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The 10 Best Netflix Original Movies of 2018

16 January 2019 | Features, Film Lists | by Cara McWilliam-Richardson

Netflix releases a multitude of new films every year and 2018 was no different. From horrors to comedies, there was a film to suit every cinephile’s appetite. Netflix has become known as a platform for original filming, with Netflix’s original films also including films that were first screened in other countries which are then exclusively broadcast in other territories where they are branded as Netflix original content.

Netflix has spent billions of dollars on establishing its original film content and has made its mark in the industry, with its films gracing the Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Awards. 2018 saw the release of a number of films on Netflix which were met with critical praise from both critics and audiences, and it is safe to say that film fans will certainly be eagerly anticipating what future films Netflix has up its sleeve in 2019 and beyond.

 

1. Cam

Alice is an ambitious camgirl who is determined to be one of the highest rated girls on the site where she posts daily videos for her followers. One day Alice realises that her show has been taken over by her exact replica. As this copy of her takes over more of Alice’s identity, both on the internet and in her real life, Alice finds herself desperately struggling to take back control.

Directed by Daniel Goldhaber and written by Isa Mazzei, the story is partially inspired by Mazzei’s own experience as a camgirl. In one scene where police officers ask Alice, “what’s the weirdest thing that you’ve ever had to do?”, was the same question that several Hollywood executives asked Mazzei after they found out that she had previously worked as a camgirl. Mazzei had originally wanted to make Cam as a documentary but decided that a horror story was a better way to tell the story. She teamed up with high school friend Goldhaber and the film was shot over twenty days.

Cam received positive reviews, with particular praise for its technological element and its current relevance. In today’s modern society, we live our lives online. So perhaps it is not much of an exaggeration that one of our greatest fears would be to have our identity stolen and our online lives toyed with in a way in which it affects our real lives too. Cam plays on those fears and intensifies them in a film that is certain to leave you with much to debate.

 

2. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Based on the New York Times bestselling novel of the same name, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before follows sixteen-year-old Lara Jean. She writes love letters to boys she has feelings for, before locking the letters away in her closet. After the letters accidentally get sent, Lara Jean is forced to face up to her various crushes.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was a runaway success for Netflix when it debuted in the summer. The film’s standard rom com qualities were elevated by a great cast and a sweet story, and audiences lapped it up. Something that audiences particularly liked was the palpable chemistry between the two leads Lara Jean and Peter, played by Lana Condor and Noah Centino. Their chemistry was so strong both on and off screen that they ended up improvising several scenes that were in the final edit of the film.

The film was so successful that a sequel has been green lit – P.S I Still Love You. As the book series is in fact a trilogy, this may not be the last film where audiences are reunited with Lana and Peter.

 

3. Annihilation

Based on the novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation follows a biologist who decides to join an expedition of scientists to a mysterious environmental disaster zone known as The Shimmer after her husband goes missing. It soon becomes apparent that the scientists are in more danger than they ever could have expected.

Written and directed by Alex Garland, Annihilation was released theatrically in three countries – the United States, Canada and China where it grossed $43 million against a budget of $45 million. It was then given a wide release on Netflix.

Annihilation has appeared on a number of best films of 2018 lists, being popular with both audiences and critics alike. The combination of science fiction action, horror features and a highly cerebral element meant that Annihilation gave audiences much to discuss and debate after seeing it. In fact, the film was actually deemed “too intelligent” for a worldwide theatrical release and it was feared that audiences would not go and see it, which is one of the reasons that it was put on to Netflix.

After the success of Annihilation, the idea has been floated of a sequel to the film. As Annihilation is based on the first novel of a series, there is the material available to follow the story. However, if there was to be a sequel, Garland has made it clear that he will not be involved. “I’ve got no objection to someone else doing that, but I’m not interested in the idea of a sequel.”

 

4. Roma

In 1970s Mexico City, young domestic worker Cleo works for a middle-class family in the neighbourhood of Roma. It soon becomes clear that family life is not as idyllic as appearances suggest, the same which can be said for Cleo’s own personal life.

Roma has received critical acclaim since its release in late 2018. The film debuted at the 75th Venice International Film Festival where it won the Golden Lion and has since gone on to win numerous accolades. It has also been selected as the Mexican entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards and is currently one of the favourites to scoop the prize. Roma had a limited theatrical run before being widely released on Netflix.

Roma has been a labour of love for director Alfonso Cuaron. As the film is such a personal piece of work for him, it was important to get the perfect cast. It took a year for Cuaron to find Yalitza Aparicio, who plays Cleo. It was also vitally important for Cuaron to make the film fully his own, without any homages to other directors or films. If a shot reminded Cuaron of another film, he would change it, even if the shot was beautiful. The only influence that Cuaron states using was a scene where he was inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey.

 

5. Calibre

Vaughn and Marcus are lifelong friends. They decide to go on a hunting trip to a remote part of the Scottish Highlands, but nothing could have prepared them for the situation that they soon find themselves in. A situation that tests both them and their friendship to the limit.

After debuting at the Edinburgh International Film Festival where it won the Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature, Calibre was released on Netflix before receiving a limited theatrical release in Curzon Cinemas a few months later. Calibre was written and directed by Matt Palmer and was nine years in the making. It is Palmer’s feature debut.

Calibre received mostly positive reviews, with praise given to Palmer for displaying a high level of craft for his feature debut and demonstrating a good grasp of how to create tension and intensity. Praise was also given to the moralities shown in the film and the interesting questions that they raised. Palmer said of the morality, “There’s no clear morality really, I don’t think, in terms of any of the characters in the film, which hopefully leaves the audience in the middle to navigate that.”

 

 

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