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Netflix’s Top 20 Shows and Movies of 2021

(Photo by Kirsty Griffin/Netflix)

As of December 26, 2021

What’s trending on Netflix? How about for all of 2021?

The most popular shows and movies on Netflix based on subscriber viewing habits are found on the service’s navigation menu, but that’s only part of the story. Fans also spend time reading up on their favorite Netflix series and movies and their critical standing here at Rotten Tomatoes. We’ve made a list of the top 20 movies and shows on Netflix U.S. that our visitors read about here during 2021.


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Korean drama Squid Game led the list of the most popular Netflix titles on Rotten Tomatoes in 2021, beating out the streaming giant’s top film titles, like star-driven Red Notice, which saw Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot, and Ryan Reynolds teaming up for heist story.

Recent 2021 releases like season 2 of fantasy series The Witcher, political satire Don’t Look Up with Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, and Benedict Cumberbatch–starring drama The Power of the Dog had a lot of ground to cover to catch up with the year’s earlier releases and make it into the top 10. Their ascent has been impressive to watch — and they’re still climbing. (We’ll review the list December 31 and update the ranking if needed.)

While traffic to most TV titles’ main pages propelled the titles onto the list, some titles like The Sinner — the four-season USA Network series has three seasons streaming on Netflix — and two-season French drama Lupin made it onto the list with traffic to their first season pages, again proving that Netflix is a place to discover titles that have been around for a while.

Looking for more great TV and streaming recommendations? Order our book, The Ultimate Binge Guide, which is now on sale.

Is your favorite Netflix show or series on the Netflix Top 20 list? Let us know in the comments what you watched on Netflix in 2021.

#20

Adjusted Score: 95169%

Critics Consensus: Featuring beautifully matched performances from Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan set against gorgeously filmed English countryside, The Dig yields period drama treasures.

Synopsis: An excavator and his team discover a wooden ship from the Dark Ages while digging up a burial ground on… [More]

#19

Adjusted Score: 102615%

Critics Consensus: Well-acted and beautifully made, The White Tiger distills the strengths of its source material into a grimly compelling drama.

Synopsis: Balram Halwai (Adarsh Gourav) narrates his epic and darkly humorous rise from poor villager to successful entrepreneur in modern India…. [More]

#18

Adjusted Score: 97071%

Critics Consensus: It isn’t as bold and fearless as its characters, but The Harder They Fall fills its well-worn template with style, energy, and a fantastic cast.

Synopsis: When outlaw Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) discovers that his enemy Rufus Buck (Idris Elba) is being released from prison he… [More]

#17

Adjusted Score: 107209%

Critics Consensus: Eye-catching and energetic, The Mitchells vs. the Machines delivers a funny, feel-good story that the whole family can enjoy.

Synopsis: Young Katie Mitchell embarks on a road trip with her proud parents, younger brother and beloved dog to start her… [More]

Adjusted Score: -1%

Critics Consensus: Omar Sy effortlessly hits every mark in Lupin, an engrossing espionage thriller that lives up to its source material and then some.

Adjusted Score: -1%

Critics Consensus: Smartly unpredictable and led by powerful performances from a talented cast, the darkly compelling The Sinner sinks its hooks in fast and doesn’t let go.

Synopsis: A ragtag crew of bounty hunters chases down the galaxy’s most dangerous criminals; they’ll save the world for the right… [More]

Synopsis: A criminal mastermind who goes by “The Professor” has a plan to pull off the biggest heist in recorded history… [More]

#12

Adjusted Score: 82274%

Critics Consensus: The Guilty is another Americanized remake overshadowed by the original, but its premise is still sturdy enough to support a tense, well-acted thriller.

Synopsis: The film takes place over the course of a single morning in a 911 dispatch call center. Call operator Joe… [More]

#11

Adjusted Score: 37083%

Critics Consensus: A milquetoast and muddled thriller that drowns in its frenzied homages, The Woman in the Window will have audiences closing their curtains.

Synopsis: Anna Fox (Amy Adams) is an agoraphobic child psychologist who finds herself keeping tabs on the picture perfect family across… [More]

Synopsis: What would you do for love? For a brilliant male bookstore manager who crosses paths with an aspiring female writer,… [More]

#9

Adjusted Score: 111410%

Critics Consensus: Brought to life by a stellar ensemble led by Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog reaffirms writer-director Jane Campion as one of her generation’s finest filmmakers.

Synopsis: Severe, pale-eyed, handsome, Phil Burbank is brutally beguiling. All of Phil’s romance, power and fragility is trapped in the past… [More]

Synopsis: The arrival of a charismatic priest brings miracles, mysteries and renewed religious fervor to a dying town…. [More]

#7

Adjusted Score: 90038%

Critics Consensus: A searing swipe at late-stage capitalism, I Care A Lot is an exhilarating pitch black comedy with a wicked performance from Rosamund Pike.

Synopsis: Poised with sharklike self-assurance, Marla Grayson (Academy Award nominee Rosamund Pike) is a professional, court-appointed guardian for dozens of elderly… [More]

#6

Adjusted Score: 44821%

Critics Consensus: Red Notice‘s big budget and A-list cast add up to a slickly competent action comedy whose gaudy ingredients only make the middling results more disappointing.

Synopsis: In the world of international crime, an Interpol agent attempts to hunt down and capture the world’s most wanted art… [More]

Synopsis: The witcher Geralt, a mutated monster hunter, struggles to find his place in a world in which people often prove… [More]

#4

Adjusted Score: 67711%

Critics Consensus: Don’t Look Up aims too high for its scattershot barbs to consistently land, but Adam McKay’s star-studded satire hits its target of collective denial square on.

Synopsis: Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), an astronomy grad student, and her professor Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) make an astounding discovery… [More]

#3

Adjusted Score: 81671%

Critics Consensus: An ambitious, over-the-top zombie heist mashup, Army of the Dead brings Zack Snyder back to his genre roots with a suitably gory splash.

Synopsis: From filmmaker Zack Snyder (300, Zack Snyder’s Justice League), ARMY OF THE DEAD takes place following a zombie outbreak that… [More]

Synopsis: The origins of two iconic League champions, set in the utopian Piltover and the oppressed underground of Zaun…. [More]

Synopsis: Hundreds of cash-strapped contestants accept an invitation to compete in children’s games for a tempting prize, but the stakes are… [More]


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