The Best 5 New Netflix Original Movies of 2024 So Far

The first quarter of the 2024 Film Year is in the books!

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Best New Movies Released In 2024 So Far

Pictures: Netflix

As in past years, Netflix has followed the same strategy for its Q1 releases: Big Stars, Valentine’s Day romance, and a few remaining Oscar hopefuls getting ready for their push to the big show in March.

This year, familiar faces like Millie Bobby Brown, Adam Sandler, Kevin Hart, and Lindsay Lohan have graced the platform, but big names don’t always turn out critical favorites. 2023 saw Your Place or Mine, We Have A Ghost, and You People have weaker responses despite their star power.

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How has 2024 fared so far? While you can check all my weekly reviews here, let’s stay positive and look at my Top 5 Netflix Original Films of 2024 so far.



Director: Trish Sie
Cast: Gina Rodriguez, Damon Wayans Jr, Tom Ellis, Joel Courtney
Rated: TV-MA

Players Netflix Movie First Look 5

Players. (L-R) Augustus Prew as Brannagan, Joel Courtney as Little, Damon Wayans Jr. as Adam and Liza Koshy as Ashley in Players. Cr. K.C. Bailey/Netflix ©2023.

Released on the premium Valentine’s Day slot, Players is co-produced & stars frequent Netflix collaborator Gina Rodriguez (Someone Great, Spy Kids: Armageddon) as Mack, a New York sports writer who has spent years devising hook-up “plays” with her best friend Adam (Damon Wayans Jr.) and their crew.

While it has led to countless one-night stands over the years, following their playbook comes with a strict set of ground rules – chief among them: you can’t build a relationship from a play. When Mack unexpectedly falls for her latest target, charming war correspondent Nick (Lucifer star Tom Ellis), she begins to rethink the game entirely. As the lines between work, fun, friendship, and romance begin to blur, Mack must learn what it takes to go from simply scoring to playing for keeps.

Based on the original script from former Marvel’s Daredevil executive story editor Whit Anderson, this occasionally sports-influenced movie is at its best when the crew of friends start running unique “plays” to get each other laid in the “Hard-To-Get” backdrop of NYC. These playful gambits peak when the target gets bigger in the form of Pulitzer Prize finalist and writer Nick Russell, the hook-up target turned chance at a true adult relationship for Mack. Along with her talented crew of performance artist friends/newspaper co-workers, Mack creates some genuinely inventive and entertaining maneuvers to slowly win the affections of Tom Ellis’ Nick.

While the movie does lose momentum as the games get sidelined for modern dating complications and some chemistry issues between Rodriguez & Wayans Jr. become more apparent, the messaging of the film can be appreciated by more discerning rom-com fans: Consider what you want or deserve before entering a relationship with someone who looks great on paper or as the movie paraphrases as “caught up in ‘could get’ without considering ‘should get’”. Maybe Rodriguez & Wayans Jr. aren’t the most engaging happy ever after we could hope for, but the saccharine ending at former Yankee Stadium gave us just enough to send off the film.

Players is a minor upgrade on the more critically panned Netflix rom-com efforts from 2023 (outside of Love at First Sight … underrated!) and has some good fun with its deep cast. Let’s hope this puts us back on the upswing for rom-coms on Netflix in the future.



Director: John Ridley
Cast: Regina King, Lance Reddick, Terrance Howard, Lucas Hedges Rated: PG-13

Shirley Netflix Movie Everything We Know

Picture: Netflix

Finally released in 2024 after being pushed from its original 2023 date, Shirley is the long-awaited collaboration from its star Oscar winner Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk, The Harder They Fall) and its director John Ridley (Five Days at Memorial, Godfather of Harlem), who discussed the trailblazing political figure Shirley Chisholm as far back as the middle of last decade when the pair worked together on American Crime.

Shirley displays an intimate portrayal of political icon Shirley Chisholm, the first Black Congresswoman and the first Black woman to run for President of the U.S., and the cost of accomplishment for Shirley herself. The film tells the story of Chisholm’s boundary-breaking and historic presidential campaign, based on exclusive and extensive conversations with family, friends, and those who knew her best.

Telling the story of Shirley Chisholm and her historic campaign is a worthy tale to tell. The best aspects of the film are in the DNA of Chisholm’s character and enduring legacy.

King and Ridley (as director and screenwriter) portray Shirley as a woman who never settled, never wavered, and frequently used her values and faith to bring out the best in the people in her life. She also was an agent for change and an influence on the next generation of black & female politicians. The film’s final moments takes the time to show the fruits created from the seeds of Chisholm’s career; whether that be a positive action from former rival Gov. George Wallace after Shirley showed him grace and bonded with him over their failed assassination attempts or the future success of Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee who worked on Shirley’s presidential campaign.

While not as magnetic or focused as last year’s Netflix political biopic, Rustin, with some editing & script issues to boot, Shirley gives a deep cast of talented actors a positive message in which to work. If the aim was for this film to be featured at the Oscars in 2025, I don’t think it would hit its mark; But if the aim was to move Shirley’s story forward to a new generation and further that interest and ambition through fictionalized storytelling, then Ridley & King did just that.

In an election year where we’re forced to choose from two 75+-year-old white candidates whom we’ve voted on before, it’s a great reminder to look at political icons of the past who saw the landscape and decided to show people change was possible. As producers, director, writer, and star, King and Ridley took up the cause to get Shirley Chisholm’s story made for a mass audience on the largest platform available and got it done. While the film-making doesn’t always work, the spirit and story of Shirley always will, and they knew it was worth fighting for.


The Kitchen

Directed by: Daniel Kaluuya & Kibwe Tavares
Cast: Kane Robinson, Jedaiah Bannerman, Ian Wright, Henry Lawfull Rated: R

The Kitchen Netflix January 2024

Picture: Netflix

Premiering as the closing night film at the BFI London Film Festival, The Kitchen marks the feature film directorial debut for Oscar-winning actor Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Judas and the Black Messiah) and Co-Director Kibwe Tavares, who previously won the Special Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for his short film Robots of Brixton. Kaluuya also produced the film alongside Executive Producer Michael Fassbender (The Killer, Inglourious Basterds) and co-wrote the script with writer Joe Murtagh (Calm With Horses, Gangs of London).

The film stars a pair of Top Boy standouts, Kane “Kano” Robinson & Hope Ikpoku Jnr, playing Izi and Staples, respectively, as they try to break out from their small-screen success into a possible big-screen future. Also starring is newcomer Jedaiah Bannerman as Benji, A Boy Called Christmas star Henry Lawfull, and football legend Ian Wright (Ted Lasso) as community DJ Lord Kitchener.

Described as a “love letter to London” in an “extreme version of our current world” by co-director Tavares, the story is built around a city in stark financial contrast. The rich live comfortably in their growing posh, digitally-enhanced existence while lower-class communities increasingly erode under the weight of gentrification. One such community, “The Kitchen”, is under constant attack in the war against housing projects. The city and private ownership is forcing the tenants of “The Kitchen” to vacate, but they simply won’t leave as they have no place else to go in a city that is leaving them behind. Frequent violent police raids strike fear into its population as many are taken or killed in the process while basic supplies like water and food have been cut off.

One such resident of The Kitchen, the downbeat and solitary man Izi, is desperately looking to move on and move out. Not feeling tied to his fellow residents, the community that raised him, or the rebel gangs that strike back against the city for their harsh treatment, Izzy hopes that his application to a safer, more advanced single-occupancy apartment will come through any day.

However, Izzy’s life and plans for the future are thrown with the appearance of young Benji, a boy reeling from the recent loss of his mother with no place to go. Meeting at Benji’s mother’s services at the high-tech funeral in which Izzy works, the two form a reluctant partnership. Benji was told by his mother prior to her death that his father lived in The Kitchen and Izzy knew his mother long ago. Trying to maintain a relationship at arms length, Izzy is compelled to look after the boy’s wellbeing, but doesn’t want to fully commit as to derail his plans for finally leaving for the life he wants to lead. Faced with the possibility that he could be the boy’s real father and his absence could tempt Benji to join with the community’s rebel gang, Izzy must make a decision that could alter his life forever.

Winner of 2 British Independent Film Awards for Best Effects and Best Production Design, The Kitchen succeeds in providing a shockingly plausible glimpse into our future city issues while creating an atmosphere of fear, confusion, and despair. The look and feel of a distant future London divided between a thriving wealthy class pushing into the digital age with security and comfort and a decaying, impoverished lower class feeling their lives shifting under their feet is well conveyed for the majority of the film, especially at the scale of the film’s budget.

The film also features solid performances from its leads Kane “Kano” Robinson & Jedaiah Bannerman. Their pairing gives the story meaning as they both are forced to grow up and take hold of their unstable lives at the bottom of the societal food chain. Bannerman’s character Benji also provides the audience a more in-depth look at the layers of living in “The Kitchen” with a sense of awe & terror that can only be provided by someone experiencing it for the first time.

While it may be plagued with similar issues that many dystopian future stories have, such as depth in their messaging and style over substance, The Kitchen has a lot to admire in its world-building and tone setting. With well-deserved accolades for production design and special effects on a smaller indie budget, one could see a bright future for the film’s creators with a more defined script behind them.



Directed by Johan Renck
Cast: Adam Sandler, Paul Dano, Carey Mulligan, Isabella Rossellini Rated: R

Adam Sandler Spaceman Movie

Picture: Netflix

An official selection of the Berlin International Film Festival, Spaceman is the latest Netflix film starring lead actor Adam Sandler, who has 12 Netflix Originals under his belt as an actor and a few more as a producer under his Happy Madison Productions banner.

Based on the 2017 novel “Spaceman of Bohemia” by Jaroslav Kalfar, the film stars Sandler as astronaut Jakub Prochazka, a man from the Czech countryside who rose through the ranks to become the country’s most important astronaut to date.

When a solo mission to a mysterious cloud in the outer reaches of Jupiter offers him both the chance at the spotlight to erase his family’s failures, and a way to escape his own problems on the ground, he ventures boldly into the vast unknown. But in so doing, he leaves behind his devoted wife, Lenka (Maestro star Carey Mulligan), whose love he has sacrificed on the altar of his ambitions.

Alone in Deep Space, Jakub discovers a possibly imaginary giant alien spider, who becomes his unlikely companion. Over philosophical conversations about the nature of love, life and death, and the deliciousness of a Nutella-like hazelnut spread, the pair form an intense and emotional bond. Together, they must sort through Jakub’s struggles in life and love and get back to what matters most before it’s too late.

Alongside The Sandman and Mulligan, the cast features Italian acting icon Isabella Rossellini (Blue Velvet, Death Becomes Her) as Commissioner Tuma, The Big Bang Theory star Kunal Nayyar as Peter, Lena Olin (The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Alias) as Zdena, You’re So Not Invited To My Bar Mitzvah lead Sunny Sandler, and Dumb Money star Paul Dano as the voice of Hanus the Spider.

Helmed by music video, commercial, & episodic television director Johan Renck (Chernobyl) on a script from Colby Day, Spaceman takes us on an introspective journey through the life choices we make and the ripple effects of those choices over time. While it may get compared to more notable versions of this such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Ad Astra, or potentially even the more comedic Defending Your Life, the film is far more straightforward and tortured than its peers, which is a wild statement with an actor like Sandler in its lead.

This science fiction drama feels the story’s weight increase along its running time as we learn more about Jakub’s distant relationship with his pregnant wife, his complicated childhood, and his selfish, closed-off tendencies that have plagued him his whole life. Playing in muted tones, measured speech, and dramatic scoring, the film forces you to recalibrate your mind & expectations of what you may have thought a movie with Adam Sandler talking to a spider in space may have been.

Renck’s direction and use of mood and atmosphere sets the stage well for the life examination to come. The beauty in the film’s final act can only be accomplished by tearing the film down the studs and letting the claustrophobic therapy sessions between Jakub and Hanus get into our heads & hearts. Renck’s abilities extend to the ground as well, and some of the more impactful scenes in the film’s earlier acts belong to the more contentious moments between Carey Mulligan’s Lenka and the people in her life desperately trying to get her back on track with Jakub in his restless, unraveling state.

Much The Kitchen at #3, Spaceman also could have benefited from digging deeper into its characters and messaging. However, with an all-star cast and a more emotional punch in the film’s final moments, Spaceman does just enough to garner a more prominent spot on my list.


Orion and the Dark

Directed by Sean Charmatz
Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Paul Walter Hauser, Angela Bassett, Colin Hanks Rated: TV-Y7

Orion And The Dark Netflix Movie Review

Picture: Dreamworks Animation

Produced by Dreamworks Animation, Orion and the Dark marks the feature film directorial debut for veteran storyboard artist Sean Charmatz (Trolls, The Angry Birds Movies, SpongeBob Squarepants) based on a script from legendary writer/director Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).

Based on the children’s book of the same name by Emma Yarlett, the story centers around young schoolboy Orion, who lives every day in constant irrational fear. He’s scared of tons of things: bees, dogs, the ocean, cell phone waves, murderous gutter clowns, and even falling off a cliff. But of all his fears, the thing he’s most afraid of is what he confronts on a nightly basis: the Dark. So when the literal embodiment of his worst fear pays him a visit, the Dark whisk Orion away on a roller coaster ride around the world to prove there is nothing to be afraid of in the night. As the unlikely pair grows closer, Orion must decide if he can learn to accept the unknown – to stop letting fear control his life and finally embrace the joy of living.

Featuring an incredibly deep cast of voice talent, the film stars Critics’ Choice Award winner Jacob Tremblay (Luca, The Little Mermaid) as young Orion. Tremblay previously voiced Elmer Elevator for Netflix’s original animated film My Father’s Dragon back in 2022. Alongside Tremblay, the film also stars Cobra Kai’s Paul Walter Hauser as Dark, Oscar nominee Angela Bassett as Sweet Dreams, MadTV’s Ike Barinholtz as Light, What We Do In The Shadows standout Natasia Demetriou as Sleep, Bridgerton’s Golda Rosheuvel as Unexplained Noises, German Filmmaker and Voice God Werner Herzog, Fall of the House of Usher’s Carla Gugino as Orion’s Mom, and Roswell’s Colin Hanks as Adult Orion.

While the big names in the cast might bring the adults to the party, the success of this film belongs to the creative subject matter and the always uniquely creative writing of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. Picking up the mantle from seminal Pixar films like Inside Out and Finding Nemo, Orion and the Dark focuses on children who are plagued by the emotions that control them every day. In an educational world that increasingly focuses on social emotional learning in the classroom at early ages, this story feels in touch with its audience in an impactful way – an audience that is not only the children who face adolescent anxiety, but the adults who, not only help their children cope with these issues, but also grew up in a generation that most likely didn’t have the support to help with their own anxieties from youth and into adulthood.

The safe hands of Kaufman, words not many would think to write if you’ve watched the outlandishly brilliant yet audacious films Kaufman has written over the years, guide us through generations of genetic predisposition to anxiety with a layered story told by a father through the prism of his younger self to his daughter who is facing the same issue of fearing the dark at bedtime. The construction of the script switches around from a narrated introduction to the world of Young Orion to an evolving bedtime from a father to daughter; one that the Father allows the daughter to help shape and mold as the movie progresses. The lessons of the story are imparted by the young and old alike, rallying around the notions of acknowledging and embracing fear while learning to not let those fears get in the way of living your life. Who knows? You may miss out on a new experience, a new love, or a new best friend.

While the life lessons are important, and the acknowledgment of adolescent mental health is paramount, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how funny, sweet, and satisfying the film can be over its impressively tight 90-minute runtime. With lines like “Fun is just a word people made up to make danger sound more appealing,” even the anxious musings of a young child will make you laugh on a deeper level. The addition of the “Night Entities” – Insomnia, Quiet, Sleep, Sweet Dreams, and Unexplained Noises – to the story (not part of the original children’s book) give the older audiences a chance to take laugh at the things that keep them up at night while adding a layer of adventure and relationship building to the 24-hour excursion for Orion and the Dark. Also, if you don’t get a chuckle from hearing Werner Herzog narrate the films of The Dark, we can’t be friends. It is unquestionably amusing.

Orion and the Dark is another win for Netflix’s Original animated movies. With a brilliant script boldly constructed as one part bedtime story and one part coping mechanisms for anxiety disorders, the film feels present with our modern society and in touch with the emotions of a more sensitive culture. Inside Out 2 looks like it will address anxiety as a follow-up to its fresh take on the feelings of dramatic change back in 2015, but don’t let this film get past you right now. Charlie Kaufman and first-time feature film director Sean Charmatz combine to make an entertaining ride that should be shown in schools.

Honorable Mentions / Writer’s Note

Society Of The Snow Netflix Movie Review Should You Watch

Picture: Netflix

Though it did air on Netflix on January 4th, Society of the Snow was not included in this list. While it is tough to remove any movie that would have been most likely in the #1 spot, the film had a brief theatrical run in late 2023 and was given multiple nominations at the most recent Oscars that celebrated the films of last year.

However, with all that said, seek out the film if you have not already. Society of the Snow improves on a familiar story with its impressive level of detail, humanity, and disaster film theatrics. With standout cinematography, score, and special effects, director J.A. Bayona created his most effective and emotionally evocative film to date, which deserved its recognition this past awards season.

What’s been your favorite new Netflix Original movie of 2024 so far?

Written by

Andrew Morgan is a film critic & podcaster with 20 years of experience on the sets & offices of film & television. Current podcast host of the entertainment review show, Recent Activity. He lives in the Northeast of the United States.

 Poster Rating: TV-Y7
Language: English
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Director: Sean Charmatz
Cast: Carla Gugino, Paul Walter Hauser, Natasia Demetriou
Added to Netflix: February 2nd, 2024

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