It seems like this will be the year that Netflix finally steps up its game in the original movie department. They have a great track record of knocking it out of the park with their original series, from Master of None to BoJack Horseman to Mindhunter, but their original movies tend to be very hit and miss. Sure, they have had some brilliant ones, but they’ve also had some really awful ones. For every The Meyerowitz Stories, there’s a Bright. For every Mudbound, there’s a The Cloverfield Paradox. For every Beasts of No Nation, there’s a Mute. For every Gerald’s Game, there’s a Death Note. There’s no consistency with the quality, so you don’t know what you’re going to get. They market them all really well, but you can’t necessarily say you know you can count on Netflix for some great original movies. You can say that for their original series, though. They just need to step it up in the movie department, and it seems like that’s exactly what they’re doing this year. For starters, they’re bringing out even more original content than they were before. In 2016, they beat out every other streaming service and TV network in the business by releasing more than 100 new movies and TV shows, and in 2018, it looks like their aim is to really outdo themselves. By the end of this year, there will be over 700 original movies and TV shows in the Netflix library. And out of those movies, here are the 10 that we’re getting the most excited about – and why you should, too!
Make no mistake. Just because this movie is called Dude, that doesn’t mean it’s full of male characters. It actually tells the story of four female best friends who have to deal with what life holds for them after they graduate high school. This coming of age tale will be the directorial debut of Olivia Milch, who also wrote the screenplay it’s based on. The script initially appeared on the Black List – an annual round-up of all the best scripts in Hollywood that have yet to be produced – way back in 2013, and now, it’s finally been made by Netflix. Lucy Hale from Pretty Little Liars, Kathryn Prescott, Alexandra Shipp, and Awkwafina star as the four lead roles, while Alex Wolff will appear alongside them and Hilary Duff will play herself (it’ll be interesting to see how they manage to squeeze that into the narrative). This looks like it will be the breakout year for young talent Milch, who is also a credited screenwriter on the upcoming Ocean’s 8 alongside the movie’s director Gary Ross. Ocean’s 8 is going off pretty much the same premise as the 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters – take an established all-male brand and fill it with female actors.
9. Kurt Russell’s untitled Christmas movie
Last Christmas, Netflix announced that by next Christmas, they would have produced and distributed a brand new Christmas comedy movie for their subscribers to enjoy. Not much is known about the movie or its plot, but we do know that Kurt Russell will play Santa Claus in it, which is more than enough to get you excited about it. It will be a family comedy produced by Chris Columbus, who certainly knows a thing or two about the Christmas film genre, since he directed the first two Home Alone movies (read: the good ones). This one will be a live action film, but it will also incorporate some elements of computer generated effects. Apart from the casting announcement that Kurt Russell will play Santa, all that is known about the movie is its premise: it will see two kids, played by Judah Lewis from another Netflix movie, the horror comedy The Babysitter, and Darby Camp from Big Little Lies, finally manage to capture an image of Santa Claus on camera on Christmas Eve night and end up making him crash his sleigh in the middle of Chicago. Then it’s up to those two kids to save Christmas before it’s too late!
8. 6 Balloons
Marja-Lewis Ryan is currently writing the remake of the ‘80s Tom Hanks/Daryl Hannah mermaid romcom Splash, but she is surely more excited about her more personal, more dramatic, more contemplative project, 6 Balloons, which she has set up at Netflix. It will appear in the streaming service’s library shortly after its premiere at the South by Southwest film festival early this year. With this movie, Ryan takes on a very real and very relevant issue in society today – the epidemic of heroin addiction that is spreading across the upper middle class of America. In the movie, Abbi Jacobson from Broad City will play the sister of Dave Franco’s recovering addict character, who is looking after his daughter (who is just two years old) when he relapses. This should be a dark, powerful, touching, very interesting piece. And if you’re thinking that drama movies about family struggles are boring and overlong, don’t worry about a thing. According to the official profile of the movie on the SXSW website, it’s only 74 minutes long. That’s barely a feature! We’ll be getting a neat, tidy, tightly structured little character piece. It’ll be perfect viewing for a rainy Sunday afternoon or an early weekend morning.
7. The Last Laugh
It’s rare that we ever get to see Chevy Chase in movies anymore. It was every comedy fan’s dream come true back in 2015 when he appeared in the Vacation reboot to reprise his most famous role as Clark Griswold for a brief scene, but it’s been forever since we saw him with a really meaty role where he could steal every single scene in a movie. This is mainly because, after all the tensions on the set of Community, it’s abundantly clear that the guy is impossible to work with – but we need some filmmakers and some other actors to bite the bullet and make a movie with him, for comedy’s sake. His talent and method are truly one of a kind. And that’s why Netflix’s new comedy movie The Last Laugh is so exciting. Writer-director Greg Pritikin is biting the Chevy Chase bullet – as are his new co-stars Richard Dreyfuss, Andie MacDowell, Lewis Black, and Chris Parnell – to give us a hilarious new movie about a retired comedian who returns to the standup stage for one final tour. The movie’s producer Rob Paris said, “It’s not surprising a script as poignant and funny as this attracted such award-winning talent. It’s a perfect fit for a distributor like Netflix, because it has universal themes and internationally recognizable stars.”
6. The Other Side of the Wind
Are you a cinephile? Yeah? Well, get ready to totally lose your freaking mind! Later this year, Netflix will be releasing Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind. Now, you may be wondering why Orson Welles is bringing out a new movie when he’s been dead for over thirty years. That’s because he shot it in the early 1970s, faced legal battles over the footage in the late 1970s, and died in the early 1980s, so it’s never been finished or released – until now! Thanks to crowdfunding, the Orson Welles movie that’s been locked in a vault for more than forty years will finally be shown to the world. It is apparently a searing satire of how the film industry was changing in the ‘70s when it was shot – this was Orson Welles making fun of the transition between the Classic Hollywood era and the New Hollywood era. This movie starred John Huston, and when it began shooting in 1970, it was set to be Welles’ comeback movie into mainstream American cinema, as he’d been overseas for a quarter of a century. However, the production was marred with troubles and he ended up shooting it until 1976, when legal struggles shut it down and it was never finished. The Netflix release of the film will be accompanied by a documentary about all of this.
5. The Outsider
Move over, Nicolas Winding Refn. Martin Zandvliet is the Danish director to watch now. His film Land of Mine was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film back in 2017, and now, he’s working on his first major Hollywood movie for an exclusive release through Netflix this year. The Outsider will combine the genres of slick, seedy crime drama and dark, violent action thriller in the story of an American soldier, played by Jared Leto, who manages to get out of prison with the help of his cellmate, a member of the Yakuza. At first, it seems like a great thing, but of course, being indebted to the Yakuza is quite a sticky situation. The soldier finds himself drawn deeper and deeper in the criminal underworld of Japan, where he finds himself doing things he can never go back from. This is also a period piece, as the American soldier has been captured during the Second World War, so those international tensions will be lingering throughout the narrative. The producing team behind the movie consists of Ken Kao, John Linson, and Art Linson. Those names might not mean much to you, but picture this movie being a cross between Sons of Anarchy, Fight Club, Heat, and The Nice Guys, because that’s the creative talent behind it.
Paul Greengrass is back to bringing important true stories to the screen. It seems like he’s spent his whole post-2000 career switching between making movies about Jason Bourne and movies about significant events in history. He made Bloody Sunday about the eponymous Irish massacre, and then he made The Bourne Supremacy. He made United 93 about the heroes who thwarted some of the terrorists during the 9/11 attacks, and then he made The Bourne Ultimatum, wrapping up the initial trilogy. He followed up Ultimatum with his war movie Green Zone about the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and then followed that up with Captain Phillips, the tense, powerful true story about Somalian pirates. And then he went back to Bourne with the reboot Jason Bourne that brought back Matt Damon in his most iconic role. So, now, he’s back to telling the important true stories. This time, it’s Norway, which will be released exclusively by Netflix later this year. It’s about the anti-government 2011 Norway attacks, which were carried out by a single terrorist, Anders Behring Breivik, and that claimed the lives of 77 people. Paul Greengrass is a terrific filmmaker with an eye for a significant story – this will surely be no different.
3. The Highwaymen
The infamous killing spree carried out by Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow has been adapted for the screen many times before. There was, of course, the 1967 classic directed by Arthur Penn that starred Faye Dunaway as Bonnie and Warren Beatty as Clyde. And then there’s all the movies about a couple on a killing spree that were inspired by that, such as Terrence Malick’s Badlands and Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers. So, we’ve seen that story a million times before. But Netflix’s new movie The Highwaymen, which will be released later this year, is taking a brand new angle that we’ve never seen before – it will focus on the veteran Texas Rangers who brought down Bonnie and Clyde. Netflix has confirmed what the movie is about: “The lawmen were out of the Rangers by the time Bonnie and Clyde started their robbery reign, but were commissioned as special investigators, coaxed by a consortium of banks to assemble a posse and end the robbery spree of the notorious gang reputed to have killed thirteen cops and others.” The film’s development began in 2005 as a vehicle for Paul Newman and Robert Redford to star in, but now that it’s finally getting made in 2018, the roles have been filled by the great Woody Harrelson and Kevin Costner. The Highwaymen is shaping up to be one of the best movies of the year!
2. The Week Of
Four years ago, Adam Sandler signed a deal with Netflix in which he would be producing and starring in four new movies exclusively for them. The first two, The Ridiculous 6 and The Do-Over, released respectively in 2015 and 2016, were popular, but pretty terrible. The writing was lazy, the direction was sloppy, the editing was choppy – they both felt like they were made by people who didn’t care because “Hey, it’s only Netflix.” But last year, Sandler stepped up his game for his third Netflix movie Sandy Wexler, a showbiz satire about a talent manager in the 1990s. That movie was actually genuinely funny, touching, and entertaining. And the fourth movie in the deal looks like it could be even better. The Week Of is set on the week of a wedding, as all of the hectic preparations and wacky antics take place. Sandler will play the father of the bride, while Chris Rock will play the father of the groom. With those two teaming up and bringing their natural chemistry back to the screen, this movie should be hilarious! And by the way, if any Adam Sandler fanatics out there are worried that since his four-movie deal with Netflix is up, you won’t be seeing him anymore, don’t worry – Sandler’s not going anywhere. Last year, Netflix pre-emptively locked him into another four-movie deal that will carry him through to 2022!
1. The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter
Over a decade ago, Jody Hill and Danny McBride burst onto the indie comedy scene with their riotously funny taekwondo movie The Foot Fist Way. Since then, they’ve given us the terrifically dark and hysterical HBO series Eastbound and Down and Vice Principals (both of which, by the way, if you haven’t seen them, you should definitely, one hundred percent check out). They’ve also done some great work separately in the time since The Foot Fist Way kicked its way into Sundance and wowed the crowd. Hill has directed the Scorsese-inspired mall cop movie Observe and Report, while McBride has appeared in a bunch of hilarious movies from Hot Rod to Pineapple Express to This is the End to Tropic Thunder. Now, the pair are reuniting for a new movie called The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter, which will be distributed through Netflix in the coming months. In The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter, Josh Brolin plays a badass hunter named Buck Ferguson who embarks on an awesome weekend trip with his trusty cameraman Don, played by McBride, in order to reconnect with Buck’s young son. Any movie from Jody Hill and Danny McBride is guaranteed to be freaking hilarious, so make sure you add this one to your list.