Critics are always glad to tell you what to watch on Netflix. But what are people actually choosing to watch? Here are the top 10 movies of the moment, according to viewers voting with their remotes, in reverse order:
10. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
In Christopher Nolan’s most highly rated film, Christian Bale and Anne Hathaway excel as Batman and Catwoman, and Tom Hardy’s bad guy Bane speaks in a voice that critic David Edelstein perfectly describes as “a cross between Darth Vader, Andy Kaufman’s Foreign Man, and someone trying to sing ‘Nessun Dorma’ while choking to death on a mouthful of muesli.”
Watch it: The Dark Knight Rises
9. Barefoot (2014)
Why is this god-awful movie — about a rich ne’er-do-well (Scott Speedman) and janitor at a mental hospital who asks a patient (Evan Rachel Wood) to pretend to be his girlfriend at a wedding to get his dad (Treat Williams) to pay his $40,000 gambling debt — so popular? Because Wood is one of the best manic pixie dream girls in the business.
Watch it: Barefoot
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8. Mean Girls (2004)
Tina Fey cleverly adapts the nonfiction book Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World as a superbly intelligent teen comedy. Lindsay Lohan’s finest hour.
Watch it: Mean Girls
7. The Man From Toronto (2022)
About 8 out of 10 critics loathed this predictable action comedy about a loser schlemiel (Kevin Hart) who gets mistaken for a stone cold assassin (Woody Harrelson). But more than 4 out of 10 viewers liked it OK. At least it’s got Ellen Barkin as Harrelson’s ruthless boss.
Watch it: The Man From Toronto
6. Girl in the Picture (2022)
This most chilling of true-crime documentaries unravels the complicated mystery of a corpse who turns out to have been an angelically kind, bright, promising, gorgeous mom kidnapped by an elusive serial killer. Fascinating and utterly haunting.
Watch it: Girl in the Picture
5. 12 Strong (2018)
Top Gun: Maverick producer Jerry Bruckheimer presents the formulaic, fact-inspired story of the Green Beret Task Force Dagger team that joined Northern Alliance horsemen to attack Afghanistan’s Taliban after 9/11. The heroic cast includes Chris Hemsworth and Michael Shannon.
Watch it: 12 Strong
4. Sing 2 (2021)
A koala (Matthew McConaughey) and his animated animal friends (Scarlett Johansson, Reese Witherspoon) sing “I Say a Little Prayer” and hits by Elton John, Prince, Taylor Swift and Adele. But what they most urgently need is to get a lionized rock-star lion (Bono) to sing “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” Critics still haven’t found the harsh words that could stop people from loving this.
Watch it: Sing 2
3. CHIPS (2017)
Michael Peña and Dax Shepard play an undercover FBI agent and a biker forced to work together as California Highway Patrol officers in a crude comedy that many evidently find good for a chuckle or two.
Watch it: CHIPS
2. The Sea Beast (2022)
If you liked How to Train Your Dragon, Pirates of the Caribbean and Moby-Dick, try this terrific, remarkably realistic animated drama about a plucky 17th-century orphan hunting monsters with the Ahab-ish Captain Crow (Jared Harris, whose Chernobyl and Mad Men roles are must-sees) and first mate Sarah Sharpe (Marianne Jean-Baptiste; you must see her Secrets & Lies).
Watch it: The Sea Beast
1. Persuasion (2022)
In a mostly fizzy update of Jane Austen’s dark last novel, Anne (Dakota Johnson) spurned Wentworth (Cosmo Jarvis) at 19. Now she’s a washed-up spinster at 27, her dad (hilarious Richard E. Grant, 65) has blown their fortune, and the guy she still pines for is a rich war hero crashing back into her life. Anne anachronistically quips à la Fleabag, “Now we’re worse than exes — we’re friends!” It’s not as broad an update as Clueless or Fire Island, but even if it’s a much-deplored heresy, it’s fun.
Watch it: Persuasion
Tim Appelo covers entertainment and is the film and TV critic for AARP. Previously, he was the entertainment editor at Amazon, video critic at Entertainment Weekly, and a critic and writer for The Hollywood Reporter, People, MTV, The Village Voice and LA Weekly.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on July 28, 2020. It has been updated with latest selection of movies being watched by viewers on Netflix.