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Netflix hidden gems

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You’ve had your heart broken by Roma, you’ve watched Keanu Reeves’ jaw-dropping cameo in Always Be My Maybe and you’ve seen what all the fuss was about with Bird Box (turns out, not much). 

But what else does the streaming service that’s destroying cinemas/our closest friend and companion have to offer? What are the hidden gems worth seeking out on (UK) Netflix? 

Here are a few of our top picks.

Something to give you chills

Once there were VHSs and Blockbusters, now we’re streaming to find oodles of genre flicks to quench the thirst of horror hounds and thrill-seekers. Patrick Brice’s Creep (and its equally intriguing sequel) takes the found footage subgenre and breathes life into it, producing a queasily intense thriller that goes to some pretty dark places, while never losing a certain mumblecore charm. 

The Ritual mixes folk horror with a lost-in-the-woods narrative as a group of friends come unstuck on a hike through the Swedish wilderness. It’s a surprisingly tense flick with some great performances (Rafe Spall is particularly good) and heaps of surprises up its sleeve. It plays out like a spiritual companion to The Descent

Blumhouse has become masters of the low budget must-watch and nowhere is this more apparent than in Cam. Dealing with the world of camgirls, the movie boasts an internet doppelgänger narrative that feels particularly potent, an approach to sex that is refreshingly non-judgemental and a lead performance from Madeline Brewer that marks her as a talent to watch.

Finally (and one of the best thrillers of recent years), there’s The Invitation. Starting as a queasily uncomfortable dinner (a divorced couple reuniting after a terrible incident), proceedings progress in Karyn Kusama’s taut cinematic treat to a bonkers final act that shocks and enthrals in equal measure.

Something to get you fired up

Netflix has proved a great platform for exploring political themes. Before her powerful limited series When They See Us, Ava DuVernay produced The 13th – a detailed look at race relations in the US that, three years on, feels sadly, as relevant. Breaking down the history that’s led to the current situation in America, DuVernay interviews many of the key players and shows blame on all sides. It’s a must-watch crash course into one of the most toxic political situations in the world.

Mixing time travel and a police shooting, few films marry the thrills of a sci-fi with the righteous fury of political injustice as See You Yesterday. Produced by Spike Lee, the film follows two child protégées who use their makeshift time machine to try and prevent one of their siblings being shot. Starting as a fun teen flick, the narrative darkens as the limitations of time travel are explored, all the way to a shattering finale.

Few figures have had quite the impact in US politics today as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC). Knock Down the House chronicles her successful election campaign 2016, alongside three other candidates. It explores the role of women in politics and the shifting landscape in the American electoral system and it may even inspire a surprising amount of hope of what can be achieved in today’s crazy world.

 

Something to give you the feels

Indie dramas that get lost in the shuffle of studio blockbusters often find a second life on Netflix. A prime example of this is The Miseducation of Cameron Post, a heart-rending adaption of Emily M. Danforth’s novel chronicling gay conversion therapy in 90s America. It marks director, Desiree Akhavan as a talent to watch thanks to her tender, subtle style and reminding us all that Chloë Grace Moretz is one of the most skilled performers of her generation (she should have received an Oscar nomination for her performance here!).

Stephen Cone’s Princess Cyd feels like a work that has never received its moment. A subtly powerful, sweetly moving summer romance, it tells the story of Cyd who explores her sexuality when visiting her aunt. The coming of age drama benefits from a trio of stellar performances from Jessie Pinnick, Rebecca Spence and Malic White, as well as Cone’s beautifully observed writing. Seek this out today.

Making a pitch for Nick Offerman as the dad you wished you had, Hearts Beat Loud is a toe-tapping joy. Following a father and a daughter through the latter’s last summer before college as they make music together, it’s a funny, bittersweet watch that shows how gifted a performer is Offerman is. He’s perfectly paired with Kiersey Clemons – a talent you’ll be seeing a lot of in the future.

Something that brings a little of everything

Snowpiercer is an indescribable work. With a behind-the-scenes story for the ages (finished five years ago, it’s barely been seen in the UK) South Korean sensation Bong Joon-ho’s (The Host, Okja, Palme d’Or winner Parasite) English debut is about a train that continually moves around the planet, with a class system developed onboard divided by the carriages. It’s a post-apocalyptic sci-fi action flick with a terrific ensemble (Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer) that’s now available for all to see.

Have you got any favourite Netflix gems? Share them with us on Twitter @flick_whatUK.

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