These Are The 20 Best Netflix Original Movies Of 2018


More than 40 Netflix original movies have already been released in 2018, and even more are on the way. It’s a lot to take in, especially given Netflix’s larger quality control issues.

The best new movies from Netflix in 2018 find the streaming service increasingly focusing on an international audience. Highlights from the year include a South Korean thriller, a South African drama, an Israeli dark comedy, and a rom-com for the Muslim world. 

Here are the best Netflix original movies of 2018—so far. (For a complete list of our favorite Netflix original movies of all time, go here.)

The best Netflix original movies of 2018

1) Annihilation (not available in the U.S.)

In Alex Garland’s adaptation of Annihilation, we still get to explore Area X, a quarantined area of land besieged by mysterious environmental changes. That’s about where the similarities to the book end. The film uses author Jeff VanderMeer’s spectral setting to get in its characters’ heads. Natalie Portman plays Lena, a biologist and former soldier who is grieving the loss of her husband, Kane (Oscar Isaac). He was sent into Area X on a secret mission and feared dead, but he suddenly returns home—altered. Lena’s mission there is one of truth and redemption, but Portman plays her with appropriate detachment. We don’t really know her true motives, and fellow travelers Anya (Gina Rodriguez), Cass (Tuva Novotny), Josie (Tessa Thompson), and Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) have their own reasons for going on an apparent suicide mission. —Audra Schroeder

2) 6 Balloons

Netflix

In Marja-Lewis Ryan’s 6 Balloons, one long night tests the limits of compassion. It tells the story of Katie (Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson) a woman who’s trying to plan a surprise birthday party for her boyfriend. But as the day goes on she collides with her brother Seth (Dave Franco), a heroin addict who’s using again. “The loneliness inside those dark moments is almost more crippling… not being able to talk about the things; not knowing where to talk,” Ryan tells the Daily Dot. “If this isn’t your story, then maybe you can gain a little empathy for people who are experiencing this. And if it is your story, hopefully, you can feel a little less lonely.” 6 Balloons is very much about middle-class addiction, based on a similar night Ryan’s best friend (and the film’s co-producer) Samantha Housman experienced: Her brother, a lawyer, was addicted to heroin. —Audra Schroeder

3) A Futile and Stupid Gesture

A Futile and Stupid Gesture/Netflix

A Futile and Stupid Gesture, Netflix’s feature film adaptation of Josh Karp’s 2006 book of the same name, is an exploration of the creation of humor mag National Lampoon and its odd-couple co-founders, Henry Beard (Domhnall Gleeson) and Doug Kenney (Will Forte). It’s removed enough from its 1970s origins to offer new insight into its generational influence—and it also recontextualizes satire in an era littered with “fake news.” —Audra Schroeder

4) Calibre

Netflix UK & Ireland/YouTube

A python has never choked me out, but I imagine watching Calibre is a reasonable approximation. The movie starts with hedonistic bachelor Marcus (Martin McCann) and nebbish father-to-be Vaughn (Jack Lowden) getting away for a weekend hunting trip in the Scottish Highlands. When you have a person reticent to shoot a gun prodded along by someone excited to shoot, well, bad things tend to happen. Writer and director Matt Palmer shows restraint throughout by keeping the story tightly contained, making Calibre a thrilling descent into darkness. —Eddie Strait

5) Kodachrome

Netflix

Kodachrome is like going to your childhood home to play a game of catch in your backyard: It’s comforting and you fall right back into the routine. What starts as a paint-by-numbers story of an estranged father and son working out their issues during a long road trip morphs into a genuinely affecting tale of family and mortality with a satisfying emotional payoff. Ed Harris plays the role of a father and renowned photographer, Ben, with customary elegance, but Jason Sudeikis steals the show as his son, Matt. Jonathan Tropper’s script pulls no punches, and director Mark Raso allows the scenes to breathe, making Kodachrome one of the better Netflix releases of 2018. —Eddie Strait

6) Us and Them

Netflix Asia/YouTube

Rene Liu’s film tracks the course of Jianping and Ziaoxiao’s relationship over the course of a decade. The two meet on a train on their way home for the Chinese New Year, then the film checks in on them over the same holiday stretch each year. As their relationship ebbs and flows we watch the characters mature and learn to grapple with their feelings and insecurities. The movie is well acted, but the star here is Liu, who makes her debut as a director and also co-wrote the script. She is a patient storyteller and you always feel like you’re in good hands. —Eddie Strait

7) Roxanne Roxanne

Netflix

A long overdue biopic, the dutiful Roxanne Roxanne tells the early ‘80s beginnings of Lolita Shante Gooden, known to the hip-hop world as Roxanne Shante, rap’s first female superstar. Serviceable as a straightforward film, it suffers from lack of depth as it tries to cover as many real-life events as it can. However, the accurate time-period placing, expert editing, and dazzling performances of Chanté Adams, Nia Long, and Mahershala Ali cover most of the film’s tangles. —Kahron Spearman

8) Like Father

Netflix/Like Father

After being left at the altar, Rachel and her estranged father end up on her honeymoon cruise together, not so much making up for lost time as trying to endure the awkwardness of it all. While formulaic at times, the light comedy succeeds mostly because of the great chemistry between the two leads, Kristen Bell and Kelsey Grammer, who are more alike than they care to acknowledge—and all of the ridiculous activities aboard the cruise. —Austin Powell

9) Manhunt

Manhunt/Netflix

John Woo gets back to basics with the melodramatic and ridiculously entertaining Manhunt. After waking up in bed next to a dead woman, Du Qiu finds himself accused of her murder. To prove his innocence he must go on the run while he looks for evidence. On his trail is detective Yamura. The two men find himself in shootout after shootout and chase after chase. If you’ve ever enjoyed one of Woo’s action movies, you’ll get a kick out of Manhunt. —Eddie Strait

10) Cargo

Netflix

In Cargo, the zombie apocalypse is intimate, compelling and showcases the best and worst of humanity in the Australian Outback. And for one father (Martin Freeman), the stakes have never been higher as he only has only 48 hours to find someone to take care of his young daughter before he turns into one of the undead. —Michelle Jaworski

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