In the span of a month, FX and Hulu’s The Bear has gone from being something that would easily qualify for a spot on this list — it’s easily one of the best new shows of the year — to a sleeper-hit so widely beloved that calling it underrated would be a straight-up lie. The Bear deserves all the praise coming its way, and will surely be discussed in more detail when (or if) it lands on Hotstar.
But even though The Bear growled its way out of the fringes of the streaming landscape and into the mainstream, this doesn’t mean that we’re out of actual under-appreciated titles to hype this month. July’s list includes (yet another) Apple title that has slipped under the radar for no reason other than it is an Apple title, a moving Indian documentary that has been doing the rounds on the festival circuit, and a seemingly populist comedy that has simply not received the sort of love that it deserves.
You can check out the list of top underrated picks from January, February, March, April, May and June by clicking on them
Black Bird – Apple TV+
I’m losing count now, but Black Bird is more evidence that this year — at least as far as streaming is concerned — belongs to Apple TV+. And we’re only six months in. Thrilling, engaging, and featuring a couple of excellent central performances by Taron Egerton and Paul Walter Hauser, the crime drama miniseries is the TV equivalent of an unputdownable book, and despite its high-stakes plot, always character-driven in its approach. It’s unmissable, addictive television from a streamer on a legendary streak.
Broker – Available on Google Play and Wavve in South Korea
A humorous and humanist caper from acclaimed Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda, the Korean language Broker stars the iconic Song Kang-ho as a shifty man who runs an illegal operation where he steals abandoned babies and sells them on the adoption black market. But what could have been a gritty drama in the hands of another filmmaker is transformed into a moving morality tale about found family by Kore-eda. It’s a wonderful companion piece to his Palme d’Or-winning Shoplifters.
The Sea Beast – Netflix
Netflix certainly isn’t an easy company to root for any more, but by sheer law of averages alone, it occasionally produces some truly excellent films. So, even as you’re bombarded with repeated reminders to watch The Gray Man, there are better alternatives literally a click away. One of those is The Sea Beast, a passionate takedown of imperialism disguised as a rip-roaring children’s adventure.
Good Luck Jerry – Disney+ Hotstar
In a year when audiences have collectively thrown over Rs 200 crore at Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, here’s a Hindi comedy film that was released to negligible buzz, and has stunningly been ignored even after release. Starring Janhvi Kapoor in what is basically Breaking Bad in Bathinda — although, granted, the film doesn’t overtly identify the Punjab town in which it is set — this is the rare Hindi movie that understands the meaning of tonal consistency. Peppered with enough twists and turns to keep distracted audiences hooked, and a scene-stealing performance by Deepak Dobriyal, Good Luck Jerry, like Thar before it, isn’t the kind of movie you should be sleeping on — especially when the dominant narrative of the day is ‘Bollywood = bad’.
Mr Malcolm’s List – Available for rent and purchase on Apple TV, Amazon, Google, YouTube in the US.
Those who found Dakota Johnson’s Persuasion to be a little distasteful needn’t look any further than Mr Malcolm’s List to satisfy whatever Austenian cravings they might have had last month. Clearly modelled on the success of Bridgerton, Mr Malcolm’s List has charm to spare, wokeness to spread, and valuable reminders to offer that despite what actors with bigger marketing budgets will tell you, Freida Pinto is the OG.
Ostensibly about people who live in the border towns of India, director Samarth Mahajan’s documentary eventually reveals itself to be about people, period. The film examines the lives of a handful of men and (mostly) women in towns near Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan. While one woman’s job is to identify and apprehend human traffickers, another woman is a victim of the flesh trade herself. Then, there is the enthusiastic filmmaker with an antiauthoritarian streak, and most heartbreakingly, the director’s own mother, who speaks with regret about a life that could have been.