Brent Lang published a fascinating Variety article a few weeks ago highlighting Netflix’s intention to prioritize quality over quantity.
Lang quoted Scott Stuber (The Head of Netflix’s film division), who revealed that he initially wanted to compete with centuries-old Hollywood studios by flooding their platform with content. Netflix was a new player in the field, and they hoped to dominate the market by giving consumers an endless stream of content.
In fact, they began 2020 by announcing a plan to release a new film every week. So why would consumers complain about a seemingly infinite glut of high-quality entertainment? Because most Netflix films suck. The studio does not deploy the same quality-control mechanisms many Hollywood firms use to sieve their projects.
Why do you think so many creators are running to Netflix? The company has a reputation for giving producers giant cheques to make the projects of their dreams and then turning a blind eye to the actual movie-making process. Well, things have changed. Stuber wants to rebrand Netflix, which is why they have rejected numerous projects in recent months.
They killed the Masters of the Universe franchise because of budgetary concerns. The platform is not opposed to risky gambles. They still sunk $166 million into Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon. However, they are being more prudent in their acquisition process. But how long must you wait before Stuber’s new philosophy bears fruit?
Well, to be fair, the platform already offers a decent collection of high-quality films. Finding them is easier said than done, because Netflix buries them under a sea of garbage. But they exist. Look at All Quiet on the Western Front. The Edward Berger-directed film follows an idealistic German boy who joins the army to fight for his country in the First World War.
But instead of glory and honour, the boy is met with violence on a scale he could not have predicted. Many have hailed the film as the best war film of the last two decades.
Rian Johnson took his Knives Out sequel (Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery) to Netflix in 2022 because he could not say no to their hundreds of millions or the creative freedom they promised.
Once again, Daniel Craig exceeded every expectation as Benoit Blanc, a quirky detective with an exaggerated Southern drawl, trying to identify the murderer among a group of wealthy friends congregating on a Greek island.
I suppose The Irishman deserves a mention, although I agree with everyone who thinks it is too long. The film reunites Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, and Al Pacino in a crime thriller charting the life of Frank Sheeran, a WWII vet who joins the mob as a hitman.
If you harbour an obsession with Scorsese’s mob movies, The Irishman is everything you have ever wanted to see from the director. Meanwhile, They Cloned Tyrone is probably the most underrated film of the year. The sci-fi thriller pits three unlikely heroes (Jamie Fox, John Boyega, and Teyonah Parris) against a covert government entity hellbent on using cloning technology to control their neighbourhood. Extraction 2 was a pleasant surprise. Extraction did nothing for me.
It was all flash and no substance. To an extent, so was the sequel. If anything, Sam Hargrave ramped up the action. That said, Extraction 2 added a supporting cast of engaging characters, which elevated the stakes.
I have seen decent reviews for Luther: The Fallen Sun from fans of the original Idris Elba BBC series. Also, it sounds like Jennifer Lopez delivered a memorable performance as a retired assassin protecting her estranged daughter in The Mother. All in all, Netflix is not a lost cause. The platform has a sizeable collection of well-made films if you are willing to do the work to find them.