The 10 best movies you’ve probably never seen
We know how it is: you settle in to watch something new, and you don’t want to start a whole series, so you scroll … and scroll … and scroll through your favourite streaming platform, looking for a movie you’ve never seen. These are the films we recommend for that exact situation, picked because they’re lesser known: they’re the movies to watch when you feel like you’ve already watched everything.
They cover pretty much every genre, from tearjerker to white-knuckle action to “just kiss her already!”. Enjoy!
I Care A Lot (Netflix)
Genre: Dark crime comedy
Plot: This indie dark comedy sees a con woman rip-off the wrong little old lady – she’s the mother of a Russian crime lord and he’s not going to let Mama Dearest be sedated, locked up in a frail-care facility and have her life savings stolen.
Reasons to watch: Rosamund Pike swaps from friendly girl-next-door to thieving deviant in the blink of an eye. She’s ruthless, she’s cruel and best of all, she looks good – there’s never a hair out of place in her bob haircut that’ll send you back to the 90s thinking of Rachel in Friends. And Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) is perfection as crime boss Roman Lunyov – he might be short in stature but his cruelty knows no bounds.
Outside In (Netflix)
Genre: Indie drama
Plot: Edie Falco lets her guard down in this indie movie. Her teacher character helps a former high-school student (played by Jay Duplass, who we most recently saw in The Chair as Sandra Oh’s close friend and love interest) get released after serving 20 years in prison, and the first thing he does is tell her he loves her and makes her feel gross. While she fights it at first, her hubby refusing sex sends her running back to her “toyboy”. What’s the worst that can happen? How about post-nookie regrets!
Reasons to watch: Edie is great at strong-woman roles (like mobster’s wife Carmella in The Sopranos). But she’s better when her character is conflicted and doesn’t know what to do – does she or doesn’t she hook-up with a kid she once taught in school?
Genre: Real-life action
Plot: A group of US soldiers (led by Scott Eastwood and Orlando Bloom) defend a military stronghold called Combat Outpost Keating in this biographical war movie. There are 53 of them with their backs literally to the wall at the bottom of a mountain outcrop and more than 300 AK-47-wielding Taliban insurgents want to mow them down in a hail of bullets.
Reasons to watch: most of the soldiers are the real-life US warriors from the actual siege. They were cast because they know how to soldier and they were right there fighting for their lives, so you know that this action is real… because it actually happened.
Want more military action? We’ve got a list of war-themed shows and movies just for you.
Girl On The Third Floor (Netflix)
Plot: Well-intending family man Donald Koch (CM Punk) buys a run-down house and plans to start fresh with his pregnant wife. Strange things start happening, like marbles magically rolling across the hallway, and a woman who appears and disappears from the third floor, before Don discovers that this house is haunted and was once a brothel.
Reasons to watch: apart from the gore and creep factor, ex-WWE wrestler CM Punk is barely recognisable, clean shaven chin and hair on his head. And he can act – his portrayal as nice-guy Don makes you want to root for him, even though he’s got his own secrets.
Want more horror flicks? Check out our bumper list here.
Genre: Crime drama
Plot: Hurricane Katrina doesn’t just destroy New Orleans in 2005 – it destroys lives, leaving a group of outcast loser friends to plan a casino heist. But they got involved with the wrong people…
Reasons to watch: old-school tough guys Wesley Snipes, Terrence Howard and Ethan Hawke show their age but doing it with style – especially Wesley, who’s grey but will still whoop your butt down the road to your mama’s house. It’s directed by RZA from Wu-Tang Clan, so the soundtrack hits you harder with the bass than Katrina’s wild winds. And fresh young actors like Shameik Moore and Keenan Johnson flex their muscles onscreen like they’ve been doing it all their lives.
Want to see more rappers and hip hop stars in shows and movies? Check out our list here.
Blue Jay (Netflix)
Genre: Romantic drama
Plot: This indie flick was shot in seven days and hits you with the awwwww-cute sucker punch to the gut. Sarah Paulson (from just about every season of American Horror Story) and Mark Duplass play former high-school sweethearts who bump into each other years later and, without realising it, they start reconnecting and fall back in love.
Reasons to watch: the awwwww-cute sucker punch. It’s sickeningly sweet. Sarah also shows off her dramatic skills now that she’s not running from things that want to kill her. Mark’s nice-guy routine works like a charm and you’ll be screaming “kiss her already!” after five minutes.
Want more Duplass magic? Stream all seasons of HBO’s Room 104.
Plot: There’s nothing like toasting a friend’s success… and it’s better when they’re opening a restaurant and there’s free food and booze. But one too many turns into a war of words as secrets slip out, friends turn to foes and the catfights begin.
Reasons to watch: this cast is on fire! Sisanda Henna (who also directed the movie) is smooth as silk as rugby star-turned-restaurateur Mxolisi, funny guy Donovan Goliath tells jokes as Ants and Nyaniso Dzedze adds light comedy laughs. But it’s Motlatsi Mafatshe as Trevor who takes the cake – his horrible orange dye job is worth the watch alone!
Looking for more excellent South African content? We’ve got a list for that – click here!
Genre: Family drama
Plot: An immigrant Korean family move to rural Arkansas and plan to live the American Dream in the early 80s. Sorry, but that’s not going to happen, thanks to most of the locals not being too welcoming to “the enemy” – the US still harbours a lot of hate towards any Asian people because of the US-Korean war. But the Yi family aren’t giving up in this Oscar-winning movie.
Reasons to watch: still not over Glenn’s death in The Walking Dead? Watch Steven Yeun in another amazing performance as family man Jacob Yi. It’ll also make you bawl your eyes out as the Yis fight back against racism in a peaceful way.
If you’re into Korean shows and movies, have a look at our list here – how many of these have you seen?
6 Balloons (Netflix)
Plot: It’s raw to the core – Abbi Jacobson plays Katie, whose brother Seth (Dave Franco) is a druggie. She spends one night driving him around LA, searching for a detox centre, when she realises that she’s made it easy for him to score by always having a soft spot for her troubled little brother.
Reasons to watch: we’re not kidding about it being raw – real-life ex-heroin addicts have said it’s the most accurate portrayal of withdrawal they’ve seen. Throw in the heartbreak when Katie lies to cover up Seth’s drug use and then drags him to rehab and you’ll be sobbing your way through a box of tissues.
Dave Franco is James Franco’s brother, yes, but have you ever seen James Franco playing twin brothers – all by himself? Check out HBO’s The Deuce if you agree that two James Francos are better than one.
Plot: Emilia Clarke goes from Game of Thrones mass-murdering Khaleesi to soft-hearted caregiver Louisa who’s desperate to help strong-willed (read: arrogant) tetraplegic Will (Sam Claflin). Despite her best attempts, he pushes her away at every turn because he’s already planned his death at an assisted suicide facility in Switzerland. But that’ll be over Lou’s dead body.
Reasons to watch: Emilia’s gorgeous natural brunette hair will have you rethinking your next dye-job, her outfits will have you coveting her quirky style, and her character has the sweetest personality since we met her as Daenerys Targaryen in Season 1 of Game of Thrones.
For another side to the star who made Khaleesi come alive, see Emilia in the festive romantic comedy Last Christmas, and if you’re after some South African romcom joy, check out our list of gems here.