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The 5 Most Underrated Films of 2016

Jan. 9, 2017
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Don’t Think Twice

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Don’t Think Twice is an independent comedy about members of the “Commune,” an improv troupe in New York City, who must come to terms with their lives when one of the members books a highly coveted job on “Weekend Live” – a fictional version of SNL. This film is ultimately a character study about five completely different friends who are all vying for the same goal.

It was released in July 2016 and stars Mike Birbiglia (Trainwreck, Sleepwalk With Me), Gillian Jacobs (Community, Love), Keegan Michael Key (Key & Peele, Keanu), Kate Micucci (Garfunkel and Oates), Tami Sagher, and Chris Gethard. Besides having one of the highest critic ratings on Rotten Tomatoes for any film released in 2016, Don’t Think Twice also has a wide appeal due to its top-notch casting and universal “coming-of-age” theme. The film focuses on five comedians who are very funny onstage; however, their real lives are anything but. A tight ensemble drives Don’t Think Twice with their ability to make you laugh and empathize with all of life’s up’s-and-down’s. 

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Everybody Wants Some!!

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Sure to be an instant cult classic, Everybody Wants Some!! is Richard Linklaters nostalgic rendering of small town college life in the mid 1980’s, three days before the start of a new school year. It’s hard to give any kind of summary, because there isn’t really a plot. The film follows Jake (played by the super-endearing newcomer Blake Jenner) as he navigates these first few days of college as the new pitcher for his college baseball team. Over these three days, Jake parties with his rowdy teammates (who also happen to be his housemates), meets a girl, and begins to find his purpose amongst his new unsupervised life. The film primarily focuses on a house of frat-like, college boys, so you should expect sophomoric, and at times misogynistic humor, but this is balanced well with the films ultimate (surprising) message of the importance of finding one’s meaning and passion in life. The soundtrack is also killer, which makes this raunch-fest just a little more fun. 

Everybody Wants Some!! features an all-star cast: Blake Jenner (Glee), Tyler Hoechlin (Teen Wolf), Glenn Powell (Scream Queens), Ryan Guzman (Step Up movies, The Boy Next Door), and Zoey Deutch (Vampire Academy, Dirty Grandpa). 

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The Edge of Seventeen

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The Edge of Seventeen is perhaps the most underrated film of the year. The script is incredibly well written, finding nice balances between the humor and heart. The premise of the film is small – an awkward high schooler suffers an identity crisis when her only friend starts dating her older brother. Similar to Everybody Wants Some!!, this film isn’t so much about the story, but instead the characters that inhabit this world – an adolescent, youthful world that everybody can relate to. While the plot is similar to many other high school movies, The Edge of Seventeen somehow feels fresh and nuanced. It has a certain John Hughes quality to it that makes it irresistible and timeless. Hailee Steinfeld once again proves that she is a young force to be reckoned with. Her performance really enhances this film, as well as newcomer Hayden Szeto, who plays Steinfeld’s love interest. Woody Harrelson stars as Nadine’s (Steinfeld) teacher/mentor. Definitely catch this film. An instant classic that’ll have you laughing, cringing, cheering, and “Aww-ing” for its young protagonist every step of the way. 

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Green Room 

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Green Room’s premise is simple, but new, which makes this horror/thriller one to watch in the New Year. Green Room follows members of a punk rock band who unexpectedly must fight for their lives after performing for a bar owned by murderous white supremacists. The story moves at an extremely fast pace, which is both a good and bad thing. Good, because it constantly keeps the viewer engaged and invested. Bad, because these kinds of stories often have a hard time coming to a satisfying conclusion. Green Room moves at such a fast pace that the ending may feel a little anticlimactic; however, everything else in the film is paced so excellently that this can be excused. Green Room is a nihilistic, cringe-inducing, fight to the death that any modern horror lover can appreciate. 

The film stars Patrick Stewart (Star Trek), Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development), Imogen Poots (Need for Speed, 28 Days Later), Callum Turner, Mark Webber (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World), Joe Cole (Peaky Blinders), and the late Anton Yelchin (Star Trek, Terminator Salvation, Charlie Bartlett, Like Crazy). 

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The Witch 

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Have you ever seen a horror film so terrifying in its portrayal of the wicked that you feel like you shouldn’t be watching it? Well, that film is The Witch, and it is not for the faint of heart. 

The Witch premiered to critical acclaim at Sundance in 2015, but didn’t gain a wide release until February 2016. This period piece follows a family’s experiences against witchcraft and black magic in the 1630’s after being cast out of their Christian New England town. Specifically, The Witch follows the eldest daughter, Thomasin, who is accused by her family of being a witch after the youngest member of the family is abducted in the woods. The film is visually compelling and unsettling in its slow-burning mode of storytelling. The Witch is Robert Eggers directorial debut and an instant horror classic. 

The Witch is a star vehicle for newcomer Anya Taylor-Joy who shows that she can definitely hold her own against an immensely talented cast. 

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Honorable Mentions:


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Tickled is a documentary that follows journalist David Farrier as he documents the hilarious world of competitive tickling. Competitive Tickling. Yeah, you read that right. Halfway through the documentary Farrier stumbles upon a bizarre conspiracy in the heart of this competitive tickling world. What he finds is eye opening and completely twisted. Tickled is undoubtedly one of the best and most fun documentaries you’ll watch this year. 

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Girl Asleep 

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Girl Asleep is an Australian film based on the hit stage play of the same name produced by the Windmill Theater Company. The film follows the new girl in town, Greta Driscoll, whose family throws her a 15th birthday party. After an incident at her party, Greta is thrust into a parallel universe where nothing is what it seems, and self-discovery is inevitable. The film has been billed as “Napoleon Dynamite with the cinematic aesthetic of a Wes Anderson film,” which could not be more accurate. Greta is a young, strong and highly influential female protagonist. This film is for anyone who’s ever felt like they don’t belong in high school. Girl Asleep celebrates the underdogs, and reaffirms that it is perfectly okay to be different. 

Girl Asleep is totally charming, witty, and fun. It can be streamed on Amazon, iTunes, or YouTube.

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