3 underrated Netflix movies you should watch this weekend (June 28-30)

A solider faces a man in Unbroken.

Emotions are running high in America. No, I’m not talking about politics; I’m talking about Inside Out 2. The Pixar animated movie about the inner life of a pre-teen’s emotions has reigned supreme in June, grossing so much money that it’s already on the list of the 10 most successful animated movies ever.

Not everyone is interested in that movie, or another Bad Boys sequel, or even The Bikeriders. There are those who prefer to stay home and see what’s on Netflix. But instead of watching the dreadful Jessica Alba action flick Trigger Warning, try these three older movies that are almost as good, if not better, than what you can find at the movie theater.

Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood (2022)

A group of kids watch TV in Apollo 10 1/2.

Hollywood just doesn’t make summer movies anymore. No, I don’t mean the usual summer blockbusters that consist of the world being threatened by terrorists or natural disasters; I mean movies that feel like summer. The sunny season is one of lightness and laziness, when days drift along at a leisurely pace and the night sky is populated with a million stars. There’s only been one movie recently that’s captured that lackadaisical feeling: 2022’s Apoll0 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood, a fanciful adventure movie about a lonely kid in late 1960s Houston with a wild imagination.

In Richard Linklater’s charming, rotoscoped animated film, pre-teen Milo recounts the story of the famous Apollo 11 moon landing, which saw Neil Armstrong and company make history by taking one small step for mankind. Milo claims that he was the one who landed on the moon first when NASA recruited him to pilot a space shuttle they mistakenly built too small for grown men.

Stanley floats upside down in Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood.

Of course, this is an absurd claim, but it allows Linklater to explore what life was like in Texas in the summer of 1969: the sweet sound of an ice cream truck on a hot day; the cool wind on Milo’s back as he and his siblings sit in the back of a pickup truck; and all the majesty and promise that a trip to outer space holds for people as a decade of social upheaval winds down. Apollo 10 1/2 is a beautiful movie to look at and to absorb, as it captures the sweet spot between childhood and becoming a grownup when a kid’s imagination can be the most powerful thing in the universe.

Apollo 10 1/2 is streaming on Netflix.

The Squid and the Whale (2005)

A family sits together in The Squid and the Whale.

Divorce is difficult for anyone to deal with, but it’s especially hard for the Berkman family. The father, Bernard, a once-famous author, is an asshole, and the mother, Joan, whose books have started to gain acclaim, has had enough. Her decision to separate is understandable, but no less painful for her two sons, 16-year old Walt and 12-year old Frank, who both idolize their father, but begin to understand why their mother has to leave him. Walt, in particular, witnesses how Bernard just can’t accept his own failures, and decides to make everyone in his life is miserable.

The Squid and the Whale isn’t a fun movie to watch, but it’s always captivating due to the performances. As Bernard, Jeff Daniels gets a rare leading role to showcase his talents, and he never makes Bernard’s actions, however wrong they may be, irredeemable.

The Squid and the Whale (2005) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

Just as good is Laura Linney as Joan, whose patience with Bernard has worn thin, but who understands that he is still an important person to her sons. At an economical 81 minutes, The Squid and the Whale doesn’t overstay its welcome, but it still provides enough depth to create a portrait of a bohemian New York family fractured, but not completely broken.

The Squid and the Whale is streaming on Netflix.

Unbroken (2014)

A man faces another man in a POW camp in Unbroken.

“Oscar bait” is often used as pejorative term, one thrown at movies that either have obvious ambitions to be nominated for Academy Awards or have all the qualities to be loved by a committee of industry professionals. And certainly, Unbroken falls under both categories.

Based on a best-selling book about a real-life incident, the movie tells the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympian who is captured by Japanese soldiers during World War II and endures several years of punishment in various prisoner of war camps.

Unbroken Official Trailer #2 (2014) - Angelina Jolie Directed Movie HD

Unbroken was eventually nominated for three Oscars in minor categories, but it was dismissed by some as a typical Hollywood “triumph over tragedy” tale that’s been done to death. Yet the movie rises above its cliches through its solid direction by Angelina Jolie (yes, the same actress who was in Tomb Raider and Marvel’s Eternals) and its powerful lead performance by Jack O’Connell as Zamperini, who endures endless abuse but whose spirit never breaks. Unbroken is a powerful movie to watch, and one that deserves more attention and respect than it’s received in the last decade.

Unbroken is streaming on Netflix.