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23 underrated films to watch on Netflix right now

The best films that you haven't watched yet

23 underrated films to watch on Netflix right now
Tom Victor
12 January 2018

You’ve probably got a pretty good idea of the sort of thing you can find on Netflix these days.

The streaming service has great original series, compelling documentaries, and a whole load of comedy.

That’s enough for a lot of us, to the point where we don’t even bother watching films there – though some of that might be down to our reduced attention spans.

But you shouldn’t make this mistake: there’s plenty to choose from on that front, and it’s not just Oscar nominees and well-known films with big-name stars.

You can often stumble across a hidden gem like Super Dark Times, and that’s not the only film to fit that description.

We’ve picked out 23 of the best films on Netflix that you probably haven’t seen yet – we’re sure at least one of these will be up your street.

  1. 1.Adventureland

    Who’s in it? Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart

    What’s it about? A college grad who takes a summer job at an adventure park

    What do the critics say? ’If John Hughes had made movies about characters five years older than his usual crowd, those pictures might have been flavored like Adventureland’ - James Berardinelli, Reelviews

    Rotten Tomatoes score? 88%

  2. 2.Aquarius

    Who’s in it? Sônia Braga

    What’s it about? A retiree who refuses to let developers buy her out of her apartment in Recife, Brazil

    What do the critics say? ’Take a few steps back and it becomes a broad-canvas celebration of neighbourhood life – just like [director Kleber] Mendonça’s 2012 debut, Neighbouring Sounds, it’s endlessly fascinated by the interlocking tick of its characters’ lives’ - Robbie Collin, The Daily Telegraph

    Rotten Tomatoes score? 97%

  3. 3.Bernie

    Who’s in it? Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey

    What’s it about? The relationship between a 39-year-old mortician and the 80-year-old millionaire who he marries – based on a real-life event

    What do the critics say? Bernie is a one-of-a-kind movie that establishes its own tone, walking a thin line between seriousness and absurdity’ - Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

    Rotten Tomatoes score? 89%

  4. 4.Blue is the Warmest Colour

    Who’s in it? Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos

    What’s it about? The sexual awakening of a French teenager when a blue-haired art student enters her life

    What do the critics say? ’[Exarchopoulos] manages to hold it all together, and the actress can really make you feel things only suggested at in other movies, especially when it comes to the ecstasy and agony of a first relationship’ - Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter

    Rotten Tomatoes score? 90%

  5. 5.The Distinguished Citizen

    Who’s in it? Oscar Martínez

    What’s it about? A Nobel Prize recipient who returns to Argentina from his home in Europe

    What do the critics say? ’In the hands of directing duo Mariano Cohn and Gaston Duprat this 2016 Venice competition contender becomes something deeper, darker and more resonant than a droll tale of an ill-advised homecoming’ - Lee Marshall, Screen Daily

    Rotten Tomatoes score? 100%

  6. 6.Dope

    Who’s in it? Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Blake Anderson, Zoë Kravitz, A$AP Rocky, and Chanel Iman

    What’s it about? High-school kids growing up in California

    What do the critics say? ’A funny take on the teen coming-of-age comedy that uses every cinematic trick in the book to tell an old story – nerd loses virginity, gets into Ivy League – in a fresh new way’ - Jeff Baker, The Oregonian

    Rotten Tomatoes score? 88%

  7. 7.Elle

    Who’s in it? Isabelle Huppert

    What’s it about? A high-powered businesswoman who is raped in her own home

    What do the critics say? ’Even by the out-there standards of Basic Instinct and Showgirls, Paul Verhoeven’s latest, Elle, is a thing to behold’ - Stephanie Zacharek, TIME

    Rotten Tomatoes score? 91%

  8. 8.Everybody Wants Some!!

    Who’s in it? Will Brittain, Zoey Deutch, Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin, Blake Jenner, Glen Powell, and Wyatt Russell

    What’s it about? College baseball players in the early 1980s

    What do the critics say? ’[Director Richard] Linklater’s great talent is to remain light on his feet while drifting into the metaphysical — to balance the earthly with the profound, and to find the people somewhere in between’ - Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice

    Rotten Tomatoes score? 86%

  9. 9.Frailty

    Who’s in it? Bill Paxton and Matthew McConaughey

    What’s it about? Two brothers whose religious father murders several people who he sees as ‘demons’

    What do the critics say? ’Frailty is an extraordinary work, concealing in its depths not only unexpected story turns but also implications, hidden at first, that make it even deeper and more sad’ - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

    Rotten Tomatoes score? 73%

  10. 10.Hunger

    Who’s in it? Michael Fassbender and Liam Cunningham

    What’s it about? The 1981 Irish hunger strike, led by Bobby Sands

    What do the critics say? ’British artist Steve McQueen, whose riveting debut feature is Hunger, may have absorbed something deep and dreadful from his namesake’s solitary-confinement scene in Papillon’ - Kyle Smith, New York Post

    Rotten Tomatoes score? 90%

  11. 11.The Man from Nowhere

    Who’s in it? Won Bin and Kim Sae-ron

    What’s it about? An ex-Black Ops soldier driven to extreme violence

    What do the critics say? ’Local heartthrob Won Bin transforms himself into an action hero in writer-helmer Lee Jeong-beom’s swift and blood-soaked yarn’ - Russell Edwards, Variety

    Rotten Tomatoes score? 100%

  12. 12.Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

    Who’s in it? Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke and RJ Cyler

    What’s it about? A teenager urged to befriend a classmate with leukaemia

    What do the critics say? ’Based on the novel by Jesse Andrews, it’s a wonderful film about being young, talented and uncertain about what lies ahead’ - Calvin Wilson, St Louis Post-Dispatch

    Rotten Tomatoes score? 82%

  13. 13.Mean Creek

    Who’s in it? Rory Culkin, Ryan Kelley, Scott Mechlowicz, Trevor Morgan, Josh Peck, and Carly Schroeder

    What’s it about? A group of teenagers who try to get revenge on a bully

    What do the critics say? ’A deeply touching independent film about teenagers forced to make adult decisions that will change their lives forever’ - Ruthe Stein, San Francisco Chronicle

    Rotten Tomatoes score? 89%

  14. 14.Mistress America

    Who’s in it? Greta Gerwig and Lola Kirke

    What’s it about? A college student taken under the wing of her older stepsister-in-waiting

    What do the critics say? ’[Director Noah] Baumbach has cast a wonderfully talented group of up-and-coming actors around Gerwig and Kirke, but it’s the screenplay and the leads’ incredible chemistry that makes it all so entertaining’ - Gregory Ellwood, Hitfix

    Rotten Tomatoes score? 82%

  15. 15.A Most Violent Year

    Who’s in it? Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain

    What’s it about? Crime in New York in the early 1980s

    What do the critics say? A Most Violent Year features terrific performances from Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain as the couple you’d get if Michael Corleone and Lady MacBeth got married’ - Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic

    Rotten Tomatoes score? 89%

  16. 16.Mudbound

    Who’s in it? Carey Mulligan and Jason Clarke

    What’s it about? PTSD and race, through the lens of two war veterans returning to Mississippi

    What do the critics say? ’This story of two families united by circumstance and, as the title suggests, bound by their debt to the land, is a micro version of a larger story about systemic racism in America — a mighty force that will not simply yield to a handful of the “good ones.”’ - Lara Zarum, Village Voice

    Rotten Tomatoes score? 96%

  17. 17.Nowhere Boy

    Who’s in it? Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Kristin Scott Thomas and Anne-Marie Duff

    What’s it about? A young John Lennon

    What do the critics say? ’The power of Nowhere Boy is that, as directed by Sam Taylor-Wood, it captures how John Lennon’s deeply sordid family life toyed with his soul by not letting him know who he was’ - Owen Glieberman, Entertainment Weekly

    Rotten Tomatoes score? 79%

  18. 18.Other People

    Who’s in it? Jesse Plemons and Molly Shannon

    What’s it about? A New York-based writer returning to his family in Sacramento to care for his ailing mother

    What do the critics say? ’Anyone who’s ever lost a parent, longed for love and acceptance, or tried to find his or her true self should easily relate. It’s a terrific film’ - Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times

    Rotten Tomatoes score? 88%

  19. 19.Son of Saul

    Who’s in it? Géza Röhrig and Levente Molnár

    What’s it about? A Hungarian Sonderkommando member inside Auschwitz in 1944

    What do the critics say? ’Unlike any other Holocaust film you’ve ever seen…Hungarian director László Nemes and actor Géza Röhrig, who plays the titular Saul and is in virtually every shot, employ a heart-shattering form of “you are there” filmic composition to put the audience dead center amidst the horrific, workaday world’ - Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle

    Rotten Tomatoes score? 96%

  20. 20.The Interview

    Who’s in it? Hugo Weaving, Tony Martin and Aaron Jeffery

    What’s it about? An Australian man seized from his apartment to be interrogated by police

    What do the critics say? ’The Interview is Australia’s answer to The Usual Suspects, a twisty mystery built around a protracted conversation and an elusive protagonist who is integral in both driving and complicating the narrative’ - Luke Buckmaster, The Guardian

    Rotten Tomatoes score? 100%

  21. 21.The Virgin Suicides

    Who’s in it? Kirsten Dunst, Josh Hartnett, James Woods and Kathleen Turner

    What’s it about? Five teenage sisters, isolated in suburban America

    What do the critics say? ’The title, however macabre, is also deceptive because the movie isn’t really about the finality of death but about the dawn of desire and the loss of innocence’ - Rita Kempley, Washington Post

    Rotten Tomatoes score? 76%

  22. 22.What Maisie Knew

    Who’s in it? Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan and Alexander Skarsgård

    What’s it about? Two parents in a custody battle for their six-year-old daughter

    What do the critics say? ’Maisie’s tale is brilliantly nuanced. It’s not always comfortable to sit through the tidal waves of family misery and witness a little girl’s quiet pain, but here, the experience is profoundly moving’ - Claudia Puig, USA Today

    Rotten Tomatoes score? 86%

  23. 23.You Can Count on Me

    Who’s in it? Laura Linney, Mark Ruffalo, Rory Culkin and Matthew Broderick

    What’s it about? A single mother in small-town America

    What do the critics say? ’Linney and Ruffalo as brother and sister turn in actorly, masterclass performances that perhaps owe more to the techniques of the stage than the cinema. Their relationship gives meaning to the phrase emotional intelligence.’ - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian.

    Rotten Tomatoes score? 95%