Ranking All the Netflix Original Movies (51-100)
The governing principle behind this website has always been, “Well, I did this, so I might as well document it.”
I think we’ve established by now that I watch ostensibly everything that matters each year (in terms of American feature releases). And that now includes an ever-increasing number of Netflix movies. I think they put out something like 60 movies last year. And, as is my credo, if I’m watching them all, why not document it?
This isn’t a definitive ranking by any stretch. It’s a combination of how much I liked the movies mixed with how well I think they personify the “brand” of the Netflix Original, whatever that is. Mostly I just wanna recommend some cool stuff to you that you may be overlooking. Because the way the Netflix model works is, unless it hits the zeitgeist like Bird Box or The Kissing Booth, it just gets absorbed into the ether and after two weeks (if not immediately), people forget about them and never get around to watching them even if they thought they looked interesting. They just fall away under the pile of newer, shinier toys. So hopefully, with my doing this, maybe it’ll get some eyeballs on some of the really cool stuff that’s there.
I will also say (because it has to be said) — it’s vague as to what constitutes a Netflix Original film. I generally use Wikipedia as a guide, because Netflix has never put out an official list, and it’s impossible to use their site to figure it out. But also, some of the stuff on Wikipedia’s list are foreign films no one in America has heard of, and some other stuff that we all clearly think of as a Netflix movie isn’t. Here’s one: Annihilation. Netflix movie or not? It was released day-and-date everywhere in the world except the U.S., where it played in theaters for over a month before going on Netflix. Hard to see that as a proper Netflix Original. Though by that rationale, Roma wouldn’t count, because they released it into theaters first. But that was clearly for Oscar purposes. It was always meant to be on the platform. It’s all up for debate, so I just kinda went with what made sense. So the rules are my own and I’ve decided what I think counts. The point is: shut up and let’s just celebrate the cool movies that are here. Cool? Cool.
(Note: I’m only planning to update these articles every few months. The next update is gonna be as we approach 175 movies.)
100. Death Note
Anyone who’s watched the anime feels like this should go much lower. And maybe that’s true. But I’ve never watched it, and all I knew about this was that a kid had a notebook where, if he wrote someone’s name down in it, they died. So yeah, I’m sure they fucked up the character arc and changed things and fucked up other characters and made it shitty, but for someone who knew nothing about it… it’s just kind of a decently watchable movie that I’m never gonna need to see again. That’s the epitome of the Netflix movie, by and large.
The production values and the actors involved make this watchable, but if you at all care about the sanctity of the story and want to see the best version of it… this is not the way to go. (Also it’s another nail in the coffin of Adam Wingard as a promising filmmaker, but that’s a discussion for another article.)
99. The Princess Switch
This is the first of the Netflix Christmas movies that started tying the universe together. She literally watches one of the other ones on TV in the middle of the movie.
But anyway, this is Vanessa Hudgens playing twins. Or rather, two women who aren’t related but look identical. One is about to be the princess of a fictional nation and the other is a cook who wants more. So they agree to swap identities for the day (a sort of Prince and the Pauper), and of course each falls in love with the other’s love interest… you know the deal.
It’s pure Hallmark movie stuff, and it’s pretty down the middle as far as these Christmas movies go. Some are awful, some are halfway decent… this one’s just kind of at the median. It’s got moments, but otherwise is just kinda there.
98. 6 Balloons
The thing that saves this movie for me is the fact that it’s only 70 minutes long. Any longer and it would have gone lower than this.
It’s about Dave Franco as a heroin addict who relapses and his sister, Abbi Jacobsen, who is tired of his shit but decides to help him enough to get him into rehab.
The shortness of the film helps make it watchable, but I can’t say it was anything particularly special. Watch it if you want.
97. Come Sunday
Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as a preacher who begins to preach that there is no Hell. And of course, all the people who are too into religion can’t stand it. (It’s like when people get too into TV shows, and decide they know what’s best for the characters in the final season.) So it’s about his struggle and ostracizing by his own church for preaching something different.
It’s well-made and Ejiofor is solid, but this isn’t anything more than a run-of-the-mill Netflix movie.
High school teen dramedy. Four friends deal with their impending graduation and what it means for the future. You’ve seen it before, it’s very much of the time (they smoke weed and use social media), and it’s really only remotely interesting because the cast is kind of interesting.
It almost goes too far — making these problems out to be bigger than they actually are, having the mindset of “we’re 18, the world is our oyster,” all that shit I can’t stand in these movies — but ultimately it’s just fine. If this is your genre, you’ll see if, if it’s not, it’s nothing you need to seek out.
95. Girlfriend’s Day
I don’t know what this movie is or wants to be, but this is, to me, exactly what Netflix as a platform is there for.
Bob Odenkirk stars in a neo-noir dark comedy about mystery and murder involving greeting card writers. That’s right. He plays a master greeting card writer whose divorce prevents him from writing the captions he once could. Then the governor creates a new holiday and the two feuding greeting card companies get involved in all sorts of corporate espionage and murder in order to be the one to create “the perfect card.”
Sounds weird, right? It is. And that’s why I like it. Because this is a movie that would never have had a home if not for this platform. Is it great? No. Is it watchable? Sure. Is it very admirable? Absolutely. And it’s only 70 minutes, so it’s a breeze.
94. Been So Long
Another movie that would never have had a platform or gotten any sort of traction with viewers if it weren’t on the platform. This is a British rom com with an all-black cast. And I’m here for it. It’s also part musical.
This is the kind of movie that I like watching. Because it’s different, it’s charming, and it’s the kind of thing I can go, “You know, this is a filmmaker who deserves more praise and work.”
This is the kind of movie that no one will ever watch, but is well-written, well-acted and has a big heart that it wears on its sleeve. I’d say this is worth seeing over a great percentage of the stuff that’s out there.
This was one of the first movies they put out. An indie drama with Ellen Page as a homeless (by choice. She travels the country in a van) woman who becomes a nanny to an infant child whose mother doesn’t really want to be a mother. It takes a lot of indie turns, and it’s mostly about how they execute it rather than any sorts of twists and turns… but I will say, there is a moment right at the end of the film that does take it to a different place, and I appreciated it.
Otherwise, middle-of-the-road. Solid enough performances, and it’s the kind of movie that would have been at Sundance, gone VOD and never been seen. At least now, some people might find it because it’s on the platform forever.
92. Good Sam
I was surprised at how okay this was for me. Standard rom com, with about the same production values as those Christmas movies. Honestly I’m surprised this didn’t end up as part of that universe.
Ambitious reporter who works the murder/disaster beat gets grounded after being a bit too close to a warehouse fire. She gets put on the case of a mysterious stranger who leaves bags filled with $100,000 on the doorsteps of complete strangers. She thinks it’s dumb, but pretty soon she gets caught up in the story (as does all of the city), as well as two men who are trying to date her (one a hedge fund manager who works with her father and the other a hot fireman).
It’s totally watchable in every way. It’s actually kind of regressive in its narrative, to the point where you can see things coming from miles away. But honestly, it’s just fine. I found myself being more engaged than I expected. And honestly, sometimes you just need comfort food. And this is that kind of movie.
Biopic of young Barack Obama. Pre-Michelle, back when he was dating a white woman. Kind of forgotten once there was a hit TV show with the same name. It’s decent enough. Not overly peppered with moments of foreshadowing. Mainly just a movie about a dude. Honestly, if you forget it’s Obama, you just kind of watch it as a romance.
Not the best Netflix has to offer, but there are far worse options out there.
90. Rim of the World
This is like if they watered down Stranger Things and made it as a straight to VOD movie that could play in China. Everything about this feels manufactured. Yet… actually kind of okay.
Premise is, a bunch of kids (all stereotypes you’d see on a Nickelodeon show) go to some kids camp in Big Bear. Only, aliens attack. And they come in possession of a key that could help save the whole world, and they have to get from there to JPL in Pasadena. So it’s kids traveling and trying not to be killed by aliens.
While it does feel like it’s trying to be other things (and as someone said to me, “Stranger Things is already a watered down version of something else”), there are moments that made me go, “Oh, that’s actually kind of cool.” There are a few shots and instances that felt better than I would have expected out of something like this. Of course, that is balanced by a lot of cringeworthy moments. But it’s middle-of-the-road Netflix. I’m not expecting anything more than occasionally interesting but for the most part just watchable if you turn your brain off.
89. The Babysitter
Directed by McG. But wait, hear me out. It’s not awful.
This, in its own way, is a perfect Netflix movie. Boy has a crush on his babysitter. Boy sneaks out after bedtime to get a glimpse of the babysitter and her friends doing “adult” stuff. Turns out, they’re performing a satanic ritual and now he’s in trouble.
It’s a fun concept, and the execution is perfectly in line with what you would expect out of Netflix. Well worth seeing, and entertaining in a “I saw this on cable and was amused” kind of way.
Duncan Jones’ followup to Warcraft. Most people thought of this as a huge bomb and a major disappointment. I would more accurately categorize this as something that was really ambitious that doesn’t hit the mark of what it’s aiming for. This feels like it was better served as a graphic novel first, and then edited down into a movie.
It’s a futuristic society, and it stars a mute bartender (Alexander Skarsgard) who goes looking for his friend once she goes missing. So it’s got that noir mystery kind of story along with the weird turns of pop sci-fi.
Perhaps the best review of this was by a friend, who said it was like “if MTV made Blade Runner.” Which is about right. It’s not bad… it’s just unfocused and doesn’t get into all the things it wants to get into. It’s a disappointment if you have high hopes for the director, but if you just took this on its own terms, not knowing who made it, it’s a perfectly reasonable and watchable movie. The kind you expect to get out of Netflix.
Stephen King adaptation that is basically The Tell-Tale Heart but in a cornfield. Guy (along with his son) murders his wife to inherit the land, and things (mainly guilt) prevent it from going as smoothly as he anticipates.
It’s perfectly watchable. The quintessential 3-star movie. It goes exactly where you expect it to and there aren’t really any surprises here whatsoever. Mostly it reminds you, “Hey, Thomas Jane is a good actor. I feel like I barely see him in stuff.”
I remember the weekend this came out, it got the vaunted 0% on Rotten Tomatoes and people called this a huge piece of shit. I don’t know what they saw, because to me this was perfectly fine.
Here’s the premise — guy abducts a woman and two other people. They are locked in a smart house controlled by a futuristic AI. The woman befriends the AI in the hopes that eventually it will help her escape. So it’s like The Collector (great movie, by the way) with HAL 9000.
Perfectly watchable, and it’s got some nice moments in it. I don’t see the problem people had with this one.
85. The Fundamentals of Caring
One of the very first Netflix movies. And it’s one of those “Fault in Our Stars,” overly sappy kind of movies. It’s like The Fault in Our Stars meets The Intouchables. Paul Rudd is an ex-con who becomes caretaker to a disabled kid. The kid refuses all sorts of care and of course likes Rudd because he has no idea what he’s doing. So it’s basically The Intouchables. But the kid is a teen, so it’s got that Fault in Our Stars, “I wanna do shit before I die” thing going on as well.
It’s perfectly decent. You know what you’re getting, and the only question is whether or not you like that sort of thing.
A movie with a good premise: guy is in the middle of the zombie apocalypse with his infant and gets bitten. So now he’s gotta find a home for this child before he turns into a zombie.
It was expanded from a short, and because of that, I feel like it doesn’t remotely get into all the interesting aspects of the premise. It’s a pretty straightforward movie, to its own detriment. It’s totally watchable and fits what I consider to be a “Netflix movie,” but with a premise like that, at least my personal hope would have been that it did something more interesting than it does.
83. Small Crimes
Interesting little adult drama, the kind of which would get released in 1-3 theaters for a few weeks and then disappear to VOD, never to be seen again.
It stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldeau as a corrupt cop just out of prison for attacking a mob witness while on the take. So now he’s out and trying to restart his life and start over, but of course can’t because everyone around him won’t let him. That classic “ex-con” story. Very watchable with a good cast that includes Robert Forster, Jacki Weaver, Macon Blair and Gary Cole. It’s worth it if you like these sorts of movies.
82. What Happened to Monday?
The only real appeal to this movie is that Noomi Rapace plays seven different characters. Basically, they’re all clones, and each has the name of a day of the week. It’s a futuristic society where they monitor how many children a family has. So because there are seven of them, each one is only allowed to go out on their assigned day of the week. And it’s about (naturally) what happens when one of them goes missing and the others have to find out what happened without letting the government find out how many of them there are.
This is the kind of movie that’s perfect for Neflix. It’s never gonna be considered a masterpiece, but it’s got enough delights to entertain someone looking for a good piece of entertainment in the amorphous mass that is Netflix content.
81. Special Correspondants
I believe this is one of the first five Netflix movies to come out. Written and directed by Ricky Gervais, who also stars with Eric Bana as a newsman and his soundman who are sent on assignment to cover a potential uprising in Ecuador. Problem is, through various comedic conceits, they lose their passports. So they do the next best thing: hide out and fake their reports. Naturally, comedy ensues.
It’s decent. Not overly amazing, but also completely watchable. It’s definitely the median of what to expect out of Netflix movies.
80. Take the 10
It’s a madcap comedy. The kind you don’t see anymore that are making a bit of a comeback because Netflix is a home to these sorts of films. It’s two friends — one a grocery store manager trying to make something of his life and the other a drug dealer and fuck-up — who try to get tickets to a big concert, but end up on a big chase with gangsters and police and stuff like that.
It’s the kind of movie you’d have seen in the late 90s that was trying to rip off Tarantino. Now, it feels like a throwback kinda movie. Not great, but perfectly acceptable, and the kind of movie you go for if you want mindless entertainment and think the cast is ineresting.
How Alfre Got Her Groove Back. Is basically what this is. Alfre Woodard’s husband adapted a book specifically for her to star in and remind us that she’s great. There are worse premises to a Netflix movie.
It’s a movie you’ve seen before — woman fed up with her life just goes away and travels around to reinvent herself and start new. It’s fine. It’s got some interesting magical realism moments going on in there and while it doesn’t do anything particularly special, it does have enough flair to it to make me go, “I appreciate they tried to do something different” rather than just cast it aside, as I likely would have done if it didn’t try the interesting stuff it did.
Also — and I cannot stress enough how much I liked this — it casts Adam Beach as a romantic lead and not as another “random Native American dude because that’s all he can play,” and I really appreciated that. Usually when I see him pop up in stuff, it’s just to play the token Native American character.
78. Alex Strangelove
Cute little… I guess rom com? Coming-of-out story?
Basically, guy has been with his girlfriend for a few years and she wants to take the next step… only he’s starting to realize he may have a crush on another boy instead.
It’s not the greatest movie ever, but it does feel a bit more mature than you’d expect, and doesn’t go to all the obvious cliches you would expect. Not for everyone, but also firmly in that realm of, if you think you’re gonna like it, then go for it.
Ah, yes, this movie. Perhaps Netflix’s biggest cultural moment. Some would call it their biggest disaster. But you know what… it’s not about quality for them. Regardless of how everyone felt about this, they watched. And the watches are all that matters.
I’m not sure exactly just what they were trying to do with this — they took fantasy mythology and put it on a cop thriller. It’s trying to do a lot of things at once but also nothing. It’s the kind of movie that’s almost perfect for the Netflix model / what movies nowadays are essentially like for audiences. They just bombard you with bright lights and explosions for two hours, and by the end it doesn’t really matter if you liked it or not, because they spent all their money at the top to get you to see it, which is all they wanted.
I’ll admit that I actively disliked this movie on a lot of levels that have nothing to do with the objective quality of the film. If you strip all that away and just take it as a movie you put on and watch… it’s fine. It’s watchable and you can be relatively interested for the run time. That said… this is a pretty good indicator of just what the bar is for a Netflix movie at this point, and the fact that this is where it is on this list shows you the range of stuff they put out.
This is Noomi Rapace doing Liam Neeson. Basically.
She is an agent who gets hired to babysit a spoiled daughter of a wealthy businesswoman in the Middle East. Of course the girl doesn’t want a babysitter and hates her, but then some shit goes down and pretty soon Noomi is the only one she can trust, and she beats the shit out of a lot of people in order to protect the girl.
Perfectly standard, borderline generic action movie, and it’s the perfect movie for Netflix, because there are no stakes for the viewer. You’re not gonna feel let down by this, because in all likelihood, you had no idea it even existed, so you’re just watching it to be amused for 95 minutes.
75. The Dirt
Ah, yes, the Mötley Crüe biopic. I’ve seen this floating around for years trying to get made. At one point I feel like Val Kilmer was gonna be in it and Christopher Walken was gonna play Ozzy Osbourne. That’s gotta be 15 years ago. Anyway, they finally made it and the Jackass director was behind the camera.
This got pretty bad reviews, but to me it feels like a perfectly Netflix kinda movie. It’s nothing special, but it’s got an energy to it and it certainly feels like something the band endorsed, which is really all you can hope for with a movie like this (especially since it’s not overly kind to them. It deals with some dark shit they all went through).
If anything it’s worth it for the one scene with the dude playing Ozzy. That guy… is spot on.
This is interesting for the subject matter, if an uneven movie overall. It takes an almost wild left turn two-thirds of the way through, in order to try something somewhat radical in the third act (in terms of what it’s saying, not in terms of storytelling).
It’s about a kid coming up in AAU basketball who gets recruited into one of the top teams. So it’s about him coming into his own/dealing with his own academic struggles, while also having something to say about how fucked up the whole athlete recruiting stuff is (grade inflation, the pretense of school, bribes, etc).
It is uneven, but I think it’s a worthwhile movie. It won’t do a whole lot for a good section of the audience, but that’s what this section is for. There’s the “these are terrible,” then the, “Don’t bother unless you’re really into this,” then the “Sure, if you want,” and then the, “I liked these, but they’re not for everyone.” That’s where we are now. This might not be for everyone, but look at the three above this and below this… some of those may not be for you but they will be for other people.
73. First They Killed My Father
Angelina Jolie made a movie about the Cambodian genocide. It’s not Beasts of No Nation, but it’s also not terrible. It’s the epitome of a perfectly solid movie, that I imagine most people would like more if they felt like they wanted to see a movie about the Cambodian genocide. It’s hard to make people want to sit down and watch this. Especially since it doesn’t have the air of “masterpiece.” Which typically is what gets people over the hump to wanting to see something like this.
That said, it’s very solid. And arguably could have gone several spots higher on this list. But I have to go by what I think the quality/entertainment value/my enjoyment of them is, and factor all that into my rankings. So yeah, maybe this could go a bit higher, but also, I’m a realist and I know that there are other movies I found more entertaining that I think people are more likely to discover than this.
So, if you wanna go in for a movie like this, know that it’s worthwhile. This is about the tier of, “Solid if you wanna go there.”
72. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Chiwetel Ejiofor directed this, and it’s about a smart African boy who helps build a wind turbine in order to help his village.
It’s perfectly well-made and charming, but it’s also not the kind of movie you’re gonna get most people to just spend two hours with. That said, Netflix is a good place for it, because it means that they didn’t waste money trying to put this in theaters, where there’s no chance it would have ever turned a profit.
This is another one on that level if, “If you feel like this is something you’re interested in, go for it, because it’s well made and a solid watch.”
This shouldn’t necessarily be people’s introduction to Christopher Guest, but if it has to be, hopefully it makes you interested in the rest of his oeuvre, because the man basically perfected a genre. Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind and For Your Consideration are all fantastically funny movies, and he is one of the stars and major creative influences on the granddaddy of the genre, This Is Spinal Tap.
This is a mockumentary about people who dress up as team mascots. And it’s got a lot of his usual cast of characters (with some recurrences from previous films). It’s one of his weaker films, but it may get some people who are too young to know how great his movies are to look into them, which is why I think it’s worth a solid place on this list. You could do so much worse on this platform than this.
70. Gerald’s Game
In a way, Stephen King movies were made for this platform. That is, if you’re gonna be faithful to the material.
This book, I believe, was largely considered unfilmable, which is probably why the resulting product is just kind of okay.
The premise is — a couple goes up to their summer home to get away, and during some kinky play in the bedroom, the husband dies of a heart attack. And the wife is stuck chained to the bed with no real way of getting out or being able to call for help. It’s a great premise. But as you can imagine, the novel is very internal and deals with her inner thoughts. Which the film can’t really do.
Still, it’s a worthwhile film and right about in the realm of “definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a random Netflix thriller to watch.”
69. Game Over, Man!
This is by the guys who did Workaholics, and it’s basically if you put those three in a Die Hard situation. Three fuckups/waiters of a fancy hotel get involved in a terrorist situation. And comedy and violence ensue.
It feels like it should have been made for Netflix. Otherwise it probably would have been a Comedy Central movie. If Adam Sandler is the lowest common denominator for Netflix comedies, this is solidly middle-of-the-road, skewing higher for people who enjoy this type of comedy. I’m not necessarily one of those people, but as far as a Netflix movie goes, I was okay with this.
68. Little Evil
A movie with a great premise: what if you became the stepfather to the antichrist? Being a movie released on this platform, the heights this movie reaches are modest, but they are amusing for what it is and what it’s trying to be.
This is the kind of movie I’d be more apt to recommend to people over some other ones in this area just because the premise is good and it feels like it’s more likely to be forgotten about and never seen because it doesn’t have the visibility some of the others may have due to the people involved.
I like movies with limited characters. This is a post-apocalyptic thriller that stars… four people? Margaret Qualley is the film, and Anthony Mackie shows up about a half hour in. Danny Huston shows up in some flashbacks and there’s like, one other person in the movie. And I tend to find those more interested because you’re not bogged down with unnecessary stuff as much.
The premise is, Qualley is the daughter of a scientist who has stayed behind on a dying earth to try to save it, while everyone else has long since left for life on another planet. The last ship is about to leave soon and she is determined to try to find a way to save the planet. Mackie, meanwhile, is desperate to find a spot on that last transport and tries to convince her to go with him.
It’s totally fine. Nothing overly special, but it’s got a higher watchability factor for me than most just because it’s mostly two people on screen for the entirety of the picture. The uniqueness of it helps it stand out from the rest of the stuff that’s out there. (That said, I’m more likely to recommend Z for Zachariah, which is not a Netflix movie, but is a more interesting post-apocalyptic movie with very small cast.)
66. Someone Great
This sounded like something that was gonna end up in “Ibiza” territory. The female-centric rom com that doesn’t find its own voice because it’s trying to do the same shit other, better movies did. Only this movie did have a voice, and it had its own personality, and it was quite mature as well, and that was the most surprising thing about it.
The premise is, Gina Rodriguez and Lakeith Stanfield have been dating for years. Since college. Now, she’s about to get her dream job, in San Francisco, and they’ve just broken up right before she’s gonna move. So it’s about her about to start her life over, at her lowest after a very bad breakup, deciding to have one last night out with her girls. But it’s not… it doesn’t have wacky antics (even though there are a few somewhat-cliched detours, one of which includes Rupaul as their drug dealer), and she doesn’t immediately find the next love of her life… it’s more a a journey of self-discovery.
All things considered, if you take into account that there has to be some “movie” moments… it’s probably the most true to life that I’ve seen in one of these movies. Sure, it’s exaggerated, but there’s a real solid core and heart to this movie that I really respected, even if the movie itself wasn’t entirely for me. I definitely would recommend this for this who lean toward this type of movie.
65. How It Ends
Netflix sure does love their post-apocalyptic thrillers. This one at least takes a semi-interesting angle, even if it doesn’t go to particularly interesting places.
Guy leaves his pregnant girlfriend to go fly to her disapproving father to get his permission to marry her. While he’s there, things happen. An undisclosed event occurs, and now lots of people are dying and the country is in chaos. So now he and his potential father-in-law are driving across the country to see if the girlfriend/daughter is still alive. And so you get their relationship building along the way mixed with road hazards like people and gangs and stuff. (Kinda reminds me of a Ray Milland movie called Panic in Year Zero. Which is much more in that wholesome-ish 60s zone than this is.)
This is one of those where, this is the epitome of the “cable watch” movie. You put it on, you watch it, you go, “That was okay,” and then you never really need to see it ever again. And anyone who knows my tastes, “cable watch” is a sign of respect. They’re not all great, but they are perfectly fine for a Saturday afternoon while you’re doing laundry.
64. The After Party
This is another one of those movies that — could go either way for you. It’s about two friends, one an aspiring rapper and his best friend and aspiring manager. After a horrible incident that goes viral, the aspiring rapper decides he’s gonna give up. But his friend is determined to find him success, so he tells him he’s going to get them into a huge after party and get his friend the redemption/success he deserves.
It’s the kind of movie that you think is going one way, but actually steer clear of that and avoids a fair amount of the pitfalls I’d have expected it to fall into. Sure, the opening and the inciting incident is a bit cringeworthy, but the rest of the movie finds relatively solid footing. Put it this way… this could have easily ended up about 60-70 spots down on this list, but it didn’t. So good on them for that.
Also, without spoiling anything, this movie features a very quick cameo that comes out of nowhere and is absolutely hilarious. Maybe it’ll appeal to only me, but I could not stop laughing when it happened and I think those twenty seconds are worth the entire time.
63. The Kissing Booth
One of the pure rom coms Netflix has put out. They seem determined to resurrect this genre, and it’s one of the most admirable things they’re doing.
The premise is — girl and boy have been best friends since they were very young. Now, mid-high school, she finds that she has a crush on his older brother. And because of the plot, she ends up making a kissing booth at the school carnival and thinks that’s the way to finally get him to notice her.
It’s actually quite okay. Maybe it’s just because Joey King anchors it so well, or maybe I’m just a sucker for this genre when it’s not overly atrocious. But this feels perfectly find and the kind of movie I could definitely recommend people watch. As long as you don’t despise the genre, I think it’ll be perfectly watchable for most people.
62. A Christmas Prince
This is the one that started them all. This was a runaway “hit” (I guess that’s what we can call them) for Netflix, and has since spawned a whole universe of Christmas movies, including multiple sequels for just this film alone.
This is a pure rom com, though dipping toward the quality of a Hallmark movie. They have more pure rom coms that are much better movies in the canon of the genre, but this movie was surprisingly charming for what it is.
Premise is — a reporter is sent to a fictional country to cover the coronation of the prince, who is said to be a playboy and not fit for the throne. Through plot machinations, she ends up posing as a tutor for the prince’s younger sister. And of course… well, you know what happens.
Honestly, the cast is game and despite my disdain for movies like this when they’re overly cheesy or just straight up bad… I found myself charmed by this. And clearly people who like the genre ate this up, because they’ve got two sequels so far. And as far as the term “Netflix movie” goes, it’s hard not to say this isn’t one of the most representative of the bunch.
61. Imperial Dreams
This is one of the first Netflix movies, it feels like. Stars John Boyega as an ex-con just trying to get by and keep custody of his son. It’s that — ex-con tries to stay straight even though the world doesn’t seem to want him to — kinda movie. They’re always pretty interesting.
This feels like the kind of movie that’s small, personal, well-acted, and will always get tossed aside for bigger, flashier movies. But it’s perfectly solid, Boyega delivers a fine performance, and it really is the kind of movie that, if you gave it the time of day, you’d feel like your time was not wasted.
This movie was an awesome little surprise. One of the gems of the platform.
It’s a slow burn of a thriller that takes place in the Scottish Highlands. Two guys go on a secluded hunting trip… only things don’t go exactly as planned. They shoot someone by accident, and that gives way to fear, paranoia and tension, and… well, it is a very slow burn that slowly chokes you until it reaches its conclusion.
Now we’re getting into the territory of, “You should see this movie.” Everything from here on up has elements to it that make them worth seeing. This is more in the vein of “this is a nice little gem you haven’t heard of that you’re gonna think was pretty solid.” It is slow, so be prepared for that, but I think most people will get something out of it.
It’s not a Duplass brothers movie, but it feels like it could have been. It was directed by the director of Blue Jay, which is in spirit a Netflix movie but not officially one. (It’s the black and white romance with Mark Duplass and Sarah Paulson. It was officially put in theaters four days before it dropped on Netflix, so it’s not technically a Netflix Original.)
It stars Mark Duplass and Ray Romano, who showed his dramatic chops in The Big Sick and continues to do so here. The two are neighbors and best friends who hang out every day in a very relaxed kind of way. However Duplass finds out he’s terminally ill and decides he’d rather just die than suffer over the next several months. So the two go on a road trip, with Romano an accepting, but disapproving accomplice.
It’s a small movie that you can get a lot out of. If you like the Duplass style, then this is very much for you. There’s a lot here. I’m not gonna say it’s amazing, but I do think it’s way more solid than most of the stuff this platform puts out there.
58. The Last Laugh
Okay, this one may be going a bit higher than it probably ought to due to my own personal biases. But this is my list and not yours. All you’re here to do is read this and find some movies to watch you may not have known about before.
The selling point to this movie for me is — it’s Chevy Chase and Richard Dreyfuss. I don’t see either of them nearly enough anymore. And the idea of watching them, even in a mediocre movie (which this probably is), appeals to me way more than literally everything else that’s below this movie on these lists.
Chase plays an aging talent agent whose daughter wants him to go into a home. He agrees, but pretty soon meets up with Dreyfuss, a former client who decided not to go into show business but rather become a doctor and start a family. But now, Chase decides Dreyfuss can now have the career he never had, and can also be his shot at redemption. So the two hit the road as Dreyfuss starts booking stand up gigs around the country. So… two old guys on a road trip.
Look, it’s not gonna change your life, but if you’re like me, and you want to see two people you grew up watching and love do a movie together, this is totally worth seeing.
57. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile
The Ted Bundy movie. I think most people would tell you to watch the miniseries documentary instead, but I’m not here to talk about documentaries. I’m here to talk about movies. Plus, the same guy directed both, so there’s that.
First thing’s first — Efron is a great choice to play Bundy. Second… I feel like there’s a misconception about what this movie is. It doesn’t show him actually killing anyone. It’s told mainly from the perspective of his girlfriend, because it’s based on her memoir of living with him and not knowing who he was, despite ever-growing evidence throughout all his trials and incarcerations. However, it also does spend a great deal amount of time with Bundy himself as he defends himself and fights for what he claims is innocence.
It’s a bit of a disjointed movie, but I feel like if you accept the fact that you’re not gonna see him be a serial killer (which I guess would be a pretty big reason to downgrade the movie for most people), it’s perfectly watchable. I thought the performances were fine and the film was perfectly entertaining. But, as I said… it’s not for everyone and I think a lot of people would prefer a much more straightforward approach to the story rather than one that could be construed as humanizing a monster. So mark this as “not for everyone, but perfectly solid if you think it may be for you.”
56. Pee-wee’s Big Holiday
The fourth ever Netflix movie. This was one of the absolute first things they put out, and arguably one of the most perfect things they could put on the platform. Pee-wee is back!
That said, kids today probably have almost no idea who Pee-wee is, and don’t have the affinity for the character that I do. I grew up watching Pee-wee’s Playhouse and watching Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. So I was always gonna be more of a fan of this than others.
This falls in the realm of Mascots — it’s not the best you can see from this director/character, but it’s a good reason to be introduced to them if you don’t know anything about them, and it may get you to go back and see the better stuff.
Pee-wee is the closest thing we have to the Muppets. He exists in his own reality, and speaking to him is like speaking to a Muppet in the sense that pretty soon you forget you’re watching someone performing something and you’re just speaking to the character as a human being. And I always like when a movie can exist within its own reality and be its own thing.
This is the kind of movie that would normally have been bought by a Fox Searchlight and be put out for an Oscar run. It’s very much in that vein. Netflix did buy this for a lot of money and I think was originally intending to do just that, but instead put it out like, mid-year or something.
It’s a father-son road trip movie. They’re estranged, and he’s dying, and they haven’t spoken in years, but the son decides to take Dad on the trip… yada yada yada. It’s like Nebraska but much more adversarial and… Sundance-y. Ed Harris is a famous photographer who is determined to go to the Kodak lab and develop a roll of film before he dies. Kodak has stopped making film and they’re about to shut down the last plant, which is in the midwest. So they have to drive out there. Jason Sudeikis is his music talent agent son who hasn’t spoken to his father in years (because his father is an asshole). So Sudeikis, Harris and Elizabeth Olsen (Harris’s nurse), go on a trip to this factory.
It hits most of the beats you expect it to hit and has all the indie cliches you’d expect. Down to the ending, which I will say, you can probably see coming but still almost manages to land despite that. Which is why this movie ended up where it did. I find that, even though it’s treading very worn ground, it does so admirably and almost manages to make it over that hump into “really good movie” territory. Doesn’t quite get there, but if you’re looking for a very worthwhile Netflix movie, this is one.
54. Candy Jar
Fun rom com that is already getting overlooked in favor of the higher profile ones. It’s about two students who are the top two in their class, debate champions, and rivals to the bitter end. One’s gonna go to Yale and one’s gonna go to Harvard, and they’re just doing everything they can to make their applications look great. And then of course, they fall in love. You know how that goes.
It’s cute. The performances are very good and it’s just a likable movie. This is the kind of movie where, if you go for rom coms, this is definitely one that you won’t regret.
53. Message from the King
One of the earlier Netflix acquisitions. They picked this up once they realized Chadwick Boseman was gonna have some heat for Black Panther.
It’s got a simple premise — African man travels to Los Angeles in search of his missing sister. And he uncovers some shady people who he has to eventually beat the shit out of. No different from a Liam Neeson-style movie. Perfectly solid and entertaining.
This is the kind of movie I recommend just because, if you’re at home with nothing to do, and you want an easy movie to watch you don’t have to think about, this is that movie. Of course, for some people, a rom com is an easy watch. I personally grew up watching movies like this, so for me, this is something I would just throw on. Still, perfectly entertaining if you’re down for the genre.
52. Irreplaceable You
I love the set up to this movie: couple who’ve been together since they were children, she’s very goal-oriented and has everything planned out. Only, when they go in to try to have a baby, she finds out she’s terminally ill. And the film is about them (but mainly her) dealing with that fact. She tries to deal with it by basically planning her own funeral and helping him get a relationship for after she’s gone.
It’s the kind of movie where… I wanted to like it more than I did, and I wish it did more with the characters and the set up, because it could have been really special. But on its own I think it’s a very watchable movie that some people will really like. This is the kind of movie — when it hits, it really hits. But it also misses a bunch too. So don’t expect perfection. But this is also the kind of movie I almost respect more than others, because I amplify the parts that work and rather than dwell on what doesn’t, think about what I’d do differently, which occupies my attention during those moments.
It also stars the criminally underrated Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who really should be a top-line star by now.
51. To the Bone
This is a semi-autobiographical movie about eating disorders, and a bunch of people who live in a halfway house to help them overcome their illness. It’s quite solid. This is the kind of movie that some people will really get something out of, and others will think, “Yeah, that was pretty decent.” It’s got enough personal touches in this to not feel generic and not feel like it’s a waste of time. Definitely in the tier of worthwhile Netflix watching.
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