Hundreds of movies hit theaters and streaming services every year, and it’s all too easy for some of the best ones to slip through the cracks. While your attentions were on major blockbuster releases like “Black Panther,” “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” and “Halloween,” several other interesting and entertaining films may have missed your radar. If you’re playing catch up in preparation for awards season, these four films should be high up in your queue.
As it traces a week in the life of an awkward teenager, “Eighth Grade” will have you chortling with laughter, cringing in sympathy and perhaps even shedding a few tears. Directed by Bo Burnham, “Eighth Grade” stars Elsie Fisher as Kayla Day, a girl who’s just trying to survive the final few days of eighth grade. Kayla spends hours a day on social media and loves to post videos offering advice on self-confidence and individuality, but navigating real life is much tougher. Her struggles with relating to her father, making friends and attracting the attention of a cute boy in her class offer a hilarious yet poignant window into what it’s like to be a modern-day teen.
“The Old Man and the Gun”
Based on a true story, “The Old Man and the Gun” is directed by David Lowery and stars Robert Redford as Forrest Tucker, an elderly man who’s addicted to robbing banks. With the help of two similarly geriatric partners in crime, Tucker rampages across the Southwest and Plains states on a courteous, nonviolent robbery spree that leaves authorities baffled. In between crimes, Tucker also finds time to strike up a friendship — and find plenty of chemistry — with co-star Sissy Spacek. Redford has said this will be his final role, and at age 82, he’s never been more charming.
“Sorry to Bother You”
The outrageously entertaining “Sorry to Bother You” is unlike anything else you’ll see this year. A mix of surreal dark comedy and dystopian science fiction, this movie was directed by Boots Riley, best known for leading the experimental rap group The Coup. It stars Lakeith Stanfield as Cassius Green, who’s just trying to pay his rent in an increasingly unequal society ripped apart by predatory corporations and radical protesters. After he finds success as a telemarketer for the evil company WorryFree, he’s forced to choose between his newfound riches and the organizers attempting to unionize his workplace. The twist at the end is one you definitely won’t see coming, and one you won’t soon forget.
If you like your action movies violent, futuristic and thought-provoking, make some time for “Upgrade.” Directed by Leigh Wannell, this lean, mean low-budget flick stars Logan Marshall-Green as technophobic car mechanic Grey Trace, who feels out of place in a near-future world that’s increasingly reliant on artificial intelligence. After a horrific incident leaves him paralyzed, Trace gets an AI implant from a mysterious tech CEO. The implant helps him walk again — and gives him some disturbing new abilities. As the movie hurtles through a series of white-knuckle car chases and brutal fight scenes toward its thrilling and unsettling conclusion, it turns out Trace’s initial technophobia wasn’t so misguided after all.
Superhero team-ups, big-budget reboots and star-studded comedies grab most of the movie attention these days. Look a little closer, though, and you’ll be rewarded with a rich array of lesser-known films well worth your time and consideration.
This article is presented by Bill Marsh Automotive Group in Traverse City, Michigan.