Highly-rated yet little-known movies

agoodmovietowatch suggests excellent movies (and recently shows) that you might not know about. Curated by humans, not algorithms. Read More.

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Unbelievable is one of the best Netflix productions in a while and definitely the best detective-centric show since the first season of True Detective.After a rape victim is not believed by the detectives who are assigned to her case, details of a similar incident surface elsewhere.Two detectives played masterfully by Toni Collette and Merritt Wever, embark on a relentless journey to catch the perpetrator in this thrilling and insanely bingeable true-crime show.

8.8

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

Three kids from a poor neighborhood win scholarships to the best high-school in Spain and later find themselves at the center of a murder. There is a lot that comes to the surface from the working-class kids clashing with the wealthy. Themes of money, power, religion, and even sexuality make this show so compelling that I never felt like I needed a murder to keep watching.

7.4

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

From the Oscar-nominated cinematographer of City of God, this is a Brazilian Netflix TV show that I can only describe as a smarter Hunger Games.In a dystopian society, the majority of the planet’s population lives in extreme poverty while a select 3% (hence the title) live in a heaven-like world called “The Offshore”. Every year, the 20-year-olds of the planet get a chance to join the 3% in a selection process that for the first time might harbor moles.With an intriguing first episode that shares just enough to keep you informed but engaged, it’s easy to want to binge-watch the whole first season of 3% in one sitting.

8.0

Bosch returned recently for a fifth season, with a sixth one confirmed. It’s a sleeper hit that you may not have heard of, but with time should get the coverage it deserves.Titus Welliver (Lost, Sons of Anarchy, Argo) plays an L.A.P.D. homicide detective who is on trial for using questionable methods during a fatal shootout. At the same time, he is trying to solve an open murder case.Bosch is carried by almost entirely by Welliver, who delivers such a good multi-layered performance that it’s hard to think anyone else could have played this character.

8.0

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

Here is a TV show where the performances are so good that it's hard to give any credit to the story. Patricia Arquette as a prison employee, and Benicio Del Toro and Paul Dano as inmates are an unbelievable trio. They all shine in their own right in this true story of escape from a prison in Upstate New York. Arquette is almost unrecognizable in the role of a frustrated middle-aged woman who gets romantically involved with the inmates. Dano plays the young one, a smart but easily excited guy. Del Toro plays an experienced, shrewd, and boss-type prisoner. Together they take an already exceptional story and create one of the most realistic mysteries in recent memory. Because of this, the pacing might be slow for some - but remember, it's not like the cast is difficult to follow.

9.3

This Netflix production is based on a case that rocked public opinion in Italy. Stefano Cucchi was arrested for a minor drug charge and died five days later from police brutality.The movie takes its time to expose what Cucchi went through, which might lead some viewers to find On My Skin slow, and rightfully so. Thinking about the issues at hand here, it’s easy to understand why the director made that choice. In fact, Italians’ complex relationship with the Carabinieri, a division of the Italian army that carries out domestic policing, is delicate to explain and requires meticulous unveiling.Nominated to nine David di Donatello Awards (the equivalent of the Academy Awards in Italy), of which it won three.

7.7

Hanna the movie was the perfect mix between a coming-of-age story and a Bourne-Trilogy-type thriller. It was suspenseful, edgy, and so original.How to make these attributes stick when the movie is stretched to a TV show? As it turns out, more of the same does the trick.The majority of events have been imagined especially for the show, and it doesn’t stop there. The series is packed with great new talent who bring their uniqueness to the story. Hanna herself is played masterfully by British actress Esme Creed-Miles. Her father - much more present in the show than the movie - is also amazingly played by Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman (you may recognize him from House of Cards or The Killing).High production value and incredible suspense make Hanna an enjoyable and prolonged thrill ride. It’s even more fun if you’ve never watched the movie, as all plot developments will be new to you.

7.8

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

This is a fantastic BBC thriller series. Perfect writing, exceptionally well-developed characters and great actors across the board make this production a classic crime show. A middle-aged Yorkshire Police sergeant is coming to terms with the release from prison of a man who had caused her great harm. His comeback coincides with a kidnapping attempt by a local drug kingpin. A seemingly quaint small town reveals its crime underbelly in a plot that mixes personal vendettas with life-threatening crime. Happy Valley has a great sense of suspense, it’ll keep you on edge at all times. It might not seem like much at the start of the first episode but grows on you. It also follows the BBC tradition (think Luther, Line of Duty, Broadchurch) of addressing the darker side of police work.

9.0

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

This is the perfect dark TV show.It’s no surprise that Julia Roberts’ performance is amazing here. She is the former director of a mysterious program for rehabilitating war veterans.She perfectly blends into her first ever TV show and the world created by the show’s director Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot). That is a world of dark colors and seemingly twisted motivations.Her supporting cast is nothing short of amazing. Shea Whigham is BRILLIANT as the sad but honest detective trying to get to the bottom of things. Bobby Cannavale is also great as Julia Roberts’s old boss, a busy and eager man. This show’s surprise star is newcomer Stephan James, who plays one of the war veterans.At around 30 minutes per episode, time goes by quickly and your hunger to figure out what’s happening increases with every episode.

9.0

Bodyguard scored record viewing numbers for the BBC (the highest in 10 years).That’s only the tip of the why-you-should-watch it iceberg. Watch the first 20 minutes, just the first 20 minutes, and you will understand. If you don’t feel like you’re on an emotional roller coaster that’s about to derail by the end of the second episode, you should email me and I’ll try to get your Netflix subscription refunded.The ONLY problem with this show, and it’s a big one, is the last episode. But it’s just that one, the last episode. I’m not going to tell you why. You’ll see. But the rest of the ride is hella sweet.

8.4

Set in Victorian London, it’s about a guy who sets out on a mission to find his missing family. He is helped by a mysterious medium played by the ever-amazing Eva Green.If you make it to the second season, I genuinely think it’s the better watch. The first season is good, so it won’t be that hard to get there. (Side note: This super cool show pays tribute to some familiar fictional characters like Dr. Frankenstein, Dracula and, Dorian Gray. )

8.2

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

Violent, very Western, and in a breath of fresh air: female. Godless is a show about strong bad-ass women that govern their own town in the late 1800s. Roy Goode is their visitor, an outlaw chased by another, much worse outlaw, Frank Griffin. It’s an honest and powerful show with some amazing performances, and even more amazing aesthetics. If you love Westerns but find them too predictable, this show was made for you.

8.1

A captivating documentary series on the struggling state of the police department in Flint, Michigan; and by extension a large proportion of American cities. The town that had made the news for its water crisis is home to another crisis that dates back further: an exponential rise in crime.  The police department, however, keeps losing funding year over year, so much so that they can only have less than 9 one-officer cars patrolling the (large) city at any one time.  A sobering and impressive account that follows officers facing not only harrowing situations in a failing city, but also the constant fear of being laid-off.

8.2

An amazing binge-worthy show that is a mix between a coming-of-age story, a romance, and a crime thriller. It tells the story of James, a 17-year-old who believes he is a psychopath (for some very convincing reasons). James decides he wants the victim of his first murder to be a new schoolmate, Alyssa.  He befriends her and keeps waiting for the perfect moment to kill Alyssa until he finds himself on a journey with her to escape her home. Somewhere near the middle of the show, and without you fully realizing it, it transforms from an original coming-of-age story or odd-boy-meets-odd-girl story to an intriguing view on adolescent insecurities and the role of parents into shaping them. It transforms from a mysterious, almost charming story to an interesting character study.  This is when the show will blow your mind.  It's a fresh, smart, funny yet disturbing emotional thrill ride.

9.6

When asked to play Andy Kaufman, Jim Carrey decided that he would get into character and never get out, even when the camera was not rolling. This was extremely frustrating to everyone at first, especially the director, who had no way of communicating with Jim Carrey, only Andy Kaufman or Tony Clifton (an alter ego created by Andy Kaufman). At the same time, Carrey had allowed a camera crew to follow him in order to create a behind-the-scenes documentary. The footage was never released because Universal Studios expressed concerns that “people would think Jim Carrey is an asshole”. Jim & Andy is that footage being displayed for the first time since it was recorded 20 years ago, finding Carrey at a very unique point in his life. Sick of fame and almost sick of acting, he displays his true self – an unbelievably smart, fragile, and complex person. His commentary, when it’s not funny impressions, is extremely emotional and grounded – sometimes philosophical. This is one of the best documentaries that Netflix has ever bought the distribution rights for, and certainly a mind-blowing portrayal of a complex mind.

9.2
BF

Ozark is a show about how a seemingly average family that gets tangled up in very unusual circumstances.  Jason Bateman plays an accountant who launders money for a big Mexican drug cartel from Chicago. When things go wrong with the Cartel leader, he is forced to set up shop in the Ozark valley and change practically every aspect of his wife and two kids' lives. The show is not only an exciting crime drama but an interesting manifestation of very common American family discussions and concerns.

8.7

Icarus starts with director Bryan Fogel deciding to inject himself with doping substances and participate in a biking race undetected. By accident, he ends up in contact with a Russian scientist. This man transforms the movie from a personal experiment to a highly relevant political thriller. Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the scientist is at the center of accusations in Russia of a virtually impossible state-sponsored doping scheme. With links to the Russian president Putin himself, the movie keeps getting more and more interesting as the relationship between Fogel and Rodchenkov develops. Aside from all the madness that unfolds, Rodchenkov’s likeable personality makes the story more relatable and humane, and gives an insight into the pressures of working in the regulatory body in a country like Russia. You will be astonished by how much material this movie has. A must-watch.

9.4
BF

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

This is an amazing mini-series of 7 episodes marketed as being the same as the Netflix hit show Making a Murderer. While the two share some of the defining tones, The Keepers is a much more interesting show. It trades cliffhangers for substance, without compromising at all on the mystery of the murder addressed. It gives the bigger picture on what was going on in Baltimore at the time of the murder, and then heavily focuses on the victims from after the murder. It's a riveting tale of injustice, sexual abuse, and corruption. If you so much as like true crime shows (or movies like Spotlight), you're going to not only love The Keepers, but you will find it inspiring in how it addresses the uncovering of secrets.

8.1

Watch out for Ezekiel in this show, he will steal your heart. And also please sit through the first episode. Yes, it's long, but if you get The Get Down, it is one of the best shows on Netflix. Created by Baz Luhrmann and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis, it narrates the rise of hip-hop in a broken 1970’s New York. The impressive credentials don’t stop there, as the series is narrated by Nas, features work by four-time Academy Award winner Catherine Martin as well as hip-hop historian Nelson George. It is perhaps for this reason that the word “narration” takes its full meaning here. Every episode, every scene, every character are made with extreme care, resulting in sometimes longer than necessary sequences. A sacrifice that will make some viewers very happy, but which many might have a hard time adjusting to.

7.8

About love as much as it is about loneliness, romance as much as realism and the longing for a genuine connection as much as being tired of that longing - this is a smart and well nuanced series on building relationships. It follows Gus and Mickey, two damaged people trying to recover from bad breakups. They're respectively played by writer/creater Paul Rust and Gillian Jacobs (Britta from Community). Love portrays their love story as an example of relationships by default, chemistry that stems more from the need to be in a relationship than any physical or intellectual attraction. And it features many hilarious sequences, some are cleverly composed jokes but most of them are the painfully-real type.

7.2

Keir Gilchrist who you may know from the movie It's Kind of a Funny Story plays Sam, an 18-year-old on the autistic spectrum trying to navigate the "typical" aspects of a teenager's life: dating, independence, friendships, etc. Perhaps people dealing with autism can better attest to this, but the show feels genuine and realistic. Don't get me wrong, it's a comedy, but it's a really heartfelt approach to the funny sitcom format. In a lot of ways, Atypical is the perfect 2017 Netflix-age coming-of-age sitcom: it's funny and smart, but also keen to be realistic. And Atypical is about Sam's family almost as much as it is about him, and how they adjust to his new quest for self-discovery. Look out for newcomer Brigette Lundy-Paine, who does an amazing job playing Sam's siter Casey!

7.3

In an age where every show gets called “original” the minute after it comes out, this amazing series from the creators of Orange is the New Black will actually make you go “no, that show is different!”. Starring an almost all-women cast (except for the coach, played masterfully by podcast icon Marc Maron), it’s the story of how a crazy wrestling show was put together in the 1980s called Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. Alison Brie (Community) plays the girl at the center of the effort to make this show happen, having had a terribly failed career thus far. Perfectly acted and featuring funny as well as absurd moments, GLOW is a great show that you can binge on Netflix without noticing the episodes fly by.

8.0

A look into the interesting lives and magnificent plates made in the kitchens of some of the best chefs in the world (including an episode with the best). Each episode dives deep into their worlds’, providing an intimate and ultimately inspiring look at their life both inside the kitchen and out; with all of them having lived unique lives to say the least. Their perspectives on everything from family life to entrepreneurship will dazzle you almost as much as the colorful and spectacular dishes they produce.

9.0