The Best Classic Films on Netflix Right Now

Time to find out what all the hype is about.

Matthew Broderick And Alan Ruck In 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'
Archive PhotosGetty Images

There are so many great new movies, you need never be bored again. But the classics are classic for a reason—you're guaranteed to be moved, delighted, terrified, or all of the above with these films. If you feel like catching up on a movie you've been meaning to watch, or just want a second look at a film you love a lot, there's something on this list for everybody. This has a mix of genres and subject matter, and spans the past 50 years, but each one is terrific for its own special reasons. Even better: These are all streaming on Netflix right now.

Julie & Julia


The movie's only 11 years old, but it's perfectly light and fluffy (just like a Julia Child quiche!). Meryl Streep brings all the bubbly, sweet, vulnerable energy. You want to be BFFs with the vulnerable Child, who's starting out in a male-dominated profession. Stanley Tucci's perfect as her devoted husband, per usual. And Amy Adams softens some of the rougher edges of Julie, the aimless office drone who finds her purpose making all of Child's recipes and blogging about it. Think of the movie as rich, creamy, luscious butter, but for your brain.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off


If you haven't seen it—honestly, what are you waiting for? But even if you have, this is the kind of film that benefits from a rewatch. If you think about it, the structure is genius: Basically, nothing happens. Ferris gets a day off and deals with some wacky shenanigans, but he doesn't learn anything or go through some drastic change from start to finish. (The same cannot be said of his BFF Cameron, who totals his parents' car and probably spends the rest of the school year on house arrest.) And yet, the ridiculous movie goes down easy and leaves a nice, happy feeling at the end, which is exactly what we all need right now.

Rosemary's Baby


Soooo, this is the opposite of Ferris Bueller. The old-school horror film is right up there with The Exorcist, and I'd argue it's actually more terrifying. But it's also smart and cerebral, and Mia Farrow is timeless as the sweet, stylish wife ensnared in a Satanic cult. Viewed through today's lens, it's a sharp look at an abusive relationship—not just with her partner, but with friends and neighbors all seemingly working against her. The nature of what's real and what's imaginary morphs brilliantly. And the finale's literally unforgettable—I think about it all the time, TBH. (TW: rape, violence against women)

Monty Python's Life of Brian


Holy Grail is ALSO on Netflix (and you absolutely should go watch it), but this is just as funny and much more pointed. It was really controversial at the time, and you can see why: Brian isn't Jesus, but he keeps being mistaken for the Messiah. Like a lot of Monty Python material, the satire's aimed at people in power, the mob mentality, and the temptation to attack other people for no reason (honestly, this feels so relevant right now it's depressing). Spoiler alert, this isn't exactly a feel-good movie, but it's funny all the way through: Ending on "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" mid-crucifixion is farcical brilliance.

The Talented Mr. Ripley


In a similar way to Rosemary's Baby, you might want to go into this film knowing it's not going to have a happy ending. That said, the movie is just so sexy and beautiful to look at (I'm not the first person to have noticed—seriously, listen to that podcast after you watch the film to appreciate it even more) that it's a much easier watch. Matt Damon, Jude Law, Cate Blanchett, and Gwyneth Paltrow swan around in gorgeous clothes, and then a bunch of murder happens but who cares because SEXY. My favorite part of many might be how likable Damon makes the antihero, especially after he's rejected: That pivotal scene (if you watch it, you'll know which one) is devastating to me. Every. Single. Time.

The First Wives Club


Aside from the shoulder pads and overly done hair, this movie's aged pretty well. Three miserable divorcées, who used to be college pals, band together to get revenge on their sleazy exes. But, since some version of that story's been done a thousand times, this one's a classic because of the three leads. Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, and Diane Keaton genuinely seem to be having a blast, and I'm always impressed by how self-aware the humor is. The film effortlessly covers alcoholism, fame, aging stardom, plastic surgery, sexuality, and societal expectations of women, and also has some of the best one liners ever. "If I give you one more facelift you're going to be able to blink your lips!"



I will admit that it took me a few watches to really like this (it's one of my husband's fave movies, so it's on at our house a lot) but I was finally won over by the tone. Ray Liotta (based on the real-life Henry Hill) smoothly takes us through the mob life of robbery and murder, drug-dealing and backstabbing. He's totally grounded and confident, even as everything around him turns to madness. And he's defiant all the way to the end, which is honestly kind of refreshing. Plus, it's stylishly shot and paced perfectly—Scorsese's more recent film The Irishman is good, but it's loooong—so it's a perfect date night movie. (TW: violence, and lots of it)

Blue Is the Warmest Color


Ok, fair warning here—there's a lot of sex in this one. It was and is controversial for that reason, and the actors have said that it was tough for them to shoot. But it's also an underrated coming of age, coming out of the closet tale. A young French woman embraces all that she is thanks to her first love. The sex is raw and riveting, but the rest of the movie is also heartbreaking and sweet. Yet another film that may not have a feel-good ending, it's still a realistic look at what happens in a relationship with two people who have fiery chemistry, but can't make it work long term.

Kill Bill (Vol. 1 and 2)


Even if you're not a Tarantino fan, who doesn't love seeing a badass woman get revenge on all her enemies? Unlike the (also very good) Inglourious Basterds, it's a simple premise. The Bride (Uma Thurman, who should play this movie every day at her house because she is just that good in it) is gonna kill Bill. And everyone who works for him. And...anyone who tries to get in her way, also. The first part is all action, and is the far more popular volume, but the second has some surprise emotional heft thrown in there. The whole thing's great to watch back to back, if you have the hours to spare. (TW: implied rape, a whole bunch of Tarantino-esque violence)

The Ring


If you love horror, you have to watch this. (I say this as someone who normally hates horror and didn't sleep for a week after I watched this. In a good way, I promise.) This is a rare example of an English remake that's better than the original: The Japanese Ringu was very good but much more low-budget. The special effects here are sprinkled throughout the movie, but just liberally enough to be successfully terrifying. And the pacing is perfect. An early, out-of-nowhere jump scare keeps you on edge the entire time, even though the rest of the movie's pretty quiet as Rachel (Naomi Watts) attempts to save her son from the extremely pissed off ghost Samara. And then the finale made the entire audience in my theater scream, piercingly, for five straight minutes. Seven days, indeed.

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