The 44 Best Movies on Netflix This Week


Netflix has plenty of movies to watch, but it’s a real mixed bag. Sometimes finding the right film at the right time can seem like an impossible task. Fret not, we’re here to help. Below is a list of some of our favorites currently on the streaming service—from dramas to comedies to thrillers.

If you decide you’re in more of a TV mood, head over to our collection of the best TV series on Netflix. Want more? Check out our lists of the best sci-fi movies, best movies on Amazon Prime, and the best flicks on Disney+.

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maboroshi

By any measure, Masamune lives a normal teenage existence in his rural Japanese hometown—until the local steel works erupts, mysteriously sealing the entire town in an inexplicable time bubble where no one ages. As the small community struggles to adapt, a culture that fears change emerges, initially from the presumption that residents would need to rejoin the outside world as they left it, and eventually forbids even new relationships. Yet when Masamune’s strange classmate Mutsumi lures him to the ill-fated factory and introduces him to a feral young girl who should not exist, the bizarre reality they all inhabit begins to collapse. A fantasy twist on notions of youthful rebellion, the prison of familiarity, and fears of change, maboroshi—meaning “illusion”—is a dazzling sophomore feature from director Mari Okada—whose 2018 debut Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms won accolades around the globe—and one that firmly establishes her as one of the most exciting creators working in animation today.

Orion and the Dark

Young Orion is afraid of everything—but especially the dark. Sure would be a shame if the manifestation of darkness itself turned up one night, huh? While a small twist in tone could make for a horror story, this charming animated feature from DreamWorks is instead a delight, as Dark—along with the other embodiments of the night, including Sweet Dreams and Insomnia—take Orion on a journey to show that the night isn’t anything to be afraid of. Hitting similar vibes as Inside Out, this exploration of childhood fears—and overcoming them—makes for a great family feature.

The Willoughbys

Walter and Helga Willoughby love each other very much, with a passion that has withstood years of marriage. Unfortunately, they’re less enamored of their four children—Tim, Jane, and twins Barnaby A and Barnaby B (the parents having given up any pretense of caring about their progeny by that point). After putting up with years of abuse, the Willoughby kids have finally had enough—and hatch a scheme to get rid of their cruel parents and find a family that actually cares about them, by whatever means necessary. Based on the book by Lois Lowry, The Willoughbys tonally blends The Addams Family, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and the works of Roald Dahl—plus a dash of Wes Anderson’s trademark “rich people malaise” for flavor—to present a delightfully dark animated fable that’s mischievous enough for younger viewers while avoiding schmaltzy tropes about “the importance of family” that older watchers will be tired of. Better still, it’s all beautifully presented with a unique CGI animation style that adopts an almost stop-motion aesthetic, and packs in a phenomenal voice cast including Maya Rudolph, Terry Crews, and Jane Krakowski.

Always Be My Maybe

Written by and starring Ali Wong and Randall Park, Always Be My Maybe tells the story of two inseparable childhood friends whose lives veer dramatically apart after a grief-stricken rendezvous in their teenage years. Wong plays Sasha Tran, a superstar chef whose stratospheric career barely papers over the cracks in her faltering relationship. Park, meanwhile, plays Marcus Kim, whose ambitions have taken him no further than the local dive bar and his father’s air conditioning firm. Fate—and a bizarre cameo from Keanu Reeves—conspire to bring the two leads back together in a thoughtful and hilarious romantic comedy.

Dune

Frank Herbert’s Dune was long thought unfilmable—a stance arguably proven by David Lynch’s troubled 1984 adaptation. Nearly four decades later, Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049) would prove the naysayers wrong with this staggeringly ambitious take. Splitting Herbert’s sprawling novel of warring houses, galactic imperialism, millennia-spanning prophecies, and, err, giant sandworms in two—a bold choice, given Part Two wasn’t guaranteed at the time—gave Villeneuve space to properly introduce the vast mythos and gargantuan dramatis personae of the source material, helping establish the scale and grandeur of the universe. With the second film due out in March, now is the perfect time to immerse yourself in this meticulously crafted slice of science fiction.

Leave the World Behind

A weekend getaway at a luxury vacation rental property for Amanda, Clay, and their kids, Archie and Rose, takes a sinister turn in the wake of an inexplicable blackout. When the house’s owner, George, and his daughter, Ruth, return early, suspicions mount—but a growing herd of deer lurking outside the house, failing vehicles, and scattered reports of attacks across the country force the two families to rely on each other in the face of what may be the end of the world. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Rumaan Alam, and with a star-studded cast including Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, Ethan Hawke, Myha’la, and Kevin Bacon, this film relishes in keeping the audiences as uncertain as its characters are, explaining little and leaving questions you’ll be mulling for days.

Good Grief

Written and directed by Dan Levy, this touching drama explores the difficulty of moving on from tragedy. When Marc’s (Levy) husband Oliver dies, he is unable to grieve after learning of an affair—and a weekend in Paris with his supportive friends Sophie (Ruth Negga) and Thomas (Himesh Patel), each facing their own existential relationship dilemmas, only makes things worse when it’s revealed Oliver was secretly renting an apartment there. While the mournful subject matter will be tonal whiplash for anyone drawn to this by Levy’s performance in Schitt’s Creek, Good Grief proves an empathetic exploration of the complexities of bereavement, one that’s a lot warmer and more life-affirming than viewers might expect going in.

Rustin

Directed by George C. Wolfe (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), this biopic explores the life of civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. While perhaps best known as one of the chief organizers of 1963’s March on Washington, Rustin was also openly, unapologetically gay at a time when that was phenomenally rare—and the film doesn’t shy away from how that alienated many of the people he worked with, his sexuality often seen as a threat to the movement. A much-needed spotlight on an overlooked but pivotal figure in the Civil Rights Movement, elevated by a central performance from a spectacularly well-cast Colman Domingo as Rustin himself.

Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget

The long, long, long awaited sequel to 2000’s classic Chicken Run is finally here, allowing studio Aardman Animations to once again prove itself the undisputed master of stop-motion animation. While it’s been nearly a quarter-century for us, Dawn of the Nugget picks up shortly after Ginger (Thandiwe Newton) and Rocky (Zachary Levi) helped their entire flock fly the coop from Tweedy’s Farm. With the arrival of daughter Molly (Bella Ramsey), life on an island bird sanctuary seems perfect—until Molly’s rebellious teen phase sees her escape back to the mainland, only to face a new threat that makes getting baked into a pie look like a good option. While this goes into somewhat obvious territory for a sequel—Ginger and Rocky breaking into a facility to rescue Molly, versus the original’s breakout—this is packed with all the wit and charm that made the original so beloved.

Leo

Leo has spent the last 74 years trapped in an elementary school classroom. Underappreciated but dedicated teacher? Nope: lizard, and long-suffering class pet. Finally deciding to live for himself, Leo sees a weekend in a student’s care as a chance to make a break for freedom—only to discover he might have a penchant for teaching after all. Yes, a talking animal animated film could be cloying pablum, but with Adam Sandler at his most cantankerous voicing the titular tuatara, and with a script that manages to serve up some surprisingly insightful and poignant moments, Leo evolves into that rarest of beasts: a family feature that the whole family really can enjoy.

His House

Fleeing war-torn South Sudan, Bol (Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) are now living in a run-down house at the edge of London, harassed by their neighbors even as they try to fit in. The couple are also haunted by the lives they left behind—both figuratively and (possibly) literally, with visions of their late daughter Nyagak, who did not survive the journey, fading in and out of the walls of their dismal new home. The real horror of His House isn’t the strange visions, haunted house, or potential ghosts, though—it’s the bleakness of the lives Bol and Rial are forced into, the hostility and dehumanization of the UK asylum process, the racism both overt and casual, all coupled with the enormous sense of loss they carry with them. Blending the macabre with the mundane, director Remi Weekes delivers a tense, challenging film that will haunt viewers as much as its characters.

The Black Book

Paul Edima (Richard Mofe-Damijo) lives a peaceful life as a church deacon, trying to atone for—or at least forget—his former deeds as a highly trained special agent. Plans to leave his violent and bloody past behind fall apart when his son is framed for a murder and then killed by corrupt police, forcing him to fall back on old skills as he seeks vengeance. Shades of Taken, yes, but it’s director Editi Effiong’s raw energy and fresh takes on familiar action movie formulas that—backed by one of the highest budgets in “Nollywood” history—have this gritty outing topping the most-watched lists as far afield as South Korea. Expand your cinematic horizons and see what the fuss is about.

Nyad

There’s about 110 miles of mean water between Cuba and Florida, filled with jellyfish, man o’ wars, and sharks and prone to terrible weather. The idea of trying to swim the route solo might raise a few concerns, let alone doing it with as few protective measures as possible—but that’s exactly what long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad did, and at the age of 64, no less. This biopic from directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin (Free Solo) casts Annette Bening as an almost monomaniacally obsessed Nyad, determined to prove to everyone—or maybe just herself—that she can complete the marathon swim that had bested her all her life. Meanwhile, Jodie Foster’s turn as Bonnie Stoll, Nyad’s friend, coach, and ex-partner, provides a sense of stability against the force of nature that the increasingly, almost dangerously determined Nyad becomes. While Nyad is somewhat more fanciful than Vasarhelyi and Chin’s documentary works and glosses over some aspects of the real-life Nyad’s history, it stands as a testament to human determination, friendship, and the power of sheer stubbornness.

El Conde

This is a wild one—a Chilean black comedy satire reimagining dictator Augusto Pinochet as a centuries-old vampire who is just done with it and now craves his own final death. Not bizarre enough? As director and co-writer Pablo Larraín’s farce continues, it incorporates Vampire Pinochet’s children, the exorcist nun they hire to kill their father for the inheritance, a Russian vampire butler, and—in a gloriously deranged twist—Margaret Thatcher. Shot in black and white, and almost entirely in Spanish, El Conde sits somewhere in the space between high schlock and high art. It’s absolutely not going to win everyone over, but if you’re craving something different from cinema’s norms, you can’t get much more different than this.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar

Ignore its 41-minute runtime and set aside any arguments over whether its brevity “counts” as a movie—this fantastic outing sees Wes Anderson adapt a Roald Dahl work for the first time since 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, and the result is just as brilliant. Rather than stop-motion, as with Mr. Fox, this is a live-action affair headlined by a top tier performance from Benedict Cumberbatch as the eponymous Henry Sugar, a bored rich man who gains a strange power and ultimately uses it to better the world. With a broader cast including Dev Patel, Ralph Fiennes, and Ben Kingsley, and shot with all of Anderson’s trademark aesthetic sensibilities, this really is a wonderful story. And, if you’re still bothered by the short run time, take solace in the fact that this forms a tetraptych with The Rat Catcher, The Swan, and Poison; 15-minute shorts with same cast, directed by Anderson, and all adapting other Dahl tales in his signature style.

Apostle

After bringing Indonesian martial arts to the wider world with his The Raid duology, director Gareth Evans switches genre to horror with this disturbing period piece set on a remote Welsh island in the early 1900s. Dan Stevens plays Thomas Richardson, a faithless missionary who infiltrates a cult on the island to rescue his kidnapped sister. Entwined in the lives and strange practices of the cultists and their firebrand leader, Malcolm Howe (Michael Sheen), Thomas soon realizes the god being worshipped isn’t the one from his own lost scripture. Yes, it’s all a bit Wicker Man in places, but Apostle balances its gore and scares with slow-burn tension and a terror borne of its isolated setting that will have you thinking twice before you next venture into the countryside.

You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah

We’re glossing over the “nepo baby” factor here—producer Adam Sandler takes a backseat supporting actor role here, allowing his two real-life daughters the spotlight—as this earns a pass by being a great teen comedy on its own merits. Stacy Friedman (Sunny Sandler) is obsessing over her upcoming bat mitzvah, insisting that it has to be perfect to set the course for the rest of her life, while older sister Ronnie (Sadie Sandler) provides backup in trying to convince their parents to throw a lavish party. Unfortunately, Stacy’s current life is far from perfect, chasing both acceptance from the popular kids at school and the affections of clueless Andy (Dylan Hoffman), who barely notices her. After an attempt to impress him leads to social disaster, Stacy is enraged when BFF Lydia (Samantha Lorraine) dates him instead, and soon everyone’s lives are spiraling out of control in the kind of deranged, cruel ways only teenagers can manage. Director Sammi Cohen perfectly captures the heightened melodrama that paints everyone’s teen years, while delivering emotional moments at all the right points.

Eldorado: Everything The Nazis Hate

Centered on the eponymous Berlin nightclub, this documentary explores the lives of LGBTQ+ people during the interwar years, from the roaring 1920s through the rise of the Nazis and into the horrors of World War II. With a blend of archival footage, recreations, and first-person accounts, director Benjamin Cantu paints a picture of gleeful decadence, the Eldorado as an almost hallowed ground where performers and patrons alike experimented with gender expression and were free to openly display their sexuality. It’s an ode to what was lost, but with an eye on the bizarre contradictions of the age, where openly gay club-goers would wear their own Nazi uniforms as the years went by. Everything the Nazis Hate is emotionally challenging viewing in places, but it serves up an important slice of queer history that many will be completely unaware of.

The Pale Blue Eye

Based on the novel of the same name by Louis Bayard, this historical mystery is set in 1890, with retired detective Augustus Landor (Christian Bale) called in to investigate the death and mutilation of a cadet at West Point Military Academy. Needing an insider’s perspective, Landor enlists the help of another cadet: a macabre young fellow named Edgar Allan Poe (an exquisitely creepy Harry Melling). As their inquiries continue, the unlikely pair uncover links to strange rituals and secret societies, while the body count rises. Beautifully gothic and with plenty of twists, The Pale Blue Eye is bolstered by a fantastic ensemble including Gillian Anderson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Toby Jones, and Timothy Spall, all elevating what could be a silly genre mashup (“Young Poe: The Detective Years,” anyone?) into a captivating, spooky affair.

Marry My Dead Body

Wu Ming-han (Greg Hsu) is not a great guy. A homophobic police officer, his life—and prejudices—are changed when he picks up an unassuming red envelope while investigating a case. Now bound under “ghost marriage” customs to Mao Mao (Austin Lin), a gay man who died under mysterious circumstances, Wu has to solve his “husband’s” death before he can get on with his life. Directed by Cheng Wei-hao, better known for his thrillers and horror movies, Marry My Dead Body sees the Taiwanese director bring his supernatural stylings to this ghostly absurdist comedy for a film that transcends borders.

Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop

Cherry struggles with speaking to other people, preferring to share his feelings through haiku. Smile is a vlogger who always wears a mask, afraid to reveal her braces to the world. Both young people are terrible at communicating, until a chaotic meeting at a mall draws them together, and they begin to bring each other out of their shells. This feature directorial debut from Kyōhei Ishiguro (Your Lie in April) is a charming slice-of-life romcom that transcends its teen romance trappings. Its gorgeous animation, stunning color palette, and eye-catching pop art aesthetic are further bolstered by a genius soundtrack that blends Cherry’s haiku with hip hop influences. True to its title, Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop is an effervescent, joyful affair that will bring a smile to the face of even the most jaded viewer.

Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead

How much does Akira Tendo (Eiji Akaso) hate his soul-crushing, meaningless, abusive office job? Put it this way: He considers the zombie apocalypse an improvement. Freed from the shackles of workaday monotony, Akira and a handful of fellow survivors are now free to do everything they ever wanted—so long as they can avoid becoming undead flesh-eaters themselves. Adapted from the manga by Haro Aso (creator of Alice in Borderland) and Kotaro Takata, this raucous zom-com is packed with gloriously stupid moments—zombie shark fight!—but with a central theme of learning how to truly live for yourself, it has plenty of heart too.

They Cloned Tyrone

Drug dealer Fontaine (John Boyega) got shot to death last night. So why has he just woken up in bed as if nothing happened? That existential question leads Fontaine and two unlikely allies—prostitute Yo-Yo (Teyonah Parris) and pimp Slick Charles (Jamie Foxx)—to uncovering a vast conspiracy centered on a Black-majority town called The Glen, where people are kept mollified by hypnotic rap music, dumbed down with drug-laced fried chicken and grape juice, and preached into obedience at church. But who’s using the town as a petri dish, and why is there a cloning lab buried underground? This lethally sharp satire from writer and debut director Juel Taylor masterfully blends genres, from the use of visual motifs and dated clichés from 1970s Blaxploitation cinema to its frequent steps into sci-fi territory and laugh-out-loud comedy. But it’s the powerhouse performances from its central cast that mark this as one to watch.

Matilda the Musical

The classic family fable returns to the screen, via the Broadway and West End stages, in this musical update. You know the story—precocious schoolgirl Matilda (Alisha Weir) uses her newfound telekinetic powers to outwit the sadistic school principal Agatha Trunchbull (a deliciously wicked Emma Thompson) with only the kindhearted Miss Honey (Lashana Lynch) on her side—but here it’s bolstered with toe-tapping numbers from Tim Minchin and some phenomenal choreography. With an appropriately dark sense of humor throughout, channeling the mischievous spirit of the source material, this new Matilda will charm a whole new generation of delinquents.

Nimona

Shapeshifter Nimona can become anything she wants, a gift that causes people to fear and shun her. If society is going to treat her like a villain, she’s going to be one, so she decides to become the sidekick of the hated black knight, Ballister Blackheart. Unfortunately for the aspiring menace, Blackheart isn’t quite the monster he’s made out to be, and he instead tries to rein in Nimona’s more murderous tendencies as he seeks to clear his name of a crime he didn’t commit—and face down his old friend Ambrosius Goldenloin in the process. Adapted from N. D. Stevenson’s groundbreaking graphic novel, Nimona is more than just another fanciful fantasy—it’s a tale of outsiders and exiles, people trying to do right even when their community rejects them, and the joy of finding their own little band along the way. After an almost decade-long journey to the screen, this dazzlingly animated movie has become an instant classic.

Pray Away

An exploration of the origins of the “conversion therapy” movement—a harmful and medically denounced process through which religious groups try to “cure” homosexuality—may not make for light entertainment, but this searing look at the practice and its roots is darkly compelling. Director Kristine Stolakis speaks with key founders of the movement and survivors of the often brutal treatments that arose over nearly half a century and offers insight into both. Pray Away is a difficult watch at times—especially for LGBTQ+ viewers—but it shines an important light on the movement and the damage it causes. A bold debut for Stolakis.

The Boys in the Band

Set in New York City in 1968, The Boys in the Band is a snapshot of gay life a year before Stonewall brought LGBTQ+ rights to mainstream attention. When Michael (Jim Parsons, fresh from The Big Bang Theory) hosts a birthday party for his best frenemy Harold (Zachary Quinto), he’s expecting a night of drinks, dancing, and gossip with their inner circle—until Alan, Michael’s straight friend from college, turns up, desperate to share something. As the night wears on, personalities clash, tempers fray, and secrets threaten to come to the surface in director Joe Mantello’s tense character study. Adapted for the screen by Mart Crowley, author of the original stage play, this period piece manages to be as poignant an exploration of queer relationships and identities as ever.

Kill Boksoon

To her friends, Gil Bok-soon (Jeon Do-yeon) is a successful events executive and dedicated single mother to her daughter, Jae-yeong (Kim Si-a). In reality, she’s the star performer at MK Ent—an assassination bureau, where her almost superhuman ability to predict every step in a critical situation has earned her a 100 percent success rate and killer reputation. The only problem: She’s considering retiring at the end of her contract, a decision that opens her to threats from disgruntled enemies and ambitious colleagues alike. While its title and premise not-so-subtly evoke Tarantino’s Kill Bill, director Byun Sung-hyun takes this Korean action epic to giddy heights with some of the most impressive fights committed to screen since, well, Kill Bill.

Cargo

In a world already ravaged by a zombie-like plague, Andy Rose (Martin Freeman) only wants to keep his family safe, sticking to Australia’s rural back roads to avoid infection. After his wife is tragically bitten, and infects him in turn, Andy is desperate to find a safe haven for his infant daughter, Rosie. With a mere 48 hours until he succumbs himself, Andy finds an ally in Thoomi (Simone Landers), an Aboriginal girl looking to protect her own rabid father. But with threats from paranoid survivalists and Aboriginal communities hunting the infected, it may already be too late. A unique twist on the zombie apocalypse, Cargo abandons the familiar urban landscapes of the genre for the breathtaking wilds of Australia and offers a slower, character-led approach to the end of the world.

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

The modern master of the macabre brings the wooden would-be boy to life like never before in this exquisitely animated take on Pinocchio. In a stop-motion masterpiece that hews closer to the original 1880s tale by Carlo Collodi than the sanitized Disney version, Guillermo del Toro adds his own signature touch and compelling twists to the classic story that make it darkly enchanting—expect a Blue Fairy closer to a biblically accurate many-eyed angel and a Terrible Dogfish more like a kaiju. It’s the decision to transplant the tale to World War II that’s most affecting though. Cast against the rise of fascism, with Gepetto mourning the loss of his son, the film is packed with complex themes of mortality and morality that will haunt audiences long after the credits roll. If that doesn’t sell you, perhaps the fact that it won Best Animated Feature at the 2023 Academy Awards will.

The Land of Steady Habits

Anders Hill (Ben Mendelsohn) thought he wanted a change from his stifling life in a wealthy suburb of Connecticut. Now rashly divorced from Helene (Edie Falco), the woman he still loves; regretting his decision to retire early; and struggling with his adult son Preston’s (Thomas Mann) battles with drug addiction, Anders is spiraling. The Land of Steady Habits could be another maudlin look at a rich man’s midlife crisis, but writer and director Nicole Holofcener—adapting Ted Thompson’s novel of the same name—keeps the lead on the hook for his own downfall while infusing Anders’ journey with dark humor and a strange warmth.

Call Me Chihiro

An idyllic slice-of-life movie with a twist, Call Me Chihiro follows a former sex worker—the eponymous Chihiro, played by Kasumi Arimura—after she moves to a seaside town to work in a bento restaurant. This isn’t a tale of a woman on the run or trying to escape her past—Chihiro is refreshingly forthright and unapologetic, and her warmth and openness soon begin to change the lives of her neighbors. Directed by Rikiya Imaizumi, this is an intimate, heartfelt character drama that alternates between moments of aching loneliness and sheer joy, packed with emotional beats that remind viewers of the importance of even the smallest connections.

The Sea Beast

It’s easy to imagine that the elevator pitch for The Sea Beast was “Moby Dick meets How to Train Your Dragon”—and who wouldn’t be compelled by that? Set in a fantasy world where oceanic leviathans terrorize humanity, those who hunt down the giant monsters are lauded as heroes. Jacob Holland (voiced by Karl Urban) is one such hero, adopted son of the legendary Captain Crowe and well on the way to building his own legacy as a monster hunter—a journey disrupted by stowaway Maisie Brumble (Zaris-Angel Hator), who has her own ambitions to take on the sea beasts. However, after an attempt to destroy the colossal Red Bluster goes disastrously wrong, Jacob and Maisie are stranded on an island filled with the creatures, and they find that the monsters may not be quite so monstrous after all. A rollicking sea-bound adventure directed by Chris Williams—of Big Hero 6 and Moana fame—it secured its standing as one of Netflix’s finest movies with a nomination for Best Animated Feature at this year’s Oscars.

Troll

This gleefully entertaining giant-monster movie eschews tearing up the likes of New York or Tokyo in favor of director Roar Uthaug’s (Tomb Raider 2018) native Norway, with a titanic troll stomping its way toward Oslo after being roused by a drilling operation. The plot and characters will be familiar to any fan of kaiju cinema—Ine Marie Wilmann heads up the cast as Nora Tidemann, the academic with a curiously specific skill set who is called in to advise on the crisis, while Kim Falck fits neatly into the role of Andreas Isaksan, the government adviser paired with her, and Gard B. Eidsvold serves as Tobias Tidemann, the former professor chased out of academia for his crazy theories about trolls. But the striking Nordic visuals and the titular menace’s ability to blend in with the landscape allow for some impressively original twists along the way. Although Troll could have easily descended into parody, Uthaug steers clear of smug self-awareness and instead delivers one of the most original takes on the genre in years.

White Noise

The latest from director Noah Baumbach has him reteaming with his Marriage Story lead Adam Driver for another quirky look at disintegrating families and interpersonal angst—albeit with an apocalyptic twist. Driver stars as Jack Gladney, a college professor faking his way through a subject he’s unable to teach and struggling to work out family life with his fourth wife, Babette (Greta Gerwig), and their four kids from previous relationships. Neurotic familial squabbles prove the least of their worries when an “airborne toxic event” hits their town, sending everyone scrambling for cover with exponentially disastrous results. While the contemporary Covid-19 parallels are none too subtle, keeping the 1980s setting of Don DeLillo’s original novel proves an inspired choice on Baumbach’s part, one that accentuates the film’s darkly absurd comedy. By setting a rush for survival amidst big hair and materialist excess, White Noise serves up some authentic moments of human drama amid the chaos.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Daniel Craig reprises his role as detective Benoit Blanc in this brilliant follow-up to 2019’s phenomenal whodunnit, Knives Out. Writer-director Rian Johnson crafts a fiendishly sharp new case for “the Last of the Gentlemen Sleuths,” taking Blanc to a Greek island getaway for a reclusive tech billionaire and his collection of friends and hangers-on, where a planned murder mystery weekend takes a deadly turn. While totally accessible for newcomers, fans of the first film will also be rewarded with some deeper character development for Blanc, a role that’s shaping up to be as iconic for Craig as 007. As cleverly written and meticulously constructed as its predecessor, and featuring the kind of all-star cast—Edward Norton! Janelle Monáe! Kathryn Hahn! Leslie Odom Jr.! Jessica Henwick! Madelyn Cline! Kate Hudson! Dave Bautista!—that cinema dreams are made of, Glass Onion might be the best thing Netflix has dropped all year.

The Wonder

Florence Pugh dazzles in this not-quite-horror film from Oscar-winning director Sebastián Lelio. Set in 1862, English nurse Lib Wright (Pugh) is sent to Ireland to observe Anna O’Donnell, a girl who claims to have not eaten in four months, subsisting instead on “manna from heaven.” Still grieving the loss of her own child, Lib is torn between investigating the medical impossibility and growing concern for Anna herself. Amid obstacles in the form of Anna’s deeply religious family and a local community that distrusts her, Lib’s watch descends into a tense, terrifying experience. Based on a book of the same name by Emma Donoghue, The Wonder is a beautiful yet bleakly shot period piece that explores the all-too-mortal horrors that unquestioning religious fervor and family secrets can wreak.

Drifting Home

Kosuke and Natsume are childhood friends whose relationship has grown strained as they approach their teenage years. When the apartment complex where they first met is scheduled for demolition, they sneak in one last time, seeking emotional closure. Instead, they and the friends who joined them are trapped by torrential rain. After the mysterious storm passes, the world is changed, with the entire building floating on an ethereal sea, and a new child in their midst.

Adolescent feelings and magical realism collide in this sumptuously animated movie from the makers of A Whisker Away (also available on Netflix and well worth your time). Director Hiroyasa Ishida (Penguin Highway) may not be up there with the likes of Hayao Miyazaki in terms of name recognition in the West, but Drifting Home should put him on your radar.

All Quiet on the Western Front

Hopped up on nationalism and dreams of battlefield glory, Paul Bäumer (Felix Kammerer) is an eager young recruit for the German army during the last year of the First World War. His romantic view of the conflict is shattered on his first night in the cold trenches, surrounded by death and disaster, and dealt a tragic blow with the meaningless loss of a dear friend. It’s all downhill from there in this magnificently crafted adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s groundbreaking novel, one of the most important pieces of anti-war literature of the 20th century. Paul’s journey is one of naivete crushed by the relentless machinery of war and state and an awakening to the way soldiers are chewed up in the name of politicians and generals. Director Edward Berger’s take on the material is the first to be filmed in German, which adds a layer of authenticity to a blistering, heart-rending cinematic effort that drives home the horror and inhumanity of war. Often bleak, it is an undeniably brilliant piece of filmmaking.

RRR

One of India’s biggest films of all time, RRR (or Rise, Roar, Revolt) redefines the notion of cinematic spectacle. Set in 1920, the historical epic follows real-life Indian revolutionaries Alluri Sitrama Raju (Ram Charan) and Komaram Bheem (N. T. Rama Rao Jr.) but fictionalizes their lives and actions. Although they come from very different walks of life, their similarities draw them together as they face down sadistic governor Scott Buxton (Ray Stevenson) and his cruel wife, Catherine (Alison Doody). No mere period fluff, RRR is a bold, exciting, and often explosive piece of filmmaking that elevates its heroes to near-mythological status. Director S. S. Rajamouli deploys brilliantly shot action scenes—and an exquisitely choreographed dance number—that grab viewers’ attention and refuse to let go. Whether you’re a longtime fan of Indian cinema or just looking for an action flick beyond the Hollywood norm, RRR is not to be missed.

I Lost My Body

An award winner at Cannes in 2019, this tale of burgeoning young love, obsession, and autonomous body parts is every bit as weird as you might expect for a French adult animated film. Director Jérémy Clapin charts the life of Naoufel, a Moroccan immigrant in modern-day France who falls for the distant Gabrielle, and Naoufel’s severed hand, which makes its way across the city to try to reconnect. With intersecting timelines and complex discussions about fate, I Lost My Body is often mind-bending yet always captivating, and Clapin employs brilliantly detailed animation and phenomenal color choices throughout. Worth watching in both the original French and the solid English dub featuring Dev Patel and Alia Shawkat, this one dares you to make sense of it all.

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Aspiring filmmaker Katie Mitchell (voiced by Abbi Jacobson) has a strained relationship with her technophobic father Rick (Danny McBride)—not helped by his accidentally destroying her laptop right as she’s about to begin film school in California. In an effort to salvage their relationship, Rick decides to take the entire Mitchell family on a cross-country road trip to see Katie off. Unfortunately, this road trip coincides with a robot uprising that the Mitchells escape only by chance, leaving the fate of the world in their hands. Beautifully animated and brilliantly written, The Mitchells vs. the Machines takes a slightly more mature approach to family dynamics than many of its genre-mates, with the college-age Katie searching for her own identity while addressing genuine grievances with her father, but it effortlessly balances the more serious elements with exquisite action and genuinely funny comedy. Robbed of a full cinematic release by Covid-19, it now shines as one of Netflix’s best films.

Don’t Look Up

Frustrated by the world’s collective inaction on existential threats like climate change? Maybe don’t watch Don’t Look Up, director Adam McKay’s satirical black comedy. When two low-level astronomers discover a planet-killing comet on a collision course with Earth, they try to warn the authorities—only to be met with a collective “meh.” Matters only get worse when they attempt to leak the news themselves and have to navigate vapid TV hosts, celebrities looking for a signature cause, and an indifferent public. A bleakly funny indictment of our times, bolstered by a star-studded cast fronted by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up is, somewhat depressingly, one of the best portraits of humanity since Idiocracy.

Dolemite Is My Name

After the credits roll on Dolemite Is My Name, we guarantee you’ll be 10,000 times more likely to go out and stage a horndog nude photo shoot for your next cult comedy record. The only person having anywhere near as much fun as Eddie Murphy, playing real-life club comedian/singer Rudy Ray Moore, is Wesley Snipes, goofing around as the actor-director D’Urvill Martin. With the help of a madcap crew, they make a truly terrible 1975 Blaxploitation kung fu movie based on Moore’s pimp alter ego, Dolemite. A brash showbiz movie with a heart of gold, it has shades of The Disaster Artist and music legend biopics. Yet with the cast flexing in Ruth Carter’s glorious costumes—the suits!—and a couple of triumphant sex and shoot-out scenes, it’s a wild ride, whether you know the original story or not.



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