by Dakota Drobnicki
Want some awesome movies to kill time with that you may have missed? Try some of these on for size. I haven’t picked them off of any particular criteria or service to find them on, but we can all use the Internet here. The only thing I tried to keep in mind with compiling this list was to keep them all pretty recent. It’s amazing how allergic some people can be to older movies.
dir. Paul McGuigan
Disregard the 24% Tomatometer on this one. What we have here is a future cult classic just begging for a public rediscovery. People who are now hip to James McAvoy off his fantastic performance in Split should find a lot to enjoy about his performance as the notorious doctor. Even through all of its indulgence in fun body horror and extravagant set design, it has a delectable center in the flawless chemistry he has with Daniel Radcliffe. In time, it’ll be remembered in the same mindset as other underrated, weird and wild Frankenstein flicks like Frankenstein Unbound and I, Frankenstein.
dir. John Carney
I’ve never seen John Carney’s previous musician-oriented dramas like Once or Begin Again, but this one made me want to see them pretty bad. I may not have a strong personal connection to the era of British music that this movie indulges in, but as somebody with a long-standing passion for making music, I could feel inspiration surge through me the entire film. It’s such a sweet little movie that believes 110% in the attitudes and ambitions of its leads, and I would like to think people outside of that mindset would be able to find the same connection with it.
dir. Jon Watts
The first movie from the director of Spider-Man: Homecoming was this odd little horror-comedy, high-tailed into solid production values by a cosign from Eli Roth. I saw the movie after Jon Watts was tapped to helm the Spider-Man reboot, but upon seeing it, I realized how perfect of a choice he was— this feels exactly like what Marvel Studios would make if they suddenly churned out gory horror films. Watts had Marvel’s penchant for the seamless mixture of quips into a more serious narrative down pat, and weaved it into a bloody R-rated narrative before a proper Deadpool movie was ever a twinkle in Ryan Reynolds’ eye. If you enjoy Marvel’s sense of humor and can stomach a gorefest, then I’m sure you’d enjoy this fine.
dir. Renny Harlin
The comedic pairing of Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville honestly should’ve happened a decade or so ago, when Jackie wasn’t too old to do all his own stunt work and Johnny’s body hadn’t been destroyed by his less fortunate physical feats. What they were still able to accomplish in 2016, though, still manages to provide a fun adventure driven by their surprisingly great chemistry. It does suffer from bursts of wonky editing, but it actually digs enough comedic mileage out of the journey to make it worth a watch for any serious Jackie fan. Props to Renny Harlin, too, for finally directing his first worthwhile movie since Deep Blue Sea eighteen years ago.
Beyond The Gates
dir. Jackson Stewart
Perhaps you’ve seen the trailer for the new Jason Bateman comedy Game Night, which looks less like a refreshing genre-bender and more like a movie confused in what tone it wants to set off. That movie goes into murder mystery territory around the conceit of a game night, but this movie crafts a supernatural horror experience based around a VHS board game. (Yes, those once existed many moons ago, and they can be fun if you want to put time and resources into them.) With a budget under half a million dollars, it sometimes shows its amateurish nature, but you’d be surprised how often you can mistake it for a more expensive production. It’s the kind of movie that’s best served with friends and a pizza, much like the board game within would be.
The Nice Guys
dir. Shane Black
When people make the argument that Hollywood is becoming way too dependent on recycling its older hits and leaving its original ideas to the wayside, this is one of those movies they could point to as a perfect argument for their case. It has just about everything it could possibly need going for it— flawless chemistry between Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, a deep love for the 70s down to its finest details (keep an eye on the movie billboards plastered throughout it, for example), and the same playfully dark sense of humor that permeated Shane Black’s hidden gems like The Last Boy Scout and Last Action Hero… yet it tanked at the box office. Is it more audience indifference or poor advertising that did it in? Who knows… whatever it was, this was one of the best action movies of 2016, and is ripe for a future rediscovery.
dir. Hideaki Anno & Shinji Higuchi
There is no better time to be a Godzilla fan than now. Not only did Hollywood finally manage a fantastic (if highly controversial) American version of Godzilla, but Toho kickstarted the franchise again in Japan to run at the same time as the newly formed American franchise. This is the big G’s first movie back home after twelve years, and if you ask me, it’s one of his best ever. By making the human side a fascinating, almost real-time glimpse into how the Japanese government would probably really handle a giant monster attack, it manages a perfect balance of quality with the giant monster scenes that is essential to making a Godzilla movie great. Shin Godzilla has seen its own share of controversy from monster fans for its radical departure from traditional kaiju structure, but its audaciousness is its most endearing aspect. If you’re looking for some more new Godzilla fare to chew on, Netflix premiered the animated film Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters last month. That, or you could rewatch the end of Kong: Skull Island.