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Best Netflix movies in October 2021

Jack Black in School of Rock, Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird and Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can, three of the best Netflix movies
(Image credit: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo and A24 and Universal and Moviestore Collection Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo)

Let's give thanks for the best Netflix movies, which are entertaining us at home as some continue practicing social distancing. Even while many movie theaters have re-opened, the best movies on Netflix give us the cinematic experience — and we never even have to leave our couches! It's all a part of why Netflix is one of the best streaming services.

Our list of the best Netflix movies have something for everyone, no matter their taste. Maybe you want to catch a laugh-out-loud comedy, a serious drama, action thriller or provocative documentary. Take your pick — or watch them all! And if you run out of titles, try the best movies on Amazon Prime Video or the best Hulu movies next.

Some of our top picks include the delightful caper Enola Holmes and Aaron Sorkin's legal drama The Trial of the Chicago 7. This list used to have the excellent Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, which has since left (making us happy we bought it on multiple formats).

Our list of the best Netflix films includes both critically-acclaimed indies and crowd-pleasers for the whole family. And, remember, if you have any trouble accessing the best movies on Netflix, we can help you contact Netflix customer service.

And if our list of the top films on Netflix isn't enough? Well, by using a Netflix VPN and learning how to change region on Netflix, you can unlock a whole 'nother world of content.

The goal here, you see, is to make the most out of your Netflix account. With these lists, you may have so much to watch on Netflix that you might just wonder how to cancel Hulu.

Don't know what to watch? We tried Netflix’s Play Something feature — and the results surprised us.

The best movies on Netflix to stream now

Zodiac

Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr. in Zodiac, one of the best netflix movies

(Image credit: Everett Collection)

Now that we know about Gary Francis Poste, the true Zodiac killer, it's as good a time as any to go back and re-watch this excellent movie. One of David Fincher's less-buzzed about films, but still one of his best, it tells the story of the hunt for the Zodiac killer in San Francisco in the late 1960s and early 1970s. 

Found in many best-of-the-year movie lists of 2007 (a great year for films with No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood also coming out), Zodiac is moody, well-acted and beautifully shot. It may not have enough action scenes for some, but it's not trying to tell that kind of story. Instead, you're learning the drama behind the quest to stop the murders. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 89%
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr.
Director: David Fincher
Watch now

The Mitchells vs. The Machines

The Mitchell family, in a careening car with their dog on the hood in The Mitchells vs. The Machines, one of the Best family movies on Netflix

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Mitchells vs. The Machines is one of our picks for the best family movies on Netflix, and it's good enough for a slot in our main list. Not only does this animated movie about a family during a robot uprising offer a great cast that parents and kids will both love (including Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph and Olivia Colman), but it looks amazing too.

And that's only what we expect from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the team behind the amazing Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. And that's the kind of movie that set a great standard for what an animated movie should be. Throughout, you've got a good story, with the Mitchells trying to reconnect for one last time before daughter Katie goes off to film school.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 97%
Stars: Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Eric Andre and Olivia Colman
Director: Mike Rianda
Watch now

Inception

Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception, one of the best Netflix Movies

(Image credit: Melissa Moseley)

Inception is one of those sci-fi movies that isn't just a sci-fi movie. A drama where thieves need to jump inside the heads of others, Inception shows the lengths that criminals will go to just to avoid dealing with their own emotional baggage. Cobb (DiCaprio) is a master of his own game, where he steals corporate intelligence by breaking into the brains of executives, but things get a bit personal when he's offered a job that will clear his criminal record — which has kept him from his children. Masterfully inventive, Inception is worth a rewatch, especially if you've got a larger TV.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 87%
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elliot Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe
Director: Christopher Nolan
Watch now

The School of Rock

Jack Black in The School of Rock, one of the best Netflix movies

(Image credit: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock PhotoPictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo)

For anyone who was ever in a band growing up, or just wished they were, school is now in session. Dewey (Black) is down on his luck and needs money, after getting kicked out of the bar band he plays guitar in. Somehow, he gets a job at the last place a bar guitarist should: an upscale private elementary school. There, he teaches students about the hard rock he loves, as he pretends to be the qualified music instructor he very much is not. Dewey winds up teaching the kids about themselves, as he himself grows a bit. Funny, and fun for the family, The School of Rock is easily one of the best Netflix movies.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%
Stars: Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Mike White, Sarah Silverman, Miranda Cosgrove
Director: Richard Linklater
Watch now

Blade Runner: The Final Cut

Harrison Ford in Blade Runner: The Final Cut, one of the best Netflix movies

(Image credit: AF archive / Alamy Stock Photo)

A true classic of the genre, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner has been released in so many versions that it's hard to keep track of. That said, The Final Cut is the only version that Scott had complete control over, and it's notable for its inclusion of the complete version of a scene known as "The Unicorn Dream Sequence." That chapter of the film provides some more clarity to what is undoubtably a complex and wild epic, and helps audiences get a firmer grasp of the story. Beautiful, well-acted and notably complicated, Blade Runner's Final Cut is worth checking out. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%
Stars: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, M. Emmet Walsh, Daryl Hannah
Director: Ridley Scott
Watch now

Catch Me If You Can

Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Abagnale in Catch Me If You Can, one of the best Netflix movies

(Image credit: Moviestore Collection Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo)

Hanks vs DiCaprio isn't just an easy bet for two of the likely best actor award nominees in any given year. It's also the excellent pairing of this crime drama that has a loose relation to history (note the tag line "The true story of a real fake"). Catch Me If You Can focuses on Frank Abagnale (DiCaprio), a young man whose family life is so troubled that he becomes an excellent scam artist, with runs as a Pan Am pilot, doctor and lawyer. Soon, he winds up on the radar of FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Hanks), and the two begin a chase that takes ages to finish. Oh, and because it's a Steven Spielberg film, it's practically perfectly shot and composed.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 96%
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen, Nathalie Baye, Amy Adams
Director: Steven Spielberg
Watch now

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, one of the Best Netflix movies

(Image credit: Alamy)

Watching Ferris Bueller's Day Off is one of the easiest ways to feel young again, and also wonder if you took enough time to break the rules. Young Mr. Bueller (Broderick) has the confidence you may have only seen in the cool kids at your school, and is defiant enough to evade the reach of Dean Rooney at all corners of the city. When most would back down, Bueller keeps going. He only needs to learn one lesson: that he can't push his friends as far.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 80%
Stars: Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Jeffrey Jones, Jennifer Grey
Director: John Hughes
Watch Now

The Trial of the Chicago 7

A courthouse scene in Trial of the Chicago 7 one of best movies on Netflix

(Image credit: Netflix)

Writer/director Aaron Sorkin brings his signature rapid-fire, sharp and witty dialogue to this story of the 1969 trial of seven people charged by the federal government with conspiracy and more, arising from the protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The star-studded cast is more than up to the task of delivering Sorkin's words. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 91%
Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jeremy Strong
Director: Aaron Sorkin
Watch now

Da 5 Bloods

The cast of Da 5 Bloods, one of best movies on Netflix

(Image credit: Netflix)

Spike Lee's newest joint wasn't intended to be so timely, but then again, the director has always been ahead of his time in speaking to the truths that underpin our society. The story follows four African-American Vietnam veterans who reunite in Ho Chi Minh to retrieve the remains of their fallen squad leader Stormin' Norman (the late Chadwick Boseman). All of them — Eddie (Norm Lewis) Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), Otis (Clarke Peters) and Paul (Delroy Lindo) — are struggling with personal issues as well as memories of their time in Vietnam.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%
Stars: Delroy Lindo, Chadwick Boseman, Clarke Peters, Isiah Whitlock Jr.
Director: Spike Lee
Watch now

Lady Bird

Saoirse Ronan and Beanie Feldstein in Lady Bird, one of the best Netflix movies

(Image credit: A24)

When pulled off correctly, the comedy-drama is a beautiful thing. Lady Bird, from director Greta Gerwig, strikes the right balance between playfulness and sincerity. In this coming-of-age film, Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) is about to graduate high school, and has to square away her relationships with her parents, her friends and her religion before she starts college. It's a story all about growing up, and how your friendships, family and interests can define you as a young adult. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 99%
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet
Director: Greta Gerwig
Watch now

The Old Guard

Charlize Theron and the cast of The Old Guard one of the best Netflix movies

(Image credit: Netflix)

Just when we thought summer would pass by without a blockbuster movie, we get a thrilling, action-packed treat in The Old Guard. Four immortal warriors, led by the ancient and badass Andy (Charlize Theron), have been helping humanity for centuries. When their secret is exposed to a ruthless CEO, Andy and new recruit Nile (KiKi Layne) team up to prevent him from using them as money-making lab rats. The movie puts a fresh spin on the superhero saga — more philosophical, thoughtful and emotional than most entries in the genre. And more progressive, with a deeply romantic same-sex pairing. All of that has us clamoring for The Old Guard 2. Get with the undying program, Netflix!

Rotten Tomatoes score: 82%
Stars: Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Marwan Kenzari, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Watch now

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams in Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga best Netflix movies

(Image credit: Netflix)

If you're in the mood for a deeply silly but also truly heartwarming comedy, Eurovision is a great choice. It fits right in with the other movies in Will Ferrell's ouvre, like Blades of Glory and Anchorman. He plays Lars, an Icelandic man-child who's obsessed with the Eurovision Song Contest (which is a real thing!). Along for the ride is his childhood friend Sigrit (Rachel McAdams). When they finally get the chance to compete, will Lars' single-minded focus on winning ruin his relationship with Sigrit?

Rotten Tomatoes score: 64%
Stars: Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Dan Stevens, Pierce Brosnan
Director: David Dobkin
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13th

Michelle Alexander in 13th, one of the best Netflix movies

(Image credit: Netflix)

A Netflix original, 13th, directed by Ava DuVernay, is an in-depth look at the prison system. She examines the intersection of racism and mass incarceration in the United States. The film is named for the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibited slavery and freed the slaves. Public figures like Angela Davis, Van Jones and Cory Booker make captivating appearances.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 97%
Stars: Angela Davis, Cory Booker, Henry Louis Gates
Director: Ava DuVernay
Watch now

Uncut Gems

Adam Sandler as Howard Ratner in Uncut Gems, one of the best Netflix movies

(Image credit: A24)

Adam Sandler gets a lot of flak for the comedies he makes for Netflix (like Sandy Wexler and Murder Mystery) — and maybe deservedly so. He doesn't really flex his acting chops in them, but he really is a charismatic performer when he wants to be, as he proves in the Safdie brothers' propulsive thriller. Sandler stars as Howard Ratner, a slick jeweler always looking for his next hustle. He's also a compulsive gambler, which lands him an ocean of hot water. Uncut Gems feels like a high-wire act; you won't breathe once in the final act. This is a seriously intense, anxiety-inducing movie — and completely exhilarating.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%
Stars: Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, Kevin Garnett
Directors: Josh and Benny Safdie
Watch now

The Lovebirds

Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani in The Lovebirds, one of the Best Netflix movies

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Lovebirds got mixed reviews, as you can see from the low Rotten Tomatoes score, but we found it to be a funny, delightful romp showcasing two of our favorite actors. Issa Rae (Insecure) and Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley, The Big Sick) combine their comedic talents, playing a couple who are on the verge of breaking up when they get unintentionally embroiled in a murder mystery. The plot definitely defies logic, but honestly, who cares? Watching the two leads bicker, freak out, get kicked by a horse and dress up in ridiculous outfits is  worth it.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 66%
Stars: Kumail Nanjiani, Issa Rae
Director: Michael Showalter
Watch now

Mudbound

Rob Morgan as Hap Jackson and Jason Mitchell as Ronsel Jackson in Mudbound, one of the best netflix movies

(Image credit: Netflix)

Black soldiers have fought alongside white soldiers for America in many wars, but come home only to find they have to fight for their lives in a different way. That's the message of Dee Rees' powerful drama, set after World War II. White soldier Jamie McAllen (Garrett Hedlund) and black soldier Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell) return to their small Mississippi town. Jamie's brother owns a struggling farm, where Ronsel's parents work as tenants. The two former soldiers begin to build a friendship, but the racist attitudes of Jamie's family and the community lead to a devastating confrontation.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 97%
Stars: Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Mary J. Blige
Director: Dee Rees
Watch now

Tigertail

Tzi Ma and Christine Ko in Tigertail, one of the best Netflix movies

(Image credit: Netflix)

A delicate, elegant love story that spans continents and decades, Tigertail comes from writer/director Alan Yang, an Emmy winner and co-creator of Master of None. Pin-Jui is a poor young man from Huwei ("tiger tail") who falls for a wealthy girl, Yuan Lee, but ends up losing touch with her. Pin-Jui jumps on an opportunity to go to America, but years of grueling work leave him a shell of himself and unable to connect with his daughter. When a chance to revisit the past comes along, he takes it, hoping to change his life into the one he always wanted.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 79%
Stars: Hong-Chi Lee, Tzi Ma, Christine Ko
Director: Alan Yang
Watch now

Dolemite Is My Name

Eddie Murphy in Dolemite Is My Name, one of the best Netflix movies

(Image credit: François Duhamel/Netflix)

A strong example of a veteran actor who's "still got it," Dolemite Is My Name stars Eddie Murphy as Rudy Ray Moore, the comedian who became the iconic blaxploitation character Dolemite. But while Murphy owns the film outright, we get another actor coming out from the shadows to wow us, with Wesley Snipes stealing scenes as D'Urville Martin, the director who Moore clashes with. But while the film is stocked to the brim with great actors (including Keegan-Michael Key, Craig Robinson and Tituss Burgess), this is still Murphy's film. This is one of the best movies on Netflix overall.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 97%
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Wesley Snipes, Da'Vine Joy Randolph
Director: Craig Brewer
Watch now

Marriage Story

Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver in A Marriage Story, one of the best Netflix movies

(Image credit: Wilson Webb/Netflix)

Director/writer Noah Baumbach is continuing to improve as he matures, as evidenced by his latest feature: Marriage Story, released both in theaters and on Netflix. While Baumbach has fared well in fractured family tales before, this film stands out for deftly telling both sides of the chaotic divorce at its core. Of course, that would mean little without strong acting, and the leading performances of Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver make the emotional trauma real for all watching. In short: watch to understand the meme of the film's stars arguing, keep watching to engage with one of the best Netflix movies.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 97%
Stars: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern
Director: Noah Baumbach
Watch now

The Irishman

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in The Irishman, one of the best movies on Netflix

(Image credit: Netflix)

Forget all of the Scorsese vs comic book movies debate, the only drama you need to know about in this conversation is how good the famed director's latest film, The Irishman, is. One of the best movies on Netflix is long enough to be broken into 4 digestible 'episodes' that are about 52 minutes each. And this crime thriller utilizes each and every moment to build suspenseful situations for Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, with the latter portraying Jimmy Hoffa, a good friend of De Niro's character.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 97%
Stars: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino
Director: Martin Scorsese
Watch now

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in El Camino, one of the best Netflix movies

(Image credit: Ben Rothstein / Netflix)

Breaking Bad fans have had it good. First, they got a prequel in the series Better Call Saul. Then, they got a sequel in this one-off movie, which follows Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) after the events of the Breaking Bad series finale. Last we saw Jesse, he was driving off after being held captive. But breaking free is just the first step in a fraught journey for Jesse, who has to figure out how to leave his life behind and start over. Does this movie need to exist? No, but it's deeply satisfying to hang out with Jesse again and to see so many Breaking Bad cameos. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 91%
Stars: Aaron Paul, Jesse Plemons, Bryan Cranston
Director: Vince Gilligan
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Roma

The characters of Roma, one of the best Netflix movies, on the beach

(Image credit: Netflix)

This beautifully-shot black-and-white film gives director Alfonso Cuarón a chance to show a slice of his past. Taking place in Mexico City in the early 1970s, Roma focuses on an indigenous woman who serves a white family, as they all fight to survive calamity after calamity. From betrayals to natural disasters, Roma throws the kitchen sink at this family, and then tacks on the Corpus Christi Massacre of 1971. Emotionally harrowing, this Academy Award-nominated film (and one of the best dramas on Netflix) demands you watch with tissues or some other coping mechanism.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 96%
Stars: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira
Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Watch now

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

Fionn Whitehead, Will Poulter and Asim Chaudhry in Black Mirror Bandersnatch, one of the best Netflix movies

(Image credit: Netflix)

Those video games you love don't make themselves, as you seen in Bandersnatch, which highlights the hazards of overworked employees. Since this is a Black Mirror film, though, everything goes crazy as the audience is given the ability to direct the protagonist's actions, turning the movie into a choose-your-own-adventure experience. The many forking twists of the film mean that its advertised 90 minute run time can stretch to 150 minutes, if you find all of its endings and story points.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 72%
Stars: Fionn Whitehead, Will Poulter, Craig Parkinson
Director: David Slade
Watch now

To All the Boys I've Loved Before

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor in To All the Boys I've Loved Before, one of the best Netflix movies

(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix may be single-handedly reviving the romantic comedy genre, thanks to charming and winning films like To All the Boys I've Loved Before. Yes, it's a teen flick, but the story and performances appeal to adults, too, making it one of the best romantic comedies on Netflix. Lana Condor stars as Lara Jean Covey, a high school girl whose previously non-existent love life spirals out of control  when the letters she wrote to her crushes are mailed out. When popular jock Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) receives one, he hatches a plan with Lara Jean to solve their respective romantic problems by pretending to be a couple. But in true rom-com fashion, they start to catch feelings for each other.  — Kelly Woo

Rotten Tomatoes score: 97%
Stars: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo
Director: Susan Johnson
Watch now

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Tim Blake Nelson in Ballad of Buster Scruggs, one of the best Netflix Movies

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Coen Brothers do it again, with a sumptuous short story slab of Western storytelling. Starring a whole host of A-list actors, and James Franco, the anthology has been nominated for three Academy awards and is a movie that wriggles through both comedy and blood-speckled violence seamlessly. Yes, it’s a satire on Westerns, and yes there’s plenty of Coen-esque characters involved, but beneath the pastiche this is a love letter that tips a cowboy hat to the movies of old.— Marc Chacksfield

Rotten Tomatoes score: 91%
Stars: Tim Blake Nelson, James Franco, Liam Neeson, Zoe Kazan
Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Watch now

Beasts of No Nation

Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation, one of the Best Netflix movies

(Image credit: Netflix)

Cary Joji Fukunaga directed Beasts of No Nation: a wartime drama based on the 2005 novel by Uzodinma Iweala. In a fictional African country, a war breaks out, which separates the young Agu (Abraham Attah) from his family. Now, he must navigate the war-torn country, evading hostile militia forces and coming face-to-face with senseless violence. This one's not just one of the best movies on Netflix but an original to boot.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%
Stars: Idris Elba, Abraham Attah
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Watch now

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Nina Simone in What Happened Miss Simone? One of the best netflix movies

(Image credit: Netflix)

Nina Simone was a celebrated singer who did as much for the world of music as she did for the perception of black singers in the United States. Liz Garbus directed this documentary about Simone's life, working with Lisa Simone Kelly, Nina's daughter, as the executive producer. in addition to being on our best Netflix movies list, the film has already been showered with awards, praising its accuracy and quality.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 89%
Stars: Nina Simone
Director: Liz Garbus
Watch now

Pan's Labyrinth

Ivana Baquero as Ofelia and Doug Jones as Pale Man in Pan's Labyrinth, one of the best Netflix movies

(Image credit: Teresa Isasi)

Not to overhype Pan's Labyrinth, but the first time I saw it, I left the theater saying to my then-roommate "that's why we go to the cinema." A beautifully-shot fable about a little girl who may have a royal background, set in Nazi-held Spain, the film takes a turn for the creepy and bizarre when a faun arrives and encourages our hero through bizarre trials in the hedgemaze garden on the estate of her stepfather, Captain Vidal. Sadly, Pan's Labyrinth is one of the best Netflix movies but also one that keeps coming and going from the streaming service. So if it's not there when you next look for it, it could be back in a month's time.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 95%
Stars: Ivana Baquero, Sergi Lopez, Maribel Verdu
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Watch now

Howards End

Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins in Howards End, one of the Best Netflix movies

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Classic)

The country home of Howards End belongs to the wealthy Wilcox family, associates with the poorer but still well-to-do Schlegels. The film takes place between the house and London, following the two families, along with the Schlegels’ other friends, the impoverished Basts, over the years, and showing how wealth, power and the class system complicate their relationships.— Richard Priday

Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%
Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Vanessa Redgrave
Director: James Ivory
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Henry T. Casey

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past six-plus years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.