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The 32 best things to watch on Netflix US right now

Looking for something to watch? We've rounded up the finest films and shows on Netflix USA. Updated for November 2021

Streaming video has turned our living rooms into an endless video store with a truly bewildering array of options to peruse.

Netflix alone has thousands of titles, taking in everything from rom-coms to action movies, TV shows and documentaries; and that can be a problem. It’s called the paradox of choice; faced with an endless array of options, people freeze up. Before you know it, you’ve spent an hour scrolling through the possible choices, and you’ve run out of time to watch a movie.

Fear not, reader: we’ve done all the hard work for you, picking out the cream of the streaming crop on the US edition of Netflix. Read on…

Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino’s western (or, more accurately “southern”) takes its cues both from Sergio Leone and the blaxploitation genre. Set in the antebellum Deep South, Django Unchained pits Jamie Foxx’s freed slave against the plantation owners, traders and overseers who’ve separated him from his wife.

He’s accompanied by bounty hunter Dr King Schultz (an Oscar-nominated Christoph Waltz) but equally impressive are Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie, who hides the barbarity of his gladiatorial slave fights beneath a veneer of civilisation, and Samuel L Jackson as Candie’s house slave (and trusted advisor) Stephen.

Foxx plays Django as a modern Man with No Name – though in his case his reticence is more the result of tightly-wound fury than stoicism; when, at last, he unleashes vengeance on his oppressors, it’s beautifully, bloodily cathartic.

Watch Django Unchained on Netflix

It Follows

It might adhere to one of the main horror movie rules outlined in Scream – having sex more often than not ends in your grisly demise – but the stylishly shot alt-horror It Follows is anything but formulaic.

The movie’s killer curse stalks victims slowly but incessantly, disguised as a normal passerby, a family member or a friend (which is perhaps the creepiest part) and there’s apparently only one, horrible, way to lift it. That gives this indie chiller a sense of helpless, looming dread that doesn’t let up until the credits roll.

Watch It Follows on Netflix

Lady Bird

Writer-director Greta Gerwig’s semi-autobiographical Lady Bird was nominated for no fewer than five Oscars. It didn’t win any (bagging a couple of Golden Globes instead), but the fault probably lies with the Academy rather than the movie, which is a fantastic indie comedy full of heart, drama and believable characters.

Saoirse Ronan shines in the title role, an artsy 17-year old looking to break away from what she sees as her stifling town and stifling mother. If you think you’ve seen this story played out on screen a hundred times before, don’t worry – Lady Bird manages to defy expectations to dig much deeper than your average quirky coming-of-age comedy.

Watch Lady Bird on Netflix

I Think You Should Leave (S1-2)

Sketch shows are a bit like luncheon meat, tank tops and hostess trolleys: unwanted, outmoded relics from the 1970s. But I Think You Should Leave is proof positive that there’s life in the old format yet – it just needed a refreshing jolt of surrealism forced down its gullet. In fact, we’d go so far as to say this is the funniest thing on Netflix by a country mile.

Former Saturday Night Live star Tim Robinson co-writes and appears (along with a parade of familiar guest faces) in a collection of crude, inventive and ultimately hilarious skits that rarely end up where you expect them to. The humour usually comes from a character “committing to the bit” by taking a social miscue or personality trait to extremes; it sounds simple enough, but Robinson and co have done nothing less than reinvent the comedy skit.

Watch I Think You Should Leave on Netflix

Cobra Kai (S1-3)

A series that started life on YouTube as a giggle-worthy spin-off from The Karate Kid movies, Cobra Kai has now established itself as a fan-pleasing comedy-action-drama that arguably surpasses the films that inspired it. Back in the 80s, how many viewers could have imagined Karate Kid villain Johnny Lawrence being the nuanced, relatable protagonist of his own TV show over three decades later? And yet here we are, with several characters from the movies now firmly ensconced in this new life – and being given far more depth as a result.

Watch Cobra Kai on Netflix

Ozark (S1-3)

Featuring some of the most uncomfortably tense TV scenes since Breaking Bad (also on this list), Ozark follows Jason Bateman and Laura Linney’s squabbling Chicago couple, forced to run a money-laundering scheme for a merciless Mexican drug cartel. When Bateman’s put-upon financial advisor conjures up a risky plan to “wash” the dirty cash in rural Missouri, he and his family up sticks for a new life in one of the USA’s most deprived locations. All of a sudden, murderous narco-barons become just one of many problems for the family.

Filmed in muted, washed-out tones with bags of brooding and squalor on show, Ozark doesn’t always make for a pretty watch. But if you like your drama series perpetually balanced on a knife edge, it’ll be right up your street.

Watch Ozark on Netflix

Attack on Titan (S1)

Set in a world where naked flesh-eating giants roam the land while the remnants of humanity cower behind their city walls, Attack on Titan is a compelling dark fantasy tale based on the manga comics of the same name. When a devastating attack on his city leaves young Eren Yeager with his life in tatters, he enlists in the military and vows to mete out revenge on the shambling titan hordes. In a common anime trope, there’s a coming-of-age story running parallel to this epic tale of heroism and sacrifice, with Eren and his companions learning about themselves as they uncover the mystery of the titan menace.

Watch Attack on Titan on Netflix

Seinfeld (S1-9)

Forget Friends: for us, Seinfeld is the best New York-set (but clearly Hollywood-filmed) 1990s sitcom about a bunch of buddies just working their way through this crazy little thing we call life.

An absurd, hilarious and highly influential examination of the modern world’s trivialities, mores and conventions, never relying on slapstick or coddling its viewers with cheap sentimentality (most of its characters are objectively horrible, selfish misanthropes), Seinfeld is quite simply a must-watch for all fans of comedy. With each episode clocking in at a little over 20 minutes, it’s also perfect for binge-watching. So be warned: your Sundays will be slurped right up like a bowl of forbidden soup.

Watch Seinfeld on Netflix

There Will Be Blood

Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterful American epic is stark and relentless; the first we see of protagonist Daniel Plainview is a 20-minute sequence in which Daniel Day-Lewis scrabbles wordlessly in the dirt for silver. From there, Plainview moves to oil drilling; he’s consumed by a relentless pursuit for the black gold, dispensing homespun charm to townsfolk as he tries to gull them out of their oil rights, using his adopted son as a prop to spin the image that he’s a family man.

The only one who sees him for what he really is is Paul Dano’s Eli Sunday. That’s because he’s equally corrupt: an evangelist who sees Plainview as a threat to the supremacy of his church. And so the stage is set for a power struggle between religion and capitalism, played out in operatic fashion against the oil wells.

Watch There Will Be Blood on Netflix

Squid Game (S1)

Subtitle-haters, you’re missing out if you choose to avoid this dark drama series on account of it being Korean (yes, you can watch it dubbed into English, but that just feels so utterly wrong). The gripping story of a sadistic life-or-death game show and the effects it has on its desperate contestants – each of whom willingly signed away their “bodily rights” for the prospect of a fat winner’s cheque – Squid Game has already become not only one of Netflix’s most popular foreign language series but its most popular debut series full stop.

Quite why it’s become such a phenomenon with viewers is something of a mystery to us – there’s nothing especially groundbreaking or shocking happening here – but far better for a genuinely thought-provoking series like this to become a record-breaker than yet another dire space drama or drawn-out, plodding teen thriller.

Watch Squid Game on Netflix

Zodiac

David Fincher’s true-life tale of the Zodiac Killer and the men who tried to unmask him is a quiet masterpiece buoyed along by its tone, acting, editing and camerawork. Less showy than some of Fincher’s movies and entirely lacking in the sort of hysterical approach taken by many serial killer films, Zodiac will leave you with more questions than answers – a traditional whodunnit, this ain’t, being more of a study of obsession and the human drive to solve mysteries.

Looking back years after its release, we think it’s one of the finest films of the noughties and a modern classic: creepy, funny, stylish and thought-provoking, with impeccable performances from Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr and Mark Ruffalo.

Watch Zodiac on Netflix

The Queen’s Gambit (S1)

Despite arriving out of nowhere, this was Netflix’s best original series of 2020. Anya Taylor-Joy shines as chess prodigy Beth Harmon, a child champion with a preternatural inclination for the game – as well as a tendency for self-destructive behaviour.

Set mostly in the 1960s, the magnificent period details (so many gorgeous hotel lobbies!) and soundtrack occasionally bring to mind Mad Men, but The Queen’s Gambit has a necessarily more focussed approach to telling its story. Heart-wrenching, funny, inspiring and evocative, this is a character-driven success that reminds us of Netflix’s superb early original shows, where everything the company touched felt special.

Watch The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

This Taika Waititi-directed comedy-drama sees cantankerous farmer Hec (Sam Neill) and his precocious, wannabe-gangsta foster nephew Ricky (Julian Dennison) attempt to outrun and outwit the police in the wild New Zealand bush. We won’t be ruining much if we tell you that along the way the pair form an unlikely bond, but it’s the interplay between the two leads that forms the heart of this wonderful indie film. It’s an irresistible combination of sweetness and hilarity that should go down well with the whole family.

Watch Hunt for the Wilderpeople on Netflix

Uncut Gems

Josh and Benny Safdie’s indie movie follows a hustling jeweller and gambling addict around Manhattan as he struggles to juggle the demands of his celebrity clients, wife, mistress and a circling group of vicious loan sharks.

If you’re looking for a relaxing watch, Uncut Gems is not it. The frenetic handheld camerawork, Daniel Lopatin’s electronic score and Adam Sandler’s masterful lead performance (he’s always been good at playing a man teetering on the edge – but mostly in bad comedy films) all serve to conjure a feeling of unease and anxiety that barely lets up over the two-hour running time. It’s delirious, manic, vital stuff, and Sandler’s best dramatic performance since Punch-Drunk Love.

Watch Uncut Gems on Netflix

I Care a Lot

Proof that you can make an engrossing and enjoyable film even when none of the characters are likeable, “good” people, I Care a Lot stars the fantastic Rosamunde Pike as legal guardian Marla Grayson, a ruthless, driven predator who makes a killing by exploiting the elderly people she’s supposed to be looking out for. On first glance her latest ward (Dianne Wiest) seems to be a veritable goldmine, but she turns out to be a doorway to trouble thanks to her unlikely links to a seriously scary criminal network. Peter Dinklage and Eiza González also star in this viciously black but deliciously enjoyable comedy.

Watch I Care a Lot on Netflix

Pan’s Labyrinth

Mexican maestro Guillermo Del Toro’s knack of infusing reality with the otherworldly has never been more captivating than in Pan’s Labyrinth, set during the Spanish Civil War.

Some of the beasts young Ofelia encounters as she attempts to complete the tasks set for her by the guardian of the labyrinth are the stuff of nightmares, while above ground her homicidal stepfather is arguably more frightening than them all. Pan’s Labyrinth is like The Chronicles of Narnia reimagined by Ernest Hemingway.

Watch Pan’s Labyrinth on Netflix

BoJack Horseman (S1-6)

A Netflix Original, this animated series features Arrested Development‘s Will Arnett as the titular Horseman, a, er, “horse man” who enjoyed success in a beloved 1990s sitcom but now wallows in boozy, druggy self-loathing as a washed-up former star. But don’t worry if we’ve made it sound too grim – the show’s serious:silly ratio is nicely balanced.

Set in a skewed version of Hollywood in which humans live alongside anthropomorphic animals, BoJack Horseman features a strong cast (Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul plays BoJack’s best friend Todd while Alison Brie plays love interest Diane) and razor sharp writing, and with six seasons and a couple of one-off specials available, it’s perfect fodder for a weekend binge-watch blowout.

Watch BoJack Horseman on Netflix USA

Chef’s Table (S1-6)

This series (now six seasons plus two spin-off seasons strong) shadows world-renowned chefs as they take viewers on a personal journey through their culinary evolution – providing an intimate, informative glimpse into what gets their creative juices flowing.

Lovingly shot in razor-sharp 4K quality (for those with the necessary Netflix subscription), Chef’s Table is so well-made that you can almost smell the aromas seeping out of your screen and tickling your nostrils. From glistening, perfectly-cooked cuts of meat to mouth-watering veggie dishes, this is food pornography of the highest order. Just try not to drool all over your TV.

Watch Chef’s Table on Netflix USA

Daredevil (S1-3)

Long before Disney+ arrived with its slick, megabudgeted movie spin-off series, this Marvel Studios’ foray into episodic television made a pretty big splash as a gritty, street-level crime drama that has more in common with The Wire than Captain America. Boardwalk Empire’s Charlie Cox stars as the costumed crusader Daredevil, blinded in an accident but granted heightened senses and perception.

With an extended running time to play with, and none of the constraints of broadcast TV, Daredevil is free to explore the ramifications and moral complexities of super-powered vigilantism – with Daredevil’s alter ego Matt Murdock working as an attorney by day, there are plenty of moral grey areas to explore. It’s also free to flesh out its supporting characters, including a stellar Vincent D’Onofrio as hulking crime boss Wilson Fisk.

Watch Daredevil on Netflix USA

A Ghost Story

A Ghost Story isn’t a scary movie, even if it might haunt you long after the credits roll. This languid, dream-like indie picture stars Casey Affleck as a recently deceased man who returns home, white sheet and all, to comfort his distraught widow (Rooney Mara). Unnoticed and powerless to intervene, he can only look on passively while her life moves on, followed by her, and the house becomes home to a succession of strangers.

We won’t spoil things further, as this is an understated, quiet film that works best when left to its own devices. Suffice to say it explores the natures of love, time and that big one, the human condition before its running time comes to an end.

Watch A Ghost Story on Netflix

Arrested Development (S1-5)

Dysfunctional families have been done to death on both the big screen and TV, but the Bluths are up there with the most self-centred, destructive and, well, downright hilarious bunch of the lot.

Straight man George Bluth desperately tries to keep his family and fortune intact as their company is hit by the US government for embezzlement.

Superb performances from the likes of David Cross, coupled with tonnes of re-quote potential make this a must-watch. It gets a little lost after the first three seasons thanks to the actors’ other projects clashing with filming, but it’s still well worth watching until the very end.

Watch Arrested Development on Netflix USA

Spotlight

It takes a lot of tact to make a film about a delicate subject like Boston’s Catholic priest child sex abuse scandal, but the host of nominations and wins Spotlight earned over this year’s award season should clue you in: director Tom McCarthy absolutely nailed it.

The star-studded cast helps, getting you invested in the hard-working team of Boston Globe investigative journalists right from the off. Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber and Mark Ruffalo steal the show, but there are great performances from Stanley Tucci and Rachel McAdams too.

It’s difficult to watch in places, but entirely engrossing and totally worth sticking through to the end.

Watch Spotlight on Netflix USA

Master of None (S1-3)

Comedian Aziz Ansari plays jobbing actor Dev in this series about life, love and tacos. Actually, one suspects Ansari is really playing himself (his real-life parents even play his onscreen parents here) and a big part of the charm is watching him work through various subjects over the course of the series.

It’s very self-obsessed and some will find the whimsy hard to stomach, but it’s also funny, charming and occasionally thought-provoking. Well worth a few hours of your time.

Watch Master of None on Netflix

Orange Is the New Black (S1-7)

One of the early Netflix original series that established the platform as a serious player in the TV business, this is a prison show that goes its own way: less brutal than Oz, less daft than Prison Break and more compelling than Prisoner Cell Block H, it’s a fish-out-of-water drama (based on a true story) in which a white, middle-class Brooklynite ends up in a low-security women’s jail for a crime committed almost a decade previous. Delving into the lives of its huge cast over a luxurious seven seasons, it’s a great women-driven show that managed to stay entertaining throughout.

Watch Orange is the New Black on Netflix USA

House of Cards (S1-6)

Despite being inspired by the 1990s BBC series of the same name, House of Cards feels every bit the American megabucks TV show: it has the big name stars and executive producers; the superb writing, direction and cinematography; not to mention the necessary amount of scheming and backstabbery.

This was the show that started the Netflix Originals craze, so rather than being broadcast over a couple of months, each season was released in its entirety, allowing viewers to binge on it like a DVD box set. And believe us, you will binge, because once this tale of Capitol Hill intrigue and the lust for power gets its hooks into you, it’s hard to stop. That’ll generally happen about three episodes in.

Watch House of Cards on Netflix USA

Icarus

You don’t have to be a sports fan to become enthralled by this Oscar-winning doping exposé. Icarus is effectively two documentaries in one, with the first third of the film a kind of Super Size Me for performance-enhancing drugs. The filmmaker, a semi-pro cyclist, embarks on a hardcore doping regimen to demonstrate the flaws in the drugs-testing process.

But when his advisor, Russian scientist Gregory Rodchenkov, suddenly finds himself embroiled in an international storm over Russia’s state-sponsored doping program, Icarus pivots into an enthralling fly-on-the-wall thriller about being a whistleblower in Putin’s Russia. Cue mysterious deaths, chilling interviews and a lots of hand-wringing as Rodchenkov goes into hiding from the new KGB.

Watch Icarus on Netflix

The Battered Bastards of Baseball

When organised baseball decided to move its AAA club out of Portland, actor and baseball fan Bing Russell decided to fill the void with a totally independent team – the aptly-named Mavericks. This Netflix-produced documentary charts the Mavericks’ fortunes over their short-lived career. Although they only lasted from 1973 to 1977, they shook up the game with their antics; a ball-dog that ran onto the field, broom-waving spectators – and a string of victories that shook up the baseball establishment.

“I wanted it to go back to the straw hat and beer days when 250 towns had minor league teams and most of them were not supported by a major franchise,” explains Russell; and from the outset, it’s clear where the documentary’s sympathies lie. The Mavericks are the scrappy underdogs, made up of outcasts from professional baseball and amateurs who never got the big break they were hoping for. The baseball establishment are the villains, humiliated on the field and resorting to dirty tricks in search of victory.

The truth is probably more nuanced, but it’s a rousing story, told with panache by Russell’s grandsons – and his son, actor Kurt Russell, who took to the field with the Mavericks.

Watch The Battered Bastards of Baseball on Netflix USA

Nocturnal Animals

Fashion designer turned filmmaker Tom Ford wrote and directed this phenomenal thriller, which is far from just the exercise in style you might expect from a master of aesthetics. In fact, it’s one of those insidiously clever films that works its way into your head, leaving you thinking about it for days.

Ostensibly a story about the relationship between a couple played by Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal, it splits into two parallel plots that mirror and complement each other excellently. Emotionally charged, intelligent, frightening and tense, with excellent performances from the two leads and co-stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals is a treat for anyone who likes their movies challenging, uncomfortable and memorable.

Watch Nocturnal Animals on Netflix

Better Call Saul (S1-4)

Everyone’s favourite sleazy-yet-likeable lawyer Saul Goodman (well, Jimmy McGill) returns to Netflix, in a series that throws us back seven years before the explosive events of Breaking Bad. Bob Odenkirk slips into Saul’s cheap suit with remarkable ease, and his superb performance allows his character’s desperation, tenacity and humour to seep through the screen and grab our attention with both hands.

It’s always fun to root for the underdog, and from the very first episode you’re right there alongside Goodman, wanting him to fight to the top – all while being aware of the dark things to come. Yet another belting Netflix Original.

Watch Better Call Saul on Netflix USA

Stranger Things (S1-3)

Only 80s kids will understand this. Actually that’s not true at all, but Stranger Things is a love letter to the movies, TV shows, video games and books that people who grew up in that decade will cherish: it’s packed with references to E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Goonies, Stephen King, Dungeons & Dragons and Poltergeist, and the mood and feel is sure to dredge up nostalgia by the bucketload.

Remove the retro vibes though, and the show still stands up as a stellar sci-fi drama-thriller. And it doesn’t mess about too much – unlike a lot of Netflix Original Series, its episodes are reasonably tight (a mere 40 minutes each).

Watch Stranger Things on Netflix

Breaking Bad (S1-5)

The best TV show ever? That’s arguable, but Breaking Bad certainly belongs in the top ten: it’s an utterly, utterly compelling six-season masterpiece that’ll shock you again and again with its twists, its turns and its fantastically drawn characters.

Walter White, played to perfection by Bryan Cranston, is without a doubt one of television’s greatest characters, by turns vulnerable and menacing, pathetic and triumphant. As a cancer-stricken chemistry teacher who turns to methamphetamine production in order to pay his medical bills and safeguard his family’s future, you’ll be cheering him every step of the way… until suddenly you’re not anymore.
– Sam Kieldsen

Watch Breaking Bad on Netflix USA

Black Mirror (S1-5)

Not only has Netflix given Charlie Brooker and his team the freedom to tell more stories and let each one run without ad breaks for as long as it needs to, it’s also handed them a budget big enough to expand the scale, scope and special effects.

A collection of self-contained cautionary tales about our relationship with technology, Black Mirror is unnerving stuff, enhanced by the fact that the stories are generally set in a very near future that’s all too recognisable. But fear not, the trademark blacker-than-black humour has also been retained, so you’ll chuckle almost as much as you’ll squirm. Must-see TV for anyone obsessed with tech.

Watch Black Mirror on Netflix

The Crown (S1-4)

Ranking as one of Netflix’s most impressive original series to date, The Crown manages to turn a decade of so of fairly recent history into enthralling, lush drama. That’s partly down to the phenomenal production values that have been instilled in this retelling of Elizabeth II’s early years starring Claire Foy and Matt Smith. Well over $100 million was invested in this extravaganza, and that all adds up to a swanky amount of period detail.

Even those of staunch republican leanings will find themselves sucked in to the four full seasons, which chart a series of major national events as well as delve into the personal lives of the Windsors.

Watch The Crown on Netflix