Five controversial movies you can binge on Netflix
(Credit: Netflix)


Five controversial movies you can binge on Netflix

Netflix, the streaming giant, has never shied away from pushing boundaries with its original content. From 13 Reasons Why igniting debates about self-harm to Sacred Games prompting changes in censorship rules in India, controversy seems to follow the platform’s offerings.

Sometimes, Netflix has platformed content that sparked outrage despite the backlash. In addition to its original line-up of films and series, the streaming platform also houses licensed content that has courted controversies. It is easy to understand when the intention is to use rage bait to drum up traffic.

This week, we suggest you binge five essential controversial movies on Netflix that have garnered critical acclaim and stirred up significant controversy. These films, despite their contentious nature, have left an indelible mark on pop culture and cinema history.

So, settle down and prepare for a cinematic journey filled with laughter, introspection, and maybe a few uncomfortable moments along the way.

Five essential controversial movies to binge on Netflix this weekend:

Cuties (Mignonnes)

Directed by Maïmouna Doucouré, Cuties is a French coming-of-age film that sparked widespread controversy upon its release. The film follows an eleven-year-old girl named Amy, who joins a provocative dance group as a means of rebellion. 

Netflix faced backlash for perceived exploitation of its young cast and inappropriate content. However, despite the initial outrage, the film managed to get a clean chit because it did not contain explicit scenes or nudity. In a significant legal victory, Netflix successfully defended against child pornography charges.

Monty Python’s Life of Brian

Directed by Terry Jones, Monty Python’s Life of Brian is a satirical comedy that follows the misadventures of Brian Cohen, a young Jewish man who is mistaken for the Messiah. 

Released in 1979, the film immediately faced backlash from religious fundamentalists. Orthodox rabbis protested against a scene featuring John Cleese wearing a prayer shawl, marking the start of the film’s polemic journey. Despite the uproar, the film remains a classic in the comedy genre, known for irreverent humour. Some of it, involving dated takes on gender, has not aged very well, of course.


Farha is a historical drama that follows a Palestinian girl’s coming-of-age journey during the tumultuous events of the Nakba in 1948. Directed by Darin J. Sallam, the film presents a harrowing yet insightful perspective on Palestinians’ displacement from their homeland. 

Inspired by a true story passed down through generations, Farha has been hailed for its raw emotional story. However, the decision to platform it on Netflix earned the wrath of certain groups. A particular scene involving an IDF soldier being ordered to kill a Palestinian child sparked debates over historical accuracy. However, Israeli historian and the author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Ilan Pappé, is one of the many who reinforced that atrocities like these are well-documented through the conflict, as per a report published in The Washington Post.

The Shining

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is a psychological horror often considered a masterpiece that continues to haunt audiences decades after its release. 

However, the film was not without its controversies. In 1981, it received two nominations at the first Razzie Awards—’Worst Director’ and ‘Worst Actress’. But in light of Kubrick’s treatment of Shelley Duvall on set, the Razzies rescinded their nomination for Duvall. While Duvall’s performance has since been celebrated for its raw intensity, the initial backlash underscored the challenges faced during the film’s production.

Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator

Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator is a documentary that exposes the dark side of the multi-billion dollar spiritual industry. Its main controversy was its subject, Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram Yoga, which peddled a form of the meditative practice—“hot yoga”—never heard by anyone in the land it apparently originated from.

Directed by Eva Orner, the film sheds light on allegations of sexual assault and manipulation against Choudhury by former students and employees. One of the most significant controversies surrounding the film is its portrayal of Choudhury’s predatory behaviour, challenging the perception of a revered spiritual leader. Despite the uncomfortable subject, the documentary serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked power and influence.