If there’s a gospel for movies, it goes something like this: People can’t live on blockbusters alone. Action, superheroes, and horror flicks may pack the theaters, but they don’t always challenge the mind or tug at the heartstrings. That’s where Netflix comes in to fill the gap. While the premiere streaming service has blockbusters of its own, it also has a dazzling and diverse lineup of hidden gems that, even though many received great critical reviews, flew under the radar from wide audiences during their original release. This has given these films a new lease on life and a chance to be discovered by a receptive audience. To give yourself a head start in this category, check out our list of the most underrated movies on Netflix.
Radium Girls (2018)
Radium Girls takes place more than 100 years ago, with Joey King and Abby Quinn as sisters Bessie and Josephine Cavallo, respectively. Both of the Cavallo sisters are employed by American Radium in a factory where they paint watch dials with self-luminous paint. When Josephine becomes sickened after working at the plant, she and Bessie discover that the paint is radioactive and slowly killing the women on the factory line. The sisters also enlist allies for a legal fight against the factory, even though the odds against them are astronomical.
Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Stars: Joey King, Abby Quinn, Cara Seymour, Scott Shepard, Susan Heyward
Director: Lydia Dean Pilcher, Ginny Mohler
Runtime: 102 minutes
The Florida Project (2017)
Disney World may be billed as “the happiest place on Earth,” but the adjacent properties aren’t quite as cheerful. The Florida Project takes a compelling look at children living in poverty while in the shadow of Disney’s massive Orlando theme park. Willem Dafoe stars as Bobby Hicks, the manager of The Magic Castle Motel. Bobby feels protective toward Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) and the other children who live at the hotel. However, Moonee’s mother, Halley (Bria Vinaite), suffers a series of setbacks that threaten her ability to keep Moonee. With no way to escape her increasingly bleak existence, Moonee embraces the illusion of happiness even as the life she knows crumbles around her.
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Stars: Willem Dafoe, Brooklynn Prince, Bria Vinaite, Valeria Cotto, Christopher Rivera
Director: Sean Baker
Runtime: 111 minutes
The Bank Job (2008)
The Bank Job was inspired by a real bank robbery from 1971. The film is not exactly a historical record, but it is very entertaining. When Martine Love (Saffron Burrows) is blackmailed into retrieving incriminating photographs from a safe deposit box, she turns to her friend, Terry Leather (Jason Statham), to put a crew together. It turns out that robbing the bank is the easy part. It’s what comes after that pushes Terry and his allies to the limit: Not only is the government after them, but the criminal underworld is too.
Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Stars: Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Richard Lintern, Keeley Hawes, Stephen Campbell Moore
Director: Roger Donaldson
Runtime: 112 minutes
Berlin Syndrome (2017)
In Berlin Syndrome, Teresa Palmer stars as Clare Havel, a young woman who is backpacking her way through Europe. In Germany, Clare has a fling with Andi Werner (Max Riemelt) and assumes that it will simply be a temporary thing. To her horror, Clare discovers that Andi has locked her in his apartment and refuses to let her leave. Clare also finds evidence that suggests that she isn’t his first victim. As Clare attempts to escape, she navigates an increasingly complex relationship with Andi. And everyone who comes close to discovering Clare’s predicament suddenly finds themselves in grave danger.
Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Stars: Teresa Palmer, Max Riemelt, Matthias Habich, Emma Bading, Elmira Bahrami
Director: Cate Shortland
Runtime: 116 minutes
One of the most unique things about Wheelman is that Frank Grillo’s title character absolutely refuses to give his name. Regardless, we do get a glimpse of the Wheelman’s life outside of the car through his daughter, Katie (Caitlin Carmichael), and his ex-wife, Jessica (Wendy Moniz). When the Wheelman is hired to be a getaway driver for a bank robbery, he soon discovers that his clients plan to kill him at the end of his ride. Now, the Wheelman has to determine who he can trust and how he can escape with his life as deadly criminals converge to claim the stolen money in his possession.
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Stars: Frank Grillo, Garret Dillahunt, Caitlin Carmichael, Wendy Moniz
Director: Jeremy Rush
Runtime: 82 minutes
Hail, Caesar! (2016)
Joel and Ethan Coen’s movies rarely disappoint, but audiences just didn’t respond to Hail, Caesar! when it was released. That’s unfortunate because it’s another sharp Coen brothers comedy about real-life Hollywood fixer Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin). Eddie’s life is a blur of constant crises, from actress DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) and her scandalous pregnancy to the kidnapping of star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) by disgruntled communist screenwriters. Eddie is also dogged by twin gossip columnists, Thora Thacker and Thessaly Thacker, both of whom are played by the great Tilda Swinton.
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Stars: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Runtime: 106 minutes
Take Me (2017)
In Take Me, Ray Moody (Pat Healy) has an unusual business model. Clients pay him to experience a simulated kidnapping. Ray’s latest client, Anna St. Blair (Taylor Schilling), wants Ray to go a step further and get physical with her. However, when the kidnapping actually occurs, Anna claims that she has no knowledge about Ray or his business. Ray is forced to question whether Anna is playing mind games with him or if he has been duped into committing an actual crime. And if the police catch Ray in the act, then he may not be the only one to pay the price for his actions.
Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Stars: Pat Healy, Taylor Schilling, Alycia Delmore
Director: Pat Healy
Runtime: 83 minutes
Did you ever watch the hit ‘80s detective series Mindhorn? It’s like Knight Rider, except the cop, Bruce Mindhorn, had a cybernetic eye that let him see the truth. Don’t worry, it’s only a thing within the world of the Mindhorn film. Julian Barratt plays Richard Thorncroft, the washed-up actor who played Mindhorn in the TV show. In the present, a murderer named Paul Melly (Russell Tovey) insists upon only speaking with “Detective Mindhorn.” Richard eagerly jumps at the chance to capitalize on his former fame. However, the case is more complicated than Richard suspects, and he may have a chance to be more than just a performer.
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Stars: Julian Barratt, Essie Davis, Kenneth Branagh, Andrea Riseborough, Steve Coogan
Director: Sean Foley
Runtime: 89 minutes
The Long Dumb Road (2018)
As the title suggests, The Long Dumb Road is a road movie featuring Tony Revolori as Nathan, an inexperienced young man who is leaving home for the first time to begin studying at an art school. After Nathan’s car breaks down, a mechanic named Richard (Jason Mantzoukas) fixes the problem and requests a ride with him. From there, Richard tries to be Nathan’s guide in his brave new world, but it’s really Richard who needs direction and guidance. Their shared misadventures test their newfound friendship, but this road is anything but dumb.
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Stars: Tony Revolori, Jason Mantzoukas, Taissa Farmiga, Grace Gummer
Director: Hannah Fidell
Runtime: 90 minutes
Blood-splattered street fights may not be the first images you think of when you see Killing Eve‘s Sandra Oh and indie film star Anne Heche, but they will be after Catfight. In this odd comedy, Oh and Heche play estranged college friends Veronica and Ashley, respectively, who essentially trade lives after a chance encounter at a birthday party leads to a vicious fist fight between the two. Catfight does a wonderful job of mining humor out of ostensibly mundane situations. If nothing else, Catfight is worth a stream solely based on how hilariously gruesome and bloody the fist fights between mild-mannered adults are choreographed.
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Stars: Sandra Oh, Anne Heche, Alicia Silverstone, Amy Hill
Director: Onur Tukel
Runtime: 96 minutes
Buster’s Mal Heart (2016)
Put simply, if you like the mental acrobatics needed to follow along with one Mr. Robot episode, then Buster’s Mal Heart is perfect for you. Mr. Robot and Bohemian Rhapsody star and poster boy for digital anarchy Rami Malek plays hotel concierge Buster, who has similar objections to conventional living as Malek’s character from Mr. Robot. The storyline is not linear, with director Sarah Adina Smith doing an expert job of placing you in Buster’s deteriorating mind as the film constantly jumps between his different mental states and odd situations. Buster’s Mal Heart will bend your mind in the most enjoyable ways.
Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Stars: Rami Malek, DJ Qualls, Kate Lyn Sheil
Director: Sarah Adina Smith
Runtime: 96 minutes
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