The Best Netflix Original Movies (January 2022) | Digital Trends
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The best Netflix original movies

After basically inventing the streaming game, Netflix had supremacy for a number of years. But as the rest of Hollywood caught up, Netflix began to invest more heavily in its original content, starting with the political drama series, House of Cards. But it wasn’t until 2015’s Beasts of No Nation that Netflix played its next big card: Original movies. Since then, the streaming giant has amplified its movie output while becoming a hub of prestige cinema. In the last couple of months, Netflix added a few new original Oscar hopefuls to the service. And that’s just the beginning of the best Netflix original movies.

Originality can go a long way, but if you don’t find what you’re looking for, try our other lists of the best Netflix original series, the best Hulu original series, the best Amazon Prime original movies, and the best Amazon Prime original series.

Recently added to Netflix

The Hand of God (2021) new

The Hand of God
Genre Drama
Stars Filippo Scotti, Toni Servillo, Teresa Saponangelo
Directed by Paolo Sorrentino
r 130m
Oscar-winning Italian director Paolo Sorrentino paints a beautiful portrait of growing up and family in this story set in Naples in the 1980s. Fabietto Schisa is a young man barely aware of how his future is set in motion before him. Between delights like the arrival of football legend Diego Maradona and unexpected tragedies, Fabietto traverses his life almost a passenger through fate.

The Power of the Dog (2021) new

The Power of the Dog
Genre Drama, Western
Stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons
Directed by Jane Campion
r 127m
Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the beguiling rancher Phil Burbank in this dramatic, simmering Western. The year is 1925 and Phil’s a cowboy’s cowboy, running one of Montana’s most profitable ranches with his brother George (Jesse Plemons). When the two men meet the widowed proprietress of a local inn, Rose (Kirsten Dunst), Phil mocks her to tears while George becomes smitten. When George returns to make Rose his wife and bring her back to the ranch, it drives a stake between the two brothers, especially given Phil’s odd cruelty and attention to Rose’s son.

The Harder They Fall (2021) new

The Harder They Fall
Genre Western
Stars Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Regina King
Directed by Jeymes Samuel
r 139m
Jeymes Samuel gives this fresh Western with a predominantly Black cast a ton of energy and passion. Outlaw Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) discovers that his nemesis since childhood, Rufus Buck (Idris Elba), has been freed from prison. Nat rounds up his gang and goes hunting for Buck and the crew that liberated him. It’s an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object.

Passing (2021)

Genre Drama
Stars Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, André Holland
Directed by Rebecca Hall
Would it surprise you to learn that the novel, Passing, is almost 100 years old now? Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut takes Nella Larsen’s story and keeps the original setting. Hall even shot the film in black and white as a stylistic choice. The story follows two Black women, Irene Redfield (Tessa Thompson) and Clare Kendry (Ruth Negga), both of whom can “pass” as white. Yet only Clare chooses to do so, by marrying a wealthy white man, John Bellew (Alexander Skarsgård). Meanwhile, Irene embraces her Black identity and marries Dr. Brian Redford (André Holland). Yet when Clare and Irene re-enter each other’s lives after years apart, the choices they’ve made may come back to haunt them.

Army of Thieves (2021)

Army of Thieves
Genre Action, Thriller, Comedy
Stars Matthias Schweighöfer, Nathalie Emmanuel, Ruby O. Fee
Directed by Matthias Schweighöfer
r 127m
It’s pretty rare for a prequel to come out the same year as the movie it leads into. But Netflix tends to rewrite the rules as we know them. Army of Thieves is a prequel to Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead, but the zombies are secondary in this film. Instead, this is the origin story of Ludwig Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer), an expert safecracker who was once an unassuming bank teller named Sebastian Schlencht-Wöhnert. In the early days of the zombie apocalypse, the enimagic Gwendoline Starr (Nathalie Emmanuel) convinces Sebastian to embrace his inner thief and put together a team to rob a billionaire.

No One Gets Out Alive (2021)

No One Gets Out Alive
Genre Horror, Thriller, Mystery
Stars Cristina Rodlo, Marc Menchaca, David Figlioli
Directed by Santiago Menghini
r 85m
No One Gets Out Alive is a very modern American nightmare about an immigrant’s experience. Cristina Rodlo stars as Ambar, an illegal immigrant who is desperate to create a better life for herself in the United States. After moving into a boarding house run by Red (Marc Menchaca), Ambar is frightened by the strange apparitions she encounters there. But as Ambar runs out of time and money, she is forced to return to the home one last time. And that’s when the supernatural horror really begins.

Worth (2021)

Genre Drama, History
Stars Michael Keaton, Amy Ryan, Stanley Tucci
Directed by Sara Colangelo
pg-13 118m
After the 9/11 attacks, the government sent out on an impossible, little-known mission to compensate the victims and families of one of America’s greatest tragedies. Congress appointed renowned mediator Kenneth Feinberg (Michael Keaton) to lead the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, an organization formed to allocate financial resources to victims of the tragedy. As such, they’re tasked with answering the impossible question: “How much is a life worth?” But when Feinberg meets Charles Wolf (Stanley Tucci), a community organizer whose wife died in the attacks, the job — and the tragedy — suddenly becomes much more personal.

Nightbooks (2021)

Genre Fantasy, Family, Horror
Stars Winslow Fegley, Lidya Jewett, Krysten Ritter
Directed by David Yarovesky
pg 103m
A fantasy/horror adventure for the whole family, Nightbooks follows young Alex (Winslow Fegley), who loves writing scary stories. This particular passion marks him as an outcast at school, leading Alex to swear off writing ever again. But when an evil witch (Krysten Ritter) captures him inside a magical New York City apartment, she demands he tell her a new scary story every single night if he wants to live. Inside, he meets another prisoner, Yasmin (Lidya Jewett), who has learned how to survive her imprisonment with the witch. Together, they’ll work to write not just more stories, but their own destinies.

Blood Red Sky (2021) new

Blood Red Sky
Genre Horror, Thriller, Action
Stars Peri Baumeister, Carl Anton Koch, Kais Setti
Directed by Peter Thorwarth
r 121m
Terror abounds in this genre-bending thriller. A mysteriously ill woman is on a transatlantic flight with her child when terrorists suddenly hijack the plane. To protect her son, herself, and everyone on the flight, she must unleash a terrifying secret. Bloody horror ensues as the terrorists soon find their way out of their depth.

Fear Street Trilogy (2021)

Fear Street Trilogy
Genre Horror, Mystery
Stars Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, Maya Hawke, Kiana Madeira
Directed by Leigh Janiak
r 107m
Netflix has long been a content pioneer, and it’s getting experimental once again with R.L. Stine’s Fear Street trilogy. With three films, released throughout the first month of July, the trilogy spans 300 years, with Fear Street Part One: 1994 premiering July 2. Fear Street Part 2: 1978 debuts July 9, and Fear Street Part Three: 1666 debuts July 16. The epic tale follows a group of teenagers who take on an evil force that has plagued their town for centuries after a series of brutal slayings.

Dumplin' (2018)

Genre Comedy, Drama
Stars Danielle Macdonald, Jennifer Aniston, Odeya Rush
Directed by Anne Fletcher
pg-13 110m
Dolly Parton and drag queens galore steal the stage in this hilarious story about the plus-size teenage daughter of a former beauty queen. Sick of living in her mother’s shadow and determined to expose the idiocy of the pageant circuit, Willowdean “Dumplin'” Dixon (Danielle MacDonald) enters the pageant that her mother (Jennifer Aniston) runs in their small Texas town. But when the spotlight is on her, Dumplin’ can’t take the heat until some local drag queens help her come out of her shell and revolutionize the pageant for good.

Moxie (2021)

Genre Comedy, Drama, Music
Stars Amy Poehler, Hadley Robinson, Lauren Tsai, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Nico Hiraga, Sydney Park, Josephine Langford
Directed by Amy Poehler
Comedy legend Amy Poehler directed Moxie and co-stars as Lisa, the mother of the main character, Vivian (Hadley Robinson). After witnessing a mean jock, Mitchell (Patrick Schwarzenegger), harassing a new student, Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Peña), at school, Vivian is inspired by her mother’s example. Vivian creates Moxie, a “‘zine” that gives her fellow students a voice to push back against mistreatment. However, Vivian’s new endeavor drives a wedge between her and her best friend, Claudia (Lauren Tsai). It also complicates Vivian’s potential romance with Seth (Nico Hiraga).

Below Zero (2021)

Below Zero
Genre Action, Crime, Thriller
Directed by Lluís Quílez
Cast Javier Gutiérrez, Karra Elejalde, Luis Callejo
As part of its ongoing quest for global domination, Netflix picked up the Spanish action flick Below Zero as an original movie. Javier Gutiérrez stars as Martín, a police officer assigned to accompany a prisoner transport late at night. After a vicious attack by the enigmatic Miguel (Karra Elejalde), Martin soon becomes the last officer alive — and outnumbered by the prisoners in the back. Miguel has a very personal vendetta against one of the men in the truck, and Martin is forced to face his own moral convictions in order to find a resolution.

Space Sweepers (2021)

Space Sweepers
Genre Drama, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Directed by Jo Sung-hee
Cast Song Joong-ki, Kim Tae-ri, Yoo Hae-jin
Fans of Firefly and Serenity may find some familiar elements in the sci-fi film Space Sweepers. Regardless of that, this South Korean movie exists in its own dystopian space future. Song Joong-ki and Kim Tae-ri co-headline the film as Kim Tae-ho and Captain Jang, the commanding officers of a scavenger ship called the Victory. Each member of the crew has a dark past and a grudge against the government’s powers. But their discovery of a young girl, Dorothy (Park Ye-rin), whose powers and abilities have the potential to completely upend the intergalactic status quo, changes everything. That’s why the crew of the Victory must defend her at all costs.

Over the Moon (2020)

Over the Moon
Genre Animation, Adventure, Family, Fantasy
Stars Cathy Ang, Phillipa Soo, Ken Jeong
Directed by Glen Keane
pg 100m
How ambitious is Netflix? The streamer is now producing original animated films that can genuinely rival the best of Disney, Pixar, and DreamWorks. Over the Moon was nominated for Best Animated Picture at the 2020 Oscars, and it’s still a great film even though it didn’t win. Cathy Ang stars as Fei Fei, a 13-year-old genius who tragically loses her mother. Inspired by her mother’s tales of the immortal Moon goddess, Chang’e (Phillipa Soo), Fei Fei resolves to create her own rocket and prove that the myth is true. Unfortunately for Fei Fei, her new stepbrother, Chin (Robert G. Chiu), jeopardizes her mission when he sneaks on her ship. And what they find on the moon will surprise both of them.

Concrete Cowboy (2020)

Concrete Cowboy
Genre Drama, Western
Stars Idris Elba, Caleb McLaughlin, Jharrel Jerome
Directed by Ricky Staub
r 111m
Rebellious teen Cole (Caleb McLaughlin) doesn’t have much direction is in his life. So when he’s sent to live with his estranged father (Idris Elba) for the summer, he’s not exactly thrilled. His father, however, is in charge of a tightknit Philadelphia community of Black cowboys, living unusual but unusually fulfilling lives. In this new community, Cole finally finds the kinship he’s been seeking.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020)

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Genre Drama, Music
Stars Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Glynn Turman
Directed by George C. Wolfe
r 94m
The film adaptation of one of the legendary August Wilson’s most beloved plays, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom gives the audience a little extra to chew on and some truly breathtaking musical performances. A group of musicians awaits Ma Rainey, the “Mother of the Blues,” in a steamy Chicago recording studio in the 1920s. Late to the session, Ma (Viola Davis) storms straight into a battle of wills with her white manager and producer over control of her music as the ambitious cornet player Levee (Chadwick Boseman) watches, takes notes, and spurs the other musicians into a story exchange that will change all of their lives.

I Care a Lot (2020)

I Care a Lot
Genre Comedy, Crime, Thriller
Stars Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza González
Directed by J Blakeson
r 119m
One of the more unusual gangster movies you’ll see, I Care a Lot revolves around the strange, nefarious world of court-appointed guardians for the elderly. Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) is the most professional and ruthless in the business. Marla and her business partner, Fran (Eiza González), operate a well-oiled machine of seizing the assets of elderly wards and bilking them out of their money through completely legal — if extremely unethical — methods. But when she targets Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest), a wealthy retiree with no living heirs or family, she may have bitten off more than she can chew. Jennifer, it just so happens, harbors her own dark secrets and has close connections to a supremely volatile gangster (Peter Dinklage) who is fully ready to play extralegal hardball.

Mank (2020)

Genre Drama, History
Stars Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins
Directed by David Fincher
r 132m
Directed by David Fincher from a script written by his late father, Jack Fincher, Mank takes you back to the Golden Age of Hollywood. Specifically, it brings you into the world of Herman J. Mankiewicz — known not so affectionately as “Mank” — as he races to finish his magnum opus, Citizen Kane. His worldview and perspective of Hollywood are increasingly scathing and fueled by drink as he becomes jaded by the industry he’s working so hard to prop up.

To All the Boys: Always and Forever (2021)

To All the Boys: Always and Forever
Genre Romance, Comedy, Drama
Stars Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Janel Parrish
Directed by Michael Fimognari
pg-13 115m
The final iteration in Netflix’s popular teen romantic comedy trilogy, To All The Boys: Always and Forever caps off Lara Jean (Lana Condor) and Peter’s (Noah Centineo) surprise high school relationship in touching fashion. After returning from a family trip to Korea, Lara Jean is ready to make the biggest decision of her life. Or is she? Considering college plans with — and without — Noah, Lara Jean has to decide if she’s ready to put a capstone on this part of her life.

The Dig (2021)

The Dig
Genre Drama, History
Stars Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, Lily James, Johnny Flynn
Directed by Simon Stone
pg-13 112m
The Dig was Netflix’s first breakout movie of 2021. It’s based on John Preston’s novel, which was in turn inspired by the real events of the Sutton Hoo archeological dig in 1939. Carey Mulligan plays Edith Pretty, a widower who hires archaeologist Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes) to investigate some burial mounds on her property. What he finds quickly draws attention from the government and more prominent archeologists. It also threatens to push both Basil and Edith out of the picture. Meanwhile, Edith and Basil develop a burgeoning romantic bond, despite Basil’s marriage and Edith’s fragile health. The film takes a few liberties with history, but it makes for a stronger drama.

The White Tiger (2021)

The White Tiger
Genre Crime, Drama
Stars Adarsh Gourav, Rajkummar Rao, Priyanka Chopra
Directed by Ramin Bahrani
r 125m
You probably haven’t heard of Adarsh Gourav before, but that’s likely to change after seeing him in The White Tiger. In his first leading role in a movie, Gourav takes center stage in the adaptation of Aravind Adiga’s novel. Balram Halwai (Gourav) is a man whose chance to escape poverty and servitude was lost while he was still a child. As an adult, Balram blackmails his way into the service of a rich couple: Ashok (Rajkummar Rao) and Pinky (Priyanka Chopra Jonas). Despite their relative kindness towards him, Balram realizes that he’s still trapped in a life that he doesn’t want. And getting ahead in the world is going to require some drastic measures.

Finding 'Ohana (2021)

Finding 'Ohana
Genre Action, Adventure, Comedy, Family
Stars Kea Peahu, Alex Aiono, Lindsay Watson
Directed by Jude Weng
pg 123m
Finding ‘Ohana is pretty unapologetic about the way it channels The Goonies by way of Hawaiian mythology. Kea Peahu and Alex Aiono star as Pili and Ioane, a pair of siblings who are moved back to Hawaii by their mother, Leilani (Kelly Hu), to take care of their grandfather, Kimo (Branscombe Richmond). While learning more about their family heritage, Pili comes across a journal owned by Kimo that may lead to a lost pirate treasure. Soon after, Pili drags her new friend, Casper (Owen Vaccaro), and Ioane on the adventure of a lifetime.

Pieces of a Woman (2020)

Pieces of a Woman
Genre Drama
Stars Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Ellen Burstyn
Directed by Kornél Mundruczó
r 127m
Get some tissues ready — you may need them for Pieces of a Woman. Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf star as Martha and Sean, a young couple expecting their first child. When their child’s home birth goes horribly wrong, both Martha and Sean sink into crippling depression. Martha’s mother, Elizabeth (Ellen Burstyn) also puts enormous pressure on the couple, while a midwife named Eva Woodward (Molly Parker) faces grave consequences of her own. This is very much a story of grief and what comes after. Some broken pieces remain shattered, but the rest can still be put back together again.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

The Trial of the Chicago 7
Genre History, Drama
Stars Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Directed by Aaron Sorkin
r 130m
In 1968, protests broke out at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and local and federal law enforcement responded with extreme violence. In 1969, seven people were further charged by the federal government with conspiracy and more anti-American activities and put on a highly publicized trial that served as a referendum on Cold War patriotism and the social unrest of the ’60s. Aaron Sorkin wrote and directed this high-energy legal drama with his traditional panache frenetic pacing.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (2018)

To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Genre Comedy, Romance
Stars Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Janel Parrish
Directed by Susan Johnson
pg-13 100m
Netflix forays into teen romance in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and the slightly-less-beloved sequel To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You. Lana Condor stars as teenaged Lara Jean, a quiet outsider at her high school, who has a habit of writing love letters to all of her crushes. Of course, she’d never dream of sending them. But when they’re mysteriously leaked to the entire school, it turns out her crushes may actually be interested. As all that romance begins to spiral out of control, the letters wreak havoc on her life, inspiring more love than she can handle.

Enola Holmes (2020)

Enola Holmes
Genre Mystery, Crime, Adventure
Stars Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin
Directed by Harry Bradbeer
pg-13 123m
Everybody knows Sherlock Holmes, but did you know his significantly younger sister, Enola? Turns out, he doesn’t know her very well either. But when their mother suddenly goes missing and Sherlock takes only a tepid interest, Enola (Millie Bobby Brown) proves she’s got just as much sleuthing ability as her famous brother as she takes off for London to uncover the mystery. Along the way, she helps a runaway lord, unwittingly stumbling into a sprawling conspiracy impacting the highest levels of government.

The Platform (2019)

The Platform
Genre Drama, Science Fiction, Thriller
Directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Cast Iván Massagué, Antonia San Juan, Zorion Eguileor
This Spanish dystopian film takes place in a prison in the future. In this prison, inmates on the higher floors are fed. Those below, are left the scant scraps, or they’re simply left to starve. One man, however, will seek to effect change from within. The Platform is gruesome and unyielding in its ferocity and farce, making it particularly difficult to stomach at times. But with pointed satire on mass incarceration, wealth disparity, and a predominantly positive message, it’s an entertaining watch.

Cuties (2020)

Genre Horror
Directed by Joshua Gratton
Cast Tristan Risk, Joshua Gratton, Jacob Romero
At this point, Cuties is probably more widely renowned for putting a bullseye on Netflix for Texas Sen. Mike Lee and other pearl-clutching Americans to shoot at. While Cuties is indeed uncomfortable to watch, there’s far more to be appalled at than 11-year-old girls reenacting the sensual dancing they’re constantly bombarded by in modern media. Amy is an 11-year-old Senegalese girl living in one of the poorest areas of Paris with her traditional mother. When Amy discovers a group of friends through a mutual love of dance, she soon discovers that in the modern world, they’ll gain far more recognition and notoriety as a dance troupe if they make their routines sexier. As an outsider desperately trying to fit in, Amy will risk her relationship with her mother and compromise her values to acclimate to a world that will not accept her if she doesn’t.

The Old Guard (2020)

The Old Guard
Genre Action, Fantasy
Stars Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts
Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood
r 125m
Before Project Power, Netflix dived superheroes with The Old Guard, about a covert group of tight-knit, immortal mercenaries who have fought to protect the mortal world for centuries. Led by Andy (Charlize Theron), the team is recruited to take on an emergency mission where their abilities are suddenly exposed to the world. Now, Andy and her team must eliminate the threat of those who seek to replicate or monetize their power. Based on Greg Rucka’s acclaimed graphic novel, The Old Guard is gritter and more grounded than your standard superhero movie, without sacrificing any of the action.

Extraction (2020)

Genre Drama, Action, Thriller
Stars Chris Hemsworth, Rudhraksh Jaiswal, Randeep Hooda
Directed by Sam Hargrave
r 116m
Chris Hemsworth as a mercenary with a heart? Sign us up! Hemsworth plays Tyler Rake, a mercenary with nothing to lose when he’s hired to rescue the kidnapped son of an imprisoned international crime lord. However, there’s much more than meets the eye to this “simple” rescue mission. In the murky underworld of weapons dealing and drug trafficking, Rake and the boy find themselves caught in the middle of something significantly larger, forever altering both of their lives. With awesome stunt work, electric fight choreography, and Hemsworth’s endless charm, Extraction is a great watch if you’re looking for an explosive time.

Dolemite Is My Name (2019)

Dolemite Is My Name
Genre Drama, Comedy, History
Stars Eddie Murphy, Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps
Directed by Craig Brewer
r 118m
Though it was surprisingly left out of the Oscars race, this biographical comedy starring Eddie Murphy as the late Rudy Ray Moore has received near-universal praise. Murphy’s first R-rated movie since 1999’s Life, the film was nominated for Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy at the 77th Golden Globe Awards. Murphy, who plays the singing/filmmaking/acting/kung-fu fighting personality Dolemite with immense precision, was also nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.

Marriage Story (2019)

Marriage Story
Genre Drama
Stars Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern
Directed by Noah Baumbach
r 137m
Directed by Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story follows Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) as they grapple with a crumbling marriage while raising a young son. It features a pair of memorable performances by Driver and Johansson, and garnered plenty of awards and attention as a result. That attention brought this Netflix movie six Academy Awards nominations (and one win for Laura Dern), six Golden Globes Awards nominations, and three Academy Film Awards nominations.

The Two Popes (2019)

The Two Popes
Genre Drama, Comedy, History
Stars Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Pryce, Juan Minujín
Directed by Fernando Meirelles
pg-13 125m
One of three Netflix originals nominated for multiple awards at the 2019 Oscars, The Two Popes is nevertheless something of the black sheep in terms of media coverage between Marriage Story and The Irishman. It makes sense because The Two Popes isn’t exactly pop cinema. Rather, it’s primarily two legendary actors at the pinnacle of their craft depicting an oft-overlooked tradition that is centuries old. Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce portray the conservative Pope Benedict XVI and the liberal incoming Pope Francis as they discuss the future of the Catholic Church. Director Fernando Meirelles brilliantly captures the real tension between these two men while providing air for Hopkins and Pryce (who were both Oscar-nominated for these roles) to build a relationship that ultimately feels sustainable and hopeful.

The Babysitter (2017)

The Babysitter
Genre Horror, Comedy
Directed by McG
Cast Bella Thorne, Judah Lewis, Hana Mae Lee
The 2010s were a great era for comedic horror. From 2010’s Tucker and Dale Battle Evil to Blumhouse’s Happy Death Day franchise, laughing was never so en vogue. Netflix entered the fray with 2017’s The Babysitter, a bloody twist on the familiar Home Alone tropes we all know. Instead of Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern as robbers, however, The Babysitter features a delightfully sadistic Bella Thorne as a teenage babysitter who just so happens to be a maniacal Satanist in her spare time. When 12-year-old Cole Johnson (Judah Lewis) snoops on what his babysitter, Bee (Thorne), gets up to when he’s supposed to be asleep, he gets swept up into a sick, psychotic murder fantasy. And yes, it’s funny!

Between Two Ferns: The Movie (2019)

Between Two Ferns: The Movie
Genre Comedy
Directed by Scott Aukerman
Cast Zach Galifianakis, Lauren Lapkus, Ryan Gaul, Keanu Reeves
A starring vehicle for Zach Galifianakis’s meta-portrayal of himself as a talk show host, Between Two Ferns: The Movie takes the gags found in the popular Funny or Die series to new heights. It begins with Matthew McConaughey’s accidental death, which forces Galifianakis’s boss, Will Ferrell, to demand that he generate enough clicks with his videos to justify earning a late-night talk show. Cue a road trip across the country to interview as many celebrities as possible! The film is as wacky as its source material and rarely makes sense, which is sort of the point. John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Peter Dinklage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Rudd, and many more make cameos.

Triple Frontier (2019)

Triple Frontier
Genre Action, Thriller, Crime, Adventure
Stars Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam
Directed by J.C. Chandor
r 125m
Netflix probably isn’t the first place you’d look to find an action movie starring some of Hollywood’s hottest leading men, and yet, Triple Frontier exists. Directed by J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year) and starring Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Oscar Isaac, and Pedro Pascal, Triple Frontier follows five former Special Forces operatives who reunite to stage a heist in a small border zone in South America. It’s a personal mission — a far cry from their patriotic pasts — so when things take an unexpected turn, their skills, loyalties, and morality are all pushed to the limits. Action-packed and thrilling to the end, Triple Frontier is a Netflix heat check, proving it can make big-time blockbusters.

Always Be My Maybe (2019)

Always Be My Maybe
Genre Romance, Comedy
Stars Ali Wong, Randall Park, James Saito
Directed by Nahnatchka Khan
pg-13 101m
Netflix has been making rom-coms for as long as it’s been making original content, but it didn’t strike gold until Always Be My Maybe. Starring Ali Wong and Randall Park (with hilarious support from Keanu Reeves and Daniel Dae Kim), the film explores the evolution of friendship across a lifetime. Marcus (Park) and Sasha (Wong) are lifelong friends who have never been romantic. Marcus, however, has been in love with Sasha for many years and when she’s finally single, he musters up the courage to ask her out. Naturally, she met someone the night before. Missed connections and what-ifs characterize this feel-good romp about the boundaries of love and friendship.

Private Life (2018)

Private Life
Genre Drama, Comedy
Stars Kathryn Hahn, Paul Giamatti, Kayli Carter
Directed by Tamara Jenkins
r 123m
Netflix ventures into R-rated prestige territory with Tamara Jenkins’ Private Life. Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn star as a middle-aged couple desperate to start a family who just can’t seem to get it right no matter how hard they try. With hope dwindling, they turn to a niece as a final home run swing. The film debuted at Sundance and received rave reviews before Netflix acquired and repackaged it for streaming. With outstanding performances from Giamatti and former SNL-er Hahn, it’s a roller coaster of emotions that will make you both laugh and cry.

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle (2018)

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle
Genre Adventure, Drama
Stars Rohan Chand, Christian Bale, Andy Serkis
Directed by Andy Serkis
pg-13 105m
Although Disney and Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book got more attention, there were actually two live-action adaptations of Rudyard Kipling’s famous book between 2016 and 2018. And, believe it or not, Netflix’s Mowgli is worth your time. Directed by CGI wizard Andy Serkis and featuring an all-star cast of Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Naomie Harris, and Serkis himself, Mowgli doesn’t shy away from some of the scarier, darker elements of The Jungle Book. A more PG-13 approach to the source material, the Tiger Shere Khan is genuinely terrifying and Serkis’s deft handling of the animation makes for an intense, high-octane thrill ride that’s as beautiful as it is violent.

The King (2019)

The King
Genre Drama, History, War
Stars Timothée Chalamet, Joel Edgerton, Sean Harris
Directed by David Michôd
r 140m
David Michod’s prestige drama, The King, depicts Hal, the Prince of Wales (Timothee Chalamet) as he is reluctantly hoisted to the English throne. Having chosen to live among the people, Hal has no interest in assuming the throne but, after the death of his tyrannical father, King Henry IV, Hal is nonetheless crowned and forced to embrace the life he tried to escape. Of course, this being 16th-century England, there are murky, dangerous waters of war and politics to navigate. An adaptation of the Henriad plays, this visually-profound film is dripping with intrigue and action, keeping you on the edge of your seat throughout.

The Irishman (2019)

The Irishman
Genre Crime, Drama, History
Stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci
Directed by Martin Scorsese
r 209m
It may take a few sittings to get through the entirety of The Irishman given the length, but it’s worth the investment. Unlike some Netflix films, this one also made a theatrical run, a clear gambit to earn recognition from the Academy during awards season. Given the people involved, however, you’d have to be mad not to go for awards recognition. Directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci — all de-aged using bleeding-edge CGI — this film is like an acting class on steroids. De Niro plays Frank Sheeran, a truck driver in Philadelphia who gets involved with the mob only to work his way up to becoming legendary gangster Jimmy Hoffa’s (Pacino) right-hand man. Part gangster epic, part historical expose on the influence of the Teamsters union and the mob on American politics, The Irishman is yet another extraordinary bullet on Scorsese’s resume.

Beasts of No Nation (2015)

Beasts of No Nation
Genre Drama, War
Stars Abraham Attah, Idris Elba, Emmanuel Nii Adom Quaye
Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga
r 137m
Cary Fukunaga (True Detective) wrote, co-produced, and directed this drama based on the 2005 novel of the same name by Uzodinma Iweala. The film follows Agu (Abraham Attah), a young West African boy who finds himself unwillingly conscripted into an army of children under the fist of a ruthless Commandant (Idris Elba). Beasts pulls no punches, depicting horrific scenes of violence unflinchingly, and does an incredible job making us empathize with Agu — even as he and his contemporaries are murdering their own countrymen in cold blood. Elba conveys a sense of quiet intensity, channeling religious fanaticism and calm determination in equal measure for a masterful performance (one which earned him a SAG award), and Fukunaga’s sharply contrasting direction effectively mirror’s Agu’s descent into militaristic hedonism. Beasts qualifies as Netflix’s first big feature hit, forecasting many more to come.

Tallulah (2016)

Genre Drama
Directed by Siân Heder
Cast Elliot Page, Allison Janney, Tammy Blanchard
Tallulah is a low-stakes dramedy carried by an impressive cast who imbues the film with a sense of authenticity. When petty thief Tallulah (Ellen Page) finds her partner in crime has gone missing, she heads to New York in pursuit, but ends up impulsively abducting a small child before ending up at the apartment of her partner’s mother, Margo (Allison Janney). The movie focuses primarily on the relationship between ‘Lu’ and Margo, as both women work to overcome their personal problems while Lu tries to hide the child’s true identity. Meanwhile, Tammy Blanchard is excellent as the child’s mother, who’s too concerned with herself to truly feel worried about her missing kid. The movie never quite feels as lived-in as some of our favorite indie films, but Tallulah is full of heart, and its two leads are phenomenal.

Imperial Dreams (2014)

Imperial Dreams
Genre Drama
Directed by Malik Vitthal
Cast John Boyega, Glenn Plummer, De'Aundre Bonds
Imperial Dreams premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, winning the Audience Award, but didn’t see the light of day until appearing on Netflix’s digital shelves in early 2017. John Boyega (Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi) plays Bambi, a young felon who returns to the treacherous Imperial Courts apartments of Watts, Los Angeles after being released from prison. Bambi must care for his son, Daytone, whose life has fallen into chaos after Bambi’s girlfriend (Keke Palmer) is sent to jail. Meanwhile, Bambi must balance his own passions to be a writer against the demands of his old crew, who want his services as a drug mule. Director Malik Vitthal, born and raised in L.A., wanted to contrast the life of a father against the life of a gangster to show that the two lifestyles are not mutually exclusive. For Star Wars fans, it’s just fun to see Boyega in a much different, more nuanced role.

Gerald's Game (2017)

Gerald's Game
Genre Horror, Thriller
Directed by Mike Flanagan
Cast Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Henry Thomas
There’s nothing hotter than Stephen King books getting adaptations right now. Compared to big-budget blockbusters It and The Dark TowerGerald’s Game might be easy to overlook — especially as a Netflix production that never even saw the inside of a theater. Still, it’s one of the best of the bunch, eschewing set-piece action and CGI scares in favor of more psychological horror. In the film, based on King’s eponymous novel, middle-aged couple Gerald and Jessie Burlingame retreat to a remote Maine cabin to rekindle their relationship. When Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) handcuffs Jessie (Carla Gugino) to the bed and then dies of a heart attack, Jessie begins to hallucinate, unable to free herself from shackles both physical and otherwise. Gugino’s performance is extraordinary, a career-defining turn loaded with emotion and genuinely unsettling realism.

First They Killed My Father (2017)

First They Killed My Father
Genre War, Drama, History
Directed by Angelina Jolie
Cast Sareum Srey Moch, Phoeung Kompheak, Sveng Socheata
tv-ma’s Matt Zoller Seitz has reviewed countless movies, so when he calls First They Killed My Father “as fine a war movie as has ever been made,” you know it’s worth watching. Directed by Angelina Jolie, the film — set in 1975 Cambodia — follows 7-year-old Ung (Sreymoch Sareum), who is forced into service as a child soldier for the Khmer Rouge while the rest of her family are imprisoned or killed. Jolie’s work behind the camera is sparkling, with serene, rose-tinted scenes of dreams or flashbacks in sharp contrast against the brutal reality that Ung suffers through. First They Killed My Father is a somber affair, one with more concern for the actions on screen than the greater political implications of the conflict. That reduced sense of scale helps to vivify Ung’s story and effectively home in on the emotions and (horrifying) events that shaped her experience.

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (2017)

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Genre Comedy, Drama
Directed by Noah Baumbach
Cast Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman
If you browse Netflix often (and we’re betting you do, because who doesn’t?), you’ve no doubt found yourself confronted by several new Adam Sandler projects like The Ridiculous Six or Sandy Wexler, which are classic Sandler vehicles reliant on goofy, lowbrow humor. The Meyerowitz Stories is far different, an understated, thoughtful dramedy that explores the relationship between a retired artist (Dustin Hoffman) and his dysfunctional children (Sandler, Ben Stiller, Elizabeth Marvel). When unemployed, recently separated Danny (Sandler) moves back in with his dad, he must contend with his frustrating whims amidst increasingly strained family dynamics. Director Noah Baumbach (The Squid and The Whale) imbues the film with an almost Royal Tenenbaums-esque sense of surrealism but weighs it back down with the all-too-real stresses and issues its characters face.

Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond - Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton (2017)

Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond - Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton
Genre Documentary, Comedy
Directed by Chris Smith
Cast Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Miloš Forman
You might at first feel skeptical about the idea of a Netflix documentary about a documentary, but trust us: Jim & Andy manages to be just as engrossing as Man on the Moon, and perhaps even more so. Like Andy Kaufman’s manically method performances as Tony Clifton, Carrey relates his experience during the filming of Man on the Moon as one of complete and total immersion, which is shown to be true in the many hilarious (and often uncomfortable) backstage videos depicting Carrey in character as Kaufman or Clifton. Carrey’s dedication was such that his portrayal of Kaufman became even more absurd and odd than Kaufman himself, and he was curiously far more combative than Kaufman, especially while interacting with wrestler Jerry “The King” Lawler. Director Chris Smith excellently cuts footage of Carrey’s on-set antics against modern-day interviews, showing the great lengths to which Carrey went for the film.

Icarus (2017)

Genre Documentary
Directed by Bryan Fogel
Cast Bryan Fogel, Dave Zabriskie, Don Catlin
Director Bryan Fogel (Jewtopia) set out to make a unique film about the world of cycling, then ended up with something completely different. To learn more about doping in sports, Fogel began taking cycling steroids and performance-enhancing drugs to improve his ability while trying to avoid discovery by sport officials. Then, Fogel’s star interviewee — Russian doctor Grigory Rodchenkov — reveals his part in a program designed to hide Russian athletes’ drug use from the Olympic committee and other governing bodies. Thereafter, Rodchenkov makes some bold claims about Russian leadership’s involvement in the program, and even fears for his life after a colleague dies mysteriously. Icarus morphs seamlessly from a doping doc into a thriller, with Fogel sliding knowingly out of the spotlight to push Rodchenkov as the story’s centerpiece. The whole film operates in morally gray areas, and Fogel smartly hides his hand there, avoiding any grand claims to the moral high (or low) ground.

I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore (2017)

I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
Genre Comedy, Crime, Drama, Thriller
Directed by Macon Blair
Cast Melanie Lynskey, Elijah Wood, David Yow
In I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (snappy title, right?), Ruth (Melanie Lynskey) is having a rough go of things. She’s had to deal with racist old people, insensitive drivers, and home invaders, and she’s finally decided enough is enough. So, Ruth recruits her eccentric neighbor (Elijah Wood) and sets out to find the jerks who broke into her house for some good, old-fashioned revenge. The movie is a diverse mash-up of genres and film styles, veering from comedy to drama to thriller in the span of a few minutes, but thanks to Lynskey’s impressively relatable performance and consistent presence throughout, it never becomes confusing or disjointed. When I Don’t Feel at Home is at its darkest, it’s also at its best, but it never gets too depressing to enjoy.

The Battered Bastards of Baseball (2014)

The Battered Bastards of Baseball
Genre Documentary
Directed by Chapman Way, Maclain Way
Cast Kurt Russell, Todd Field, Jim Bouton
One of the first feature-length films released as a Netflix original, The Battered Bastards of Baseball tells the story of the Portland Mavericks, a unique minor-league baseball team that played independently — that is, not affiliated with any major league franchise — during the 1970s. Bing Russell (father of Kurt and a huge baseball fan) bought the team in 1973 for pennies on the dollar, and proceeded to hold open tryouts, hiring Kurt on as both VP and designated hitter. Somehow, the ragtag team managed to stay competitive while leading a collective lifestyle reminiscent of Bull Durham, led in part by ex-Yankee Jim Bouton, whose 1970 tell-all book Ball Four laid bare many dugout tales and engineered his exile from the major leagues. A combination of interviews, archival footage, and training films produced by the Russells help to make this one of the most entertaining and unique sports documentaries you’ll ever see.

Okja (2017)

Genre Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction, Action
Directed by Bong Joon-ho
Cast Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Seo-hyun Ahn, Jake Gyllenhaal, Devon Bostick, Lily Collins, Steven Yuen
Kid-focused pet movies are a dime a dozen, but Okja offers a little more in the way of grown-up themes; in fact, we wouldn’t recommend it for small children at all. In the face of overpopulation and dwindling resource pools, the Mirando corporation — led by neurotic CEO Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) — develops a “super pig,” sending these huge hippo-like creatures to farmers across the world for a ten-year maturation process, at the end of which a Best Pig will be named. One of these pigs, Okja, is sent to the South Korean countryside, where young Mija (the excellent Ahn Seo-hyun) has grown up alongside it. When the ten years are up, Mirando arrives to collect Okja, and Mija takes off with the animal. On the way to New York, Mija encounters a varied, colorful cast of characters including a crazy Steve Irwin-type (Jake Gyllenhaal) and some odd animal rights activists (Paul Dano, Steven Yeung). The film is at times both horrifying and heartwarming, underscoring the serious chops of director Bong Joon-ho (The Host).

What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)

What Happened, Miss Simone?
Genre Music, Documentary
Directed by Liz Garbus
Cast Nina Simone, Lisa Simone, Dick Gregory
Nina Simone was one of the most iconic voices of the 20th century. Her awe-inspiring vocals blended to fit a host of genres— from the blues to R&B to pop. Veteran biopic documentarian Liz Garbus (Love, Marilyn, Bobby Fischer Against The World) created this documentary. Garbus dug deep into her experience with film production and collected a breathtaking collection of interview recordings, diary excerpts, performance footage, and much more to reflect a stunning and real image of Simone. Simone’s extensive contributions to the arts and the fight for racial equality are represented in the film. The movie shadows Simone’s life, starting with her upbringing in North Carolina. Viewers see her early, and unsparing talents were often brushed under the rug and diminished because of her gender and skin color. Instead of turning to modern musicians to speak on Simone’s legacy— which is vast and likely would’ve drawn quite a large viewership— Garbus sticks to her guns and focuses Simone at the center of her own story. Nina has the chance to show us who she is. This documentary is worth the watch, even if you don’t know Nina Simone.

Virunga (2014)

Genre Documentary, War
Directed by Orlando von Einsiedel
Cast André Bauma, Emmanuel de Merode, Mélanie Gouby
Virunga is a documentary that grips you from the beginning and holds you captive until the final moments. The story is about a group of people who are risking their lives to protect and build a hopeful future for an area of Africa that has been long overlooked. The filmmakers, and executive producer Leonardo Dicaprio, explore the depths of the Virunga National Park in the eastern Congo throughout the film. The forested park is home to the last mountain gorillas left in the world. It’s also home to a team of people who are giving everything to protect the land from poachers, armed militia, and people willing to sacrifice the land for their own personal gain. When rebel group M23 declares war, everyone (including the filmmakers) gets caught at the center of an explosive story. Virunga is an incredible, unflinching, and honest look at the brave individuals who are risking everything to protect this National Park, and doubles as an in-depth look at the realities of life in the Congo.

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