With the popularity of streaming services nowadays, it’s possible that people, specifically college students, have seen the most popular options on those platforms. And because of that, they are desperate for new movies to watch, including ones they had no idea even existed. Those types of movies can be best described as “hidden gems.”
Through Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu and Disney+, I have found the best “hidden gems” on these platforms that are secretly great and well worth the watch.
1. “Down with Love” (HBO Max, 2003)
Runtime: 102 min. Rating: PG-13
Starring Ewan McGregor (“Star Wars” Episode I, II and III) and Renée Zellweger (“Chicago” and “Bridget Jones’s Diary”) and directed by Peyton Reed (“Ant-Man”)
This unfortunate box office disappointment is a hilarious love letter to goofy romantic comedies of the 1960s, featuring wondrous production and set design that makes for an amazing visual experience. It takes place in 1962 New York City and is about a chauvinistic, playboy journalist who falls in love with a feminist author. And despite the 1960s time period, this movie is surprisingly progressive and forward-thinking, which is a pleasure to see.
2. “The Ritual” (Netflix, 2017)
Runtime: 94 min. Rating: TV-MA
Starring Rafe Spall (“Black Mirror: White Christmas”)
If you are desperate to find something actually scary, I have the horror movie for you. The movie features four friends who are hiking in the Scottish woods when they decide to take an unfamiliar shortcut. This horrifying journey into the unknown features incredibly disturbing imagery bound to be the scare-fest you are looking for. Don’t go in expecting an easy time.
3. “Hustlers” (Hulu, 2019)
Runtime: 110 min. Rating: R
Starring Constance Wu (“Crazy Rich Asians”) and Jennifer Lopez
This wonderfully different and interesting take on crime features strip club employees who decide to steal money from Wall Street clients. There are some great twists and turns in the story that makes for an incredibly fun ride. It also features Cardi B and Lizzo in small cameos.
4. “American Animals” (Hulu, 2018)
Runtime: 116 min. Rating: R
Starring Evan Peters (“X-Men: Days of Future Past”)
This crime movie based on a true story is absolutely hilarious throughout most of its running time. It’s about four college students who decide to steal priceless artwork from their college’s library. Inter-spliced with interview footage with the real-life participants, this movie offers an interesting question of what causes people to commit crimes.
5. “Igby Goes Down” (HBO Max, 2002)
Runtime: 98 min. Rating: R
Starring Kieran Culkin (“Succession”)
“Igby Goes Down” is about a young kid from a rich family, who after essentially getting kicked out of his house learns he is completely unable to grow up and live on his own. It’s a very funny film that is also surprisingly touching in a lot of ways. The performances are excellent and feature a number of stars in the side roles who do a terrific job with their well-developed characters. And if you’re a “Succession” fan, you’ll find something to like in this, as the main character is very similar to Roman Roy.
6. “Joe Versus the Volcano” (HBO Max, 1990)
Runtime: 102 min. Rating: PG
Starring Tom Hanks (“Forrest Gump”) and Meg Ryan (“When Harry Met Sally”)
This romantic comedy offers a wonderful and pleasing fairytale about an office worker named Joe that learns he is dying and decides to finally start living for the first time in his life. It’s very different from your typical rom-com and almost feels like a fantasy movie, but rest assured it’s a very pleasing experience. The dialogue is insightful and incredibly quotable, and the movie looks great with its set and production design being fantastic.
7. “The Rocketeer” (Disney+, 1991)
Runtime: 108 min. Rating: PG
Starring Billy Campbell (“The Killing”) and Jennifer Connelly (“Alita: Battle Angel”)
This ode to 1940’s comic books is a fun and exciting superhero movie that is a prelude to the Marvel movies that came after it. Taking place in the 1940s, a young pilot stumbles upon a prototype jetpack. Everyone from the Nazis to the Mafia is after this jetpack, so he has to become a hero to save the day. Although it may not be as action-heavy as the Marvel movies of today, it still feels very similar to them and can offer an entertaining viewing to any Marvel fan looking for more movies like that. And it’s really worth watching just for the brilliant musical score as well.