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The most underrated movies on Netflix right now

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.

Looking for something else to watch? Check out our guides to the best movies on Netflix, the best horror movies on Netflix, and the best action movies on Netflix, too! 

6 Balloons (2018)

6 Balloons
66 %
Genre Drama
Stars Abbi Jacobson, Dave Franco, Tim Matheson
Directed by Marja-Lewis Ryan
Against her wishes, a woman named Katie (Abbi Jacobson) is forced to become her brother’s keeper in 6 Balloons. Seth (Dave Franco) is hopelessly addicted to heroin, and all Katie can do for her brother is find a rehab center that will admit him. This turns out to be much more difficult than she imagined, both because of Seth’s insurance as well as his inability to stop using. Katie knows that Seth’s struggles are dragging her down, but she can’t prevent it from damaging her relationship with her parents or with her boyfriend, Jack (Dawan Owens).

Barry (2016)

72 %
Genre Drama
Stars Devon Terrell, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ashley Judd
Directed by Vikram Gandhi
Former President Barack Obama’s college life is explored in Barry, the film that shares the name he once went by. Devon Terrell stars as Barry, a young man who is unsure of his place in the world due to his mixed race heritage. No matter where he goes, Barry just doesn’t seem to fit in with either half of his racial identity. Barry’s college girlfriend, Charlotte Baughman (Anya Taylor-Joy), tries to understand him, but he remains emotionally remote. Yet ultimately, this is a journey that Barry will have to complete on his own before he can truly accept who he is.

Cop Car (2015)

Cop Car
66 %
r 86m
Genre Thriller
Stars Kevin Bacon, James Freedson-Jackson, Hays Wellford
Directed by Jon Watts
True story: Cop Car is the reason that director Jon Watts got to direct all three of the MCU Spider-Man movies. But it’s also a great little thriller in its own right. Two kids, Travis (James Freedson-Jackson) and Harrison (Hays Wellford), stumble upon an apparently abandoned cop car and use it to go on a joy ride. Unfortunately, the car in question belongs to Sheriff Kretzer (Kevin Bacon), a crooked cop who is as bad as they come. The sheriff soon learns that the kids are in his car, and he’s more than willing to kill them to protect the secret he left in the vehicle.

Hold the Dark (2018) new

Hold the Dark
63 %
Genre Thriller, Mystery, Crime
Stars Jeffrey Wright, Alexander Skarsgård, James Badge Dale
Directed by Jeremy Saulnier
Hold the Dark is a thriller that goes to some unexpected places. Jeffrey Wright stars as Russell Core, an expert on wolves who is summoned to a remote Alaskan village where children have gone missing. Medora Slone (Riley Keough) insists that her son was taken by wolves with the others, but Russell remains unconvinced. Meanwhile, Medora’s husband, Vernon Slone (Alexander Skarsgård), returns home a changed man … and not for the better. Has Vernon’s wartime experience turned him into a crazed murderer? Or is he possessed by an evil spirit?

Mystery Men (1999)

Mystery Men
65 %
pg-13 121m
Genre Adventure, Fantasy, Action, Comedy, Science Fiction
Stars Ben Stiller, Geoffrey Rush, Claire Forlani
Directed by Kinka Usher
Mystery Men assembled such a ridiculously loaded cast of comedic talent that it was almost impossible to live up to its critical potential. While it wasn’t received particularly well, it has a second cult life, thanks to the massive onset of superhero movies in the decades following its release. Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear) is the resident superhero of Champion City, but when he’s captured by Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush), the city’s weirdest, most off-brand amateur crime fighters take up the mantle to save the day. Unfortunately, their superpowers, ranging from silverware throwing to deadly flatulence, aren’t exactly assets.

House Party (1990)

House Party
76 %
r 100m
Genre Comedy, Drama
Stars Christopher Reid, Robin Harris, Christopher Martin
Directed by Reginald Hudlin
House Party is one of those movies you recognize when you see it while flipping through channels in the middle of the night, but you might not really consider watching. Well, don’t watch it with commercials. Watch it on Netflix because it’s a classic that has become somewhat forgotten by modern audiences. Play’s (Christopher Martin) parents are out of town, and he plans on throwing the ultimate house party. His best friend, Kid (Christopher Reid), is dying to go, but when he gets into a fight at school, his strict father grounds him. Unwilling to miss his chance to hang with Sydney (Tisha Campbell-Martin), the hottest girl in school, Kid sneaks out to get to Play’s house, only to face one absurd obstacle after another.

Chef (2014)

68 %
r 114m
Genre Comedy
Stars Jon Favreau, Sofía Vergara, Emjay Anthony
Directed by Jon Favreau
Jon Favreau established himself as a first-rate action and adventure director with Iron Man, The Lion King, and The Mandalorian. However, Chef was an opportunity for Favreau to re-embrace his indie roots by writing, directing, and starring in his own flick. Favreau plays Carl Casper, a chef at a high-end restaurant who seemingly ruins his career after a social media feud with a food critic named Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt). Subsequently, Carl rediscovers his passion for cooking while running a food truck with his son, Percy (Emjay Anthony), and his former line cook, Martin (John Leguizamo). Some of Favreau’s Marvel friends also have cameo roles in the film.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

Hunt for the Wilderpeople
81 %
pg-13 101m
Genre Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Stars Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rima Te Wiata
Directed by Taika Waititi
Speaking of Marvel, another MCU director, Taika Waititi, made his name with quirky comedies shot in New Zealand like Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Julian Dennison stars as Ricky Baker, a kid who has been shuffled around in the foster system. Ricky finally finds a home with his foster aunt, Bella Faulkner (Rima Te Wiata), even though he doesn’t exactly get along with Bella’s husband, Hector (Sam Neill). When Bella suddenly dies, Hector and Julian bond and find common ground even as an unscrupulous social worker accuses Hector of kidnapping his young charge. And rather than abandon Hector, Julian accompanies him on a journey deep into the wilderness.

The Polka King (2017)

The Polka King
65 %
pg-13 95m
Genre Comedy
Stars Jack Black, Jenny Slate, Jason Schwartzman
Directed by Maya Forbes
The Polka King is based on the real story of Jan Lewan (Jack Black), the leader of a polka band who has become a legend … but not because of his musical skills. Instead, Jan’s talent lies in his ability to convince gullible people to invest in his band — so many people that it becomes a massive Ponzi scheme that soon envelops all aspects of his life. Jason Schwartzman co-stars as Mickey Pizzazz, Jan’s bandmate and best friend. Mickey sees the proverbial train wreck coming before it happens, but he can’t seem to abandon his longtime buddy regardless of Jan’s impossible promises.
The cast of Radium Girls.

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
102 minutes

Watch on Netflix

The Florida Project

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
111 minutes

Watch on Netflix

The Bank Job

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
112 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Berlin Syndrome

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
116 minutes

Watch on Netflix


Wheelman (2017)

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
82 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Hail, Caesar!

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
106 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Take Me

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
83 minutes

Watch on Netflix


Mindhorn (2017)

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
89 minutes

Watch on Netflix

The Long Dumb Road

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
90 minutes

Watch on Netflix


Catfight (2016)

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
96 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Buster's Mal Heart

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
96 minutes

Watch on Netflix

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