The top 50 films on Netflix, October 2014

The classics section is surprisingly small, and the same schlock keeps coming up again and again, but there are plenty of movie gems lurking around Netflix


This list was published on October 2014. If you want a more up to date list of films currently available on Netflix, you should try reading our July 2016 article, here.


Bridge to Terabithia (2007)
Directed by Gábor Csupó Starring Josh Hutcherson, AnnaSophia Robb, 95 min The films from Walden Media, a vaguely faith-based studio, can occasionally be a little preachy, but this touching take on Katherine Paterson’s fantasy novel communicates intelligence about mortality and adolescence with great sensitivity. DC

Holes (2003)
Directed by Andrew Davis Starring Shia LaBeouf, Sigourney Weaver, 117 min Deeply strange, hugely original drama concerning a young man who undergoes life-changing events while trapped in a class of desert detention centre that requires the daily digging of, yes, holes. Made a star of LaBeouf. DC

The Muppets (2011)
Directed by James Bobin Starring Jason Segel, Amy Adams, 103 min How to explain the Muppets to an audience that didn’t grow up with them? Make a film in which the poor beasts have fallen on hard times and must be rediscovered by younger enthusiasts. DC

Cool Runnings (1993)
Directed by Jon Turteltaub Starring John Candy, Leon, Doug E Doug, Rawle D Lewis, 98 min Based on the unlikely true story of the Jamaica national bobsled team’s 1988 Olympic debut, this charming sporting underdog comedy is deservedly an all-ages classic. Big-hearted fun, of the classic Candy school. TB

Enchanted (2007)
Directed by Kevin Lima Starring Amy Adams, James Marsden, 107 min Classic Disney characters – the princessy princess (Adams), the gallant prince (Marsden), the evil queen (Susan Sarandon) – arrive in contemporary New York to the bafflement of divorcee Patrick Dempsey. Hilarious deconstruction ensues. TB


Airplane! (1980)
Directed by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker Starring Leslie Nielsen, Robert Hays, 87 min Surely, the funniest comedy of all time? That is certainly arguable. And stop calling me Shirley. It’s hard to imagine a world without this compilation of great gags delivered with a straight face. DC

The Other Guys (2010)
Directed by Adam McKay Stars Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, 107m Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L Jackson are the toughest cops in the precinct. Ferrell and Wahlberg are different sorts of raving idiot. That’s the joke and it’s a funny one. DC

Clueless (1995)
Directed by Amy Heckerling Starring Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd, 97 min Amy Heckerling’s brilliant, funny reworking of Jane Austen’s Emma doubles up as a lively satire on Beverly Hills vanity. Alicia Silverstone’s ditzy Valley Girl Cher remains one of cinema’s most appealing characters. TB

Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)
Directed by Peter Hewitt Starring Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, 93 min The sequel to Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure proved too whacky for some tastes on its initial release. But Bogus Journey’s extravagant set pieces – Bill and Ted versus Death in a Seventh Seal-inspired game of Twister – has spawned an adoring cult following. TB

Annie Hall (1977)
Directed by Woody Allen Starring Diane Keaton, Woody Allen, 96 min The lobster! Marshall McLuhan! Sparks fly when neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer (Allen) meets the flighty, mannishly attired Annie Hall (Keaton). But are men and women just too damned different to really get along? TB


Man on Wire (2008)
Directed by James Marsh Starring Philippe Petit, 94 min Chronicling Philippe Petit’s high-wire walk between New York’s Twin Towers in 1974, Marsh’s film doubles as a tale of daring and a study of a distant era. DC

Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present (2012)
Directed by Gilbert Roswell Starring Marina Abramovic, 106 min A film on Ms Abramovic’s famous (notorious?) performance that featured the Serbian artist unmoving on a chair does not sound like a cavalcade of fun. But the film gets to unexpected truths about humanity. DC

Beware of Mr Baker (2012)
Directed by Jal Bulger Starring Ginger Baker, Eric Clapton, 100 min You may have some idea about the craziness of Ginger Baker – sometime drummer with Cream and Blind Faith – but nothing can prepare you for the violent energy on display here. Scary. DC

Tabloid (2010)
Directed by Errol Morris Featuring Joyce McKinney, 87 min In 1977, a Mormon missionary named Keith May, then based in London, told a magistrates’ court how he was “raped” by an apparently deranged American beauty queen. Oscar winning documentarian Morris investigates the compelling tale of Joyce McKinney. TB

Bill Cunningham New York (2010)
Directed by Richard Press Featuring Bill Cunningham, 87 min When Vogue editor Anna Wintour says that “we all get dressed for Bill,” she means “all New York”. The New York Times photographer’s work coalesces into an impossibly romantic portrait of New York and New Yorkers, beating on against the current in impossible heels. TB


Amour (2012)
Directed by Michael Haneke Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, 127 min Haneke’s thoughtful – but terrifying – film examines the slow, painful death of an elderly woman following a stroke. Hard to watch, but impossible to forget. DC

Bicycle Thieves (1948)
Directed by Vittorio De Sica Starring Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, 93 min There are endless riches in De Sica’s deceptively simple story of a man who, in a time of poverty, must search endlessly for his stolen bicycle. The ultimate moral compromise remains painful to contemplate. DC

Beyond the Hills (2012)
Directed by Cristian Mungiu Starring Cosmina Stratan, Cristina Flutur, 150 min The director of 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days returns with an intense, rewarding drama set in the Romanian outlands. Drawing from journalist Tatiana Niculescu Bran’s investigations into a real-life exorcism tragedy, Mungiu’s screenplay pivots noiselessly around abstract ideas of separation and loss, superstition and ideology. TB

The Turin Horse (2011)
Directed by Béla Tarr, Ágnes Hranitzky Starring János Derzsi, Erika Bók, 146 min In a remote windswept location, an old man and his daughter live a life composed of simple rituals. Béla Tarr’s latest, and reportedly final, film incorporates an awareness of encroaching mortality into a feverishly oppressive microcosm. First rate. TB

The Conformist (1970)
Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, 111 min A man prepares to assassinate his old college professor. A Freudian backstory. Modernist storytelling. Existential angst. Art-house cinema doesn’t get more artistic than Bertolucci’s masterpiece. TB


Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013)
Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche Starring Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos, 179 min The hugely explicit lesbian love scenes kicked up controversy following this lengthy film’s triumph at Cannes, but it is the emotional honesty that sets it apart. Prepare for real, snotty, heaving sobbing. DC

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Directed by Michel Gondry Starring Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, 109 min Written by boffin Charlie Kaufmann and directed by whack-job Michel Gondry, Sunshine concerns a man whose memories are being slowly erased. Lighter and airier than it sounds. DC

His Girl Friday (1940)
Directed by Howard Hawks Starring Rosalind Russell, Cary Grant, 92 min Yes, this tale of news reporters in furious competition is among the fastest comedy ever made. But it also offers a very touching romance between two hardened cynics. Russell and Grant are sublime. DC

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Directed by Gil Junger Stars Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger, 99 min Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew is cleverly reworked as a high school teen comedy. Two lovely central performances by attracting opposites Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger, propped up by a supporting cast that includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt. TB

Harold and Maude (1971)
Directed by Hal Ashby Starring Ruth Gordon, Bud Cort, 91 min Oh for the peculiar experiments of the 1970s. Ashby’s timeless drama posits a sort of romance between septuagenarian Gordon and fresh-faced Cort. The results are off-beat and amusing. TB


Carrie (1976)
Directed by Brian De Palma Starring Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, 98 min Carrie was Stephen King’s first novel, and De Palma’s film is the first adaptation of his work. Yet – with the possible exception of Kubrick’s The Shining – this menstrual shocker still looks like the best take on one of the master’s horror stories. DC

The Mist (2007)
Directed by Frank Darabont Stars Thomas Jane, Jeffrey DeMunn, 126 min From one of the most famous Stephen King adaptations to one of the most underrated. There is much to recommend Darabont’s tale of apparent Armageddon, but it is most notable for its bleak ending. DC

Army of Darkness (1992)
Directed by Sam Raimi Starring Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz, 88 min One of the few sequels that shifts its series to a new genre, Raimi’s follow-up to Evil Dead II dumps poor Ash – now with a chainsaw for a hand – into a world of fantastic violence and weird magic. Mad fun. TB

Funny Games (1997)
Directed by Michael Haneke Starring Susanne Lothar, Ulrich Mühe, 109 min Haneke’s horrible home-invasion thriller is meant as a warning on the evils of screen violence. Ironically, it also works very well as a grotesquely unsettling slasher flick. Sorry, Michael. TB

Excision (2011)
Directed by Richard Bates Jr Starring Anna Lynne McCord, Traci Lords, 81 min If you’ve ever wondered what Tron directed by Pasolini might have looked like, then check out the diseased fancies of this hip, original US shocker. In her own troubled mind, Pauline (McCord) is a demented surgeon conducting weird, eroticised procedures by neon light. In reality, she’s a greasy, awkward teen. TB


Oldboy (2003)
Directed by Park Chan-Wook Starring Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, 120 min One of the defining action films of its era, Park’s South Korean revenge thriller follows a man as he is inexplicably released after 15 years in equally inexplicable detention. Warning: features consumption of live cephalopods. DC

Battle Royale (2000)
Directed by Kinji Fukasaku Starring Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, 113 min Yes, yes, it’s the film every one “in the know” mentioned when The Hunger Games came out. Fukasaku’s romp – in which Japanese schoolchildren fight to the death – is considerably nastier and more frantic. DC

Shaolin Soccer (2001)
Directed by Stephen Chow Starring Stephen Chow, Vicky Zhao, 112 min You wanted something noisy, deranged and fun? Well, look no further than Chow’s mash-up of martial arts and the beautiful game. Unlikely to be confused with Escape to Victory. DC

Planet of Snail (2012)
Directed by Yi Seung-jun Starring Young-Chan, 89 min Young-chan is a young, deaf and blind writer who describes his life as being adrift in space. His wife Soon-ho has spinal deformity that has limited her height. Together they live the slow, touch-dependant life of the title. Moving South Korean documentary. TB

Hard Boiled (1992)
Directed by John Woo Starring Chow Yun-fat, Tony Leung, 128 min An unfeasibly cool Hong Kong cop (Chow Yun-Fat) takes on an army of mobsters and saves a hospital in John Woo’s classic shoot-‘em-up. Gunplay doesn’t get more balletic or more exhilarating. Probably the best action movie ever made. TB


The Parallax View (1974)
Directed by Alan J Pakula Starring Warren Beatty, Hume Cronyn, 102 min Arriving a decade after the Kennedy assassination, just as Watergate set in, Pakula’s film is the ultimate paranoid conspiracy thriller. Beatty is smashing as an investigative journalist. DC

The Insider (1999)
Directed by Michael Mann Starring Al Pacino, Russell Crowe, 157 min Hugely acclaimed on release, Mann’s study of investigations into big tobacco has slipped into undeserved obscurity. Seek it out. As beautifully made as the same director’s Heat. DC

Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Directed by Quentin Tarantino Starring Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, 99 min The colour-coded villains. The suits. The seventies-tastic soundtrack. The pop culture references. That ear slicing scene. Quentin Tarantino’s debut feature exploded onto the cinematic landscape in 1992. Often imitated, never equalled. TB

Arbitrage (2012)
Directed by Nicholas Jarecki Starring Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, 107 min Richard Gere’s performance as a hedge fund manager with lots of murky dealings rightly won the actor a hatful of awards last year. But a superb supporting cast – Marling, Sarandon – help make this a compelling financial thriller. TB

The Sixth Sense (1999)
Directed by M Night Shyamalan Starring Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, 107 min Is there a person on the planet who doesn’t know the twist? Even if you do understand what’s going on, Shyamalan’s breakthrough remains a beautifully made cinematic conundrum. TB


Clerks (1994)
Directed by Kevin Smith Starring Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, 104 min Oh Lord. Can it be 20 years since Smith’s no-budget tale of chattering shop assistants helped change Hollywood (just a little)? Yes. And it still looks like his best. DC

Winter’s Bone (2010)
Directed by Debra Granik Starring Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, 100 min Jennifer who? Granik’s hard-edged tale of backwoods intrigue helped launch a star as it cleared a space in the mainstream for gritty tension. DC

Frances Ha (2013)
Directed by Noah Baumbach Starring Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, 86 min “It’s hard to say what I do.” “Why?” “Because I don’t really do it.” The ultimate monochrome, upmarket New York slacker comedy. Go Gerwig. DC

Simon Killer (2012)
Directed by Antonio Campos Starring Brady Corbet, 105 min A horrible American in Paris: we piece together Simon from the passive-aggressive emails that he sends, unanswered, to his old lover and from his increasingly disturbing actions. Brady Corbet’s anti-hero makes Shame’s Brandon look like Mickey Mouse. TB

Prince Avalanche (2013)
Directed by David Gordon Green Starring Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch, 83 min Alvin (Rudd), a slightly uptight fellow with a major moustache, finds himself painting those lines with the somewhat less ordered brother of his girlfriend (Emile Hirsch). At first, the couple seem set to drive each other bananas. Touching, funny comedy. TB


Primer (2004)
Directed by Shane Carruth Starring Shane Carruth, David Sullivan Carruth’s attempt to do the impossible and create a credible time-travel film is among the most rewarding and confusing entertainments of its decade. Bring paper and pencil. DC

Blue Velvet (1986)
Directed by David Lynch Starring Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, 120 min A film that should need no further introduction, Lynch’s picket-fence thriller combines surrealism and small-town values as only that director can. Still unsettling. DC

Computer Chess (2013)
Directed by Andrew Bujalski Starring Patrick Riester, Kriss Schludermann, Tom Fletcher, Wiley Wiggins, Gerard Peary, 92 min Winner of the prestigious Alfred P Sloan Feature Film Prize at last year’s Sundance, this innovative, playful story takes place at a 1980 computer chess tournament where pioneering nerds pitch chess programs against each other and, finally, against a human chess master. Weirdness soon follows. TB

Donnie Darko: The Director’s Cut (2001)
Directed by Richard Kelly Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze, 133 min A suburban teenager survives a freak accident only to be plagued by apocalyptic visions of a man in a bunny suit. Both the physical universe and picket fence America are soon subverted by Richard Kelly’s startling, surreal sci-fi fantasy. TB

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
Directed by Colin Trevorrow Starring Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, 86 min Parks and Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza is superbly deadpan as a magazine intern sent out with cynical elder reporter Jeff (Jake Johnson) and studious science major Arnau (Karan Soni) to find the person or persons who placed a mysterious plea for a time-travelling companion. Lo-fi, sci-fi romcom. TB

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