Scouring through the sea of titles and algorithm-fueled recommendations can be stressful. How many movie nights have been been delayed by the endless scrolling and asking, “So … what do ya wanna watch?”
Allow me to help.
Every month, I’ll pack a short-list of under-the-radar titles waiting to be unearthed from the underbelly of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and the like. Because movie nights are too important to be spent watching mediocre stuff.
Here are a few tasty choices that’ll spice up your streaming list this September.
SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD (2012)
Not sure how a film with Keira Knightley & Steve Carell went mostly unnoticed, but it did. Now, it’s up to the few faithful watchers to spread the word. Put this one at the top of your “Need to See” list.
Imagine a charming and quirky indie-rom-com with a delicious blend of dark, grim circumstances and you’ll find a thoroughly enjoyable film that leaves you astonished. Trust me, this one leaves a lasting impression for all the right reasons. Not to mention Carell and Knightly make an unlikely perfect match … at least within the context of looming armageddon. In this instance, that’s a good thing.
PLATFORM: Amazon (rental)
FOR FANS OF: Crazy, Stupid, Love; St. Vincent; & Begin Again
A Simple Favor (2018)
Anna Kendrick and Black Lively in a darkly comedic mystery? That ought to be enough to bump this right to the top of your queue.
Kendrick’s sharp, quirky chops are enough to carry a movie—that’s not news. But the chemistry she shares with Lively is electric in a way we rarely see. A Simple Favor threads the needle of sinister whodunit and hysterical modern comedy in delicious fashion. Truth be told, I’m a sucker for films that defy the confines of genre. If that’s your jam look no further. You’ll laugh, you’ll guess, you’ll gasp, and you’ll have fun.
If nothing else, the costume design is next level and every bit worthy of attention from the Academy.
FOR FANS OF: Bernie, Election, & Young Adult
Swiss Army Man (2016)
One of the most original films to come along in years. Yet another award-worthy performance from Paul Dano left unnoticed. Not to mention the best soundtrack of 2016.
Officially the only film to be filled with fart jokes and still move me to tears. An unapologetic commentary on personal identity, sexual fluidity, and our common desire to connect to another. Swiss Army Man is as much about the social conventions we blindly accept as it is about camaraderie. In a celebration of random between the lost and the not-quite-alive Dano and Ratcliffe remind us what humanity feels like.
(SIDE BAR — The fact that Dano still hasn’t been nominated for an Oscar is both a crime and tragedy. Give the dude some love already!)
We need more films like this one.
FOR FANS OF: 50/50, Little Miss Sunshine, & O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Labeling anything comic book inspired “overlooked” is a bit off the mark. But here’s the deal, about once a decade (if we’re lucky) a film comes along that transforms the way story is told and envelopes every audience member along the way. Spider-Verse flipped the origin trope on its head in favor of a psychedelic experience unlike any other.
There’s a reason Spider-Man has controlled the zeitgeist for much of the 21st Century. He’s a relatable heroine, looks damn flashy in that sleek costume, and battles some of the best villains mainstream comics have seen. And even after all that, Spider-Verse managed to give us an animated installment that deserves placement in the pantheon of comic book flicks.
So if you haven’t caught this one yet—get on it. If you haven’t re-watched it—get on it.
FOR FANS OF: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, The Iron Giant, & The Incredibles
A tender, inspirational portrait of one of the most remarkable, brilliant minds of the modern world. In terms of documentary filmmaking it is a touch paint-by-numbers, but that framework exists for a reason. Piggy-backing on impeccable never before seen footage, Jane brings her ground-breaking work with chimpanzees to the forefront. This doc hits the rare stratosphere in which the gateway grants us an opportunity to feel the visceral experiences ever so slightly. Because at the end of the day, when a gentle, genius soul is shared we can’t help but feel great empathy. Spending 90 minutes in the world and work of Jane Goodall would make anyone better.
FOR FANS OF: Black Fish, Congo, & RBG
Hopefully this’ll help enhance your movie night efficiency, or—if nothing else—add a few more solid titles to that overstuffed queue. Either way, you’ve got no excuses … Go watch something!
What’s the best hidden gem you’ve streamed recently?
Share in the comments and help me expand the list!