Best Movies on Netflix Japan You Have to Watch

If you live in Japan, you must be curious about not only if your country's selection on Netflix is good, but also how to find the movies that are worth your time. This list serves both purposes. Specific to Netflix Japan, this is a countdown of handpicked critically acclaimed films that will cover you for a long time. As we will update it regularily, make sure to bookmark it for whenever you feel like watching something good.

agoodmovietowatch suggests films that are highly-rated but relatively little-known. We're to serve as a gateway to services like Netflix, and in a way show you what to "demand" from these On-Demand providers.

Below, find the best movies on Netflix Japan, you can also browse all our suggestions here.

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Directed by: Bryan Fogel

Icarus starts with its director Bryan Fogel deciding to inject himself with doping substances and participate in a biking race undetected. By accident, he ends up in contact with a Russian scientist. This man transforms the movie from a personal experiment to a highly relevant political thriller. Called Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the scientist seems to be at the center of accusations to Russia of a virtually impossible state-sponsored doping scheme. With links to the Russian president Putin himself, the movie keeps getting more and more interesting as the relationship between Fogel and Rodchenkov develops. And aside from all the madness that unfolds,  Rodchenkov’s likeable personality makes the story more relatable and humane, and gives an insight into the pressures of working in the regulatory body in a country like Russia. You will be astonished by how much material this movie has. A must-watch.

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Stars: George Harrison
Directed by: Martin Scorsese

The story of one of the most influential musicians of recent history, George Harrison, told through the eyes of one of the most prominent filmmakers, Martin Scorsese. Directing and producing, Scorsese offers one of the most complete documentaries on any artist – ever. And What an artist he was. Successful and talented, yes, but also incredibly inspired and very spiritual. Through interviews, home movies, and concert footage, this long and intimate film will allow you to travel the world of The Beatles and their time, and explore the incredible mind of George Harrison. Such a heartfelt documentary.

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Stars: Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei, Mickey Rourke
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

Darren Aronofsky delivers yet another unforgettable allegory, starring Mickey Rourke as Randy “The Ram” Robinson, an aging professional wrestler long past his prime. He is struggling to retain a sense of identity, purpose and dignity. The audience can see in Rourke the story of all men, that we will one day grow old, regret mistakes that it’s too late to fix, and mourn the end of our successes.

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Stars: Jeff Daniels, Jesse Eisenberg, Laura Linney, Owen Kline
Directed by: Noah Baumbach

Director Noah Baumbach’s autobiographical film is a strikingly realistic take on divorce and the turmoil it sets on an already-dysfunctional family. Bernard (Jeff Daniels) is a selfish decadent writer who’s splitting with his unfaithful wife Joan (Laura Linney). Their two sons, Walt (Jesse Eisenberg) and Frank (Owen Kline), are taking different sides that reflect their personality. This separation only reinforces their insecurities as they quickly fall into depression and grow away from their friends. The parents, however, find unconventional lovers just as quickly, Bernard with a student of his, and Jane with her son’s tennis coach.

The Squid and the Whale is a funny, emotional, and gripping story that finds a perfect balance in tone despite dealing with bitter divorce and troubled adolescence.

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Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Seo-Hyun Ahn, Tilda Swinton
Directed by: Joon-ho Bong

Director Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer) does something quite amazing with the $50 million budget Netflix gave him: he makes a simplistic movie.  But boy is it good. Okja tells the story of a “super pig” experimentation that sends genetically modified pigs to top farmers around the world. In Korea, a farmer’s granddaughter forms a special relationship with one of these super pigs (called Okja), only to be confronted by the company who runs the experimentation in the persons of Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton). When they try to take away Okja, she finds an ally in an animal advocacy group lead by Jay (Paul Dano), and goes on an adventure to retrieve her friend.  Again, it’s a straightforward movie, and in that sense it is very entertaining – but it’s also full of thought-provoking themes, and mostly incredibly thoughtful performances from the ensemble cast.

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Stars: Martin Freeman, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg
Directed by: Edgar Wright

One of the many good movies from director Edgar Wright. If you loved Shaun of the Dead, then this Buddy-Cop Homage will make you double over (and question humanity – or lack, thereof) just as much. Sandford is a small English village with the lowest crime and murder rates, so when overachieving police Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) gets sent there because he was so good he apparently intimidated those around him, he just about lost it. From car-chasing, bone-thrilling, head-blowing action, he graduates to swan-calling, thrill-seeking, sleep-inducing madness. But all that’s about to change – for the worse? For the better? You decide.

An obscenely funny flick that has an intriguing plot and an even greater set of characters, Hot Fuzz wasn’t named the best film of the Cornetto trilogy for nothing, clearly cementing Pegg and Nick Frost as the ultimate action duo of the genre.

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Stars: Callum Turner, Grace Van Patten, Michal Vondel
Directed by: Adam Leon

Danny (Callum Turner) is a young man struggling to make ends meet in New York. His brother, spending the night in jail, urges him to take his place in a small heist. His job is simple : He would meet Ellie (Grace Van Patten), she would drive him to take a briefcase, and then to a train station where he would exchange the briefcase with a woman holding a green purse. You’ve probably guessed what might go wrong in a plan like this: another woman with another green purse was arpi,d. Danny makes the trade quickly and, being the nervous guy that he is, storms off only to find later that he had taken the wrong briefcase. This is how Danny and Ellie’s little adventure begins as they track down the woman with the green purse throughout New York.

Tramps is a simple romantic comedy filled with genuine charm that will make you fall in love with the characters, and maybe even the two first-time actors that portray them – as they slowly grow closer to each other. The lively soundtrack and engaging writing are all the more reason to watch this lovely little film.

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Stars: Hanaa Bouchaib, Javier Bardem, Maricel Álvarez
Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Ever wondered how much your life will change when faced with the reality that death is about to come? That’s normal, and not nearly as life-altering as being told you only have a few more moments to live. Because of a terminal illness, Uxbal (Javier Bardem) is driven to this situation and tries to right his wrongs in the wake of modern Barcelona.
This melodrama is supercharged by Bardem’s unearthly performance as the story’s only hero, demonstrating the selfless love of a destroyed and dying father to his children – paired with cinematography unlike any other, this film is exceptionally beautiful. Directed by González Iñárritu’ (Babel, Birdman, The Revenant).

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Directed by: Stephanie Soechtig

Fed Up is an American Documentary film of sorts that will make you realize at least one of two things: sugar is a different form of evil, or, the food the mass consumes, no matter what it may be, likely contains high amounts of sugar – and to be quite honest, there’s nothing scarier. Dubbed as the earthshaking truth the food industry doesn’t want you to see, this chronicled news report is an exploration of the implications and repercussions of careless food consumption and production that eventually lead to America’s most dangerous statistics, such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other ill-health outcomes.

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Stars: Clu Gulager, Mark Duplass, Sarah Paulson
Directed by: Alexandre Lehmann

Shot in black and white to be the best dialogue-driven, character-study film it can be; Blue Jay stars Sarah Paulson and Mark Duplass in a cozy, slow-burning film. Their characters, respectively Amanda and Jim, are former high-school sweethearts who run into each other in their hometowns 20 years later. They talk, then get coffee, and then beer and jelly beans, until they move to Jim’s mother’s house. As they talk, and the movie moves forward, it abandons its romantic chops to become a truly heartfelt and real film. A revelation of a movie.

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Stars: Alicia Vikander, Mads Mikkelsen, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard
Directed by: Nikolaj Arcel

If you’ve been paying close attention to Royal Families in general, then get a snack and settle in, because A Royal Affair’s got it all for you: the steamy scenes, dirty, affair-laden hands, the corsets, and a stunning backdrop of 18th Century Europe. Quite literally deranged and mentally incapable King Christian of Denmark (Mikkel Boe Folsgaard) marries the brave Princess Caroline of Great Britain (Alicia Vikander), only to find out that he isn’t cut out for the wedded life. Enlightenment comes in the form of Dr. Johann Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen), a German physician to the infantile King and true-born reformer. Mostly saddened by her unfortunate fate, the now-Queen Caroline finds herself falling in love with the intellectual; thus, beginning a whirlwind of events that shakes up the entire Kingdom.

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Stars: Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada, Atossa Leoni, Khalid Abdalla
Directed by: Marc Forster

From one of the most compelling books of this generation, comes the good movie that aims to tell the tale of a friendship that spans lifetimes. Amir and Hassan share a brotherhood bond backed by days of kite flying and nights of storytelling. Long after the well-off Amir moves to California, Hassan holds out hope for his return. This is cut short by his untimely execution during the war, in which only his son is left unharmed. In search of something that will make him “good again”, Amir pays his former home a visit and starts looking for Hassan’s son.

A story about forgiveness, finding light, and holding onto hope, Oscar Nominated film The Kite Runner is a haunting masterpiece boasting authenticity that just proves it is one worth seeing a thousand times over.

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Stars: Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, Tom Holland
Directed by: J.A. Bayona

A heart-wrenching tribute to victims of natural disasters that is one of despair, suffering, and hope. And it wouldn’t be so damning if it weren’t based off a true story surrounding the tragedy that killed more than 230,000 people.
Boxing Day 2004 was one of the most memorable dates for wedded couple, Henry (Ewan McGregor) and Maria (Naomi Watts, for an Oscar nominated performance). Just two days prior, they arrived at Orchid Beach Resort in Thailand to celebrate the Christmas holidays together with their three children. After a squabble with the crew regarding their room reservations, they are granted the privilege of staying in a peaceful villa and all seems to be well. Nature had other plans in mind, though, and facing it head-on is the bittersweet reality.

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Stars: Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess, Sylvia Hoeks
Directed by: Giuseppe Tornatore

A riveting take on one of the most prestigious forms of modern art, The Best Offer is a film laced with symbolism and thick, posh accents. Virgil Oldman (Geoffrey Rush) ends up pursuing a socially inept woman through Robert (Jim Sturgess), who guides him in winning her heart, albeit, rather unconventionally. What starts out as something Oldman brushes off to be some poor laid-out scam ends up a mystery he begins obsessing over, turning his life to shambles of sorts.

This uncanny film by Academy Award-winning director Giuseppe Tornatore delivers sharp twists and appropriately-timed surprises in a suspense-thriller served on a silver platter.

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Stars: Dermot Mulroney, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep
Directed by: John Wells

Family movies were made to teach a lesson or two – whether it be loving dear parents, being a tad empathetic about others, or simply cherishing the moment. Like a true family dramedy, August: Osage County is all that, and more. The Westons is a family seemingly (actually, more like) falling apart at the seams – what with patriarch Beverly (Sam Shepard) going missing, mother Violet (Meryl Streep) suffering from alcoholism and pill-addiction, and some well-kept secrets distancing the siblings that are, well, under the table. This drives the Weston-daughters to come home after diverging many moons ago and chaos ensues.

With an overly talented ensemble headlined by Streep as the cancer-ridden matriarch of the Westons and Julia Roberts as her eldest, supremely in-denial daughter, it’s easy to see why this has gathered five Academy Award nominations to its name.

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Stars: Noam Chomsky
Directed by: Jared P. Scott, Kelly Nyks, Peter D. Hutchison

On par with the best documentaries of the 21st Century thus far, “Requiem for the American Dream” is essential viewing for the discerning viewer in search of a more complete understanding of how American society has evolved to such a dramatic point of polarization, and how both politics and big business have played such an inextricably role in this process. In his introductory remarks to the film, celebrated intellectual and linguistics professor Noam Chomsky expounds: “Inequality has highly negative consequences on society as a whole, because the very fact of inequality has a corrosive, harmful effect on democracy.” At his rational and coherent best, Chomsky spells out his perspective regarding the modern political machine and the downfall of democracy, with a keen eye to the historical decisions and influences that have sabotaged the “common good” and shaped America’s current political, financial and social landscape.

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Stars: Belén Rueda, Javier Bardem, Lola Dueñas
Directed by: Alejandro Amenábar

There are movies that make you a bit more mature when you watch them. This movie is one of them. They took very hard and controversial topic, but presented in so you do understand both sides and agree with them. Winner of an Academy Award and a Golden Globe, it tells the true story of a man who spent 28 years campaigning for the right to end his own life. Now you get why I said it was a hard topic, right? It’s a heart-wrenching watch to say the least, but thanks to a perfect performance from Javier Bardem the complex story gains such a big grasp that it ends up having uplifting and even funny moments.

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Stars: Ewan McGregor, Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi
Directed by: Mark Neale

A documentary that reveals just how insane the men that compete in the MotoGP are. It follows Valentino Rossi, one of the best riders of all-time if not the best, in a very pivotal season for him, 2010-2011. An in depth look into his competitiveness but also his passion for the sport and for the machines in it, it’s the kind of portrait that will make you feel you know the subject in person. And when it’s not focused on Rossi, it becomes a a real-life thrill fest of bike-mounted cameras of riders going at it at 200+mph.  A must-watch for gear-heads and uninitiated fans alike that plays with the idea that “if you want to win it all…you have to risk it all”.

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The White Helmets, the 2016 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject, is a concise but riveting documentation of the titular rescue organization that formed in Syria in 2012. Set primarily in the war-torn city of Aleppo, the film captures the day-to-day efforts of the White Helmet volunteers as they respond to the sites of airstrikes and bombings in order to remove survivors and victims from demolished buildings. Director Orlando von Einsiedel (Virunga) clearly put himself in harms way in order to capture remarkable footage of war and ruination, illuminating the unimaginable destruction and death beset upon the Syrian people over the course of nearly 6 years of civil war. It’s a remarkable effort, highlighted in particular by profound one-on-one interviews with members of The White Helmets. They each express their heartfelt desire to save the lives of other human beings, even as they yearn for peace and the safety of their own families and friends. Indeed their official credo from The Quran, as explained in the film, reads “Whoever saves one life, saves all of humanity.”

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Stars: James Balog, Louie Psihoyos, Svavar Jónatansson
Directed by: Jeff Orlowski

Incredible footage combined with an incredible soundtrack will keep you frozen in your seat until global warming melts you off (so to speak). Chasing Ice is about a National Geographic photographer who tries to capture a complete overview of what climate change is doing to our planet. Consequently this movie took years to make and countless technical issues had to be dealt with in order to record amazing time-lapse videos. The result is mesmerizing, and something that has never been caught on camera before. This movie is evidence of what our planet is going through that everyone will understand. Be prepared to be charmed and saddened at the same time.

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Stars: Chris Doubek, Marilyn Faith Hickey, Melanie Lynskey
Directed by: Macon Blair

This is the first film directed by actor Macon Blair (so good in both Blue Ruin and Green Room), and while it is shaggy and tonally all over the place, there is a lot to recommend here. First off, I’m a huge fan of the (underrated) Melanie Lynskey, so I was primed to like this movie from the get-go. After Ruth’s (Lynskey) home is broken into, she seeks revenge against the perpetrators with help from her martial arts obsessed neighbor Tony (Elijah Wood, sporting an impressive rat-tail). What starts out as an empowering journey for Ruth & Tony quickly teeters into dangerous and increasingly violent territory. This movie is probably not for everyone, but if you’re a fan of 90s indie films and don’t mind some violence mixed in with your dark humor, then you will probably enjoy this small, well-acted film.

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