As we monitor the newest movies to hit Netflix, we often see the service can manage to provide both recent and older movies that are far better than the Originals it releases. Yes, thankfully, Netflix hasn't given up on licensed films from other companies (just be aware these don't stay here forever).
So while we love to keep tabs on the Netflix Top 10 lists (though that section only covers popularity) and we also have a guide to the best movies on Netflix, we know there's a different — and still helpful — way to help you make the most of your Netflix account.
So, I curate a (normally) monthly guide to the new movies on Netflix with very high Rotten Tomatoes scores. This is helpful for all those trying to find the best of what Netflix's just acquired. But March 2023 was, how do we put this, not a great month for highly-lauded new movies on Netflix.
Fortunately, the latest batch has enough gems in it for us to help you find best critically-approved new movies on Netflix.
American Hustle (2013)
Director David O. Russell's recent movie Amsterdam may not have been a hit with anyone, but we (and critics) absolutely loved American Hustle. While the last decade has been celebrated as an era of con artists, Irving (Christian Bale) and Sydney (Amy Adams) would give all of our gifters a run for their money.
Based on a 1970's FBI sting operation, American Hustle shows how crime connects to power — seen here as New Jersey mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner). And while an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) may be the one trying to stop them all, it's actually Irving's wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) who could be his true undoing.
Heralded for fantastic performances from its top-five billed talent, American Hustle crackles with energy as these actors play off of each other.
How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
On the island of Berk, teenaged Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) is a teen who doesn't quite fit in. Everyone, including his father (Gerard Butler) is all about fighting dragons, and he doesn't think that's such a great idea. Enter the humble dragon Toothless, who gives Hiccup a chance to bridge the gap between their two worlds.
As you may have figured out, How to Train Your Dragon is one of the many beloved by all age groups movies, because it stacks child-friendly animation and adventure with a stacked cast of voice actors. Critics single out Baruchel for making Hiccup likable and relatable with vulnerability.
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
While the first three Bourne movies are all coming to Netflix this month, we were surprised to see that this, the third chapter of the Bourne series, is the highest-rated of them all. The last chapter before Jeremy Renner attempted to take over the spy series sees Jason Bourne (Damon) continuing to uncover the truth about his own past.
And as Bourne goes from Moscow to London — wherein he's at the center of a captivating chase — to New York, audiences will be surprised where he winds up for the finale. Applauded for being full of action and tension, The Bourne Ultimatum won praise for how director Paul Greengrass manages to balance action and the complicated ethics of modern war.
Whether you and your family have watched Netflix's recent critically-adored version of the Matilda musical or not, you really ought to see the first filmic adaptation of Roald Dahl's book. Here, young Matilda Wormwood (Mara WIlson) is the black sheep of her family because she works hard, is curious by nature and is very good at math. Why does that put her out of place here? Because her father Harry (Danny DeVito) is as slimy and mean-spirited as any of DeVito's other characters.
Beloved for the positive message it sends in a sea of hilarious humor, while still respecting its audience, Matilda is a classic for a few reasons. Kids will not only love Matilda for her moxie, but for the fantasy element of that allows the protagonist to stick up for the weak at school and at home.
National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)
Bluto (John Belushi) may not have a collegiate-level grasp of history, but he doesn't need it when he can say so much with a confused or flirtatious look. And in National Lampoon's Animal House, Bluto is just one of the many members of the rowdy Delta Tau Chi House frat house, where incoming students rejected elsewhere get admittance. Unfortunately, becoming a Delta is exactly what you need to get put under the watchful eye of the dean (John Vernon).
Influential to generations of physical comedies, Animal House still stands out with its unique charms. Not exactly the kind of movie you'd think critics would love, Animal House earned its 91% score by being the best version of a gross-out comedy.
The Birds (1963)
The first half of our excellent Alfred Hitchcock double-feature is all about the menace our fine-feathered friends can provide. It all starts innocently enough, as Melanie (Tippi Hedren) meets Mitch (Rod Taylor) at a pet store, finds a romance with him and gives him a pair of love birds. Unfortunately, this leads to a swarm of birds terrorizing a children's birthday party, which is only the beginning of even bigger attacks.
Hitchcock won applause for his use of comedy and romance, as he delayed the shocks and screams — increasing the overall tension from an audience that knew a squawking nightmare was coming. You might not think Birds are actually scary before watching, but Hitchcock will fix that perception.
Lastly (as we like to go in reverse-chronological order for this list) we have one of the most iconic scary movies of all time. Marion (Janet Leigh) almost got away from her boyfriend — though she needed to steal $40,000 from her job to leave — but she made a mistake of staying at the Bates Motel. There, she meets the peculiar Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), who runs the joint, and she learns about his twisted relationship with his mother.
One of Hitchcock's best films, and arguably the title that held up the best over time, Psycho won critics' praise for finding something truly horrifying in a mundane situation. Eschewing unbelievable premises and supernatural abilities, Psycho is a movie that stays with you long after you've finished watching.