With the awards season in full bloom, we thought it only proper to give praise to some of our favorite films left off the nomination ballots. From the critic favorite Logan Lucky to the crowd pleasing The Florida Project, 2017 gave us an amazing lineup of excellent films and filmmaking. A few of these are available for streaming, or possibly even still making the theatre rounds, so be sure to read through for those sweet, sweet details.
Also, films that were not-so-snubbed still be caught at Brooklyn’s finest, Nitehawk—be sure to see I, Tonya, Phantom Thread, Lady Bird, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Nitehawk will also begin a run of the Oscar nominated short films, both animated and live action. Tickets for those can be found here and here.
The Florida Project
Okay so this film was not completely left off the Oscar ballots BUT it did not get nearly as much attention as it deserved. Sure, Willem Dafoe fully deserves his nom for Supporting Actor, but his co-cast was an absolute force, and Sean Baker’s direction on the film stood out as bright, peculiar, and fresh. A story of the poor areas surrounding Disney-incorporated Florida, this heartfelt drama carries the American spirit to new heights, portraying love, loss, need, and want under a spotlight which cannot be ignored: a very young, tattooed and fun-loving mom played by first-time actor Bria Vinaite, and her cheerful prankster youngling named Mooney, portrayed Brooklynn Prince.
Left to her own devices, Brooklynn wreaks minuscule havoc on the dwellers of her town’s motels, pastel-colored and themed as off-brand Disney attractions. Dafoe is the site manager of the bright purple motel Mooney and her mother live in, keeping them off the score-card by moving them around every month to avoid appearing like a permanent residence. His paternalistic love is a primary theme in the movie, given and ignored where it’s needed most. A few sprite cameos keep the film on its toes, with Caleb Landry Jones as a faraway and distant son to Dafoe, and Macon Blair as an easy-target tourist. The film is characterized by achey cheeks from constant smiling, as well as raw cheeks from painful, emotional reality. The Florida Project is Baker’s meditation on the simplicity of childhood wonder and its intersection with the struggle of the uneducated poor — a magical film set outside America’s simulated magical kingdom.
This summertime release received high praise from critics but faded quickly from the public eye. Channing Tatum plays a devoted young father to a West Virginia-born little girl, all the while working construction on the Charlotte, North Carolina Motor Speedway — a back and forth between states that both nauseates and visualizes true fatherly love. However, fired for insurance reasons and left up the creek, this young man decides to utilize his hometown connections and plan an unprecedented heist that involves the bank-tellers tubes and the passages underneath the speedway.
Other major features include Adam Driver as his one-armed brother, and Daniel Craig as a scathing explosives expert cum prison inmate. Logan Lucky is so incredibly detailed in how it shows the plan in action, mirroring how meticulous the young father is in keeping the details at bay from all involved. True intentions, what’s shown versus what is done, and again, a father’s true love all come together in an expertly-devised heist film. This is to be expected from a Steven Soderbergh, who came out of retirement to direct the script written by an unknown and possibly fake screenwriter, Rebecca Blunt.
Joshua and Ben Safie, the film savants of New York City’s hoodlum underbelly, made one of 2017’s most striking films. Good Time is another film of devotion and love, only this time between a young, mentally challenged man portrayed by Ben Safdie, and his scummy older brother portrayed by everyone’s favorite teen vampire, Robert Pattinson. The film follows the older brother as he works to break his younger brother out of jail due to a failed heist, soundtracked by experimental artist Oneohtrix Point Never.
This film, along with Sean Baker’s The Florida Project, is perhaps most glaring absence on the Oscar nominations list. It’s a little poem of glimmering hope racing with the darkness of America’s urban center, jotted down in such a way to leave you feeling as if you pulled an all-nighter on corner store coffee. Going through crime thriller motions of breaking a hospitalized man out of a guarded hospital room, toying with the emotions of a teen girl in order to access her mind, apartment, and car, and ruthlessly harming multiple people in the way, Pattinson’s character demonstrates a bleak mousetrap of psychopathy laced with empathy. In one twisted attempt to quickly gain bond money, he manipulates an elderly plastic trophy wife that was never wifed, left to her own devices in plastic surgery and drug use. You’ll leave the film feeling grimier than his ECKO Unlimited brand hoody.
Good Time will be making a comeback at Nitehawk Cinema as midnight movie the weekend of February 16 and February 17. Tickets available here. It is also available to rent or purchase on Amazon and iTunes.
The online comedy troupe frontrunner-turned SNL goofball Kyle Mooney released his directorial debut in 2017. A love letter to localized public access children shows from across the 1980s North American landscape, this is the tale of a young boy named James, brainwashed by his kidnappers to think they were alone in a desolate world. His entire life is devoted to a TV series (called “Brigsby Bear”) filmed exclusively for him, with hundreds upon hundreds of volumes, until he is taken away from his abusers and given back to his actual parents.
Though heartfelt, it’s actually a hilarious comedy and not at all the thriller it evokes in the description, like 2016’s Room. Mooney developed this film out of a personal obsession with collecting VHS tapes, an obsession which comes to life and is fully mirrored by its central figuring trying to finalize the series he has spent his life watching by creating his own ending. Featuring everyone’s favorite Jedi, Mark Hammill, utilizes his established career of voice-acting as the kidnapping father who directs and stars in the TV show, “Brigsby Bear.” While wicked and insane in his kidnapping and development of “Brigsby Bear,” he remains a kind, fatherly voice for James in the prison meeting room, guiding him through production of the final “Brigsby Bear” film.