The 29 best movies on Netflix right now

What’s the best movie I can watch on Netflix? We’ve all asked ourselves this question, only to spend the next 15 minutes scrolling through the streaming service’s oddly specific genre menus and getting overwhelmed by the constantly shifting trend menus. Netflix’s huge catalog of movies continues to expand day by day, week by week, month by month. This makes the challenge of keeping up to date with best the service has to offer — let alone finding something the best of what to watch after a long day — a task that feels herculean at best and impossible at worst for someone not plugged into its inscrutable rhythms.

We’re here to help. For those suffering from choice paralysis in February, we’ve narrowed down your options to not only our favorite current movies on the platform, but the best movies Netflix has to offer.

If you’re looking for a specific genre, we’ve got the best action movies on Netflix, the best horror movies on Netflix, the best thrillers on Netflix, and the best comedy movies on Netflix ready for you. And for our readers across the pond, we have a list of the best movies on Netflix U.K.

We’ll be updating this list weekly as Netflix cycles movies in and out of its library, so be sure to check back next time you’re stuck in front of the app’s home screen. Our latest update added Inside Man as our editor’s pick.


This week’s editor’s pick: Inside Man

Image: Universal Pictures

Director: Spike Lee
Cast: Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster

Earlier this week, I stumbled across a group of random posts discussing Inside Man, Spike Lee’s 2006 heist movie starring Denzel Washington. Naturally, my interest was piqued: I hadn’t seen the movie in a while and I wanted to give it another shot to see if it stood the test of time. After settling in for a rewatch, I can say without a doubt that it most definitely does.

Washington plays Keith Frazier, a police detective under investigation for a scandal who is tasked with negotiating the release of hostages during an ongoing bank robbery. While matching wits with Dalton Russell (Clive Owen), the mastermind behind the heist, Frazier must also contend with Madeleine White (Jodie Foster), a Manhattan fixer hired by the bank’s founder to see that a safety deposit box containing a damning secret doesn’t come to light during the robbery. Sleekly shot and memorably edited, Inside Man is a puzzle-box heist thriller that excels at grabbing the audience’s attention during its opening minutes and never letting go. It’s a tour de force of acting and storytelling supported by an exceptional cast and enough shocking twists to keep viewers busy connecting all the dots even after the credits roll. —Toussaint Egan


The best movies on Netflix

Alone

Jules Wilcox as Jessica in Alone (2020) Image: Magnet Releasing

Director: John Hyams
Cast: Jules Willcox, Marc Menchaca, Anthony Heald

A taut spine-chiller from John Hyams (Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning), Alone is your classic woman-on-the-run thriller. Jessica (Jules Willcox), a recent widow, is in the midst of moving. If that wasn’t enough stress, a creepy man (Marc Menchaca) appears to be following her on the road. After he slashes her tires, she crashes and wakes up in his basement. What follows is a tightly crafted thriller with great performances, outstanding direction, and enough tension to keep your heart pounding throughout the 98-minute running time. —Pete Volk

Athena

A man with long hair throws a molotov cocktail while enveloped by fire in Athena Image: Netflix

Director: Romain Gavras
Cast: Dali Benssalah, Sami Slimane, Anthony Bajon

One of the very best movies of 2022, Athena is an intense action thriller about the uprising of a French banlieue after repeated police harassment and violence. Told through the eyes of three brothers with very different perspectives on the conflict and how it should be resolved, Athena is a powerful story. But where it really shines is in its technical acumen. Music video director Romain Gavras, making his feature debut, brings breathtaking tracking shots, intricately choreographed blocking, and an absolutely electric energy. I have qualms with the ending, but I’ll never forget the jaw-dropping experience of watching Gavras cook on this movie. Whatever he does next, I’m there. —PV

Atlantics

Two figures hold each other close on a dance floor, as neon green lights bounce off of them, in Atlantics Image: Netflix

Director: Mati Diop
Cast: Ibrahima Traoré, Mame Bineta Sane, Amadou Mbow

It’s hard to talk too much about Atlantics without giving away what makes the experience of watching it so special. It’s a beautiful, haunting love story with a tangibly beating heart, touching on romance as well as grief, class, labor, and the lingering effects of oppression. Shot gorgeously by director Mati Diop and cinematographer Claire Mathon, it was the first movie directed by a Black woman to be featured in competition in Cannes (it won the Grand Prix award, losing out on the Palme d’Or to Parasite), and is one of the most remarkable feature film debuts for a director in recent memory. —PV

The ’Burbs

Three men (L-R Tom Hanks, Rick Ducommun, Bruce Dern) hide behind a trashcan at nighttime, staring at something offscreen. Image: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Director: Joe Dante
Cast: Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern, Carrie Fisher

Suburban paranoia is as time-honored of an American tradition as baseball, apple pie, and redlining. In this 1989 horror comedy, Gremlins director Joe Dante taps into a wellspring of simmering communal tension and urban superstition and strikes gold. Tom Hanks stars as Ray Peterson, an overstressed homeowner trying to enjoy his weeklong vacation, if only everyone in the cul-de-sac of Mayfield Place would just leave him the hell alone. Unfortunately for him, the mysterious goings-on of his reclusive new neighbors have drawn the over imaginative ire of fellow suburbanites Art (Rick Ducommun) and Mark (Bruce Dern), who enlist Ray in a harebrained scheme to uncover what they’re absolutely certain is a murderous home-grown conspiracy.

Dana Olsen, the screenwriter for The ’Burbs, aptly summed up the film as “Ozzie and Harriet meet Charles Manson.” It’s a gleefully dark movie about a bunch of adults running around like grown-ass children, whipping themselves up into a frenzy with ever more outlandish theories while transforming into the very mirror image of their own tall tales. The script is fantastic, with memorable one-liners like “I’m gonna go do something productive; I’m gonna go watch television” delivered with an acerbic sense of wit by a cast of terrific actors who are all in on the joke. If you’re a fan of Joe Dante’s other films, like Small Soldiers, Innerspace, or, of course, Gremlins, you owe it to yourself to make the time to watch this bona fide cult classic. —TE

Blackhat

Chris Hemsworth as Nicholas Hathaway holding a pistol in Blackhat. Photo: Frank Connor/Legendary Pictures-Universal Pictures

Director: Michael Mann
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tang Wei, Viola Davis

A sleek and sexy thriller that makes hacking look extremely cool, Michael Mann’s unfairly maligned Blackhat stands tall as a high mark in digital filmmaking. It is peak Mann — if you’re not a fan of the Heat director’s work, your mileage may vary. In the film, Chen Dawai (Wang Leehom), a captain in the PLA’s cyber warfare unit, is tasked with getting to the bottom of a computer attack that melts down a nuclear power plant in Hong Kong. While liaising with the FBI investigation, Chen insists on the aid of his old friend Nicholas Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth, who has never been hotter or cooler), an imprisoned genius hacker. When Hathaway and Chen’s sister (Tang Wei), a networking engineer also helping with the case, fall for each other, it adds an extra wrinkle to an already high stakes situation. Viola Davis and Holt McCallany feature as FBI agents who aren’t super happy to have to rely on a notorious criminal.

With sharp digital cinematography and unforgettable set pieces, Blackhat explores our changing global relationship to technology. Mann makes tangible the microscopic computer systems that run the world: an extreme close-up of internal wires leading to a motherboard like a vast interconnected highway; a computer fan that sounds like a jet engine. Events that in other films would be shown as a boring stroke of keys are instead depicted as hypnotic processes happening under the surface of the visible world. —PV

The Conversation

Gene Hackman as Harry Caul leaning over a surveillance tape machine in The Conversation. Image: Paramount Home Entertainment

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Harrison Ford

Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation is a paranoia-inducing murder thriller starring Gene Hackman as Harry Caul, a surveillance expert — one who does actual spying! — whose professional integrity and personal morality are put in direct opposition when he suspects that he has eavesdropped on a couple who he believe are going to be murdered. Drawn into a plot of veiled conspirators and unsavory violence, Harry must search for the truth behind what he has witnessed while staying alive. Over the journey, Coppola creates an aura of paranoia with each passing scene, and David Shire’s piano score is a mood. —TE

Devil in a Blue Dress

Denzel Washington, wearing a white tanktop, reads the newspaper in Devil in a Blue Dress. Image: Sony Pictures

Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Jennifer Beals, Don Cheadle

This scintillating neo-noir captures Denzel Washington as he was ascending the mountain of movie stardom, all in a brilliant story of postwar racial tensions in Los Angeles, featuring some of the best cinematography of the 1990s.

Denzel is Easy Rawlins, a vet in between jobs just looking to make enough money to keep paying his mortgage. When he’s recruited by a seedy PI for what seems to be a simple job, Easy gets pulled into a tangled web of lies and deception that proves to be very difficult to break out of. With incredible supporting performances by Don Cheadle, Tom Sizemore, and Jennifer Beals, Devil in a Blue Dress is a gem of a mystery thriller that does the excellent original novel justice. —PV

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart

Image: Netflix

Directors: Johnnie To, Wai Ka-fai
Cast: Louis Koo, Daniel Wu, Gao Yuanyuan

Johnnie To is one of our great modern directors, equally adept in hard-boiled triad crime dramas and light-hearted romantic comedies alike. 2011’s Don’t Go Breaking My Heart falls in the latter category, and is one of the many high marks of the Hong Kong director’s legendary career. Fresh off the end of a long-term relationship, Chi-yan (Gao Yuanyuan) is an analyst for an investment bank who finds herself in the middle of a love triangle. On one side, there’s Sean (Louis Koo), a CEO who works across the street from Chi-yan and yearns for her through the tall corporate glass windows that separate them. On the other, there’s Kevin (the always-dreamy Daniel Wu), an alcoholic former architect who helps Chi-yan move on and is inspired by her to start creating again. What follows is a sincere, funny, and truly charming romantic time. —PV

Eega

Eega the fly waits for his moment to strike, watching a car drive away. Image: Vaarahi Chalana Chitram

Director: S.S. Rajamouli
Cast: Sudeepa, Nani, Samantha

Eega is a delightful slapstick romantic comedy from the director of RRR, about a fly and his human girlfriend conspiring to ruin a man’s life and then murder him for vengeance. If that doesn’t sound up your alley, I’m not sure what will.

Eega tells the story of a man who is murdered by a wealthy businessman. After being reincarnated as a fly, he makes it his mission to exact vengeance on the man who killed him. As a fly.

With groundbreaking visual effects that pushes digital filmmaking forward, Rajamouli injects a delightful energy and lighter tone into the genre of “dark revenge thriller,” with thrilling set pieces (stakes include “our hero gets stuck on a tennis ball being used in a cricket match” and “our hero causes a traffic jam by buzzing in the ears of a crossing guard”) and plenty of visual gags inspired by slapstick and screwball comedies alike. It’s all balanced by a compelling romance that sells you on the movie’s emotional stakes in the first half hour, culminating in an experience unlike any other. Rajamouli is just special. —PV

Emily the Criminal

Aubrey Plaza as Emily stands by her car trunk, glaring at a prospective buyer in Emily the Criminal Image: Vertical Entertainment

Director: John Patton Ford
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Theo Rossi, Gina Gershon

One of the smartest movies about the gig economy and our modern money struggles, Emily the Criminal was criminally (ayyy) underappreciated when it came out in 2022. The movie follows a debt-ridden woman (Aubrey Plaza) who gets involved in a credit card scam to pay off her student loans. This pulls her in the orbit of charismatic ringleader Youcef (the reliably handsome Theo Rossi), and also deeper and deeper into the world of crime, as she looks for a way out of her difficult situation.

It’s a career-best performance from Plaza, who is as funny and dry as ever, but Emily the Criminal’s script allows her to use her dramatic chops in ways we’ve rarely seen outside of White Lotus and Ingrid Goes West (and even those are primarily comedies with dramatic elements). Relentlessly paced, constantly tense, and always centered on the terrific leading performance at its core, Emily the Criminal is one of the best American films of the decade, and its potency will only grow as the problems it shines a light on continue to be exacerbated. —PV

Ghosts of Sugar Land

Four young men lounge on a couch. Three of them have images masking their faces, in Ghosts of Sugar Land. Image: Netflix

Director: Bassam Tariq

Director Bassam Tariq recently got replaced on Marvel’s upcoming Blade movie, and it’s as good a reason as any to catch up with his masterful 2019 short. Best known for the hip-hop drama Mogul Mowgli starring Riz Ahmed, Tariq’s previous movie is an enthralling documentary well worth the 21-minute running time.

Ghosts of Sugar Land is about a young group of friends in the suburbs of Texas, and what happens when one of them becomes radicalized by ISIS. A compelling portrait of an America we don’t often get to see depicted on screen, Tariq offers no easy answers, instead leaning on the shock and despair of the friends left behind, and on the dangers of isolation and loneliness in a country that often seems on the brink of collapse. A winner of multiple festival awards, including the 2019 Sundance Short Film Jury Award, Ghosts of Sugar Land is not to be missed. —PV

It Follows

It Follows - Jay Height (Maika Monroe) in swimming pool Image: Radius-TWC

Director: David Robert Mitchell
Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi

David Robert Mitchell’s breakout supernatural horror film centers on a young teenager, Jay (Maika Monroe), who, after a strange sexual encounter, finds herself stalked by a murderous entity that no one else but her can see. In order to stave off death, Jay and her friends must stay a step ahead of the creature while attempting to find a means of defeating it, or else resort to passing the curse on to another hapless unassuming victim herself. With a terrific score provided by Hyper Light Drifter composer Richard Vreeland (aka Disasterpeace), It Follows is a memorable, unique, and entertaining teen horror drama that flips the script on the genre’s traditionally puritanical framing of sexuality with terrific results. —TE

Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) and Max Cherry (Robert Forster) look lovingly at each other in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown. Image: Miramax Films

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster

There’s no better time than the present to watch the best Quentin Tarantino movie ever (and by some margin). I said it and I meant it.

Adapted from Elmore Leonard’s terrific novel Rum Punch, this crime thriller stars the unmatched Pam Grier as a flight attendant who is caught bringing back money from Mexico for an arms dealer (Samuel L. Jackson). When a bail bondsman (Robert Forster) is assigned to pick her up, the two forge an unlikely bond in the midst of a complex scheme.

There are many reasons to love Jackie Brown — Tarantino’s more annoying writing tics are significantly dampened by the fact that this is an adaptation, and the electric cast includes Robert De Niro, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton, and a young Chris Tucker. But my favorite part of this movie is how damn romantic it is. The chemistry between Grier and Forster as two people in their middle ages unexpectedly falling for each other is electric, and it’s one of my favorite movie pairings to ever grace the screen. —PV

Jigarthanda DoubleX

Raghava Lawrence, wearing a collared shirt unbuttoned at the top, and S.J. Suryah, wearing overalls over a white buttoned-up shirt, stand in a forest together in Jigarthanda DoubleX. Image: Ahimsa Entertainment

Director: Karthik Subbaraj
Cast: Raghava Lawrence, S.J. Suryah, Nimisha Sajayan

Movies about the Power of Cinema™ can be self-important, saccharine, and worst of all, boring. Jigarthanda DoubleX is none of those things. A sprawling tale of gangsters, movie stars, politicians, and the people caught between them, it’s one of my favorite movies of 2023, and a truly special film.

It’s the 1970s, and a coward who believes it’s his destiny to become a cop gets framed for a quadruple murder. He gets released from prison by a corrupt movie star/politician on the condition that he kills one of the lieutenants of that movie star/politician’s rival. Naturally, our coward poses as a movie director, because his target (a notorious gangster who loves Clint Eastwood) has made it his new mission in life to be the first dark-skinned movie star in India. While making their silly movie (a biopic of the gangster, of course), they fall in love with the magic of cinema and its transformative power on a personal and societal level.

Jigarthanda DoubleX is firing on all cylinders throughout its nearly three-hour run time, with superb direction, complex characters fully embodied by terrific actors, thrilling action sequences, and a surprising amount of emotional depth for a movie with this outlandish of a premise. Don’t miss it. —PV

Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids

Justin Timberlake performs on stage, and a larger version of him appears on the screen behind him, blanketed by light blue lights, in Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids. Image: Netflix

Director: Jonathan Demme
Cast: Justin Timberlake

In 1984, director Jonathan Demme made one of the finest concert films of all-time with the Talking Heads in the raucously triumphant Stop Making Sense. A little more than three decades later, Demme’s final feature film was another joyous concert movie.

Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids depicts the final show of a long tour for Timberlake and his excellent backing band at the gigantic MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. In typical Demme fashion, the staging and framing of the energetic pop numbers is electric, but he also takes time to show just how much work goes into setting up and breaking down such a large production.

Demme and Timberlake’s collaboration spurred from a mutual respect — Timberlake, like anyone else with good taste, is a massive fan of Stop Making Sense, and Demme reached out after watching The Social Network. The movie is dedicated to Prince, who died shortly before the movie’s release. —PV

Lagaan

Aamir Khan dances with Gracy Singh in Lagaan. Image: SET Pictures

Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Cast: Aamir Khan, Gracy Singh, Rachel Shelley

Ashutosh Gowariker’s timeless sports movie classic stars Aamir Khan as Bhuvan, a confident young man from a village that is dealing with both British oppression and a long-standing drought. When the wicked Captain Russell (Paul Blackthorne, who is deliriously good in this) challenges the village to a game of cricket (which they do not know how to play) as a bet, with their owed taxes (which they cannot afford to pay) on the line, Bhuvan takes it upon himself to form a team and learn the game. What follows is a soaring sports drama with humor, heart, and a show-stopping match finale. Lagaan was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 74th Academy Awards. —PV

The Lost Bullet movies

A red automobile with a metal cowcatcher is sandwiched between two cop cars in Lost Bullet. Image: Netflix

Director: Guillaume Pierret
Cast: Alban Lenoir, Stéfi Celma, Nicolas Duvauchelle

Both Lost Bullet movies are pure jolts of adrenaline, filled with vehicular mayhem and explosive action. The first movie is leaner, with a simple premise executed to perfection, while the sequel ramps things up with even more jaw-dropping stunts, led by car stunt coordinator David Julienne, who also worked on the incredible Athena and is the grandson of the great Rémy Julienne. —PV

May December

Joe (Charles Melton) and Gracie (Julianne Moore) together on a wooden outdoor bench on their lawn, her leaning against his shoulder, his arm around her, in May December Image: Netflix/Everett Collection

Director: Todd Haynes
Cast: Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, Charles Melton

The Oscars are this weekend (or, at least, they are when I’m writing this), so I thought it would be fitting to recommend one of the bigger Oscar snubs of the year. Yes, May December got nominated for its (great) screenplay, but it is also one of the best films of 2023 and features three of the most outstanding performances of the year, none of which had room in a stacked nominations list.

The latest film from New Queer Cinema icon Todd Haynes (Carol, Safe) sees the legendary director reunite with frequent collaborator Julianne Moore for one of their most intriguing projects yet. May December follows an actor, Elizabeth (Natalie Portman), who travels to Georgia to prepare for a role based on Gracie (Julianne Moore), a woman who became a focus of national attention after sleeping with (and eventually marrying) Joe, a 13-year-old boy when their relationship first started.

It’s an uncomfortable setting, and Haynes leans into that discomfort, both through the patience of his camera and the excellence of his lead actors. As Gracie and Elizabeth attempt to suss each other out, their identities fluctuating and blending with each other (Haynes has been very vocal about the influence of Ingmar Bergman’s Persona on this film), caught in the middle is Joe. Melton’s performance is haunting, a boy in a man’s body still caught in his teen years, closer in age to his children than to his wife. It’s the kind of adult drama we don’t get enough of anymore, and I’m glad Haynes is still here to make these kind of movies. —Pete Volk

The Night Comes for Us

Joe Taslim stands in front of a “Safety starts with me” sign toting a shotgun facing several men on fire in The Night Comes for Us. Photo: Eriekn Juragan/Netflix

Director: Timo Tjahjanto
Cast: Joe Taslim, Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle

The Night Comes for Us just fucking whips, OK? Why waste time on subtlety and preamble; the film certainly doesn’t! Indonesian action thrillers have been enjoying a renaissance period ever since Gareth Evans’ 2011 film The Raid kicked the door down and mollywhopped everything else in sight. Timo Tjahjanto’s 2018 film certainly follows in the footsteps of Evans’ own, with The Raid star Joe Taslim starring here as Ito, a gangland enforcer who betrays his Triad crime family by sparing the life of a child and attempting to flee the country.

Fellow The Raid star Iko Uwais shows up here as Arian, Ito’s childhood friend and fellow enforcer, who is tasked with hunting down Ito and recovering the girl. The action comes fast and frenzied here, with kinetic choreography and dazzling handheld cinematography that makes every punch, fall, and stab count. If you need to get your adrenaline pumping, throw this one on. —TE

Phantom Thread

Reyolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) sizing up a dress on Alma (Vicky Krieps) in Phantom Thread. Image: Focus Features

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, Vicky Krieps

Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2017 historical drama Phantom Thread follows the story of Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), an irascible haute couture dressmaker in 1950s London whose carefully cultivated lifestyle is upset by his ongoing love affair with his muse Alma (Vicky Krieps), a strong-willed woman with ambitions and desires of her own. His final film role to date, Day-Lewis is unsurprisingly masterful in his portrayal of Woodcock as an artist whose capricious infatuations and fastidious inflexibility prove unbearable to all except Alma, who discovers a … let’s say unconventional way of leveling the power dynamic in their relationship. Top that with exquisite score by Jonny Greenwood and beautiful costume designs by Mark Bridges and you’ve got what is undoubtedly one of Anderson’s finest films to date. —TE

RRR

Rama and Bheem are tossed in the air by the crowd in RRR. Image: Variance Films

Director: S.S. Rajamouli
Cast: N.T. Rama Rao Jr., Ram Charan, Ajay Devgn

Polygon’s favorite movie of 2022, RRR is an epic bromance for the ages filled to the brim with jaw-dropping action sequences, unforgettable music numbers, and two guys just being dudes. If you can, you should consider watching it in the original Telugu language version on Zee5. If you can’t, the Hindi dub on Netflix is still well worth your time. —PV

Space Sweepers

Three human space sweepers and their android buddy look down with sweaty horror on something offscreen in Space Sweepers. Image: Netflix

Director: Jo Sung-hee
Cast: Song Joong-ki, Kim Tae-ri, Jin Seon-kyu

Space Sweepers: Set in the year 2092, Jo Sung-hee’s Space Sweepers follows the crew of freelance garbagemen in space who discover a strange child-like robot named Dorothy containing a nuclear device. Hoping to ransom Dorothy in exchange for enough money to escape their poverty-stricken lives, their plan quickly escalates into a chase to stay one step ahead of the military force of a corrupt corporation. Though it’s far from the most original of sci-fi premises, Space Sweepers is still a visually impressive film with great action and a likable cast of dysfunctional characters with great chemistry. —TE

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man extending his hand as he falls from a great height, surrounded by skyscrapers in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Image: Sony Pictures

Directors: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson
Cast: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Oscar Isaac

2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was a genuine before-and-after moment in the history of American animation. The film not only introduced a new generation of audiences to Miles Morales, but sent a shockwave through the entire industry through its pioneering approach to CGI animation that drew heavily from the texture and techniques of comic book storytelling. In short, it was a bona fide cultural phenomenon. How exactly do you top that?

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse feels like an answer to that question on several fronts; visually, tonally, and technically. Miles is faced with a personal and moral dilemma in the form of the Spot, a dimension-hopping supervillain whose vendetta against Spider-Man threatens to endanger the entire multiverse. If that weren’t enough, Miles inadvertently runs afoul of Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac), the leader of a group of Spider-People from alternate universes, who believes Miles himself is the source of the problem.

From its spectacular fight sequences to its gorgeous multiversal vistas to its absolutely bangin’ soundtrack, Across the Spider-Verse steps up to the challenge of following up one of most acclaimed American animated films in years and nails it out of the park. It’s a genuine sight to behold. With one more movie on the way, the question circles back: How exactly are they gonna top this? —TE

The Summit of the Gods

A silhouette of a young animated boy overlooking a sunrise cresting over a plane of mountains from the peak of a mountain. Image: Netflix

Directors: Patrick Imbert
Cast: Lazare Herson-Macarel, Eric Herson-Macarel, Damien Boisseau

This 2021 French-language animated drama centers on Makoto Fukamachi, a tenacious reporter who accidentally stumbles upon the biggest mountaineering story of the century: Proof that George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, not Sir Edmund Hillary, were the first climbers to reach the peak of Mount Everest in 1924. However, his only lead to break the story — an elusive mountain climber known as Habu Joji — has been missing for several years. Poring over the details of Joji’s life in the years preceding his disappearance, Makoto finds himself inadvertently drawn by the very same sense of accomplishment and meaning that has compelled countless climbers to crest Everest themselves.

Based on Jiro Taniguchi’s 2000 manga series, The Summit of the Gods is a gorgeously animated drama about the elusive quest for personal and professional validation and the perils of hubris and selfishness. The backgrounds are spectacular, the character animation is impressive, and the film’s final moments are as exhilarating as they are profoundly edifying. Brace yourself for a film that exemplifies “adult animation,” not as a juvenile display of hyper-violence and superficial titillation, but as a story about what it means to move through the world as an adult and find one’s place and purpose in it. —TE

Train to Busan

A disheveled man and a larger man holding a child stand at the far end of train car holding weapons in Train to Busan. Image: Well Go USA Entertainment

Director: Yeon Sang-ho
Cast: Gong Yoo, Jung Yu-mi, Ma Dong-seok

As far as horror movie premises go, it’s hard to get more fundamentally terrifying than “zombie outbreak on a train.” Yeon Sang-ho took that basic idea and ran with it to create a gory, pulse-pounding survival thriller about perseverance in the face of the apocalypse.

Train to Busan stars Gong Yoo (Squid Game) as Seok-woo, a workaholic fund manager who, wracked with guilt, agrees to take his estranged daughter on a train ride to Busan to celebrate her birthday. Unfortunately for him and everyone else on that train, a zombie epidemic brought about by a mysterious chemical spill has engulfed the nation. Aside from the core emotional arc between Seok-woo and his daughter, nearly every other character feels unique and compelling, from Ma Dong-seok’s portrayal as a doting husband-turned-brawler to Choi Woo-shik and Sohee’s performances as a high school couple trying to survive amid the chaos. It’s a well-crafted, compelling drama that devotes ample time to fleshing out the humanity of its cast as they fight tooth and nail to overcome a nightmare that threatens to tear them life from limb. In short: It’s the perfect movie to usher in the weekend and get your blood pumping. —Toussaint Egan

Uncut Gems

Howard (Adam Sandler) bargains with Kevin Garnett as Demany (Lakeith Stanfield) looks on in Uncut Gems Image: A24

Directors: Josh and Benny Safdie
Cast: Adam Sandler, LaKeith Stanfield, Julia Fox

It’s easy to forget sometimes, but Adam Sandler really is one hell of a dramatic actor. The Safdie brothers’ 2019 crime thriller Uncut Gems was a bracing reminder of that fact, giving Sandler the opportunity to flex his chops as Howard Ratner, a duplicitous gambling addict whose chaotic attempts to play every angle — and everyone — to come out on top backfires in spectacular fashion.

The film is stacked with terrific, surprising performances, from basketball superstar Kevin Garnett’s portrayal as a fictionalized version of himself to Julia Fox’s breakout turn as Howard’s mistress, Julia. To top it off, the score is phenomenal; Daniel Lopatin (aka Oneohtrix Point Never) reunites with the Safdies to deliver a mesmerizing soundtrack to Howard’s downfall, including an exquisite track inspired by the 1988 anime classic Akira.

Uncut Gems is the work that catapulted the Safdies to mainstream success, the inflection point that took them from indie darlings to big-time names rubbing shoulders with the likes of Paul Thomas Anderson and Christopher Nolan. It’s not hard to see why; the film really is that damn good. —TE

Wingwomen

Mélanie Laurent, Adèle Exarchopoulos, and Manon Bresch all smile from behind a counter in Wingwomen Photo: Gael Turpo/Netflix

Director: Mélanie Laurent
Cast: Mélanie Laurent, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Manon Bresch

There’s a place for movies like Alien, where a script written for a male lead character was left unchanged when a woman was cast in the role. But there’s also a place for movies like Wingwomen, an action comedy that thrives in its specificity around its characters and their experiences as women in our world.

In Wingwomen, Carole (director-star Mélanie Laurent of Inglourious Basterds) has a very close and protective relationship with younger Alex (Adèle Exarchopoulos) — a found family situation. They are both caught in the web of crime lord Marraine (Isabelle Adjani) and looking for a way out. When they meet a new member of their team — skilled racer Sam (Manon Bresch) — they see an opportunity for one last score to break away from their life of crime and live peacefully together.

Fun, exciting, and endearing, you will not have more fun at the movies than watching Wingwomen. I wish for 20 more years of Laurent directing and starring in fun genre pictures — especially if they also star Exarchopoulos, who between this and Passages delivered two of the most memorable performances of 2023. —PV

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