A new decade has arrived and with it the promise of endless cinematic discovery. But if you’re looking for something “new year worthy” to take your movie nights to the next level now may be a good time to dive into a few criminally under-seen titles. But which ones are really worth your time?
Allow me to help.
Every month, I pack a short-list of under-the-radar titles waiting to be unearthed from the algorithms of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and the like. Because movie nights are important and life’s too short to watch the wrong stuff.
Here are a few wonderful movies that’ll upgrade “To-Watch” list in true 2020 fashion this January.
A budding love-story between Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anna Kendrick with Seth Rogen as the classic funny-guy sidekick. So why did only a dozen people actually see this movie when it dropped?
50 / 50 is near-impossible to confine to a single-genre. Moments in this film moved me to tears as glimpses of raw, quirky humanity were shared in-between incredible moments of humorous discovery. The amount of authentic hard-to-swallow truth this movie packs is kind of staggering given the cast and genuine hilarity present. That said, I’d like to petition we create a new tag for films of this stature. Behold, I give you 50/50 the 21st Centuries best installment of the RomBro-Dramedy. Okay, so maybe the tag won’t hit, but it’s worth a shot. Hashtag that shit when tweeting about your newfound love for a movie you missed a few years ago.
You’ll laugh your ass off. But know this, you won’t be able to shake this movie off you for a while.
FOR FANS OF: (500) Days of Summer, Knocked Up, Up in the Air
If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
A fine wine film; it gets better and deeper with each viewing. But you’ve got to let it breathe before swimming in these waters.
No one fashions from quiet, frames emotion, or captures the staggering beauty of nuance to the degree of Barry Jenkins. Beale Street is a testament of quiet waters run deep. There are oceans of exploration to be had in the stillnesses with the weight of it all resting noticeably but ever so gently upon your shoulders. Jenkins is a gentle master and this one eases us into uncomfortable, unapologetic truth unlike any other.
From the use of color, music, intimate framing, the deep, tender love at its core, and Regina King’s Oscar-winning performance, Beale Street allows us to slip into the deep end while granting us space to learn and live with each viewing. This one deserved more love on last year’s awards circuit and it certainly worthy of repeat viewings. A delectable feast fractured yet hopeful truth.
FOR FANS OF: 25th Hour, Moonlight, Selma
The Little Prince (2015)
On the short list of best animated features of the last decade with the likes of Moana, The Illusionist, and Inside Out, except not enough folks have seen it. Of course, I have no data to back that up (thanks Netflix) but it certainly seems like this one deserved a bigger moment than the feeble one it got. A truly imaginative and inspirational animated film by any measure. The Little Prince is a stunning take on the classic childhood storybook — Netflix resurrected the distribution of this project and pretty much saved 2016 along with it. And, y’all, THIS CAST..I can’t even. Imaginative, bold, and heart-stirring — The Little Prince is the animated film we all needed.
This one will make you feel.
FOR FANS OF: Big Hero 6, Kubo and the Two Strings, Up
The Neon Demon (2016)
Nicolas Winding Refn is cinema’s best director you may not have heard of. A master of creating intentional and breathtaking works of art within every frame — Refn has brought “less is more” to Hollywood in refreshing fashion. The Neon Demon is a deeply unsettling masterpiece exploring the sinister underbelly of the mainstream modeling industry. Reminiscent of Hitchcock and Carrie — TND is unconventionally visceral force unlike any other this season. And it’s brilliant.
No one captures chaotic stillness or intoxicatingly unsettling mood quite like Refn.
PLATFORM: Amazon Prime
FOR FANS OF: Drive, Carrie, It Follows
Teen Wolf (1985)
The beauty of cinema is its timelessness; its ability to influence, impact, and inspire across generational divides. Movies bring people together as much as they serve as an immersive time capsule. With that said, some films transcend mere convention and escapism into the upper echelon of “right-of-passage-must-see” titles–ones that deserve to be seen and known by each passing generation as they venture into adolescence and even adulthood. Because it just feels right.
If Michael J. Fox starring as everyone’s favorite teenage wanna-be turned basketball dominating, van surfing, high school a-list Werewolf doesn’t merit “right-of-passage-must-see” status–I’m not sure what does. We live in a time where streaming Teen Wolf for free is a thing. Do your part and share it with those that need this 80s gem in their lives.
Also, for the record…I’m #TeamBoof all the way.
PLATFORM: YouTube Movies (Free)
FOR FANS OF: Accepted, Back to the Future, Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Who cares if the queue is over-stuffed? Add some of these hidden gems to your list and save your next movie night. If nothing else, no excuses on finding something to watch when Teen Wolf is right there. Go watch something!
What’s the best hidden gem you’ve streamed recently? Share in the comments and help me expand the list!