Hidden Gems on Netflix


Do you spend more time browsing film titles on Netflix than you do actually watching them?  While its catalogue is ever-changing, Netflix currently features seven lesser-known films that you should consider as you make your movie night selections. Short Term 12  hit theaters in summer 2013 and is still captivating those who stumble upon it today.  Written and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, the drama tells the story of Grace (Brie Larson) and her job working in a group home for troubled teenagers.  During the day, Grace works with youth who, among other things, struggle with the repercussions of drug abuse and physical, emotional and sexual abuse. At night, Grace goes home to her long-term boyfriend, Mason, where, as a couple, they face painful challenges of their own. The film is a story about family, abuse, loss, relationships, and what it takes to heal.    

Written and directed by Jesse Zwick, About Alex is a 2014 drama centered around a group of old college friends who come together after the title character attempts suicide.  The reunion takes an interesting turn when these friends pick up on old animosities and annoyances that still exist.  The characters are honest and relatable, and the dynamics of their interaction drive a fascinating story.

Written by Christopher Kyle, directed by Susanne Bier, and based on the novel by Ron Rash, Serena is a historical drama that takes place in 1930s North Carolina.  Serena (Jennifer Lawrence) and George (Bradley Cooper) are married and own their own timber business.  Their marriage becomes complicated when certain problems emerge from beneath the surface, eventually setting off a disastrous chain of events.  This film received mixed reviews, but the Lawrence/Cooper combo, made famous in Silver Linings Playbook, stands strong in this gripping performance.

In TiMER, a corporation develops a timer to be implanted on humans' wrists that count down to the day a person will meet their soulmate.  Oona (Emma Caulfield), initially obsessed with finding the “one,” starts seeing Mikey (John Patrick Amedori), someone seemingly unattainable.  Directed and written by Jac Schaeffer, the science fiction twist on this otherwise traditional romantic comedy transforms reality and leaves the audience with the question of "what if?"

Sondra Pransky (Scarlett Johansson), a college student investigating the activity of a serial killer, has received information that the killer is prominent socialite Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman).  Sondra, accompanied by Sid Waterman (Woody Allen) who comedically poses as Sondra's father, places herself Peter's path and the two fall in love.  Written and directed by Woody Allen, Scoop is one of his less popular movies, perhaps for its notable postmodern undercurrent.  Strangely, this romantic-comedy-meets-murder-mystery is reminiscent of the more recent Fifty Shades of Grey for its mixed genre (and while there is some sexual content, it is not nearly to the same degree.) 

Directed Bong Joon-Ho, written by Bong Joon-Ho and Kelly Masterson and based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette, Snowpiercer is a South Korean science fiction action film.  The year is 2031 and, due to an experiment gone wrong, all remaining humanity is confined to living on a train that constantly circumnavigates the world.  On the train, people are divided into classes and, in true dystopian form, one of the passengers named Curtis Everett (Chris Evans) gets fed up with the hand he has been dealt and leads the other tail passengers in a revolt.  The film creates a world that, while violent, opens up an interesting discussion about people, politics, and power.