TOP 10 HIDDEN NETFLIX GEMS!

Netflix can be a complicated world. You have thousands upon thousands of films at your disposal, ranging from all types of different genres and categories, so why is it so hard to make up your mind on something to watch? I mean, it can’t just be me, right? It’s quite easy for me to spend hours trying to choose a film, yet I end up watching the same ones over and over again. If you share a similar struggle, I’ve got you covered – at least for the time being. Here are some of the little gems I’ve found throughout my many adventures scavenging the depths of Netflix:

WHAT HAPPENED TO MONDAY

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  • DIRECTOR: Tommy Wirkola
  • WRITER(S): Max Botkin, Kerry Williamson
  • STARRING: Noomi Rapace, Glenn Close, Willem Dafoe, Marwan Kenzari, Christian Rubeck
  • GENRE(S): Dystopian, Science Fiction, Thriller

“In a world where families are limited to one child due to overpopulation, a set of identical septuplets must avoid being put to a long sleep by the government and dangerous infighting while investigating the disappearance of one of their own.”

This one is what I like to call ‘Orphan Black: On Steroids.’ I’m not the biggest sci-fi fan so I don’t have too many recommendations when it comes to the genre, but I wanted to make this list as diverse as possible. What Happened to Monday is one of the better sci-fis I’ve seen lately and Noomi Rapace’s phenomenal portrayal of seven totally different women alone is enough for you to want to watch.

MY LIFE AS A ZUCCHINI

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  • DIRECTOR: Claude Barras
  • WRITER(S): Celine Sciamma, Gilles Paris, Morgan Navarro, Germano Zullo, Claude Barras
  • STARRING: Gaspard Schlatter, Sixtine Murat, Paulin Jaccoud, Michel Vuillermoz, Raul Ribera, Estelle Hennard
  • GENRE(S): Family, Animation, Drama

“After his mother’s death, Zucchini is befriended by a kind police officer, Raymond, who accompanies him to his new foster home filled with other orphans his age. There, with the help of his newfound friends, Zucchini eventually learns to trust and love as he searches for a new family of his own.”

I have wholeheartedly fell in love with animation this year. Of course, I’ve always been a massive fan of the Disney, Pixar, and DreamWorks films, but didn’t start really testing the waters with other animations until earlier this year and thankfully I did because I have found some that have become lifelong favorites. This one didn’t come to me as a surprise as it’s written by Celine Sciamma, one of my all time favorite directors and writers. Her storytelling always manages to leave me breathless, and My Life as a Zucchini was no exception. It’s still hard for me to believe that this 70-minute odd, little French film about characters made out of clay provoked as much emotion as it did. Not only is it absolutely stunning and so incredibly well put-together, but also manages to shine a light on some crucial themes and subjects, which will all manage to tug at your heartstrings throughout the entirety of the narrative. Trust me on this and give it a watch, it wasn’t nominated for an Academy Award for no reason…*wink, wink*

HUSH

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  • DIRECTOR: Mike Flanagan
  • WRITER(S): Mike Flanagan, Kate Siegel
  • STARRING: Kate Siegel, John Gallagher Jr, Samantha Sloyan, Michael Trucco, Emilia Graves
  • Genre(s): Thriller, Horror

“A deaf woman is stalked by a psychotic killer in her secluded home.”

Ready to get a proper scare? Hush is the first movie I always recommend to people when they ask me for Netflix recommendations. It’s always surprising to see just how little amount of recognition it has, and I find that it’s a balanced enough film where lots of different people with all types of tastes will enjoy it. Aside from my obsession with foreign films and female directed and/or written works, another one of my favorite things is finding good stories that center around an underrepresented community and Hush is just that. I do wish they would have used a genuinely deaf lead actress though, but for what it’s worth, I feel like they spent a lot of time and energy making sure that that community was appropriately represented and respected.

THE BREADWINNER

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  • DIRECTOR: Nora Twomey
  • WRITER(S): Deborah Ellis, Anita Doron
  • STARRING: Saara Chaudry, Noorin Gulamgaus, Soma Chhaya
  • GENRE(S): Drama, War, Animation

“A headstrong young girl in Afghanistan disguises herself as a boy in order to provide for her family.”

Another animated masterpiece! Told ya’ I was in love. This one is so special and I’m so excited to share it with you all because it truly deserves every bit of recognition and praise.  A story about an independent, brave, completely badass little girl written AND directed by an all female crew? I don’t think it can get any better than that. Oh, wait – it can! Not only does it have great female representation, but it’s also a story focused around a culture typically not highlighted in the film industry. The Breadwinner doesn’t hold much back when it comes to showing the audience the reality of women in these situations – it is terrifyingly harsh in the same way it is deeply moving and real. There is something so refreshing about a film of this nature not being afraid to tackle such sensitive yet jarring issues and I applaud it for doing so in such a heartbreakingly stunning and respectable manner.

GIRLHOOD

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  • DIRECTOR: Celine Sciamma
  • WRITER(S): Celine Sciamma
  • STARRING: Karidja Toure, Assa Sylla, Lindsey Karamoh
  • GENRE(S): Drama

“Oppressed by her family setting, dead-end school prospects and the boys law in the neighborhood, Marieme starts a new life after meeting a group of three free-spirited girls. She changes her name, her dress code, and quits school to be accepted in the gang, hoping that this will be a way to freedom.”

Yet another Celine Sciamma mention. Are you really surprised though? She’s just so good. I swear everything Celine touches turns into pure and perfect cinematic heaven. I have watched and re-watched her entire filmography and could genuinely recommend every single one of her films, but sadly, most are not on Netflix. Good news is that Girlhood is and gosh, is it great! There are so many great coming-of-age stories out there, but I had never seen one focus on the lives of young Black women in a poor French neighborhood. It’s stunning, intimate, thrilling, heartbreaking. I simply couldn’t recommend it more.

UNDER THE SHADOW

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  • DIRECTOR: Babak Anvari
  • WRITER(S): Babak Anvari
  • STARRING: Narges Rashidi, Avin Manshadi, Bobby Naderi
  • GENRE(S): Thriller, War, Drama, Horror

“As a mother and daughter struggle to cope with the terrors of the post-revolution, war torn Tehran of the 80s, a mysterious evil begins to haunt their home.”

I absolutely adore horror films – actually, they’re my number one favorite – and I love war films almost just as much. Now, combine those two elements with a mother/daughter story and a well-developed cultural commentary sprinkled in here and there, you’ve basically got one hell of a horror movie. It’s a simple concept with a marvelous and atmospheric execution that will surely leave you spooked.

FRUITVALE STATION

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  • DIRECTOR: Ryan Coogler
  • WRITER(S): Ryan Coogler
  • STARRING: Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer
  • GENRE(S): Drama

“The true story of Oscar, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family, and strangers on the last day of 2008.”

Let’s be honest, we all know that everything the Michael B. Jordan/Ryan Coogler duo does turns out great, and this is no exception. It’s so absolutely heartbreaking and Michael’s performance is one of his best. I loved how they included real footage of Fruitvale – it made it all that more powerful and striking. Most importantly though, I think it was a beautiful and respectful nod to Oscar Grant III, whose tragic death is what this film is based on.

BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR

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  • DIRECTOR: Abdellatif Kechiche
  • WRITER(S): Abdellatif Kechiche, Ghalia Lacroix
  • STARRING: Lea Seydoux, Adele Exarchopoulos, Salim Kechiouche
  • GENRE(S): Romance, Drama

“Adèle’s life is changed when she meets Emma, a young woman with blue hair, who will allow her to discover desire, to assert herself as a woman and as an adult. In front of others, Adele grows, seeks herself, loses herself, finds herself.”

Blue is the Warmest Color is so beautifully hypnotizing that sometimes it’s hard to believe it’s even real. I love my French films, as you can probably tell from this list, and I think one of the reasons I love them so much is because French filmmakers tend to be so daring when it comes to their art. It’s like poetry coming to life on screen and it is simply stunning in every way. This depiction of a boldly passionate coming-of-age story is one of the most raw and painfully honest I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

MUSTANG

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  • DIRECTOR: Deniz Gamze Ergüven
  • WRITER(S): Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Alice Winocour
  • STARRING: Gunes Sensoy, Doga Zeynep Doguslu, Tugba Sunguroglu, Elit Iscan, Ilayda Akdogan
  • GENRE(S): Drama

“In a Turkish village, five orphaned sisters live under strict rule while members of their family prepare their arranged marriages.”

Talking about powerful coming-of-age stories, this has got to be my absolute favorite, by far. I watched it for the first time about a few months ago and I still manage to think about it quite often. I’ve never seen a film tackle such a serious issue in such a tasteful manner. The movie doesn’t stray away from being terrifyingly real and unapologetically honest, yet it balanced itself utterly well by allowing the audience to feel these young girls’ hopeful spirits. There are highs and there are lows, there are heartbreaking moments just like there are lighthearted ones. There’s not a single character you don’t react to in an emotionally striking way, whether it’s a positive or negative reaction. The fact that there are five main characters that are all taking separate life routes also allows for the story to be seen from five dissimilar perspectives which I thought was so clever of Deniz. Also, I dare you to watch the movie and not fall completely head-over-heels in love with little Lale. Go on, try to prove me wrong.

RAW

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  • DIRECTOR: Julia Ducournau
  • WRITER(S): Julia Ducournau
  • STARRING: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, Rabah Nait Oufella
  • GENRE(S): Horror, Drama

“In Justine’s family everyone is a vet and a vegetarian. At 16, she’s a gifted teen ready to take on her first year in vet school, where her older sister also studies. There, she gets no time to settle: hazing starts right away. Justine is forced to eat raw meat for the first time in her life. Unexpected consequences emerge as her true self begins to form.”

Okay, my French film obsession is clearly getting out of hand, but c’mon, how could I possibly go through an entire recommendations list without mentioning one of my favorite directors, Julia Ducournau? Raw is yet another film that I never fail to recommend to everyone around me. It is a bit tricky because it’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s so great, both narrative and directing wise, and I just feel like everyone should at least give it a try. This film’s so odd that I’m not quite sure what to even say about it except for, give it a chance! I promise it’s great! In all honesty though, I (clearly) love coming-of-age stories and the more unique, the better. What more unique than a disturbing, cringe-inducing tale of cannibalism? I guess I’ll leave it at that.

Okay, so there you have it! Now that you know some of my favorite Netflix films, let me know some of yours. Don’t leave me hanging!

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “TOP 10 HIDDEN NETFLIX GEMS!”

    1. Hey Chris! Thanks for the comment. And yes, I have some recs but I’m not too sure if they’re on Netflix or not. The Purge, Panic Room, Emilie, You’re Next, and Wait Until Dark (the one with Audrey Hepburn in it) are all pretty solid!

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  1. I LOVE this post.  You write so well. I’ve actually already seen quite a few of these but it’s always fun to pick up some new recommendations. Girlhood will always be one of my all time favourites. I loved that it focused on the coming age story of a black woman, as I feel for such a long time coming age stories only featured white people and poc need their stories to be told too. I love all of Sciamma’s work, so I’m definetly gonna check out ‘My life as Zucchini’.

    I love that you mentioned so many french films in this. I’ve also noticed that they have a very unique, beautiful quality to them. Blue is the Warmest colour is a truly wonderful film and I could analyse it all day long. I feel like if I watched it now my enjoyment of it would be soured somewhat as I know the actresses were treated poorly during filming …  Also, as much as I adore the film, its strinking to me how different, films about two women are, when directed by a male versus a female. Male directed films about two women often contain alot of gratuitous nudity and I can totally understand why people criticised the film in this way…. It’s just interesting me, the more I’ve explored LGBT content directed by women, the female gaze brings such a different and often necessary perspective to LGBT films.

      Oh, Mustang! What a fantastic and necessary film. I love films that don’t shy away from tackling issues that are not often talked about in society. I knew a little about the subject matter before watching this film but, it truly opened my eyes. It’s a film that will stay with me a long time…Funnily enough I recently rewatched ‘The Virgin Suicides’ and it may just be me but I noticed a few similarities between these two films. I know many people are often  put off by foreign films but if anyone liked the virgin suicides, I’d highly, highly recommended this film as a great place to start your foreign film education.

    Fruitvale station is probably one of the most heartbreaking movies I’ve ever seen. But, I’d consider it necessary viewing for everyone. This is something that happens everyday and people shouldn’t just turn a blind eye.

    I’ve said this before but I am absolutely desperate to watch ‘The breadwinner’ (Netflix UK wyd?) for all the reasons you mentioned.  Here’s hoping I can find it somewhere soon.

    You know, I don’t like horror movies. It’s  the only genre I can’t watch but, I’m always open to broadening my horizons so I’ll definetly give ‘Raw’ a go at some point. Idk how I feel about Hush, after my ‘rant’ about ‘Margarita with a straw’ you probably know my feelings on deaf/disabled roles being played by able bodied actors( thank you for mentioning that as an issue in the review). I know people tend to think I’m being stubborn but, my whole life I’ve struggled to see myself being represented in media (less than 2% of roles are disabled characters) and nearly all of those roles are played by non-disabled actors. I will watch films with abled bodied actors, but then I feel like the more I support that content, the less likely things are to change. Idk, it’s a very complex issue for me but I’m more than happy for others to enjoy these films even if I view them as problematic( some people in the disabled community get very angry at anyone watching these films and I don’t think that’s fair).

    Related to that, If I could recommend one film it would be the short film ‘The Silent Child’. It won the oscar for best short film this year, it cast a deaf child in the main role and was the only film I’ve ever seen that touched upon an unspoken issue that faces pretty much everyone in the deaf/disabled community. It was a crowd funded project and they’re hoping the oscar win will lead to a feature length film. I really hope it does as the ‘taboo’ subject it deals with is so necessary. Seeing grown men in their 60’s who’d never cry, cry on twitter cause someone had finally acknowledged pain they’d kept trapped inside for decades just bought home to me why it’s so vital that disabled people are more involved with all aspects of film making. We will often be the only ones who can provide accurate representation for our community and that representation can make such a difference.

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    1. I always love how insightful and thorough your replies are. Seriously, never stop. Love the discussion you create. I agree with you on what you said about ‘Blue is the Warmest Color’ – I loved the film so much, but haven’t been able to re-watch it since I found out about the treatment of the actresses. I do still think it’s a stunning film with so much to offer though. And now I feel like I really need to start paying better attention to how LGBTQ+ films are executed when it comes to male vs female directors – very interesting point. Also, I wholeheartedly understand your reasoning behind not wanting to watch ‘Hush.’ It makes all the sense in the world, and like I said in the post, I also wish they would have used a disabled actress. I really need to spend more time and energy on films and TV shows that actually include the disabled community. It’s something I feel like I HAVE to be better at. So, I will definitely be checking out ‘The Silent Child’ – thanks so much for what seems to be an incredible rec!

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      1. Thank you. I often feel my long comments are just a series of long ramblings that get on people’s nerves, lol. So, thank you, I’m glad to enjoy them. It’s great to have someone to discuss these things with and after all the effort you put into writing posts it seems only right to I spend the time engaging as much as I can.

        Tbh, I’d never really given much thought to how LGBTQ* people were potrayed until I had a discussion with a friend about the movie ‘Gia'(which is fantastic, I’d highly recommended it). My friend said ‘The film was great, but that one scene, they’re naked for NO reason other than the fact it was an excuse to show Angelina with no clothes on, ugh you can tell this film was made by a man!’ After that I started playing much closer attention, paticularly to films with two women in a relationship and to me it’s definitely something that once you see it you can’t unseen. It reminds me of Naomi Mcdougall Jones ted talk about female fimmakers, once you see the difference between female roles in female directed females, you’ll never unseen see it. And you’ll be much more aware of how problematic some female roles in male directed females are.

        You’ll probably struggle to find much content with disabled actors im disabled roles as disabled roles themselves are pretty much non-existent. just 2% of of all roles are for disabled characters 96% of that 2% are played by able-bodied actors. Both those staticstics are kind of shitty and means there’s very few authentic disabled roles out there… I’ve been trying to think of anything else I could recommend for you and the only thing I could think of is the tv series ‘Call the Midwife’. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea cause it’s VERY British, lol. And the production values in the early seasons are quite poor cause they had such a small budget( cause you know, no one wants to watch a show all about women). But I honestly can’t recommend it enough. Idk if you have midwives in the US, it’s just the British word for women who deliever babies. This is a show all about women, womens issues, the oppression of women in the 1950’s &1960’s but it also touches on so many other historical issues and injusticies that society seems to have forgotten or just wiped from the history books. It’s the only show I’ve ever seen that has shone a light on the appallling history, treatment and segregation of disabled people(all with disabled actors). Each season is really short so I’d definetly say give it a chance… You’ll have to let me know if you’re able to watch ‘The Silent Child’, it’s a fantastic little short.

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