Why go to the theaters when Netflix keeps bringing the heat?
As a purveyor of all things streaming, Netflix has crafted a steady slate of brand new, original content regularly hitting the platform. Whether it’s television series, documentaries, children’s programming, or new movies – it’s become difficult to keep up with the queue.
Lately however, Netflix has really been leaning into its original films, which stream exclusively on the media provider. Ranging from the latest Adam Sandler comedy to the new Duplass Brothers indie – the sheer variety and act of choosing can often be the most overwhelming part of “Netflix and chill.”
Recently a few Netflix Original Films (Roma, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Mudbound) have even broken into the Academy Awards race, proving the Netflix film model is more than a glorified direct-to-video service. Following the success of Roma at the 2019 Oscars, it’s now almost expected for Netflix to repeat having a Best Picture nominee. Perhaps one of these 10 Netflix Original Films releasing over the summer, starting today, will be the talk of the town next awards season.
May 1 – Knock Down the House
As the lone documentary featured on our list, and the only one that will be on Netflix as of publishing, it’s worth noting that director Rachel Lears began working on the film that ominous Wednesday following the 2016 Presidential Election. Immediately reaching out to political action committees in search of "charismatic female candidates who weren't career politicians, but had become newly galvanized to represent their communities," Lears ultimately found her four female candidates in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Amy Vilela of Nevada, Cori Bush of Missouri, and Paula Jean Swearengin of West Virginia. Knock Down the House follows the four female, progressive Democrats in their 2018 pursuits for Congressional office. After winning the U.S. Documentary Audience Award and the Festival Favorite Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Netflix quickly acquired the documentary for an early May release.
May 3 – Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile stars Zac Efron as Ted Bundy, the charismatic serial killer of the 1970s. Based on the memoir, The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy, by his then girlfriend, Elizabeth “Liz” Kloepfer – the film tells the story of a charming sociopath as he kills repeatedly, escapes prison, and represents himself in a death penalty trial. The movie premiered at Sundance this past January and also stars Lily Collins as Liz, Kaya Scodelario as Bundy’s wife, and John Malkovich as Judge Edward Cowart, the man for whom the title phrase was is attributed.
May 10 – Wine Country
It’s a Saturday Night Live cast and writers reunion in Amy Poehler’s Napa Valley-based directorial debut, Wine Country. The hilarious cast includes Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler, Ana Gasteyer, Paula Pell, Emily Spivey, and Tina Fey as a group of friends celebrating a 50th birthday while on a girls weekend in Northern California’s wine country. The story is loosely inspired by an actual trip to Napa the actresses went on. While Poehler has directed episodes of Parks & Recreation and Broad City in the past, it will be interesting to see how her first foray into film turns out. Cheers!
May 17 – See You Yesterday
To know See You Yesterday you must first know its filmmaker, Stefon Bristol. Bristol is a student of, and assistant to iconic filmmaker Spike Lee. And according to his IMDb bio, “his favorite films are Do the Right Thing and Back to the Future Part II.” Now knowing all of that… See You Yesterday is a time travel action-adventure about two best friends, CJ and Sebastian, who build a time machine and must use it in order to prevent the wrongful death of CJ’s brother. So pretty much, Do the Right Thing-meets-Back to the Future. Judging by the trailer, the young filmmaker pulled off a great homage to his favorite films while simultaneously crafting an inventive debut feature.
May 24 – Rim of the World
No trailer released yet
Best known for helming the early-2000s Charlie’s Angels film franchise – director McG returns to Netflix, following the success of 2017’s The Babysitter, with a good old-fashioned sci-fi adventure. Rim of the World follows four teenagers when an alien invasion interrupts their summer at camp. Written by Zack Stentz (Thor, The Flash), the new take on the “kids-save-the-world” premise stars Jack Gore (The Kids Are Alright), Benjamin Flores Jr. (Lil’ P-Nut), Lynn Collins (True Blood), Tony Cavalero (School of Rock) and Vine star King Bach.
May 24 – The Perfection
Only months after the release of Jordan Peele’s second consecutive suspense thriller sensation, Us – the star of Get Out, Allison Williams, reunites with Girls director, Richard Shepard, for another stab at a modern horror classic. In the film, Williams plays a disturbed musical prodigy who befriends her school’s new star student, Logan Browning (Dear White People). The two go down a dark and erotic path that’ll leave viewers unsure of whether or not to look away. After premiering at Fantastic Fest last September, The Perfection hits Netflix at the end of May.
May 31 – Always Be My Maybe
Following the global sensation of Crazy Rich Asians last summer, it’s no surprise to see an upcoming romantic comedy starring two Asian Americans on Netflix’s docket. Written by and starring Ali Wong (American Housewife) and Randall Park (Fresh Off the Boat) – Always Be My Maybe tells the story of childhood friends of disparate social and economic classes as they fall for each other later in life. Directed by Nahnatchka Khan (Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, Fresh Off the Boat), the made-for-Netflix romcom also stars Daniel Dae Kim (Lost), Charlyne Yi (Paper Heart), Michelle Buteau (Someone Great), and Keanu Reeves.
June 7 – I Am Mother
No trailer released yet
Another film that found its way to Netflix following a premiere at 2019’s Sundance Film Festival – I Am Mother is an Australian sci-fi thriller in which a teenage girl (Clara Rugaard) is raised underground by a maternal robot (voiced by Rose Byrne) who’s designed to repopulate the world after an event that’s led to mankind’s extinction. However, the bond between robot Mother and human Daughter is strained when an injured stranger (Hilary Swank) arrives with news that will make the girl question everything she’s ever known. I Am Mother is the feature film debut of director, Grant Sputore, who appears to have a bright future ahead of him.
June 14 – Murder Mystery
It’s been over a decade since Adam Sandler’s historic hot streak of classic comedies hit a serious decline in quality. However, the past five years of Sandler/Netflix films has made for some interesting viewing to say the least – cranking out a movie a year. Reuniting with his Just Go With It co-star, Jennifer Aniston, Murder Mystery finds Sandler as a New York cop who takes his wife (Aniston) on their long-delayed European honeymoon. During the flight, a dapper gentleman invites them to a yacht party where they’re framed for murder. Directed by Kyle Newacheck (Workaholics) and written by James Vanderbilt (Zodiac), the action-mystery looks like Sandler’s best comedy in years.
August 9 – In the Shadow of the Moon
No trailer released yet
And for our final film… In the Shadow of the Moon is a dramatic thriller about a detective on the hunt for an evasive serial killer who times his murders around the lunar cycle. Starring Boyd Holbrook (Narcos), Michael C. Hall (Dexter), Cleopatra Coleman (The Last Man on Earth) and Bokeem Woodbine (Fargo) – director Jim Mickle (Hap & Leonard) commented on working with Netflix, saying: “Any studio that makes Okja has a permanent place in my heart.” So true.