From star-studded originals to classics worth re-watching, here are the most notable titles available to stream on Netflix right now.
See which award winners, iconic comedies and family-friendly flicks are available on the streaming platform in October 2021.
The director of “Training Day” and the writer of “True Detective” teamed to create this Netflix original crime thriller about a 911 dispatch operator who tries to save a distressed caller.
Jake Gyllenhaal stars, with support from Christina Vidal, Ethan Hawke, Paul Dano and Peter Sarsgaard.
“Once Upon a Time in America”
Director Sergio Leone’s epic crime drama follows the rise of a New York City gangster. Robert De Niro and James Woods lead the cast.
“As one would expect from Leone, the film is a brilliant stylistic accomplishment,” according to The Hollywood Reporter‘s Douglas Pratt.
“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”
Matthew Broderick stars in this memorable ’80s teen movie as a mischievous student who skips high school for a day to adventure around Chicago with his friends.
According to Film Threat‘s Brad Laidman, “This is John Hughes’ best teen film.”
“Catch Me If You Can”
Leonardo DiCaprio plays a young con artist, eluding an FBI agent (Tom Hanks) on his tail, in this film directed by Steven Spielberg.
Richard Schickel, in TIME Magazine, described it as “a gently funny, sweetly adventurous film.”
“School of Rock”
Jack Black is in peak form as a substitute teacher who forms a rock band with his students.
Washington Post film reviewer Ann Hornaday calls the comedy “exuberant, raucous and thoroughly endearing.”
In Steven Seagal’s highest-rated film, according to Rotten Tomatoes, the action star is a former Navy SEAL, now working as a cook, who must fend off nuclear terrorists on his battleship. Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey also star.
Writes Duane Byrge of The Hollywood Reporter: “‘Die Hard’ on a ship, this Steven Seagal starrer is a hard-charged, perfectly detonated actioner that should especially delight especially macho mainstreamers.”
“Do the Right Thing”
Spike Lee writes, directs and stars in this impactful drama about racial tensions exploding on Brooklyn’s hottest day of the year.
Film critic Vincent Canby (The New York Times) called the film “a remarkable piece of work.”
Leonardo DiCaprio is a thief who infiltrates people’s dreams in this mind-bending science fiction film from Christopher Nolan.
“With physics-defying, thunderous action, heart-wringing emotion and an astonishing performance from DiCaprio, Nolan delivers another true original: Welcome to an undiscovered country,” says movie critic Nev Pierce (Empire.)
Paul Thomas Anderson’s period drama stars Mark Wahlberg as a nightclub employee who makes it big in the 1970s porn industry.
Variety critic Emanuel Levy calls it “darkly comic, vastly entertaining and utterly original.”
“The Mitchells vs. the Machines”
A family on a road trip finds themselves in the middle of a robot apocalypse in this goofy family flick from Netflix.
According to /Film‘s Josh Spiegel: “It’s an unbeatable combination of humor and heart.”
Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age flick centers on Saoirse Ronan as an artistically inclined high school senior with a strained relationship with her mother.
“‘Lady Bird’ is that rare movie in which everything astonishes and leaves you charmed, breathless, and anxious for more,” wrote film critic Red Reed (Observer).
Adam Sandler takes a dramatic turn as a fast-talking New York City jeweler in the film that earned him an Independent Spirit Award for best male lead.
According to The Wall Street Journal‘s Joe Morgenstern: “Mr. Sandler is flat-out sensational as Howard Ratner.”
“Dolemite Is My Name”
Eddie Murphy’s portrayal of Rudy Ray Moore, a 1970s comic and blaxploitation pioneer, garnered well-earned praise from critics.
“This isn’t just a jokey comedy vehicle for Eddie Murphy,” wrote TV Guide‘s Jordan Hoffman. “This is truly one of the year’s best films.”
Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson both earned Oscar nominations for their portrayals of a stage director and an actress engaged in a bitter divorce.
Chicago Tribune‘s Michael Phillips described it as “beautiful, witty, sad and hopeful.”
The 2020 Academy Award-winner for best documentary feature, “American Factory” chronicles what happens when a Chinese billionaire opens a factory in an abandoned General Motors plant in Ohio.
“It’s a great, expansive, deeply humanist work,” Vulture‘s David Edelstein said of the first film produced by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company.
Robert Pattinson tries to free his brother following a botched bank robbery in this crime thriller from “Uncut Gems” filmmakers Josh and Benny Safdie.
The Globe and Mail‘s Brad Wheeler reviewed the film positively: “Tense, immersive and excellently assaulting, ‘Good Time’ is hella time.”
“The Karate Kid”
A martial arts master mentors a bullied teen in this memorable ’80s film that launched a franchise.
“‘The Karate Kid’ was one of the nice surprises of 1984 — an exciting, sweet-tempered, heart-warming story with one of the most interesting friendships in a long time,” according to Rogert Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times).
“Million Dollar Baby”
Hilary Swank earned the Academy Award for her performance as a boxer determined to go pro in this gritty sports drama. “Million Dollar Baby” also earned Oscars for best picture, best director (for Clint Eastwood), and best supporting actor (for Morgan Freeman).
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said in his review of the film: “A masterpiece, pure and simple, deep and true… The best film of the year.”
This Netflix documentary provides an intimate look at the life of former first lady Michelle Obama as she embarks on a 34-city book tour.
“For every sobering note, ‘Becoming’ has a dozen uplifting moments,” wrote film reviewer Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times).
“Over the Moon”
A girl meets a mythical moon goddess in this whimsical animated adventure from Netflix.
Screen Rant‘s Molly Freeman dubbed it, “An explosion of wonder, color and magic.
“‘Over the Moon’ tells a beautifully sentimental story of family and love, with super catchy songs mixed in.”
“The Hateful Eight”
Quentin Tarantino’s blood-drenched Western about nefarious characters sheltering from a blizzard features a star-studded cast, including Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Reelviews movie critic James Berardinelli had high praise for the film: “This is a high-wire thriller, full of masterfully executed twists, captivating dialogue, and a wildly entertaining narrative that gallops along at a pace to make three hours evaporate in an instant. Best film of the year? Yes.”
“How to Train Your Dragon 2”
This Golden Globe winner for Best Animated Feature Film is a family-friendly sequel worth streaming on Netflix.
“‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ is the rare sequel that improves upon its predecessor in nearly every single way imaginable,” according to Screen Rant‘s Ben Kendrick.
“I Am Not Your Negro”
Writer and activist James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript “Remember This House” is brought to life in this Oscar-nominated 2016 documentary narrated by Samuel L. Jackson.
New Orleans Times-Picayune reviewer Mike Scott wrote: “The result is a film that is at once sobering and thoughtful — and, yes, uncomfortable, at times. But it’s a necessary uncomfortable.”
“Springsteen on Broadway”
The Boss brings his solo acoustic performance from Broadway to your TV screen in this Netflix original special.
“The power of Springsteen’s show radiates from the screen, seizing the viewer with its sincerity,” according to Vanity Fair‘s Sonia Saraiya.
Ava DuVernay’s powerful Netflix documentary explores how the U.S. prison system is linked to institutionalized racism.
The Academy Award-nominated film features interviews with Angela Davis, Van Jones, Senator Cory Booker and other activists, historians and elected officials.
“’13th’ is a titanic statement by a major American voice. Viewing — right now — should be mandatory,” wrote Entertainment Weekly‘s Joe McGovern.
“Monty Python and the Holy Grail”
Philadelphia Daily News’ Gary Thompson described this memorable comedy as “surely one of the funniest movies ever made.”
And this isn’t the only Monty Python title available on Netflix.
Fans of the British comedy troupe can also find “Life of Brian,” their classic series “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” and more on the streaming platform.
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
Forest Whitaker plays a White House butler to eight U.S. presidents in this historical drama featuring an all-star cast, including Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda and Cuba Gooding Jr.
Film critic Joe Neumaier (New York Daily News) called it “a singularly full-hearted and moving film.”
An Academy Award winner for best picture, “The Artist” is a black-and-white love story set against the backdrop of Hollywood’s silent era.
“‘The Artist’ is a profound achievement,” wrote film reviewer Mick LaSalle (San Francisco Chronicle).
“The White Tiger”
Based on the New York Times bestseller, this film follows an Indian driver who climbs out of poverty.
The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern credits the film for having “rapier wit, casually dazzling dialogue, gorgeous cinematography (by Paolo Carnera ) and, at the center of it all, a sensational star turn by an actor, singer and songwriter named Adarsh Gourav.”
“Knock Down the House”
This Sundance Film Festival award-winning political documentary follows the 2018 primary campaigns of four progressive Democrats, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The New York Times‘ Manohla Dargis called the film “exuberant.”
A family reckons with the aftermath of their son’s incarceration in this award-winning drama .
Variety‘s Peter Debruge described this “Taiwanese stunner” as “wrenching and resonant a cinematic experience as can be found in any country this year.”
“She’s Gotta Have It”
This award-winning film from Spike Lee is a story of a woman (Tracy Camilla Johns) and her three lovers.
Michael Wilmington (Los Angeles Times) said in his review of the film: “Spike Lee’s ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ is a joyfully idiosyncratic little jazz-burst of a film, full of sensuous melody, witty chops and hot licks.”
The entire family can watch this Martin Scorsese fantasy flick about an orphan living in the walls of a train station in 1930s Paris.
Empire‘s Kim Newman said of the film: “This is a great director’s greatest love story.”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7”
A star-studded cast brings this Aaron Sorkin drama, about a group of anti-Vietnam War protesters on trial, to life.
IGN‘s Zaki Hasan assessed the Oscar nominee as “timely and terrific.”
“Da 5 Bloods”
Four Black veterans return to Vietnam to search for their fallen squad leader (played by the late Chadwick Boseman) and a hidden fortune in this Netflix original film from Spike Lee.
“‘Da 5 Bloods’ is Spike Lee at his mature best, made with his distinctive, passionate voice and kinetic artistry,” according to Caryn James (BBC).
Alfonso Cuarón’s Academy Award-winner depicts the life of a Mexico City family’s maid in the 1970s.
The Washington Post‘s Ann Hornaday labeled it “a masterful drama.”
“What Happened, Miss Simone?”
This Academy Award-nominated Netflix documentary spotlights never-before-heard recordings and rare archival footage of pioneering recording artist and Black icon Nina Simone.
Kenneth Turan (Los Angeles Times) described the film as an “impressive and deeply felt documentary.”
“My Fair Lady”
Audrey Hepburn transforms from a London flower girl to a high-society woman in this memorable musical.
Emma Cochrane (Empire Magazine) said of the film: “A wonderfully stylish and witty movie classic.”
“Dances with Wolves”
Kevin Costner directed and starred in this western, which earned him two Academy Awards — best picture and best director. Based on the Michael Blake novel, the film centers around a Civil War soldier and his friendship with a Sioux tribe.
The Washington Post‘s Hal Hinson labels the film “a gigantic achievement, an endowment of riches.”
Gary Oldman leads this biographical drama about “Citizen Kane” screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz. The film received 10 Academy Award nominations in 2020, winning two.
On ABC News, critic Peter Travers said it’s “gorgeous piece of cinema,” ranking it among the year’s best.
“There Will Be Blood”
Daniel Day-Lewis is a ruthless oilman conning California landowners in this epic period drama from Paul Thomas Anderson.
“This is a dark, uncompromising film, thrillingly original and distinctive, with a visionary passion,” according to Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian).
A 10-year-old escapes into an eerie and captivating fantasy world in Guillermo del Toro’s remarkable drama.
Rogert Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times) labeled it as “one of the greatest of all fantasy films.”
Martin Scorsese’s Netflix crime drama, about an aging hitman, reunites three stars of the genre: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci.
“‘The Irishman’ is a great movie, easily one of the best of the year, one of the best of the great Martin Scorsese’s career,” according to Bill Goodykoontz (Arizona Republic).
Two WWII veterans living in rural Mississippi combat racism and PTSD in this historical drama featuring Jason Mitchell, Garrett Hedlund, Carey Mulligan and Mary J. Blige.
“It is a sober, clear-eyed, and haunting work of art,” wrote Vox film critic Alissa Wilkinson.
“First They Killed My Father”
A 5-year-old Cambodian girl fights to survive during the reign of the Khmer Rouge in this gripping drama directed by Angelina Jolie.
“It’s an artful, quietly affecting piece of filmmaking, more than worth the lessons learned,” wrote Entertainment Weekly‘s Leah Greenblatt.
“The Outlaw Josey Wales”
A farmer is on the run after avenging his family’s murder in this Western from Clint Eastwood.
Empire‘s Ian Nathan calls the film “a truly great Western from Clint that is bleakly atmospheric and charming in turns.”
“A Secret Love”
This heartwarming Netflix documentary, which has a 100% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, depicts one couple’s love story and their experiences coming out.
Movie Nation‘s Roger Moore called it an “intimate, chaste romance.”
Revisit Ryan Coogler’s feature directorial debut in this biographical drama centering around a fatal shooting of a young Black man played by Michael B. Jordan.
“‘Fruitvale Station’ is a confident, touching, and, finally, shattering directorial debut,” wrote The New Yorker film reviewer David Denby.
“The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson”
This Netflix documentary investigates the mysterious death of trans icon Marsha P. Johnson, and features interviews with Johnson’s friends and fellow activists.
TheWrap‘s Claudia Puig wrote: “‘The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson’ works powerfully as a rallying cry for tolerance, love and understanding.”
“Stranger Things” breakout star Millie Bobby Brown takes on the role of Sherlock Holmes’ mystery-solving teen sister in this Netflix original, which was one of the most-watched items on the streaming platform upon its release.
“‘Enola Holmes’ is an engaging, exciting mystery that the entire family will enjoy,” according to Film Threat reviewer Bobby LePire.
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Academy Award winner Viola Davis stars alongside the late Chadwick Boseman, in his final film role, in this powerful adaptation of the play by August Wilson.
“How fortunate that Boseman’s legacy should include this film, an homage to Black art that’s tough enough to confront the costs of making it,” wrote Peter Debruge (Variety).
Viggo Mortensen plays a father whose family emerges from an isolated lifestyle in “Captain Fantastic.”
Helen O’Hara of Empire described this film as “a fiercely original, pleasantly unpredictable character piece.”
The streaming giant boasts several holiday originals, but this animated film with a 94% Rotten Tomatoes rating from critics is one that earns a spot on our list.
IGN‘s Matt Fowler said of the film: “Sergio Pablos’ ‘Klaus’ is a beautifully animated mix of old and new.”
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”
Joel and Ethan Coen’s Oscar-nominated Western anthology film features six vignettes that take place on the American frontier.
“It’s yet another piece of Coen Brothers’ gold that just makes me curious about what kind of magic they’re going to make next,” Lorry Kikta (Film Threat) wrote in his review.
Check out our guide to what movies are available to stream on other services as well.
“As Good as It Gets”
Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt won best actor and best actress awards, respectively, at the 1998 Oscars for their roles in this timeless romantic comedy.
Nicholson plays a misanthropic and obsessive-compulsive romantic fiction writer who hates everyone he meets. He softens a bit when he starts a relationship with Hunt’s character, a single waitress who does her best to care for her chronically ill son.
“Spy Kids” is a family adventure film about two children who learn that their parents are top-secret spies who have been kidnapped by a super villain. The two must learn the techniques and gadgets of real spies to save their family.
The action-comedy holds a 93% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino star as the parents, with appearances from Teri Hatcher, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo and George Clooney.
“Zodiac” is a critically acclaimed film from director David Fincher. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. as three men trying to track down the Zodiac Killer.
The film earned an 89% critics approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The website calls it “a quiet, dialogue-driven thriller that delivers with scene after scene of gut-wrenching anxiety.”