Usually, these types of lists are dominated by character-driven indies, anything by the Duplass Brothers and/or documentaries. We like those films too, but we wanted to avoid replicating those lists as much as possible because those films are such an acquired taste. While there certainly are smaller films on this list, we tried to keep it as mainstream as possible. First of all, if you’re a film nut, there’s a really good chance that you’ve already discovered many of the hidden gems on Netflix. This is a list for film lovers who may not read hipster film blogs and may have overlooked some great films sitting right under their noses.
“Underrated” is a pretty subjective term. Most of the films on this list are actually rated quite highly by critics because, well…they’re good movies. Usually, if a film is rated poorly by a large number of critics, it tends to be rubbish. It’s science. The movies on this list are underrated by the average fan if only because they’re “underseen.” But these aren’t just great movies for cinephiles. These are great movies for everyone. Because not everyone is talking about them, the average joe (you) has missed them. Maybe they were lost in the pile of films released in their respective years or maybe they didn’t have the marketing budgets of the big Hollywood films. Maybe people, for whatever reason, have just put off watching these movies. Well, that stops now. You need to indulge yourself and watch the movies on this list. You won’t be disappointed. Here are the 15 Most Underrated Films on Netflix Right Now.
15. St. Vincent
For a movie with the quality of cast that St. Vincent has (Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, etc.), you would expect everyone to have seen the film by now, but that’s not the case. Why? Well, many critics have confused intentional sentiment for laziness these days, so it didn’t get the greatest of reviews. Apparently, every film these days needs to be so nuanced that it never makes its position clear. This is unfair to St. Vincent, which is actually restrained in how over-the-top the “feely goodsies” are. Not only that, but seeing Murray in this familiar and funny character is a welcome return for the comedy legend. Perhaps the only shock is the subdued version of McCarthy we get in the film, but why is that such a bad thing? Originality should never be mistaken for quality. The truth is, classic stories are classic for a reason. Sometimes, watching a familiar story can be as comforting as eating the same recipe over and over again. Similarly, sometimes a regular cheeseburger tastes a lot better than a deconstructed one.
Maybe it’s because the lead actor, Seann William Scott, is from a different era of comedy or maybe it’s because hockey isn’t as well-loved in all US markets as baseball, football, or soccer, but Goon is criminally underrated. In the last 10 years, there are maybe five other sports films which hold up as well as Goon, and none of them are as funny. Critics will argue that the film is too bloody, violent, and vulgar to be loved, but that’s part of the film’s message. Fighting is a dying piece of hockey that was once celebrated and this film finds the romance in that dying art. The same ones who call for Goon to tone down its violence are the same people that the film is speaking to. There’s a pulse in this sports comedy. It’ll get your blood pumping and your brain moving.
In an open love letter to 1960’s thrillers, Mickey Keating directs the stylish Darling in such a way that feels both old and modern. Lauren Ashley Carter stars in the film about a young caretaker who takes a new job in a supposedly-haunted mansion as she slips into madness. The film is dark and deliberately paced but offers all the suspense and jumps you could want from a thriller. There’s a part of you that knows where the film wants to go the entire time, but it feels like a you’re visiting a museum of old films, so you both expect and revel in seeing things you’ve seen before.
12. The Impossible
For a film that made $180 million at the box office and got plenty of award buzz, The Impossible still seems to slip past many casual film fans. For whatever reason, this unique disaster flick wasn’t picked up by viewers like it should have been. While it’s not your typical summer blockbuster film, for good reason, it can certainly fulfill a fan’s urge to see a brainless popcorn flick. There’s plenty of action, thrills and suspense, but it also features incredible acting and deals with some powerful themes. In a world that 2012 makes almost $800 million, we have to be able to find some room for disaster films with a heart like The Impossible. If you haven’t taken the time to watch it yet, you’ve been missing out.
11. The Fundamentals Of Caring
While the harshest of critics will condemn this film for being predictable, sometimes predictability is welcomed, especially if you’re in the mood for a feel-good comedy about redemption and personal growth. It’s possible you’ve seen a movie very similar to the Fundamentals of Caring, but don’t let that stop you from spending some time with some truly lovable characters, played by Paul Rudd and Craig Roberts. The film never pussyfoots around the topic of illness and mortality, dealing with difficult issues with some dark humor. Still, The Fundamentals of Caring is easy to love. If you’re looking for shocking twists and an empty feeling in the pit of your stomach, then this is not the movie for you. However, if you want some laughs and a bellyful of goodness, this is definitely a safe choice.
By now, many people have caught on to the sweet little film called Chef. It was crammed in the summer blockbuster season in 2014 and was overlooked by many. While this is a character-driven comedy, it never tries to be smarter than it is. It’s charming and the cast is excellent. The film follows Jon Favreau‘s character as he takes his cooking out on the road with his family. While the film never offers too many intense surprises, it never becomes entirely predictable either. Basically, it’s just a feel-good movie that everyone can enjoy. Written, directed, and led by Favreau himself, this is a movie that plays out like the passion project it is and will make you like Favreau even more than you probably already did.
9. Mr. Nobody
In a film that deals with choice and consequence, Mr. Nobody is one of the more complex films on this list. With that being said, this is a film that looks complicated and can get bogged down at times, but it’s never incomprehensible. Some critics have suggested that its too convoluted, but they probably get confused often. The confusing elements are meant to be there. The unraveling process is timed well and executed nicely. In the end, the story is quite clear and the viewer never feels lost or ripped off for not having tracked every dizzying narrative in the web. Because the movie’s concept is challenging, it suffered at the box office and that has led people to believe it’s not a great film. IT IS! Jared Leto is wonderful and there are many other performances throughout the film that will make this beautifully-shot film more engaging than you would expect from something so plot-driven. Just ignore the cries of complexity. This following is easy in the places where it’s most important. Everything else is intentional. Let the film wash over you and you’ll love it.
8. The Overnight
A film about an adult play date that could have gone too raunchy or too silly, The Overnight does neither. Don’t be scared away by the genre. This s*x comedy is never what you think it is, twisting and turning through a quick 79 minutes of uncanniness. Led by a strong cast of Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, and Jason Schwartzman, The Overnight borders and even visits the really weird, but it never stays there long enough to make the audience weirded out, tired, or even bored. At times, it feels experimental but it’s blended nicely with the mainstream comedy quality, allowing the director, Patrick Brice, to play with the audience’s expectations. It’s a s*x comedy that everyone can enjoy and everyone should enjoy. Maybe not kids. Everyone else.
Tallulah is the type of film you expect to find on a list like this, but we want to try and separate it from other films like it. The movie follows Ellen Page‘s character as she cares for a toddler that isn’t hers, while trying to connect with her ex-boyfriend’s mom (Allison Janney). The typical Hollywood film would approach this with boldly-drawn characters who fall into very specific categories. We can call these caricatures to make it easier. In Tallulah, each of the protagonists are completely flawed, but they’re incredibly well-acted and they never go far enough to one side to become an extreme. This allows them to occupy an interesting and ambiguous space that we don’t see very often in movies. Tallulah also isn’t nearly as pretentious as many indie films feel to mainstream viewers. There’s also a lot of charm and wit in this movie. While some of the issues in it are challenging, you won’t need to book time off work to melt in a depression after watching it.
6. Fruitvale Station
Many film viewers tend to watch and judge films based only on the destination. If we know the ending of the story, we ignore the film. This means that films like Fruitvale Station, the dramatic tragic true story of Bay-Area resident, Oscar Grant, are overlooked because the destination is known beforehand. We’ve been so bogged down with twists, shocks, and revelations in recent years that there’s been a movement away from films that showcase the journey. This is Fruitvale Station. This is a film that makes you care about something that you should care about. We love the escape that films give us, but sometimes it’s important to remember that many of us spend the majority of our lives already escaping.
If you’re a big horror or thriller film fan, you’ve probably heard of Hush, watched it and loved it. For everyone else, Hush is a film that slid under the radar. Maybe you figured it was like every other tired home invasion film out there or maybe you thought it was a low-budget take on the genre. It’s neither, so check it out. Directed by Mike Flanagan, one of the best directors in horror right now (Oculus and Ouija: Origin of Evil), Hush starts with an interesting concept—the invasion of a deaf woman’s home in the woods—but adds in intelligent characters that are rarely seen in these films. Throughout the movie, so many genre tropes are either blatantly undercut or sidestepped gracefully, so that it feels original and refreshing for the entire ride.
4. Short Term 12
It’s often true that many moviegoers avoid watching films with too many raw emotions in them. Most of us want to escape from our unwanted feelings, not drown in them. For that reason, Short Term 12 hasn’t been seen by nearly enough eyes. It’s also true that at times, Short Term 12 comes dangerously close to being too emotional, like so many indie films of late. But don’t let the fear of facing difficult feelings prevent you from watching this film. There is plenty of love here. Short Term 12 is a close look at some troubled young people and the caring people who work with them. Brie Larson, in a pre-Oscar role, is phenomenal. She proves that not only is she deserving of the Academy’s recognition for her acting but that she is one of the best in the industry. While on the surface, Short Term 12 looks like a heavy and overbearing drudge through too many of the feels, it’s an experience that anyone with a heart will be better for.
3. The Wailing
Unless you’re the type that likes reading subtitles in foreign films or you’re such a hipster that you just watch them without subtitles, feeling the words instead of understanding them, most people skip over foreign films. The Wailing is foreign, but hear us out. This is a must-see film for anyone who has ever liked a horror film. If you’re an aficionado and haven’t treated yourself yet, get on it immediately. Ignore the 2.5-hour length. This is a long film but it never feels stretched. Every minute is put to good use. South Korean horror is one of the better subsections of the horror genre and The Wailing immediately rises to the top of that list. It’s more than a foreign horror film. The Wailing is probably the best horror film of 2016. It may just be one of the best horror films in the last 10 years.
2. Sing Street
Many people have looked at this film, an Irish musical starring children, and kept on browsing. Please go back and reconsider. Not only is this a film that makes musicals tolerable for those who get fidgety watching two hours of singing and music, but Sing Street is easily one of the best films of any genre in 2016. The soundtrack is spectacular and the characters are incredibly well-drawn. This is a coming-of-age story mixed in with a love story, about brotherhood, young love, and the love of music. Don’t assume that you aren’t the target demographic because Sing Street has something for all humans. The period and the setting never feel distant and it’s a whole lot of fun. Really, we just can’t say enough good things about this film.
1. The Invitation
The Invitation is a film that is so much more than its premise. As is often the case, psychological thrillers are the result of their big, final twist. If the payoff is great, the film is considered great. That’s not what we have in The Invitation. Sure, there’s a lead-up and a twist of sorts, but it’s the burn, the suspense, the paranoia, and the darkness that is the true payoff. Turn the lights down, press play, and let yourself get lost in the emotions of this film. There’s something going on here at the core of this one that allows viewers to really experience the thrills by proxy. The characters are big and bold without ever being overbearing. You don’t need to be a lover of horror and thriller films to enjoy this. It’s never as scary or as shocking as the marketing would have you believe, and it’s better for it. This is a dinner party film that will stick with you if you let it.