The Best Movies on Netflix Canada, According to Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes—the popular site that aggregates reviews from critics and creates a score that's "fresh" or "rotten"—has put together a list of the top movies ever based on adjusted score and number of reviews. From crime classics to Oscar-winning dramas, here are the best movies on Netflix Canada.
Photo: Universal Pictures
Seven years after breathing new life into the James Bond franchise with Skyfall, Sam Mendes returns with 1917, one of the best films ever made about the First World War. The Academy Award-nominated hit takes place on the Western Front in northern France, and follows two British soldiers (played by George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman) who are tasked with delivering an urgent message to an isolated regiment. Much has been written about 1917’s technical achievements—it utilizes long takes to appear as if it was shot in one single, continuous take—but the film’s true strength is its emotional power.
Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
The long-awaited fourth instalment in the Mad Max franchise bursts out of the gate at breakneck speed—and doesn’t let up from there. Fury Road is essentially a two-hour-long car chase, complete with 18-wheelers, biker gangs, hot rods, monster trucks and Cirque du Soleil-inspired acrobatics. The famously histrionic Tom Hardy takes over as Max; wisely, writer-director George Miller sees him to take a backseat to Charlize Theron. The Academy Award-winner plays Furiosa, a war captain who flees from the ravaged city of baddie Immortan Joe, taking his imprisoned brides with her. Fury Road is Miller’s boldest and most bonkers feature yet—and one that is required viewing for action fans.
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They aren’t making ’em like Brooklyn anymore. Saoirse Ronan (in an Academy Award-nominated performance) plays Eilis Lacey, a young Irish immigrant in 1950s New York who falls for Tony (Emory Cohen), an Italian-American plumber. After a short trip back to her hometown, however, Eilis is introduced to a new love interest (Domhnall Gleeson) that makes her question her future in America. Based on Colm Tóibín’s acclaimed 2009 novel of the same name, Brooklyn is imbued with enough wisdom, heart and honesty to make likeminded romantic dramas pale in comparison.
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Photo: Universal Pictures
The Invisible Man (2020)
Cecilia Klass (Elisabeth Moss) makes a daring escape from the compound of her boyfriend, Adrian Griffin, a wealthy but violent and manipulative scientist. Two weeks later, she receives news that Adrian has died by suicide, but Cecilia suspects that her ex is still alive—and that he plans to make her existence a living hell. With The Invisible Man, writer-director Leigh Whannell (Upgrade) has crafted a masterful update of H.G. Wells’s classic story—a powerful exploration of technophobia and the long-term effects of abuse.
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To say that Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven turned the Western genre upside down would be an understatement. There are no impassioned, moralizing speeches or slow rides into the sunset here, no forces of good keeping evil men at bay. When a pair of cowboys disfigure a prostitute in the town of Big Whiskey, Wyoming, in 1880, she and her colleagues offer a $1,000 bounty for their deaths. The ladies’ would-be hero? William Munny (Eastwood), a past-his-prime gunslinger with an unsavory past. The finest Eastwood film to date, Unforgiven is a masterclass in acting, directing and screenwriting.
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Photo: Columbia Pictures
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Number of reviews: 81
To call The Shawshank Redemption a modern classic would be an understatement—in addition to its certified-fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s been the number-one film on IMDb’s Top 250 Movies list since 2008. Of course, every fan of this Oscar-nominated prison drama loves it for different reasons: the timeless story of hope and friendship, Frank Darabont’s revelatory screenplay, Thomas Newman’s heartrending soundtrack or Morgan Freeman’s career-defining performance, to name a few. And if you somehow haven’t seen Shawshank yet, it’s time to get busy livin.’
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Number of reviews: 237
The directorial debut of actor Rebecca Hall follows Irene (Tessa Thompson), a light-skinned Black woman in 1920s New York City who has recently connected with Clare (Ruth Negga), an old friend who is also light-skinned—and who has been “passing” as a white woman. Hall, whose mother is of part-African ancestry, treats her mournful, mysterious source material with tremendous care (the film is based on Nella Larson’s 1929 novel of the same name), while Passing’s luscious black-and-white cinematography and exquisite performances establish Hall as a filmmaker on the rise.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020)
Number of reviews: 302
Over the course of one hot summer day in 1927, legendary blues singer Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) battles her white manager and producer, her band, and ambitious trumpeter (Chadwick Boseman, in his final film appearance). Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is predominantly set in a Chicago recording studio—the film’s claustrophobia, however, is offset by the sheer energy of Branford Marsalis’s score and the characters’ volatile discussions on art, commerce and Black exploitation. What we’re left with is Boseman’s greatest achievement.
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The Power of the Dog (2021)
Number of reviews: 308
The acclaimed writer-director Jane Campion (The Piano) has turned Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel of the same name into a stone-cold 21st century classic, with a career-best performance from Benedict Cumberbatch. In 1920s Montana, the charismatic but volatile rancher Phil Burbank (Cumberbatch) lives in service of his land and an old, deceased mentor. But when his brother (Jesse Plemons) suddenly brings home a new wife (Kirsten Dunst) and her teenage son (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Phil’s long-buried emotions threaten to destroy his tightly-controlled existence. Part character study, part mood piece, The Power of the Dog is a mysterious examination of love, sex and resentment—and is nothing short of masterful.
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On Body and Soul (2017)
Number of reviews: 79
At an abattoir in Hungary, finance officer Endre (Géza Morcsányi) and quality inspector Maria (Alexandra Borbély) learn that they both have the same recurring dream: a pair of deer roaming a snowy forest. Slowly, the two begin to connect, but their budding relationship is complicated by Maria’s autistic symptoms. Like the pair’s strange common ground, On Body and Soul has a dreamlike quality on-screen, melding romance, dark comedy and brutality to upend our narrative expectations. It’s a challenging film, but highly rewarding.
Number of reviews: 464
The success of Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite—it became the first non-English language film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture—was a watershed moment for world cinema. Fortunately, it couldn’t have happened to a more timely movie. Bong’s razor-sharp critique of inequality in South Korea, in which the impoverished Kim family devise a series of schemes in order to work for the wealthy Park family, is fiendishly entertaining. Parasite‘s greatest strength? It doesn’t place either family on a moral pedestal.
Number of reviews: 164
Perhaps the most endearing film on Netflix Canada, this BAFTA-nominated family adventure follows Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw), a young Peruvian bear who finds a new home with the Brown family (including Sally Hawkins and Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville) in London, England. But when the villainous museum taxidermist Millicent Clyde (Nicole Kidman) learns of Paddington’s existence, she sets out to hunt him down.
Photo: Sony Pictures
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Number of reviews: 395
After the events of Captain America: Civil War, young Peter Parker (Tom Holland) navigates his double-life as a normal teen at Midtown High School in Queens, New York City, and as the youngest member of the Avengers, Spider-Man. Against the commands of his mentor, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Parker begins to investigate new villain, Vulture (Michael Keaton), a salvager-turned-arms trafficker with mysterious intentions. While Marvel might be guilty of mindless reboots and iterations, Spider-Man: Homecoming is simply too fun, action-packed and smart to ignore.
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Photo: Warner Bros.
Number of reviews: 86
The iconic firefight in downtown L.A. may be Heat’s most celebrated element, but this ‘90s classic astonishes first and foremost as a piece of highly sophisticated modern noir. Despite standing on opposite sides of the law, Robbery-Homicide Detective Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) and professional thief Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) are essentially the same person: obsessive, hyper intelligent lost souls who know deep down that their lines of work will only destroy the ones they love. Meanwhile, the film’s main subplot—a hardened parolee (24’s Dennis Haysbert) tries to make a fresh start—adds real heart to the wreckage. More than 25 years after its release, every big screen cops-and-robbers tale is still made in Heat’s shadow.
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The Hurt Locker (2009)
Number of reviews: 289
“The rush of a battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug,” says the title card before Kathryn Bigelow’s gritty film about an Iraq War Explosive Ordnance Team. The Hurt Locker’s narrative structure—it consists mostly of vignettes, and there are virtually no character arcs—remains potent. By depicting the same situations over and over again, The Hurt Locker achieves an unbearable sense of tension for much of its running time.
Leave No Trace (2018)
Number of reviews: 247
Leave No Trace, the second-most reviewed film to receive a 100 per cent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, tells the story of Will, an Iraqi War veteran suffering from PTSD (Ben Foster) who lives in a public park in Portland, Oregon, with his 13-year-old daughter Tom (Thomasin McKenzie). One day, they’re spotted, arrested and given food and a home by social services. Faced with this opportunity for a fresh start, Will struggles to overcome his demons and adjust to regular life, while his daughter feels her father is holding back her true potential.
Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing
Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood (2019)
Number of reviews: 571
1969 has come to be viewed as the end of the hippie movement. Abroad, the Vietnam War worsened, while the Tate-LaBianca murders at the hands of the Manson Family in August, along with the disastrous Altamont Free Concert in December, unleashed a long shadow stateside. But it wasn’t just America’s idealistic youth that felt their days were numbered. In Quentin Tarantino’s ramshackle Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, has-been actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and never-was stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt, who won an Academy Award for his role) feel increasingly useless in a system that no longer needs them. If that all sounds like heavy material, rest assured: Hollywood, which often blurs the line between reality and fantasy, is a wonderfully weird—and wild—tribute to a bygone era.
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Number of reviews: 357
Immediately hailed as a modern classic and nominated for 10 Oscars, Gravity rewrites the rules of the sci-fi thriller and adds new ones too. After a routine spacewalk goes catastrophically wrong, two astronauts—the brilliant but inexperienced Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and the mission’s commander (George Clooney)—find themselves floating in outer space with nothing but each other. Visually dazzling and narratively taut, Gravity is a pulse-pounding survival story for the ages.
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Marriage Story (2019)
Number of reviews: 392
Boasting two career-defining performances and a brilliant script, writer-director Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story is a searing portrayal of divorce and fleeting love. Charlie (Adam Driver), a successful theatre director, and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson), a veteran actress, have been seeing a mediator to work through their marital issues. But one day, Nicole serves him divorce papers, setting the table for a painful custody battle for their son.
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Photo: United Artists Releasing
Number of reviews: 377
Is it possible to cram four years of debauchery into one night? That’s what the heroes of Booksmart—BFFs Molly Davidson (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy Antsler (Kaitlyn Dever)—aim to find out. On the final day of high school, the two straight-A seniors realize they should have had more fun, and plan to go to a graduation party to pursue their respective crushes. Throw in a few colourful characters, a murder mystery party theme, and one especially bad drug trip, and you’ve got one of the funniest—and most heartfelt—teen comedies in recent memory.
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Number of reviews: 404
Directed by Oscar-winner Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) and set in the Colonia Roma neighbourhood of Mexico City in 1971, this semi-autobiographical film follows Indigenous live-in maid Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio, in her screen debut) and the wealthy household she cares for: Sofia, doctor husband Antonio, and their four young children. Soon, Cleo’s turbulent personal life begins to mirror the disintegrating marriage of her employers, while political tensions in Mexico boil over into full-blown violence. Photographed in stunning black-and-white, Roma is personal storytelling on the grandest scale imaginable.
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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Number of reviews: 393
After being bitten by a radioactive spider, Brooklyn teen Miles Morales gains superpowers similar to Spider-Man. But when Spider-Man is suddenly killed, Miles discovers that there are many high-flying superheroes from other dimensions just like him. Using his newfound capabilities, Miles must wage battle against Kingpin, a powerful crime lord who can open portals to other universes—and who was responsible for killing the original Spider-Man.
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The Graduate (1967)
Number of reviews: 83
Who would have thought a modest comedy-drama about a college grad’s affair with an older woman—and his subsequent infatuation with her daughter—would change movies forever? After all, The Graduate grossed almost $105 million in the U.S. ($859 million in today’s terms), launched Dustin Hoffman’s career and finally convinced American studio heads to tell more offbeat, youth-oriented stories on-screen. More than 50 years after its release, its wry observations on twentysomething malaise and the generation gap still ring true. (And we still picture the dazzling Anne Bancroft when listening to Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” too.)
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The Irishman (2019)
Number of reviews: 455
As the director of Goodfellas, Casino and The Wolf of Wall Street, Martin Scorsese has often been accused of glorifying the lives of immoral men. With that in mind, The Irishman feels like a retort. Not one second of this 209-minute opus, which charts the life of Pennsylvania hit man Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) and his relationships with mob boss Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) and Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), could be mistaken for glamorous. After all, where’s the allure in killing your best friend, losing the love and trust of your family, and seeing history move on without you? The Irishman is both a moving portrait of a deeply flawed man and a fitting coda to the mob movie genre.
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Photo: Warner Bros.
L.A. Confidential (1997)
Number of reviews: 161
One of the most indelible achievements in recent Hollywood history, L.A. Confidential is set in the 1950s and follows three wildly different cops—a by-the-book sergeant (Guy Pearce), a jaded vice detective (Kevin Spacey) and a corrupt plainclothes officer (Russell Crowe)—as they discover that a recent high-profile, seemingly open-and-shut case isn’t what it seems. Renowned for its intricate plot, exhilarating performances and depiction of Hollywood’s dark underbelly, L.A. Confidential received nine Academy Award nominations and won two, for Best Supporting Actress (Kim Basinger) and Best Adapted Screenplay. (Sadly, it lost the rest to Titanic.)
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