2022 Thriller Hits Netflix, Already No. 3 Most-Watched Movie

This weekend, Netflix added the new crime thriller Emily the Criminal, and it immediately shot up to the Top 10 movies list. Emily the Criminal premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and then saw a wider theatrical release in August. Now, audiences everywhere can watch it from the comfort of home.

Emily the Criminal stars Aubrey Plaza as the titular Emily Benetto, a woman living in Los Angeles, California and struggling to get out of severe debt. It was written and directed by John Patton Ford, and other stars include Theo Rossi, Megalyn Echikunwoke and Gina Gershon. The movie got generally positive reviews from critics, but it just barely earned back its production budget by making about $2 million at the box office.

It's not clear whether its licensing deal with Netflix made up the difference for this movie, but it has certainly exposed Emily the Criminal to a wider audience. At the time of this writing, it is number 3 on Netflix's self-reported list of top 10 most-watched films. Meanwhile, commenters on social media are in awe of this movie – and of casually finding it on Netflix's catalog without much fanfare.

"Between White Lotus and Emily the Criminal Aubrey Plaza is killing it this year," one fan tweeted. Another wrote: "Anyway, watch Emily The Criminal to see Aubrey Plaza doing crimes and banging Theo Rossi," while a third added: "Aubrey Plaza should get an Oscar nom for Emily the Criminal."

Emily the Criminal is the directorial debut of Ford, who is currently in production on his second film, Rothchild. The movie brings viewers into the seedy world of credit card fraud and other scams, but it does so through a sympathetic lens. It portrays the protagonist yearning for legitimacy even though she is left with no option besides committing crimes to get there.

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The movie's focus on debt and systemic poverty has resonated with its audience, while some of its more cathartic lines of dialogue are already finding their way into memes on social media. At the same time, the movie's low profile has revived now-familiar conversations about how hard it is for low-budget movies to compete with franchise blockbusters – even when they have A-list talent like Plaza.

Emily the Criminal is streaming now on Netflix. Details on Ford's follow-up film are still scarce.