The Most Underrated Movies on Netflix You Should Stop Ignoring
When scanning through Netflix, it’s all too easy to settle on the latest Disney or Marvel movie, or to catch up on a hit show that “everybody” is binging, like You or Russian Doll. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as they used to say on Seinfeld.
However, those Disney and Marvel movies aren’t going to be on Netflix forever, with Disney about to launch their own streaming service. There’s also something to be said for finding that lesser-known gem that doesn’t get talked up very much.
It can feel especially gratifying to discover something, then extol its virtues to others. That’s what we’ll do here by highlighting some movies that deserve a wider audience.
‘Hell or High Water’
This movie isn’t exactly the height of obscurity. It did score a Best Picture Oscar nomination and a richly deserved Best Supporting Actor nomination for Jeff Bridges. Even so, this terrific and surprising film ought to be even better known than it is.
Bridges plays a lawman hunting down two brothers (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) who have been robbing a string of banks out west. But this isn’t a simple tale of good versus evil. The brothers are targeting branches of a specific bank, and taking only a few thousand dollars from each location. That bank is about to foreclose on the family ranch.
The trailers made this movie look like an imitation of the Coen brothers’ Oscar-winning Best Picture, No Country for Old Men, but it turned out to be a lot more than that. A terrific crime thriller doubles as a potent look at desperation driven by economic strife. Just when the movie seems to turn familiar, it throws curve balls.
This thriller makes a good companion piece with Hell or High Water because they share the same writer, Taylor Sheridan, who also directs this movie. A seasoned tracker (Jeremy Renner) discovers the frozen body of a woman who is the victim of an apparent homicide. The FBI sends Agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) to investigate, but Jane is green and out of her depth, with the case only becoming more complicated, not to mention dangerous.
The film isn’t quite as good as Hell or High Water. Although Olsen gives a strong performance, her character seems like a watered-down version of Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs. Sheridan had created a much more compelling female agent with Emily Blunt’s character in Sicario.
All the same, Sheridan again creates some compelling twists, and the film’s power increases as it goes along, with a strong third act. it’s fun to see Renner and Olsen avenging something besides intergalactic aliens.
Michael Keaton is in theaters now in Tim Burton’s Dumbo remake, and a few reviewers have noted his villain, who has built a massive theme park, seems not unlike Walt Disney himself. But Dumbo is hardly the first time he has played a nefarious pioneer.
In 2016’s The Founder, he played Ray Kroc. He didn’t invent McDonald’s – two brothers named McDonald did, creating revolutionary fast food restaurant techniques that speed up production and cater especially well to families in a hurry. Although their restaurant is popular, the brothers dream of franchising it nationally but can’t seem to get that off the ground.
Enter Kroc, a hustler who sells milkshake makers. He’s impressed with the brothers and offers to help them achieve their dream. In so doing, he makes millions of dollars while McDonald’s sells millions of burgers, but takes more credit for himself than the brothers like.
The film is at its best when it reveals the conflict between the brothers and Kroc. The former cared about quality, the latter about the bottom line. Which of these is paramount is the million (or billion) dollar question. The movie may make you crave a burger – but maybe not one from McDonald’s.