The 25 Best Netflix Original Movies, Ranked
If we're being honest, Netflix's catalogue of original movies can be hit and miss. What starts as a well-intentioned film goes off the rails, and with so many of them being made and released, it's hard to know which ones are worth watching and which ones are going to be so fully insane that it becomes meme fodder (Bird Box. We're talking about Bird Box). Instead of guessing and checking two hours later, check out our list of 25 of Netflix's best original movies.
25| The Princess Switch
Let's get the best of Netflix's Christmas endeavors out of the way. The Princess Switch isn't high cinema, but it perfectly captures the essence that it was intended to: low-lift holiday narrative with a likable cast. Think The Parent Trap meets The Princess Diaries. It's a guilty pleasure, admit it.
24| Like Father
If you can get past the fact that a cruise line definitely bought a share of this movie as sponsored content, then Like Father becomes a really touching tale of an estranged father and daughter played by two of the most likable performers in Hollywood today. But seriously: it's very much sponcon.
23| Our Souls at Night
There should be more of a market for tales of love in later life. If there were, certainly Our Souls at Night would have fared a bit better. Jane Fonda and Robert Redford have undeniable chemistry in the critically acclaimed film.
22| Velvet Buzzsaw
Velvet Buzzsaw is a glorious mess. Part gay fantasia, part art snobbery, and part horror, the film manages to be so uneven and ridiculous that it's a perfectly acceptable wild ride. Bonus: Toni Collette is perfect.
21| Roxanne Roxanne
Roxanne Roxanne follows the life of rapper Roxanne Shante. While Chanté Adams leads the film, the full cast is what makes helps piece the portrait together. Competing at 2017's Sundance, it never fully got off the ground, but it's a fine film nonetheless.
The Dolly Parton-heavy film about a plus-sized beauty queen isn't super fancy, but there are drag queens, a really campy Jennifer Aniston, and a message that makes you just feel good. The perfectly saccharine Dumplin'knows exactly what it is, which makes it scores better than most films with which it shares a category.
John Woo's Manhunt isn't outrageously good, but it's a solid bet. The film offers up a great east-Asian action thriller, and that alone sets it apart from most of Netflix's catalogue.
18| Before I Wake
On one hand, we need to stop making films where foster children come with their own set of ghosts and demons. On the other hand, Jacob Tremblay is terrifying. Before I Wake feels worth the risk.
I mean, the description here is pretty blunt: A whole bunch of mascots come together to compete to be the bestmascot. It's one of those situations where the premise is only saved by the talent in the film. Jane Lynch, Parker Posey, Chris O'Dowd... you get it.
16| Gerald's Game
Want to play a game? Imagine a sexual bondage situation with two hot consenting adults. Add handcuffs. Then have the man have a heart attack leaving the woman stranded. Interested? Watch Gerald's Game.
15| First They Killed My Father
Angelina Jolie is a hit-or-miss machine, but with First They Killed My Father she got pretty darn close to getting it right. Defined as a "Cambodian–American thriller," the Jolie-directed film follows children torn apart in a war-torn country and forced into unthinkable circumstances.
If you've ever wanted to know what a zombie outbreak would look like in French-speaking Quebec, then we have good news for you. It's funny, scary, and most of all, Canadian, eh.
13| Set It Up
Set It Up surprised Netflix viewers because it was the first time in a while that we'd had a great, true-form rom-com. Driven to wit's end, two nice assistants try to set up their bosses to lighten their work loads, and hilarity ensues.
12| The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Let it be noted: Adam Sandler can be a good actor. This literally had Oscar buzz. An Oscar. For Adam Sandler.
11| Private Life
Private Life is an honest, sometimes painful look at the difficulty of having children. Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn's performances are as thoughtful, funny, and heartfelt as the topic itself.
10| To All The Boys I've Loved Before
To All The Boys I've Loved Before came out after Set It Up to prove that Netflix knows how to put together a rom-com. Based on the book of the same name, the film is a pitch perfect look at what the rom-com genre can be in 2018.
9| Beasts of No Nation
Beasts of No Nation, a war film released in 2015, was one of Netflix's first bona fide award contenders. Though it didn't fully get off the ground, it was a great vehicle for Idris Elba and an even better flex for Netflix.
Mudbound is a fantastic showing by director Dee Rees that attempts to navigate post-WWII Mississippi through the lens of two veterans: one white, and one black. Come for the interesting story. Stay for Mary J. Blige.
7| The Other Side of the Wind
This is just a power play. Netflix acquired the rights to Orson Welles's final film that was produced over 40 years ago. After legal issues, it was never finished, but the streaming giant changed that to prove that the impossible is possible. In 2018, an actual Orson Welles film came out, and is the perfect treat for any cinephile.
The story of President Barack Obama was always going to be clamored over, and though multiple films have come out about the most recent president's life, Barry is proof that Netflix can do a decent job with a biographical film.
5| The Kindergarten Teacher
The Kindergarten Teacher is a bold movie, and only a bold actress could pull off the part. Playing a teacher who co-opts her student's poetry as her own, Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a deeply affected, if not unstable, woman. The performance is one of 2018's best. Not just on Netflix, either.
Tallulah never got its due, but the Allison Janney/Ellen Page film follows a woman who takes a child from its irresponsible mother and raises it as her own.
In a way, Okja feels like Netflix's first breakaway hit, an environmentalist tale that pits big business against environmental morality made Netflix worthy of being looked at as a contender in the film space.
2| The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs feels more like a statement than a movie. The experimental film is told in six parts, but it's most important takeaway is that Netflix is officially high-end enough to land a Coen Bros. film about the American frontier.
I mean, what can you say? The Alfonso Cuarón-directed film is appropriately timed, profoundly moving, and beautifully shot. And the performance that (formerly) unknown actress Yalitza Aparicio turns out is nothing short of breathtaking.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.