Even the most zealous movie-lover has probably missed a lot of great movies. Some were highly acclaimed when they were released and enjoyed long theatrical releases – but that might have been decades ago, before many of today’s cinephiles would have appreciated them. Others were the work of avant-garde directors or were foreign films that might never have been widely available to see. Still others, judged to have little commercial potential, went straight to video or were banished to late-night TV. (Here are the 50 best movies you’ve never seen.)
The advent of streaming has rescued many of these films from modern-day obscurity and brought them new audiences.
To determine the best movies available to stream you’ve probably never seen, 24/7 Tempo developed an index using average ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, as of January 2022. (All ratings were weighted equally.)
We considered only movies that had at least 10,000 audience votes on IMDb but no more than 50,000 (suggesting that they haven’t been widely seen in recent times). All entries on our list are currently streaming on platforms (sometimes more that one) including Netflix, Disney+, Tubi, HBO Max, Hulu Plus, Peacock, Fubo TV, IMDb TV, Amazon Prime, Criterion Channel, Peacock Free, Showtime, Roku Channel, Apple TV+, Pluto TV, Cinemax, Starz, Plex Free, Vudu Free, Crackle, Mubi, and Discovery+. Documentary films were excluded. (Data on streaming availability came from Reelgood and was up-to-date as of January 2022.)
Of the 50 films on the list, three starred Burt Lancaster, all of them released at the height of his career in the 1950s and ’60s. Henry Fonda and Gregory Peck have two films on the list apiece. Other acting luminaries represented include Jane Fonda, John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, and Charlie Chaplin.
Independent filmmakers John Cassavetes and Jim Jarmusch are included on the list with two films each, as is Woody Allen, and mainstream directors of an earlier era like John Ford, Sidney Lumet, and Stanley Kramer are represented as well. (These are the best comedy movies available to stream right now.)
Among foreign films, there are a few Japanese animated offerings, a Spanish-language movie, and a film about a headstrong Saudi girl who won’t be dissuaded from her quest to buy a bicycle.
Though the big-screen effect is lost on the small screen, streaming gives filmgoers an opportunity to view these overlooked movies.
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