Netflix knew from the start that they had little control over what movies they allow for subscriber’s streaming enjoyment.
The movies they show are licensed, and with so many other streaming services popping up like HBO Max, Disney+, CBS All-Access, Peacock, Hulu, Prime Video, and more, the options for movies to license are shrinking.
With that in mind, Netflix has been making more and more original movies that they own, so they will never leave their service.
While there have been Netflix originals produced since 2015, recent movies have been getting critical acclaim and have won a lot of Oscars. With that in mind, here are several of the best original movies you can catch on Netflix.
Make sure to check back monthly as we will update and add to this list as more shows hit the platform.
The Fear Street Trilogy (2021)
In what came as a surprise, the Netflix three-part movie series based on R.L. Stine’s Fear Street books was an entertaining success story.
The movies were released over three consecutive weeks so viewers didn’t have to wait long to see them all. Each movie took place in a different year (1994, 1978, 1666), but they all dealt with the same horror that connected all three eras.
The three movies were critically praised, receiving an 80%, 89%, and 93% Rotten Tomatoes score.
Army of the Dead (2021)
Army of the Dead is Zack Snyder’s new movie as he leaves the superhero genre and moves back to the zombie genre.
Snyder gained his earliest acclaim with the remake of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and that movie proved to be a fantastic addition to the zombie genre.
In this new Netflix movie, Snyder has the zombie genre kept in one place, as all the zombies are in Las Vegas, surrounded by a wall keeping them contained.
However, when a team is put together (with Dave Bautista as the lead) to go in and steal money from a casino vault, they learn the zombies have developed intelligence and are ready for a fight.
The Mitchells vs. The Machines (2021)
The Mitchells vs. The Machines was supposed to be a theatrical release by the production team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The LEGO Movie).
It ended up as a Netflix original animated movie instead, and might be the best animated movie on Netflix.
A dysfunctional family has the dad trying to reconnect with his daughter before she moves away to college and sets up a road trip to drive her to college, much to her horror.
However, before they get there, a robot uprising occurs, and this family has to work together to survive.
Pieces of a Woman (2020)
One of the most depressing movies on Netflix right now, but intensely gripping, is Pieces of a Woman.
In the movie, Vanessa Kirby stars as Martha, a woman who suffers a loss when the midwife called in to deliver her baby, resulting in the baby’s death.
Shia LaBeouf stars as her husband Sean, while Molly Parker stars as the midwife, who finds herself facing legal liabilities for the baby’s death.
The movie then follows the deterioration of Martha and Sean’s relationship, her relationship with her mother, who blames her, and the midwife’s trial.
The Dig (2021)
The Dig is a 2021 Netflix original that was also released into theaters on a limited basis and is an award contender.
The movie tells the story of a land dig before World War II where a woman (Carey Mulligan) and the archaeologist (Ralph Fiennes) she hires find an amazing discovery.
The seemingly basic story, based on the book by John Preston, is a hugely inspirational tale that has a high 87% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes
David Fincher returned in 2020 with a Netflix original movie.
In Mank, Fincher creates a black and white movie that tells the story of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and his life as he works on the script for Orson Welle’s Citizen Kane.
Since Citizen Kane was an unflattering look at real-life media mogul William Randolph Hearst, this was a job that almost ruined Mank’s life.
In December on Netflix, the movie premiered and was one of the top new releases of the month for the streaming giant.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020)
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom will be known as the final movie in the career of Chadwick Boseman before his untimely passing.
However, it deserves to also be known as one of the best movies of 2020 and Viola Davis deserves all the praise in the world for her performance.
Davis is Ma Rainey and she gathers her band players (of which Boseman is one) together to record a new album in Chicago. However, due to rising tensions, the recording is halted and tempers boil over.
The Midnight Sky (2020)
The Midnight Sky is George Clooney’s latest film, which he both directed and stars in.
The film tells the story of an Earth that has fallen to a catastrophic end, with most humans dying to an unexplained incident. Clooney is a scientist working in the Arctic and one of the last of Earth’s survivors.
He knows a group of astronauts is returning with no idea what happened on Earth, and he is in a hurry to contact them to warn them to head back because all is lost here.
However, his plans are interrupted when a young girl shows up in his lab and he has to care for her as well.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)
The Trial of the Chicago 7 hit Netflix in October 2020 and told the true-life story of the seven men charged for various crimes during a riot at the 1968 Democratic Convention.
Aaron Sorkin, who has mastered writing political movies, delivered a great script and the actors were all top-notch.
The stars involved included Eddie Redmayne, Jeremy Strong, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as four of the seven and Joseph Gordon-Levitt continuing to turn in great roles as an attorney.
The movie shows how the courts can be politicized, taking away the actual job they are supposed to do, and this film is a perfect example of when this injustice can happen in the United States.
Enola Holmes (2020)
Based on the y9oung adult book series by Nancy Springer, Enola Holmes is a new story from the world of Sherlock Holmes focusing on his teenage sister Enola.
When Enola’s mother (a wonderful Helena Bonham Carter) disappears, Enola (a brilliant Mikkie Bobby Brown) sets out to find her only to end up investigating the case of the attempted murder of a young Marquess.
By the end, Enola proves to be her brother’s equal when it comes to detective work while evading both of her brothers, who want to put her in a finishing school for women.
This movie deserves to start a new franchise for Brown (who was Eleven in Stranger Things).
The Devil All the Time (2020)
Tom Holland set the world on fire with his role as Spider-Man in the MCU movies, and now he has a chance to show he can do more than just wisecrack as a teenage superhero.
Robert Pattinson will play the next Batman, and here he gets to chew the scenery in a role that is as far from Batman as a person can get.
Holland is a young man in a small town in Ohio named Arvin, where his dad raised his family until the tragic day his mother died of cancer, and his dad took his own life.
However, he doesn’t know that a chance meeting his dad had years before would cause a series of disasters that could lead straight to Arvin himself.
The Old Guard (2020)
Netflix released The Old Guard in July 2020, and it appears to be a new franchise for the streaming giant when it comes to movies.
Charlize Theron stars as an immortal who has been fighting evil and saving innocents for centuries. She has put together a team of fellow immortals, and they go where they are called.
However, the team ends up revisiting an old case and ends up attacked, with several of them captured by a pharma company looking to use their blood and DNA to create new drugs to become wealthy.
Luckily, a new immortal comes to power at this exact time, and the team seeks her out to join in the fight.
Beasts of No Nation (2015)
The first Netflix original movie arrived in 2015 as the streaming giant picked up Beasts of No Nation for $12 million after it screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Netflix then released it theatrically, as well as through its online service. Many theaters refused to screen the movie as a result, but it was a massive critical sensation.
There was no Oscar nomination due to the Netflix controversy, but it still won a SAG Award for Idris Elba – the first movie to win there without an Oscar nom.
The movie is about a child soldier as his country goes through a war.
In 2016, Ellen Page starred in the Netflix drama movie Tallulah.
In the film, Page stars as Tullalah, a homeless girl who is traveling around America with her boyfriend. When her boyfriend leaves to go back home, she eventually follows.
When she arrives, he is not there, but she develops an uneasy relationship with his mother. When a neglectful mother asks her to watch her child, Tallulah takes the child to raise while hiding from the police who are searching for the missing child.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs saw the Coen brothers arrive on Netflix.
The filmmakers, who have substantial cult hits like Big Lebowski and critical hits like No Country for Old Men, embraced their weirdness for this quirky anthology movie.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs features six vignettes that are all tied together by the classical American frontier. The cast is top-notch, with Tim Blake Nelson, James Franco, Tom Waits, Brendan Gleeson, and more.
This Netflix original received three Oscar nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Song for a track performed by Tim Blake Nelson and Willie Watson.
In 2018, Netflix finally hit it big with its original series and released its top critically acclaimed series.
Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity) signed on to direct his dream project for Netflix when he struggled to get financing for it traditionally.
That movie was Roma, a black and white passion project about a live-in housekeeper for a middle-class family in Mexico City. This was based on Cuaron’s childhood.
Roma picked up 10 Oscar nominations, tied for the most ever for a non-English language film. Cuaron won his second Best Director Oscar as well as the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.
The Highwaymen (2019)
Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson starred in the Netflix re-telling of the Bonnie and Clyde story.
While there have been movies about the bank robbers in the past, this time the story focused on the former Texas Rangers hired to track down the notorious outlaws.
This is another movie that had been in development for many years that was never made (it was initially earmarked for Paul Newman and Robert Redford). Netflix swooped in and picked it up.
Also appearing in the movie was Kathy Bates in a head-turning role as former Texas governor Miriam “Ma” Ferguson.
Always Be My Maybe (2019)
Always Be My Maybe was a Netflix original romantic comedy movie that hit the streaming service 2019.
Randall Park and Ali Wong star as childhood friends, Marcus and Sasha, who drifted apart when they had a sexual relationship.
Now, Sasha is a celebrity chef opening up a new restaurant in San Francisco while Marcus still lives there with his widowed father, and the two reconnect and start to rekindle their friendship.
This is also a movie with a fantastic performance by Keanu Reeves in an over-the-top version of himself as a love interest for Sasha.
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019)
Netflix has two of the best crime drama series in history streaming on the site, with Breaking Bad and its prequel, Better Call Saul.
Even better, Netflix and AMC co-partnered for a sequel to Breaking Bad with the film, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie.
While Walter White died in the series, this movie shows the path that his former student and partner Jesse Pinkman took after the events of the television series.
Breaking Bad’s finale was able to tie up Walter White’s story and El Camino finally gave Jesse the chance to get the ending to his story that the character deserved.
Dolemite Is My Name (2019)
Eddie Murphy was at one time the funniest comedian in movies, but after some family-friendly movie flops, Murphy almost disappeared into self-imposed retirement.
In 2019, Murphy roared back big-time. On top of a new stand-up tour for the funnyman, he also starred in the Netflix original comedy movie Dolemite Is My Name.
This film was based on the true story of filmmaker Rudy Ray Moore, a man who portrayed Dolemite in his stand-up and some movies of his own.
Murphy picked up a Golden Globe nomination for his return, and the movie also picked up a Best Motion Picture nomination as well.
The Irishman (2019)
Martin Scorsese was trying to get what he considered his swan song to the mobster movie made for years. However, he couldn’t get financing from major studios.
Much like Alfonso Cuaron and Roma, Netflix swooped in and gave him the money he needed, and what resulted was The Irishman on Netflix in 2019.
The movie checked in at a little over three hours and featured classic Scorsese actors, including Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Harvey Keitel.
De Niro is an aging hitman named Frank Sheeran, while Pacino plays Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa. The film picked up 10 Oscar nominations but didn’t win any.
Marriage Story (2019)
Noah Baumbach has made his name creating quirky movies about real people involved in basic life moments, but infusing them with life and color.
With Marriage Story, he created one of the saddest movies on Netflix as he told the story of a divorce and the effects it had on the couple’s young child.
Scarlet Johansson and Adam Driver portray the married couple, and Baumbach based the story on his divorce from ex-wife Jennifer Jason Leigh, as well as memories of the separation of his own parents.
Laura Dern won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and the movie earned six total nominations, including Best Picture.
The Two Popes (2019)
Another 2019 critical darling for Netflix was the movie The Two Popes.
Anthony Hopkins starred as Pope Benedict XVI while Jonathan Pryce starred as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio in this film based on the book, The Pope, by Anthony McCarten.
In the movie, the Pope is trying to convince the Cardinal to step down and resign as the archbishop amidst the Vatican leaks scandal, while also letting him know he plans to abdicate the papacy as well.
Both Hopkins and Pryce picked up Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for their roles in the movie.