The 5 Unsung Films Of 2018
In a sea of worthy competition, it's not uncommon for some great films to get eclipsed by the year's other contenders. There is, after all, a staggering amount of new releases each year, and some of them are here and gone in the blink of an eye, some don't even reach our local theaters at all. This makes it easy for a great film to go by unnoticed, and even when they do get seen, they don't always get the love and attention they deserve. Well, we refuse to let those worthy gems from 2018 remain unsung!
Out of the list of films we saw from last year, these are our picks for the most unsung and under appreciated:
5: Hearts Beat Loud
Hearts Beat Loud was the cutesy indie feel good film of the summer for us, and it colors well within the lines. It has a fantastic soundtrack and had us wanting to start a rock band with our dads. We put Hearts Beat Loud alongside a special group of feel good fare that exudes an overabundance of heartwarming optimism, namely last year's delightful indie Brigsby Bear and 2008's Be Kind Rewind. However, Hearts never really strives to be as outwardly creative in the visual sense, and trades in the visual ingenuity for some solidly enjoyable indie rock tunage that allows Kiersey Clemons to flex her impressive pipes. Far and away the best quality to the film is how it incorporates queer elements without batting an eye or calling any unnecessary attention to it. It's just perceived as normal and natural, as it should be. This isn't even a step in the right direction, it is the direction.
Unpredictable and subversive, Border (Gräns) is without a doubt one of the most singular cinematic offerings of 2018. Filled with delightful twists and turns, this beautifully complex fantasy gem will floor you with its peculiarity and move you with its humanity. Filled with commentary on identity and gender, this bizarre, otherworldly drama has an effective tenderness and humanity that burns brightly amidst its stranger aspects. Though steeped in Scandinavian folklore, there’s a lot that viewers can relate to with Border. This is all thanks to the relationship and chemistry between Border’s two leads; both Eva Melander and Eero Milonoff give their strange characters such believable empathy that the film manages to work far better than it really should. To say anything more would interfere with the twists and revelations that are best experienced when you know next to nothing. It’s not everyday that you get something so out of the ordinary, so just let this one blindside you.
3: The Old Man & the Gun
The Old Man & the Gun gives cinema icon Robert Redford a solid high note to sail on as he (allegedly) bids farewell to his acting career, resulting in a gracefully light, devilishly charming breeze of a film that is, much like Redford himself, incredibly hard to resist. Part of the genius of The Old Man & the Gun is how it’s not really about the true-life bank robber Forrest Tucker at all. No, it’s really a shrewd celebration of Redford’s nearly 60-year career playing charming outlaws (Old Man’s Forrest Tucker being the epitome of that), and it embraces all the aspects that made him into the iconic leading man audiences know and adore. The film is elevated by some superb supporting performances for its terrific cast, and it moves to a nice beat with a hip country/folk curated soundtrack, offset by the smooth jazz rhythms of composer Daniel Hart’s original score that at times conjures up an uncanny parallel to that of Peanuts’ composer Vince Guaraldi.
Alpha is one of those films that very nearly flew below the radar. Based upon it’s limited marketing, which falsely presented the production as a kids’ film and shielded its use of subtitles, it would appear that Sony didn’t have any faith in this taunt, epic adventure film directed by none other than Albert Hughes (Dead Presidents, Book of Eli). And, it’s a shame Alpha didn’t get the studio backing that it rightly deserved because it’s the summer sleeper about a boy and his dog that we’ve always wanted. Honestly, it plays like a blend of The Revenant with regard to riveting survival tales and Mad Max: Fury Road with regard to its aesthetics and engrossing action sequences (which is why I affectionately dubbed it Revenant Junior: Furry Road). The film never ceased to surprise us as it continuously unfolded in clever and intriguing ways, and despite its sometimes tacky CGI manicure, it's gorgeously rendered and chock full of moments of visceral tension.
Before we get to our #1 pick, here's a few that just missed the cut:
Lean on Pete
The Death of Stalin
A Futile and Stupid Gesture
And now, our pick for the most unsung film of 2018 goes to...
1: Let the Corpses Tan
If you're fond of 70s spaghetti westerns, grindhouse grit, or psychedelic cinema, look no further than Let the Corpses Tan, a potent love letter to the style of these genres, and it's a B movie made on an A+ level. The film is a sleek and stylish western that is saucy enough to cover Sergio Leone's spaghetti style and acidic enough to satisfy Alejandro Jodorowsky's psychedelic palette. Watching Let the Corpses Tan is a mesmerizing delight of indelible style and artistry that blasted us directly back into the past; the look and feel of its visuals and compositions completely harks back to the glorious grit of 70s Italian crime thrillers, spaghetti westerns, and arty grindhouse films. Adorned with psychedelic arthouse flourishes and a chic Parisian shine (a la nouvelle vogue), Let the Corpses Tan is a tsunami wave of style and and technique that washes over the viewer in fresh and exciting ways, which is why it’s our #1 pick for the most unsung film of the year!
That's our list! Did we miss any of your underdog picks from last year? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always remember to viddy well!