Sometimes it seems like Netflix’s repertoire of original movies is like Russian roulette: you never know what you’re going to get. What starts as a regular movie quickly goes off the rails into another dimension and completely blows your mind. With so many hit-and-miss movies, it’s hard to know which ones are actually worth your time. Since 2015, Netflix released over 200 original movies, so instead of guessing and wasting hours finding a worthy one, check out our selection. All these are available for US Netflix, but in case you are traveling abroad, a VPN can save the day. No concert films or documentaries such as Icarus are included on this list.
“Roma” is an Alfonso Cuarón-directed film starring recently discovered actress Yalitza Aparicio. This intimate family drama is set in Mexico during the 70s. The black and white shots of the city streets are something worthy of the great Scorsese. Director Alfonso Cuarón used his own childhood memories to create a moving, personal story that seems effortlessly authentic. Sometimes Roma feels like a telenovela, engaging its audience and keeping them glues to the screen.
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” is an experimental film about the American frontier told in six chapters. Each part is narrated through the voice of Joel and Ethan Coen tells the story as if it were part of an old book. Liam Neeson, James Franco, and Tom Waits roam the prairie surrounded by bloody violence and dark humor. The Native Americans are always under a threat from the settlers who are very greedy, pompous and violent. This old-school western is a work of art despite its self-satirizing and comic vibe.
“Okja” is an environmentalist story about a girl and her giant pig that has a little bit of Miyazaki and Spielberg and a lot of crazy. The eco-fantasy story features some adorable, lab-engineered giant pigs who are used as food for the masses and sent to the slaughterhouse. Mija, a little girl, finds one of these hybrids and takes it home with her as a pet. The beast is named Okja and the fun starts as she rolls around and smacks into the furniture. However, things take an unexpected turn when someone kidnaps Okja so Mija must go and save her before she becomes pork patties. This movie is a bumpy ride for sure, but it’s definitely worth watching.
“Tallulah” reunites the Juno team, Ellen Page and Allison Janney, in a story about two strangers who end up together because of a stolen baby. Janney plays a mother figure once again as she is Page’s stepmother. Page (Lu) is an independent young woman living a nomad van life with her boyfriend. After the two break up, Lu ends up in a hotel where a woman mistakes her for a maid and asks her to babysit her child. Lu immediately realizes that the mother is a threat to her own child and decides to save the day.
“The Kindergarten Teacher”
Only a bold actress such as Maggie Gyllenhaal can pull off the part in “The Kindergarten Teacher.” Her performance is one of the best in 2018, and not only on Netflix. We believe it’s her best since “Secretary,” another masterpiece. Director Sarah Colangelo creates a deeply psychological drama, a story of an intimate transgression between fantasy and realism. Maggie transforms into Lisa, a kindergarten teacher who starts taking a class in poetry writing but cannot write anything but dull poems. One day she discovers the beautiful poems a kid names Jimmy composes and she becomes obsessed with taking control of his upbringing.
“Barry” is the story of President Barack Obama and proof that biographical films can still be entertaining. The movie really tries to put the viewers into Barry’s headspace. Each of the scenes is well put together and there is also a great deal of comedy besides the love story. The character is rarely confronted with bigotry, although hidden micro-aggressions lie everywhere. We would have liked to see more of Obama’s mother who only has a few scenes, but makes a vibrant impression.
“Always Be My Maybe”
“Always Be My Maybe” sets itself apart from other rom-com movies, as it portrays quite a different type of prince charming. Moreover, the leading lady is an independent, ambitious woman who doesn’t need anyone to save her. Even though Randall Park plays a not so dashing, immature man who cannot dress for the occasion, somehow, he manages to sweep the girl off her feet. The two leads are strong, and Wong proves once again that she can be effortlessly funny and charismatic. The movie switches between humorous and emotional, taking the audience on a rollercoaster alongside the characters.