ShortList is now ad free and supported by you, the users. When you buy through the links on our site we may earn a commission. Learn more

Netflix hidden gems: movies and TV shows you need to watch

Great Netflix treasures that have gone under the radar

Netflix hidden gems: movies and TV shows you need to watch
Marc Chacksfield
25 September 2020

We understand your pain when it comes to Netflix. The infinite scrolling, trying to find something to watch - the bickering with housemates and significant others over what genre of movie, whether or not you can just stick on Tiger King for the 40th time.

Hell, we even try to help with our myriad guides. Whether you are looking for the best movies, awesome TV shows, Netflix documentaries or even crime drama we have you covered. But, what’s that? You want more recommendations?

Okay, if you insist. Here’s ShortList’s guide to the Netflix hidden gems. Those movies and shows that rarely make it into a best of, not because they are bad but because they just haven’t been found by enough people yet.

Watch these and you will instantly become more popular with your peers. Well, that’s an absolute lie but hopefully we can help curtail a few ‘what to watch’ arguments tonight and beyond.

Netflix hidden gems

If you ever wondered what one of the directors of Crank was up to now (as we all do), well he’s making cracking TV in the form of Happy. This rather violent, blacker than black comedy series focuses on Christopher Meloni as a hitman who starts to see his daughter’s imaginary friend, which just happens to be an animated blue unicorn (voiced by Patton Oswalt). This one definitely isn’t for the faint hearted - it’s over-the-top schlocky, very crude but blisteringly funny at times. Annoyingly it was cancelled after just two seasons but, even though it leaves you hanging a little, it’s still well worth a watch.

23
10
Thanks for voting

A satisfying slab of sci-fi that’s more than a little tinged with the ’80s feel of Terminator and Robocop, Upgrade is directed by Saw writer Leigh Whannell. Whannell is on a roll right now, having also recently directed the rather excellent Invisible Man. Here, the story is about a vigilante given a new lease of life thanks to an AI chip that gives him some pretty special powers.

22
11
Thanks for voting

If you had heart palpitation watching Hidden Gems, then maybe avoid the coffee when you watch Good Time - the directorial debut of the Safdie brothers. Batman himself, Robert Pattinson, stars as a bank robber on the run. It’s a pulse-pounding thriller that never misses a nervy beat, just make sure that you have a safe place to go to afterwards to calm down.

14
6
Thanks for voting

A low-key thriller that passed many by when it was released in 2018, Calibre is about as far removed from Hollywood as you can get, but its fantastic performances and utter sense of dread makes for fine viewing. Jack Lowden stars as Vaughn who, alongside his friend Marcus, find their lives changed for the worse after a deer hunt goes very wrong.

13
6
Thanks for voting

Cam is a horror that focuses on cam girl Alice (a brilliant performance by The Handmade Tail’s Madeline Brewer) who goes through something of an identity crisis. It’s Lynchian in its story and gets downright creepy in places. If you are looking for a well-crafted, eerie movie that couldn’t be more prescient right now, with the rise of things like TikTok and Only Fans, then this is highly recommended.

11
4
Thanks for voting

The first few episodes of Marianne are some of the scariest bits of TV we have ever come across. While the rest of the show doesn’t quite live up to the premise, this is a fantastic French chiller. Emma (Victoire du Bois) is a horror writer who comes back to her hometown to find out that the things she has been writing about may not actually be fiction after all. Annoyingly, this is another Netflix show that was cancelled too soon - but pretty much everything does get wrapped up in this one season.

11
4
Thanks for voting

Think the Walking Dead is the best zombie show on TV? Well, you obviously haven’t seen Kingdom. This South Korean TV show is a masterpiece in storytelling. It’s an historical epic that focuses on 16th century feudalism in South Korea, with added zombies! If you are a fan of Train To Busan and want a show that sprinkles in a bit of social commentary with its blood and guts, then this is for you.

16
10
Thanks for voting
Netflix hidden gems

8. John Was Trying to Contact Aliens

Watch now on Netflix

This is a beautiful, uplifting documentary that’s about John Shepherd, a man who has spent some 30 years trying to contact aliens by broadcasting his music into space. In just 16 minutes, it paints a fantastic picture of Shepherd, is blessed with a fantastic soundtrack and has an ending that will melt the coldest of hearts.

13
9
Thanks for voting
Netflix hidden gems

9. The Fundamentals of Caring

Watch now on Netflix

It’s rare a film by the Peter Pan of movies (Paul Rudd) would pass us by but this one did first time around, but we’re very glad we caught up with it on Netflix. Rudd is a writer who swaps his day job (or lack of it) to become a carer. He is given a job looking after Trevor (a brilliant Craig Roberts ), who has muscular dystrophy. A road trip ensues and it all makes for a rather lovely movie.

12
9
Thanks for voting
Netflix hidden gems

10. The Breadwinner

Watch now on Netflix

The Breadwinner is one of the most powerful animated movies on Netflix (yes, even with the amount of Studio Ghibli on there) and also one of the most overlooked. A girl, who lives under Taliban rule in Afghanistan in 2001, decides to dress as a boy to work and help her family, after her father is arrested. This is a wonderful movie that is all about finding hope, even when it looks like there isn’t any around. Its visuals are breath-taking, as is the score, but it's its brilliant takedown of religious extremism that’s the reason to watch.

39
76
Thanks for voting