With every new year, we as moviegoers are bombarded with plenty of viewing options either at movie theatres or at home. Of course, it is next to impossible to see all these movies for whatever reason. Some movies simply get dismissed by audiences based on a few bad reviews while others are easy to miss due to lack of promotion or availability. As we move further into 2019, here are my picks for the 5 most underrated and underseen films of 2018.
- Underseen. Bernard and Huey.
As an understated and admittedly dour comedy following two middle-aged men, it’s quite understandable why Bernard and Huey didn’t make it on too many people’s radars. It’s a story of two men who are relics, and yet, the film is genuinely charming. From its two excellent lead performances, to the lived-in characters, it’s an entertaining ride. It’s a pretty joyous and fun film, for a character study of people who are afraid of growing senile.
- Underrated. Beautiful Boy.
Featuring one of Steve Carell’s many Oscarbait-y, Beautiful Boy got a harsh beating on release. The dreamy, yet basic and simple portrayal of addiction was trashed by some, earning itself mixed reviews at best. What worked so well was its repetitive and frustrating journey. It’s a movie about how addiction affects everyone, leaving a path of destruction in its wake and yet, it’s not the addicted fault. Everyone’s a victim of the disease and if you know someone who’s addicted, this portrayal does a lot right even if can be a bit melodramatic and repetitive at times.
- Underseen. At Eternity’s Gate.
A beautiful, wonderful, and visually exciting biopic from master Julian Schnabel. A film about Van Gogh’s extensive creative desires, Schnabel, a painter himself, works to praise and also portray the uniqueness of Gogh’s art. It’s a wonderful film, anchored by a masterful performance from Willem Dafoe. The movie only made around 2 million dollars, and while it made it into more than 100 theaters, which isn’t too bad, you should still try and see this as soon as you can.
- Underrated. Venom.
Sure, it’s absolutely ridiculous and has no real reason for existing and the trailer looked horrible, the effects retched, and the cinematography was definitely something else. Suffice it to say, things didn’t look very good for Venom, but there’s something ridiculous and fun about Tom Hardy’s committed performance, along with its overall goofiness, somehow in the vein of Aquaman. Go see Venom.
- Underseen. Bodied.
With the right promotion and the right company behind it, Bodied could have easily been a cultural phenomenon, or at least a solid 2018 hit. A deeply funny and original film about battle rap, it’s frantic and energy filled direction, performances that keep everything grounded in a real sense of character, and its propulsive script that leads us from one place to another, are all at the top of their game. It’s a startling funny movie, deconstructing culture within battle rap, and equally paying homage to the great art that it is.
- Underrated. Juliet, Naked.
Another one of these rom-coms adapted from a Nick Hornby book which probably looked better on page. While not a perfect film by any means, Juliet, Naked has a secret weapon with Ethan Hawke’s relaxed, but masterful portrayal of 90s singer-songwriter Tucker Crowe.
- Underseen. Unsane.
The first ever wide release film shot using an iPhone, Unsane deserved a lot more buzz than it got. It’s a tense, incredibly unnerving and watchable thriller, with a bombastic performance from Claire Foy, and a cast of recognizable people who put in solid work around Foy. At a tight 90 minutes, it’s a wonder that this didn’t do incredibly well at the box office. There’s so much marketing material here, and yet Bleecker Street starting promoting this late, and didn’t market it well at all. It’s a shame, since Unsane is truly excellent work from late period Steven Soderbergh.
- Underrated. Fahrenheit 11/9
If you hate Michael Moore, this won’t do anything to change that. Aside from the pretty basic Trump stuff here, which is expected and necessary, but not necessarily captivating, Moore highlights small town America and in particular Flint, MI to draw fascinating connections. Moore is angry, and he wants you to be angry to, but unlike a similar and worse film from this year (AHEM, Vice), he isn’t going to tell you that your stupid for not being uninformed, he just believes we all need to do better.
- Underseen. Blaze.
Ethan Hawke’s wonderful directorial effort Blaze is among one of the best of the year. A hazy, understated and beautiful film, Blaze made under a million dollars in the US box office, but with outstanding reviews, and a breakthrough performance from Ben Dickey, this movie deserved so much more. Along with an excellent cast, a perfect script, a unique framing device, and a natural way to deliver exposition, along with some fun cameos, Blaze has so much going on.
- Underrated. The Land of Steady Habits.
A movie described by some as mediocre and lifeless, The Land of Steady Habits is a film with the wintery atmosphere of Manchester by the Sea, with the cutting excellence of Nicole Holofcener’s previous films. Ben Mendelsohn anchors this film with a wonderful wounded cut of a performance in a what could be considered poor year for him. It’s a delicate movie that people found to be a little too quiet. It’s even on Netflix so there is very little reason to not see it.
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