26 Best Movies Netflix Algorithms Are Hiding from You

February 14, 2019

Let’s be honest, Netflix’s suggestions suck.

At best, Netflix tries to go by our viewing history. This doesn’t work well if you share your account with other family members. At worst, they prominently display what they recently spent money on (and often shouldn’t have). They rarely suggest what is actually good.

There’s a reason why they now hide user ratings and have replaced them with “match percentages.”

One big and obvious problem is that this limits our exposure to new and different types of content. Another major issue, and this one bothers me more than anything, is that they run out of quality content and recommend mediocre stuff.

If you go on someone else’s Netflix account, preferably someone you don’t share the same tastes with, you can notice the lengths to which algorithms go to keep them watch that same mediocre stuff.

If your friend or family member likes or once liked war movies, Netflix will forever label that person as a fan of war movies. The algorithms will probably show them “Fighting Terrorism in The Jungle 4: Salvation” starring Robert Redford (fictional Netflix Original war movie. If they make it, I’ll claim copyright) than an algorithmically unrelated comedy that won an Oscar last year.

Noone’s taste can be or should be constrained into categories. And it should be allowed to change. Why are we letting a corporation decide our viewing choices anyway?

At the expense of sounding too internet-Che-Guevara, I will leave you with this list of good movies, selected for you by yours truly. We’re doing our best as a movie recommendation website to give people alternatives to what crappy algorithms are putting in front of you.

That is also why we have recently started a newsletter called “Film Nerds vs. Algorithms.”

Join us, share this list, watch the movies, or ask your friends for what’s good. Don’t be part of Netflix’s flock of sheeple. Don’t let it reduce you to categories. This has more significant consequences for you, and our collective cultural lives than might it be apparent now. Unless, of course, you don’t mind only watching Robert Redford reruns for the rest of your life.

26

A documentary that is immediate and plays out like a thriller. Beautifully shot in Virunga National Park in the Eastern Congo, the story focuses on the struggles between Park Rangers and a list of adversaries including poachers, oil company goons, and an Islamic revolutionary army. The stories of the endangered gorillas and the people who struggle to protect them will break your heart and at the same time give you hope in humanity. On top of this, the editing is superb and gives the film an intensity that rivals any recent thriller.

25

Ex Machina is the brilliant science fiction film from the writer of 28 Days Later (and 28 Weeks Later). It tells the story of a developer who is invited by his billionaire CEO to participate in a groundbreaking experiment with the artificially intelligent Ava. When the developer starts interacting with Ava, questions of trust and ethics collide with his own views and commitment to give an interesting and thrilling take on artificial intelligence from different angles. The visual effects are not only stunning but extremely efficient making Ex Machina feel as casually futuristic as Her, and in its emphasis on ideas as daringly simple as a David Fincher production.

What our users say: Excellent A.I. Sci-Fi movie, not action packed, more likely to make you ponder. (by Ken B)More

24

Directed by celebrated artist-turned-fillmmaker Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is the true story of French journalist and fashion editor Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric), who suffered a devastating stroke at the age of 43. Almost completely paralyzed by what is termed “Locked-in Syndrome”, Bauby was left with only the operation of his left eye intact, leaving him forced to communicate via partner-assisted scanning (selection of each letter of the alphabet via blinking). Ultimately, Bauby employed this painstaking procedure to dictate his own memoir “Le Scaphandre et le Papillon”, which became a number one bestseller in Europe. The film alternates between Bauby’s interaction with his visitors and caretakers (including the dictation of his book) and his own dream-like fantasies and memories of his life prior to paralysis. With the title, Bauby uses the diving bell to represent his self-perceived state of isolation, akin to a deep-sea diver encased in an oxygenated chamber, and the corresponding butterfly to represent the freedom he enjoys as he often journeys quite magically through his own mind’s eye. It’s a somber yet engaging film full of heart and vision, featuring wonderful performances by the entire cast across the board.

What our users say: At the beginning I watched this film just for my interest in the medical condition of the main actor. but after its first five minutes i realized that it is a highly professional, tender and heart touching movie not just another copy from movies that discuss miserable cases and let you cry in sympathy without getting the message. i love that... Jean dominique is an ordinary guy not a hero or act like angel ,he cheated on his wife he deprived his children from care ,also he cry and feel sorrow about many deeds,,, the angle of photographing is great like you see by jean's eyes .. many lovely scenes and a lot of philosophical conversations .. this movie is a highly recommended one. (by Sara Osama)More

23

A striking and revelatory documentary focused on the behaviour of captive Orcas and their treatment within SeaWorld and other theme parks around the world. At the center of the story is Tilikum, a bull Orca that has been responsible for the death of three individuals, and the legal and ethical challenges that have arisen from apparent cover-ups by officials. What happened to Tilikum to make him adopt such behavior? First-hand accounts by former whale trainers and experts deliver fascinating truths about Tilikum and the species as whole, with particular attention on their remarkable intelligence and advanced social behaviors. Blackfish will undoubtedly change your perspective on whale captivity indefinitely. It’s certainly not to be missed by anyone who appreciates top-notch documentary film-making as honest historical record.

What our users say: Excellent. Riveting. I spent three of my teenage years on San Juan Island. After a while, you feel like you know the orca personally. My mom died in 1995. I'm glad she can't see what's happening to them now. (by Erica)More

22

A film by legendary director Werner Herzog where he travels to Antarctica, or rather you travel with him to study the people, the places, and the wild life of the South Pole. And when I say people I mean scientists and researchers but also truck drivers, plummers, and basically everyone with an interesting dream. This is a film for all curious minds, whether suit-trapped in a big city or out there in contact with nature every day. It’s a combination so deep of unbelievable scenery and tangible sequences, that it almost becomes intangible, almost a religious experience.

2016
21

From Selma director Ava DuVernay, 13th addresses the second clause of the 13th amendment: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.” A clause that was immediately exploited and for which the consequences and interpretations explain a significant part of the current American societal landscape. What also unfolds is a highly instructive and thought-provoking film that deals with the idea of progress, and justly pays tribute to the horrifying number of lives mass criminalization ruined.

What our users say: An incredible eye opening, jaw dropping movie/documentary. It completely uncovers one (JUST ONE) of the US' extreme hidden secrets and malfunctions. The US is completely screwed up right now and this movie pretty much covers the very first chapter of why it's so screwed up at the moment.Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the National Anthem in protest of Civil Rights for minorities and in particular black Americans. We get that. But President Trump has hijacked his protest and made it about the National Anthem and disrespecting the Flag and the Nation. (Note to Trump....IT WAS NEVER ABOUT THAT!) It's about the first amendment of the constitution....Freedom of Speech (among other points)This movie show exactly why Colin Kaepernick is protesting. And to be fair and honest, coming from a Caucasian....he is incredibly correct. There will forever be division in race and that is horribly sad.Watch the young girl at a Trump Rally towards the end of this movie. That is completely disturbing and appalling. Something is incredibly wrong with the US and it's citizens (in general) and this movie places the blame squarely on the shoulders of where it belongs...on the Government.TIP: Watch this movie with ANYONE and spread the word about this movie. I would give it 6 stars, but that's not an option.WATCH THIS MOVIE! (by The 345 Critic)More

20

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.

19

As the value of ivory appreciated by the Chinese middle-class, the demand for it has skyrocketed. This brought elephants to a dire outlook: extinction in as early as the next 15 years. “Traders in ivory actually want extension in elephants, the less elephants there are the more the price rises” as one of the commentators in the film says. To bring awareness to this threat, filmmakers went undercover for 16 months and followed the ivory from where it was stolen to where it hits the shelves of Hong Kong. The result is a genuine thriller, far more gripping than you’d expect from a documentary. It portrays the brave and hopeful men and women trying to combat these atrocities, the battle they may be losing, and all the obstacles they face. An extremely important watch.

2017
18

Two Korean-American brothers run their family’s shoe store on the day of the 1992 LA riots. The day starts in their struggling business as they hang out with their friend – an 11-year-old African American girl – Kamilla. The Rodney King verdict is announced and violence breaks out. Written, directed, and starring Justin Chon, it’s a tight 94 minutes of impressive film-making that speaks volumes about America’s intra-minority race relations. It’s a work that elicits sympathy, and manages to uplift the violent event to a human level. An amazing movie.

2018
17

Alfonso Cuaron is a master storyteller, Academy Award-winning director, and the man behind masterpieces such as Y Tu Mamá También, Gravity, Children of Men, and perhaps more importantly, the (uncontested) best Harry Potter movie (Prisoner of Azkaban, of course). In Roma, he tells a different story. His own.

Building on events from his childhood, he tells the story of a young domestic worker in the Mexico City’s Roma neighborhood. You get tales of class struggle, family dynamics and sexism in 1970s Mexico City.

The first hour is slow but so beautiful. All it does is prepare you for the events to come, and those who stick it out will be handsomely awarded. 

This is a stunning, wise and deeply personal movie. It’s everything we should ever ask from filmmakers at their prime.

16

Serenity is a futuristic sci-fi film that serves as a feature-length continuation of the story-line from the TV program Firefly (2002-2003). The story revolves around the captain (Nathan Fillion) and crew of the titular space vessel that operate as space outlaws, running cargo and smuggling missions throughout the galaxy. They take on a mysterious young psychic girl and her brother, the girl carrying secrets detrimental to the intergalactic government, and soon find themselves being hunted by a nefarious assassin (Chiwetel Ejiofor). The first feature-length film from Joss Whedon (The Avengers), Serenity is a lively and enjoyable adventure, replete with large-scale action sequences, strong characterizations and just the right touch of wry humor. An enjoyable viewing experience that stands alone without demanding that you have familiarity with the original program beforehand.

15

The Look of Silence is an incredible documentary from Director Joshua Oppenheimer, a follow-up/companion piece to his award-winning documentary The Act of Killing. Both films focus on the Indonesian Genocide of 1965-66, where the military government systematically purged up to one million communists. In this film an optician named Adi Rukun meets with various members of the death squad that murdered his brother, under the guise of providing them eye examinations. As he questions them about their participation in the killings, they show little remorse and in fact provide lurid details to the many executions. It’s a stunning and provocative look at the legacy of historical violence, along with the insidious propaganda that provoked it then and continues to justify it to younger generations.

14

Five orphaned sister are put under house arrest by their uncle and grandmother after they are seen horsing around with local boys from school. While their actions were purely innocent, their behaviour is viewed as scandalous and shameful by the conservative elders in their small Turkish village. After this incident, their grandmother turns her attention towards marrying off her granddaughters. Each of the five sisters rebel in their own way, but it is the youngest and rowdiest sister, Lale, who is the central protagonist of the film. She watches helplessly as each of her older sisters are married off with an increasing sense of dread and desperation. While this may sound hopelessly depressing, the movie is equal parts beautiful and tragic, and floats across the screen in a dreamlike manner. Not all of the sisters escape their oppressive surroundings or their assigned fate, but the message is clear: it’s crucial to try.

13

On Body and Soul is the impeccably crafted winner of the 2017 Berlin Film Festival. Two strangers have the same dream every night, they meet as deer in a forest and eventually fall in love. When they run into each other in real life and search for the love they experience once unconscious, their introverted personalities as well as their surroundings add variables that make it hard to establish that same connection. This unconventional love story is beautifully and passionately made by Hungary’s best director, who had taken an 18-year break from making movies. When you watch it you will realize that her break was probably the only way someone could so creatively and tenderly make something like On Body and Soul.

12

A Call me By Your Name without the privilege, pretentiousness or wealth, and it’s probably a better movie because of it. God’s Own Country tells the story of Johnny, a kid from the Yorkshire countryside and underclass. The family’s workload and responsibility fell on his shoulders after his father suffered from a stroke, which drove him further into loneliness and alienation. Upon meeting a Romanian farmer, his ideas of loneliness, sex, and intimacy are confronted with change. A beautiful and beautifully humane film, and an unbelievable debut by British director Francis Lee.

11

The unbelievable true story the first mass-shootings in America, and a documentary made with so much attention that it is almost impossible to forget. The animations might put you off if you watch the trailer, but they are what makes this movie so amazing. Added to old tapes and current statements from survivors and heroes, they perfectly fill the gaps in the enactment of what happened. An equally sad, gripping and incredibly well-made work on an event that happened 50 years ago and to which there are still no solutions.

10

Do you know that euphoric feeling you get when you watch a smart, eloquent person talk about important ideas? Multiply that by two in Best of Enemies.

This 2015 documentary traces the debates between two of the brightest intellectuals around the Nixon and Reagan eras. Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley couldn’t be more opposed to each other in ideas and values. One is an ardent liberal, who wrote books and movies around gay sex (back in the 1960s), female empowerment, and the fall of the so-called American Empire. The second is an elitist and a Republican guided by Christian values and status quo ideals.

ABC put them together as commentators the 1968 presidential debates, and as such, they would change the future of talk-show TV forever. They both considered debating a sport, and they both were the best in their craft. It’s so, so entertaining to watch them spar with each other. They despised each other, I know that’s not something I should be proud of enjoying, but I did. These debates were not so much a clash of tepid arguments but more of a clash of geniuses. 

What our users say: Goodness me. Gore Vidal did so much more than 'write movies & books around gay sex back in the '60;s'. He was a fiercely intelligent intellectual and admirable human being who just happened to be homosexual. I would certainly have thought twice before entering into any debate with him. I would love to have him around now to watch him lay waste to Mr. Donald Trump and his ilk. (by Trevor)More

9

From one small Texas town to the other, two brothers rob banks and travel with extreme precaution yet apparent recklessness. Played by Chris Pine and Ben Foster, their journey captures their essence as men and the essence of their surroundings. A character study, not of one character, but of many, Hell or High Water is a magical modern-day crime western that you can get soaked in so easily. Jeff Bridges plays the Texas Ranger that chases them adding another perfect performance to the beautiful aesthetic of this thriller that manages to combine realism with romanticism of the subject matter. What turns good men bad? Some of the stuff in this film, definitely.

What our users say: I agree, a really entertaining movie. The dialogues cracked me up, I think it is funnier than most "comedies" these days. (by Me nnnn)More

8

The story of one of the most influential musicians of recent history, George Harrison, told through the eyes of one of the most prominent filmmakers, Martin Scorsese. Director and producer, Scorsese offers one of the most complete documentaries on any artist – ever. And what an artist he was – successful and talented, yes, but also incredibly inspired and spiritual. Through interviews, home movies, and concert footage, this long and intimate film will allow you to travel through the world of The Beatles, and explore the incredible mind of George Harrison. A heartfelt documentary.

What our users say: I watched this as “part 1” and “part 2”. I could have watched it in 5 parts and it would have still been amazing. So don’t be deterred by its long runtime. It’s probably the best portrayal in a documentary of any artist…ever. (by peter.heaton)More

7

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.

What our users say: Amazing interview, but you need to have seen 'Man in the Moon' for it to make any sense. (by Dave)More

6

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.

What our users say: Great movie. Glad i didn't read what the movie was about because that would probably have made me stray away from the movie. It really made the subject interesting and attention-catching. (by C4113)More

5

Phenomenal and heartbreaking, Wind River is a true masterpiece by Taylor Sheridan, the man behind Sicario and Hell or High Water. In a Native American Reservation, a local girl is found dead and a young detective (Elizabeth Olsen) tries to uncover the mystery. She is accompanied by a tracker (Jeremy Renner) with his own dark history in the community. It’s not a very rewarding movie at first, so don’t expect an incredibly fast-paced story from the get-go. However, when everything unfolds, it’s not only action-packed, its reflections on indigenous communities are deep and poignant. How this remains a relatively known movie is shocking, it has to be one of the best mysteries of the past 20 years.

What our users say: Absolutely a fantastic movie! It was dark but incredibly moving and captivating. The setting is also wonderful. Totally unexpected film! (by BeingTheWritter)More

4

You will be most astonished by this electrifying documentary if you are not a racing fan, and even more if you have never heard of Ayrton Senna. The movie matches this character in being captivating beyond belief; incredibly powerful and sublime.

Director Asif Kapadia develops a compelling and exciting picture of F1 and the man that was Ayrton Senna. At a time when F1 cars were +1000hp fire breathing monsters and the grid was stacked with world champions, Senna rose above the rest to take 3 world championships and win the fabled Monaco Grand Prix a record 6 times. Unfortunately Senna’s life was cut short at the age of 34 in a devastating racing crash. By many he is still considered one the best and most exciting racing drivers to have ever stepped into an F1.

What our users say: Veryyyyy Goood Movie and fantastic driver. <3 (by aleksander)More

3

A heart-breaking examination of a decaying shell of a once-bright marriage, this sad and erotic story uses juxtaposition between happy flashbacks and the grim reality of an ordinary and dull life. This film features electrifying performance from Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling, who seamlessly combine tenderness, rage, lust and sadness. This is a guaranteed tear-jerker, so make sure you’ve brought your Kleenexes!

What our users say: It's good man!! Both the protagonists did a great job. Director ...kudos!!!. I am 56 years and yet I loved it. Hats off. (by ajay)More

2

A summer’s night, it’s around 2 AM and you’re outside talking with a close friend about life, happiness, and the human condition. That quality and depth of conversation, which you reach at best a couple of times a year is present throughout the 106 minutes of The End of the Tour. The film depicts the story of David Foster Wallace, as played by Jason Segel, and his interactions with then Rolling Stone journalist David Lipsky, as played by Jesse Eisenberg. It’s like being with two smart friends and discussing your life and theirs in the sense that it is deeply personal, very smart while being simple, and unpretentiously relevant. Performances are nothing short of perfect as Segel completely transforms into the character, and everything is authentically orchestrated with the deft hand of The Spectacular Now director James Ponsoldt. A rare and important film.

What our users say: The movie is very bland. It doesn't have a very clear conflict and it seems to glide over parts I wish it focused more on. But I have to say that the ending was very enjoyable. I would recommend you watch the entire movie even just for the ending. (by yungeun123)More

1

A movie which will catch you from the first second, with one of the best movie beginnings of all time, up until its outstanding end. It is a slow-burning and calm film with nonetheless a very powerful impact. Incendies is guaranteed to be one of those movies you will never forget. The story is about Jeanne and Simon who, to fulfill their mother’s last wishes, must journey to her birthplace in an unnamed Middle-Eastern country. There they discover her tragic and sad past life, and unveil a deeply disturbing secret which will change their lives forever. The movie contains a series of flashbacks telling the story of the mother, Nawal Marwan, while the rest is from the viewpoint of her children.

What our users say: it's just hard not to get mind blown by the end of it. Absolute must-watch. (by ClintMcChuckles)More