The year has come and gone, and Netflix has once again unloaded a shotgun blast of content, a wide range of original movies and shows where many were great, others, not so much. While Netflix is mostly known for its TV offerings, it is increasingly getting into the prestige film game, and this year has managed to produce a few offerings that are likely Oscar nominees, or if not that, at least enjoyable to watch.
Of all the Netflix original movies released this year, there are ten that critics seems to have appreciated more than any other, via their Rotten Tomatoes score. And no, some of the most popular films they’ve had this year, Red Notice, Don’t Look Up, The Unforgivable, are not on this list at all, though often critical opinion diverges from audience opinion for those.
Here are the ten best reviewed Netflix original movies (by critics) in 2021:
Belli Ciao Streaming Ita
Me Contro Te Persi Nel Tempo Streaming Ita
7 donne e un mistero Streaming Ita
Illusioni perdute Streaming Ita
La Befana vien di notte 2 Le origini Streaming Ita
Diabolik Streaming Ita
The Mitchells vs. the Machines – 97%
The Power of the Dog – 95%
The Lost Daughter – 95%
The White Tiger – 91%
Passing – 90%
Fear Street Part Three: 1666 – 90%
tick…tick…BOOM! – 88%
The Harder They Fall – 88%
The Dig – 88%
Fear Street Part Two: 1978 – 88%
A lot of interesting things to note here. The only animated film on the list is The Mitchells vs. the Machines at a clear number one, which could beat out Pixar and Disney at the Oscars this year, if enough voters have seen it.
The Power of the Dog is easily one of the best films of the year and should inspire several Oscar nominations, including one for Benedict Cumberbatch, I imagine. Strangely, The Lost Daughter reviewed exactly the same, and yet I’d put it several rungs below it in terms of quality. Another clear Oscar favorite is Andrew Garfield for tick…tick…BOOM!, a big year for the Spider-actor.
There are not one but two Fear Street movies on the list, though you really have to watch all three of them for the trilogy to make sense. This was one of the most interesting experiments Netflix did this year, releasing these three movies in a row, homages to 90s, 80s and 70s horror movies, all the while feeling coherent and original themselves.
It’s hard to go wrong with many movies on this list, and while Netflix is still not the film production powerhouse of its more established rivals, it’s made a lot of strides and produced a lot of must-see hits, and some popular ones that may score less well with critics, but are massively watched around the world like Red Notice and Don’t Look Up as well.
The best films of 2021
West Side Story, The Green Knight, and Licorice Pizza are among our favorite movies of the year
ByKatie Rife, A.A. Dowd, Caroline Siede, Jesse Hassenger, Mike D’Angelo, Charles Bramesco, Vikram Murthi, Noel Murray, Carlos Aguilar, and Leila Latif
2021 would seem like the strangest year for moviegoing in all of our respective lifetimes were it not for 2020. Things didn’t exactly return to normal over the last 12 months; we’re still very much in a pandemic, and in fact are facing the very real possibility of a return to strict lockdown conditions, if those Omicron numbers are any indication. But thanks to the rollout of vaccines (and subsequent booster shots), movie theaters did scrape out some wins, welcoming audiences again with all the blockbusters delayed over the previous year. Those looking for symbolic evidence that #MoviesAreBack could find it in the triumphant return of James Bond, suiting up for a climactic adventure on the big screen, 18 months after the dramatic announcement that No Time To Die would not be coming soon to a theater near anyone.
Movies never left, of course. Not really. We got plenty of fine ones last year, when theaters were mostly dormant or sparsely occupied, and plenty more over the course of 2021, regardless of fluctuating attendance numbers. As in any other year, most of the films on The A.V. Club’s best-of list were not the kind of major-studio productions mounting some measure of comeback right now; only one of the 25 films in our ranked rundown had a giant budget, and its spectacle was more song-and-dance than cape-and-cowl. You want superheroes? Look for them on the box office charts, not here.
So what did our 10 ballot-filing contributors gravitate towards instead? Westerns and musicals. Anthology projects and stage adaptations. A joyous concert film and a melancholy animated documentary. If these movies had anything in common beyond their general excellence, it was the opportunity to see each of them on the big screen—a once-normal privilege that became an abnormal (and sometimes stressful) treat in 2021, and which we hope won’t become a total pleasure of the past, again, in 2022.