Highly-rated yet little-known movies

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

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Spotlight

agoodmovietowatch Spotlight is a series of sections that shine a light on excellence in under-represented cinema.

Man, don't watch this show hungry. Chef David Chang has both the genius and humility to make whatever food he touches both fascinating and insanely appealing. Each episode follows a particular dish in the places where it’s made best, but also in the places that’s it’s known for. So for example the first episode about pizza goes to Japan to investigate a new pizza in a Michelin-star restaurant, but also goes to Domino’s. Chang has almost a f*ck it attitude towards the food industry that’s not only refreshing to watch on him, but also disarms his guests and sparks interesting conversation. One of the best food shows you can watch today.

8.0

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

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.

9.0
BF

As the name indicates, Losers tells stories of failure in sport - an unconventional way to look at competitive personalities. The first episode is on boxing, the second is on soccer, and so on. But if you stick around, you’ll make it to episode five - my favorite (full disclosure: it is set in Morocco, where I’m from).Every episode is about a different story, so you can watch one or two not in any particular order, then keep the rest for later. It is the perfect documentary style with enough of a narrative to keep plot-addicted people like me captivated.A bonus is that this show is created and directed by renown animator Mickey Duzyj - prepare for stunning yet purpose-driven animations.

8.4

To All the Boys I've Loved Before is not only the best rom-com on Netflix, it's one of the best rom-coms in recent memory, period. It has all the originality and freshness of Juno, the inclusiveness and relevancy of The Big Sick, and the sweetness of all your favourite 2000s romantic comedies. Lara Jean is a high-schooler who's never been in a relationship and who, instead of communicating her feelings to her crushes, writes them letters that never get sent. Her world is turned upside down when those letters do end up in the hands of their recipients. Her first relationship, however peculiar, comes out of the incident. The acting is top notch, the characters are lovable and well-written. Just go watch it, OK? It's a true triumph and an innocent-fun movie, there is no scenario in which you will be disappointed.

9.0
BF

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

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

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.

9.0

To All the Boys I've Loved Before is not only the best rom-com on Netflix, it's one of the best rom-coms in recent memory, period. It has all the originality and freshness of Juno, the inclusiveness and relevancy of The Big Sick, and the sweetness of all your favourite 2000s romantic comedies. Lara Jean is a high-schooler who's never been in a relationship and who, instead of communicating her feelings to her crushes, writes them letters that never get sent. Her world is turned upside down when those letters do end up in the hands of their recipients. Her first relationship, however peculiar, comes out of the incident. The acting is top notch, the characters are lovable and well-written. Just go watch it, OK? It's a true triumph and an innocent-fun movie, there is no scenario in which you will be disappointed.

9.0
BF

This may well be Netflix’s first successful attempt at a traditional weekly television show, a brief and well-made set of videos on topics ranging from the wealth gap to monogamy to cryptocurrency.The idea is decidedly not unique. The only thing YouTube might have more of than make-up advice videos are explanatory monologues by self-declared Illuminati.But the production value, the research, and the dedication that went into Explained set it apart. Expect sharp and factual 15-minute takes on contemporary topics that deeply benefit from Vox’s experience in making easily digestible informative content.At best you will end up more knowledgeable on topics. But expect your special uncle to yell at the “fake news-media liberal snowflakes” on television.

8.4

This movie is like thriller-candy. It is full of twists, it is very atmospheric, and in nicely predictable fashion it will deliver that excitement rush we (most of us) love. Accused of murder, a wealthy entrepreneur hires the best witness preparation expert he can find. They have three hours before the trial to come up with the most solid, plausible defence. But ?, a new witness surfaces. Don’t expect anything overly original, but expect to be entertained.

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

If you liked Netflix’ Stranger Things gloomy suspense, sit tight because there is a lot more of where that came from in Dark. Here is what they have in common: the aesthetic, great music, and they’re both about the disappearance of a child. Other than that, it is very difficult to compare Dark to anything else I’ve seen before.This German show is about a town with a long and dark history, which is brought to the forefront of the collective conscious when a child goes missing. The plot twists and turns through decades of history – and that’s as much as I will share without ruining the show for you. Dark uses beautiful aesthetic, both visually and musically, to be compelling and painfully tension-ridden. Season two has more bouncing between timelines and more dark and inexplicable events, as now six people are missing.

9.0

This documentary starts with Alex Lewis, who gets into a motorcycle accident and wakes up in the hospital not knowing who he is. He doesn’t remember anything (not even what a bicycle or a TV is, or who his mother or father are), but he remembers his twin brother, Marcus.When Alex gets back into his childhood home, he’s full of questions, and Marcus is full of answers. However, slowly, Marcus realizes his power to reshape Alex’s version of their past.Marcus leaves one important detail from Alex’s life that makes this documentary (as if it wasn’t already) such an insane story. I know I said it’s a sad movie, but it’s also fascinating and, ultimately, humanizing of the brothers’ experience.

8.2