HomeOur ObsessionsInto the Inferno: The best Netflix Originals you might have missed

Into the Inferno: The best Netflix Originals you might have missed

Netflix has a veritable feast of a back catalog available to stream on command. Here are some underappreciated gems you might have missed.

Into the Inferno: The best Netflix Originals you might have missed

In response to a mass exodus of various companies (Disney, Fox, CBS) from the streaming giant, Netflix is on track to introduce a record number of original titles to its platform this year. While the platform started as a seemingly safe haven for all your favorite bingewatches and guilty pleasures, the streaming biz keeps growing, and companies such as Disney are opting out of the coveted spot on Netflix’s virtual shelves in favor of launching their own exclusive streaming sites.

Disney+ is set for release next year, so prepare yourselves for all of your favorite Marvel and Star Wars flicks to find a new, more expensive home in the upcoming months. In the meantime, Netflix has switched gears and upped its game in the original content department to combat the oncoming onslaught of rival streaming services. Remember when we all thought cable was gonna solve all these problems?

It has been announced by chief content officer Ted Sarandos that Netflix aims to hit one thousand titles by the end of this year. That includes films, TV shows, documentaries, standup specials, and more. It’s a daunting prospect, but between us, we think we can just about manage to sit through all of them.

Its upcoming programming includes a Riverdale spinoff, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, the Cary Fukunaga-directed black comedy Maniac, as well as films such as Orson Welles’s unreleased project The Other Side of the Wind, and an untitled Christmas movie starring Kurt Russell (Death Proof). Riveting stuff.

If you can’t wait until then, Netflix still has a veritable feast of a back catalogue still available to stream on command. We thought we’d ignore obvious hits such as Stranger Things and Marvel’s exercises in R-rated misery and jump straight to some of the more obscure or under-appreciated gems that you might have missed on your first time round.

 

A Series of Unfortunate Events

It’s kitschy, laden with cartoonish costumes and special effects. and Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) as Count Olaf serves up an even bigger slice of ham than Jim Carrey (The Truman Show). However, there’s something undeniably charming about this adaptation, and stretching out the story to a full series ticks all the boxes the original film couldn’t.

 

Ozark

If Jason Bateman’s (Arrested Development) latest comedic offerings have been hit-or-miss for you, he might be easier to stomach in a more serious role.

 

She’s Gotta Have It

Like us, you’re probably aching to get your hands on Spike Lee’s latest Cannes sensation, BlacKkKlansman. To tide you over, try out his Netflix series based on his 1986 film of the same name. Don’t worry – it’s still a verified Spike Lee joint, as each of the ten episodes were directed by the filmmaker himself.

 

Mindhunter

Although David Fincher only stuck around for four episodes, Mindhunter feels right at home with the rest of his filmography, especially serial killer thrillers Se7en and Zodiac.

 

Into the Inferno

Bet you didn’t know Werner Herzog (Fitzcarraldo) made a Netflix documentary, did you? The acclaimed German filmmaker waxing poetic about the beauty of magma, pyroclastic flows, and volcanic eruptions is just as strange and magnetic as you’d hope it would be.

 

Altered Carbon

Blade Runner mimics are everywhere, and we’d strongly recommend moving straight past the likes of Scarlett Johansson’s Ghost in the Shell remake and Duncan Jones’s snoozefest Mute. We’ll still stick our neck out for Altered Carbon, though – the Blade Runner ripoff that could.

 

All the standup specials

The likes of Stranger Things & Black Mirror have unfortunately overshadowed Netflix’s achievements in comedy, but its recent standup specials have included career highlights for some of the best working comedians. Dave Chappelle and James Acaster’s series are both incredible, Ali Wong kills it while pregnant (twice!), and John Mulaney’s Kid Gorgeous is endlessly quotable. However, stay far, far away from Ricky Gervais.

 

Wild Wild Country

If you loved Making a Murderer you should definitely check out Netflix’s most recent messed up crime docuseries. Its six parts trace the life of an Indian guru and his cultish followers in a small community in Oregon.

 

On My Block

A hard-hitting comedy drama series about the troubled high school lives of four kids from different backgrounds. This quick bingewatch is guaranteed to be the highlight of your week.

 

A Futile and Stupid Gesture

“Oh hey, it’s that guy.” Prepare to say this more than you ever have in the space of 100 minutes.

 

The Toys That Made Us

Action figures, playsets, and Barbie dolls aren’t the first things that come to mind when thinking of compelling documentary subjects, but The Toys That Made Us ends up being a surprisingly in depth exploration of pop culture, advertising, collecting, and toy design. The next four episodes are scheduled for later this month.

 

Easy

Proves that the anthology series doesn’t have to be dominated by mini-movies that make you want to smash your smartphone into a million pieces. Each short episode is like cuddling up with a warm sweater and a mug of hot chocolate.

 

Love

The antithesis of Easy, as well as the complete opposite of shows like Master of None that seem to operate in a world without cynicism. It’s easy to hate the two characters, but stick with it and Love manages to become a touching reflection on modern romance.

 

Casting JonBenet

An experimental film wrapped in a Netflix documentary. Absolutely essential for fans of The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence.

 

Neo Yokio

Okay, hear us out. No, Jaden Smith’s (After Earth) vanity project to fuel his ego and vent his pretentious, philosophical ramblings isn’t good per se, but it will still be one of the most confusing and entertaining things you’ll watch all year. And with only six episodes, what do you have to lose?

 

Okja

Everyone we’ve talked to who has seen Bong Joon-ho’s latest masterpiece Okja has at least seriously considered becoming a vegetarian. It’s just that effective.

 

6 Balloons

Don’t let the presence of Dave Franco (The Disaster Artist) put you off, as this could be one of his best roles to date. He stars as a heroin addict driving across LA to find a detox center, in a short and snappy yet highly affecting drama.

 

Wormwood

Guess what – it’s another true crime docuseries for ya. This time it’s a miniseries from Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line), who includes some dramatic reenactments starring Peter Sarsgaard (Kinsey).

 

Come Sunday

An underrated biopic starring the always worthwhile Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), Come Sunday brilliantly dramatises the excommunication of a controversial minister for his beliefs in universal reconciliation.

 

Mudbound

One of the best movies of last year that pretty much no one saw, Mudbound is exactly the type of film that could have been nominated for Best Picture if the Academy members weren’t dicks about streaming sites.

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Lucas is a film nerd who's usually found in London cinemas, cafes, and bookshops, buying books he'll never read. When he's not watching or writing about movies & TV, he's asleep.

lucas@filmdaily.co