It's been a dry summer when it comes to new Netflix movies, but the popular streamer is finally getting some big hits this month. September 2023's list of new-to-Netflix movies has some strong contenders, offering up a collection of critically acclaimed flicks that deserve your attention.
Several of the picks on this list are practically guaranteed to make our round of the best Netflix movies, and there’s something for just about everyone to enjoy. From an engrossing sci-fi drama that isn’t afraid to tackle some big topics to the original summer blockbuster to a charming claymation about a cheese-obsessed inventor and his loyal pooch, there should be at least one movie that appeals to you down below whatever your tastes.
You’ll also be pleased to know that every single Netflix movie in this roundup scored an impressive 90% or higher on the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. For more recommendations check out our new on Netflix list for this week of 5 shows and movies to watch, and our verdicts on the current Netflix top 10 shows.
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
The first feature-length outing for the beloved animated duo Wallace & Gromit is one of the most entertaining family movies you can watch on Netflix right now. Not only is the stop-motion animation absolutely beautiful in its own right, the storyline is seriously entertaining and even the quintessential British humor translates remarkably well for American (or international) viewers.
A loving parody of classic monster movies, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit sees the eponymous pair start their own pest control business. Scoring a job from the entrancing Lady Tottington, Wallace and his canine companion are tasked with discovering who’s been destroying the town’s prize vegetables. This soon becomes a hunt for a nocturnal oversized bunny that is causing all sorts of mischief throughout the town.
Arrival is one of the most unique sci-fi movies of the last decade. Helmed by Denis Villeneuve, this slow-burn drama doesn’t focus on a voyage to a distant star system or a dystopian future where society grapples with artificial intelligence, instead, it’s a more cerebral exploration of how humanity would handle the arrival of alien life —and how we would attempt to communicate with beings from another planet
The sci-fi masterpiece sees a linguistics professor (Amy Adams) race against the clock to communicate with extraterrestrial visitors after a dozen spaceships land in different locations around the world. As the planet teeters on the brink of global warfare in response to what is perceived by some nations as an alien threat, Banks must put her own life at risk to crack a strange code and solve the mystery of why these beings have arrived on Earth.
Reprising his Tony award-winning Broadway role, Denzel Washington both stars and directs this cinematic adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play. With widely acclaimed source material and a Hollywood titan on both sides of the camera, it’s little wonder that Fences earned Oscar nominations in pretty much all the major categories including Best Picture.
Washington plays Troy Maxson, a disillusioned sanitation worker in 1950s Pittsburgh, who has spent his life growing increasingly bitter that he never got his shot at being a pro baseball player due to the racial discrimination of the era. The resulting simmering tension with his wife (the ever-remarkable Viola Davis), builds to a head when his son (Jovan Adepo) is offered the chance that Troy never was. Built on two powerhouse performances, Fences will grip you tightly till the very end.
A firm family favorite, Matilda is adapted from the Roald Dahl novel of the same name and focuses on the eponymous child genius who is neglected by her cruel parents (Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman) and tormented by her school’s tyrannical principal, Miss Trunchbull (Pam Ferris). But when the plucky Matilda (Mara Wilson) discovers she has supernatural powers, she hatches a plan to turn the tables on those who have wronged her, with a little help from her teacher Miss Honey (Embeth Davidtz).
Don’t mistake this for the musical version of the story that ran on Broadway for several years and was converted into a movie itself last year, instead, this 1996 feature is a more traditional adaptation though it's no less charming. This delightful movie will have the whole family grinning thanks to its hilarious slapstick comedy, but there’s a worthwhile message at the movie’s core and that’s a big part of the reason it’s stood the test of time to this day.
Stand By Me (1986)
Often cited as one of the best Stephen King movies ever made, Stand By Me is adapted from the Master of Horror's 1982 novella entitled The Body. However, for this short story, King dropped his usually spooky motifs in favor of an earnest tale focused on the youthful adventures of a foursome of friends in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine in the 1960s.
The movie follows the same plot as four young boys — played by Will Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O’Connell — venture out on a quest to find a dead body, because who doesn’t want to spend their summer hunting for a corpse? Along the way, the best pals encounter all sorts of obstacles from a gang of hoodlums to a marsh crawling with leeches. But what starts out as a spur-of-the-moment way to pass a summer afternoon, ultimately becomes a defining event in their young lives.
Up in the Air (2009)
Up in the Air returns to Netflix this month, giving audiences something we seemingly will never tire of: George Clooney laying on the charm. And he's showing how he can make the same kind of character (an overconfident pro who needs to learn a lesson) fresh every time.
In Up in the Air, Ryan Bingham (Clooney) is a corporate downsizing expert who travels around the country laying people off for a living. But Ryan's way of life is thrown into jeopardy when the ambitious new hire (played by Anna Kendrick) introduces a cost-saving idea to ditch in-person visits and handle layoffs remotely. He starts to rethink his life choices when he meets Alex (Vera Farmiga), and the two develop a romance. Co-writer and director Jason Reitman won points for Up in the Air's plot twists and dialogue.
Steven Spielberg's terrifying thriller Jaws is often considered the first summer blockbuster. It tapped into our collective subconscious in a way that few movies have since, inspiring a wave of sequels, copy cats and terror that continues to grip beachgoers to this day.
Based on Peter Benchley’s best-selling novel of the same name, the story follows police chief Martin Brody, played by Roy Scheider, as he tracks down the great white behind a rash of attacks that have shaken the townsfolk of Amity Island. Punctuating the hunt is John Williams' Oscar-winning score, which has gone down as one of the most iconic in cinema history.
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar (2023)
With a runtime of less than 40 minutes, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is technically a short film rather than a full movie, but that’s no reason to overlook what is surely set to be one of the best new Netflix movies of the year. Helmed by the legendary Wes Anderson, and adapted from Ronald Dahl’s short story collection of the same name, this is the first of four shorts that the acclaimed director will create for the world’s biggest streaming service.
Henry Sugar premiered at this year’s Venice Film Festival, where it positively wowed critics, and is set to arrive on Netflix later this month (Sept. 27). It follows the eponymous Henry Sugar (Benedict Cumberbatch), a wealthy man who wants to master an extraordinary skill in order to cheat at gambling games. The hugely impressive cast also includes Ralph Fiennes as Dahl, Dev Patel, Ben Kingsley, Rupert Friend and Richard Ayoade. This will be the perfect follow-up if you enjoyed Anderson’s latest full feature, Asteroid City, earlier in the summer.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%
Stream it on Netflix from Wednesday, Sept. 27.
One Piece: 3D2Y (2014)
I’m going to slightly bend the rules here because One Piece: 3D2Y doesn’t technically have a Rotten Tomatoes score. However, it does have a 100% audience rating, which is a good indication of its overall quality. It’s one of several One Piece movies that have arrived on Netflix this month, just in time for the streamer’s own live-action adaptation of the long-running anime which is getting a surprisingly warm reception.
In this feature-length adventure, franchise protagonist Luffy is training in Rusukaina under the guidance of Rayleigh. However, this training is interrupted when Boa Hancock and her sisters are kidnapped by a sinister pirate. Luffy must harness the power of Haki in order to confront the dastardly villain and save the Hancock sisters.