15 most exciting Netflix movies for 2021

Netflix movies 2021
(Image credit: Getty Images;Netflix)

No theater? No problem. Even if we won’t be able to make it to a multiplex for the foreseeable future, Netflix is releasing more than 70 movies in 2021 to keep us entertained at home. 

Netflix’s 2021 movie lineup is star-studded, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot, Chris Hemsworth and Ryan Reynolds and runs the gamut from action flicks to buddy comedies to romantic dramas. 

Halle Berry and Lin-Manuel Miranda make their directorial debuts, while Zack Snyder took a break from his Justice League cut to make a zombie heist thriller.

We’re highlighting 15 of the original films we’re most excited about, including an all-Black Western revenge drama and a trilogy based on the beloved YA horror books by R.L. Stine.

The Dig (January 29)

Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes star in this drama depicting the real-life excavation of the Sutton Hoo site in Suffolk, England. On the precipice of World War II, a wealthy widow hires  an amateur archaeologist to investigate the burial mounds on her estate, leading to an historic discovery.

Malcolm and Marie (February 5)

Emmy winner Zendaya teams up again with Euphoria creator Sam Levinson for this romantic drama, in which she and her filmmaker boyfriend (John David Washington) return home from his movie premiere and engage in an intense argument. Levinson has said Netflix bills Malcom and Marie as an “ode to the great Hollywood romances,” though the 12-year age difference between the leads has proven controversial.

To All the Boys: Always and Forever (February 12)

Will Lara Jean Covey get her happily ever after with Peter Kavinsky? The final film in the teen rom-com trilogy brings back Lana Condor and the internet’s boyfriend Noah Centineo as now-high school seniors on the brink of adulthood. In To All the Boys: Always and Forever, their relationship is tested once again as they contemplate attending different colleges. 

Moxie (March 3)

Amy Poehler

(Image credit: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images)

Amy Poehler directed and stars in this dramedy, which centers on a shy 16-year-old who is fed up with the sexist and toxic status quo at her high school. Inspired by her mother’s rebellious past, she anonymously publishes a zine that sparks a coming-of-rage revolution among her fellow students.

Army of the Dead (2021)

Zack Snyder

(Image credit: Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Zack Snyder returns to the director’s chair for his first film since Justice League. The zombie flick takes place after an outbreak in Las Vegas, when a group of mercenaries take a gamble and enter a quarantined casino to pull off the greatest heist ever attempted.

Bruised (2021)

Halle Berry

(Image credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Halle Berry makes her directorial debut with this sports movie about a disgraced MMA fighter named Jackie Justice, who is trying to restart her career and get custody of her son. Berry suffered two broken ribs while filming the fight scenes, but didn’t let that stop her from completing production.

Don’t Look Up (2021)

Leonardo DiCaprio

(Image credit: Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)

Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence headline the latest political satire from Adam McKay, which follows two low-level astronomers who go on a media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy Earth. The cast is stocked with A-listers, including Jonah Hill, Timothée Chalamet, Chris Evans and singer Ariana Grande.

Escape From Spiderhead (2021)

Chris Hemsworth in Extraction

Chris Hemsworth in Extraction (Image credit: Netflix)

The Netflix algorithm loves Chris Hemsworth. First, the actor starred in the 2020 action flick Extraction; now, he’s taking on a sci-fi thriller. In the near future, prisoners can shorten their sentences by testing experimental emotion-altering drugs. Two of them take a new drug that can create feelings of love. Jurnee Smollett and Miles Teller round out the cast and seem most likely to play the prisoner lovers. .  

Fear Street trilogy (2021)

RL Stine

(Image credit: Michael Kovac/WireImage)

The three film adaptations of R.L. Stine’s best-selling horror books will be released a month apart. The first, Fear Street: 1994, follows a group of teens that discover that all the terrifying events that have plagued their town of Shadyside, Ohio for decades may be connected — and they may be the next targets. Fear Street: 1978 and Fear Street: 1666 will complete the trilogy.

The Guilty (2021)

Jake Gyllenhaal

(Image credit: Han Myung-Gu/WireImage)

Antoine Fuqua’s latest thriller comes from a script by True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto. It takes place over a single morning in a 911 dispatch center. A call operator (Jake Gyllenhaal) tries to save someone in grave danger but soon discovers nothing is as it seems. The cast also features Peter Sarsgaard, Ethan Hawke, Riley Keough, Paul Dano and Bill Burr.

The Harder They Fall (2021)

Idris Elba

(Image credit: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)

This Western sees outlaw Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) getting his gang back together to track down the man who killed his parents, Rufus Black (Idris Elba). It’s a classic revenge tale that features an all-Black cast (Regina King, Zazie Beetz, LaKeith Stanfield and Delroy Lindo) and music by film producer Jay-Z.

The Power of the Dog (2021)

Benedict Cumberbatch

(Image credit: John Lamparski/Getty Images)

Extremely dysfunctional family drama is at the core of The Power of the Dog, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Jesse Plemons as two very different brothers who jointly own the biggest ranch in Montana. Phil is brilliant but cruel, while George is stolid and gentle. When George secretly marries a local widow (Kirsten Dunst), an angry and shocked Phil wages a sadistic war to destroy her.

Red Notice (2021)

Dwayne Johnson and Gal Gadot

(Image credit: Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Image)

This action comedy marks the third collaboration between Dwayne Johnson and director Rawson Marshall Thurber, after 2016’s Central Intelligence and 2018’s Skyscraper. This time, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds are also on board. Red Notice is a global alert to capture the world’s most wanted. But when the FBI’s top profiler teams up with two rival criminals for a daring heist, there’s no telling what might happen.

Thunder Force (2021)

Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer

(Image credit: Jeff Vespa/Getty Images)

This superhero comedy pairs Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer, under the direction of McCarthy’s husband Ben Falcone. In a world bedeviled by many supervillains, a scientist devises a way to imbue regular people with powers. But when she accidentally does it to her estranged best friend, they form Thunder Force to take down a super gang called the Miscreants. 

Tick, Tick… Boom! (2021)

Lin-Manuel Miranda

(Image credit: Arturo Holmes via Getty Images)

Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda makes his feature film directorial debut with this adaptation of Jonathan Larson’s semi-autobiographical musical. The story centers on an aspiring theater composer (Andrew Garfield) going through a midlife crisis as he approaches his 30s. While penning what he hopes is the next great American musical, he faces pressure from his girlfriend and his roommate to get his act together.

Full 2021 Netflix film calendar

* not available globally


Pieces of a Woman (Jan. 7)
Outside the Wire (Jan. 15)
The White Tiger (Jan. 22)
Penguin Bloom (Jan. 27) *
Finding 'Ohana (Jan. 29)
The Dig (Jan. 29)


Malcolm & Marie (Feb. 5)
To All The Boys: Always and Forever (Feb. 12)
I Care A Lot (Feb. 19) *


Moxie (March 3)
YES DAY (March 12)


8 Rue de l'Humanité *
A Boy Called Christmas
A Castle for Christmas
Afterlife of the Party
Army of the Dead
A Week Away
A Winter's Tale from Shaun the Sheep *
Back to the Outback
Bad Trip
Blood Red Sky
Bombay Rose
Concrete Cowboy
Don't Look Up
Double Dad *
Escape from Spiderhead
Fear Street Trilogy
Fever Dream
Fuimos Canciones
Love Hard
Night Teeth
No One Gets Out Alive
Red Notice
Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Robin Robin
Skater Girl
Stowaway *
Sweet Girl
The Guilty
The Hand of God*
The Harder They Fall
The Kissing Booth 3
The Last Letter from Your Lover *
The Last Mercenary
The Loud House Movie
The Power of the Dog
The Princess Switch 3
There's Someone Inside Your House
The Starling
The Swarm
The Woman in the Window
Things Heard and Seen
Thunder Force
tick, tick...BOOM!
Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans
Untitled Alexandre Moratto
Untitled Graham King
Untitled Alicia Keys Rom-Com
Wish Dragon

Kelly Woo
Streaming Editor

Kelly is the streaming channel editor for Tom’s Guide, so basically, she watches TV for a living. Previously, she was a freelance entertainment writer for Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide and other outlets. When she’s not watching TV and movies for work, she’s watching them for fun, seeing live music, writing songs, knitting and gardening.