It’s summer, and movie theaters are starting to open back up finally!! So if you don’t make the 33% capacity cut, and you want something to watch, read on.
As you know, I took a few-year hiatus from blogging, but it sure feels good to be back. In those years I didn’t report on some of my favorite movies I’ve watched since I last wrote to you.
So, I went through the list of movies I’ve watched over the past five years (yes, I keep a list), and I picked fifteen movies that did not get the attention I thought they deserved.
Yes, I loved John Wick, Avengers: Infinity War, and Us, but chances are, you’ve already seen those movies, or at least know of their existence. This list of movies you may have missed due to mostly being quieter films, but still worth the watch.
Disclaimer: Most of the films mentioned below will provide much better viewing experiences the less you know about them, so I’m going to keep the synopsis.
The Visit (2015), Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
I didn’t discover this movie until several years after it had been out, which is surprising because I tend to keep tabs on fading Hollywood talent (i.e. Adam Sandler, Spielberg, Jim Carrey). Few would argue that Shyamalan had been floundering on rock bottom with disappointing films such as The Village, The Last Airbender, and After Earth. He’s been climbing back up with hits such as Split, but little did I know that this freaky flick about creepy-ass grandparents preceded Split. And it’s got that old familiar element that made us fall in love with Shyamalan to begin with: an awkward and satisfying blend of jump-scares and plenty of laughs.
The Walk (2015), directed by Robert Zemeckis
It’s usually a pleasure when famed director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Castaway) doesn’t resort to that CGI mocap crap like he kept doing with Beowulf, and Disney’s A Christmas Carol (I liked Polar Express). The Walk certainly has its fair share of animation and special effects, but it never gets in the way of this awesome true story about a tightrope walker who walks across two of the world’s tallest buildings that no longer exist.
The Hateful Eight (2015), directed by Quentin Tarantino
Generally Tarantino fans will see all of Tarantino movies. And generally speaking, all of Tarantino’s movies are absolutely hypnotizing. I know this is probably the most well-known movie on this list because of the names backing this film up, but I also know that there are a lot of people who still haven’t seen a Tarantino film for whatever reason. I would suggest that this would be a good one to start with just because Tarantino is actually rather constrained as far as his trademark use of violence. Really, this movie is just a downright fun whodunit, with memorable acting, and extremely crisp dialogue.
Lion (2016), directed by Garth Davis
A good adoption story for people who like adoption stories. This movie is high on emotion and facts and low on sap. Sarabeth has never cried in a movie before, but there are two movies on this list that broke her rock-hard record, and this is one of them. However, I cry often in movies, and this did not break me.
The Founder (2016), directed by John Lee Hancock
Director John Lee Hancock could have had a successful career as a historian or biographer, and he would have lived up to the likes of David McCullough. But luckily he went into filmmaking instead, because he happens to have given us some damn good movies, like The Rookie, and the brutally honest Saving Mr. Banks. The thing I like about Hancock’s movies is that he doesn’t sugarcoat and he rarely takes creative liberties. He tells historical stories as they actually happened. And this movie about the “founder” of the burger empire is equally entertaining and jarring in its facts.
A Monster Calls (2016), directed by J.A. Bayona
This is a fable akin to the style of Big Fish (another recommendation). It’s a bit darker and moodier, and it’s the second film ever to make Sarabeth cry. Again, I did not.
The Zookeeper’s Wife (2017), directed by Niki Caro
I’ve always loved a good outsmart-the-Nazis story, and this one delivers just that. The poster makes it look like a soft watch, but it’s not. It’s hardcore intensity running wild throughout just like a good Nazi movie should be. Animal lovers beware: not all the animals live.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri (2017), directed by Martin McDonagh
Do not bother looking to see what this is about if you decide to watch this movie. Half of the fun is in the surprises. The first time I watched this movie, my jaw hit the floor and I just kept thinking how excited I was to have a new favorite in my top ten, maybe even five movie list. This movie should have been talked about so much more, but I think it just fell behind the rowdiness of the Marvel movies that year. Frances McDormand is one of my favorite female actors. It’s also got Sam Rockwell, an absolute favorite of mine, and as a bonus, Woody Harrelson. It’s like Christmas watching these three not only come together, but put on arguably the best performances of their careers. To boot, the story is gripping and controversial, and overwhelmingly entertaining. This is one of those movies where I feel bad for anyone who doesn’t see it. And Peter Dinklage fans, you might want to give this special consideration as well.
American Made (2017), directed by Doug Liman
I’m a big Tom Cruise fan (I know, I know). Tom Cruise is best known for his Ethan Hawk performance in the Mission: Impossible franchise (my personal favorite franchise next to Toy Story and Lord of the Rings). And if you haven’t seen Fallout yet, get your ass on it ASAP. But Tom Cruise has also been doing other projects that aren’t as headlined, like this revealing movie about the Iran-Contra affair.
Three Identical Strangers (2018), directed by Tim Wardle
I’m not much of a documentary guy, but I am very glad I watched this. And I’m even gladder still that I didn’t research it before watching it. The revelations are what make it fun.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (2018), directed by Morgan Neville
Again, I’m not much into documentaries, and I never really watched Mr. Rogers growing up. I’m sure you’ve watched Tom Hanks’ most recent movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and if not, get on it. But I’d argue that this documentary is just as good as that film. It’s a great companion piece. Also, this one made me cry randomly at different times just because I miss being a child.
Instant Family (2018), directed by Sean Anders
I’m not a fan of “family-friendly” movies. And honestly, I never would have watched this if we hadn’t adopted kids for ourselves, but what I really liked about this flick was that I felt like it depicted the foster-care/adoption system as accurately as a Hollywood movie could in a 90-minute timeframe. I was more impressed with this movie than I thought I would be.
Yesterday (2019), directed by Danny Boyle
This is why I don’t think movies should be categorized into genres because I’m not a big fan of romantic movies, and I’m not a fan of comedies (generally speaking). But this movie is both. Maybe it’s not your typical rom-com because it’s made by the brilliant director who gave us 127 Hours and 28 Days Later (the zombie movie, not the Sandra Bullock one). The premise should be enough to convince you: What if the whole world forgot about the Beatles, except you? (The video above is a movie review I did for this film. Check out my channel for lots of other reviews, and subscribe.)
Richard Jewell (2019), directed by Clint Eastwood
If you don’t remember the aftermath of the 1996 Olympics bombing, don’t refresh yourself. Allow this movie to sway you, confuse you, then convince you. This is easily my favorite Clint Eastwood film, and could very possibly be a contender on my top 10 favorite movies. Kathy Bates knocks it out of the park, and to say that this is Sam Rockwell’s best movie, well, he’s just always playing off all cylinders. If Three Billboards is my favorite movie on this list, this is my second favorite. A very, very close second. The laughs are rare in this film, but they hit hard when they come.
Uncut Gems (2019), directed by Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie
All I’m going to say is this: THIS IS THE ADAM SANDLER WE’VE BEEN DYING TO SEE FOR THE LAST FIFTEEN YEARS!! MAY WE GET MORE OF THIS GUY FROM HERE ON OUT. It looks like he’s finally “grown up,” and I just hope he stays that way, because when he’s not making fart jokes, he’s a pretty brilliant actor. And this movie showcases his talent in all its glory.
If you’re interested in more of my movie reviews, I have a YouTube channel. Click the video below to see my top 5 favorite movies of 2019. It was a hard list to edit down.