Netflix Indecision is a seldom-discussed but virulent plague that affects all mankind. The symptoms are worse in the company of a significant other, as mutual indecisiveness can suddenly embody other unspoken problems in a relationship. Netflix is both a unifier and a divider, but it doesn’t have to be. You just have to know what’s out there. A word to the wise: dig deep. There are some gems buried in the back bookshelves of the Netflix streaming library. With a few tricks up your sleeve, your movie Midas touch will win you points with friends and lovers alike. We took it upon ourselves to bring a few to your attention. May they be of some use to you in your personal life, an antidote to indecision in the modern technological age.
Here is our list of the 10 Most Underrated Films Available To Stream:
10. Fish Tank
While Hunger put Michael Fassbender on the map, his work in Fish Tank showed off charisma that continues to echo throughout his big budget films. Director Andrea Arnold never gave her actors a full script, only handing them their scenes for the upcoming week. It worked. Filmed chronologically, Arnold made sure her cast had little to no preconceptions about their characters. Katie Jarvis plays Mia Williams, the socially stilted 15 year old and daughter of single mother, Joanne. Fassbender plays Joanne’s boyfriend, but as the film goes on, the Irishman’s affections turn toward the offspring of his significant other. Watch the film if you’re looking for a true slice of independent film, terrific performances, and a raw look at English culture that many films might overlook.
9. The Trip
If you’re cooking for yourself one night, just opened a bottle of red, and for some reason, have a hankering to watch two Brits have a contest over the best Michael Caine impression, then The Trip should do the trick. As a tightly condensed and edited version of Michael Winterbottom’s 2010 British sitcom, The Trip (2010) sees comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon traipse across northern England on a gourmet adventure. They play versions of themselves in the film: Brydon as a funny family man on holiday and Coogan as a frustrated actor looking for the next big thing. A couple of foodie comedians gallivanting around Europe may not sound compelling, but rest assured, the self-aware yet sentimental film will have you quoting it for days to come. Coogan and Brydon have a chemistry that most producers would die to recreate, and their astute tete-a-tetes will make you wish you were there.
8. Out of the Furnace
Scott Cooper’s name is getting tossed around the media as the release date to Black Mass approaches, but in 2013, he made a gem of a movie in Out of the Furnace. The complicated, slow-burn film may have a stacked cast, but it still managed to slip through the cracks of the public consciousness. With Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Willem Dafoe, Sam Shepard, Zoe Saldana, and Forest Whitaker rounding out the batting order, each frame pops with luscious visuals and an industrial-town drama that really throws its weight. From Fight Club-esque beatdowns, deer (and people!) hunting, meth addicts and family drama, there’s a lot to absorb in Cooper’s Crazy Heart follow-up. It’ll stay with you, particularly a scene between Zaldana and Bale that is as heartbreaking as anything in cinema. Watch Out of the Furnace if you like Eddie Vedder, post-Batman Christian Bale, and a story about lost love, justice and and the bonds of fraternal loyalty. You won’t be disappointed.
Based on director Mike Mills’ personal experiences following the “coming out” of his father in old age, Beginners takes us on a sobering yet sentimental Los Angeles adventure. Here, the thrills are all interpersonal and seen through the eyes of Oliver (Ewan McGregor), who we first meet on the edge of an existential crisis. Told through a series of flashbacks, Oliver tries to find the meaning of life in the wake of his father’s death (Christopher Plummer), making sense of his lost relationships and growing apathy. When he meets the beautiful Anna (Melanie Laurent) at a Halloween party, however, his internal flame reignites, guiding him towards new answers. Mills’ film must be watched at the right moment, as it requires a kind of sensitivity and patience to fully reap its rewards. The film excels in its quietest moments, where certain characters don’t speak at all. Except for the dog.
6. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
What was once designed as an English language vehicle for Johnny Depp ultimately took form as a French drama starring Mathieu Amalric. In this true story, Mathieu Amalric plays Jean-Dominique Bauby, the former French Elle magazine’s editor-in-chief. Once on top of the world with social clout, an impossibly alluring job, endless women and money, Bauby suffered a debilitating stroke that put him in a coma for three weeks. Upon waking, he found he only had physical control over his left eyelid. Doctors diagnosed his condition as the ultra rare “locked-in syndrome,” where the body fails around an otherwise unchanged mind. This is the moment the film opens, on the precipice of Bauby learning to communicate via blinking. While over 200,000 individual blinks and ten months of painstaking translation would provide the source material for his memoir, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, the film finds its voice in the exploration of his imagination. Left without communicative or physical capability, Bauby dives into the reservoir of his memory to live out the most beautiful moments of his life, as well as the imagined lives of others. Watch the film to see how Bauby found beauty in the past and present, despite his setbacks.
If you’re familiar with Michael Fassbender’s filmography, then you’ve probably noticed that he is an incredibly lithe actor. He moves like a dancer, a quality he attributes to his training in Laban movement technique, some style of “outward-in” acting that an old Austrian fellow conceived. In Frank, Mr. Fassbender acts with a massive Deadmau5-lite head for 90 minutes, letting his body do the talking while he sings and struts as the lead singer of the Soronprfbs. It is a truly bizarre and unnerving performance, but by the end of the film, you will be moved in ways you might not have expected. Also starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and the meteorically successful Domnhall Gleeson, Frank is an indie movie about indie music, the kind that is so experimental that it almost sounds offensive to the ears. When the tunes fade, however, and Frank is confronted without his papier-mache mask, the film’s true themes are revealed.
“Two rules, man: Stay away from my f****n’ percocets and do you have any f****n’ percocets, man?” Such is the quotable brilliance of the Jay Baruchel-scripted, Michael Dowse-directed Canadian hockey film, Goon. The movie is already a hit with certain crowds, but the masses haven’t recognized it as the heir to Slapshot that it truly is. With an all-star comedy cast that’s one part American Pie (Seann William Scott, Eugene Levy) and another Broadway (Liev Schreiber, Alison Pill), the balance of laughs, heart and violence in the film makes for an interesting combination. Watching Stifler’s face be used as a human hockey net may be brutal, but it sure is memorable. It’s the stuff cult classics are made of. Be sure to check it out before Goon: Last of the Enforcers hits theaters.
Two words: live octopus. If you find calamari a challenging food, then prepare to feel small as actor Min-sik Choi munches on a massive, squirming mollusk. Somehow, that’s one of the easiest scenes to watch in Chan-wook Park’s revenge thriller, Oldboy. Without giving too much away: imagine being put under house arrest for fifteen years with no human contact or explanation for your imprisonment. Then, one day, you find yourself back in the world, with a thirst for vengeance and a knowledge of martial arts learned during a decade and a half of solitude. Famous for a lengthy, long-take hallway fight scene that make brilliant use of a single hammer, Oldboy is a high class action thriller. Spike Lee’s remake of the South Korean classic didn’t get much traction, but then again, how can you improve upon the Mona Lisa of revenge films? While Lee’s entry is respectable in its own right and features a ferocious performance by Josh Brolin, give Chan-wook Park’s film a watch first. It’s a masterpiece.
2. In Bruges
The McDonagh brothers surely had a fascinating childhood. Their scripts are filled with challenging and often upsetting themes, but are always peppered with enough caustic wit to make even the darkest moments endurable. In Bruges is an absolute gem. The Belgian scenery complements the hitmen-on-holiday plot, allowing Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson to turn in some truly memorable performances. How’d they wind up there? On a mission to take out a priest, Ray’s (Farrell) kill shot zips through the father and claims the life of an nearby altar boy. This irreparably damages Ray’s emotional equilibrium. Gleeson takes on the more fatherly role as Ken, an assassin with compunction. As they wait in Bruges for the next mission, their orders from Harry the boss (a cantankerous, foul-mouthed Ralph Fiennes) are not what they expected. Shootouts, romance, and some brilliant banter are all on display in Martin McDonagh’s wildly lovable film. Before watching, make sure you grab some high quality Belgian brews to enhance the experience.
1. Sling Blade
“I reckon I’d like me some of them French fries, uh huh,” mumbles Karl Childers (Billy Bob Thornton) in a rare moment of enthusiasm. Karl is intellectually disabled, and as a young boy he murdered his mother and her lover after catching them in the act. When we meet him in Sling Blade, Karl has just been released from his prison sentence. On paper, he might not sound likable, but on screen, Thornton brings incredible depth and quiet charisma to Childers. In the thespian company of a young Lucas Black, John Ritter and Dwight Yoakim, the world of Sling Blade is filled with interesting characters that are indelibly linked by their small-town circumstances. Ultimately, the film is Thornton’s baby, as he wrote, directed and starred in the feature. Apparently the character and plot itself were inspired by a particularly annoying and unattractive costume Thornton had to wear, leading to impersonations and mannerisms that would become those of Karl Childers. Thornton evokes a whole range of emotions that extend far beyond your stock “mentally challenged” character. “Simple Jack” this is not. The film’s well-earned ending is satisfying and unforgettable.
There you have it! What’s your favorite underrated film currently streaming? Let us know in the comments below!
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