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What to Watch on Netflix Top 10 Movie Rankings on December 8

The Power of the Dog is a howling success

Liam Mathews, Tim Surette
Benedict Cumberbatch, Power of the Dog

Benedict Cumberbatch, Power of the Dog

Kristy Griffin/Netflix

If you're looking for a good movie to watch on Netflix, then a great way to get started is to crowdsource who is watching what by looking at the Netflix Top 10 Movies list, which tracks the most-watched movies on the streaming service. The list for Wednesday, Dec. 8 is topped by The Power of the Dog, an Oscar-contending Western starring Benedict Cumberbatch. It's been No. 1 for several days now, an impressive feat for a film this artistically minded. It's followed by the 1999 Eddie Murphy-Martin Lawrence team-up Life, which has been holding at No. 2 for the better part of a week. Behind that, there's the star-studded action hit Red Notice at No. 3. The 2009 thriller Law Abiding Citizen is at No. 4. The cute Netflix Christmas movie Single All the Way rounds out the top 5. 

But which of the films in Netflix's Top 10 list of the most popular movies are actually good? We break down the entire Netflix Top 10 Movies list and guide you through what to binge and what to skip. We do the same for Netflix's Top 10 TV shows, as well as Netflix's overall Top 10 list. We also have a list of the 50 best shows and movies to watch on Netflix right now, as well as the best movies on Netflix and the best TV shows on Netflix

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Based on Netflix's Top 10 from Wednesday, Dec. 8

1. The Power of the Dog

For fans of: Tension, Benedict Cumberbatch being a big ol' meanie | Is it good?: It's fantastic

Jane Campion's first film since 2009 heads out on the range with one mean cowboy in Benedict Cumberbatch. The 1925-set Western quickly reaches a boil and holds it as a rancher (Jesse Plemons) gets a new wife (Kirsten Dunst) whom his brother (Cumberbatch) takes a strong disliking to. It's a masterclass of simmering tension and spellbinding acting, but if you're here for shoot 'em ups, this Western ain't it. (Yesterday's rank: 1)

2. Life

For fans of: When Eddie Murphy or Martin Lawrence puts on prosthetic makeup | Is it good?: It's pretty underrated

Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence provide laughs and pathos in this sad comedy from 1999. They play two men from New York City who are sentenced to life in Mississippi state prison for a murder they didn't commit. Rejecting the misery of prison life, they make numerous efforts to escape over the years. Murphy and Lawrence find humor in the darkest situations — this is a "laugh to keep from crying" comedy, and there's some heavy stuff in it that will make you think about the injustice Black people face in the justice system. Life wasn't a hit when it came out — though it earned an Oscar nomination for Best Makeup thanks to the old age makeup Murphy and Lawrence wear in the second half of the film — but it's a worthwhile rediscovery, even if some of the humor hasn't aged well. (Yesterday's rank: 2)

3. Red Notice

For fans of: The Rock, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot | Is it good?: It's good if you don't want to think about anything for two hours

If you need to turn off your brain, you could do worse than to watch Red Notice, a movie starring Dwayne JohnsonRyan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot. Rocky and Ryan play a fed and an art thief, respectively, who team up to catch the world's most-wanted art thief (Gadot), and there are tons of fights, big action sequences with rocket launchers and helicopters, and one bit where the former Brahma Bull takes on a real bull in a bullfight. This would normally be a slam dunkarooni to watch, but the critics will tell you that it's a stinker that should be avoided. I'd counter that it runs on enough megawatts of Hollywood star power to mine two whole Bitcoins, rendering any criticism pointless. (Yesterday's rank: 4)

What to Watch from Netflix's Top 10 TV Shows

4. Law Abiding Citizen

For fans of: Gerard Butler action movies, extreme violence | Is it good?: It's almost so bad it's good. Almost.

How's this for a premise: After the men who killed his family go free due to prosecutorial failure, Gerard Butler turns into a psychopathic vigilante. When he gets arrested for killing the killers, he reveals he's rigged traps all over the city to kill innocent people unless he's released. And the prosecutor who let the killers walk (Jamie Foxx) is the only one who can stop it. This is a very stupid hot couch guy movie. (Yesterday's rank: 6)

5. Single All the Way

For fans of: Christmas movies, gay icon Jennifer Coolidge | Is it good?: It's very sweet

Single All the Way is Netflix's first gay Christmas rom-com, and it's delightful. Michael Urie plays Peter, a perpetually single man whose family is always pressuring him to get into a relationship. In order to avoid those conversations this Christmas, he convinces his best friend, Nick (Philemon Chambers), to pretend to be his boyfriend. You can tell where this is going. It's nice that the characters' sexuality is not mined for conflict. It's a totally traditional Christmas rom-com, with the blessed addition of Jennifer Coolidge, taking a victory lap after The White Lotus, as Peter's Aunt Sandy. (Yesterday's rank: 3)

What to Watch from Netflix's Overall Top 10

6. Think Like a Man

For fans of: NBA eccentrics Matt Barnes and Metta World Peace | Is it good?: Not really

This romantic comedy is about women who, tired of the men they date refusing to commit to them, read Steve Harvey's notorious self-help book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man and start using men's tricks against them. Michael Ealy and Taraji P. Henson have chemistry, at least. (Yesterday's rank: 7)

7. Looper

For fans of: Time travel, cranky old Bruce Willis | Is it good?: Very

This creative sci-fi thriller comes from writer-director Rian Johnson (Knives Out) and stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a time-traveling assassin whose life is upended when he's assigned to kill a 30-years-older version of himself (Bruce Willis). And the older version obviously knows how to outsmart the younger version, so he gets away, and the younger version has to try to find him in his own past/present. It's an engrossing head trip of a movie. (Yesterday's rank: 5)

8. A Boy Called Christmas

For fans of: Santa Claus, saying "is that Maggie Smith?" | Is it good?: It's cute and very much for kids

The Santa Claus origin story you've been looking for is right here! The Netflix original Christmas fantasy film adapts the 2015 book and tells the story of young Nikolas, who travels to the North Pole in search of his father and comes across a town of elves and other Christmas goodies. It's a family-friendly affair, as evidenced by the adorable CGI mouse that accompanies young Nik. Maggie Smith, Kristen Wiig, and Henry Lawfull star. (Yesterday's rank: 9)

9. A Castle for Christmas

For fans of: Hallmark vibes, real estate | Is it good?: What is "good" when it comes to this type of movie, really?

Netflix's latest Hallmark-style Christmas movie has a premise genre fans should find as familiar and comfortable as a Scotsman's favorite kilt. After flopping and getting canceled, a famous author (Brooke Shields) decides to shake up her life and buy a castle in Scotland that has personal significance to her family. But there's a catch: The castle's current owner, the stuck-up Duke of Dunbar (Cary Elwes, doing his best burr), will continue to live in the castle alongside her until the escrow period ends on Christmas. He's planning to make her so miserable she leaves, after which point he'll keep her deposit and the castle. Of course, they develop real feelings for each other during their forced cohabitation, and there are complications before the inevitable happy ending. Because if there's one thing Cary Elwes knows about, it's true love! (Yes, that's a Princess Bride reference.) (Yesterday's rank: 10)

10. Bruised

For fans of: Halle Berry, washed-up athletes | Is it good?: Berry's performance is better than the movie itself

Halle Berry's directorial debut comes in the form of this sports drama, which she also stars in. Berry plays Jackie Justice, a disgraced UFC fighter who returns to her roots for one last fight. In the middle of it all, the son she gave birth to and subsequently ignored shows up on her doorstep, forcing her to think about the direction her life has gone in. (Yesterday's rank: 8)

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Margaret Qualley, Maid

Margaret Qualley, Maid

Ricardo Hubbs/Netflix