As much as you can fault many of the categories on Netflix, there's no denying that when it comes to classic movies the streaming service has you pretty much covered. From iconic comedies to timeless westerns, there are plenty of movies on Netflix that you simply have to see. In fact, although the streaming service is littered with filler it's still home to essential films spanning from the 1940s all the way up to recent releases that you must see before you die. And although "classics" are defined differently depending on who you're talking to, you won't meet a single person who denies one of these movies the title.


Dr Strangelove (1964)

"Mein Fuhrer! I can walk!"

My personal favourite Stanley Kubrick film, Dr Strangelove manages to be a timeless comedy even though its subject matter couldn't be any more time-specific. Set during the thick of the Cold War, a misunderstanding sets into motion the total nuclear destruction of the entire world, and it's up to America's most influential people to gather in the War Room and find a solution to the increasingly hostile situation. Although its subject matter sounds rather heavy, the film is incredibly funny, with some of the best comedic performances ever put to film. While much praise goes to Peter Sellers for playing the titular Dr Strangelove (as well as three other characters), for me it's George C. Scott's General Turgidson that steals the show, cracking out some of the most memorable lines in cinematic history.


High Plains Drifter (1973)

"You're going to look pretty silly with that knife sticking out of your ass."

Although you could contend that High Plains Drifter shouldn't be considered a classic when the likes of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly exist, I'd argue that this other Clint Eastwood western does more with the genre than many of his other acclaimed movies ever did. Part supernatural ghost story, High Plains Drifter captures the eerie nature of the Wild West in all its glory, an angle that's rarely, if ever, been fully explored within cinema. While the gunslinging and death-defying stunts are still there, the film works best in the quieter moments, where subtle instances of spooky folk tales prove to be more exciting than any of the bloodshed happening elsewhere. It's not one that's often brought up when talking about classic Eastwood flicks, yet High Plains Drifter deserves a spot alongside any of the actor's other signature westerns.


12 Angry Men (1957)

"You are faced with a grave responsibility. Thank you, gentlemen."

Although we've featured 12 Angry Men on a Netflix guide previously, there was just no way I could leave it off a week dedicated to cinematic classics. As twelve jurors are locked into a seemingly cut-and-dry murder case, the doubts of a few outliers quickly turn the proceedings into an increasingly torturous and laborious search for the truth. All twelve men are given distinct personalities, which makes it more frustrating - yet more relatable - as they struggle to come to a sound conclusion. As much of the time is spent in the same room, you get the same sense of claustrophobia that the characters must be feeling, and the paranoia and anxiety that comes with deciding the fate of a man's life becomes thicker and thicker as the movie goes on.


It's A Wonderful Life (1946)

"A toast to my big brother George: the richest man in town."

I know Christmas has just come and gone, but there's never really a bad time to watch It's A Wonderful Life. Although it will probably be even better come next December, the tale of down-on-his-luck George Bailey never fails to be moving no matter the season. James Stewart gives one of the all-time best performances in the film, and as a result, Bailey has gone down in history as one of cinema's most beloved characters. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will make you habitually watch it every single Christmas; It's A Wonderful Life is that good.


Cinema Paradiso (1988)

"Out of the fire of love comes ashes. Even the greatest love eventually fizzles out."

The most recent movie on this list, Cinema Paradiso became an instant classic upon its release in 1988. A film about film, there's a reason Giuseppe Tornatore's movie is taught in universities all over the country. Set in the early days of cinema, this whimsical tale lovingly captures the magic of movie making and the experience of seeing something on the big screen for the first time. As you can probably tell it's a little bit indulgent, and leans more than a touch on the sentimental side of things, but if you're in a particularly optimistic mood then Cinema Paradiso would make for the perfect afternoon viewing.