It is very easy to become lost in Netflix land and believe you’ve already seen everything worth watching. Rest assured, there is very little chance you have. For the second time, we have curated a list of the best highly-rated, little-known movies on Netflix.
Our purpose at agoodmovietowatch is to reference movies you haven’t yet seen, that you can watch immediately and love. To do this, we only recommend movies that have received a high rating on IMDb combined with a high score on Rotten Tomatoes. This means that these movies have been appreciated by both critics and viewers, so you can trust that they’re awesome. We also only suggest movies that didn’t make a huge splash at the box office or which didn’t get the attention they deserved, so there is little chance you have already seen them.
Below we count down again our best movie suggestions available to stream on Netflix Instant America.
23. A Most Wanted Man (2014)
Based on the book by John Le Carre, this slow-burning thriller tells the story of a half-Chechen, half-Russian immigrant suspected of terrorism, who is suddenly spotted in a big German city trying to get his hands on money that was left to him. Gunter (played Philip Seymour Hoffman) is the head of an international counter-terrorism unit created after 9/11 to spot threats like these early on. Whether this man is a terrorist or not, what he is doing in Germany, how he fits in the grand scheme of things, and whether Gunter will succeed in his efforts – all of these are questions you will be begging to find answers for. Witty, supremely acted, and with a very provocative story line, A Most Wanted Man is perfect if you’re in the mood for a sharp thriller.
22. The World’s Fastest Indian (2005)
You know Anthony Hopkins as the evil Hannibal Lecter, but in this film he gives a warm and heartfelt performance portraying real life New Zealand motorcycle legend Burt Munro who set a land speed record in 1967 on a hand-built 1920 Indian. It’s a story of never giving up on your dream even in the face of ridicule and opposition. Hopkins’ performance turns what could have been just another schmaltzy formulaic story line into true gold. You’ll be cheering for Burt/Anthony by the end!
21. Fish Tank (2009)
A sincere portrayal of the gritty British working class life through the coming-of-age story of a girl who loves rap music and dancing to it. It features a stunning and powerful performance from newcomer Katie Jarvis who had no acting experience whatsoever, and who was cast in the street after she was spotted fighting. She plays Mia, a 15 year old teenager whose world changes drastically when her mother’s new boyfriend (played by Michael Fassbender) turns his eyes to her. Don’t watch this movie if you are looking for a no-brainer, definitely do watch it if you are interested in films that realistically portray others’ lives and let you into them.
20. [ICYMI] Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Two twelve year olds, Sam, an introverted Khaki scout (Jared Gilman) and the sharp yet sassy Suzy (Kara Hayward), fall in love and run away to their own personal paradise they call “Moonrise Kingdom.” The young girl’s parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) call the authorities. A search party compiled of the local Sheriff (Bruce Willis), Khaki Scout Troop Leader (Edward Norton) and his scouts along with an assortment of other characters try to track down the young runaways through the wilderness.
The characters are as bright, quirky and colourful as their surroundings. The film’s trademark stylistic handmade art direction and clever camera choices add character to the storytelling itself. Even with its sweet and playful wrapper, major real world issues such as bullying and infidelity are touched upon. Moonrise Kingdom is a delightfully charming film with a meticulously executed plot and sophisticated humour.
19. OldBoy (2003)
On his daughter’s birthday, Oh Dae-su gets drunk and soon he’s arrested by the police. His friend bails him out of jail and while he is making a phone call Oh Dae-su disappears. Oh Dae-su is held by unknown captors, in a room for 15 years only to see the outside world through a television. But one day he’s released. That’s all that can be revealed, without actually revealing too much of this intense and twisted film. All I can add, and this is precisely how I recommend Oldboy to new viewers: “You’re welcome & I’m sorry.” It is truly a twisted film, one that is so mesmerizing in it’s directing, acting, and plot, all of which will stay with you whether you would like it to or not.
18. Nebraska (2013)
Nebraska is a poem distilled into a film. Peter Travers from Rolling Stone says “is it a comedy or a drama? Both at the same time, as life itself.” Everything about it is perfect: the acting, the photography, the story. In case that’s not enough and you need to know the plot to get convinced, I’ll tell you that it’s a road movie about a senile old man and his son. If you still want more information, you can Google it, but come on! You’ll just be wasting time that would be better spent on watching this masterpiece.
17. Blue Ruin (2013)
Blue Ruin is a superbly acted, visually striking drama about a man’s poignant and brutally violent journey for revenge when the culprit responsible for the murder of his father is released from prison. While it might seem like any other revenge tale, it is so well-told and smart that any other similarities with its crowded genre gently fade away.
The first 15-20 minutes are pretty slow, but the pay-off is hot fire.
16. Your Sister’s Sister (2012)
The acting… oh the acting! Your Sister’s Sister is a fantastic comedy which makes great use of the amazing talents and suitability of its cast, including the criminally underused Emily Blunt. Far smarter, quicker and grown-up than most other Rom-Coms, it’s a film built on secrets, lies and, yes, love, sex and family.
15. The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Sit back, relax, and wait for the feels. With amazing performances from the ensemble cast including Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo and Annette Bening, as well as excellent directing; The Kids Are Alright is a highly realistic yet entertaining take on family, growing up, and witnessing children grow up. Two kids meet the sperm donor who enabled their mothers to have them, and develop a relationship with him. This confuses everyone as to how it redefines their status, from the mothers who add a major issue to their already delicate relationship, to the laid-back and lovingly goofy sperm donor (portrayed perfectly by Ruffalo). The Kids Are Alright is beautifully emotional, funny, and just overall a pleasant watch. Nominated to four Oscars and winner of two Golden Globes.
14. Life in a Day (2011)
A documentary where people all around the world were asked to document their day on July 24th, 2010. 80,000 clips amounting to 4,500 hours were submitted from 192 countries, eventually being put together in a 90 minutes film to show what it is like to live a single day in today’s world. Produced by Ridley Scott, and directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland, State of Play); the film-making effort is nothing short of extraordinary. The succession of simple yet deep moments will give you an unprecedented look into just how different or similar your life, struggles, and aspirations are from the rest of the planet. It’s moving, and extremely beautiful.
13. Mr. Nobody (2009)
Based on a beautiful premise, sprinkled with artistic vision, it is an intelligent man’s sit back and relax movie. The film explores the life and times of Nemo Nobody, the last mortal man on earth, as he reflects on important choices he took. Each of these choices are presented as branching pathways of what could have been, utilizing innovative non-linear cinematography. In addition to the film’s winning structure, its soundtrack is considered a masterpiece, perfectly fitting the plot via looping and trilling melodies. The film garnered 6 Margaritte awards, and has slowly been developing into an indie cult classic.
12. The Imposter (2012)
The impossibly true story of a mysterious Frenchman that claims to be the 16 year old son of a family from Texas that went missing three years prior. This movie is shot so well with a story so unbelievable that I had to look it up to believe that it was a real documentary instead of a fiction film played as true. Expect twists and turns at every corner, with brilliant storytelling from the real life people that lived through the whole thing. If Christopher Nolan created a 48 hour story, it would pale in comparison to this film.
11. High Fidelity (2000)
This might just be the most insightful movie about men. Watch if you are a guy and you will cringe endlessly from seeing yourself in the characters, and if you are a girl you should also watch it to laugh and understand the men around you better (yes, it is that insightful). Rob Gordon, a music fanatic who owns a record store, tells the stories of how his relationships ended, included the one ongoing. So if you are asking if this is a romantic comedy about a man trying to move on from a breakup, yes, it is. And it Works.
High Fidelity is in fact funny, interesting and comes with a unique look at relationships. But it is mostly simple and entertaining, and with perfect performances from John Cusack and Jack Black as well as an immaculate soundtrack, it is a must-watch.
10. Headhunters (2012)
A nasty little chase film with dark humor and balls to the walls action sequences. It is slightly insane, has some brutal fights in it and is completely beyond belief. The thing that keeps it going is its sheer pace; often circumstances shift so quickly the whole film seems a little surreal, which is part of its charm. The only point at which the film does slow down is when it hits incredibly suspenseful moments, which are stretched to near infinity. As it’s from the continental tradition, expect all the raw colors, emotion and slightly off kilter characters reminiscent of a violent Norwegian Lars Von Trier.
9. Elite Squad: The Enemy Within (2010)
Get ready for one hell of a journey. From the writer of City of God, Elite Squad: The Enemy Within is a poignant and powerful action-packed movie. Set in Brazil, the film follows two seemingly opposed characters (one a police officer, one a professor) as they both work to treat the systemic social ills that corrupt the country. As much a social commentary as it is an action-packed drama (think The Departed and The Wire), Elite Squad will take you on a whirlwind journey that will leave you considering the larger issues of poverty, crime, and “doing good” in the world.
8. Beginners (2010)
An American romantic comedy, Beginners is told through a series of flashbacks telling the story of Oliver and his complicated and difficult relationship with his father. The film is gorgeously heartbreaking, demonstrating how hurtful we are to those we love, while showing the ties of mutual need that bind people. In the way it also takes on the process of finding one’s happiness, through the character’s eyes and his father’s, what that process has in common for both, and how one is inspired from the other. Beginners is lovely, funny, interesting, and above all very enjoyable.
7. The Hunt (2013)
Once again, Mads Mikkelsen gives us an unforgettable performance in this Danish thriller. Lucas is a new teacher in a small town. He is just starting a new life after a divorce and the loss of his last job. One day, a child from the class he is teaching accuses him of an unforgivable act. The lie will spread throughout the small community and will tear Lucas’ life apart. The Hunt, or “Jagten” in its original version, is one of those rare thrillers that will haunt you for days, and make you question everything in its aftermath. Extraordinary!
6. Virunga (2014)
A documentary that is immediate and plays out like a thriller. Beautifully shot in Virunga National Park in the Eastern Congo, the story focuses on the struggles between Park Rangers and a list of adversaries including poachers, oil company goons, and an Islamic revolutionary army. The stories of the endangered gorillas and the people who struggle to protect them will break your heart and at the same time give you hope in humanity. On top of this, the editing is superb and gives the film an intensity that rivals any recent thriller.
5. The Station Agent (2003)
The Station Agent is about loneliness, change and friendship. Sounds corny right? It’s not. The characters are developed, they have their own reasons for the choices they make and nothing feels forced, neither actions or conversations. It’s a small and wonderful movie about a little man that moves out of the city and his comfort zone when his only friend dies, moves to said friend’s old train station and sets his life there. From there on it follows his social interactions with a slew of people, the relationships he forms with them. Oh, and the little man? Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), who pulls off a great performance, albeit a quiet one.
4. Fruitvale Station (2013)
The true story of Oscar Grant III, a 22-year-old black man on the last day of 2008, where his will to change is challenged by his past, surroundings, and the police. You’ve probably read and heard a lot about young black men’s sad recent encounters with the police, and for this reason you might feel like skipping this film. Don’t.
Produced by Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker, it is so compassionate and powerfully told, that it surpasses the sadness of its subject matter to almost be a celebration of life. It is an extraordinary and important watch.
3. Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)
You will not come out of this movie the same person you were going into it. Get ready to cry your eyes out, scream in anger, and rejoice that such a powerful love can exist in our world. DO NOT READ ANY SPOILERS OR SUMMARIES BEFORE VIEWING! This loving documentary about the father of a young boy is one of the best movies of this decade! We can’t recommend this film enough!
2. Beasts of No Nation (2015)
An instant classic, Beast of No Nation is a unique and uniquely-paced war drama which ranges in patterns from explosive visual storytelling to calm character studies. A child joins a rebel group consisting almost entirely of children and led by a charismatic leader credited as Commandant. As you get to witness the conflict through the child’s eyes, his own development and his commander’s, the film unfolds as an exploration of the never ending, pathetic state of war in Africa. From there it takes you to varying conclusions, most of which you will have trouble admitting you’ve reached.
As Commandant, Idris Elba is transfixing, proving once more that he is one of the best actors of our time. The whole cast of almost entirely non-actors, as well as the deeply authentic staging by True Detective and Sin Nombre director Cary Fukunaga, are both mesmerizing.
1. Short Term 12 (2013)
Short Term 12 is exactly like being injured in a part of your body where you didn’t think it was possible to get injured before. It will hurt but it will make you care.
Natural and understated by budget and by purpose, it is powered by perfect performances that will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride you will never forget. It is at times sweet, at times depressing and at times hilarious.
The thing is, without even taking into consideration its small budget or the importance of the issues it talks about – we would still consider Short Term 12 as one of the best movies of the past 20 years.