Best films on Netflix right now

Written by:
May 1, 2021
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Best films on Netflix right now

COVID-19 has changed the course of films forever. After the pandemic forced the closure of movie theaters across the country and around the world, audiences and studios turned to streaming platforms like Netflix and will continue to do so in the future.

Of all the streaming services, Netflix reliably offers a large library of options. From documentaries to classic films, the popular streaming service has something that will delight every film fan. This list includes the very best Netflix has to offer in the world of cinema for you to enjoy from the convenience of your own living room. Stacker compiled data for all films on Netflix as of May 1 and ranked them according to IMDb user rating, with Metacritic data provided for critical context.

One film tells the origin story of one of the biggest social media apps ever. Another foreign film allows the viewer to witness the remarkable bond between two men from very different backgrounds, while still another explores a very different relationship, equally as poignant, between a man and an octopus. From the surreal to the hysterical, Netflix offers a film for even the most seasoned cinephile.

Join Stacker as we bring you the very best films on Netflix right now.

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1 / 50
Sandbox Films (II)

#50. Human Nature (2019)

- Director: Adam Bolt
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Metascore: 77
- Runtime: 95 minutes

A scientific breakthrough called CRISPR opens the door to reshaping genetics, but with it comes questions about what role humans should play in their own design. “Human Nature” explores the story of this new technology with explanation and commentary from the scientists who discovered it.

2 / 50
Warner Bros.

#49. Training Day (2001)

- Director: Antoine Fuqua
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Metascore: 69
- Runtime: 122 minutes

On the streets of Los Angeles, a wild-card detective shows a rookie narcotics officer the ropes in this film starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke. The coffee shop seen in the film is the same one in several other films including “Se7en” and “Ghost World.”

3 / 50
Columbia Pictures

#48. The Social Network (2010)

- Director: David Fincher
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Metascore: 95
- Runtime: 120 minutes

The story of the beginning of Facebook and founder Mark Zuckerberg’s start as a student at Harvard, the “Social Network” was nominated for eight Oscars and won three. After the film, Jesse Eisenberg, who played Zuckerberg, hosted “Saturday Night Live” and was interrupted by the real Zuckerberg during his opening monologue.

4 / 50
Universal Pictures UK

#47. 89 (2017)

- Director: Dave Stewart
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 91 minutes

The film tells the story of the last game of the 1988/1989 football season and the final moments that saw Arsenal beat Liverpool for the championship title. Told through archival footage, interviews, and stories from the game officials and the original players, “89” is an important documentary about a watershed moment in British sports.

5 / 50
Lincoln Square Productions

#46. Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992 (2017)

- Director: John Ridley
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 92
- Runtime: 144 minutes

“Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992” examines the cultural climate in L.A. in the decade leading up to the riots that broke out after four police officers were acquitted of beating Rodney King. Writing for Thrillist, Christopher Campbell notes that director John Ridley “is thorough as he connects the dots while also getting some incredible interview material.”

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6 / 50
Kineo Filmproduktion

#45. System Crasher (2019)

- Director: Nora Fingscheidt
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 125 minutes

Benni is a traumatized 9-year-old caught up in Germany’s child protection services system. Benni is known as a "system crasher," a term that refers to “high-risk clientele who are caught in a spiral of negative interactions with the care system, educational establishments, and society as a whole.” The film premiered at The Berlin Film Festival.

7 / 50
Warner Bros.

#44. My Fair Lady (1964)

- Director: George Cukor
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 95
- Runtime: 170 minutes

Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn star in this 1964 musical, which was based on a 1956 Broadway musical based on the 1913 play “Pygmalion” by George Bernard Shaw. Professor Henry Higgins attempts to win a bet by teaching flower girl Eliza Doolittle how shed her Cockney accent and speak like an upper-crust lady in this award-winning classic film.

8 / 50
Warner Bros./Seven Arts

#43. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

- Director: Arthur Penn
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 111 minutes

This film tells a fictionalized tale of real-life crime duo Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker—an ex-con and a waitress—who set out on a cross-country crime spree. Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty star as the criminal couple, and Gene Wilder makes his film debut.

9 / 50
Dreamworks Pictures

#42. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

- Director: Aaron Sorkin
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 76
- Runtime: 129 minutes

This film is based on the true story of the uprising at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago and the trial that followed. The Chicago 7 were the seven defendants that the federal government charged with conspiring to incite riots at the convention. Paramount Pictures was set to release “The Trial of the Chicago 7” theatrically until the COVID-19 pandemic threw things off schedule, and Paramount subsequently sold the film to Netflix.

10 / 50
Paramount Pictures

#41. What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

- Director: Lasse Hallström
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 73
- Runtime: 118 minutes

Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio star in this film about a small-town man who struggles to take care of his obese mother and his mentally disabled brother. Director Martin Scorsese has said that this film introduced him to DiCaprio's talent, and the two would go on to work on several feature films together.

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11 / 50
DreamWorks Animation

#40. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

- Director: Dean DeBlois
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 76
- Runtime: 102 minutes

To protect the island of Berk from a warrior on a power trip and his army of dragons, familiar faces Toothless and Hiccup must join up with a mysterious dragon rider. “How to Train Your Dragon 2” was the first DreamWorks film to win a Golden Globe for Best Animated Film. The film was also nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year.

12 / 50
Translux

#39. About Time (2013)

- Director: Richard Curtis
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 55
- Runtime: 123 minutes

At the age of 21, Tim Lake discovers the men in his family can travel through time. Lake decides to use this ability to get a girlfriend and improve his life, although that isn’t as straightforward as it all seems. Although this movie was filmed in England, three of its leads aren’t English: Rachel McAdams is Canadian, Domhnall Gleeson is Irish, and Margot Robbie is Australian.

13 / 50
Tribeca Productions

#38. The Irishman (2019)

- Director: Martin Scorsese
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 94
- Runtime: 209 minutes

Frank Sheeran looks back over his life as a Teamster official and hitman who worked alongside Jimmy Hoffa. This Oscar-nominated fictionalized account of Sheeran’s life is based on the book “I Heard You Paint Houses” by Charles Brandt. The film stars four legendary actors: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel.

14 / 50
Columbia Pictures

#37. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

- Director: David Fincher
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 71
- Runtime: 158 minutes

Based on the bestselling book by Stieg Larsson, this film finds a disgraced journalist helping a wealthy man investigate what happened to his niece who went missing 40 years prior. The journalist enlists the help of an antisocial but gifted hacker. Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara star alongside Christoper Plummer and Stellan Skarsgård in this crime thriller.

15 / 50
Bold Films

#36. Nightcrawler (2014)

- Director: Dan Gilroy
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 76
- Runtime: 117 minutes

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo, “Nightcrawler” tells the story of a man who stumbles into a career of taking pictures of crime scenes. Gyllenhaal received Best Actor nominations from the Golden Globes, BAFTAs, SAG, Critics Choice awards, Independent Spirit Awards, and the Saturn Awards for his role in the crime thriller.

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16 / 50
Visiona Romantica

#35. The Hateful Eight (2015)

- Director: Quentin Tarantino
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 168 minutes

Eight strangers seek shelter from a blizzard in a Wyoming cabin during the post-Civil War era, pitting criminals against lawmen while a storm rages outside. The film was shot in Ultra Panavision 70mm, a rarely used format, and its use marked the first anamorphic 70mm release in nearly five decades.

17 / 50
Mandragora

#34. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005)

- Director: Cristi Puiu
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 153 minutes

This Romanian dark comedy tells of the unfortunate misadventures of Mr. Lazarescu, who calls an ambulance and is driven to several different hospitals—all of whom suggest he go somewhere else for treatment. “The Death of Mr. Lazarescu” earned the #5 spot on The New York Times list "The 25 Best Films of the 21st Century."

18 / 50
ARTE

#33. I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

- Director: Raoul Peck
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 95
- Runtime: 93 minutes

Based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript “Remember This House,” this documentary recounts the lives of three of Baldwin’s friends: Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X. Baldwin used their lives and experiences as a lens to view racism in the United States. Actor Samuel L. Jackson narrates the film.

19 / 50
Alex Productions

#32. Icarus (2017)

- Director: Bryan Fogel
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 120 minutes

Filmmaker Bryan Fogel set out to document the truth about doping in sports and unexpectedly uncovered one of the biggest scandals in the history of sports. The film, a hit at the Sundance Film Festival, won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2017.

20 / 50
Piki Films

#31. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

- Director: Taika Waititi
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 81
- Runtime: 101 minutes

When a rebellious orphan and his foster uncle go missing, a national manhunt is organized to search for them in the New Zealand bush. Directed by Taika Waititi, the film is based on the book “Wild Pork and Watercress” by Barry Crump.

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21 / 50
Electric City Entertainment

#30. Captain Fantastic (2016)

- Director: Matt Ross
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 72
- Runtime: 118 minutes

Ben and his wife Leslie are raising their six children off the grid. When Leslie dies, Ben tries to honor her burial wishes, but her father stands in the way. Ben and the kids then embark on an adventure to make sure Leslie is given the burial she would have wanted.

22 / 50
Studio 37

#29. The Artist (2011)

- Director: Michel Hazanavicius
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 89
- Runtime: 100 minutes

A young actress and an established movie star fall in love in the silent film era, but many things separate them—including his marriage and the rise of talking pictures. The main character George Valentin was partially based on Douglas Fairbanks. The film, like the silent films it emulates, is presented in black and white and features an orchestral score.

23 / 50
Heyday Films

#28. Marriage Story (2019)

- Director: Noah Baumbach
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 94
- Runtime: 137 minutes

An actress and her stage director husband go through a bicoastal divorce in this drama. Many viewers found the film to be an accurate portrayal of modern divorce. The film had an autobiographical element; much of it was based on director Noah Baumbach’s divorce from actress Jennifer Jason Leigh.

24 / 50
The Mirisch Production Company

#27. Fiddler on the Roof (1971)

- Director: Norman Jewison
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Metascore: 67
- Runtime: 181 minutes

“Fiddler on the Roof” is the screen adaptation of the critically acclaimed 1964 musical. In the time leading up to the Russian revolution, Jewish milkman Tevye lives in the poor village of Anatevka, where he raises his five daughters alongside his wife Golde. The music featured in the film tells the story of Tevye and his family.

25 / 50
Golden Harvest Company

#26. Ip Man (2008)

- Director: Wilson Yip
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Metascore: 59
- Runtime: 106 minutes

Based on the life of martial arts master Ip Man, this biographical film tells the story of his practice of the martial art of Wing Chun. Ip Man was also Bruce Lee’s teacher. The film was followed up with several sequels, with "Ip Man 4" released in 2019.

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26 / 50
Tig Productions

#25. Dances with Wolves (1990)

- Director: Kevin Costner
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Metascore: 72
- Runtime: 181 minutes

A lieutenant establishes a relationship with the local Sioux tribe and a pack of wolves while he is stationed at a remote Civil War post. Kevin Costner makes his directorial debut and stars in the film alongside Mary McDonnell. “Dances with Wolves” won seven Oscars, including one for Best Picture.

27 / 50
Columbia Pictures

#24. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

- Director: Gabriele Muccino
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Metascore: 64
- Runtime: 117 minutes

Inspired by the true story of Chris Gardner, Will Smith and his son Jaden star in this tale of a man left to raise his son when his wife walks out. Despite unconquerable hurdles, Gardner goes on to put himself through a competitive internship and becomes a legendary stockbroker and businessman. During the production of the film, homeless people were employed as extras, paid minimum wage, and fed free meals.

28 / 50
United Artists

#23. Rain Man (1988)

- Director: Barry Levinson
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Metascore: 65
- Runtime: 133 minutes

In an Oscar-winning performance, Dustin Hoffman plays Raymond, the autistic savant brother to Tom Cruise's Charlie, a selfish hustler. Charlie takes his brother Raymond on a cross-country trip to try to get the money that his father left to Raymond in his will. The film also won Oscars for Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Writing—Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.

29 / 50
Columbia Pictures

#22. Casino Royale (2006)

- Director: Martin Campbell
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Metascore: 80
- Runtime: 144 minutes

Daniel Craig plays 007 in the 21st installment of the James Bond franchise, which pits Bond against a nefarious private banker with terrorist ties. The super spy must beat the bad guy at the Casino Royale in Montenegro in a high stakes game of poker. The 2006 film remains one of the highest-grossing James Bond films.

30 / 50
Argent Pictures

#21. Chasing Coral (2017)

- Director: Jeff Orlowski
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 93 minutes

A team of scientists, photographers, and divers explore the world's oceans to figure out why coral reefs are vanishing at an alarming rate. Writing for Decider, Kayla Cobb says of the film, “'Chasing Coral' makes you feel vaguely sick, especially when it explains how the destruction of coral could lead to the elimination of undersea ecosystems and human starvation.”

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31 / 50
Aamir Khan Productions

#20. Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001)

- Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Metascore: 84
- Runtime: 224 minutes

The Bollywood film set in 1893 is about a village in India that fights against the oppressive British regime by challenging the local officials to a game of cricket. Writing for the Seattle Times, Moira MacDonald calls the film, “a great big Bollywood musical, complete with song and dance and doomed love triangles and elegantly photographed men playing cricket. And it's terrific fun, in a way that only great big musical fantasies can be.”

32 / 50
Participant

#19. Spotlight (2015)

- Director: Tom McCarthy
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Metascore: 93
- Runtime: 129 minutes

The Boston Globe investigates a massive coverup in this true story about the child molestation that occurred at the local Catholic Archdiocese. The film stars Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton,  and Rachel McAdams.

33 / 50
Exclusive Media Group

#18. Rush (2013)

- Director: Ron Howard
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Metascore: 74
- Runtime: 123 minutes

“Rush” stars Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt and Daniel Brühl as Niki Lauda, two Formula One drivers whose intense and merciless rivalry is documented in the film. Bernie Ecclestone, former Formula One chief executive, made a cameo in the film.

34 / 50
Disclosure Films

#17. Disclosure (2020)

- Director: Sam Feder
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Metascore: 80
- Runtime: 108 minutes

This film explores Hollywood’s depiction of transgender people and the effect these stories have on the transgender community. “Disclosure” won the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary.

35 / 50
Grain Media

#16. Virunga (2014)

- Director: Orlando von Einsiedel
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Metascore: 95
- Runtime: 100 minutes

An eclectic group of conservationists risk their lives attempting to save the last remaining mountain gorillas in the Congo's Virunga National Park from the many dangers they face. The film received a 100% on the Tomatometer and a 92% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

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36 / 50
A Netflix Original Documentary

#15. My Octopus Teacher (2020)

- Directors: Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Metascore: 76
- Runtime: 85 minutes

In this documentary, a filmmaker befriends an octopus who invites him into her underwater world, teaching him how to change the way he interacts with people and animals. The film won both a BAFTA award and an Oscar for Best Documentary.

37 / 50
The SPA Studios

#14. Klaus (2019)

- Directors: Sergio Pablos, Carlos Martínez López
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Metascore: 65
- Runtime: 96 minutes

In this animated feature, Klaus the toymaker and Jesper the postman team up to deliver toys and create an enduring holiday tradition. In a review for Cinema Sight, Wesley Lovell writes that the film's “engaging reimagining of the Santa Claus origin mythos is handled beautifully.”

38 / 50
Python (Monty) Pictures

#13. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

- Directors: Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Metascore: 91
- Runtime: 91 minutes

“Monty Python and the Holy Grail” finds the Knights of the Round Table and King Arthur searching for the Holy Grail on a surreal and hilarious journey. The cult classic comedy received funding from some interesting famous sources including Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.

39 / 50
Paramount Vantage

#12. There Will Be Blood (2007)

- Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Metascore: 93
- Runtime: 158 minutes

This film starring Daniel Day-Lewis is loosely based on Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel "Oil!" Day-Lewis plays a man who comes from nothing and wants everything. He rises up and finds great wealth in oil.

40 / 50
Estudios Picasso

#11. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

- Director: Guillermo del Toro
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Metascore: 98
- Runtime: 118 minutes

This Spanish-Mexican dark fantasy film is set in fascist-ruled Spain circa 1944. The film focuses on the journey of Ofelia, a girl who loves fairy tales. “Pan’s Labyrinth" is meant to be a companion piece to Guillermo del Toro’s 2001 film “The Devil’s Backbone.”

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41 / 50
Paramount Pictures

#10. Shutter Island (2010)

- Director: Martin Scorsese
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Metascore: 63
- Runtime: 138 minutes

Set in 1954, this film focuses on a U.S. Marshal investigating a disappearance at a remote hospital for the criminally insane where nothing is as it seems. Based on the bestselling novel by Dennis Lehane, the psychological thriller marked the fourth collaboration between actor Leonardo DiCaprio and director Martin Scorsese.

42 / 50
Forward Movement

#9. 13th (2016)

- Director: Ava DuVernay
- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Metascore: 83
- Runtime: 100 minutes

This documentary film finds thought leaders analyzing the U.S. prison system and racial inequality. It is titled after the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolishes slavery except as punishment for a crime. “13th” was nominated for both an Oscar and several Emmy awards, of which it won four.

43 / 50
Warner Bros.

#8. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

- Director: Stanley Kubrick
- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Metascore: 77
- Runtime: 136 minutes

In futuristic Britain, the leader of a violent gang that rapes and torments people for fun is imprisoned. Once in prison, he volunteers for an experimental program that promises to make him detest violence, but things don’t go as planned. “A Clockwork Orange” was pulled from U.K. cinemas at the request of filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, and the rumor that it was banned circulated for years.

44 / 50
Vinod Chopra Productions

#7. 3 Idiots (2009)

- Director: Rajkumar Hirani
- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Metascore: 67
- Runtime: 170 minutes

This Hindi comedy finds two friends searching for an old college roommate. The film was inspired by Chetan Bhagat’s novel, “Five Point Someone.” Filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani filmed the present-day scenes before the college scenes, essentially capturing the movie in reverse sequence.

45 / 50
The Weinstein Company

#6. Django Unchained (2012)

- Director: Quentin Tarantino
- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Metascore: 81
- Runtime: 165 minutes

An enslaved man is rescued by a bounty hunter who takes him under his wing and helps him find his wife after she is kidnapped by a wealthy plantation owner. Actor Jonah Hill had a small cameo that was originally intended to be a much bigger role in this Tarantino Western. Much of his part was cut, and Hill only had a few lines as an unnamed member of the KKK.

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46 / 50
Spitfire Pictures

#5. No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (2005)

- Director: Martin Scorsese
- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 359 minutes

Director Martin Scorsese chronicles Bob Dylan’s musical journey from his earliest days in Minnesota through his rise to stardom. To develop the movie, Scorsese received access to Columbia Records vaults—something no filmmaker before had ever experienced.

47 / 50
R.P. Productions

#4. The Pianist (2002)

- Director: Roman Polanski
- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 150 minutes

“The Pianist” is based on the life of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jewish musician who survived the Warsaw Ghetto. The film is based on his memoir, “The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939–45.” Actor Adrien Brody, who played Szpilman, became the youngest person to win the Best Actor Oscar at the age of 29.

48 / 50
Quad Productions

#3. The Intouchables (2011)

- Directors: Olivier Nakache, Éric Toledano
- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Metascore: 57
- Runtime: 112 minutes

In this French film, a wealthy aristocrat becomes a quadriplegic after a paragliding accident and hires a man with a criminal past to care for him. Based on a true story, “The Intouchables” was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.

49 / 50
Warner Bros.

#2. The Departed (2006)

- Director: Martin Scorsese
- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 151 minutes

This tale of corruption in South Boston features the police turning on each other as they attempt to infiltrate the Irish mob. While the film was a critical and commercial success, not everyone was pleased. The families of those killed by Whitey Bulger and his Winter Hill Gang, whose history inspired the movie, felt Scorsese’s film glorified the mob.

50 / 50
Altitude Film Entertainment

#1. David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet (2020)

- Directors: Alastair Fothergill, Jonathan Hughes, Keith Scholey
- IMDb user rating: 9.0
- Metascore: 72
- Runtime: 83 minutes

After traveling to every continent on Earth, British naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough shares his views on the world in this documentary. In the film, Attenborough explores the evolution of life on this planet. Writing for the New York Times, Natalia Winkelman notes that “the film’s grand achievement is that it positions its subject as a mediator between humans and the natural world.”

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