Insights / News and Opinion / The top Netflix series and movies of 2020

The top Netflix series and movies of 2020

News and Opinion / 5th February 2021

2020 was a bad year for humankind but a good year for Netflix.

A handful of Netflix movies and series caused serious waves around the world. The Golden Globes recognised the quality of their films and series in the form of 42 nominations for their prestigious awards.

Perhaps, in part, these nominations are a form of thanks to the platform. Many of us took refuge in the escapist glamour of the stylistic home page and persuasive (if slightly overbearing) recommendations and trailers during the past 12 months.

So, we know what the critics liked, but what did viewers watch?

Netflix releases giant figures of its overall global viewing and Nielsen has a handle on the US trends…

At Digital-i, we know what people are watching in Europe.

Read on to discover the top Netflix series and movies of 2020 for Netflix viewers in the European Big Five!

1. Money Heist

Netflix Original Spanish Series

With a big release in April 2020 at the height of European lockdowns, season 4 of the global hit, Money Heist, hit our screens hard. The heavy promotion around the new series drew new viewers to the franchise as more and more of us became caught up in the Professor’s dangerous games.

Money Heist (La casa de papel) has broken records and glass ceilings when it comes to non-English language series. Did you ever think that a Spanish series could become the most popular show in Europe? Read more about how content is tearing down language barriers here.

Alas, it’s achievement was not honoured by a Golden Globe nomination, but don’t feel sad for them, they won a lot of other awards.

2. The Queen’s Gambit

Chess Queen's Gambit Netflix top series

You’ve heard of it, odds are you’ve seen part of it, even if it was just to curse the insistence at which Netflix shoved the stylised introclip down your throat.

The Queen’s Gambit launched at the end of the year, just as the pandemic began to seem overwhelming again. As we faced shorter days and decreased freedom, Beth Harmon’s rocky ride to success inspired many of us to occupy our minds with the age-old game of strategy. This literally happened, Beth Harmon was the best thing to happen for chess sales in decades. The actress, Anya-Taylor Joy also snagged two nominations for her acting in the Golden Globes awards.

3. The Crown

The Crown Netflix Original top series

The fourth season of the Netflix Original, The Crown, dropped in November and drew the attention of over half of all Netflix households in UKFIGS. It also bagged six golden globe nominations. The series, which at times has courted controversy, may not be the favourite Netflix show for royalty, but there’s no denying that it won over the eyes and minds of European viewers.

In the UK, it knocked Stranger Things out of first place in the league table of most popular Netflix series of all time!

4. Enola Holmes

Sherlock Holmes, Enola Holmes

The star of Stranger Things, tries on a detective’s cap in this Netflix Original movie. A reimagining of the rich world of Sherlock Holmes, starring one of Netflix’s homemade stars was a success across the continent, receiving star-studded reviews. Interestingly, 2020’s most-viewed Netflix movie in UKFIGS was not nominated for any Golden Globes. Enola will have to content herself with having won our hearts and laughs.

5. Sex Education

Sex Education school

The third British production in the top 5 is the colourful and charming Netflix series, Sex Education. Starring Asa Butterfield and Gillian Andersen (another Netflix favourite in the UK, last quarter her performance in The Fall was the most-viewed performance on Netflix UK!), the comedy-drama launched at the beginning of last year, before we knew what lay ahead. Viewing to this show trailed off come April 2020, as our appetite for youthful drama dimmed with our moods. 

Top Netflix Movies

If you found this interesting then you can request more information about the top 10 Netflix films of 2020.

The process is easy, simply sign up to our weekly newsletter using the form below.  This also means that you’ll receive regular updates about Netflix and Amazon Prime viewing trends.

If you sign up before March 2021, we’ll send you a list of the top films within 24 hours. If you’re already signed up then send us a request for more information here!


Subscribe to our newsletter!


Subscribe to our mailing list and we’ll keep you up to date with all the latest industry insights

By submitting this form you agree to Digital i’s privacy policy statement


Speak to an expert to find out how our intelligence platform will revolutionise your TV reporting & SVOD research