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 a lot that doesn’t.. 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 try to update these articles every few months as we get close to another round number of films. I’m thinking the next update will be sometime in spring.)
100. 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.
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.
97. 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.
95. 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.
94. 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.
93. 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.
92. 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.
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.
88. 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.
87. In the Tall Grass
Another Netflix Stephen King adaptation. This one has an interesting premise — couple stop on the side of the road outside a cornfield and hear someone screaming for help inside. They go in… and then can’t get out.
The problem with it is the problem I have with most Stephen King stuff… it goes supernatural and unnecessarily weird. Of course, something like this, it has to be supernatural, but not in the way this movie is supernatural. Time paradoxes and weird stones in the middle of the cornfield that do some magic shit or whatever.
It’s watchable and it’s a nice little contained thriller, but it just gets increasingly weird as the film goes on and doesn’t really amount to much. But hey, it’s perfect for Netflix. Watch it once, be moderately entertained and then move on with your life.
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.
85. 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.”
84. 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.
82. 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.”
81. 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.
80. 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.)
78. 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.
77. 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.
76. 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.
75. 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.
74. 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.
73. Between Two Ferns: The Movie
The Funny or Die skits this was based on are very funny. Did this need to be a feature-length film? Not at all. But, it has a lot more of Galifianakis doing interviews, and those are very funny. They decided to build a plot around them to tie it all together, which involves him having to interview a bunch of people before a certain amount of time so he can get his own talk show or something — it doesn’t really matter. You’re here for the cringe-y interviews with celebrities. That’s why we’re here. The rest of the movie is whatever.
Though I will say, this movie also has a line that is so stupid that also made me laugh really hard. The group is on the road at a diner and one of the characters asks the waitress about the fish sticks and asks what they look like. And the waitress goes, “Have you ever seen a chicken strip?” and she responds, “I’ve never seen a chicken wear clothes.”
That’s the level of humor that’s in this movie. So based on that you should decide whether or not it’s for you. But also, I would recommend, if nothing else, watching the clips of Galifianakis interviewing the celebrities. Those moments are really funny.
72. 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.
71. 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.
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.
68. 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.”
67. 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.
66. 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.
65. 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.
64. 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.
63. 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.
62. Win It All
This is a Joe Swanberg movie, and I think the first movie he’s made with an actual plot to it. Which stands to reason that it’s the film of his I think is his best.
Jake Johnson plays a gambling addict who is constantly losing all his money at the tables. One day a friend of his drops off a bag before a prison sentence, and he is told that if he just keeps it in his attic, never opens it, and gives it back once the guy is out, he’ll make a couple of grand. Naturally, he looks into it, it has a bunch of money, and he can’t help but use it to gamble. Meanwhile, as this is all happening, he meets a woman and falls in love. And it becomes about what good luck and good fortune actually are for this guy.
It’s a nice little character study. Fine performances and just totally watchable. One thing that’s always riveting on screen is a person who can’t help but get in their own way and screw up a good thing. And this definitely has a lot of that.
61. War Machine
David Michod started his career with two really awesome films — Animal Kingdom, which is amazing, and The Rover, which is a nice little gem with a fantastic Guy Pearce (and a solid Robert Pattinson) performance. He aims higher with this, a political satire that’s about the futility of U.S. involvement in the Middle East. Basically about the cycle of — one general can’t get anything done, is replaced with another one who is more gung ho, who eventually can’t get anything done, fucks up and has to be replaced by the next guy. Think of it like a string of head coaches on a perennially terrible sports team.
Brad Pitt stars as the general, and he’s doing his best “trying to be George C. Scott in Dr. Strangelove.” Only the movie, as is the case with a lot of satires, is very uneven and tonally can’t find its footing. It still kinda works and is very entertaining and has some terrific moments, but now we’re in that realm of “approaching really good” Netflix territory. And this is one where, you can see it and you’ll probably be okay with it, but it’s not in that top tier of what you need to be watching off this platform.
Still, if you’re looking for something, it is very amusing.
60. The Discovery
Very ambitious sophomore film from Charlie McDowell. His first film, The One I Love, is a fantastic Twilight Zone episode of a movie with only three people in the cast (Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss and Ted Dansen). The less you know about it, the better, and it’s quite wonderful. This movie — incredibly ambitious and doesn’t quite hit the mark, but you can’t fault someone for aiming high.
It stars Robert Redford as a man who has scientifically proven the existence of the afterlife and all the aftermath of that discovery. Jason Segal plays his son and Rooney Mara plays a woman he’s trying to help. And… its gets complicated and by the end you kinda get lost in terms of what’s happening, but I think it’s a very worthwhile movie that may really do it for some people. Definitely one of those that’s worth a watch.
59. I Am Mother
I love a movie with a limited cast. Especially when it makes the most of the cast and the story it’s trying to tell.
This is a movie that stars a girl, a woman and a robot. The robot has parented the girl from birth, saying she is part of a mission to repopulate earth. All the girl knows is the bunker they live in, and that the outside is dangerous. All that changes one day when a woman shows up from the outside, having been shot, and the girl, curious about the outside world, takes her in.
What I like is that the movie slow plays its hand, using everything we see to build toward an eventual finale, even if we’re not necessarily watching it. I expected it to be another movie like Tau, about a girl and an AI having a relationship, with the obvious 2001 references. But honestly, this is a movie that’s doing its own thing, and it feels like a perfect piece for what it’s trying to do.
When you hear about this movie, you expect some cheap thriller. But actually, this is a character piece, with some disturbing AI/dystopian future overtones. I appreciate the turns this movie took and what it ultimately tried to do, rather than selling out for cheap setpieces and action moments. It’s not gonna be for everyone, but I’m a fan of this.
58. American Son
This is essentially a play on screen. The entire film takes place in a single room and features a cast of four. Kerry Washington is a woman whose son didn’t come home that night and she goes to the police station to report it. And so she calls her ex-husband, and the film is the two of them waiting in this police station, dealing with cops who seem like they don’t give a shit and also going through their failed marriage and their respective relationships with their son as they await word on where he is.
It’s very theatrical. Washington’s performance is very… big. It’s very much for the stage and can be a bit much for people who are used to more restrained performances. But as far as plays go, I was really engaged by it and thought it was a very effective film. You can see where it’s going and what it’s setting up, but I liked it. I think it’s effective in what it wants to do and you could do far worse for 90 minutes.
Put it this way — this single-location one-act play is better than a lot of the other stuff this platform has put out.
Really solid movie.
Aspiring music creator witnesses the death of his sister and has severe PTSD and stops going to school. Anthony Anderson is a school security guard who meets him and bonds with him over their love of music. Anderson is also a fledgling producer who sees real talent in the kid and tries to become his manager.
It’s a weirdly serious movie, but that tone somehow helps it. It’s got some weight to it, and I liked that. Not a perfect movie by any stretch, but Anthony Anderson is great in a dramatic role, and you really do feel the struggle of these people who just want to make it out of this town and not be killed along the way.
This is definitely one of those movies I’d recommend for anyone who thinks they might like it.
56. Coin Heist
One of the earliest of the Netflix movies. It’s about a group of students trying to save their school by robbing the U.S. Mint. Yup. It’s a heist film. It’s basically like if The Breakfast Club were also Ocean’s Eleven.
Modest film with modest returns, but also pretty solid and the kind of movie I want to be promoting off this platform. It’s very fun and an easy watch. And also something I know almost nobody even realizes exists.
55. The Land of Steady Habits
This is Nicole Holofcener, who seems like a filmmaker who is perfectly tailored to the Netflix model. She makes very small, character-driven indie movies that barely make any money at the box office and only really get seen by a niche group of filmgoers, often because of the casts she attracts. This way, she can get her movie seen by more people and doesn’t have to worry about numbers.
It stars Ben Mendelsohn (which is already great, any time he gets a lead role) as a finance guy who chose early retirement and divorce and is now bored as hell. So he spends his time banging middle-aged women and doing drugs which his son’s drug addict friend. It’s really solid stuff.
This is where we get into the “definitely worth a watch” territory for Netflix. Not the greatest movie ever, but also really good stuff that’s worth it for the people involved.
54. Unicorn Store
This is a movie for everyone who has not let their inner child die.
I understand that it is and will continue to be a very divisive movie, but I stand by my ranking because… if your inner child still exists, you’ll get something out of this movie.
It takes a minute to get into it. The style of comedy and writing is very particular and is something you need orient yourself to. But once you get into it, you realize this is a movie about believing in the magic of the universe.
Brie Larson plays a woman who has really never grown up or “gotten her shit together” in the adult sense who is back living with her parents and taking a job as a temp at an agency. Though despite the forced growing up she has to do, she gets a mysterious, Hogwarts-style invitation to the titular unicorn store, where she is told that she can get her very own unicorn. That is, if she earns it.
It’s… it’s a movie about believing in yourself and being yourself, and not letting that inner child die. I think it’s wonderful.
53. The Most Hated Woman in America
This is a biopic of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, an activist and atheist who helped usher in a Supreme Court ruling banning Bible readings in public schools and fought for the separation of church and state. The title refers to the fact that she was so outspoken that everyone who came across her hated her.
Melissa Leo plays her, and she’s quite good as she usually is. The film is one of the early Netflix movies, and feels like one of those films that, if not on this platform, would never have found a home anywhere else. The story itself is pretty off-the-beaten path, but also the story of what ended up happening to her is even weirder. I’m glad it ended up here so at least more people can stumble upon it now.
52. The Package
This used to be called Eggplant Emoji. Not sure they ever found a good title for this, but the premise is one of those things where… actually kinda funny.
A bunch of teens are camping in the woods and one of them accidentally cuts his dick off. And the film is about them trying to get him and the dick to the hospital so they can reattach it. Things… do not go as planned. It goes a bit off the rails in terms of realism, and that’s beside the fact that it’s about a dude cutting his dick off. The latter stages of the movie really do get kinda nuts (no pun intended, probably). But there are some funny moments, and that’s coming from me, who finds a way to hate almost every comedy that comes out nowadays.
51. Hold the Dark
This is Jeremy Saulnier’s followup to Blue Ruin and Green Room. It’s… a much different movie than those two. Those two were relatively simple stories about violence. This has a lot more going on.
Jeffrey Wright stars as a writer who is hired to locate their missing son after he goes missing amongst a series of wolf attacks. That’s… really all you need to know to get into it, but know that it’s gonna go other places over its run time.
I don’t think this quite works as well as his other movies, although it does feel very solidly made and acted. I will say that I think this is more likely to not be liked by most, just because it is very slow and takes some difficult turns for most audiences. But I think Saulnier is a very strong filmmaker and it’s his filmmaking instincts that make this worth a watch.
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See the rest of the Netflix Rankings:
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