If you’re anything like me, Netflix can be a source of entertainment, or a source of major frustration. The movie and TV series library seems immense and complete when you first sign up, but the day inevitably comes when you feel like you just can’t find anything good to watch…ever. It’s great when you’re knees-deep in a series. It’s great when a coworker recommends a great movie and you can tune in immediately. The tough part? The wasted time spent scrolling through options, not able to select something because you’ve either seen it before, or it has a one star rating. The star rating on Netflix, by the way, is the most unrepresentative scale I’ve ever encountered for rating movies. Do not trust it! One angry Larry can ruin everything by giving one star to a film he watched for 3 minutes and gave up on.
The key to a happy Netflix experience is taking risks. Not all of those one stars films are actually one-star quality! A lot of the International and Independent films are amazing; we can’t neglect them! Sometimes looking into an unexplored category can lead you to beautiful discoveries (I guess this is true of life, as well, not just Netflix).
The winter is cold and long, and Netflix is there to lend support and protection. Take a deep breath, release the resentment you’ve felt towards ‘ol Netty and believe that the glory days can make a comeback. I am here to help you out of your rut, with suggestions of 15 movies you probably overlooked or didn’t notice were there to begin with. These are 15 Underrated Netflix Movies That Are Worth Watching.
15. The Burning Plain (Drama, Romance)
The Burning Plain unfolds like a typical Guillermo Arriaga film: two overlapping stories being told simultaneously. This family drama has a ton of A-listers. Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lawrence and Kim Basinger all deliver outstanding, emotional performances. The story is about a woman (Theron) who struggles to develop a relationship with her estranged, young daughter. The history of her own haunted past comes out as the story progresses, and we find out what demons she has been battling for most of her teenage and adult life. Throw in some infidelity, lies and denial- and you have yourself a pretty heavy movie- but one that is worth watching.
14. Chef (Comedy)
This is a really fun, feel-good movie that centers around the life of Chef Casper. When his restaurant job robs him of his creativity and passion, he decides to venture into new territory: starting his own food truck business. The cooking scenes will make you want to eat, so make sure to watch this with plenty of snacks or some takeout. Chef Casper (Jon Favreau) is pretty hilarious and the movie packs in plenty of laughs. The secondary theme of the film is about family. As the plot unfolds, we witness our protagonist’s struggles to bond with his young son, while maintaining an amicable relationship with his ex-wife and juggling a sort-of girlfriend. The cast includes superstars Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara and Robert Downey Jr. This film is for anyone who knows the struggle of having a passion that is n0t being exercised, or…for all the foodies out there!
13. A Girl Like Her (Drama)
A little on the cheesy side, this film follows the story of a 16-year-old bully victim, Jessica. Despite the acting being subpar, the subject matter is super relevant: bullying in schools, especially among teenage girls, is a reality experienced by many. This movie, filmed documentary-style, sheds light on this global epidemic. Avery, Jessica’s former friend, spends over a year savagely bullying Jessica after the two have a falling out. Jessica, in turn, confides in her friend Brian, who happens to have a video camera, and the two decide to document the awful treatment that Avery has been subjecting Jessica to. Avery encourages Jessica to kill herself, and Jessica attempts to do so by taking a ton of pills. When she ends up in a coma, the truth behind her suicide attempt comes out. Watch this when you’re feeling like changing the world or speaking out about injustice. Great message that should be broadcast to a tween audience entering high school.
12. LuTo (Romance, Drama)
This Mexican independent short film follows the relationship of Luisa and Tomas, in non-chronological order. We open with a clearly unhappy duo, and travel back in time to review what has transpired in their two-year relationship to make things so rocky. The film is far from a masterpiece, but it does have a nice flow and keeps the viewers curiosity piqued throughout the 60-minute running time. Yes, it’s short and sweet, and that’s perhaps what keeps the film inside the parameters of “pretty good”. Highly relatable for anyone who has struggled with fears of infidelity and broken trust in a relationship. This film is not afraid to show the vulnerability that comes with young love. The filmmaker skipped the sugar-coating and dove right into the realities of how relationships can go from honeymoon-phase to borderline-breakup-phase in just a short time. Original film is in Spanish and can be viewed with subtitles.
11. Prisoners (suspense, thriller)
Admittedly, Prisoners is not really that under-rated, just under-watched. IMDB gave it a score of 8.1/10, and for good reason. This movie is freaking good. The psychological thriller takes us on a dark ride through the mind of a father who is struggling to deal with the abduction of his young daughter. Hugh Jackman unleashes his inner lunatic in what could possibly be the best role he has ever been cast in. Jake Gyllenhaal‘s performance as the lead detective on the case is absolutely phenomenal. The superb acting, paired with a creepy as hell plot, makes for a rollercoaster of a film that will leave you feeling tingly all over. I can’t say too much more without spoiling the experience, but let’s just say, after watching this movie I had trouble sleeping because I was so freaked out. If you like disturbing, creepy feels, this movie is for you.
10. Love Me No More (International drama, romance)
This film follows the unravelling, midlife crisis of 40-something Antoine Méliot. As a successful business and family man, Antoine seems to have it all. A gorgeous house, a beautiful wife and no shortage of money. When his wife spots him with a mysterious woman at a restaurant and accuses him of having an affair, Antoine goes absolutely batty and descends into a self-sabotaging frenzy. His behaviour goes from poised to erratic over one life-changing weekend in which he alienates his wife and kids, offends his friends and mocks his coworkers. The story evolves and we slowly start to question what is at the root of this craziness; surely there is more going on than an affair. Antoine eventually flees to Ireland to reconnect with his estranged father, and the explanation for his anguish is uncovered. The original film is in French and will need to be viewed with subtitles if you aren’t fluent, but that’s a small price to pay for this great movie.
9. Safe Haven (Thriller, Romance)
This movie feels so much like a Nicholas Sparks‘ inspired film, but with a little more edge. A woman on the run seeks to escape her abusive husband by fleeing to a small, coastal town in North Carolina. Starting her life over under a new name, with a new look, she inadvertently meets and falls for the cute guy who works at the corner store. Typical Americana-style, coastal romance ensues. It’s borderline too cheesy, but just stays within the comfort zone. The pace picks up when Katie’s (that’s her name, btw) estranged husband goes on a countrywide search to find her and bring her home. Not to worry, Josh Duhamel is close by to help protect his runaway queen. A feel-good, cheesy but nice kind of movie to watch when you’re feeling lovey-dovey or just want to check out two very hot people falling in love.
8. Sin Nombre (Crime, Drama)
This is a heavy movie not for the faint of heart. A harsh look at the reality of life for South American immigrants seeking a better life in the United States, this film follows the life of teen Sayra as she travels Northbound from her Honduras home. Her dreams of living in America, and of being reunited with her father who is already there, motivate her to depart on the very dangerous journey. On her way, she meets a Mexican gangster who has fled a dangerous criminal past and is subsequently exposed to a life of fear and violence that she had otherwise been exempt from. The two develop a deeply protective and romantic relationship as they travel aboard freight trains to their destination. A coming of age story set amidst a tragic reality, this film is equal parts hopeful as it is devastating.
7. The Pill (Comedy)
The Pill is a fun, light-hearted comedy about a one night stand gone wrong…or right, depending on how you look at it. Fred and Mindy are forced to spend an entire day together in the aftermath of having unprotected sex together the night before. Mindy, a sort-of-crazy but also sort of fun girl, flip-flops on whether or not she will take the morning after pill. Fred, not wanting to take any chances, decides he must babysit her during the day to make sure that she takes both doses of the pill. They end up having a very eventful day, filled with highs and lows. Packing in a few weeks worth of dates into one day, the duo perfectly personify young love. In the end, you will be rooting for them to get together and become a couple. A lot of fun, with some serious undertones, The Pill is a feel-good, laugh out loud film that will leave you feeling warm and cozy inside.
6. Afternoon Delight (Drama, Comedy)
Rachel is a stay at home mom whose relationship with her husband is losing its sexy spark. In an effort to rekindle their interest in each other, the pair visit a strip club during an adult date night. Here, Rachel meets and becomes fascinated with stripper McKenna. She revisits the strip club, solo, shortly after and develops a relationship with McKenna. Hiring her as the family’s nanny, Rachel is forced to face a harsh reality: McKenna is not only a stripper, but a sex worker, who is only 19 years old. Determined to help her escape the life, while also strangely fixated on this world she knows so little about, Rachel is faced with one personal dilemma after the other. The movie ends when Rachel is forced to face her marital problems for once and for all. A good watch with a fun cast. This one is worth checking out if you like comedies with deep undertones.
5. 6 Years (Drama)
Ah, young love! This movie captures the essence of what it feels like to be in love at 16 years old, when you really can’t imagine ever being with a person other than your high school sweetie. 6 Years offers the story of Melanie and Dan, two lovers who have spent close to -you guessed it- six years together. A conflict of interests arises when Dan starts to show some interest in pursuing things other than his relationship with Melanie. He dreams of making it big with his band and moving to NYC. Melanie, on the other hand, will stop at nothing to keep Dan where he is; with her in their routine life. A typical power struggle ensues, and we are left to wonder- is love enough? A cutesy movie that will make you feel nostalgic for your teen years.
4. Four Brothers (Action, Drama)
OK, this was super cheesy, I won’t lie, but it’s still watchable. In fact, sometimes the cheesiness makes a movie more entertaining to watch! This is one of those cases. Four brothers return to their hometown to take on the thugs that killed their adoptive mother in a botched robbery. A true revenge film, this movie packs in a ton of action and the acting is much better than I had expected for Mark Wahlberg and company. The music was fun and added to the high energy performances. The fun thing about this movie is that it is not to be taken too seriously. Despite having a heavy storyline, the film is light-hearted and the focus is more on how much the brothers love each other (and their deceased momma). It’s actually pretty cute. Watch when you don’t want too much emotional intensity, but are still up for some revenge.
3. Take Me Home (Drama, Romance)
I was a huge Parenthood fan, so I had to watch this movie once I saw that it starred Sam Jaeger. He wrote it, directed it and starred in it – pretty impressive! Take Me Home is the story of taxi-driver Thom, and taxi-taker Claire. Claire (played by Sam’s real-life wife, Amber Jaeger, which makes it even cuter) jumps into Thom’s cab when she gets a call that her father is very sick in a California hospital. Impulsively, she tells him to just drive. They are in Pennsylvania. The movie follows their cross-country journey, and their eventual opening up to each other about their lives. The taxi ride becomes a sort of therapeutic journey for the both of them, where they are forced to face their demons, together, and alone. A real masterpiece for those who appreciate good film-writing and acting.
2. The Housemaid (Thriller)
This South Korean thriller delivers a mysterious story of love, lust and infidelity. Eun-yi is a young housemaid for a wealthy family. The couple, Hae-ra and Hoon, are expecting twins, and Eun-yi is doing her best to keep a low profile and keep the family happy. Unexpectedly, patriarch Hoon develops a penchant for Eun-yi. He appears in her room one night and propositions her; later giving her a significant bonus on her salary. Eun-yi seems to enjoy the dangerous liaison, that is until Hoon’s wife is made aware of the affair. What ensues is a vengeful battle between a pregnant Hae-ra and Eun-yi. The film is a visual treat to the eye. Magnificently shot, the film offers a refreshing break from American-style movies. A great mystery for anyone who appreciates a little bit of scandal.
1. Sleeping With The Enemy (thriller)
OK, this might not be the most underrated film. It might not be underrated at all, but the truth is, I had never seen it until I found it on Netflix, so it makes my list. A classic 90’s-style-thriller, this film follows the life of Laura (Julia Roberts) in the aftermath of faking her own death to escape her controlling husband. Despite having a beautiful home, lots of money and the appearance of the perfect life, Laura is savagely beaten when her husband is having a bad day, and she has decided to escape for good. For awhile, she is able to enjoy (sort of) her new life, living incognito, without a controlling and abusive husband. As thrillers go, her estranged husband finds out that she is not actually dead, tracks her down, and all hell breaks loose. Julia Roberts is incredible in this movie; a must-see for any fan.