A great man once said “Gimme that short-ass movie.”
Hollywood movies are getting longer than ever, from superhero behemoths that clock in at three hours to even the most standard movies, which regularly go over two. Sometimes you just want to curl up with a good old-fashioned 90-100 minute movie, and that is your right as a cinephile. We’re not about to start The Irishman at 9 p.m.! Be rational!
For those situations and more, here are the best movies on Netflix with a reasonable runtime: An hour and 40 minutes or less.
1. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Netflix’s rom-com revival kicked off in 2018, a year whose slate included this criminally charming movie based on the novel by Jenny Han. Lara Jean (Lana Condor) is a hopeless romantic in the habit of writing letters to her most epic crushes — writing, not sending. When the letters are leaked, she starts pretending to date Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) to divert attention from her real crush on her sister’s boyfriend.
With a bouncy pop soundtrack and visual style that is the envy of your entire Instagram feed, To All the Boys is the kind of movie you can return to again and again, a comfort watch as sweet as Lara Jean’s baked goods. Will we ever tire of watching fictional characters fake love until it becomes real? If they’re even half as adorable as Condor and Centineo, the answer is no.* —Proma Khosla, Senior Entertainment Reporter
A meme-worthy masterpiece still celebrated 20 years after its release, Shrek is one of the most iconic kid movies of all time. It perfectly balances fairytale characters and gross-out gags with a sweet story about loving yourself and never judging a book by its cover. Everyone’s favorite grouchy green ogre, Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers), reluctantly quests to rescue Princess Fiona (voiced by Cameron Diaz). Along the way, he encounters a trusty sidekick Donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy), fights a dragon, and monologues about onions. The shenanigans reach new heights in Shrek 2. Also on Netflix, the sequel is worth the watch for the “Holding Out for a Hero” sequence alone.* —Belen Edwards, Entertainment Reporter
3. A Nightmare on Elm Street
Oh, Freddy, you old so-and-so!
The inaugural outing of the Springwood Slasher, written and directed by terror titan Wes Craven, is among the sillier supernatural nightmares out there. And yet, there’s no denying the charm that comes with rewatching the imaginative havoc wrought by this venerable, villainous heavyweight.
Kick back and relax as Mr. Krueger, played by Robert Englund, terrorizes teenagers unlucky enough to live in his zip code. You’ll enjoy dreams that are real but sometimes not, fashion decisions that didn’t even make sense then, tongues coming out of telephones, and more. Sweet dreams!* —Alison Foreman, Entertainment Reporter
4. His House
Writer-director Remi Weekes’ His House is easily my favorite scary Netflix release of 2020. Wunmi Mosaku and Sope Dirisu star as refugees from South Sudan seeking asylum in Britain who are assigned to live in an eerie neighborhood where they aren’t welcome. Spectacularly frightening and ruthlessly critical of its subject matter, His House delivers everything it must — and then some.* —A.F.
5. Lady Bird
Writer/director Greta Gerwig won near-universal praise for her darkly comedic coming-of-age story set in 2002 Sacramento, California. Lady Bird scored five Academy Award nominations, including a nod for Saoirse Ronan, who headlines as the titular troubled teen seeking her identity through rebellion, romance, and recklessness. But don’t worry, though this movie deals with teen angst, mother-daughter drama, and frustrating first times, Gerwig and her cast — which includes Laurie Metcalf, Beanie Feldstein, and Timothée Chalamet — keep things short and sweet. So don’t let the prestige put you off. –Kristy Puchko, Deputy Entertainment Editor
6. Vampires vs. the Bronx
Want a movie that’s got excitement, comedy, a scorching message about the evils of gentrification, and is a kid-friendly romp? Then take a bite out of Vampires vs. the Bronx. Oz Perkins’s PG-13 horror-comedy centers on Afro-Latino teens, who recognize that a flurry of missing person posters and influx of rich white folks with tote bags means bad news for the neighborhood. Together, they team up Monster Squad-style to take down the bloodsuckers and save their community. With a sharp wit, a warm heart, a rich sense of atmosphere, and an equal appreciation for the Blade movies and ’80s Amblin, Vampires vs. the Bronx is an easy watch full of rewards. —K.P.
7. The Perfection
From cellos and foreplay to hallucinations and hiking, The Perfection does absolutely whatever it wants. Featuring Allison Williams in her best role since Get Out and Dear White People’s Logan Browning in her best part ever, this vibrant genre blend will get a reaction out of you. Not necessarily a good reaction, but a reaction nonetheless. It’s body horror meets psychological thriller meets occult drama meets classical music. With bugs. And vomit. I, for one, loved it!* —A.F.
8. The Platform (El Hoyo)
Imagine: Prison cells stacked one on top of the other, with holes in the floor and ceiling. Randomly assigned levels that change each month. And a platform of food that gets slowly lowered from the very top, getting sparser and sparser with each floor it descends. This is the concept at the centre of Spanish director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s The Platform, a disturbing sci-fi thriller that wears its capitalist analogy plainly on its prison garb sleeve. It’s one of those rare gems where the execution is as strong as the idea at its core, driven by an excellent screenplay from David Desola and Pedro Rivero that’s dripping with horror and suspense. If you’re a fan of movies like The Cube or Saw, this is well worth checking out.* —Sam Haysom, Deputy U.K. Editor*
9. She’s Gotta Have It
Thirty-one years before it was a Netflix series, She’s Gotta Have It was the daring comedy that launched Spike Lee’s career and became a landmark in America’s emerging independent film scene. Filmed on a tight budget and on black-and-white stock, this Lee joint centers on Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns), a charming Brooklyn-based graphic artist who is juggling three male lovers. When these jealous men demand she choose just one of them, Nola is pushed to consider what she wants from love, sex, and relationships. Critics championed how Lee captured a side of Black experience rarely shown in mainstream movies. The prestigious Cannes Film Festival honored him with “The Award of Youth,” and the Independent Spirit Awards gave him the award for Best First Feature, and Johns the honor of Best Female Lead.* —K.P.
10. The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf
Despite its short-ass run time, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf adds a complete and satisfying chapter to Netflix’s ongoing Witcherverse. It takes place decades before Geralt’s adventures begin, focusing instead on the backstory of Geralt’s mentor Vesemir and the fatal battle at Kaer Morhen that decimated the Witcher population. Its beautiful animation (especially its impressively layered CGI fight scenes) illuminates Vesemir’s struggle as he parses the questions all people, mutated or not, must face — love or money? Preservation or sacrifice? To witcher or not to witcher? —Alexis Nedd, Senior Entertainment Reporter
11. Richie Rich
Macaulay Culkin plays the eponymous richest boy in the world, whose life takes a drastic turn when his parents disappear in a plane crash. Richie has to take over as head of the Rich Corporation, when all he really wants is to play baseball with the normal kids. That would be easy if literally everyone in the world weren’t out to get Richie and steal his parents’ business and fortune — everyone except his faithful butler Cadbury (Jonathan Hyde). Richie Rich has the promised adventure and warmth of all the best family films — and a short runtime we respect greatly. —A.N.
12. The Breaker Uppers
This hidden gem comes from New Zealand, the fertile comedy ground that gave us Taika Waititi, Flight of the Conchords, and What We Do In The Shadows. Waititi collaborators Jackie van Beek, James Rolleston, and Jemaine Clement team up for a deeply quirky buddy comedy about two long-time besties with a bonkers — but brilliant — business model. Need someone to dump your partner so you can avoid a messy confrontation? Call on Jen and Mel (co-writers/co-directors/co-leads van Beek and Madeleine Sami). For a reasonable fee, these fearless Breaker Upperers will impersonate police officers, play pregnant, or even fake your death to help you ghost an ex. Whatever the shenanigans, van Beek and Sami sparkle. Booming with wild humor and big heart, this comedy is guaranteed to leave you cackling.* —K.P.
13. Monty Python’s Life of Brian
You might be more of a Holy Grail guy, and Netflix has you covered — but for those who value a true underdog (like Jesus) there’s Life of Brian. Brian Cohen (Graham Chapman) is born next door to a certain Son of the Living God, and grows up to despise and eventually defy the Romans occupying his home. Brian joins the resistance, meets a girl, gets declared the messiah — all stuff that would make his neighbor envious, though Brian may have gotten more than he bargained for. —P.K.
14. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs the Reverend
Depending on how you interact with Netflix’s choose-your-own-adventure Kimmy Schmidt movie, it might go over 100 minutes — but at that point, you’re having too much fun to notice. Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) prepares for her wedding to England’s Prince Frederick (Daniel Radcliffe), but an old book from her past leads her back to the Reverend (Jon Hamm) and a sinister secret he might be hiding. Come for the gameplay, stay for a sublime Radcliffe, and unlock every possible ending in this unhinged celebration of everything Kimmy Schmidt. —P.K.
*Connotes this blurb has appeared in a previous Mashable article.