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20 Classic Movies to Watch on Netflix Canada

From Good Will Hunting to Grease, these classic movies on Netflix Canada will satisfy any type of mood you're in.

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Best Classic Movies On Netflix Canada - Crocodile DundeePhoto: Netflix

Crocodile Dundee (1986)

For those who love “fish-out-of-water” comedies, it’s hard to beat Crocodile Dundee. This low-budget Australian flick became a massive worldwide hit thanks to the charisma of its star, Paul Hogan, who plays Mick Dundee, an expert when it comes to the wild things that live in the Outback. He’s less at home, however, in the concrete jungle of New York City, where he travels to be featured in a magazine article. Part rom-com, part action movie, Crocodile Dundee is actually based on Rod Ansell, who survived for 56 days in remote Northern Australia after his fishing boat capsized off the coast.

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Best Classic Movies On Netflix Canada - Scent Of A WomanPhoto: Universal Pictures

Scent of a Woman (1992)

Al Pacino and Chris O’Donnell star in this remake of the 1972 Italian film Profuma di donna. In his role as blind, alcoholic Army vet Frank Slade, Pacino delivers a performance that seems to encapsulate nearly every emotion known to humankind, from the hopeless depths of despair to common impatience and irritability to pure exuberance for life itself. Scent of a Woman is a Pacino-led masterclass in acting—for which the icon took home the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Here are the most memorable moments from the Academy Awards.

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She's Gotta Have It (1986)Photo: American Film Institute

She’s Gotta Have It (1986)

This feature directorial debut launched Spike Lee’s career and—more significantly—helped kickstart the North American indie film industry. Shot over the course of two weeks with only a $175,000 budget, She’s Gotta Have It showcases the era’s big ideas, changing norms, and shifting power dynamics while giving voice to a character, Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns), who is nothing short of revolutionary. Also: it’s very funny—especially John Canada Terrell’s character, whose vanity knows no limits.

These are the best comedy movies on Netflix Canada.

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Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)Photo: Netflix

Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)

This classic comedy follows Brian (Graham Chapman), a half-hearted rebel living in Judea under Roman rule during the time of Jesus. Wanting to impress a girl (while evading crucifixion at the hands of Pontius Pilate’s guards) Brian makes the fatal error of cribbing some of the text from one of Jesus’ sermons. Suddenly, he’s adopted as the Messiah—a role he is definitely not cut out for. Fun fact: funding fell through days before filming, and the project was saved by none other than Python fan George Harrison.

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Best Classic Movies On Netflix Canada - L.A. ConfidentialPhoto: Warner Bros.

L.A. Confidential (1997)

This Academy Award-winning neo-noir features an A-list ensemble cast and an intricate storyline set in the policing world of 1950s Los Angeles where the cops are as likely to be corrupt as the criminals. Guy Pierce, Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito and Kim Basinger star in a character-driven story with so many plot twists and double-crosses that it deserves to be watched at least twice—preferably with a highball in hand.

You won’t believe these classic movies didn’t win Best Picture.

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Best Classic Movies On Netflix Canada - The ThingPhoto: Universal Pictures

The Thing (1982)

John Carpenter’s classic sci-fi horror still packs a frightening punch thanks to its paranoid atmosphere and claustrophobic dread. The story takes place in Antarctica where a team of U.S. research scientists are beset by a malicious alien life form with the ability to mimic any creature it encounters. Initially panned by critics and regarded a box office disappointment, The Thing later developed a cult following—and it’s not hard to see why.

Check out these other scary movies on Netflix Canada!

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Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)Photo: Sony Pictures

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

It’s not often that a sequel lives up to an original, but Terminator 2: Judgement Day is a rare exception. Reuniting Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton with writer-director James Cameron, T2 again follows Sarah Connor, who’s now tasked with saving herself and her son (Edward Furlong) from a next-gen T-1000 Terminator model (Robert Patrick) with the ability to shape-shift into anything it fancies. With nothing less at stake than the future of the entire human race, it’s Terminator vs. Terminator in this thrilling, immensely re-watchable classic.

These time travel movies will make you question everything.

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Smokey and the Bandit (1977)Photo: Universal Pictures

Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

Citizen Coors is a biography of the Coors beer family who, obsessed with the quality of their beer, refused to let it be transported to the East coast before 1981. Smokey and the Bandit, meanwhile, is a movie about how bootleggers smuggled it there anyway. Starring Burt Reynolds as The Bandit, Sally Field as the prototypical runaway bride, and Jackie Gleason as the Sheriff in hot pursuit of them both, this 1977 action comedy still delights.

Discover the biggest box office hit from the year you were born.

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Best Classic Movies On Netflix Canada - TwinsPhoto: Netflix

Twins (1988)

This spit-take-inducing comedy from Ivan Reitman pairs Arnold Schwarzenegger with Danny DeVito in the most unlikely situation imaginable: as twin brothers (fraternal, naturally) separated at birth and reunited as adults. Mix in some trouble with the law, a missing biological mother, and an international conspiracy to manipulate human DNA and you’ve got a near-perfect comedy—Schwarzenegger’s very first, and proof that the one-time Austrian body-builder had serious comedic chops.

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Best Classic Movies On Netflix Canada - Uncle BuckPhoto: Universal Pictures

Uncle Buck (1989)

Written and directed by John Hughes and starring the late John Candy, Uncle Buck also features a young Gaby Hoffmann (Transparent) and Macaulay Culkin as two of the three siblings Candy’s Buck is tasked with babysitting while their parents are out of town. The movie that inspired every ‘80s kid to demand giant pancakes for their birthday breakfasts has Candy at his best, comedically trying to outmaneuver two energetic kids and one typically rebellious teenager (Jean Louisa Kelly), who he wins over in the most dramatic fashion. Uncle Buck is the epitome of a family feel-good film—just be sure to have maple syrup on hand after the credits roll.

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Best Classic Movies On Netflix Canada - The GraduatePhoto: Criterion

The Graduate (1967)

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 twenty-something 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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Dirty Dancing (1987)Photo: Lionsgate

Dirty Dancing (1987)

Few romantic dramas are as unabashedly campy as Dirty Dancing, a 1960s-set forbidden romance you no longer need to feel bad about calling a guilty pleasure. Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze are perfectly cast for writer Eleanor Bergstein’s semi-autobiographical script, which tells the story of a rich young woman who falls for a dance instructor while vacationing with her family in New York’s Catskill Mountains.

We’ve rounded up the best summer movies ever made.

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Forrest Gump (1994)Photo: Paramount Pictures

Forrest Gump (1994)

Eminently quotable and full of nostalgia, Forrest Gump tells the story of a naïve man (Tom Hanks) who becomes an unwitting participant in the 20th century’s most defining moments. Despite all of the history he’s witnessed, however, Forrest only needs the love of his beloved Jenny (Robin Wright). In a world of gloomy headlines and general uncertainty, we could all use a friend as optimistic and kind-hearted as Forrest Gump.

Check out every Oscar Best Picture winner—ranked.

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Ghostbusters (1984)Photo: Columbia Pictures

Ghostbusters (1984)

If there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call? Ivan Reitman’s beloved classic offers up a vision of New York City populated by monstrous ghosts and shapeshifting demigods. From its pitch-perfect performances (Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd have never been better) to throwaway one-liners (“Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!”), Ghostbusters is a wild ride from start to marshmallow finish. (The 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters, meanwhile, has earned a spot on our countdown of the worst movie remakes of all time.)

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Good Will Hunting (1997)Photo: Miramax

Good Will Hunting (1997)

When 20-year-old janitor Will Hunting (Matt Damon) isn’t wreaking havoc with his aimless buddies, he’s solving math problems that have stumped MIT professors for years. Leave it to Robin Williams—in his greatest role—to set the young punk on the right track. Damon and co-star Ben Affleck’s Oscar-winning screenplay is a sharp meditation on love, trauma and boy geniuses—and a bona fide ’90s touchstone. How do you like them apples?

Add these other amazing fall movies to your watch list.

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Best Classic Movies On Netflix Canada - GreasePhoto: Paramount Pictures

Grease (1978)

Over the summer of 1958, good Australian girl Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John) and tough American greaser Danny Zuko (John Travolta) fall in love. But when the duo discover they’re attending the same high school, they face a dilemma: can they renew their romance while also keeping up their hard-earned reputations? More than 40 years later, Grease is still the word.

Don’t miss these feel-good movies on Netflix Canada.

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Matilda (1996)Photo: Sony Pictures

Matilda (1996)

In this quirky adaptation of the Roald Dahl book of the same name, a brilliant little girl discovers she has telekinetic powers, and uses her newfound gift to turn the tables on her abusive parents and tyrannical principal. Embeth Davidtz shines as Matilda’s saintly teacher, Miss Jennifer Honey, but the film’s real star is child actor Mara Wilson.

Here are the movies that are better than the original books.

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Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)Photo: Trafalgar Releasing

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Monty Python has made better films (Life of Brian) and even more philosophical ones (The Meaning of Life), but neither match Monty Python and the Holy Grail in sheer irreverence, sight gags and laughs per minute. From its wonky opening credits—complete with fake Swedish subtitles—to its out-of-nowhere finale, The Holy Grail sees history’s most famous comedy group firing on all cylinders. You’ll never look at rabbits the same way again.

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Goodfellas (1990)Photo: Warner Bros.

Goodfellas (1990)

It’s already 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, everyone and everything is still somehow in its right place.

Don’t miss these true crime shows on Netflix Canada.

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Uma Thurman in Pulp FictionPhoto: Miramax

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Pulp Fiction may still be the best version of Quentin Tarantino Land: a colourful locale filled with pop-culture references, hyper-literate characters and exploding heads. Take your pick of storylines: John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson’s chatty hitmen, Uma Thurman’s dance-loving moll, or Bruce Willis’ love-drunk ex-boxer. Twenty-five years later, Pulp Fiction is still exhilarating—like an adrenaline shot to the heart, so to speak.

Next, check out the best movies on Netflix Canada.