This is always a busy time at the movie theatres. Now is the time that all the studios look to release their prestige pictures they hope will be contenders during award season. There’s also the big budget fare looking to rake in some cash from the holiday crowds. But before you start compiling your own list of the year’s best in cinema, why not look past on some stellar films you might have missed?
Everybody Wants Some!!
Directed by Richard Linklater
Starring Blake Jenner, Tyler Hoechlin, Ryan Guzman
While the summer movie season is usually populated by big budget blockbusters, you’d think a college comedy would be able to find an audience. But while this film chronicles the exploits of a group of baseball players getting in the last bit of partying before classes start, it’s not the typical raunchy comedies you see today. Set in the 80s, the film seems more interested in taking you back to those fun summer days and giving an authentic look at college life, than making you laugh out loud. And yet there just so happen to be plenty of laughs to have. This spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused stars a bunch of unknows but it’s safe to say you’ll know their names before long.
Eye In the Sky
Directed by Gavin Hood
Starring Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman
War films are a dime a dozen, even films that focus on modern war. Yet this project managed to focus on one of the more controversial aspects of today’s military operations in a fascinating way; drone warfare. This taut thriller deals with all sides of the decision to fire a missile or not from the man on the ground, to the politicians and military leaders weighing the collateral damage, to the man who pulls the trigger. It’s an extremely well-acted piece from an incredible cast, including the last performance from the late-great Alan Rickman.
Florence Foster Jenkins
Directed by Stephen Frears
Starring Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg
To date, Meryl Streep has won three Academy Awards and been nominated an additional 16 times. Don’t be surprised if yet another nomination is added to the tally this year. In the film which is based on a true story, Streep plays the titular Miss Jenkins, a kind and charitable socialite who is so in love with music, she makes plans to sing opera in Carnegie Hall. The problem is, she’s a terrible singer. The film is lifted up by some wonderful performances at its center from Streep and Grant as her loving companion who desperately tries to hide her lack of talent from herself. It’s funny, sweet and a perfect light film.
Hell Or High Water
Directed by David Mackenzie
Starring Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges
This small gem went under the radar in late summer, despite being on of the best reviewed films of the year. A modern western, it tells the story of a pair of out-of-luck brothers setting out across the desolate American South to rob enough banks to stop their ranch from foreclosing. Tracking them down is a grizzled US Marshal, played by Jeff Bridges who nearly steals the whole film. It’s a grounded and realistic take on the bank robber tale with an added twist. It’s not the thieves who are the villains, nor the lawmen who pursue them, but rather the banks themselves who have stolen from the downtrodden. It’s a tale of desperation and determination you won’t soon forget.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Directed by Taika Waititi
Starring Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rima Te Wiata
While this film was a big hit in its native New Zealand, it only made a small impression on this side of the world. Still, it was enough for some to call this tiny adventure-comedy a perfect film. It follows a young foster child who, through a series of events, finds he and his grumpy foster father lost in the New Zealand wilderness with a massive manhunt looking for them. Writer-director Waititi infused the proceeding him an abundance of humour and energy and makes the whole thing feel almost like a fairy tale. And at the center is the charming relationship between two misfits who only have each other.
Directed by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Channing Tatum
When audiences went to see this film, they were likely expecting a star-studded romp of 50s Hollywood. However, with the legendary Coen Brother behind the camera, they should have known they were getting something with a bit of weirdness to it. An exploration of communism, tabloids and scandals, this is a bizarre and hilarious show is not what you expected by an unmistakable treat. And although the cast is stacked with big names, the real star of the show is relative newcomer Alden Ehrenreich, as a simple Western star who finds himself out of his element. He will have you howling with laughter.
The Nice Guys
Directed by Shane Black
Starring Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice
This is another big-name project that somehow got lost in the busy summer moths. A throwback to old school detective noirs, but injected with a pitch-black humour, this mystery follows a burnt out PI and an alcoholic enforcer who are forced to team up when they get dragged into a murder. The bumbling nature of our “heroes” makes for a hilarious, if somewhat violent, thrill ride. The script is sharp and filled with unexpected twists, and the chemistry between Crowe and Gosling is outstanding.
Directed by John Carney
Starring Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Jack Reynor, Aidan Gillen
Like Hunt for the Wilderpeople, this little Irish gem just didn’t find much of an audience on this side of the pond. It’s a shame because this is one of the most charming films you’re likely to see anytime soon. Set in the 80s during one of the worst economic times in recent Irish history, it follows a boy who finds himself the new kid at a Catholic school and sets out to attract the attention of a girl by starting a band. It’s a sweet yet sad coming-of-age film with some impressive original songs inspired by the likes of Duran Duran and Pet Shop Boys.
Directed by Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg
As you may have feared, this is a film about the infamous Anthony Weiner. While his name popped up again recently in the news, he has quite an active past which this documentary remarkable chronicles. The disgraced councilman allowed this camera crew to follow him on his comeback attempt as he ran for mayor of New York City. While at first it seemed like this would be a first-hand account of a politician rising from the ashes, as we all know, Weiner cannot help but turned everything he touches to garbage. Instead, as more scandals come forward, we are given a front row seat to a collapsing campaign and the look inside the mind of a man who is truly his own worst enemy.