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Best Netflix movies in July 2021

Best Netflix movies
(Image credit: Netflix and United Archives GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo)

Let's give thanks for the best Netflix movies, which are entertaining us at home as we continue practicing social distancing. Many movie theaters remain closed or restricted due to the pandemic, but the best movies on Netflix give us the cinematic experience — and we never even have to leave our couches! Thank goodness for streaming!

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! 

Some of our top picks include the delightful caper Enola Holmes, Aaron Sorkin's legal drama The Trial of the Chicago 7 and the teen comedy Easy A with Emma Stone.

Our list of the best Netflix films includes both critically-acclaimed indies and crowd-pleasers for the whole family. Speaking of which, check out our guide to the best family movies on Netflix if you're looking for stuff to watch with the kids. Once they're asleep, check out the best horror movies on Netflix.

The best movies on Netflix to stream now

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

Best Netflix movies: Terminator 2 Judgement Day

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There are classic action movies, and then there's Terminator 2. A nearly perfect piece of celluloid brilliance, T2 mixes CGI that's brilliant-for-the-time (and still cool today) with superbly written and acted characters. While Arnie's T-800 Terminator got all the cool one liners, it's Linda Hamilton (seen above) who is forever in the hall of fame of badass women of the big screen. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick
Director: James Cameron
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Casino Royale (2006)

Best Netflix movies: Casino Royale

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The shock to the system that many believe the 007 franchise needed, 2006's Casino Royale brought James Bond back to basics with Daniel Craig's layered performance as the agent who just earned his license to kill. Making matters even better, Bond villain Le Chiffre is played by the immensely talented Mads Mikkelsen, whose stare will have all seeing red.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%
Stars: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench
Director: Martin Cambell
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The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best movies on Netflix: Trial of the Chicago 7

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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
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Da 5 Bloods

Best movies on Netflix: Da 5 Bloods

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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
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Lady Bird

Best Netflix movies: Lady Bird

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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
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The Old Guard

Best Netflix movies: The Old Guard

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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
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Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Best Netflix movies: Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

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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

Best Netflix movies: 13th

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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
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Uncut Gems

Best Netflix movies: Uncut Gems

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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
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The Lovebirds

Best Netflix movies: The Lovebirds

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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
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Mudbound

Best movies on Netflix: Mudbound

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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
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Tigertail

Best Netflix movies: Tigertail

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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
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Dolemite Is My Name

Best movies on Netflix: Dolemite Is My Name

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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
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Marriage Story

Best Netflix movies: A Marriage Story

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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
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The Irishman

Best movies on Netflix: The Irishman

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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
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El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

Best Netflix movies: El Camino

(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

Best Netflix movies: Roma

(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
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Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

Best Netflix movies: Black Mirror Bandersnatch

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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
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To All the Boys I've Loved Before

Best Netflix movies: To All the Boys I've Loved Before

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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
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The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Best Netflix movies: Ballad of Buster Scruggs

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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
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Beasts of No Nation

Best Netflix movies: Beasts of No Nation

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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
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What Happened, Miss Simone?

Best Netflix movies: What Happened Miss Simone

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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

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Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Best movies on Netflix: Scott Pilgrim vs the World

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One of the most rewatchable films of all time, Edgar Wright's adaptation of Bryan Lee O'Malleys graphics novels glows with geek brilliance. While the story is rather simple — local doof wants to date girl, but must first defeat her seven evil exes in combat — the film's retro gamer aesthetic filled many an audience with joy. Because how else will you know a foe has been vanquished than by the sounds of coins falling out of their body and onto the floor? While star Michael Cera takes up a ton of the run time, this movie is packed with top-tier costars, including Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Brie Larson, Aubrey Plaza and Jason Schwartzman.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 81%
Stars: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Chris Evans
Director: Edgar Wright
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Pan's Labyrinth

Best Netflix movies: Pan's Labyrinth

(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
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Howards End

Best Netflix movies: Howards End movie

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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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