You know how new DVDs and Blu-rays always come out on a Monday? Netflix laughs in the face of such regimented scheduling and instead releases all of its new TV shows and movies whenever the heck it feels like it.
That can make keeping track of all of the new stuff a first-world nightmare of epic proportions.
But help is at hand: here we highlight all of the best new stuff on Netflix. And yes, that does mean we've left out all of the rubbish, so you won't find the likes of Frontier or Sharknado: The 4th Awakens here.
Instead, allow us to guide you, truffle pig-like, to the finest and freshest streaming fungus.
Note: the newest stuff is at the top of the list, with the shows and movies getting progressively less new as you scroll down and switch pages
Black Mirror (S5)
Charlie Brooker’s series of self-contained vignettes exploring “the future” has soared from strength to strength since its move from Channel 4 to Netflix – at least if we’re talking in terms of its reach, its budget and its ability to pull in big-name stars. It’s just returned with a fifth batch of episodes (three of them, each around an hour in length) featuring, among others, Miley Cyrus and Anthony Mackie, and existing fans should lap up what has become an incredibly slick, well-made show.
There are some solid ideas about the nature of social media, AI and tech in the new stories – but also a sense as you watch them that perhaps Black Mirror’s most impactful days are behind it, and that they possibly preceded its adoption by Netflix. Could it be that real life has become so dystopian, and we’ve all become so cynical about how technology is used (by companies like Netflix, no less, gleefully hoovering up as much data from its customers as possible), that Black Mirror has lost its once frighteningly sharp edge?
I Am Mother
In this cooly engaging indie sci-fi flick, it’s the future and humanity is extinct. But deep within a secure bunker, a supremely smart robot called Mother (voiced by Rose Byrne) has thousands of embryos and a brief, apparently, to repopulate the world. Selecting a single egg, Mother raises a girl for years – until an intruder from the outside (Hilary Swank) threatens her mission and sets up a woman-versus-android face-off.
We know what you’re thinking: it's the hundredth Spider-Man reboot. But there’s something refreshing about this one, which stars Brit Tom Holland as the web-slinger’s youngest movie portrayal yet, plus skips past the radioactive arachnid bite/Uncle Ben getting shot phase to a point where Peter Parker already knows that with great power comes great yada yada.
This Spidey is still very much a high school kid, learning what he can do with his abilities and eager to please benefactor Tony Stark (we’ve never seen a Spider-Man suit this hi-tech in previous movies). So when he gets the chance to stop an alien tech-enhanced arms dealer, he puts down the textbooks and starts swinging.
Always Be My Maybe
Calling a film as “Netflix’s best original romantic comedy” might sound like damning it with faint praise, but Always Be My Maybe is a truly enjoyable, occasionally hilarious riff on the well-worn genre starring (and written by) a pair of likeable leads in Ali Wong and Randall Park.
It’s about two childhood friends who unexpectedly reunite many years after an awkward falling out, their lives having diverged onto very different paths in the intervening period. You can doubtless predict the ending, but it’s the route it takes to get there that’s so great – particularly when a certain beloved Matrix megastar proves himself an excellent sport in a scene-stealing guest appearance.
It Comes At Night
A creeping indie horror-thriller with very little gore, a tiny cast of characters and almost nothing in the way of clear explanation as to what’s going on or who’s to be feared, It Comes At Night won’t satisfy casual viewers looking for an easy hour and a half’s entertainment. Not only is this minimalist tale of an American family trying to survive in the wake of an unspecified pandemic almost unrelentingly bleak, it will almost certainly leave you with a sense of frustration and hopelessness – which is entirely the point.
As a lean, powerful exploration of family and paranoia, there are few modern horror movies that can match it.
Edgar Wright’s most recent films tend to be fairly Marmite but Baby Driver’s pedal-to-the-metal capers make for one of the most purely entertaining blockbusters in years.
Starting with a car chase that’s propelled by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s "Bellbottoms", all of the film’s main set pieces are thrillingly choreographed to the music that soundtracks them. It sounds gimmicky but with some smart writing, bags of style and larger-than-life performances from Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx, Baby Driver is ridiculously watchable. Its story might be straight off the pages of a comic book but there’s not a cape or superpower in sight. Phew.
Rim of the World
Seemingly aimed at those eagerly awaiting the return of Stranger Things (it’s arriving on 4th July, if you were wondering), Rim of the World is a Netflix-produced sci-fi comedy-action-thriller in which a disparate group of misfit teenagers battle an alien invasion.
With daftly-named Charlie’s Angels director McG behind the camera, Rim of the World is short on subtlety and nuance and big on toilet humour and spectacle (so, yeah – below the surface it’s not really like Stranger Things at all), but there’s definitely room for this type of movie on Netflix – not everything needs to be Roma, after all. This movie may be lightweight, derivative (there’s one scene that’s so shameless a rip-off of a famous sequence from Jurassic Park that we think it must be intentional) and ultimately forgettable, but it’s entertaining while it lasts.
Shaun of the Dead
Far from just another forgettable British indie comedy, Shaun of the Dead is a riotous rom-zom-com that ably combines several genres, showcases dozens of incredibly clever editing tricks and treats its influences with genuine respect, even as it mocks and parodies them. No wonder it put Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright on the path to becoming Hollywood mainstays.
The story kicks off with Shaun (Pegg) contending with some common late 20-something issues: a dull, unfulfilling job and a best friend/flatmate who can barely drag himself off the sofa, let alone clean up the house – and a girlfriend who’s growing impatient with his resistance to growing up and doing something about them. Then, to make matters slightly worse, London falls victim to a zombie apocalypse…
The Girl with All the Gifts
A lowish budget Brit zombie movie based on the novel of the same name, The Girl with All The Gifts might not sound all that promising on paper, but manages to surprise both in its grim, unrelenting tone and in its ability to offer a fresh twist on the old zombie tropes – albeit one that we’re all but certain has its roots in the novel’s author playing The Last of Us on PlayStation 3.
Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine and Glenn Close play three vestiges of authority – a teacher, a soldier and a scientist – in a United Kingdom in which society has collapsed due to a fungal outbreak that causes people to become flesh-eating “hungries”.
People Just Do Nothing (S4)
This comedy series is sure to strike a chord with both mockumentary fans and aficionados of late ‘90s UK garage music (although you certainly don’t have to be an expert on the latter to enjoy it), People Just Do Nothing is ostensibly a behind-the-scenes documentary about Hounslow pirate radio station Kurupt FM. In actual fact, it's a cringingly funny, and not unaffectionate, examination of the same kind of hubris and self-delusion as exhibited by David Brent in The Office.
The fact that the Kurupt crew clearly know their Artful Dodger from their Pied Piper – they’ve performed live at multiple events, in character – adds an extra layer of authenticity to the whole thing.
Until now, only the first three seasons were available on Netflix, but the six-episode fourth season has just been added. Brrrrap!