Under the Radar Movies You're Probably Missing Out On

Some may consider it frightening, but I consider it an honor to be described by my friends as being the person to “have watched the most movies ever”. I average a low one movie a day, but have definitely had my days at home when I have quite literally watched 6-7 films in one day. I guess taking that into account, there is a good chance I watch 500 movies a year. Whenever a new one comes out on Netflix, in theatres, etc., I tend to be one of the first to watch. However, my joy of movies comes from the hidden gems, the indie films and coming-of-age stories that tend to be cult favorites among their viewers but get overlooked by the larger audiences. I search for these at night, looking for a kind of film that will actually move me emotionally, something that will make me feel different after the screen has gone black. In my pursuit of creating a top-notch favorite movie list, I have compiled a bunch of amazing movies many people have probably not heard of or seen. Below I have included some of my favorite under the radar movies that I urge you to find and watch. 


1.     The Way Way Back 

Whenever I think of a coming-of-age movie, this is hands down always the first one that comes to mind for me. Following a boy who gets dragged out to a beach town for the summer by his mom and her new boyfriend, who’s played by Steve Carell, he looks for a place to fit in which leads him to a job at the local water park. This movie has a really strong feel-good vibe to it, which is something I always like to find in a movie because the mood usually stays with me after. 


2.     The Kings of Summer

This is a coming-of-age story mixed with the absolute magic of nature and it literally hits every mark on the head. This movie is about three teenage boys who are tired of their lives and decide to build their dream home in the woods. Here they find themselves, the meaning of life and friendship, and overall their happiness. It also features some incredible newer stars and Moises Arias from Hannah Montana; we all needed another Rico moment. 


3.     We Don’t Belong Here

We Don’t Belong Here is not for everyone, but it is an absolute masterpiece to the audience it was made for. This film has a well-known cast with actresses like Maya Rudolph, Kaitlyn Dever, and Riley Keough. The entire movie has a kind of foggy surrealness to it which is sadly fitting for it to be one of Anton Yelchin’s last films he was in. The movie follows a family living across different parts of a woodsy town, with weird occurrences happening to each member as the family begins to unravel. It is one of those movies where the setting and the characters consume you, leaving you feeling a little disheveled after it is over. Riley sings a modern tripped out cover of the famous song, “La Vie En Rose,” that will take your breath away. 


4.     Stoker

While this is one of the strangest films I have seen in my whole life, I think I’ve watched it more than 50 times and am still shocked with weird delight every time. This movie stars Mia Wasikowska, the queen of the weird, as she navigates living with her mother and mysterious uncle. Her uncle seems to take far too much interest in her as people surrounding the family begin to rapidly disappear. This is one of those movies where you have no idea where it is going or where it will end up and I have quite a respect for those sorts of creative viewings. 


5.     Summer of ‘84

I am oddly obsessed with the 80’s and horror films, so finding a movie that included both was a real score. This movie gives off a real Stranger Things vibe. Its plot follows a teenage boy whose town has a lot of teenage boys going missing at the hands of a serial killer. He is convinced the killer is his next-door neighbor, who coincidentally happens to be a police officer. Determined to get to the truth, he and his friends end up in a lot of sticky and nail-biting situations that will have you screaming at the TV, in the best way possible. 


6.     Ideal Home

While this movie includes well known actor superstars Paul Rudd and Steve Coogan, I find that when I mention it to people, they usually haven’t heard of it. This is the kind of movie you want to watch when you're down in the dumps, have access to ice cream, and are looking for some cheering up. The story follows Paul Rudd and his superstar lifestyle brand husband and their glamorous life in New Mexico. To their surprise, a little boy shows up at their door who turns out to be Steve Coogan’s grandson. Unaware of how to raise a kid or build a real family environment, there are lots of laughs and loving moments that lead to an ultimately heart-warming end. 


7.     Under the Silver Lake

This movie stars Andrew Garfield, known as the former Spiderman, and Riley Keough, Elvis’s granddaughter and one of my favorite actresses. In this surreal indie mystery, shot in LA, Andrew’s character is a bit of a nobody with a knack for the bizarre. He has an infatuation with Riley’s character who disappears one night without a trace. From there we follow Andrew on a journey to solve what happened to her while stumbling upon some of Los Angeles’s strangest underground mysteries. This movie may be too avant garde for some, but makes for a real good watch if you enjoy the strange and outlandish. 


8.     The Place Beyond the Pines

This movie is one of Ryan Gosling's more underplayed ones and I cannot for the life of me understand why. This film is where Ryan met his wife, Eva Mendes, and their passion is seen throughout this film in every aspect. The plot follows Ryan’s character, a misunderstood motorcyclist who wants to do right by his family and Bradley Cooper's character, a cop who’s trying to rewrite the past. While this film is long, 2 hours and 20 minutes, it will make you cry and feel the depth of love someone can feel for their child and the ways that can shape someone’s decisions. 


9.     The To-Do List 

This film is a really fun watch and is great for a girls night in. It centers around Aubrey Plaza, whose character has not experienced any real sexual activities before. She decides to make a list of everything she wants to try over the course of one summer, with a sexy lifeguard being at the top of her list for the final act, losing her virginity. With other hilarious additions such as Andy Samberg and Bill Hader, this is an all smiles comedy all the way through. 


10.  Portrait of a Lady on Fire

I watched this movie recently and I am not even sure I can accurately describe how it made me feel in words. This movie displays the story of what it was like to live in France as a woman in the late 1700’s. The entire film takes place on the cliff side of a French coast, with the ocean being the backdrop for a lot of emotional and moving scenes between the two main characters, a daughter of a rich family and a young artist assigned to paint her portrait. The emotions between them run high as does the stress of both being women in an unaccepting time of love between the same sex. Your heart will soar and break by the end of the film. 


11.  The Bad Batch 

The movie was one of the first roles for supermodel Suki Waterhouse and you would never know, she really embodies everything this role needed for this crazy film. This movie shows us what it would be like if we lived in an apocalyptic world, where the really bad criminals get dropped in the middle of the dessert to fend for themselves. Caged into their own universe, some choose to civilize themselves while others turn to full brute, leaving the two groups and everyone in between at odds. Suki ends up becoming mixed up with Keanu Reeves, who plays the drugged up, sexed up leader of the civilization, but she struggles to decide where to go after meeting Jason Momoa’s more wild character. Can you blame her? I would probably follow either of those men into the desert as well. 


12.  The Spectacular Now

While this film is a little more well-known and mainstream romantic coming-of-age drama, I felt like I couldn’t make a movie list without putting it on here. I watch this movie once a year, and it is always when I am in bed after a long day feeling like I really want a glass of wine, or three, and a reminder of what young crazy love is like. Showing Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller in an unseen light compared to the rest of their films, they play high school lovers trying to navigate the difficulties of growing up, finding out who they want to become, and the struggles of family. This film makes me laugh and cry and smile and appreciate everything I have been through in life, good and bad. 


I hope you are able to take at least one movie from this list to watch for your next movie night and that it gives you a really good idea of how wonderful the not-so mainstream movies can be!