The Best Netflix Original Movies of 2021 (So Far)

These are the Netflix movies really worth checking out.


Netflix is a fount of original movies and TV shows, cranking IP out at an unrivalled pace. In 2021, the company doubled down on its ambition to be your go-to source for streaming, committing to release at least one new movie every week of the year, and is projected to spend upwards of $19 billion on productions and acquisitions. (That’s two freakin’ billion dollars more than last year.) Whether or not Netflix can successfully swat back its ever-growing list of competitors with their own splashy plays is mostly up to the quality of its originals-and we all know how that tends to be. Still, as it expands its foreign offerings, recruits head-turning star talent, and cranks out Oscar contenders, Netflix is clearly trying real hard to catch your attention. Though there are plenty of duds, the surprise hits, bullseye prestige fare, and simply fun movies keep us watching. So far, these are the best Netflix original movies we’ve seen this year-check back as we’ll continue to update this with more of our new favourites.

Dimitry Elyashkevich/Netflix
Dimitry Elyashkevich/Netflix

Bad Trip

Release date: March 26
Director: Kitao Sakurai
Cast: Eric Andre, Lil Rey Howery, Tiffany Haddish
There are hidden camera pranks meant to embarrass or provoke the prankee to the point that they’re practically forced to react out of an animalistic type of anger, and then there are the others that are simply there to capture everyday human behaviour in the face of absolute absurdity. Bad Trip, the logical extension of the unpredictable gags featured on The Eric Andre Show, is the latter, even in its most egregiously ridiculous stunts. With the narrative backbone of Chris Carey (Eric Andre) and Bud Malone (Lil Rey Howery) road tripping from Florida to New York to pursue Chris’s unrequited love (Michaela Conlin) in Bud’s sister Trina’s (Tiffany Haddish) hot pink car, the cast ingeniously use the film’s interpersonal conflicts to engage the people they encounter along the way, soliciting advice, asking for help, and bonding with generally receptive locals from the Deep South up to New Jersey. The result is a hilarious and lighthearted take on the genre from Jackass producer Jeff Tremaine, The Eric Andre Show‘s director Kitao Sakurai, some very funny comedians, and the demented meme king of goofing around.
(Watch the trailer)

Quim Vives/Netflix
Quim Vives/Netflix

Below Zero

Release date: January 29
Director: LluĂ­s QuĂ­lez
Cast: Javier Gutiérrez, Isak Férriz
Prisoner transportation might be the task with the worst success-to-failure ratio in all of action movie-dom. Any time a group of incarcerated individuals get placed in a large vehicle (the more box-like and state-of-the-art the better), you can guarantee something unbearably tense is about to go down. Below Zero is a particularly gruesome example of what the “transfer-gone-wrong” genre has to offer, a close-quarters thriller that works best when it keeps its characters confined to the tightest possible space. From the first scene, the Spanish film’s bleak and foreboding tone carries the action-centring on a police officer tasked with working alongside a new partner to oversee a “high-risk transfer” involving the deadly head of a Romanian gang across icy, barren terrain-even as the plot melts away to reveal a more conventional revenge movie slicked with brutal violence.
(Watch the trailer)


The Dig

Release date: January 15
Director: Simon Stone
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, Lily James
There are no big dinosaur bones to be dug up in this quiet archaeological period drama, set in rural Suffolk on the cusp of WWII, just buried ships and super old coins. Even so, The Dig, based on John Preston’s 2007 novel of the same name, extracts dramatic gems from under innocuous-looking ground in its retelling of the true-to-life 1939 excavation. When wealthy, ailing landowner Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan) hires mild-mannered Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes), a self-taught excavator, to survey the burial mounds on her property, the dig attracts the attention of prominent archaeologists, who try to edge out Basil, lacking prestigious credentials, from his groundbreaking discoveries. The Dig rewards patient viewers who invest as much in the story’s larger context as the smaller tender moments, together offering a bittersweet account of what and who gets to be remembered.
(Watch the trailer)


Space Sweepers

Director: Jo Sung-Hee
Cast: Song Joong-Ki, Kim Tae-Ri, Jin Seon-Kyu, Yoo Hae-Jin
Right from its first, electrifying sequence involving a bunch of bounty hunting spaceships chasing after a careering piece of garbage, Space Sweepers spins a far-future of multicultural, multilingual human life in space that’s as exhilarating as it is crushingly dystopian. Tae-Ho is a pilot aboard the freighter Victory, along with Captain Jang, engineer Tiger Park, and loudmouthed robot Bubs, all of them part of an outer-space trash-collecting bounty-hunter guild known as the Space Sweepers, who capture space junk and sell it for parts. After a particularly harrowing chase, the crew finds a little girl hiding in a derelict spaceship, who just happens to be a nanobot-filled android that a group of space terrorists have fitted with a hydrogen bomb. At first the Victory crew plans to sell the “little girl” back to the terrorist group who lost her, before they realise that she’s much more special than she seems.
(Watch the trailer)

Katie Yu/Netflix
Katie Yu/Netflix

To All the Boys: Always and Forever

Release date: February 12
Director: Michael Fimognari
Cast: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Sarayu Blue, John Corbett
That sense of tying up loose ends is really all that To All the Boys: Always and Forever needed to be about as the third movie in Jenny Han’s adapted rom-com trilogy. It absolutely succeeded, the conflict in Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) and Peter Kavinsky’s (Noah Centineo) improbable but effortlessly shippable romance coalescing in the inevitable reality check that comes with high school ending: college. Though much of the movie is, of course, about Lara Jean and Peter clumsily trying to figure out what it means for their relationship if one of them falls in love with a college and a city on the other side of the country, the biggest strength lies in its shift to teasing out the two characters’ relationships with other people-their families, their friends, their prospective classmates. By connecting with others, they seek answers to their conundrum: Will Lara Jean and Peter survive real life (family, college, the future) crashing down upon them? Maybe. Will Lara Jean and Peter, the separate entities, be all right even if their relationship isn’t? Of course. It’s a comfort and a balm, the type of movie that makes you want to write love letters.
(Watch the trailer)

Tejinder Singh Khamkha/Netflix
Tejinder Singh Khamkha/Netflix

The White Tiger

Release date: January 13
Director: Ramin Bahrani
Cast: Adarsh Gourav, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Rajkummar Rao
The rigid Indian class system is put on full display in Ramin Bahrani’s adaptation of Aravind Adiga’s 2008 novel The White Tiger, a darkly comedic-and then simply dark-exploration of what it takes to make a life for yourself in a world where upward mobility is very nearly a myth. Balram Halwai, born to a poor family in Laxmangarh, knows the only way to get out of his low class community is to befriend a rich family. When he’s accepted as the personal chauffeur of his village’s landlord’s wealthy son Ashok, newly returned from America with his New York-raised wife Pinky, he befriends his employers, always playing the grateful, beloved servant while finagling himself deeper into their lives. When a shocking disaster strikes, Balram’s notion that he meant something to this family is shattered, and he learns that using his own genius and ruthlessness is the only way to escape being treated like a servant for the rest of his life.
(Watch the trailer)

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Where to Celebrate Lunar New Year 2023 in Australia

And what it means to be in the year of the Rabbit.

where to celebrate lunar new year australia

Starting with the new moon on Sunday, January 22, this Lunar New Year ushers in the year of the Rabbit. We’ve put together a guide on celebrating the Lunar New Year in Australia.

What is special about the year of the Rabbit?

As you might know, each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the moon and has a 12-year cycle. This year, we celebrate the year of the rabbit, known to be the luckiest out of all twelve animals. It symbolises mercy, elegance, and beauty.

What celebrations are taking place and how can I get involved?

There are plenty of festivals happening all around the country which you can get involved with. Here they are per state.

New South Wales

Darling Harbour Fireworks
When: Every year, Sydney puts on a fireworks show, and this year, you can catch it on January 28 and February 4 at 9 pm in Darling Harbour.

Dragon Boat Races
When: Witness three days of dragon boat races and entertainment on Cockle Bay to usher in the Lunar New Year. The races will commence on January 27 and finish on January 29.

Lion Dances
When: Catch a traditional Lion Dance moving to the beat of a vigorous drum bringing good luck and fortune for the Lunar New Year. The dance performances will happen across Darling Harbour on Saturday, January 21, Sunday, January 22, and Sunday, February 4 and 5, around 6 pm and 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at Cirrus Dining
When: Barangaroo’s waterfront seafood restaurant, Cirrus, is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a special feast menu. Cirrus’ LNY menu is $128pp with optional wine pairing and is available from Saturday, January 21, to Sunday, February 5.

Auntie Philter
When: Hello Auntie’s owner and executive chef, Cuong Nguyen will be dishing out some of the most classic Vietnamese street foods with his mum, Linda. All of Philter’s favourites will be on offer, as well as Raspberry Pash Beer Slushies and other cocktails being served at the Philter Brewing rooftop bar on Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, January 29.


Lunar New Year Festival
When: Ring in the Lunar New Year with food, music, arts, and more on Sunday, January 22, from 10 am to 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at the National Gallery of Victoria
When: Celebrate the year of the rabbit at the National Gallery of Victoria’s festival of art, food, and art-making activities for everyone from 10 am-5 pm.


BriAsia Festival
When: From February 1-19, Brisbane will come alive with performances, including lion dances and martial arts displays. There will be street food, workshops, comedy and more.

South Australia

Chinatown Adelaide Street Party
When: Adelaide is set to hose a fun-filled day celebrating the Chinese New Year on Saturday, January 28, from 12 pm to 9 pm.

Western Australia

Crown Perth
When: Across January and February, Crown Perth hosts free live entertainment, including colourful lion dances, roving mascots, and drumming performances. The restaurants will also throw banquets and menus dedicated to the Lunar New Year.

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