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15 Hidden Gems on Netflix Right Now

Look beyond the choices on your browser screen to discover these buried film and TV treasures, from love stories and high-octane dramas to probing documentaries and underrated series

spinner image ruth negga leans her head on the shoulder of joel edgerton in the film loving and tilda swinton holds a microphone while placing her hand on the shoulder of an seo hyun in the film okja
(Left to right) Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga in "Loving"; Tilda Swinton and An Seo Hyun in "Okja."
Ben Rothstein/Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection; Barry Wetcher/Netflix

Netflix has a huge catalog of movies and TV shows, but its powerful algorithms often favor the streamer’s most recent fare. (Good luck trying to find movies that opened in theaters before the year 2000 — especially since so many studios clawed back their catalogs for their own streaming services.) Still, there are tons of gems buried on the service, from Netflix originals such as the sexy Swedish dramedy Love & Anarchy to indie film gems including Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Here are 15 Netflix buried treasures to add to your summer watching queue.

Begin Again (2014)

Writer-director John Carney followed up his Oscar-winning Once with another charmer about an aspiring musician, this time a folksy singer played by Keira Knightley, who gets discovered in New York City by a down-and-out music label executive (a decidedly rumpled Mark Ruffalo, 55). The film, which also includes meaty roles for Catherine Keener, 64, Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine and Hailee Steinfeld (as Ruffalo’s daughter) never got the attention it deserved — despite an Oscar nod for the lovely ballad “Lost Stars.”

Watch it: Begin Again

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The Chair (2021)

The fictional Pembroke University seems like a fitting avatar for modern academia, with its stubbornly old-school faculty resisting most efforts toward modernization — despite the appointment of the English department’s first female chair. Sandra Oh, 51, in a delightfully flustered performance, faces down both crotchety colleagues and eager-to-cancel students, while nursing her crush on a hot-shot colleague (Jay Duplass, 50) who’s been spiraling since the death of his wife. Plus, this sadly short-lived series smartly casts David Duchovny, 62, as a celebrity actor-novelist-failed-Ph.D.-student (like Duchovny himself) who’s recruited as a guest lecturer to boost the department’s visibility.

Watch It: The Chair

Documentary Now! (2015 – present)

SNL alums Fred Armisen, 56, Bill Hader, Seth Meyers and Rhys Thomas created this uproarious series that parodies classic documentary films — and imagines them playing in a long-running public TV series hosted by Helen Mirren, 77, who introduces each episode in the four seasons to date. Hader and Armisen camp it up as aging socialites in a spoof of Grey Gardens, while the Muhammad Ali doc When We Were Kings morphs into an epic battle involving a Welsh version of dodgeball with rocks. The results are equal parts silly and smart.

Watch it: Documentary Now!

Five Came Back (2017)

Did you know some of Hollywood’s biggest directors in the early 1940s — John Ford, Frank Capra, John Huston, George Stevens and William Wyler — were recruited during World War II to produce propaganda films and shoot footage of the battlefield? Netflix not only streams the original films but also a three-part docuseries about these Old Hollywood filmmakers, with analysis from contemporary auteurs Steven Spielberg, 76, Francis Ford Coppola, 84, and Guillermo del Toro, 58. This show, based on a best-selling book by Mark Harris, is a treat for WWII buffs and film fans alike.

Watch it: Five Came Back

Frances Ha (2012)

Pre-Barbie Greta Gerwig plays a struggling 27-year-old dancer in this black-and-white indie gem, which she cowrote with director Noah Baumbach, 53. The film captures all the financial and emotional anxieties of a new generation of creatives in early 21st century New York City — and features a bunch of before-they-were-famous performances by future stars including Adam Driver (Marriage Story) and Michael Zegen (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel).

Watch it: Frances Ha

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

You can expect the unexpected from Jojo Rabbit and Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi, the New Zealander who followed his offbeat vampire film (and later TV series) What We Do in the Shadows with this quirky dramedy about a runaway aboriginal boy (Julian Dennison, delightfully goofy) and his reluctant foster uncle (Sam Neill, 75, a marshmallow with a gruff exterior) who escape into the New Zealand bush — with the authorities giving chase in an increasingly frenetic manhunt.

Watch it: Hunt for the Wilderpeople



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Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father (2017-2021)

Travel shows about mismatched couples have never been quite as different as this one: Jack Whitehall is a young British comedian with an edgy sensibility despite his posh upbringing. His father, Michael, is a longtime theatrical agent (whose clients include Dame Judi Dench, 88) who favors absolute propriety and insists on dressing in a suit, tie and pocket square just about everywhere he goes. Over the course of 18 episodes, the two embark on hilarious road trips to Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and the American West in which they lovingly push each other’s buttons — and expand their personal boundaries as well.

Watch it: Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father

Love & Anarchy (2020-2022)

Sofie is an unhappily married consultant hired to revamp a struggling book publishing house in Stockholm. From the moment she arrives, she strikes up a curious relationship with the early-20-something IT guy — they dare each other to perform stunts (walk backward for the day, dress like Cyndi Lauper) that escalate into a full-blown romance. This Swedish series (dubbed for American audiences) is both steamy and smart, with a darker psychological undercurrent more fully developed in the second season.

Watch it: Love & Anarchy

Loving (2016)

Ruth Negga delivers a mesmerizing, Oscar-nominated performance as Mildred Loving in this fact-based drama about a Black woman in rural Virginia whose 1958 marriage to a white construction worker named Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton) led to their arrest — and a legal case that was finally resolved by the Supreme Court in a landmark decision. Seldom has history been brought to life in such an understatedly moving, matter-of-fact way.

Watch it: Loving

Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado (2020)

Some documentaries have subjects so outsize that they resist parody, Documentary Now! be damned. In this illuminating and poignant film, we meet the Puerto Rican astrologer Walter Mercado, a flamboyantly costumed phenomenon who became a megastar on Spanish-language TV from the 1970s until 2010. Think Liberace with a horoscope instead of a piano, one who inspired the Hispanic LGBTQ community even as he resisted publicly discussing his own sexuality.

Watch it: Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado

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Okja (2017)

Two years before his Korean-language film Parasite won a surprise four Oscars, including best picture, Bong Joon-ho, 53, released this provocative and decidedly offbeat English-language fable about a young girl and her pet pig, the Okja of the title. As with other films by director Bong, there’s a lot more just beneath the pigskin: sharp critiques of the food industry and blinkered environmental groups, as well as some gonzo performances by Tilda Swinton, 62, Jake Gyllenhaal and Paul Dano.

Watch it: Okja

Penguin Town (2021)

Comedian Patton Oswalt, 54, narrates this delightful eight-part docuseries about the exploits of African penguins, who descend en masse upon Simon’s Town, South Africa, every year to breed, waddling through the beaches, streets and even the courtyards of human residents while avoiding a host of predatory threats. The dangers are real — not all of our penguin protagonists survive — but the series provides a mostly uplifting (and anthropomorphized) look at some of nature’s most beloved creatures.

Watch it: Penguin Town

Rush (2013)

If you’re looking for a pure adrenaline rush, it’s hard to beat the propulsive car-racing sequences in Ron Howard’s underrated film. Howard, 69, captures the real-life rivalry between 1970s Formula 1 legends James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth), a cocky English playboy who seems to swagger even behind the wheel, and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl), an ice-cold Austrian with the mind and temperament of an engineer. Their contrasting styles generated plenty of headlines back in the day, and Howard captures all of that with pulse-racing energy.

Watch it: Rush

Undefeated (2011)

This Oscar-nominated documentary renews your faith in the power of sports to elevate the lives of at-risk kids. Bill Courtney is the volunteer coach of a high school football team in majority-Black North Memphis, one who identifies with boys growing up without fathers present because he was one himself. Through a combination of discipline and empathy, he builds a team whose winning streak extends beyond the field to the classroom — and to the prospect for several of the players to become the first in their family to attend college.

Watch it: Undefeated

Wormwood (2017)

Frank Olson was a scientist for the U.S. government who died in 1953 under mysterious circumstances — a death that was first ruled an accident, then declared a suicide. (It later emerged that he had been covertly dosed with LSD by his CIA supervisor.) In this unique docuseries, filmmaker Errol Morris, 75, combines documentary-style interviews (with folks including Olson’s son) with dramatic reenactments (featuring Peter Sarsgaard, 52, as Olson). The goal is to reopen an ice-cold case and to question our ability to piece together anything close to the truth when so many parties still have an interest in keeping any investigation under wraps.

Watch it: Wormwood

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