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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Stars: Benny Safdie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Robert Pattinson
Directed by: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie

A fast-paced thriller, and “actually dangerous” movie as envisioned by its directors, Good Time is about a bank robbery gone wrong and one brother trying to get his other brother out of jail in its aftermath. It’s a deep and fast dive into New York’s criminal underworld that will not give you the time to catch a single full breath. The rhythm here is, without exaggeration, unlike anything I’ve seen before. It’s anxiety-inducing and very… primal. Incredible work featuring a career-pivoting performance from Robert Pattinson as the loose criminal that will do literally in the pursuit of seeing his brother free.

Stars: Anna Kendrick, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen
Directed by: Jonathan Levine

It’s often said that trying to make a comedy movie featuring a character with cancer is just a bad idea. And while there may be a good share of failed attempts in that category, 50/50 is not one of them. In a movie that comes closer to a believable real life situation than most, 50/50 manages to mine humor, pathos and simple honesty from a dark and traditional situation.  Starring Seth Rogan and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, this film isn’t afraid to ‘go there’ but you’ll enjoy the journey.

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Stars: Jennifer Brea, Jessica l e Taylor, Omar Wasow
Directed by: Jennifer Brea

A deeply affecting and meaningful documentary, directed by the woman who it revolves around. Jennifer Brea, a Harvard Ph.D student, begins suffering from unusual symptoms: prolonged and extreme fatigue, mental confusion, full-body pain, etc. When she goes to the doctor she is dismissed for being dehydrated and depressed. Later she finds an extended community suffering from her exact same symptoms, all of which fall under the umbrella of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, more widely known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. She decides to tell their stories from her bed, and as such this movie is a collection of videos from her and her partner, added to the stories of others living with the disease. An important and inspiring movie that sheds a light on the lives of the millions affected by CFS around the world. Watch the trailer.

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Stars: Danny DeVito, Jim Carrey, Milos Forman
Directed by: Chris Smith

To play Andy Kaufman Jim Carrey decided that he would get into character and never get out, even when the camera was not rolling. This was extremely frustrating to everyone at first, including the director, who had no way of communicating with Jim Carrey, only Andy Kaufman or Tony Clifton (a character created by Andy Kaufman). At the same time, Carrey had allowed a camera crew to follow him in order to create a behind-the-scenes documentary. The footage was never released because Universal Studios expressed concerns that “people would think Jim Carrey is an asshole”.  Jim & Andy is that footage being displayed for the first time since it was recorded 20 years ago, finding Carrey at a very unique point in his life. Sick of fame and almost sick of acting, he displays his true self – an unbelievably smart, fragile, and complex person.  His commentary, when it’s not funny impressions, is extremely emotional and grounded – sometimes philosophical. This is one of the best documentaries that Netflix has ever bought the distribution rights for, and certainly a mind-blowing portrayal of a complex mind, Jim Carrey, an actor we all thought we knew very well.

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Stars: David Farrier, Dylan Reeve, Marko Realmonte
Directed by: David Farrier, Dylan Reeve

Tickled is a documentary about competitive tickling with a very dark underbelly. As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s true. Director David Farrier is a journalist who specializes in reporting on unusual internet phenomenons. When he comes across a video on competitive tickling he casually reaches out to the organizers (on Facebook) to make a quick video with them. Their response is disproportionate and angry – which prompts him to dig deeper. What he finds is both legitimately terrifying and very surprising given the nature of the underlining theme. A suspenseful, rewarding and just straight out weird movie. A great watch.

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Stars: Dick Cheney, Hilton Als, Tom Brokaw
Directed by: Griffin Dunne

The Centre Will Not Hold explores the life of the famous Joan Didion – professional observer and cultural spectator. The film gives only a small window into the complexity of her mind and the space in which she processes and understands the world, which stems from her capacity to sit above everything that is happening around her and just observe. From writing for Vogue, to war journalism, to her famous novels – from watching a child do acid, to reporting on the first gulf war – Didion is as prolific as she is insightful and majestic in her writing. Throughout the documentary she gives her first hand perspectives on love, relationships, motherhood, and grief – beautifully articulating it as “a place we do not know unless we’ve been there.” A beautiful woman, and an incredible film.

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Stars: Kang-ho Song, Roe-ha Kim, Sang-kyung Kim
Directed by: Joon-ho Bong

Boon Joon-Ho’s ‘Memories of murder’, which was recently re-released is not too dissimilar from many of the crime-dramas that have come out of South Korea over the past two decades. Two very different detectives have to come together to solve what is turning out to be a series of murders that are all linked. The movie is based on the true story of South Korea’s first ever recorded serial murderer, who raped and then killed  young girls in the late 80’s. In the hands of probably the foremost South Korean director after Park Chan-Wook, this movie takes you through all ranges of emotions.

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Stars: Bruno Ganz, Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes
Directed by: Stephen Daldry

The Reader is a German-American drama from 2008, based on the best-selling novel of the same name by author Bernhard Schlink. The storyline begins with adult Michael (Ralph Fiennes) reminiscing about his adolescence in post-World War II Berlin and his fateful relationship with an older woman named Hannah (Kate Winslet). 15-year old Michael is beset by Scarlet Fever and helped off the street one day by the unknown Hannah after a bout of sickness. Taken into her care, Michael soon begins a passionate affair with his enigmatic benefactor, quickly forsaking family and friends for every opportunity to ensconce himself in her world of lust and desire. As their time together progresses, Hannah begins urging Michael to read to her daily—to which he draws from many classic novels and delights in their rich interchange. Hannah suddenly disappears from Michael’s life, however, only reappearing several years later when young law student Michael is stunned to find her facing a World War II war-crimes tribunal. Tied to a real-life series of trials against former Auschwitz employees from 1963 to 1965, The Reader is a provocative tale of passion, ethical ambiguity and human maturation in the face of difficult reconciliation. Directed by British screen stalwart Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Hours), The Reader is a strikingly original and exceptionally well-made film that is recommended to those who appreciate sophisticated, emotionally mannered cinema.

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Stars: Anna Kendrick, George Clooney, Vera Farmiga
Directed by: Jason Reitman

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is a corporate axman, he comes in a fires people when the managers are too afraid to do it themselves. The nature of his work requires a lot of flying, short lived meetings in transit zones and he absolutely loves it, and he has a certain goal in mind. When the company tries a new approach to corporate downsizing he has to change his way and view of life. It’s full of cynicism and warmth. If you are familiar with Jason Reitman’s previous work, you’ll feel right at home, if you don’t : Get to it!

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Directed by: Charlie Siskel, John Maloof

Vivian Mair was a French-American photographer whose art, like many of the greats, only gained widespread success after her death. Most of her life was spent working as a maid for families in Chicago. Her masterpieces were only introduced to the world when the director of this documentary purchased a box of her negatives. This movie is about him trying to put together the pieces and retrace her life by interviewing the people that knew her.

And right from the beginning of this documentary her photos will have you in awe. They gave me chills and made me feel exactly what I needed to feel to understand each photo. Cue Vivian’s unexpected dark side along with really messed up backstory, I was completely absorbed. Interviews, along with Vivian’s own photos and home videos show the complexity and mystery of the artist.

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Stars: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Sean Patrick Thomas
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

The Fountain is a highly compelling science-fiction/fantasy film told in three interwoven parts related to the mythical concept of the Tree of Life. Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz star in a triad of roles that alternate along the film’s narrative: 1) an ancient conquistador assigned by the Queen of Spain to locate the legendary tree within the jungles of South American, 2) a modern medical doctor desperately striving to find a cure for his wife’s terminal brain cancer, and 3) a futuristic space traveler transporting the sacred tree across the cosmos with spectral images of his wife as his companion. In this, his 3rd feature feature-length film, writer/director Darren Aronofsky has crafted a strikingly ambitious depiction of the search for, manifestation of and preservation of the oft-fabled key to eternity. It’s highly philosophical and at times strikingly abstract visual storytelling, aided immeasurably by Jackman’s and Weisz’s heartfelt, aggrieved performances. The passion and the earnestness they deliver helps to buoy a complicated plot that isn’t always entirely cohesive, but comes together as a wonderfully compelling amalgamation of sights and sounds bound to inspire the viewer. Kudos to Aronofsky for eschewing simple fantasy in lieu of something so dynamic, original and emotionally commanding.

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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: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson
Directed by: Todd Haynes

Watching Carol is like reading a really interesting book while relaxing on a Sunday afternoon. It is one of those movies that you probably heard about during its Oscar run, and have since delayed actually viewing it. Well now that it is on Netflix and other streaming services you have no excuse! It’s refreshingly unique, incredibly charming, and features a kind of story that hasn’t been told very often – a love story between two women. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara play the women, both of their characters attempt to live true to their own principles while facing unjust yet severe backlash from society. If you are open to it, the love story in this will stay with you forever.

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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: Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve

This is the type of famous movie that doesn’t feel like one. So if you haven’t yet seen it, avoid watching the trailer. Kate (Emily Blunt) is an FBI agent who is enlisted to aid in the war on drugs at the Mexican border. She is introduced to Alejandro (Benicio del Toro), a quiet  and secretive agent working on the Mexican side.  The reason you shouldn’t watch the trailer is that Sicario is much more than just another crime action movie, which its marketing will lead you to believe. It’s gorgeously made, with scenes that will catch your breath starting from the color composition to the amazing performances by Blunt and Del Toro. It’s intense, intelligent and very realistic in its approach to action sequences.  Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Incendies, etc.)

 

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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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