Netflix is starting strong in 2024 with the first month of a fresh year bringing with it a host of critically acclaimed new movies to the streaming service, including some classics as well as an original feature that is generating some serious awards buzz.
Whether you’re looking for a white-knuckle space thriller that will have you holding your breath throughout or a cinematic masterpiece about an island amusement park overrun with prehistoric creatures, the list of movies added to Netflix this month is delivering the goods.
All the new to Netflix movies on this list have scored at least 90% on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee you’ll enjoy them all, but it’s a solid indication that a movie is at least worth adding to your watchlist. For more streaming recommendations check out roundup of what's new on Netflix this week.
How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
Set in the mythical Viking village of Berk, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) doesn’t quite fit in among his warrior family. Struggling to live up to the expectations of his village chieftain father, Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler), Hiccup hopes to earn acceptance by slaying a dragon. But when he encounters a deadly Night Fury he is unable to kill the beast.
Instead, Hiccup befriends the creature and nurses him back to health from an injured tail. Naming him toothless, the unlikely duo join forces to put an end to the terror that is wreaking havoc on both their worlds and also prove that Vikings and dragons don’t have to be enemies. With charming animation, excellent comedy and a heartfelt story, How to Train Your Dragon is a movie that soars on all fronts.
Gravity is so intense you might find yourself reaching for the pause button just to steady your breathing as it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the plight of its two main characters, Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Lieutenant Matt Kowalski (George Clooney). The science-fiction thriller centers on the duo's fight for survival in the harsh conditions of space after they are hit by debris during a spacewalk.
Masterfully directed by Alfonso Cuarón — who more than earned his Best Director Oscar the following year — Gravity puts you right alongside Stone and Kowalski and thanks to its industry-leading special effects you’ll genuinely fear for their safety as they desperately battle to stay alive and find a way to return to the Earth's surface. The performances from Bullock and Clooney are also excellent, and while there’s no denying that Gravity was made to be watched on the big screen, it’s still a heart-pounding experience even when watched at home.
The Florida Project (2017)
William Dafoe gives a career-best performance in The Flordia Project, a compelling drama that explores the juxtaposition between childhood innocence and the harsh realities of the adult world. At the movie’s core is Moonee (Brooklynn Kimberly Prince), a precocious six-year-old, who lives in a rundown motel in Kissimmee, Florida. Located in the shadow of the Disney World theme park, Moonee and her friends spend their days interacting with motel guests and getting into mischief.
Meanwhile, her mother, Halley (Bria Vinaite), struggles to make enough money to keep a roof over their heads, and the gruff-but-kind motel manager (Dafoe) tries his best to help the family. The Flordia Project is a tender movie about an often uncaring world, and while it’s not always an easy watch, it’s got a powerful message and excellent performances. Just be prepared for an emotional gut punch, as this movie reflects the harsh realities of modern life and the ending is particularly sobering.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was the second movie in history to win all five major Oscars (Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay), which should be enough to convince you of its immense quality. Based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Ken Kesey, it packs career-best performances from its whole cast but most notably Jack Nicholson and Louis Fletcher.
Often cited as one of the greatest movies ever made, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest sees Nicholson play Randle McMurphy, a prisoner with a violent history who pretends to be insane in order to be transferred to a specialized ward and avoid hard labor. But the ward is overseen by the cruel and malevolent Nurse Ratchet (Fletcher), and soon a battle for control breaks out between the pair. Netflix’s popular Ratched series with Sarah Paulson is a prequel to this movie, so be sure to watch it if you enjoyed that show.
School of Rock (2003)
If you’ve somehow never heard of School of Rock, it sees Jack Black play a slacker with a rock music obsession who takes a substitute teaching gig at a stuffy prep school under the pretense of being his roommate. With no educational qualifications whatsoever, he neglects to teach his class the academic syllabus instead converting them into his bandmates so he can win a local Battle of the Bands competition.
Adapted for Broadway in 2015, and spun off into a Nickelodeon show the following year, School of Rock may be more than 20 years old, but its popularity has never waned, and it’s as delightfully charming and obsessively quotable as ever. Black is at the peak of his powers as Dewey Finn, a role that was tailor-made for him (White Lotus creator Mike White wrote the screenplay and was Black’s neighbor at the time), but also watch out for excellent performances from Joan Cusack, Sarah Silverman and a young Miranda Cosgrove.
Jurassic Park (1993)
Few movies have left such a dinosaur-sized footprint on the film industry as Jurassic Park. But in case you somehow need an introduction to this Steven Spielberg classic, it centers on the eponymous wildlife park on the fictional Isla Nublar which is home to a horde of genetically recreated prehistoric creatures. However, when sabotage leads to a shutdown of the park’s facilities, the dinosaurs are let loose and the island’s visitors are in grave danger.
Starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Richard Attenborough, B.D. Wong and, of course, Jeff Goldblum, Jurassic Park is a titan of Hollywood. It’s a movie that has been influencing other movies for three decades and has more iconic moments than I could hope to list here. But Jurassic Park isn’t just a fountain of memes and memorable lines, it’s also a thrilling adventure that has barely aged a day. It’s simply a masterpiece.
Society of the Snow (2023)
A new survival drama from J. A. Bayona, director of 2012’s The Impossible, Society of the Snow is a Spanish thriller that recounts the true story of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, which crashed in the frozen Andes mountain range in 1972. The surviving passengers find themselves stranded in one of the most brutal environments on the planet, and with no rescue imminent they are forced to resort to extreme measures to stay alive.
As food runs out and the bitter cold begins to bite, the survivors must consider the unthinkable to survive. Society of the Snow had a limited theatrical run last month, but its release on Netflix in January 2024 will open it to a wider audience. That’s a very good thing as it’s received plenty of praise from critics and is the Spanish entry for Best International Feature Film at the upcoming 96th Academy Awards.
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Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.