As the year winds down and awards season approaches, movies that most audiences have never heard of begin to dominate the film news cycle. Limited releases, festival favorites, and critical darlings become the movies to watch according to tastemakers and award-giving organizations, but it can be a bit frustrating to hear so much about films that may never open where you live, or have left before they gained traction. Here are three great movies from 2018 that have slipped under the popular radar, but are worth seeking out on streaming services.
Support the Girls
R, 94 minutes
Andrew Bujalski’s workplace comedy, Support the Girls, does not look like the sort of movie one might consider “great” at first glance. Set in a Hooters-esque restaurant called Double Whammies, the story focuses on general manager Lisa (Regina Hall) as she struggles to keep everything under control: at work, in her life, and in the lives of others. Nothing in this world makes sense—the owner is an absentee micromanager, much of the staff loathe the customers they are supposed to be flirting with, and Lisa’s insistence that Whammies is a family establishment flies in the face of the sleazebag clientele it attracts. Every character is fully realized by both script and actor, and the satire always aims away from cheap, predictable gags. The feeling that utter chaos might break out at any moment means that every seemingly mundane event has a palpable layer of tension. It’s also as funny as any sitcom-style comedy of errors, guided by Hall’s spectacular performance—one of the year’s best—and Bujalski’s intelligent and knowing direction into uncharted territory for a film of its scale.
Good Manners (As Boas Maneiras)
NR, 135 minutes
When a movie requires as many genre labels as Brazilian film Good Manners—werewolf movie/family drama/romance/musical—you might expect a 90-minute, B-grade schlockfest. Those movies are fun in their own right, but Good Manners has something else entirely in mind—it mines those genres for maximum emotional impact in a gripping story about a woman raising the lycanthropic child of the woman she loved, who died in childbirth. It’s a tale of hope and anxiety. Are we doing the right thing by ourselves and others? Are we sowing the seeds of hate and resentment while pretending all is well? Will sheltering our children from wickedness encourage them to be good people, or will the revelation that the world is not as they were told bring about something horrible? On two occasions, when the emotions run too high for mere dialogue, cathartic songs of optimism and anguish boil to the surface. Good Manners is a beautiful movie that ought to be a contender for Best Foreign Language Film.
You Were Never Really Here
R, 95 minutes
Of this list, You Were Never Really Here is the one you’ve most likely heard of. The trouble is, most people don’t seem to have seen it, and that needs to be remedied. Lynne Ramsay directs Joaquin Phoenix as Joe, a hitman who is hired by a congressman to rescue his daughter from traffickers, as demons from his own past make this more than just another job. It’s a straightforward story that is exquisitely told, blending Joe’s thoughts with what’s happening in front of his eyes, along with amazing craftsmanship in direction, editing, and cinematography. It’s made even more outstanding by one of 2018’s best film scores, by Jonny Greenwood. If you slept on You Were Never Really Here while it was in the theaters, now is the time to wake up and join the conversation.
See it again
A League of Their Own
PG, 128 minutes;
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema 377 Merchant Walk Sq., 326-5056, drafthouse.com/charlottesville
Regal Stonefield 14 and IMAX The Shops at Stonefield, 244-3213, regmovies.com
Violet Crown Cinema 200 W. Main St., Downtown Mall, 529-3000, charlottesville.violetcrown.com z Check theater websites for listings.