The Most Over Looked Movies Of 2020 So Far
This list of overlooked films for 2020 will help you find the best underground movies that have been released this year. There are plenty of nice underrated films coming to a theater near you soon. But underrated films, from comedies to horror movies like Color Out of Space, come from all over the world and cover every genre.
There are movies every year that everyone knows about. There are your Marvel movies and your Oscars. But what about those films going under the radar? The international favorites that the mainstream can not crack? Releases by the studio that get written off? The indies who are not taking over the box office? We've got you covered when you're hunting for something that should not have been too hyped. Throughout the year, we will update this list.
Here are the most overlooked films of 2020 so far, whether they didn't put butts in seats because of marketing failures, pacing, or because they went too hard against the grain.
In The Assistant, nothing much happens. A young woman (played by Julia Garner of Ozark's)—whose name is obviously Jane, although it's never mentioned in the movie — goes to work in the office of a high-powered Hollywood executive before dawn cracks. She does menial assignments. She accepts calls. She goes home when the day is over, long after the sun has set. But Green made the film's silent scream, which is so quietly terrifying that it becomes impossible to shake. You're probably aware of some version of this story, of course. Jane's unknown boss is clearly a stand-in for Harvey Weinstein, and Jane begins to suspect something is amiss over the course of her otherwise monotonous day. On the carpet is an earring. With no experience, a young, very pretty woman arrives from Idaho and is placed in a fancy hotel. A meeting with an actress lasts until late in the evening. But this is not a tale of triumph over evil perpetrated by men like Weinstein. Instead, it is about the mechanisms in place that have made it possible for his actions to continue for so long. When Jane reaches out to Matthew Macfadyen, a smart HR individual played by Succession, she soon discovers that speaking out is futile. The Assistant is a story of disillusionment, and Garner wears on her face the fatigue, tension, and pain of that. Her success, like the film surrounding it, is agonizing. But the argument is that. (Observe the trailer.)
Often, you need to take it as it is and forget what you want it to be if you really want to enjoy a film. Guns Akimbo, a gory, action-packed black comedy with a horrifically laughable premise, is such an animal.
He plays Miles, an otherwise mild-mannered nerd pushed into a gladiator match called Skizm when weapons are literally screwed into both of his hands. Daniel Radcliffe has never been further from Hogwarts. By following drones that broadcast the action to online viewers, the crazy gunfights and car chases are captured. Eventually, Miles joins hands with one of his rivals to take the battle directly to Riktor (Ned Dennehy), the head honcho of Skizm.
Guns Akimbo doesn't take itself too seriously with over-the-top action scenes and sometimes juvenile humor, and if you want to enjoy it, you need to do the same. There is no heavy social commentary to be found while it plays with the conventions of social media, video games, and action films. For action and laughs, Guns Akimbo exists, and if you're you're looking for something else, you're looking too hard.
When you hear "teen cancer drama," there's a kind of movie you think you're having, but Babyteeth, an Australian film, isn't that. The movie stars Eliza Scanlen, better known for her Little Women and Sharp Objects, as Milla, a dying young woman. She encounters Moses (Toby Wallace), a drug addict with whom she falls into a hopeless obsession, waiting on a train platform on the way to school. Initially, her parents (Ben Mendelsohn and Essie Davis) are wary of the increased involvement of Moses in the life of their daughter but come to rely more and more on him as they realize how happy he is making her. Babyteeth is a film about the lengths to which people would go in times of distress to please their loved ones, painting a portrait of a family in the throes of imminent sorrow, seeking to hide it in every way possible. (Observe the trailer.)
Typically, the drama of love stories revolves around something that comes between otherwise committed couples, whether it be infidelity, jealousy, or even an ex's return. The image is a refreshing departure, but no one gets their own decisions between Michael (LaKeith Stanfield) and Mae (Issa Rae).
Mae is the daughter of Christina Eames, a prominent photographer who died recently. She meets Michael Block, a writer, who is working on a story about her mother. They click instantly and soon start an intimate romance. Their love story is interspersed with flashbacks between the late Christina (Chante Adams) and a fisherman named Isaac (Y'lan Noel) to a separate but not dissimilar relationship decades before. While clearly in love with Isaac, Christina leaves him in New York City to develop her career and we ultimately get the impression that Michael and Mae are going toward a similar decision in the present.
While some of the problems the characters face feel immense, The Photograph is ultimately a simple, but powerful tale of love. As D.Watkins writes for Salon, it has the added benefit of being a rare, remarkable example of a romance between two separate, successful black Americans. "[F]or most of my life," Watkins writes, "all the black-lead films were biopics and hood tales full of tragedy ... but, like any other race, we experience joy, fun, and love."
When discussing the latest film by Brazilian directors Juliano Dornelles and Kleber Mendonça Filho, "What's going on in Bacurau?" has a dual sense. The mystery of just who or what besieges the small isolated city is the guiding force behind the plot of the film, but the above issue also relates to the experience of watching Bacurau. You're sitting, hypnotized by the movie, while at the same time wondering: what the hell is going on? Is something alien or supernatural happening? And what of the hallucinogens that characters continue to take? Or is this all fact twisted on its head? In a world that is not entirely our own, the quasi-western seems to thrive, even as it provides an allegory for chaotic Brazilian politics today. It would spoil the experience of studying it to say too much about what is actually going on in Bacurau. Dornelles and Mendonça Filho give the film a fuzzy B-movie feels that is only intensified as a menacing military figure by the inclusion of B-movie hero Udo Kier. Bacurau keeps his cards close to his side, all leading to a furious and hysterical, exuberantly bloody finale. (Observe the trailer.)
Best known as Annie Edison on the beloved TV show Community, in 2020's Horse Girl, Alison Brie gets to show off her acting range. Brie not only stars in the film but also co-wrote it, using the history of mental illness as a foundation for her own family.
If you go to Horse Girl without knowing a lot about the plot, you will be fooled by it. The film feels light and funny when we're introduced to Sarah (Brie). Sure, Sarah seems a little strange. She's socially shy at least and has a peculiar fixation on a local horse. But things take a very difficult (and dark) left turn as the movie progresses. Sarah suffers from wild delusions, we learn. She's an avid student of theories of conspiracy, thinks she might be a time traveler and rants about alien abductions.
You're so convinced, as deluded as Sarah is, that she really believes in her dreams that sometimes it almost feels like discovery is coming that, in reality, all of Sarah's theories are true and we were fools for not believing her. It all helps to make a multi-layered feast of Horse Girl. Via the eyes of a character that feels achingly real, it is a troubling yet empathetic look at mental illness. (Observe the trailer.)
The Vast of Night
Equal parts would-be Twilight Zone episode and old-fashioned sci-fi radio drama, the debut feature of Andrew Patterson, The Vast of Night, brings us back to Cayuga, New Mexico in the late 1950s when technology promised us a future Space Age and could hide around every corner the rascally Soviets. One night, two high school kids, switchboard operator Fay (Sierra McCormick) and late-night radio host Everett (Jake Horowitz), happen upon a mysterious intrusion that seems to come from no known source. The two discover a global conspiracy involving the military, disappearances, and what some may call alien abduction when Everett asks his listeners to call in if they know the sound. The movie is so fun to watch, the two leads in a choppy, mid-'50s cadence constantly bickering back and forth, and the mystery at the core of it all is an exciting, playful return to a cozy, antique storytelling way when the night time was full of infinite possibilities. (Observe the trailer.)
The directorial debut of Carlo Mirabella-Davis will easily go down as one of the year's queasiest movies, but it's far more than its most unsettling moments. Swallow stars Haley Bennett as Hunter, a housewife charged with her businessman husband's maintenance of a perfectly manicured life. But Hunter suffers from pica, an unusual disorder that suggests that she eats non-food products. Her eating disorder intensifies when she discovers she's pregnant, and she starts putting everything in her mouth, from marbles to push pins. Mirabella-Davis never shies away from the grim truth of the effect on her body of Hunter's acts, but he combines it with stunning images that look like something from a Vogue editorial in the 1950s. It's a profoundly disturbing marriage, enhanced by the amazing performance of Bennett, and it swerves to a realistic, tender zone just when you think the Swallow could veer into more horror chaos. (Observe the trailer.)
She Dies Tomorrow
Read something about She Dies Tomorrow, and you'll find a mention of how the present moment is eerily fine. It's a film ostensibly about death, but more specifically about fear and how it's a virus of its own nature. The plot is pretty simple: Amy is convinced that she's going to die, for reasons she never completely describes. She calls Jane (Jane Adams) her friend and explains her premonitions. Jane attributes the paranoia of Amy to an alcoholic relapse, and writes it off, but then, huddled over a microscope alone in her basement, Jane begins to feel the same terror. This is contagious. We see where Amy got her horror through flashbacks, but it's never described as any particular creature. It's just an airborne terror that seeps into the minds of the willing. The universe that Seimetz renders is one that gradually becomes more surreal. It's our own echo that slowly becomes more exotic. Like a Tim & Eric sketch with an operatic bent, it is also always absurdly funny. (Observe the trailer.)
Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always
In Eliza Hittman's drama, Never, Rarely, Occasionally, Always, there is a scene that is almost difficult to shake. To have an abortion, forbidden in her home state of Pennsylvania, Teen Autumn (Flanagan) moved with her cousin Skylar (Ryder) to New York. As a counselor cycle through a series of required questions, she sits in an office in a Manhattan Planned Parenthood. As the questions become more and more intimate, the camera holds onto Autumn's face. The young woman does not show much in her responses, but in the cracking of her voice and the glistening of her eyes, you can read the pain. In Hittman's follow-up to her 2017 tale of emerging sexuality, Beach Rats, a lot goes unsaid. Autumn and Skylar have never heard of a proposal to go into town. They just pack a suitcase that's unnecessarily big and quiet. Concerning ending her pregnancy, Autumn never speaks about her feelings and Skylar never asks. Yet nothing in this silence ever seems to be lacking. Hittman made a film about women making bleak pacts with each other in a world that is hostile to them in New York's unromantic vision. Much of the action takes place in and around the Port Authority, where, in a pallid setting, Autumn and Skylar would otherwise be faceless commuters. Never, Sometimes, Occasionally, Always is an unforgiving film, and it's amazing anyway. (Observe the trailer.)
The Other Lamb
The Other Lamb is completely extraordinary to see, even on a smaller frame, which is, frankly, how you'll be viewing most things in 2020. The cult film with notes of horror by Malgorzata Szumowska is as beautiful as it is profoundly creepy. Known for her work in Vox Lux and The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Raffey Cassidy plays a teen named Selah who has lived her whole life under the influence of a man passing by Shepherd (Huisman). Selah and her "sisters" are this man's devoted followers, unaware of the maliciousness that lurks in his belief system and the community he has developed. But Selah wakes up slowly over the course of the film, not because of any interference from the outside world, but as a result of her own rising strength. Her dreams are haunted by violent visions that she starts to welcome rather than shun. In strikingly beautiful landscapes, Szumowska and filmmaker Michal Englert enclose her plot, and Cassidy argues that she is one of the most adventurous young actors out there. (Observe the trailer.)
Color Out of Space
It's hard to know what Nicolas Cage movies these days are worth looking for. The eye-bulging, voice-modulating thespian appears to choose projects that are either unexpectedly persuasive (like the brutal hybrid genre Mandy of 2018) or disappointingly lame (most of his other recent work). Fortunately, Color Out of Vacuum, an H.P. psychedelic adaptation One of the strong recent Cage movies, combining science fiction intrigue and bursting excess horror film to great effect, is Lovecraft's short story from 1927. A chatty farmer with a loving wife (Joely Richardson) and a couple of slightly rebellious children, Cage's Nathan must contend with a meteoroid crashing in his front yard, spraying purple light through his property and infecting the local water supply. There are, inexplicably, alpacas involved. Somehow, Cage makes it work. (Observe the trailer.)
Blow the Man Down
It's a sharp, pleasantly nasty story about women and murder in a tiny town in Maine. The film, by Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy, opens with a chorus of burly fishermen singing the shanty of the sea that gives the movie its title, but one of the guys quickly becomes disinterested. The Connelly sisters are played by Sophie Lowe and Morgan Saylor, the latter of whom is better known as Dana Brody in Homeland. Saylor's Mary Beth acts out the day of her mother's funeral, absconds to a pub, and takes on a shady character that she ends up killing accidentally. The incident leads the siblings to discover their community's whole new seedy facet. Blow the Man Down is often tense and features beautifully prickly performances from the likes of Margo Martindale, who plays next door to the brothel owner. (Observe the trailer.)
Ride Your Wave
Ride Your Wave is a romantic animated drama that flew in 2020 under a lot of radars. The love story, directed by Masaaki Yuasa, is one of an increasing number of Japanese animated movies that use water as a metaphor for young love.
Hinako (Rina Kawaei) falls in love with firefighter Minota (Ryôta Katayose) shortly after moving to a small seaside town. Unfortunately, with Minota 's passing, their sweet relationship is cut short. True to type, when saving a stranger, Minota drowns. Hinako learns in the midst of her overwhelming sorrow that the spirit of her dead lover will appear to her in every water, even the water of a toilet, whenever she sings a particular song. Eventually, she learns that her inability to let go of Minato binds his spirit to her.
The film should come off as unnecessarily sentimental, but it doesn't, somehow. The emotional journey of Hinako has a true weight to it, but not catastrophically so. Hinako, we feel, could theoretically live a long and peaceful life without any of the lessons of the story being learned. But, despite the film's fantasy premise, witnessing Minota 's affection, his death, and the aftermath still instills in her a transformative joy that feels real.
The Last Full Measure
There were two big-budget war movies at the end of 2019, Midway in November and 1917 in December. So it may be that when it came time for the 2020s The Last Full Measure, viewers were war-weary.
The Last Full Measure is based on the true tale of Air Force medic William H. Pitsenbarger, who, during the ill-fated Operation Abilene of 1966, saved the lives of 60 American soldiers, sacrificing his own life in the process. Following Pentagon staffer Scott Huffman (Sebastian Stan) on his mission to study Pitsenbarger for a long-delayed Medal of Honor, the film alternates between the Vietnam War action and the drama in 1998. Huffman finally uncovers a decades-old conspiracy that helped keep the fallen hero from the honor he deserves, at first merely taking the assignment to support his career.
The Last Full Measure, emotionally strong and poignant, is 2020's first great war movie. Christopher Plummer and Diane Ladd play the parents of Pistenbarger, and William Hurt plays the best friend of the late soldier, Thomas Tully. Hoffman meets veterans played by Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, and Peter Fonda during the course of his study. For nothing else, the stellar cast is worth watching.
Birds of Prey
In the past few years, we've had a series of pretty great DC Comics movies — Wonder Woman and Aquaman both breathed fresh life in what seemed like a dead franchise — but Birds of Prey, the Harley Quinn-centered girl gang team-up film full of glitter and exploding sandbags, is the first one that seems to recall the poppy, vibrant roots of its characters. Yeah, yes, it seems to say, this movie is a comic book! It's a neon-lit zap in the pants, just the kind of thing we need in the dead of February with only a whisper on the horizon in the summer blockbuster season. With far more manic panache than in the terrible Suicide Squad, Margot Robbie plays her motormouthed Quinn; the latest additions to the universe, including Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, and Ella Jay Basco, provide endless fun; and Ewan McGregor and bleach-blond Chris Messina's villainous pair are suitably, shockingly terrifying. Plus, it does whatever it can to erase the memory of the Suicide Squad, which is something we all wish we could do. If only more people were going to see it. (Observe the trailer.)
Weathering With You
Shinkai's follow-up to Your Name, his devastating body-shifting, time-bending romance. With a beautiful tale of love and sacrifice under its magical practical wrappings, it's no less gorgeous to look at. Trying to find steady work in Tokyo, young runaway Hodaka (Kotaro Daigo) befriends a mysterious "sunshine girl," Hina (Nana Mori), who can change the weather just by praying. But the powers that give Hina her skills are bound by an ancient power, and she discovers that if she wants to save the world and everyone she loves who live in it, she must make a choice. Weathering With You is a stunning, mesmerizing dream of young love, full of glittering cityscapes and lovingly animated raindrops. (Observe the trailer.)
The Miss Juneteenth of Channing Godfrey Peoples is a different kind of pageant tale than the ones usually created by Hollywood. The drama, which premiered at Sundance and was released on June 10 this year, is named for a competition honoring the holiday for young Black girls, marking the date that enslaved people in Texas learned of the Declaration of Emancipation more than two years after it was published. It follows Turquoise Jones, played by the brilliant and underestimated actress Nicole Beharie, who in her youth was crowned Miss Juneteenth and now wants the same thing for her daughter Kai (Alexis Chikaeze). With scholarships to historically black colleges and universities, winners are guaranteed promising futures, but Turquoise's life did not turn out as expected. She is now working several jobs and has put all of her own hopes on Kai, who is pessimistic about the pageant. As Turquoise, whose strictness combines with fatigue and affection, Beharie does outstanding work, and Peoples crafts a film that celebrates the connection with a fragile, moving sweetness between generations of Black women. This is a must-watch in a year where Juneteenth is finally being celebrated around the world. (Observe the trailer)
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
Although it might not yield the same kind of praise as the slight droller Wallace and Gromit or a stop-motion blockbuster like Chicken Run, a reliable source of belly laughs is the kid-friendly Shaun the Sheep series, which chronicles the life of Shaun, a mischief-loving sheep. This sequel to Shaun the Sheep Movie, similarly charming in 2015, has a science fiction bent courtesy of an alien spaceship that flies to the town of Mossingham, where Shaun and his animal friends live with their buffoonish owner on a quiet farm. The UFO plot helps the crack animation team at Aardman to offer a variety of referential sight-gags to genre classics such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., and The X-Files. (Obviously, Shaun is the establishment's real boss.) Nevertheless, the emphasis is rightfully on the sort of playful slapstick comedy that can be enjoyed by all ages, particularly if you like cute clay farm animals. And who doesn't, honestly? (Observe the trailer.)
The Half of It
This Netflix rom-com has more to it than meets the eye. In reality, what initially seems like a Cyrano de Bergerac riff that would yield a saccharine conclusion is a tender exploration of a queer teen of color's alienation and loneliness. Leah Lewis plays Ellie Chu, the only person of Chinese descent in a small city named Squahamish, in The Half of It. Ellie helps her single dad run the local train station, and for money on the side, for a fee, she ghostwrites the papers of her fellow high schoolers. Ellie is followed home one day by the dopey nice guy Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer) who wants to recruit her for another kind of writing assignment: he wants her to write a love letter to Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire), the most beautiful school girl and town pastor's daughter. Ellie, who is not out, has a crush on Aster secretly, too. Wu weaves the moral orthodoxy of the setting into the narrative's backdrop, aiming for a tale that is not disturbing yet profoundly melancholy. (Observe the trailer)
Stephen Lang stars in VFW as Fred, a vet from Vietnam who holds court at the run-down VFW hall with his friends. In the meantime, a deadly new drug called Hype, which turns users into punk rock mutants, has seduced the teenagers and tweens of Fred's nation. When a girl named Lizard (Sierra McCormick) shows up seeking safety, the assembled veterans fight with everything from guns to mounted antlers to tennis balls stuffed with gun powder against the oncoming horde.
As VFW starts, you may get the idea that what is about to unfold is some sort of anti-millennial catharsis with its opposing sides of youthful mutants and social security worthy veterans, but really the young vs. old theme is just window-dressing. It is not meant for social commentary or for any specific political stripe to appeal to. VFW is a fun, low-budget DIY gorefest that pays heavy homage to the attack on Precinct 13 by John Carpenter and calls back to the grindhouse fare of the '80s. It has heads blowing up, veterans battling mutants with sharp pool signs, and miles of goofy machismo.
Fittingly, in the '80s, many of the great acting talents found their success. VFW features Martin Kove (Karate Kid's ruthless Cobra Kai sensai), Geroge Wendt (Cheers 'Norm), David Patrick Kelly (Sully in Commando), Fred Williamson (a former pro football player and blaxploitation star of the' 70s), and William Sadler (Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey's Grim Reaper), along with Lang.
The Emma of Autumn De Wilde — styled EMMA., time included — is not a radical reinvention of the 1815 novel by Jane Austen, its source material. (Leave that to Clueless.) This new version is a faithful interpretation that is nevertheless quite funny, meticulously styled in hues that give it a marzipan-like look, and relies on music in a Peter and Wolf-like fashion, each character having their own sounds and theme, which feels fitting to the long career of De Wilde as the 'rock and roll Martha Stewart' as a respected music photographer Anya Taylor-Joy, of The Witch fame, is the "handsome, smart, and wealthy" heroine of de Wilde, the shallow Miss Woodhouse who likes to get involved in the affairs of other people, but refuses to deal with her own feelings. Her Mr. Knightley — the foil-slash-love interest of the story — is Johnny Flynn, a folk musician, and actor familiar as the protagonist of the rom-com Lovesick to Netflix audiences. They offer all the intense, longing glances you expect from a repressed Regency romance together, making this Emma sexy as well. (Observe the trailer.)
Kelly O'Sullivan is both the star of Saint Frances, an unorthodox comedy in traditional clothes, and the screenwriter.
Bridget (O'Sullivan) doesn't know what she wants to do with her life, and she feels the mounting pressure at 34 that she should have it all figured out by now. Not because she has some clear strong feelings about children, but because she needs jobs, she hires herself as a nanny. She becomes the caretaker of the young Frances (Ramona Edith-Williams) and although, on the one hand, the experience pushes Bridget to mature, it also begins to expose the fact that no one has everything figured out, regardless of age, income, or anything else.
Though Saint Frances frequently sounds like a light comedy on the surface, it contains uniquely frank discussions about subjects that are not often explored in films. Subjects such as abortion, sex, menstruation, and child-rearing are treated on the big screen with an openness rarely seen. However, while it might be a little too much for some audiences, it does not come across as any kind of heavy-handed commentary for the most part, but as a natural and necessary portrayal of the life of a woman.
Just because this year these movies were underestimated, doesn't mean they're not great movies, they're just sleeper hits waiting to happen. But which of these movies are 2020 's top underrated movies? With your votes, you get to really determine.
Vote on the comment section on this list for your favorite underrated films so that other moviegoers know what to watch next.