You know how new DVDs and Blu-rays always come out on a Monday? Netflix laughs in the face of such regimented scheduling and instead releases all of its new TV shows and movies whenever the heck it feels like it.
That can make keeping track of all of the new stuff a first-world nightmare of epic proportions, but help is at hand: here we highlight all of the best new stuff on Netflix. And yes, that does mean we’ve left out all of the rubbish, so you won’t find the likes of Frontier or Sharknado: The 4th Awakens here.
Instead, allow us to guide you, truffle pig-like, to the finest and freshest streaming fungus.
Note: the newest content is at the top of the list, with the shows and movies getting progressively less new as you scroll down and switch pages
Guy Ritchie returns to the frenetic gangster flicks of his early career with this Brit crime caper, a star-studded bit of amusement that, while somewhat forgettable, remains entertaining and engaging throughout its run time.
Matthew McConaughey plays an American expat who runs a UK-wide cannabis business – and when you’re ruling an empire, there’s no shortage of pretenders to the throne. An attempt to buy out his business sparks off a series of events that tick all the Ritchie boxes: verbose dialogue, sudden violence, quirky characters and quick-fire editing. Everyone seems to be having a lot of fun, from McConaughey as the dapper drug lord to Hugh Grant as a camp and conniving private eye.
Cobra Kai (S4)
It might be a small field, but Cobra Kai is surely the best TV spin-off from a movie made 30-odd years before… ever! Reuniting the main players from The Karate Kid and its sequels decades later could have been nothing more than a lazy nostalgia love-in, but this show gives the old rivalries and friendships new life, offers fresh perspectives on things we thought we had all figured out and confidently tells its own modern-day story. And with a fifth season having already wrapped, it’s going to be sticking around for some time yet.
The Lost Daughter
Maggie Gyllenhaal steps behind the camera for her first feature film as writer-director with this taut adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s novel. A middle-aged academic (Olivia Colman) arrives on a Greek island for a relaxing working holiday, but her peace and quiet is quickly disrupted by the arrival of a large, loud and rude family group – including a young mother (Dakota Johnson) who seems to sit strangely apart from the rest, and who causes the academic to consider her own youth and motherhood with a critical eye.
Stay Close (S1)
Another Harlen Coben Netflix adaptation with the master mystery novelist himself involved as executive producer, Stay Close isn’t going to win any awards for originality or nuance – but if your New Year’s-addled brain is in the market for some easy viewing with more twists than a sack of fusilli this missing persons drama fits the bill nicely. The starry cast – which includes Cush Jumbo, Richard Armitage, James Nesbit and Eddie Izzard – keeps the plot moving so fast that its silliness never matters too much, and ending every episode on a cliff-hanger doesn’t hurt.
Crime Scene: The Times Square Killer (S1)
Back in the 1970s and 80s, New York’s Times Square wasn’t the scrubbed-up Disneyfied tourist trap it is today: you’d be more likely to stumble into a live sex club than an Olive Garden in the “Deuce” (the nickname for the notorious block on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues), an area filled with peep shows, pimps and sex workers.
The time and place has been immortalised in films like Taxi Driver, but it’s real-life crime that’s explored in this well-made three-part documentary series. A serial killer is prowling the seedy streets around Times Square, using the area and its denizens’ reputations – and the police’s attitudes towards sex workers – as cover for his horrific activities.
Don’t Look Up
Adam McKay’s blackly comedic take on the apocalypse has divided critics, but we think it’s a perfectly serviceable satire with a frighteningly salient point: that the divided, easily distracted and inward-looking world we live in currently is simply not fit to deal with any genuinely huge issues it might face.
In the movie it’s a mountain-sized comet hurtling towards the planet, spotted by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence’s low-level scientists and all but certain to wipe out all life on Earth, but the reaction they get from those with power – from dismissal to indifference to “how can we exploit this for political gain?” – could easily apply to climate change or the coronavirus pandemic. The star-packed cast, McKay’s signature fast-moving direction and a glut of jokes keep the tone generally light, even if the subject matter is anything but, but it’s hard to come away from Don’t Look Up feeling particularly optimistic about humanity’s future. Anyway, Happy New Year!
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
A cult holiday favourite from the 1980s, this road movie-cum-comedy stars Steve Martin and John Candy as two travellers forced to team up to get home in time for the Thanksgiving turkey dinner. Martin excels as the uptight middle-class straight man, a total opposite to Candy’s brash, motor-mouthed shower curtain ring salesman – so it’s no surprise when their journey turns into a series of clashes and arguments. It all ends very heart-warmingly, of course, which is probably why this film has become something of a classic of its time. It’s certainly among the late Candy’s best movies.
The Witcher (S3)
It’s been nigh-on two years since the silver-haired monster slayer Geralt last graced our screens, but Henry Cavill and his unconscionably girthy arms are finally back, baby. This season sees Geralt bringing his young ward Ciri to the witcher caste’s home: the crumbling castle of Kaer Morhen, where we’ll finally meet his mentor Vesemir (Killing Eve’s Kim Bodnia). Expect gravelly voices, grimy faces and gruesome creatures.
The Hand of God
Paolo Sorrentino’s semi-autobiographical film is filled with gorgeous shots that burn themselves into your head – a frantic night-time drive to a hospital, a flare exploding over the Bay of Naples, a collapsed chandelier in a crumbling ballroom – but its characters and ideas are just as memorable.
Teenager Fabietto is obsessed by football, dreaming of Diego Maradona being signed by Napoli and about his beautiful aunt Patrizia; he’s quiet and has few friends, but there’s no shortage of love and support from his family. When a tragedy changes everything, his young life comes to a crossroads: should be pursue happiness and pleasure or dedicate himself to something more important? If that sounds like every other coming-of-age story, don’t be put off, because Sorrentino’s vision feels anything but stereotypical. A possible Oscar contender, we say.
The Power of the Dog
Another Oscar favourite, this Western-slash-family drama from previous Academy Award winner Jane Campion stars Benedict Cumberbatch playing against type as a cruel but charismatic Montana rancher who takes issue with his brother’s new wife and her teenage son. Is he jealous of his brother’s apparent happiness? Worried about the newcomers’ intentions for the family business? Or is there something else – something darker – that’s unsettled him?
This is a film that leaves much open to interpretation, but what’s clear is that it works against the viewer’s expectations in an unsettling and disarming way. It’s not a barrel of laughs by any stretch of the imagination, but the beautifully shot landscapes and excellent performances from a cast that also includes Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst should keep you watching regardless.
Writer-director Lulu Wang’s semi-autobiographical tale of cultural differences (and similarities) makes for an enlightening and emotional comedy-drama. Awkwafina plays Billi, a young Chinese American struggling to find direction as a writer in New York. Then she discovers her grandmother back in Beijing has just months to live – and doesn’t know it. In China, she’s told, families often withhold such information from dying relatives to spare them psychological strain. As a Westerner, Billi sees this as a cruel deception, but travels to China with her parents to say goodbye under the guise of attending a cousin’s wedding.
Funny and generous, The Farewell is a touching look at family, death and duty that resonates even more strongly right now, when visiting distant friends and relatives is harder than ever.
Quentin Tarantino’s western (or, more accurately “southern”) takes its cues both from Sergio Leone and the blaxploitation genre. Set mostly in the Deep South, Django Unchained pits Jamie Foxx’s freed slave against the plantation owners, traders and overseers who’ve separated him from his wife.
He’s joined on his quest by German bounty hunter Dr King Schultz (an Oscar-nominated Christoph Waltz) but equally impressive are Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie, who cloaks the barbarity of his gladiatorial slave fights beneath a veneer of civilisation, and Samuel L Jackson as Candie’s house slave (and éminence grise) Stephen.
Foxx plays Django as a modern Man with No Name – though in his case his silence is more the result of tightly-wound fury than stoicism; when, at last, he unleashes bloody vengeance on his oppressors, it’s spectacularly cathartic.
Ang Lee’s action-thriller stars Will Smith as a government assassin looking forward to retirement. But before he can break out the pipe and slippers, he himself becomes a target – and the killer sent to rub him out looks mighty familiar.
Gemini Man has some things to say about war, fatherhood and the ethics of cloning, but mostly all that’s an excuse to have Smith (who’s as watchable as ever) duke it out with a digitally de-aged replica of himself in several photogenic locations – Cartagena, Budapest and rural Georgia. While the CG effects stray into Uncanny Valley at times (ditto villain Clive Owen’s American accent), the action sequences and performances are assured – even if this won’t go down as one of Lee’s most interesting movies.
Final Space (S3)
The third and final season of this animated sci-fi sitcom is here – and while fans might be sad that it’s ending, they can at least enjoy its victory lap. While Final Space has long languished in the shadow of better-known shows like Rick and Morty, the intergalactic adventures of hapless astronaut Gary and his misfit crew have carved out their own little cult niche with discerning viewers.
Squid Game (S1)
Subtitle-haters, you’re missing out if you choose to swerve this dark drama series on account of it being Korean (yes, you can watch it dubbed into English, but that just feels so wrong). The gripping story of a sadistic life-or-death game show and the effects it has on its desperate contestants – each of whom willingly signed away their “bodily rights” for the prospect of a fat winner’s cheque – Squid Game is likely to become a cult foreign language hit in the mould of Dark or The Killing.
Sex Education (S3)
Using the word “raunchy” to describe a comedy-drama series makes us feel like 1970s tabloid journalists, but what better term to sum up a bunch of teenage sexcapades tied up by a fun plot and relatable characters? We’ll be calling it a “romp” next (which it also is) – but Sex Education has proven itself to be a genuinely inventive and smart series, even if this new third season doesn’t feel as wildly novel as the first and second.
Zombieland: Double Tap
This long-awaited sequel to Zombieland, which did a fine job of sending up the entire genre of zombie movies, doesn’t bite quite as hard. In the years between the two films, we as an audience have perhaps become too familiar with its bag of postmodern tricks, leaving this as merely a diverting action-comedy with some enjoyable character interplay between its four leads: Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson and Abigail Breslin. That’s no bad thing, with Harrelson in particularly fine scenery-chomping form as Tallahassee, the Elvis-loving, testosterone-fuelled redneck “dad” of this strange post-apocalyptic nuclear family.
The horrors of the Great War come to the screen like never before in this visceral, nail-biting action drama, masterfully edited to appear as if it’s one continuous two-hour shot. Two young British infantrymen must cross German lines to deliver a vital message that will save hundreds of their fellow troops; director Sam Mendes and his crew’s technical brilliance skilfully imparts the peril, sacrifice and heroism of their mission.
What the devil? If you’d been thinking the previous, fifth season of this beloved DC Comics fantasy drama (in which the devil himself is the main character, and spends his free time helping the police to solve crimes for some reason) was supposed to be the swan song, you’d have been right – but Netflix’s megabucks have enticed everybody back for one final, climactic 10-episode run. This really is the last time. Maybe.
The Iron Giant
Now over 20 years old, Brad Bird’s fantastic screen adaptation of beloved children’s book The Iron Man features the vocal talents of Vin Diesel as the towering robot from space, as well as an old-school hand-drawn animation style that oozes charm. But it’s the timeless, emotional story of friendship, fear and sacrifice that’ll keep you glued to the screen.
Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami (S1)
It’s real-life Miami Vice meets Scarface in this six-part documentary series about Cuban exiles Willy Falcon and Sal Magluta, who built a billion-dollar empire in South Florida off the back of a huge cocaine trafficking operation. Dodging the authorities for decades while maintaining lavish playboy lifestyles – both were champion powerboat racers – the pair eventually fell foul of the FBI, and their rise and fall is enjoyably chronicled here in interviews with friends, associates and adversaries.
Whether you’re a cynical old grown-up or a bushy-tailed sprog, this filmic ode to everyone’s favourite marmalade addict finds a way to tug at your heartstrings. It’s stuffed full of belly laughs, great voice acting from Ben Whishaw and a refreshingly affectionate take on immigration. Can a Peruvian bear vanquish the dastardly Nicole Kidman and find a home for himself in Blighty? We’re not telling, but you’ll have a blast finding out.
Hollywood in the 1990s loved a John Grisham legal thriller, and The Firm is probably the best: Tom Cruise stars as a hotshot Harvard Law graduate hungrily snapped up by a small firm in the relative backwater of Memphis, Tennessee. With a huge salary, beautiful home and perks hurled at him, he’s able to brush off most of the red flags exhibited by his new employers, but when two of his colleagues are killed in a mysterious accident he finds himself drawn into a deadly conspiracy.
Clint Eastwood directs and stars in a very typical late-period Eastwoodian drama. When a curmudgeonly 90-year-old horticulturalist finds his business destroyed by the internet, he takes on a lucrative new job: a drug mule for a Mexican cartel. The lack of judgement towards our protagonist is striking – many Hollywood films would be far less nuanced – and Eastwood gives a strong performance as the fish out of water.
Robert Altman’s final film is a cracking ensemble drama set over a shooting weekend at the titular house, the grand country pile of wealthy industrialist Sir William McCordle (Michael Gambon). There’s a murder mystery in the offing, naturally, but most of the fun here comes from the upstairs-downstairs tensions between the staff and those they’re serving.
Neill Blomkamp’s gritty sci-fi action-thriller doesn’t disappoint. When Matt Damon’s downtrodden factory worker suffers a lethal dose of radiation on the job, his only hope is to get to one of the miraculous Med-Bays used by the upper classes. The main problem? The wealthy have abandoned Earth ¬(it’s polluted, overcrowded and downright hellish) for a luxurious orbital space station – and they’re not about to let any old pauper in. Come for the spectacular visuals, stay for the scathing political message.
Before Neil Marshall became the guy the Game of Thrones producers phoned when they wanted a spectacular episode (he directed the “Blackwater” and “The Watchers on the Wall” episodes, which featured two of the show’s biggest battles), he was writing and directing great low-budget British horror movies like Dog Soldiers and The Descent.
The latter is the brilliantly claustrophobic tale of a group of women taking what’s supposed to be a cathartic caving trip in the Appalachian Mountains. As you’ve probably guessed, the spelunking quickly turns sour, the general dangers of underground rock climbing somewhat compounded by the fact that there’s something inhuman lurking in the darkness.
When her father stops answering his phone, a young woman must brave an imminent hurricane’s landfall to investigate. What she finds at her childhood home isn’t just dad, but rising flood waters and a scaly menace in the form of a family of hungry alligators.
Director Alexandre Aja has long been a dab hand at cranking up the tension, and this fast-moving mix of disaster movie and creature feature is enjoyably fraught – and extremely wet. Kaya Scodelario impresses in a physically demanding lead role, while the CGI gators look real enough to be menacing.
Masters of the Universe: Revelation (S1)
Kevin Smith is best known for making the kind of films where stoned slackers wax lyrical about He-Man and Skeletor – and now he’s running the actual show. Smith has been handed the keys to the beloved 1980s cartoon franchise for a Netflix-exclusive miniseries – the first tranche of which is available now with a second collection to follow.
This is definitely aimed at adults that watched the original Masters of the Universe as children and takes a revisionist approach that has rankled with a certain “vocal” section of the fanbase. But don’t worry: it’s still a fun cartoon about heavily muscled people with silly names punching each other.
Don’t call this the seventh Rocky movie. Even though it features Sylvester Stallone reprising his most famous role, the real star is Michael B Jordan as the son of Rocky’s old ring rival and friend Apollo Creed. Jordan’s fantastic in the role – all muscle-aching physicality in the boxing sequences, but no less impressive in the dramatic scenes as a man struggling with the idea of following in the footsteps of a father he never knew – while Stallone provides superb support as the ageing, lonely former champ.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Clocking in at a bum-numbing 161 minutes, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tends to elicit one of two reactions: unadulterated Tarantino worship or complaints of terminal boredom. For our money, a fair assessment lies somewhere in the middle.
Yes, there are looooong scenes of seemingly inconsequential dialogue that feel needlessly indulgent, QT’s weird obsession with women’s feet is more in-your-face than ever, and you’ll need a strong constitution to stomach the violence when it comes, but when have any of these things put people off his films before? Glossy, glitzy, cool, self-indulgent – it’s an event movie you probably shouldn’t miss.
I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson (S2)
Netflix’s funniest original series by a country mile, Tim Robinson’s sketch show takes an unconventional and delightfully absurdist approach to the genre. Punchlines and catchphrases go out the window as Robinson and a host of co-stars (cameos this season include Bob Odenkirk) deliver a quickfire burst of surreal characters put in bizarre, often uncomfortable situations, accompanied by often-inappropriate musical cues and bizarre songs.
The humour usually comes from a character “committing to the bit” by taking a social miscue or personality trait to extremes (the opening sketch features a hungry office worker attempting to surreptitiously eat a hot dog during a team meeting); it sounds simple enough, but Robinson and co have done nothing less than reinvent the comedy skit.
A family tragedy leads to young American Dani (Florence Pugh) accompanying her boyfriend and some college buddies on a trip to a remote part of Sweden. Their destination is a folk festival celebrating the summer solstice, but Dani sees the trip as the perfect opportunity to fix her relationship troubles.
The reality turns out to be far weirder, disturbing and ultimately shocking, with director Ari Aster taking the travellers and viewers alike on a sunlit psychedelic trip into ancient pagan rituals, mental trauma and a climax that’s nigh-on impossible to shake off.
The Serpent (S1)
Inspired by a true story, this slick BBC-produced crime drama takes us to Bangkok in the 1970s, a place where open-minded young Westerners came to find enlightenment, wisdom and good old sex, drugs and rock and roll. In the process, many also found themselves drawn into the world of sociopathic conman Charles Sobhraj, a master of robbery, disguise, manipulation and ultimately murder.
While the series is perhaps an episode or two longer than it needs to be, strong performances and a tangible sense of time and place make The Serpent an engaging watch (assuming you missed it on iPlayer).
The 1988 movie that sparked a Western obsession with anime and manga, this Japanese cyberpunk classic – a tale of teenage biker gangs, revolution and creepy wizened psychic children – has finally arrived on a major streaming service. The hand-painted animation is stunning, the grimy, crumbling dystopian setting evocative and the soundtrack unforgettable. Very few animated movies have aged as well as Akira, or proved as influential. Our advice: watch this before the upcoming live action reimagining irrevocably taints your brain.
There Will Be Blood
Paul Thomas Anderson’s modern epic is stark and relentless; the first we see of protagonist Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis, never better) is a 20-minute sequence in which he scrabbles silently in the dirt for silver. From there, Plainview levels up to oil drilling; consumed by a relentless pursuit for the black gold, he dispenses homespun charm to townsfolk as he cons them out of their oil rights, his adopted son used as a prop to create the image of a family man.
The only one who sees through him is Eli Sunday, probably because he’s equally corrupt; an evangelist who sees Plainview as a threat to the supremacy of his church. The stage is set for a grand clash between religion and capitalism, played out in operatic fashion against the oil wells.
The Dead Don’t Die
Jim Jarmusch’s take on the zombie apocalypse is more Night on Earth than Night of the Living Dead. As you’d expect from the veteran indie auteur, this undead uprising is spiced with quirky, fourth wall-breaking dialogue, a large cast of recognisable faces (including Jarmusch favourites like Bill Murray, RZA, Iggy Pop and Tom Waits) and a plotline that gently meanders along its own wide furrow, seemingly unconcerned with generating tension, pace or dread.
If you’re looking for a standard horror film, this certainly isn’t it – but The Dead Don’t Die might well tickle the funny bones of movie geeks with a taste for postmodernism.
Sophie: A Murder in West Cork (S1)
25 years ago French filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier was brutally murdered in West Cork, a tiny enclave of expats, artists, poets and other assorted “blow-ins” on Ireland’s wild and rocky southwest coast; her killer still hasn’t been caught, despite local suspicions surrounding one man. This three-part documentary looks at the case and Sophie’s family’s long fight for justice – and includes several interviews with the prime suspect himself.
Spider-Man: Far From Home
The second Spider-Man movie since the Wallcrawler joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Far From Home is a pretty typical MCU movie: slick, CGI-heavy and satisfying (if you’re into superhero films). Tom Holland’s teenage Spidey is likeably nerdy and human; here he must deal with his grief over Tony Stark, his first crush and the small matter of a world-threatening menace. Jake Gyllenhaal and Zendaya co-star.
Master of None (S3)
Aziz Ansari was the star of the first two seasons of this comedy-drama, but takes a mostly behind-the-camera role for the long-awaited third season, entitled “Moments in Love”. The focus is instead on Lena Waithe’s Denise, a supporting character in previous episodes, and her wife Alicia (played by British actor Naomi Ackie). In five meandering and leisurely episodes, set mainly in their rustic upstate New York cottage, the couple navigate the stresses and complications of a relationship. It’s a cinematic and restrained approach that’s quite different from the more comedic early seasons, but effective and affecting in its own way.