Great Films from 2014 That You Haven’t Heard Of
I was trying to think of a way to create a list that wasn’t quite hidden gems and also not quite “underseen” films. Since both of those imply a certain level of quality and/or a certain level of regard on my account. Or even a certain level of awareness of product.
The idea was to make a list of movies that I feel need to be seen by people that, on the whole, are movies that most people would go, “What the hell is that?” Now, of course, if you pay attention to the things I write (and I assume that’s a hard pass, most of the time), or if you follow certain filmmakers or websites or whatever, they might ring a bell. I honestly don’t even know. At this point, I’m so deep into this, I can’t gauge what anyone’s heard of. My only concern is that you do hear about them. And if I’m the gatekeeper, so be it. (I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.)
The point is, poll the average filmgoer, and I bet that they have not heard of at least 80% of these movies. Poll the above average filmgoer, and maybe you get half. (I’m talking a solid, “Oh yeah, that movie.” Not, “Yeah, that sounds familiar.” You should be able to tell me about it the way you could just talk if I said, “What’s this movie Boyhood?”) I’m trying to increase that number.
These aren’t the movies you need to like so you can show them to your friends and spread the word. These are the films that YOU need to see, in order to decide if you want to show them to your friends. Stop watching that Marvel movie for the fourth time, and try out some of these. Because they all deserve an audience, and you didn’t even know they existed before now.
Here is my list of great films of 2014 that you’ve never even heard of. You’re welcome.
1. After the Dark
I’ve been tracking this since 2013 based purely on the premise. Here it is: a group of students are in a philosophy class. They specialize in very high-concept theorizations. It’s the last class of the term. The professor puts forward a thought experiment: there are 20 of you in the class, and a nuclear bomb has just gone off. There’s a bomb shelter, and it can only fit half of you. Who goes and who stays? They continually add wrinkles to the situation, developing each student’s “character,” and the whole thing paints a theoretical exercise of what would actually happen in this scenario. And over the course of the movie, everything unravels as things come out, etc. etc.
Are you hooked? Did I hook you? That’s the point of this list. You’ve never heard of this movie before, and maybe now, after hearing the premise, you just went, “That sounds interesting.” I just want people to see it. I don’t need you to like it. I just need you to know it exists. And maybe you will like it.
And also, while we’re here — every time I’ve talked about this movie, I’ve mentioned the great Frank Perry movie Ladybug Ladybug. Frank Perry is a now-forgotten filmmaker who made an amazing string of films in the 60s and 70s. He’s most known as the person who made Mommie Dearest, which is a shame. His first movie was David and Lisa, a romance set in a mental institution, and he was nominated for Best Director for it (in the same year as Lawrence of Arabia and To Kill a Mockingbird. FYI). Ladybug Ladybug was his second movie. It’s about an elementary school class that gets the signal for an air raid. They don’t know it happened by mistake, and treat it as if something has happened. So they go off on their way home with their teacher, and eventually end up alone in a shelter or sorts, and it very quickly turns into Lord of the Flies. It’s terrific. Frank Perry really found interesting angles to turn into movies.
But anyway, After the Dark — good to make you think, at the very least.
2. The Battered Bastards of Baseball
It’s a documentary. And those of you who know my feelings about documentaries know my inclusion of this means that I really like this one. Here’s the backstory — you can’t make this up: Bing Russell, Kurt Russell’s father, goes to Oregon and decides to buy a baseball team. A minor league club. He pays $500 for it. It’s like nothing. Baseball wants nothing to do with the city, no one cares. So he buys this team. And then he holds open tryouts. So all sorts of crazy characters show up. And it turns into Major League. And this team starts playing. They go door to door and tell people about it, they start all sorts of crazy schemes to get people to show up. And they do. Because it’s fun to watch this team. Everyone on the team was clearly having the most fun they’ve ever had. And the best part? The team was good. They beat actual minor league teams. It got to the point where baseball sent down actual players to play them in the championship games just so they wouldn’t be embarrassed and lose to them. They also had the first Asian and female GMs in the history of the sport. The stories of the people on the team are incredible.
The team was so good and so popular that baseball decided to come back to the area, which meant the team had to be sold. So they offered him $26,000 for the team he paid $500 for. And his response was, “Put a zero between the 2 and the 6 and you’ve got yourself a deal.” And then it became a trial movie. They took it to arbitration. And he won. The team was still disbanded, but he won. And even better than that — you’d expect that all the players ended up dead, or in jail, or something. But no. The pitcher (who was a former star who was black-balled for writing a tell-all about life on the road) went back to the majors. Two guys on the team started Big League Chew and became rich. The batboy of the team was Todd Field, Oscar-nominated director of In the Bedroom and Little Children. That Todd Field. It’s crazy.
This story is so good. It’s tailor-made for a movie. (And apparently Field is developing it.) The documentary isn’t perfect filmmaking, but who cares. Even if you don’t love sports, you’ll enjoy this. Because it’s fun. It makes you want to see this as a movie. If you liked Major League (and that might be my personal favorite sports movie of all time), you’ll love this. Trust me, you will. Also — it’s only 70 minutes long. It costs you nothing to watch it. That’s less than two episodes of a network drama.
Oh, by the way, this is on Netflix. That’s where it debuted. So this is really easy to find and is only 70 minutes long. You have no excuse to not see this one.
3. Before I Disappear
There was a great short that won for Live-Action Short back in 2012 called Curfew. Its opening scene was a dude in a bathtub, having just slit his wrists. As he sits there, waiting for unconsciousness to take him, his phone rings. And it keeps ringing. And finally, annoyed that his perfect plan for suicide is being interrupted, he picks up the phone. It’s his sister, who he hasn’t seen or spoken to in about five years. She desperately needs someone to watch her daughter, his niece, for the night, and has exhausted every other possibility. Surprising even himself, he says yes. And the rest of the film takes place over the course of the night as he watches his niece. It’s an incredible twenty minutes.
This is that short turned into a feature. And it’s just as good as the short. It’s different, because the extra run time means you have to elaborate on some things and add subplots and all that, so you’re not just repeating the viewing experience (though some scenes are the same, like an out-of-nowhere musical (ish) number at the center). Personally, I prefer the short, because it does a better job at hinting and not telling you exactly what’s going on, but the feature version is still a great watch.
The little girl is terrific. She was great in the short and is arguably even better in this version. She’s actually the current voice of Dora the Explorer. Go figure. But the film is really good, and it’s gotten absolutely no press whatsoever. The short is also something nobody knows about either, unless you watch the Oscars as closely as I do. And even then, you probably don’t remember the shorts that much. I don’t. In terms of live action shorts, I can probably, going back over five years, remember about five live-action shorts. Total. So chances are you know nothing about the short and nothing about the feature. This movie was put out on VOD and probably like four screens total, and it’ll most likely be relegated to the IFC channel in a year. And that’s unfair. The short is really, really good, and the feature is really worth watching. I suggest watching the short first and then the feature, but do yourself a favor and watch both. This is one of the better films of the year, and you don’t even know it exists.
Back in January, when I previewed this, I said, “I’m more excited for this movie than Spider-Man.” The reason was because it was scheduled to come out the same day as Spider-Man. Which was surprising. Since this is an indie movie, and very rarely do these have set dates that hold up over the course of the year. But this one did. It was released the same day as Spider-Man. Which only adds to the fact that no one knows this exists.
And guess what? I liked it better than Spider-Man. A lot better. There are so many reasons to see and support this movie. Starting with: it was written by a woman. It was directed by a woman. Both of these women are women of color. A trifecta of things lacking in the movie business. Another reason: it’s about something interesting that you never see. When’s the last time you saw a movie take place in 18th century England that had black people in it? Okay, now when’s the last time you saw one of those movies and the black people weren’t servants? I rest my case.
This movie is about a black child, fathered by an Admiral in the British Navy, who, upon her father’s death, is taken in and raised by her great-uncle. She lives in an aristocratic household, and actually is given many of the privileges of that status. (Not all, since it’s still racist as hell, but quite a few.) It’s actually quite a refreshing movie, since they don’t give you the amount of racism you’d expect. Granted, there’s a fair share, but there’s a lot of this movie that deals with her simply trying to be a woman in a male-dominated society and not just a woman of color. The one thing this movie has going for it in that sense is the fact that her sister (played by Sarah Gadon, who has really been impressing me with her performances these past few years) treats her as her sister wholly and without reservation. That’s a big deal, because throughout the movie, she has that person on her side.
Oh, and by the way, the woman this is about is the person in this painting, which is apparently pretty well-known It’s really well-done, and I’d prefer to see a movie like this than most of the stuff that comes out nowadays. I know it’s not commercial, but it’s refreshing. I want to see black people in the 18th century and not have it be about slavery. Black people in England. That fascinates me. Oh, and the star of the movie is Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who is getting a lot of notice for Beyond the Lights, a movie that you’ve heard about that’s actually not half bad. So she’s someone you want to keep an eye on going forward.
Either way, this movie deserves to be seen for many reasons. To me, this is the movie that should have gotten the press over Spider-Man that weekend. Fuck Spider-Man. Everyone hated it anyway. Go see this instead.
5. Berberian Sound Studio
Very much a 2013 movie. This is one I have here because there are two movies I can’t officially put on here yet, so I needed one to put on instead. And it’s a good choice. I know this is the one that the least amount of people have heard of. And, for what it is, it’s actually really worth seeing.
This is a horror movie that is about sound design. Toby Jones is a sound designer who gets hired to work on an Italian giallo film. Only the director demands that it’s not a giallo film. And everything gets weird. It’s almost a lost in translation for a while, and the whole thing gets pretty surreal. The sound design work on it is really amazing.
It’s rare to see people play with sound design in a movie. Blow Out is the one you think of. This is worth seeing for that. If you’re a fan of film form, this one is well worth the watch.
6. Blue Ruin
I know people have barely heard of this, because I barely heard of this. This was coming out, and I still didn’t bother to track it or try to watch it. And I could have. It took me hearing that it was really good to even think about watching it, and only then, I watched it because I had nothing else going on. So I can imagine most of the movie-going public knows absolutely squadoosh about this film.
Here’s the set-up: a homeless man is picked up by police and taken in. He is sat down and told that they have been looking for him. The reason — “he” is going to get out soon, and they wanted to make sure he knew that and make sure he wasn’t going to do anything rash. You find out slowly the “he” is a guy that killed the man’s parents. And what he does, is clean himself up, go right to where the guy is, and kill him. And thus sets off a very tense, cat and mouse game where he’s not sure if, or who, will try to retaliate against him or his family.
It’s a very tense movie. It’s shot so well, and paced so well. Trust me when I say you will get caught up in this. Because it’s simple, and it manages to escalate the tension and the stakes in a very mature and entertaining manner. It’s one of the best put-together movies of the year, and I know for a fact at best you heard about this for about a second and have not thought about it for months.
7. Blood Ties
I’ve been all over this one for a year. I had this as one of my top two or three favorite posters from last year and the movie wasn’t even released stateside. I was very excited to see this. The cast is great (Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, Marion Cotillard, Zoe Saldana, James Caan, Mila Kunis), and it’s a period piece. A 70s crime movie. These are always worthwhile. The soundtracks alone. (And this soundtrack is great.)
The premise is simple. Two brothers. One cop. One criminal. The criminal tries to make it straight, but the cops make it impossible for him to do so. It builds toward an eventual showdown. Of sorts. I won’t spoil it. It’s a very good movie. A very, very good movie. Still one of my favorites of the year, and I saw it back in March. See if for the stars, see it for the soundtrack, see it because it evokes 70s New York crime. Most importantly — see it because no one else has. And I guarantee you it’s better than half the movies you saw this year.
8. Cas and Dylan
I’ll admit this going in — quality-wise, not the strongest entry on this list. But who cares? That’s not what this list is about. I heard about this movie about… twelve hours before I watched it. Here’s how it worked: I looked up Richard Dreyfuss to see what he’d been doing lately. Because Richard Dreyfuss is amazing. He’s got such great performances on his resume, such iconic movies, and more absolute hidden gems than anyone else. I’m not even talking Mr. Holland’s Opus, What About Bob? kind of hidden gems. I mean Let It Ride, and Whose Life Is It Anyway? We haven’t even uncovered all the gems this man has sitting in his filmography.
But anyway, I came across this movie, which was the only one I hadn’t heard of. And when I clicked it, I saw his co-star was Tatiana Maslany, who I now basically treat like royalty. The low-down on her is — I had no idea who she was, and then last year, during the Golden Globes, I heard some people saying she deserved to win for Best Actress in a Drama. And I knew nothing about her show. And then I looked up what it was. That show being Orphan Black. And, by the end of the weekend, I’d watched the entire first season. And we know me and TV. I haven’t seen a single episode of The Wire, Mad Men or Breaking Bad. (And that’s just the icebreaker.) It takes a lot to get me into TV. But I watched that show almost instantaneously. And quite frankly, what she has to do on that show, and what she does, is incredible.
So, I saw they were starring in a movie together, and it was called a “Canadian road trip film,” and I said, “Yes. Absolutely. This has to be watched right away.” And I watched it around midnight that night. And I wasn’t disappointed.
It’s not an amazing film. (Directed by Jason Priestly, by the way, so it’s got a lot going for it in the ‘weird little movies you have in your collection that people flipping through have no idea about that you get to explain to them’ department.) Basically — he’s a doctor who’s been diagnosed terminal, and he’s going on a road trip to his daughter. And she’s a crazy woman who manages to tag along. (Not crazy, but like… movie crazy. Comedy crazy. You’ll know it when you see it.)
The point is, if you like either of these actors, you’ll enjoy the movie for what it is. She barely makes any movies, and he doesn’t make enough anymore. So I’ll take what I can get with them. It’s a lighthearted comedy movie, and for what it is, you can get a hell of a lot of mileage out of explaining it to people. Most people in their right mind wanted to see it after they found out who was in it. Because they’re in it. You should see it. You’ve watched lesser movies before just because of the cast. Why is this any different? This one’s at least getting the B+ Movie Blog seal of approval. That’s worth like… six bucks and a parking validation.
This one I know you haven’t heard of outside of me. I’m the only one who was paying attention to this one. I was on this one from before January. It’s kind of like a weird version of (500) Days of Summer. Just an in depth look at an unlikely relationship. It’s a good movie. Very much worth seeing. And I think there will be a few people who really fall in love with this one. It’s a nice little movie. Very much under the radar, and very much more unique than most of the stuff that comes out.
10. The Congress
This is a movie. I didn’t even know this existed until I saw a trailer. It’s — something else.
Here’s what they did: they took an actress (Robin Wright), and wrote a fake story around her. That is to say, she’s playing herself, but all of her circumstances are fictional. She’s got a sick son, etc. etc. And we hear that she basically ruined all her chances at being a great actress and so on and so forth. And eventually, in order to save her son, she agrees to a new procedure that all of the stars are doing: she uploads her entire self into an animated realm. They record all of her reactions and facial expressions, and everything that makes her her, and they use that digital projection to make movies. Think about the perfect versions of actors and actresses in their primes. Think Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. They take that version of her and can make movies with her forever. That’s the idea.
I’ll leave it at that. The movie goes into some strange territory. It’s really terrific, and out there, and one of the best experiences I’ve had this year. And no one knows this movie exists. It’s a mixture of live-action and animation, and it’s one of the trippiest, most surreal experiences you will have at the movies this year.
11. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
I watched this last night for the first time. I was trying to hold off as long as possible, but I couldn’t. The reason I was trying to hold off is because this was originally intended to be shown in two parts. Two movies. A double feature. One for Him and one for Her. And it was two sides of the same relationship, one from his perspective, and one from hers. I feel like I also heard that one is told backwards and the other, forwards, but I can’t say that for sure. Either way, it’s a daring piece of cinema. Now, what happened was, Harvey Weinstein got his hands on it and got the director to cut it down to a single, two hour movie. Which is known as Them. So there’s Him and Her, and Them. I watched Them last night. I was trying to hold off until I could see Him and Her, but I couldn’t.
It’s incredible. It’s a great movie, and I can only imagine how much better it is when you can see it as the double feature it was intended to be. And I know nobody knows about this movie, and even if you do, you don’t really know about it. This is one of the best movies of the year and one of the best cinematic experiments to come around in a while. (And this is the year of Boyhood, too.) This is the Margaret of 2014.
12. The Double
Speaking of surreal experiences. This one is more absurdist than anything. Thus begins our ‘double’ doubling for 2014. This movie was written and directed by Richard Ayoade, who also directed Submarine, which was pretty great. If you haven’t seen the trailer, do so. It’ll get you primed for this movie.
Here’s the premise — Jesse Eisenberg lives in an absurd reality. He goes to get on the train, and every time he goes to get on, people get off, even though it looks empty. And when he goes to get on, finally, his briefcase gets stuck between the doors. And the train takes off without it. Crazy shit like that. And all of the dialogue is that sort of Kafka style insanity.
And one day, a new employee shows up at the office. And he’s an exact double of Eisenberg. And no one else notices the similarity. And it only gets crazier from there. Trust me when I say this is one of the funniest, darkest, most absurd things you’ll ever see. It’s incredible. Just watch the trailer. I know you haven’t heard of it (unless it was from me), and I bet that by the time you’re done with that trailer, you’re going to want to see it. It’s really good.
And here’s our second double movie. This one is the more serious of the two. Jake Gyllenhaal is a teacher who discovers his double one day while randomly watching a movie. And becomes obsessed with him. He goes around, trying to figure out who he is, then tries to meet him, and then — things get weird. It gets to the point where they almost start to become the other.
It’s terrific. This and The Double are two amazing movies that have gotten no notice whatsoever this year. They need to be seen.
14. God Help the Girl
I’ll always find a spot for a musical on my list. In this case, it’s two. This one I didn’t love as much as the one I’ll mention in a minute, but it’s technically more of the 2014 film than the other, so it gets the lead.
It’s a British musical written and directed by Stuart Murdoch, who is in a band called Belle and Sebastian, which apparently is beloved by hipsters. I had no idea about any of this going in. I just wanted to see a musical.
The whole experience is pretty twee. Which apparently is what goes over nowadays. (If you don’t know what twee means — Zooey Deschanel.) It’s a light, airy, pleasant musical, with undertones of all the shit that exists on tumblr. (You’ll see what I mean when you see it.) I’m saying everyone needs to see it because I feel it’s got a lot of stuff people would like (since apparently people like this band), and because it’s a musical, and those need to be seen.
Now, the other movie on this entry that I’m going to mention, which I did love, is Sunshine on Leith. That one’s a Scottish musical. It’s a jukebox musical. Based on the songs of The Proclaimers. I didn’t know they had more than one song. (Which of course is the climactic number.) But this is actually a really fun movie. It’s just joyous. The whole thing makes you smile, and everyone’s having a good time. It’s like a version of Across the Universe, where they write a story around the songs, even if they’re clearly trying too hard at points. But who cares? People sing and dance. And that’s awesome.
More musicals, I always say.
15. The Guest
Holy shit. Adam Wingard continues to truly impress me. I had no expectations for You’re Next except that it was pretty good, and I was blown away. I loved that movie. And this one — this might even be better.
Here’s the set up: a family gets a knock on their door one day. It’s an army guy. He says he served with their dead son. He promised he’d look in on them after he got out. And he tells them he’s gotta go, but they demand he stay. And he ends up staying, and charming them and making all of them like him. Though it’s pretty obvious where it’s going and what’s going on. Clearly this guy is unstable and there’s some dark shit going on.
But trust me when I say — you won’t really expect how this movie turns out. It’s so well done. It’s a B movie story elevated to greater heights by the director. The climax of this movie is so good. I did not expect to like this as much as I did. This is a really good time at the movies. And I know nobody has ever heard of this movie. This is truly one of the best movies of 2014 that no one’s ever heard of. And that needs to change. If you’re gonna trust me on anything, trust me on this.
16. I Know That Voice
Technically a 2013 movie (some of these others are 2013 movies, but they came out in 2014. This one actually came out in 2014), but it’s so good, I don’t care.
This is a movie about voice actors. A documentary. And you guys know how much I dislike documentaries. Basically, all the voice actors talk about voice acting, and they do their voices. And you see how truly talented and amazing these people are. And they get no love whatsoever for their talents.
That’s why people need to see this. Everyone needs to see this movie, because you grew up with these people. All of these people voiced the characters you grew up with and still watch on a daily basis. And you have no idea who these people really are. And they need to be celebrated.
This one will bring out the child in you. It’s worth it.
This is one of the ones that stretches the definition a little bit, but fuck it. I need everyone to know about this. Plus, even though this has gotten a lot of press out of Sundance and a lot of acclaim and such, I still don’t think most people know what this is. If you follow movies, then I’m sure you’ve probably heard of it. But I think we can all agree that the average moviegoer has no idea what this is. And should. So we’ll proceed on that account.
Here’s the premise: Tom Hardy gets in a car, and drives somewhere for 85 minutes. That’s all you need to know. Everything else comes out over the course of that drive. Simple premise, the entire movie takes place in the car, and it’s riveting. One of the best executed movies of the year, and one that everyone should see, because the fact that this got almost no audience and yet Ride Along made $100 million is unfair.
18. The Mule
This movie. I only learned about this one in November. I saw a trailer and was immediately hooked. It’s a great trailer. And a great premise. Here it is: Guy tries to smuggle drugs over the border by swallowing them. Maria Full of Grace style. And he gets caught. So the police throw him in a room, because they can’t really do anything to him without knowing he has the drugs, and they plug up all the drains, and tell him he can go free as soon as he shits. (Though legally they can only hold him for a week.) So the rest of the movie is him trying to hold it on over that time.
It’s awesome. It’s so good. And I know no one’s heard of this movie. But everyone needs to go out and see this right now. It’s incredible. Completely entertaining, and you know — gotta do it — you know some shit is gonna go down.
If I could recommend five movies from this list the most, this would more than likely be on that list. I haven’t thought about which five I’d choose, but this one would definitely either be on that list or be there until the very, very end.
19. The One I Love
This is one that even I didn’t see coming. There was no reason for me to have thought I was gonna like this. I heard it was coming out, and dismissed it. And then I started hearing people say it was good. And it was people from unexpected places. Which led me to want to see it. And I gotta say — really liked this.
Here’s the premise: a married couple are having problems. They go to a therapist. He says they should go to his retreat for a week to recharge their marriage. And while there, they quickly discover… something. I won’t spoil it. It’s not that much of a surprise, because it happens early and goes from there. But, it’s interesting. And it’s a really well made movie, how it develops.
This one for sure I know no one’s heard of, and normally, I wouldn’t have liked this. But I really did. And that alone means it’s probably worth checking out. I don’t normally admit that I’m wrong about movies like this. But I was way wrong about this. More so than Blue Ruin. Because that was something I just didn’t think I’d be interested in. This one I assumed I’d see and think it was shit like I do with so many of these indies. This one was really good.
20. Only Lovers Left Alive
I feel like there are a lot of years where there’s a Jim Jarmusch movie on a list of films you didn’t even know came out but are really good. He’s hit and miss for me, though I do have a general respect for his body of work. But this one, I feel — I don’t know… I feel like people barely knew about it and forgot about it after it came out.
I was tracking this one from last year, and it came out in April. And when I saw it — I wasn’t sure why I was really excited to see it, or why I thought I was going to like it. And when I watched it, my thoughts were, “Nothing happened during that entire movie, but I was riveted the entire time.”
I can’t explain it. It’s a typical Jim Jarmusch movie. Nothing really happens, yet it’s all just so interesting. No idea why that is, but this is a movie you should see. This is a vampire movie I can get behind. Plus it stars Tom Hiddelston and Tilda Swinton, which is one of the more interesting pairings you can get.
21. They Came Together
It pains me to call this a film you haven’t heard of. Because even I barely heard of it.
Here’s the pitch: It’s a David Wain movie. Wet Hot American Summer is one of the major cult movies of the past fifteen years. Role Models is one of the great comedies of the past decade. All his other stuff is varying degrees of funny and ridiculous.
Right there, you should be sold. But I’ll continue anyway. Here’s the premise: Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler sit down to dinner with another couple. They tell the story of how they met. It’s just like in the movies. And what follows is the story, where they both follow and parody every romantic comedy cliche out there. And it’s hilarious. Put it this way — they meet, and they immediately hate each other. She runs a quirky, indie candy shop, and he works for a giant candy corporation that wants to open right across the street from her store, and will undoubtedly put her out of business. (See what I mean?)
Trust me when I say this is one of the funniest movies of the year. Every trope you know from these movies is included. It’s so good. And the fact that no one even know this movie came out is a travesty. It really deserves to be seen. It’s one of the funniest movies of the year.
This might have been the first major surprise of the year for me. I put it on over the summer and figured it would be something I watched just to pass the time. But I loved this movie. Did not see this one coming at all.
Mia Wasikowska stars as a woman who decides she’s going to cross the Australian Outback. It’s a very Into the Wild set up. Think an Australian Into the Wild. She just decides she’s going to do this, and uses her savings to do it instead of going to school and doing what a regular person her age would do. So she sets out to get some camels, and learns how to handle and train camels, and then eventually goes on her journey, and that’s the movie. She journeys across the desert. For no reason except she wanted to. And it’s great.
This is one I know you haven’t heard of at all, unless it was through me. And I thought this was one of the best movies of the year. I loved it.
23. Trust Me
This was another major surprise for me. I didn’t think it was gonna be as engaging as it was.
Clark Gregg wrote, directed and stars in this. He plays a former child actor who has now become an agent for child actors. And he’s become a bottom feeder. He’ll do anything to book them a job. He’s a real scumbag at the beginning of the movie. And most of the movie involves him finding a really talented child star and trying to land her the big role in a new YA franchise while also finding himself really starting to care for her. It’s really engaging.
It’s not the most unique movie in the world, but you don’t see a lot of movies take this particular angle, and I found that interesting. The movie lingo stuff was pretty generic, but overall, it’s a very rewarding experience. Definitely one of my more recommended movies of the year.
Plus, everybody loves Agent Coulson, so I feel like a lot of people would see this for him. I’m just saving them the time in the future when they check his IMDB page and go, “What’s that?” That’s really my goal with these. Just so we can know you heard about them here first. And then you can be the one among your friends who heard about it first.
24. Two Night Stand
I almost had this on my Underrated list, but then I realized — no one knows what this is. Only I do, because I’ve been tracking it for over a year. This was dumped on VOD and no one even knows what it is.
I consider the romantic comedy dead and buried. Just, completely gone. Now, the best you can do is hint at what a good romantic comedy would have been. This movie actually almost gets there.
The reason I like it is because it’s simple. Analeigh Tipton (most people know her as Steve Carell’s daughter in Crazy Stupid Love) is drunk and lonely and goes on a dating site. She meets Miles Teller, and plans on using him for a booty call. It goes well. She tries sneaking out the next morning. Problem is, she’s snowed in. So now these two have to hang out together until the snow can melt enough for them to get outside.
The entire movie — well, almost the entire first two acts — takes place entirely in a single building. And I like that. It forces them to focus on the characters, and the result is what I feel is a really good relationship movie that is well-worth seeing. And like I said, no one even knows about this. You’re getting on the ground floor, people.
25. The Zero Theorem
Honestly, I don’t know how many people know about this. Do you? If not, this will be illuminating. At first I thought for sure this wouldn’t count, but the more I thought about it, I realized that not many people actually know about this.
This is Terry Gilliam’s new movie. I thought it was coming out last year. They pushed it to September, and it got no press or anything whatsoever. It stars Christoph Waltz. He’s tasked with creating a formula that proves that everything equals zero. He’s proving that all is for nothing. It’s a really weird and interesting movie. Very Terry Gilliam.
It’s reminiscent of Brazil, and a lot of Terry Gilliam’s other movies. But it’s well-done. And there are some nice cameos in there. And it just got swept right under the rug. Which is a shame. It’s Terry Gilliam. At least see the movie, however you feel about it.
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Tomorrow, we’re gonna start the end of the year lists. I’m gonna recap how my Top Ten of 2013 has changed over the past year, and I’m also gonna toss up the last batch of reviews before we start with the Year in Reviews articles.