16 Unheralded “Netflix Originals” Released Over the Last Few Years That Are Definitely Worth Adding to Your Queue
With the rise of streaming platforms, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the amount of content being released. Netflix, in particular, has a reputation for producing or acquiring films and shows and then doing nothing to promote them. This leads to many hidden gems slipping through the cracks. In this list, we highlight 15 unheralded “Netflix Originals” released over the last few years that are definitely worth adding to your queue.
What Happened to Monday (2017)
Tommy Wirkola directs this high-concept science fiction story about the perils of overpopulation. Set in the near future where a one-child policy is in effect, spare kids are frozen cryogenically until they can be used as colonists on another planet or until Earth finds more resources. Glenn Close is in charge of enforcing the policy, while Willem Dafoe plays the grandfather of identical septuplets. Noomi Rapace plays all seven identical sisters in this ridiculous but fun film.
1) Concrete Cowboy (2020)
Idris Elba stars in this film based on the real-life Fletcher Street Riding Club, a one-time Philadelphia institution that teaches Black youth skills related to horse training and care. Caleb McLaughlin and Lorraine Toussaint join Elba for an impressively acted, feel-good story about a father and son reconnecting.
2) The Willoughbys (2020)
The Willoughbys follows the kids of thoughtless parents who couldn’t care less. Luckily, Maya Rudolph is on hand as the unconventional nanny who shepherds the kids through a series of adventures in an occasionally grim but mostly very fun story about the value of found family.
3) Cam (2018)
Director Daniel Goldhaber and writer Isa Mazzei bring us this Black Mirror-esque horror story about online sex worker Alice Ackerman (played by Madeline Brewer) who discovers there’s another cam girl out there who looks identical to her. It’s a horror movie with a lot to say about the dehumanization of sex workers, with a great central performance from Brewer.
4) Shirkers (2018)
This fascinating documentary tells the story of three friends in Singapore who made a film called Shirkers in 1992, only for their film teacher to abscond with the finished product and never be heard from again. After his death, the film was returned to Sandi Tan, who used it to create this documentary.
5) Our Souls at Night (2017)
Robert Redford and Jane Fonda star in this well-reviewed romantic drama from director Ritesh Batra. It’s a sweet film, despite the ominous title, and worthy of its stars.
6) I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (2016)
Ruth Wilson stars in this brisk, chilling, and effective gothic horror film as a live-in nurse who comes to believe that the creaky old house where she works is haunted.
7) I Am Mother (2019)
Hillary Swank, Rose Byrne, and Clara Rugaard star in this post-apocalyptic thriller about a young girl named “Daughter” who grows up in a bunker being cared for by a robot named “Mother.”
8) The Invitation (2015)
This intense psychological thriller from director Karyn Kusama stars Logan Marshall-Green as a man invited to a dinner party by his ex-wife (Tammy Blanchard) and her new partner (Michiel Huisman). As the night progresses, the man becomes increasingly convinced that something sinister is afoot.
9) Mute (2018)
Mute | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix From Duncan Jones, director of the beloved Moon, comes Mute, a futuristic noir thriller set in a Berlin that’s seen better days. Alexander Skarsgård plays Leo, a bartender who can’t talk and who is trying to track down his missing girlfriend in a city where everyone seems to have something to hide. Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux play a pair of surgeons who may or may not be involved in the mystery. While the film’s reviews were mixed, it’s worth watching for Jones’s distinctive vision and the electric performances by Rudd and Theroux.
10) Hold the Dark (2018)
Hold The Dark | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix Director Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin, Green Room) knows his way around a tense, violent thriller, and his latest is no exception. Jeffrey Wright plays a wolf expert who is called in to investigate when a child is apparently killed by wolves in a remote Alaskan village. Alexander Skarsgård (him again!) is the victim’s grieving father, who may or may not be hiding something. Hold the Dark is brutal, unforgiving, and often breathtakingly beautiful.
11) Lost Girls (2020)
Lost Girls | Official Trailer | Netflix Liz Garbus directs this true-crime drama about the unsolved case of the Long Island serial killer, who murdered at least 10 sex workers over a period of several years. Amy Ryan plays Mari Gilbert, the mother of one of the victims who becomes an advocate for the others. The film is a searing indictment of the way the system failed these women.
12) The Devil All the Time (2020)
The Devil All The Time | Official Trailer | Netflix In this adaptation of Donald Ray Pollock’s novel, Tom Holland plays Arvin Russell, a young man living in a post-World War II Ohio town that’s rife with corruption, violence, and religion. Robert Pattinson, Sebastian Stan, and Riley Keough co-star in this grim, twisting saga that showcases some of the best acting of Holland’s young career.
13) Enola Holmes (2020)
Enola Holmes | Official Trailer | Netflix Stranger Things breakout Millie Bobby Brown stars as the younger sister of the more famous Holmes brother. When her mother (Helena Bonham Carter) disappears, Enola sets out to find her and becomes embroiled in a mystery of her own. Henry Cavill plays the stoic Sherlock, but it’s Brown who carries the film with charm and wit.
14) The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (2017)
The Meyerowitz Stories | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix Noah Baumbach’s family dramedy stars Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, and Elizabeth Marvel as the estranged children of a difficult artist (Dustin Hoffman). The film is funny, moving, and full of the sort of quiet heartbreak that Baumbach specializes in. Sandler, in particular, shines in one of his most nuanced roles to date.
15) Beasts of No Nation (2015)
Beasts Of No Nation | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix Cary Joji Fukunaga’s harrowing war drama was the streaming giant’s first original film, and it’s still one of its most powerful. Idris Elba plays the Commandant, the leader of a group of child soldiers in an unnamed African country. Newcomer Abraham Attah plays Agu, a young boy who is forced to join the Commandant’s army after his family is killed. The film is a wrenching indictment of the use of child soldiers and the way war destroys lives.