Highly-rated yet little-known movies

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

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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

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

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

Nadia is a game developer and proud aging hipster living in New York. Her story starts at her thirty-sixth birthday party looking at herself in the bathroom mirror. On her way out, she finds a friend who hands her a joint laced with cocaine, “that’s how the Israelis do it” her friend says.Nadia hooks up with a guy and they stop at a bodega on the way back to her place. So far everything seems normal (in a New York-hipster kind of way). But on her way out of the bodega, she is hit by a car and dies. The story restarts, at the same birthday party, staring at herself in the mirror.Russian Doll can be summarized in what Nadia screams later that night: “the universe is trying to f*ck with me, and I refuse to engage”. Her strong personality and the events that happen to her allow the show to explore themes of vulnerability, trauma, and even life and death. Russian Doll repeats almost every episode, but its originality and plot twists make it more refreshing with every repeat.This rhythm takes some quick getting used to, but the moment you do you will not be able to look away. Natasha Lyonne from Orange is the New Black is masterful at playing Nadia. She co-created the show with Amy Poehler and Sleeping With Other People director, Leslye Headland. She packs a lot of the originality and character that possibly makes Russian Doll the most fun and original show you will watch in 2019.

8.0

Refreshing, classy, and absolutely hilarious — The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a real triumph. Set in the 1950s, this is the story of a housewife and mother who, to everyone but herself, seems to fit very well into the patriarchal ideas of a woman of that era. In reality, she is a witty, funny, and strong woman — and someone who is willing to act on those attributes. After a series of events involving her mediocre cheating husband, she decides to become a stand-up comedian.The costumes and the mastery with which 50s New York is portrayed are what really did it for me. Everything is so beautiful, so much fun, yet so gim. It’s the most satisfying to watch Ms. Maisel navigate all of it, with a few serious laughs here and there, and riveting dialogue.

9.0

Maniac is really original. Original as in aesthetically weird, in a good way. Jonah Hill and Emma Stone star in this tale set in an alternative world that is a blend of 1990s technology and fictional words and concepts. Their characters, suffering respectively from schizophrenia and heartbreak, participate in a drug test that was supposed to cure their problems. Things don’t go as planned. This show is like if Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind had a child with Inception, and then that child grew up to marry Get Out. The child of that marriage is Maniac. A refreshing, original and beautifully creative miniseries well worth your time.

7.8

Don’t worry.Adam Sandler doesn’t suck here.This is a beautiful family comedy directed by Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha, The Squid and the Whale). Sandler plays a recently divorced man (as he tends to do) called Danny (as he’s usually called). Danny moves in with his father, played by Dustin Hoffman, who himself is dealing with feelings of failure.Both of them are joined by other members of the family, including Danny’s half-brother, played by Ben Stiller. Their family dynamics are portrayed in a beautiful and sometimes moving way. Director Baumbach proves he’s so good, he can make even Adam Sandler sound and look genuine.

8.0

With so many popular true crime programs like Making a Murderer, The Keepers and The Jinx, you must have seen something like this coming – a satirical true crime series. Although that sounds like a silly idea to go over in many episodes, trust me, this show is amazing. I don’t know if it’s the genius of its makers or just the magic of this golden TV show era we live in, but what starts as a joke actually ends up being a pretty compelling mystery. 27 teachers of a high school find their cars vandalized – with drawings of penises. The suspected senior, Dylan Maxwell (already known for drawing penises everywhere) is then expelled. A sophomore student then takes it upon himself to investigate and prove Dylan’s innocence. Hilarious, yes, but this show is actually also very captivating.

8.0