In addition to giving its subscribers countless hours of TV shows, documentaries and comedy specials to stay entertained, Netflix has become a leading producer of original movies. Once happy to be a place where popular theatrical releases were temporarily available for streaming, the company now releases dozens of its own films annually. Those original movies span all genres and levels of quality.
Hidden among a list of so-so movies have been a lot of acclaimed gems that any studio would be proud to release. Not including documentaries, these are the best Netflix original movies ever made, based on review scores from critics and general audiences.
30. ‘I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore’ (2017)
The title of this 2017 film might be hard to fit on a poster, but it was a critical favorite upon its debut. “I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore” is a crime thriller about a woman and her neighbor who partner up to get revenge after her home is burglarized. Melanie Lynskey and Elijah Wood play the pair of collaborators and critics praised their work, as well as the movie’s observations on societal norms. A resounding 89% of critics at Rotten Tomatoes were big fans.
29. ‘Okja’ (2017)
A few years before South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho would make the Oscar-winning masterpiece, “Parasite,” he made a film for Netflix that audiences and critics found magical. “Okja” is an action-adventure flick about a South Korean girl and her relationship with a genetically modified pig. The film also boasted a stellar cast that included Paul Dano, Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal. “Okja” was praised for its CGI work and its heartfelt, imaginative story.
28. ‘Soni’ (2018)
In addition to American productions, Netflix has been praised for several of its original foreign films, including this Indian drama. “Soni” is a Hindi-language film about a duo of women in the Delhi Police who are investigating crimes against women. The story also gets into the personal lives of its main characters, as many of the best police dramas do. The performances of lead actors Geetika Vidya Ohlyan and Saloni Batra were particularly acclaimed, as well as the feminist tone of the entire project.
27. ‘Tramps’ (2016)
As you’ll see on this list, Netflix has earned great acclaim for some of its romantic comedies and “Tramps” was one of the first. A resounding 95% of critics counted at Rotten Tomatoes gave this 2016 film their stamp of approval. It follows two young New Yorkers, played by Callum Turner and Grace Van Patten, who get linked up in a criminal deal gone wrong. As they spend a couple days trying to track down a missing briefcase, the two form an unexpected attraction.
26. ‘Imperial Dreams’ (2014)
This 2014 release is the oldest movie on our list, though it didn’t get picked up and released as a Netflix original until 2017. “Imperial Dreams” was heavily praised by critics, who counted it among the best movies to focus on the Los Angeles gang scene in years. John Boyega stars as a 21-year-old man who returns home from prison and has given up his gangster lifestyle. The gifted cast, made up almost entirely of Black actors, also includes Keke Palmer, Rotimi Akinosho and Anika Noni Rose.
25. ‘First They Killed My Father’ (2017)
Loung Ung’s memoir, “First They Killed My Father,” was published in 2000 and has become a classic for people interested in global human rights. Ung co-wrote the screenplay for this film version with Angelina Jolie, who also directed it for Netflix. It’s a Khmer-language thriller about a 5-year-old Ung, who is trained to be a child soldier in her native Cambodia. The production used Cambodian actors and was praised for its gritty realism, earning a BAFTA Award nomination for best film not in the English language.
24. ‘Our Souls at Night’ (2017)
In 2017, Netflix really started to dial up its reputation as a movie studio, spending more money to work with A-list actors and filmmakers than it previously had. “Our Souls at Night” is a perfect example of this, as it stars two of the most respected stars in Hollywood history in Jane Fonda and Robert Redford. They play a pair of neighbors who begin getting to know each other after the deaths of their spouses. The undeniable chemistry between its leads was a magnet for acclaim and director Ritesh Batra, an Indian filmmaker, also got a lot of praise for her work leading the two veterans.
23. ‘The Night Comes For Us’ (2018)
Another of Netflix’s non-English language movies that has met acclaim is this 2018 title from Indonesia. “The Night Comes For Us” is a thriller that was praised for its performances and action sequences. A few critics found it a tad too violent but 90% of them at Rotten Tomatoes still approved. Its plot follows a hard case who turns his back on his life of crime but is then hunted by the people he used to work with. That storyline is somewhat similar to Netflix’s 2019 film, “Polar,” which landed on our list of the studio’s worst originals.
22. ‘Beats’ (2019)
Director Chris Robinson has made dozens of music videos for top artists, so it made sense that his first feature film for Netflix would be a love letter to music. “Beats” is a coming-of-age flick about an unlikely pair who strike a partnership and friendship because of their mutual love for hip-hop. “Black-ish” star Anthony Anderson plays a struggling music producer in a critically-praised role and Khalil Everage plays a shy teenager who produces his own music. The cast also includes Uzo Aduba, best known for her work on “Orange is the New Black.”
21. ‘Calibre’ (2018)
This British thriller has been described by many critics and viewers as a grim watch, which means it fits in with much of Netflix’s darkest fare. It follows a pair of friends who go on a hunting trip in an isolated part of Scotland that ends up having unexpected results. The cast was full of great Scottish and Irish actors, led by Martin McCann and Jack Lowden. A resounding 95% of critics at Rotten Tomatoes gave it a passing grade.
20. ‘Da 5 Bloods’ (2020)
Many of Netflix’s original movies have been made by up-and-coming filmmakers but the studio has been hiring A-list directors more recently. “Da 5 Bloods” is a perfect example of this, with Oscar-winner Spike Lee handling duties behind the camera, as well as co-writing the script. This movie is about four veterans of the Vietnam War who return to that country decades later to search for the remains of their fallen commanding officer, as well as some buried treasure. The stellar cast, which includes Clarke Peters, Delroy Lindo and Chadwick Boseman, was uniformly praised.
19. ‘The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)’ (2017)
Another A-list filmmaker who has done some great work for Netflix is Noah Baumbach. His first movie for the streaming service was 2017’s “The Meyerowitz Stories,” which competed for the top prizes as the Cannes Film Festival that year. Its eclectic ensemble cast included Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler, the latter of whom has made plenty of questionable movies for Netflix. This dramedy was about a group of adult siblings whose lives are eclipsed by the shadow of their father’s work as a sculptor and professor.
18. ‘Paddleton’ (2019)
If you want to make an acclaimed Netflix film, just cast Ray Romano. That might be an oversimplification but the veteran actor does appear in a couple movies that are on this list, including 2019’s “Paddleton.” In this dramedy, he plays the best friend and neighbor of a younger man who gets a terminal cancer diagnosis and is planning to end his life. His co-star is Mark Duplass, who also co-wrote the movie. It may not sound like a barrel of laughs from that premise but critics and audiences have called it one of the studio’s absolute gems.
17. ‘The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind’ (2019)
When acclaimed actor Chiwetel Ejiofor decided to direct his first film, Netflix made a good bet by backing him up and distributing it. “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” was on the short list for Oscar nominations in 2019 and even though it wasn’t honored there, it earned glowing marks from critics and audiences. This uplifting drama told the true story of a boy in Malawi who invented a wind turbine to save his village from famine. Ejiofor co-starred in the film as well as directing it and viewers at IMDb gave it a strong grade of 7.6/10.
16. ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ (2018)
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” makes a strong argument for being the most unique film on this list — and what else would you expect from the Coen Brothers? Those Hollywood iconoclasts teamed up with Netflix to make a western that’s told in vignette style, essentially with six short films rolled into one. Its gifted ensemble cast includes Liam Neeson, Zoe Kazan, James Franco and Tim Blake Nelson. The end result earned three Oscar nominations and helped cement Netflix as a destination for serious filmmakers.
15. ‘El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie’ (2019)
While “Breaking Bad” was not a Netflix original series, the beloved show has been one of the streaming service’s staples for years. So it made sense that it decided to back a movie-length spinoff that took place right after the show’s finale went to black. “El Camino” sees Aaron Paul return as Jesse Pinkman in a new story, along with other returning favorites from the show like Jonathan Banks, Krysten Ritter and even Bryan Cranston. Despite the heavy expectations, “El Camino” somehow met them, thanks in part to it being written and directed by the show’s creator, Vince Gilligan.
14. ‘The Two Popes’ (2019)
The 2019 release slate was a banner one for Netflix’s original film division, with three different dramas picking up major Oscar nominations. One of those was “The Two Popes,” with co-stars Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce each being nominated for Oscars and Golden Globes. The pair of dramatic powerhouses play Popes Benedict XVI and Francis, respectively, as they discuss the former’s decision to resign. In addition to the performances, Anthony McCarten’s screenplay also picked up nominations at both award ceremonies.
13. ‘Private Life’ (2018)
Writer-director Tamara Jenkins was already known for her biting dramas but 2018’s “Private Life” blew away even her biggest fans. This drama racked up an impressive 94% grade at Rotten Tomatoes, giving it one of the highest marks for any of Netflix’s original films. And with a cast that includes Kathryn Hahn, Paul Giamatti and Denis O’Hare, what’s not to love? Its tough story focused on a middle-aged couple struggling with infertility and desperate to have a child.
12. ‘The Half of It’ (2020)
The coming-of-age genre is one that Netflix has nailed in both movie and series form, with “The Half of It” being an impeccable example. Its writer-director, Alice Wu, is seen as a major voice in a continuing wave of Asian-American stories that are being told on screens of all sizes. This gem of a dramedy sees a teen girl unexpectedly fall for another girl when she agrees to ghostwrite love letters to her from a male classmate. “The Half of It” won a major award at the Tribeca Film Festival and was seen as a breakout vehicle for star Leah Lewis.
11. ‘Beasts of No Nation’ (2015)
The prestige that Netflix has built as a movie studio was all built on top of “Beasts of No Nation.” This 2015 war drama is counted by the company as its first fully original film production and it was a film-festival darling upon release. The movie follows an African boy as he serves as a child soldier in a squadron led by his mentor, who is played by Idris Elba. Writer-director Cary Joji Fukunaga had previously been known for his work on the incredible first season of HBO’s “True Detective” and he added more acclaim to his name — and Netflix’s — with this explosive film.
10. ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ (2018)
When “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” hit Netflix in 2018, it quickly built a cult following as an instant-classic entry into the teen rom-com genre. But it wasn’t just devotees of those films that fell in love with its charm, as critics swooned enough to give it a remarkable 97% score at Rotten Tomatoes. The movie, which was written and directed by women and based on a novel written by a woman, starred up-and-comer Lana Condor as a high schooler who has her world rocked when her cache of secret love letters gets exposed. A sequel followed in February 2020 and a third film is on the way.
9. ‘The Little Prince’ (2015)
This animated adaptation of the beloved French novella was originally supposed to be a theatrical release from Paramount Pictures before Netflix swooped in and bought the exclusive rights. It instantly became regarded as one of the company’s best exclusives, earning top marks for its animation style and faithfulness to the book. Its voice cast is loaded with talent, including Paul Rudd, Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams and Marion Cotillard. “The Little Prince” holds a 7.7/10 grade from IMDb users, which is among the highest held by any Netflix movie, and a 93% score at Rotten Tomatoes is nothing to take lightly.
8. ‘Dolemite Is My Name’ (2019)
When “Dolemite Is My Name” hit Netflix in 2019, it marked a brilliant return to critical acclaim for its star and producer, Eddie Murphy. His performance as filmmaker and comedian Rudy Ray Moore, best known for his work in 1975’s “Dolemite” and its sequels, was hailed as one of the best of his long career and earned him a Golden Globe nomination. Critics bestowed a 97% grade on it at Rotten Tomatoes. The film was praised for being one of the year’s most fun watches and it’s not hard to understand why, when you look over its supporting cast. Murphy was bolstered by the likes of Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps and Wesley Snipes, just to name a few.
7. ‘I’m No Longer Here’ (2019)
Another great example of Netflix’s willingness to produce films that other studios might deem too risky, “I’m No Longer Here” is a musical gangster drama that has thrilled critics and audiences. This Mexican production is told in Spanish and sees the leader of a street gang accidentally sent to America but longing to return home. Critics loved its unique storytelling style and visuals, giving it a flawless 100% grade at Rotten Tomatoes.
6. ‘I Lost My Body’ (2019)
Another French animated production that has earned top marks for Netflix was 2019’s “I Lost My Body.” This drama was a smash at the Cannes Film Festival and went on to earn an Oscar nomination for best animated feature. Its unique story involves a budding romance and a severed hand that longs to reunite with its old body. You can stream the movie in its original French or dubbed by an English-speaking cast that includes Dev Patel, Alia Shawkat and George Wendt.
5. ‘Klaus’ (2019)
You probably didn’t expect an animated Christmas film to be near the top of the list of Netflix’s best movies but “Klaus” is an absolute darling among critics and regular viewers. In fact, the 8.2/10 score it has at IMDb is the highest for any Netflix original film. It takes the typical story of Santa Claus and gives the holiday hero a new origin. Its hand-drawn animation drew great praise, as well as its originality, resulting in an Oscar nomination for best animated feature and a win in that category at the BAFTAs.
4. ‘Mudbound’ (2017)
Neither critics nor audiences could resist this hard-hitting drama from director Dee Rees that debuted on Netflix in 2017. “Mudbound” was about two men returning to their rural Mississippi hometown after World War II, battling PTSD and a society fueled by intolerance. Jason Mitchell and Garrett Hedlund brought the two leads to life with power but supporting player Mary J. Blige stole the show. The Oscar nomination she earned for her performance was one of four for “Mudbound” at the show that year, making it the studio’s most heavily acclaimed at the time.
3. ‘Marriage Story’ (2019)
Writer-director Noah Baumbach’s second collaboration with Netflix was even better than his first. “Marriage Story” was another entry in the studio’s stacked release calendar in 2019, which gave us three of the top five films on this list. This all-too-real drama followed Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver as a pair of married creatives who share a young son and are in the middle of a divorce. Both actors were nominated for Oscars and co-star Laura Dern won for her portrayal of a tough divorce lawyer. Among the film’s six Oscar nominations was one for best picture.
2. ‘The Irishman’ (2019)
Director Martin Scorsese is arguably the most acclaimed director Netflix has ever worked with and his production for them lived up to the immense hype. “The Irishman” saw Scorsese reunite with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci and work with Al Pacino for the first time ever, in what could be considered the ultimate gangster movie. It’s an almost four-hour-long historical epic that follows De Niro as a real-life hitman who allegedly worked for notorious Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa, among others. It scored 10 Oscar nominations, including one for best picture, and was nearly unanimous in its praise from critics and audiences.
1. ‘Roma’ (2018)
The year after “Mudbound” raised the bar for Netflix original movies, “Roma” became the new gold standard for the studio and it still holds the mark. This Spanish-language drama came from writer-director Alfonso Cuarón, who was behind brilliant films like “Children of Men” and “Gravity.” This heartfelt picture, shot in beautiful black and white, followed the life of a maid to a Mexican family in the 1970s. Its cast was filled with actors who were virtually unknown to American audiences but it racked up an incredible 10 Oscar nominations, winning three — including the coveted trophy for best foreign language film.