Love Netflix? Hate Netflix? You can't argue that they are an entertainment juggernaut. It would be enough if they were simply the company who made streaming viable. However, what they have become as a production/distribution powerhouse just about thwarts all of that. Making this even more impressive is the litany of content that Netflix continues to produce. Whether it is the animal conscious Okja, or the Training Day meets Alienation mash-up Bright, or the litany of documentary or TV shows (Orange Is the New Black, House Of Cards and 13 Reasons Why are just a few that come to mind), Netflix is arguably the most interesting production entity in town. When you consider the stiff competition from Hulu and Amazon Prime that is really saying something.
Now, is everything that this production beast makes some amazing piece of priceless celluloid? No! And lets be honest we wouldn't really want it to be. For every Stranger Things there's an Iron Fist. This is just the way that it goes. The bigger point is that Netflix is trying. And in trying they have done something that seemed downright impossible. They have revived home video. Yes, the days of going to a cavernous video store are long since gone. That is only because Netflix has brought the video store to our home. And the search down the aisle can now be done with a few left and right thumb-strokes. But those video stores never gave us brand-new blockbuster movies not even available at the movie theater. It is with this in mind that we give you 17 Netflix original movies that will keep you streaming all the way into 2019.
Before I Wake (January 5)
Before I Wake is a creepy tale focuses on a couple (Thomas Jane and Kate Bosworth) who adopt a child and realizes that, while he sleeps, some very strange things happen. I once interviewed the great Thomas Jane for this site. That was for the DVD release (yeah, back when they still did interviews for those) of The Punisher. I asked him if his role as Frank Castle was the kind of role an actor waits their whole career to play. "Nah man," he laughed. "It ain't Shakespeare or nothin'." One gets the impression he might say that about this horror film starring Kate Bosworth. Still, it should be highly entertaining to see where this goes.
The Polka King (January 12)
With a tagline that calls this film "The greatest scandal in polka history," The Polka King is either going to be amazing or amazingly forgotten. Starring Jack Black as polka impresario Jan Lewan this film has to be fun doesn't it? After all what goes together better than the strains of polka music and Jack Black? In this film we see the erstwhile Lewan plot a scheme to score some quick loot that ultimately lands him in the big house. Regardless of how good or bad this film is it sure seems fun getting to watch Black inhabit this world.
Step Sisters (January 19)
No Step Sisters isn't some long distance sequel to Step Brothers. Rather this is a dance film from the director of Drumline, the producers of Straight Outta Compton and the person who put together all the dance moves in Pitch Perfect. This story focuses on Jamilah. She rules the step dance crew and is called on to save the day when a bunch of white girls need to learn how to dance. Or, something like that. What Step Sisters is is a lot of fun. With a bunch of showy dance moves and some comments on race relations, this just might be the dark horse of all the Netflix films.
The Open House (January 19)
Not sure where David Minnette made this film in his career. Was it before his star turn on the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why? Or, was this film shot before that and Netflix figures anything with Minnette in it is bound to capture some views? Whatever the case The Open House stars Minnette and Piercey Dalton as a mother/son team who have moved into a new house. Things get creepy when it becomes apparent that there are certain entities that do not want them there. Something tells us this horror/thriller will give us at least 3 reasons to watch this with the lights on!
A Futile and Stupid Gesture (January 26)
With I,Tonya showing just how much fun biopics can be, something tells us that A Futile and Stupid Gesture is going to be next level legendary. In short, this film follows the formation and success of National Lampoon. Believe it or not, there was a time that National Lampoon made movies like Vacation and not Van Wilder. It sure sounds like time well spent finding out just how people like Christopher Guest, Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner and Douglas Kenney made this possible.
On Body and Soul (February 2)
Okay, talk about a film that truly captures the spirit of what Netflix does best. I don't care if they made this film from the script stage. I don't care if they grabbed it as a negative pick-up (which, I wouldn't be surprised if they did). The fact that they are making it available to their massive audience is something we should all be thankful for. Ildikó Enyedi's On Body and Soul follows two people who work in a slaughterhouse. They also happen to have the same dreams and they try to make what's in their minds a reality. Okay, this sounds like the most interesting film since Being John Malkovich. Whether it is or not we will have to find out for ourselves.