Consider a movie which is good while having a natural, effortless feel to it as opposed to overuse of special effects and whatnot.

There is a question looking for a kind of opposite to the word I'm looking for. The accepted answer there lists "flashy", "jazzy", and "gimmicky". I'm looking for an adjective describing a real good, definitely not boring thing which is at the same time none of those.

Added from comments:

Any kind of object which can be impressive without seeming to try very hard (or having designers who tried very hard) could be meant, I guess. Natural is not specific enough:

Berlin Syndrome is a natural thriller

that doesn't really capture the meaning I need.

  • 2
    Understated elegance?
    – NVZ
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 18:34
  • Does this apply only to movies? If not, what else can you imagine it being applied to? (By the way, I’d also like to know what’s wrong with natural.)
    – J.R.
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 19:01
  • @J.R. I mostly had movies & shows in mind. But any kind of object which can be impressive without seeming to try very hard (or having designers who tried very hard) could be meant, I guess. Natural is not specific enough, "Berlin Syndrome is a natural thriller", that doesn't really capture the meaning I need. Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 19:10
  • The answer to this question interests me too. Does the word "authentic" fit well? Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 21:06

5 Answers 5


Consider uncontrived.

Berlin Syndrome is an uncontrived thriller


uncontrived ADJECTIVE

Not appearing artificial.

‘Some have praised the film for its uncontrived, natural feel.’


Since flashy is the opposite of what you want, you can start searching from unflashy, and then move onto its synonyms such as plain, unadorned, undecorated, unembellished, unornamented, unelaborate, basic, unsophisticated, no-frills; classic, understated, uncluttered, restrained, unshowy, and pick one that fits best after checking the definitions in a dictionary of your choice.

Just an example:

Understated -- Macmillan

(adj.) not trying to impress people or to attract their attention, and therefore attractive or effective
She dressed with understated elegance.

  • Understated goes in a good direction. I tend to dislike some of the others, "unsophisticated" for example is just a negation of the (usually positive) "sophisticated", where I'm not sure that a thing which has effortless elegance can't, at the same time, be sophisticated. Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 18:49
  • Quietly compelling, well-paced, even enthralling. Unobtrusively holds our attention.
    – Xanne
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 20:41

You use the word effortless in your question; but as far as I can tell it actually answers your question. The OED definition is:

Acting without effort; unstrained, easy.

This is often applied to a situation in which someone makes something "seem easy", without unnaturalness or artifice; it does not necessarily imply that no effort was exerted:

Dutch children’s theater company Het Laagland presents this formally innovative, effortlessly thrilling piece of physical theater about rediscovering the joys of play, shaking off the shackles of adulthood, and flying high with the king of make-believe.

(Brooklyn Academy of Music website)

In the end, the comic’s best trick is the illusion that comedy is effortless. That people imagine what he’s doing is easy is an occupational hazard. Cary Grant never won an Oscar, primarily, I suspect, because he made everything look so effortless. Why reward someone for having fun, for being charming?

(Richard Russo interview on failbetter.com)


I like the term understated, but "low-key" is perhaps slightly more complimentary or "cool".

Low-key [loh-kee] adjective, Also, low-keyed

  1. of reduced intensity; restrained; understated.

Source: Dictionary.com

  • +1 I'm up all night to get loki. It really is 'cool'. I hear it in hiphop song lyrics sometimes.
    – NVZ
    Commented Jun 26, 2017 at 14:28

Well-proportioned /adjective (well proportioned when postpositive)

  1. having the correct or desirable relationship between constituent parts with respect to size, number, or degree

Source: Dictionary.com

This term is perhaps a bit less diminutive than the other terms. It is more focused establishing an ideal balance.

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