The 40 best things to watch on Netflix

At a loose end this evening? Here are the very best films and TV shows streaming right now

Jessica Jones: yet another superb Netflix Original

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Video-streaming service Netflix gives you a vast number of films, TV shows and documentaries to choose from – and that can be a problem.

More often than not, you find yourself spending your entire evening shuffling through the selection trying to pick something to watch – before realising that you no longer have time to actually watch a film.

Never fear; we've rifled through the Netflix catalogue to bring you our top picks, from chucklesome comedies to action-packed adventures. Let Stuff be your guide on your cinematic odyssey.

If you're after the best new stuff on Netflix we've also got you covered with our New on Netflix UK feature, and if you want to get a bit more specific, try these:

The 15 best TV box-sets on Netflix

The 15 best sci-fi movies on Netflix

The 10 best horror movies on Netflix

The 15 best comedy movies and TV shows on Netflix

The 20 best kids movies and TV shows on Netflix

Jessica Jones

Picking up where Daredevil (keep reading) left off, Jessica Jones is Marvel’s dangerously bingeable new series. After a short stint as a superhero, private detective Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) moves to NYC and opens up Alias Investigations out of her own apartment.

Unfortunately, her escape from the clutches of obsessive, abusive and mind-controlling sadist Zebediah Kilgrave (David Tennant) is short lived. But Jessica's strife is our gain: you'll be hard pushed to find a better TV baddie from the last year.

Strong performances from a brilliant cast make this a dark thriller for comic book fans and the uninitiated alike.

Watch Jessica Jones on Netflix

Toy Story Trilogy

The original Toy Story is now 20 years old (yes… we know), but this tale about what toys get up to when you’re not looking still feels fresh. Cowboy Woody butts heads with sci-fi action-figure Buzz Lightyear, who doesn’t realise he’s a toy. Despite the subject matter, Toy Story wisely avoids the saccharine, instead filling its 80ish minutes with toy-based peril, great set pieces, and plenty of in-jokes for the many old people watching.

Two sequels followed, with the third film in particular exhibiting moments that were surprisingly dark, scary and tear-jerking — sometimes all at once. It also ends so well that we’re going to pretend that the fourth Toy Story slated for 2018 doesn’t exist.

Watch Toy Story on Netflix

Beasts Of No Nation

Netflix’s first foray into feature film-making is not for the faint hearted. This is the story of a young boy, horribly orphaned as the result of a militia attack on his village, who falls into the retinue of a brutal, yet also charming commander of a band of child soldiers.

It’s violent, visceral and sobering, and features Idris Elba in his most impressive performance to date. But it’s newcomer Abraham Attah who shines brightest of all as the boy at the centre of the drama.

Watch Beasts of No Nation on Netflix

Narcos

The most critically acclaimed Netflix original series of 2015 tells the bloody story of Colombian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar and the man tasked with taking him down. Sounds like a laugh riot, right?

While Narcos lacks much in the way of light-relief, watching American DEA agent Steve Murphy submerge himself in a viciously amoral cesspit is a constant thrill. What could well be a high-minded exercise in true crime melodrama is elevated to nerve-shredding nirvana via some classy performances and the disturbing use of archive footage. Escobar’s brutal legacy lives on through your telebox, and the horror of it all will make you wince in anguish.

Watch Narcos on Netflix

Firefly

Firefly

Cowboys in space! The premise sounds sublimely daft, but Joss Whedon's short-lived series is packed with character.

Nathan Fillion heads a rag-tag crew of ne'er-do-wells as they struggle to stay one step ahead of the law – and keep their spaceship flying. In its 14-episode run, it doesn't put a foot wrong; witty scripts, tension, memorable characters – Firefly's got them all. The Fox network didn't think so, though, and axed the series before it got off the ground.

A one-off film, Serenity – also available on Netflix – wraps up the dangling plotlines and provides a satisfying coda to the show.

Watch Firefly on Netflix

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