Netflix has come a long way from being a small video rental business in 1997 that delivered DVD movies by mail. It eventually amped its business strategy by also providing Blu-Ray films to its customers.
However, modern times and advanced technology call for a far more progressive service and process. The business, of course, had to move with the times as well.
Now, Netflix is the biggest subscription-based online streaming media service and has over 100 million paid members as of April 2019. Its huge number of paid subscribers speaks for its popularity not just in the US but in other international countries.
This is why Netflix opened its doors to foreign members. It offers an immense collection of films and television shows from any country and region.
Netflix also doesn’t slow down in its release of content. It provides daily fresh content, which makes it hard even for the movie and TV show binge-watchers to keep track of the titles that have been added, removed, and put back.
It’s a good thing that there are sites, including Men’s Gear’s Netflix Tool, that keep tabs on these changes on a daily basis.
The year 2012 marked a big leap for the streaming giant when it became active in sourcing and producing content, which it aptly labels as “Netflix Original.” These originals can be a movie, a documentary, TV show, or a stand-up special.
With the way things are progressing, it seems there is no slowing down for this entertainment magnate as it continues to release in-house media to its increasing number of loyal subscribers. We are already halfway through 2019 and the number of Netflix Originals continues to pile up instead of go south.
Which brings us to the list below. Call it a guide or review if you will. The list contains the titles of the Netflix Original movies that have come out in the first part of 2019.
However, these are not just any or all of the movies released since the start of the year. They are by far the best based on storyline, audience impact, and cinematography. You may have seen these titles pop up in your Netflix homepage or in your recommendation page every now and then.
Movies such as the Triple Frontier, which oozes with so much machismo that women automatically click Play when they see Ben Affleck and Charlie Hunnam on the screen before they could even see the preview or read the synopsis.
Then a quick scroll through the collection of movies gives you a film that stars Jake Gyllenhaal, who this time plays a bisexual art critic and not a homosexual brokeback cowboy. And since you don’t want to miss the opportunity to see another of his fine performances, then you watch him peruse and write about art in Velvet Buzzsaw.
You also happen to see a new title from filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, who has since repeatedly expressed his desire to retire from directing. You give High Flying Bird a go not because it might be the Oscar-winning director’s last film, but the fact that it was shot entirely through a smartphone intrigues you.
Then you click Play on Chiwetel Ejiofor’s directorial debut to see how good and compelling of a filmmaker and writer he is as he is an actor in 12 Years A Slave. Suffice to say, there are plenty of praise-worthy movies on Netflix and there are bound to be a few more additions in the coming days and months.
But for now, we have compiled for you ten of the best Netflix Original movies of any genre. We have action, comedy, drama, sci-fi, and biopic. These films are definitely worthy of your time and attention, so better check them out before it disappears on the streaming service (cross fingers that this doesn’t happen).
When it comes to versatility in acting, you can bet that Jake Gyllenhaal is among the veteran actors who can pull off any character. He’s been in every film genre there is and has been a prince, a warrior, a boxer, a love and sex addict, a homosexual, and the list goes on.
It seems there’s nothing he can’t do. This July, he graces theatres with his performance as Marvel’s Mysterio in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
However, he certainly looks nothing like a superhero in the Netflix original film Velvet Buzzsaw, where he plays a bisexual art critic, a character who’s not remotely heroic but nonetheless important in the story.
This film is part thriller, mystery, and horror and revolves around the dangerous allure of art– specifically the paintings of a mysterious deceased artist.
Supernatural accidents transpire after greedy art profiteers attempt to sell his works. Mysterious occurrences and tragic events ultimately befall those who sell or own his works.
Suffice to say, that his paintings were not meant to be sold or showcased to the public. Instead, per the owner’s instruction prior to his death, they were supposed to be burned to ashes. Serves the greedy ones right for trying to claim what’s not rightfully theirs in the first place.
What’s misleading about this movie though is its title. It doesn’t have any relevance to the whole story aside from it being the name of the band from which one of the art profiteers is a former member.
Director: Dan Gilroy – Screenplay: Dan Gilroy – Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Zawe Ashton, John Malkovich – Run Time: 1h 53m
High Flying Bird
In this age of modern times, you’d think that the only means of capturing good cinematography and coming up with high-quality film is by using high-tech video equipment. Well, Steven Soderbergh’s work is proof that you can make a movie out of anything that can capture movements.
The Oscar-winning director continues to test the limits of creative filmmaking technology, as he has done in the past with Unsane (shot by iPhone 7+). He filmed the entirety of High Flying Bird using an iPhone 8+ equipped with an anamorphic lens from Moondog Labs.
The movie gained positive reviews when it premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival not just for its unique cinematography, but also for its story, which teaches a valuable lesson about power and race in the NBA.
The premise follows sports agent Ray Burke (André Holland) who pitches a rookie basketball client in the midst of a pro basketball lockout. His action prompts a question of authority when he manages to outmaneuver all the power players. High Flying Bird makes up for the lack of action with smart and witty dialogues to drive the story forward.
Director: Steven Soderbergh – Screenplay: Tarell Alvin McCraney – Cast: André Holland, Melvin Gregg, Eddie Tavares – Run Time: 1h 30m
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Chiwetel Ejiofor directs and writes the screenplay about the real-life boy who harnessed the wind and saved his family and village from famine.
The film is based on the inspiring true story of William Kamkwamba from Malawi, who at 14-years old, built a wind turbine from recycled parts. His interest in physics and his ingenuity allowed him to create the machine out of old batteries and bicycle parts.
His creation powered an electric water pump that saved his family’s crops in the midst of a drought. The windmill still stands to this day outside his home.
This movie is a promising directorial debut for Ejiofor who manages to mellow scenes of conflict among families, neighbors, and politicians with a gentle nudge of humor here and there. There are a few of these scenes though as the story mostly focuses on the boy, his thirst for knowledge, and his determination to help his family.
Overall, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a heartwarming and emotional movie full of depth and inspiration. It is a great eye-opener about the practices and strife in other cultures and countries, which makes it a relevant film to watch among those with environmental and corporate themes.
Director: Chiwetel Ejiofor – Screenplay: Chiwetel Ejiofor – Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Maxwell Simba, Felix Lemburo – Run Time: 1h 53m
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
Joe Berlinger’s take on the infamous Ted Bundy story is not an introduction into the man and his murders. It’s more of an added info or a companion story about the serial killer since it explores his personal life.
The film is not even your typical serial killer flick in that it doesn’t rely on graphic violence, gruesome imagery, or any of the usual horror-ish trope. Instead, it’s a movie about Bundy’s love life and about his relationship with his family and the media, to which he tirelessly tries to convince of his innocence as he presents himself as a charming man in court, far from the stereotypical character of a serial killer.
The movie provides a look into the criminal’s life inside his prison walls. It gives a unique perspective into Bundy’s life through the eyes and experiences of his former girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer (Lily Collins), the very same woman who told the authorities about her suspicions of her longtime boyfriend being a murderer during a widespread manhunt for a serial killer whose victims are all women.
It’s a fitting view of the narrative given that Kloepfer’s memoir, The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy, is an inspiration for the film.
The film has its weak moments since it doesn’t really tell the horrors of Bundy’s murders but only the reaction to his actions. It also doesn’t dig into the killer’s motivations, instead, it glamorizes him.
Moreover, Zac Efron, who plays Bundy, tries his very best to impart his knowledge about the killer through his performance. He comes out looking more like a wild maniac though when he opens his eyes wide, which make for a rather amusing sight rather than being terrifying.
However, Efron’s striking physical resemblance to the actual killer is downright disturbing, which in some way, helps make for a convincing portrayal as the charismatic, shrewd, yet belligerent and damaged Bundy.
Director: Joe Berlinger – Screenplay: Michael Werwie – Cast: Lily Collins, Zac Efron, Angela Sarafyan – Run Time: 1h 50m
The Wandering Earth/ Liú làng dì qiú
Hope and trust in humanity and sacrifice for the greater good drives the message of The Wandering Earth, an epic of a sci-fi film about the survival of humankind when faced with an unavoidable disaster.
The sun is dying and Earth is under threat of being devoured by a red giant. Ten-thousand stellar engines are created to propel Earth to another solar system. It’s a 2,500 year-long journey with the planet wandering and becoming vulnerable to unexpected dangers along the way.
This is not your typical superhero sci-fi movie where one unique person sacrifices his life for the sake of others, although it features the very same type of people in every sense of the word.
In this story, we have ordinary people entrusted with a huge duty to become superheroes in their own way in order to save humanity from extinction. They all give their best and choose to hold on to the hope of survival despite all the odds thrown against them.
The Wandering Earth is one of those films that leave you holding your breath as you watch the tension unfold and build. It also takes a lot to ponder on storywise especially when it begs the serious question of what you would do when faced with an irresistible danger.
Regardless, the amazing visual effects that fill up much of the death-defying sequences should be enough to entertain and sit you through the entire two-hour run.
Director: Frant Gwo – Screenplay: Frant Gwo, Gong Geer, Junce Ye, Yang Zhixue, Yan Dongxu – Cast: Jing Wu, Chuxiao Qu, Guangjie Li – Run Time: 2h 5m
Testosterones run high in this star-studded, action-packed film about five former Delta Force operatives who go on a mission this time not for their country but for their selves.
They carry out a heist job of a South American drug lord. The plan seems simple enough: steal the cash as stealthily as possible, leave few to zero casualties, and escape unnoticed.
However, trouble is bound to happen when someone in the group becomes greedy. Ultimately, the plan backfires and events take an unexpected turn and threaten to spiral out of control. The men find themselves battling for their lives in unknown territories in their efforts to keep as much of the stolen wealth as possible.
Triple Frontier starts out slow but gets pretty exciting moving forward. It has strong acting from a stellar cast, beautiful landscape cinematography, and action scenes packed with tension.
The film is a treat for fans of shoot-’em-up sequences since it has plenty of them. It’s good entertainment if you dig the heist genre (although this film goes beyond that) and if you find excitement in chase scenes, plane crashes, jungle firefights, and other action mayhems that inspire your inner risk-taker.
Director: J.C. Chandor – Screenplay: Mark Boal, J.C. Chandor – Cast: Ben Affleck, Garrett Hedlund, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Pedro Pascal – Run Time: 2h 5m
Ray Romano returns to the big screen as his equally lovable character in the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond in Paddleton, a dramatic comedy that revolves around the friendship of two neighbors.
Romano plays Andy, who goes through great lengths to delay his neighbor Michael’s (Mark Duplass) wish to die following his cancer prognosis. He wants a quick death through medication so the pair takes the six-hour trip to the closest pharmacy.
They spend the final moments together on some fun and adventure and they learn more about each other along the way. Andy eventually comes to terms with the fact that his only friend is dying and must respect his wishes to have a pain-free death.
Paddleton moves slowly and may be excruciating for some but the wait is indeed worth it. The first hour intends to drown the reality of sorrow through laughter but it eventually reaches a poignant conclusion that is both harrowing and tender.
Romano and Duplass make the movie entertaining and deeply moving. They have such strong chemistry together that it delivers the film’s message loud and clear: that what better balm can there be to loneliness than an encompassing friendship.
Director: Alex Lehmann – Screenplay: Mark Duplass, Alex Lehmann – Cast: Christine Woods, Mark Duplass, Ray Romano – Run Time: 1h 29m
Bonnie & Clyde’s exploits made headlines in the 1930s and even up to this day, stories about the duo always become a cinematic influence. They remain an inspiration in films and TV because of their daring heists made sensational by the media.
However, behind every notorious criminal are those who uphold the law and vow to capture criminal offenders no matter the stakes. This is what The Highwaymen is about, which tells the untold story of two legendary detectives who come out of retirement just to bring down the outlaws.
The film follows former Texas Rangers Frank Hamer (Kevin Costner) and Benjamin Maney Gault (Woody Harrelson), who are called by the FBI to assist in the arrest of the infamous pair, which has become a very daunting task as the days pass. The two men must rely on their gut instincts and old school knowledge to track, lure, and successfully capture the criminals.
The Highwaymen gives a fresh take on the infamous Bonnie & Clyde account and may as well be a companion story. As with other detective films, it too has its potholes but its eye-catching moments and tension make up for the lack of character buildup and of chemistry between the two male stars.
Nevertheless, it’s a must-watch and an entertaining film for anyone who follows the Bonnie & Clyde history.
Director: John Lee Hancock – Screenplay: John Fusco – Cast: Kevin Costner, Woody Harrelson, Kathy Bates, John Carroll Lynch – Run Time: 2h 12m
Walk. Ride. Rodeo.
As far as inspirational true stories go, Walk. Ride. Rodeo. is a must-see for its theme on perseverance and courage. It drives a good message about getting back up after a fall and pushing forward despite the odds.
The story follows professional barrel racer and now motivational speaker Amberley Snyder, who at nineteen became a paraplegic after she got into an automobile accident from which she nearly survived.
Told that she would never walk again, let alone ride her horse, Snyder defied her prognosis to reclaim her place in the sport she loves. With her determination, the support of her family, friends, and physical therapy, she was back in the saddle to compete in just 18 months after the accident.
This film becomes even more inspiring knowing that the real Amberley was part of the production. She performed her own stunts on the horse and played a stunt double in the post-accident scenes.
Director: Conor Allyn – Screenplay: Sean Dwyer, Greg Cope White – Cast: Spencer Locke, Missi Pyle, Bailey Chase, Corbin Bleu – Run Time: 2h 12m
The Breaker Upperers
When two brokenhearted women decide to make a profit out of their situation, hilarious consequences and life-changing events ensue that would test the limit of their friendship.
The Breaker Upperers is a New Zealand romantic-comedy film about these two friends who run an agency for people who need help breaking up with their significant others. They use various creative methods including but not limited to impersonation, deception, and other dangerous means like kidnapping.
However, their methods soon land them in real trouble and in disagreements when one of them falls for a client and befriends the other. Soon the agency becomes a mess.
But as with other friendship stories, the two eventually reconcile. Their experiences taught them that relationships can have both scenarios–breaking up and making up.
The Breaker Upperers is a witty, fun, and laugh-out-loud buddy movie filled with energy from its smart-mouthed performers. Co-stars Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek make you want to dance, sing, and laugh in stitches with every breakup deliveries and at the same time, makes you cringe in anticipation for their next attempt at a breakup song.
Director: Conor Allyn – Screenplay: Madeleine Sami, Jackie van Beek – Cast: Madeleine Sami, Jackie van Beek, James Rolleston – Run Time: 2h 12m