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Hidden Gems On Netflix You Need To Watch

This content was paid for by Netflix and created by Looper.

There's a lot of stuff to watch on Netflix, even for the most prolific binge-watcher out there. That means you'll always have something to watch no matter how long you spend on your couch, but it also means you might find yourself searching for something new after you've already hit the biggest titles. So, where do you go from there? When you've seen all the big blockbusters, all the hot original movies, and all the classics both new and old that everyone's told you to watch, what do you check out next? 

Thankfully, for every just-released original movie or well-trafficked blockbuster, there are several more less-well-known movies waiting for you to stream. Sometimes they star familiar faces in lesser-known roles. Sometimes they're projects major directors turned in before moving on to bigger films. Sometimes they're just really good movies that you maybe didn't catch the first time around. Whatever you're after, here are some hidden gems you can stream on Netflix right now.

Good Time

In 2019, brother filmmakers Josh and Benny Safdie exploded beyond their indie cred with Uncut Gems, a tense crime film featuring a blistering lead performance from Adam Sandler. If you saw that much-hyped film and you're looking to get into more of the Safdies' filmography, you might want to start with the acclaimed crime drama they cooked up right before Uncut Gems, which features another incredible performance at its core.

Good Time stars Robert Pattinson as Connie, a bank robber who ropes his developmentally disabled brother into one of his schemes, only to find that he manages to escape when his brother is the one in need of bail. Desperate to save his brother, Connie sets out to scrape together the money to bail him out, and hits obstacle after obstacle along the way.

If you like the way the Safdies build tension through pure, human moments of disasters on both small and large scales, then you'll love Good Time. It's another crime story told with a very raw feel, but there's also a deep emotional core at work in this film, driven by Pattinson's incredible lead performance.


Jake Gyllenhaal is one of those actors who often seems like he can do anything, whether that means playing the lead in a romantic comedy, taking charge of a gritty drama, or going full comedy with something like John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch. He has the ability to full-on disappear into a character, and if you love watching him do it, you need the power and edge-of-your-seat tension of Nightcrawler in your life.

Gyllenhaal stars in the film as Lou Bloom, a thief who's always looking for an angle that would allow him to get ahead. He finally finds it one night when he witnesses freelance videographers filming the aftermath of a car accident, and learns that they make money by selling the footage to news stations. So he gets a camcorder and starts trolling the streets for the most gruesome footage he can find. All the while, the adrenaline his new job generates slowly becomes addicting. While he's certainly recognizable in the role, Gyllenhaal goes absolutely all-out to play Lou, delivering what's arguably his best performance as he takes things to absolutely unhinged levels in director Dan Gilroy's critique of media consumption in the age of instant news.


Unless you're a World War II movie completist, there's a chance you missed Defiance, director Edward Zwick's 2008 film about a group of Belarusian Jews who resisted Nazi occupation in the early years of the second World War. If you haven't seen it, and you're looking for a different take on the Holocaust with a more action-heavy angle, it might just be the film for you.

The film follows two brothers — played by Daniel Craig and Liev Schrieber — as they flee into the forest in 1941 to escape Nazi extermination squads who are rounding up and murdering local Jews. Over time, their attempt to hide develops into something more, as their forest hideaway attracts more and more refugees. Already out for revenge after the death of their parents, the brothers find themselves at the forefront of a full-blown resistance movement centered on their forest camp.

If you love dramas centered around theaters of World War II that we don't often see, you should seek this film out for a film that tackles a well-worn era in a very different way.

Five Elements Ninjas

If you love Hong Kong action films, particularly those produced in the 1970s and 1980s by the legendary Shaw Brothers Studio, you've probably already found classics like The Five Venoms and The 36th Chamber of Shaolin on Netflix. Once you've watched those films, though, you need to take the next step, and Five Elements Ninjas is the perfect follow-up.

Directed by Hong Kong cinema legend Chang Cheh (who also made The Five Venoms), Five Elements Ninjas is an intoxicating and thrilling blend of Chinese and Japanese fighting styles. What begins with a challenge between two Hong Kong martial arts school soon involves outside interference, as a quintet of powerful ninjas seek to attack one of the schools and prove their might.

If you've seen other Shaw Brothers films from the same period, the overall plot of Five Elements Ninjas should seem comfortable and familiar, but plot's not why we're here. We're here to watch incredible fight choreography and some truly wild action elements come together in a bloody kung fu finale. And this is a film that absolutely delivers.

Rim of the World

One of the great joys of action-adventure filmmaking right now is watching storytellers produce their own riffs on the kinds of films they loved when they were kids, namely the genre classics that came out of the 1980s. Rim of the World, written by Zack Stentz (Thor) and directed by McG (The Babysitter) is one of those films.

The film takes its name from a summer camp where three misfit kids strike up an unlikely friendship and attempt to face their various fears and personal issues. Everything goes haywire when an alien invasion suddenly grips Earth, and a dying astronaut hands the kids an object that could save humanity. Facing a dangerous path and a ticking clock, they might be the last hope to defeat the alien threat.

Rim of the World racked up a healthy group of fans when it first debuted back in 2019, but if you didn't catch it then, you're in for a treat. It's a film designed for fans of classics like Red Dawn, The Goonies, The Monster Squad, and other films that fit that mold. Not only that, it also might tide you over while you're waiting for the next season of Stranger Things.

Safety Not Guaranteed

These days, you might best know writer/director Colin Trevorrow for his big-budget work on the blockbuster Jurassic World films. Before he became a cinematic dinosaur wrangler, though, Trevorrow and writing partner Derek Connolly proved they had a knack for clever sci-fi storytelling with this endearing genre comedy.

Based on a joke classified ad that actually ran in a magazine back in the 1990s, the film follows a team of journalists who find a classified ad from someone claiming to have a time machine, and what happens when they investigate the claim. Darius (Aubrey Plaza), an intern working on the team, is the one who manages to connect with Jeff (Mark Duplass), the would-be time traveler who's searching for the perfect partner to take his journey with him.

What begins as a quirky setup for a story soon evolves into a witty, heartfelt and delightfully strange story about a pair of lost humans who manage to find each other and pursue something deeper, no matter how weird their initial meeting turned out to be. Plaza, Duplass, and supporting cast members like Jake Johnson are all delightful in the film, and it's easy to see how Trevorrow and Connolly picked up higher profile work after making it.

Swiss Army Man

Daniel Radcliffe could have coasted after the Harry Potter films. He could have played it safe with his career, picked more blockbusters, and just generally enjoyed life as a movie star. Instead, he became an actor who picks bold, unconventional, and sometimes flat-out crazy projects that have to be seen to be believed. Which brings us to Swiss Army Man.

Part dark human comedy, part fantasy, the film stars Paul Dano as a man named Hank, who decides suicide is the only option after he gets stranded on an island. That changes when he finds a dead body, played by Radcliffe, that washes up on shore. Upon seeing what he was about to become, Hank has second thoughts, and develops a strange relationship with the body. Oh, and it turns out the body can be used for all sorts of strange things, much like a decomposing Swiss Army Knife.

If that sounds absolutely insane to you, that's because it is. But Swiss Army Man is much more than just a wild premise. It's a daring, poignant, life-affirming movie that features brilliant performances from both Dano and Radcliffe.

The Bad Batch

Back in 2014, writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour burst onto the scene with her debut feature film, the haunting and gorgeous A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. After reinventing the vampire genre to her own taste, Amirpour decided her follow-up film would take things to the post-apocalyptic wasteland. The result is The Bad Batch, and just like her first film, this is an example of Amirpour putting her own particular spin on a classic horror/sci-fi concept, with compelling results.

The film begins as the story of a woman (Suki Waterhouse) exiled into the wastelands beyond Texas. Her subsequent adventures bring her in contact with everyone from a band of cannibals to a group of charismatic settlers living what seems to be the sweet life, despite the horrors of the world around them. The cast features everyone from Jason Momoa to Keanu Reeves to Jim Carrey, and Amirpour's bold, full-color visuals prove that she's got filmmaking chops beyond A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night's black and white style.

The Bad Batch has built a cult following thanks to its ambitious storytelling, wild visuals, and vivid characters. Amirpour is a budding genre powerhouse, and this film feels like a solid second step.

The Guest

Most American viewers were introduced to Dan Stevens in Downton Abbey, and many fell in love with him all over again in Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. If you're looking for yet another side to this talented actor, one you might not have seen when it was first released, then The Guest is for you.

Stevens stars as David, a soldier who shows up at the home of the family of one of his fallen comrades and is quickly adopted as a polite but enigmatic houseguest. Almost immediately, things start getting weird. David develops a mentor relationship with the family's surviving son, gets a little too friendly with the daughter, and might even be linked to some mysterious deaths in the area. David is not what he seems, and if his secret gets out it could mean the death of everyone close to him.

Directed by Adam Wingard, best known for films like You're Next, The Guest is a relentlessly entertaining mixture of violent action sequences and wicked humor, all led by Stevens' inexhaustible charm. It's one of his essential performances, and features more than a few amazing visual flourishes along the way.

Cop Car

These days, Jon Watts is a blockbuster filmmaker thanks to his time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Watts has helmed two hit Spider-Man films starring Tom Holland since 2017. But before he took on superheroes, he was making smaller, extremely effective genre films to show off his talents. Cop Car, Watts' second feature, is one such effective film, and if you're into tight, witty crime films you'll want to check it out.

The film follows two boys who come across the title cop car, an abandoned sheriff's cruiser, and decide to steal it for a little joyride. Unbeknownst to them, the car's actual owner — a corrupt sheriff played with force by Kevin Bacon — has been up to no good, and he's left some remnants of his misdeeds in the car. What follows is a tense, funny, often unpredictable game of cat and mouse as the sheriff tries to get his cruiser back, and the boys try to escape with their lives.

Anchored by Bacon's phenomenal performance, Cop Car served as a dynamic calling card for Watts as a director, and remains an extremely entertaining film.