One of the best Robert Downey Jr. dramas you haven't watched yet just crashed the Netflix top 10

Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall in The Judge
(Image credit: Alamy)

While Netflix released a slew of great new movies in May, you won't find any of them in the #1 spot on the streamer's ranking of the most-watched movies in the U.S. Instead, that honor goes to "The Judge," a 10-year-old legal drama starring Robert Downey Jr. that audiences initially slept on but is now finding new life on one of the best streaming services since arriving on May 1. 

The former MCU star is joined by a packed cast of A-listers including Leighton Meester, Robert Duvall, Sarah Lancaster, and "Succession" star Jeremy Strong. While they all offer solid performances, the film's sole Oscar nomination went to Duvall for Best Supporting Actor, coincidentally an award Downey Jr. went on to win for his performance in Oppenheimer nearly a decade later. 

If you’re wondering whether to watch this fan-favorite legal drama, we can give you a quick rundown of what it’s about, what viewers are saying, and the general ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. 

What is 'The Judge' about?

Directed by David Dobkin of "Wedding Crashers" and "Resident Alien" fame, "The Judge" sees Downey Jr. star as Hank Palmer, a brilliant but shady attorney who returns to his Indiana hometown after his mother passes away. 

There he reconnects with his brothers Dale (Strong) and Glen (Vincent D'Onofrio), but his reunion with his estranged father Judge Joseph Palmer (Duvall) is significantly more strained. Palmer is outspoken about his disapproval of Hank's morally ambiguous career, but after he's arrested in a hit-and-run death, Hank takes on his father's defense, despite the objections of the resentful old man.

While Downey Jr. has a long list of critically acclaimed dramas to his name, "The Judge" was not as well received. It currently holds a 49% critic rating on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, though audiences were significantly kinder, giving it a 73% score. The film continues to pick up word-of-mouth buzz online, with several users on X calling it a "must watch" and lamenting that they missed watching Downey Jr. and Duvall's heartwrenching performances the first time around.

You can stream "The Judge" on Netflix right now. If you're looking for more streaming recommendations, be sure to check out our round-up of the top new shows to stream this week along with some of the best Netflix movies in 2024.  

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Alyse Stanley
News Editor

Alyse Stanley is a news editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing weekend coverage and writing about the latest in tech, gaming and entertainment. Prior to joining Tom’s Guide, Alyse worked as an editor for the Washington Post’s sunsetted video game section, Launcher. She previously led Gizmodo’s weekend news desk, where she covered breaking tech news — everything from the latest spec rumors and gadget launches to social media policy and cybersecurity threats.  She has also written game reviews and features as a freelance reporter for outlets like Polygon, Unwinnable, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. She’s a big fan of horror movies, cartoons, and miniature painting.