Covering Netflix here at Tom's Guide, I see a lot of movies come and go. The service licenses films for (often) short windows of time, and it's often dizzying keeping track of them all. This is why I love to present the latest crop of highly-regarded films, to help the Tom's Guide audience figure out their next movie night(s). And I've just found another movie to add, thanks to the addition of a recent theatrical release.
While we observe the Netflix Top 10 movies lists, that section is only based around hours watched, and the best movies on Netflix don't always make it there.
And while the world of Netflix Originals isn't exactly filled with the top cinematic content either, it does have its fair share of gems. We at Tom's Guide are often compiling lists based on our own exacting standards, and we know enough to look outside to help filter lists down, as we give a sense of the wider critical consensus. That's where Rotten Tomatoes comes into play, as a lens for which to see where the reviewers are throwing their flowers.
We do our best to compile the highest-rated offerings in our roundup of the highest-rated Netflix movies that are 90% or more on Rotten Tomatoes. And we'll keep that up to date with each passing month.
That's where this edition of our monthly column of the best new movies arriving on Netflix with high Rotten Tomatoes scores comes into play. February (as well as late January) has seen another influx of quality films, both in terms of licensed films that Netflix brings in (always look out on the first of the month), and its own originals that otherwise may fly under your radar.
So, let's break them down, as some of these best new Netflix movies may surprise you:
The Woman King (2022)
The Woman King, fresh from ruling over the box office upon its release, draws inspiration from the all-women army of the Agojie tribe of the Dahomey Kingdom in West Africa. The story is mostly about the work done by General Nanisca (Viola Davis) to prepare a new generation of soldiers for an incoming attack of Europeans looking to take over Africa. While Nansica often finds herself in disagreement with King Ghezo (John Boyega), her power as the brain and soul of the King's Guard army is unquestionable.
While The Woman King dealt with a boycott (over not mentioning the Dahomey Kingdom's involvement in slavery), it's a feel-good action movie driven by an excellent cast. Not only does it feature Davis and Boyega in prominent roles, but Lashana Lynch and Thuso Mbedu earned applause in supporting roles.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003)
Peter Jackson's fantastic Lord of the Rings trilogy just made a long march over to Netflix, and all three chapters are each critically-acclaimed. The story, of course, tracks an adventure across Middle Earth that united Hobbits, Dwarves, Elves and Humans, all to destroy the most dangerous ring known to any species.
Somehow threading the needle on making an artistic fantasy film that's also a fun-for-everyone action movie trilogy, the LOTR trilogy builds its massive world in organic ways that the Rings of Power series on Amazon Prime should have taken note on. Each film is emotionally powerful, though, because of its fantastic cast, Elijah Wood and Sean Astin's Frodo and Sam are the heart of the series, while impressively dramatic performances from Viggo Mortensen, Cate Blanchett, Sean Bean, Hugo Weaving all ground the series. Nobody will ever forget Andy Serkis' Gollum, though, as the films wouldn't really work without his manic goblin-mode energy.
Genre: Fantasy adventure
Rotten Tomatoes score: 91% (The Fellowship of the Ring), 95% (The Two Towers) and 93% (The Return of the King)
Watch The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King on Netflix
La La Land (2016)
Mia (Emma Stone) has dreams of being an actor. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), aka "Seb," is a pianist who wants to play more than just the holiday songs his bosses require. Both, are in the midst of the evergreen drama we call a struggle. And when the two finally get a chance to talk? They might be exactly what the other needed to achieve their goals.
An unabashed throwback, La La Land is a musical that looks and feels like something from a past decade. Both Stone and Gosling won applause for performances that both draw audiences in while giving that "old Hollywood" vibe.
While some people may remember La La Land for not actually winning the Best Picture Oscar in 2017 (as Faye Dunaway mistakenly announced), it's still a fantastic film worth checking out.
Genre: Musical romance
Rotten Tomatoes score: 91%
Watch it on Netflix
The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker (2023)
And now for something completely different. Netflix's 2023 documentary The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker drummed up a strong critical response by telling a wild and gripping story without any filler. The film explains how hitchhiker Caleb "Kai" McGillvary became a viral sensation when his charisma won people over in 2013.
Unfortunately, this being a Netflix documentary, Kai's story doesn't end there. It gets dark, as we learn McGillvary was later arrested on murder charges. The film analyzes how the media's habit of making stars in an exploitative manner can often find itself on the wrong side of a story.
Call Me by Your Name (2002)
Call Me by Your Name is one of those fantastic movies that Netflix just can't seem to keep a hold on. And after a brief, unannounced, disappearance, it's just come back to Netflix on February 1 (the same day that the LOTR movies and La La Land returned).
Luca Guadagnino's fantastic film puts us in the inexperienced shoes of young 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet), a pretentious kid on vacation with his family in Italy. His father (Michael Stuhlbarg) isn't really vacationing, though, as he's working on his own academic studies — which is how we meet Oliver (Armie Hammer), a bright and handsome 24-year-old who is assisting Elio's father as his intern.
And while Elio and Oliver initially butt heads, they soon discover a sexual chemistry between each other. But this summer fling doesn't go how Elio would prefer, and exacts an emotional toll on the teen, creating touching moments that may be Call Me by Your Name's most memorable.
Pamela, a love story (2023)
'Pamela, a love story,' is one half of actress, model and activist Pamela Anderson's current campaign to reclaim control of her narrative. (The other half is a published memoir called Love, Pamela). Anderson, we've learned, wasn't happy to see the Pam & Tommy series provide a dramatization of the incidents surrounding her loss of privacy as the sex tape she made with then-newlywed husband Tommy Lee. It poured salt on the wounds of a public life that was defined by a press that made her the butt of the joke.
Currently sporting an impressive 100% RT score (notably based off of 22 reviews, which isn't enough for a Certified Fresh label), 'Pamela, a love story' finds Anderson recounting her life story on her own terms. Those include sharing the family tapes that she wants to share and giving interviews wearing minimal (if any) makeup.
The latest re-examination of a public figure who was painted in a caricaturish light, 'Pamela, a love story' will inform those who didn't think much about Anderson beyond her looks. And it will also remind some of the recent conversations about Monica Lewinsky's time in the spotlight.
The Kings of the World (2022)
Five kids off the streets of Medellin, the capital city of Colombia's Antioquia province — where drug log Pablo Escobar famously founded his cartel — exist in their own little world, since society doesn't have much for them. That is until one of them, Rá (Carlos Andrés Castañeda), discovers he's inherited a piece of property in El Bajo Cauca. So, the whole gang — Rá, Culebro (Cristian David), Sere (Davidson Andres Florez), Winny (Cristian Campaña) and Nano (Brahian Stiven Acevedo) — unite to cross the mountains of Antioquia to get there.
Praised for its beautiful depiction of Colombia, shot with a surrealist touch, The Kings of the World is praised for its poignancy and emotional resonance.
Spanish-language film Noise won praise online for delivering a haunting and hard-to-watch depiction of what it's like to deal with an abducted family member. Julia (Julieta Egurrola), is shocked to find that her daughter Gertrudis has gone missing, and while the police are useless, Julia finds help at a support group for families of missing persons.
Completely harrowing, Noise engages audiences so powerfully because of its mix of the individual and the community. So while Egurrola delivers a strong performance, Noise never lets us forget that Julia is one of many, as we meet more and more people who have had their loved ones stolen from them.
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