From dramas to rom-coms to docs and back again, Netflix gave 2019 everything it had.
Over the past year, the streaming service-turned-content colossus churned out dozens of movies — including the latest Martin Scorsese film, a dazzling Beyoncé concert documentary, the cinematic return of the Breaking Bad universe, and a horror movie featuring Jake Gyllenhaal and a gaggle of evil paintings. So, what was the best of the best Netflix in 2019?
Check out our top 10 favorite films from the last year of streaming, as well as an honorable mention for the David Harbour short we’re still processing.
It’s tough work turning one of the greatest internet jokes of all time into a genuinely moving documentary — and yet, Chris Smith and Netflix pulled it off.
Examining the events of the infamous 2017 Fyre Festival, FYRE offers well-measured insight into the societal norms that allow con-artists like Billy McFarland to scam innocent consumers. It’s a relentlessly entertaining, occasionally nauseating look at the way comparison culture fuels our behavior, pinpointing where we’re failing ourselves and each other. Plus, there was blow job guy. There will always be blow job guy. -Alison Foreman, Entertainment Reporter
It took six years for Breaking Bad fans to finally get an answer to the question we’ve been pondering ever since Jesse Pinkman made his mad dash to freedom: What next? El Camino lays out the aftermath with meticulous style, balancing callbacks to the original series (including Robert Forster as Ed the vacuum cleaner salesman, in one of his last-ever roles) with forays into heretofore unexplored corners of the Albuquerque underworld. And, in the end, it gives Jesse Pinkman (played by the still-exceptional Aaron Paul) one of the rarest gifts the Breaking Bad universe has to offer: a measure of mercy. –Angie Han, Deputy Entertainment Editor
Compared to last year, 2019 Netflix was a little low on rom-coms. Luckily, Always Be My Maybe more than made up for that.
Directed by television goddess Nahnatchka Khan, the quirky love story of Sasha (Ali Wong) and Marcus (Randall Park), childhood friends reconnecting as adults, is as uproariously funny as it is touching and sweet. Offering much-needed Asian-American representation on-screen and the best Keanu Reeves cameo ever written, this delightful tale offered us reprieve from the summer heat and streaming slump. -A.F.
Homecoming is a documentary film that is mainly footage from Beyoncé’s two-night headlining gig at Coachella in 2018 (which was dubbed Beychella for her outstanding performance). On its face, the documentary is a reiteration of Beyoncé’s unparalleled talent uniquely set on a backdrop of the celebratory culture of sporting events and gatherings on the campuses of historically black colleges and universities.
Homecoming is also especially personal because it serves as a closer look into Beyoncé’s mindset as she nervously anticipated her return to the stage while living in a postpartum body that felt foreign to her. The entire film is triumphantly affecting and genuinely awesome.
The choreography, vocals, remixes of Beyoncés repertoire, costume changes, and special guest stars make Homecoming, which is over two hours long, totally worth the viewing journey. -Tricia Crimmins, Entertainment Fellow
From the brilliant mind behind Nightcrawler, Velvet Buzzsaw is among the more underrated projects of the year. In this satirical thriller, a group of Los Angeles-based artists and critics fall prey to the whims of [insert dramatic pause] evil, se