We’re sure we’re not the only ones who have scrolled endlessly through Netflix, looking for a movie to watch only to return to a favorite TV show we’ve already seen a dozen of times before. When it comes to picking a movie, sometimes going to the theater is far easier. There are only so many choices and so many showtimes to choose from. Not to mention that people only seem to go to the theater now when there’s a big budget action movie that truly deserves to be watched on the big screen. Otherwise, it might just be better to wait until the movie is available at home.
But now, there is some amazing content that is being released straight for at-home consumption. Netflix’s original series — such as Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black, and BoJack Horseman — might get most of the attention. But the streaming services has also turned out some pretty amazing movies as well. So why not take a break from the shows and dive head first into one of these Netflix features? Still having some trouble choosing? Let's play a quick game of pick or pass with these theatrical releases to match with a Netflix original to watch next!
The Dark Knight
Often ranked amongst the best comic book movies of all time, The Dark Knight is the second installment of Christopher Nolan’s beloved Batman trilogy. The film finds the Caped Crusader facing off against his most formidable foe from the comics: the Joker. Once again, Christian Bale returned to play the eponymous hero, this time, he was joined by franchise newcomers Maggie Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger. Ledger would even win the Academy Award thanks to his performance as the iconic villain (Wikipedia).
Those who enjoy a thought-provoking science fiction film would likely enjoy Arrival. The 2016 film centers around an alien invasion on Earth, where the humans struggle to try and communicate with the otherworldly race before the powers that be take serious action. The film stars Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner as the two leads. Denis Villeneuve directed the film, which went on to earn massively critical acclaim, earning Arrival a 94% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It was also a box office hit (Wikipedia).
One of the most anticipated sequels in recent memory, Incredibles 2 was released last year — well over a decade since the 2004 classic first hit screens. Once again, the story follows the Parrs, a family of superheroes who seeks to revamp their image after their kind continue to get a bad rap. Incredibles 2 was a massive critical and commercial success. It went on to gross over $1.2 billion at the box office, while also earning a very impressive 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (Wikipedia).
The Lord of the Rings
One of the biggest fantasy franchises of all time, the first Lord of the Rings film was released back in 2001. It was followed up by two sequels, which were just as critically and commercially successful as the first film. The story revolves around Frodo Baggins, a hobbit from The Shire, who is tasked with taking the One Ring to Mordor. Thankfully, he is joined by a fellowship along the way, who indeed help Frodo succeed in defeating Sauron (Wikipedia).
After making a cameo appearance in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and getting a more substantial role in 2017’s Justice League, Jason Mamoa was finally able to enjoy his own standalone film as Arthur Curry/ Aquaman later last year. The film was much lighter than some of the earlier DCEU film, which no doubt helped Aquaman gross well over a billion dollars at the box office. The film also enjoyed more positive reviews than both Batman v Superman and Justice League, though many agreed it wasn’t quite on the level of Wonder Woman (Wikipedia).
It seems like Mean Girls is just as popular today as it was at the time of its release. The 2004 film follows Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan), a teenager who has been homeschooled for most of her life when she is pushed into the world of public schooling. As a result, Cady ends up getting entangled with the Plastics — the group of the most popular (and stuck-up) girls in the school. The film was praised for its sharp dialogue, which was written by SNL-alum Tina Fey, who also appears in the film (Wikipedia).
One of the biggest cult films of all time, Pulp Fiction was the second feature to be written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. The crime film was released in 1994, and it follows a number of intersecting stories that revolve around the underbelly of Los Angeles. Pulp Fiction received much praise upon release and is now considered one of the most influential films of the decade. Unlike many cult movies, which often flop upon initial release, Pulp Fiction was actually a commercial success right from the get-go (Wikipedia).
The Jungle Book
Based on the beloved 1894 children’s book, The Jungle Book also serves as the live-action reimagining of the Disney classic. The film follows the story of Mowgli, a human who is raised by wolves who must live to navigate the animal kingdom while also coming to terms with his true identity. The film was a massive box office success, grossing over $965 million worldwide. The Jungle Book no doubt also opened the door for a number of Disney live-action reimaginings that are now in the works (Wikipedia).
Back to the Future
This 1985 classic follows the story of a teenager named Marty McFly who is living in the present when he is mistakenly sent 30 years into the past. While there, he happens to run into his future parents, which changes the outcome of future events and ends up threatening Marty’s very existence! As a result, he must play matchmaker to his parents while enlisting the help of Dr. Emmet Brown. The film was a massive critical, commercial, and cultural success. It spawned two sequels, which many agree don’t hold up as well as the original (Wikipedia).
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
It turns out that one of the best-reviewed superhero movies of 2018 wasn’t a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe at all. Instead, it was the animated feature Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. While the film delves into the weirder and more obscure parts of the comics, Into the Spider-Verse still managed to have a massive emotional impact on its audience. One of the ways it did so was by featuring characters from distinctly different backgrounds and demographics, which helped the film appeal to people of all ages (Wikipedia).
Released in 2017, It is an adaptation of Stephen King’s classic 1986 novel. The film follows a group of young friends living in the fictional town of Derry, Maine as they come face-to-face with a clown like none other. The film went on to be one of the highest grossing R-rated movies of all time with over $700 million earned at the worldwide box office. The sequel, titled It: Chapter Two, will be released later this year, which it will adapt the adult half of King’s story (Wikipedia).
The seventh installment of the massively popular Fast and Furious franchise, Furious 7 was released on April 3, 2015. The film once again follows Dominic Toretto, Brian O’Conner, and their gang of expert drivers, this time as they’re forced to face off against a former special forces officer who is hell-bent on revenge. The film was the last in the series to feature Paul Walker, as he passed away during filming. Furious 7 want on to make over $1.5 billion worldwide, making it one of the highest-grossing movies of all time (Wikipedia).
These days, it’s not much of a surprise when Disney releases an animated film that is a massive hit with both critics and audiences. In 2016, they did it with Moana, a feature that follows the story of a Polynesian girl who leaves her island village to end a curse that is plaguing her people. Along the way, she teams up with Maui, a charismatic demigod who is voiced by Dwayne Johnson. The songs in the film were co-composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is best known for creating and starring in the Broadway musical Hamilton (Wikipedia).
For this 2010 film, Martin Scorsese once again teamed up with one of his favorite actors (Leonardo DiCaprio) to adapt the psychological thriller written by Dennis Lehane. The film follows the story of a US Marshall who is sent to a remote psychiatric facility to try and track down a missing person. But nothing is as it seems on Shutter Island, which led many to never suspect this film's twist-ending. Shutter Island when on to gross over $294 million against an $80 million budget (Wikipedia).
Based on the graphic novel limited series by Frank Miller, Miller was invited to co-direct this 2005 film alongside Robert Rodriguez under the hopes that they could make the feature look as close to the source material as possible. To do so, much of the film was shot in front of screens to give the neo-noir story a hyper-realistic feel. Sin City would go on to be praised for this visual style, along with the overall tone of the film. A sequel, also directed by Miller and Rodriguez, was released in 2014 (Wikipedia).
Beauty and the Beast
Serving as both an adaptation of the classic novel and a live-action reimagining of the 1991 animated film, Beauty and the Beast was released early in 2017 to critical and commercial acclaim. The film stars Emma Watson as Belle, a capable young woman who goes searching for her missing father when she is taken captive in a castle. Meanwhile, Dan Steves portrays the Beast, who was largely created using motion capture. Beast and the Beast also featured a number of beloved songs from the animated film (Wikipedia).
Forrest Gump is one of those movies that seems like it’s always playing on TV. That means many viewers may have sat through this 1994 drama numerous times over — even if it was only in bits and pieces at a time. The film follows Tom Hanks in the title role of an intellectually disabled man who happens to cross paths with some of the most important moments in history throughout his life. Forrest Gump ended up winning the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Actor (Wikipedia).
One of the biggest animated films of all time, Frozen is the 2013 Disney film which loosely adapts the classic fairy tale known as “The Snow Queen.” The story takes place in the icy kingdom of Arendelle, where a young princess sets off on a journey to track down her missing sister who she believes may be responsible for the never-ending cold snap. Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel provide their voices for the film’s two leads, and they will both be back for the 2019 sequel (Wikipedia).
Much like Mean Girls, Clueless is another teen comedy that has continued to be popular even decades after its release. This is likely due in part to many of the film’s stars going on to bigger and better things in the years since, including Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd. The 1995 comedy follows an upscale, well-to-do high schooler who tries to increase the popularity of one of her fellow students. Clueless was based on the 1915 novel Emma by Jane Austen (Wikipedia).
Venom is best-known for being one of Spider-Man's most popular villains within the pages of Marvel Comics. However, due to a complicated deal between Sony and Marvel, everyone’s favorite neighborhood web-slinger was not allowed to appear in the 2018 film. But that didn’t stop Venom from being a smash hit in its own right. The film grossed $855 million against an estimated $115 million budget. However, Venom only earned a 28% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Nevertheless, a sequel is currently in the works (Wikipedia).
Edge-of-the-seat movies rarely receive as much critical praise and as many awards as 2017’s Get Out. The film was written and directed by Jordan Peele, who is probably best known for being one-half of the Comedy Central sketch show Key & Peele. The film takes an unconventional look at race relations in America, as a young black photographer visits his white girlfriend’s family at their country home. The film stars Daniel Kaluuya in the leading role. You may have also recognized the actor from last year’s Black Panther (Wikipedia).
Drawing inspiration from the 1960’s original, Ocean’s Eleven tells the story of a newly released convict who wants to pull off the biggest robbery in Las Vegas history. Of course, he can’t do it alone, and Danny Ocean must recruit 10 other criminals to help realize his master plan. The film had an A-list cast consisting of George Clooney, Brad Bitt, Matt Damon, and Julia Roberts. Ocean’s Eleven would go on to spawn to sequels, as well as a spin-off (Wikipedia).
Blade Runner 2049
The original Blade Runner was not much of a critical and commercial success at the time of its release. But it did eventually go on to become one of the most respected and influential films in the genre of science fiction. Therefore, many sci-fi buffs were excited to see this long-awaited sequel, which was released in 2017. Harrison Ford once again reprised his role as Rick Deckard. Though this time, he played a supporting character to Ryan Gosling’s K (Wikipedia).
Released in 2016, this Disney animated film takes a roundabout look at the effects of prejudice without ever coming across as heavy-handed. The film chronicles the story of Officer Judy Hopps, who must uncover a conspiracy in the city of Zootopia that has pitted the predators against the prey. She joins up with Nick Wilde along the way, a red fox who works as a con man. The film has no shortage of laughs or thrilling moments, which helped made Zootopia a huge hit (Wikipedia).
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Despite being released after Avengers: Infinity War, the majority of Ant-Man and the Wasp actually takes place before the events of that film. The film finds Scott Lang serving out the final days of his house arrest, right when Hope van Dayne and her father, Hank Pym, pop back up into his life and ask him to help rescue their mother from the Quantum Realm. At the end of the film, Scott actually ends up getting stuck in the Quantum Realm as a result of Thanos’s snap (Wikipedia).
One of the biggest movies of all time, Titanic chronicles a love story between an unlikely young couple who are aboard the ill-fated ship. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as the two leads in roles that would solidify both of them as some of the biggest stars working in Hollywood. Titanic was written and directed by James Cameron, and the film would go on to hold the title of the highest-grossing movie of all time for a number of years (Wikipedia).
Raiders of the Lost Ark
The first installment of the Indiana Jones film series, Raiders of the Lost Ark follows an explorer/ archeologist who is on a mission to recover the Biblical Ark of the Covenant before the enemy forces of World War II can get their hands on it. The film was directed by Steven Spielberg and based off a story by George Lucas. Apparently, Lucas didn’t want Ford to play the leading role, as the actor was already known for playing Han Solo in the Star Wars series (Wikipedia).
The film may not have even been released yet, but there’s a good chance that you already know whether or not you’re interested in seeing this latest Marvel Cinematic Universe outing. This will not only be the feature film debut of the character Captain Marvel, but also the first MCU movie to feature a female character in the title role. If the success of Wonder Woman means anything, then Captain Marvel is bound to be a smash hit of its own as well (Wikipedia).
It may be hard to remember now, but at the time of its release, the actors in The Hangover weren’t exactly on Hollywood’s A-list. Bradley Cooper had mostly popped up in TV shows and supporting roles in movies. Ed Helms was largely known for being a supporting character on The Office. And Zach Galifianakis was best-known for being a stand-up comedian. Yet, the massive success launched each of these actors to stardom, while also spawning one of the biggest comedy franchises of all time (Wikipedia).
Before he launched the MCU, Zack Snyder helmed a number of movies based on DC Comics, including 300 and Watchmen. Watchmen is based on what is largely considered to be one of the greatest comic books of all time. It attempts to take a darker, more realistic look at what shape the world would be in if real humans actually decided to become vigilantes. The story would have us believe that only the most flawed of people would be willing to take up this daunting task (Wikipedia).
La La Land
This 2016 film set out to revitalize the musical genre, which has long been a hard sell in the realm of live-action over the course of the last few decades. The film stars Emma Stone as an aspiring actress and Ryan Gosling as a jazz musician, both of whom are trying to live out their dreams in modern-day Los Angeles. The film was written and directed by Damien Chazelle, who previously received praise for his other music-heavy feature, Whiplash, which came out two years prior (Wikipedia).
This 2010 science fiction film follows a dream thief, Dominic Cobb, who is hired to implant an idea in someone else’s head. But Dominic knows first hand that this task isn’t only extremely difficult, it’s also extremely dangerous. But with the future of his family on the line, he decided to take up the job and enlist the help of a number of other dream thieves. The film was written and directed by Christopher Nolan and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, which all made for the perfect storm when it came to this film’s hype and inevitable success (Wikipedia).
The Shawshank Redemption
Often cited as one of the greatest film ever made, The Shawshank Redemption is based on the short story by Stephen King. The story follows a man who is falsely committed of a crime and is sentenced to life in prison. Despite an extremely bleak story, The Shawshank Redemption managed to win over many viewers with its inspirational message about maintaining home, especially in the direst of situations. The film was nominated for a number of Academy Awards, including Best Picture (Wikipedia).
The fourth main installment of the Jurassic Park series, this 2015 film once again finds the dinosaur theme park open for business (despite all of the tragedy that came about as a result of the original attraction). The film features an all-new cast, headed up by Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. Once again, the dinosaurs prove that the humans are in no condition to try and control them, especially now that a new breed of dinosaurs has been created by the park scientists (Wikipedia).
Much like the first film, Deadpool 2 was another massive critical and commercial success. Once again, Ryan Reynolds was back to play the Merc with a Mouth, and all of the irreverent humor of the original is on full display once again in this 2018 superhero film. Deadpool 2 also features a number of series newcomers, including Josh Brolin as Cable and Zazie Beetz as Domino — both of which make up two new members of Deadpool's X-Force. The film went on to gross over $780 million worldwide (Wikipedia).
The first Toy Story film was released back in 1995, where it was notable for being the first, full-animated feature film to ever hit screens. Therefore, calling Toy Story one of the most influential films of modern times might be a bit of an understatement. But it all could have fallen flat if not for the touching tale about a group of toys desperately trying to make it back home. Two sequels have been released since, with the third set for release later this year (Wikipedia).
After making some of the most important films of his time, Martin Scorsese finally received the recognition he deserved with The Departed. This 2006 film marked the first time that one of Scorsese’s movies actually won Best Picture or Best Director at the Academy Awards — which many agree was an honor that was long past due. The film follows a Boston police officer who must go undercover into the Irish mob. But little does he know that there’s a rat in the police force that is trying to sniff him out (Wikipedia).
The Hunger Games
Based on the best-selling book by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games is a science fiction film that is set in a dystopian future where children must compete in a dangerous annual contest. They must fight for survival to bring honor to their district, as there is only one tribute who can emerge victorious by the end of the Hunger Games. Jennifer Lawrence appears as Katniss Everdeen in the film in the role that would make her an international star (Wikipedia).
Released in 2010, Black Swan is a psychological thriller that follows a ballerina dancer as she sacrifices her physical and mental health to be the lead in the eponymous ballet. The film was directed by Darren Aronofsky, who is known for making dark and gritty films such as Requiem for a Dream and The Wrestler. The film was a critical and commercial success, which went on to gross over $329 million at the box office while earning an 85% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (Wikipedia).
After making her debut in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, actress Gal Gadot returned to the role of Wonder Woman for her first standalone film. Wonder Woman was released in 2017, where it quickly went on to become the highest-grossing and most critically acclaimed movie in the DC Extended Universe. A sequel is currently set for a 2020 release, which will once again find Patty Jenkins serving as a director on the film (Wikipedia). So would you watch Wonder Woman?
Mad Max: Fury Road
Serving as a reboot to the Mad Max action series, Fury Road finds Tom Hardy suiting up to play the eponymous anti-hero. Once again, the sci-fi action film finds us in a dystopian future where resources — especially water — are extremely limited. While Hardy may be the lead, it’s really Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa who is the real hero of the story, as she kicks off the action by trying to liberate the many wives of their tyrannical leader, Immortan Joe (Wikipedia).
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
It may be hard to believe now, but the success of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was far from a sure thing. Though Johnny Depp had already enjoyed success in some off-beat film, he was far from the typical blockbuster leading man. Meanwhile, the idea of basing a movie off an already established theme park ride didn’t seem like the best concept to many. But few could deny how much of a rollicking good time the first Pirates of the Caribbean movies ended up being (Wikipedia). So would you tend to agree?
The third James Bond film to feature Daniel Craig in the title role, this 007 installment final found the expert MI6 agent cracking under the pressure of his stressful job. And it certainly doesn’t help when a former spy from the same agency seeks to enact his revenge on Bond and his boss, M. The film was a massive hit upon release, making Skyfall the first James Bond film to gross over a billion dollars. As a result, director Sam Mendes returned to direct the 2015 follow-up, Spectre (Wikipedia).
Before its release, many suspected that Bridesmaids would just be an all-female retelling of The Hangover. But thankfully, the 2011 film proved to be very much a comedy masterpiece in its own right. The film stars Kristen Wiig as Annie Walker, a Maid of Honor in her best friend’s wedding who struggles to come to terms with the bride’s new friendship. Maya Rudolph and Rose Byrne help fill out the cast, but many found that Melissa McCarthy was the standout of this film (Wikipedia).
Man of Steel
The first installment of the DC Extended Universe, Man of Steel retells the origin story of Kal-El while also exploring Superman’s early days as a hero on planet Earth. The 2013 film was a box office success, though some criticized the film’s overly bleak film, especially for that of a Superhero movie. Henry Cavill would reprise the role in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. Though it looks like his time playing Superman has come to an end (Wikipedia).
Despite the onslaught of big-budget superhero movies being released in the last decade, 2009’s Avatar continues to hold the title of the highest-grossing movie of all time with its collective worldwide gross of over $2.7 million. Before it held the title, that honor actually belonged to another one of James Cameron’s movies: Titanic. A number of sequels to Avatar are now currently underway, with the first expected out in 2020, where many of the main cast members from the first film are expected to reprise their roles (Wikipedia).
Plenty of teen comedies center around a group of nerdy boys looking to become men. But few were as well received as the 2007 film Superbad. The film was written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who based the movie on their own friendship throughout high school. But because they were too old to play the parts themselves, Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen were brought in to play Seth and Evan, respectfully. Superbad ended up earning an 87% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (Wikipedia).
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The first film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released on December 18, 2015. The film picks up with the character of Rey, who is living a bleak life on a desert planet not unlike Luke Skywalker at the start of the first film. Inevitably, she gets whisked off into a space adventure where she learns to use the Force in the fight against the First Order. The film stars veterans Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fischer, who appear amongst a large ensemble of series newcomers (Wikipedia).
Mission: Impossible — Fallout
The sixth installment of this popular action series, Mission: Impossible — Fallout was released in July of last year. Once again, Tom Cruise returned to play Ethan Hunt, an IMF agent who is tasked with tracking down a dangerous instrument while being watched by the CIA. A number of franchise veterans also returned to star in Fallout, including Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, and Michelle Monaghan. The film received an astounding 97% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (Wikipedia). But is that enough to entice you?
After portraying the iconic comic book character for the better part of two decades, Hugh Jackman bid farewell to Wolverine in this 2017 film. Logan is as much a Western as it is a superhero movie, as it follows Wolverine as he sets out on a cross country trek to protect his biological daughter from a group of outlaws. While a few familiar X-Men faces appear — including Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier — Logan largely stands alone from the other franchise films, both in story as well as tone (Wikipedia).