The Academy Award is one of the most prestigious prizes in the filmmaking world but it is not the end all be all of quality. Every year there are dozens of great movies that go by without recognition from the Academy, either because they don’t fit the Academy’s ideal for what is quality or because they are just missed for some reason or another.
This list will briefly go over 13 movies that are worth watching that weren’t given as much award attention. These are all movies that I would highly recommend that did not receive a nomination in any category.
Legend was a fun gangster movie that had a few shortcomings but was elevated 10 fold by jaw droppingly good dual performances from Tom Hardy playing real life British Gangster twins, the Krays. Tom Hardy could have easily been nominated for both best lead actor and best supporting actor at the Oscars for this film instead of just supporting actor for The Revenant.
#12) While We’re Young
While We’re Young is one of two efforts this year from indie director Noah Baumbach. It is a small scale dramedy that works equally well as a biting social commentary on aging, truth, hipster culture, friendship, and more, and as a very funny comedy. It does suffer from some third act problems where the plot gets a little too lofty for its good which is what keeps this movie from being higher on the list.
#11) People, Places, Things
People, Places, Things is a very small indie drama that has a good helping of comedy to help it along its way. The drama is very strong, particularly regarding the work done by the lead character as a cartoonist which lead to some genuinely touching and emotional moments. The comedy is less frequent than the drama but is strong when it does show up. The film is helmed by the excellent Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords fame, and has a solid supporting cast as well. The kind of indie movie that knows it won’t be super famous or gross a ton of money and doesn’t care, it just wants to tell its story well.
#10) Call Me Lucky
A documentary by Bobcat Goldthwait, Call Me Lucky functions as a biopic on Barry Crimmins, a stand up comedian with a tragic past. The less that is known about this story before watching the better. A great documentary that is both funny and tragically sad.
#9) The End of the Tour
The End of the Tour has an Oscar worthy performance from Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace, but it isn’t at all surprising that he wasn’t even nominated. The only slight against this movie is that it becomes a little bit visually repetitive, since the entire film is mostly just two dudes having a conversation, and there is a lot of horrendous product placement, otherwise The End of the Tour is a great drama with some comedy sprinkled throughout.
#8) It Follows
It Follows was the best straight up horror film of the year. An 80’s throwback in style but fresh in it’s ideas. Well written, well cast, and well directed. An all around great horror movie.
#7) Kingsman: The Secret Service
Kingsman got plenty of buzz but no recognition at the oscars, which isn’t surprising at all, it’s not the type of movie the Academy goes for, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good by any means. Kingsman is a blast, a possible contender for most straight up fun movie of the year. Collin Firth, Mark Strong, and Samuel L. Jackson are all great and there is a real star turning role for Taron Edgerton. The Church scene will likely go down as one of the most memorable actions sequence of the decade.
#6) Beasts of No Nation
The Netflix made film about the horrors of child soldiering is very well put together. It avoids the melodrama and preachyness that it could have easily had. Idris Elba and Abraham Attah both deserved Oscar nominations for their performances in Beasts of No Nation.
#5) What We Do in the Shadows
The second appearance by Jemaine Clement and this time he’s also in the writer and director chair as well as acting it it. What We Do in the Shadows is a hilarious movie that puts vampires into extremely mundane contemporary situations. Great comedy.
#4) Bone Tomahawk
This one I’ve already reviewed: Review on youtube
It’s a brutal western with great characterization that mixes horror into the traditional western action elements.
#3) The Lobster
The Lobster is a film by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, the man behind Dogtooth and The Alps. It’s wonderfully bizarre and critical of society while also being very funny and dark at the same time. It switches between disturbing drama and whimsical weirdom with ease.
Réalité is the latest film from French filmmaker Quentin Dupieux. It is crazy and surreal. The plot is hard to explain and even to understand which is all intentional. Another film that it’s better to know nothing about going in, I loved every second of it.
#1) Mistress America
Mistress America was the other film from Noah Baumbach in 2015. In the vain of his earlier film Frances Ha, Mistress America is a study of friendship, but through a much different lens. The film feels very authentic and the emotion is palpable. The film is also hilarious and features fantastic performances particularly from the two leads found in Lola Kirke and Greta Gerwig. One of the best movies of the year, and criminally underseen.