The 30 best movies to watch on UK Netflix right now

Universal Studios/Warner Bros. Pictures/Focus FeaturesUK Netflix features films from auteur directors such as Clint Eastwood and Spike Lee.
  • The roster of titles available on Netflix differs depending on which country you’re in, and the UK version is home to tons of great movies.
  • We’ve curated a list of the 30 best films to watch on UK Netflix right now, listed by year of release.
  • They range from British classics like Hugh Grant’s “About a Boy” to American horror movies like “It” and “Misery.”
  • You’ll also find best picture winners like “12 Years a Slave,” quirky comedies like “Wimbledon,” the Oscar-winning “La La Land,” and Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman.”
  • Note: This list was last updated on July 31, 2020. Numerous Netflix titles drop off the service monthly, so the availability of titles below may change.
  • Insider has many movie and TV show lists to keep you occupied. You can read them all here.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

‘Misery’ (1990)

Columbia Pictures‘Misery’ is directed by Rob Reiner.

Rob Reiner’s movie is one of the best book-to-screen Stephen King adaptations out there, led by a terrifying, Oscar-winning performance from “American Horror Story” alumni Kathy Bates. James Caan features, too, as the tortured author held hostage by his number one fan.

‘Reservoir Dogs’ (1992)

Miramax Films‘Reservoir Dogs’ is directed by Quentin Tarantino.

Quentin Tarantino’s directorial debut sparked a flurry of filmmakers all clambering to replicate his style. But no one ever can, as this movie shows. Tarantino’s trademark filmmaking is never more apparent than the scene in which Michael Madsen’s Mr. Blonde cuts off a cop’s ear while dancing to “Stuck in the Middle With You.”

‘The Truman Show’ (1998)

Paramount Pictures‘The Truman Show’ is directed by Peter Weir.

Jim Carrey had a string of serious roles in the late 1990s in which he came close to being nominated for an Oscar. He didn’t end up getting one, but this may be the pick of those performances. Carrey plays a man who is the unknowing star of a TV show about his life. He may not know it, but his entire world is one big set, populated with actors and actresses who he thinks are his friends and family.

‘About a Boy’ (2002)

Universal Pictures‘About a Boy’ is directed by Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz.

Hugh Grant is one of the most underrated actors of all time. He’s best known for the trademark comedic style he displays in “Four Weddings and a Funeral” or “Notting Hill,” but in this movie he gives a layered, thoughtful performance that is far deeper every time you watch it. Grant plays a rich man who gets roped into helping out a young kind. Costars Toni Colette, Rachel Weisz, and Nicholas Hoult are all reliably excellent, too.

‘Lost in Translation’ (2003)

Focus Features/Tohokushinsha Film‘Lost in Translation’ is directed by Sofia Coppola.

Bill Murray earned his sole Oscar nomination for this movie, in which he plays a waning movie star having a midlife crisis in Japan. There, he meets Scarlett Johansson (who missed out on an Oscar nom here), a disorientated and alienated young woman reconsidering her recent marriage.

‘Wimbledon’ (2004)

United International Pictures/Universal Pictures/Mars Distribution‘Wimbledon’ is directed Richard Loncraine.

“Wimbledon” is a fun little film that is also the quintessential British rom-com. Paul Bettany stars as a fading tennis pro who has one last shot at glory, but he falls for an up-and-coming champ Kirsten Dunst, and runs afoul of her father, Sam Neil, in the process.

‘Children of Men’ (2006)

Universal Pictures‘Children of Men’ is directed by Alfonso Cuarón.

Alfonso Cuarón followed up “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” with this distopian sci-fi. Set in a world where humans have been infertile for two decades, Clive Owen has to escort a pregnant refugee out of the chaos and into safety.

‘Hot Fuzz’ (2007)

Universal Pictures/Rogue Pictures‘Hot Fuzz’ was directed by Edgar Wright.

The second entry in the “cornetto trilogy” (“Shaun of the Dead” being the first and “The World’s End” being the third,”) Wright’s movie follows London police officer Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg), who is relocated to a small, rural village in the countryside. There, he partners with the hapless PC Danny Butterman, and uncovers a sinister organisation in the village.

‘Changeling’ (2008)

Universal Studios‘Changeling’ was directed by Clint Eastwood.

Angelina Jolie earned an Oscar nomination for playing a distraught mother whose son goes missing. When the boy is returned to her, he isn’t actually her son at all, although he acts like he is. Jolie begins to unravel as she searches for the truth.

‘Valkyrie’ (2008)

MGM Distribution Co/20th Century Fox‘Valkyrie’ was directed by Bryan Singer.

This star-studded WWII action movie is based on the true story of high-ranking Nazi officers trying to assasinate Adolf Hitler. The team is led by Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, played by Tom Cruise. Other actors who feature are Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Terrence Stamp, and Carice van Houten.

‘Inglourious Basterds’ (2009)

The Weinstein Company/Universal Pictures‘Inglourious Basterds’ was directed by Quentin Tarantino.

This is Tarantino’s second-most-Oscar-nominated film, after 2019’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and it’s easy to see why. The revisionist screenplay is one of the best movie scripts ever written, and the collective cast including Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Melanie Laurent, and Diane Kruger are all a joy to watch. The pick of the lot, however, is the film’s villain, Christop Waltz, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Hans Landa.

‘Sherlock Holmes’ (2009)

Warner Bros. Pictures‘Sherlock Holmes’ was directed by Guy Ritchie.

There have been more movie and TV adaptations of Arthur Conan Doyle’s detectives, Holmes and Watson, than you can count, but this version will always stick out as one of the best. Guy Ritchie’s signature style melded perfectly for a blockbuster Holmes, and while Martin Freeman may just pip Jude Law to the best Watson, Robert Downey Jr. more than competes with Benedict Cumberbatch for the title of best Holmes.

‘Shutter Island’ (2010)

Paramount Pictures‘Shutter Island’ is directed by Martin Scorsese.

Leonardo DiCaprio had a couple of movies in 2010 that melted people’s minds, and this is one of them, featuring one of cinema’s best ever twists. DiCaprio’s Teddy Daniels, a US Marshall, arrives at a psychiatric facility investigating a missing patient, but not all is as it seems. The supporting cast, including Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kingsley, are all just as good as DiCaprio, too.

‘Inception’ (2010)

Warner Bros. Pictures‘Inception’ is directed by Christopher Nolan.

The second mind-blowing DiCaprio movie of 2010, in “Inception”Christopher Nolan movie sees DiCaprio’s cobb, a dream thief, tasked with planting an idea into the subconscious of someone by infiltrating their dreams. He is joined by a crew of thieves, including Tom Hardy, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Ken Watanabe.

‘The King’s Speech’ (2010)

Momentum Pictures/The Weinstein Company‘The King’s Speech’ was directed by Tom Hooper.

Colin Firth won the best actor Oscar for playing the future King of England, George VI, who suffers with a speech impediment. As he prepares to take over the throne from his brother (King Edward VIII, who abdicates), he sees an Australian speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush) who tries to help him overcome the stammar in time for a crucial broadcast to the country after they declare war on Nazi Germany.

‘Midnight in Paris’ (2011)

Sony Pictures Classics‘Midnight in Paris’ was directed by Woody Allen.

This quirky little movie is something of a surprise gem. Owen Wilson plays a romantic screenwriter tired of being a self-described Hollywood hack. On a trip to Paris with his fiancée, Rachel McAdams, Wilson ends up being transported to 1920’s Paris every midnight, where he meets a host of his literary idols including F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston) and Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll).

’12 Years a Slave’ (2013)

Fox Searchlight Pictures/Entertainment One Films/Summit Entertainment’12 Years a Slave’ was directed by Steve McQueen.

Steve McQueen’s sombre epic tells the tragic real-life tale of Soloman Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free man who was kidnapped and made into a slave for over a decade. He is passed through three different slave owners, ending up with the most vicious of the lot, Edwin Epps (played by Michael Fassbender). There, he tries to find freedom.

‘Fruitvale Station’ (2013)

The Weinstein Company‘Fruitvale Station’ was directed by Ryan Coogler.

Ryan Coogler collaborated with Michael B. Jordan on “Black Panther,” but they first worked together on this movie. Based on real events, the film is a sad one and shows the events leading up to the death of Oscar Grant (Jordan) at the hands of a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer in 2009.

‘Rush’ (2013)

Universal Pictures/StudioCanal/Universum Film AG‘Rush’ was directed by Ron Howard.

This exhilarating movie details the famous rivalry between Formula 1 drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). Set during the 1976 Formula 1 season, Ron Howard’s movie is slick, taut, well-made, and surprisingly emotional.

‘Boyhood’ (2014)

IFC Films/Universal Pictures‘Boyhood’ was directed by Richard Linklater.

Richard Linklater’s experimental movie was filmed from 2001 to 2013, capturing the childhood and adolescence of Mason (played by Ellar Coltrane) over those 12 years. Pretty much everyone will be able to relate to this melancholy film as you watch a boy grow up and two parents (Ethan Hawke and an Oscar-winning Patricia Arquette) trying to help him do so.

‘Gone Girl’ (2014)

20th Century Fox‘Gone Girl’ was directed by David Fincher.

David Fincher is one of the best directors out there, and every movie of his seems to be a hit. Having earned rave reviews for his previous films, including 2010’s “The Social Network” and 2011’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” Fincher followed up with this twisting, turning, and tense movie about a man (Ben Affleck) whose wife (a wonderful, Oscar-nominated Rosamund Pike) goes missing and he eventually becomes the prime suspect in her disappearance.

‘Nightcrawler’ (2014)

Open Road Films‘Nightcrawler’ was directed by Dan Gilroy.

When you think of the best actors who have never won an Oscar, Jake Gyllenhaal is always right near the top. He was nominated for best supporting actor for “Brokeback Mountain” in 2005, then came so close to a best actor nomination for “Nightcrawler.”

He was nominated at the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, Critics’ Choice Awards, and BAFTAs but missed out on an Oscar nomination, which is very unusual if you’ve managed to earn nods from those four Oscar precursors. It’s a shame, because he was brilliant, creepy and disturbing in this dark movie about a stringer who sells footage of violent news events to news companies.

‘Ex Machina’ (2014)

A24/Universal Pictures‘Ex Machina’ is directed by Alex Garland.

Alicia Vikander won her Oscar for “The Danish Girl,” but released the same year, many would argue she could have won for this too. This is a great sci-fi featuring a trio of great actors: Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, and Oscar Isaac.

The film follows a programmer (Gleeson) who travels to the mysterious house of his company’s CEO (Isaac) to evaluate a very advanced AI (Vikander).

‘Birdman’ (2014)

Fox Searchlight Pictures.‘Birdman’ was directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu.

Alejandro G. Iñárritu won three Oscars for this film – best picture (as a producer), best director, and best original screenplay (which he shared with Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr., and Armando Bo). The movie was also awarded best cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki – it was shot and edited to look like it was filmed in one take.

The movie follows a washed up actor who used to play a popular superhero (Michael Keaton) trying to get his career back on track by putting on a play in New York.

‘The Big Short’ (2015)

Paramount Pictures‘The Big Short’ was directed by Adam McKay.

Only Adam McKay, the writer and director behind 2004’s “Anchorman,” could make a comedy about the financial crisis of 2007/2008. It’s actually as funny as it is educational, and star turns from Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Christian Bale just make it. McKay won an Oscar for his adapted screenplay, which breaks the fourth wall and features a host of one-liners.

‘La La Land’ (2016)

Lionsgate‘La La Land’ was directed by Damien Chazelle.

“La La Land” is one of those movies that only comes around once every decade – it’s a complete masterpiece from its filmmakers with a clear, authentic voice. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone play a pianist and actress struggling to make their dreams come true in LA, but end up falling for one another along the way. Every music number is a hit, but “City of Stars” may be the best.

‘The Wife’ (2017)

Focus Features‘The Wife’ was directed by Björn L. Runge.

Glenn Close came so close to finally winning an Oscar for “The Wife” after six previous nominations. However, she was pipped at the post by Olivia Colman, who won for “The Favourite.”

Close gave a great, understated performance as the wife of a renowned author (Jonathan Pryce) who is awarded a Nobel Prize.

‘It’ (2017)

Warner Bros. Pictures‘It’ was directed by Andy Muschietti.

Tim Curry will always be the original Pennywise the Clown, but Bill Skarsgard delivered an equally creepy and unsettling performance as It in this remake of Stephen King’s classic novel. What truly makes the film, however, is the cast of kids who own the movie – led by “Stranger Things” alumni Finn Wolfhard and “Knives Out” star Jaeden Lieberher.

‘BlacKkKlansman’ (2018)

Focus Features‘BlacKkKlansman’ was directed by Spike Lee.

Spike Lee finally won his first Oscar for this film, 21 years after his last nomination (for documentary “4 Little Girls.”) He won best adapted screenplay but was also nominated for best picture (as a producer) and best director.

His movie follows the first African-American detective of Colorado Springs infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan with the help of his colleague (Adam Driver).

‘Colette’ (2018)

Bleecker Street/30West/Lionsgate‘Colette’ is directed by Wash Westmoreland.

Wash Westmoreland is a master at directing actresses to great performances, and directed Julianne Moore to her Oscar win for 2014’s “Still Alice.” Here, he directs Keira Knightley as the French writer Colette. Dominic West also stars, while the colour-blind casting gels with the revolutionary and progressive Colette.

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