10 criminally underrated movies on Netflix you owe it to yourself to watch

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, which today offers one of the most diverse selections of movies and TV shows anywhere. As large as the collection is, however, it can be difficult to find a movie outside of your normal tastes. Netflix has plenty of big 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 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, and while our list has undoubtedly left a few out, it’s a good start. So pop some popcorn and nestle into your favorite spot on the couch: Here are the most underrated movies on Netflix currently streaming. Also, if you’re looking for a more robust list, check out our picks for the best movies currently streaming on the platform.

Catfight

Blood-splattering street fights may not be the first images you think of when you see Grey’s Anatomy’s Sandra Oh and John Q‘s 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.

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The Transfiguration

This Michael O’Shea-directed horror film is not your average vampire flick. In the film, teenager Milo (Eric Ruffin) indulges a fascination with mythology and lore of vampires that transforms into a taste for humans. This film is an intriguing slow burn, showing the stages of Ruffin’s transfiguration in meticulous detail, which creates an almost voyeuristic feel. We see him binge-watch animal slaughter videos, create a journal of his rules for hunting people, and check off days on his calendar before his first hunt for human delicacies. The emotionlessness in Ruffin’s face makes his performance truly mesmerizing.

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Kid Cannabis

Anyone who told you stoners were lazy must have never seen the death-defying lengths a group of teenagers took to smuggle marijuana from Canada to Idaho in the 2000s. Based on a true story, Kid Cannabis is a comedy-drama hybrid about nerdy Nate Norman’s quest to smoke the best bud that led him to sit atop a $34 million weed operation. Jonathan Daniel Brown plays Norman, and he turns Norman’s nerdy social awkwardness and obsessive compulsions into a hilarious drug dealer you grow to fear. With its biographical tone, stylized look, and morally ambiguous but hilarious main character acting as the narrator, this film is the Wolf of Wall Street for the pot culture, and a must-stream movie on Netflix.

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The Phenom

Ethan Hawke and Paul Giamatti star in the Noah Buschel-directed film about high school baseball pitching prodigy Hopper Gibson dealing with the pressures of being dubbed a phenom. Hawke plays Hopper’s father, Hopper Sr., an overbearing father trying to live out his glory years through his son in a way that would make LaVar Ball look like Full House‘s Danny Tanner. Giamatti’s penchant for dry sarcasm, peppered with sage wisdom that makes him a vicious United States attorney on Showtime’s Billions is on full display as sports therapist Dr. Mobley trying to help Hopper Jr. get his talent back. Like many of the best sports films, The Phenom excels at using the sport at hand as a plot device to explore internal and familial battles we can all relate to, regardless of the sport.

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Buster’s Mal Heart

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 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. 

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The American Side

In The American Side, people are fighting over Tesla, and not because they want the latest and greatest electric car. Nikola Tesla’s notebook of unrealized inventions is being sought after in order to create a menacing device. The movie’s cast is impressive, including Matthew Broderick’s excellent turn as the idiosyncratic Borden Chase. But Greg Stuhr, who plays no-nonsense private investigator Charlie Paczynski, is the driving force of this film, delivering memorable quotes like, “That’s a gene pool screaming for chlorine” with the temerity of a 1920s gumshoe. The film excels at giving homage to the crime-noir aesthetic of the past, without feeling dated.

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Gold

How Matthew McConaughey did not get an Oscar nomination for his remarkable acting job as miner/businessman Kenny Wells in Gold is beyond us. This 2016 film loosely based on the 1993 gold mining scandal features some of McConaughey’s most engrossingly subversive work since True Detective, portraying a man so desperate to keep his family’s legacy alive he’ll look for gold where no one believes it exists. The dialogue-driven film clocks in at a hefty two hours, but Friday Night Lights writing duo Patrick Massett and John Zinman’s screenplay is gripping enough to keep things moving.

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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 past and learn to love someone new. Regina Hall, Jessica Williams, and Stephanie Allyne round out the film’s impressive ensemble cast. 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.

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Frank

“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 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, Frank is truly a unique experience.

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Fruitvale Station

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 the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and Best First Film at Cannes. 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 — scored Fruitvale Station to near perfection, helping to better craft a harrowing landscape for this compelling film.

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