With over 200 originals and counting, Netflix’s homegrown film industry has gone from a nice extra to one of the main draws of its site. No longer do you have to organise a babysitter, drive to the cinema, pay for tickets and sit next to squawking teenagers; now new films are ready and available from the comfort of your own living room. All for $10.99 a month. Nice, right?
The quality of these films can fluctuate massively, all the way from mesmerising experiments such as Roma and Annihilation to atrocities such as Bird Box and Next Gen. It’s as if the site makes and acquires as much content as possible in order to see what sticks. To their credit, they have disrupted the traditional streaming model considerably, with Roma’s likely success at the Oscars announcing the streamer as a genuine awards player.
With over 90 films planned for release this year, it can be difficult to find what is actually worth watching. That’s why we have created this list of films we are most exciting to see land on the streaming site in 2019. Helmed by some of the biggest directors around, it shows that the streamer has both the clout and the financial means to really change the industry.
Ranging from long-awaited auteur projects to revenge thrillers to feel-good biopics, this list really demonstrates the diversity of Netflix’s platform. Think that we missed anything? Please tell us what you are most excited for in the comments below.
1. Velvet Buzzsaw (Dan Gilroy)
Dan Gilroy reunites with Nightcrawler star Jake Gyllenhaal for Velvet Buzzsaw, a truly bizarro comedy-horror. Telling the story of haunted paintings that come alive in order to take revenge on the capitalist greed of the art world, Velvet Buzzsaw is one of those films that will either soar or crash.
Either way, it looks destined to provoke some serious questions about the immense value we put on certain paintings and the hyper-capitalist commodification of art. After the strange yet oddly flat Roman J. Israel Esq., this looks to be a return to form for the Kong: Skull Island scribe.
Given the creepy success of Nightcrawler, Gilroy and Gyllenhaal returning together is something to really get excited about. Judging from the trailer, he seems totally game as a pretentious art dealer (“critique is so limiting and emotionally draining”) with some truly savage opinions (“I think sober hasn’t been good for him”), while Hereditary-star Toni Colette is easily one of the best horror actresses working today. Debuting on February 1st, the film will also star Zawe Ashton, Rene Russo, Tom Sturbridge, Natalia Dyer, Billy Magnussen and the legendary John Malkovich.
2. Close (Vicky Jewson)
Close is a bodyguard story with a twist, inverting the usual gender dynamic of man protects man or man protects woman with a female-centred tale. It’s central character is based on the true story of the world’s most in-demand female bodyguard, Jacquie Davis, who has protected famous women such as Nicole Kidman, J.K. Rowling and even members of the Royal family.
Naomi Rapace is in the star role, reluctantly saddled with protecting the spoiled heiress (Sophie Nélisse) to an extraordinary fortune. At first they don’t get on well, yet once kidnappers arrive the two of them have to team up in order to ensure that they stay alive.
Rapace has been one to watch ever since The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo trilogy, and easily has the action chops to anchor her own big-budget thriller. Given the preponderance of male bodyguard films and TV shows, this gender-swap could also be a breath of fresh air for a genre that is slowly becoming stale. Directed by Vicky Jewson, the first trailer promises a nail-biting thriller about trying to survive, no matter the cost.
3. Triple Frontier (J.C Chandor)
Triple Frontier, scheduled to be released on March 15, will be one of Netflix’s biggest films to date. With an all-star cast including Oscar Isaac, Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal, Triple Frontier unites them for a bone-shredding thriller about friendship and The American Dream. They star as former military members who team up to rob a drug lord worth over $75 million, unleashing an ungodly wave of destruction.
The Triple Frontier of the title refers to the tri-border area between Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil, a land considered by many to be rampant with corruption and even a source of international terrorist funds. Whether this setting is used simply as a backdrop or as a means to inquire into international corruption remains to be told.
Considering the director, this should be no ordinary thriller. J.C Chandor’s last film, A Most Violent Year, was one of the most underrated films of 2014, a 70s-style throwback that provided Oscar Isaac’s best role. The trailer may suggest generic action thrills, yet Chandor has a knack for using action to make broader points about the human condition. As a result, Triple Frontier should be on the front of everyone’s watchlist.
4. The Irishman (Martin Scorsese)
Perhaps not only the most anticipated movie on Netflix, but the most anticipated movie released anywhere, The Irishman sees none other than Martin Scorsese reunite with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, while teaming up with Al Pacino for the first time.
With a whopping budget of $200 million, it more than doubles the amount spent on his magnum opus The Wolf of Wall Street, promising perhaps the most extravagant film of the great director’s career. Robert De Niro will star as a labor union official tied to the mob who reminisces about his part in the murder of union leader Jimmy Hoffa, played by Al Pacino.
If what looks like Heat meets Goodfellas isn’t exciting enough for you, note that this is Joe Pesci’s first live-action film role in 9 years, and only his fourth appearance since 1998’s Lethal Weapon 4. Combined with groundbreaking VFX work that promises to make the three stars appear thirty years younger at different points in the film, and we could be in for something truly special indeed.
5. Six Underground (Michael Bay)
Michael Bay’s output may be a little hit and miss, yet his influence on the action genre cannot be understated. Since starting out as a radical action auteur, his signature frenetic style has become one of the most imitated in Hollywood. His move to the streamer service is strong proof that the world of Hollywood has changed immeasurably in the past few years. Based on the script by Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, Six Underground promises to be the start of a entirely new Hollywood franchise with Deadpool-star Ryan Reynolds in the main role.
It will tell the story of six billionaires who decide to fake their own deaths in order to start a vigilante squad to take down the world’s worst criminals – reflecting the remarkable lengths the richest people in the world will go to in order to avoid paying taxes. Reynolds will star alongside Ben Hardy, Adria Arjona, Dave Franco, Mélanie Laurent, Corey Hawkins and Manuel Garcia-Ruffo.