If you’re starved for content, delve into Netflix’s back catalogue, where you’ll find sites such as decent sci-fi I Am Mother.


Ian Routledge

If you’ve exhausted your list of movies to watch on Netflix, then it might be time for you to start looking back at movies you might have missed or avoided.

Mank from David Fincher recently won a couple of Oscars, if you haven’t seen it yet and aren’t averse to black-and-white movies, that might be an excellent shout. Otherwise, watch the wonderful The Mitchells vs. The Machines or go far back to the vault and dig yourself up a surprising gem — like decent sci-fi I Am Mother, starring Hilary Swank.

Read more: The 57 best TV shows to watch on Netflix | Shadow and Bone review: Hit Netflix fantasy lacks one thing

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I Am Mother (2019)



Netflix

I Am Mother might cover familiar sci-fi territory, but if you’re after some James Cameron and Ridley Scott-channeling thrills, you’re in the proper place. We follow a young girl named Daughter, who hails from a post-apocalyptic bunker with her robot, named Mother, whose purpose is to aid the repopulation of Earth. This intriguing premise and setting is ripe for suspense and dark twists, which I Am Mother delivers in fashion.

Mank (2020)



Nikolai Loveikis/Netflix

A black-and-white David Fincher tale about the unsung screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz who helped Orson Welles write Citizen Kane. Step back to Old Hollywood, with beautiful cinematography and take in the behind-the-scenes of how studio systems functioned in a different time. Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried are one of the exceptional cast of this biographical drama filled with the lightness and darkness of its hero’s life.

The Mitchells vs. the Machines (2021)



Netflix

One of the best new family movies has just hit Netflix. From some of the same people who made Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse comes this adventure to save the world involving Mom, Dad, the kids and their slobbery, bug-eyed dog. But amid the robot apocalypse, led by Olivia Colman’s sinister Siri, really The Mitchells vs. the Machines is all about a strained relationship between movie-loving daughter Katie and her technophobe father. The technology-inept parent gags are rife, the colors frenetic and the character growth moving. A near-perfect package with all the timeless message that embracing your weirdness is a superpower.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)



Netflix

A psychological thriller that dives deep into the surreal. I’m Thinking of Ending Things definitely will not be for everyone, but it connects you to definitely the frustrations of the young woman (Jessie Buckley) at its heart, who grapples with breaking off her seven-week-relationship with her boyfriend Jake (Jesse Plemons). While it overstays its welcome a little, I’m Thinking of Ending Things always keeps you on your toes, with atmospheric cinematography and strong performances from Toni Collette and David Thewlis as Jake’s fairly odd parents. Fans of director-writer Charlie Kaufman will be pleased.

Stowaway (2021)



Netflix

Adjust your expectations for this astronaut sci-fi. With only a handful of main characters played as the most normal of people, this is grounded space fare focused on a moral dilemma: When ship captain Marina (Toni Collette) discovers a stowaway (Shamier Anderson), a life or death decision should be made. Oxygen’s running out and won’t be enough for his or her two-year trip to Mars. Anna Kendrick’s medical researcher Zoe emerges as the heart from the crew, though Collette’s intense deliberation as captain makes it all believable. Watch out for a divisive ending.

News of the World (2020)



Netflix

Tom Hanks in a Western directed by Jason Bourne’s Paul Greengrass. Enjoy Hanks going full Mandalorian single dad mode as Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a Civil War veteran who discovers a young girl years after she was captured by Native Americans as a baby. In between helping to return her to her family, he does his usual job of traveling to towns and reading newspapers for a small fee. Don’t expect high-octane action: This road movie is fueled more by character development and the beautiful views. Still, you’ll want to settle in for a comforting ride with pure sympathetic Hanks at the steering wheel.

The Dig (2021)



Netflix

This fine British drama excavates a whole lot of buried treasure with a distinguished cast in Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, Lily James and Johnny Flynn. It’s based on the true events around the 1939 excavation of Sutton Hoo, yielding a priceless trove of Anglo-Saxon artefacts hidden in a burial ship. Romantic, intellectual and moving, The Dig is a full sweep of elegance.

Vampires vs. the Bronx (2020)



Netflix

Vampires vs. the Bronx is a unique comedy-horror in more ways than one. Set in the New York borough of the Bronx, it follows young Miguel Martinez, a big-hearted kid helping to raise money for his struggling local bodega before it’s forced to sell. But difficult just new designer clothing stores threatening to move in: Creepy pale neck-chompers are eating up people and their properties. A commentary on gentrification with goofy charm, twists and thrills, Vampires vs. the Bronx is a fresh, entertaining spin on the genre.

Pieces of the Woman (2020)



Netflix

Falling into the movies that make you cry category, Pieces of a Woman is definitely an emotional well that’ll steep you in melancholy. Martha’s home birth leads to a schism in her marriage as her life falls to pieces. Known for the opening 24-minute childbirth one-shot, this portrait of grief will ultimately take you to definitely poignant places. Plus, see Vanessa Kirby put in her career best performance.

His House (2020)



Netflix

His House is a horror flick that hits close to home. Revealing its supernatural evils by way of a harrowing human story, it follows Bol and Rial, a refugee couple from Sudan, who struggle to adjust to their new life within an English town. Don’t expect straightforward jump scares — His House plays into the psychological specters of the past, adding even more corridors of torment. A heartrending, powerful piece.

The Call (2020)



Netflix

Two movies named The Call came out in 2020. Watch the South Korean one, a time travel thriller revolving around, yep, a telephone call. Twenty-eight-year-old Seo-yeon finds a phone buried in a closet in her childhood home. It rings — as well as the caller, it turns out, is residing in the same house 20 years earlier. Twists right up towards the final moment, plus a wild cat-and-mouse chase that alters the past and present get this to a must-watch.

The Trial from the Chicago 7 (2020)



Netflix

An Aaron Sorkin drama based on a true story? The Trial of the Chicago 7 lives up to its pedigree, following a real-life trial of a number of anti-Vietnam War protestors charged with conspiracy to incite riots. With a stellar ensemble cast, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Trial of the Chicago 7 is both topical and full of compelling theatrical energy.

Marriage Story (2019)



Netflix

A movie about divorce might not sound like the very best viewing experience, but Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story is a journey you’ll want to take. Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver give two of the best performances of the careers as Nicole and Charlie, a couple who start the emotionally and logistically complicated legal processes involved with prying a partnership apart. Painted with an emotional complexity that includes poignantly funny moments along with the painful ones, this really is happy-sad at its best.

Okja (2017)



Netflix

2017’s Okja originates from Parasite director Bong Joon-ho — which should be incentive enough to watch it. Part cheeky dark comedy, part surreal environmental thriller, Okja follows a young South Korean farmer girl whose pet pal is really a genetically enhanced super-pig. But Okja is the target of a big corporation that wants her delicious flesh. With an English supporting cast such as the likes of Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal, Okja sucks you in with its sweetness before showing you a distressing close-up of the meat industry.

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (2017)



Netflix

If you’ve a new bad day, this might become the movie for you. When the authorities refuse to help with a robbery, nursing assistant Ruth and her weird neighbor Tony take matters into their own hands. I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore spots the idiosyncrasies of everyday life, before escalating its story into dark places with even darker humor. With a touch of Coen Brothers flair, its perfectly packed 96 minutes will leave you surprisingly emotional.

Uncut Gems (2019)



Netflix

Adam Sandler’s Oscar buzz-worthy performance didn’t see him nominated, but his turn in Uncut Gems is remarkable. Uncut Gems is really a blistering odyssey following a diamond jeweler who’s addicted to gambling. Scraping in Martin Scorsese-style ’70s crime grit, the Safdie Brothers take you on a frenetic, anxious dash through New York as Sandler’s Howard Ratner must retrieve a precious opal to repay his debts.

The Platform (2019)



Netflix

From Netflix’s impressive stash of international films comes Spanish sci-fi horror The Platform. Its high-concept story centers on a tower that delivers food to the people on each of its many levels via a platform. Those at the top get the best and many abundant spread, which is devoured as the platform lowers throughout the levels. Social commentary rings throughout this dystopian thriller, which takes shocking, occasionally gruesome turns all the way towards the bottom.

Beasts of No Nation (2015)



Netflix

Director Cary Joji Fukunaga gives you a sobering look at the life of a boy who becomes a child soldier in a West African country embroiled in civil war. Idris Elba stars since the ruthless Commandant along with the astonishing Abraham Attah as the young Agu. A confronting yet quietly hopeful snapshot of war from a human perspective, Beasts of No Nation needs to be on your radar if this isn’t already.

The Irishman (2019)



Netflix

Spanning the lives of its mobsters over multiple decades, The Irishman pulls off a 3-and-a-half-hour crime saga. But don’t worry — you can split up this tour de force if you need to. Always clever and entertaining, with Martin Scorsese favorites Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci commanding the screen, The Irishman creeps up on you, offering a haunting look at ageing mobsters and the havoc they wreak.

Annihilation (2018)



Netflix

Alex Garland began crafting his particular make of trippy, existential sci-fi with Ex Machina and continues that train with Annihilation. Based on Jeff VanderMeer’s novel, Annihilation follows Natalie Portman’s biology professor Lena as she wades through the grief of losing her husband through on a job at a mysterious army facility on the outskirts of a meteor landing site. With a cast of female scientists exploring the dangerous zone, Annihilation is really a heady plunge into darkness on multiple levels. It’s a movie to ponder after the credits roll. Note: This is available on Netflix in the UK and Australia, although not the US. Sorry!

Always Be My Maybe (2019)



Netflix

A rom-com with a Keanu Reeves cameo and a deep love of food, Always Be My Maybe might just have everything you could wish for. Chef Sasha and musician Marcus reconnect long after their brief fling as teenagers. Always Be My Maybe wraps you up in warm comedy that doesn’t always visit expected places.

Roma (2018)



Carlos Somonte

Alfonso Cuaron’s semi-autobiographical snapshot of the Colonia Roma neighborhood of Mexico City tells a small story with staggering prowess. Let Cuaron steer you through the ups and downs of a live-in housekeeper of a middle-class family. His lens captures intricately beautiful scenes in an album that quietly envelopes you with wonder and grace.

The Meyerowitz Stories (2017)



Netflix

The Meyerowitz Stories is a bittersweet comedy-drama told through Noah Baumbach’s grounded lens. The titular stories concern dysfunctional adult siblings, played by Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller, trying to reside in the shadow of their father. An effervescent cast, including Dustin Hoffman, play these intelligent, albeit miserable, characters because they weave their poignant tales.

Mudbound (2017)



Netflix

Mudbound gives you a historical look at class struggle through the lens of a black veteran and a white veteran who both still have one foot stuck in World War II. Dealing with PTSD and racism in the Mississippi Delta, with a cast that includes Garrett Hedlund and Jason Mitchell, Mudbound’s tempest will rivet you to the location.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)



Netflix

The YA book adaptation that rocketed Noah Centineo to heartthrob status. Playing off a charming concept, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before sees Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor), a half-Korean, half-white girl growing up in Portland, Oregon, write letters to all the boys she gets crushes on. Then her fun little sister sends them off without her knowing. While it hits all the comforting rom-com beats, there’s a layer of rare representation that gives this an advantage over your average teen flick.

The Two Popes (2019)



Netflix

Set primarily in Vatican City, this biographical drama follows Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio in the aftermath of the Vatican leaks scandal. It’s as fascinating since it sounds. The Two Popes carves up a slice of real-life drama with a first-class two-hander featuring Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)



Netflix

The Coen Brothers kick up the western dust with an anthology film which gives you six vignettes geared up on the American frontier. One of them is about the titular Buster Scruggs, a chipper singing cowboy who casually sparks a shoot-up in a cantina. But there’s a dark twist that keeps you in your toes. Sewing the rest of its stories together with a constant black humor, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a Coen Brothers winner.

Dolemite Is My Name (2019)



Netflix

Eddie Murphy returned from his acting break with a glorious performance as Rudy Ray Moore, a comedian who played a character called Dolemite in stand-up routines and blaxploitation films from the ’70s. Dolemite Is My Name follows Moore from his job at a record store to the big screen. Tracking Moore’s rise to fame and its bizarre and enthralling turns, Dolemite Is My Name does justice to both Moore’s and Murphy’s talents.

Klaus (2019)



Netflix

You guessed it — this one’s about Christmas. But Klaus isn’t a conventional Santa tale. It spins an alternative origin story for that big guy with inspiration from history’s Saint Nicholas of Myra. In a fictional 19th-century island town to the Far North, we follow a postman who befriends a reclusive toymaker named Klaus. Along using its beautifully hand-drawn animation, Klaus is a unique, complex take on holiday generosity.

I Lost My Body (2019)



Netflix

This award-winning French film begins with a severed hand escaping a refrigerator inside a laboratory and embarking on a Paris-wide search for the rest of its body. What an opening! With a few flashbacks and elegant animation, this strange, satisfying story delves into loss, both physical and emotional, in the most poetic of ways.

Da 5 Bloods (2020)



Netflix

Spike Lee’s fierce war drama follows a group of ageing Vietnam War veterans who go back to the country in search of the remains of their squad leader — as well as buried treasure. With a frenzied energy coursing through it, Da 5 Bloods gives you a glance at the Vietnam War through black experiences, delivering an all-too-timely critique of racism and warfare.

Paddleton (2019)



Netflix

Tennis-playing buddies Michael (Mark Duplass) and Andy (Ray Romano) receive devastating news: Michael has terminal stomach cancer. Struggling to forget about his dying friend, Andy joins Michael’s road trip looking for medication to end things prior to them getting too painful. Folding comedy into melancholy, Paddleton eases the touching friendship at its core into deftly-affecting places.

Knock Down the House (2019)



Netflix

Even if you’re not into politics, this behind-the-scenes take a look at what it took for a young woman to represent her community and make a difference is overwhelmingly inspiring. Knock Down the House follows Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and three other female candidates as they run for Congress in 2018. The obstacles that buffet her campaign and how she deals with choices all captured fly-on-the-wall-style, with fist-pumping results.

Athlete A (2020)



Netflix

Athlete A is a deep-dive into one of the largest scandals in sporting history. It follows the investigative journalists from The Indianapolis Star who broke the story of doctor Larry Nassar’s abuse of young female gymnasts in the US. The culture of assaults persisted for many years, but there’s also light in late the tunnel, after brave athletes spoke out.

13th (2016)



Netflix

Ava DuVernay’s documentary within the US justice system meticulously covers America’s racial history from the abolition of slavery to the present prison structure. If you’re in search of educational material, this expansive look at the horrors of mass criminalization of Black people gives you an excellent synthesis of everything you need to know.

The Half of It (2020)



Netflix

This original YA movie tells the storyplot of Ellie Chu, a shy Asian-American in the remote town of Squahamish discovering her sexuality. A straight-A yet friendless student who has a side-hustle writing papers on her classmates, Ellie helps footballer Paul Munsky write a love letter to Aster Flores. But it turns out Aster’s perfect for Ellie instead. A story of self-acceptance told with a delicate touch, The Half of It is really a joy.

Set It Up



Netflix

Set It Up is a rom-com leveled up by the sparkling Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell, and also an ever-brilliant Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs. Harper Moore is a twentysomething assistant to an editor of the sports media empire. Charlie is an assistant to a venture capitalist. Bonding over their shared workplace mishaps, they concoct a plan to connect their two high-strung bosses, thinking it’ll lead to lightened workloads. This romance within a romance hits the expected beats but that makes it no less entertaining to watch.

Gerald’s Game (2017)



Netflix

If you liked The Haunting of Hill House, then check out Mike Flanagan’s adaptation of Stephen King novel Gerald’s Game. Carla Gugino is immense as Jessie, who goes on holiday with her husband in a isolated lake house in Alabama. Largely sticking to a bedroom setting, we view the couple’s troubles go from bad to worse, with Jessie ending up in the impossible situation of being handcuffed towards the bed with no one to help her escape. Gerald’s Game results in narratively and emotionally satisfying conclusions, with Flanagan’s melancholy-suffused horror that surges into quiet triumph for its haunted characters.

Icarus (2017)



Netflix

Bryan Fogel’s influential documentary explores the dark side of sports doping. It sees Fogel intend to enter a cycling race after taking banned substances in a way that will avoid detection, all to highlight the insufficiencies in sports drug testing. But things have a turn when Russian scientist Grigory Rodchenkov exposes a state-sponsored Olympic doping program which he oversees. Icarus is as gripping as it sounds, even if you are not a cycling aficionado.

The Incredible Jessica James (2017)



Netflix

The Incredible Jessica James introduces a delightfully self-possessed main character played by an equally delightful Jessica Williams. The confident and independent Jessica James goes on a blind date where she ends up talking about nothing but her ex. A fresh take on the breakup movie with an empowering lead, this is an easy hit for an entertaining night in.

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