20 classic movies to watch on Netflix right now, from Goodfellas to Jaws

Harry Fletcher

With new movies arriving on Netflix every week, it’s easy for things to get a little lost.

There are dozens of classic movies tucked away on the service that often get overlooked – as everyone’s got a little time on their hands at the moment, there’s never been a better time to choose something a little different and enjoy a slice of movie history.

These are our picks of the best ones to watch on Netflix UK right now, from gangster epics to 70s comedies and all-time-greats from the golden age of Hollywood.

Make sure to check out our guide to the most underrated films on Netflix and Amazon Prime, too.

The Great Escape

Steve McQueen is at the height of his powers in this compelling, and often funny look at the lengths members of the Allied Forces went to escape imprisonment from POW camps during WWII.

West Side Story

Before the remake from Stephen Spielberg arrives later this year, head back and rediscover this timeless musical. The movie inspired by Romeo & Juliet follows an aching romance between a member of a white American gang and a rival Puerto Rican gang, and features the incredible songs Somewhere and Maria.

Goodfellas

Martin Scorsese’s brutal morality tale takes the viewer into the heart of New York gangland, tracking Henry Hill’s rise through the ranks of the mob. It’s a sure-fire masterpiece from a filmmaker at the height of his powers, and we'd argue no-one has ever looked cooler on-screen than Robert De Niro as James Conway.

Groundhog Day

The film that turned the romcom genre on its head back in 1993, Bill Murray’s misanthropic weather reporter is forced to live the same day over and over again, until he can make things right with his co-worker, played by Andie MacDowell. A total joy from start, to start, to start to finish.

The Silence of the Lambs

So much more than the thousands of bad Anthony Hopkins impressions it inspired, the Silence of the Lambs is one of the creepiest, unsettling and brilliant thrillers ever made. Hopkins is in full-on pantomime dame mode as the menacing, histrionic Hannibal Lecter, who comes face to face with FBI trainee Jodie Foster as she launches a hunt for a serial killer.

My Neighbour Totoro

The glorious Studio Ghibli back catalogue arrived on the streaming service earlier this year, helping more people than ever discover their wonderful, awe-inspiring animations. This fantastical, touching tale following two young girls who befriend a spirit form in bucolic Japan is the perfect place to start.

When Harry Met Sally

The Chemistry between Billy Crystal as Harry and Meg Ryan is some of the most convincing in movie history, with this perfect romcom attempting to answer the question, ‘can men and women ever truly be friends?’. Simply one of the finest romcoms ever made.

Jaws

Spend a little time onboard the Orca, head the salty sea dog tales from Quint and battle a killer shark in this unforgettable thriller from Stephen Spielberg, which showed the director as a master of tension and storytelling. It’s on Netflix, but thankfully the god-awful sequels Jaws 3-D and Jaws: The Revenge aren’t.

The Life of Brian

One of the most quotable comedies ever made, this inspired movie follows a man in Judea who is wrongly identified as the messiah. If this doesn’t scratch your Monty Python itch, the Holy Grail is also ready to watch on there too.

The Wizard of Oz

Visit the fantastical world of Oz, and encounter some of the most memorable and vibrant characters ever put to screen in this timeless adventure, which has been transcending generational divides ever since it was released in 1939. There’s no place like home, after all.

Boyz N the Hood

One of the finest coming-of-age dramas of the 90s, John Singleton’s film captures the lives of three young men living on the tough streets of Crenshaw, Los Angeles, painting one of the most enduring pictures of inner city America of the time. The impressive cast includes Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Laurence Fishburne, Regina King, and Angela Bassett.

Midnight Cowboy

A wide-eyed Texan (Jon Voight) moves to the Big Apple who heads with the intention of becoming a male prostitute and forms an unlikely friendship with conman Enrico Salvatore ‘Ratso’ Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman). It’s a bleak but brilliant buddy movie which won Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director for John Schlesinger at the Oscars in 1970.

The Terminator

The epitome of 80s action movie bombast, Arnold Schwarzenegger brings a ruthless killing machine to life in this endlessly rewatchable thrill-ride. The movie also introduced us to Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor, who proved one of the most compelling movie heroines of all time.

Reservoir Dogs

The debut from Quentin Tarantino established him as one of the most exciting talents in Hollywood, with a script sharper than a razor blade and some of the most uniquely violent and brutally brilliant scenes put to film.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Clint Eastwood delivers one of the best performances in the history of spaghetti Westerns in this thrilling and stylish 60s icon. The movie tells the story of three gunslingers on the hunt for buried gold, all set against the backdrop of the American Civil War.

Beetlejuice

Tim Burton established himself as a master of weird with this brilliantly quirky fantasy comedy. The ghosts of a couple come to haunt their former house along with Michael Keaton’s abhorrent and deceptive poltergeist Beetlejuice in this off-beat gothic adventure.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

The ultimate teen rebellion movie, the ineffably cool and fourth-wall breaking Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) as he tears across Chicago causing chaos with his friends after skipping school.

Ghost

Much more than just one famous scene – you know the one we mean – Ghost is bubbling over with steamy romance and thrills, featuring one of the great performances from Patrick Swayze as the ghost of a young woman in danger (Demi Moore).

The Never Ending Story

This cult fantasy film follows shy bookworm Bastian, who is transported to a distant land after discovering a magical novel. The movie is as cuddly and comforting as the luck dragon Falkor, one of the fantastical characters we meet along the way.

Big Night

Stanley Tucci's passion project Big Night follows a pair of brothers working in a struggling Italian restaurant, albeit one with superb food, who take a big risk to save their business. It’s well worth checking out for some of the most mouth-watering food sequences ever put to film.