As the curtain falls on 2019, you have two choices about how you’re going to spend the final streaming hours of this decade:
1) Bidding a long, tender farewell to Friends, slated to leave Netflix on January 1
2) Hearing that it’s only American Netflix who are losing the show, and suddenly realizing that you’ve literally watched nothing else on Netflix all year because you were cherishing every last minute of your time with the gang in apartment #5. It’s bittersweet: They’ll still be there for you, yes, but now you really have no excuse for not having anything to say about The Irishman.
Fear not, friend-of-Friends: You’ve yet got a few hours left in the year to catch up with what everyone else spent the year glued to / watching with half-an-eye as they scroll through Instagram. In the interest of time, however, you’re going to want to be strategic. You don’t have time to waste on, say, an underrated, obscure gems like the cyberpunk cartoon-for-adults Love, Death and Robots. With mere hours left to jump on the bandwagon, it’s time to get the most social cohesion bang for your attention’s buck.
Enter Netflix Canada, and their just-released lists of the streaming services most-watched television shows and movies! While this isn’t an exhaustive list of the most popular shows of the year in general (the other streaming services, TV channels, movie theatres etc. would have something to say about that), it is an interesting peek into what captivated us in 2019. Spoiler: some popular picks are less than artistic masterpieces. The clock-is-ticking, of course, so we’ve provided a handy bit of guidance as you make your decision. Happy streaming—and an even happier New Year!
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Netflix’s Most-Watched Movies of 2019
1) Murder Mystery
This was *checks notes* the most-watched film of the year, most likely because *checks notes again* Adam Sandler is one of cinema’s most bankable stars, and, just…wow, people. We can’t even bring ourselves to plot synopsis this because this is the top overall (movie and TV combined!) and frankly we couldn’t sleep at night if we knew we’d pushed even one more person into its puerile, juvenile, what-happened-to-you-Jennifer-Aniston-that-you’re-in-this arms. And while we’re here: May we send our sincerest condolences to the people of Montreal, in whose fine city this dross was filmed?
2) 6 Underground
Well, this does nothing to restore anyone’s faith in the taste of the general populace, now does it? From the mind of Michael Bay (he of Transformers fame), starring Ryan Reynolds and full of more explosions, crashes and fireballs than you’d think was humanly possible to squeeze into two hours. The plot is thin (Ryan fakes his own death, assembles a team of “operatives” because why not), most likely because they blew the entire budget on pyrotechnics.
3) The Irishman
The film that set culture Twitter a-light over the American Thanksgiving weekend! In a nutshell, it’s a Martin Scorcese movie about a geriatric gangster taking a trip down Mob memory lane. It stars Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci, your dad has probably seen it three times already, and it’s nominated for a bunch of Golden Globes.
4) Triple Frontier
Oh, golly! Another cohort of strong-jawed muscle men here to save the world, this time in the form of Ben Affleck, Garret Hedlund, Charlie Hunnam and Oscar Isaac hunting for a drug lord in Columbia. They have silly nicknames like “Catfish” and “Redfly” and honestly, Oscar Isaac? We expected more of you.
5) Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
The one that laid the ghost of Troy Bolton forever: Zac Efron was a long way from High School Musical when he starred as serial killer Ted Bundy in this total skin-crawler. NB: This is not to be confused with the doc (also released on Netflix in 2019) Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes (which FWIW, is better.)
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6) The Highwaymen
In a frankly depressing theme, we continue our trend of movies about old dudes fighting crime, this time Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson tracking down Bonnie and Clyde, the 1930s most notorious bank robbers. At least Kathy Bates is in it?
7) The Incredibles 2
Fun fact: So far, this entire list has been Netflix Originals, which, major pat on the back to the streaming service. This animated film was actually released in 2018 which just goes to show a heart-warming tale about a family of superheroes never gets old.
8) El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Does what it says on the tin: It’s an epilogue to the v v v critically-acclaimed series about meth-making in New Mexico. Perhaps not so obvious? There’s a Canadian connection in the form of Roder FX, the Quebec-based visual special effects company who worked on this.
9) Always Be My Maybe
Well, that took far too long but we’re here at least: A woman-fronted, diverse film! Always Be My Maybe was this year’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, in that it was a sheer delight we happily welcome into the romantic comedy cannon. Coincidence that it was filmed here in Canada, in-and-around Vancouver? We think not.
10) The Perfect Date
And speaking of things involving Noah Centineo. He’s back as a teenage dream, this time one who creates an app where he hires himself out as a plus one to raise money for university. It’s light, it’s fun but…it’s no To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.
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Netflix Canada’s Most Watched TV Shows of 2019
1) Stranger Things 3
Even in its third season, this blockbuster tale of Eleven, the Upside Down and Scoops Ahoy had us hooked-slash-utterly terrified. Shout out to Alexei, who stole our hearts this season.
2) The Witcher
This show only dropped on December 20, which makes the fact that it’s the second most popular show of the entire year *quite* something. Apparently we all spent the entire Christmas holidays bingeing the adventures of a long-locked, pale-eyed Henry Cavill hunting monsters?
3) The Umbrella Academy
Two fun facts: This darkly funny story about a family of superheroes was based on comics by My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way *and* was filmed in Toronto and Hamilton, ON!
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4) You (Season 2)
Penn Badgley (or rather, the character he plays) relocates his stalker self to California in the second season of this chilling, extremely-not-a-cute-romcom thriller. Like The Witcher, it only landed on Netflix on *Boxing Day* so it’s high ranking is major testimony to its popularity…and/or our boredom this Twixmas period?
5) Dead To Me
This is sort of a murder mystery—Christina Applegate plays a widow looking for the driver who killed her husband in a hit-and-run—but it’s also a kind of soapy-but-funny-melodrama? Honestly, we need a Dead To Me season 2 to work out how we feel about it…which is great, because one is coming!
Along with Fleabag and Watchmen, this based-on-a-true-story drama about two female investigators looking into a rape case where the victim recants was on Barack Obama’s top TV shows of the year list. Can’t argue with that.
7) Sex Education
Utterly, utterly charming and one of the most refreshing takes on the adolescent experience we’ve seen on screen, ever. Although we still can’t work out what country or time period they’re actually in? It’s like 2019 meets 1981 set in Bavaria but also maybe England?
8) Dirty John
Was the podcast on which this TV show about a scam artist is based better? Maybe. Will we watch Connie Britton in literally anything? Yes. Is this a better use of your time than Murder Mystery? Well anything is, so double yes.
Because this list needed more superheroes (eye roll), we’ve got this filmed-in-Toronto story about a ragtag gang of kids with special powers fighting crime. And that’s all we can muster, sorry.
10) Black Mirror (Season 5)
Honestly, we haven’t even recovered from the first episode of season 1, but here we are at the fifth season of this mind-bending, skin-crawling, way-too-on-the-nose-about-society episodic…thriller? Sci-fi? All your darkest thoughts and worst impulses distilled into standalone episodes? All of the above.