If the Oscar buzz and post Golden Globes high have you craving some must see movie options, but you’ve already seen all the top films of 2018 — and you’ve seen all the award show favourites and blockbuster darlings from the past ten years. Here are some of the cinematic gems you might have missed. A blend of all genres, these flicks will make you think like a film critic and recommend like one too. So put on your pjs, pop some popcorn, and set your socials to “away”. Then grab the best seat in the house and get your Netflix, Crave, Prime, blu ray, or VHS player going. Enjoy.
Electrick Children (2012)
A story of self-discovery, youth, and abuse of power, chaos ensues as main character Rachel, naive and unexpectedly pregnant, heads on a journey to Vegas to find the “father” of her miracle baby. She believes the baby to be the result of her listening to forbidden technology: a cassette tape with a singular rock song recorded on its ribbon. This quirky film starring Ozark and Maniac’s Julia Garner as she veers away from her sheltered Mormon youth and towards a life of love and rock and roll is a must watch if you are looking for a film with heart, depth, and gut wrenching reveals. Not to mention, a fantastic pair of red sunglasses.
Ruby Sparks (2012)
Ruby Sparks is Paul Dano at his charmingly awkward best. As a child prodigy turned writer’s blocked novelist, lead character Calvin is lonely, anxious, and stuck. At his lowest point, he creates Ruby, played by indie queen Zoe Kazan. She is a sweet, spontaneous woman who lives in the pages of his work in progress — until she doesn’t. Somehow written into real life, Ruby is Calvin’s perfect woman, because she does exactly what he writes her to do. A film about acknowledging your situation and learning to accept help, Ruby Sparks is funny, frustrating, and sad all at once. If you are looking for a love story that doesn’t just step outside the box, but breaks it entirely, this is the film for you.
Take Shelter (2011)
A beautiful and heart wrenching film about mental illness, Take Shelter is the story of Curtis, a family man who starts to experience hallucinations and nightmares of a terrible storm. Fearing for the wellbeing of his wife and deaf daughter, but also his own mental state, he struggles with the choice of seeking help or believing in his visions. The film is ambiguous in many ways, but clear in its message. Whether or not things are real or in our heads, we are justified in our feelings. As an added bonus, you’ll learn some sign language, and at the very least never forget “storm.”
What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
This movie is ridiculous, but heartwarming. A mockumentary that follows the lives of three vampire roommates in New Zealand, What We Do in the Shadows explores how it feels to be an outsider, and the value of finding friends who understand. Fans of Flight of the Conchords will find a friendly face in the absurd Jermaine Clement who both stars in and directs the strange film. The plot summary says it all “Viago, Deacon and Vladislav are vampires who are finding that modern life has them struggling with the mundane — like paying rent, keeping up with the chore wheel, trying to get into nightclubs and overcoming flatmate conflicts.” It is strangely relatable, and a great recommendation for those who need a good laugh.
The Babadook (2014)
On a darker note, for fans of horror The Babadook is not only terrifying, but terrifyingly clever. A metaphor for mental illness, this story of an overwhelmed single mother and her struggling child is haunting, even without the monster. If you enjoy a good jump scare, but are looking for a bit more depth, this film is for you. Just be prepared to fear any knock on your door for a few days.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010)
Fans of Netflix’s Atypical will recognize Keir Gilchrist in this powerful film about mental illness and empathy. As Craig, a clinically depressed teenager who checks himself into an adult psychiatric ward, Gilchrist reminds viewers that it’s okay to not be okay. Despite the heavy subject matter, it’s kind of an extremely funny movie. Especially with an all-star like Zach Galifianakis along for the ride. It’s Kind of a Funny Story is perfect if you’re looking for a movie that will make you cry and spark intense conversations about mental health, while simultaneously making you pee your pants with laughter.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)
Steve Carell might be better known for The Office and The Forty Year Old Virgin, but this hidden gem co-starring Keira Knightley is well worth your time. With days to live until an asteroid destroys earth, Dodge, abandoned by his wife after hearing the terrifying news, goes out in search of his high school sweetheart. What he finds is his quirky neighbour, Penny and the unlikely pair trek together while teaching each other lessons about spontaneity, understanding, and love. Keep tissues close by for this one. You won’t be able to distinguish when you’re laughing from when you’re crying — they’ll just start to blend.
About Time (2013)
Love Actually fans will rejoice at the fact that this film is made by the same creator. Meaning, it will also likely make you snort, cry, and sigh consistently throughout. This time featuring the English countryside, About Time gives you lots of views of beautiful beaches and cliffs and will make you briefly consider spending your days drinking tea and wearing rain boots. That being said, plot wise, the film is far from traditional. It’s about self-controlled time travel, and similarly to Mr. Nobody, how the choices we make have a ripple effect. Tim, the main character, learns this quickly as he navigates young adult life with the added complication of controlling the future. Magical elements aside, it’s as relatable and emotional as a conventional rom-com.