Mya Taylor shoulda been an Oscar contender for "Tangerine."1/5
Mya Taylor shoulda been an Oscar contender for "Tangerine."
Cobie Smulders considers dating her boss (Guy Pearce) in Andrew Bujalski's "Result|Magnolia Pictures2/5
Cobie Smulders considers dating her boss (Guy Pearce) in Andrew Bujalski's "Result|Magnolia Pictures
Josh Lucas plays a more or less homeless scoundrel invading his brother's (Stephen|3/5
Josh Lucas plays a more or less homeless scoundrel invading his brother's (Stephen|
Jacqueline Kim undergoes some freaky futuristic experiments in "Advantageous."|Netflix4/5
Jacqueline Kim undergoes some freaky futuristic experiments in "Advantageous."|Netflix
Gugu Mbatha-Raw (facing Nate Parker) plays a pop singer considering throwing it al|Relativity5/5
Gugu Mbatha-Raw (facing Nate Parker) plays a pop singer considering throwing it al|Relativity
If you live on the Northeast coast, you may spend part of this weekend trapped indoors with your family, loved ones and/or roommates. But at least there’s wifi. 2015 may be over, but chances are there’s a pile of terrific, often overlooked films you still need to catch up on. Here’s a whopping 16 options now residing on Netflix Instant to help you kill that precious time:
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This tiny film — literally shot on an iPhone (with an arduous and expensive post-production process to clean up the images) — may have been too small to attract Oscar voters. But that’s too bad: It’s the perfect kind of progressive film — one that’s incredibly fun and incredibly filthy. Tracking the Christmas Eve-in-L.A. shenanigans of trans street workers (played by actual trans performers Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor), it’s wild and only sensitive when it finally needs to be.
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‘Queen of Earth’
Elisabeth Moss reunites with her “Listen Up Philip” director, the incessantly talented Alex Ross Perry, for a psychological horror by way of an art film. The “Mad Men” star plays a woman unraveling at the getaway home of a friend (Katherine Waterston) while the camera and score create an air of sickening unease.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead — soon to be seen as one of the three actors in “10 Cloverfield Lane” — is amazing as a cult member being deprogrammed by a man (an equally excellent Leland Orser) not doing much better than she is.
‘A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence’
This Swedish oddity comes from a filmmaker, Roy Andersson, who’s long mastered the art of deadpan comedy. (If you can find them, “Songs from the Second Floor” and “You the Living” are well worth your time.) Here he offers another collection of blackout sketches, including one where a cruise ship cafeteria staff wonders what to do with the meal and beer purchased by a patron who just fell over dead. That one’s par for course.
Andrew Bujalski helped kickstart what became known as “mumblecore” with the no-budget 2005 comedy “Funny Ha Ha.” Now he’s making films with name actors, but his version of an indie rom-com may be one of last year’s strangest. Cobie Smulders swears up a storm as a personal trainer torn, improbably, between her ripped boss (Guy Pearce) and a slovenly, noveau riche slacker (Kevin Corrigan).
One of last year’s most noted docs uncovers a secret coven of teenage boys who’ve spent almost their entire lives cooped up by their parents in an LES high-rise, lovingly recreating their favorite Tarantino and Nolan films.
A kind of clinical take on Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” finds a deformed concentration camp survivor (Nina Hoss) undergoing plastic surgery and worming her way back into the life of the ex-lover (Ronald Zehrfeld) who may have betrayed her to the Nazis. A great, knotty slow-burn, it ends with a mic drop for the ages.
‘Best of Enemies’
Cable news can’t touch William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal going at it during the 1968 Democratic Convention. Their televised sparrings — which topped out when the former lost his cool and called the latter a “queer” — get replayed in this doc which, among other things, mourns the demise of articulate, intellectual public debate.
Oh hey, this was our second favorite film of 2015 (after “Mad Max: Fury Road”)! John Magary’s indie is hard to describe, in part because the plot doesn’t even kick in for 45 minutes. But it involves odd couple brothers — uptight Stephen Plunkett and rascally Josh Lucas — forced to reunite under increasingly dilapidated and self-destructive conditions.
‘The Duke of Burgundy’
A sex film with (almost) no sex, this British art film pays homage to 1970s Euro-erotica, with two women who seem to be involved in a dominatrix-submissive relationship. But all is not as it seems, and this extravagantly handsome mood piece quietly turns into a deep look at the selfless side of love.
‘What Happened, Miss Simone?’
This doc on Nina Simone was nominated for a Best Documentary Oscar, and even if it’s a little too traditional it does an admirable job of digging into her demons without making her out to be a monster. And on top of that, it features lots of music by Nina Simone. How about that?
Taylor Schilling and Adam Scott are the boring yuppies who spend a night with their bohemian neighbors (Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godreche). But what transpires isn’t quite what one expects.
Undeservedly banished to but a few theaters last year, this wildly ambitious and brainy sci-fi finds a single mom (co-writer Jacqueline Kim) going guinea pig to a new, futuristic procedure, all to ensure her daughter has a better future.
Deepen your pessimism about humanity by watching this sometimes roided-up doc about the border wars, which plunks its camera down amidst warfare and with vigilante groups recklessly trying to make a difference.
‘Time Out of Mind’
Yes, it’s Richard Gere playing a homeless man in NYC, but it’s not what you think. Director Oren Moverman (“Rampart,” “The Messenger”) often treats its superstar like he was in a “Where’s Waldo?” panel, and he never lets his actor turn remotely Oscar-baity. He’s just one of too many invisibles in a crowded city.
‘Beyond the Lights’
OK, we’re cheating here, because this backstage melodrama — about a Beyonce-esque singer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) being romanced by a tough-love dude (Nate Parker) — came out all the way back in 2014. But we swear this is going to be the biggest home video cult fave since “The Cutting Edge,” at least once everyone sees it. Here’s a good excuse to get on the bandwagon. And on top of everything: It’s actually excellent!
Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge