9 Netflix movies you should definitely download

Huzzah! Netflix now lets you download movies for offline viewing! Here are nine great ones to take on your next flight, road trip or whatever.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
4 min read

Best. News. Ever! As of yesterday, Netflix's mobile apps will let you download content for offline viewing. That's awesome for anyone who wants to stock up on videos for planes, trains, treadmills and other Wi-Fi-challenged destinations.

First things first: Make room for all those downloads. Find out how to free up extra space on your Android phone or tablet. iOS users, check out these 5 tricks to free up space -- and this weird trick that might net you extra gigabytes.

With that out of the way, let's turn our attention to movies. (Prefer TV? Here are my 9 Netflix TV shows you should definitely download.) Sadly, Netflix currently offers scant few films for download (the TV selection is much better), so the pickings are pretty slim. But there's at least some good stuff in the mix; check out my picks for your mobile-viewing pleasure:


A slow, methodical and utterly riveting look at family life, as seen through the eyes of a boy who's seven years old at the start -- and 18 at the end! Director Richard Linklater shot the movie over the course of 12 years, following not only the titular actor but also co-stars Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette. It's trippy enough to watch them age so much in the span of two hours, but what could have been mere novelty is buoyed by smart storytelling.

'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'

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Speaking of trippy, if you've ever been through a painful breakup (and who hasn't?), you'll appreciate the core conceit of this Oscar-winning Charlie Kaufman screenplay: What if you could erase all the memories of the one you loved? Jim Carrey ventures down that rabbit hole, with expert help from Kate Winslet, who received an Oscar nomination. Though sometimes funny, this is hardly your typical romantic comedy. It's atypical in all the best ways.

'Hot Fuzz'

Put Simon Pegg and Nick Frost together in just about anything -- "Shawn of the Dead," the British series "Spaced" -- and it's guaranteed to be gold. "Hot Fuzz" starts out as something akin to a buddy-cop movie, but, well, let's just say it doesn't end up that way. I won't spoil it, except to say it's often brilliantly funny and definitely worth your time.

'Kung Fu Panda 3'

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Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

The vast majority of Netflix movies are older, often lesser-known releases, so it's always pleasant to find something as recent and high-profile as "Kung Fu Panda 3." The plot matters not; the kids will love it. Heck, even some older "kids" might like it as well.

'Love Actually'

Aw, Hugh Grant. And Keira Knightly. And, look, there's Martin Freeman. And Andrew Lincoln pre-zombies! Is it any wonder this 2003 rom-com has evolved into a cult classic? But guess what: It's not a family film, which I discovered to my horror while re-watching it with my mother-in-law present. Because I'd forgotten Freeman's plotline, which is seriously R-rated. So do not watch this with your parents or your kids, unless you're not easily embarrassed. Which I am.

'Pulp Fiction'

Say what you will about Quentin Tarantino: The man can tell a story. Or, in this case, multiple stories, most of which seem completely unrelated until they start to weave together. "Pulp Fiction" is funny, bizarre, shockingly violent at times (it's Tarantino, after all) and thoroughly riveting. For better or worse, this is the movie that resurrected John Travolta's career. "Royale with cheese!"

'Shakespeare in Love'

Oscars all around! Who's to say the Bard wasn't a struggling poet plagued by writer's block? And who's to say he wasn't ultimately inspired by someone as captivating as Gwyneth Paltrow? As muses go, I think she was a much better choice than Julia Roberts, who was originally cast to play Viola. The film itself, clever and comedic, echoes "Romeo and Juliet" as it imagines Shakespeare's creation of it.


Another fairly new release, "Spotlight" won the 2015 Academy Award for Best Picture -- despite a story that sounds, frankly, dull as a dirt. A newspaper investigation into the Catholic Church? About something as lurid and appalling as child sex abuse? Doesn't sound like my idea of entertainment. But the story is so well told, without sensationalizing the material or lionizing the investigators, I found myself thoroughly captivated (and, yes, appalled).

'The Imitation Game'


While we're on the awards circuit, "The Imitation Game" earned a 2014 Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, with nominations for Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, director Morten Tyldum and the movie itself. The story of British cryptographer Alan Turing , who helped the government decrypt key German intelligence codes during World War II, is made all the more compelling (and tragic) by his eventual vilification. Because, at the time, the British government treated homosexuality as a crime.

OK, those are my picks. Now let's hear yours! What downloadable movies will you be grabbing from Netflix?