Netflix continues to dominate the online film and television streaming space and 2018 has been another banner year for the multi-billion dollar company. Trips to Blockbuster became obsolete when consumers became aware of the many titles and series accessible to them en masse. Binge-watching has become a frequent practice for most Netflix users, opting to wait for a full series (or season) to appear on the streaming service as opposed to weekly drip feeds on live television.
Along with streaming some of the biggest and best films and shows ever released, Netflix has upped their own original content. These series are usually released in full seasonal installments, garnering the same amount of hype as live air television shows, with even more content to keep viewers happy.
These "Netflix Originals" boast various major awards, including Academies, Emmies, Golden Globes, and Grammies. Netflix is hard at work, releasing close to 700 tv series and over 80 movies this year, totaling over a staggering $8 billion in production costs.
While this sounds great for consumers it doesn't always work out that way, with Netflix responsible for some pretty poor content this year. The best way to find out if something's worth watching is to consult the entertainment review website Rotten Tomatoes. Having searched the site thoroughly, I've found the best and worst rated Netflix originals to make sure you get the best out of your viewing experience.
20 Best: Dirty Money (100%)
Six-episode documentary series Dirty Money hit Netflix in January and explores the corruption within corporate entities across the globe. Each episode includes interviews with major players involved in the controversies and explores the often unethical behavior of big corporations.
This series is quite an eye-opener and it's hard to believe how well-respected organizations such as car manufacturer Volkswagon and British banking institute HSBC could be so dirty in their business dealings. The least surprising are the final episodes, delving into the history of the current major leader of the US.
19 Worst: Father Of The Year (0%)
As is the case with the majority of Happy Maddison produced Netflix films, Father Of The Year was lambasted by critics upon its release. The ridiculous film stars David Spade and Nat Faxon as two dads who face-off after their sons argue about who would win in a dad fight. The result: 94 minutes you'll never get back.
Spade hasn't been funny since 2006s The Benchwarmers (Yes, this is a funny film) while the supporting cast is generally made up of no-names who must have been short of a dollar to sign up for this mess. Stay clear from this stinking pile of trash.
18 Best: Alexa & Katie (100%)
This one is a real tearjerker about two best friends getting ready for the adventures that await at freshman year. Things hit a snag when Alexa is diagnosed with cancer and becomes somewhat of an outsider in high school.
With the support of Katie, the two navigate school and experience the highs and lows together.
Both leads are fantastic but special praise must go to Paris Berelc as Alexa, who really conveys what it's like to not only be beginning high school but doing so with an illness. Smart, funny, and full of depth, Alexa & Katie should be high on your list of must watch shows over the festive season.
17 Worst: The Open House (10%)
Netflix loves a good horror flick, it's a shame they usually turn out awful, such is the case with The Open House. This supernatural thriller finds a mother and her son set upon by threatening forces when they move into a new home.
There's nothing frightening about this film and the jump scares are few and far between. 13 Reasons Why star Dylan Minnette isn't convincing as lead Logan Wallace, while the supporting cast isn't really worth mentioning. The 10% Rotten Tomato score is generous in my opinion, with The Open House easily one of the worst films released in 2018.
16 Best: Ugly Delicious (100%)
The third-straight Netflix original to gain a perfect score via Rotten Tomatoes, Ugly Delicious is a cooking show hosted by James Beard Award-winning chef David Chang. Not only does Chang serve up mouth-watering dishes but he uses the show to highlight meals from different countries while explaining the history of the area and how important the food is to that region culturally.
Chang is a natural on screen and cooks up some tasty treats that you can learn to make yourself, with a little practice of course. His approach to the bog-standard cooking show adds new life to the genre and is one that foodies should not skip past.
15 Worst: Insatiable (12%)
Based on the New York Times article "The Pageant King of Alabama" by journalist Jeff Chu, this woeful Netflix series centers on a former overweight teenager who is now skinny and decides to get involved in beauty pageants to get back at her former bullies.
Despite Alyssa Milano featuring heavily and guest appearances from Jon Lovitz and Beverly D'Angelo, Insatiable is weighed down by clumsy writing, C grade acting, and some culturally insensitive jokes. Despite all this, Insatiable got a second season and will be returning in 2019. Sometimes things just don't make sense.
14 Best: Elite (100%)
This Spanish teen drama focuses on three kids from working-class families who are given scholarships to the prestigious Las Encinas, the most exclusive private school in Spain. The show follows the three as they try to integrate into the school and make friends with the elite of Spain.
Of course, this isn't your standard teen drama, with a subplot involving crime, Elite is more like a cross between Gossip Girl and Cruel Intentions with a splash of Pretty Little Liars. Despite only airing in October, Elite has been renewed for two more seasons and looks set to be one of the streaming service's best foreign language shows.
13 Worst: Brain On Fire (13%)
Chloë Grace Moretz has made some odd choices over the past few years that have left her acting career at a crossroads. Brain On Fire is the latest mistake from the talented Moretz. The film is based on the true story of an upcoming journalist who experiences seizures, hallucinations, and erratic behavior before being diagnosed with a rare neurological autoimmune disease known as anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis.
The film details her experience with the disease and how she manages to overcome it and get her life back on track. It sounds interesting but is more of a snooze fest with nothing worth mention. If you're still keen, read the book it's based on, Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. It's much more entertaining.
12 Best: The End Of The F***ing World (98%)
When it comes to dark humor, nobody does it better than the English. Based on the graphic novel of the same name, The End Of The F***ing World is a dark comedy about 17-year-old James who believes he's a psychopath. Along with rebellious classmate Alyssa, the two decide to run away and set off on a road trip across England.
The eight-episode series is wonderfully shot and will have you chuckling at some of the dastardly humor.
The main actors Alex Lawther (James) and Jessica Barden (Alyssa) are fantastic, the script compelling, and the soundtrack, ace.
11 Worst: The Kissing Booth (13%)
Netflix loves bringing books and comics to the small screen and The Kissing Booth is another example of this. Unfortunately, it's not a great film and let down by a poor script and some uninspiring casting.
The premise of the movie revolves around a high school student who comes face-to-face with her crush at a kissing booth at the local spring carnival. Hilarity is meant to ensue but instead, it's a rather tedious watch full of tired cliches and some rather gender bias themes. Please don't watch this one.
10 Best: Wild Wild Country (98%)
If you like a good cult doco then look no further than Wild Wild Country. The series centers on controversial Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, his one-time personal assistant Ma Anand Sheela, and their community of brainwashed followers in Wasco County, Oregon.
The spiritual visionary took over a 64,000-acre ranch and turned it into a self sufficient utopia for his 2,000 followers before busing in 5,000 homeless people to take over the local town. But things don't go to plan when local and Federal Governments get involved and internal struggles lead the group to plot crime and poison more than 700 people.
This is a spellbinding doco series that must be watched to be believed.
9 Worst: The Outsider (17%)
A caucasian person entering the Yakuza and being accepted into the inner workings of the criminal enterprise would never happen, but that didn't stop Netflix creating this sloppy flick. After saving a member of the Yakuza in prison, US soldier Nick Lowell (Jared Leto) is brought into the fold upon his release where he becomes one of the organization's top men.
There's a love story subplot as rival clans war with each other but the script is rather flimsy. Leto is an interesting choice, and while always watchable, doesn't really fit the role.
8 Best: To All The Boys I've Loved Before (96%)
Another teen romantic comedy, To All The Boys I've Loved Before focuses on student Laura Jean whose love letters accidentally get mailed to her five crushes. As you can imagine this puts a spanner in the works and all manner of funny situations occur as Jean deals with the fallout.
This charming rom-com has been well received by fans and critics alike, thanks to the multicultural cast, well-written characters, and relatable themes of friendship, love, family, and self-confidence. Fun for all ages.
7 Mute (20%)
After Moon, Duncan Jones was hailed as the next big thing in Hollywood, but after the so-so Source Code and his disappointing take on Warcraft, his stock has begun to fall. Mute is the film many thought would get him back on track, but the Blade Runner-influenced thriller has only confirmed his hack tendencies.
The script is laughable, the direction questionable, and the casting all over the shop, with only Paul Rudd making this flick watchable.
It's not a fun watch and my hopes for Jones as a modern day auteur have been dashed.
6 Best: On My Block (95%)
This coming-of-age drama is set in inner-city LA and focuses on four teens as they embark on a life-changing period of their young lives. What On My Block does really well is detail the experiences of Black and Mexican kids growing up in the rough suburbs of US. Dealing with real issues such as discrimination, poverty, and violence that many of the country's youth experience, On My Block, can be heavy viewing but is ultimately a life-enriching watch.
All the actors are well cast and you really feel for them as they go through all types of situations. This is an excellent show and well worth the 95% rating it currently has.
5 Worst: Game Over, Man! (20%)
The lads from Workaholics star in this terrible Die Hard rip-off with barely any laugh out loud moments. Adam DeVine, Andres Holm, and Blake Anderson are three housekeepers at a luxury hotel that gets taken over by a group of villains. One of the hostages happen to be a video game executive who is about to greenlight the trio's own game, so they devise a plan to rescue him.
What should be 101 minutes of non-stop laughs turns out to be a tedious action-comedy flick that does nothing to showcase the trio's acting or comedic chops.
Sure, there are a few laughs but ultimately you'll find yourself turning this off and watching episodes of Workaholics.
4 Best: Flint Town (95%)
The Flint water crisis is just one of many issues addressed in this eye-opening doco series about the troubles facing residents in Flint, Michigan. While the poisoning of the water in Flint is well documented (a problem that still hasn't been fixed) the city is also enduring from poverty, crime, and a lack of funds when it comes to public services.
Flint Town delves into the problems affecting citizens and focuses on the men and women serving to protect the city who are struggling from a lack of funds and personnel. It's quite eye-opening to think a city in the US could be as bad as a third world country. This title will have you wondering how things got so bad.
3 Worst: The Cloverfield Paradox (20%)
This tie-in to the Cloverfield franchise features an amazing cast let down by a horrible script and some rather cliche sci-fi notions. An international group of astronauts are lost in an alternate dimension after using a particle accelerator on their spacecraft in an attempt to save Earth's energy crisis.
It sounds like an interesting premise but falls flat, despite the likes of Daniel Bruhl, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris O'Dowd, and John Ortiz starring. The Cloverfield link is also rather lame, with The Cloverfield Paradox a less than stellar effort.
2 Best: Sunday's Illness (94%)
This Spanish drama will leave you reaching for the tissues when it finally comes to an end. 35 years after her mother left her and her father to fend for themselves, Chiara seeks out her mother and asks to spend 10 days with her.
The two get to know each other over the 10 days but you are unsure of Chiara's reasons for tracking down her mom.
To say any more would spoil this tremendous film, but just know it's a well acted and emotionally impacting flick that will stay with you long after the credits have finished rolling.
1 Worst: How It Ends (20%)
I'm usually all for films when they concern the coming apocalypse but How It Ends just doesn't work. Will travels from Seattle to Chicago to ask his girlfriend Samantha's father for her hand in marriage. When disaster strikes in Seattle, Will and Samantha's disgruntled father Tom set out to find the missing Samantha.
This is another film let down by poor execution, a phoned-in performance from Forest Whitaker, and some rather dismal special effects. The ending is also slightly confusing which never helps. If you really want to a gripping apocalyptic flick watch Children Of Men or The Road.