(Credit: Netflix)

The 10 best Netflix Originals films released in 2021 so far

Netflix has been treating us to delightful original films and series over the years, delivering astounding work across all genres. With its benevolent nature, it is difficult to keep up with all the films 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 we can, 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. 

With 2021 looking slightly more hopeful in comparison, it is safe to assume that the Netflix content is getting better by the day. Every month they have something new to offer and we are not complaining!

To feed your binging self some food for its soul, here are the 10 best Netflix original films streaming on Netflix so far:

The 10 best Netflix Originals films released in 2021 so far

10. Moxie (Amy Poehler, March 2021)

Vivian is a shy and introverted 16-year-old teen who prefers to go unnoticed by all. However, inspired by her mother’s badass streak in the past as well as with the arrival of a new student at her school, Vivian decides to bring attention to the blatant sexism that goes on in her school yet goes unchecked and unnoticed. She anonymously publishes a zine named Moxie to expose the misogyny and injustice inside the school which, in turn, sparks a rebellion. Vivian befriends women with similar experiences, finds allies and soon faces the greatest adversary of her life in the form of ingrained patriarchy. 

With a strong feminist voice and sensitive subjects being explored, the film deals with an interesting way of calling out harassment and sexism. While the characters manage the stress of high school, they find themselves leading a rebellion against the indefatigable pillars of misogyny and patriarchy, ultimately offering a glimmer of hope in the end. With a diverse cast, the film, although flawed in certain ways, instils hope and inspiration in the minds of young people to address such important heavyweight issues unhesitatingly. 

“We’ve been best friends since we were four. You really think you could lead a revolt and I wouldn’t notice?”

9. Bombay Rose (Gitanjali Rao, March 2021)

With beautiful hand-painted animation from Gitanjali Rao, Bombay Rose sees a beautiful and mystifying portrayal of the hustle and bustle of the Indian streets that witness the budding love between a couple who are hindered by responsibilities and religious differences. Containing the essential aesthetics of Bombay films and visually stirring, it is a dark and twisted tale of love amidst hostility and is sprinkled with melodrama, musically charged emotions and a sweeping sense of detachment from reality. 

Flower girl Kamala escapes a child marriage and elopes to Bombay with her family where she works as a bar dancer. Kamala keeps on dreaming about a torrid love affair with a Muslim prince before discovering the Muslim flower seller Salim harbouring a crush on her. They declare their love for each other via stolen glances and shared flowers and are hindered by religious divide as well as brewing tension that threatens to rupture their blooming romance. 

“So dreams can be as boundless as the sea?”

8. Army of the Dead (Zack Snyder, May 2021)

After a fatal collision on a highway right outside Los Angeles leads to a zombie escaping from the carrier, a zombie outbreak overtakes the city with failed military intervention. The city of Los Angeles is quarantined and is overrun by the virus with a handful of survivors who resort to tactics to stay alive. Casino magnate BlyTanaka makes ex-mercenary Scott Ward an impossible offer to carry out a dangerous zombie heist before a military nuclear strike in exchange for a whopping $50 million.

Following Snyder’s 2004 Dawn of the Dead, this film witnesses an uncanny mix of the heist genre and zombie flicks which leads to certain irrational and amusing moments and zero character development. Seeing Los Angeles overrun by zombies is something that is scary yet gratifying. With a splash of blood, gore and violence, the film is, however, highly entertaining and it is definitely your cup of tea if you love watching abhorrent zombies getting killed by the dozen. Exploding heads and sharp witty scenes are juxtaposed with touching daily scenes in this film that sees the over-achieving Snyder multi-tasking as the director, cinematographer as well as producer.   

“Somewhere between leaving your ass and saving my own, I developed a conscience. It’s exhausting.”

7. I Care A Lot (J. Blakeson, February 2021)

Confident and wily, Marla Grayson is a con artist who acts as a legal guardian for the elderly from whom she seizes wealth employing suspiciously legal methods. Along with her partner and lover Fran, she decides to extort money from their latest target, the heirless, retired Jennifer Peterson. Peterson, however, unbeknownst to the duo, has shady connections to a gangster and soon Marla has to face a bigger and more cunning enemy than she could have possibly fathomed. 

With Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage and Dianne West as some of the main cast members, I Care A Lot is a morbidly funny black comedy that sees Pike at one of her absolute best. It is a highly exhilarating and entertaining watch with various twists and turns. The ironic ending adds a cherry on top of this scathing commentary of capitalism and Pike adds extra flavour and sinister elegance to this gripping film. Here, she is the perfect “gone girl”. 

“You can’t convince a woman to do what you want – and then call her a bitch and threaten to kill her. I’m not scared of him.”

6. The Woman in the Window (Joe Wright, May 2021)

Adapted from Dan Mallory’s eponymous 2018 novel, the film revolves around an agoraphobic child psychologist named Anna Fox who remains holed up in her Manhattan home, estranged from her daughter and her husband. She sees The Russells move into the apartment across the street and soon befriends the mother and son. One night, she sees the abusive Russell patriarch murdering his wife which remains undiscovered by the police and leads Fox into an unending spiral of darkness, mystery and sinister familial ties; Fox ends up getting much more than she bargained for. 

Despite the stellar cast involving Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore, the film carries with it the curse of the book and the dubious author. It is a riveting watch yet the tropes feel over-used. It pays homage to the Hitchcockian rendezvous with voyeurism and thrill, staying faithful to the original text. The film feels a little rushed and would have definitely been better had the characters been developed with more patience and understanding. The twist in the tail is highly intriguing and helps tie all loose ends together. 

“You don’t think it’s paranoid if I wanna change the locks.”

5. The Dig (Simon Stone, January 2021)

Set in 1939 Suffolk, an affluent landowner named Edith Pretty employs an amateur Basil Brown to delve deep into the mystery behind the mounds that are located in her property. When Basil’s team start looking into it, they discover a burial ground as well as a ship from the middle ages, leading to the historic excavation of the Sutton Hoo. a reimagination of the real event, the film focuses on the excavation of the historic site. 

The film stars Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, Lily James and more. Highly entertaining and intellectually subtle, it is a wonderful watch. It is a slow-burn that unravels the characters in this period drama quite well. It takes its own sweet time to build up the story against the menacing backdrop of World War II. 

“Life is very fleeting. I’ve learned that. It has moments you should seize.”

4. The White Tiger (Ramin Bahrani, January 2021)

Adapted from Aravind Adiga’s 2008 novel, The White Tiger, the film is a dark comedy that witnesses the journey of a poor villager in India, Balram Halwai who becomes a driver for Ashok and Pinky, an affluent couple in the city. He feels a kind of connection with his rich masters until a night of furious betrayal which makes him see through their corrupt facades. He decides to rebel against the inequality and discrimination meted out to his kind. 

Starring Adarsh Gourav, Rajkummar Rao and Priyanka Chopra, the film received a great deal of positive reaction across the world and even won a nomination at the 93rd Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay. While exposing the unbridgeable class conflict, malaise and poverty plaguing rural India, the protagonist’s sheer cunning and wit coupled with the brilliant twist, in the end, makes the film an exhilarating watch. Chopra admitted that Adiga’s book had a “profound effect on her”, made her “uncomfortable” and forced her to “think about a part of the world that [we] sort of desensitise [ourselves] to”.   

“Rich men are born with opportunities they can waste.”  

3. Malcolm & Marie (January 2021)

Shot during the pandemic in a monochromatic profile, starring Zendaya and John David Washington, the film is poignant and heartbreakingly beautiful as it serves as a slice of reality. Filmmaker Malcolm and his girlfriend Marie return from his film premiere and engage in constant arguments that lead them to question their love and relationship. Their arguments range from topics of self-harm, addiction, past lovers to bitter critiques of each other’s characters before ending with a promise for a better tomorrow. 

While the fate of their tumultuous relationship remains unknown, the visceral and scathing questions add to the claustrophobic atmosphere of the film. The overall melancholy mood is further accentuated by how the filmmaker takes his girlfriend for granted, furthering their argument. A charming yet moody depiction of millennial relationships caught in the throes of profession and passion, their intense love and distaste for each other lead to an innate desire to save one another and cling on to the last remnants of hope and love. 

“It’s not until you are about to lose someone that you pay attention.”

2. Pieces of a Woman (Komel Mundruczo, May 2021)

A young expecting Boston couple, Sean and Martha are excited for the birth of their first child. However, an unimaginable complication leads to a devastating tragedy that, in turn, leads to friction in the happy couple’s marriage. Martha must also deal with the madness of her Holocaust-surviving, dominating mother while trying to salvage her marriage. Martha also tries to keep up with the highly sensational court case against the midwife while trying to learn how to cope with her grief and loss. 

The film is a family drama that deals with grieving characters as well as the sensitive case of intergenerational trauma and survival. The absence of emotional support and the different ways of processing tragedy is well-portrayed in this heart-wrenching film. Wonderful performances add poignance to this emotionally stirring film that provides a sympathetically jarring look at a mother’s grief on losing her child, complemented by Vanessa Kirby’s outstanding performance that even earned her a nomination at the Academy. 

“I’ve always been meaning to ask you: how is it you can build a bridge when you can’t tell time?”

1. The Mitchells vs. The Machines (Michael Rianda, April 2021)

Katie Mitchell is accepted into her dream school and cannot wait to fly the nest to find her own kind when her father arranges for a road trip to take her to the school in an attempt to initiate family bonding. As the Mitchells embark on this journey, they are caught in a robotic apocalypse where robots plan to capture humans to seek revenge. The dysfunctional Mitchells, along with their friendly robots and a silly pug named Monchi, must save humanity from the wrath of the robots. 

Quirky and bizarre, this film is sure to leave the viewers in spits of laughter. With a twist to the apocalypse genre, the road trip is one fun ride that viewers should not miss. To watch the awkward family moments followed by the same weirdos uniting against a common cause is hilarious yet heartwarming.

Light-hearted, it also deals with important issues such as coming out to unaccepting parents, leading to a central conflict regarding identity against the backdrop of humanity on the brink of collapse at the hands of robots. Netflix is excelling in the animation department by the day and the feel-good film is a light and breezy watch that has nothing but fun, energy and happiness to offer. 

“I’m here to bust criminals and lick my own butt. And I’m all out of criminals.”

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