March 30, 2023

If you find yourself thumbing through the Netflix queue and saying “I’ve seen that” over and over again, we’ve got you covered. Our list of the most underrated movies on Netflix focuses on hidden gems and films that maybe didn’t hit big when they were initially released, but are well worth watching regardless. These range from little-seen horror movies to splashy, star-driven vehicles that for one reason or another didn’t find their audience. But all of these movies have one thing in common: they’re very, very good.

So peruse our list of the best hidden gems and underrated movies on Netflix below.

Don’t see what you’re looking for here? Check out our list of the best hidden gems on Disney+, HBO Max, and Prime Video, or browse our recommendations of the best movies on Netflix.

Editor’s note: This article was updated February 2023 to include The Land of Steady Habits.

RELATED: The 65 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now


Barry (2016)

Image via Netflix

Run Time: 1 hr 44 min | Genre: Drama | Director: Vikram Gandhi

Cast: Devon Terrell, Anya Taylor-Joy, Jason Mitchell, Ashley Judd, Jenna Elfman

Barry perhaps isn’t a standard biopic of the future President of the United States Barack Obama. Instead of focusing on his early political career or his achievements as commander-in-chief, this coming-of-age story focuses on Barack’s college years, where he builds the skills and charisma that would later launch him to success. Devon Terrell gives a breakout performance and transforms a larger-than-life figure into a relatable teenage kid discovering who he is. Barry has a lot more in common with the films of John Hughes than it does the work of Oliver Stone. Anya Taylor-Joy fans may also want to check out one of her early performances. — Liam Gaughan

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The Land of Steady Habits (2018)

Image via Netflix

Run Time: 1 hr 38 min | Director: Nicole Holofcener

Cast: Ben Mendelsohn, Elizabeth Marvel, Thomas Mann, Edie Falco

Based on Ted Thompson’s novel, The Land of Steady Habits is directed by Nicole Holofcener, who co-wrote the screenplay. The Land of Steady Habits focuses on the people within a wealthy Connecticut community, centering on a retired divorcee named Anders, played by Ben Mendelsohn (Captain Marvel). The Land of Steady Habits is an honest look at Anders’ search for happiness, stemming from his estrangement from his wife (Edie Falco) and son (Thomas Mann), as well as his newfound friendship with a teen drug addict (Charlie Tahan). With a hint of humor, The Land of Steady Habits is, at its core, a drama about choices and regrets. – Yael Tygiel

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Tallulah (2017)

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Run Time: 1 hr 51 min | Genre: Comedy Drama | Director: Sian Heder

Cast: Elliot Page, Allison Janney, Tammy Blanchard, Uzo Aduba

Reuniting Juno stars Elliot Page and Allison Janney, Tallulah is the touching feature directorial debut from Sian Heder (CODA). With a sharp script written by Heder, Tallulah sees Page as the titular character, a vagabond desperate for money and food who impulsively attempts to save a baby from their negligent mother (Tammy Blanchard). Heder’s richly layered characters are revealed exquisitely by magnificent performances from Page and Janney with a tender gentleness grounding the shockingly unconscionable circumstances their characters find themselves in. Fusing comedic quips with stern truths, Tallulah finds synthesis on screen, reminiscent of underrated films like Georgia Rule and Where The Heart Is. – Yael Tygiel

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Candy Jar (2018)

candy jar
Image via Netflix

Run Time: 1 hr 32 min | Genre: Romantic Comedy | Director: Ben Shelton

Cast: Sami Gayle, Jacob Latimore, Christina Hendricks, Uzo Aduba, Tom Bergeron, Helen Hunt

Candy Jar is the best teen rom-com you’ve never seen. The film centers around Lona (Sami Gayle) and Bennett (Jacob Latimore), who begin as rivals on the debate team. However, circumstances eventually force them to compete together. The two of them learn that, despite their differences, they have a lot in common – and may even have feelings for each other. Candy Jar is enemies-to-lovers excellence. Christina Hendricks and Uzo Aduba are also highlights as Lona and Bennett’s sometimes wacky but loving moms. – Taylor Gates

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I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)

I'm Thinking of Ending Things

Run Time: 2 hr 14 min | Genre: Surrealist Psychological Thriller | Director: Charlie Kaufman

Cast: Jesse Plemons, Jessie Buckley, Toni Collette, David Thewlis

I’m Thinking of Ending Things is one of the most unsettling movies you’ll ever see. The film centers around a young woman (Jessie Buckley) who goes to meet her boyfriend’s parents at their farm despite considering breaking up with him. The film is a difficult one to explain, packed to the brim with symbolism and more focused on emotion than plot. It evokes an uncomfortable feeling, but that’s the point, and it’s well worth the watch for the masterful direction and performances. – Taylor Gates

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Wheelman (2017)

Frank Grillo in Wheelman
Image via Netflix

Run Time: 1 hr 22 min | Genre: Neo-Noir Crime Thriller | Director: Jeremy Rush

Cast: Frank Grillo, Garret Dillahunt, Caitlin Carmichael, Wendy Moniz

Netflix has a remarkable ability to produce the exact type of grindhouse genre films that studios don’t make anymore. Jeremy Rush’s underrated thriller Wheelman is essentially Drive meets Locke; the action-packed car chase thriller is set entirely behind the driver’s seat. This could have been a stretch to the concept if Frank Grillowasn’t so darn charismatic. Best known for his role as Crossbones in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Grillo gives a much more heroic performance as a grizzled getaway driver who discovers he’s been set up. If you’re looking for a tight pulpy thriller under 90 minutes, Wheelman has you covered. — Liam Gaughan

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Mindhorn (2016)

Julian Barratt in Mindhorn (2016)
Image via Netflix

Run Time: 1 hr 29 min | Genre: Comedy | Director: Sean Foley

Cast: Julian Barratt, Essie Davis, Kenneth Branagh, Andrea Riseborough, Steve Coogan, and Russell Tovey

If you enjoy a British comedy that mixes the best of Steve Coogan and Monty Python, Mindhorn is a super fun mix of action and Hollywood satire. Julian Barratt delivers a rousing performance as the titular character, the former star of a cult action television series who is now washed up. Mindhorn has to become an actual hero when he becomes intertwined in a real murder mystery involving some of the biggest fans of his show. Mindhorn doesn’t take things too seriously, but director Sean Foley inserts enough intrigue to keep the story afloat. Make sure to check out the great set of cameos from some of the most beloved British actors working today. — Liam Gaughan

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The Kindergarten Teacher (2018)

Image via Netflix

Run Time: 1 hr 36 min | Genre: Drama | Director: Sara Colangelo

Cast: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gael García Bernal, Parker Sevak, Anna Baryshnikov, Rosa Salazar, Michael Chernus

Remakes of international films for an American market are not uncommon, but it’s very rare that the newer projects accomplish just what their predecessors were gunning for, and Sara Colangelo’s directorial debut is one of them. Asking the question of what we’re willing to do for a little notoriety, The Kindergarten Teacherfollows Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Lisa, a struggling elementary school teacher who wants nothing more than to escape her dull, difficult life by way of her poetry. Her life takes a turn for the chaotic when one of her students, Jimmy (Parker Sevak), displays a remarkable talent for poetry — something she seems to lack. Using the boy’s talent to her advantage, she adopts his poetry as her own to impress her writing tutor (Gael García Bernal), but soon escalates her behavior, isolating the boy from his own family and friends and attempting to use his talent for her own personal gain. Lisa is unsettling in a way that goes against type for Gyllenhaal, rivaling her brother’s performances in films like Velvet Buzzsaw, forcing audiences to question how much trust we put in others, and what the idea of fame is capable of doing to us. — Maggie Boccella

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The Two Popes (2019)

Image via TIFF

Run Time: 2 hr 5 min | Genre: Biographical Drama | Director: Fernando Meirelles

Cast: Jonathan Pryce, Anthony Hopkins

Who would have guessed that the story of papal succession would be such a fun, endearing buddy comedy? City of God director Fernando Meirelles adds a vibrant energy to the relationship between the incumbent Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins) and his eventual successor, Pope Francis (Jonathan Pryce). The two men bond over their shared faith, compassion, and concern for the future of the Catholic Church, despite their wildly different points-of-view. They also listen to ABBA, watch sports, and eat pizza together. While the film certainly doesn’t shy away from the controversial period within the Church’s history, it’s remarkably empathetic and enjoyable. — Liam Gaughan

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The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

ballad of buster scruggs

Run Time: 2 hr 12 min | Genre: Western Drama | Director: Joel and Ethan Coen

Cast: Tim Blake Nelson, James Franco, Liam Neeson, Zoe Kazan, Brendan Gleeson, Tom Waits, Henry Melling

There’s a very distinct possibility that The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is the last film that Joel and Ethan Coen will ever work on together. Ethan is currently working on the stage in New York, and Joel directed A24’s The Tragedy of Macbeth without his brother. If The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is their last collaboration together, it’s an appropriate conclusion to one of the most fruitful partnerships in cinema history. An anthology collection of six stories centering on death and finality, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a darkly amusing combination of everything the Coens do best. Longtime fans of their work have debated which of the sections is the strongest, but you really can’t go wrong with the titular opening story “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” starring Tim Blake Nelson as a singing gunslinger. — Liam Gaughan

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Okja (2017)

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Run Time: 2 hr | Genre: Action-Adventure | Director: Bong Joon-Ho

Cast: Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Ahn Seo-hyun, Byun Hee-bong, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins

Eclectic and emotional, Okja is an imaginative film that both excites and invigorates, as well as pulls at the heartstrings. The film follows the journey of a young girl, Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun), as she attempts to save Okja, the genetically modified pig that she has raised since piglet-hood, who has been taken to the United States to be processed for food. The film challenges modern views on the larger meat industry and large corporations, and does not shy away from the disturbing realities of both that many shy away from. Yet, this film is also filled with a wonderful balance of action, intrigue, and drama. Director Bong Joon-Ho, also known for his films Snowpiercer and Parasite, once again creates a story that delights in its defiance of expectations, with an ending that’s as bitter as it is sweet. — Olivia Fitzpatrick

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The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)

Image via Netflix

Run Time: 1 hr 37 min | Genre: Road Comedy-Drama | Director: Rob Burnett

Cast: Paul Rudd, Craig Roberts, Selena Gomez, Jennifer Ehle

Pack your bags, we’re going on a road trip. Based on Jonathan Evison’s novel The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, the heartwarming hidden gem The Fundamentals of Caring follows Ben (Paul Rudd), a grieving, but upbeat man looking for direction in his life. He signs up for a care-giving class and is hired to care for Trevor (Craig Roberts), a hard-to-please, pessimistic, 18-year-old who suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Trevor, whose father left him and his mother when he was three, resents the unfortunate hand he was dealt and craves to live a normal life as a teenager. Determined to give Trevor the exciting life he deserves, Ben takes him on a cross-country roadtrip where they pick up Dot (Selena Gomez), a fellow frustrated teenager, and bond on their sweet (mis)adventures. Ben reminds us that life is meant to be lived, warts and all. — Emily Bernard

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His House (2020)

A man frightened by something off-screen

Run Time: 1 hr 33 min | Genre: Horror Mystery Thriller | Director: Remi Weekes

Cast: Sope Dirisu, Wunmi Mosaku, Matt Smith

An incredible feature debut from director Remi Weekes, His House is a work of unflinching social horror where the terror is found not just in the supernatural but in the struggles that face an immigrant couple just trying to survive. It stars Sope Dirisu and Wunmi Mosaku as Bol and Rial Majur, who have just narrowly escaped war in South Sudan to try to make a new life in a small English town. What they find there is that this town is not only not built for them but often actively hostile to them. They experience resentment from others and endless pressure to assimilate that only makes their difficult adjustment all that much harder. To make matters worse, there is an evil force that is lurking in their house and a dark secret the two share that is coming back to haunt them with terrifying visions. It may sound like a haunting house story you have heard before but it is so much more than that. Yes, the use of sound and visual terror is perfect though it is the strong emotional undercurrent that makes this film such a memorable one. — Chase Hutchinson

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Rush (2013)

Image via Universal Pictures

Run Time: 2 hr 3 min | Genre: Biographical Sports Action Drama | Director: Ron Howard

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, and Pierfrancesco Favino

While Chris Hemsworth has certainly become one of the shining stars of the MCU, he’s had trouble breaking out in roles outside Thor. One of his most valiant efforts is in Ron Howard‘s criminally underseen 2013 racing drama Rush, in which he plays daring Formula One driver James Hunt. The film chronicles Hunt’s rivalry with Austrian driver Nikki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), with each actor getting pretty even screentime as Howard crafts a story of two very different men who were driven to be the best at what they do. The 1970s aesthetic is tangibly conjured by cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, and the racing scenes are wildly exciting. I’m not quite sure why no one saw this movie, but it’s well worth checking out. – Adam Chitwood

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Private Life (2018)

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Run Time: 2 hr 7 min | Genre: Comedy Drama | Director: Tamara Jenkins

Cast: Kathryn Hahn, Paul Giamatti, Kayli Carter, Molly Shannon, John Carroll Lynch, and Denis O’Hare

If you’ve suddenly become obsessed with Kathryn Hahn thanks to WandaVision, you simply must check out Private Life. This 2018 drama/comedy flew kind of under the radar after its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, but really exemplifies Hahn’s range as it tells the story of a middle-aged couple struggling to have a child through any means possible. The pressure of trying to have a baby puts pressure on their marriage, but the film doesn’t drown itself in doom and gloom and instead feels deeply human as it finds the humor in such a personal struggle. The story was based on writer/director Tamara Jenkins‘ own experience in trying to have a baby, and Hahn and Paul Giamatti deliver a pair of knockout performances as the central couple. — Adam Chitwood

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Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

Image via Madman Entertainment

Run Time: 1 hr 41 min | Genre: Adventure Comedy-Drama | Director: Taika Waititi

Cast: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rhys Darby, Rima Te Wiata, and Rachel House

If you’ve only ever seen Taika Waititi‘s Thor: Ragnarok and Jojo Rabbit, you must seek out Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Released in 2016, this delightfully whimiscal story follows an unlikely duo — a grumpy man played by Sam Neill and a delinquent child played by Julian Dennison — as they go on the run in the New Zealand bush. It’s zany and hilarious and sweet all at once, and it’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face. – Adam Chitwood

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The Ritual (2017)

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Run Time: 1 hr 34 min | Genre: Horror | Director: David Bruckner

Cast: Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, Sam Troughton

If you’re into cult movies — that is, movies about cults — you should absolutely check out The Ritual. The story revolves around four friends who go on a hiking trip in Sweden to honor their friend Rob, who was killed six months earlier during a convenience store robbery. But when they take a shortcut through some woods, they find themselves haunted by a malevolent creature. It’s the kind of horror movie that’s really scary but also has a strong thematic core, so that the external pressures reflect the internal struggles of the characters. Plus the creature design is terrific. – Adam Chitwood

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Hail, Caesar! (2016)

Laurence Laurentz givign directions to Hobie Doyle in Hail, Caesar!

Run Time: 1 hr 46 min | Genre: Comedy Musical | Director: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Cast: George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Alden Ehrenreich, Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Jonah Hill, and Frances McDormand

Can a Coen Brothers movie be underrated? If it’s Hail, Caesar! the answer is yes. This movie doesn’t get the love it deserves, because it’s an absolute delight from start to finish. Set in 1951, the story follows a day in the life of Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), a “fixer” for a movie studio called Capital Pictures who spends the day trying to stave off various scandals, put out fires, and track down a missing movie star. The Coens draw from their wealth of knowledge, inject a ton of humor, and add a touch of existential despair for good measure. – Adam Chitwood

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Creep 2 (2017)

Silhouette of Mark Duplass in Creep 2014
Image via The Orchard

Run Time: 1 hr 20 min | Genre: Psychological Horror Thriller | Director: Patrick Brice

Cast: Mark Duplass, Desiree Akhavan, Karan Soni

The original Creep, also available on Netflix, is a skin-crawlingly icky found footage horror-comedy about the perils of masculinity, obsession, and storytelling. It is well worth your time. And yet, it’s bested handily by its sequel, a true horror masterpiece for the 21st century. Mark Duplass returns as our identity-hopping serial killer, keen on documenting his crimes as a kind of voyeuristic look into the soul masquerading as an attempt at fostering friendship (the murder portrayed in the cold open is… harrowing). But this time, he’s paired with Desiree Akhavan, the fiercely talented filmmaker/actor who plays a fiercely talented filmmaker interested in documenting odd folks with odd requests. And when Creep 2 locks into its two-handed structure, unsettling sparks fly and ricochet. Duplass and Akhavan are perfect sparring partners, generating the film’s queasy moments of suspense, humor, and even genuine connection. Like many of the best pieces of 21st century horror, Creep 2 sneakily has a lot to say about our modern foibles — all while scaring the ever-living stuffing out of you. – Greg Smith

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High Flying Bird (2019)

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Run Time: 1 hr 31 min | Genre: Sports Drama | Director: Steven Soderbergh

Cast: Andre Holland, Zazie Beets, Melvin Gregg, Sonja Sohn, Zachary Quinto, Kyle MacLachlan, and Bill Duke

Steven Soderbergh is always trying new things and changing the game, and his Netflix film High Flying Bird certainly fits that bill. Shot entirely on an iPhone and written by Oscar-winning Moonlight co-writer Tarell Alvin McCraney, this day-in-the-life story takes place over the course of a 48-hour period and follows a sports agent (Andre Holland) as he attempts to find a way to end a basketball lockout that has him strapped for money. The film touches on the way athletes are treated, and offers a lot to chew on in addition to being wildly entertaining. This is a gem just sitting on Netflix waiting for you to watch it. – Adam Chitwood

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