Hundreds upon hundreds of movies are released every year, so naturally some are going to slip through unnoticed by the average movie goer. That’s where this list comes in; ten overlooked movies that didn’t get as much attention as they should’ve.
Don’t stress, this isn’t one of those uber-hipster lists of films that only released in a 20-seat cinema above an organic coffeehouse in a village in Bulgaria – these are just ten great films that I recommend checking out, in no particular order.
There might be a few discrepancies with release dates here and there (film festivals, limited and wide release etc) but these are movies I consider to be of the year 2016.
Hello, My Name is Doris
Sally Field is Doris Miller, a 60-something hoarder who suddenly becomes infatuated with her new, young co-worker played by Max Greenfield. Themes of family, love, friendship, attraction, life and death are explored very casually here in a movie that is both heartfelt and hilarious.
You’re probably sick of hearing about the Oscars at this point, but Sally Field was well deserving of a nomination for her portrayal here. For a comedy-drama made on a budget of barely a million dollars, Hello, My Name Is Doris is incredibly enjoyable and one I highly recommend checking out.
Hello, My Name Is Doris is available on DVD and iTunes.
Another obscure comedy-drama, Captain Fantastic stars Viggo Mortensen as Ben, a father of six who has raised his children in the wilderness. Disillusioned with the current state of America, Ben teaches his kids to live off the land, survival skills and to be self-reliant.
Problems arise when Ben’s father-in-law says he is unfit to care for his children, claiming they are unprepared for life in the real world. If you like Little Miss Sunshine you should enjoy this one.
Now this wasn’t the greatest movie ever made but it is one I felt was under appreciated for what it was. A science fiction slow burn with tremendous performances from leads Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton, Midnight Special sees the pair attempting to get a young boy with supernatural abilities to safety.
Almost an homage to movies like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Midnight Special is an understated movie that you really benefit from with repeat viewings. Great performances and special effects, along with a touching, human story at its center, this is one of those films that could become a cult classic in the years to come.
The first of two foreign films on this list, The Handmaiden is an erotic thriller from South Korea (South Korean cinema is so good). I don’t want to spoil too much of the plot but the bare bones involves the con of a Japanese heiress in an attempt to steal her inheritance.
A dark, twisting tale told in three parts, with each part shedding further light on the overall plot, The Handmaiden is one of the best foreign films not just of last year but of the last ten years. Every performance is great, the set design and setting works well and while it runs a little long, it is well worth it.
Possibly the most refreshing movie in the horror/thriller genre of last year, Hush was a blast for me to watch. Hush stars Kate Siegel as a deaf mute woman Maddie who is terrorised by an unnamed man at her cabin in the woods. It is a simple idea as Maddie can’t hear when the man is approaching, leading to some great, genuine scares.
The movie subverts a lot of horror cliches and has a great atmosphere and feel of isolation and vulnerability that compliments the setting. Made for a low budget, Hush is a lot better than a lot of the bigger budget horror movies around today.
Don’t Think Twice
Another obscure comedy that fell completely under the radar, Don’t Think Twice is the story of The Commune, an improv group in New York. When Jack (Keegan-Michael Key) is plucked to appear on “Weekend Live” (a Saturday Night Live-esque show), all of a sudden the rest of the group want him to put in a good word for them.
Don’t Think Twice is a funny story about the dark side of success, individualism within a group, and the stress of comedy. Everything within it feels so incredibly real and genuine that everyone will find something to connect to on a personal level.
Definitely the strangest movie on this list, The Fits will not be a movie for everyone. If you liked Birdman then you should be able to appreciate the style and feel this film goes for with some unexpected, surrealist moments. It follows young Toni (Royalty Hightower) who goes from boxing to joining a girls dance outfit at a local community center. The girls begin having unexplained hysterical fits and that’s about all the information we’re given.
The Fits is barely over an hour long and is a short look at the human condition and the inner workings of the mind of a young girl…at least that is my interpretation; there could be many for a film as strange and unique as this one. It’s not for everyone, but a few of you will surely love this odd watch.
Train to Busan
I told you South Korean cinema was awesome. Train to Busan is essentially zombies on a train. The characters are little more than the archetypes that come with a zombie film, but you won’t even care. From the setting to the action, everything is treated with so much respect from the filmmakers and there is barely a dull moment.
My second favourite movie of 2016 – edged out barely by The Nice Guys – Green Room is a white-knuckled thriller that literally had me on the edge of my seat. Green Room is the story of a punk band held hostage by a group of skinheads led by Patrick Stewart after witnessing a violent crime.
The direction by Jeremy Saulnier creates such a tense atmosphere with an incredible build up that finally culminates in a gore-filled moment that will bring viewers to collectively cry “ERGH!”
Amazingly La La Land wasn’t the only great musical movie of 2016. Sing Street is the story of a group of kids in Ireland in 1985 who start a band because Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) wants to impress a girl.
Everyone had the thought at one point in their childhood that they wanted to be in a band, and that is what Sing Street does so well – you can instantly connect with the characters. They’re funny, flawed and relatable. Jack Reynor gives an impressive performance as Conor’s family-weary older brother, who helps to introduce his younger sibling to lots of great 80s music.
The music is the selling point of Sing Street. The original songs here are, arguably, better than anything La La Land has to offer (and I love La La Land). Catchy music, fun characters and musical sequences that can’t help but make you smile, Sing Street is a joy from start to finish.
What movies did we miss? How many of these did you see last year? Let us know in the comments and on our Facebook page.