Netflix announced late last year that they have no less than 80 new projects in the pipeline for release this year, and a huge amount of those will be original movies. It's hard enough keeping up with everything at the multiplex, but now it's getting even harder to discover which, of the many movies, we need to watch on Netflix streaming. Don't worry. We have you covered.
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.
The Ritual (February 9)
Andy Serkis produces this reunion tale from director David Bruckner V/H/S. It centers on a group of friends that come together after college to go on a trip in the forest. It soon becomes apparent that they are being stalked and they've got to do anything in their power to get out alive. Okay, this probably isn't the most groundbreaking offering that Netflix has given us. However, its output of titles like this take us back to a different time. Remember when you would rent a movie with a bunch of people in it that should've been stars but weren't? With The Ritual, Netflix manages to remind of us that while also showing us the new shape of home video.
Mute (February 2018)
Alexander Skarsgård, Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux topline this futuristic thriller. Skarsgård plays a mute bartender who just can't let go of a woman who has disappeared from his life. So he sets about looking for her and this leads him on an odyssey into the dark depths of Berlin. Not knowing who can help him or who he can trust, Leo keeps going further down the rabbit hole. Okay, this film might be Alphaville or it might be Buckaroo Bonzai. Either way you can count us in!
Game Over, Man! (March 23)
You gotta love this title, right? If a mash-up of 80s action films were remade as a slapstick movie it might look something like Game Over, Man!. From the crew behind Workaholics this farce imagines how three less then tough guys might react if they had to save somebody from terrorists. At a time when we get anti-terrorism movies to bolster the US narrative of invading other countries, it's kinda neat to see what happens when people like this have fun with this genre. In fact, in a very real way, Game Over, Man! might just be the most patriotic film we see all year.
Cargo (TBD 2018)
The always good Martin Freeman (Black Panther) plays Andy. He and and his young daughter are being chased by creatures who have been infected by a pandemic. Making things even more precarious is that Andy only has 48 hours until he becomes one of the very creatures that is trying trying to kill them. With everybody a potential enemy it is a race against time for Andy to get his daughter to safety... and possibly save himself in the process. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday night if I do say so myself.
Come Sunday (TBD 2018)
What would happen to a preacher who suddenly declared that there was no hell? They would be lauded for being bold, right? Wrong. In the real life case of Carlton Pearson (played in this film by Chiwetel Ejiofor) he was declared a heretic and essentially kicked out of his own church. Years ago, Miramax was seen as bold for releasing the film Priest. They were owned by Disney and the movie was seen as a scandal thus its release was compromised. This is where Netflix has the clear advantage. Movie's like Come Sunday are essentially crowd-funded by the audiences that pay for this streaming service. And that's why we get important films like this one.
Eggplant Emoji (TBD 2018)
A teenager accidentally removes his member and he needs his friends to help him salvage it. I could try and explain more. It would be very easy to breakdown Eggplant Emoji by talking about its cast and crew. I will simply say, again, bless Netflix for having the audacity to release a film like this to the masses.
How It Ends (TBD 2018)
In this apocalyptic thriller from David M. Rosenthal (A Single Shot) we follow a father who just wants to get home and see his pregnant wife. As you can gather, the apocalyptic situation in his life makes things that much more tenuous. With a cast that features Forest Whitaker, Theo James and Kat Graham, How It Ends recalls such films as The Road and Days of Heaven. James plays the main role of Will. As he searches for his pregnant wife he seeks help from her father. They haven't always had the best relationship but they will have to put everything aside if they are going to see her again.
Set It Up (TBD 2018)
Alright this rom-com isn't really worthy of the Netflix brand. At least not on the face of it. Basically, two co-workers think they can help themselves by having their bosses get hooked up. While making this major stage our erstwhile characters come to realize that maybe they should be together too. With a cast that includes Lucy Liu, Taye Diggs and Zoey Deutch, Set It Up appears to play as your run-of-the-mill story involving opposites attracting. And maybe it does do that in a lot of ways. That said director Claire Scanlon has a lot of TV credits. The hope is that maybe she can bring a lot of that TV sensibility to this film.
The Other Side of the Wind (TBD 2018)
Okay, in today's streaming world the name Orson Welles might not mean that much. The name Peter Bogdanovich probably means even less. The fact that there was a period in which these two men ruled cinema probably feels like ancient history. Well, get ready for an amazing history lesson as this unfinished film, a satire of various aspects of the movie business, finally sees the light of day. Now, this is Netflix at their absolute best. Beholden to nobody this movie is going to have a far bigger audience (or at least the potential to have one) than ever would've been the case. Is it going to get the reception of Bright? Probably not. The fact that it is being given the chance is why Netflix is beating all the others.
The Week Of (TBD 2018)
Adam Sandler and Chris Rock again top-line this film about Sandler and his buddies refusing to grow. Okay, they grow up but they go into it kicking and screaming. And given all the things they must deal with you have to ask yourself if you can blame them? This film sees Sandler and his buddies as not the people getting married, but the parents of the people getting married. If anybody 40 and above isn't totally depressed by the fact that Sandler is a stones throw away from playing a grandfather, this movie should probably do pretty darn good for Netflix and Happy Madison.
Outlaw King (TBD 2018)
Chris Pine plays Robert The Bruce in this 14th Century epic. With what looks like a hefty budget Outlaw King seems like it could be Netflix's first film to garner an Academy Award. With Pine and Aaron Taylor-Johnson headlining this film about Robert The Bruce routing the English army, this film appears to all the heft and weight it needs to be the Gladiator of 2018. With lush vistas and incredible sword play, director David Mackenzie (Hell or High Water) seems to be bringing his present day sensibility to this massive genre. His team-up with Netflix means that we all benefit.