Ever since its inception, Netflix has stood as the benchmark for on-demand entertainment. As its popularity grew, so too did the streaming service’s massive library and today, the streaming giant offers one of the most diverse selections of movies and TV shows anywhere on the Net. However, as incredible as the extensive collection is, it can be incredibly difficult to find a movie outside of your normal tastes. Netflix has enormous blockbusters, but sometimes watching a flick off the beaten path is more desirable.
Because we know you aren’t necessarily content to watch what Netflix thinks is hot, we’ve sifted through its robust library to find some of the best diamonds in the rough. There is a treasure trove of unheard of and underrated movies hidden within the site’s many nooks and crannies, so while our list has undoubtedly left a few gems out, it’s a good start. So pop some popcorn and nestle into your favorite spot on the couch, here are the 8 most underrated — and at times, obscure — movies currently streaming on Netflix.
Short Term 12
Brie Larson stars in this fantastic 2013 drama as Grace, a foster care facility counselor in her mid-20s who works at a home for at-risk teens. As she strives to enrich the lives of the embattled youth who spend time in her facility, Grace finds it increasingly hard to deal with even a small amount of the issues which plague her personal life. The Newsroom alum John Gallagher Jr. plays Grace’s boyfriend and soon-to-be-husband, giving one of the most heartfelt and compassionate performances you’ll see in recent film. Not only is Short Term 12 an incredible piece of emotional storytelling, but it’s a wonderful exploration of life, love, and sacrifice. There’s no doubt this is one of Netflix’s most underrated movies in its entire catalog.
People Places Things
Flight of the Conchords actor Jemaine Clement stars in this comedy about a middle-aged graphic novelist struggling to overcome a recent divorce, while trying to bond with his two young daughters. As he begins to navigate his surroundings as a newly single man, Will Henry (Clement) finds it’s easier said than done to let go of the woman who left him and to learn to love someone else. Regina Hall, Jessica Williams, and Stephanie Allyne round out the film’s impressive ensemble cast, each delivering some of their finest work to date. Heartwarming, funny, and incredibly witty — as is the case with much of what Clement does — People Places Things is one of the hidden gems in Big Red’s catalog you won’t soon forget.
Actor Mads Mikkelsen heads the cast in this drama about a kindergarten teacher wrongfully accused of abusing one of his students. Once the false testimony begins circling around the small town he lives in, those closest to the teacher begin to abandon and publicly shame him. It’s only after more of his students come forward — albeit, to say they were also abused — with differing stories that Lucas (Mikkelsen) is eventually relieved of the errant charges. However, the townsfolk aren’t particularly keen on letting him walk away that easy. The Hunt is a brilliant piece of storytelling, led by one of film’s best actors and a performance of a lifetime. The pain, agony, and despair Mikkelsen channels is utterly captivating and alone worthy of your spare time.
Your Sister’s Sister
Mark DuPlass, Emily Blunt, and Rosemary DeWitt star in this dramedy about a man reeling from the recent death of his brother and a friend attempting to help him through the grieving process. After Hannah (Blunt) invites Jack (DuPlass) to spend some time at her family’s island getaway, a chain of rather revealing events occur which entangle the two with Hannah’s lesbian sister Iris (DeWitt). A tale of lost love, recovery, and friendship, Your Sister’s Sister features three incredibly dynamic performances from its leads and expertly succeeds at warming the cockles of your heart.
Set in the not so distant future — 2031 to be exact — Snowpiercer concerns a lucky group of survivors who took to living on a train after a failed climate change experiment killed all life on Earth. As would be the case if this sort of thing happened in real life, a deep class system develops, separating the poor train dwellers from the overly wealthy ones. Curtis, played by Chris Evans, has finally had enough of this tiered system and decides to work his way to the front of the train with the goal of finding a way to spread the wealth among everyone. Joined by a group of other lower class train dwellers, Curtis starts a revolution and, as expected, faces heavy resistance along the way. An incredibly entertaining action flick, it’s unbelievable this movie has yet to shed its underrated label.
“Weird” hardly begins to describe the Michael Fassbender-starring dramedy, Frank, but it at least gives you an idea of what to expect. Fassbender plays the titular Frank, the frontman of an experimental band named the Soronprfbs. While Frank is best described as an enigma, the strangest part about him is his decision to wear a papier-mache mask literally everywhere he goes. After aspiring songwriter Jon — played by Ex Machina‘s Domhnall Gleeson — decides to join the odd band, his desire to help the group shifts from endearing to money-driven, and his actions begin to tear at the very fabric of those around him. A wonderfully clever and, at times, heartfelt film that’s one of the very best hidden in Netflix’s stable of movies.
Starring Wagner Moura — now universally known for his role as Pablo Escobar in Netflix’s smash hit, Narcos — Elite Squad: The Enemy Within is not only one of the most obscure, underrated films on Netflix, it is arguably one of the best films the service has to offer. A sequel to 2007’s Elite Squad, the second installment concerns the efforts of Brazil’s Special Police Operations Squad, particularly its connections and relationships within the country’s political sector. Rife with gorgeous action scenes, superb dialogue, and incredible acting from its entire cast, Elite Squad: The Enemy Within is an absolute treat to watch. It’s no wonder the film remains Brazil’s highest grossing film of all-time.
Up-and-coming filmmaker Ryan Coogler (Creed) wrote and directed this 2013 gem starring Michael B. Jordan (The Wire, Creed) about the true story of the death of Bay Area native, Oscar Grant. Though Fruitvale Station serves as Coogler’s first foray into feature films, the movie took the film festival circuit by storm in 2013, earning him the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and Best First Film at Cannes. Concerning the flick itself, Jordan plays Grant, a 22-year-old man who was fatally shot by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police on New Years Day in 2009. Although the film starts at the time BART officials detain Grant and his friends, most of the movie serves as a flashback to the days leading up to his death. Ludwig Goransson — known mostly for his work with Childish Gambino — also scored Fruitvale Station to near perfection, helping to better craft a harrowing picture for this compelling and dramatic film.