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The 24 best classic movies on Netflix right now

The streamer has a large library of timeless treasures.

<p>Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection (2); Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection;</p>

Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection (2); Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection;

The best part about classic movies is that there are more and more of them with each passing year. That said, to ensure true timelessness, we only included selections made before 2004 (with one notable and worthy exception). Netflix has classic movies of all genres, for every taste group and age range. In addition to older features like Chinatown (1974) and Apollo 13 (1995), there are also more modern heavyweights like Something’s Gotta Give (2003) and 13 Going on 30 (2004).

Join EW as we highlight the 24 best classic movies on Netflix right now.

13 Going on 30 (2004)

<p>Columbia/courtesy Everett Collection</p>

Columbia/courtesy Everett Collection

Rom-com maestro Gary Winick directed this lovely fairy tale about a teenage girl (Christa B. Allen) who transforms into her 30-year-old self (Jennifer Garner) and sees that adulthood is not all it’s cracked up to be. It features some genuinely commendable work from Garner, who captures with near documentary-style finesse a gangly teenager trying to operate in a grown-up’s body.

Packaged as a fun-time flick, 13 Going on 30 is actually quite low-key and thoughtful, an honestly moving paean to the difficulties of growing up and leaving home.

Where to watch 13 Going on 30: Netflix

EW grade: N/A (read the review)

Director: Gary Winick

Cast: Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Judy Greer, Andy Serkis, Marcia DeBonis

Related content: Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo reenact classic 13 Going on 30 scene at his Walk of Fame ceremony

Apollo 13 (1995)

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

Ron Howard’s white knuckle account of the Apollo program’s fifth mission to the moon, which went awry when an onboard explosion forced the crew to correct their course. An all-star cast brings the film to life, and Howard is working at the top of his game.

Where to watch Apollo 13: Netflix

EW grade: B (read the review)

Director: Ron Howard

Cast: Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Ed Harris, Gary Sinise

Related content: Tom Hanks' most iconic roles

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

<p>Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection</p>

Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection

Eddie Murphy and Judge Reinhold star as mismatched detectives tasked with taking down an art dealer (Steven Berkoff) who might be involved in the murder of Murphy’s pal. This is a quintessential sun-kissed ‘80s action comedy, with some excellent stunts and top-notch one-liners. It balances its comic instincts with an admirably grounded approach, the sort of movie that gets a kick out of violence but recognizes its consequences, too.

Where to watch Beverly Hills Cop: Netflix

Director: Martin Brest

Cast: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, Steven Berkoff, John Ashton, Lisa Eilbacher

Related content: The 21 best (and worst) Eddie Murphy movies

Bruce Almighty (2003)

<p>Universal/courtesy Everett Collection</p>

Universal/courtesy Everett Collection

One of the better Jim Carrey comedies of this era, Bruce Almighty casts the rubber-faced comedian as a cut-rate newscaster suddenly imbued with a direct line to God (Morgan Freeman). Tom Shadyac’s amiable classic excels in giving Carrey a reason for his on-screen mania, something too many of his other vehicles failed to do.

Where to watch Bruce Almighty: Netflix

EW grade: N/A (read the review)

Director: Tom Shadyac

Cast: Jim Carrey, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell, Lisa Ann Walter

Related content: Bruce Almighty writers wanted Jim Carrey to play Satan in a sequel with zombie Jennifer Aniston

The Burbs (1989)

<p>Universal/courtesy Everett Collection</p>

Universal/courtesy Everett Collection

A suburban dad’s (Tom Hanks) stay-cation takes an ominous turn when a family of weirdos (led by Bruce Dern) move in down the block. Joe Dante directed this riff on Roger Corman suburban nightmares, and it’s still one of his finest works. It balances the laughs the premise promises with some genuinely outrageous elements, all of it anchored by a cast — including Carrie Fisher as Hanks’ put-upon wife — who understand the assignment perfectly.

Where to watch The Burbs: Netflix

Director: Joe Dante

Cast: Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern, Carrie Fisher, Corey Feldman, Rick Ducommun

Related content: Carrie Fisher's best roles

Chinatown (1974)

<p>Courtesy Everett Collection</p>

Courtesy Everett Collection

Roman Polanski’s brilliant classic noir stars Jack Nicholson as the incomparably named Jake Gittes, a small-time private investigator who latches on to a nefarious plot involving California’s water supply, a femme fatale (Faye Dunaway), and her leering father (John Huston).

Where to watch Chinatown: Netflix

Director: Roman Polanski

Cast: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Diane Ladd

Related content: The best Jack Nicholson performances

The Conversation (1974)

<p>Courtesy Everett Collection</p>

Courtesy Everett Collection

Francis Ford Coppola’s understated, immediately absorbing thriller stars Gene Hackman as a security expert who gets caught up in a case involving a barely heard (say it together now) conversation between two political figures. He becomes obsessed with unraveling the possible mystery contained within, plagued by memories of another case with a tragic conclusion.

Where to watch The Conversation: Netflix

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Cast: Gene Hackman, Harrison Ford, John Cazale, Cindy Williams, Frederic Forrest

Related content: Is Gene Hackman the greatest actor ever?

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

<p>Universal/courtesy Everett Collection</p>

Universal/courtesy Everett Collection

Zack Snyder’s feature directorial debut is a sly, admirably nasty remake of George Romero’s classic consumerist satire. It doesn’t have the same punch as the original and largely misses the satirical point, but it’s still one of the best zombie movies of the last 25 years. What the film lacks in a deeper meaning, it makes up for in Sarah Polley (as the final girl) kicking undead ass.

Where to watch Dawn of the Dead: Netflix

EW grade: N/A (read the review)

Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Mekhi Phifer, Ty Burrell, Lindy Booth

Related content: George Romero movies, ranked

Death Wish (1974)

<p>Bettmann/Getty</p>

Bettmann/Getty

Setting the politics of this movie aside, which is important to do with any Charles Bronson vehicle, Death Wish remains a damn fine example of the revenge genre. It’s undoubtedly the star’s best role, making perfect use of his steely demeanor and (it must be said) fairly limited acting resources. Avoid the icky Eli Roth remake, which is so preoccupied with being tasteless that it forgot to be fun.

Where to watch Death Wish: Netflix

Director: Michael Winner

Cast: Charles Bronson, Vincent Gardenia, Steven Keats, Hope Lange, Kathleen Tolan

Related content: 28 great revenge movies

Desperado (1995)

Columbia Pictures/Getty
Columbia Pictures/Getty

Robert Rodriguez’s second picture is a hell-on-earth action extravaganza starring Antonio Banderas as a musician who, along with a spirited bookstore employee (Salma Hayek in her breakout role), must stop a gang of bloodthirsty drug dealers led by Joaquim de Almeida. Desperado, basically a remake of Rodriguez’s Spanish-language El Mariachi, is one of the very best shoestring-budget action movies of all time.

Where to watch Desperado: Netflix

EW grade: B (read the review)

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Cast: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Joaquim de Almeid, Steve Buscemi, Quentin Tarantino

Related content: The 25 best action movies on Netflix

Erin Brockovich (2000)

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

If you’ve only ever seen Julia Roberts’ lighter fare, you ought to watch all of Steven Soderbergh’s brilliant biopic-cum-thriller. Roberts plays the titular character, a real-life attorney who took California power company PG&E to task for their reckless endangerment of civilians.

It’s a thorny, complicated work that still manages to appeal to a mass audience. It finds Soderbergh doing some of his most nuanced directorial work, juggling just about every genre you can imagine and working it into an old-fashioned, fist-pumping underdog story.

Where to watch Erin Brockovich: Netflix

EW grade: N/A (read the review)

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Cast: Julia Roberts, Albert Finney, Aaron Eckhart, Marg Helgenberger, Peter Coyote

Related content: 15 of Julia Roberts' best dramatic roles

Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)

<p>Universal/courtesy Everett Collection</p>

Universal/courtesy Everett Collection

Disregarded housewife Evelyn Couch (Kathy Bates) is inspired to change her life for the better after she meets an older woman (Jessica Tandy) who spins tales of her sister (Mary Stuart Masterson) and her friend (Mary Louise Parker) in 1920s Alabama. John Avnet’s comedic drama is patient and painterly, exquisitely evoking the novel on which it's based.

Where to watch Fried Green Tomatoes: Netflix

EW grade: B+ (read the review)

Director: Jon Avnet

Cast: Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson, Mary-Louise Parker, Cicely Tyson

Related content: The 23 best book to movie adaptations of all time

Jackie Brown (1997)

<p>Miramax Films/ Courtesy Everett Collection</p>

Miramax Films/ Courtesy Everett Collection

A rarely better Pam Grier stars as the eponymous flight attendant, who’s busted by two feds (Michael Keaton and Michael Bowen) after she’s caught running drugs for Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson). Kind-hearted bail bondsman Max Cherry (Robert Forster, who received his only Oscar nomination here) comes to her rescue, and a plan to extort Ordell and beat the federal charges blossoms with their romance. This low-key hang-out movie remains the best Elmore Leonard adaptation, while director Quentin Tarantino crafts a compelling Blaxploitation homage.

Where to watch Jackie Brown: Netflix

EW grade: N/A (read the review)

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Cast: Pam Grier, Robert Forster, Samuel L. Jackson, Bridget Fonda, Robert De Niro

Related content: Jackie Brown cast: Where are they now?

Jurassic Park (1993)

<p>Universal/courtesy Everett Collection</p>

Universal/courtesy Everett Collection

Steven Spielberg’s quintessential blockbuster is arguably a trussed-up exploitation riff, but what a perfect riff it is. Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, and Laura Dern play scientists sent on a media weekend to the titular park, where things go horribly awry. Remarkably, the film remains a high watermark for digital effects, especially in light of the ropey-looking dinosaurs from the recent sequels.

Where to watch Jurassic Park: Netflix

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, Richard Attenborough, Samuel L. Jackson

Related content: Jurassic Park cast: Where are they now?

Kindergarten Cop (1990)

<p>Bruce McBroom/Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection</p>

Bruce McBroom/Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

A policeman (Arnold Schwarzenegger) must pose as a kindergarten teacher to catch a ruthless drug dealer (Richard Tyson) and his mastermind mother (a brilliant Carroll Baker). Ivan Reitman’s family comedy is nothing if not cornball. Schwarzenegger gives his most capable comedic performance here, finding a sweet balance between action hero and babysitter.

Where to watch Kindergarten Cop: Netflix

Director: Ivan Reitman

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Tyson, Carroll Baker, Pamela Reed, Linda Hunt

Related content: The Terminator movies, ranked

L.A. Confidential (1997)

<p>Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection</p>

Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

Curtis Hanson’s sprawling noir homage, based on James Ellroy’s wonderful novel, follows three cops (Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, and Kevin Spacey) tasked with solving a murder in the heart of Los Angeles. The movie is both a throwback and a recreation of the time, a movie steeped in the glamor and mystique of old Hollywood.

Where to watch L.A. Confidential: Netflix

EW grade: A (read the review)

Director: Curtis Hanson

Cast: Kevin Spacey, Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito

Related content: L.A. Confidential: Inside its iconic noir style

Mamma Mia (2008)

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

One of the very few films in which there are no notable flaws. We’ve all talked about how Pierce Brosnan, bless him, cannot carry a tune; and we’ve gone over the choreography. It is what it is! But you cannot criticize the pure dopamine rush that Phyllida Lloyd’s ABBA jukebox musical delivers. It’s better than drugs,  a natural antidepressant featuring some of the U.S. and U.K.’s top talents properly enjoying themselves on vacation.

Where to watch Mamma Mia: Netflix

Director: Phyllida Lloyd

Cast: Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranski, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth

Related content: The cast of Mamma Mia: Where are they now?

Meet the Parents (2000)

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

Robert De Niro began his rather dubious descent into comedy with this unexpectedly spiky crowd-pleaser, which spawned two sequels of drastically diminished returns. Ben Stiller plays a nice guy who visits his soon-to-be in-laws (De Niro and Blythe Danner, the under-sold MVP here) on an ill-fated weekend with his fiancé (Teri Polo). Spoiler alert: He has a very silly name!

Where to watch Meet the Parents: Netflix

EW grade: B+ (read the review)

Director: Jay Roach

Cast: Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Teri Polo, Blythe Danner, Owen Wilson

Related content: The 20 essential Robert De Niro performances

My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)

<p>Everett Collection</p>

Everett Collection

Julia Roberts stars as a food critic who has a pact with her lifelong pal (Dermot Mulroney) that they’ll marry one another if they’re not both wed by age 28. But when he finds the woman of his dreams (Cameron Diaz), well, you can probably guess what happens next.

Australian director P.J. Hogan had previously helmed Muriel’s Wedding, and he managed to imbue his Hollywood debut with the same vaguely demented yet heartwarming flourishes that rom-com so memorable.

Where to watch My Best Friend’s Wedding: Netflix

Director: P.J. Hogan

Cast: Julia Roberts, Dermot Mulroney, Cameron Diaz, Rupert Everett, Rachel Griffiths

Related content: My Best Friend's Wedding cast reunites for EW's romantic comedy issue

Oldboy (2003)

<p>Mary Evans/Egg Films/Show East/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection</p>

Mary Evans/Egg Films/Show East/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection

Park Chan-wook’s demented masterwork follows a man (Choi Min-sik) who, after being released from a mysterious, extended imprisonment, vows to track down his kidnappers and his long-lost daughter (Kang Hye-jung). If you’ve seen the movie — a fantasia of blood and bad taste that would give John Waters occasion to blush — you’ll know he should’ve stayed well enough away.

Where to watch Oldboy: Netflix

EW grade: N/A (read the review)

Director: Park Chan-wook

Cast: Choi Min-sik, Kang Hye-jung, Yoo Ji-tae, Kim Byeong-ok, Yoon Jin-seo

Related content: How the iconic Oldboy hallway fight influenced a generation of Hollywood action

School of Rock (2003)

Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection
Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

Jack Black stars as a stalled musician who finds his calling while substitute teaching a group of musically inclined misfits. Richard Linklater’s film (with a script by The White LotusMike White) is sweet and understated, with lovely supporting turns by Joan Cusack and a classroom full of talented kids.

Where to watch School of Rock: Netflix

EW grade: N/A (read the review)

Director: Richard Linklater

Cast: Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Mike White, Amy Sedaris, Sarah Silverman

Related content: School of Rock cast: Where are they now?

Sixteen Candles (1984)

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

John Hughes’ sweet and salty coming-of-age comedy, about an overlooked teen (Molly Ringwald) struggling to be seen by both her friends and family on her sixteenth birthday, has a pleasingly rambling, almost shambolic, feel to it. It has moments of both great heart and razor-sharp edge, a combination Hughes understands well.

Where to watch Sixteen Candles: Netflix

Director: John Hughes

Cast: Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Michael Schoeffling, Haviland Morris

Related content: John Hughes: 20 key movies

Something’s Gotta Give (2003)

Columbia/Everett
Columbia/Everett

Nancy Meyers’ cinematic sitcom stars Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton as septuagenarians who, against their initial expectations, begin to fall in love whilst he recuperates from a health crisis at her opulent beachside estate. (Oh, and did we mention he’s dating her much-younger daughter?)

This is Meyers’ best film, a well-observed character comedy that combines all of her directorial trademarks (aspirational real estate, mouth-watering food tableaus, extended running time) to a rather perfect effect. There isn’t a wrong note in the entire picture.

Where to watch Something’s Gotta Give: Netflix

EW grade: N/A (read the review)

Director: Nancy Meyers

Cast: Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Frances McDormand, Amanda Peet, Keanu Reeves

Related content: The best Jack Nicholson performances

The Sting (1973)

<p>Everett Collection</p>

Everett Collection

George Roy Hill’s proper old-fashioned thriller stars Robert Redford as Johnny Hooker, an aspiring con artist who goes into business with seasoned professional Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) to take revenge on Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw), the vicious gangster who killed their friend.

The Sting is one of the very best buddy crime pictures, with gorgeous cinematography and an ending that never ceases to surprise despite being imitated by lesser films for 50 years now.

Where to watch The Sting: Netflix

Director: George Roy Hill

Cast: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw, Charles Durning, Robert Earl Jones

Related content: Robert Redford's most memorable roles

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.