The 50 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now (July 2021)


Netflix has been a popular destination for movie fans for years now, offering something for everyone in its impressive library of new and classic films. The streaming service offers subscribers plenty of fascinating documentaries, hilarious comedies, compelling dramas, and so much more. Navigating a collection that large can be tough, though, so we’ve done the hard work of searching through the entire library to put together a list of the best movies available on Netflix right now.

Looking for something else? We’ve also rounded up the best shows on Netflix, the best movies on Hulu, the best movies on Amazon Prime, and the best movies on Disney+.

Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained.

Django Unchained (2012)

In Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, the barrage of spaghetti-western bullets is never-ending. When Django (Jamie Foxx) is rescued from enslavement by the mysterious Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), the unlikely duo forms a partnership. Django agrees to help Schultz track down bounties. In return, Schultz will help Django locate his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). After some winter bounty hunts, Django and Schultz track Broomhilda to the plantation of a notorious slaver named Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). He’s a charismatic host, but cunning like no other, and it’s not long before Candie and his cohorts begin sniffing out Django’s true intentions. Big, bold, and bloody, Django Unchained is Tarantino’s second collaboration with actor Christoph Waltz and the first with the late composer, Ennio Morricone.

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Genre: Western, Drama, Action
Stars: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Rating: R
Runtime: 165 minutes

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The cast of The Beguiled sitting at a dinner table.

The Beguiled (2017)

The tension just keeps getting higher in this Civil War-era drama from filmmaker Sofia Coppola, based on Thomas P. Cullinan’s novel of the same name. Colin Farrell portrays a Union soldier who’s forced to take refuge in a Southern boarding school for women, only to have his presence there upset the institution’s delicate balance of power. Sexual tension and dark secrets flame the fires of drama, pitting the women against each other while a terrible war rages outside the school’s doors.

Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Stars: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning
Director: Sofia Coppola
Rating: R
Runtime: 94 minutes

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 Charlize Theron and KiKi Layne in The Old Guard.

The Old Guard (2020)

Netflix goes superhero in this action-packed flick about a secret organization of immortals that has protected the Earth from extinction for centuries. But when they are set up on an emergency mission, their powers are mistakenly exposed to the world. Now they must work together to ensure none of the various powerful competing interests can control them for personal or monetary gain.

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Genre: Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Stars: Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Rating: 
R
Runtime:
125 minutes

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Jaeden Martell with glowing eyes and a glowing hand in a scene from Midnight Special.

Midnight Special (2016)

Jeff Nichols’ Midnight Special is a brilliant love letter to sci-fi chase films like Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind and John Carpenter’s Starman. The film follows Roy (Michael Shannon), Lucas (Joel Edgerton), and Roy’s son Alton (Jaeden Martell), a trio on the run from the FBI and religious extremists. Why? It turns out that Alton has otherworldly abilities. Glowing blue eyes, literal earthquakes, and satellite explosions are just a few of his tricks. Roadbound by night, it’s up to Roy and Lucas to get the boy to a predetermined latitude-longitude destination in Florida, coordinates spoken in tongues by Alton that the zealots have deciphered as scripture. In essence, Alton is their messiah, and he’s missing. Gripping from start to finish and featuring one of Sam Shepard’s last performances as the prolific cult leader, Midnight Special is a perfect weekend watch.

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Genre: Sci-Fi, Mystery, Thriller
Stars: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst
Director: Jeff Nichols
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 121 minutes

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The cast of I'm Thinking of Ending Things sitting around a table.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)

Writer-director Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindSynecdoche, New York) is at his most delightfully weird in this Netflix original movie. This time- and the perspective-bending story follows a young, nameless woman on a road trip to her new boyfriend’s parents’ house in the middle of a blizzard. When she gets there, she finds the parents (Toni Collette, David Thewlis) are extremely weird, and the house seems to exist in some kind of surreal alternate reality where time and character morph with abandon. Alternatively strange and hilarious, and constantly thought-provoking, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is powered by strong writing and outstanding performances from all the actors involved.

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Stars: Jessie Buckley, Jesse Plemons, Toni Collette, David Thewlis
Director: Charlie Kaufman
Rating:
R
Runtime:
134 minutes

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Maya Hawke screaming in a scene from Fear Street Part One: 1994.

Fear Street Part One: 1994 (2021)

This retro slasher feature based on R.L. Stine’s book series of the same name follows a group of teenagers in fictional Shadyside, Ohio, who find themselves terrorized by a supernatural killer with a link to the town’s dark history. Dripping with ’90s nostalgia and plenty of blood, the movie is the first installment of a trilogy that explores Shadyside’s deadly reputation as the murder capital of the country, with each chapter unfolding in a different era. Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Julia Rehwald, and Fred Hechinger star in the terrifying tale.

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Genre: Horror
Stars: Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Julia Rehwald, Fred Hechinger
Director: Leigh Janiak
Rating: R
Runtime: 105 minutes

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Lena Headey and Karen Gillan in Gunpowder Milkshake.

Gunpowder Milkshake (2021)

Karen Gillan plays a lethal assassin who finds herself on the run after she refuses to kill a young girl in this fast-paced, beautifully choreographed thriller. While fleeing the mysterious organization out to end her contract, Gillan finds an unexpected ally in the mother she thought she lost (played by Game of Thrones actress Lena Headey) and a trio of brutally effective hitwomen (Angela Bassett, Michelle Yeoh, Carla Gugino). With nonstop action and an impressive ensemble of leading ladies, the film gives new meaning to smashing the patriarchy.

Rotten Tomatoes: 69%
Genre: Action, Thriller
Stars: Karen Gillan, Lena Headey, Angela Bassett, Michelle Yeoh, Carla Gugino, Chloe Coleman
Director: Navot Papushado
Rating: R
Runtime: 114 minutes

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Eric André and Lil Rel Howery lying on top of a car in a scene from Bad Trip.

Bad Trip (2021)

Eric André and Lil Rel Howery headline this hidden-camera prank film that has them playing two friends, Chris and Bud, who embark on an ill-fated road trip so Chris can tell his high school sweetheart he loves her. As they stumble from one ridiculous scenario to another, they’re pursued by Bud’s convict sister (Tiffany Haddish), whose car they stole for the trip. Raunchy, shocking, and relentlessly funny, the film blends scripted scenes with wild hidden-camera pranks and its duo’s signature comedy for a film that’s all about the journey, not the destination.

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Genre: Comedy
Stars: Eric André, Lil Rel Howery, Tiffany Haddish
Director: Kitao Sakurai
Rating:
R
Runtime:
84 minutes

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William Zabka and Ralph Macchio in The Karate Kid.

The Karate Kid (1984)

Before Cobra Kai was all the rage, there was The Karate Kid, the film that made actor Ralph Macchio an unlikely martial arts icon and allowed Pat Morita to deliver one of Hollywood’s most inspirational performances of the era. The film casts Macchio as a bullied California teenager who finds an unexpected ally and mentor in the quiet Okinawan handyman at his family’s new apartment. Not only did the film earn Morita an Academy Award nomination for his performance, but it spawned three sequels, a 2010 remake, an animated series, and the aforementioned Cobra Kai revival series, which brought back many of the original franchise’s stars.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Genre: Drama, Action
Stars: Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita
Director: John G. Avildsen
Rating: PG
Runtime: 126 minutes

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Bel Powley and Liv Tyler in a scene from the film Wildling.

Wildling (2018)

Life has never been normal for Anna (Bel Powley). Confined to an attic bedroom, her adolescence is spent on empty days of staring out the window, longing for the wilderness. Cared for by a man she refers to as “Daddy” (Brad Dourif), he warns Anna that lurking in the world outside her bedroom is a terrifying creature called the Wildling. Traumatic events unfold, and a teenage Anna awakens in a hospital. When Ellen Cooper (Liv Tyler), the local sheriff, agrees to take Anna in, the dark mythos of the Wildling starts spreading. Is Anna losing her mind, or is something evil truly afoot in the woods? Director Fritz Böhm delivers a gripping yet morose fairytale about the coming-of-age process, a time where we lose touch with our mind and body when we need them most.

Rotten Tomatoes: 70%
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery and Thriller, Horror
Stars: Liv Tyler, Brad Dourif, Bel Powley
Director: Fritz Böhm
Rating: R
Runtime: 93 minutes

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I Care a Lot (2020)

Rosamund Pike portrays a diabolical con artist who poses as the legal guardian for elderly people in order to seize their assets in this dark, satirical thriller. Her highly profitable scam takes a dangerous turn when her latest victim turns out to be the mother of a powerful mob boss, leading to a deadly battle of wills between Pike’s character and a ruthless criminal kingpin played by Peter Dinklage. Eiza González and Dianne Wiest play supporting roles in the film, which earned praise from critics and led to Pike taking home a Golden Globe Award for her performance.

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Thriller
Stars: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage
Director: J Blakeson
Rating:
R
Runtime:
118 minutes

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Charles Grodin and Robert De Niro seated on a train in the film Midnight Run.

Midnight Run (1988)

Robert De Niro plays a bounty hunter tasked with bringing in a shifty accountant portrayed by Charles Grodin in this classic comedy directed by Beverly Hills Cop filmmaker Martin Brest. Dubbed “the Casablanca of buddy comedies” by Rolling Stone, the film was a surprise hit based on the memorable chemistry between De Niro and Grodin, whose characters must deal with one setback after another on their cross-country journey, as well as corrupt cops, overzealous FBI agents, mafia hitmen, and a host of other threats. Nominated as one of the year’s best films at the 46th Golden Globe Awards, Midnight Run remains a truly underappreciated gem of ’80s cinema featuring two actors who bring the best out of each other’s performances.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Genre: Action, Comedy
Stars: Robert De Niro, Charles Grodin
Director: Martin Brest
Rating: R
Runtime: 122 minutes

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The Impossible

The Impossible (2012)

On Christmas vacation in Thailand, the Bennett family, consisting of Maria (Naomi Watts), Henry (Ewan McGregor), Lucas (Tom Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin), and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast), are thrust right in the middle of the catastrophic 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The onslaught ravages the resort and separates the family. Maria and Simon awaken together, with Maria having sustained serious injuries. Henry, Thomas, and Simon have also survived but must wade through the chaos and literal ruins of the tsunami to try to find Maria and Simon. Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, from a script by Sergio G. Sánchez, The Impossible features bold performances from its main ensemble, incredible set pieces, and a powerful true story at its core.

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland
Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 114 minutes

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Over the Moon on Netflix

Over the Moon (2020)

Fei Fei (Cathy Ang), grieving the loss of her mother, clings to a legend about a moon goddess named Chang’e. Much to the dismay of her father and his new family, the girl aims to prove that the goddess does indeed exist. To do so, she begins work on a rocket that will take her to the moon to prove Chang’e’s existence. Filled with heart and mesmerizing animation, Over the Moon often looks and feels like your standard Disney epic, but the familiar structure and dazzling music are enough to keep everyone glued to the screen.

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Genre: Adventure, Musical, Fantasy, Comedy, Kids And Family, Animation
Stars: John Cho, Sandra Oh, Ken Jeong
Director: Glen Keane
Rating: PG
Runtime: 100 minutes

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Michael B. Jordan in the 2013 film Fruitvale Station.

Fruitvale Station (2013)

Before he was one of Marvel Studios’ most celebrated filmmakers, Black Panther director Ryan Coogler wrote and directed this 2013 biographical film that cast Michael B. Jordan as Oscar Grant, who was murdered by police officer Johannes Mehserle in 2009 while traveling on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system in Oakland, California. The film chronicles the events of Grant’s day leading up to his fatal encounter with BART officers that was caught on video and ignited months of protests that — after similar incidents were recorded in the years that followed — would eventually coalesce into the Black Lives Matter movement for racial justice. A powerful, personal film that puts a face on one of the many victims of deadly police misconduct in recent years, Fruitvale Station launched Coogler’s career and earned a long list of awards for both its director and star while bringing wider attention to Grant’s story.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray
Director: Ryan Coogler
Rating: R
Runtime: 85 minutes

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Carey Mulligan examines a pile of dirt in the film The Dig.

The Dig (2021)

Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan), a widowed landowner, decides to tackle the Sutton Hoo burial mounds on her sprawling Suffolk estate. To do so, she hires amateur archaeologist Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes) to tackle the job. As he and his crew begin the work, they unearth profound treasures that spark a national call to arms for prominent British historians. As a hierarchy of high-class excavators steamrolls Edith’s private operation, Edith argues for Brown’s position as the higher-ups try and force him out. A brilliant ensemble cast and picturesque cinematography make The Dig one of the best new historical dramas on Netflix.

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, Lily James, Ben Chaplin
Director: Simon Stone
Rating: R
Runtime: 112 minutes

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Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Adapted from Matthew Quick’s 2008 novel of the same name, David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook is an ensemble tour de force with a stripped-down Bradley Cooper as its lead. When Patrick Solitano Jr. (Bradley Cooper) is released from eight months of intensive psychiatric care, he moves back in with his parents, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) and Dolores (Jacki Weaver). Intent on getting his wife back, Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a widowed woman with an unspecified disorder of her own. As she and Pat begin to bond, Tiffany asks Pat to enter a dance competition with her, a move that Pat is convinced will get him his wife back. A romantic comedy turned on its head and injected with emotional realism, Silver Linings Playbook explores love, family, and psychosis in ways that other filmmakers would never dare to.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Drama, Romance, Comedy
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro
Director: David O. Russell
Rating: R
Runtime: 121 minutes

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His House

His House (2020)

After suffering a major tragedy on their pilgrimage from South Sudan to the U.K., Bol (Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku), married refugees fleeing their war-ravaged country, are placed in a decrepit tenement home. As Bol does his best to acclimate to a new life of racial discrepancy, a series of horrific ghouls make themselves known to the grieving man. Blending a socio-political immigration story with a haunted house story, His House bends both sub-genres in a way we’ve never seen pulled off before. An exciting and unsettling directorial debut from Remi Weekes, His House should definitely fill your screen this weekend.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Horror
Stars: Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù, Wunmi Mosaku, Matt Smith
Director: Remi Weekes
Rating: R
Runtime: 93 minutes

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Stand by Me (1986)

Rob Reiner helmed this critically acclaimed adaptation of Stephen King’s novella The Body, which follows four young friends who embark on a hike through the Oregon wilderness in 1959 in the hopes of finding a dead body of a lost boy and claiming the reward. The film features an all-star cast of actors who went on to become household names, with Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O’Connell portraying the childhood friends and Kiefer Sutherland playing the leader of a local teenage gang. A powerful, funny, and occasionally heart-wrenching coming-of-age story, Stand by Me was nominated for an Academy Award for its screenplay and a pair of Golden Globe Awards as the year’s best film and for Reiner’s directing.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Stars: Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell, Kiefer Sutherland
Director: Rob Reiner
Rating:
R
Runtime:
89 minutes

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The White Tiger

The White Tiger (2021)

Based on Aravind Adiga’s 2008 novel of the same name, The White Tiger follows the rags-to-riches story of Balram Halwai (Adarsh Gourav), an impoverished Indian villager that, through hard work (and a little manipulation), pushes himself into a much-lauded driver position for Ashok (Rajkummar Rao) and Pinky (Priyanka Chopra Jonas), two highly influential business magnates. Coming to love his position, a tragic misstep places Balram in the crosshairs of Ashok’s family. Unwilling to serve as a scapegoat, Balram chooses to fight back against the corrupt forces at play. A gripping class-drama akin to Parasite mates with JokerThe White Tiger is one of the greatest dramas you can stream today.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Adarsh Gourav, Rajkummar Rao, Priyanka Chopra Jonas
Director: Ramin Bahrani
Rating: R
Runtime: 126 minutes

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The Big Lebowski (1998)

Jeff Bridges plays the slacker hero Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski in this quirky dark comedy from the acclaimed sibling duo Joel and Ethan Coen. After his favorite rug is ruined by home invaders, Lebowski’s efforts to procure a new floor covering that ties the room together end up dragging him into a criminal scheme involving porn, eccentric art collectors, and a group of annoying nihilists. And yet, through it all, The Dude abides. John Goodman and Steve Buscemi play supporting roles in this weird, wonderful adventure crammed full of memorable cameos.

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Stars: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, David Huddleston, John Turturro
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Rating:
R
Runtime:
117 minutes

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Finding 'Ohana

Finding ‘Ohana (2021)

Uprooted from her Brooklyn life, Pilialoha “Pili” Kawena (Kea Peahu) and her family travel to Oahu to care for her ailing grandfather. Initially disappointed by the lack of big-city buzz and activity, they discover a pirate journal that alludes to an ancient treasure buried somewhere on the island. As Pili and her older brother begin their quest for the trove, their journey takes them on a Hawaiian odyssey that connects them with their ancient island heritage. A loving family drama, Finding ‘Ohana is The Goonies meets visually breathtaking Hawaii.

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Genre: Adventure, Action, Comedy
Stars: Kea Peahu, Alex Aiono, Lindsay Watson
Director: Jude Weng
Rating: PG
Runtime: 123 minutes

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Always Be My Maybe on Netflix

Always Be My Maybe (2019)

Childhood friends Sasha (Ali Wong) and Marcus (Randall Park) cross paths as adults, years after a teenage fling, and soon find themselves navigating life and love while maintaining two very different career paths and social circles. She’s a celebrity chef who hangs out with Keanu Reeves and he installs air conditioners. Can they ever find common ground? You probably know the answer to that already, but watching how they get there is where the fun lies — particularly when it comes to Reeves’ memorable performance.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Stars: Ali Wong, Randall Park, Keanu Reeves
Director: Nahnatchka Khan
Rating:
PG-13
Runtime: 
102 minutes

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Stardust

Stardust (2007)

Claire Danes and Charlie Cox star in this fantasy film based on Neil Gaiman’s 1999 novel of the same name. The film follows Tristan (Cox), a young man on a quest to retrieve a fallen star for his beloved, only to discover that the star has taken the shape of a peculiar, beautiful woman named Yvaine (Danes). Their adventure together has them cross paths with a colorful collection of allies and enemies, including a sinister witch played by Michelle Pfeiffer, a ruthless prince played by Mark Strong, and a pirate captain played by Robert DeNiro who is more than he appears.

Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Stars: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 128 minutes

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Space Sweepers (2021)

Widely regarded as Korea’s first blockbuster space adventure, Space Sweepers is set in the year 2092 and follows the colorful crew of The Victory, a salvage ship that retrieves debris from space and sells it to the megacorporation that owns humanity’s last hope for survival, an orbiting space station high above the toxic surface of Earth. When the crew encounters a young girl in their latest salvage haul, it kicks off a wild adventure that pits them against powerful forces intent on steering mankind’s future. Filled with gorgeous visual-effects sequences, fascinating characters, and plenty of comedy — and a memorable robot named Bubs — the film is a fast-paced, fun throwback to classic space adventures with some wonderfully modern twists.

Rotten Tomatoes: 59%
Genre: Sci-Fi, Adventure, Comedy
Stars: Song Joong-ki, Kim Tae-ri, Jin Seon-kyu, Yoo Hae-jin
Director: Jo Sung-hee
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 136 minutes

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Moonlight on Netflix

Moonlight (2016)

2016’s Best Picture winner established Mahershala Ali as a tour de force actor and introduced the world to the brilliant Ashton Sanders. Moonlight attempts to convey the Black experience through three defining chapters of one man’s life. Chiron (Sanders) grows up in Miami, surrounded by a community that is full of love and support despite the crack epidemic that is ravaging it. As Chiron is pulled from his biological family by drug abuse and misunderstanding, he’s guided into manhood by Juan (Ali), a man who recognizes the struggles Chiron will face as a gay Black man. Juan tries to help Chiron find peace with his identity.

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Genre: Drama, Romance
Stars: Mahershala Ali, Ashton Sanders, Alex R. Little
Director: Barry Jenkins
Rating:
R
Runtime:
111 minutes

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Sleight

Sleight (2016)

In this tense drama from director and co-writer J.D. Dillar, a brilliant young street magician in Los Angeles finds himself in over his head when he gets entangled with a violent drug supplier and must use every trick he knows to save himself and his sister. A surprise hit, Sleight won over audiences at the Sundance Film Festival with its unexpected twist on conventional thrillers, as well as star Jacob Latimore’s compelling performance.

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Stars: Jacob Latimore, Seychelle Gabriel
Director: J.D. Dillard
Rating:
R
Runtime:
 90 minutes

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The Mitchells vs. The Machines

The Mitchells vs. The Machines (2021)

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the duo that gave us The Lego Movie and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, return for this animated feature about a dysfunctional family that ends up becoming humanity’s last, best hope against a robot uprising. Mike Rianda (Gravity Falls) makes his directorial debut with the film, which also features an impressive voice cast that includes Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Eric Andre, Olivia Colman, Fred Armisen, John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Blake Griffin, and Conan O’Brien, among other familiar names (and voices). An early favorite for the year’s best animated feature — and one of the best movies of the year — The Mitchells vs. The Machines has quickly become a surprise hit for Netflix.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Genre: Comedy, Family, Sci-Fi
Stars: Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Mike Rianda
Director: Mike Rianda
Rating:
PG
Runtime: 
114 minutes

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The Trial of the Chicago 7 on Netflix

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

Hollywood stalwart Aaron Sorkin rises to the occasion once more with his blistering interpretation of the 1969 Democratic National Convention trials, where seven Vietnam protestors were charged with crimes well beyond their intent. As peaceful demonstrations turn caustic, prejudice bleeds into testimony and eyewitness accounts of what took place the day of the riots. Featuring performances from Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baren Cohen, Alex Sharp, and John Caroll Lynch, Sorkin’s big-budget historical drama takes liberties here and there, but the result is a spellbinding examination of American history.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Genre: Drama, History
Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baren Cohen, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
Director: Aaron Sorkin
Rating: R
Runtime: 130 minutes

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The Social Dilemma (2020)

Director Jeff Orlowski’s The Social Dilemma is an eye-opening docudrama that puts big tech like Google, Facebook, and Instagram under the microscope. Various talking heads (many ex-employees of big tech) weigh in on social media’s harmful implications — from algorithmic data mining to mental health detriments. The more one watches Orlowski’s film, the more questions one begins asking about their own social media exposure. The Social Dilemma doesn’t stray from its intent, leaving us with all kinds of things to think about (particularly our own social media accounts) once the credits roll.

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Genre: Documentary, Drama
Stars: Tristan Harris
Director: Jeff Orlowski
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 94 minutes

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My Octopus Teacher

My Octopus Teacher (2020)

The Academy Award winner in the Best Documentary Feature category at the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony, My Octopus Teacher chronicles the year filmmaker Craig Foster spent free-diving off the South African coast and forging a relationship with a wild octopus he discovered there. In following the octopus’s life and experiences, Foster learns lessons about his own life and relationship to the world around him and his family.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Genre: Documentary
Stars: Craig Foster
Director: Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed
Rating:
G
Runtime:
85 minutes

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The Departed

The Departed (2006)

Celebrated filmmaker Martin Scorsese adapted Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s 2002 film Infernal Affairs for this film about a pair of men on very different sides of the law, each living a dangerous undercover life. Matt Damon plays a mole planted in the Massachusetts State Police by mob boss Francis “Frank” Costello (Jack Nicholson), while Leonardo DiCaprio portrays a police officer tasked with infiltrating Costello’s inner circle. When they each become aware of the other’s existence, it begins a desperate race to uncover their counterpart’s identity while protecting their own. The tense drama won four Academy Awards and is widely regarded as one of Scorsese’s best films.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson
Director: Martin Scorsese
Rating:
R
Runtime:
152 minutes

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Shadow

Shadow (2018)

Legendary Chinese director Zhang Yimou followed up his misbegotten The Great Wall with 2018’s Shadow, a beautiful return to form. The film begins when Commander Ziyu (Deng Chao) is defeated in a duel with enemy commander Yang Cang (Hu Jun), losing an important city in the process. This infuriates Ziyu’s king, who demotes Ziyu to commoner status and tries desperately to reclaim the city. Unbeknownst to the king, the actual Ziyu is on the verge of death after the duel, replaced by a body double who must now train to beat Yang Cang. Shadow is a historical epic of grand scope, heavy on intrigue and stylish combat sequences accented by a stark color palette.

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Deng Chao, Sun Li, Ryan Cheng
Director: Zhang Yimou
Rating:
TV-MA
Runtime:
116 minutes

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Total Recall

Total Recall (1990)

Acclaimed filmmaker Paul Verhoeven directed this 1990 adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale and filled it with his trademark blend of over-the-top violence, sex, and dark social satire. One of the most expensive films ever made at the time of its release, Total Recall cast Arnold Schwarzenegger as a construction worker in humanity’s far-flung future who suddenly finds himself at the heart of an interplanetary conspiracy that may or may not even be real. Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox, Rachel Ticotin, and Michael Ironside play supporting roles in this brutal — and occasionally brutally funny — adventure that brings Schwarzenegger’s character from Earth to Mars in pursuit of the truth about himself and his past. Along with being a critical and commercial success when it was released, the film also won a Special Achievement Award for Visual Effects at the Academy Awards.

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox, Rachel Ticotin, Michael Ironside
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Rating:
R
Runtime:
109 minutes

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Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Widely regarded as one of the funniest movies ever made, this parody of Arthurian legend was written and performed by the famous Monty Python comedy troupe and directed by troupe members Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones. The film chronicles various elements of King Arthur’s quest to find the Holy Grail and those of his fellow Knights of the Round Table as they encounter one ridiculous scenario after another in pursuit of the relic. If you’ve ever wondered about the airspeed of a swallow, the best ways to determine whether someone is a witch, or how a fuzzy bunny could be the most terrifying creature in the world, well … you might not get all the answers in this film, but you’ll definitely find plenty of laughs.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Genre: Comedy
Stars: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Michael Palin
Director: Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones
Rating:
PG
Runtime:
90 minutes

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Loving (2016)

Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, and inspired by the 2012 HBO documentary The Loving StoryLoving depicts the trials and tribulations of Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred Loving (Ruth Negga), an interracial couple who wanted nothing more than to be wed. But after traveling from Virginia to Washington D.C., to get married, the couple is tracked down by their hometown authorities and charged with violating Virginia’s segregation laws. For their prison sentences to be thrown out, the couple must agree to vacate Virginia and not return for 25 years. But the couple doesn’t want to give up on their love. Ruth writes to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, which sets into motion one of the most vital Supreme Court cases in civil rights history.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Stars: Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Nick Kroll
Director: Jeff Nichols
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 123 minutes

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Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde

Legally Blonde (2001)

Reese Witherspoon stars in this 2001 comedy about a sorority girl who attempts to win back her boyfriend by enrolling in Harvard Law School and ends up battling bias and misogyny en route to becoming a successful lawyer. The film is based on Amanda Brown’s 2001 novel of the same name, and much like its eternally self-confident protagonist, the film might seem easy to dismiss on the surface but actually delivers its message with a surprising amount of nuance and self-aware wit. Both Witherspoon and the film itself received Golden Globe Award nominations, and the movie went on to spawn not just a pair of sequels but also a hit Broadway musical.

Rotten Tomatoes: 70%
Genre: Comedy
Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair
Director: Robert Luketic
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 96 minutes

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If Anything Happens I Love You

If Anything Happens I Love You (2020)

From writer/director duo Michael Govier and Will McCormack, If Anything Happens explores a world of profound grief in a beautifully illustrated and meditative manner. Navigating the emotional aftermath of one family’s tragic loss, the short animation begins in a dark and near-unforgiving place, but through the power of love and the will to move forward, the film progresses into a place of love, forgiveness, and hope. Not the easiest watch in this roundup, but worthy of attention for its emotional bravery and stellar composition.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Genre: Drama, Animation
Stars: N/A
Director: Michael Govier, Will McCormack
Rating: R
Runtime: 12 minutes

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Cool Hand Luke

Cool Hand Luke (1967)

Based on Donn Pearce’s novel of the same name, Cool Hand Luke stars Paul Newman as the titular war veteran, Luke Jackson, a man sentenced to a chain gang after a night of drunken revelries. Testing the waters with the hot-headed authorities in charge of the prison detail, Luke quickly rises to prominence as an inspirational figure among his jail peers. But as the hot-headed vet grows ever-more comfortable with his pedestal prominence, events transpire that test his resilience and resolve. Cool Hand Luke would go on to inspire countless prison dramas over the years, thanks in part to the film’s rich acting ensemble and Gordon’s precise directing.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Paul Newman, George Kennedy, J.D. Cannon
Director: Stuart Rosenberg
Rating: PG
Runtime: 126 minutes

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Amanda Seyfried in Mank, on Netflix

Mank (2020)

In this photographic gem of a Hollywood retrospective, director David Fincher delivers a finely layered drama about the writing of a Golden Age masterpiece. The writer in question is Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman). The film he’s writing, commissioned by Orson Welles (Tom Burke), is Citizen KaneMank‘s narrative shifts back and forth from the 1930s to the 1940s, chronicling the turbulent life of its title character throughout his development of the screenplay. Mank was written by the late Jack Fincher, the director’s father, and features amazing performances from its rich ensemble cast. It’s a great watch for cinephiles and casual viewers alike and a dazzling and authentic take on La La Land’s heyday.

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Genre: Drama, Biography, History
Stars: Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins
Director: David Fincher
Rating: R
Runtime: 131 minutes

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Uncut Gems

Uncut Gems (2019)

Uncut Gems is not for the faint-hearted. The Safdie Brothers’ drama about a gambling-addicted jeweler is a relentlessly intense, high-stress ride through the world of high-stakes gambling. Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) is a charismatic New York City jeweler who is always on the lookout for the next big score. When NBA All-Star Kevin Garnett takes an interest in Howard’s most recent high-value acquisition, believing it brings him luck, Sandler makes a series of high-stakes bets that could lead to the windfall of a lifetime. Unfortunately, not everyone in his life is willing to wait for that windfall. Howard has to perform a precarious balancing act between business, family, debt collectors, and more to get the payoff.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Adam Sandler, LaKeith Stanfield, Kevin Garnett
Director: Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie
Rating:
R
Runtime:
135 minutes

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Pan's Labyrinth on Netflix

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Pan’s Labyrinth is a breathtakingly beautiful and heart-wrenchingly tragic film. Winner of three Academy Awards (on six nominations), Pan‘s Labyrinth launched director Guillermo del Toro onto the American awards show radar and introduced audiences to the blend of sci-fi, horror, and surrealistic elements that characterize his style. Set in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, the film follows an imaginative young girl who also may just be a princess of an underground kingdom. Cast aside by her cruel, militaristic stepfather and isolated from her mother, Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) entertains herself on the grounds of their home in the Spanish countryside. When she stumbles upon a stone labyrinth presided over by a suspicious faun named Pan (Doug Jones), she is asked to complete three life-threatening tasks to prove she is the mythical princess, returned to reclaim her kingdom. Ofelia’s journey is expertly foiled by a guerrilla resistance to the rule of fascist Francisco Franco and the crumbling fragility of her newly formed family.

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Genre: Drama, fantasy
Stars: Ivana Baquero, Sergi López
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Rating:
R
Runtime:
115 minutes

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Roma

Roma (2018)

Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma opens quietly, the camera staring, motionless, at a tile floor as the credits play; eventually, water pours over the floor, as the sound of a mop spills in from just offscreen. It’s a boldly mundane opening, fitting for a film about an ordinary woman. Roma follows Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), a maid working in the household of a wealthy doctor, Antonio (Fernando Grediaga) and his wife, Sofia (Marina de Tavira). Cleo cleans the house, tends to the children, and keeps the household running as Antonio and Sofia’s marriage strains. Cleo is the type of character typically relegated to the background of stories like this, but Cuaron makes her the focus, depicting her daily labor and struggles with a surprise pregnancy and unreliable lover. It’s a beautiful Netflix film, delicately composed and shot in stark black and white.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Rating:
R
Runtime:
148 minutes

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The Disaster Artist (2017)

James Franco directs, produces, and stars in The Disaster Artist, an adaptation of Greg Sestero (portrayed in the film by Dave Franco) and Tom Bissell’s non-fiction book of the same name. Both the novel and film are a chronicle of Sestero’s rollercoaster friendship with infamous cult film legend Tommy Wiseau (Franco), an enigmatic actor with Hollywood dreams and plenty of money to pursue them — although no one can figure out why he’s so rich. After being turned down for role after role, Tommy decides to write, direct, and star in his own film called The Room, a bizarre and disjointed melodrama that he also casts Greg in. As the film runs into continued troubles and delays (mostly because of Tommy’s inabilities as a filmmaker), tensions rise between Greg and Tommy, along with the rest of the cast and crew. Whether you’ve seen The Room or not, The Disaster Artist is a mesmerizing examination of one of the strangest film productions of all time.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Stars: James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Alison Brie
Director: James Franco
Rating: R
Runtime: 103 minutes

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The Babysitter

The Babysitter (2017)

Cole (Judah Lewis) loves his babysitter, Bee (Samara Weaving). She’s fun, good-looking, and worships the dark lord of all dark lords. Behind Bee’s charming smile is a sinister satanist with a thirst for blood. As members of a creepy cult begin their descent over Cole’s life, it’s up to the preteen to outsmart their efforts before he becomes Bee’s next victim. A Netflix original film, The Babysitter doesn’t surprise in many ways but follows the genre formula to a tee, and we love the dedication. It’s campy, edgy, and a joyride through and through.

Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Genre: Horror, Comedy
Stars: Bella Thorne, Judah Lewis, Samara Weaving
Director: McG
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 85 minutes

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The Florida Project (2017)

Just miles away from “the happiest place on earth” is a wonderland far from a dream come true. But seen through Moonee’s (Brooklynn Prince) eyes, the Magic Castle Inn and Suites is a home filled with family, friends, and unrequited love. Sean Baker’s The Florida Project looks past the palm trees and theme parks of Orlando for a series of impoverished day-in-the-life vignettes. Featuring powerful performances across the board, the film paints an emotional but authentic picture of life on the fringe, as seen through the eyes of an adventurous and inquisitive child.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Genre: Adventure, Action, Sci-Fi, Mystery, Thriller
Stars: Willem Dafoe, Brooklynn Prince, Valeria Cotto
Director: Sean Baker
Rating: R
Runtime: 111 minutes

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Good Time (2017)

Josh and Ben Safdie, the writer/director duo behind 2019’s Uncut Gems (also in this roundup), have a penchant for producing electric crime thrillers — a calling first realized with their 2017 film, Good Time. Our story follows Connie (Robert Pattinson) and Nick (Ben Safdie), two brothers who attempt to rob a New York city bank together. When their plan goes awry and Nick is arrested, Connie will do whatever it takes to free his brother before the authorities come crashing down on him, too. Good Time is a ceaseless NYC thrill ride with a firm foot on the gas, never once letting up on the adrenaline and chaos.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Genre: Adventure, Action, Sci-Fi, Mystery, Thriller
Stars: Robert Pattinson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Benny Safdie
Director: Josh & Benny Safdie
Rating: R
Runtime: 101 minutes

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Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2017)

Based on Barry Crump’s novel Wild Pork and Watercress, Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople stars Sam Neill and Julian Dennison as an unlikely foster-father/foster-child duo. After his adoption by the Faulkner family, Ricky (Dennison) attempts to settle into his new family, but tragic events scare the boy into the dense New Zealand wilderness. Hec (Neill), Ricky’s foster-parent, tracks the boy down but suffers a debilitating injury in the process. Bonding over their pasts and hope for a freer future, the pair decide to hide away in the brush together. But with a national manhunt underway to find the man and boy, how long can their odyssey truly last? Hunt for the Wilderpeople lives and breathes through Neill and Dennison’s onscreen chemistry, an acting partnership only deepened by Waititi’s rich and emotive script.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Genre: Adventure, Comedy
Stars: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rima Te Wiata
Director: Taika Waititi
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 101 minutes

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Yes God Yes

Yes, God, Yes (2020)

Stranger Things alum Natalia Dyer stars in writer-director Karen Maine’s Yes, God, Yes, a coming-of-age take on religious repression and burgeoning sexuality. Alice (Dyer) and her friend Laura (Francesca Reale) decide to attend their Catholic school’s annual Kirkos retreat. On their pilgrimage, Alice inadvertently enters into a promiscuous AOL chat when she tries to look up a particular sex act. This puts into place a daisy chain of rumors among Alice’s peers, with Alice’s genuine innocence and curiosity put uncomfortably in the middle. Based on her 2017 short film of the same name, Maine’s Yes, God, Yes is a nuanced and mature story of one teenager trying to wade her way through the stigma of sex, featuring a powerful lead performance from Dyer.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Genre: Comedy
Stars: Natalia Dyer, Alisha Boe, Francesca Reale
Director: Karen Maine
Rating: R
Runtime: 78 minutes

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There Will Be Blood (2007)

Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood is a grim character study of one Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), a burgeoning oil tycoon in early 20th-century California. Daniel is the type of man who would sell his soul to make a buck, which makes the arrival of Paul Sunday (Paul Dano) all the more serendipitous. The boy claims there is oil on his family’s property, and he’ll tell Daniel where it is for cash. The pair transact, and Daniel journeys to the town of Little Boston with his son H.W. (Dillon Freasier) to try and purchase the Sunday Ranch for drilling. What’s waiting for Daniel is a dastardly foe and his family’s cursed land. Or is Plainview the curse himself? There Will Be Blood is a two-hour-plus descent into a hell of business meets faith, featuring an Oscar-winning lead performance from Daniel Day-Lewis.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Kevin J. O’ Connor
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Rating: R
Runtime: 158 minutes

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Enola Holmes (2020)

So, you thought Sherlock Holmes was played out? Well, you thought wrong, because you didn’t know he had a little sister. Millie Bobby Brown shines as the title character in this action-packed, fun-filled twist on the classic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories. When her mother turns up mysteriously missing, teenage Enola Holmes hits the trail to find her — something her more famous brother is simply too preoccupied to do. As she sniffs out clues, Enola discovers she might just have as much as, or even more of, a knack for this sleuthing thing than her brother, slowly uncovering a dangerous conspiracy that threatens to rattle the English aristocracy.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Action, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Stars: Millie Bobby Brown, Helena Bonham Carter, Henry Cavill
Director: Harry Bradbeer
Rating:
NR
Runtime: 
92 minutes

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