A Collection of Great Hidden Gems on Netflix

By The Pajiba Staff | Streaming | April 30, 2017 | Comments ()

By The Pajiba Staff | Streaming | April 30, 2017 |


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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. These are the undiscovered gems of Netflix.

Related: The Funniest Movies on 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?

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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.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

Don’t Think Twice (Watch Here) — Don’t Think Twice is a hard movie to watch at times, with these moments that feel so real and true that you squirm, feeling like you should not be watching something so intimately uncomfortable. But Mike Birbiglia’s script smartly does not wallow in these moments of discomfort, balancing them out with uproariously funny scenes. Both poignant and hilarious, Don’t Think Twice is similar to a Judd Apatow film in that way, except that both the emotional and comedic beats feel more realistic than even the best Apatow moments. Fans of improv will love this for the improv scenes alone (which are made up of both scripted and actual improvised moments). But this movie should, and hopefully will be, loved by everyone because Don’t Think Twice is simply a heartbreaking, but hilarious, delight.

Goon (Watch Here) — Goon, written by Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg and directed by Michael Dowse, is the unholy bastard child of Rocky and Slap Shot, with the dynamite mechanics of Major League thrown in for good measure. It’s not so much a movie about hockey as about my favorite part of hockey, the enforcer. It’s hilarious and violent, a sweet love story punched in the face with a knuckle dragging sports blowout, with profanity fountaining out like a shook-up soda can. From the opening shots of blood splattering ice as a tooth slowly tumbles to the rink, asskicking abounds, and from opening buzzer to final bloody dukeout, Goon pummels you with gleeful abandon and you’re left dazed and smiling. Albeit short a few choppers.

God Bless America (Watch Here) — There’s so much to love about God Bless America, even with the necessary low-budget appearance. And no sh*t, because with the dark subject matter, no studio’s touching this film with a ten-foot pole. It’s insanely satisfying to watch them drive over a bunch of people waving God Hates F*gs posters, white trash rednecks getting gunshots in the back as they sprawl. It’s even more satisfying to watch the two heroes turn guns on a bunch of rude moviegoers. How their killing spree is being documented by the media is just one of the many sterling touches Goldthwait brings. The problem is just that when you’re ranting about everything you hate, you’re going to overlap with stuff that people like. No one’s going to cry when you cram a homophobe into your wheelwell. But Fall Out Boy? Because Alice Cooper’s awesome? And how many sixteen year olds really are that devoted to Alice Cooper? Instead, it feels like the masturbatory fantasy of a fortysomething, which means the entire film is in Frank’s head, and makes it a masterpiece on par with even the lowliest Charlie Kaufman. Which means that anyone who gets joy out of the murder of the idiots in the film and mocks their deaths makes them culpable to the very culture that the murderers are trying to eliminate. It’s the only sour note in an otherwise ballsy and purely enjoyable film.

Trust (Watch Here) — Trust is the crushing tale of a freshman girl who gets stalked and sexually violated by an online predator. It plays out like a painstakingly well-crafted Lifetime movie or an afterschool special, but that’s more to the layout of the plot rather than the acting and style of the production. Because it is painstakingly well-crafted and soul-crushing to watch. Schwimmer, working from a script by In The Bedroom scribe Robert Festinger, and Andy Bellin, creates what amounts to a stylistically interesting and heartrending cautionary example of the potential dangers of living in the digital age. While it’s plotted a bit like the online date rape version of the drivers’-ed “Blood on the Asphalt” video, the actors are all fantastic and Schwimmer manages to come at the story from enough intriguing and terrifying angles to make the film quality.

Take This Waltz (Watch Here) — Though it meanders, taking its sweet time to fully capture Margot’s relationship with Lou, and then Daniel, Take This Waltz is a powerfully evocative film. I’d be hard-pressed to call it entertaining or even funny (though, there are small doses of strange humor built around Margot and Lou’s affectionate insults), but Take This Waltz is a brilliant mood film. The performances from Michelle Williams and Luke Kirby are, as you’d expect, outstanding, and even Rogen manages to pull off a strong dramatic performance (until he’s called upon to cry, which is where he comes up short). There is a narrative, but the film doesn’t set out to tell a story as much as it attempts to conjure certain feelings, to make you ache, and most likely, remind you of your own history of failed relationships. In that regard, it’s a wistful, melancholy success, another outstanding effort from Sarah Polley.

Sleepwalk with Me (Watch Here) — At the center of it all is this oddly endearing performance from Birbiglia who, like Louis CK and Woody Allen before him, manages to show you his worst side and somehow hold on to your sympathy. Matt Pandamiglio is an infuriating man-child. Someone who won’t take care of himself, can’t be honest with his partner and refuses to confront the way in which this self-neglect is extremely destructive. But there’s something in Birbiglia’s slightly doughy face and, more importantly, the benefit of his own hindsight that consistently wins us over. And for all the heavy themes and wounded characters, Sleepwalk With Me is, at its core, pretty f*cking hilarious. Especially if you’ve never heard the jackal story before.

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.

Dope (Watch Here)— Dope is a smart, funny, inventive look at a coming-of-age tale, framed within a caper flick. It’s wild and weird and goofy, led by Malcolm in an unusually quiet, nuanced, steady tone regardless of the hijinks on the screen (though he does have his moments of craziness). It’s clearly a labor of love, and the project is backed by a variety of big names — producers and executive producers include Forrest Whitaker, Pharrell Williams, and Sean Combs. It’s an ambitious, rambunctious, wildly inconsistent and often messy film that needs some parts trimmed and others expanded. But it doesn’t matter. Dope has enough wonder and brilliance, ambition and humor, and perhaps most of all love in it to easily outweigh its flaws.

Life Partners (Watch Now) — All of the praises that were deservedly showered on Bridesmaids should also be applied here. But Life Partners is so much more than a “new Bridesmaids,” mostly because it has no interest in being that. Though that’s what it will probably will be called, because while a strong female friendship is really the only connection, that’s a rare enough element for it to stand out. What we really learned here is that Gillian Jacobs can carry the shit out of a movie. Leighton Meester is also fantastic, and the chemistry between the two is unbelievable (in just how absolutely believable it is). Adam Brody and the supporting cast— Gabourey Sidibe and Beth Dover as Sasha’s lesbian frenemies, and Kate McKinnon in one completely stolen scene— round out a fully lived-in connected web. But Jacobs is something else.

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.

I Don’t Feel At Home in this World AnymoreI Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore starts slowly and contemplatively in one genre and crescendos until a hell of a final act that seems to take place in another genre altogether, one that has more in common with Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room (which featured Macon Blair in an acting role). However, the two genres play well together. Melanie Lynskey is — as always — superb, as she evolves into this generation’s Parker Posey, while Elijah Wood continues a streak of oddball indie roles designed to ensure that no one ever finds him sexually appealing again. It’s not an earth-shattering film, but it makes for solid Netflix fare for a Saturday night, and it’s a must-see for the Lynskey enthusiasts among us.

Clouds of Sils Maria (Watch Here)— Clouds of Sils Maria is not for the casual moviegoer. It is too abruptly cerebral to please. But if you’re an Assayas fan, you’ll likely be thrilled. If you’re a Stewart fan, you’ll want to see it to add to your evidence that she’s an undervalued actress. And if you think Binoche can do no wrong, her performance here will give you further reason for worship. Just don’t anticipate a jaunty showbiz story. Clouds of Sils Maria has a lot of thoughts on Hollywood, but little patience for its rules.

White Girl (Watch Here) — White Girl is dedicatedly deplorable in its decadence and riveting in its rawness. The cinematography, rich with suffocating close-ups, ratchets up the tension through unforgiving proximity. All past tales of girls lost to the terrible big city instantly imbue the film with dramatic weight. But how Wood plays both out to a uniquely unsettling finale is pioneering, thought provoking, and more than a little haunting.

Adult Beginners (Watch Here) — Aimless but utterly charming, Nick Kroll stars as Jake, a man in his mid-30s whose start-up goes belly-up and he is forced to move back home with his sister (Rose Byrne) to reset and ultimately find himself. The living arrangement, however, creates some friction when Jake finds out his sister’s husband (Byrne’s real-life partner, Bobby Cannavale) is sleeping around. Adult Beginners is modest, amusing, and a genuinely decent movie with a cast with chemistry to spare. It’s the perfect for movie background watching. It also features a rarity in the career of Nick Kroll: A role in which he is not a douchebag.

Tangerine (Watch Here)— On its surface, this LGBT dramedy sounds like it’s bound to be chock-full of embarrassing backwards stereotypes. Set in Hollywood on Christmas Eve, it follows a pair of transgender sex workers, one who is hunting down her boyfriend/pimp over rumors he strayed while she served time, the other desperately seeking an audience for her cabaret show that night. Along the way, these broke bffs collide with eye-rolling cops, slur-spewing bro-dudes, and skeezy johns, including a cab driver with a complicated family life (to put it lightly). It sounds sordid, but writer/director Sean Baker’s approach and his electric ensemble cast offer an unapologetic frankness and surprisingly jolly humor making for an unconventional holiday movie that’s fascinating, funny and humane.

For more movie and television recommendations from Amazon and Netflix, check out our streaming guide.


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