3 underrated Netflix movies you should watch this weekend (May 31-June 2)

Two men talk outside in A Walk in the Woods.
Broad Green Pictures

Over Memorial Day weekend, two unstoppable forces invaded movie theaters nationwide: Furiosa and … Garfield. But the Mad Max prequel and the animated movie featuring everyone’s favorite lasagna-lovin’ cat failed to entice moviegoers, and both films flopped. What happened? Well, maybe there’s just too much good stuff available on streaming services.

That’s certainly true for Netflix. Atlas, the Jennifer Lopez sci-fi action movie, isn’t actually good, but it’s still somewhat entertaining to watch as you fold the laundry. There are older movies that are worth watching, too. We’ve lined up a selection of quality movies that are currently streaming on Netflix. Each one is good in its own way, and all are sure to satisfy you without breaking the bank.

Need more recommendations? Read our guides to the best movies on Hulu, the best movies on Amazon Prime Video, and the best movies on HBO

Public Enemies (2009)

A man shoots a tommy gun in Public Enemies.

Christian Bale. Johnny Depp. Marion Cotillard. Billy Crudup. In 2009, you couldn’t beat a cast as stacked as the one for Public Enemies. Depp was coming off the huge success of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, while Bale and Cotillard were on the cusp of getting anointed their richly deserved Oscars. Add in Michael Mann, one of the best directors working then and now, and you have a gorgeously stylized gangster picture with one foot in the past and the other in the present. It’s almost as violent as any Quentin Tarantino movie, but sports a sensibility with the gangster pictures Warner Bros. made in the ’30s and ’40s.

Depp stars as infamous gangster John Dillinger, a career criminal who was labeled “Public Enemy No. 1” by the FBI in the 1930s. After escaping prison, he is chased by Melvin Purvis (Bale), an FBI agent determined to get his man. Complicating matters for Dillinger is his flirtation with singer Billie Frechette (Cotillard), who shares her lover’s anti-authoritarian attitude, if not his killer instincts. Like Mann’s classic modern caper Heat, Public Enemies boils down to a story of two men locked in a long chase that only has one possible ending: one of them has to die.

Public Enemies is streaming on Netflix.

A Walk in the Woods (2015)

Two men talk on a rock in A Walk in the Woods.
Broad Green Pictures

When you think of a typical buddy comedy, you may remember such classics 48 Hrs. with Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte or Lethal Weapon with Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. A Walk in the Woods is not your typical buddy comedy. For starters, it’s not an action movie, unless you consider hiking on the Appalachian Trail comparable to Mel and Danny chasing drug dealers in L.A. But the 2015 movie is a great example of opposites-attract comedy that’s played pretty straight and, at times, seriously.

Robert Redford stars as Bill Bryson, a retired author who decides to explore nature over the objections of his wife, Catherine (an underused but still very good Emma Thompson). He teams up with his old friend Stephen Katz (Nolte, as grizzled as ever) and, along the way, rediscovers his passion for writing and how much he missed Stephen. A Walk in the Woods doesn’t tread new ground, but it gives you the opportunity to hang out with three of the most charismatic actors working today. That alone is worth taking, you guessed it, A Walk in the Woods.

A Walk in the Woods is streaming on Netflix.

The Catcher Was a Spy (2018)

Two men look forward in The catcher Was a Spy.
IFC Films

The Catcher Was a Spy tells a story that’s so far-fetched, it has to be true. Moe Berg, a Boston Red Sox baseball player, is recruited by the American government to serve as a spy. His mission? To gather intel on Germany’s plans for building an atomic bomb, information that could help America create its own weapon of mass destruction. (You can watch Oppenheimer on Peacock to see how that turned out.)

Again, all of this sounds unbelievable, but the movie does its best to ground it in reality. That’s largely due to Paul Rudd, who stars as Moe and gives him an all-American aw-shucksness that hides his incredible intelligence and capacity for deception. The Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania actor is backed by an impressive supporting cast that includes Sienna Miller, Mark Strong, Tom Wilkinson, Guy Pearce, Shōgun‘s Hiroyuki Sanada, and Paul Giamatti. Moe’s story is one that needed to be told, and it makes The Catcher Was a Spy an entertaining watch for a lazy summer weekend.

The Catcher Was a Spy is streaming on Netflix.