The 15 Best Movies You've Never Seen on Netflix
A popular feature here in year’s past, this is our very first “Best Movies You’ve Never Seen” edition devoted exclusively to movies available on Netflix. As in the past, to qualify for this list, the box-office must be less than $5 million. For most of these films, box-office is actually measured in thousands rather than millions; in fact, only one of the 15 films crossed the $2 million threshold, which is to say: These are the undiscovered gems of Netflix.
Would You Rather (Watch on Netflix — ) Brittany Snow stars as Iris, a young woman struggling to support her ill younger brother, without help from parents or other siblings. Iris finds herself invited to the home of the wealthy Shepard Lambrick, a possible benefactor…if Iris wins a game of Would You Rather. Granted, while you may see some parts of the movie coming at you from quite a distance, what you won’t expect is how gifted director David Guy Levy is at capturing the familiar human struggle of money or morals. When you’re done watching Would You Rather, you may need a bath and a bottle of Scotch to lull yourself into thinking you would never do what any of the people in the movie did. Not for any amount of money…right? — Jodi Clager
TiMER (Watch on Netflix) — Phillip K. Dick meets romantic comedy in this smart, endearing, and at times even a little sexy sci-fi “chick” flick. And the beautiful irony about the film is this: In a movie about accurately predicting your love life, TiMER manages to be as unpredictable a romantic comedy as you’re likely to see. Indeed, while watching Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds kiss at the end of a romantic comedy might give some of you the warm fuzzies, it’s a movie like TiMER that reminds you that those kisses are warmer and fuzzier if they’re earned instead of predicted. — Dustin Rowles
Housebound (Watch on Neflix) — Centered around a young woman sentenced to house arrest in her childhood home after the worst ATM robbery attempt imaginable, it may remind you of a New Zealand-set, female-centric Attack the Block. It’s equal parts angry, unsettled ghosts and strained mother-daughter relationships. It perfectly balances the scary and the hilarious (scarlarious!), in a way that will upset all your senses. — Vivian Kane
The Good, the Bad, and the Weird (Watch on Netflix)— Lee Byung-hun’s abs only get a cameo appearance in Korean “kimchee Western” The Good, The Bad, The Weird, but the scene they’re in is blatantly, delightfully fan service-y. It’s also 130 minutes of high-octane bonkerness, including a chase scene near the end that lasts for a good 45 minutes.
The Double (Watch on Netflix) — For The Double, Richard Ayoade has invented a fascinating world. Somewhere between our own reality and a dystopian future, it feels like The Twilight Zone’s version of what 2014 would look like. It’s bleak and dark and vaguely Eastern European. The immediate influences abound. It’s like David Lynch and Orson Welles threw a party for Charlie Chaplin. Dostoevsky was invited, naturally, since the movie is based on a novella of his, and he brought along Jean-Pierre Jeunet as his plus one. Still, though the film may immediately remind you of ten different things, it is spectacularly unique. — Vivian Kane
Le Week-End (Watch on Netflix) — After thirty years of marriage and a lifetime of unfulfilled dreams, Birmingham residents Nick and Meg decide to spend their anniversary in Paris. What unfolds over the course of a weekend has the character weight of a Russian novel done with tongue-in-cheek British sensibilities, all the while accented by the City of Lights. Le Week-end is sobering; part cautionary tale, part fairy tale. How does a marriage survive aging and infirmity and children who refuse to leave the nest? How much of ourselves and our twilight years can we leave on the shelf in the name of partnership? Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan give masterful performances, vacillating between adoration and contempt as the marriage of Nick and Meg is put to the test over and over again in the cafes, hotels, and restaurants of Paris. In the end, it’s Jeff Goldblum’s sublime performance that’s the final icing on the cake of a film that will feel like a commitment, but like the marriage of Nick and Meg, pays off in the end. — Lord Castleton
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Watch on Netflix) — If you fail to watch A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, you’re stuck in an alternate hell dimension of your own making, and there’s really nothing I can do for you. It’s an Iranian vampire western, with an ’80s-inspired soundtrack, that’s shot in sumptuous black and white and absolutely oozes cool. — Rebecca Pahle
Last Night (Watch on Netflix) — Massy Tadjedin’s directorial debut is a conversation-heavy film about jealousy and infidelity that relies on looks and glances to get much of its story across; how successful you find Last Night may depend on how familiar those looks and glances feel to you. If you’ve cheated, or if you’ve attempted to read the unfaithful signals of your partner, there’s some raw emotional power in between the almost endless streams of dialogue and a final scene that resonates with quiet devastation. It’s those moments — a flicker of the eyes, a too-knowing glance — as well as a nuanced performance from Keira Knightley that salvages Tadjedin’s Last Night, elevating it ever so slightly above any number of Before Sunrise knock-offs with a infidelity twist, even as the excruciatingly wooden Sam Worthington threatens to drag it under. — Dustin Rowles
See Also: The 25 Best, Recent Netflix Movie Releases (Films Released In the Last 2 Years)
Frank (Watch on Netflix) — Frank cuts to the writhing, painful nest of insecurities at the core of anyone who has MyNovel.doc saved on their computer, convinced that it’ll be awesome when they actually finish it. When you work in a creative field, you put yourself out there in a way that you don’t with most other jobs. No one’s called my brother, the computer programmer, an idiot or a fascist or “oversensitive” for the way he does something at work. I get that now, and that’s just from me writing articles about movies. It’s not personal in the way that all the things I want to write are. And putting yourself out there like that is hard. Fuck, it’s psychologically debilitating. At the core of it all, there’s that fear: If I do put myself out there, like Jon does, if I do everything right, I’ll still be rejected, because it turns out I’m an awful fucking writer. I don’t know if Frank screenwriters Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan have similar issues, or if I’m just doing some major-league projecting. I’m guessing they do. And I sympathize with them, but at the same time I want to punch them, because did you have to make Frank so brutal for your fellow delicate creative types? Did you?
Don’t see this movie. Or do, because it’s really good. But don’t, because you will hate yourself afterwards. — Rebecca Pahle
Fat Kid Rules the World (Watch on Netflix) — It would be so easy for Fat Kid Rules the World to take the easy way out. The film deals with high school terror, loneliness, and the frustrating way that caring for someone means giving them the power to break your heart: in other words, everything you’ve seen probably hundreds of times over. But Matthew Lillard, in his first turn as a director, taps into real pain and genuine joy in a deft exploration of the awkward relationship forged by two people who had given up on ever finding anything good in the world. What makes the film so wonderful is precisely the way it takes those old dramedy tropes and grounds them in utterly believable characters. These people are not archetypes, or examples. They come alive like the best film characters do, and you ache and celebrate with them at every turn. The script from Michael M.B. Galvin and Peter Speakman, based on the novel by K.L. Going, is hilarious and touching in equal measure, and the film thoroughly earns its uplifting ending.
Pontypool (Watch on Netflix) — This intense thriller follows the jaded Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) as he drinks his way through a small town morning radio show and pushes the limits of his producer, Sydney Briar (Lisa Houle). Grant wants to spice up the morning of these sleepy Canadians and Sydney is vehemently against his shock jock techniques. Before the two can fully come to a working understanding, something causes the residents of Pontypool to become crazed, jabbering murderers. — Jodi Clager
Your Sister’s Sister (Watch on Netflix) — Your Sister’s Sister is a small, low-key reminder of why so many of us love the movies: Aside from the spectacle, and aside from the countless origins stories we apparently can’t get enough of, and aside from the millions of iterations on the same stories we’ve been watching since Bambi, it’s the characters that populate those stories, and our ability to see ourselves within them, that ultimately matter the most. Emily Blunt, Mark Duplass, and Rosemarie Dewitt have brought these wonderful characters to life, and make Your Sister’s Sister soar with humor, sweetness, and poignancy. — Dustin Rowles
Europa Report (Watch on Netflix) — Europa Report is everything you want out of my hard science fiction. It takes the science seriously, grounds it within the constraints of the real world and then wraps those ideas around human drama. This is a slow movie, and if you’re looking for space action or alien horror, this just isn’t the film for you. We ride pillars of fire into the heavens, strapped into rickety aluminum cans as we suck our air out of glorified scuba gear. We sail to the stars and planets a hair’s breadth from annihilation by cosmic rays and vacuum and hang to survival by our fingernails. The constant Macgyvering of solutions is the purest representation of what our species is capable of. We are mud that willed itself to stand up, and a million years later we are still clawing our way upwards. Space travel isn’t safe, and we will find infinite danger there. And the heroes of the next age will be the ones who go anyway, who throw their lives into the void to call back and tell us what they see. — Steven Lloyd Wilson
Elite Squad: The Enemy Within (Watch on Netflix) — Elite Squad: The Enemy Within is what would happen if The Wire, The Godfather and City of God had a raw, coke-fueled orgy during The Raid’s absurd 20-minute shootout scene. This ambitious Brazilian masterpiece about the head of a special police unit tasked with bringing down Rio de Janeiro’s ruthless narcotics kingpins checks every classic crime story box — drugs, politics, corruption, violence, and how each has an unfortunate tendency to set like-minded men on divergent and tragic paths — without ever managing to feel perfunctory or rote. It’s a huge story told intimately and skillfully by Jose Padilha (RoboCop), and lent emotional heft by Wagner Moura’s grounded, complex portrayal of man desperately trying to hold back an indomitable tide. Might as well get familiar with these two now: Padilha and Moura return to Netflix — and the drug world — later this year with Narcos… and you know damn well you’re gonna coke-binge-watch an original series chronicling the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar starring the only person in history you’d bang even after he gets his head caved in by the world’s strongest man. Check out Elite Squad first. It’s a hell of an appetizer.
The Killer Inside Me (Watch on Netflix) — Director Michael Winterbottom’s The Killer Inside Me is many things. It’s a beautifully shot glimpse of how sordid small-town life can be. It’s an unflinching look into the mind of a killer. It’s a brutal and uncomfortable display of violence, particularly against women. It’s an example of absolutely brilliant acting, and it’s an incredible movie, but often one to be endured rather than enjoyed. — TK
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