45 Movies To Watch On Netflix Right Now

The movies you may have forgotten about, but shouldn't have.

Netflix has a high turnover rate for its movie library. Some films, like those in “Jurassic Park” series, seem to be caught in an endless cycle of leaving and returning to the service. And since the Netflix home screen often promotes Netflix Original content above all else, it’s easy to miss the full breadth of movies available on the service.

With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of excellent movies from the last couple of decades that are now on Netflix. I skipped Netflix Original films, since the company does plenty to advertise those. I also refrained from recommending super-popular movies, such as the “James Bond” films, because I figure fans will find those easily enough.

"Catch Me If You Can" is now on Netflix.
"Catch Me If You Can" is now on Netflix.

Basically, I wanted to recommend movies that will elicit an “Oh yeah, that movie” response, as these are all films that earned critical acclaim during their time, but may not be top of mind anymore.

That said, some of the movies on this list are still massively popular and highly praised. So, there’s really no hard rule here, except for sticking to movies I think you’ll like.

Read on for the list with accompanying trailers and additional info.

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In this biographical crime comedy, a teenager has become a master forger and assumes different identities across the country for various grifts. As the grifts get more lucrative, the FBI takes notice and starts chasing him across the globe.

“Catch Me If You Can” earned two Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Christopher Walken.

Runtime: 2 hours, 21 minutes

Notable cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Martin Sheen and Christopher Walken

Steven Spielberg directed.

In this crime thriller, a disgraced journalist gets an assignment to solve a cold case murder that involved a wealthy family. The journalist teams up with an odd but brilliant investigator and the duo gets into a dark situation in their pursuit of the truth.

“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” earned five Academy Award nominations, including one win for Best Film Editing.

Runtime: 2 hours, 38 minutes

Notable cast: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer and Stellan Skarsgård

David Fincher directed the film, based on a 2005 book of the same name by Stieg Larsson.

In this biographical adventure, a young man graduates college and decides to give up his capitalist life, disowning his possessions and going on a quixotic hike through the Alaskan wilderness.

“Into the Wild” earned two Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Hal Holbrook.

Runtime: 2 hours, 28 minutes

Notable cast: Marcia Gay Harden, Emile Hirsch, Hal Holbrook, Jena Malone and William Hurt

Sean Penn directed and wrote the screenplay, based on a 1996 book of the same name by Jon Krakauer.

In this biographical comedic drama, a woman decides to find a new spark in life by making every Julia Childs recipe from a famous cookbook. The movie intertwines a back history of Julia Childs’ path to success.

“Julie & Julia” earned one Academy Award nomination, Best Actress in a Leading Role for Meryl Streep.

Runtime: 2 hours, 3 minutes

Notable cast: Amy Adams, Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci

Nora Ephron directed and wrote the screenplay.

In this comedy, two awkward high school friends try to go to one last amazing party before having to part ways for college. They get in over their heads, but two washed-up local cops take pity on them and try to help them out.

Runtime: 1 hour, 53 minutes

Notable cast: Michael Cera, Bill Hader, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Seth Rogen and Emma Stone

Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen wrote the screenplay.

In this biographical drama, an interracial couple in mid-20th-century Virginia get married in Washington, D.C., as there’s a ban on interracial marriages in their home state. The police harass them with violence, ultimately claiming their marriage license isn’t valid, leading to a decisive Supreme Court case.

“Loving” earned one Academy Award nomination, Best Actress in a Leading Role for Ruth Negga.

Runtime: 2 hours, 3 minutes

Notable cast: Marton Csokas, Joel Edgerton, Nick Kroll, Ruth Negga and Michael Shannon

“Chef” (2014)

In this comedic drama, a chef quits a prestigious restaurant out of frustration and then creates a food truck business with his family to reignite his love for cooking.

Runtime: 1 hour, 54 minutes

Notable cast: Jon Favreau, Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo and Sofia Vergara

Jon Favreau directed and wrote the screenplay.

In this psychological thriller, a Los Angeles art gallery owner is dissatisfied with her second husband, who is constantly traveling. While the second husband is away, a manuscript for a grisly novel arrives from her first husband, and she has flashbacks to a past life.

“Nocturnal Animals” earned one Academy Award nomination, Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Michael Shannon.

Runtime: 1 hour, 56 minutes

Notable cast: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon

Tom Ford directed and wrote the screenplay based on a 1993 novel called “Tony and Susan” by Austin Wright.

In this biographical crime drama, a woman runs a high-class, underground poker game for years that features guests ranging from Hollywood celebs to ― unfortunately for her ― the Russian mob.

“Molly’s Game” earned one Academy Award nomination, Best Adapted Screenplay for Aaron Sorkin.

Runtime: 2 hours, 20 minutes

Notable cast: Jessica Chastain, Michael Cera, Kevin Costner and Idris Elba.

Aaron Sorkin directed and wrote the screenplay based on a 2014 memoir of the same name by Molly Bloom.

In this historical drama, a young Black man from the South flees a plantation in 1937 and finds work in a Washington, D.C., hotel. Two decades later, he gets a job as a butler in the White House, a role he holds throughout multiple presidencies.

Runtime: 2 hours, 12 minutes

Notable cast: Mariah Carey, John Cusack, Jane Fonda, David Oyelowo, Forest Whitaker, Robin Williams and Oprah Winfrey

Lee Daniels directed while Danny Strong wrote the screenplay.

In this war film, United States soldiers deal with the chaos of fighting in Afghanistan, both with handling regular Taliban attacks as well as the military bureaucracy.

Runtime: 2 hours, 3 minutes

Notable cast: Orlando Bloom, Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones

The script is based on a 2012 book by Jake Tapper.

In this romantic drama, two women in 1950s Manhattan become fast friends and then secret lovers.

“Carol” earned six Academy Award nominations, including Leading and Supporting Actress for Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

Runtime: 1 hour, 58 minutes

Notable cast: Cate Blanchett, Kyle Chandler, Rooney Mara and Sarah Paulson

Todd Haynes directed. The story is based on a 1952 book called “The Price of Salt” by Patricia Highsmith.

In this biographical drama, the screenwriter Dalton Trumbo gets blacklisted from Hollywood as he refuses to denounce his association with the Communist Party of the United States. Trumbo continues to ghost-write, finding success with “Roman Holiday” and “Spartacus.”

“Trumbo” earned one Academy Award nomination, Best Actor in a Leading Role for Bryan Cranston.

Runtime: 2 hours, 4 minutes

Notable cast: Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane and Helen Mirren

Jay Roach directed. The story is based on the 1977 biography “Dalton Trumbo” by Bruce Alexander Cook.

In this detective comedy, NYPD detectives get continually overshadowed by flashier detectives — that is until they stumble into a huge case that involves globe-spanning corruption as well as comedic, action-heavy violence.

Runtime: 1 hour, 47 minutes

Notable cast: Will Ferrell, Michael Keaton, Eva Mendes and Mark Wahlberg

Adam McKay directed and co-wrote the screenplay.

In this romantic action comedy, a man wants to date a woman, but must do comic-style battle with her villainous exes first.

Runtime: 1 hour, 52 minutes

Notable cast: Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Jason Schwartzman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Edgar Wright directed and co-wrote the screenplay based on a graphic novel series.

In this biographical drama, a young Black man in Oakland tries to turn his life around, but has a tragic encounter with the cops at a train station on New Year’s Eve while passengers film with nascent phone cameras.

Runtime: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Notable cast: Melonie Diaz, Michael B. Jordan and Octavia Spencer

Ryan Coogler directed and wrote the screenplay.

In this Western thriller, seeming strangers along with a bounty hunter and his prisoner huddle in a remote lodge to escape a blizzard in 1877. It quickly becomes apparent that there’s a trap set at the lodge and varying fights ensue with nobody able to leave into the cold.

“The Hateful Eight” earned three Academy Awards, including Best Original Score for Ennio Morricone.

Runtime: 2 hours, 48 minutes

Notable cast: Walton Goggins, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Kurt Russell

Quentin Tarantino directed and wrote the screenplay.

In this adventure comedy, a young boy and his foster father camp in the New Zealand wilderness after the boy tries to run away. Authorities begin searching for them, believing that the foster father has actually abducted the child.

Runtime: 1 hour, 41 minutes

Notable cast: Rhys Darby, Julian Dennison and Sam Neill

Taika Waititi directed and wrote the screenplay.

In this period drama, a family strains while living in a remote part of Montana in the early 1960s as money doesn’t come easy, and the love between parents no longer exists.

Runtime: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Notable cast: Bill Camp, Jake Gyllenhaal, Carey Mulligan and Ed Oxenbould

Paul Dano directed, while he also co-wrote the screenplay with Zoe Kazan, basing the script on a novel of the same name by Richard Ford.

In this biographical drama, the “Spotlight” investigative team at The Boston Globe uncovers decades of child sex abuse by both local and international Roman Catholic priests, a discovery that’s particularly chilling given the city’s close relationship with the church.

“Spotlight” earned six Academy Award nominations, winning for Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture.

Runtime: 2 hours, 9 minutes

Notable cast: Brian d’Arcy James, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci

Tom McCarthy directed.

In this neo-noir thriller, a man who makes his money through nefarious acts discovers he can clean up his resume by becoming a video stringer for local television stations ― all he has to do is be the first person with a camera at the most grisly night scenes in Los Angeles.

“Nightcrawler” earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

Runtime: 1 hour, 57 minutes

Notable cast: Riz Ahmed, Jake Gyllenhaal, Bill Paxton and Rene Russo

Dan Gilroy directed and wrote the screenplay.

In this fantasy comedy, a man starts to hear a narrator voice for his life and fears he’s losing his mind until he discovers a famous living author is the narrator as she’s writing a book, somehow, about him and he’s living out the book, somehow, in real time.

Runtime: 1 hour, 53 minutes

Notable cast: Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah and Emma Thompson

In this crime thriller, a pair of brothers repeatedly need to escape bigger and bigger threats after unsuccessfully robbing a bank. At the same time, one of the brothers tries to protectively look out for the other one, who is developmentally disabled, but the watchful brother keeps bringing more trouble in the process.

Runtime: 1 hour, 42 minutes

Notable cast: Barkhad Abdi, Buddy Duress, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie and Taliah Lennice Webster

Josh and Benny Safdie directed while Josh co-wrote the screenplay.

In this comedic drama, a wealthy family living in mid-1980s New York City breaks apart as the parents separate and all the members deal with their own ennui of wanting to live more meaningful lives but feel perpetually stuck as they flail through life’s challenges.

Runtime: 1 hour, 21 minutes

Notable cast: William Baldwin, Jeff Daniels, Jesse Eisenberg, Owen Kline, Laura Linney and Anna Paquin

Noah Baumbach directed and wrote the screenplay.

In this comedy, a 1951 Hollywood studio’s tough-guy fixer puts out various fires around town, including keeping stars on track to do their work, shaping gossip columnist stories and investigating a partnership between scriptwriters and the communist Soviet Union.

The movie earned one Academy Award nomination for Best Production Design.

Runtime: 1 hour, 46 minutes

Notable cast: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Channing Tatum

Joel and Ethan Coen directed and co-wrote the screenplay.

In this gambling thriller set in 2012 New York City, a jeweler with a gambling addiction accepts extreme risks in both his personal life and professional life on a day-to-day basis.

Runtime: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Notable Cast: Julia Fox, Kevin Garnett, Idina Menzel, Adam Sandler and LaKeith Stanfield

The Safdie brothers directed and co-wrote the screenplay.

In this coming-of-age drama/comedy set in early 2000s Sacramento, California, a teenager dreams of a culture-filled life in New York City while finishing her last days of a tumultous high school experience.

“Lady Bird” earned five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.

Runtime: 1 hour, 34 minutes

Notable Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Lucas Hedges, Tracy Letts, Laurie Metcalf and Saoirse Ronan

Greta Gerwig directed the movie and wrote the screenplay.

In this revisionist Western set in the southern United States in 1858, an enslaved man convinces a bounty hunter to help him free his wife from a cruel, sadistic plantation owner.

“Django Unchained” earned five Academy Award nominations and won two categories: Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Christoph Waltz).

Runtime: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Notable Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz and Kerry Washington

Quentin Tarantino directed the movie and wrote the screenplay.

In this period drama set in the early 1900s West Coast, an oilman tries to expand his drilling empire through any means necessary.

“There Will Be Blood” earned nine Academy Award nominations and won two categories: Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Best Cinematography.

Runtime: 2 hours, 38 minutes

Notable Cast: Paul Dano and Daniel Day-Lewis

Paul Thomas Anderson directed the movie and wrote the screenplay.

In this biographical drama set in the mid-2000s at Harvard University, Mark Zuckerberg and his friends create Facebook and then Zuckerberg stabs his friends in the back as the company grows.

The movie earned eight Academy Award nominations, including for Best Picture. It won three Oscars: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Music Score and Best Film Editing.

Runtime: 2 hours

Notable Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer, Rashida Jones, Rooney Mara, Max Minghella and Justin Timberlake

David Fincher directed the movie, and Aaron Sorkin wrote the screenplay.

In this biographical comedy set around the turn of the millennium in California, the aspiring actors Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero make a movie that is now considered to be the worst of all time.

“The Disaster Artist” earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Runtime: 1 hour, 44 minutes

Notable Cast: Alison Brie, Dave Franco, James Franco, Seth Rogen and Jacki Weaver

Franco directed the movie.

In this drama set in 1962 around Southern California, a grieving, homosexual university professor mourns the death of his partner and considers suicide before experiencing a life-affirming night.

“A Single Man” earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor (Colin Firth).

Runtime: 1 hour, 39 minutes

Notable Cast: Colin Firth, Matthew Goode, Nicholas Hoult and Julianne Moore

Tom Ford directed the movie and co-wrote the screenplay.

In this black comedy set in 1967 Minnesota, a Jewish professor grapples with the collapse of his family, health and professional aspirations as everything that seemingly can go wrong does.

“A Serious Man” earned two Academy Award nominations: Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.

Runtime: 1 hour, 46 minutes

Notable Cast: Richard Kind and Michael Stuhlbarg

The Coen brothers directed the movie and wrote the screenplay.

In this dark fantasy set in 1940s Spain, a young girl, who might be a reincarnated princess of the underworld, travels through a magical labyrinth, escaping the horrors of a new stepfather involved in the violent aftermath of the Spanish Civil War.

“Pan’s Labyrinth” earned six Academy Award nominations and won three categories: Best Production Design, Best Cinematography and Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

Runtime: 1 hour, 58 minutes

Notable Cast: Ivana Baquero, Doug Jones, Sergi López and Maribel Verdú

Guillermo del Toro directed the movie and wrote the screenplay.

In this comedic drama, a single mother and her younger neighbors help raise a young boy in Santa Barbara, California, during the end of the 1970s.

“20th Century Women” earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

Runtime: 1 hour, 59 minutes

Notable Cast: Annette Bening, Billy Crudup, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Alia Shawkat and Lucas Jade Zumann

In this psychological thriller, a successful heart surgeon has a man die during an operation, leading the man’s son to try and get revenge.

“The Killing of a Sacred Deer” won the Best Screenplay award at the Cannes Film Festival

Runtime: 2 hours, 1 minute

Notable Cast: Bill Camp, Raffey Cassidy, Colin Farrell, Barry Keoghan, Nicole Kidman, Alicia Silverstone and Sunny Suljic

Yorgos Lanthimos directed the movie and co-wrote the script.

In this historical comedy, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin dies, leading his close associates to try and grab power for themselves in his absence.

“The Death of Stalin” earned two British Academy Film Award nominations: Outstanding British Film and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Runtime: 1 hour, 47 minutes

Notable Cast: Simon Russell Beale, Steve Buscemi and Jeffrey Tambor

Armando Iannucci directed the movie and co-wrote the screenplay.

In this coming-of-age drama, a high school student in the ’90s has clinical depression and leans on friendships to help him get through this stage of life.

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” earned various accolades from film festivals and institutions across the globe. But most prestigious would be its MTV Movie Awards nomination for “Best Kiss” between Emma Watson and Logan Lerman. The two lost to Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Runtime: 1 hour, 43 minutes

Notable Cast: Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, Paul Rudd and Emma Watson

In this drama, a gay Black man searches for parent figures and feels he must suppress his identity while growing up in Miami, Florida.

“Moonlight” won earned eight Academy Award nominations and won three categories: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali) and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Runtime: 1 hour, 51 minutes

Notable Cast: Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Andre Holland, Jharrel Jerome, Janelle Monáe, Trevante Rhodes and Ashton Sanders

Barry Jenkins directed the movie and wrote the screenplay.

In this period drama, Steve Jobs becomes one of the most venerated tech leaders in history while ignoring friendships and familial obligations.

“Steve Jobs” earned two Academy Award nominations for Best Actor (Michael Fassbender) and Best Supporting Actress (Kate Winslet).

Runtime: 2 hours, 2 minutes

Notable Cast: Jeff Daniels, Michael Fassbender, Seth Rogen and Kate Winslet

Danny Boyle directed the movie, while Aaron Sorkin wrote the screenplay.

In this satirical thriller, the world has frozen over and only the highly segregated occupants of a train survive.

“Snowpiercer” served as director and writer Bong Joon-ho’s American breakout. He would later go on to create “Parasite,” which won Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

Runtime: 2 hours, 6 minutes

Notable Cast: Jamie Bell, Chris Evans, Ed Harris, Tilda Swinton, Kang-Ho Song and Octavia Spencer

Bong Joon-ho directed the movie and co-wrote the screenplay.

In this romantic comedy, a divorced man with bipolar disorder meets someone new while living with his parents in a Philadelphia neighborhood.

“Silver Linings Playbook” earned eight Academy Award nominations. The movie won Best Actress for Jennifer Lawrence.

Runtime: 2 hours, 2 minutes

Notable Cast: Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Tucker

David O. Russell directed and wrote the movie.

In this psychological mystery drama, a young man in South Korea stumbles into a deceptive situation of complicated friendship.

“Burning” made President Barack Obama’s list of favorite movies of 2018.

Runtime: 2 hours, 28 minutes

Notable Cast: Yoo Ah-in, Jeon Jong-seo and Steven Yeun

In this drama, residents of a cheap motel in Florida try to make ends meet. The poverty of the motel residents contrasts with the lavish tourism of Disney World only miles away. In the planning stage, Disney referred to the theme park as “The Florida Project.”

The movie earned one Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor (Willem Dafoe).

Runtime: 1 hour, 51 minutes

Notable Cast: Willem Dafoe, Caleb Landry Jones and Brooklynn Prince

Sean Baker directed and co-wrote the screenplay.

In this comedic drama, a gay comedy writer moves back to his conservative household to help take care of his mother, who is dying of cancer.

Former “Saturday Night Live” co-headwriter Chris Kelly wrote this movie, which helped him make the wonderful Comedy Central show “The Other Two.” That show also stars Molly Shannon.

Runtime: 1 hour, 37 minutes

Notable Cast: Maude Apatow, Jesse Plemons, Molly Shannon and Bradley Whitford