Vince Vaughn stars in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004).
Twentieth Century Fox
June 18, 2004 saw the release of two wildly different films in American cinemas: Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal and a goofy, cameo-filled, wrench-chucking sports comedy called DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story. Guess which one came out on top at the box office? The sleeper hit both saluted and skewered the sports movie genre. It also gave Chuck Norris the chance to enjoy a free helicopter ride.
1. Dodgeball's creator was inspired by the book Fast Food Nation.
DodgeBall writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber considered DodgeBall an homage to some of his favorite flicks, including Revenge of the Nerds (1984), Rocky (1976), and Bull Durham (1988). Another source of inspiration was Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, the nonfiction bestseller about the modern obsession with greasy, ready-made cuisine. Published in 2001, Fast Food Nation sold more than 1.4 million copies within five years. It also left plenty of fingerprints on Thurber’s script.
"I really took a cue from that—there's an absolute love/fear relationship thing in our culture," Thurber told Film Freak Central in 2014. "We're so weight conscious, so image conscious, so youth-oriented—and wrapped up with all that psychosis are these ad images of it being so cool and all-American and sexy to eat McDonald's and drink pop and all that. It pulls people in all sorts of different directions, so I wanted [Ben Stiller’s character] White Goodman to be sitting there with a doughnut and the car battery attached to his nipples … That situation with food, with sports, with so much of our culture. [It’s] already almost too surreal to satirize."
2. The movie's actors went through some rigorous training.
To ready themselves for the movie, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and the rest of the actors ran indoor dodgeball drills at what many of them have since described as a “boot camp.” According to Stiller, this basically consisted of “us at a gym a few times a week playing dodgeball.” While that may not sound too intense, the physicality of these sessions took its toll on the performers. “It’s a game for the young,” Stiller said. “It’s one thing when you’re eight, but when you’re 38, it gets really exhausting. After three or four minutes, you’re fried.” Practicing at his side was Stiller’s wife, Christine Taylor, who plays Kate Veatch of the Average Joe’s squad in DodgeBall.
3. Ben Stiller took Christine Taylor down with a dodgeball ... twice.
As a general rule, it’s never a good idea to hit one’s spouse in the face with a rubber ball while playing any sport, but that’s exactly what Stiller did to Christine Taylor—twice. Blow number one came during the boot camp; the second strike occurred while filming the epic Globo Gym/Average Joe’s showdown. The latter ball was intended to strike Vaughn, who reflexively flinched to get out of the way. In any event, Stiller admits that those two incidents put a temporary damper on the couple’s marital harmony “for like a week, because there’s no way to not get upset with somebody after you’ve done that. It just sent us both back to eighth grade." (Though the couple announced that they were divorcing in 2017, the split has never been made official, and the couple is still regularly seen together—sparking rumors of a reconciliation.)
4. Stiller borrowed much of his character's personality from 1995's Heavyweights.
The fact that Stiller borrowed some of White Goodman’s traits from Tony Perkis, the fanatical fat camp owner he played in 1995’s Heavyweights, won’t surprise anyone who has seen both films. DodgeBall’s White Goodman (as played by Stiller) is a bombastic, egomaniacal fitness guru with some inherited wealth and major insecurities. The same description also applies to Perkis. A lighthearted family comedy, Heavyweights didn’t fare well at the box office, grossing a meager $17.6 million. As such, when Stiller copied a few of Perkis’s mannerisms in DodgeBall, he figured that no one would notice.
"I always thought, ‘Well, nobody ever saw Heavyweights, so I can do this,” Stiller recalled. “But a lot of people saw Heavyweights … Apparently, it shows on the Disney Channel a lot or something.” Regarding the two characters, Stiller has said that Perkis is “definitely a first or second cousin” to Goodman.
5. Justin Long suffered a minor concussion on the set.
Justin Long, who plays Justin in the film, took some hard knocks while making this movie. For starters, a prop wrench made with hard rubber left a nasty cut on his eyebrow when Rip Torn, as Patches O’Houlihan, threw it at his face in one scene. Then, while filming another section of DodgeBall’s training montage, the actor was pelted with enough high-speed balls to render him "slightly concussed."
"They didn’t want me to drive home at the end of the day because I was a little off," Long told Today in 2017. “So next time you’re watching that and laughing, know that you’re laughing at my pain.” Still, the experience wasn’t all bad. According to New York Magazine, Long can often be seen riding a scooter adorned with the words “Average Joe’s,” a gift from Stiller.
6. Hank Azaria and Rip Torn didn't even try to synchronize their Patches O'Houlihan voices.
Early in the film, we get to watch an instructional video about dodgeball (and social Darwinism) hosted by a young Patches O’Houlihan, who is played by Hank Azaria. For the remainder of the film, however, it’s Rip Torn who portrays the seven-time ADAA all-star. You may have noticed that the two actors use very different accents in their respective scenes: Azaria, who joined the cast at Stiller’s invitation, called his performance “essentially a bad Clark Gable impression.” At the time, Torn’s sequences hadn’t been shot yet, leading someone in the crew to pipe up and say “You know, it’d be funny if Rip tries to emulate that voice!” “I was like, ‘Yeah, good luck walking up to Rip Torn and suggesting that he change his vocal quality in any way. Let me know how that goes for you,’” Azaria replied.
7. The Average Joe's team colors are an homage to Hoosiers.
Thurber, a fan of David Anspaugh’s Oscar-nominated Hoosiers (1986), tipped his hat to the Hickory Huskers’ red and yellow uniforms by giving the Average Joe’s squad—led by Vince Vaughn’s Pete LaFleur—an almost identical color scheme.
8. Chuck Norris was reluctant to make a cameo.
The action star’s only scene was shot in Long Beach, California. Geographically speaking, this was problematic for Norris. “I was in L.A. when they asked me to do the cameo,” Norris told Empire Magazine. “I said no at first because it was a three-hour drive to Long Beach.” Hearing this, Stiller called Norris and begged him to reconsider. “He goes, ‘Chuck, please, you’ve got to do this for me!’” Norris recalled, “My wife said he should send a helicopter for me and that's what happened. I didn't read the screenplay, just did my bit where I stick my thumb up.”
After post-production on DodgeBall wrapped and Norris got around to seeing the finished product, he found himself enjoying most of it. However, there was one little moment in the final credits that really caught him off-guard. “In the end, when Ben’s a big fatty and watching TV, the last line of the whole movie is, 'F***ing Chuck Norris!' My mouth fell open ... I said, 'Holy mackerel!' That was a shock, Ben didn't tell me about that!"
9. One villain was originally supposed to be a robot.
By far the most mysterious player in the Purple Cobras lineup is Fran Stalinovskovichdavidovitchsky, an Eastern European all-star whom Goodman calls “The deadliest woman on earth with a dodgeball.” What’s the secret to her success? Well, in an early version of the screenplay, it’s revealed that Fran is actually a robot in disguise. Thurber ended up dropping the gag, which he considered too ridiculous—even by DodgeBall’s standards. However, when Missi Pyle was cast as Fran, the big twist hadn’t yet been cut.
“Initially, in the first script I read, she was a robot, like a sexy-bodied robot” Pyle explained. The original plan was to slowly pan the camera up over a partly-exposed Robo-Fran—with her metallic face and fake breasts on full display—at some point in the climax.
10. Alan Tudyk weighed in on a fan theory about Steve the Pirate.
In 2012, Redditor Maized made the case Steve the Pirate, Alan Tudyk’s swashbuckling oddball, is actually an “ex-Navy sailor who suffers from PTSD.” As evidence, Maized cited Steve’s tattoos, which bear a striking resemblance to those frequently worn by U.S. Naval recruits. In theory, the Average Joe’s patron uses his pirate persona to cope with his condition.
During a 2016 interview with Screen Crush, Tudyk was asked to offer his thoughts on the theory. With a chuckle, Tudyk replied that it “doesn’t seem like it’s impossible.” Emphasizing that he didn’t wish to “insult Navy sailors who have PTSD,” the actor said he’d consider taking the Redditor’s idea into account if a DodgeBall sequel is ever made.
In the time it takes the average person to choose which movie to watch on Netflix, you probably could have finished watching two. With more than 75,000 different categories—some of them as hyper-specific as "Cerebral Scandinavian Movies" or "Movies Starring Casper Van Dien" (tip: Starship Troopers is never a bad idea)—you could spend months just scrolling through the streaming company's library of offerings. Lucky for you, you don't have to. Because we've done the work for you to come up with 100 fantastic movies that are on Netflix right now, from classic rom-coms to scary-as-hell horror movies. Ready, set, stream.
1. About a Boy (2002)
Comedy and drama blend nicely in this adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel about a self-centered professional (Hugh Grant) who tries picking up single mothers at a parents’ meeting. Instead, he befriends 12-year-old Will (Nicholas Hoult), who teaches him a thing or two about growing up. —Jake Rossen
2. All the President's Men (1976)
Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman are dogged newspaper journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, teaming up to pursue the story of the decade: The Watergate scandal. Their investigation implicated President Richard Nixon in a cover-up and changed the course of history. The film adaptation of Woodward and Bernstein's book earned raves and four Academy Awards, though it lost the Best Picture race that year to Rocky. —JR
3. Apocalypse Now (1979)
Director Francis Ford Coppola and star Martin Sheen suffered a long shoot and ill health—Sheen even endured a heart attack—to deliver this potent drama about a Vietnam military officer (Marlon Brando) slowly losing his mind in Cambodia. It’s widely regarded as Coppola’s best film apart from 1972’s The Godfather, though it wasn’t originally his; George Lucas once intended to direct it. —JR
4. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
When Marvel promised a comic book film of unprecedented scale with Avengers: Infinity War, they were not messing around. This film, one of 2018’s biggest, was the culmination of a decade of planning, casting, and cinematic storytelling all pulled into one massive movie event. It would be impressive for its ambition and scope alone, but it’s also perhaps the best attempt yet to tell a comic book crossover story on the big screen. —Matthew Jackson
5. The Aviator (2004)
Leonardo DiCaprio’s pairings with Martin Scorsese have resulted in a number of critically-praised films, including 2002’s Gangs of New York and 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street. Here he portrays pioneering aviator Howard Hughes, a man whose piloting and entrepreneurial prowess was quickly overshadowed by mental instability. —JR
6. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
Fans of the Coen brothers get a trail mix of stories in this anthology set in the Old West. A gunslinger (Tim Blake Nelson) proves to be a little too arrogant when it comes to his skills; an armless and legless man (Harry Melling) who recites Shakespeare for awed onlookers begins to grow suspicious of his caretaker’s motives; a dog causes unexpected grief while following a wagon train. Knitted together, the six stories total are probably the closest we’ll get to a Coen serialized television series that this feature was once rumored to be. —JR
7. Batman Begins (2005)
Following the tepid response to 1997’s Batman and Robin, the Batman franchise returned to its gritty roots with this story of Bruce Wayne’s arduous training and early activities as Gotham City’s Dark Knight. Opposing his brand of law and order is the Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) and Ra’s al Ghul, a specter from Wayne’s past. Batman Begins spawned a trilogy from Christian Bale and director Christopher Nolan. —JR
8. Beasts of No Nation (2015)
Idris Elba astounds in this harrowing tale of child soldiers kidnapped and exploited by an African paramilitary group. Poignant and unflinching, the story will squeeze your heart until it bursts. —Scott Beggs
9. Black Panther (2018)
The first superhero film to ever earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, Black Panther became not just one of the most successful movies in the history of Marvel Studios in 2018, but a full-blown cultural phenomenon. The film was an instantly quotable, instantly viral sensation, and a year after its release it remains not just an important landmark in the superhero shared universe phenomenon, but a great film that’s unlike anything else in its genre so far. (Though it lost its Best Picture bid, the film did win three of its seven Oscar nominations.) —MJ
10. Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)
Slapped with an NC-17 rating when it was released theatrically, this three-hour-long, coming-of-age drama from France was famous for its graphic, eight-minute lesbian sex scene. But the Cannes jury was (presumably) more impressed by the authentic, vulnerable performances by the two leads, Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos. When it won the Palme d'Or, the jury (headed by Steven Spielberg that year) took the unprecedented step of giving the actresses the award, too, along with the director, Abdellatif Kechiche. —Eric D. Snider
11. Blue Jasmine (2013)
Cate Blanchett delivers an Academy Award-nominated performance as Jasmine, a socialite who’s fallen on hard times and is forced to cohabitate with her less-than-prosperous sister (Sally Hawkins) in this acclaimed exclamation of sisterly bonds and personal reinvention. —JR
12. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
The Great Depression’s most infamous crime pairing is chronicled in this bullet-riddled love story about Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) and Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway), who garner public support for their bank robberies despite their itchy trigger fingers. If you’re in the mood for a double feature, Netflix’s 2019 film, The Highwaymen, takes a different tact, looking over the shoulders of the Texas Rangers (Kevin Costner, Woody Harrelson) charged with bringing the couple down. —JR
13. Boyhood (2014)
Boyhood works as a kind of time travel movie, as director Richard Linklater spent 12 years filming the adolescence of a Texan (Ellar Coltrane) from age six to 18. This lengthy production process made it possible for Coltrane to portray the character at various stages, from coming to grips with his parents' divorce as a young child to his high school graduation. In lesser hands, it would be a gimmick. For Linklater, it's a chance to mediate on encroaching independence. —JR
14. Brick (2004)
High school meets noir in director Rian Johnson’s debut. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Brendan, an outcast who gets a frantic phone call from ex-girlfriend Emily (Emile de Ravin) that sends him through a labyrinth of criminals, characters, and hard-boiled confrontations. —JR
15. Brooklyn's Finest (2009)
An ensemble cast (Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, and Wesley Snipes) navigate the temptations and pitfalls inherent in police work in this drama from director Antoine Fuqua. Producer John Langley also created the long-running reality TV series Cops for Fox. —JR
16. Brother's Keeper (1992)
In this haunting documentary, a trio of bothers in rural upstate New York fend off the advances of press and locals who believe the death of their sibling William may have been the result of foul play. What co-directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky discover is something even more disturbing, raising questions of privacy and the sometimes-strangling effects of familial bonds. —JR
17. Cabaret (1972)
Performers in pre-war Berlin cope with the rise of the Nazi regime by losing themselves in their stage performances at the Kit Kat Klub. The musical was a critical and commercial hit, with star Liza Minnelli winning an Academy Award. Thanks to its explicit dialogue, it also won an X rating before being edited and granted an R. —JR
18. Carol (2015)
One part glistening romance, one part social drama with a sour edge. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara transcend as two lovers who find each other because of a pair of lost gloves. —SB
19. Carrie (1976)
Brian De Palma’s adaptation of the Stephen King novel remains one of the best King works to move to the screen, with Sissy Spacek convincingly downtrodden as the high school girl whose meek disposition is seen as weakness by the mean girls. Pushed too far by both her classmates and an overbearing mother, Carrie’s rage takes the form of telekinetic vengeance. —JR
20. City of God (2002)
The lives of Brazil’s criminal class are examined in this moving and often harrowing film from co-directors Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund about a group of friends looking to escape the poverty-stricken favelas of their youth. The striking authenticity comes in part from the performers, most of whom were amateurs who had never before appeared on camera. —JR
21. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Stanley Kubrick’s mesmerizing and dystopian examination of violent street thugs was controversial upon its release for its violence. Today, it’s seen as one of his best and a fascinating mediation on the role of state-sponsored rehabilitation, with Malcolm McDowell’s Alex answering for his recklessness by being brainwashed into a productive citizen. —JR
22. Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Paul Newman’s entry into the prison genre is a classic, with his affable Luke refusing to be cowed by the oppressive guards trying to break his spirit by any means necessary. —JR
23. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
“Wire fu” is on superb display in this Ang Lee film about swordmasters in 18th century China pursuing a mythical weapon. While ostensibly a martial arts tale, Lee uses the physical action to develop the love story between warriors Chow Yun-fat and Michelle Yeoh. Though it’s more substantial than your average action movie, it still manages to deliver an evolution of the graceful, gravity-defying style popularized by The Matrix just a year earlier. (Legendary fight choreographer Yuen Woo-ping worked on both.) —JR
24. The Crow (1994)
Long before superheroes on the big screen became a part of shared universes and billion dollar mega-franchises, The Crow became what is perhaps the ultimate Generation X comic book movie: the story of an aspiring rock star (Brandon Lee) who is murdered by thugs on Devil’s Night, and returns from the dead one year later as a supernatural vigilante to seek his vengeance. Director Alex Proyas’s visuals are gothic perfection, and the film’s soundtrack alone is worth the price of admission. —MJ
25. The Dark Knight (2008)
Still considered by some fans to be the best Batman movie, and even the best superhero movie, ever made, the middle installment of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy still holds up more than a decade after its initial release. Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance as The Joker remains wicked fun, and the film’s car chases are still among the most dizzying practical effects ever pulled off in a superhero flick. —MJ
26. Deliverance (1972)
Burt Reynolds began his streak of 1970s movie superstardom with this deeply disturbing tale of thirtysomethings (Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ronny Cox, and a doomed Ned Beatty) who decide to go rafting in Georgia and find themselves in over their heads with the inhospitable locals. The result is a kind of rural horror film that resonates with the perils of paddling outside of your comfort zone. —JR
27. Doctor Zhivago (1965)
Director David Lean took on yet another epic tale in this story of a physician (Omar Sharif) whose life is disrupted in the wake of the Russian Revolution and whose love for Julie Christie is threatened by political upheaval. Locations in Spain and Canada make for convincing replicas of Moscow. —JR
28. Doubt (2008)
A Roman Catholic school in 1960s Brooklyn is the setting for this tense and terse drama about a nun (Meryl Streep) who begins to suspect a priest (Philip Seymour Hoffman) of taking an unusual interest in a young student. Is he guilty of impropriety, or is Streep bristling against him for other reasons? Less a criminal drama and more of a comment on religious institutions, Doubt argues that morality and objectivity are often at odds. —JR
29. The Duchess (2008)
Few people can pull off the role of an 18th century aristocrat as well as Keira Knightley. In this case, she's forced to contend with a cruel and philandering husband (Ralph Fiennes) who makes it clear that his only use for his wife is for her to produce a male heir. But the Duchess knows that two can play at this game, and begins a scandalous (and not-quite-hidden) affair with a rising politician (Dominic Cooper). Come for the compelling period drama, stay for the stunning costumes. —Jennifer M. Wood
30. Dumb and Dumber (1994)
Jim Carrey had a legendary year in 1994, moving from television’s In Living Color to the success of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Mask. He finished the year with this physical, farcical buddy comedy with Jeff Daniels that sees two clueless friends cross the country to pursue Carrey’s crush (Lauren Holly). Carrey is the human equivalent of Silly Putty; Daniels excels in one of the greatest laxative scenes in the history of cinema. —JR
31. East of Eden (1955)
James Dean made so few films that each plays with an urgency, offering what we know is going to be a fleeting glimpse into his talent. In East of Eden, he’s one of two brothers hoping to capture the affections of their farmer father. East of Eden was Dean’s first starring role. He would appear onscreen just twice more, having perished in an auto accident in 1955. —JR
32. Enemy (2013)
Jake Gyllenhaal has an uneasy feeling that his exact double—a man who looks like him but is substantially more successful—is intruding on his own life. The Gyllenhaal collision is the foundation for this psychological thriller from director Denis Villeneuve, who offers no pat answers but an effective undercurrent of dread. —JR
33. Ex Machina (2014)
Alex Garland's quiet—and quietly subversive—robot parable didn't arrive with all the hype of a major studio sci-fi release but still manages to outdo most big-budget android tales. As the enigmatic CEO of a robotics company, Oscar Isaac uses an underling (Domhnall Gleeson) to test his eerily lifelike AI (Alicia Vikander). But Gleeson may be the one who's really being tested. —JR
34. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Johnny Depp is gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson in director Terry Gilliam’s filmed psychedelic trip through Las Vegas. Based on Thompson’s book of the same name, the film is a feverish fantasy and likely not for all tastes, though those who don’t mind a meandering narrative will find an enthusiastic performance by Depp and the kind of hallucinatory imagery Gilliam has become known for. —JR
35. The Fifth Element (1997)
Director Luc Besson delivers a sumptuous future in this marvel of production design, with Bruce Willis once again playing an everyman thrust into the middle of a grand-scale conflict. Here, he's a cabbie in the 23rd century who runs afoul of aliens looking to destroy Earth. —JR
36. The Fighter (2010)
Mark Wahlberg and director David O. Russell strip away the conventions of standard boxing movies and deliver a potent blend of pugilism and family drama. As real-life fighter Mickey Ward, Wahlberg tries to juggle his ring aspirations with the emotional challenges presented by his drug-addled half-brother Dicky (Christian Bale). —JR
37. The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)
Serving as a big-screen coming-out party for Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, and director Judd Apatow, The 40-Year-Old Virgin mixes the best of romantic comedies with the crude humor of ‘80s cult classics like Porky’s. Its raunchy sentimentality won critical acclaim and commercial success, grossing more than $175 million at the box office. —Jay Serafino
38. Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)
The snub-nosed persistence of television journalist Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) in the face of network and government pressure is the subject of this fact-based drama directed by George Clooney. As Murrow reports on a military officer accused of communist ties, he begins to suspect he doesn’t have all the facts, leading to a clash of ethics that would help define television news for decades to come. —JR
39. Good Will Hunting (1997)
Tired of being passed up for substantial roles, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon wrote this Horatio Alger story about a janitor (Damon) whose surly demeanor hides both an impressive intellect and a reservoir of emotional pain. The late Robin Williams won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Damon’s gentle but challenging therapist. —JR
40. Gosford Park (2001)
A British murder mystery with talent to spare, director Robert Altman’s Gosford Park examines the class system in the guise of a whodunit. When Sir William McCordle (Michael Gambon) is found stabbed, everyone from his relatives to his servants are suspects. Screenwriter Julian Fellowes later mined many of the same themes (and actors) for Downton Abbey. —JR
41. The Graduate (1967)
Dustin Hoffman copes with plastics and Mrs. Robinson in this study in unwritten futures from director Mike Nichols. After graduating college, Benjamin Braddock (Hoffman) ponders his next move while coping with the advances of an older woman (Anne Bancroft). It was Hoffman’s first starring role. —JR
42. Gremlins (1984)
Practical puppets steal the show in this story of a young adult (Zach Galligan) who befriends a Mogwai named Gizmo. The fluffy creature is cute, but breaking the rules of his species—getting him wet and feeding him after midnight are prohibited—leads to an outbreak of ferocious relatives. A black comedy about the perils of nonnative species, it spawned a sequel, 1990’s Gremlins 2: The New Batch. —JR
43. Heathers (1988)
High school rom-coms don't get much darker than this cult hit, which sees a mysterious new student (Christian Slater) seduce one of the school's most popular girls (Winona Ryder), then lure her into a murder spree. Croquet, scrunchies, and corn nuts abound. —JMW
44. Hell or High Water (2016)
Taylor Sheridan's Hell or High Water follows two brothers (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) who take to bank robberies in an effort to save their family ranch from foreclosure; Jeff Bridges is the drawling, laconic lawman on their tail. —JR
45. Hellboy (2004)
Before he was the Oscar-winning director of The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro tried his hand at a comic book adaptation, and he did it with one of the most Guillermo del Toro-esque superheroes out there: A demon (played wonderful by Ron Perlman) who hunts monsters. Though a reboot hit theaters earlier this year, the original Hellboy is still delightfully pulpy supernatural fun. —MJ
46. Hoosiers (1986)
Gene Hackman stars as a basketball coach in small-town 1950s Indiana looking to start over with a clean slate. His performance in the film manages to take the conventional trappings of the sports underdog genre and bring a multilayered portrait of a man plagued by a past who’s getting one last chance to get it right. —JR
47. Hot Fuzz (2007)
After taking a stab at zombies, Edgar Wright returned to pay homage and send up action movies with his unique style of intricate plotting, quickfire jokes, and explosive puns. —SB
48. Howards End (1992)
James Ivory's adaptation of E.M. Forster's 1910 novel tells the story of free-spirited Londoner Margaret Schlegel (Emma Thompson) who befriends a dying woman, Ruth Wilcox (Vanessa Redgrave), who ends up bequeathing Margaret her beloved country home, Howards End. It's a stroke of luck for Margaret, who is about to be ousted from the home she has leased for years, but the Wilcox family feels that something is amiss. As Ruth's widower attempts to investigate the situation, he finds himself falling under Margaret's spell. —JMW
49. The Hurt Locker (2008)
In 2010, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to be named Best Director for her work on The Hurt Locker, an unrelenting look at the psychology of warfare, as seen through the eyes of an American bomb squad in Iraq. —JLM
50. The Imitation Game (2014)
Benedict Cumberbatch earned his first (and so far only) Oscar nomination for his depiction of genius Alan Turing, who led the team of mathematicians who cracked the Enigma Code during World War II. But the film delves into the personal: When it's discovered that Turing is gay, he's turned from a hero into a criminal. —JMW
51. In Bruges (2008)
Oscar winner Martin McDonagh wrote and directed this dark comedy about two hitmen (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) who are forced to hide out in a tiny Belgian town after a job gone wrong. —JMW
52. Incredibles 2 (2018)
Director Brad Bird took some 14 years to make a sequel to his superhero Pixar hit, but fans considered it worth the wait. While family patriarch Bob Parr, a.k.a. Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) struggles with his role as a stay-at-home dad to three empowered kids, wife Helen tries to win over a government skeptical of superheroes with her actions as Elastigirl. Mind control, double-crosses, and epic disasters follow. —JR
53. The King's Speech (2010)
From laughingstock to maestro of one of Great Britain’s finest public addresses, The King’s Speech tells the true story of King George VI’s triumph over stuttering. The film took home Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director (Tom Hooper), Best Actor (Colin Firth), and Best Original Screenplay (David Seidler). —JLM
54. Layer Cake (2004)
Before embarking on a long tenure as James Bond, Daniel Craig starred in this twisty crime feature about a drug dealer who finds that going straight is easier said than done. Tom Hardy and Ben Whishaw appear in supporting roles. —JR
55. Lincoln (2012)
Daniel Day-Lewis gives a powerful, Oscar-winning performance in Lincoln, which recounts the final months of the 16th president’s life as he fights to end war, mend the wounds of a nation, and ensure the abolishment of slavery. —JS
56. The Lobster (2015)
Colin Farrell stars in a black comedy that feels reminiscent of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's work: A slump-shouldered loner (Farrell) has just 45 days to find a life partner before he's turned into an animal. Can he make it work with Rachel Weisz, or is he doomed to a life on all fours? By turns absurd and provocative, The Lobster isn't a conventional date movie, but it might have more to say about relationships than a pile of Nicholas Sparks paperbacks. —JR
57. Locke (2013)
The camera rarely wavers from Tom Hardy in this existential thriller, which takes place entirely in Hardy's vehicle. A construction foreman trying to make sure an important job is executed well, Hardy's Ivan Locke grapples with some surprising news from a mistress and the demands of his family. It's a one-act, one-man play, with Hardy making the repeated act of conversing on his cell phone as tense and compelling as if he were driving with a bomb in the trunk. (Oscar-winner Olivia Colman and Fleabag's Andrew Scott are two of the people whose voices we hear on the other end of the line.)
58. Logan's Run (1976)
Ageism is taken to extremes in this standout 1970s sci-fi film about a man (Michael York) who enforces his society’s mandate to kill anyone over the age of 30. When York has a change of heart, he goes on the run himself. —JR
59. THE MASTER (2012)
Director Paul Thomas Anderson delivers a steady but absorbing tale of a World War II veteran (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls under the spell of a charismatic philosopher (Philip Seymour Hoffman) whose teachings soon become the focus of a cult movement. Both Phoenix and Hoffman were nominated for Academy Awards. Of the films he’s directed, which include 1997’s Boogie Nights and 2004’s There Will Be Blood, Anderson has said The Master is his favorite. —JR
60. THE MATRIX (1999)
The revolutionary sci-fi film can still deliver a "whoa" reaction 20 years after its initial release. Computer programmer Neo (Keanu Reeves) is tabbed to explore the subversive rebellion that knows what the rest of humanity doesn't: that they're living in a simulation. —JR
61. Milk (2008)
Sean Penn won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Harvey Milk, an enigmatic gay rights activist in San Francisco who became the first openly gay individual to be elected to public office in California when he became a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. But not everyone was happy about the progress. —JMW
62. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
The Monty Python team delivers their best-known work, a silly and sharply satirical feature that uses the King Arthur legend as a springboard for sequences that feature brave-but-armless knights and highly aggressive rabbits. Opening to mixed reviews, it’s since become a perennial entry in lists of the best comedies ever made. —JR
63. Moon (2009)
Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) has been alone on a lunar mining mission for three years, but his isolation comes to an end one day when a stranger shows up at his facility—and this mystery man happens to look just like him. —JS
64. Moonlight (2016)
Barry Jenkins’s trailblazing film, which won the Oscar for Best Picture, chronicles the life of Chiron (Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes) as he grows up under the burden of his own and others’ responses to his homosexuality. It’s a stirring portrait anchored by phenomenal performances (including an Oscar-earning turn from Mahershala Ali). —SB
65. National Treasure (2004)
There's something for everyone—history buffs, conspiracy theorists, and Nic Cage enthusiasts—in this adventure about a cryptologist (Cage) who discovers a treasure map on the back of the Declaration of Independence. —JR
66. Network (1976)
A prescient film for its time, Network examines how far television will go to achieve ratings success. Peter Finch won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Howard Beale, the newscaster trying to cling to some semblance of integrity before succumbing to the pressures of the viewers and executives out for blood. Faye Dunaway and Robert Duvall co-star. —JR
67. No Country for Old Men (2007)
The Coen brothers returned to the crime roots of their debut film, 1984’s Blood Simple, with this adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel about a downtrodden Texan (Josh Brolin) who makes the mistake of stealing a stash of drug money. Soon, he’s pursued by Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), a sociopath who uses a captive bolt pistol intended to stun cattle before being slaughtered. There are few happy endings to go around, though you may find yourself hoping the laconic sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones) charged with following the bloody trail is left unscathed. —JR
68. Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
Director Sergio Leone earned praise for his crime epic that features Robert De Niro and James Woods as best friends who grow into formidable gangsters in 1930s New York. Though Leone objected to releasing the film in a severely edited 139-minute version in 1984, the Netflix presentation is three hours and 49 minutes, which the late director found acceptable, if not preferable: He once considered a six-hour, two-part edition. —JR
69. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
Following the end of the Spanish Civil War, a young girl (Ivana Baquero) escapes the turmoil of her militant stepfather and ill mother by exploring a hidden labyrinth that houses a variety of strange creatures. Director Guillermo del Toro was praised for his specialty: weaving a fairy tale with sharp edges. —JR
70. The Pianist (2002)
Chronicling the true story of Polish-Jewish pianist Władysław Szpilman (Adrien Brody), The Pianist is widely considered one of the best World War II accounts ever committed to film. As Nazis overrun Warsaw, Szpilman tries to maintain his sanity by clinging to the only thing that makes sense in an increasingly senseless world: His love of music. —JR
71. The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)
The legacies of fathers are visited upon their sons in this crime drama starring Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper as men on opposite sides of the law. Gosling turns to robbery; Cooper is a cop in pursuit. Their paths intersect and resonate in ways neither they—nor the viewer—could ever anticipate. —JR
72. Poltergeist (1982)
Steven Spielberg produced—and according to Hollywood lore, may have helped direct—this Tobe Hooper film about a suburban family under siege by a paranormal spirit intent on disrupting their lives. Spielberg’s humor and heart is present, but so are some genuinely unsettling scares. Turns out there’s good reason to fear clowns and trees. —JR
73. Pulp Fiction (1994)
Quentin Tarantino’s breakout film sent him into the stratosphere and restored John Travolta’s star. All these years later, it’s still easy to see why. As hitmen Vincent and Jules, Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson roam an indelible pulp landscape of crime bosses, crooked boxers, errant dates, and discover the perils of shooting someone inside a car. —JR
74. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
All four Indiana Jones movies are on Netflix, but the original still stands its ground as the best in the series and one of the finest action movies ever made. Indy (Harrison Ford) pursues the Lost Ark of the Covenant while evading and diverting Nazis chasing the power the Ark is believed to contain. —JR
75. Roma (2018)
Alfonso Cuarón’s tribute to his upbringing in 1970s Mexico City tells the story of a housekeeper (Yalitza Aparicio) watching over the children of her employers after their father runs off with his mistress. Cuarón’s film is a living photograph, an intensely personal story that holds no major surprises aside from the sheer craft it took to make it a reality. —JR
76. Room (2015)
A woman (Brie Larson) is held captive by a deeply disturbed man for seven years. During that time, her son (Jacob Tremblay) has never experienced the outside world. That kind of set-up is usually reserved for thrillers, but Room is not as interested in Larson’s potential escape as much as it is in her courage giving her son sanctuary in an unsafe space. Larson won an Academy Award for the role. —JR
77. Scarface (1983)
Scarface’s place in movie history was cemented by Al Pacino’s manic and downright frightening performance as gangster Tony Montana. But beneath that, there’s a sprawling, ultra-violent crime drama that is a must-see for any fans of the genre. —JS
78. Schindler's List (1993)
Arguably Steven Spielberg’s most personal film, Schindler’s List explores the horrors of the Holocaust through the actions of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who dedicates himself to saving as many Jewish civilians as possible from the fate of the concentration camps. —JS
79. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)
A rare adaptation for writer/director Edgar Wright brings Bryan Lee O’Malley’s popular graphic novel series to life. Michael Cera is perfectly cast in the title role as an awkward young man who is determined to win the heart of the woman he loves (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) by literally winning video game style battles against her “Seven Evil Exes.” Wright throws every trick in his book at the screen, and the result is a film you can watch again and again. —MJ
80. Scream (1996)
Wes Craven riffing on Wes Craven, this is the ultra-rare horror film that manages to mock the genre while getting the blood pumping in terror. Come for the slasher brilliance, stay for the 1990s fashion and lack of cell phones. —SB
81. A Serious Man (2009)
Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) is a man whose faith is being tested at home, at work, and all points in between. A Serious Man is equal parts dark comedy and existential drama, and it’s a perfect encapsulation of why the Coen brothers are masters at their craft. —JS
82. She's Gotta Have It (1986)
Spike Lee’s feature directorial debut also sees him playing one of three men under the thumb of Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns). None of them can stand Nola’s gender-reversing approach to casual relationships, and the three hope to goad her into living a monogamous life. Nola, however, wants to pursue happiness on her own terms, not society’s. Lee’s love letter to Brooklyn is still a standout in his filmography, which quickly grew to include 1989’s Do the Right Thing and 1992’s Malcom X. —JR
83. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Serial killer perfection. Jonathan Demme managed to create a incredible thriller, detective yarn, and horror film all in one. Of course, Jodie Foster’s performance as Clarice Starling is a quiet tornado at the dark center of this murder mystery, even if Anthony Hopkins gets to chew more scenery. Did you know it was released on Valentine’s Day? —SB
84. The Sixth Sense (1999)
Built on strong performances by Bruce Willis and a young Haley Joel Osment, The Sixth Sense slowly ramps up the suspense from a simmer to a boil, culminating in one of the most memorable twist endings in all of film. —JS
85. Snowpiercer (2013)
In a dystopian future—in sci-fi, there may not be any other kind—a train carrying cars separated by social class circles the globe. Soon, the have-nots (led by Chris Evans) decide to defy authority and get answers from those in charge. —JR
86. Strangers on a Train (1951)
Criss cross. One of Alfred Hitchcock’s best, this adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel features sociopath Guy Haines (Farley Granger) offering to kill the estranged wife of tennis pro Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker) if Anthony agrees to off his new friend’s overbearing father. What starts as a hypothetical conversation between two passengers on a train ends in murder, mayhem, and twists, all of it anchored by Granger’s performance as the charmingly homicidal Haines. —JR
87. Swiss Army Man (2016)
Vibrant, effervescent, and deeply weird, Paul Dano stars in this musical collage as a depressed loner stranded on an island until he finds a talking, farting corpse played by a very post-Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe. They save one another and, together, attempt to get back to civilization while singing the praises of Jurassic Park. —SB
88. The Terminator (1984)
Arnold Schwarzenegger has made good on his promise to come back in three—soon to be four—sequels and a theme park attraction. But the original The Terminator didn’t have any ambition to become a franchise. It’s a tight, lean thriller about a cyborg (Schwarzenegger) traveling through time to kill the mother of the man who will lead the resistance against the machines. —JR
89. The Third Man (1949)
In 1940s postwar Vienna, Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) looks to meet up with old friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles) to take him up on a job offer. When Lime is reported dead, Martins navigates the seedy underbelly of the town to uncover the truth buried in the rubble of the war. —JR
90. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Netflix will host a handful of Marvel Studios movies before their inevitable movie to the upcoming Disney+ streaming service. Until then, the standout on Netflix remains Thor: Ragnarok, a hybrid comedy-action movie that plays Thor's serious mythology for laughs. It's like a heavy metal album cover come to life, and we meant that in the best possible way. —JR
91. V for Vendetta (2005)
An Orwellian dystopia collides with costumed heroics in this politically fueled adaptation of the graphic novel by famed comic book writer Alan Moore and artist David Lloyd. —JS
92. Valkyrie (2008)
Tom Cruise took a leap in deciding to portray German officer Claus von Stauffenberg, a man looking sabotage the Nazi regime and assassinate Adolf Hitler. Based on a true story, you can guess he does not succeed, but that doesn’t impede a genuinely suspenseful and well-crafted war sabotage thriller written by Christopher McQuarrie. (Cruise and McQuarrie would later collaborate on the Mission: Impossible franchise.) —JR
93. Wet Hot American Summer (2001)
The raunchy teen comedies of the 1980s get spoofed in this dry comedy from David Wain and Michael Showalter. Camp counselors (Janeane Garofalo, Paul Rudd, Showalter) juggle their crushes with the surreal intrusions of NASA debris and a cook (Christopher Meloni) who takes advice from a talking can of vegetables. The cast reassembled for a Netflix prequel series in 2015 and a sequel series in 2017. —JR
94. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Mike Nichols directs real-life couple Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in this adaptation of the Edward Albee play. Taylor plays Martha, a woman in an unhappy marriage who uses an evening of drinks to air her grievances in front of a younger, much happier couple. The film earned a nomination in virtually every major Academy Award category, with Taylor winning Best Actress for a powerhouse performance that could almost move tectonic plates. —JR
95. The Wild Bunch (1969)
Westerns had never looked quite like The Wild Bunch, a graphic and violent study in the true nature of outlaws from director Sam Peckinpah. Sensing their time coming to an end in 1913 Texas, gunslingers plot to make off with another score before the law—and the march of civilized society—does them in. —JR
96. Winter's Bone (2010)
Jennifer Lawrence’s breakthrough film is nothing flashy. As Ree Dolly, Lawrence is a teen in the Ozarks of Missouri charged with finding her missing father before her family loses their home to foreclosure. Her journey takes her through hostile territories and reveals truths that were best left uncovered. —JR
97. The Witch (2015)
Delicately crafted with an eye toward historical accuracy, this existential horror film focuses on a New England farming family in the wilds of 1630 who believe a witch has cursed them. Anya Taylor-Joy’s standout performance acts as a guide through the possessed-goat-filled insanity. —SB
98. Y Tu Mamá También (2001)
The controversially sensual road movie that put Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna on the international map scored an Oscar nomination for writer/director Alfonso Cuarón. It's hard to believe he followed up this drug-and-sex-filled coming-of-age trip with a Harry Potter movie. —SB
99. Zodiac (2007)
The product of David Fincher’s notorious perfectionism, this deep dive into the unsolved case of a series of brutal crimes in the San Francisco Bay Area explores the depths of humanity’s depravity as well as its capacity for seeking justice. It’s a masterclass in filmmaking with powerful turns from Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey, Jr., and Jake Gyllenhaal. —SB
100. Zombieland (2009)
After a zombie outbreak turns the world into a land of the walking dead, a college student (Jesse Eisenberg) takes up with a traveling band of survivors (Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin) to find a sanctuary. It’s a buddy road-trip movie disguised as a horror film, with Bill Murray making a fleeting but memorable appearance as Bill Murray. —JR
Written by Jake Rossen, Scott Beggs, Matthew Jackson, Jay Serafino, Eric D. Snider, and Jennifer M. Wood.