It must come as a surprise that Apple – A multinational tech company took so long to dive into original content production. Starting off from 2016 and only getting into the game in late 2019, Apple TV+ is slowly becoming the talk of the town. Much of the buzz has to do with some of the biggest festival picks to shoot up their original programming slate and a free year access to Apple users. In the following list, I look at the Best Apple Original Films and rank them on the basis of their sheer will to stand out of the crowd.
Here are some of the Best Apple Original Films ranked from worst to best:
15. The Sky is Everywhere (2022)
It’s very rare that YA films look at grief in the way it should be seen. Recent developments in television like Euphoria and the brilliant high school drama “The Fallout” aside, grief and subsequent trauma have often been left out of such films. This is why, “The Sky is Everywhere,” which is adapted from Jandy Nelson’s debut novel and is helmed by visionary indie filmmaker Josephine Decker, felt like a foot set in the right direction.
Sadly, in spite of an experimental visual approach and a potent ensemble, the only thing that this trite representation of grief does is punch a hole in Decker’s astounding body of work. Following the life of Lennie (Grace Kaufman), who has recently lost her closest friend, confidant, and sister Bailey, Decker wastes a strong visual panache on an underdeveloped and shallow look into trauma.
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14. Greyhound (2020)
Written by Tom Hanks himself, director Aaron Schneider’s Greyhound comes with noble intentions. Adapted from C. S. Forester’s 1955 novel The Good Shepard, the film is about Navy Commander Ernest Krause who was tasked with the job of heading a group of conveying ships through the Atlantic while returning from Battle. The film takes place when the convey enters the ‘Black Pit’ – a stretch where the ships cannot be protected by Air Cover, only to be hounded by a pack of German U-Boats.
Now, while Schneider’s film has some really intense close-encounter sequences and heroic American fist-thumpings, a lot of the proceedings are numbed down and bland when processed through Naval jargon. It also doesn’t help that there is zero character buildup for Ernest Krause, making our care for him come from Hanks’ dedicated performance and not a memorable mid-war maneuver.
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Watch/Stream Greyhound Here
13. The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021)
There’s no denying the fact that Joel Coen’s adaption of the famous Shakespearean tragedy is ambitious. Basically a cross between theatre and cinema, the new film witnesses one-half of the Coen duo getting supremely experimental. His Macbeth isn’t just different, it is essentially the most brooding and haunting version of the infamous tale of greed and madness.
However, this gothic retelling, which basically strips the play to its bare essentials never really wakes up. Featuring a commendable turn by Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth feels empty, futile, and unnecessary exercise in excess. This is a forceful tragedy that remains extremely passive through and through.
Watch/Stream The Tragedy of Macbeth Here
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12. Palmer (2021)
Every single beat and note in Fisher Stevens’ Plamer feels familiar. It is probably the nth iteration of the felon on parole redemption arc that takes up an abandoned kid to shower its white-savior complex some loft heartbreak. The only change here is the kid in the arc being a sensitive, different one who needs a father figure. Thankfully, this age-old cliche machine doesn’t feel too on the nose because of Timberlake’s dedicated performance at its center.
He stars as the titiular Plamer. A man who has been in jail for around a dozen years. The reason becomes evident quite early, opening up multiple threads that could erupt at any moment of time. Ryder Allen stars as the kid who needs a father figure and a sensitive outlook on his feminine side. The film is punctuated with numerous moments of forced manipulation but mostly, it remains a casual viewing experience.
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Watch/Stream Palmer Here
11. Cherry (2021)
Based on Nico Walker’s autofictional novel of the same name, Cherry clocks at a mammoth runtime of 141 minutes. In that accord, it doesn’t just look and feel like an epic but also packs in a whole lot of themes within its folds. At times a coming-of-age story about a young man; others a drama about a war veteran suffering from PTSD coupled with opioid addiction.
It is also a step away from director duo Anthony Russo and Joe Russo’s usual commercial offering (the numerous MCU blockbusters). However, it seriously suffers from tonal inconsistency; juggling a growing-up narrative with a half-baked anti-war message. Tom Holland tries his best to balance this stylish but inconsequential outing with a rather misguided but heartfelt performance. If it’s salvaged or not will really depend on one’s mood and how well one takes in a film that is so full of itself.
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Watch/Stream Cherry Here
10. Hala (2019)
Minhal Baig’s semi-autobiographical film Hala is about a 17-year-old Pakistani-American girl living with constant conflict – both at the family front and within her life in general. As a teenager who is growing up, this skateboarding Muslim girl readily follows her family’s ethic on the surface but is far removed from it in reality.
In trying to make sense of the conflicting worldview she has been a part of, Hala tries to find herself. This is a typical coming-of-age troupe that sometimes gets lost in numerous expositions and an inability to really find a real voice within this archetype of lost causes. With a genuinely moving and understated performance by Geraldine Viswanathan, the film still manages to evoke a certain reaction from the audience, even if it misses its mark quite often.
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Watch/Stream Hala Here
9. On the Rocks (2020)
On the Rocks is a mellow Sofia Coppola stint. Mellow as in its inhibitions and conflict resolves are quaint and easy. However, there’s no denying the fact that it still feels like a Sofia Coppola film. The coupling narrative of the old versus the new, the slight shifts and turfs in relationships that nudge towards a crescendo of chaos and ultimately a charmer that follows the life of women unaware and not-so-happy with their current existence.
That said, it doesn’t manage to focus on the third and most essential Sofia Coppola troupe. I’m not sure if it’s Rashida Jones’ muted performance or Bill Murphy’s incredible charm that completely overshadows her, but it’s there and you feel it with every passing minute. There’s a feeling of incompleteness and that’s not something you’d want from a film.
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Watch/Stream On the Rocks Here
8. Swan Song (2021)
It’s surprising to even think that Swan Song is, in fact, Mahershala Ali’s first lead starring role. The seasoned actor has been a part of so many projects in the supporting role, that directors forgot that he can lead a film too. Swan Song, which is set in a stylish futuristic world, not only gives the actor the leading man’s job but also does it two times. Ali, who plays the protagonist Cameron, plays him twice – one, of them a dying man, the other a DNA replicated clone.
The film, on the other hand, is a mix of melancholia and melodrama. A sort of generic last-goodbye film wrapped in the universal feeling of ‘what it’s like to be human.’ Swan Song is above all a film about a man’s grief for the loss of his presence in his family’s life. A sort of futuristic endeavor that is grounded in a story that’s told with sincerity.
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Watch/Stream Swan Song Here
7. CODA (2021)
Sian Heder’s new film is set through Ruby (Emilia Jones), who is not just the eyes and ears to this tale, but also the official ear for her entire family. The mother Jackie, the brother Leo and father Frank have oodles of affection for each other. Their disabilities aside, these are funny characters who can lighten up anyone’s mood if they would only listen to their communicative stances. The family loves one another and sticks with each other through thick and thin. However, Ruby, who has been a translator for the entire family up until now, is growing up.
The film, on the other hand, uses its familiar storytelling beats to weave a charming, emotional-moving tale about the core of a family (in this case a deaf family). CODA questions what it’s like to need another person. The co-dependency that every single person has with their family is both a boon and a curse. Making this funny, sweet, and sentimental in the right amounts. I only wish it had some more heart that did not make it feel familiar and worn out.
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Watch/Stream CODA Here
6. Beastie Boys Story (2020)
Spike Jonze has been a frequent collaborator and friend with the Beastie Boys for years. So when the two living members of the American hip-hop group must have thought about documenting their lives, or as I would put it; documenting their friendship, Jonze would have realized that there wasn’t any other way to go about it other than giving the two Beasitie’s a mick each and a stage to ramble on.
What makes the Beastie Boys Story work, is just how cool it is. Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz (or to put it in the street lingo Mike D and Ad-Rock) open up their life in a nostalgia-induced f**kery. Structured under chapters that shout funny randomness (much like the sound that designed them as a band), Beastie Boys Story is a true love letter to the third member that was their heart, and a great homage to a band that never settled and constantly evolved.
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Watch/Stream Beastie Boys Story Here
5. Finch (2021)
Trust me when I say this; Tom Hanks stars as Finch – a lonely, anti-social man on the verge of death in a post-apocalyptic world. His last wish is to make a humanoid who could be a nice little company for his dog when he dies. This pave way for Jeff (voiced by Caleb Landry Jones) – a self-sufficient, apologetic robot who is more humane than humans.
That’s it! There is no over-the-top post-apocalypse twist, no dramatic villainous tension, and simply no reaching to the finish dance. Finch is a sweet post-apocalyptic road movie about the unforeseeable friendships we forge in a world that is aggressively going to the dumpster.
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Watch/Stream Finch Here
4. Wolfwalkers (2020)
Wolfwalkers is drenched in cultural history. It takes its mystical and imaginative worldbuilding to a deeper, more personal level by just reveling in the folktales it is surrounded by. Moreover, the themes of love and loss have both a personal edge and a poignant foreground that ably handles its character’s traits and their motifs. It’s only a huge plus that the animation is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous and the voice acting is superior to anything else you might have seen in recent memory.
Deep down the film remains an amusing, colorful, and enjoyable coming-of-age tale that doesn’t restrict itself to that definitive arc. The fact that it will cater to a varied number of audiences where everyone has a different take on it, makes it all the more intriguing and urgent. Also, look out for “Running With The Wolves” by Aurora – a track that enchants and puts its spell on you with how incredibly accurate it represents the imagery it is supposed to accompany.
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Watch/Stream WolfWalkers Here
3. Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry (2021)
In spite of an overly familiar pop-star persona that the internet has made out of 19-year-old Billie Eilish, and the amount of prejudice I had before getting into this 2 hours 21-minute long hangout movie, I was completely lost in awe of the life that the star has conjured up for herself.
R.J. Cutler’s documentary is an honest and frank documentation of a sensational young woman and her ability to withstand all the clutter to produce and connect to a generation of people through her voice. Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry captures the confidence, success, and vulnerability that formulates the backstage persona of a pop star who is as honest on stage and she is behind it, back home.
Watch/Stream Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry Here
2. Cha Cha Real Smooth (2022)
It wouldn’t be wrong of me to say that Cooper Raiff presents the side and type of men that have been firmly missing from mainstream movies for a long long time. His characters are more sensitive, gentle and embody a kind of spirit that truly feels unique. Cha Cha Real Smooth, Raiff’s follow-up to his breakout indie-hit Shithouse, is yet another winner in that accord.
Following the life of Andrew (played by Raiff himself) – a fresh out of college but clueless young man, the film is about his freewheeling endeavors once he lands up in his younger brother’s bedroom and with a job that he doesn’t like. Failing each day to make his life worthwhile, while slowly falling in love with an older woman, Cha Cha Real Smooth is an absolute charmer that is smart and moves you in unexpected ways. It also helps that Dakota Johnson and Raiff share a kind of chemistry that makes us root for both of them to be okay in life.
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Watch/Stream Cha Cha Real Smooth Here
1. Boys State (2020)
Boys State is an exceptional documentary that captures something so absorbing and sublime that it feels like all of it is staged. Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss’s film is about an exercise that sets young teenage texas boys in a sort of Summer camp where they play a mock government building experiment. Don’t get me wrong, it is exactly as it sounds. The film follows over a thousand teenage boys as they battle it out to form a government – right from the campaign to the final election results that happen with every step.
With their brilliant documentary, McBaine and Moss discover a pretty rational and alarming truth about modern-day politics. That, more than anything, politics is a game that two parties play and the stakes are always high because power is supreme.