Films that Flew Under the Radar in 2019

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Published January 22, 2020
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Photo courtesy of Michael Gaida from pixabay.com

It’s the new year and as much as everybody is anticipating this stacked year of movies from the titans of filmmaking, here are some films that you might have missed and should watch, listed in no particular order.

The Farewell

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“The Farewell” has disappointingly not been nominated for anything in this year’s Oscars. Photo courtesy of A24

Sophomore filmmaker Lulu Wang made a big splash this past year with the incredibly realistic and original story presented in “The Farewell.” Despite its lack of representation in the Academy Awards this year, the film should be regarded as one of the better films of 2019.

It is reminiscent of a Wes Anderson-type film without trying to imitate it. The way the characters talk to one another, the interesting shot composition and the presence of something mystical in the world of the film are all qualities that both Wang and Anderson share.

The film is brilliant and Lulu Wang is an interesting writer. After watching this film, you might become just as excited for her new work as I am.

Climax

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“Climax” is one of the most entertaining movies about dancing that has nothing to do with dancing. Photo courtesy of A24

If you’re unfamiliar with Gaspar Noé and recognize his name from trendy film forums then this might be the film to watch so that you can tell your film nerd friends that you “dipped your toe into the delirious mind of Gaspar Noé.”

Noé is known for pushing the envelope in his films, trying to make his audience squirm more than the last one. In “Climax,” he traps the audience in an abandoned building with a dance troupe having one of the scariest acid trips that would make any Phish fan nervous.

The first thing to note about this film is the staging (which is no surprise because the whole cast are professional dancers), which deserves recognition on its own, but Noé combines elaborate dances on screen with wicked camera movements following characters as they slowly descend into madness.

This is definitely a film you should watch with a friend, but not with a family member so you can avoid awkward eye contact at the more strange parts of the film.

A Hidden Life

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“A Hidden Life” is the 10th film from Terrence Malick. Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

Terrence Malick is one of the few film makers that will always live up to their own hype. With zero nominations this year at the Academy Awards, this straight forward narrative about a German farmer who refuses to fight for the Nazis in World War II is one of the more socially relevant films of 2019.

In this era of films, I don’t think I’ve seen a better use of camera movements. Every camera movement is, for lack of a better word, freeing. It’s like you’re watching someone just living their life, which is why I think a lot of Americans can resonate with this film. It puts you in the place of the main character, and the issues he deals with are interesting to compare to what we deal with now.

The long three-hour runtime is daunting, which is why I recommend seeing this in theaters because it will keep you more invested in the movie itself.

The Death of Dick Long

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“The Death of Dick Long” is Billy Chew’s first credit as a writer in a feature length film. Photo courtesy of A24

“The Death of Dick Long” is definitely one of the better screenplays written in 2019, and its lack of recognition at the Academy is probably attributed to the plot. Daniel Scheinert has finally gotten a second crack at another feature film since his debut feature “Swiss Army Man,” which has a great spirit, but Scheinert fails to solidly end the film.

The film delivers an intelligent story that is transcended with terrific performances, witty banter from rednecks and deep characters. The whole cast should have been nominated as everyone had an excellent performance.

Stream this on Amazon with some friends and not a family member. The film, like the characters in it, get weird.

You may not have heard of them before, but these are the unsung heroes of 2019 cinema. Take a break from watching more blockbusters and mainstream films and watch these low-key flicks.

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