a necessary and moving reminder.

My Fair Lady is a 'loverly' time

With a title that accurately describes its star, one of Hollywood's most well-loved leading ladies, My Fair Lady is a must-see for classic movie buffs, Audrey Hepburn fans, and pretty much anyone who enjoys a delightful viewing experience. And for fans of the genre, the 1964 film is also a musical, though Hepburn doesn't sing her own songs and is instead dubbed with the voice of Marni Nixon. It's ironic since the film centers around her character receiving voice lessons.

While the film is famous for its musical numbers, one of the most enjoyable parts is the dialogue. Roger Ebert commented that he can't decide whether he's happier when the characters are laughing or singing. The dialogue is as witty and amusing as the premise: A scholar of phonetics believes that one's accent determines their place in society and that he can teach anyone, even a poor Cockney girl, how to speak in such a way that she could pass for a duchess.

Every last character is their own quirky spectacle, and at the end, the two main characters are better for having known each other — just as viewers are better for having seen them. No wonder it claims a score of 95 on Metacritic.

The Social Network turns a social media story into an all-time thriller

You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies, as the tagline goes, and you don't get to a 95 score on Metacritic without excelling in just about every aspect of filmmaking, from sound design to acting, editing to directing. If Facebook weren't by now synonymous with a revolution in the concept of social networking, this film's title would have the ring of a thriller — and with David Fincher as director, much of the actual drama does as well.

In 2010, Fincher's The Social Network kicked off a decade that would come to be defined in many ways by the evolution of social media and culture alongside it. As a result, the film itself was a challenging endeavor. At the time of production, the events of the movie were still being disputed, so some of the brilliant tension we see in the film was closer to real than we knew.

Despite the controversy, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin told Deadline that signing onto the project was "the fastest he'd ever said yes to anything" — not because he had a background or a great deal of interest in the story and controversial legacy of a website. Instead, he agreed to write the script because of the old-as-time themes of betrayal, power, friendship, and class. The Social Network took the kind of conflict we've all been through and gave it the treatment of a thriller.

Roma did its home country proud

In 2014, Alfonso Cuarón became the first Latin American filmmaker to win an Oscar for Best Director with Gravity, but he was far from finished. Wearing the mantle of writer, director, producer, cinematographer, and co-editor on 2018's Roma, Cuarón was nominated in each of these categories with the exception of editing, and — after a Best Cinematography win earlier in the ceremony — he won his country of Mexico its first foreign-language Academy Award at the 91st Academy Awards. Plus, he went home with this second Best Director award.

The New York Times commented on the scope of the film, describing it as having a "panoramic scale" with a personal sensitivity. Crumbling marriages and unplanned pregnancies take place amid wider unrest and division in Mexico. What this means is that in Roma, even ordinary life is deep, and its context is wide. You'll come away with a deeper appreciation for humanity and an affection for the characters, as they live through both personal difficulty and the anxiety of escalating national tension. The film dances between these arenas to keep us constantly invested. With the story of a live-in maid in a crumbling middle-class family, Cuarón manages to capture both depth and breadth, and he earned an almost perfect Metascore of 96.

Pan's Labyrinth is truly magical

The second-greatest movie critics say you can stream on Netflix is a Spanish-language opus — a testament to the canon of films by Latinx directors that's endlessly worth exploring. Pan's Labyrinth is a 2006 dark fantasy parable from Guillermo del Toro, originally titled El Laberinto del Fauno in Spanish, that earned a 98 out of 100 on Metacritic.

Pan's Labyrinth is the kind of movie you can watch at any age. If you've seen it before, you'll probably realize something new each time, especially considering how engrossing the dark and mystical visuals are. A lot of effort went into them. Doug Jones, who plays both the Faun character and the Pale Man, took six hours to get into his makeup every day for the latter role. But he used that time well. He didn't speak Spanish, so he spent his time in the makeup chair practicing his lines.

For audience members who don't speak Spanish either, you hardly even notice the subtitles. The mythology is so freshly executed that if anything, it feels like you're a little kid reading a fantasy book that's coming to life before your eyes. But at the same time, the overt themes of war and death are so much darker than a typical fantasy, catching the audience in the sweet spot between whimsy and horror.

According to Metacritic, Moonlight is the best movie on Netflix

With a 99 Metascore, Moonlight is the most universally acclaimed feature you can see on Netflix today. It would be easier to list the ways in which this groundbreaking film isn't revolutionary than to list the ways in which it is. The intersectionality of the subject matter — which addresses how Blackness, sexuality, and masculinity interact with society and as components of personal identity — is reflected in the diversity of the 2016 film's record-setting accolades.

Never before had the Best Picture Oscar been claimed by a film with an all-Black cast or a film with prominently LGBTQ+ themes. Mahershala Ali also became the first Muslim to win an Oscar for acting, and editor Joi McMillon was the first African-American woman to be nominated in that category. And the film's instantly recognizable cinematography also highlighted (and low-lighted and everything in between) the crucial though often neglected lighting considerations of working with dark skin tones. Cinematographer James Laxton built the film's aesthetic around the rich beauty of the actors' faces, sculpted by the both harsh and whimsical Miami sun.

In the light (and shadow) of this portrayal, morality gives way to humanity, and circumstance gives way to characterMoonlight's rendering of identities often erased in entertainment and society demands not just that these characters be looked at but looked deeply into. This film makes you think by making you feel.