32 Best Movies on Netflix You’ve Probably Never Heard of

The well-hidden secrets of the Netflix world are numerous, 32 to be exact. This is their countdown in our longest, most complete list as of yet.

Our purpose at agoodmovietowatch is to reference good little-known films so that on one hand you never wonder what to watch, and on the other so that deserving movies that went unnoticed or which didn't get the exposure they deserve can be introduced to a large audience. You can find all our suggestions here, and only the ones available on Netflix here.

Below meet our best Netflix movies, 32 acclaimed suggestions available to stream on Netflix Instant America.

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Stars: Chloë Grace Moretz, Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart
Directed by: Olivier Assayas

The film for which Kristen Stewart became the first American actress to win the César Award. The Twilight star turned indie prodigy plays next to another award favorite, Juliette Binoche, as her assistant. When rehearsing for the play that launched her career many years earlier, Binoche’s character, Maria, blurs the line between fiction and reality, her old age and her assistant’s young demeanor, and the romance story portrayed in the play and her own life. The movie itself is stylized as a play, adding another interesting layer of artistic creativity to the complex plot line. A film for film lovers.

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Stars: Alexander Skarsgård, Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan
Directed by: David Siegel, Scott McGehee

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 little child, Maisie. Written by two writers, directed by two directors, and sporting an excellent cast, you should not be surprised to learn that What Masie Knew perfectly portrays its complex and sad subject matter, giving an honest, bitter portrayal of dysfunctional families.

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Stars: Alex Høgh Andersen, Pilou Asbæk, Tuva Novotny
Directed by: Tobias Lindholm

A War (Krigen) is a Danish war drama that focuses on Commander Claus Pedersen (Pilou Asbæk) as he leads a company of soldiers in modern day Afghanistan, while his wife at home in Denmark struggles to care for their three children. During a mission to rescue a family from Taliban threat, Claus’ unit is overcome by enemy fire, forcing him to make a dramatic decision that has a complicated effect upon himself, his fellow soldiers and his family back home. A War is a tense yet thoroughly involving drama that offers a profound example of moral ambiguity and the repercussions of warfare. The acting and direction are utterly superb across the board—another enthralling and superbly humanistic affair from Danish filmmaker Tobias Lindholm (A Hijacking).

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Stars: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts
Directed by: Theodore Melfi

In this comedy/drama, Bill Murray plays an aged, dispirited war veteran named Vincent who openly disdains most people and gives little attention to anything beyond alcohol and horse racing. Living a life of solitude in Brooklyn, Vincent’s life takes a turn when a young single mother (Melissa McCarthy) and her son Oliver move in next door, with Vincent eventually agreeing to watch over Oliver when Maggie is at work. Murray is perfectly unpleasant in his darkly comic role, as his relationship with Oliver evolves despite his own misgivings, providing young Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) with the fatherly/grandfatherly presence he desperately needs. Though somewhat formulaic, St. Vincent rises above expectations by way of great dialogue, favorable performances from all of the leads, and an unbelievably touching finale that will really melt your heart. Much better than you probably expect—definitely check this one out.

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Stars: Demet Akbag, Haluk Bilginer, Melisa Sözen
Directed by: Nuri Bilge Ceylan

An absolutely beautiful film about superficiality, arrogance, and heartbreak. It focuses on the life of Aydin, a retired actor who now lives very comfortably managing a small hotel and a number of other small properties. Throughout the film Aydin’s image shifts as he tackles the problems of his rather typical life. Having said this, there is nothing else typical about this film. It captures human relationships with an almost frightening precision. It almost feels as though you have an inside view into someone’s actual life as Aydin battles it out with his sister Necla and his young wife Nihal. To me this is easily one of the best dramas of the decade, and if you so much as like movies that focus on humans and their interactions, it will be that for you too.  Nuri Bilge Ceylan will make 3 hours pass more quickly than they ever have before.

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Stars: Golshifteh Farahani, Shahab Hosseini, Taraneh Alidoosti
Directed by: Asghar Farhadi

Having only made its way to the U.S. 6 long years after its initial release, this is the long-awaited film from the Oscar-winning director of A Separation– and it is in every way extraordinary. It’s a movie stripped down of almost everything to keep only its humans in focus, it is honest and realistic beyond belief and quite simply a must-watch. A group of old friends and relatives reunite for vacation in northern Iran with one of them bringing a new person to the group, Elly, in hopes of her marrying one of the friends, Ahmad. When Elly vanishes without notice, the questions that follow expose the group to unexpected levels, and eventually pose subtle yet sincere questions about gender, politics, and the delicate balance modern-day Iranians live in.

Thanks to the perfect performances and the director’s unparalleled talent, About Elly will feel interesting at times, thrilling and devastating at others, but above all, and because of it being so… human, it will feel familiar to you no matter where you are from.

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Stars: James Baldwin, Stokely Carmichael, Walter Cronkite
Directed by: Liz Garbus

“As fragile as she was strong, as vulnerable as she was dynamic, she was African royalty. How does royalty stomp around in the mud and still walk with grace?”. What Happened, Miss Simone? will teach you and surprise you no matter how much you think you know the soul singer, not only in its exploration of Nina Simone’s personal life and complexities, but by being both a personal and political documentary. As you get to discover an original singer with talents that reach all the way to performance art, you will also learn about a Civil Rights activist’s journey and an unstable woman’s struggle. The documentary is not about answering the question of what happened, Miss Simone? – it’s an exploration of why that question is so important.

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Stars: Deborah Kara Unger, Emilio Estevez, Martin Sheen
Directed by: Emilio Estevez

In “The Way”, an American doctor, Tom (Martin Sheen), travels to Spain to identify the remains of his deceased son (Emilio Estevez, also writer/director) who has died while traveling “El Camino de Santiago”, the famous pilgrimage across Northern Spain. Once there, Tom unexpectedly finds himself inspired to continue his son’s journey, sprinkling his ashes along the lengthy expedition to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, home to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great. Along the way Tom gains several unlikely traveling companions: a Dutchman (Yorick van Wageningen), a Canadian (Deborah Kara Unger) and an Irishman (James Nesbitt), each of whom has his/her own personal reasons for making the pilgrimage, with each adding various degrees of of drama and humor to the proceedings as well. A touching and inspiring film marred a bit by some unnecessarily roughly-hewn characterizations, but overall a pleasant experience with a warm feeling of adventure and camaraderie throughout.

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Stars: James Balog, Louie Psihoyos, Svavar Jónatansson
Directed by: Jeff Orlowski

Incredible footage combined with an incredible soundtrack will keep you frozen in your seat until global warming melts you off (so to speak). Chasing Ice is about a National Geographic photographer who tries to capture a complete overview of what climate change is doing to our planet. Consequently this movie took years to make and countless technical issues had to be dealt with in order to record amazing time-lapse videos. The result is mesmerizing, and something that has never been caught on camera before. This movie is evidence of what our planet is going through that everyone will understand. Be prepared to be charmed and saddened at the same time.

Directed by: Macon Blair,

This is the first film directed by actor Macon Blair (so good in both Blue Ruin and Green Room), and while it is shaggy and tonally all over the place, there is a lot to recommend here. First off, I’m a huge fan of the (underrated) Melanie Lynskey, so I was primed to like this movie from the get-go. After Ruth’s (Lynskey) home is broken into, she seeks revenge against the perpetrators with help from her martial arts obsessed neighbor Tony (Elijah Wood, sporting an impressive rat-tail). What starts out as an empowering journey for Ruth & Tony quickly teeters into dangerous and increasingly violent territory. This movie is probably not for everyone, but if you’re a fan of 90s indie films and don’t mind some violence mixed in with your dark humor, then you will probably enjoy this small, well-acted film.

Directed by: John Lee Hancock,

Michael Keaton is the founder of McDonald’s. Well, not exactly, because this movie is the story of how the man he plays, Ray Kroc, took over the company from two very innovative brothers named Mac and Dick. Played by John Carroll Lynch and none other than Nick Offerman, the brothers put up a fight while Kroc works to franchise the name and make it into a billion-dollar empire. It’s a real-life story of the pursuit of the American dream through both persistence and ruthlessness, retracing Kroc’s history from a struggling salesman to a fiercely pragmatic business giant. A crazy story and a cautionary tale of sorts, this is a movie on what makes America what it is.

Directed by: Peter Sattler,

This is Kristen Stewart’s proof that she is more than a lip-biting, vampire-loving teenager. Reactive and emotive, she will not disappoint you here. Rather expect an electrifying and exceptional performance. Paired with Payman Moaadi, they both make of this work an emotionally poignant movie that questions the notion of freedom in the unlikeliest of places: Guantanamo Bay.

Directed by: Xavier Dolan,

Based on a play and taking place in the span of one afternoon, It’s Only the End of the World is about a successful writer returning to his hometown in rural Canada baring life-altering news. But before he can share anything, he is faced with the remnants of his life prior to moving out and his family members’ (eccentric but relatable) personalities. This is a movie by one of the most interesting directors working today, Canadian Xavier Dolan. Contrary to his plot-heavy Mommy (which earned him the Cannes Jury Prize at 25 years old), in It’s Only the End of the World how the story unfolds is far more important than what it unfolds. It’s an exploration of dynamics: between brother and sister, between son and mother, between brothers, etc. Don’t go into it expecting things to happen, or waiting for what will happen in the end. Instead, the purpose of this of this film can be found in how Xavier Dolan handles his usual themes of family through big talent: Mario Cotillard, Vincent Cassel, and Léa Seydoux among many others.

Directed by: Werner Herzog,

From countries like Finland to North Korea, this amazing documentary explores the most fascinating active volcanoes on our planet. But as it unfolds you realize that Into the Inferno is a movie as much about volcanoes as it is about the people obsessed with them, and the general fascination we all have towards them. And who can be called obsessive more than the film’s own director, Werner Herzog, who, with such an explosive career had to eventually make a film about volcanos (bad pun intended). Beautiful scenery, interesting interviews, and Werner’s majestic delivery all make Into the Inferno both an interesting and satisfying documentary.

Directed by: Hong-jin Na,

In rural Korea a policeman starts to investigate peculiar and violent events that most of the people in his village attribute to the arrival of a new Japanese resident. As the occurrences keep multiplying, and different perspectives in the film are shown, you start to lose touch with reality in the face of what can only be described as genius film-making. As critic Jada Yuan puts it, the film operates on a level “that makes most American cinema seem clunky and unimaginative”. For this reason, and while The Wailing is a true horror flick with a great premise, it’s also more than just that: it boosts a mind-boggling, interesting plot that will have you thinking about it long after the credits roll. Protip: grab the person next to you and make them watch this movie with you so you can have someone to discuss it with after!

Directed by: Alison Klayman,

An inspiring documentary about famed artist Ai Weiwei who has been the source of arguably the biggest public confrontation with the Chinese government by any artist. His straightforward attitude is made to provoke and to defend the people of China against the totalitarian regime. The film portrays Weiwei’s very visible struggle for redemption and invoke a sense of accountability from the government. The documentary is also about him as a person, his intimate relationships and his interactions with his family as he prepares for a big exhibition. A rare insight into a fascinating mind.

Directed by: Noah Baumbach,

Director Noah Baumbach’s autobiographical film is a strikingly realistic take on divorce and the turmoil it sets on an already-dysfunctional family. Bernard (Jeff Daniels) is a selfish decadent writer who’s splitting with his unfaithful wife Joan (Laura Linney). Their two sons, Walt (Jesse Eisenberg) and Frank (Owen Kline), are taking different sides that reflect their personality. This separation only reinforces their insecurities as they quickly fall into depression and grow away from their friends. The parents, however, find unconventional lovers just as quickly, Bernard with a student of his, and Jane with her son’s tennis coach.

The Squid and the Whale is a funny, emotional, and gripping story that finds a perfect balance in tone despite dealing with bitter divorce and troubled adolescence.

Directed by: Lynne Ramsay,

Adapted from the Lionel Shriver novel of the same name, We Need to Talk About Kevin is the story of a mother (Tilda Swinton) that never quite bonds with her child, but not by her choice. The son grows up to do a heinous act that begs the question: nature or nurture? This film is an uncompromising view on the development of an unloved child. Silent pain gets voice. Feelings are shown by actions not emotions in an authentic, comprehensible and aesthetic manner. Great work.

Directed by: Giuseppe Tornatore,

A riveting take on one of the most prestigious forms of modern art, The Best Offer is a film laced with symbolism and thick, posh accents. Virgil Oldman (Geoffrey Rush) ends up pursuing a socially inept woman through Robert (Jim Sturgess), who guides him in winning her heart, albeit, rather unconventionally. What starts out as something Oldman brushes off to be some poor laid-out scam ends up a mystery he begins obsessing over, turning his life to shambles of sorts.

This uncanny film by Academy Award-winning director Giuseppe Tornatore delivers sharp twists and appropriately-timed surprises in a suspense-thriller served on a silver platter.

Directed by: John Carney,

In 1980s Dublin, a young Irish catholic-school boy, whose family is facing financial problems starts his own band with the sole objective of impressing a mysterious femme fatale. The film will take you on a beautiful and witty journey through the band’s path to success and our protagonist’s quest of conquering his love all to the rhythm of some of the biggest 80’s pop-rock hits and the band’s own original soundtrack. Without a doubt this film is the culmination of John Carney’s work (Once, Begin Again) as a filmmaker and dare I say his long awaited passion project.

Directed by: Uda Benyamina,

Deep in the suburbs of Paris, Divines follows the story of Dounia (played by Oulaya Amamra) and her best friend Maimouna (played by Déborah Lukumuena). Director Houda Benyamina serves a nest of social issues – welcoming the viewer into a world where poverty is pervasive and adults are haunted by their own ghosts, where there is a life vest only in the reliance on friendship. The nature of this bond between the two female characters is deep, playful, and backed by mesmerizing acting on behalf of Amamra and Lukumuena.

Just as prevailing throughout the film is the commentary on immigrant diasporas and the power of idealization. The girls fantasize about financial excess with guttural determination, guided only by the realization that their escape from their current lives has to come to fruition no matter what the cost. This film is entrancing and thought-provoking. You won’t be able to look away.

Directed by: Alexandre Lehmann,

Shot in black and white to be the best dialogue-driven, character-study film it can be; Blue Jay stars Sarah Paulson and Mark Duplass in a cozy, slow-burning film. Their characters, respectively Amanda and Jim, are former high-school sweethearts who run into each other in their hometowns 20 years later. They talk, then get coffee, and then beer and jelly beans, until they move to Jim’s mother’s house. As they talk, and the movie moves forward, it abandons its romantic chops to become a truly heartfelt and real film. A revelation of a movie.

Directed by: Charles Ferguson,

This Oscar winning documentary is no standard film. Even by being beautifully crafted and having an amazing soundtrack–soundtracks are important–it does not miss its core story for a second. A delivery so good and so crisp that it will make you go “the sons of b” and “those motherf” more times than Joey from Friends got laid in 1999.

On a more serious note, Inside Job is a great and complete technical overview of the financial meltdown. I know the word “technical” scared you there, but it shouldn’t! The movie is simple, uses charts and colors for all of us who once thought figures and formulas were too complicated to understand — it even makes you go, “hey, this is not so difficult to understand. Them motherf.’ The movie is also very exciting: no spoilers but all I can say is that there are b*s trippin in there.

Directed by: Mike Mills,

An American romantic comedy, Beginners is told through a series of flashbacks telling the story of Oliver and his complicated and difficult relationship with his father. The film is gorgeously heartbreaking, demonstrating how hurtful we are to those we love, while showing the ties of mutual need that bind people. In 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.

Directed by: Joon-ho Bong,

Director Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer) does something quite amazing with the $50 million budget Netflix gave him: he makes a simplistic movie.  But boy is it good. Okja tells the story of a “super pig” experimentation that sends genetically modified pigs to top farmers around the world. In Korea, a farmer’s granddaughter forms a special relationship with one of these super pigs (called Okja), only to be confronted by the company who runs the experimentation in the persons of Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton). When they try to take away Okja, she finds an ally in an animal advocacy group lead by Jay (Paul Dano), and goes on an adventure to retrieve her friend.  Again, it’s a straightforward movie, and in that sense it is very entertaining – but it’s also full of thought-provoking themes, and mostly incredibly thoughtful performances from the ensemble cast.

Directed by: Rob Burnett,

The Fundamentals of Caring is an offbeat comedy/drama starring Paul Rudd as Ben, a man attempting to overcome tragedy and looming divorce by becoming the caretaker for a teenager with muscular dystrophy named Trevor (Craig Roberts, Submarine). The two develop an unconventional relationship based largely on sarcasm and profanity, delivering many laugh-out-loud moments, while also slowly exposing the pain each is carrying inside. They eventually embark on a road trip across the western United States, at Ben’s urging, in order for Craig to see something of the world beyond his wheelchair and television. It’s a formulaic yet fun and touching road movie that covers much familiar ground, but also offers a fine illustration of caregiving, personal growth and emotional healing. Paul Rudd is as good ever, and Roberts is utterly superb. One of the best movies on the Netflix Originals catalog, and an undeniable winner, all-in-all.

Directed by: Sebastian Schipper,

In the mood for an impeccably crafted real-life thriller? This movie is for you. On the way out of a nightclub Victoria runs into four raucous German men who convince her to hang out with them. She is from Spain and has been temporarily living in Berlin. Her German isn’t very good, but her English is passable. She shares some drinks with her new friends, and strikes up a flirtation with one of them. But what starts out as light-hearted hijinks at 4:30am eventually swerves into darker and more dangerous territory, as Victoria is coerced into participating in her German companions’ dangerous plans. While the plot may sound like your standard issue crime drama, Victoria turns out to be something a little different, due to the thrilling and unusual way it was filmed – in a single shot. In interviews the director has talked about his process, and the challenges of filming an over 2-hour movie (it clocks in at 138 minutes) in over 20 different locations throughout the city of Berlin. The “one take” filming process could be viewed as a stunt, but in this case, I think it works well to serve the story. The tension built from the tightrope walk of the actors and filming crew adds to the ratcheting tension of the story line. Laia Costa give an astounding lead performance. There is not a single scene in Victoria where she is not present, and the movie would simply not work without her. A crazy, awesome movie.

Directed by: Daniel Lindsay,

Undefeated won an Oscar but since it’s a documentary, few sadly paid 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.

Directed by: Stephen Frears,

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 and, though the base story is a tragic one, his special brand of very subtle, wry wit is apparent in the dialogue throughout. Judi Dench plays the mother who had kept her “sinful” past a secret for fifty years and, being Judi Dench, I don’t need to bother going on about her exemplary talent, suffice to say she’s charming beyond measure in the role. Steven Frears directs, as usual, deftly, and keeps the story compelling scene after scene, intensifying the emotions inherent to each, whether they be heart-warming, comedic, or outright enraging. Whoever decided to let Steve Coogan have his way with the script, it was a brave and wise choice and together this cast and crew have produced a wonderful and important piece of cinema.

Directed by: Ryan Coogler,

The true story of Oscar Grant III, a 22-year-old black man on the last day of 2008, where his will to change is challenged by his past, surroundings, and the police. You’ve probably read and heard a lot about young black men’s sad recent encounters with the police, and for this reason you might feel like skipping this film. Don’t.

Produced by Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker, it is so compassionate and powerfully told, that it surpasses the sadness of its subject matter to almost be a celebration of life. It is an extraordinary and important watch.

Directed by: Cary Fukunaga,

An instant classic, Beast of No Nation is a unique and uniquely-paced war drama which ranges in patterns from explosive visual storytelling to calm character studies. A child joins a rebel group consisting almost entirely of children and led by a charismatic leader credited as Commandant. As you get to witness the conflict through the child’s eyes, his own development and his commander’s, the film unfolds as an exploration of the never ending, pathetic state of war in Africa. From there it takes you to varying conclusions, most of which you will have trouble admitting you’ve reached.

As Commandant, Idris Elba is transfixing, proving once more that he is one of the best actors of our time. The whole cast of almost entirely non-actors, as well as the deeply authentic staging by True Detective and Sin Nombre director Cary Fukunaga, are both mesmerizing. So, while undeniably a tough watch, on a scale of 1 to go watch this movie immediately, this film ranks a million.

Directed by: Kurt Kuenne,

You will not come out of this movie the same person you were going into it. Get ready to cry your eyes out, scream in anger, and rejoice that such a powerful love can exist in our world. DO NOT READ ANY SPOILERS OR SUMMARIES BEFORE VIEWING! This loving documentary about the father of a young boy is one of the best movies of this decade! We can’t recommend this film enough!