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 content is at the top of the list, with the shows and movies getting progressively less new as you scroll down and switch pages
Joaquin Phoenix delivers a typical tour-de-force performance in this Oscar-winning origin story. How did an aspiring stand-up comedian become Gotham City’s most notorious villain? Director Todd Phillips crafts a much more nuanced and tragic superhero movie than we’ve seen from recent DC Comics-derived efforts; this is far closer to Taxi Driver than it is to Man of Steel, and all the better for it.
Old Enough (S1)
A bizarre Japanese TV show in which genuine toddlers are sent out of the house to run errands whilst a camera crew discreetly records their every move. If it sounds like something Chris Morris might have invented for The Day Today, Old Enough is actually a surprisingly sweet and entertaining break from reality. If that seems strange given that it’s a reality show, it’s because it’s not one we could ever see being recreated in this country.
Call Me By Your Name
Taking place in the early 1980s over one magical northern Italian summer, Call Me By Your Name is a coming-of-age story about an outwardly precocious teenager (a fantastic Timothée Chalamet) who falls for an older American visitor (Armie Hammer) at his family’s holiday home.
To reveal any more would spoil the joy of this wonderful movie, which drifts warmly, hazily and lazily along like the perfect summertime. Evocative, funny and bittersweet, it conveys a universality and humanity that puts it among the finest films of the past few years.
Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story (S1)
A two-part documentary series that manages to tell the story of Jimmy Savile’s rise and fall, without being salacious or exploitative. Well-researched and authoritative, the first part recounts the broadcaster’s long career and role as a ubiquitous Santa Claus-style figure in British life – DJ, presenter, charitable dynamo and friend of Margaret Thatcher, The Beatles and Prince Charles. The second details the exposure of his shocking history of abuse, manipulation and exploitation, and how journalists were prevented from getting to the truth of it until after Savile’s death.
Martin Scorsese’s much-lauded exploration of isolation, obsession and mania remains a riveting watch today, as we follow Vietnam veteran and yellow cab driver Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro, in one of his defining roles) through the grimy streets 1970s New York. Bickle is a sensitive soul with a burning desire to make a difference in what he sees as an increasingly corrupt and sinful world – but as the film goes on it becomes clear that any action he might take could cause more harm than good.
Bad Vegan (S1)
The makers of Fyre deliver another compelling documentary about shady practices and fraud among hip New York trendsetters. Even if Bad Vegan isn’t quite as spectacularly meme-worthy as its predecessor, this four-part tale of “the world’s best raw vegan restaurant”, its famous female owner, a conman who claims to be an elite black ops operator despite being massively overweight, a dog that can live forever and, er, Alec Baldwin is a compelling and slick true crime ride.
Mercifully, COVID-19 hasn’t inspired a great many navel-gazing Hollywood movies. The studios, wisely, seem to understand that we’d all rather be thinking about something else, whether that’s a zombie apocalypse, international espionage or babies that are also bosses. The Bubble isn’t one of them: this star-studded satirical comedy from Judd Apatow leans into the pandemic, being set in the quarantined “bubble” created for the cast and crew of Cliff Beasts, a dumb major movie franchise about to get its sixth entry.
Preening actors, TikTok stars, dictatorial executives and surly crew members – nobody escapes mockery here, and there’s some genuinely funny stuff at times. In general though, with so many unlikeable characters on show, it lacks a bit of the warmth that usually marks out Apatow’s movies, and once the pandemic is far in our rear-view mirror we can’t imagine wanting to watch it again.
Pet Sematary (1989)
Speaking of animals that can live forever, here’s a Stephen King adaptation about the mysterious woodland grove with the powers of resurrection – but bringing back a beloved pet (or something else) comes with a price to pay. Yes, there’s a much fresher-looking modern remake, but we found this 1980s original to be far creepier. Just remember: sometimes, dead is better.
This much-anticipated second series of Netflix’s glitzy, glossy drama set in Regency England shifts focus from Daphne Bridgerton and the Duke of Hastings to the former’s brother: the rakish young Lord Anthony Bridgerton.
After spending the first series waltzing around London boozing and sowing his wild oats, Anthony has now decided to settle down for the good of his family – not that he believes a true love match is possible, of course. He’s merely looking for a woman who’s pretty, pleasant, kind and won’t bore his pants off over a lifetime of marriage – and he thinks he’s found one in the beautiful, sweet Edwina Sharma. His only problem? Her over-protective and headstrong older sister Kate, who knows exactly what he’s up to.
This brilliant one-shot, no-cuts film shows an evening in the life of an under-pressure London chef with a mounting pile of professional and personal problems (Stephen Graham, great as always). With its frenetic pace, documentary-style approach and a fantastic supporting cast, Boiling Point makes the stresses and strains of running a restaurant feel all too real. Wonderful stuff.
A desolate forest; a creepy set of twins; a missing baby; a failed harvest; and a curiously aggressive goat named Black Phillip. The Witch really ticks off those classic horror tropes as it tells the story of a farming family’s brush with the paranormal in colonial America.
Ye olde worlde 17th century dialogue might take some getting used to, but it also fuels the feeling of authenticity and adds to the overwhelming sense of otherworldliness. If you’re looking for jump scares go elsewhere – this is one of the few modern horror films built around atmosphere, psychology and creeping dread instead. Wonderful stuff.
Top Boy (S2)
Bear with us one second while we clear something up. Netflix bills this as the second season of Top Boy, but it’s technically the fourth – two shorter series having been produced by Channel 4 a decade or so previously (Netflix, having acquired the rights to Top Boy, renamed these earlier series as Top Boy: Summerhouse).
Confused? Never mind all that, because this is one of the few Netflix original series that actually makes you happy to have the increasingly expensive subscription. An almost Shakespearean tale of betrayal and loyalty among London drug dealers, it boasts the sort of depth, complex characters and intricate plotting that place it a good few rungs above standard Brit crime capers.
Three generations of the Blake family reunite for Thanksgiving in the crumbling, claustrophobic New York apartment of their youngest daughter. Bereft of furniture, the blistering paintwork, rust-streaked pipes and faulty wiring of the location serve as ominous symbols; portents of some unnamed disaster that you can sense coming from the very first shots of the film.
Directed and written by debutant Stephen Karam, based on his own stage play, The Humans is often a tense watch, but it’s buoyed magnificently by a cast including Richard Jenkins, Stephen Yeun, Amy Schumer and Beanie Feldstein. It’s also beautifully shot and pretty funny, which lightens the load of all the existential dread floating around.
The Hunt for Red October
Highly decorated Soviet submarine captain Sean Connery goes off-mission in an apparently undetectable nuclear sub, causing the CIA’s Alec Baldwin to give chase… in person. The Russians are (figuratively) on board with the Americans’ hunt, but things hot up below deck when Baldwin (literally) gets on board the Red October and some unlikely alliances are formed. A masterful piece of Tom Clancy-penned Cold War sub-aquatic suspense directed by Die Hard’s John McTiernan.
It: Chapter Two
Completing Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of Stephen King’s classic chiller, It: Chapter Two sees the Losers gang, having grown up and moved on from the terrifying events of their childhood, reunite when fear-fuelled demonic entity Pennywise returns to their hometown.
While Chapter Two doesn’t quite hit the horrifying heights of the first film, it’s a finely crafted bit of creepiness, while the group dynamic between the now-adult group of friends keeps the human element strong. That being said, at well over two hours it does become something of a slog towards the end, and the bloat doesn’t do its scariness many favours.
Rick and Morty (S5)
The latest 10-episode serving of the cult cartoon finally hits Netflix. If you haven’t seen Rick and Morty before, we’d advise starting with earlier seasons, but it’s essentially the filthiest-minded sci-fi series on television, in which misanthropic, amoral genius scientist Rick Sanchez drags his grandson Morty into a succession of horrific interdimensional situations that often have to be solved through the application of even more horrific violence. But it’s all so funny and fast-moving, and delivered with so much confidence that you rarely feel like you’ve seen anything awful occur.
The Adam Project
A crack fighter pilot from the future (Ryan Reynolds, in full wise-cracking Ryan Reynolds mode in what feels like his 80th Netflix original movie) travels back in time to mind his missing wife (Zoe Saldana) but gets his dates wrong and ends up in a buddy comedy with his 12-year-old self. Yes, The Adam Project is typical sci-fi hokum (with plenty of sentimentality thrown in) but its quickfire Marvel-esque humour and Hollywood sheen (supporting stars include Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo) keep it watchable throughout.
The Coen brothers take on Hollywood’s 1950s Golden Age with an ensemble farce about a missing leading man (George Clooney, who always does his best work playing an idiot for the Coens) and the studio fixer tasked with locating him while juggling a thousand other problems (Josh Brolin).
Taking on the Red Scare, the Cold War and a bigger threat than either (the imminent mass rollout of television, set to eat Hollywood studios’ lunch), this is a cerebral screwball comedy, sumptuously shot and full of great scenes (Channing Tatum’s song-and-dance number being a particular highlight). Above all, it seems to us a love letter to the business of filmmaking – all while taking the mickey out of the entire Hollywood process and the actors and the directors that populate it.
Joaquin Phoenix is a tightly wound rubber band in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2012 film. A US Navy veteran struggling to adjust to life after the Second World War, his Freddie Quell is haunted and unpredictable, a skinny drunk mixing up his own hooch from household chemicals to dampen down whatever trauma he experienced in combat; or, it’s hinted at, in his childhood.
Drifting from job to job across California, he chances upon Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the charismatic “Master” of a religious movement called The Cause. Despite their apparent differences, the pair take a shine to one another, with Dodd promising to uncover the source of Freddie’s pain and stamp it out once and for all. The tension between the pair and between Freddie and other followers of The Cause forms The Master’s dramatic spine, and as with most of Anderson’s more recent films, much is left to the viewer’s interpretations. It’s worth watching for the beautiful 65mm cinematography and Jonny Greenwood’s masterful score alone, but as always it’s the powerful psychological drama at play that lingers in your mind once the credits roll.
Jeen-yus: A Kanye Trilogy (S1)
Before the mega stardom, the fashion empire, the on-stage rants, the abortive marriage to a Kardashian and the palling up to Donald Trump, Kanye West was just a hip-hop producer with a dream: he wanted to be the next global rap star. It seems crazy now, but despite creating iconic tracks for the likes of Jay-Z and Mos Def, West struggled to find a record deal that would put him in front of the mic; influential people just didn’t take him seriously as a rapper.
The beginnings of his rise from college dropout to billionaire household name are chronicled in this riveting and enlightening documentary series from Clarence “Coodie” Simmons, who spotted something in the young Ye that prompted him to follow him from Chicago to New York and capture his struggle with a video camera.
Working both as a compelling crime thriller and a brutal excoriation of the United States’ War on Drugs and its latent effects on the cartel-run Mexican border cities, Sicario isn’t one for the faint-hearted or weak of stomach. Taut and tense, the plot works chiefly due to Emily Blunt and Benicio del Toro, who sell their somewhat implausible characters through sheer force of performance.
This action-thriller is dripping with black humour of a satirical bent, as a bunch of wealthy liberal Americans hunt down MAGA-type “deplorables” for sport. Although his name is never explicitly mentioned, it’s a honkingly clear comment on Trump’s divided America, and perhaps even an appeal for greater nuance and understanding – but the point doesn’t hit home all that cleanly. Luckily the movie’s brisk pace, joyful disregard for worn-out tropes and love of bloody action sequences will keep you amply entertained.
Ang Lee’s meditative tale of a secretive decades-long romance between two rugged shepherds has lost none of its power in the years since its release. Quietly heart-wrenching, beautifully shot and wonderfully acted by Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger, to think of it as it’s often known – “the gay cowboy film” – would be a huge oversimplification.
The freedom the duo feel in the vast open spaces of the American West is juxtaposed with the suffocating claustrophobia of their home lives, and Ledger’s performance in particular as the would-be stoic Ennis Del Mar, able to convey so much with so few words, is a career best.
Will Arnett helms this enjoyable improvised comedy (based on BBC Three sitcom Murder in Successville), in which he plays spiky homicide detective Terry Seattle (“I’ve never been.”). In each of the six episodes, each of which deals with a single murder investigation, Arnett is teamed up with a new trainee partner played by a celebrity (Sharon Stone and Conan O’Brien are among the rookies for this season) – the twist being that the guest star has not been given a script and must improvise their way through the case, eventually attempting to solve it.
The Tinder Swindler
A fascinating and cautionary feature-length documentary about a fraudster who, after meeting a woman via the eponymous dating app and sweeping her off feet with all the trappings of a multi-millionaire lifestyle (deftly faked, of course), would swiftly moves to scam her out of a small fortune – part of which he then used to entrap his next victim. This pernicious Ponzi scheme is here outlined in stylish detail by its victims and the journalists that eventually exposed the scammer’s schemes, but the ending might leave those expecting justice feeling somewhat deflated.
The Invisible Man
This effective psychological thriller stars Elisabeth Moss as a woman who believes she’s being stalked by her abusive, controlling ex-boyfriend – a tech entrepreneur who may have invented a way to make himself invisible. With friends and family dismissing her experiences as trauma-triggered delusions, she must face down her imperceptible tormentor alone. It might not have much to do with H.G. Wells’ original sci-fi tale, but this movie feels timely, taut and tense.
Television’s most bum-clenchingly tense crime series since Breaking Bad has returned for its fourth and final season. Can middle-class money launderers Marty and Wendy Byrde (Jason Bateman and Laura Linney) emerge from their clinch with ruthless cocaine cartels and murderous Missouri hillbillies with all their limbs, fingers and toes intact? We won’t find out for a while yet: this seven-episode stretch is just the first half of the final season, with another set to round off the story releasing at some point in the not-too-distant future.
Munich: The Edge of War
wielded by Neville Chamberlain upon his return – was supposed to avert war between Britain, France and Nazi Germany. History tells us how successful that accord was, and hasn’t been kind to Chamberlain as a result – Hitler could not be appeased, and Czechoslovakia was just the beginning of his imperial ambitions.
This espionage thriller, about two university friends – one English, one German – who attempt to stop the agreement being signed and for Hitler to be properly faced down, paints a much more nuanced picture, with Jeremy Irons’ Chamberlain far more sympathetic than we’re used to seeing. As you’d expect from a Robert Harris novel adaptation, it’s high on tension and twists too.
Archive 81 (S1)
A found footage horror series executive produced by Sultan of Scares James Wan (previously responsible for Saw, Insidious and The Conjuring series), Archive 81 is set both in the present day (where an archivist works to restore some videotapes recovered from a mysterious fire) and the 1990s (where the documentary-maker who created said tapes chronicles the goings-on in an unusual Manhattan apartment building). Needless to say, the filmmaker’s investigation is taken up by the archivist, who’s drawn into the story when he discovers links to his own past – and to the tragic deaths of his family.
Creator Rebecca Shonnenshine favours a slow-burn psychological approach over throwing copious amounts of gore around, so thrill-seekers might feel a bit short-changed at first – but they should probably stick around to find out how the mystery ends.
Guy Ritchie returns to the frenetic gangster flicks of his early career with this Brit crime caper, a star-studded bit of amusement that, while somewhat forgettable, remains entertaining and engaging throughout its run time.
Matthew McConaughey plays an American expat who runs a UK-wide cannabis business – and when you’re ruling an empire, there’s no shortage of pretenders to the throne. An attempt to buy out his business sparks off a series of events that tick all the Ritchie boxes: verbose dialogue, sudden violence, quirky characters and quick-fire editing. Everyone seems to be having a lot of fun, from McConaughey as the dapper drug lord to Hugh Grant as a camp and conniving private eye.
Cobra Kai (S4)
It might be a small field, but Cobra Kai is surely the best TV spin-off from a movie made 30-odd years before… ever! Reuniting the main players from The Karate Kid and its sequels decades later could have been nothing more than a lazy nostalgia love-in, but this show gives the old rivalries and friendships new life, offers fresh perspectives on things we thought we had all figured out and confidently tells its own modern-day story. And with a fifth season having already wrapped, it’s going to be sticking around for some time yet.
The Lost Daughter
Maggie Gyllenhaal steps behind the camera for her first feature film as writer-director with this taut adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s novel. A middle-aged academic (Olivia Colman) arrives on a Greek island for a relaxing working holiday, but her peace and quiet is quickly disrupted by the arrival of a large, loud and rude family group – including a young mother (Dakota Johnson) who seems to sit strangely apart from the rest, and who causes the academic to consider her own youth and motherhood with a critical eye.
Stay Close (S1)
Another Harlen Coben Netflix adaptation with the master mystery novelist himself involved as executive producer, Stay Close isn’t going to win any awards for originality or nuance – but if your New Year’s-addled brain is in the market for some easy viewing with more twists than a sack of fusilli this missing persons drama fits the bill nicely. The starry cast – which includes Cush Jumbo, Richard Armitage, James Nesbit and Eddie Izzard – keeps the plot moving so fast that its silliness never matters too much, and ending every episode on a cliff-hanger doesn’t hurt.
Crime Scene: The Times Square Killer (S1)
Back in the 1970s and 80s, New York’s Times Square wasn’t the scrubbed-up Disneyfied tourist trap it is today: you’d be more likely to stumble into a live sex club than an Olive Garden in the “Deuce” (the nickname for the notorious block on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues), an area filled with peep shows, pimps and sex workers.
The time and place has been immortalised in films like Taxi Driver, but it’s real-life crime that’s explored in this well-made three-part documentary series. A serial killer is prowling the seedy streets around Times Square, using the area and its denizens’ reputations – and the police’s attitudes towards sex workers – as cover for his horrific activities.
Don’t Look Up
Adam McKay’s blackly comedic take on the apocalypse has divided critics, but we think it’s a perfectly serviceable satire with a frighteningly salient point: that the divided, easily distracted and inward-looking world we live in currently is simply not fit to deal with any genuinely huge issues it might face.
In the movie it’s a mountain-sized comet hurtling towards the planet, spotted by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence’s low-level scientists and all but certain to wipe out all life on Earth, but the reaction they get from those with power – from dismissal to indifference to “how can we exploit this for political gain?” – could easily apply to climate change or the coronavirus pandemic. The star-packed cast, McKay’s signature fast-moving direction and a glut of jokes keep the tone generally light, even if the subject matter is anything but, but it’s hard to come away from Don’t Look Up feeling particularly optimistic about humanity’s future. Anyway, Happy New Year!
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
A cult holiday favourite from the 1980s, this road movie-cum-comedy stars Steve Martin and John Candy as two travellers forced to team up to get home in time for the Thanksgiving turkey dinner. Martin excels as the uptight middle-class straight man, a total opposite to Candy’s brash, motor-mouthed shower curtain ring salesman – so it’s no surprise when their journey turns into a series of clashes and arguments. It all ends very heart-warmingly, of course, which is probably why this film has become something of a classic of its time. It’s certainly among the late Candy’s best movies.
The Witcher (S3)
It’s been nigh-on two years since the silver-haired monster slayer Geralt last graced our screens, but Henry Cavill and his unconscionably girthy arms are finally back, baby. This season sees Geralt bringing his young ward Ciri to the witcher caste’s home: the crumbling castle of Kaer Morhen, where we’ll finally meet his mentor Vesemir (Killing Eve’s Kim Bodnia). Expect gravelly voices, grimy faces and gruesome creatures.
The Hand of God
Paolo Sorrentino’s semi-autobiographical film is filled with gorgeous shots that burn themselves into your head – a frantic night-time drive to a hospital, a flare exploding over the Bay of Naples, a collapsed chandelier in a crumbling ballroom – but its characters and ideas are just as memorable.
Teenager Fabietto is obsessed by football, dreaming of Diego Maradona being signed by Napoli and about his beautiful aunt Patrizia; he’s quiet and has few friends, but there’s no shortage of love and support from his family. When a tragedy changes everything, his young life comes to a crossroads: should be pursue happiness and pleasure or dedicate himself to something more important? If that sounds like every other coming-of-age story, don’t be put off, because Sorrentino’s vision feels anything but stereotypical. A possible Oscar contender, we say.
The Power of the Dog
Another Oscar favourite, this Western-slash-family drama from previous Academy Award winner Jane Campion stars Benedict Cumberbatch playing against type as a cruel but charismatic Montana rancher who takes issue with his brother’s new wife and her teenage son. Is he jealous of his brother’s apparent happiness? Worried about the newcomers’ intentions for the family business? Or is there something else – something darker – that’s unsettled him?
This is a film that leaves much open to interpretation, but what’s clear is that it works against the viewer’s expectations in an unsettling and disarming way. It’s not a barrel of laughs by any stretch of the imagination, but the beautifully shot landscapes and excellent performances from a cast that also includes Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst should keep you watching regardless.
Writer-director Lulu Wang’s semi-autobiographical tale of cultural differences (and similarities) makes for an enlightening and emotional comedy-drama. Awkwafina plays Billi, a young Chinese American struggling to find direction as a writer in New York. Then she discovers her grandmother back in Beijing has just months to live – and doesn’t know it. In China, she’s told, families often withhold such information from dying relatives to spare them psychological strain. As a Westerner, Billi sees this as a cruel deception, but travels to China with her parents to say goodbye under the guise of attending a cousin’s wedding.
Funny and generous, The Farewell is a touching look at family, death and duty that resonates even more strongly right now, when visiting distant friends and relatives is harder than ever.