Netflix has emerged over the last few years as one of the big players in cinema. It hasn’t overthrown the box office establishment just yet. Since Netflix don’t release ratings, it’s tough to know just how many people are watching.
What is clear, however, is that people are not only watching but engaging, over social media, memes, and in-person with friends. Netflix has a lot of content that has been released in cinemas in the past, and you can find movies to keep you busy for the rest of your life. If you want access to movies only other countries have, you can get Netflix unblocked with a VPN. But if you want to focus on what Netflix is releasing as original content, there’s plenty to go with. They do tend to fall loosely into one of four categories.
1. The Coming-of-Ager
As fans of Noah Centineo will tell you, Netflix has released quite a few excellent additions to the coming-of-age genre. Whereas these movies have traditionally focused on straight, white protagonists, Netflix seems more willing to add some diversity. With films like Alex Strangelove, queer protagonists are getting some attention. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before introduced an Asian lead actress. These have been not only successful, but pretty good films to boot. There have been plenty of duds to go along with them. The foolishness of The Package is better forgotten, as is The Kissing Booth (even if it may be getting a sequel). Netflix’s model seems to be to release hit-and-miss content, knowing that it will draw viewers and engagement regardless.
2. The Blockbuster
In addition to releasing easy-viewing content as above, Netflix releases the occasional blockbuster to mixed review. Over the past few years, they have released films such as the expensively bad Bright, the passable Bird Box, the forgettable Cloverfield Paradox, and the absurd but star-studded Velvet Buzzsaw. It’s unclear how many, but a lot of people watch these movies, for better or worse. They do produce some gems, like the magnificent Roma, but also release the unwatchable, like The Silence, which comes off as a second-rate A Quiet Place.
3. The Chin-scratcher
Of course, there are plenty of thoughtful Netflix movies that, while not blockbusters, are high quality with wide appeal. Okja provided plenty of, uh, food for thought, as did The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind. These movies seem to have been created to get people talking with a hand firmly on the chin. They aren’t quite life-changing, but along with the documentaries Netflix has brought us on important topics like 13th and Knock Down the House, they are solid pieces of serious fiction.
4. The Forgettable
Finally, there’s the constant slew of forgettable content that entertains for a couple of hours before you forget them forever. This includes Amy Poehler’s Wine Country, Brie Larson’s Unicorn Store, and the Gina Rodriguez starring Someone Great.
While all of these are entertaining to some degree, they can be watched while scrolling through Instagram or sending some work emails. They add to the volume of content but don’t provide much quality. Ultimately, Netflix’s catalogue of original movies will keep on growing. Here’s to hoping more of them are like Roma and fewer resemble The Package.