￼It’s definitely not something that should raise your blood pressure, but it does: Sifting through the astounding number of films on Netflix that you just haven’t seen.
The service is teeming with black-and-white classics, breathtaking documentaries and petrifying horror flicks – not to mention the buffet of Channing Tatum movies and Tyler Perry outings that plague the streaming site (it’s a miracle that Tyler Perry Presents: Tyler and the Perries, a Tyler Perry Production isn’t there yet…).
Inevitably, you’re overwhelmed by the absurd selection. And when you think about it, you’ll probably never get through them all. But, figuring out which movies you should watch first, is a pretty good place to start.
So, without further ado and in no particular order, here’s our handpicked selection of the best 50 movies streaming on Netflix right now, updated with March’s additions and omissions. Once you make your way through them, find out how to unlock hidden genres using these secret codes.
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Director: Stanley Kubrick, 1987
A pragmatic U.S. Marine observes the dehumanizing effects the Vietnam War has on his fellow recruits from their brutal boot camp training to the bloody street fighting in Hue.
Sin City (2005)
Directors: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino
A film that explores the dark and miserable town, Basin City, and tells the story of three different people, all caught up in violent corruption.
Groundhog Day (1993)
Director: Harold Ramis
A weatherman finds himself living the same day over and over again.
Blue Ruin (2014)
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
A mysterious outsider’s quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance. Proving himself an amateur assassin, he winds up in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family.
Short Term 12 (2013)
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
A 20-something supervising staff member of a residential treatment facility navigates the troubled waters of that world alongside her co-worker and longtime boyfriend.
The Homesman (2014)
Director: Tommy Lee Jones
Three women who have been driven mad by pioneer life are to be transported across the country by covered wagon by the pious, independent-minded Mary Bee Cuddy, who in turn employs low-life drifter George Briggs to assist her.
Finding Vivian Maier (2013)
Directors: John Maloof, Charlie Siske
A documentary on the late Vivian Maier, a nanny whose previously unknown cache of 100,000 photographs earned her a posthumous reputation as one of the most accomplished street photographers.
Director: Alexander Payne
A high school teacher’s personal life becomes complicated as he works with students during the school elections, particularly with an obsessive overachiever determined to become student body president.
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Director: Billy Wilder
A hack screenwriter writes a screenplay for a former silent-film star who has faded into Hollywood obscurity.
Cartel Land (2015)
Director: Matthew Heineman
Filmmaker Matthew Heineman examines the the state of the ongoing drug problem along the U.S.-Mexican border.
Cruel Intentions (1999)
Director: Roger Kumble
Two wealthy step-siblings of an elite Manhattan prep school make a wager: to de-flower the new headmaster’s daughter before the start of term.
Training Day (2001)
Director: Antoine Fuqua
On his first day on the job as a Los Angeles narcotics officer, a rookie cop goes on a 24-hour training course with a rogue detective who isn’t what he appears.
Léon: The Professional (1994)
Director: Luc Besson
Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl, is reluctantly taken in by Léon, a professional assassin, after her family is murdered. Léon and Mathilda form an unusual relationship, as she becomes his protégée and learns the assassin’s trade.
Director: Shane Carruth
Four friends/fledgling entrepreneurs, knowing that there’s something bigger and more innovative than the different error-checking devices they’ve built, wrestle over their new invention.
Director: Rick Famuyiwa
Life changes for Malcolm, a geek who’s surviving life in a tough neighborhood, after a chance invitation to an underground party leads him and his friends into a Los Angeles adventure.
Director: Michael Bay
After discovering that an asteroid the size of Texas is going to impact Earth in less than a month, N.A.S.A. recruits a misfit team of deep core drillers to save the planet.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Director: Robert Wise
An alien lands and tells the people of Earth that they must live peacefully or be destroyed as a danger to other planets.
Director: Steven Spielberg
When Captain Hook kidnaps his children, an adult Peter Pan must return to Neverland and reclaim his youthful spirit in order to challenge his old enemy.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
In the Iranian ghost-town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, the townspeople are unaware they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire.
Director: Brian De Palma
In 1980 Miami, a determined Cuban immigrant takes over a drug cartel while succumbing to greed.
Director: Neil Jordan
Residents of a coastal town learn, with deathly consequences, the secret shared by the two mysterious women who have sought shelter at a local resort.
Director: Celine Sciamma
A girl with few real prospects joins a gang, reinventing herself and gaining a sense of self confidence in the process. However, she soon finds that this new life does not necessarily make her any happier.
White God (2014)
Director: Kornél Mundruczó
Thirteen-year-old Lili fights to protect her dog Hagen. She is devastated when her father eventually sets Hagen free on the streets. Still innocently believing love can conquer any difficulty, Lili sets out to find her dog and save him.
The Shining (1980)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.
Directors: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
A star bowler whose career was prematurely “cut off” hopes to ride a new prodigy to success and riches.
Love Actually (2003)
Director: Richard Curtis
Follows the lives of eight very different couples in dealing with their love lives in various loosely interrelated tales all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London, England.
Django Unchained (2012)
Director: Quentin Tarantino
With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.
Kung Fury (2015)
Director: David Sandberg
In 1985, Kung Fury, the toughest martial artist cop in Miami, goes back in time to kill the worst criminal of all time – kung fuhrer Hitler.
Forrest Gump (1994)
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Forrest Gump, while not intelligent, has accidentally been present at many historic moments, but his true love, Jenny Curran, eludes him.
Return of the Dragon (1972)
Director: Bruce Lee
A man visits his relatives at their restaurant in Italy and has to help them defend against brutal gangsters harassing them.
Let the Right One In (2008)
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl.
Director: Sean Baker
A working girl tears through Tinseltown on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp who broke her heart.
Good Burger (1997)
Director: Brian Robbins
Two dim-witted teenagers are forced to save the fast food restaurant they work at from going out of business, despite a new-and-improved burger joint opening across the street that want to be the “Top Dog” in the fast food industry.
Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Director: John Badham
A Brooklyn teenager feels his only chance to succeed is as the king of the disco floor. His carefree youth and weekend dancing help him to forget the reality of his bleak life.
The House I Live In (2012)
Director: Eugene Jarecki
From the dealer to the narcotics officer, the inmate to the federal judge, a penetrating look inside America’s criminal justice system, revealing the profound human rights implications of U.S. drug policy.
Life Itself (2014)
Director: Steve James
The life and career of the renowned film critic and social commentator, Roger Ebert.
Kill Bill: Vol 1 (2003)
Director: Quentin Tarantino
The Bride wakens from a four-year coma. The child she carried in her womb is gone. Now she must wreak vengeance on the team of assassins who betrayed her – a team she was once part of.
The Exorcist (1973)
Director: William Friedkin
When a teenage girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
Director: Kevin Reynolds
When Robin and his Moorish companion come to England and the tyranny of the Sheriff of Nottingham, he decides to fight back as an outlaw.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)
Director: David Gelb
A documentary on 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono, his renowned Tokyo restaurant, and his relationship with his son and eventual heir, Yoshikazu.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Director: Nicholas Meyer
With the assistance of the Enterprise crew, Admiral Kirk must stop an old nemesis, Khan Noonien Singh, from using the life-generating Genesis Device as the ultimate weapon.
How to Survive a Plague (2012)
Director: David France
The story of two coalitions – ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group) – whose activism and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition.
Director: Paul Bettany
Hannah and Tahir fall in love while homeless on the streets of New York. Shelter explores how they got there, and as we learn about their pasts we realize they need each other to build a future.
We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Kevin’s mother struggles to love her strange child, despite the increasingly vicious things he says and does as he grows up. But Kevin is just getting started, and his final act will be beyond anything anyone imagined.
Shall We Dance (2004)
Director: Peter Chelsom
A romantic comedy where a bored, overworked Estate Lawyer, upon first sight of a beautiful instructor, signs up for ballroom dancing lessons.
Director: Albert Maysles
A documentary about fashion icon Iris Apfel from legendary documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles.
The Falling (2014)
Director: Carol Morley
It’s 1969 at a strict English girls’ school where charismatic Abbie and intense and troubled Lydia are best friends. After a tragedy occurs at the school, a mysterious fainting epidemic breaks out threatening the stability of all involved.
The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
Director: Mark Dindal
Emperor Kuzco is turned into a llama by his ex-administrator Yzma, and must now regain his throne with the help of Pacha, the gentle llama herder.
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
Director: John Ford
A senator, who became famous for killing a notorious outlaw, returns for the funeral of an old friend and tells the truth about his deed.
Director: Sebastian Schipper
Four local Berliners recruit a thrill-seeking Spanish woman (Laia Costa) to be their getaway driver for a bank robbery.