These Were Netflix's Most Watched Films Last Week — Which Are Worth Your Time?

I am fascinated, nay, obsessed, with seeing what ends up on the Netflix top 10 lists each week, because it is truly the wild west of popularity rankings. People are frequently puzzled by what ends up on the top of the charts, because a lot of the time, the movies aren't what we would consider "good" by most critical standards. Just as an example, the "Twilight" franchise scooped up five of the 10 spots one week, proving that Americans were reliving their Twi-hard glory days and marathoning the series. In 2020, "The Secret Life of Pets 2" was on and off the chart for nearly 8 months, because children are creatures of habit who don't care how many times their parents have to hear the same jokes over and over again, PLAY "SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2" OR I'LL SCREAM!

Typically, the Netflix lists follow a pretty standard pattern: there's always a collection of films that are clearly children forcing their parents to play a film ad nauseam, at least two action thrillers (usually one from the 2000s for some reason), a new release, and timely fare. Of course, there are always the outliers, with this week's being "The Shack," a Christian drama from 2017 with Sam Worthington, Tim McGraw, and Octavia Spencer as God. (Christian films also tend to perform well because 'Merica.) 

Let's dive into this week's top 10 and figure out what's worth a watch, and what's here because the world is chaotic and nothing makes sense anymore.

Thrillers and Action Films

Netflix's "Red Notice" has been hugely popular since its release, and having names like Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot certainly didn't hurt. Is the film any good? I mean, yeah, it's a perfectly acceptable action-comedy. Nothing really to write home about, but still not a bad way to kill some time. As for the staple random-2000s-action-film, this week's spot belongs to the Jamie Foxx/Gerard Butler thriller "Law Abiding Citizen." My only theory on the consistency of the 2000s-era action thriller appearing on the Netflix top 10 is that a bunch of dads are winding down with these films after a hard day because they're always remarkably average films with huge stars that most people forgot even existed. Is it worth a watch? Sure, as long as you understand that you're going to get something made clearly in an attempt to catch the money train started by "Taken."

As for the top movie this week, Netflix users are all checking out the Sandra Bullock mystery thriller, "The Unforgivable." Bullock is a seminal favorite of Netflix, starring in another smash-hit for the service, "Bird Box." In this one, she plays an ex-con who was put away for killing a cop. Now, she's trying to track down her younger sister she hasn't seen in 20 years all while the cop's son is stalking her and out for revenge. It's not a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination, but Bullock really gives it her all in this one and it's always exciting to see a woman-led action film.

The Christmas Movies

With the Christmas season just around the corner, plenty of Netflix users are expectedly diving into the holiday fare. The rom-coms have been rotating on and off the list, with this week's addition being "A California Christmas: City Lights," the sequel to last year's popular Christmas rom-com release. This is one of Netflix's more "Hallmark Channel" style Christmas rom-coms so if that's what you're into, this will be right up your alley. 

More importantly, however, both "The Christmas Chronicles" and "The Christmas Chronicles 2" are on the list this week, the films starring real-life couple Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn as Santa and Mrs. Claus. "The Christmas Chronicles" films are legitimately fun and have absolutely been added to my own personal holiday rotation. I doubt anyone ever thought they'd need to see R.J. MacReady play Santa Claus but I'm telling you it's the exact cure for the holiday blues.

The Films Children Are Playing on Repeat

I'm glad kids are happy about "Peter Rabbit 2," but I can't in good faith encourage people to watch this one because anything that encourages studios to keep casting James Corden in things makes my skin itch. That said, it's a genuinely very cute movie and a really well-written sequel that I'm honestly shocked even exists in the first place. As for a genuine endorsement, "Back to the Outback" is absolutely wonderful. It's an animated-adventure film about Australian animals deemed "dangerous" escaping the zoo to find acceptance and community in the Australian outback and is filled with sincere warmth and some pretty clever jokes. Tim Minchin is the real standout voice performer here, but the cast featuring Isla Fisher, Guy Pearce, and Eric Bana are all fantastic.

However, my favorite film on the list this week is not due to quality or acclaim, but for my own personal supervillain enjoyment. 

"The Cat in the Hat" is currently available on both Amazon Prime and Netflix, but seeing it on the top 10 list proves to me that there are legions of families all across America being forced to watch the Dr. Seuss adaptation that was so bad it inspired Seuss' widow to declare that there will never be a live-action version of his work ever again. I shouldn't feel this sick sense of schadenfreude, but this knowledge is better than anything that Santa could bring me this year.