Netflix broke into the original film business in fall 2015 with the release of Cary Fukunaga’s “Beasts of No Nation,” which opened in select movie theaters and hit the streaming platform on October 16. That proved to be a game changer for Netflix, which has gone on to release hundreds of original movies in the years since. The streaming giant offers so many original titles (be it productions that were produced in-house or titles picked up at film festivals) that it has become an impossible task keeping up with every single one.
The lucky Netflix movies become hits. Some seemingly come out of nowhere to become word-of-mouth streaming blockbusters (“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” “Bird Box”). Other titles Netflix prioritizes for Oscar season and supports with massive marketing campaigns (“Roma,” “The Irishman,” “Marriage Story”). Some Netflix movies just have the star-power to attract attention (“6 Underground,” “Triple Frontier”). But the majority of Netflix movies that get released are simply put on the streaming platform and it’s up to subscribers to discover them. IndieWire hopes to make the search for a hidden gem a bit easier with the below list of overlooked Netflix original films worth streaming. The list is presented in alphabetical order.
Netflix has been behind buzzy Stephen King adaptations such as “In the Tall Grass” and “Gerald’s Game,” but it’s Zak Hilditch’s underseen “1922” that ranks as the streamer’s best Stephen King movie to date. The film stars Thomas Jane in a career-best performance as a farmer who convinces his son to help him murder his wife, but their killer act has unintended consequences on their lives. Hilditch brings a delicate visual language to King’s story and ends up crafting a horror movie that feels like what Terrence Malick might do if he took a stab at Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.”
“6 Balloons” (2018)
Marja-Lewis Ryan’s “6 Balloons” features standout dramatic performances from “Broad City” favorite Abbi Jacobson and Dave Franco. Jacobson stars as a woman who comes to suspect her young brother (Franco) has relapsed on heroin. The film is a rare one in how convincingly it illustrates one of the core truths about addiction: It doesn’t really give a shit about your agenda. It’s chaos, it cares only about itself, and it feeds on collateral damage. Addiction isn’t separate from everyday life, or parallel to it — it’s intertwined and totally enmeshed. “6 Balloons” gets to the core of this brutal truth.
“Alex Strangelove” (2018)
“Love, Simon” made headlines in March 2018 for being the first studio teen rom-com to center around a gay character, so it’s not too suprising to hear the similarly-themed “Alex Strangelove” got drowned out when it made its Netflix debut just one month later. The coming-of-age high school comedy hails from “The Skeleton Twins” writer-director Craig Johnson and matches that film’s wonderful empathy for its conflicted lead characters. Daniel Doheny stars as Alex, a high school teen who discovers his sexuality after being romantically pulled between his longtime friend Claire and an openly gay new friend named Elliot.