Netflix set the ambitious target of one movie a week and already, they’re smashing that target but given the high amount of Netflix Original movies coming onto the service, which ones are actually worth your time? Below, we’ll take you through our picks of the best new Netflix Original movies added in 2021.
This list will exclude documentaries and stand-up specials. We’re specifically looking at Netflix Original movies. If this list is unimpressive to you, take a look at what’s coming up on the movie front for the rest of 2021.
16. Outside the Wire
Director: Mikael Håfström
Cast: Anthony Mackie, Damson Idris, Enzo Cilenti
Anthony Mackie is in hot demand at the moment and sadly couldn’t elevate this movie into something great but is still an enjoyable action flick all the same.
Outside the Wire follows a drone pilot who teams up with a new android officer in the hopes of stopping a nuclear attack.
15. Arlo the Alligator Boy
Director: Ryan Crego
Cast: Michael J. Woodard, Ryan Crego, Dee Bradley Baker
Sadly for whatever reason, it looks as though Arlo the Alligator Boy hasn’t had a huge release on Netflix with only a few hundred submitting reviews onto IMDb thus far.
However, this movie is absolutely brilliant watch for the young ones with a hand-drawn aesthetic, some earworm songs, and the promise of it being a franchise Netflix invests in with an upcoming companion TV series.
14. Finding ‘Ohana
Director: Jude Weng
Cast: Kea Peahu, Alex Aiono, Lindsay Watson
Netflix ended 2020 with the family feature film We Can Be Heroes and in our opinion, then topped it in late January with the new kids-focused film, Finding ‘Ohana.
The movie is a hybrid of The Goonies and Indiana Jones where a group of kids in the summer set out to find secret lost treasures.
Many have praised it being an excellent family adventure while some have called it too predictable and far inferior to the aforementioned Goonies movie.
13. Bombay Rose
Director: Gitanjali Rao
Cast: Cyli Khare, Amit Deondi, Gargi Shitole
Netflix has been stepping up big time on the animation front and Bombay Rose is an excellent example of this. The hour and a half long feature film has every frame hand-painted and as a result, looks absolutely gorgeous.
The love story sees two who hope to one day be together but religious differences and duty hold them back.
12. Malcolm & Marie
Director: Sam Levinson
Cast: John David Washington and Zendaya
Let’s be honest, most of the “lockdown” series and movies produced with limited budgets have been subpar at best. That doesn’t apply to Malcolm & Marie which is wholly carried by two stunning performances by the leads.
The movie picks up after an awards evening with a couple coming home to have something to eat and then head to bed. However, tensions arise which leads to several arguments throughout the early hours of the morning.
While the movie does feel like it repeats itself several times throughout, it’s still an excellent character piece with two of today’s best actors.
11. Army of the Dead
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Ana de la Reguera
Hot off the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League for HBO Max, Netflix had its project with the famed director lined up to kickstart its summer 2021 movie schedule.
Snyder, known for his remake of Dawn of the Dead, reentered the zombie space with a fun 2 and a half hour frolic in the Las Vegas desert. While it’s certainly not going to be for everyone and you could spend all afternoon picking apart its gaping plot holes, there’s still a fun time to be had with impressive visuals albeit often nauseating depth of field.
10. Space Sweepers
Director: Sung-hee Jo
Cast: Song Joong-Ki, Kim Tae-ri, Seon-kyu Jin
If big sci-fi blockbusters are your thing then Space Sweepers should be high up on your agenda.
The Korean movie is set years into the future when crews of space sweepers are after space debris to earn a few bucks. We follow one crew who seemingly manages to find a way to save their homeworld.
The movie jumps in and out of Korean with plenty of English spoken throughout which makes this a truly international movie with stellar CGI.
Its major pitfalls are what I think are hallmarks of Asian movies that tend to tell stories slightly different and can give you whiplash trying to keep up but perhaps that’s a personal flaw more than the movie’s flaw.
Director: Alexandre Aja
Cast: Mélanie Laurent, Mathieu Amalric, Malik Zidi
Oxygen is another perfect example of a movie that you would’ve probably missed or looked over had it had a traditional theatrical release.
Although it’s simplistic and perhaps not the most inspired plot in the world, it is executed very well.
The story is about a woman awaking in a cryogenic chamber lacking in memory as to how she got there or who she is but it’s a race against time as oxygen is slowly running out.
8. The Woman in the Window
Director: Joe Wright
Cast: Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie
There’s been a number of movies swept up by the pandemic preventing it from getting a wide theatrical release with The Woman in the Window ultimately getting sold from Fox to Netflix.
While the movie certainly has flaws, it sees another flawless performance from Amy Adams who plays an agoraphobic woman living in New York.
7. The Dig
Director: Simon Stone
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, Lily James
Exemplary performances are found throughout this biopic that relives the moments of the excavation of the Sutton Hoo.
The British production is superbly written and while the subject matter may not appeal to all, those who do dig in will find plenty to remember.
6. Pieces of a Woman
Director: Kornél Mundruczó
Cast: Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Ellen Burstyn
While the release of Pieces of a Woman may have been slightly overshadowed by the allegations hanging over Shia LaBeouf, that shouldn’t discourage you from watching this heart-tugging and emotional feature.
Going on to be nominated for an Oscar, the movie follows a birth that goes wrong and a family’s efforts to get justice. The opening 15 minutes alone are some of the most wrenching minutes you’ll be able to watch on Netflix and this will almost certainly be a painful watch for some so bear that in mind before clicking play.
Vanessa Kirby’s performance, in particular, is absolutely sublime.
5. Love and Monsters
Director: Michael Matthews
Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Jessica Henwick, Michael Rooker
Picked up for international distribution is the Paramount Pictures movie Love and Monsters. Set in a dystopian future where monsters rule the world, we follow a rather hopeless Joel who has to go on a quest outside of his bunker to find his ex.
The movie was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects.
4. News of the World
Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast: Tom Hanks, Helena Zengel, Tom Astor
Note: Not available in Netflix in the United States
Netflix acquired the international rights to this Tom Hanks movie from Universal Pictures that went onto be nominated for 2 Golden Globes.
The movie takes you on a journey with Hanks and Zengel who are on the search for the young girl’s true home while stopping off in towns to read out newspapers to the townsfolks.
It’s a slow burn but has some excellent character development throughout with detailed sets and superb costumes.
3. The White Tiger
Director: Ramin Bahrani
Cast: Adarsh Gourav, Rajkummar Rao, Priyanka Chopra
Over the past few years, Netflix has really been ramping up production of Indian content and perhaps the best titles to have come out of those efforts is The White Tiger.
The hybrid language movie follows a young man hoping to make it big in the criminal underworld.
With great performances from all, the movie is an excellent example of one that thrives on a global Netflix but wouldn’t necessarily be one that does well in a traditional cinema environment.
2. I Care A Lot
Cast: Peter Dinklage, Rosamund Pike, Alicia Witt, Chris Messina, Damian Young,
Director: J Blakeson
Note: Only available on Netflix in the United States and 21 other countries. Amazon Prime Original in others.
I Care A Lot rocked the top 10 charts when it released in February 2021 and for good reason, it’s a gripping drama featuring an absolutely sublime performance from Rosamund Pike who brings out a kind of contempt I haven’t had for a character in a long while.
The story follows an astute businesswoman who is in the business of care and sucking out all the cash from wealthy older clients. Her game is disrupted however when she manages to find a client that may not be who she seems to be.
It’s a movie you’d probably have missed out on if it got a traditional theatrical release but absolutely thrived on Netflix.
1. The Mitchells vs. The Machines
Directors: Michael Rianda, Jeff Rowe
Cast: Charlyne Yi, Olivia Colman, Eric André
Netflix Animation has been improving year over year and although The Mitchells vs. The Machines doesn’t come out from Netflix themselves, it’s by far one of their best releases to date.
Complete with stunning visuals, a stellar voice cast lineup the movie is the complete package for the entire family and therefore, our favorite movie so far of 2021.
The Sony Animation Picture follows a family on a road trip that gets rudely interrupted by killer robots who invade earth.
What has been your favorite new Netflix Original movie of 2021 so far? Let us know in the comments down below.