26 Netflix films the algorithm forgot

jack black in the polka king netflix movie
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Netflix has so many films even it can’t keep track of them all. Here’s a handy list to help it (and you) confound that pesky algorithm.

Netflix, eh? Home of Stranger Things, Red Notice, and a hefty chunk of Adam Sandler’s back catalogue. Who could forget the hours we’ve wiled away watching Extraction and its sequel, Fear Street and its sequel-prequels, or Rachel Talalay’s 2020 family fantasy A Babysitter’s Guide To Monster Hunting?

Like many of us, the world’s biggest streaming service just has too much stuff taking up space in its garage. Some of that stuff is critically acclaimed. Some of it won Oscars. And some of it is just a bit of fun.

Helpfully, we’ve taken the plunge into the algorithmic abyss and come up with a list of films Netflix hasn’t told us to watch in a while. We’ve got acclaimed directors, documentaries, and even a Netflix Original comedy or two. Something for everyone, then (especially if you like Polka).

Without further ado, here are 26 Netflix films the algorithm forgot to tell you to about. Enjoy!

Gerald’s Game

Director: Mike Flanagan

Long thought to be unfilmable, Stephen King’s 1992 novel is turned into a delicious psychological horror by Netflix’s go-to spooky guy, Mike Flanagan. When a woman’s husband dies of a heart attack, leaving her handcuffed to a bed with no way to escape, Carla Gugino’s Jessie must conquer her inner demons to escape unscathed.

22 July

Director: Paul Greengrass

Told in three parts, this hard-hitting drama about the aftermath of Norway’s 2011 terrorist attacks sees Greengrass back at his best. Using a fully Norwegian cast and crew (though still, oddly, delivered entirely in English), there’s an authenticity here that examines the response of a community after the unthinkable happens.

The Two Popes

Director: Fernando Meirelles

The Two Popes started life as one of Netflix’s earliest punts for an Academy Award in 2019, before it seems everyone rather forgot about it. Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins star as the first popes to co-exist since 1415 in a story based on Anthony McCarten’s play, which came out the same year.

The Polka King

Director: Maya Forbes

Based on the 2009 documentary The Man Who Would Be Polka King, this 2017 Netflix Original stars Jack Black as Polish-American polka band leader Jan Lewan, who was imprisoned for running a Ponzi scheme in 2004. If that all-timer of film synopses won’t convince you to watch this forgotten gem, maybe its surprising warmth and a few laugh-out-loud moments will.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Director: George C. Wolfe

August Wilson’s 1982 play is brought to crackling life by Rustin director George C. Wolfe, and features career-best performances from Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman, the latter in his final on-screen performance. Razor-focused on a tempestuous recording session in 1920s Chicago, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is a masterclass in tempo packed with actors at the top of their game.

Dick Johnson Is Dead

Director: Kirsten Johnson

Off-beat and thoroughly original, Kirsten Johnson’s pre-enactment of her father’s death in a series of increasingly dramatic ways marks Dick Johnson Is Dead out as one of the stand-out documentaries available on Netflix. Culminating in the elder Johnson’s opportunity to watch his own funeral, this darkly funny rumination on mortality will put a spring in your step and a tear in your eye – not necessarily in that order.


Director: Matt Palmer

When a hunting trip in the Scottish Highlands goes horribly wrong, Jack Lowden and Martin McCann attempt to escape a local village without arousing suspicion. A properly excellent British thriller, this – and one it’s easy to miss if it’s not thrown in your face every once in a while. Consider it thrown.

The Quick And The Dead

Director: Sam Raimi

Did you know The Quick And The Dead was on Netflix? I didn’t. It’s great. When Sharon Stone’s gunslinger returns to a frontier town to seek revenge, a handy dueling tournament gives her the chance to do just that. Quick zoom this to the top of your watchlist before it disappears.


Director: Gareth Evans

1905 – the sister of an Englishman (Dan Stevens) is kidnapped by a mysterious Welsh cult. He travels to a remote island. Michael Sheen pops up. Gareth (The Raid) Evans directs. If that hasn’t sold you on this gothic folk horror delight, nothing will.

Set It Up

Director: Claire Scanlon

Before he set the box office alight in 2024’s Anyone But You, Glen Powell starred alongside Zoey Deutch in the similarly charming rom-com Set It Up. With an all-timer premise (two overworked assistants try to get their bosses to hook up to lighten their workload) and chemistry in spades, this is perfect Friday night viewing – and unfathomable why Netflix are content to bury it in their back catalogue.


Director: Ava DuVernay

For a few years, Netflix’s documentary output formed the bulk of its awards campaigns. Ava DuVernay’s 13th, re-promoted during the 2020 protests surrounding the death of George Floyd, is a more than worthy inheritor of that tradition. A blood-boiling, searing attack on racial injustice in the US prison system, if you’re looking for a documentary to make you properly angry, this is it.

13th film
Credit: Netflix

News Of The World

Director: Paul Greengrass

Starring Tom Hanks as an ageing Civil War veteran tasked with returning a young girl (Helena Zengel) to her family across Texas, Greengrass’ 2020 film never made it into cinemas outside the US, with Netflix snatching up the international distribution rights. However much they paid for it, I’m sure they’ll feel a little better about it if you stick it on for a bit.


Director: Sian Heder

Elliot Page and Allison Janney reunite in the story of the titular homeless teenager, who steals a baby from irresponsible parents, and convinces the mother of an ex-boyfriend to help care for her. Terrific performances from the two leads bring heft to a pleasingly melodramatic script in a vein reminiscent of Little Miss Sunshine.

Tick, Tick… Boom!

Director: Lin-Manuel Miranda

In an alternate timeline, Andrew Garfield was awarded the Best Leading Actor Oscar for his exceptional singing turn as Rent composer Jonathan Larson, and was forced to give an awkward speech ignoring the fact Will Smith had just smacked one of the presenters. Instead, Will Smith won for his turn in King Richard, and he voluntarily gave an awkward speech ignoring the fact Will Smith had just smacked one of the presenters. In both timelines, however, Tick, Tick… Boom! remains an excellent ode to artistic struggle – with some brilliantly catchy tunes to go with it.

The White Tiger

Director: Ramin Bahrani

A young man dubbed “a white tiger” – someone born only once a century – escapes from poverty in a beautiful Indian drama. In 2021, it became a member of an elite cadre of international films to be nominated for a Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award.

Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood

Director: Richard Linklater

It’s a Richard Linklater coming-of-age movie. What more do you need to know? It’s set in a Texas suburb in the summer of 1969? It’s stylishly animated with some fancy rotoscoping? It got rave reviews when it came out in 2022, before being completely and inexplicably buried somewhere in Netflix’s back end? Check it out.

apollo ten and a half netflix
Credit: Netflix

The Wonder

Director: Sebastián Lelio

The real “wonder” is why this never made more of a splash on its release in 2022. Florence Pugh plays an English nurse sent over to Ireland shortly after the Great Famine to observe a perfectly healthy young girl who, according to her family, hasn’t eaten in four months. A wonderfully atmospheric introspection on religion and the power of belief, it’s well worth a watch if you missed it first time around.

Between Two Ferns: The Movie

Director: Scott Aukerman

The path from web series to feature film is paved with… Well, not a lot, really. We’re not sure Smosh: The Movie really counts.

Between Two Ferns, though, is an exception to this unwritten rule. Expanded from Zach Galifianakis’ hilariously funny series of mock celebrity interviews, the movie version might stretch the format to breaking point. But if you’re a fan of the source material (and, honestly, who isn’t) then there’s plenty to love here.

A Babysitter’s Guide To Monster Hunting

Director: Rachel Talalay

Good family adventure comedies are a rare enough beast these days that Rachel Talalay’s 2020 flick, A Babysitter’s Guide To Monster Hunting, is worth celebrating. A high school freshman (Tamara Smart) embarks on a fantastical mission when one of her charges is abducted by monsters. It’s produced by Ivan Reitman (of Ghostbusters: Afterlife fame) if you want an idea of where this good-natured supernatural story comes from.

White Noise

Director: Noah Baumbach

Any film that starts with Don Cheadle giving a lecture on car crashes in American cinema is alright in our book. When an “Airborne Toxic Event” forces Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig and their family to flee their hometown, the couple must come to terms with their collective fear of death in Noah Baumbach’s idiosyncratic, but eerily prescient, family comedy-drama. The end credits dance sequence is an all-timer, too.

Every Studio Ghibli Film Except The Six You’ve Heard Of

Directors: Lots

Okay, yes, this is cheating. And, no, Netflix doesn’t actually have every Studio Ghibli film. But it does have a fair few, and if you’ve already checked out the Japanese animation giant’s most well-known offerings (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service are never far from the front page, and are always worth a watch) why not give The Cat Returns, Porco Rosso or the studio’s debut, Castle In The Sky, a go? We dare you to find a reason to dislike any of them.

Bank Of Dave

Director: Chris Foggin

With a sequel to the surprise Netflix hit on the way, what better time to check out the first film now it’s disappeared from the streamer’s front page. Rory Kinnear stars as a self-made Burnley millionaire as he attempts to set up a community bank. It’s based on a true story, too, so you can even Google the sequel’s plot afterwards.


Director: Duncan Jones

Duncan Jones might be better known for his excellent 2009 feature debut, Moon, but 2018’s neo-noir sci-fi, Mute, is also well worth checking out. Given a bit of a critical kicking on release, the tale of a voiceless bartender searching for the love of his life might just have aged better than plenty other straight-to-streaming originals we could mention. Looks lovely, too.


Director: Kirk DeMicco

Kirk DeMicco’s musical animated comedy was originally pitched to DreamWorks Animation in 2010. A hop, skip, and a company restructuring or two later, this sweet little film arrived on Netflix in 2021, with Sony Pictures Animation producing. Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the music and provides the voice for the titular kinkajou (a South American, rainforest-dwelling mammal loosely related to the raccoon) tasked with delivering a love letter to a retiring singer.

vivo netflix film
Lin-Manuel Miranda voices an arboreal mammal called a kinkajou (right) in Vivo. (Credit: Netflix)

Wine Country

Director: Amy Poehler

A group of long time friends take a vacation to Napa Valley as a birthday getaway. Wine Country's exceptional American comic cast (Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Tina Fey and more) makes up for a slightly light script, but there’s enough natural chemistry and decent jokes to make a fluffy, charming comedy fly by.


Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Is Bardo, False Chronicle Of A Handful Of Truths Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s most accessible film? No. Is it his film with the longest title? Also no. At 45 characters including spaces, it’s still a whisker behind BİRDMAN or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) which, at 47 characters, currently holds the record for the longest film title to win the Oscar for Best Picture.

But does Bardo start with the director’s proxy being (and there’s no nice way of saying this) reinserted into his mother’s womb to escape the complexities of life as an acclaimed documentarian and filmmaker in modern-day Mexico? Yes! If that sort of thing appeals, give Bardo a try. It really is very interesting.

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