Netflix told analysts that a little less than 1 million subscribers canceled their subscription to the service in the second quarter of this year. The good news, though, is that Netflix is predicting a return to growth for the current quarter, which ends this month. And that growth will come, in large part, on the strength of the service’s bulging library of content, with a steady supply of new Netflix series and movies serving to keep subscribers hooked enough to stay around.
The problem, though, is that for all of the big, marquee titles set to hit the streamer soon — Blonde, the Knives Out sequel, and the like — some worthwhile gems can, unfortunately, find themselves a bit overshadowed. Below, we want to identify eight Netflix series and movies (five shows, and three films) that represent some great hidden gems available to stream on the platform.
The list of titles below, of course, is completely subjective. One man’s must-watch is another user’s hard pass. But one thing we can say about the Netflix series and movies included herein is that they garnered critical love. Plus the appreciation of hardcore fans who’ve been singing their praises to gin up more interest in them.
From crime dramas to documentaries and more, there should be something for everyone to enjoy below.
Snabba Cash (Season 2 coming Sept. 22)
I binged the first season of Snabba Cash — a Swedish crime drama whose title translates to “easy money,” in keeping with the characters’ constant hustle for cash, for new angles, for an edge — faster than any Netflix series I can remember in quite a while.
Think of it as a bit like Breaking Bad mixed with Gomorrah. That’s not a perfect analogy, but it gives you an idea of what you’re in store for. Here’s the Netflix description: “The lives of an ambitious businesswoman, a charming gang enforcer, and a troubled teen collide amidst a desperate — and sinister — pursuit of wealth.”
Special props must be given to Evin Ahmad, who portrays the central character of Leya. She plays a businesswoman who needs money to launch a startup. She’s also a mother, and she’s related to an underworld figure. Memo to Netflix: Please give this fantastic actress more projects, stat.
READ MORE: The 2 dark crime shows dominating Netflix in the US right now
Vendetta: Truth, Lies, and the Mafia
TV journalist Pino Maniachi looks like the kind of old man a Pixar artist might draw, with his thick glasses and riotously bushy mustache. This 6-episode Netflix docuseries is about the irascible, fearless reporter who went on TV, day after day, and railed against the mafia. Threats to his own safety be damned.
If you have any interest whatsoever in journalism, this Netflix series will keep you glued to the screen from start to finish. Especially when it starts heating up, and Pino and a local judge get entangled in dueling accusations of corruption against each other.
Suburra: Blood on Rome
Speaking of the Mafia, HBO’s Gomorrah will always be the gold standard for me as far as such dramas go. But this 3-season Netflix series, the streamer’s first Italian-language original show, more than capably stands on its own and gives viewers a gritty look at the Rome underworld. It’s got a narrative that encompasses family tensions, gun fights, and power clashes between politicians, the church, and organized crime — all of which was inspired by a novel of the same name from Giancarlo De Cataldo and Carlo Bonini.
This documentary from filmmaker Bryan Fogel, about the lengths to which Russia will go to cheat — in the Olympics, but really at anything — is all the more relevant today. At the center of the documentary is the participation of a Russian scientist who blows the lid on Russia’s doping scandal. And who, no surprise, becomes Putin’s most-wanted whistleblower.
More underappreciated Netflix series and films to stream
For the balance of our list of hidden gem recommendations, we’ve got two additional Netflix series and two movies. And they include everything from a teen adventure comedy to a Jason Sudeikis drama that flew under the radar upon its release.
The Billion Dollar Code
Did you love Halt and Catch Fire? Then you basically need to stop what you’re doing and watch The Billion Dollar Code. The vibe, story, and overall quality of this German-language Netflix series will feel very much in line with that AMC series about the early days of Silicon Valley.
Netflix’s synopsis of The Billion Dollar Code: “In 1990s Berlin, an artist and a hacker invented a new way to see the world. Years later, they reunite to sue Google for patent infringement on it.”
I absolutely loved this 4-episode Netflix series, which is functionally a bit like a live-action version of Pixar’s Toy Story. But only in the sense of anthropomorphizing the toys, and sweetly underscoring the bond that exists between those toys and their owners.
Lost Ollie, however, goes to darker places than you’ve ever seen in a Pixar film. Inspired by the book Ollie’s Odyssey by author and illustrator William Joyce, this series is as much about loss and the danger of letting grief overwhelm you as it is the magic and wonder of childhood. As Netflix explains it, the show is basically, “an epic adventure about a lost toy who braves the many dangers of childhood as he searches the countryside to reunite with the boy who lost him.”
It’s also “the story of the boy who lost more than a best friend. It’s a heartwarming tale for the child in us all, remembering those special souls that we’ve lost but who forever changed our lives.”
I wrote last year that this drama — built around the complicated reunion of a son with his dying, cranky jerk of a father — is a must-watch. And I stand by that pronouncement. Ted Lasso’s Jason Sudeikis plays the son here. And Ed Harris and a luminescent Elizabeth Olsen add two more reasons why Kodachrome deserves a place on your watch list. If you need an extra enticement, as I wrote previously, how about this:
Sudeikis by the end of it “will have worked you over with the same kind of warm blanket, feel-good energy” that you also get from Sudeikis’ hit Apple TV series, Ted Lasso.
Lords of Scam
Did you love films like American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street? Then this 2021 Netflix documentary should have no trouble hooking you from the get-go. Here’s the streamer’s official description. “This documentary traces the rise and crash of scammers who conned the EU carbon quota system and pocketed millions before turning on one another.“ (Sorry, the trailer below isn’t in English. But it should give you an idea of the vibe of the film — which does have English subtitles).
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