Netflix has been treating us to delightful original films and series over the past years, delivering extraordinary work across all genres. With its benevolent nature, it isn’t easy to keep up with all the series that Netflix begins streaming every month.
It can make the platform quite difficult to navigate. While we tend to go back to our comfort movies whenever possible, it is hard to ignore the new delights that grace the platform.
Over the relentless pandemic, 2020 witnessed some amazing Netflix Original series, including Ratched, The Queen’s Gambit, Tiger King and more, to name a few. Films like Mank, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, Lost Girls, Da 5 Bloods and more were a delight to cinephiles and film buffs who secretly thanked Netflix for keeping their sanity alive.
In 2021, Netflix vowed to produce new content, and boy, they did! Every month they have had something new to offer, and we are not complaining! After curating a list of the best Netflix Original films released in 2021, we decided to treat you some more.
To feed your binging self some food for its soul, here are the ten best Netflix original films streaming on Netflix so far:
The 10 best Netflix series of 2021
10. Money Heist– Alex Pina
The greatest heist in history came to an end with the fifth and final season of Money Heist. While we mourned Nairobi’s death, we were shocked by Tokyo’s selfless sacrifice. In a final attempt to resuscitate the last remains, the Professor and the gang reunite against all odds to avenge their lost souls in the name of their friends and revolution. Although the finale nearly made viewers lose hope for the gang’s ultimate survival, seeing them dancing and crooning to ‘Bella Ciao’ at the end definitely sent chills down their spine.
With a heart-thumping finale, this series did for Spanish what Squid Game did for Korean. Not only was there a huge scramble to learn the language but also an increased interest in Spanish shows and films. The legacy of Money Heist lives far beyond the mere ratings and revenue. It is alive in the character arcs and their trajectories, in the red overalls, the Salvador Dali masks and a remix bop of the Italian resistance song ‘Bella Ciao’ and the ability to dream of a revolution against tyrannical forces.
9. You – Sera Gamble, Greg Berlanti
Netflix’s power couple, Joe Goldberg and Love Quinn, made a comeback in the third season of the series as new parents, desperately trying to turn over a new leaf to provide a better life for their son Henry. However, it is only a matter of time before the iconic duo attracts more troubles, starting with Love’s unprecedented act of killing their next-door neighbour. Starring Penn Badgley and Victoria Pedretti, the third season of the show were intense and exhilarating.
Trapped in a tumultuous marriage, tension runs high between Joe and Love when they find themselves grappling with infidelity, insecurity, jealousy and more. After dirtying their hands yet again in Madre Linde, the duo have a notorious showdown in the final episode that bids goodbye to Love Quinn and sets the story going for a fourth season where Goldberg will make an appearance under some other alias, stealing someone else’s underwear and obsessing over them- all the way in France.
8. Lupin – George Kay, Francois Uzan
This French thriller was based on the exploits of the “gentleman thief” Arsene Lupin, who inspired 39 novellas and 17 novels penned by author Auric Leblanc, on which the widely acclaimed show is based. Stuffed full of wit, humour, action and mystery, the show abounds in jewels, necklaces, diamonds, troubled past stories, engrossing characters and riveting heist sequences; the show became of Netflix’s most viewed shows in 2021.
The show is, essentially, based on the exploits of the professional thief Assane Diop whose father had fled from Senegal to France to provide his son with a better future. He is framed wrongfully for stealing a diamond necklace by his corrupt and affluent employer Hubert Pellegrini, prompting the former to hang himself out of embarrassment, leaving the young Assane orphaned. Assane vows revenge, and inspired by the books about Arsene Lupin, Assane decides to seek vengeance by resorting to his wit, charm and sharp presence of mind to help him get to his desired lace and expose Pellegrini’s true self.
7. Clickbait – Tony Ayres
With a disturbing premise that touches upon the umpteen dangers the internet holds, the twisted narrative of Clickbait was extremely engaging. Starring Adrian Grenier, Betty Gabriel and Zoe Kazan, the show saw a seemingly ordinary everyman named Nick brewer getting abducted suddenly, prompting his family to track his disappearance. However, the mystery thickens, and insane revelations disrupt relationships and the course of the investigation.
After the limited series came to an end, fans were left to wonder if it would make a return for a second season. While Nick Brewer might not come back, according to Ayres, he has enough “ideas for a season two or three” and would like to “satisfy the whodunnit quality” while trying “to do a deep die on character and then at the same time do a 360 around an event because everyone has slightly different [perspectives]”, if he gets the opportunity.
6. True Story – Eric Newman
Starring Wesley Snipes and Kevin Hart in new roles, True Story was a refreshing mystery thriller following Hart’s venture on Fatherhood. This seven-episode limited series sees Hart as a fictionalised version of himself, Kid, a world-famous comedian, whose career is nearly jeopardised after a night of debauchery when he wakes up to find that he probably is involved in the murder of an unknown woman.
The series explores themes of brotherhood, betrayal, revenge and violence extremely well. With phenomenal performances from both the leads, their brilliant camaraderie adds to the heightened emotional conflict within their turbulent relationship. The climactic ending of the series is emotional and intense, and the show is a must-watch for all.
5. Young Royals – Rojda Sekersoz, Erika Calmeyer
Prince Wilhelm is involved in a scandal that prompts his parents to forcibly enrol him at Hillerska Boarding School that has been attended by his family for generations. At the prestigious and elite institution, Wilhelm meets various teenagers and tries to cope with the pressure of upholding princely duties and leading a normal life. He also tries hard to conceal his newly emerging sexuality and his growing attraction to his schoolmate Simon with whom he shares a kiss that leads to subsequent consequences.
This Swedish series has received a positive reaction from the audience. As a young adult series, it has been compared to contemporaries like Gossip Girl and Elite. Scandals, homophobia and forbidden romances galore, the actors bring in authenticity and vulnerability to their characters and add a fresh perspective to the already overdone genre.
4. Sex Education – Laurie Nunn
After much anticipation, Netflix dropped the third season of this series before announcing the renewal for a fourth season, delighting fans. Starring Asa Butterfield, Emma Mackey, Ncuti Gatwa, Connor Swindells, Gillian Anderson, Aimee Lou Wood, Kedar William-Stirling and more, the show is a heartfelt and brutally honest portrayal of the most confusing period of our life while touching on important topics like gender, sexuality, identity crises, safe sex, sexual assault, abortion, homosexuality, erectile dysfunction, trauma, grief and more.
As the Maeve-Otis angsty ship still sails, the basic premise of the series is set in Moordale High, where sex drive and raging teenage hormones are omnipresent. The show has broken various kinds of stigma and stereotypes and reigns supreme as one of Netflix’s best school shows.
3. The Chair – Amanda Peet, Annie Julia Wyman
Set in the English department of the fictional Pembroke University, Sandra Oh’s Ji-Yoon Kim goes on to become the freshly appointed first-ever woman chair of the department. She tries to bring about a variety of changes and finds herself juggling various things together, including ensuring the tenure of a young black colleague, navigating a complicated relationship with her colleague, fighting against the palpable disdain among her seniors as well as raising a spirited adopted daughter.
A brilliant deep-dive into academia and the position of women of colour in academia, The Chair, in its six half-hour episodes, is one of Netflix’s best drama series to date. Tackling various issues including the lack of funding, outdated syllabi, blatant misogyny and racism the show builds huge tension. The series prompted a huge uproar among academics, especially women, who came forward to share their experiences and talk about whether and how they related to Ji-Yoon Kim on a spiritual level.
2. Squid Game – Hwang Dong-hyuk
Starring Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo and Jung HoYeon among others in lead roles, this Netflix K-original survival thriller series took the world by storm with its brilliant commentary on capitalism, economic and class conflict and power structures within a riveting and gruesome premise that was set in a dystopian modern-day Korea. Not only did it become Netflix’s most popular show but also induced the Korean wave that has helped increase interest in the language and culture.
The premise involved 456 participants taking part in a series of survival games that include a perverse twist on the innocence of children’s games. They are all ridden with debts and loans and need to go to great lengths to win staggering prize money of 45.6 billion Korean Won. With increasing vulnerability, frustration and paranoia, the contestants find themselves trapped in confined spaces under the watchful panoptic gazes of strange masked men.
1. Maid – Molly Smith Metzler
Maid is an unsettling watch. It is difficult to sit through the ten episodes to watch Alex struggle to provide a better life and build a better future for her toddler while taking up the job of a maid. Haunted by the grief and pain inflicted by an abusive ex-boyfriend, the series revolves around her daily life as she tries to cope with umpteen obstacles that are strewn all over her path while still harbouring the hopes and dreams of becoming a writer.
Starring Margaret Qualley as Alex, the harrowing story of survival within a disadvantageous socio-economic structure with the ghosts of an abusive ex and a dysfunctional family is absolutely haunting. The show deals with a plethora of sensitive subjects and other issues of insidious nature as a woman tries to fight against systemic abuse and oppression. It does not romanticise or glorify her struggle- simply presents her story in an emotionally compelling manner and we cannot help but marvel at Alex’s unimaginable strength and perseverance amidst manic breakdowns.