Trust me, creating this list was no easy feat. Netflix makes a lot of stuff. Some of it is incredible, some of it isn’t, but when it’s good it’s great and more often that not that’s what Netflix provides. Like the ups and downs that come with any New Year, we know that somehow, in someway, Netflix is going to make us happy we’re subscribers.
To that end, it should be acknowledged that your own personal top 10 Netflix originals of 2018 might be markedly different. You might read this year end list and wonder why I chose all the awful Netflix originals that the platform serves up. Or, you might see a kindred spirit who appreciates Netflix’s whimsical nature. This is why these lists are so great and, sometimes, controversial.
Related: 10 Best Popcorn Movies of 2018
There is a bit of an indy/art film bent happening here. At the same time, there is also an appreciation for Netflix’s constant ability to take real risks. That term can often be overused but in the case of their 2018 offerings, that statement is 100% on the money.
So, as the year winds down and the world shuts off for a few hours, sit back and enjoy this list. Who knows maybe it will be spur you to check out some of the films listed here? Either way, the “Top 10 Netflix Originals” stood out in yet another year content that was like no other.
You really have to hand it to Netflix. Yes, they want to be everything to everyone, but ultimately the ubiquitous streaming platform cannot be anybody but itself. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is amazing because there’s a very real possibility that your streaming device won’t be able to play it! When arguably the largest streaming portal makes one of their most beloved shows purposely unavailable that is truly amazing. Then you get into the whole game-centric plot of this choose your own adventure tale and it makes one wonder if this is the future of content as we know it.
The Mail Order Comedy gang, who are responsible for unleashing Workaholics on the world, made their first feature film together, and it doesn’t just stand as one of Netflix’s best original movies of the year, I’d argue that it’s the best comedy of the year, hands down. This thing doesn’t stop to breath for a second, bringing a spoof of Die Hard that has just as much action and pulls off one of the best dick jokes ever. There is a lot of fun to be had with Game Over, Man!, and it’s unlikely we would have gotten the same movie had it been a theatrical release. Netflix let Blake, Adam and Ders run wild. And the results are nothing short of stupendous in every sense of the word. This one deserves true cult status, and we can’t wait to see what the MOC gang does next.
The Haunting of Hill House
The awesome thing about Netflix is how they give us things we often don’t think or even know we need. Sure, they could have rested on their laurels with the whole cottage industry of Stranger Things. Thankfully they didn’t do that and with The Haunting of Hill House they have ventured into American Horror Story territory, but in the irreverent way that only Netflix can. The premise of the The Haunting of Hill House is simple enough. Told in flashbacks, a family is trying to come to terms with the home they used to live in and why they left in the first place. On the face of it this show seems fairly paint by numbers. However, when you sit down and spend some time with it, the true joy (and fear) comes in just how deftly this Netflix Original subverts your expectations.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Netflix managed to take a classic character and spin her into a Satanic draft dodger attempting to split her time between her high school friends and the witch world in which she inhabits. This created a very funny, scary show that has captivated people of all ages, and even managed to rile up the Satanic Temple in the process. We got to see monsters, spells and the supernatural take over Netflix for 10 solid episodes of chilling fun. And while it might not be as high brow as some of the other original offerings, it made a lot of noise right out of the gate and has already been confirmed through Season 4.
Hannah Gadsby: Nanette
We live in a time when half this country thinks we are too sensitive and the other half thinks were not sensitive enough. Then along comes this Netflix gem Hannah Gadsby: Nanette and suddenly we get a whole new perspective on this whole politically correct thing. Just as Eddie Murphy did with Raw and Richard Pryor did with his stand-up act, Hannah Gadsby brings us in with the idea of laughter and then truly changes the game. By the time we realize what has happened, we’re involved, we care, and we can’t ever look at the world the same way again. If that isn’t something special than I don’t know what is.
Many people felt that the third season of Narcos was a bit of a letdown. Well, never a platform to run away from the most important headlines, Netflix changed the game with a sub-series called Narcos: Mexico. Suddenly, we have the likes of Diego Luna, Michael Pena, and Alyssa Diaz and this show is suddenly on everybody’s lips again. It isn’t just because it looks at the nascent days of the Guadalajara Cartel, it’s because this show is truly blessed with incredible writing, acting, and stories that raise the stakes with every episode. So good is this new Netflix creation, one wonders if they ever need return to the canon series.
While not the best of the Coen Brothers Films The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a 133 minute beautifully crafted and shot piece of poetry. It serves up 6 stories that aren’t connected but all, in some way, reflect on the human condition in a way that only the Coen Brothers can manage. With a cast that features Liam Neeson (remember, he wasn’t always the star of those Taken films), James Franco, and Tim Blake Nelson just to name a few, this is the kind of movie that you simply let happen to you. Don’t try and outthink it, don’t try and get ahead of it, just let all of its majestic glory wash over you like the the beautiful prairie landscapes it showcases. Kudos to Netflix for creating a place where films like this can still exist.
Ozark Season 2
Man, it sure would’ve been easy for Jason Bateman and Co. to let us down with the second season of Ozark. Somehow though, even as we lost some of the best characters we’ve ever seen on TV, this Netflix original got better and better. We all know the tale of Martin Byrde having to high tail it to Ozarks in a bid to save his life, his family, and $500 million in Cartel drug money. Season 2 continues this but as the circle around Martin shrinks, it gets filled in with new players who are somehow worse than their predecessors. This show is cold, calculating, and raises the stakes without calling attention to the fact that it is doing just that. One can only wonder who will live, who will die, and who will transform in Season 3.
The best description for Alfonso Cuaron’s breathtaking Roma is beautiful. Set in the 1970s we follow a maid as she she attempts to make things better for her family. In the process, we see her make things better for everybody else (namely the people she works for) but herself. Factor in the political situation of Mexico during this time and you have a movie that screams Best 2018 Netflix Original! Alfonso Cuaron’s sure-handed direction is at all times on display. Given the geopolitical nature of everything in today’s 24 hour news cycle, it seems that our elected officials would do themselves a service to screen this film. It is a tenderly crafted tale that never shies away from the true reality of its subject matter.
Director Timo Tjahjanto serves up a cold blooded thriller of a tale that is wrapped in a story of redemption. Filled with a solid plot, incredible action, and more codas then you can shake a stick at, The Night Comes for Us is a truly riveting tale that fits quite nicely in the world of Netflix. It’s got everything one needs or wants in a story and, at the same time, fills out its 120 minute runtime quite vividly. There is no let-up in this film. Just when you think you know how it is going to end your ideas and perceptions are shifted by the action on the screen. For that reason alone this is one of the 10 best Originals Netflix has to offer for 2018.
In 2011, after a terrorist attack in Norway, the authorities in charge realize just how large scale of an operation it was. Amidst this, we see the tale of terrorist Anders Behring Breivik and one of the survivors Viljar Hanssen. While you might wonder what is so special about a story that seems to be playing out daily on CNN, this film, directed by Paul Greengrass, is both unique, compelling, and told in a way that shows all sides but manages to make its own statement. Quite simply, we live in times in which it is easy to be cynical and closed off. 22 July shows us that not only is that not possible, it isn’t the way to tackle the ills of the world. A truly inspiring film from Netflix Originals and one that had to be made.
There are many people who love and hated Maniac Season 1. Truthfully, it isn’t for everybody, but if it’s for you it’s really for you. Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective) serves up an odd tale that truly makes a statement about American culture, capitalism, and pharmaceutical drugs. The premise is that two different people (Jonah Hill and Emma Stone) take part in a drug experiment that is supposed to make their lives better while not having any side effects. As you can guess, things are too good to be true and it is in that space that Maniac resides. Rich with crazed imagery and plot details, this is is a show that may or may not need to continue. However, if it does it will probably be topping other Best Netflix Originals lists sometimes in its crazed future.