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.
Away from Her (2006)
Number of reviews: 144
In rural Ontario, retired university professor Grant (the late Gordon Pinsent) and his wife, Fiona (Julie Christie, in an Academy Award-nominated performance), learn that she has Alzheimer’s disease. Fearful that she’s becoming a risk to herself, Fiona checks into a nursing home; one month later, Grant discovers that Fiona has forgotten him and grown close to a fellow patient (Michael Murphy). Based on Alice Munro’s short story, “The Bear Came Over the Mountain,” Away from Her is a devastating look at dementia’s eroding effects and what it means to truly look back on one’s life.
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Catch Me If You Can (2002)
This exhilarating dramedy treats American con artist Frank Abagnale’s life story as if it were the most interesting tale ever told—and in some ways, it is. In the 1960s, the teenage Abagnale (Leonardo DiCaprio) escapes his broken home and ends up impersonating a Pan Am pilot, a doctor and a lawyer, in that order. His exploits—and millions of dollars in forged cheques—bring him to the attention of tenacious FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks), who is dumbfounded by his target’s ingenuity. In 2020, a new book suggested that the real-life Abagnale had wildly exaggerated his “autobiography,” making Catch Me If You Can perhaps his greatest con yet.
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Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Number of reviews: 151
When George Lucas and Steven Spielberg set out to create an homage to the action serials of the 1930s, they struck gold. Not only did Raiders of the Lost Ark earn several big category nominations at the Oscars (a relative rarity at the time for an action picture), but it also kicked off the definitive adventure series of the ’80s. It’s one of those rare movies that gets absolutely everything right, from the casting of Harrison Ford as the lovable lead, to the irresistibly hummable theme by John Williams. And despite being more than 40 years old, it hasn’t aged a day.
The Departed (2006)
Number of reviews: 287
Absolutely everything about The Departed is over-the-top: its dialogue consists almost entirely of insults and profanities; its main baddie has a higher body count than Shakespeare; and its twists ignore any semblance of reality. Holding the extravagant proceedings together is an all-star cast led by a never-better Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays an undercover cop tasked with infiltrating Boston’s Irish mob and weeding out his traitorous counterpart (Matt Damon, also in top form). What makes The Departed so undeniably great? For starters, it’s easily the funniest depiction of machismo in Martin Scorsese’s storied career—and that’s saying something.
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The Pianist (2002)
Renowned Jewish musician Władysław Szpilman (Adrien Brody, who won an Academy Award for his performance) struggles to survive the Nazi invasion of Poland in this heartrending Holocaust drama. Drawing from Szpilman’s 1946 memoir of the same name and director Roman Polanski’s own childhood as a Holocaust survivor, The Pianist achieves something rare in cinema—it is a tale of monumental loss that never feels completely hopeless; a tale of darkness that never forgets the light in others.
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The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Number of reviews: 228
In this Oscar-nominated dramedy, Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson play a pair of teenaged siblings in Los Angeles who decide to contact their biological father, Paul (Mark Ruffalo), a free-spirited restaurateur. Seems normal enough—except Paul was the sperm donor for the pair’s lesbian parents (Julianne Moore and Annette Bening), and his arrival isn’t exactly welcomed by all parties. Toggling between comedy-of-manners and gut-punching exploration of marriage, The Kids Are All Right is a touching yet realistic look at everyday family life.
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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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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.
Get Out (2017)
Number of reviews: 403
Nothing is what it seems in Jordan Peele’s Oscar-winning phenomenon. Get Out starts normally enough, as a Black photographer (Daniel Kaluuya) joins his white girlfriend (Alison Williams) to upstate New York to meet her wealthy liberal parents (Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford). But after a particularly unnerving hypnosis scene and a show-stealing turn by LaKeith Stanfield, Peele’s social satire quickly gives way to old-school horror. The result is one of the most original American movies ever made.
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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 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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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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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: 168
Why does Adam Sandler continue to make schlock comedies despite showing genuine chops as an actor? It’s one of Hollywood’s great mysteries, but one thing is certain: he can add Hustle to his list of triumphs. In this sports drama, Sandler plays Stanley Sugerman, a long-time scout for the Philadelphia 76ers who is tasked with finding the next basketball superstar if he wants to be promoted to assistant coach. Enter Bo Cruz (real-life player Juancho Hernangómez), a Spanish construction worker whose talents on the court are matched only by the holes in his mental game. If one were looking for a near-perfect basketball movie, Hustle might just be it.
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