11 Movies Like Free Guy (2021) On Netflix

Staff & contributors

When reminiscing about the film industry, most period films focus on the big names – the stars, the directors, and the producers that back them – as they’re more likely to have plenty of source material. Once Upon a Star is interested in the little people, the small town distributors that bring the movie magic to the locals. Centered on a cinema projection troupe, the film celebrates the old way of distribution, who, unlike today’s streaming, travel from place to place to set up outdoor cinemas with live dubbing. And through each projection of classic Thai masterpieces, the connection they have with each other, between both the troupe and the audience, recalls the intimate nostalgia of watching a movie together. It’s a unique take from director Nonzee Nimibutr, one that’s a stunning love letter to the film industry he hails from.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Jirayu La-ongmani, Kongkiat Khomsiri, Nat Sakdatorn, Nuengthida Sophon, Samart Payakaroon, Sornchai Chatwiriyachai, Sukollawat Kanarot, Waratta Watcharatorn, Yothin Mapobphun

Director: Nonzee Nimibutr

The debut feature by Palestine’s most well-known director, Chronicle of a Disappearance is an unusual movie about the decades-long Israel-Palestine conflict in that it's closer to absurdist comedy than anything else. The only physical violence we see here are men cat-fighting in the street or arm-wrestling each other in cafes, and Israeli presence is limited to a couple of bumbling police officers. Chronicle is full of slapstick cinema touches — right down to the Buster Keaton-esque eyes of director Elia Suleiman, who appears here as a silent wanderer — and yet we feel the bitter reality of the occupation framing every deadpan gag. 

Structured as a series of vignettes, Chronicle’s loose form is both a way to depict the stagnation and dry repetition in which Palestinians are stuck and a wry metaphor for all this listlessness. Suleiman speaks plainly in some chapters — such as the one following a woman who is repeatedly turned down from renting an apartment in Jerusalem because she’s Arab — and more obliquely in others, forcing you to recall the movie’s setting to understand his often-understated commentary. A singular film from an utterly unique director, Chronicle of a Disappearance is both a portrait of a country’s erosion and a quietly defiant act of resistance.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Ali Suliman, Elia Suleiman, Fawaz Eilemi, Fuad Suleiman, Iaha Mouhamad, Jamel Daher, Juliet Mazzawi, Leonid Alexeenko, Nazira Suleiman, Ola Tabari, Ula Tabari

Director: Elia Suleiman

Although Who We Are is essentially a professionally recorded masterclass interspersed with additional interviews, it only emphasizes Jeffery Robinson's skill as an orator and his compassion as a teacher. In a clear and levelheaded manner, he lays out how even the historical documents that formed the blueprint of the United States are exclusionary in key ways. Robinson does this not to condemn his country, but to challenge the way we view traditions as sacred, and to see how modern-day white nationalism is upheld by these institutions, intentionally or not. The new interviews that accompany Robinson's talk take these lessons on the road, reminding us of those who are directly affected by these centuries-old decisions.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Jeffery Robinson, Martin Luther King Jr.

Director: Emily Kunstler, Sarah Kunstler

, 2021

Minari is a film written and directed by Lee Isaac Chung, about a Korean-American family in search of the so-called American Dream. It is an intimate drama that is powerful yet quiet, and filled with moments of innocence. With dreamlike scoring, unique characters, and a captivating climax, this movie tugs on the heartstrings, and serves as a great reminder of the beauty of gratitude.

Thanks to these, plus winning performances across the board, Minari earned plenty of nominations at the 2021 Oscars, with Youn Yuh-jung eventually bagging the Best Supporting Actress award—a monumental first for South Korea.

Genre: Drama, Family

Actor: Alan Kim, Ben Hall, Chloe Lee, Darryl Cox, Debbi Tucker, Ed Spinelli, Eric Starkey, Ernie Robinson, Esther Moon, Han Yeri, Jacob Wade, James Carroll, Jenny Phagan, Kaye Brownlee-France, Noel Kate Cho, Scott Haze, Skip Schwink, Steven Yeun, Tina Parker, Warren Lane, Will Patton, Youn Yuh-jung

Director: Lee Isaac Chung

Rating: PG-13

Based on the 13-episode series of the same name, Violet Evergarden tells the story of Violet, a scribe commissioned to write letters at a time when telephones and computers had yet to exist. Shell-shocked from her time in the war, Violet is exceptionally stoic, except when she remembers Gilbert, her military superior and sometime lover. His parting words were "I love you," and through her letters, Violet has been examining the meaning of the phrase since then. 

Fans of the series will have no trouble following the events of the film, but if you're going in cold without any prior exposure to the franchise, it might take a while for you to adjust to its world. More an amalgamation of multiple cultures than a reflection of just one, the imaginary Leidenschaftlich is filled with Japanese-speaking citizens, in modern-day-influenced clothes, with architecture and vistas that could fit right in 1800s Western Europe. Against this backdrop, Violet attempts to restart her life as a writer. Living often doesn't feel easy, especially when PTSD comes in the form of shocks and painful flashbacks, but loving, as she finds out, might be even harder. A tale of self-forgiveness and forging on, despite all odds, Violet Evergarden is a moving ode to life and love at a time of war. 

Genre: Animation, Drama, Fantasy, Romance

Actor: Aya Endo, Aya Saito, Ayako Kawasumi, Daichi Endo, Daisuke Namikawa, Emi Shinohara, Haruka Tomatsu, Hidenobu Kiuchi, Hisako Kyoda, Jouji Nakata, Kanako Sakuragi, Kaori Mizuhashi, Koki Uchiyama, Kozue Harashima, Mayuno Yasokawa, Megumi Matsumoto, Minori Chihara, Mitsuru Miyamoto, Mugihito, Rie Hikisaka, Rina Sato, Rina Satou, Sumire Morohoshi, Takehito Koyasu, Yasuhiro Mamiya, Yui Ishikawa, Yuuki Sanpei

Director: Taichi Ishidate

If you’re new to the story, I Don’t Expect Anyone to Believe Me feels difficult to understand. The film adaptation portrays the novel through abruptly cut sequences, meticulously framed naturalistic frames, and monologue and dialogue that mean more than what’s being said, on top of Juan Pablo’s gradual descent into a criminal network. It’s as disorienting as being in Barcelona feels for Mexican couple Juan Pablo and Val. However, this film feels like a new approach in adapting novels – the multiple perspectives and epistolary portions adeptly portrayed through typed up screens and alternating perspectives (and direction) between the couple. It doesn’t feel like something that you’ve likely seen before.

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama

Actor: Aimar Vega, Alexis Ayala, Ángel Zermen, Anna Castillo, Ariana Van X, Bel Gris, Bruna Cusí, Carmen Beato, Clara Roquet, Darío Rocas, Dario Yazbek Bernal, Jelen García, Juan Carlos Remolina, Juan Daniel Garcia Treviño, Juan Minujín, Natalia Portnoy, Natalia Solián

Director: Luis Fernando Frías de la Parra

Rating: R

Richard Wershe, Jr. was arrested for carrying eight kilos of cocaine in 1988, when he was just 17. He went on to become one of Michigan’s longest-serving non-violent juvenile drug offenders, dubbed by the press as White Boy Rick. His fate was sealed by Michigan law that had just been passed, which stated that anyone found with more than 650 grams of drugs had to be sentenced to mandatory life. 

Featuring interviews with drug lords, journalists, as well as Rick’s mother and attorney, this documentary — along with the follow-up Hollywood biopic, White Boy Rick, starring Matthew McConaughey— provides an insightful account into his tragic story. 

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Actor: Chris Hansen, Herm Groman, Johnny Curry, Richard Wershe Jr., Scott M. Burnstein, Seth Ferranti, Shawn Rech

Director: Christopher S. Rech, Shawn Rech

Rating: N/A

There’s a sense of disconnectedness in RedLife, as the film isn’t centered on one storyline, but rather two storylines that at first don’t seem connected. Ter, a young snatcher, marries a sex worker named Mild, while Som is a student who aspires to escape her prostitute mom’s poverty, especially after she falls for the more affluent Peach. At first, the film depicts their lives in stunningly framed, slice-of-life moments that captures a different side of Bangkok, one that’s tough to depict, but one people know about. But they do intersect, later on in the movie, in a series of events that leads them trapped in tragedy, despite all they did to escape it. The unexpected twist makes their lives surprisingly poignant, though RedLife’s journey might take too long to get there.

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Actor: Banlop Lomnoi, D Gerrard, Karnpicha Pongpanit, Krongthong Rachatawan, Pimvipa Thanarapatvanich, Ray MacDonald, Sumitra Duangkaew, Supitcha Sangkhachinda, Tanapak Jongjaiphar, Thiti Mahayotaruk

Director: Ekalak Klunson

Lighthearted, inspirational, and warm, True Spirit is the real life story of how the young Jessica Watson circumnavigated the world. Through YouTube-esque vlogs and scribbled out title cards, the film follows the real-life journey, alternating between the sailor with the situation back home, as her mentor and family keep track of her current progress. Inspired by the book, the film fairly sticks to the facts written in her travelogue, but True Spirit mostly plays out the same way a Disney Channel Original Movie would, with its young protagonist setting out for a whimsical adventure, just for the sake of it. It makes for a beautiful film with stunning views and heartwarming messages about perseverance, but it’s more an easy cruise than a daring adventure, as it plays out without any courage in its approach.

Genre: Adventure, Drama, History

Actor: Alice Tate, Alyla Browne, Anna Paquin, Bridget Webb, Chris Hillier, Cliff Curtis, James McGrady, Jessica Watson, Joey Vieira, Josephine Flynn, Josh Lawson, Ling Cooper Tang, Molly Belle Wright, Nikhil Singh, Shanyn Asmar, Stacy Clausen, Teagan Croft, Todd Lasance, Vivien Turner

Director: Sarah Spillane

Rating: PG

The messy, non-linear process of grieving is always tough to capture meaningfully on screen—and there are definitely parts of Good Grief that trail off without much feeling or go on for too long without making new points. But the good still outweighs the bad in Dan Levy's directorial debut, with the inherent impracticality of death taking center stage. At a certain age when one has too much going on in life, grief can become just another responsibility that needs to be managed, that often clashes with the priorities of one's friends. The film just falls short of making truly astute insights into loss or crafting complete characters, but it's reassuring all the same in how ordinarily it views something so tragic.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Arnaud Valois, Celia Imrie, Cyrielle Debreuil, Dan Levy, David Bradley, Emma Corrin, Himesh Patel, Jamael Westman, Kaitlyn Dever, Luke Evans, Mehdi Baki, Nigel Lilley, Ruth Negga, Yoli Fuller, Zoé Bruneau

Director: Dan Levy

Rating: R

The latest installment of Ly Hai’s Face Off franchise has an entertaining premise with some terrible plot twists. With this premise, it’s almost expected to see the worst of the worst of people when given a jackpot, and it’s easy to feel distraught when this happens, because the initial dynamic between the six friends feels genuine. However, the fun and wacky hijinks devolve into seriously messed up plot twists. Some of these work, but certain scenes feel like it was just added for shock value at the expense of other characters. The film couldn’t choose between vilifying some characters and celebrating their friendship. Because of this, Face Off 6 feels like it missed its mark.

Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller

Actor: Huy Khánh, Huỳnh Thi, Lý Hải, Quốc Cường, Tiết Cương, Trung Dũng

Director: Lý Hải