We’ve all done it. You’ve got an afternoon open to laze around and watch a movie. You sit down, log on to Netflix and then spend the next hour trying to figure out what to watch.
The movie decision-making process might even go on longer, but you get the jest. Sometimes there are just too many movies to pick from, and you don’t want to pick one that will make you regret spending the next two hours of your life watching it.
This website has made a list of “must watch” Netflix movies. These are so-called hidden gems that folks overlook, but are really great cinematic works of art.
I came across this list a few weeks back and decided to give a few of these movies a try. I will say — so far so good. I have yet to see one that I didn’t like. While they are not block busters of any kind, they are really well written and directed movies and most have either won an Oscar or have been nominated.
For example, the movie “Undefeated” is a documentary that follows a north Memphis football team through its football season.
The documentary does more than just tell the story of a football team. It gives an inside look at the struggles these young men go through trying to break through their surroundings and go on to college and strive for a successful life.
The documentary won an Oscar for the best documentary feature in 2012, and while you shouldn’t watch it because of that, it’s nice to know that it’s an award-winning movie.
There are 32 movies on the list, which means you can go for at least a month or two before you’re back to the one-hour movie search. Here are my top five, along with the rest.
“Undefeated” won an Oscar but since it’s a documentary, few, sadly, payed attention to it. It tells the story of a football team in a poor area in Tennessee. Kids without a bright future, until the new coach arrives. Yes, that sounds like a very old, cliché tale. But keep in mind, it is a documentary, and the story it tells is so powerful, so gripping, that any familiarity quickly becomes irrelevant. Even if you have no interest in American football, or in sports in general, you will love it and more than likely find yourself reaching for the Kleenex at least a few times before the credits roll.
‘What Maisie Knew’ (2012)
A rock singer (played by Julianne Moore) and an art dealer (Steve Coogan) start a battle for the custody of their daughter, Maisie, mainly to spite each other. When one of them marries, the other rushes a marriage as well. “What Maisie Knew” is all that and more from the perspective of the child Maisie. Written by two writers, directed by two directors and sporting an excellent cast, “What Masie Knew” perfectly portrays its complex and sad subject matter, giving an honest, bitter portrayal of dysfunctional families.
An American romantic comedy, “Beginners” is told through a series of flashbacks and is the story of Oliver and his complicated and difficult relationship with his father. The film is heartbreaking, demonstrating how hurtful we are to those we love, while showing the ties of mutual need that bind people. Along 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.
‘The Station Agent’ (2003)
“The Station Agent” is about loneliness, change and friendship. The characters are developed, they have their own reasons for the choices they make and nothing feels forced, neither actions nor conversations. It’s a small and wonderful movie about a little man who 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.
An inspired-by-true-events tale about an elderly Irish woman trying to find the child she was forced to give up many years earlier. Steve Coogan co-wrote the script. Judi Dench plays the mother who had kept her “sinful” past a secret for 50 years and, being Judi Dench, I don’t need to bother going on about her exemplary talent. Suffice it to say she’s awesome in this role. A must watch, especially with a box of tissue.
Others worth considering:
“Mean Creek” (2003)
“Upstream Color” (2013)
“God Bless America” (2011)
“What Happened, Miss Simone?” (2015)
“People Places Things” (2015)
“Two Days, One Night” (2014)
“The Bank Job” (2008)
“Blue Ruin” (2013)
“The Kids Are All Right” (2010)
“Moonrise Kingdom” (2012)
“The Act of Killing” (2012)
“The Magdalene Sisters” (2002)
“Dirty Pretty Things” (2002)
“After the Wedding” (2006)
“Fruitvale Station” (2013)
“Beasts of No Nation” (2015)
“Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father” (2008)