Best Movies On Netflix That Didn’t Release In Theaters

Streaming services have been growing to the point where they can create their own movies. Here is a list of the best movies found on Netflix that didn't release in theaters

Over the past decade, Netflix has risen to prominence in the TV and movie industry. Netflix has become the catalyst for many other companies in this past decade. 

Companies like Hulu, Apple, Amazon, Disney, and NBC have all released their own streaming services within the past decade. The latter two on the list releasing theirs in the past year. These new streaming services have seen some of Netflix's media taken back to the company that owns the media. 

However, in the past three or four years, there has been a rise within streaming services to release their own TV shows and movies from their own studios. Netflix has taken advantage of this movement and has released many new TV shows and movies from their own studio. 

Many of these shows and movies have become extremely popular, some of them even garnering some awards, particularly the movies. They also aren't just your run-of-the-mill, average movie with unknown actors. Many of the films produced and released by Netflix contain considerable star power behind them, containing some of Hollywood's most famous actors and actresses. 

Some of the movies released also gain cult followings and produce mass amounts of talk on social media. Some of these movies have created new celebrity crushes for younger generations, while others have created Twitter trends. 

Without further ado, I have dove right into a large amount of media that Netflix has produced over the past years and come up with two separate lists. The first of which is the award-winning movies, and the last three will be the movies that audiences enjoyed, but critics might not have. 

Here is the list of 5 award-winning movies on Netflix that didn't release in theaters:

1. The Irishman

The Irishman's movie poster showcasing the three lead actors. Image Source

The Irishman is a 2019 Netflix-produced film that caused many film companies to protest releasing it in theaters. The film stars three big names actors and one of Hollywood's biggest directors, Martin Scorsese. Starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, this movie takes place in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, respectively. The movie is about Frank Sheeran recounting his time as a hitman for the mob while being couped up in a nursing home. We follow the events of Sheeran's life throughout the three-hour and thirty-minute film. 

The entire film was critically acclaimed and received ten Oscar nominations in February 2020. The film also holds a 95 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. Unfortunately, the film and its crew left the award show empty-handed. If you are into crime dramas, then I suggest checking out The Irishman.

Here is the official trailer of the movie - The Irishman 

2. Mudbound

Mudbound's Poster that Netflix released Image Source

Released in 2017, Mudbound is an American historical drama based on the novel by the same name. This story is about two veterans, one white and the other black, living in a still biased South after World War II. The movie tackles themes of racism and PTSD in a rural Mississipi setting. The film received a 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Now this movie may not have the star power of other movies, but do not let that distract from the fantastic performances given. This film was nominated for four Oscars and, much like The Irishman, walked away empty-handed. However, the first woman was nominated for Best Cinematography for her work on the film. I highly suggest watching this one as well. 

Here is the official trailer of the movie - Mudbound

3. Marriage Story

Marriage Story
Movie Poster with lead actors featured Image Source

Marriage Story is a drama film released in 2019 starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. The film follows the two main characters as they go through a cross-country divorce, bouncing between New York and Los Angeles while attempting to balance their broadway careers. It is a very touching and emotional feature-length film that received 94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and was nominated for six Oscars, winning one in February 2020. 

It is an emotionally driven story that showcases the true process of divorce on the big screen and captures the characters' feelings amazingly. If you are looking for a good story-driven movie on Netflix, then Marriage Story should be one of your first picks. 

Here is the official trailer of the movie - Marriage Story

4. Okja

Movie poster for Okja Image Source

Okja is an action-adventure movie that was released in 2017. It was initially released in theaters, but only in South Korea; the film reached Netflix in 2017. This movie begins in 2007 with the creation of the super pigs and then jumps into the present time where the main character's super pig is deemed the greatest of them all. The film follows Okja's owner, Mija, as she tries to track her super pig and save it. This film has received an 86 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. 

This film was a foreign film and was not nominated for many awards. However, there is one major award at the Cannes Film Festival, one of the biggest nights of the year for Hollywood, that this movie was nominated for. The film's director, Bong Joon-ho, now famous for 2019's Parasite, was nominated for the Palme d'Or. The Palme d'Or is the Cannes Film Festival's highest honor, but Joon-ho was left empty-handed. 

Here is the official trailer of the movie - Okja

5. Roma

Roma's Movie Poster Image Source

Roma is another foreign film to have reached Netflix in 2018, this Mexican drama follows the life of a housekeeper who lives with the family who employs her in the years 1970 and 1971. Many critics consider this to be not only one of the best films of 2018 but of the entire decade. This film is the first to be distributed primarily by a streaming service nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, one of the ten nominations that it received.

Here is the official trailer of the movie - Roma

The film ultimately won three awards at the Oscars that year and ended up receiving a 95 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

With the first five done, here are the 3 Netflix movies that might not have received the same critical praise, but they still gained a lot of love and following from their viewers.

1. The Kissing Booth

The Kissing Booth
Poster of The Kissing Booth Image Source

The Kissing Booth was released to Netflix in 2018 and is a romantic comedy directed towards teenagers. The movie follows Elle's romantic journey and her idea to start a kissing booth to get a kiss from her best friend's older brother. Now the film may not be the most critically acclaimed; couples have watched the movie enough to the point where it has gotten two sequels; one was released in 2020, and another is on the way in 2021. 

If you wish to watch a cute romantic comedy on the night that you stay in with your significant other, then I suggest you grab your popcorn and tune into The Kissing Booth. 

Here is the official trailer of the movie - The Kissing Booth

2. Bird Box

A screenshot from the movie, Birdbox. Image Source

From 2018 and starring Sandra Bullock, Bird Box is a post-apocalyptic movie based upon the book with the same name. The movie follows Bullock's character as she and two children traverse through a world where you can't look at anything or else you'll lose your mind. Only being able to rely on your other senses is what this movie is all about. 

Bird Box makes the list because of the trend that started after the movie was released. There were people all over the Internet posting videos of them doing tasks while being blindfolded, like Bullock's character is in the photo above. This resulted in people driving their cars blindfolded and many other insane activities. They called it "The BirdBox Challenge." Critics gave it a 66 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, but with this challenge, BirdBox was played on everyone's screens in late 2018 and early 2019.

Here is the official trailer of the movie - Bird Box

3. Beasts of No Nation

Beasts of No Nation Poster. Image Source: nflxso

Beasts of No Nation is a war drama released to Netflix in 2015. The film follows a young boy named Agu during a Civil War in an unnamed part of Africa. The film follows Agu's involvement throughout the entire war. This feature film showcases the true tragedy of war and its brutality. This movie received a 92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes despite not being nominated for any major awards. This film also flies under the radar because there is not a lot of star power besides Idris Elba. 

If you are interested in war movies, then I would suggest watching Beasts of No Nation. 

Here is the official trailer of the movie - Beasts of No Nation

The world is constantly evolving, which means movies are as well, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic that is still ongoing; it gives these streaming services an edge up on the classic movie theater. Will these Netflix originals be the downfall of a traditional movie theater?

Who knows, but these movies are worth watching if you're struggling to find what you want to watch on Netflix.

Curry College Student. An aspiring writer, journalist, and knowledgable TV and Movie fan.

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