While certain movies out there are shoe-ins for Oscar glory, others went sadly overlooked both critically and at the box office. So while we’ll inevitably be celebrating the cream of the pop cultural crop in countless year-end best-of lists, on today’s episode of The Dan Cave we’re championing the overlooked, underseen, underappreciated, and most underrated movies of 2017.
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King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Image: Warner Bros.
This movie is like The Witcher chugged a Red Bull—in a good way—which is to say that it was an absolute blast and deeply strange action-fantasy story. Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is the greatest video game movie I’ve ever seen, and it’s not even based on a video game (although one did influence it). With charismatic characters, a weird coven of murderous cave witches, and frenetic fight scenes, King Arthur is some of the most fun I’ve had in theaters all year.
A film far better than it had any right to be, Power Rangers is a blast from start to finish. While I would have appreciated more morphin’ time, Power Rangers is a capable cinematic adaptation of the venerable fan-favorite franchise, playing out like a super sentai version of The Breakfast Club. The new rangers are all likable in their own way and Bill Hader gets to be delightfully hammy as Alpha 5, but the true star of the show is Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa, who showed up hungry to this all-you-can-eat scenery buffet. Last but not least, Power Rangers features the greatest use of diegetic product placement since Kingsman: The Secret Service‘s McDonald’s dinner.
I don’t feel at home in this world anymore.
The world is full of unrepentant assholes. This is an essential truth that writer-director Macon Blair realizes and uses to darkly comedic effect in his feature film debut, I don’t feel at home in this world anymore. When Melanie Lynskey’s Ruth gets fed up by all the B.S. the world keeps serving her on a silver platter, she teams up with her nunchaku-wielding weirdo of a neighbor (Elijah Wood), and the not-so-dynamic duo sets out to find justice, or at least a measure of satisfaction. What follows is a wild rabbit hole full of mayhem, mischief, and murders most foul.
Image: Kino Świat
If you see one psychosexual Polish mermaid musical this year, make it The Lure. Originally released in 2015, The Lure finally made its way stateside this year. The wickedly weird movie dives into Hans Christian Anderson’s mermaid mythology through the lens of grimy 1980s European nightclubs. The film follows two mermaid sisters, one who has a love of music and the other who has a love of devouring human flesh, as they find themselves in the clutches of an exploitative nightclub owner. What follows is a genre-bending musical mash-up that’ll have you scratching your head, tapping your toes, and pumping your fist in inexplicable joy at how damn good it is.
Ingrid Goes West
Imagine if someone made Swimfan or Single White Female but all about social media superstardom, and you’d get Ingrid Goes West. When Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) becomes obsessed with an Instagram lifestyle influencer named Taylor (Elizabeth Olsen), she uses her inheritance to move across the country on a Don Quixote-like quest to become her best friend. Things quickly take a turn for the dark and disturbing as this exploration of obsession in the social media age unfolds in savage, hilarious, and horrifying fashion.
Image: Sony Pictures Classics
Remember that one show from your childhood that no one else seems to recall? And remember how that show had secretly been made for you by your dad who wasn’t really your dad because he and your “mom” had kidnapped you as a child to raise in a remote doomsday bunker? And then the cops found you as an adult and brought you back to your real parents? And then you tried to make a movie to finish the story started by the TV show because you needed closure? If so, you’ll surely relate to Brigsby Bear, a beautiful, frequently funny, and surprisingly heartfelt film about the cathartic power of storytelling and how friendships can help you overcome deep-seated trauma. It’s also the story of a weird-ass public access TV show I desperately wish were real.
Image: Fingerprint Releasing/Bleecker Street
Call it Logan Lucky, call it Ocean’s 7/11, call it whatever you want as long as you see Steven Soderbergh’s Southern fried heist movie about two West Virginia brothers (Channing Tatum and Adam Driver) cursed with rotten luck. Together, they team up with an unlikely cast of misfits, including Daniel Craig as a bleached blond convict/demolition expert, in order to rob a NASCAR track on its busiest weekend of the year. With so many twists, turns, double-crosses, and satisfying slow-burn reveals, Logan Lucky is a meticulously crafted good time. It will keep you alternately laughing and trying to figure out who’s outsmarting who until the bitter end.
The Red Turtle
Image: Studio Ghibli/Wild Bunch
Produced by Studio Ghibli and Wild Bunch, The Red Turtle is a nearly wordless masterpiece. It’s the most beautiful film ever made about falling in love with a turtle and starting a life together. Except this turtle is a magical being and the man who falls for her is a shipwrecked sailor washed ashore on an island. It’s sweetly surreal, touching, and just a breathtaking piece of animation. And if someone asks you why you’re openly weeping at the end, you just tell them to shut the hell up and get you medicine for your turtle allergy.
Image: StudioCanal UK
What it lacks in narrative complexity, it makes up for in outsized charm, ridiculous physical comedy, and more bullet casings than the floor of Nakatomi Plaza after a holiday party. Free Fire follows a bunch of scummy, sleazy criminals in leisure suits trying to pull off an arms deal with another bunch of scummy, sleazy criminals in leisure suits. It’s a case study of why people with big egos and itchy trigger fingers should never be put in close proximity with one another. The results are an all-out shootout where no one emerges unscathed. So come for the all-star cast, including Oscar-winner Brie Larson, but stay for the bug-eyed majesty of Sharlto Copley at his absolute Sharlto Copley-est.Want to watch The Dan Cave before anyone else? Join Alpha and get early access.
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Dan Casey is the senior editor of Nerdist and the author of books about Star Wars and the Avengers. Follow him on Twitter (@DanCasey).