The 100 Best Movies on Netflix (October 2016)

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The 100 Best Movies on Netflix (October 2016)

Netflix has added a long list of films for October that made our latest Best Movieson Netflix list, including a few of the  best movies on the 1990s, like Dazed and Confused, Three Kings and Unforgiven. It’s another good month for movies on Netflix with a broad array of great films.

For extensive guides to the best movies on other platforms like HBO, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Showtime, Redbox, On Demand, YouTube, Shudder and The Best Movies in Theaters, visit the Paste Movie Guides.

You can also check out our genre-specific lists:
The 50 Best Comedies on Netflix
The 60 Best Dramas on Netflix
The 60 Best Action Movies on Netflix
The 25 Best Sci-Fi Movies on Netflxi
The 50 Best Documentaries on Netflix
The 60 Best Horror Movies on Netflix
The 50 Best Romantic Comedies on Netflix
The 20 Best Animated Movies on Netflix
The 50 Best Foreign-Language Films on Netflix
The 20 Best Martial Arts Movies on Netflix.

Here are the 100 Best Movies Streaming on Netflix in October 2016:

st-vincent.jpg 100. St. Vincent
Year: 2014
Director: Ted Melfi
The comedy-drama St. Vincent, by first-time feature writer-director Ted Melfi, employs several well-worn story and character archetypes. There’s the retired curmudgeon (Bill Murray) who begrudgingly becomes entwined in the lives of his new neighbors, single mom (Melissa McCarthy) and her precocious son (Jaeden Lieberher). Throw in a Russian hooker with a heart of silver-plated gold (Naomi Watts) and a tough loan shark (Terrence Howard) to complete the portrait. Despite that predictability, there’s an underlying charm and emotion reach beyond the screen. Credit an acting ensemble that underplays the script’s maudlin tendencies and allows the humor to surface. The role of Vincent “Vinlast d” McKenna is tailored to Murray, whom we’ve already seen in similar roles, but Melfi has added a few more layers: Vin’s a grouch, a drunk and a gambler who survives on sardines and crackers—hardly typical saint material. The plot takes several melodramatic turns, revealing numerous secrets and reasons to evoke empathy for Vin. But Murray, who imbues both a sadness and humanity in Vin—making him accessible to the audience despite his shortcomings and rough-hewn style, could have done that on his own.—Christine N. Ziemba

sixteen-candles.jpg 99. Sixteen Candles
Year: 1984
Director: John Hughes
It’s the movie that made Molly Ringwald a star, and rightfully so: as Samantha, the everywoman whose parents forgot her birthday and whose crush doesn’t know she exists, she appeals to the angsty high-schooler yearning to be seen in all of us. Samantha’s undeniably middle-of-the-road—she’s not popular, but she’s not a geek; her home life is messy, but it’s not dysfunctional—and that gives her mass appeal, so much so that her story’s become sort of a modern fairy tale, the American Dream of teen romantic comedies. —Bonnie Stiernberg

exit-through-the-gift-shop.jpg 98. Exit through the Gift Shop
Director:   Banksy
Year: 2010
When renowned graffiti artist Banksytook the camera away from Thierry Guetta, the man shooting his biopic, and decided that the subject would become the documentarian (and the documentarian, the subject), an incomparably zany (and very, very funny) documentary was born. Against all odds, Mr. Brainwash, as Guetta christens himself, puts on the largest and most profitable street art exhibition in history. The film never quite takes a side on the Warholian question of whether Guetta/Mr. Brainwash is actually a legitimate artist or has merely convinced enough people that he is—or whether those are one and the same, or whether it even matters. But the most compelling theme of the film is its cinematic exploration of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle: That a phenomenon cannot be observed or measured without simultaneously changing it. Guetta never puts spray can to wood until he’s being documented by Banksy. Does that mean  Banksymade him what he is? Destroyed, in some sense, what he was? And is that good or bad, or neither?  Banksy’s not saying.—Michael Dunaway

invitation.jpg 97. The Invitation
Year: 2016
Director: Karyn Kusama
The less you know about Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation, the better. She slow-burns to perfection. The Invitation is a tale of deep and intimate heartache, the kind that none of us hopes to ever have to endure in our own lives. The film taps into a nightmare vein of real-life dread, of loss so profound and pervasive that it fundamentally changes who you are as a human being. That’s where we begin: with an examination of grief. It’s remarkable for its foundation, for all of the substantive storytelling infrastructure that Kusama builds the film upon in the first place. The film starts in earnest as Will (Logan Marshall-Green in top form) arrives at a dinner party his ex-wife, Eden (Tammy Blanchard), is throwing at what once was their house. He has brought his girlfriend, Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi), along with him. But something is undeniably off at Eden’s place, and because Will is the lens through which Kusama’s audience engages with the film, we cannot tell what that something is. There is oh so much more to be said about The Invitation, especially its climax, where all is revealed and we see Will’s fears and Eden’s spiritual affirmations for what they are. Until then you’ll remain on tenterhooks, but to Kusama, jitters and thrills are sensations worth savoring.—Andy Crump

duke-of-burgundy.jpg 96. The Duke of Burgundy
Year: 2015
Director: Peter Strickland
Even the kinkiest couples have to work to keep the spark alive. That’s the message at the heart of the hypnotic, erotic The Duke of Burgundy, which weaves quite a spell out of repetition and mystery. A midnight movie for the smart set, the latest from up-and-coming filmmaker Peter Strickland is a beautiful puzzle. Strickland has crafted a claustrophobic portrait where we observe the characters’ actions without always understanding them. In lieu of a traditional plot, Strickland gives us snippets from Evelyn (Chiara D’Anna) and Cynthia (Sidse Babett Knudsen), sometimes repeating certain role-playing scenarios so that we get a sense of how confining even fantasy can be. But because the filmmaker doesn’t distinguish between the role-playing and the “ordinary” scenes between the characters, The Duke of Burgundy succeeds in making relationships seem like a shared secret between its participants who interact in their own language. Because Strickland doesn’t make conventional stories, it shouldn’t be a surprise that they end on deeply ambiguous or unresolved notes. Like the filmmaker, The Duke of Burgundy’s lovers understand their world better than we ever will, so the allure is entering it for a few hours, trying to make sense of what we see.—Tim Grierson

results.jpg 95. Results
Results is a significant departure for Andrew Bujalski. While relatively low-budget, this is the director’s biggest film to date—there’s no shaky camerawork or poor sound quality here, and working, notable actors are seemingly getting working day rates. Bujalski’s Funny Ha Ha, in 2002, was one of the first to be coined “mumblecore,” and the awkward but natural performances from its nonprofessional actors became a defining characteristic of the movement. There’s certainly more polish from Cobie Smulders, Guy Pearce and Kevin Corrigan, but their performances—refined and, admittedly, “professional”—only enhance the lived-in nature of the characters Bujalski’s created. These characters all happen to be rather pathetic, emotionally stunted and odd human beings—but you can’t help but become invested in their lives, each with their own endearing quirks, each amusing in their own way to discover and observe. The film is a series of tiny, revealing moments. —Regan Reid

meeks-cutoff.jpg 94. Meek’s Cutoff
Year: 2011
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Leave it to Kelly Reichardt to reclaim the Western for women. Western movies tend to be seen as “guy” affairs, less so now in 2016 than in years past; they are manly products about manly men doing manly things and pondering manly ideas, though that’s an oversimplified critique that erases the impact women have had on Westerns in front of and behind the camera. What Reichardt does in Meek’s Cutoff is shunt the men to the side and confront the bullshit macho posturing that is such an integral component of the Western’s grammar; the only man here worth his salt is Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood), and even he is kind of an incompetent, entitled scumbag. So it’s up to Emily Tetherow, played by the great and luminous Michelle Williams, to challenge his self-appointed authority and take responsibility for the people in the caravan he has led so far astray from their path. Meek’s Cutoff is a stark, minimalist film, which is to say it’s a Kelly Reichardt film. The stripped-down, simmering austerity of her aesthetic pairs perfectly with the sensibilities of Western cinema.—Andy Crump

Year: 2015
Director: Rick Famuyiwa
At its core, Dope is a coming-of-age story told from the black geek perspective. Malcolm (Shameik Moore) is a brainy high school student who’s trying to leave “The Bottoms” of Inglewood, California. This isn’t a straight-up, feel-good comedy—drugs and gangs aren’t easy comic fodder—but Dope satirizes preconceived notions of race and culture. Famuyiwa keeps things entertaining while still posing hard-hitting questions to the characters and audience. Dope’s infectious energy, and Famuyiwa’s tendency to throw genre and stereotypes to the wind, is refreshing. Dope is dope. —Christine N. Ziemba

tinker-tailor.jpg 92. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Year: 2011
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Steeped in the monochrome color palette and noir soundtrack of 1970s espionage cinema, Tomas Alfredson’s adaptation of John le Carré’s classic bestselling spy novel offers smart, nostalgic entertainment for a discerning adult audience. Set in 1973 at the height of the Cold War, the film turns on the suspicion that a double agent has infiltrated Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), a.k.a. MI6. Shortly after a botched operation to ferret out the mole ends his career, Control (John Hurt) dies, leaving his investigation in the hands of retired operative George Smiley (Gary Oldman). With grayed blond hair and owlish glasses, Oldman disappears into his role, not only physically but behaviorally. Smiley is a still man, watching and waiting, while his mind whirs, processing and analyzing years’ worth of data, information and memories.—Annlee Ellingson

chef.jpg 91. Chef
Year: 1996
Director: Jon Favreau
Jon Favreau took a break between the $163 million dollar Cowboys & Aliens and Disney’s live-action remake of The Jungle Book to write, direct and star in a small indie comedy-drama about a celebrated chef rediscovering his love for food. When the owner of his restaurant (Dustin Hoffman) won’t let him experiment in the kitchen and his social-media ignorance leads to a very public feud with a food critic (Oliver Platt), he quits and buys a food truck. The road-trip that follows is the sweet, earnest heart of the film—reconnecting with his son as he reconnects with a passion for food. There’s not much to the straight-forward plot, but the film’s humor and mouth-watering food porn make it a treat.—Josh Jackson

2-Netflix-Docs_2015-grizzly man.jpg 90. Grizzly Man
Director:   Werner Herzog
Year: 2005
Leave it to Werner Herzog to take on a subject as peculiar and tragic as that of Timothy Treadwell, the bear enthusiast who, along with his girlfriend, was killed by his wild obsession in 2003. A sing-songy, pleasant, dangerously deluded man who believed his beloved grizzly companions knew and trusted him, Treadwell, over the course of 13 summers spent in Alaskan national parks, approached bears with both a religious reverence and folksy casualness—the latter of which arguably cost him his life. Treadwell self-anoints himself “kind warrior” and, alternately, “samurai,” and at one point tellingly declares that animals rule, but “Timothy conquered.” Rooted in Treadwell’s own footage, Grizzly Man will divide camps between those who find him a reckless idiot and those who enjoy him as a kooky nature lover, or both. For his part, Herzog is a sympathetic yet level-headed narrator, his even voice and expositional asides setting the tone for a restrained, expertly crafted film. Far from exploitative—existing audio footage of the couple’s death is not heard onscreen, just reacted to and discussed—Grizzly Man is a sensitive, supremely fascinating glimpse of the primal forces within us and apart from us, and what happens when they can’t be reconciled.—Amanda Schurr

gladiator.jpg 89. Gladiator
Year: 2000
Director: Ridley Scott
In Gladiator, Sir Ridley Scott shamelessly leans on the glitz of Hollyrome; it’s a shallow, overused trope, but if you can stomach the utter film’s veneer of historical fakery, you’ll be rewarded with some absolutely spectacular bloodshed. Here, too, Gladiator wrestles with issues of accuracy – particularly in its opening fracas – but when swordplay and siege is this well staged, you’re on the wrong side of cinema if you dare reach for your Latin textbooks. Whether on the battlefield or in the arena, Gladiator’s magnificently orchestrated violence will keep you held firmly in its crimson-streaked thrall; you will be entertained.—Andy Crump

philomena.jpg 88. Philomena
Year: 2004
Director: Stephen Frears
Philomena, follows a woman’s search for her son, who was “sold off” by the Irish Catholic church 50 years earlier. Starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, the heartbreaking twists and turns of Philomena’s journey are even more jaw-dropping as we learn the story is based on the 2009 nonfiction book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith. In 1950s Ireland young Philomena (Sophie Kennedy Clarke) is disowned by her family after a tryst results in pregnancy. Sent to Roscrea convent, she works in the laundries to pay for her room and board—and her sins. She and the other young mothers are allowed to see their children for an hour a day. Philomena and her son Anthony adhere to this limited schedule for nearly three years until Anthony is adopted, against her wishes, on Christmas 1955. Nearly five decades later, the elderly Philomena (Dench) reveals the secret she’s been keeping all these years to her daughter. They reach out to Sixsmith (Coogan), a recently fired British government flack and former BBC journalist, to help Philomena search for her lost son. Although talking about “chemistry” is usually reserved for romantic onscreen relationships, it applies here in spades. Dench and Coogan create a believable rapport for their disparate characters. They play with the yin and yang expertly, and we watch as the characters both grow from their experience together in subtle, yet substantial, ways. The bittersweet mystery could have easily strayed into maudlin, tabloid territory, if it solely targeted evil nuns or a Catholic Church coverup. But instead, Philomena adds much-needed moments of humor s it follows the journey for the truth, raising questions about faith, infallibility and family. The steady direction by Frears, coupled with the snappy and substantive dialogue, keeps the film grounded when even the truth becomes hard to believe.—Christine N. Ziemba

i-am-love.jpg 87. I Am Love
Year: 2010
Director: Luca Guadagnino
The Recchi family, the powerful Italian clan at the core of Luca Guadagnino’s I Am Love, is exclusive. Its wealth is nearly immeasurable, if not incomprehensible, and even marrying into it doesn’t warrant an invitation to its inner circle. Although Emma (Tilda Swinton) gave up her life in Russia—with the exception of her Russian accent, which she just can’t keep from tainting her Italian—in order to become a Recchi, she orbits the rest of the family in the Recchi villa, where the sense of propriety is nearly as tangible and cloying as its thick tapestries. I Am Love is a beautiful film, and a lesson in storytelling. It unfolds at a leisurely but lovely pace, taking time to revel in the details of the setting but never shifting focus from its many rich, complex characters. Swinton becomes Emma, her every pore and follicle embodying passion, guilt and grief with equal conviction. Even in its most tense moments, I Am Love is like the many dishes Antonio shows off in the film—painstakingly created and never overdone.—Ani Vrabel

seymour-intro.jpg 86. Seymour: An Introduction
Year: 2015
Director: Ethan Hawke
You could be excused for assuming that the documentary Seymour: An Introduction was just a vanity project for director Ethan Hawke, who has the means and the name to engage in such thing. But if you assumed that, you’d be missing quite a powerful film. Hawke first met composer, pianist and piano teacher Seymour Bernstein at a dinner party, and was immediately taken with him, as viewers will be, as well. As he began spending more time with the octogenarian, he became more and more taken not only with his life story, but also with his views of art and of life well lived. Seymour: An Introduction turns out to be part biopic, part artistic musing and part late-night “meaning of life” discussion, and Hawke shows a deft touch in balancing the three. He takes a remarkable individual who’s influenced his life and thinking, and shares him with the rest of us. It’s a generous—and a moving—piece of filmmaking. —Michael Dunaway

top-gun.jpg 85. Top Gun
Year: 1986
Director: Tony Scott
Aviator shades, fast airplanes and a touch of beach volleyball make up one of the best action films of the ’80s. This film has it all: Tom Cruise in a star-making role; an exhilarating soundtrack courtesy of Kenny Logins; character names like Iceman and Maverick; and finally, perhaps one of the greatest subversive plots in movie history. At the end of the day it is simply impossible to deny the need for speed that lies in all of us.—Brian Tremml

blue-warmest.jpg 84. Blue is the Warmest Color
Year: 2013
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Three-hour movies usually are the terrain of Westerns, period epics or sweeping, tragic romances. They don’t tend to be intimate character pieces, but Blue Is the Warmest Color (La Vie D’Adèle Chapitres 1 et 2) more than justifies its length. A beautiful, wise, erotic, devastating love story, this tale of a young lesbian couple’s beginning, middle and possible end utilizes its running time to give us a full sense of two individuals growing together and apart over the course of years. It hurts like real life, yet leaves you enraptured by its power.—Tim Grierson

short-term-12.jpg 83. Short Term 12
Year: 2013
Director: Destin Cretton
As it progresses, Short Term 12 remains rigorously structured in terms of plot; yet it never feels calculated. In fact, the film serves as a fine example of how invisible screenwriting can be. By allowing his characters’ irrational emotions to influence events and instigate key turning points, Cretton capably masks the film’s finely calibrated story mechanics. And while everything seemingly comes to a head during a key crisis, it’s only fitting that the story ends with a denouement that bookends its opening. Cretton’s clear-eyed film is far too honest to try and convince us that there’s been any sort of profound change for Grace or anyone else. Instead, it’s content to serve as a potent reminder that tentative first steps can be every bit as narratively compelling as great leaps of faith.—Curtis Woloschuk

wet-hot-am-sum.jpg 82. Wet Hot American Summer
Year: 2001
Director: David Wain
A cult film that’s long since surpassed that status, Wet Hot American Summer is a lot of things: It’s hilarious; it’s perfectly cast; and it’s a clear demonstration that Christopher Meloni has more range than simply playing a dour sex crime detective. But what makes it so brilliant, 15 years later and with a Netflix series on lock, is that it’s so painfully, relentlessly nihilistic. We could trade quotable lines for days (my personal favorites being what Jon Benjamin’s can of vegetables admits he’s acrobatically capable of, and then Paul Rudd bluntly refusing to make out with Elizabeth Banks’s character due to her burger flavor), but the key to the movie’s endurance—past its timelessness grounded in a specific brand of ’80s sex romp flick—is the way in which it treats nostalgia. Like Wain, Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black’s Stella series, Wet Hot American Summer, which takes place over the course of Camp Firewood’s last day, exists in a bleakly amoral world. Here, bad things happen to good people—and really only to good people. Wain takes innocence and obliterates it, punishes it, gleefully destroying all nice memories anyone would ever hold dear about long lost summers, first loves and youth. Without a shred of wistfulness, Wet Hot American Summer surpasses its origins in parody and becomes something more: It earns its comedy. Taunting our very explicitly American tendency to let everything we touch devolve into sentimentality, the film proves that when we obsess over remembering ourselves at our best, we might as well be celebrating us at our worst. —Dom Sinacola

the-big-short.jpg 81. The Big Short
Year: 2015
Director: Adam McKay
The Big Short, Adam McKay’s kaleidoscopic look into the months leading up to the 2007 financial meltdown, is an angry film. And rightfully so—the amount of callous thievery characters uncover here is enough to make any rational person’s blood boil. It’s also, unquestionably, a funny film, tempering its acerbic leanings by highlighting just how blatantly surreal the whole ordeal truly was. McKay looks to counteract the inherently dry, impenetrable subject matter on display with boatloads of vibrant, cinematic style. The Big Short may not always succeed, but it stands as an essential film nonetheless.—Mark Rozeman

heaven_knows_what_poster.jpg 80. Heaven Knows What
Year: 2015
Director: Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie
Harley (Arielle Holmes) is a young woman who’s as addicted to heroin as she is to her brutally apathetic boyfriend, Illya (Caleb Landry Jones). Aesthetically, the Safdies’ have made a picture of urgent, abrasive beauty. Cinematographer Sean Price Williams captures Holmes and her excellent supporting cast through a combination of tight close-ups and long shots that lend the film an air of removed intimacy. Ultimately, he’s almost as much the star of Heaven Knows What as Holmes, who matches up well with Jones, the film’s most notable professional actor. Cinema lets us engage with difficult subject matter through a veneer of security. But something like Heaven Knows What pierces that veil. By its very nature, it pushes the boundaries of our personal comfort. It’s clear we need more films like that. —Andy Crump

breatheposter.jpg 79. Breathe
Year: 2014
Director: Mélanie Laurent
Nothing’s more effective at shaking a teen out of their monotonous high school routine than the arrival of a new student. That’s the stuff actress/director Mélanie Laurent’s sophomore film, Breathe, is made of: mystery and allure, with generous dollops of adolescent rivalry, sexual awakening and verbal abuse spooned on top. Think of Breatheas a distant European cousin to the fraught teen movies of Larry Clark as well as Catherine Hardwicke’s Thirteen, stories of imperiled youth, loneliness and volatile sentiment. —Andy Crump

phoenix_ver2.jpg 78. Phoenix
Year: 2014
Director: Christian Petzold
Rarely in recent memory has the insoluble mystery of other people been so potent a driving force as it is in Phoenix. Here’s a drama that starts off with a seemingly simple conceit but eventually grows more and more troubling—and fascinating—into a critique of collective moral blindness and an up-close examination of marriage. The latest from German filmmaker Christian Petzold, Phoenix works best for all the answers it doesn’t provide, honoring the mysteries of everyday life rather than explaining them away.—Tim Grierson

scrooged.jpg 77. Scrooged
Year: 1988
Director: Richard Donner
We learn all we need to know from Bill Murray’s modern day Ebeneezer in his introduction: After viewing the latest promos for his television network, Frank opens his desk drawer, catches his reflection in a small mirror, smiles, fixes his hair and then closes it. In case it’s not clear: Frank Cross has a drawer in his desk devoted to a vanity mirror. While the rest of the film sometimes devolves into over-the-top nonsense, it’s Murray’s committed touches like these that make Frank Cross so memorable.—Greg Smith

zack-and-miri.jpg 76. Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Year: 2008
Director: Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith used the experiences of making his first film (Clerks) at night in the convenience store where he worked, and injected it into Zack and Miri Make a Porno, where cash-challenged roommates shoot their first adult film at night in the coffee shop where they work. Zack (Seth Rogen) and his partner/roommate/possible love-interest Miri (Elizabeth Banks) attend their high-school reunion where Miri tries to reacquaint herself with Bobby, her unrequited high-school crush hilariously played by Brendan Routh. When Miri learns Bobby’s “partner” is a gay porn star (Justin Long in a memorable performance) Miri is shattered but Zack is inspired, and the two begin to shoot their homemade porn film to help pay the rent. The audition scenes are priceless (use your imagination to learn Bubbles’ talent), but when Zack and Miri have to star in their own film they discover more than just sex.—Tim Basham