What separates a good movie from a classic one? Whether you're seeking high art, unforgettable thrills or just something you can watch again and again, Netflix hosts dozens of movies with well-earned reputations for excellence. Wind the clock back a few years and discover which films, across a wide variety of genres, have captivated audiences for years, and will most likely do so for years to come.
Credit: Paramount Pictures
Donnie Yen stars as Ip Man, a real-life Wing Chun master, in Wilson Yip's film named after the legendary martial artist. During the Sino-Japanese War of 1937, the Japanese occupy a Chinese town with a martial arts school. When an occupying colonel wants Ip Man, a gifted fighter and instructor, to teach Japanese soldiers, Ip faces both internal and external struggles for his honor.
A farcical comedy exposing ineptitude at the CIA, Burn After Reading now reads as ahead of its time. Starring John Malkovich as Osbourne Cox, an Agency analyst who doesn't handle his firing well, the film is another hilarious romp into the absurd from Joel and Ethan Coen (The Big Lebowski), and unravels an inside-industry affair gone wrong. Frances McDormand, George Clooney and Tilda Swinton also star, and the film features a ton of memorable moments from Brad Pitt, which have been immortalized in GIF form.
Credit: Focus Features
Before you hit stream on this critically adored documentary, check that nobody in the room suffers from vertigo. Clearly, Philippe Petit (the subject of this documentary), didn't, as Man on Wire tells how he got arrested for spending an hour dancing on a rope connecting the World Trade Center's Twin Towers. While his insane feat took place 34 years before the film's release, director James Marsh does a masterful job working with the archival footage to turn it into an amazing nail-biter.
This taut drama tells the tales of the journalists and detectives working to solve the case of the Zodiac Killer over a span of 18 months in San Francisco. Directed by David Fincher, it benefits his signature cinematography touches, such as excellent framing and dramatic lighting. Doesn't hurt that the film features an all-star cast including Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo and Chloë Sevigny.
Leave it to the Brits to provide a pitch-perfect send-up of over-the-top American buddy-cop films. Edgar Wright directed Hot Fuzz, which stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as English policemen Nick Angel and Danny Butterman, respectively. When a terrorist starts blowing up high-profile citizens, Angel and Butterman will use every weapon at their disposal to find the criminal — even if they probably shouldn't.
Cleaning up the loose ends of corporate greed and malfeasance is all well and good, until you yourself become the last loose end. That's the story at the center of Michael Clayton, which stars George Clooney as the the titular "fixer," who has to choose between right and wrong, and decide if he can grow a conscience.
Credit: Warner Bros.
Corporate greed is the ultimate villain of this documentary covering the collapse of Enron, an energy company that went down in a blaze of massive fraud in the 2001. Enron had many fooled — Fortune named it the most innovative company in America for six years — but its fall revealed that the company had propped itself up over the years thanks to its books being cooked at a systemic level. The film's true drama comes to light as it focuses on the tens of thousands who lost their jobs while executives departed with tons of cash.