100 Best Movies to Stream on Netflix in September
Finally, Black Panther hits your living room screen.
Ah, fall. Is there any season as glorious? The summer road trips and vacations are over, the kids are finally back in school, and life returns to something approaching normal. There's a nip in the air—not cold enough to make you turn on the heat but just cold enough that staying home and watching movies on Netflix sounds extra-glorious. But what to watch? Netflix has so many options, and if you're not careful, you could end up sitting through Undercover Grandpa or Troll 2 just because you didn't have the energy to keep searching. Nobody deserves that.
Thankfully, we're here to help. We scoured Netflix's massive digital warehouse of movies, from new releases to old favorites, movies debuting on the small screen and movies that you haven't watched in years, movies you meant to see but somehow missed the first time, movies that feel like comfort food. Here, for the month of September (the service's offerings rotate on a monthly basis), is the best of what Netflix has to offer. All you need to add is a couch, a bowl of stovetop popcorn, and someone special to cozy next to. And if you're looking for something scarier when the days turn darker, don't miss these 40 Best Horror Movies for Totally Freaking Yourself Out!
Black Panther (available September 4)
If you haven't seen the year's most talked about mega-blockbuster yet, we don't know how you did it, but there's still chance to see what all the fuss is about. And you don't even have to put on pants and leave the house. So in a way, you're the real winner this month. And if Marvel movies are your thing, then you'll also love The 30 Best-Selling Comic Book Series of All Time.
Unforgiven (available September 1)
This western is considered one of Clint Eastwood's best—and one of the best in the entire western genre—and not just because it had some of the most beautifully filmed gun slinging and outlaw busting. The masterpiece by Eastwood—he directed, produced, and starred in it—took a darker take on the classic western tropes. Turns out, being a cowboy hero isn't all that much fun, especially the sleeping outdoors part, the getting rained on part, and the having to shoot other human beings part.
Sierra Burgess Is a Loser (Netflix original) (available September 4)
Fans of Stranger Things will definitely want to check out this new high school comedy, starring Shannon Purser (she's Barb on the horror show) as the biggest loser at her school who has to join forces with the most popular girl in a harebrained scheme to win the attentions (and affections) of their respective crushes. We don't know much more about this film, other than that it's loosely based on the Cyrano de Bergerac story. Hmm, one band geek, one hot teenager… We're starting to see how this is gonna play out.
City of Joy (Netflix original) (available September 7)
Feeling beaten down by a news cycle that never seems to show much in the way of human decency? Then you'll definitely want to check out this emotionally stirring documentary, which looks at a community in the Congo that takes in women and children who've been brutalized by the country's civil war. It's a nice reminder that people are still capable of tremendous kindness.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (available September 1)
Long before Guardians of the Galaxy, this movie (based on the beloved novel written by Douglas Adams) was a favorite among film fans who love their science fiction with a healthy dose of humor. It's about the end of the world, but as baffled Earth survivor Arthur Dent soon learns, the number one rule is don't panic. And for real-life science fiction, don't miss the 30 Craziest Scientific Discoveries of Our Lifetime.
The Breakfast Club (available September 1)
If you came of age during the '80s, this movie—about a gaggle of teens forced to coexist (and learn about each other) during a weekend detention—still has the power to give you all the feels. Teenage angst and ennui has never felt so real. And for more '80s nostalgia, read up on the 20 Slang Terms From the 1980s No One Uses Anymore.
Hold the Dark (Netflix original) (available September 28)
Hold the Dark is one of the new horror movies this fall, along with the new Halloween reboot, that we're most excited about. We won't give away too much, other than to say it stars Westworld's Jeffrey Wright as a retired wolf expert who travels to a small Alaskan village to investigate reports of wolves attacking children. Needless to say, what he finds is nothing short of unexpected. Cue the screaming!
On My Skin (Netflix original) (available September 12)
The shocking true story of Stefano Cucch, a man arrested in Italy on minor drug charges who was found dead in his cell after just a week. This movie premiered to raves at this year's Venice Film Festival, and its next red-carpet premiere is in your living room. Dress accordingly.
August Rush (available September 1)
An orphan runs away to find his birth parents and ends up in an abandoned theater in New York City full of misfit musician kids overseen by a homeless guru named the Wizard (played by Robin Williams), where he discovers he can play guitar like a avant-garde six-string virtuoso Kaki King. And to lend credence to the score, yes, King herself wrote and performed a few songs for the film.
Scarface (available September 1)
Has it really been 35 years since this movie came out? Well, it's still as much trashy fun as it was in the '80s. Watch this epic tale of a Cuban drug kingpin and see how long it takes you to start quoting your favorite lines. You probably forgot how satisfying it is to shout out, "Say hello to my leetle friend!" And for some crazy trivia about some of your favorite movie lines, check out the 50 Famous Movie Lines That Were Ad-Libbed.
The Most Assassinated Woman in the World (available September 7)
A biopic of French actress Paula Maxam, often called "the most assassinated woman in the world." Performing in Paris during the early 1930s, she was murdered on stage more than 10,000 times in at least 60 different ways. In this fictionalized story, a young journalist visits Maxam to write about her unusual vocation, and begins to suspect that the theater might be involved in a series of very real murders.
Bleach (Netflix original) (available September 14)
Based on a popular anime series and manga, this live-action adventure follows a high school student named Ichigo who discovers he has reaper abilities—he can see and communicate with the dead—but he'd much rather give up his powers to become a normal kid. Before that happens, he's going to have to contend with some pretty nasty-looking monsters and spirits.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (available September 1)
You're not going to get more lovably quirky and nerd-tastic than this tale of a slacker musician, played by Michael Cera, who has to beat his new girlfriend's seven evil exes in outrageous video game-style battles.
The Land of Steady Habits (Netflix original) (available September 14)
A man in his 50s decides he's had enough of his life of endless responsibilities, so he quits his job in finance and leaves his wife. Being alone isn't exactly what he bargained for, and it doesn't come with the magical transformation he had hoped. This film comes to Netflix just days after its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The Angel (Netflix original) (available September 14)
Based on the true story of Ashraf Marwan, one of the most famous spies in Middle Eastern history. A son-in-law to the Egyptian President, Marwan was also an undercover spy for Israel, using the code name "The Angel." His daring espionage helped the Israeli Defense Force survive a surprise attack from Egyptian and Syrian forces. And for more real-life heroes, check out the 30 Most Important Dogs in American History.
Maynard (available September 2)
A documentary of Maynard Jackson Jr., the first black mayor of Atlanta. It's easy to forget, in a post-Obama world, just how impressive that was. In 1973, the South was a very segregated place and Jackson had an uphill battle, but under his leadership he turned Atlanta into one of the most progressive cities in the country.
Not all is as it appears in this nail-biter of a thriller, starring Michael Douglas as a wealthy banker who gets an unexpected birthday gift from his brother (Sean Penn), the chance to play a mysterious game in which everyone around him may or may not be pawns, and the stakes just might be more deadly than he ever anticipated.
Quincy (available September 21)
Rashida Jones, from the hit NBC sitcoms The Office and Parks & Rec, co-directs (with Alan Hicks) a loving portrait of her father, music legend Quincy Jones. It's not just about his professional career—he's won 22 Grammys, the second most of any artist—but also how Jones, a mentor for everyone from Michael Jackson to Oprah, transcended cultural ideas of race in America.
Bruce Almighty (available September 1)
Check out this classic from Jim Carrey's oeuvre, about an anchorman who's been given unlimited power by God (played by Morgan Freeman) to see if he's capable of using it selflessly. And for more laughs, check out The 30 Funniest Movies of All Time.
Fair Game (available September 1)
Naomi Watts plays Valerie Plame, a wife and mother who has a secret life as a CIA agent, and somehow manages to hide it from her family. But she gets exposed when her diplomat husband, played by Sean Penn, challenges the government's assertion that Iraq is using enriched uranium, and Valerie's covert identity is compromised by the White House. Amazingly, this is based on a true story.
Sleeping with Other People
A one night stand usually means just that: One night, and that's it. But when two former lovers (played by Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie) run into each other again twelve years later, they try to see if it's still possible to be friends, despite their obvious attraction to each other.
Remember what's in the box? Has it been that long since you last saw this horror masterpiece? Remember the anguish on Brad Pitt's face when he asked Morgan Freeman, "What's in the box? What's in the booooox?!" It gives us chills just thinking about it. If you haven't seen this one yet, stop everything and watch it tonight. And be prepared to get seriously freaked out.
10,000 BC (available September 1)
Not to be confused with One Million Years B.C., the 1966 Raquel Welch vehicle that includes far more cleavage than any caveman epic deserves. No, this prehistoric epic is about a young mammoth hunter who falls for a blue-eyed beauty and, when she gets kidnapped, he's willing to travel across hostile terrain and spear a lot of saber-toothed tigers to get her back.
Role Models (available September 16)
Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott play the worst mentors a potty-mouthed fifth-grader could ask for. If adults acting like immature adolescents sounds like your cup of tea, you're in for a good time. This movie is funny purely because it's so wildly inappropriate and wrong.
Delirium (available September 1)
Is there anything worse than checking out of a psychiatric hospital and into the house you inherited from your dead parents, only to find out that the house is probably haunted? This movie dares to ask the question, "Can't a guy with a house full of angry spirits catch a break?"
A gang of young women (Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine) head south for what they assume will be a fun-filled spring break that won't involve a single felony or first-degree homicide. But then they meet a drug dealer (James Franco) and, well, let's just say their plans change. And for a little behind-the-scenes trivia, don't miss these 30 Shocking Facts about Your Favorite Movies.
Next Gen (Netflix original) (available September 7)
This animated feature about the friendship between a socially isolated girl and her bully-punishing robot sounded like a good time even before we found out that stars like Charlyne Yi, Jason Sudeikis, and David Cross are providing the voices.
A Wrinkle in Time (available September 25)
This isn't the first adaptation of the classic science fiction novel—there have been films, graphic novels, even operas—but it's the first live-action retelling that stars Oprah. (For some people, that's either the big selling point, or the reason they go, "Meh.") (available September 25)
Groundhog Day (available September 1)
It's still one of Bill Murray's best films, and that's saying something. What's causing a snotty and arrogant TV weatherman (Murray) to experience the same day over and over and over again? He intends to find out, and learns more about what it means to be present in the world than he ever thought possible.
Nappily Ever After (Netflix original) (available September 21)
"I've worked so hard to be perfect," complains Violet Jones (played by Sanaa Lathan) in this inspiring dramedy. "And it still wasn't enough." It takes a bad haircut—and losing her boyfriend and corporate job—for Jones to realize that it's time to make some changes.
Lessons From A School Shooting: Notes from Dunblane (available September 28)
It won the top prize as Best Documentary Short at this year's Tribeca Film Festival, and we can see why. It tells the true story of Monsignor Basil O'Sullivan, a priest from Dunblane—the site of a horrifying school shooting in 1996—who reaches out to Monsignor Bob Weiss from Newtown—where another school shooting took place, in 2012—to offer his emotional support. Whatever your opinions on gun laws, this doc should be required viewing.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
A romantic comedy, but unlike anything you've seen before. From the deliciously complex mind of Charlie Kaufman comes this tale of a man (Jim Carrey) who decides to have all memories of his ex-girlfriend (Kate Winslet) surgically removed from his brain.
The 3rd Eye (available September 28)
An empty home, a group of recently-orphaned kids, and a growing suspicion that there's "something else" in the house with them. Oh, and one (and maybe more) of the kids has a third eye, allowing them to see all those spooky spirit that could be meaning them harm. A seriously scary spook-fest.
Two Weeks Notice (available September 1)
Admittedly this isn't a film for everybody. If you don't like romantic comedies that don't break any new dramatic ground, and if you grimace at the idea of Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant gently flirting with each other, and if you're sick of the tired "Will they or won't they?" plot line, then maybe this isn't the movie for you. But if what we've just described sounds like the best weekend ever, you're going to love this one. And if rom-coms are your go-to, then you'll appreciate these 25 Hilarious Clichés in Every Rom-Com.
The Keeping Hours
Seven years after their son passes away, a still-grieving couple are visited by his ghost. This may sound like the plot of a horror movie, but this is really a tug-at-your-heartstrings tale of love and loss. Keep a box of tissues nearby.
The Hurricane Heist (available September 26)
Wait, hold on, a heist action thriller in which the hero is a meteorologist? We can't seriously be recommending this movie, can we? Think again. When thieves think they'll use a hurricane as the ultimate cover to steal from a US Mint facility, they didn't expect the weather guy to stop them!
The Witch (available September 17)
In 1630 New England, when a kid mysteriously disappears and the main suspect is his sister who might very well be a witch, well, let's just say the family dynamics get way more awkward than your last Thanksgiving.
Lilo & Stitch (available September 2)
You don't necessarily need a kid of your own to enjoy this Disney classic. Maybe you remember it from your youth and you could use a break from all the terrifying reality we're bombarded with every day. Hey, after a rough day, nothing is a better cure than watching a hyperactive blue alien.
Click (available September 7)
It's just like Back to the Future, except, instead of a DeLorean, it's a TV remote capable of time travel that was invented by a crazy scientist. And instead of Michael J. Fox, it stars Adam Sandler, so your mileage may vary. But if you feel like you've been burning the candle at both ends, there's something in this comedy you'll relate to.
Why has a young girl named Stephanie been left alone in her family's sprawling suburban house? Does it have anything to do with the global pandemic we keep hearing about (just in snippets) on the TV? And is that a monster or some supernatural entity that keeps making her run away and hide?
Big Miracle (available September 30)
A small-time reporter in Alaska (played by The Office's John Krasinski) gets the news break of a lifetime when a family of gray whales gets trapped in the ice near his town. He meets an environmental activist (Drew Barrymore) and they have an adorable affair—not unlike all rom-com relationships involving Drew Barrymore—while working together to save the whales.
It's like Revenge of the Nerds, but with Amanda Bynes as a dorky college freshman who feels alienated by her late mother's sorority, so she joins a group of outcasts—one of whom is only capable of talking through a puppet—and learns that a good heart is more important than popularity.
Martian Child (available September 1)
John Cusack plays a science fiction author who decides he wants to try fatherhood after his wife passes away. He adopts a 7-year-old kid from a local orphanage, and they live happily ever after. Just kidding. The kid thinks he's from Mars and wears cardboard boxes to protect his extraterrestrial skin from the sun. Hijinks ensue.
Nacho Libre (available September 1)
If you love movies like School of Rock and Napoleon Dynamite, and you're also weirdly fascinated with masked Mexican wrestlers, we've got just the movie for you. And for more laughs, don't miss The 20 Funniest Jokes From Kids' Movies.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (available September 25)
The first film in the wildly successful series, and still the best. Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow exudes the perfect amount of Keith Richards swagger. Disney movies based on pirate theme park rides have no right being this much fun.
Spider-Man 3 (available September 1)
It's not the best of the Spider-Man movies, or even the best of the Spider-Man movies starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. But it is the best Spider-Man movie with a ridiculous dance number. Yes, it's worth watching again for little moments like that. It's as if director Sam Raimi realized it was his last entry in the franchise, and decided to have as much fun as possible.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (available September 17)
Just like the Hunter S. Thompson book it's based on, this Johnny Depp vehicle is a good time. Is it really about chasing the American Dream, or just ingesting so many illegal substances that everyone starts to look like a lizard? We're still not sure, but this Gonzo tale of excess is still worth the ride.
The Cider House Rules (available September 1)
We dare you to try watching this adaptation of the John Irving novel without getting a little choked up. Just the line "Goodnight you princes of Maine, you kings of New England" is enough to set off the waterworks. We're not crying, you're crying!
Same Kind of Different as Me
Full warning: You shouldn't watch this movie if you're not into feel-good stories with a Christian message of helping others to help yourself. Based on a bestselling memoir, it's about a rich white Texas couple on the brink of divorce (played by Greg Kinnear and Renee Zellweger) who rediscover each other after volunteering at a homeless shelter.
Antonio Banderas plays a robotics insurance agent in a dystopian future, where most of humanity has been wiped out by radioactivity and the survivors are protected by aliens who follow a strict protocol of never causing harm "to any form of life." You see where this is going, right? The robots are coming to destroy us all! And for proof that we've already embarked on such a journey, see the 20 Types of Artificial Intelligence You Use Every Single Day And Don't Know It.
When two sisters try to rob a bank and are less than thrilled with how much money is there, a nerdy bank employee (played by James Franco) reveals that there's a secret vault one floor below them, which contains millions. He conveniently forgets to mention that the vault is haunted by ghosts of the last thieves who tried robbing it.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (available September 1)
A prequel for anyone who's wondered why a guy like Leatherface becomes a chainsaw-wielding maniac. Is it nature or nurture? We finally have answers—and be prepared, they're about as bloody and carnage-filled as things get.
King Kong (available September 1)
It's arguable that the 1933 original didn't need a remake, but if anybody was going to do it and make the story of a gigantic gorilla rampaging through New York not just more realistic but strangely sweet, it was Peter "I did Lord of the Rings justice" Jackson.
It's the kind of animated movie you're forced to watch because you're a parent or you're babysitting your nephew or niece, and you find yourself shocked at how much you enjoy it, and then months later you notice it's on Netflix and you tell yourself, "I'll just watch a few minutes of it," but then you end up watching the whole thing and loving it just as much the second time. We wish we were kidding, but we're really not. This film is that good.
Pearl Harbor (available September 1)
Two childhood buddies from Tennessee (played by Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett) join the Army, fall in love with the same nurse, and then everybody almost dies when the Japanese invade Pearl Harbor. If you like a good love triangle that gets resolved because everything is exploding, this is the perfect movie for you.
A murder mystery set in a Wyoming Indian reservation, it was a hit at Sundance, and if you've been itching for a movie that gets its thrills more from gritty drama and character development than special effects, this is the neo-Western you've been waiting for.
Even if you tend to avoid superhero movies, this is one worth checking out. Benedict Cumberbatch's Dr. Steven Strange is a fascinating portrait of a brilliant surgeon turned sorcerer that manages to be compelling even if you've never cracked the spine of a comic book.
How It Ends
What could be worse than the apocalypse? How about an apocalypse that causes you to take a cross country road trip with the father of your girlfriend, whom you recently got pregnant, and he's a Marine who looks like Forest Whitaker (because he is Forest Whitaker), and he doesn't especially like you?
We weren't expecting to like a non-vampire movie by Kristen Stewart either, but this indie about the unlikely friendship between a guard at Guantanamo Bay (played by Stewart) and a Muslim man who's been "detained" there for eight years is one of the most affecting, achingly-human dramas we've seen in years.
Richard Linklater's film is remarkable just by the sheer ambition it took to create. Shot over the course of eleven years, it follows a boy's life from ages six to eighteen, as he survives bullying, heartbreak, and his parent's divorce. A powerful story even if you've never been a parent, but if you are, be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster ride.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
David Fincher, the director behind such cult classics as Fight Club and The Social Network, adapts a breakout novel (of the same name) by the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson, about a journalist (played with moody swagger by Daniel Craig) joining forces with a heavily tattooed hacker named Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) to track down a woman who's been missing for 40 years. Just when you think you have the plot figured out, it pulls the rug out from under you.
Astronaut Sam Bell (played by Sam Rockwell) has spent the last three years alone on the Moon, mining something called Helium-3, which has become the primary source of global energy on earth. As his lunar mission comes to a close, he starts to have weird hallucinations, discovering and then befriending his doppelgänger. Is he losing his mind, or is there more going on than his employers are letting on?
Woman in Gold
We'd watch Helen Mirren in just about anything, but a movie in which she plays an Austrian woman who survived the Holocaust and is now suing the Austrian government for the family art that was looted by the Nazis, that sounds about as mesmerizing as movies can get.
Sharknado 2: The Second One
If you haven't been watching the Sharknado series on Syfy, you've been missing out on some campy ridiculousness. The sixth and final installment came out in August, but this sequel remains our favorite, with the perfect balance of scares and goofiness. As Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) says in a rousing speech, "No one wants to get eaten. But I've been eaten and I'm here to tell you that it takes a lot more than that to bring a good man down!"
Yes, its romantic schmaltz, but it's really good romantic schmaltz. With more than a dozen storylines, featuring an ensemble of heavy hitters like Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, and Emma Thompson, if this eager-to-please comedy doesn't satisfy your rom-com needs, you're just not paying attention.
The superhero movie didn't get a lot of love from critics when it was released, but on some nights it's exactly what the doctor ordered. Halle Berry beating up baddies may not be the stuff of Oscar nominations, but we still find it compelling viewing.
When a group of Marines are sent to a remote island for routine training exercise, the end up fighting for their lives against some seriously menacing killer robots. If you're looking for character development, you might want to skip this one. But if you're in the mood for robot carnage and Marines engaging in some awesome action, this is the perfect celluloid escapism for you.
Worth another viewing just to see legendary actors Robert De Niro and Al Pacino doing their first (and amazingly, only) movie scene together, as a professional bank robber (De Niro) and obsessive cop (Pacino) sitting down at a diner to find a middle ground. According to the director, the iconic scene was shot in one take, with no rehearsal whatsoever. And for more movie trivia, check out the 40 Hilarious First Acting Gigs for Your Favorite Megastars.
On the surface, it sounds like just another martial arts movie, about a female assassin (played by Shu Qi) trying to track down and kill corrupt government officials. But it's not so much the plot as the way it's told, with visuals that are breathtakingly beautiful and cinematography that makes Lawrence of Arabia seem like a Weekend at Bernie's sequel.
No, we're not kidding. The creator of Wallace & Gromit may look like he's making stop motion animated films for kids, but these are stories best appreciated by grown-ups. The plot of this one—with Mel Gibson voicing the lead—centers on a group of chickens trying to save their lives after learning that their poultry farm will soon be selling chicken pies rather than just farm-fresh eggs.
Bert Kreischer: Secret Time
A stand-up concert film that holds up to classics like Eddie Murphy Raw and Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip. You may not know Kreischer's name, but he was the real-life inspiration for National Lampoon's Van Wilder (yes, the hard-partying college oaf played by Ryan Reynolds). He describes his special as "just getting drunk and telling secrets," but it's a bit more complicated than that. Prepare yourself for the kind of emotional vulnerability rarely seen in stand-up comedy.
To Kill a Mockingbird
If this is one of those movies you've always pretended was a favorite but you've never actually seen, this is your chance to change that. And here's the good news: It lives up to its reputation. Watching Gregory Peck play a Depression-era Southern lawyer defending an unfairly accused black man is exactly as amazing and life-affirming as everyone told you.
This dark comedy about teenage peer pressure and murder—starring a very young Winona Ryder and Christian Slater—was considered scandalous when it first premiered, almost thirty years ago. Or maybe it was a perfect metaphor for the anxiety of high school. It probably depended on your age. "Teenagers don't have any trouble with it," Heathers' director, Michael Lehmann, said in an interview. "It's always adults that are shocked." Watch it again and see if it still resonates, or if it just feels like teenagers behaving badly.
Jerry Before Seinfeld
Did you know that Jerry Seinfeld has a library of legal pads containing every joke he's written since 1975? That's just one of the fascinating details revealed in this documentary, in which the TV star revisits The Comic Strip, the club that launched his career, to take another look at the jokes that first shaped his comic persona.
The Stanford Prison Experiment
If you're looking for evidence that human beings are ultimately good, this may not be the movie for you. Based on the true story of a 1971 Stanford study, in which 24 male students were put into a jail setting, with half of them assigned to be guards and the other half as prisoners, it quickly devolved into the worst kind of bullying and abuse.
Abbi Jacobson (of the Comedy Central hit Broad City) plays a woman driving her drug-dependent brother (Dave Franco) around LA looking for a detox center, with his toddler daughter in the back seat. What does that have to do with six balloons? We're not telling, but it's worth watching this intense character study to find out.
Adam Sandler can be an acquired taste, but if you're in the right mindset for a goofball comedy, this is one of the best. It's worth a viewing just for the fist fight between Sandler and former Price is Right host Bob Barker. (Spoiler alert: Sandler loses.)
With all the recent revelations about sexual abuse cover-ups within the Catholic church in Pennsylvania, the time has never been better to re-watch (or watch for the first time) this Academy Award winner. Based on a true story, it follows a team of Boston Globe writers (led by Michael Keaton) trying to expose sexual abuse within, well, the Catholic church.
It's been called "the thinking man's Benjamin Button," which is to say it messes with our perception of time in ways that will have you thinking about this movie for weeks afterward. A 118-year-old man named Nemo tries to piece together the details of his life, which apparently involve every possible choice he could've made. Have you ever regretted the path you never took or the opportunity you turned down? Nemo doesn't, because he took them all! Somehow. Hey, we warned you, this film is a brain twister.
Friday Night Lights
Long before it was a hit TV series, it was a critically acclaimed movie about a high-school football team that couldn't lose, the one glimmer of hope in an otherwise impoverished Texas town, until their star player has a career-ending injury. It looks grim for their future until their coach, played brilliantly by Billy Bob Thornton, finds a way to make them believe in themselves again. "Perfection is being able to look your friends in the eye and know you did everything you could not to let them down," he tells the team, giving them (and us) goosebumps the size of quarters.
Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids
It doesn't matter if you're a huge Timberlake fan, you'll find something to enjoy in this concert film, recorded on the final night of his 20/20 Experience World Tour at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. It's also the last feature by the late Jonathan Demme, who gave us such classics as The Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia.
This Netflix original is made for anyone still mourning the loss of Sex & The City. Three sassy New York gals, fed up with their fabulous Manhattan jobs and apartments, go to Barcelona to unwind, and one of them falls for a hot DJ played by Game of Thrones' Richard Madden.
Menace II Society
Made by twin brothers who were just 21 at the time, their cinematic debut takes an unflinching look at teenage violence on the streets of Watts in the early '90s. It's been widely imitated but nobody has ever quite duplicated the urgency and youthful energy of this powerful drama. It's also a film that introduced the world to future mega-stars like Jada Pinkett and Samuel L. Jackson.
City of God
Based on a novel by Paulo Lins, this story of street gangs in the slums of Rio de Janeiro during the '60s and '70s is heartbreaking and thought-provoking, examining the cyclical nature of violence among youths with few other options. It's been compared to Scorsese's GoodFellas, and not because it deals with crime among multiple generations. Just the way the story unfolds feels like a confession coming straight from the narrator's brain.
Even if you've already seen it, it's worth seeing again. Not just for the powerful performances—Liam Neeson's arrogant but deeply moral Oskar Schindler remains his finest moment on film—but for the reminder of just how horrible the Nazi concentration camps really were. You can read about that period in history and see all the grainy black-and-white photos, but somehow it took the cinematic eye of Steven Spielberg to prove how it truly was humanity's darkest hour.
The King's Speech (2010)
On paper, this one sounds less than thrilling. Colin Firth plays Prince Albert, soon to be crowned the King of England, who struggles to overcome his stammer. Yes, it's a film about British royals taking speech therapy. But trust us, it's charming and funny and surprisingly inspirational.
Critically acclaimed and a big hit at Cannes, but be forewarned: this is not a film for the faint of heart. It's about a lifelong vegetarian who suddenly decides she craves meat. Not just animal meat—human meat. Not a lot is left to the imagination in this horrifying but deftly made French-Belgian drama,
Full Metal Jacket
War movies don't get much grittier and psychologically terrifying than this Stanley Kubrick classic. The movie's split into two parts: a boot camp training, then smack dab in the middle of a war zone in Vietnam. It's hard to say which part is more harrowing, but we still get chills thinking about the young recruit who gets so abused by his drill instructor and company that he… well, we won't spoil it for you.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays Billy "The Great" Hope, a pro boxer whose life is in a downward spiral. His wife gets killed, his daughter is taken away by protective services, and his career screeches to a halt after he attacks a referee. But what kind of boxing movie would it be if he didn't get his chance at redemption?
Edgar Wright, the comedy auteur behind the zombie spoof Shaun of the Dead, brings his wickedly funny take on the buddy cop genre. Imagine Reno 911 but with British accents, and (please don't hate us for saying this) much funnier. We're sorry, but it's kinda true.
Who knew a black-and-white noir action flick that's almost entirely shot in shadow and features vigilante sex workers and Mickey Rourke with a prosthetic forehead and bandages all over his bloody face could be this much fun?
Life Is Beautiful
A movie about a concentration camp has no right being this charming, but leave it to Italian auteur Roberto Benigni to take this premise—a father tries to protect his son at a Nazi camp by persuading the boy that it's all just part of a game—and turn it into one of the best feel-good pictures of the '90s.
Keanu Reeves plays a demon hunter who's just trying to stay out of the underworld. There may be plenty of CGI beasts, but this movie is really about the moody emotional life of a guy it just so happens to be able to see all the spirits walking among us and he's not sure he's happy about it.
The Wachowski siblings, makers of The Matrix movies, get even more ambitious with this one, which feature an all-star cast—Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and Jim Broadbent—playing multiple characters over six different storylines spanning several centuries. Perfect for an evening if you can't decide if you're in the mood for a dystopian future science fiction thriller, a goofball comedy set in the present, or a mystery thriller. Why not do a little of everything?
Toilet—Ek Prem Katha
After just one day of marriage, a woman leaves her husband after learning that his home, in rural India, doesn't have a toilet. But the man isn't about to give up so easily, and he sets out on the surprisingly difficult task to bring indoor sanitation to his life, which involves fighting against the traditionalist values of his orthodox father.
Gone Baby Gone
Ben Affleck proof that he had directing chops with this thriller set in working class Boston, about a private detective (played by Casey Affleck) trying to track down a missing girl in a neighborhood with no shortage of potential suspects.
Touch of Evil
If you thought Citizen Kane was Orson Welles' only cinematic masterpiece, think again. This thriller set on the U.S./Mexico border stars Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, and Welles himself as a corrupt police chief not accustomed to playing by the rules. This is film noir at its best. And for more classics, check out the 30 Most Iconic Kisses of All Time.
Michael Keaton plays Ray Kroc, the founder of a fast-food empire. If you're curious how the golden arches of McDonald's became one of the most successful food franchises in U.S. history, this film is an entertaining and informative look at Kroc's rise to cheap-burger power.
If you're visited by a creepy-looking dude dressed in a rabbit costume who tells you that the world is going to end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds, you should probably take him seriously. Or not. Frankly, we're still not sure after watching this cult classic.
The Crying Game
In the age before the internet, it was still possible for a movie to have a big secret that didn't get spoiled for everybody by some jerk with a blog. If you don't already know this film's shocking reveal, now is the time to see it. Just don't tell anybody else, okay?
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