FROM DEMANDING work schedules and an ever-growing list of side hustles, time is a finite resource in 2023. Our quest to squeeze precious minutes from the day we don’t have has rendered most of us sleep-deprived and yet, for all the chaos that is the balancing act of modern life, movies seem to be getting longer. Peruse the list of nominees for Best Picture category at the Oscars and you’ll likely see running times over 120 minutes, with some now inching into the three-hour mark.
Though forgivable if you’re a Swiftie seeing your idol perform on stage, for most, these extended run-times are too tall an order. Even outside of work constraints, science has confirmed our attention spans are limited. We’re finding it harder to focus, with a UK survey finding half of adults think their attention spans are shortening. Not surprisingly, many of us now watch movies with our phone in hand, scrolling in amusement as the movie serves merely as background noise.
When it comes to storytelling, it’s hard to fault a tight 90-minute flick executed well. Whether it’s comedy, drama or an action blockbuster, you need only 90 minutes to convey the plot—and audiences will appreciate you for it. While we’ll forgive Martin Scorsese and Marvel Studios for their long-running projects, it’s time to celebrate the quickie. Thanks to Netflix, there’s no shortage of 90-minute movies that will satisfy your entertainment cravings. Here’s our pick of the best.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Ethan Hawke star in this gripping thriller that sees a troubled police detective assigned to 911 operator duty. When he receives a distressed caller, he scrambles to save her only for a number of harrowing revelations and reckonings to emerge during the course of the day.
Idris Elba stars in this blockbuster action drama. When a skilled pickpocket (Richard Madden) is forced to help the CIA operative track a terrorist group in Paris, chaos (and multiple high-octane action sequences) ensues.
When it comes to superhero movies, Will Smith’s Hancock is one that seems to fly under the radar. But with an all-star cast that includes Jason Bateman and Charlize Theron, it deserves far more recognition as it tells the story of the down-and-out Hancock who’s forced to employ a public relations expert to help repair his image. Naturally, he discovers he and his PR agent share more in common than they think.
When a woman’s at-home DNA test reveals she has multiple half-siblings, she embarks on a quest to find out more about her extended family tree. What comes next is a revelation that shocked the medical world, centring around donor sperm and a popular fertility doctor.
Long Story Short
Rafe Spall stars in this Aussie rom-com that sees a perpetual procrastinator awake to find that every few minutes, his life forwards 12 months. In an effort to save his marriage, he must then race against time.
My Neighbour Totoro
There’s a good reason this film has become a classic from legendary animation house Studio Ghibli. Set in post-war Japan, it tells the story of two young girls who move to a rural community to be closer to their mother, who is recovering from an illness. They end up forming friendships with a group of wood spirits, including a giant cat-like creature named Totoro.
Eagle vs Shark
This quirky comedy will delight those looking for a fun flick. Unaware of the affection Lily has towards him, oddball Jarrod has a plan to exact revenge on his high school foe. In looking to see it come to fruition, the pair band together.
At the height of a zombie apocalypse, a cautious loner played by the hilarious Jesse Eisenberg joins a Twinkie-obsessed daredevil and pair of sisters on a road trip from Texas to Los Angeles. With a cast that includes Woody Harrelson and Emma Stone, there’s good reason this offbeat comedy has become a fan favourite.
From Taika Waititi comes the comedic and endearing story of an 11-year-old boy and his younger brother who see their rich fantasy lives stopped cold when their father returns home after years of being away.
My Octopus Teacher
Awarded best documentary feature at the 2021 Oscars, this film follows filmmaker and free-diver Craig Foster who spends a year hanging out with an octopus in a kelp forest off the coast of South Africa. The pair bond as Foster finds himself invited into the octopus’ world.
The Fundamentals of Caring
When a writer-turned-caregiver is paired with a teen with muscular dystrophy, the two strike up a bond and set off on a road trip in search of offbeat landmarks and adventure. With Paul Rudd and Craig Roberts starring, you’re in for a comedic film that also delivers a heartfelt story.
Are We Officially Dating?
Zac Efron and Miles Teller star in this rom-com that sees two best friends side with their recently-dumped mate (Michael B. Jordan), vowing to stay single until he’s ready to get back in the game.
Isn’t It Romantic?
Rebel Wilson and Liam Hemsworth star in this film that sees an architect who hates romantic comedies to wake up after hitting her head to find her unremarkable life changed into that which she couldn’t stand. Now, everything is a dazzling, cliché-driven rom-com.
Playing It Cool
Chris Evans stars as a cynical screenwriter tasked with working on a rom-com, only to find his views on love changing after he meets and begins falling for a woman (Michelle Monaghan) who’s already in a relationship.
Daddy Day Care
Starring Eddie Murphy, Jeff Garlin and Steve Zahn, this comedy sees two Dads band together after recently losing their jobs, vowing to stay home and start a day care centre. How hard could it be, right? As new kids are invited into their centre, they find them getting up to all sorts of shenanigans they aren’t quite equipped to deal with.
Monty Python and The Holy Grail
The world’s greatest comedy clan comes together to skewer the story of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as they quest far and wide for the Holy Grail.