Nobody can see all of the movies that come out in a year; there's not even enough time to catch up with all the good ones. We've all had the experience of reading a critic's year-end Top 10 less and slapping our heads, remembering that we heard great things about that one movie but never caught it. Or if you live in a small town, you're constantly frustrated that the movies critics are going crazy for never play anywhere near you, and take months to come out on DVD.
But even with theaters crowded with year-end Ocsar hopefuls, there are a ton of great movies out there you may have missed-- and you're not alone. We've picked a crop of 12 movies that, for one reason or another, were totally overlooked by most audiences, but deserve a second glance and a lot of love. From a blisteringly profane comedies to a lyrical Depression-era drama to Robert DeNiro's *actual* best performances of the year, these are 12 movies you probably missed-- but now you have the chance to fix that mistake.
Everyone praising Robert De Niro for "finally" giving a good performance in Silver Linings Playbook clearly didn't bother to see him in Being Flynn, the intimately observed drama based on Nick Flynn's memoir about his relationship with his homeless, alcoholic father. As Nick Paul Dano gives a pretty typical Paul Dano performance, but De Niro is raw and angry and heartbreaking as his father, and Paul Weitz is back in his About A Boy wheelhouse, playing out all the complicated emotions without leaning too hard on schmaltz. It's a lovely New York period piece with excellent performances, and it made $540,000 total. Now's your chance to right that wrong.
Hello I Must Be Going
Melanie Lynskey, who made her screen debut alongside Kate Winslet's in Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures way back in 1994, was hilariously nominated for a Breakthrough Award at the Gotham Awards for her role in this sweet-natured comedy. Lynskey is no newcomer, but she is the best reason to catch up with this Sundance success, as she plays a recently divorced woman stuck at home with her parents and starting an illicit relationship with a much younger guy (Girls's Christopher Abbott). It's not groundbreaking indie stuff, but it's a familiar formula executed extremely well, and and long-awaited showcase for Lynskey's leading lady talents.
2 Days in New York
A follow-up to 2 Days In Paris, Julie Delpy once again enlists her wild and wooly, real-life French family for another comedy of clashing cultures, this time with Chris Rock as a perfect foil to all of the madness. It operates at the pace of a farce, with people crammed into this tiny apartment and screaming at each other in way too many languages, but contains some lovely insights about the way families work, the way couples deal with what seem like insurmountable differences, and how the chaos of life in New York can be beautiful in its own way.
Jeff Who Lives At Home
Ed Helms made this list last year for his endearing comedy Cedar Rapids, and now he's in a similar position, turning in a terrific performance in a non-Hangover movie that nobody seems ready to acknowledge. Directed by brothers Jay and Mark Duplass, this story about a pair of brothers is as heartfelt as you might think, with Segel playing the endearingly dippy, titular Jeff, who follows signs for the universe into an accidental adventure on the same day his brother (Helms) is going through a crisis of his own. Add a lovely subplot for Susan Sarandon as their mom, and it's a goofy but deeply sweet movie that ought to appeal to just about any audience.
Sure, Steven Soderbergh had one giant hit this year with Magic Mike, but he deserved two. As a stripped-down, gender-reversed take on the typical spy action movie, Haywire is probably the most realistic possible depiction of what it's like to be a female assassin, with MMA fighter Gina Carano doing all of her own stunts and kicking the asses of Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum… pretty much every major male co-star. It's lean and ruthless and super fun, and there's no reason on earth it shouldn't have made more money than The Expendables 2.
It's made several our own personal top 10 lists here, and I can guarantee all of us die a little bit when the far inferior Frankenweenie gets nominated for awards instead. The second, intricately stop-motion animated film from Laika Studios tells what could be a familiar tale of zombies and witches, but turns the whole formula on its head to really get at the heart of what it is to be a kid who feels like an outsider. Add in some jokes that range from ridiculous to outstandingly clever, and ParaNorman is far too good to be a movie for just kids-- which is why way more adults need to come up with it.
Of all the films on this list, Lawless might be the most inexplicably ignored. It's got one of the best casts of the entire year, with a whole slew of actors-- Jessica Chastain, Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Jason Clarke, Dane DeHaan-- currently breaking out like never before, and John Hillcoat's elegant direction really putting you in the world of Appalachian bootleggers during Prohibition. Lawless is violent and beautiful and impeccably acted, and it completely bombed when it opened in August. Now's the time to fix that.
Save The Date
Nearly a year after it first debuted at Sundance, this winsome romantic comedy just opened in theaters, but it's been quietly on VOD for months. With tons of young actors everybody adores, plus Lizzy Caplan and Alison Brie as a perfectly matched pair of sisters, it's an enjoyable little story to follow, while also slyly twisting your usual rom-com genre expectations. It's just the second feature from director Michael Mohan, and a strong sign of what could be a great career to come.
Still think Seann William Scott is just the doofy idiot from the American Pie movies? You owe both him and yourself a viewing of Goon, the comedy set in the world of hockey that we promise is still open to anyone who doesn't know a goalie from a Zamboni. Scott takes his natural down-to-earth charm and uses them to play a guy who's not that smart-- he doesn't even know the rules of hockey when he's hired as the "goon," or brawler-- but who finds himself by punching dudes in the face on the ice. Extra points for Liev Schreiber's appearance as a veteran goon, with a pitch-perfect Canadian accent.
David Cronenberg's truly bizarre, alienating film isn't for everyone, but its pitiful $763,000 box office take is proof that even the art house crowds who would embrace it haven't bothered to see it. Give it a shot for the sake of seeing Robert Pattinson put his vampire blankness to good use, for surreal moments of random violence, for the most uncomfortable prostate exam ever put to film (is there such a thing as a comfortable one?)
It’s not a huge surprise that Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths didn’t do well in theaters: it never made it into more than 1,500 theaters, and while In Bruges certainly has a cult following, that movie didn’t exactly light up the box office either. At the same time, however, it’s a damn shame that McDonagh’s latest didn’t do better. The script is clever and funny and Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken and Woody Harrelson deliver some of the best performances of their careers. We just hope that it catches fire after it’s released on Blu-ray next month.
For A Good Time Call...
Ari Graynor is one of the most appealing female comedians working today, and teaming up with co-screenwriter (and Seth Rogen's wife) Lauren Miller, she helps create one of the most authentic movie depictions of female friendship… even in a wacky comedy about two roommates who start a phone sex line. I promise the idea becomes believable, and the whole movie is a deliriously paced romp from start to finish, with excellent supporting work from Justin Long as their mutual best friend and Mark Webber as a love interest to-be.
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