Hidden Cinematic Treasures: 20 Genre-Defying Movies That Deserve More Recognition

This list of movie gems focuses on the less talked about movies that are still worth viewing despite their initial box office underperformance. Here are 20 suggestions as recommended by members of an online forum. 

1. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019)

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind Maxwell Simba
Image Credit: Netflix.

The movie is based on the memoir of the same name and tells the tale of William Kamkwamba, a young Malawian who created a wind-powered electric water pump to aid his little town in surviving a severe drought. This tearjerker, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Maxwell Simba in his first acting appearance, will incite your innovative inklings.

2. Norte, The End of History (2013)

Norte, the End of History
Image Credit: Cinema Guild.

Despite its imposing four-hour runtime, this Filipino movie rewards patient viewers with an engaging, visually stunning viewing experience with the story of how the lives of three people changed after one of them committed a crime.

3. The Killing of Two Lovers (2020)

The Killing of Two Lovers Clayne Crawford, Sepideh Moafi
Image Credit: Neon.

This short drama traces the emotional journey of a family as they try to move on after their separation. It gives a pleasant surprise (one of which is the soundtrack), as you expect little from it. Another surprise is that the title is symbolic.

4. Disconnect (2012)

Disconnect Andrea Riseborough
Image Credit: LD Entertainment.

This movie is a practical summary of digital overload. It narrates the interactions between a diverse set of people on social media. A young man works for an illicit webcam service, a woman finds solace on an online forum, and a student is bullied on social media.

5. Candy Jar (2018)

Candy Jar Jacob Latimore, Sami Gayle
Image Credit: Netflix.

Lona (Sami Gayle) and Bennett (Jacob Latimore), who start as rivals on the debate team, are the movie's main characters. But soon, circumstances force them to compete against one another. They discover that despite their differences, they are similar and may even harbor romantic affection for one another. Candy Jar is the epitome of an enemy-to-lover game.

6. Short Term 12 (2013)

Short Term 12 Brie Larson
Image Credit: Cinedigm.

A few of the names on the cast of this movie have subsequently become more well-known. The film, which also stars Kaitlyn Dever, Rami Malek, and Lakeith Stanfield, is one of Brie Larson's best works. Both critics and viewers have given the drama's emotional aspect positive reviews, particularly how it immersed viewers in the viewpoint of a young person in danger.

7. Together (2021)

Together James McAvoy, Sharon Horgan
Image Credit: BBC Film.

The comedy has been described as a sweet and funny movie that felt like a new story that hadn't been edited several times. The same plots have been recycled repeatedly in big-name movies, but Together is a lesser-known examination of fatherhood and love.

8. Disobedience (2017)

Disobedience Rachel Weisz
Image Credit: Curzon Artificial Eye and Bleecker Street.

A critically acclaimed film that barely profited on its budget. It tells the story of a woman who returns to the orthodox Jewish community for her father's burial only to find they no longer accept her. While there, she meets the woman with whom she had an extramarital affair, and their love quickly rekindles. This “forbidden romance with a twist” is executed flawlessly and consistently defies your expectations.

9. Sunshine (2007)

Sunshine Michelle Yeoh, Rose Byrne, Cillian Murphy, Benedict Wong
Image Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures.

The sun is aging, and as a result, the planet will also. Seven years after an astronaut team sent to try to renew the sun fails, another crew is dispatched to save humanity. For its plot, it ranks among movies like Interstellar and Gravity but has not attained the same popularity.

10. The Land of Steady Habits (2018)

The Land of Steady Habits Ben Mendelsohn
Image Credit: Netflix.

As a result of his estrangement from his wife (Edie Falco) and son (Thomas Mann), as well as his newfound connection with an adolescent drug addict (Charlie Tahan), the film candidly examines Anders' search for happiness. The Land of Steady Habits is a drama about decisions and regrets with a dash of humor at its foundation.

11. I'm Thinking About Ending Things (2020)

I'm Thinking of Ending Things
Image Credit: Netflix.

The movie's main character is a young woman (Jessie Buckley) who, while considering breaking up with her lover, visits her boyfriend's parents at their farm. The movie is challenging to explain since it is rife with symbolism and more concerned with feelings than the story. It makes you feel uneasy, but that's the idea, and the brilliant directing and performances make it well worth watching.

12. Wheelman (2017)

Wheelman Frank Grillo
Image Credit: Netflix.

Why this is not mentioned among the likes of Gone in Sixty SecondsDrive, or Baby Driver beats me! They all have a single thread to their plot, putting driving skills and smarts to the test. Yes, a rehashed story, a cliche. But given the versatility and peculiarity of his driving skills, Frank Grillo offers a heroic performance as unique as a fingerprint.

13. The Ballads Of Buster Scruggs (2018)

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs James Franco
Image Credit: Netflix.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a compilation of six stories about death and finality. You may have difficulty picking which of the pieces is the strongest. The title-poem opening story, which stars Tim Blake Nelson as a singing gunslinger, might be interesting.

14. Barry (2016)

Barry Devon Terrell
Image Credit: Netflix.

This coming-of-age tale focuses on Barack's college years, where he develops the abilities and charisma to rocket him to success. In a stunning performance, Devon Terrell transforms the ex-American President into a realistic adolescent boy finding his identity. While not a standard biopic by plot (as it excludes Obama's political career), it smoothly fits into that biography slot by resembling similar works.

15. The Year of Living Dangerously (1987)

The Year of Living Dangerously Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver
Image Credit: MGM/UA Entertainment Company.

The Year of Living Dangerously combines a love story with a political movie set in Indonesia. When a reporter heads to the country in the midst of a political change in the country, he doesn't expect to fall in love with a British diplomatic assistant, but the politics of the area they're in start to affect everything around them.

16. Triangle (2009)

Triangle (2009)
Image Credit: Icon Film Distributions.

Triangle combines a number of genres together into one spectacular film. From fantasy to sci-fi to mystery, the movie focuses on five friends who set sail on their yacht, but as they travel, a sudden storm overtakes the ship. But it's only when a mysterious ship comes to save them that the story really begins.

17. We Need to Talk About Kevin (1987)

We Need to Talk About Kevin 2 e1693931917761
Image Credit: Oscilloscope Laboratories.

We Need to Talk About Kevin mixes a family drama with a thriller, which shows the strained and difficult relationship between a mother and son. Struggling to love her son from the start, the relationship between them gets worse and worse as Kevin gets older and more sinister.

18. Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (1987)

mrs harris goes to paris
Image Credit: Focus Features.

While Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is technically a period drama, the movie has a lot of comedy and is very lighthearted as well. The film focuses on a widowed cleaning lady who falls in love with a beautiful Dior dress and makes it her life's mission to have one of her own.

19. Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Image Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Beasts of the Southern Wild combines adventure, fantasy, and drama into a beautiful story about love and family. The movie follows Hushpuppy who has her father to protect her from all of the harsh realities of the world, but when he starts to get sick, the nature around them starts to fall out of balance, adding another threat to Hushpuppy's life. 

20. The Invitation (2022)

the invitation

This horror movie received a number of bad reviews at first, but a lot of fans love this strange, exciting thriller. When a young woman discovers she has a long-lost cousin she never knew about, she journeys to their lavish wedding, only to discover her family's horrible, deadly secrets.

Source: Reddit. 

Amaka Chukwuma is a freelance content writer with a BA in linguistics. As a result of her insatiable curiosity, she writes in various B2C and B2B niches. Her favorite subject matter, however, is in the financial, health, and technological niches. She has contributed to publications like Buttonwood Tree and FinanceBuzz in the past and currently writes for Wealth of Geeks.