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25 Best Netflix Movies You Can't Watch Anywhere Else

When looking for movies to watch on any given streaming service, it can be overwhelming. This is especially true when browsing Netflix, which offers up countless options for viewers to indulge in when they're in the mood for some cinema. To help cut through the clutter, it's time we look at the very best movies offered exclusively on Netflix. This means no classic theatrical movies that have ended up on the streamer nor Netflix original movies that can be purchased on physical home media, like "The Irishman".

Even excluding those two types of movies, there are still plenty of acclaimed features to choose from, with these titles ranging from an unprecedented concert film to a thoughtful horror tale about the refugee experience to a documentary about a summer camp like no other. There are loads of great movies to choose from on Netflix that you won't be able to find anywhere else. 

Set It Up

Sometimes you wanna visit Netflix and watch something challenging, something that opens you up to a whole new way of cinematic storytelling. Other times, you just want something breezy and charming. Director Claire Scanlon's "Set It Up" has you covered on the latter front. It's the story of Harper (Zoey Deutsch) and Charlie (Glen Powell), two incredibly busy assistants who set their respective and dominating bosses up on a date. And while the story goes about where you'd expect, it still leaves you grinning by the end.

Ella Kemp from Little White Lies aptly summarized the charms of "Set It Up" by describing it as a "bouncy comedy with plenty to say about modern relationships." It definitely helps that the story is brought to life through two strong lead performances, with Glen Powell being particularly highlighted in the film's assortment of positive reviews. For those looking for something undemanding that doesn't sacrifice quality, "Set It Up" makes for a perfect cinematic meet-cute.


The Fyre Festival has become the stuff of legend as the great music festival that never was. If you don't remember this insane story, a promotion for an isolated music event ended up leaving hundreds of people stranded with nowhere to go and nothing to eat beyond disgusting cheese sandwiches. This wasn't anything like what was in the brochure, but as the documentary "Fyre" explores, it was par for the course for projects spearheaded by Billy McFarland.

Director Chris Smith does solid work in "Fyre," relaying how this festival was part of wider tapestry of corruption. But it's no secret that viewers of this documentary are here for the juicy details about a music festival gone haywire. Such viewers won't be disappointed, as first-hand accounts lay out a vivid picture of what it was like to witness the escalating level of deceit behind the doomed event. This documentary goes beyond the headlines to explore the jaw-dropping treachery at the heart of the Fyre Festival.

Beasts of No Nation

For its first foray into original feature films, Netflix wasn't looking to play it safe. Instead, they released "Beasts of No Nation," a harrowing look at a child soldier's experiences in West Africa under the leadership of an unnamed commandant (Idris Elba). Written and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, the project certainly served its purpose in establishing Netflix as a place for challenging cinema and filmmaking that can drum up widespread acclaim.

Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post noted that "crippling despair and the most fragile tendrils of hope battle for the human psyche in ... [this] grim, beautiful and achingly sad portrait of man's inhumanity to man." There was also widespread praise for the lead performances of Idris Elba and Abraham Attah and how they contribute to the films brutal tone. With such impressive talent involved — not to mention such a brutal, heartbreaking story — it's no wonder "Beasts of No Nation" is one of Netflix's best. 

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

While Noah Baumbach's most famous Netflix movie is his Best Picture nominee, "Marriage Story," that's not his first creative foray with the streamer. His inaugural Netflix movie is "The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)" — a film that reunited the auteur with Ben Stiller and paired him up with Adam Sandler for the first time. As expected for a movie starring those two, "The Meyerowitz Stories" delivers its fair share of laughs, but it doesn't eschew Baumbach's trademark style of introspection and melancholy.

The cozy and laidback aesthetic of "The Meyerowitz Stories" allows the film's lived-in performances a real chance to breathe. Just watching these characters — estranged siblings dealing with their famous and complicated dad (Dustin Hoffman) – interact in simple exchanges is enough to garner one's attention, so it's commendable that Baumbach largely avoids big dramatic events to propel the narrative along. The film is also littered with memorable gags, such as a brazenly avant-garde student film from a college-aged character and a number of witty lines dropped by supporting performer Emma Thompson. 


Horror movies tend to make unnerving use of silence, but "Hush" takes this trend to the next level by placing viewers inside the perspective of a deaf-mute writer named Maddie Young (Kate Siegel). Her isolated existence is interrupted by the sudden presence of a masked killer. How will she get out alive? Director Mike Flanagan uses that tension to carry viewers throughout the whole film.

Anyone familiar with other works from Flanagan — like "Doctor Sleep" or Netflix's "The Haunting of" series — knows he's got the chops to deliver scares that are both frightening and unique. And critics by and large praised "Hush" for continuing Flanagan's streak of well-crafted horror films, with many paying special attention to the sound design. As Kalyn Corrigan of Bloody Disgusting put it, "'Hush' provides a pulse-pounding example of how silence can be the most frightening tool of all." With positive marks like that, it's no wonder "Hush" is one of Netflix's creepiest horror flicks.


In the nearly 50 years since "Klute," sex workers have gotten tragically few opportunities to headline major films. Thankfully, "Cam" is around to provide one of the rare exceptions to that phenomenon. The film follows cam girl Alice Ackerman (Madeline Brewer), who finds her world turned upside down when a doppelgänger locks Alice out of her account and begins appearing in her videos. Alice's hunt to find out who's behind this copycat will lead her down a dark tunnels of conspiracies.

Many fans of the film have praised its ability to generate suspense and scares, with Candice Frederick of Polygon writing, "What makes 'Cam' scarier than so much other horror is that it leaves its protagonist out to dry. The movie makes you believe that our heroine may not win this fight because there is no one who actually wants her to come out on top." The authentic nature of Isa Mazzei's screenplay, which drew upon her own experiences as a camgirl, and a fantastic lead performance from Madeline Brewer have also become go-to points of acclaim for this unforgettable thriller.

Private Life

Director Tamara Jenkins isn't a household name, but "Private Life" proves that more moviegoers should try to seek out her work. Released in 2018, it chronicles the trials and tribulations of a New York couple, played by Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn, trying to have a kid. The story remains low-key, intimate, and consistently engaging. Jenkins has always shown a gift for painting complex human beings that audiences can see themselves in, and that talent is especially apparent here.

Among the many positive reviews heaped on "Private Life", K. Austin Collins' write-up for Vanity Fair pinpointed the best qualities of the production, praising "Hahn and Giamatti ... [as] a sterling central couple" and noting that "Jenkins can find the humor and bleached-out irony in something as sterile as a hospital's oppressively white walls — it's a true talent." Who could say no to a movie anchored by two insanely talented character actors? And after you reach the final credits, you'll definitely want to seek out the other titles in Tamara Jenkins' filmography.


Netflix's first original animated film, "Klaus" is an origin story of Santa Claus, a story that's been told several times throughout the history of animation, most notably in the Rankin-Bass TV special "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." However, this particular holiday tale is injected with new life in "Klaus," thanks to a beautiful take via the medium of hand-drawn animation. 

While the style has been ignored by major American movies studios over the last decade, "Klaus" reminds viewers of the power and beauty of characters and sets drawn with pencils. The production is also brought to life through some wonderful voicework from the likes of J.K. Simmons and Jason Schwartzman, all while an infusion of plain o'l Yuletide cheer — devoid of any cynicism — makes "Klaus" even more entertaining. In its initial foray into homegrown feature-length animation, Netflix delivered something as delightful as the most cheerful present under a tree.

To All the Boys I Loved Before

Rom-coms aimed at teens have been a great launchpad for fresh, new leading performers. Alicia Silverstone, Shailene Woodley, Julia Stiles — the list goes on and on. So it is with "To All The Boy I Loved Before," which is the place Lana Condor first established herself as an engaging leading lady. Here, she provides a distinctly human anchor to this story of a high school girl grappling with how the secret love letters she's penned over the years have suddenly gone out to her various crushes.

The story isn't the most original, sure, but who comes to this genre for narrative innovation? Films like "To All the Boys I've Loved Before" live and die on their performers and by establishing a charming atmosphere. Both qualities work well here thanks to the capable direction of filmmaker Susan Johnson. Rather than try her hand at a cynical take on this genre, Johnson does the best traditional teenage rom-com possible. The result is something that you can't help but smile at, especially considering how good Lana Condor is in her first leading role.

I Lost My Body

While feature-length animation in the U.S. is largely relegated to kid-friendly fare, foreign countries have long used the artform for adult-oriented storytelling. Case in point — the French film "I Lost My Body." This yarns looks at a young man who struggles with hopelessness before falling head over heels for a girl. At the same time, we also watch as his disembodied hand escapes from a lab and makes an incredible journey to try and find its body. Needless to say, the sight of an anthropomorphized hand makes this a tale that could only be told through the wonders of animation.

The filmmakers really lean into all the interesting possibilities of watching a hand navigate around an apartment complex and even flying over traffic-filled roads. Just marveling at how much personality the animators wring out of a severed limb that has no mouth or eyes will leave you reminded of the powers animation has. It'll also leave you wishing more American movie studios took risks on adult-skewed animated fare like "I Lost My Body."


It can be difficult to ask for help. Just ask "Rocks" protagonist Olushola "Rocks" Omotoso (Bukky Bukray), who's been suddenly given the responsibility of looking out for her younger brother when their mother suddenly vanishes. Not wanting to involve social services, Omotoso tries to continue on with her day-to-day existence while ignoring her friends' inquiries into what's going on. Omotoso is determined to look after herself and her sibling, but trying to juggle that would be a monumental task for any teenager. Under the director of Sarah Gavron, "Rocks" chronicles her struggles with an empathetic and thoughtful eye.

The universally positive reviews bestowed upon "Rocks" highlight — among many other qualities — how much the film renders its characters as three-dimensional people rather than just vessels for endless turmoil. In declaring it one of the best films of 2020, film critic Radheyan Simonpillai dubbed "Rocks" a "coming-of-age drama about an abandoned teen caring for her little brother [that] escapes the trauma porn trap by focusing on the hopes, strength, and sisterhood among her diverse characters." That kind of thoughtful screenwriting is rare, as are movies as good as "Rocks".


Ava DuVernay finally scored her first Oscar nomination for the documentary "13th," and what a masterful movie to mark that achievement. The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution is used as a springboard to explore the notion that the practice of slavery was replaced with a prison system that targets communities of color. Through DuVernay's work as a filmmaker, America's past and present are shown to be horribly intertwined.

The documentary uses many evocative methods to get its point across — including highlighting repeated phrases from U.S. presidents ranging from Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton — and reinforce how toxic perceptions of Black people are normalized at the highest levels of the United States of America. All the while, DuVernay's camera emphasizes the humanity of the people crushed by this kind of oppression, lending an extra layer of compassion to this sweeping production. Through its expansive scope, "13th" isn't just the kind of movie that deserves awards attention — it's the sort of film that's become urgently essential cinema.


An adaptation of Hillary Jordan's novel, "Mudbound" is collection of wonderfully interwoven stories. It's about a couple (Jason Clarke and Carey Mulligan) trying to make a living in the rough terrain of Marietta, Mississippi. It's also about the Jackson family (Mary J. Blige and Rob Morgan) and their ambitions to one day own their own plot of land. And it's about Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell) coming home from fighting in World War II, only to be treated like an outsider in his own country. It's about so much, but filmmaker Dee Rees is careful to make sure the story doesn't feel too overstuffed for its own good.

Instead, the individual plotlines all work together to tell a story about class and race in the American South, a tale that works largely thanks to its ensemble cast. And with all its converging storyline lines, the film feels appropriately epic. As film critic Jason Fraley put it, "Dee Rees' masterpiece is the closest thing we've seen in a while to George Stevens' 'Giant' or John Ford's 'The Grapes of Wrath;' a salt-of-the-earth epic that rises to the level of tragic literature." Rees lends such a thoughtful gaze to each characters' plight, and her ability to juggle so much in one production makes "Mudbound" the kind of movie that earns every bit of the hype it's generated.

Dolemite Is My Name

"Dolemite" has become the stuff of B-movie legend. It's only fitting that the making of such a movie would be turned into an exceptional comedy with "Dolemite Is My Name." Eddie Murphy portrays Rudy Ray Moore, a foul-mouthed comedian and aspiring filmmaker who's looking to make the kind of exciting comedies that he just can't find in theaters. His productions may be ramshackle, his crew may be inexperienced, but Moore is determined to make a movie nobody's ever seen before.

His quest provides plenty of opportunities for great gags and for the individual members of the cast to shine. The highlights of the performances have to be Wesley Snipes as the director of the eventual "Dolemite" movie and Da'Vine Joy Randolph as Moore's firecracker of a lover. What's most surprising about "Dolemite is My Name," though, is how genuinely affectionate it is. Despite all the hilarious vulgarity on-screen, this is a movie that ends up positing how any kind of art — even ridiculous stuff like the "Dolemite" features — can inspire people. That concept touches your heart as effectively as the gags tickle your funny bone.

Homecomng: A Film by Beyonce

If there's one thing we know about Beyonce Knowles, it's that she can definitely put on a show. And that talent is on full display in "Homecoming: A Film by Beyonce." A recording of her 2018 Coachella performance, the musician pulls out all the stops in terms of lavish effects when performing her most iconic songs. These numbers are intercut with behind-the-scenes footage set to narration of Knowles explaining the creative inspiration for her songs.

Combine all of that into one movie and you get a production as insightful as it is extravagant. This mixture has made this film (directed by Beyonce Knowles to boot!) a widely acclaimed production, with Shannon Miller of The A.V. Club praising it for providing "an emotional reminder that Beyoncé accomplished this [performance] with a robust and, more importantly, intentional celebration of Blackness." Clearly, we can add "daring filmmaking" to Beyonce Knowles' long list of accomplishments!

Circus of Books

Sure, most parents hold down jobs, but most parents don't have occupations as distinctive as the ones chronicled in "Circus of Books." Karen and Barry Mason bought up a bookstore in the 1970s called the Circus of Books, an adult shop for gay clientele. It's not a business they ever saw themselves managing, but it's one that became a landmark queer location in California.

With several decades passing since they first bought the shop, Karen and Barry Mason unveil their story to their daughter, documentarian Rachel Mason. The results are a movie that skillfully nestles an empathetic gaze inside a sensational tale. Reviewing for the website Out, critic Tre'vell Anderson praised the sense of "familiarity that makes 'Circus of Books' a worthy homage to the Los Angeles-area landmark of LGBTQ+ culture." A brilliant doc that balances the historical with the personal, "Circus of Books" is definitely a unique Netflix flick worth checking out.

The Forty-Year-Old Version

One of the most memorable features at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, "The Forty-Year-Old Version" is the directorial debut of playwright Radha Blank. However, the thoroughly confident nature of the movie makes it seem like something from a filmmaking veteran. It's also that rare modern film that feels truly unique, an example of a movie filling a gap in the very art of cinematic language.

The story of a 40-year-old playwright who decides to become a rapper, the film "offers a refreshing, unpretentious, and often hilarious take on middle-aged Black womanhood," observed critic Soraya Nadia McDonald. The distinctiveness of the whole affair was aptly summarized by Robert Daniels on Polygon, who noted that "everything about 'The Forty-Year-Old Version' feels fresh. Especially Blank's down-to-earth acting and her unique vision." 

Plus, the film delivers stylish directing and memorable moments of comedy, especially from the students that our protagonist (Blank) is tasked with teaching. Netflix has lots of movies to offer, but few of them are as skillfully realized as "The Forty-Year-Old Version".

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

No discussion about George C. Wolfe's film adaptation of "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" will ever be complete without talking about Chadwick Boseman. Though the actor's tragic passing certainly looms over the film's reputation, Boseman's performance as Levee Green is so mesmerizing that it would've always dominated the conversation surrounding the movie, no matter what. And watching Boseman's final incredible performance alone is enough to make "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" worth viewing.

However, this acting tour de force has plenty of other memorable performances on hand, including powerhouse Viola Davis as Ma Rainey and the reliably excellent Colman Domingo as Cutler. In the hands of these performers, the decades-old words of August Wilson take on a whole new kind of life. And in the process, the trampled human beings his writing was meant to humanize take on even more layers of life, particularly in regards to Boseman's incredible character.

Knock the House Down

For the four aspiring politicians in "Knock Down the House," which includes Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the obstacles to achieving political victory are massive. However, the stakes of not running in the first place are even greater. Just the presence of these ladies running for office helps to reshape the possibility of who can engage in American politics. Director Rachel Lears takes viewers through the ups and downs of putting together a historic political campaign, and the end result is a documentary that's generated plenty of praise and conversation.

Jordan Hoffman of The Guardian, for instance, noted that "Knock Down the House" worked just as well as broad inspirational story as it did a documentary. "Everyone likes an underdog story," Hoffman observed. "And when the underdog is as eloquent, passionate, and righteous as these four women are, the final reels of this film feel like a 'Rocky' movie."

Strong Island

In the documentary "Strong Island," director Yance Ford investigates a racially motivated murder ... one that's incredibly, horribly personal. His brother, William, was murdered at the age of 24, and in this unbelievable film, Ford digs deep into the causes behind his death. In the process, the film becomes a brutally vulnerable exercise that's as much about confronting the long-term emotional trauma of a tragedy as it is about finding any answers.

The underlying importance and emotional power of "Strong Island" were crystalized in Leah Greenblatt's review of the documentary for Entertainment Weekly, in which she said, "['Strong Island'] builds a poignant, methodical portrait of loss. Telling William's story won't bring him back, but at least it will let the world know he lived." It's not a film for the faint of heart, but by confronting the harrowing death of his brother, Ford has created a movie that's both tragic and touching.

Athlete A

"Athlete A" isn't just a documentary about allegations of sexual abuse against Dr. Larry Nassar. It's also, as Casey Cipriani wrote in her Bustle review, "hoping to expose a broader system of abuse and cover-up within USA Gymnastics (USAG) itself." Investigators, gymnasts and other figures are interviewed by directors Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk as the film looks at how this abuse happened and what can be done to prevent it in the future.

The heavy but urgently relevant material makes for a documentary that's turned into one of Netflix's most acclaimed features. Leslie Felperin for The Hollywood Reporter, for instance, praised the production for ensuring that "after seeing this film, you may never again watch archive footage of youngsters performing dazzling feats of acrobatics on the mat without feeling a little sick." The ability of "Athlete A" to make viewers recognize abusive practices hiding in plain sight has ensured it's a film that can actually make a real-world difference.


"Shirkers" begins as something quite hopeful and charming. Writer/director Sandi Tan is determined to make her own movie by any means necessary. Her dedication to this project and her struggles in accomplishing it will resonate as relatable to any aspiring filmmaker. But "Shirkers" isn't just a documentary about the perils of first-time directing. As it turns out, the man who taught her to love film and was helping her pull off this production has vanished and taken all the footage with him!

So begins a multi-decade hunt for Tan's passion project, if it even still exists. "Shirkers" reels you in with its heart-on-its-sleeve approach to filmmaking before gripping you with its unpredictable twists and turns as Tan tries to track down this stolen footage. Along the way, Tan also comes to term with regrets of her youth, making this as much an exercise in coping with the past as it is hunting for a physical manifestation of it. Every step of the way, Tan makes sure "Shirkers" is something both unexpected and incredibly well-polished.

Dick Johnson Is Dead

Movies can be used for thrills and for laughs ... and they can also be used to make the most harrowing parts of reality bearable. So it is with the documentary "Dick Johnson Is Dead" from director Kirsten Johnson. Her own father is the titular Dick Johnson, and his deteriorating mental health makes his own mortality apparent. So Kirsten opts to use cinema to cope with this inevitability. Specifically, she decides to film her dad dying in elaborate ways that range from falling down stairs to encountering an accident near a construction site.

These scenes of faux death are filled with amusing dark humor, especially in the glimpses of Dick and Kirsten preparing to shoot these segments. However, "Dick Johnson Is Dead" is firmly rooted in its most vulnerable moments, such as when Dick refers to himself as Kirsten's "little brother" because of how much he pesters her. And the home video footage we see of Kirsten's mom are equally emotional. They're not the most glorious films, but they do allow us a glimpse at a woman who's passed on. It's miraculous what cinema can accomplish, and an outstanding feature like "Dick Johnson Is Dead" reminds us of that.

Crip Camp

The documentary "Crip Camp" starts out at a summer camp for disabled individuals. Here, campers — like the film's co-director, James Lebrecht — are able to belong an make friendships that will last a lifetime. Ingeniously, the film doesn't just limit itself to this camp. The bonds formed here serve as the groundwork for extensive activism throughout the 1970s and 1980s for change in how American society views disabled people.

Directors Nicole Newnham and Lebrecht gracefully execute an expansive scope in "Crip Camp" all without ever losing sight of the complex humanity of its central subjects. The latter detail proves especially potent since "Crip Camp" finds countless opportunities to reinforce the variety of personalities found in the disabled community. Documentaries as well-crafted and heartfelt as "Crip Camp" are hard to come by, as are docs with stories as captivating as the anecdote about how lesbians and Black Panther members helped out disabled activists during a sit-in protest.

His House

Haunted house movies are super common, but how many tackle this subgenre with so much specific detail as "His House?" The film centers on South Sudanese refugees Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku), who've been given asylum in London. Their new home is a crumbling place, and they endure bigoted behavior from local residents. Oh, and the house is also haunted. Turns out there's a spirit living in their home, and this supernatural being will require a debt to be paid before it can leave. To do that, Bol and Rial will have to go into their past and confront horrors greater than anything you'd find in your typical horror flick.

In addition to the ghosts and ghouls, "His House" works as a compelling horror story in a very real-world sense. Film critic Valerie Complex summarized this by writing, "The sense of alienation that comes with integrating into another culture is stressful. Pair that with immigrating to a country that doesn't value your existence as a human. You have to tread lightly, as every step you make can be seen as antagonistic and get you sent right back to the country you're fleeing from. ... That's the real horror." Capturing this with such insight ensures that "His House" lives up to its hype and then some.