Word has been spreading that 2018 was not a great year for movies, and for big-budget Hollywood productions, this statement does ring true. For smaller movies, however, this statement is never true due to the almost constant creation of fantastic cinema being produced all around the world. The aim of this list is to introduce and promote some films that are widely accessible but did not gain as much traction as their quality deserved.
Thunder Road tells a beautiful story of a police officer, Jim Arnaud, who begins to break down after the death of his mother.
The number one reason to go and see this film would have to be for the tragic but often hilarious performance from Jim Cummings, who also wrote, directed, edited, and composed the music for the film. He creates and performs an incredibly unique character that somehow feels larger than life but also completely relatable, making for not only an entertaining watch but also an emotional ride that you just can’t help but get swept up in
Thunder Road did generate quite a buzz at a few film festivals but did not receive the worldwide praise that it absolutely deserves.
Written and directed by Samuel Maoz, Foxtrot intimately examines a family’s grief after a couple hears about the loss of their son, a soldier, who has died in the line of duty.
This is by no means an easy watch, nor does it try to be. It aims to capture grief and how different people react to hearing the same piece of news, and in that sense, it does its job perfectly. This approach, combined with fantastic cinematography and gripping performances from Lior Ashkenazi and Sarah Adler, make for a piece of art that feels like a timeless epic, despite its small scale.
LEAN ON PETE
The third film from English writer-director, Andrew Haigh (45 Years, Weekend), follows Charley Thompson, played by Charlie Plummer, as he finds a new love of horses through Del, played by Steve Buscemi.
This film turns in so many unexpected directions that there is no way you can guess where the plot is going to go at any point, which makes for a much more captivating watch. What also carries this movie are impressive performances from Charlie Plummer, Aussie Travis Fimmel, and Chloë Sevigny.
It is baffling how this film did not get more attention than it did, but it certainly does deserve more attention from a wider audience.
Controversial filmmaker Gaspar Noé, has probably made one of the best cinematic experiences of not only 2018, but probably of the last 10 years.
Climax follows a group of dancers through an after-party of their last rehearsal as they learn that their sangria has been spiked with LSD. Needless to say, this is not one for the faint of heart.
Climax is a brilliantly unique experience that is all at once lively, strenuous, and deeply disturbing. One of the reasons for its effectiveness is the choice from Noé to avoid any cliché scenes where you see what the characters are hallucinating. Instead, you just observe their actions as the night gets increasingly more hectic.
Blindspotting is about Collin, performed by Daveed Diggs, and his last three days of probation as he pushes towards his chance at a new beginning in life. The only things standing in his way are the struggles of his ex-girlfriend and his troublemaking friend, Miles, played by Rafael Casal.
Blindspotting is a film that is creative, colourful, and sends a great message out regarding a social issue that is prevalent today and will be for some time. What makes this movie stand out is the dynamic direction from Carlos López Estrada and the two lead performances of Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal.
It’s unfortunately rare to see a film these days that was so clearly made by people who have things to say that desperately need to be heard and Blindspotting is certainly a film that should be seen by a wider audience.
If you’re still after more underrated and independent cinema be sure to check out the Melbourne International Film Festival. Starting August 1st, MIFF is well known for championing and screening films that would not otherwise get such exposure. Check out how to purchase festival passes here.