The best Netflix original movies

Netflix’s Mank may not have won the Best Picture Award at the Oscars, but it was one of the most nominated films of the year. It’s also emblematic of the quality behind some of Netflix’s original movies. Long before HBO Max, Disney+, and an array of rival streamers came along, Netflix prepared for the day when its own content would have to carry the platform. That’s why Netflix is still the king of the mountain, with a dazzling lineup of flicks that won’t ever be leaving for another streaming service. There are so many Netflix originals that it can be hard to find the cream of the crop. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best Netflix original movies that you can stream right now.

Further reading:

Moxie

Moxie (2021)

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).

Rotten Tomatoes: 70%
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Stars: Amy Poehler, Hadley Robinson, Lauren Tsai, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Nico Hiraga, Sydney Park, Josephine Langford
Director: Amy Poehler
Rating:
PG-13
Runtime:
111 minutes

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Below Zero

Below Zero (2021)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Genre: Action
Stars: Javier Gutiérrez, Karra Elejalde, Luis Callejo, Andrés Gertrúdix, Isak Férriz
Director: Lluís Quílez
Rating:
TV-MA
Runtime:
106 minutes

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Space Sweepers

Space Sweepers (2021)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Genre: Sci-fi
Stars: Song Joong-ki, Kim Tae-ri, Jin Seon-kyu, Yoo Hae-jin
Director: Jo Sung-hee
Rating:
TV-MA
Runtime:
136 minutes

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Over the Moon

Over the Moon (2020)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Genre: Sci-fi, Fantasy, Musical
Stars: Cathy Ang, Phillipa Soo, Ken Jeong, John Cho, Ruthie Ann Miles, Margaret Cho
Director: Glen Keane
Rating:
PG
Runtime:
100 minutes

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Concrete Cowboy

Concrete Cowboy (2021)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Idris Elba, Caleb McLaughlin, Jharrel Jerome
Director: Ricky Staub
Rating:
R
Runtime:
111 minutes

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Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Genre: Music, History, Drama
Stars: Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Glynn Turman
Director: George C. Wolfe
Rating:
R
Runtime:
94 minutes

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Rosamund Pike in I Care A Lot

I Care a Lot (2021)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Genre: Mystery And Thriller, Comedy
Stars: Rosamund Pike, Dianne Wiest, Peter Dinklage
Director: J Blakeson
Rating:
R
Runtime:
118 minutes

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Mank (2020)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Stars: Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins
Director: David Fincher
Rating:
R
Runtime:
132 minutes

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Lana Condor and Noah Centineo in All the Boys 3

To All The Boys: Always and Forever (2021)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Stars: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Janel Parrish
Director: Michael Fimognari
Rating:
PG-13
Runtime:
109 minutes

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The Dig

The Dig (2021)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Genre: Drama, Historical
Stars: Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, Lily James, Johnny Flynn
Director: Simon Stone
Rating:
PG-13
Runtime:
112 minutes

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The White Tiger, best Netflix originals

The White Tiger (2021)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Adarsh Gourav, Rajkummar Rao, Priyanka Chopra Jonas
Director: Ramin Bahrani
Rating:
R
Runtime:
125 minutes

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Finding 'Ohana

Finding ‘Ohana (2021)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Genre: Adventure, Family
Stars: Kea Peahu, Alex Aiono, Lindsay Watson, Owen Vaccaro
Director: Jude Weng
Rating:
PG
Runtime:
123 minutes

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Pieces of a Woman

Pieces of a Woman (2020)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Molly Parker, Sarah Snook
Director: Kornél Mundruczó
Rating:
R
Runtime:
128 minutes

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The Trial of the Chicago 7

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Genre: Drama, Historical
Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Alex Sharp, Sacha Baron Cohen
Director: Aaron Sorkin
Rating:
R
Runtime:
129 minutes

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Lara Condor and Noah Centineo in All the Boys I've Loved Part Two

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

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Stars: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, John Corbett
Director: Susan Johnson
Rating:
TV-14
Runtime:
99 minutes

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Enola Holmes on Netflix

Enola Holmes (2020)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Genre: Mystery & Thriller, Comedy
Stars: Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Helena Bonham Carter
Director: Harry Bradbeer
Rating:
TV-14
Runtime:
123 minutes

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The Platform on Netflix

The Platform (2019)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Genre: Mystery & Thriller, Sci-Fi
Stars: Emilio Buale, Ivan Massagué, Antonia San Juan
Director: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Rating:
TV-MA
Runtime:
94 minutes

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Cuties

Cuties (2020)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Stars: Fathia Youssouf Abdillahi, Medina El Aidi, Esther Gohourou
Director: Maïmouna Doucouré
Rating:
TV-MA
Runtime:
96 minutes

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Jamie Foxx in Project Power

Project Power (2020)

Netflix’s newest foray into the superhero genre, Project Power has a darker twist than your average Marvel movie. New Orleans is being ravaged by a new drug that’s mysteriously flooded the market. The problem: It gives users temporary superpowers. Another problem: The users have no idea what their superpowers are until they start using them. Some people might turn invisible, some might spit fire. It’s chaos. Now, an ex-soldier, a cop, and a teenager will collide in their mutual hunt for the source behind the pill, known as Project Power. But to get to the bottom of it, they may just have to use the pill themselves.

Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
Genre: Action & Adventure
Stars: Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dominique Fishback
Director: Mattson Tomlin
Rating:
R
Runtime: 
111 minutes

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The Old Guard

The Old Guard (2020)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Genre: Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Stars: Charlize Theron, Chiwetel Ejiofor, KiKi Layne
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Rating:
R
Runtime: 
125 minutes

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Extraction

Extraction (2020)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure
Stars: Chris Hemsworth, David Harbour, Derek Luke
Director: Sam Hargrave
Rating:
R
Runtime: 
116 minutes

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Dolemite Is My Name

Dolemite Is My Name (2019)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Wesley Snipes, Keegan Michael-Key
Director: Craig Brewer
Rating:
R
Runtime: 
118 minutes

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Marriage Story on Netflix

Marriage Story (2019)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern
Director: Noah Baumbach
Rating:
R
Runtime: 
136 minutes

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Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce in The Two Popes

The Two Popes (2019)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Pryce
Director: Fernando Meirelles
Rating:
PG-13
Runtime: 
125 minutes

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The Babysitter Netflix movie

The Babysitter (2017)

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!

Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Genre: Horror
Stars: Bella Thorne, Judah Lewis, Hana Mae Lee
Director: Brian Duffield
Rating:
NR
Runtime:
90 minutes

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Between Two Ferns The Movie

Between Two Ferns: The Movie (2019)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Genre: Comedy
Stars: Zach Galifianakis, Lauren Lapkus, Ryan Gaul
Director: Scott Aukerman
Rating
: TV-MA
Runtime:
82 minutes

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Oscar Isaac and Ben Affleck in Triple Frontier

Triple Frontier (2019)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure
Stars: Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Oscar Isaac
Director: J.C. Chandor
Rating:
R
Runtime: 
125 minutes

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Always Be My Maybe on Netflix

Always Be My Maybe (2019)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Genre: Comedy
Stars: Ali Wong, Randall Park, Keanu Reeves
Director: Nahnatchka Khan
Rating:
PG-13
Runtime: 
102 minutes

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Private Life on Netflix

Private Life (2018)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Paul Giamatti, Kathryn Hahn
Director: Tamara Jenkins
Rating:
R
Runtime: 
123 minutes

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Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle on Netflix

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle (2018)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 53%
Genre: Action & Adventure
Stars: Rohan Chand, Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale
Director: Andy Serkis
Rating:
PG-13
Runtime: 
104 minutes

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Netflix movie The King

The King (2019)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Genre: Comedy
Stars: Timothee Chalamet, Joel Edgerton, Ben Mendelsohn, Sean Harris, Robert Pattinson
Director: David Michôd
Rating:
R
Runtime: 
133 minutes

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The Irishman Production Still

The Irishman (2019)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci
Director: Martin Scorsese
Rating:
R
Runtime:
209 minutes

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Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation on Netflix

Beasts of No Nation (2015)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Idris Elba, Abraham Attah
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Rating:
R
Runtime: 
120 minutes

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Ellen Page in Tallulah, on Netflix

Tallulah (2016)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Ellen Page, Allison Janney, Uzo Aduba
Director: Sian Heder
Rating:
TV-MA
Runtime: 
111 minutes

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John Boyega in Imperial Dreams

Imperial Dreams (2014)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Drama
Stars: John Boyega, Keke Palmer, Glenn Plummer
Director: Mark Vitthal
Rating:
TV-MA
Runtime:
87 minutes

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Gerald's Game on Netflix

Gerald’s Game (2017)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Genre: Drama, Horror
Stars: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood
Director: Mike Flanagan
Rating:
TV-MA
Runtime: 
103 minutes

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First They Killed My Father on Netflix

First They Killed My Father (2017)

Rogerebert.com’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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Sreymoch Sareum, Phoeung Kompheak, Sveng Socheata
Director: Angelina Jolie
Rating:
TV-MA
Runtime: 
100 minutes

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The Meyerowitz Stories

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (2017)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Stars: Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman
Director: Noah Baumbach
Rating:
TV-MA
Runtime: 
100 minutes

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Jim Carrey in Jim And Andy: The Great Beyond

Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (2017)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Genre: Documentary
Stars: Jim Carrey, Andy Kaufman
Director: Chris Smith
Rating:
TV-MA
Runtime:
94 minutes

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Icarus (2017)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Genre: Documentary
Stars: Bryan Fogel, Grigory Rodchenkov
Director: Bryan Fogel
Rating:
TV-MA
Runtime:
110 minutes

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I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore

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

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Genre: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Stars: Elijah Wood, Melanie Lynskey
Director: Macon Blair
Rating:
TV-MA
Runtime:
96 minutes

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The Battered Bastards of Baseball

The Battered Bastards of Baseball (2014)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Genre: Documentary
Stars: Maclain Way, Chapman Way
Director: Chris Smith
Rating:
TV-MA
Runtime:
80 minutes

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Okja on Netflix

Okja (2017)

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).

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Stars: An Seo Hyun, Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Rating:
TV-MA
Runtime:
118 minutes

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What Happened, Miss Simone?

What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Genre: Documentary
Stars: Nina Simone
Director: Liz Garbus
Rating:
TV-MA
Runtime:
102 minutes

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Virunga on Netflix

Virunga (2014)

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.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Genre: Documentary
Director: Orlando Von Einsiedel
Rating:
TV-MA
Runtime:
90 minutes

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