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.
I, Tonya (2017)
Number of reviews: 387
Few stories captured the imagination of the American public in the ’90s quite like the assault of figure skater Nancy Kerrigan at the alleged behest of rival Tonya Harding. But how does one portray such a bizarre event on the big screen? To filmmakers Craig Gillespie and Steven Rogers, the only answer is through dark comedy. Margot Robbie stars as Harding, whose pure talent is overshadowed by her working-class roots, while Allison Janney plays Harding’s mother—a woman so monstrous she wouldn’t seem out of place in Mommie Dearest.
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Stories We Tell (2012)
Number of reviews: 147
Ten years before she won an Academy Award for adapting Miriam Toews for the big screen, actor-turned-filmmaker Sarah Polley looked to her family for material. Utilizing intimate interviews, faux Super 8 footage and narration courtesy of her father, Polley creates a revealing portrait of her late mother—and investigates the rumours that dogged the Polley’s for years. (For obvious reasons, we shall refrain from spoilers.) Needless to say, Stories We Tell is personal filmmaking of the highest order—and one of the best movies on Netflix Canada.
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Number of reviews: 380
Like All the President’s Men four decades earlier, the Academy Award-winning Spotlight smartly ends where most biopics begin. Rather than exploring the direct aftermath of the Boston Globe’s earth-shattering 2002 exposé of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the city on a hill, writer-director Tom McCarthy dramatizes the story before the story. Spotlight is comprised almost entirely of quiet scenes of meetings, interviews and confrontations—and it might just renew your faith in what the media can achieve.
Promising Young Woman (2020)
Number of reviews: 419
Emerald Fennell’s uncompromising exploration of rape culture and the men—and women—who perpetuate it is one of the best movies on Netflix Canada. Academy Award nominee Carey Mulligan plays Cassie Thomas, a med school dropout who gets the chance to exact revenge on the people responsible for her late friend’s sexual assault. If that sounds dark, just know that Fennell wisely surrounds her script’s fury with humour, wit and general weirdness—in the world of Promising Young Woman, revenge is a dish best served with a wry smile.
It’s clear from the first three minutes of Goodfellas that it’s a mob movie like no other—a truly immersive look at the champagne highs and blood-spattered, cocaine-fuelled lows of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), an associate of New York City’s Lucchese crime family from 1955 to 1980. Martin Scorsese’s arsenal of directorial flourishes—freeze frames, staccato editing, long takes, the single-greatest soundtrack ever—remains thrilling, as do the hilarious and terrifying performances by Liotta, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Lorraine Bracco. In a film with virtually no plot and even less catharsis, everything is still somehow in its right place.
The Imitation Game (2014)
Number of reviews: 287
In 1952, English computer scientist Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is arrested for “gross indecency,” charges that would later lead to his conviction for the then-criminal offense of homosexuality. Unbeknownst to authorities, Turing is an unsung hero: during the Second World War, he was part of a top-secret operation tasked with cracking the “unbreakable” codes of Nazi Germany’s Enigma machine. Through flashbacks, The Imitation Game explores Turing’s fascinating—and tragic—life.
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All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)
Number of reviews: 161
Nominated for nine Oscars at the 95th Academy Awards, All Quiet on the Western Front is the third adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s classic 1929 anti-war novel and its first German production, too. In the final years of the First World War, 17-year-old Paul Bäumer (Felix Kammerer) and a group of friends enlist in the Imperial German Army; their blind patriotism is quickly destroyed by the realities of trench warfare. While deviating from its source material, Western Front still stands tall as a work of overwhelming terror. War is hell, indeed.
Number of reviews: 90
The iconic firefight in downtown L.A. may be Heat’s most celebrated sequence, but this ’90s classic astonishes first and foremost as a highly sophisticated modern film noir. Despite standing on opposite sides of the law, detective Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) and thief Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) are essentially the same person: obsessive, intelligent lost souls who know deep down that their lines of work will only destroy the ones they love. Meanwhile, one of the film’s many subplots—a hardened parolee (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.
The Social Network (2010)
Number of reviews: 329
Before he was the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg was just a Harvard student hellbent on showing off his intellectual superiority. Through a series of depositions, confrontations, failed dates and backroom deals, The Social Network explores the creation of the most revolutionary platform of the 21st century. Incisively written and directed, and led by breakthrough performances from Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield, this thought-provoking, often nasty biopic takes a long, hard look at the way we now connect with—and alienate—one another.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Number of reviews: 82
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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The Farewell (2019)
Number of reviews: 349
This quietly stunning comedy-drama poses one question: is there such a thing as a “good” lie? Chinese-American writer Billi (Awkwafina) learns that her grandmother (Zhao Shu-zhen), who lives in Changchun, China, has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. What’s more, Billi discovers that her grandmother has no clue: her family has decided to keep the results a secret from their beloved matriarch, and are planning to stage a wedding ceremony in Changchun to covertly say their goodbyes. Debates on the difference between Eastern and Western culture abound, but The Farewell, which is based on a true story, works best as an honest portrait of a family in transition.
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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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The Hurt Locker (2009)
Number of reviews: 290
“The rush of a battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug.” The title card for The Hurt Locker truly sets the stage for Kathryn Bigelow’s gritty Best Picture winner. The film’s innovative narrative structure—it consists mostly of unconnected episodes involving an Iraq War Explosive Ordnance Team, with virtually no plot to speak of—makes compelling viewing. By depicting the same situations over and over again, The Hurt Locker achieves an unbearable sense of tension for much of its running time.
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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.
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.
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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.
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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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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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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 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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Number of reviews: 85
The creepy opening credits… Those deranged crime scenes… The budding camaraderie between Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman’s detectives… It’s been 25 years since David Fincher’s serial-killer thriller was released, but none of its bleak images and moments have faded from our collective memory. Just don’t try and picture what’s inside the box.
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