Despite having thousands of movies to choose from, a sleek navigation system, and an industry-best algorithm, it can be difficult to decide what to watch on Netflix. Last year we listed our picks of 70 of the greatest films on the platform. But given the sheer size of the streaming giant’s library, that’s barely scratching the surface. So here’s our list of a further 25 great titles of Netflix (as of April 2021). Go forth and binge watch.
This Trivikram Srinivas blockbuster, starring Allu Arjun, revolves around a baby swap. A middle-class man jealous of his wealthy employer swaps his son with his boss. The “plot” is older than the hills, but what stands out in this all-out masala entertainer is the effort that’s gone into writing the outrageous comedy.
David Fincher’s immersive drama tells the story of the brilliant-but-washed-up screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman), and how he wrote the screenplay for Citizen Kane. Between its stunning visuals and top-calibre performances, Mank is another fine testament to what a big-name director can do when empowered by the freedom of streaming.
Bombay Rose (2019)
Gitanjali Rao’s gorgeous debut feature Bombay Rose, which opened the 34th Venice International Film Critics’ Week, is a bittersweet love story set on the streets of Mumbai. Layered with the tropes of Hindi cinema and how the fantasies on the big screen shape our worldview, Bombay Rose is a potent mix of reality, imagination and love.
My Octopus Teacher (2020)
In My Octopus Teacher, a burnt-out documentary maker follows a common octopus. He observes the creature in her natural habitat. His voice narrates their environment. In doing so, filmmaker Craig Foster forms a deep and visible bond with her. The result is a hopeful masterpiece at a time when we need them most.
About Time (2013)
Made by the master of movie love, Richard Curtis, About Time centres on a young man (Domhnall Gleeson) who learns he has the ability to go back in time. He uses this power to try and get the girl of his dreams (Rachel McAdams). But by the end of About Time, it’s clear that, like the best love stories, it’s about a lot more than just love.
Wadjda is a film of firsts: the first feature to ever be shot in Saudi Arabia, the first to be made by a female Saudi director. As a result, the child’s gaze – a schoolgirl wants to buy a green bicycle – also provides the first authentic look into the social machinations of an ultra-conservative society.
The Place Beyond The Pines (2012)
Filmmaker Derek Cianfrance is widely known for his breakthrough film, Blue Valentine (2010), but his follow-up – a linear multi-narrative featuring Ryan Gosling as a blond motorbike stuntman, Bradley Cooper as a desperately righteous cop, and their young sons crossing paths years later – is a stone-cold masterpiece.
Beasts of No Nation (2015)
Cary Fukunaga, popularly known as the Emmy-winning director of True Detective and the upcoming Bond movie No Time To Die, has a filmography to die for. His third and finest film, Beasts of No Nation, follows an innocent African boy becoming a child soldier during a civil war – a brutal snapshot of a culture in turmoil, and a journey so fiercely frenetic that Fukunaga himself shot the film.
Anvita Dutt’s period-supernatural-feminist fable, starring a striking Tripti Dimri as a mysterious demon, proves that horror doesn’t always have to be a loud and desperate one-night stand. The horror of Bulbbul is rooted in the senses: old-school, sophisticated and innately beguiling.
Mosul, like most great war movies of our times, uses the vérité style of filming to great effect. Based on an acclaimed New Yorker article by Luke Mogelsen, Mosul has the coherent heart of a fictional film and the brutal body of a documentary, giving us a brave and profound thriller examining the Iraq war.
Pieces Of A Woman (2020)
A stunningly performed snapshot of uncertain grief, Pieces Of A Woman stars Vanessa Kirby as a woman suffering from grief and learning to live alongside her loss.
American Hustle (2013)
David O. Russell’s dazzling ensemble drama stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremey Renner as a bubbling stew of con artists, FBI agents, and politicians.
How does on-screen representation shape our queer eye? Should there be a distinction between the actor and their role? Has trans representation in cinema really improved? Documentary Disclosure poses all these questions. The searing but sensitive film is essential viewing that questions the content we’ve consumed, and is that much more relevant in India where well-meaning representation is often replaced with trashy humour.
Mysskin’s latest is dedicated to Alfred Hitchcock, and examines a dysfunctional relationship between a “mother” and a “son”, which results in the latter becoming a serial killer. The director strips the genre of its must-haves, and instead of a thriller we get a drama about the redemption of a brutally damaged man, who’s treated with as much compassion as his victims. For Mysskin fans, the film is a gift that keeps on giving.
Paava Kadhaigal (2020)
The year of COVID-19 was also the year of the anthology. OTT platforms seemed to be in a race, scrambling to lasso big-name directors to make short films, and Paava Kadhaigal is easily the best of the bunch. Sudha Kongara, Vignesh Shivan, Gautham Vasudev Menon and Vetri Maaran give us variations on the theme of maanam (honour) and demonstrate just how much a filmmaker can be liberated by not having to think about opening weekends and star power.
An Oscar-winner for best feature-length documentary, Icarus is a tremendous example of a filmmaker breaking the fourth wall and directly affecting the journey of the subject. Director Bryan Fogel sets out to make a film on illegal doping in sports – starting as a guinea pig to prove the potency of performance-enhancing drugs – before the film dramatically changes course.
American Factory (2019)
Another Oscar-winning documentary, American Factory is a rare mix of the terse and the tender. A Chinese glass-production company opens its factory at a shuttered General Motors plant in the USA, not only inheriting some of GM’s old labour force but also transferring its own local workers to the remoteness of small-town Ohio. The fly-on-the-wall film simply captures life on both sides of the bittersweet cultural clash and provides a healing snapshot of a time before Donald Trump accused China of deliberately unleashing the “Chinese virus” onto the world.
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011)
Zoya Akhtar’s buddy-flick road movie in sepia-washed Spain is good-looking, but also deceptively charming in the way its boyish masculinity is forced to reveal a tender – and thus, charismatic – heart.
The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)
Judd Apatow’s now-iconic comedy is the film that showed us just how funny Steve Carell can be when he dons the suit of loveable immaturity. And of course, as an added bonus, this one also has two of Hollywood’s comedy giants in the making — Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen.
Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! (2008)
About an unrepentant burglar (played by the infectiously charming Abhay Deol) who steals from the rich for the heck of it, OLLO has the American Hustle style of comedy — where reasonably grounded crime is laced with irreverent humour. Dibakar Banerjee challenges our wits throughout the film, and once you get the hang of it, you cannot help but laugh at the idiosyncrasies that flood the story.
Cargo is proof that a filmmaker’s imagination can trump stars, scale, budgets. Director Arati Kadav builds a future world – the film is set in 2027 – that is both audacious and original. The lead actors – Vikrant Massey and Shweta Tripathi – are stellar and the production design by Mayur Sharma is a thing of beauty.
Eeb Allay Ooo! (2019)
Prateek Vats’s ferociously original satire about the struggle of a migrant worker in New Delhi is both darkly funny and subtly harrowing. Eeb Allay Ooo! is a penetrating and brilliant commentary on the state of our nation.
Widely considered one of the most game-changing animated films of all time (and the very first to use CGI technology), Shrek broke the innocent image of animation by being a fairy tale that made fun of fairy tales.
Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
The beloved zany comedy starring Renée Zellweger was a product of the golden age of rom-coms. The story of an overweight girl whose life is a total mess and yet winds up with the hot lawyer never gets old.
I don’t think it’s quite possible to describe the plot of Inception (2010) in a few lines. There’s simply too much to compress in Christopher Nolan‘s dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream heist extravaganza that’s also a tale of enduring parental love and a sleek noir. Ambitious plot aside, it remains every bit the achievement it was more than a decade ago.
The Matrix (1999)
The Wachowskis’ cocktail of path-breaking action and heady philosophy firmly placed the Matrix trilogy among the most celebrated and influential sci-fi films ever made. The series offered so many things never seen before on screen, and despite its polarising follow-ups and the announcements of the upcoming new instalments, the original film offered us a complete journey of The One.
La La Land, Bareilly Ki Barfi, Swades, A Clockwork Orange, Demolition, The Old Guard, Udta Punjab, Julie and Julia, Boogie Nights, Back to the Future, Death to 2020.