Over the past few years, Netflix has become a breeding ground for surprisingly well-done original movies. Whether you’re a romantic, sci-fi fanatic or looking for a good laugh, Netflix has created a collection of movies that may convince you to ditch your $10 movie ticket for the comfort of your own home.
As 2018 comes to a close, it’s a good time to reflect back on the movies that were released this year. Some movies, such as “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” were pushed into the spotlight while others didn’t receive many headlines at all. And while the movies everyone’s talking about are good too, it’s the quiet successes that might just be a stellar pick for your next movie night.
So, for your enjoyment and viewing pleasure, here are a few of the best Netflix original movies of the year (in no particular order).
It’s a story about love, self-discovery and high school. This movie is what most girls want in their pivotal teen years but rarely get. Based on the first book in a trilogy by Jenny Han, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” follows Lara Jean Covey (Lara Condor) on her journey to survive high school without her older sister, Margot (Janel Parrish).
I won’t bore you with all the details because there’s a likely chance that every girl in your life already has, but the plot of the movie is driven by the box of love letters that Lara Jean has written to each of her crushes. And, no, she never sent them. When Margot goes off to college, Lara Jean is not only facing high school alone, but she’s also dealing with the crush she has on her sister’s ex-boyfriend. There’s also the fact that the youngest of the three, Kitty (Anna Cathcart), took it upon herself to mail Lara Jean’s letters so that her sister wouldn’t be so single and lonely anymore.
High school is difficult enough without your crushes knowing you like them, so Lara Jean’s life gets way more interesting when Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) gets one of the letters and confronts her before anyone else does.
This movie is perfect whether you’re still in high school, a recent grad or just want to disconnect from the rest of the world for a couple hours. Lara Jean’s awkwardness is endearing and frustrating at the same time, and it’s wonderful to watch how Peter’s personality works with her own.
2. “Like Father”
Rachel Hamilton (Kristen Bell) is a young executive who can’t keep a man because she’s glued to work and her phone. On the day of her wedding, she’s on a work call right before she walks down the aisle. When her fiancé realizes this, he calls off their wedding right after it began. That isn’t the only surprise that Rachel receives that day. She’s also reunited with her father who left her and her mother when she was only 5 years old.
Rachel never thought she would see Harry Hamilton (Kelsey Grammar) ever again. Life doesn’t always work the way you want it too, though, and he shows up at her apartment the day after her wedding to invite her for a drink. They get incredibly drunk and wake up on the cruise that was supposed to be Rachel’s honeymoon. As can be expected from a workaholic, Rachel is on her phone for the first day or two and she and her father make plans to fly back home when they dock in Jamaica. Their plans change when they meet new people, make new friends and Rachel learns why her dad left in the first place. In probably the most predictable part of the plotline, they decide to stay on the cruise after talking things out.
Netflix’s “Like Father” is categorized as a comedy, but there are moments where you’re going to want to cry as much as laugh. After watching Rachel and Harry work out their differences and learn from each other, you’re going to want to reach out to someone you know as well. Despite what ratings may say on Rotten Tomatoes and other websites, this movie is a heartwarming tale of reconciliation and forgiveness that everyone needs in their lives.
Representation is important no matter who you are, but Netflix’s “Nappily Ever After” addresses the pressure that black women and girls can feel to be “perfect” and have their hair look a certain way. This appears to be the case for Violet Jones (Sanaa Lathan), a woman who has everything a girl could want in life until her boyfriend breaks up with her for trying to be unnaturally perfect all the time.
Her life spirals a little bit after that, and Violet is forced to focus on herself for what seems to be the first time in a long time. For her, this included impulsively shaving all her hair off. But the best decisions are sometimes the most unexpected.
Admittedly, I haven’t had the chance to check this one out yet. It was released towards the end of September, though, and it’s definitely one that I want to take time to watch. Everyone could use the important reminder that perfection isn’t possible, and that people have to leave room for themselves to grow. Don’t let the fear of losing control of your life (before it’s even begun) prevent you from taking risks.
It’s time for the plus-size girls to shine. Netflix’s “Dumplin’” is based off Julie Murphy’s 2015 novel and follows Willowdean Dickson (Danielle Macdonald) in her quest to show her mother just what she’s made of (spoiler alert: it’s beauty queen material).
There may be a little too much Dolly Parton in this movie, but the story of Willowdean, her mother, Rosie Dickson (Jennifer Aniston), and her journey to self-love and acceptance are necessary additions to Netflix’s platform. And, for the romantic, there’s even a little romance thrown in with Willowdean’s coworker, Bo (Luke Benward). It’s not too cheesy either, I promise.
“Dumplin’” reminds the world that plus-size girls can do anything other girls can do if they truly want to. They can win a beauty pageant, show their parents what they’re worth and win the heart of a boy they really like. If you’re looking for a feel-good movie with typical beauty pageant drama that ends with love and new friends rather than an unhappy group of pageant girls who scream at each other, then this movie is for you.
Honorable mentions to “Cam,” a thriller/mystery movie about a camgirl and her stolen identity, and “Hold the Dark,” a thriller/adventure movie where it’s believed that Alaskan wolves are killing local children, but that’s not necessarily the case. If you’re a fan of suspense and thriller movies, these might be your cup of tea.
Obviously, these aren’t all the original movies that were released on Netflix this year. There are many others that don’t get as much hype as teen comedies that feature cute male leads. If you’re interested in the other undiscovered gems (full disclosure that there’s a chance of them being terrible), you can check out Pop Sugar, Digital Trends or Refinery29.