The Best Overlooked Movies & Shows of 2017

All the movies here are highly-rated (by both critics and viewers), little-known, and handpicked by our staff.

This list is ordered by most recent good movies, and therefore is not a ranking. Here are the titles considered as the best from the year 2017.

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Stars: Ben Weber, Jeremy Bobb, Sam Worthington

A dramatic take on the life and capture of Ted Kaczynski, popularly known as UNABOMBER(UNiversity and Airline BOMber) from the eyes of an FBI profiler. Kaczynski was responsible for 16 bombings, and it took 17 years for the FBI to catch him. To date, he’s the target of the most expensive chase the FBI has ever launched. The show is not a mystery (facts are the matter of public domain) and doesn’t even pretend to be one. Instead, it focuses on the complex motives of the UNABOMBER, as well as the bureaucracy that the FBI ran through trying to catch him. It’s a really well-made, engrossing show that’s hard not to watch in one take. It’s 8 episodes of 40 minutes, so pick the time you start it wisely.

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Stars: Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Grace Van Patten
Directed by: Noah Baumbach

From director Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha, The Squid and the Whale) The Meyerowitz Stories is a beautiful family comedy otherwise known as that Adam Sandler that doesn’t suck. He plays a recently divorced man, as he usually does, 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. As both of them are joined by other members of the family (including Danny’s half-brother, played by Ben Stiller), their family dynamic comes to the surface in a beautiful, sometimes very moving way. This is an amazingly tender movie in which Noah Baumbach proves he’s so good, he can make even Adam Sandler sound genuine.

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Stars: Jack O'Connell, Michelle Dockery, Scoot McNairy

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.

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Stars: Hae-jin Yoo, Kang-ho Song, Thomas Kretschmann
Directed by: Hun Jang

A cynical down-on-his-luck Seoul taxi driver is hired by a German journalist to go to another town called Gwangju. What seemed like an easy and overcompensated journey at first takes him into the heart of a city under siege by the military. This is in fact the student uprising that will be a very important event in South Korean history, known as 1980 Guangju Democratic Uprising. Both the journalist and the taxi driver confront life-threatening situations as they find themselves at the center of the movement. A true-story-based movie, it’s a heartfelt and entertaining political drama about one of the bleakest chapters of modern Korean history. In 2018 it was the country’s official submission to the Oscars.

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Stars: Álvaro Morte, Itziar Ituño, Úrsula Corberó

Smart, suspensful, original, and just all-around a perfect show. Money Heist (La casa de papel) is 13 episodes about a gang who embarks on the biggest heist in history – not just in their country of Spain but everywhere. Led by an enigmatic character only known as The Professor, the rest of the gang adopts city names: Tokyo, Rio, Helsinki, Nairobi, etc. Their roles in the heist are as different as their personalities and approach to relationships. The script is insanely suspenseful, super fast when it needs to, and painfully slow when you don’t want it to be (and when it’s perfect for it to be), taking you into the heist that quickly becomes a chess game between The Professor and the police. Be ready to get instantly hooked into a very binge-worthy journey. A truly amazing show, and one of the best if not the best heist TV show ever made.

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Stars: Celia Ireland, Kate Atkinson, Leanne Campbell

Dark and almost too realistic, Wentworth is the women’s prison drama that we’ve all been waiting for. This Australian show might have the same set-up as Orange is the New Black, following a recently incarcerated woman as she discovers a new world, but the two series couldn’t be more far apart. Wentworth is more Breaking Bad than Orange is the New Black. It doesn’t follow people who are wronged by the system or who are misunderstood, but women that have actually done violent things, and continue being violent in prison. Everyone appeals to their dark side, and it’s almost impossible for any character to be redeemed in the viewer’s eye. The show’s biggest selling point though is that it never goes the violence-for-violence route, its immaculate character development allows to find reason and authenticity behind every act. This a true hidden gem.

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Stars: Curtiss Cook Jr., Justin Chon, Simone Baker
Directed by: Justin Chon

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.

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Stars: Alexandra Borbély, Géza Morcsányi, Zoltán Schneider
Directed by: Ildikó Enyedi

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.

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Stars: Jennifer Brea, Jessica l e Taylor, Omar Wasow
Directed by: Jennifer Brea

A deeply affecting and meaningful documentary, directed by the woman who it revolves around. Jennifer Brea, a Harvard Ph.D student, begins suffering from unusual symptoms: prolonged and extreme fatigue, mental confusion, full-body pain, etc. When she goes to the doctor she is dismissed for being dehydrated and depressed. Later she finds an extended community suffering from her exact same symptoms, all of which fall under the umbrella of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, more widely known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. She decides to tell their stories from her bed, and as such this movie is a collection of videos from her and her partner, added to the stories of others living with the disease. An important and inspiring movie that sheds a light on the lives of the millions affected by CFS around the world. Watch the trailer.

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Stars: Adèle Haenel, Arnaud Valois, Nahuel Pérez Biscayart
Directed by: Robin Campillo

BPM is centered around AIDS activist in the early 90s in Paris representing the French branch of the advocacy group ACT UP. In a time where information about AIDS was as limited as access to the appropriate medicine, activists were divided into groups depending on their preferred methods of shaking up the system. Some wanted to express their anger at it while others tried to maneuver within it. But themselves being HIV positive for the most part, they shared a common sense of urgency and passion towards the cause. BPM is a beautiful yet honest portrayal of these activists, a movie as full of life and emotion as the people it portrays.

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Stars: Danny DeVito, Jim Carrey, Milos Forman
Directed by: Chris Smith

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.

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Stars: Bria Vinaite, Brooklynn Prince, Willem Dafoe
Directed by: Sean Baker

Every once and a while there are movies that expand the definition of quality film-making, The Florida Project is one of them. This incredible yet delicate film follows three children from poor families that find themselves living in low-cost motels permanently. It portrays their adventures and friendship through very precise aesthetics and a story that seems at first plot-free but which ends on a very high note. The movie tries and succeeds in capturing an innocence only children are capable of: a precarious living condition is in their eyes a world full of adventures and fun. It’s hard to describe it further and it’s the kind that must be seen to be fully understood. Or to cut it short: it must be seen, period.

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Stars: Claes Bang, Dominic West, Elisabeth Moss
Directed by: Ruben Östlund

The Square is a peculiar movie about a respected contemporary art museum curator as he goes through a few very specific events. He looses his wallet, his children fight, the art he oversees is does not make sense to an interviewer… Each one of these events would usually require a precise response but all they do is bring out his insecurities and his illusions about life. These reactions lead him to very unusual situations. A thought-provoking and incredibly intelligent film that’s just a treat to watch. If you liked Force Majeure by the same director, The Square is even better!

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Stars: Camille Cottin, Grégory Montel, Thibault de Montalembert

Think of Dix pour cent, or as it was horribly translated to English “Call My Agent!”, as a smart French version of the American show Entourage. It’s the kind of thing where if you like it you will become obsessed with it. It chronicles the life of an aspiring agent at a French casting agency. New to Paris, she lands a job and is confronted with a variety of very stressed characters. Dix pour cent is the perfect definition of a hidden gem, featuring countless guest appearances by famous French actors and actresses.

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Stars: Hiroshi Abe, Satomi Kobayashi, Yôko Maki
Directed by: Hirokazu Kore-eda

A quiet, smart and well-crafted movie by the much celebrated director Hirokazu Koreeda. Like his other work, notably Like Father, Like Son and Nobody Knows, it addresses family dynamics and how they surface. Once a successful writer, Ryota is now a private detective who spends the little money he makes on gambling instead of paying child support. His ex-wife and son are increasingly alienated by his behavior, until one day, during a storm, they all find themselves trapped in Ryota’s childhood home. Subtly touching on notions of inter-generational bond and tension – this is the kind of movie of which you’ll remember flashes long after you watch it.

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Stars: Chris Evans, Lindsay Duncan, Mckenna Grace
Directed by: Marc Webb

 

Expect both heavy emotional punches and great comedic moments in this engaging comedy drama. Boosted by amazing writing, the characters are easy to relate to but remain interesting throughout the movie, with many ideas and layers to them. Jenny Slate and Chris Evans are both great as a very gifted child and her uncle who find themselves at the center of a custody battle. The plot may be a little unusual but it offers a great vehicle to explore the dynamics between a caring uncle, a gifted child, and an obsessive mother.