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It’s a well-known fact that Netflix has been whittling away at its catalog of movies and TV shows. It wants to produce more original content instead.
While some Netflix-produced shows are clearly high-quality and have been critical hits, the loss of older content has been a blow for movie aficionados who enjoy watching famous titles.
So what are the best movies not available on Netflix? Which classic flicks are actually worth buying or renting elsewhere online? This list is entirely subjective, of course, but here are 16 critically-acclaimed titles you can easily watch anywhere else but Netflix.
1. The Big Lebowski (1998)
The Big Lebowski has endured an on-again-off-again relationship with Netflix. It was cut in early-2015 only to be restored a few months later. By the end of the year, it was once again unavailable. It made a brief comeback in 2016, but so far in 2017, it’s been left out in the wilderness.
The storyline sees a Los Angeles slacker mistaken for a millionaire. Hilarity ensues.
2. Being John Malkovich (1999)
With a 93 percent “Certified Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes and with three Oscar nominations under its belt, there’s no denying that Being John Malkovich is one of the greatest movies of the 1990s.
You won’t be able to find the fantasy-comedy on Netflix, but there are plenty of other online sources where you can pick it up.
3. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is one of the world’s most famous wuxia movies. The producers didn’t necessarily expect the film to become a global phenomenon, but it ended up taking the world by storm.
Made on a budget of just $17 million, the film grossed $213.5 million internationally. It made $128 million in the United States alone, thus becoming the country’s most successful foreign-language film in history.
4. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Widely considered to be the best early Star Trek film, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan set a world record first-day box office gross at the time of its release.
The plot pits Kirk against his old nemesis, the genetically engineered superhuman, Khan Noonien Singh.
5. Mary Poppins (1964)
A good barometer of the public’s love for a movie is how much of its dialog has passed into everyday language. Mary Poppins certainly succeeded; “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” has inspired everything from newspaper headlines to episodes of The Simpsons.
And here’s a fun fact: Mary Poppins was the only Disney movie to earn a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars during Walt’s lifetime.
6. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Many people thought The Wolf of Wall Street would be the movie that finally bagged Leonardo DiCaprio his first Oscar. Ultimately, Leo had to wait a couple more years, but that doesn’t diminish the enjoyment you’ll get from this fantastic dive into the excesses of Wall Street in the late 1980s.
7. Gravity (2013)
Wasn’t 2013 a great year for movies? Perhaps the reason The Wolf of Wall Street failed to win a single Oscar is due to the dominance of Gravity.
This movie, which sees Sandra Bullock and George Clooney stranded in space after a collision, picked up seven awards on the night.
8. Toy Story (1995)
Loved by both kids and adults, Toy Story was the first feature-length computer-animated film and was also Pixar’s first release.
The storyline is well-known. Andy’s favorite toy, Woody, is jealous of new arrival Buzz Lightyear. The two have their differences, but ultimately have to work together.
9. Silence of the Lambs (1991)
From kid-friendly to kid-traumatizing. 1991’s Silence of the Lambs became only the third film in history to win the Oscars’ top five awards: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. It also remains the only horror movie to have won Best Picture.
Trivia question: Which were the other two films to win those five awards? Answer at the end.
10. Superman (1978)
At the time of its release, Superman was the most expensive film in cinematic history. It had a budget of $55 million and grossed $300 million at the box office.
Considering this came before the modern-day superhero revival, it was an astounding feat. Though, with a cast list that included Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, and Christopher Reeve, along with Godfather screenwriter Mario Puzo, was its success ever really in doubt?
11. Taxi Driver (1976)
Taxi Driver is unquestionably one of the greatest films of all time. Dealing with the psychological fallout of the Vietnam War, the story follows the trials and tribulations of Travis Bickle, a cabbie working night shifts in New York.
Taxi Driver is also the second Jodie Foster film to make the list, though she’s barely a teenager in this one.
12. The Truman Show (1998)
The Truman Show came before Big Brother and all the other 24/7 reality show junk that’s on TV these days.
The premise of the show — a man who’s in a real-life soap opera without his knowledge — started endless debates about life, the universe, and the human condition. After all, who’s not to say we’re all living in our own version of The Truman Show?
13. Fargo (1996)
Directed by the Coen brothers, Fargo sees a pregnant local police chief investigate the suspicious circumstances surrounding the kidnap of the wife of a car salesman.
At the 1996 Oscars, it earned seven nominations and two victories. It remains one of only four films to have been inducted into the United States National Film Registry in its first year of eligibility.
14. Donnie Darko (2001)
Donnie Darko is possibly the most unlikely success story on this list. Despite some A-List actors, including Drew Barrymore and Patrick Swayze, the footage was shot in just 28 days and was almost released as a straight-to-video movie.
The timing of the September 2001 terror attacks in New York didn’t help. The film’s ads featured a crashing plane and were hardly aired anywhere.
Despite the setbacks, it became a home video blockbuster. In 2012, Empire Magazine named it as the second best independent movie in history and the 53rd best movie of all time.
15. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Is Saving Private Ryan the best World War II movie ever made? It’s certainly one of them.
Set on the beaches and towns around Normandy during the Allied invasion of northern France on D-Day, the movie depicts the U.S. Army’s attempt to find and retrieve Private Ryan.
Starring Tom Hanks and Matt Damon, the film was nominated for 11 Oscars and won five.
16. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Using Dawn of the Dead for inspiration, the cult classic comedy-horror movie Shaun of the Dead sees London overrun by a zombie apocalypse. Shaun and some of his family and friends try to wait out the crisis at the local pub, but it doesn’t quite go to plan.
The movie was the seventh most popular release in the United States on its opening weekend, despite being limited to just 607 theaters.
Which Amazing Movies Do You Wish Were on Netflix?
These 16 movies go to prove that while Netflix has done great things for the quality of television we can enjoy and the ease with which we can access our favorite movies, it is by no means perfect.
Like traditional TV networks, Netflix is still ultimately governed by its bottom line. These 16 movies are either too expensive or risk taking too many eyeballs away from the company’s own content for Netflix to put them on its service.
Oh, and the trivia? Along with Silence of the Lambs, the only other two films to have won the Oscar’s “Big Five” are It Happened One Night (1934) and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975).
Which movies do you want to see Netflix add to its catalog this year? Why not let us know in the comments below?