Best Barely Mentioned Movies of 2017
Another year gone by and another January full of Best of lists. So, instead of doing a tip top best of the year, that would be very similar to the rest of the best of lists, here is a more specific version of movies that didn’t get the love they deserved this year. In alphabetical order.
A wonderfully shot and constructed mediation on life, death, and everything in between, that pits John Cho’s neglectful son to a famous architecture scholar against Haley Lu Richardson’s small-town but big-brain library clerk and architecture enthusiast. They tour Columbus, Indiana’s modernist buildings talking shop and letting the metaphors fall where they may.
Dave Made a Maze
Dave Made a Maze is either the coolest weird movie or the weirdest cool movie I have ever seen. A woman comes home to find a hodge-podge of cardboard fashioned into a rough fort like building on her kitchen table. It turns out it was created by her boyfriend (comedian Nick Thune, in his first appearance on this list), and in the midst of a particularly dark episode has found himself in need of rescuing from the tabletop labyrinth that is much bigger on the inside. What follows is a funny and trippy adventure into a charmingly fake looking set with very real dangers.
The Discovery is Charlie McDowell’s follow up to his lo-sci-fi relationship drama, The One I Love. It takes a similar approach of pushing the science fiction to the background and the human drama to the foreground. It stars Robert Redford as a new age guru who proved the existence of life after death and may be responsible for a string of worldwide suicides. His skeptic son (Jason Segal, in a rare dramatic turn) comes home for a visit and becomes enamored with one of his new disciples.
Mr. Roosevelt is the directorial debut of comedian, Noel Wells. She plays a struggling comedian barely getting by when she returns home when her ex-boyfriend (played by Nick Thune) tells her the cat she left for him to take care of (the titular Mr. Roosevelt) was deathly sick. To her dismay, she finds that his ex has moved on with a new beautiful and charming live-in girlfriend who may have loved her cat even more than she did. Wells than takes a sledgehammer to the manic pixie dream girl archetype when she realizes that all the constants in her life aren’t as stable as she originally thought.
Hopefully, you like subtitles because this one has them. Written and acted in French, it stars a group of young adults too old to be so disaffected who successfully carried out a bombing plot in the city of Paris and are now taking refuge in an empty shopping mall. With the deed behind them, regret and paranoia set in for some. Relief and intoxication for others. They spend the whole night consuming anything and everything they can get their hands on, because it very well may be their last night alive.
The Washington Post got it right. It is time to admit that Kristen Stewart is a good actress. I’ve never seen a second of the Twilight series, but its reputation is clearly casting a pretty big shadow over Stewart’s public perception. No one knows better how to get nuance from her than Olivier Assayas. This is the second time they worked together, and the first time earned her a Caesar Award (a French Oscar). Here, she plays a medium who awkwardly makes nice with upper class elites when not looking for the ghost of her twin brother.
Call Me By Your Name is getting all the attention as this year’s big coming-of-age realist gay romance, but it is not the only coming-of-age realist gay romance this year. Princess Cyd centers on a teenager visiting her aunt (sister to her late mother) for the first time in a long time. It is during this trip that she meets and has a temporary romance with a local girl. The exploration of their physical intimacy coincides with an exploration of emotional intimacy with her aunt, regarding spirituality, life choices, and Cyd’s mother. In a great twist, it is Cyd who turns out to be the more judgmental one, questioning her aunt’s chaste but non-discriminating lifestyle.
This French film got some infamy thanks to one theater handing out vomit bags due to how gross some of the scenes are. I can attest the scenes are a little gross, but no grosser than the usual modern horror movies. It centers on a vegetarian that turns into a cannibal after being forced to eat red meat for the first time ever during veterinarian school hazing. But cannibalism isn’t just cannibalism. It is a stand-in for every weird and gross thing that happens during puberty, sexual awakening, and all the vices that get introduced at college.
Super Dark Times
Super Dark Times is moody teen thriller covered in 90s nostalgia that captures a loss of innocence in a grimier and more nuanced way than usually seen. A group of high school friends drift apart after covering up the accidental death of one of their members, with that one act of violence slowly moving through and effecting all their future decisions.
The Void kicks off with a classic horror beginning which has a bunch of weird crap happen to a few different people so that all of their story lines intersect at a single location, the local hospital, where they must barricade the doors and defend their new territory. It wears its influences on its sleeve. Cronenberg. Lovecraft. And it skirts pretty damn close to being derivative. But all of those influences also give it an old-fashioned, practical effects workmanship that works well with its fast paced tone.