Its time of the year when cinephiles gear up and hunt for the films that went unnoticed, the middle of an emerging pattern in ‘The 10 Best films’ list that includes Moonlight, La La Land, Manchester By The Sea, Arrival, Hell or High Water. 2016 has been particularly a mixed year. Most of the superhero films did well only in their trailers, many big budget films disappointed, as usual. Like every other year, it has been ‘Independent films’ that have been the saving grace. Having said that, many indie films didn’t get their proper due among the familiar shouts. Here is the list of the 10 Overlooked & Underrated English Language films of 2016 that needs your immediate attention and love.
10. The American Side | Director: Jenna Ricker | Runtime: 90 minutes
‘The American Side’ is a handful of mystery thriller film that was released in 2016 and sadly, it has not received the love it deserves. Jenna Ricker, director, and co-writer of the film has almost seamlessly melded the Tesla mystique with the classic detective narration. Even when the film momentarily seems to slip into the convoluted mess, the atmospheric eerie and mystery never let us feel the slippage.
A hard-boiled, chain smoker, amateur private detective, Charlie Paczynski (Greg Stuhr), gets entangled in an enigmatic puzzle while investigating the murder of his associate. Director Jenna Ricker doesn’t rely on ultra-fast-paced editing and numerous investigative gadgets, instead creating a compelling atmosphere through an unconventional setting.
9. Other People | Director: Chris Kelly | Runtime: 96 minutes
The plot is really not a fresh one but hats off to its unconventional writing and relatable, non-stereotypical characters which make it genuinely a poignant tale. It crams a broader spectrum of emotions in the finest way possible over 95 mins of running time. Mother of three children, Molly Shannon ‘s character Joanne is suffering from Cancer and film accounts her final days.
The film plays out like a novel having interesting characters where each chapter is sometimes funny, sometimes lovely, sometimes sad, and occasionally flat out bore. Molly Shannon owns the film and how, Oh! wow. The strength of the film, other than it’s spectacular writing in the first half and understated performances, lies in the fact that it never asks for pity from audiences.
8. Creative Control | Director: Benjamin Dickinson | Runtime: 97 minutes
21st Century has seen an explosion of ‘Technology’ that have made distant dreams like a Virtual reality possible in no time. Our life is consumed by technical gadgets – like smartphones, laptops, still growing augmented VR. We are constantly shaping our life around the augmented reality leaving emotional connect & physical social presence in jeopardy. We are inextricably linked yet we feel far from connection with each other.
‘Creative Control’ is a satire on inextricably linked social presence without any emotions. It is scary at times and plays like a wake-up call for us to realize that we are heading to be doomed if we don’t do something about our lifestyle controlled by Technology. What makes ‘Creative Control’ unique among the plethora of films dealing with the same issue, is the fact that it is not the technology that runs our life but we are ‘consciously’ letting technology do it.
Shot gorgeously in black & white widescreen, Creative Control has some of the elegant Visual effects fused quite seamlessly with a great soundtrack and they never overpower the characters in it. Writer, director (and lead actor) Benjamin Dickinson gives space to all the characters to grow effectively and each character distinctively gets embroiled in ruthless augmented reality, directly or indirectly. How the relationships fall apart and how a person starts losing grip on reality and augmented reality forms the crux of the film.
7. Tallulah | Director: Sian Heder | Runtime: 111 minutes
Despondency with the life leads to disillusionment for things you least expect to happen with you, and this illusion drives you to the borderline of sanity and morality. How good or bad it is to depend on someone to plan your own life? How you recuperate from your own crumbling life which dies a slow death every day? Though ‘Tallulah’ does not primarily deal with the above-said theme, it raises above question in a subtle manner while primarily focusing on three monstrous female protagonists who deem themselves as unfit mothers.
The film is a character driven without going over the top into a mawkishly sentimental zone that it could have easily slipped into, if not for writer & Director Sian Heder’s unphilosophical writing and restrained direction.
6. Don’t Think Twice | Director: | Runtime: 93 minutes
Stand-up comedian, actor & filmmaker Mike Birbiglia made a pointed observation that “Art is socialism but life is capitalism”. This observation serves as the core idea for his super-smart second feature Don’t Think Twice (2016). It is one of the best bittersweet drama to look at the creative and personal lives of professional comedians. Despite the modest narrative structure, its well-grounded characters and truthful emotions offer a totally engrossing movie experience. It’s a feel-good movie which doesn’t shy away from showcasing the messy parts of modern life.