In last week’s issue, Victoria Anders PO ’18 discussed the ambitiously up-and-coming Netflix independent film industry, stating that she had no doubt Netflix would continue to produce original content, and gain more accolades as the company develops their independent programming. That being said, most people, including TSL film columnist Ben Hafetz PZ ’20, are less than enthusiastic about the range of original movies on Netflix.
While it’s true that Netflix’s movies have received much less popular attention and critical acclaim than their TV shows, I think a lot of their feature length films deserve more recognition. So, without further ado, these are my top five Netflix original films that I think you should check out:
Directed by one of my favorite Korean directors, Bong Joon-ho (“Snowpiercer,” “Mother”), “Okja” will probably go down as one of my favorite movies, not just favorite Netflix originals, of all time.
The story follows young Mija (Seo-Hyeon Ahn) on her quest to save Okja, a “super-pig” that she has grown up taking care of, from the malevolent Mirando company (headed by character Tilda Swinton) who wants to mass-produce Okja meat.
Though the premise sounds like simply a sweet story of love, friendship, and revenge — and while the movie does touch on all these things — Bong explores heavy themes of corporate corruption, media intervention in our society, and the horrible reality of the meat industry.
The film has, and will, inevitably make viewers a little uncomfortable, as many of Bong’s films do, but it is also extremely heartfelt and has moments of hilarity sprinkled in between each teary scene.
Mudbound (Historical Drama)
If you’ve heard of any Netflix original films in the past year, it’s probably “Mudbound.” Securing four Academy Award nominations, including Best Cinematography (with Rachel Morrison being the only female cinematographer nominated in the category) and Best Supporting Actress for Mary J. Blige’s groundbreaking performance, the movie deserves all the acclaim it has received and more.
The film, which portrays the coexistence of a black family and a white family in the South during the Jim Crow era, explores pervasive racial tension and the narrative of injustice that has dominated so much of our history (and our present). As David Sims, a senior associate letter from The Atlantic, put it best, “‘Mudbound’ is the kind of movie that deserves a huge audience, which its release on Netflix may help secure.”
I Don’t Feel At Home in This World Anymore (Drama/Crime)
This one’s pretty quirky, and your response can range from “Wow, I’m not sure what just happened” to “I wish they made more movies like that.”
The protagonist Ruth Kimke, portrayed by Melanie Lynskey, is 160 percent fed up with humanity after her house is broken into and decides to take matters into her own hands when the police do nothing to catch the perpetrator.
It’s not your average vigilante heroine story, and the action isn’t of epic scale. But the underlying narrative of Ruth and her day-to-day interactions with people she disdains ultimately lends itself to a refreshingly dark thriller comedy.
1922 (Horror/Psychological/Thriller/Period Piece)
As a self-proclaimed Stephen King superfan, I can safely say this is one of the best adaptations of his novels I’ve seen in recent years (others including “Gerald’s Game” and the Hulu series “11 22 63”).
Thomas Jane’s performance as Wilfred, a man tormented by his own thoughts, sends chills up my spine just thinking about it.
The movie revolves around Wilfred after he murders his wife (this is not a spoiler; you find out within the first 10 minutes), and how he comes to terms with his actions through the confession he is writing.
It’s tremendously terrifying, and the psychological horror that is the final act might keep you awake for a couple of nights — viewer discretion advised.
The Fundamentals of Caring (Drama/Comedy)
On a slightly brighter note, if you aren’t already in love with Paul Rudd, I implore you to check out this film. While I do agree with a lot of the reviews, that this movie has its cliches and problematic moments of forced empathy, I can’t argue with the fact that Rudd gives yet another great performance.
His character, Ben, makes a life-changing decision to give up everything he knows and become a caregiver to 18-year-old Trevor, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The movie explores the complexities of caring for someone in a variety of human relationships, and ultimately, results in a slightly unrealistic but nonetheless heartwarming story.