Many Filipino movies are now being streamed on Netflix. There are your rom-coms, dramas, indie films, and many more genres. But being spoilt for choice does have its downsides. How will you know which one to click on first? Don’t worry, we got you. Watch these must-see Filipino movies on Netflix that are at the top of our recommendations list.
Die Beautiful (2016)
Die Beautiful starts at a morbid yet comical take when it introduces us to Trisha Echevarria (Paolo Ballesteros), a transwoman whose dying wish is to, as the title suggests, die beautiful. We’re immediately taken to her wake, which starts out with only a handful of people, including her best friend Barbs (Christian Bables) whom she lived with and their adopted daughter Shirley Mae (Inah De Belen).
Trisha undergoes many makeup transformations inspired by various celebrities during her wake, making her memorial go viral despite Barbs’s hesitation and caution. The narrative goes back-and-forth between the past and the present, showing that Trisha’s life is just as colourful as her extravagant casket makeup looks.
Why you should watch it: While it initially promises to be lighthearted, Die Beautiful is one of the few Filipino indie-gone-big movies that explore self-acceptance, homophobia, and abuse. It also shows how family isn’t always limited to blood relations but can also be about finding a sanctuary in friendships and communities that accept you. It also redefines parenthood, especially in the case of Trisha, Barbs’, and Shirley Mae’s ‘untraditional’ family dynamic.
This movie also won several awards in 2016, including Tokyo International Film Festival’s Audience Award for the film director Jun Lana and Best Actor Award for Paolo Ballesteros.
Plus, the makeup looks Trisha wears in the film is done by Paolo Ballesteros himself. Check out his makeup transformations, which have gone viral globally.
The story starts with Jane Ciego (Iza Calzado) waking up at a secluded house. She is a famous actress trying to make an even bigger mark in the entertainment industry by taking on a project ‘no one has seen her in before’. While shooting for the film (which she’s also producing and putting all her hard-earned money in), she gets into an accident that leaves her disabled. Her husband Carlo (TJ Trinidad) explains that the isolation was meant to keep her away from the eyes of the press. Her only aid is Lilibeth (Adrienne Vergara), a nurse who is cruel and psychopathic. As Jane tries to make sense of her surroundings, she slowly spirals into madness.
Why you should watch it: If you love psychological thrillers, this one is definitely a must-see. It’s confusing and convoluted but satisfyingly intriguing. Be warned, though. The story tackles different types of abuse, which makes it more fit for mature viewers.
Iza Calzado was given the Yakushi Pearl Award for Best Performer at the Osaka Asian Film Festival in 2017 for her performance in the film.
Hello, Love, Goodbye (2019)
Joy (Kathryn Bernardo) is an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) based in Hong Kong. She has only four months left before her contract for working as a maid for a single mother with a child with special needs expires. Hoping for a better future, she has her eyes set on moving to Canada. However, things become challenging when she meets and falls in love with Ethan (Alden Richards).
Ethan is a Filipino bartender whose family are already permanent residents in Hong Kong. He is working on his own residency status, which he initially gave up on when he decided to follow his then-girlfriend to the U.S. a couple of years back. He tells Joy that he’s stuck in Hong Kong for three more years to work on his residency permit, making him unable to come with her to Canada. Joy ends up at a crossroads between choosing her career or staying in Hong Kong to pursue a once-in-a-lifetime relationship she found at the wrong time.
Why you should watch it: More than a love story, Hello, Love, Goodbye is also a tale of self-love and taking command of one’s future. Joy and Ethan struggled with both, but finding each other inspired them to finally move forward. It’s not a ‘you changed me’ kind of story but rather a relationship between two adults trying to make things work despite the circumstances around them. It also sheds a light on the life of overseas Filipino workers without romanticising it. Did we mention that it’s also the Philippines’ highest grossing film to date at approximately USD17 million in revenue?
The movie was also nominated in the 9th Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards for Best Asian Film and won several awards in the 2020 Box Office Entertainment Awards in the Philippines, including Film Actor and Actress Of The Year for Richards and Bernardo.
Fan Girl (2020)
What if you learn that the celebrity you’ve always loved and admired isn’t who you thought they are? Jane (Charlie Dizon), a naive high school student, learns this the hard way when she brazenly climbs into the truck of her celebrity crush Paulo Avelino (who plays a fictional version of himself) after a fan meet. What starts out as a playful and impulsive encounter after Paulo discovers Jane in his truck leads to a surprising twist of events.
Why you should watch it: Paulo Avelino playing as a twisted version of himself is just scratching the surface on how ‘meta’ Fan Girl is. Not only does it shatter the rose-coloured lenses infatuated fans often see their favourite celebrities in but it also explores a bigger narrative about power abuse and privacy. It uses idolatry to create a sense of horror while still keeping things grounded and relatable for viewers to understand. It also looks into the nature of escapism and how it can be dangerous if left misunderstood or romanticised. Charlie Dizon’s amazing performance as Jane ties the film together. The film raked in awards during the Metro Manila Film Festival in 2020.
My Amanda (2021)
TJ a.k.a. Fuffy (Piolo Pascual) and Amanda a.k.a. Fream (Alessandra De Rossi) are best friends. They share every aspect of their lives with each other and are often mistaken as a couple. Everyone who meets them tells them that they’re the best match, including Amanda’s grandmother. However, they’re always caught in different romantic relationships and insist that theirs is only platonic. But is it?
Why you should watch it: Aside from starring in the film, Alessandra de Rossi also wrote, directed, and co-produced My Amanda with her male best friend as inspiration. The nicknames of the characters, Fuffy and Fream, are also based in real life. Piolo Pascual, who co-produced the film with Alessandra, even shadowed Alessandra’s best friend to make the film feel more real and grounded. This made their portrayals natural and relatable. My Amanda changes the way films often portray friendships between opposite sexes and suggests that a soulmate isn’t limited to a romantic partner. The film immediately took the top spot in Netflix Philippines’ trending list during the week that it aired.
(Cover photo from: netflix.com)
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