The 10 Best Quirky/Whimsical Movies on Netflix

Updated January 2, 2022 • Staff

The 2010s were the decade of "indie" movies, in reference not to studio types but to a style of storytelling that started in the late 2000s. In comedy-dramas, especially coming-of-age stories, this style can best be described as quirky or whimsical.

 

Here are the best quirky movies streaming on Netflix right now.

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10.

Happy as Lazzaro (2018)

Set in 1970s Italian countryside, this is a quirky movie that’s full of plot twists.

Lazzaro is a dedicated worker at a tobacco estate. His village has been indebted to a marquise and like everyone else, he works without a wage and in arduous conditions.

Lazzaro strikes a friendship with the son of the marquise, who, in an act of rebellion against his mother, decides to fake his own kidnapping. The two form an unlikely friendship in a story that mixes magical realism with social commentary.

Genre: Drama, Fantasy
Actor: Adriano Tardiolo, Agnese Graziani, Alba Rohrwacher, Alice Rohrwacher, Carlo Tarmati, Leonardo Nigro, Luca Chikovani, Natalino Balasso, Nicoletta Braschi, Pasqualina Scuncia, Sergi Lopez, Tommaso Ragno
Director: Alice Rohrwacher
Rating: PG-13
Go to Netflix
9.

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

A quirky little movie about a reporter trying to get a story about a man who posted an ad looking for someone to travel in time with. The movie's main strength is the fantastic casting of talents that usually live in the series world (Jake M. Johnson from New Girl, Aubery Plaza from Parcs and Recreation, Mark Duplass), and although it might seem a little bit slow at the beginning, it is worth every second spent watching it.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Science Fiction
Actor: Aubrey Plaza, Basil Harris, Colin Trevorrow, Jake Johnson, Jeff Garlin, Jenica Bergere, Karan Soni, Kristen Bell, Lauren Carlos, Lynn Shelton, Mark Duplass, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Tony Doupe
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Rating: R
Go to Netflix
8.

The Squid and the Whale (2005)

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.

Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Adam Rose, Alexandra Daddario, Anna Paquin, David Benger, Eli Gelb, Elizabeth Meriwether, Halley Feiffer, Jeff Daniels, Jesse Eisenberg, Ken Leung, Laura Linney, Maryann Plunkett, Owen Kline, Peggy Gormley, William Baldwin
Director: Noah Baumbach
Rating: R
Go to Netflix
7.

The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

A wonderful, witty teen comedy—possibly the best the genre has known in a long time! In a powerhouse performance, Hailee Steinfeld plays Nadine, a high school junior at peak angst and awkwardness. Her roller coaster journey through family, friends, lovers, or lack thereof, gives her that all-too-common impression for people her age that life is unbearable. Things get more complicated when Nadine's dad passes and her only friend hooks up with an unexpected person. Her temperament and humor will help her see past her demons to understand what's important in life, putting you in privileged spectator mode to this highly smart and exciting coming-of-age story.

Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Alexander Calvert, Ava Grace Cooper, Blake Jenner, Chris Shields, Christian Michael Cooper, Daniel Bacon, Eric Keenleyside, Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Hayden Szeto, Jena Skodje, Katie Stuart, Kavandeep Hayre, Kelly Fremon Craig, Kirsten Robek, Kyra Sedgwick, Laine MacNeil, Laura Ward, Lina Renna, Meredith Monroe, Nesta Cooper, Woody Harrelson
Director: Kelly Fremon Craig
Rating: R
Go to Netflix
6.

The Young Offenders (2016)

The Young Offenders is a comedy about two Irish teenagers who go on a 160km bicycle trip to salvage 7 million euros worth of lost cocaine. As they sit on a hill overlooking their city, they imagine what they would do with that money. The answer is building a house that has lava lamps, “big gold walls”, Spanish girls, and an English butler to wake them up every morning with the phrase “what’s happenin’?”. You get the vibe. It’s is a silly movie, although the premise is actually based on a real-life event where cocaine from a capsized smuggling boat washed up on the Irish coast. The Young Offenders wears its heart on its sleeve. It’s a sweet funny movie, half slapstick and half plot, which sports an infinity of highly quotable one-liners.

Genre: Comedy
Actor: Alex Murphy, Chris Walley, Ciaran Bermingham, Dominic MacHale, Hilary Rose, Michael Sands, P.J. Gallagher, Pascal Scott, Peter Foott, Shane Casey
Director: Peter Foott
Rating: N/A
Go to Netflix
5.

20th Century Women (2016)

Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig, and many other big names star in this comedy-drama directed by Mike Mills (Beginners, Thumbsucker.) The story spans multiple generations but starts in 1979, where Dorothea Fields (Bening) is finding it increasingly difficult to raise her son alone. She enlists the help of two other women, one her son’s age and the other a New Yorker in her twenties who is very active in the punk scene. The three women, of three different generations and personalities as well as takes on the concept of “only a man can raise a man,” play different roles in this kid’s life. 20th Century Women is based on director Mike Mill’s own upbringing in Southern California.

Genre: Drama
Actor: Alex Wexo, Alia Shawkat, Alison Elliott, Annette Bening, Billy Crudup, Cameron Gellman, Christina Offley, Curran Walters, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Elle Fanning, Finn Roberts, Gareth Williams, Greta Gerwig, John Billingsley, Kai Lennox, Laura Slade Wiggins, Lucas Jade Zumann, Matthew Cardarople, Mike Mills, Nathalie Love, Paul Tigue, Thea Gill, Waleed Zuaiter
Director: Mike Mills
Rating: R
Go to Netflix
4.

Paddleton (2019)

There are three big reasons to watch Paddleton. The first two are Ray Romano and Mark Duplass, who play the two neighbors at the center of the story. And the third is Alexandre Lehmann, the director, who also is responsible for Blue Jay (on Netflix as well).

These two misfit neighbors find themselves together when one of them is diagnosed with cancer. They embark on a trip to the nearest pharmacy (a six-hour drive) which turns into an adventure.

This premise gives Paddleton a lot to play on: it’s a comedy, but it’s also a drama about a fatal disease. It’s a bromance, but it’s about a fragile friendship. All these contradictions make Paddleton a great slice-of-life movie. And again, both actors are amazing. Watching it just for them is worth it.

Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Alexandra Billings, Christine Woods, Dendrie Taylor, Kadeem Hardison, Marguerite Moreau, Mark Duplass, Matt Bush, Ray Romano, Yolanda Bolden
Director: Alex Lehmann, Alexandre Lehmann
Rating: TV-MA
Go to Netflix
3.

The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)

The Fundamentals of Caring is an offbeat comedy/drama starring Paul Rudd as a man attempting to overcome his looming divorce by becoming the caretaker for a teenager with muscular dystrophy (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.

Together, at Ben’s urging, they embark on a road trip across the western United States for Craig to see the world. It’s somewhat formulaic but 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.

Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Alan Boell, Alex Huff, Bobby Cannavale, Craig Roberts, Donna Biscoe, Fred Weller, Frederick Weller, Jennifer Ehle, Julia Denton, Matt Mercurio, Megan Ferguson, Paul Rudd, Rob Burnett, Robert Walker Branchaud, Samantha Huskey, Selena Gomez
Director: Rob Burnett, Robert Meyer Burnett
Rating: Not Rated, TV-MA
Go to Netflix

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