25 best critically acclaimed movies on Netflix right now

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020): (L to R)Glynn Turman as Toldeo, Chadwick Boseman as Levee, Michael Potts as Slow Drag, and Colman Domingo as Cutler.Cr. David Lee / Netflix
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020): (L to R)Glynn Turman as Toldeo, Chadwick Boseman as Levee, Michael Potts as Slow Drag, and Colman Domingo as Cutler.Cr. David Lee / Netflix /
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BEVERLY HILLS, CA – NOVEMBER 13: (L-R) Actors James Franco, Sean Penn, and Josh Brolin arrive at the Los Angeles premiere of Focus Features’ “Milk” held at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on November 13, 2008 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – NOVEMBER 13: (L-R) Actors James Franco, Sean Penn, and Josh Brolin arrive at the Los Angeles premiere of Focus Features’ “Milk” held at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on November 13, 2008 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images) /

21. Milk

Release Year: 2008

Directed By: Gus Van Sant

Starring: Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, Diego Luna, James Franco, Alison Pill, Victor Garber, Denis O’Hare, Joseph Cross, Stephen Spinella, Lucas Grabeel, Jeff Koons

There’s something about biographical films that can either be hit or miss. Typically, well-known actors stepping into the shows of a revered (or even defamed) historical figure is a shoo-in for Oscar buzz. But it can also go in the completely opposite direction. That’s not the case with Milk, the critically acclaimed biopic about a key leader in gay rights activism.

Sean Penn stars in Milk as Harvey Milk, an influential gay rights activist and the first openly out elected politician. The film takes place throughout the 1970s as Harvey Milk and his then-partner Scott Smith (James Franco) relocate to San Francisco, where Milk helped to turn the Castro District into a home for the LGBTQ+ community. In 1977, Milk’s notable win on the Board of Supervisors is followed by tragedy one year later.

Milk was a modest box office during its November 2008 theatrical release, but the biopic was far more successful with critics. The film landed on the fourth most critics’ top 10 lists of the year, coming out on top for The Hollywood Reporter and Rolling Stone. What’s more, Milk holds a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and won two Academy Awards (Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay) out of eight nominations.