OK, so you’ve seen Dune, The Power of the Dog, Licorice Pizza, and all the other movies that are currently dominating people’s Best Movies of 2021 lists. But what about the great movies that might have slipped under the radar? Find those here.
Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar
In 2012, Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo scored an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay for their Bridesmaids script. But Wiig has gone on the record to say that all of the gross-out humor you see in that movie was courtesy of producer Judd Apatow, not her and Mumolo. Their sense of humor is apparently much more absurdist, which is evident to anyone who has seen Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar. The writing partners also co-star as best friends who take a much-needed vacation and end up caught in the middle of a Naked Gun–like terrorist plot. But the film never takes itself too seriously, as evidenced by the presence of talking shellfish and Jamie Dornan performing a song-and-dance number on the beach. If silly’s not your thing, then we’d suggest you look elsewhere. But as Thrillist’s Esther Zuckerman wrote: “Barb and Star is what happens when you let two genius women do whatever they want and what they want happens to be an action comedy set in tourist Florida with two middle-aged women who love culottes at the center.”
If the title didn’t clue you in, Mia Hansen-Love’s latest film is a love letter to movies and moviemakers. A pair of American filmmakers (Vicky Krieps and Tim Roth) plan to spend their summer on Fårö, a remote island where (in the world of the movie) Ingmar Bergman lived and shot most of his films, and where they hope to be inspired by his spirit. Ultimately, it’s a statement on the challenges of trying to live as an artist—and trying to live with an artist.
While he’s been known to retire, then unretire, then retire again, Steven Soderbergh’s current moviemaking status is “active.” And in 2021 he gave us No Sudden Move, a heist movie that felt a bit like Out of Sight-meets-Ocean’s Eleven—only Don Cheadle (who is in it) is not putting on some preposterous-sounding English accent. Even more excitingly: It stars Brendan Fraser, the actor people spent so much of 2021 rooting for.
Watch on HBO MaxTest Pattern
First-time filmmaker Shatara Michelle Ford has announced herself as a force to be reckoned with. And her debut is the story of Renesha (Brittany S. Hall) and Evan (Will Brill), an interracial couple who regularly face prejudice from the outside world. But the stakes become much higher when Renesha is violently assaulted, and Evan desperately tries to get her help.
Watch on HuluWerewolves Within
Sam Richardson (Veep’s Richard Splett) is one of those actors who could simply say “hello” and make an audience snort with laughter. So his presence in this delightful horror-comedy makes it a must-watch movie from the start. In the midst of a contentious protest over a proposed pipeline, a blizzard rolls into the small town of Beaverfield and ends up trapping a handful of residents in a local inn. Tensions are already running high because of the pipeline, but the situation takes a turn for the worse when a mysterious creature begins terrorizing the townspeople.
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