10 Most Underrated Movies of 2019 So Far

Have you missed these gems that have been right under your nose?

Under The Silver Lake

Blockbusters are fun for a night out with friends and family, but things are getting a bit tiresome with all the reboots and remakes. We complain that films aren’t smart and creative anymore; the problem is, we’re looking in the wrong place.

These movies might have had a short stint in your theatre, coming and going as quickly as dusk moves to dawn. Some of them are available online, but you’ve probably been too busy watching Bird Box or some other mediocre movie on Netflix to pay them any heed. So we decided to curate a list for you on the most underrated movies of 2019 so far, and when you do have some down time, spend it on movies like the ones on this list.


10. Arctic

Mads Mikkelsen is such an underrated actor. Have you seen the variety of roles this man has churned out? Be it eating people in TV series Hannibal or cavorting about as a James Bond villain, this man has such screen charisma and presence that I will watch any movie he churns out. His presence elevates Arctic from a mere survival movie into something more.

What we usually expect in these survival type movies is the protagonist struggling, be it with food or the harsh weather conditions. Mikkelsen’s character seems strangely prepared, until a rescue helicopter that was there to save him crashes, leaving him to take care of the woman who survived the crash.

This is where it gets more intense, since he needs to drag her in a sled across one of the bleakest places on earth. No biggie, he’ll get it done. The movie asks the perennial question that has existed for as long as we have existed: who will triumph, man or nature? You will have to watch the movie to find out.


9. The Beach Bum

The Beach Bum honestly feels like Matthew McConaughey’s character from Magic Mike, still flashing his buns (I’m not kidding it’s in the trailer) but now heavily stoned – oh, and he writes poetry. McConaughey is at that point in his career where he can take on any project he wants, and all we have to say to that is “alright, alright, alright”. The man can do no wrong at this point, except with Serenity, which was just a disaster of a film.

In The Beach Bum, McConaughey plays a character who is hopeful that things will always right themselves, on the search for bliss in a world that is broken and falling apart. There are a lot of movies angry and cynical about the state of the world now in 2019, and The Beach Bum is one of the rare few movies to go in the opposite direction, which works in its favour.


8. Gloria Bell

Director Sebastián Lelio is taking a page out of Michael Haneke’s book, and bringing a new version of his movie Gloria to an English speaking audience. And so we get Gloria Bell, with the lovely Julianne Moore playing the role of the titular character. Gloria has been divorced for 12 years, has adult children, and is open to love but not really looking for anything, or so she appears to be. This is the interesting thing about Gloria Bell, it doesn’t linger unnecessarily on moments – life is fleeting and moves quickly, so not everything is immediately poignant and life-changing.

Gloria meets a guy called Arnold (John Turturro), they have sex, he reads her a poem, and we move on. Arnold comes back into the picture eventually, but the handling of this is so reflective of how one does relationships after divorce. You’re no longer looking for an epic kind of love, it is more about assuaging one’s sense of loneliness. Gloria Bell is a lovely piece of cinema, and Moore is transcendent in it. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but you won’t know unless you watch it.


7. Paddleton

I have a fondness for Mark Duplass’ films, and the way improv plays such a huge part in so many of them. My enjoyment of Paddleton stems from how natural and authentic Duplass and Ray Romano’s characterisations feel, which just helps me buy into their friendship.

The two men are alone in the world. They only have each other and their friendship, spending their time caught in a routine of playing paddleton (a squash-type game they invented), pizza dinners, jigsaw puzzles as well as their favorite Kung-Fu movie, Death Punch. When Michael (Duplass) learns he has cancer and doesn’t have long to live, he calls on Andy (Romano) to help him end his life on his own terms. While Andy agrees, as the moment to do so gets closer, he faces struggles of his own — of wanting to help Michael yet aware that when Michael dies, he will truly be alone.

I have never see Ray Romano outside of a comedic role before, and while there is plenty of comedy here, it is also sad and aches with grief. Andy is forced to mourn Michael before he dies, and Romano just sells it. I won’t spoil too much of it, but it is a movie you should watch and then maybe call your best friend after.


6. Little Woods

Little Woods has the amazing talents of Tessa Thompson and Lily James guiding it, which is perhaps why it’s a good movie. Thompson plays Ollie, who is nearing the end of her probation period. Ollie used to deal drugs, but now she’s trying to go clean, until the financial problems start raining down upon her.

Her sister Deb (James) gets pregnant, the bank forecloses on their house, and they find out how much delivering a baby would cost without insurance. There is such a world weariness to the film, as the sisters try to navigate their financial situation with the sense that there is no way out of this besides the very obvious one. This is a reality for so many people, and Thompson and James both delve into these characters and their lives with aplomb.


5. Transit

Transit is an adaptation of a novel by Anna Seghers. While Seghers’ story takes place in the time of World War 2, director Christian Petzold has decided to transpose this narrative into modern times. Given the state of the world in 2019, where we are constantly dealing with chaos and threats, it gives the events that unfold on screen a sense of urgency.

Main character Georg (Franz Rogowski) is tasked to deliver two pieces of correspondence to writer Weidel, but when he arrives at the hotel room, he discovers that the man has killed himself. So Georg finds himself travelling in the man’s stead, with his journey forcing him to take on different roles, to constantly transit, hence the title. Georg feels like a man lost in time, since at times we feel the events of the past influencing the narrative, only for us to be reminded of the modern setting of the piece.


4. High Flying Bird

While everyone is aiming for IMAX viewing and bigger screens, Steven Soderbergh decides that an iPhone would do. How on earth he crafted such a visually dynamic movie from a mere iPhone I will never know, but maybe that’s why he’s an award winning director and I have trouble getting out of bed in the morning.

With social media in the picture, athletes don’t merely have to deal with just playing sports, they also have to consider the crafting of their image and how to sell themselves. This is the world agent Ray Burke (André Holland) is a part of, however, the NBA lockout has put him in a difficult position; as long as the players don’t get paid, he doesn’t get paid. Of course Burke isn’t going to take this sitting down, so he makes plans to stop the lockout, and we the viewer take pleasure in putting together the pieces of his plan.


3. Photograph

Rafi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) works at the Gateway of India, offering to take photographs of people. He tells Miloni (Sanya Malhotra), who is merely passing by, that a picture can capture a moment and always remind you of it. His words entice her and she agrees. When she looks at the picture, she doesn’t see herself, rather, she sees who she could be.

The two return to each others’ lives again because Rafi, in order to get his grandmother to take her medicine, lies and says Miloni is his girlfriend. When his grandmother comes down for the purpose of meeting said girlfriend, Rafi comes clean to Miloni, asking her to help him yet knowing the incredulity of what he is asking.

Photograph proves that love doesn’t have to be big and passionate. It is subtler, quieter, yet the intimacy and feelings are definitely present. Rafi and Miloni’s blossoming love story is affected by a class divide between them, but this is never made the point of contention in the movie. We recognise that their love story might not work out because of their paths in life, but does it really matter? They will always remember the moments that were shared and captured.


2. Under The Silver Lake

The Amazing Spider-Man franchise has not been kind to Andrew Garfield. When the franchise crashed and burned, it took him down with it, leading a lot of naysayers to the judgement of Garfield being unable to act. Martin Scorsese’s Silence and Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge definitely helped in him gaining steam and credibility in the world of film, but Under The Silver Lake is his best acting performance to date.

Garfield plays Sam, a relatable creep who runs into the gorgeous Sarah (Riley Keough). They flirt and seem to have a connection, but when Sam goes to her apartment to find her after that day, she has disappeared. He goes on a quest to find her, aided by a zine titled Under The Silver Lake. As he tries to find meaning in everything, the film offers a critique here with regards to pop culture, and how we want everything to mean something when it doesn’t mean anything.

Get it? Well, it sounds a bit out there, but trust me when I say there isn’t a film like this out there, which definitely makes it a must-watch.


1. Plus One

Jack Quaid (Ben), the male protagonist in this romantic comedy, is the son of Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan – the blood of the rom-com basically flows through his blood. And it shows. He has his father’s smile and his mother’s charm, and loads of chemistry with Maya Erskine (Alice). Ben is single because he is always chasing perfection, while Alice has just broken up with boyfriend Nate. The problem is, it’s wedding season and they have a bunch of them to attend. Attending a wedding as a single person isn’t fun, especially when everyone is all loved up and you’re just here with your glass of booze. So Alice and Ben decide to do the wedding circuit together, and gradually, their friendship turns into something more.

I cannot recommend Plus One enough; it’s funny, has relevant things to say about modern dating, and the framing of the movie just adds to the authenticity of it. Before each wedding segment, we are given a little taste of a wedding speech, and Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer (scriptwriters as well as the directors of the movie) just nail how awkward yet genuine these speeches can be.

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