Highly-rated yet little-known movies

agoodmovietowatch suggests excellent movies (and recently shows) that you might not know about.

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agoodmovietowatch

Phoebe Waller-Bridge became famous for her hit show Fleabag, but few people know about Crashing which she has also created and stars in, and which deserves just as much attention. She plays a girl who moves to London to be with her childhood friend, who’s already in a relationship and living with his partner and four others in an abandoned hospital. Waller-Bridge settles into the hospital as well, and the six twenty-somethings become property guardians of the hospital building.Funny characters and excellent performances make this show dangerously bingeable.

7.7

A hilarious BBC/Viceland comedy about an underground hip-hop station and the unique characters that run it. Kurupt FM is lead by MC Grindah, a disillusioned but dedicated DJ. He is introduced in the first episode by his wife as someone who has been arrested before, but only for “silly little things” like “drug dealing and hate crimes”. His friend and manager is Chabuddy G, a “business” man who lives in the cybercafé he runs with his Eastern European wife he can’t communicate with, all while trying to start a company to import “peanut dust” (the last bits of peanut that remain at the end of a peanut pack). People Just Do Nothing is legitimately funny with quick episodes and even quicker seasons. The first one only has four episodes, so it’s a guilt-free yet amazing binge.

8.6

This is one of those reviews where it’s probably enough to say: watch the pilot. There is no better proof of how good Modern Love is than its first episode.The show is based on true stories that were shared in The New York Times column by the same name. That first episode is about the relationship between a doorman and a New Yorker. But, plot twist, Modern Love isn’t just about romantic relationships. It’s also about friendships, family links, and all displays of love and affection.The second episode is with Dev Patel and Catherine Keener, which I found to be also excellent. There are other ones with Tina Fey, Anne Hathaway, and many other big names, but the first two episodes are still my favorites.The power of Modern Love is in the riveting true stories it tells. It might as well have been called “you can’t make this stuff up.”

8.5

Olivia Colman stars in this crazy comedy about an unusual family of intellectuals living in the English countryside.Colman plays Deborah Flowers, the mother of the family and a music teacher. She’s struggling in her marriage to her miserable and unfaithful husband Maurice (played so well by Julian Barratt). Together they live with a Japanese butler who barely speaks English and their adult twin children who are always on the verge of killing each other.Broken families have always been a premise for jokes on TV, but if you think about it or if you watch Flowers, you’ll be reminded that broken families are also a serious and dreadful affair.

8.3

Co-produced by the BBC and HBO, Extras is about - you guessed it - casting extras. It follows two aspiring actors as they interact with big names in the industry like Ben Stiller, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kate Winslet. The first episode finds Ben Stiller directing a genocide movie while bragging about the success of Dodgeball. Gervais’ character tries to get a line in the movie while hilariously avoiding interactions with other extras. A funny TV show set in an original setting (film sets) and around many familiar faces, Extras is not to be missed if you’re a comedy fan.

8.2

PEN15 is a funny sitcom about two friends going through middle-school in the year 2000. The show's creator Maya Erskine plays one of the two characters, who just like most of the show is based on her own life. Erskine's genius in PEN15 is her ability to wrap her own insecurities and hardships growing up in genuinely funny comedy. You might be asking how can a 13-year-old create a TV show and star in it? They can't, Erskine is in her 30s but plays her 13-year-old-self. Her performance and that of her co-star are one more exceptional sight to behold in this hilarious and personal TV show.

8.1

Tim Robinson, who was briefly a Saturday Night Live actor, writes and stars in this series of hilarious and absurd comedy sketches. Every episode is 20 minutes or less and has about five or six skits. Robinson is supported by an array of talented actors like Andy Samberg, Cecily Strong, Will Forte, and Steven Yeun. The show starts off strong with possibly one of its best sketches - a job candidate who snaps when confronted with the small mishap of not knowing how to open a door. Then it moves to more absurd territory, like a horrific encounter caused by a “honk if you’re horny” sticker, a baby peageant that goes wrong, and so on. The brand of comedy is unique, and you will probably know if you like it or not from the first sketch alone (if you don’t, there is probably no reason to keep watching). Fans of The Eric Andre Show and Key and Peele will love this.

7.1

This is an HBO dark comedy that was intensely loved by anyone who knew about it before it was inexplicably canceled. Laura Dern plays a corporate executive who has a full-blown meltdown. I’m talking mascara streaming down her cheeks and screaming “I’m going to destroy you” to a coworker. When she comes back from a retreat in Hawaii she is forced to take, Den’s character is no longer filled with corporate rage but with inexplicable and almost obnoxious positivity. She tries to spread her new outlook around by giving people books like “Flow Through Your Rage” and telling them about sea turtles. Things get more real when she decides to take on her old company’s abuses. I think the reason this show has such hard-core fans is that they fell in love with Laura Dern’s character. Watching this show is like letting in a flawed, dependent, but extremely determined and well-meaning person into your life. Enlightened is funny, engaging, and all-around near-perfect TV.

8.0

Rilakkuma and Kaoru is that perfect mix of cute and profound that you’d expect from a Japanese show about a woman living with teddy-bear roommates. The first episode is about cherry blossoms, but really, it’s about loneliness. Actually, the best term I can find to describe this show, and I’m not joking, is “slice-of-life.” The stories are endearing and intimate. You won’t be able to help but relate to the main character as she deals with being single while her friends are in relationships, her apartment building being demolished and she can’t find another affordable place to move into, her stressful job, etc. I have never seen a show combine this many absurd elements (the woman lives with three goddamn teddy bears), with so much realism. And all of this is done in an easy, quiet tone.

8.2

When I learned about Street Food the first time, I was reluctant to sit through yet another Netflix cooking show. They’ve made so many that when I want to bring up an episode with a friend I forget if I saw it in Ugly Delicious, Chef’s Table, Salt Fat Acid Heat or others. I can’t say that Street Food is a different format. It uses the same slow-motion takes of food, the same close-ups on chefs and the same style of interviews. Here is the thing though. Street Food might be similar to other Netflix cooking shows, but it’s also better than them in almost every way. Much better. It’s only 30 minutes long per episode, so it doesn’t indulge in egos or stray into unrelated stories. It doesn’t showcase kitchens where only the rich eat, like Chef’s Table often does, but stalls that are accessible to everyone. And in the best way, it connects the story of the food makers to the food. The show is mostly about middle-aged to senior women, and people who do not make that much money. It’s not about glamorous young chefs. It’s about food stripped away from any marketing or showbiz. Real cooking, real chefs, real diners. In its unpretentious nature, Street Food feels euphoric.

8.0

In After Life, Ricky Gervais plays a kind-hearted journalist who turns dark after his wife passes away. Her parting gift to him is a video manual on how to deal with life. But his pessimism and annoyance with people keep delaying him from watching it. Worst of all, a new recruit at the newspaper is assigned to work with him. Her determined personality not only further delays him from dealing with his sadness, but gives him the platform to be even darker and more pessimistic. After Life is a mix of dark humor, straightforward drama, and tragedy. It’s a difficult story packaged in the easiest and most digestible TV form. The episodes are quick, have clear arcs and plot; and yet, you won’t be able to shake the feeling that you’re watching something much deeper than a Ricky Gervais comedy.

7.6