- This year, Netflix has produced a lot of original TV series and films in all sorts of genres, from thrillers to romantic comedies.
- 2019 has proved to be a promising year for Netflix originals with the critical success of the series “When They See Us” and movies like “Always Be My Maybe.”
- Netflix has also had some misses this year and originals like “Chambers” and “Otherhood” have been ripped apart by critics.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
For several years,Netflix has been proving itself as a network to watch when it comes to original content.
The streaming platform has released dozens of new series and movies this year, with some receiving critical acclaim and others being dubbed a total flop.
Here are 10 of the best and 10 of the worst Netflix originals to grace our screens in 2019.
Note: The scores listed throughout the piece were accurate at the time of publication but are subject to change.
Many felt the final season of “A Series of Unfortunate Events” was the perfect send-off.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%
Summary: Adapted from acclaimed children’s books by Lemony Snicket, the third and final season of “A Series of Unfortunate Events” follows the woes and trials of the three Baudelaire orphans and their hunt for answers in a world filled with spies, scoundrels, and slippery slopes.
Many critics and audiences felt this season was a super satisfying and impressive conclusion to the series.
“By deepening the characterizations of the Baudelaires, Lemony Snicket, and Count Olaf, the main cast gets plenty of great material to work with and delivers uniformly moving performances,” wrote critic Jonathon Dornbush for IGN Movies.
Critics had nothing but praise for the now-cancelled animated series “Tuca & Bertie.”
Rotten Tomatoes score: 98%
Summary: From the creators of “BoJack Horseman” comes “Tuca & Bertie,” a colourful cartoon in which a wild-minded toucan (Tiffany Haddish) and a loveable, nervous songbird (Ali Wong) share the same apartment building.
Despite rave reviews from critics and a top-notch voice cast, Netflix did not renew the charmingly nuanced animated show for a second season.
“It’s a consistent joy to watch the series bring that same richness to its characters’ internal realities,” wrote critic Hannah Giorgis of The Atlantic. “Tuca and Bertie are still trying to figure things out, but the series handles their growing pains with tenderness and understanding.”
“Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé” is a powerful portrayal of Beyoncé’s talent.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 98%
Summary: A mixture of stunning concert footage and behind-the-scenes build-up, “Homecoming” is a music documentary with superstar Beyoncé as its guiding force.
Critics and fans felt that the film traced the journey of her legendary 2018 Coachella performance from start to finish with intimacy and power.
“At the glittering centre of it all is Beyoncé herself,” wrote The Guardian’s critic Lauren Carroll Harris. “[A] master maker of her own modern myth; an uber-perfectionist capitalist surveying her multimedia empire.”
“Russian Doll” earned rave reviews for Natasha Lyonne’s performance.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 97%
Summary: On “Russian Doll,” a science-fiction series with a dark comedic streak, Natasha Lyonne stars as Nadia, a woman stuck in a time loop that starts over every time she dies. Repeatedly sent back to the night of her 36th birthday, Nadia tries to stay alive as she searches for a deeper meaning to her new-found immortality.
Audiences and critics both especially enjoyed Lyonne’s stand-out performance on the series.
Critic Linda Holmes reviewed the Netflix series for NPR, writing: “It’s a performance where the actor understands the character so well, down to every little gesture she makes, every twitch of her face, that it’s startling, at times, to remember she’s fictional.”
Critics praised “When They See Us” for its authenticity and vision.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 96%
Summary: In the moving drama series “When They See Us,” creator Ava DuVernay chronicles the racially charged true story behind the infamous “Central Park Five” from the perspective of the five young boys falsely accused of sexual assault in 1989.
Critics had a lot of positive things to say about the series, especially praising its artistic choices.
In a glowing review for “When They See Us,” Newsday critic Verne Gay wrote: “DuVernay makes an effective artistic choice by filming much of this through a blue filter, so that the boys’ world is enveloped by a Kafkaesque indigo gloom from which they – and the viewer – can find no escape.”
Critics called “I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson” one of the funniest shows on Netflix.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
Summary: From the mind of former “SNL”-alum Tim Robinson, “I Think You Should Leave” is a sketch-comedy show filled with goofy vignettes, over-the-top characters, and an endless amount of quotable lines.
On the six-episode series, Robinson surrounds himself with comedians like Vanessa Bayer, Andy Samberg, Sam Richardson, and Cecily Strong, who are all up for the bizarre scenarios Robinson and co-creator Zach Kanin have concocted.
“Taken as a whole, ‘I Think You Should Leave’ deserves to be held up as one of the finest things that Netflix has ever produced,” wrote critic Stuart Heritage for The Guardian. “It is single-handedly going to revive sketch comedy from the wet, wet mud.”
Critics singled out the visuals and acting performances in “I Am Mother.”
Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
Summary: “I Am Mother” is a suspense-driven science-fiction film that centres around a young girl (Clara Rugaard) and her relationship with a robot named Mother (Rose Byrne), who is on a mission to repopulate the earth after a devastating global event. But when a desperate stranger (Hilary Swank) finds her way into their home, the young girl begins to question Mother and her entire upbringing.
Critics were mostly blown away by the film’s action and leading cast.
“Rugaard, a Danish-Irish 21-year-old, feels like a major discovery,” wrote critic David Fear for Rolling Stone. “She’s the not-so-secret motor of ‘I Am Mother,’ a dynamic presence that lends blood, guts and soul to this dystopic vision.”
“Always Be My Maybe” was heralded as a delightful entry in the romantic-comedy genre.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
Summary: “Always Be My Maybe” is an upbeat romantic comedy starring comedian Ali Wong as Sasha, a celebrity chef, and Randall Park as her high-school sweetheart Marcus. When her long-term boyfriend puts their relationship on hold, Sasha returns to her roots to do some soul-searching and reconnects with Marcus in the process.
Most critics enjoyed Netflix’s entry in the rom-com genre, particularly praising its cleverness and originality.
Entertainment Weekly writer Leah Greenblatt sung her praises for the movie in her critical review. “Netflix seems to have found its true purpose in original movie programming over the past year,” wrote Greenblatt. “Clever, endlessly meme-able rom-coms meant to be watched on the floor in your weird pajamas.”
The third season of “Stranger Things” proved itself to be a strong addition to the series.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 89%
Summary: Picking up in the summer of 1985, the latest season of “Stranger Things” follows the expansive cast of characters as they set off fireworks and sneak into screenings of “Day of the Dead.” As always, the fun is short-lived when the kids realise that a paranormal threat looms larger than ever over the small town of Hawkins, Indiana.
Although this isn’t the highest-rated season of the series, critics still lauded this thrilling collection of episodes.
The Atlantic’s critic Sophie Gilbert keyed in on the show’s high concept, writing in her review: “What these ideas come down to, in the show’s thrillingly propulsive and self-consciously familiar conclusion, is the nature of a country that fully believes it’s the greatest in the world while also being well aware of its own capacity for destruction.”
Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini’s chemistry is the lifeblood of “Dead to Me.”
Rotten Tomatoes score: 86%
Summary: Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini star in the twisted dark-comedy series “Dead to Me.” After the sudden loss of her husband in a hit and run, Jen (Applegate) struggles to move on and finds solace in Judy (Cardellini), another woman in her support group. As the two women become fast friends, Jen starts to question who Judy really is and whether she had ulterior motives in seeking her out.
All in all, critics enjoyed the series and the leading stars’ impressive chemistry and quick dialogue.
“For all the elaborate sets and dramatic motifs, it’s ‘Dead to Me’s’ two lead actresses that make the story come to life,” wrote critic Justin Kirkland for Esquire Magazine.
Critics wanted more originality from “Huge in France.”
Rotten Tomatoes score: 50%
Summary: On this Netflix comedy series, Gad Elmaleh stars as a satirical version of himself. Desperate for a relationship with his son, Elmaleh moves to Los Angeles and finds that America is far less forgiving than his native France.
Many critics were not impressed with the series’ efforts and they felt the show was unoriginal.
“Just because something sounds like a TV show doesn’t mean it should be one,” wrote Daily Dot critic Brenden Gallagher. “In fact, if something sounds like a TV show we’ve seen dozens of time[s] before, it might be best to go back to the drawing board.”
The mediocre “Murder Mystery” was sunk by a bad script.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 45%
Summary: In “Murder Mystery,” a Netflix original comedy, Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston play a married couple that finds themselves at the centre of a billionaire’s untimely demise.
Most critics felt like the film was lazy and boorish, despite Sandler and Aniston’s best efforts.
“Even grading on a curve, though, Murder Mystery is a tired, bordering on tiresome endeavour – feeling like the pilot for a not-very-good TV show – as well as a reminder that Netflix’s content buffet caters to all kinds of tastes,” wrote critic Brian Lowry for CNN.
Many critics felt paranormal series “Chambers” was filled with well-worn genre tropes.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 42%
Summary: On the supernatural horror series “Chambers,” a young woman begins to experience paranormal terrors after she survives a near-death experience and receives a heart transplant.
Uma Thurman, Sivan Alyra Rose, and Tony Goldwyn star on the series, which left critics wishing they had never clicked play.
“Most will feel as if they have already seen Chambers before,” wrote critic Nick Schager in his review for The Daily Beast. “Those new to such substandard beyond-the-grave stuff, on the other hand, will wish they’d never seen it in the first place.”
Despite Renee Zellweger’s intense performance, critics trashed “What/If.”
Rotten Tomatoes score: 42%
Summary: The Netflix series “What/If” serves as an anthology with a moral lesson at the heart of every episode. The thriller stars Renee Zellweger, Jane Levy, and Blake Jenner and dissects the meaning of life and whether people have free will or are driven by fate.
Zellweger’s stint on a series was not well-received by critics, who felt the show’s script was a mess.
“A noir-thriller ‘What/If’ is not,” wrote Australian critic Wenlei Ma. “This is a messy, trashy prime-time soap opera, except on streaming. Or worse, a midday movie with a slightly higher production budget and an Oscar winner.”
Read More: Every single Renèe Zellweger movie, ranked
A number of reviewers felt Mötley Crüe was done dirty by “The Dirt.”
Rotten Tomatoes score: 39%
Summary: The dirty and debaucherous lives of the band members of Mötley Crüe are put on full display in this dramatic retelling of the band’s early years.
Starring Douglas Booth, Iwan Rheon, and Machine Gun Kelly, critics called “The Dirt” one of Netflix’s least satisfying offerings.
Variety critic Owen Gleiberman was unimpressed with the biopic-like effort, writing, “It’s just a thinly written VH1-style sketchbook of a movie – which is to say, it’s a Netflix film, with zero atmosphere, overly blunt lighting, and a threadbare post-psychological telegraphed quality that gives you nothing to read between the lines.”
Critics felt the cliché-ridden “Close” suffered from weak writing.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 37%
Summary: In the action film “Close,” Noomi Rapace leads the cast as Sam, an expert in counter-terrorism who is forced to go on the run when she and the woman under her protection are attacked.
Critics applauded the film’s use of feminine drive in an action thriller but liked little else due to the movie’s tired tropes and limp script.
“Rapace gives the film her all, delivering an intense, physically demanding performance, but Close doesn’t get close enough to transcending its action-movie clichés,” critic Frank Scheck wrote for The Hollywood Reporter.
Some critics were seriously unimpressed with “IO.”
Rotten Tomatoes score: 31%
Summary: “IO” is a science-fiction movie with a dramatic bend starring Margaret Qualley as Sam, one of the last people left on Earth following a global crisis, and her determination to save the planet. Her hard-won intentions to rescue the planet from itself is then swayed by the arrival of another survivor Micah (Anthony Mackie).
The Netflix original was derided by critics for being too slow and lacklustre for its own good.
“It’s not a good sign … when a movie ostensibly meant to rekindle one’s faith in mankind makes you long instead for permanent apocalypse,” wrote The Hollywood Reporter critic Keith Uhlich.
“Otherhood” disappointed critics by wasting a stellar cast.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 26%
Summary: Three mothers with adult children decide to take Mother’s Day into their own hands in this Netflix flick.
Starring iconic actresses Angela Bassett, Patricia Arquette, and Felicity Huffman, “Otherhood” certainly has star quality but disappointed critics with its thin plot and subpar script.
“The idea is good, but it isn’t developed enough to make it a fully fleshed out story with intriguing and multi-dimensional characters,” wrote critic Maria Lattila for Film Inquiry. “‘Otherhood’ ends up being forgettable, boring and at times insulting.”
“Rim of the World” is a family-friendly film that failed to deliver.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 25%
Summary: Four tweens at a sleepaway camp find themselves at the centre of an alien invasion in this action-adventure Netflix movie aimed toward kids. Isolated without technology and left to their own devices, the misfits decide to take the fate of the world head-on.
And even though critics thought the film had some value for young viewers, they were overall unimpressed the movie’s predictable script.
Roger Ebert critic Nick Allen wrote that he understood what the film was trying to do, but still felt it missed the mark. “Its greatest value is probably in how it could educate budding movie-lovers on cheesy and predictable storytelling, but even that seems like a lesson Rim of the World cynically teaches at an elementary level,” wrote Allen.
Most critics wanted to pull the plug on “Polar” long before it ended.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 20%
Summary: In “Polar,” Mads Mikkelsen stars as Duncan Vizla, the world’s most infamous assassin. On the cusp of retirement, Vizla finds himself being pulled back into the life he swore was over, as younger killers aim to take him out.
Like many reviewers, critic Robert Abele found the Netflix film to be a tough slog to sit through.
“Too bad the only thrill you get from all the bloodletting is that you know each cartoony death brings you that much closer to the end credits,” Abele wrote for the Los Angeles Times.