What are the best period movies on Netflix? The 11 titles below feature stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Benedict Cumberbatch, Matthew McConaughey, Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Sacha Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Eddie Redmayne. And they come from directors in Angelina Jolie, Martin Scorsese, Aaron Sorkin, Ron Howard, and Alejandro G. Iñárritu among others. A “⭐” marks an editors’ choice.
You might find more period movies in our list of best movies. If you’re looking for more movies on Netflix, we’ve recommendations for some select other genres as well that you should check out.
- Apollo 13 (1995)
Ron Howard dramatises the Apollo 13 mission that put the astronauts in jeopardy after an on-board explosion ate up all the oxygen and forced NASA to abort and get the men home safely. Tom Hanks stars.
- Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
Refusing to accept a death sentence from his doctor after being diagnosed with AIDS in the 1980s, the true story of an electrician and hustler (Matthew McConaughey) who smuggles banned medications from abroad.
- The Dig (2021)
A wealthy landowner (Carey Mulligan) hires an amateur archaeologist (Ralph Fiennes) to dig up the burial grounds on her estate in this reimagining of the 1939 Sutton Hoo excavations. A film that is entirely infused with the spectre of death.
- The Endless Trench (2019)
A few years into the Spanish Civil War in 1936, a newly-married man and a big critic of the dictator Francisco Franco hides himself underneath his house in fear of being killed by the Franco-led Falangists, not knowing that he will stay there for the next 33 years. A Netflix original.
- First They Killed My Father (2017)
Angelina Jolie directs this adaptation of Loung Ung’s memoir — Ung co-wrote the screenplay with Jolie — that details a seven-year-old’s harrowing journey through labour camps and as a child soldier during the Khmer Rouge regime starting in 1975.
- Hugo (2011)
In 1930s Paris, a boy who lives alone in the walls of a train station tries to figure out the mystery involving his late father and his most treasured possession, an automaton, that needs a key to function. Martin Scorsese directs.
- The Imitation Game (2014)
Though historically inaccurate in various aspects, Benedict Cumberbatch’s turn as British mathematician Alan Turing who helps the Allies decrypt the Nazi intelligence codes, Morten Tyldum’s direction, and the work of its strong supporting cast brought it much success and acclaim.
- The Revenant (2015)
Leonardo DiCaprio and director Alejandro G. Iñárritu won Oscars for their work on this semi-biographical Western film set in the 1820s, which tells the story of frontiersman Hugh Glass and his quest for survival and justice amidst severe winters.
- Silence (2016)
Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, and Liam Neeson play 17th-century Jesuit priests in this over two-and-a-half-hour epic from Martin Scorsese that finds two said priests travelling to Edo-era Japan, where Christians are persecuted, to find their mentor and spread Catholic Christianity.
- The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)⭐
Aaron Sorkin assembles an ensemble cast — Sacha Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eddie Redmayne, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II among them — to depict the political witchhunt of the titular anti-Vietnan War protestors who were trumped up on charges of rioting and conspiracy.
- A Twelve-Year Night (2018)
The future president of Uruguay, José Mujica, and his fellow left-wing urban guerrilla group Tupamaros members struggle to survive over a decade of torture and confinement after they are imprisoned by the then-military dictatorship in 1973. A Netflix original.