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15 Underseen Films of 2017 That You Don't Want To Miss

By Pajiba Staff | Film | December 29, 2017 |

By Pajiba Staff | Film | December 29, 2017 |

The movie-reviewing Overlords have convened to reveal our picks for the Best Movies of 2017, and the best Comfort Movies we’ll return to again and again. But 2017 was such an outstanding year for thrilling, original cinema that we can’t stop there. In our deliberations, titles came up that not enough of us had seen for them to make the big top ten list. And they sure as hell weren’t comforting films. So here is our round-up of 15 films that were weird or wonderful gems that didn’t get enough notice in 2017.

Blade of the Immortal: Takashi Miike’s 100th film is an ode to samurai honor and severed limbs

This film is not for everyone. Maybe I’m just a sucker for a solid samurai slice-em-up because Blade of the Immortal flat out worked for me. Based on a manga, the film tells the story of a warrior cursed with immortality, and the girl he agrees to protect in her quest for vengeance. It doesn’t always make a whole lot of sense, and honestly — it doesn’t really need to. Plot is the tendons connecting the fighting muscles of the film, and I could forgive the girl’s screeching and constant mistakes because they usually signaled that another glorious battle was about to begin. And if one didn’t start? Well, at least she gave Manji, the warrior, an excuse to deliver another perfectly caustic line. An elaborate body-count ballet, this movie is full of weird moments of violent humor. And blood worms. Can’t forget the blood worms. —Tori Preston
Available on Amazon

Bad Genius: Ocean’s Eleven meets The Breakfast Club

“We’ve seen test-cheating teen dramas before, but never with as much verve and wit as in Thailand’s Bad Genius. Director Nattawut Poonpiriya embraces the over-amped emotions of angst, excitement and anxiety that rattle about the high schoolers at the center of this cunning crime caper, and parodies the style of sleek Hollywood thrillers to perfectly capture that intensity. Which cleverly allows audiences to look back and laugh at the days where the results of an exam really felt like life or death.”—Kristy Puchko
Available on iTunes

The Girl With All the Gifts: 28 Days Later, but with flesh-craving children

Adapted from the same-named book by M.R. Carey, The Girl With All the Gifts focuses on “hungries,” children who are medical experiments intended to solve the zombie epidemic. If these kids can be taught to control their flesh-eating desire, maybe the humans in charge of them can save the world — or maybe something will go horribly wrong and society is meaningless. Whichever! Great performances from Sennia Nanua, Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, and Glenn Close give the zombie flick heft, and those feral children are straight-up terrifying.—Roxana Hadadi
Available on Amazon.

The Bad Batch: Cannibals, Keanu, and oh my Momoa

“With vivid colors, grease and grime, Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night) creates a world both beautiful and ugly, brutal yet laced with grace, like a dapper cannibal who sketches soulful portraits, when he’s not butchering yowling outcasts.”—Kristy Puchko, via Nerdist
Available on Netflix.

Ingrid Goes West: Aubrey Plaza reveals the evils of allowing social media to define you

Not all of us here at Pajiba liked Ingrid Goes West, but I can’t get it out of my brain. Aubrey Plaza is inimitable as Ingrid, a mentally ill young woman who becomes obsessed with a social media influencer and travels to California to befriend her, and copying her lifestyle. But which one of them is really the phony? So much of Ingrid Goes West spoke to me in a Fight Club-like way, but instead of IKEA furniture and khakis, this film is analyzing our reliance on cell phones, social networks, and emojis to form relationships and define ourselves. The entire thing is extremely uncomfortable and often cutting (succeeding, then, in what the film wants to achieve), but Plaza’s performance is unforgettable.—Roxana Hadadi
Available on Amazon.

Rift: Gay drama/haunting horror out of Iceland

“It’s been days since I watched this film, and still it haunts me. Not just with its goosebump-inducing climax, but with its love story that’s so captivating, exhilarating and raw that I want to go back, and submerge into it again. I want to surrender once more to the cold, the chills, the thrill and terror, and ultimately that heady blend of love and pain that makes Rift feel like Call My By Your Name meets It Comes At Night.” —Kristy Puchko
Available on Amazon.

The Lure: Man-eating mermaid rock musical out of Poland

The Lure mixes sultry rock, sprightly pop, pitch-black humor, moody melodrama, frank nudity, and body horror to make a fairy tale that is fresh, fearsome, and fascinating. It delights and repulses in turn, pushing its audience to consider what its fantasy reflects about our reality.”—Kristy Puchko
Available on Amazon.

The Glass Castle: Woody Harrelson should get an Oscar nod for this film, not Three Billboards

Woody Harrelson is always solid, and yes, he’s good in the suddenly-very-awards-attracting Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. But he’s actually phenomenal in The Glass Castle, the adaptation of Jeannette Walls’s memoir that is fueled by his charisma and charm. Harrelson plays a terrible person, one who neglects his children and abuses his wife and whose alcoholism and impulsiveness are undeniably harmful to his family. But he it’s impossible to look away from him. He and Brie Larson have rivetingly combative energy together, and although the movie accepts a sentimental portrayal of Harrelson’s character that feels unnecessarily tidy, his performance is phenomenal.—Roxana Hadadi
Available on Google.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women: A sexy biopic about an iconic superhero’s origins.

“I love this movie. More than that, I’m in awe of it. By nestling a story of unconventional true love in the cozy and familiar package of a prestige biopic, (director Angela) Robinson welcomes audiences into the Marston family’s story with a graceful gravitas. She unfurls fleshed out and flawed characters with compassion and passion. She makes no excuses for their sex lives, because none are needed. She gives us a love story that’s smoking hot with sex appeal, and bursting with emotion. Best of all, she gives us a proudly queer romance that’s an absolute crowd pleaser, and easily one of the best films of the year.” —Kristy Puchko, via CBR

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore: Because no movie title felt truer in 2017

Filmmaker Jeremy Saulnier has a very distinctive style, a kind of methodically anxiety-inducing, spontaneously violent hybrid demonstrated in Blue Ruin and Green Room. So it makes sense that his childhood friend and star of Blue Ruin, Macon Blair, would do the same kind of thing in his own directorial debut, I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore. There’s this moment in the film where Melanie Lynskey, whose house has just been robbed and whose life seems to be plummeting straight from simply disappointing to 100% garbage, spits out that she just wishes people would “stop being assholes” — stop stealing from each other, being rude to each other, dismissing each other, hurting each other. Her desire to stand up for herself and to do right in her own little corner of the world takes her to a dark place, but one with which I’m sure so many of us can empathize, this year in particular.—Roxana Hadadi
Available on Netflix.

Raw: Vegan goes cannibal coming-of-age tale

“Methodically paced, Julia Ducournau’s film reveals a confidence all the more impressive in a first-time filmmaker. And Raw’s surreal atmosphere smudged in grime, sprinkled with fur, splashed with paint, and splattered in viscera makes it throb like a nightmare that follows you into your morning.”—Kristy Puchko
Available on Netflix.

Wind River: Another movie about a white guy among Native Americans, but still better than Hostiles

Wind River shouldn’t have been about Jeremy Renner’s character. It should have cast an actually Native American actress in the role of the young woman whose murder sets the entire film in motion. Filmmaker Taylor Sheridan’s movie has flaws. But what he’s done with Sicario and Hell or High Water is established himself as a writer willing to explore the fringes of certain communities that already don’t get much attention, and he does that again — and well — in Wind River, his second directorial effort. There are bursts of violence in this film that are unexpected and haunting. A supporting turn from Jon Bernthal is astonishingly heart-breaking. Plus it acknowledges some of the many ways America—from its corporations to its government to its law enforcement—has brutalized and objectified and ignored Native Americans, over and over again. His inclusion of details of modern Native American life highlight how traditional culture can adapt and warp over time, yet avoids romanticizing the Native American in a simplistic, “honorable” way (as Hostiles frustratingly does). Wind River certainly isn’t perfect, but it raises questions that demand answers — none of which are easy.—Roxana Hadadi
Available on Amazon.

Prevenge: A horror-comedy about a carnage-craving fetus

“Fans of British bad boy Ben Wheatley might remember (Alice) Lowe as the co-writer and co-star of his 2012 crime-thriller Sightseers, about a pair of tourists who cause carnage while road tripping. With her directorial debut, this English iconoclast takes her dark sense of humor to the motherhood-horror genre with a relish and irreverence that has us salivating.” —Kristy Puchko, via CBR
Available on Amazon.

T2 Trainspotting: A worthy sequel to an incomparable classic

It’s been over 20 years since Mark Renton (played with an infectious grin by Ewan McGregor) chose life. And as life is wont to do, his hasn’t turned out quite as he probably expected when he ran off with all that drug money. Fans who may have been worried that a sequel to Trainspotting would lack the filthy bite of the original can rest easy, because Renton, Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie are all still fucking shit up in their own ways. Danny Boyle’s return to Irvine Welsh’s famous addicts packs plenty of nostalgia, but it also presents us with a believable future for the group. Everyone is more or less right where you’d expect to find them, and yet the results still manage to be surprising and entertaining. Did Trainspotting need a sequel? Absolutely not. But when you chose life, it tends to go on. This sequel captures that beautifully.—Tori Preston
Available on Amazon

Monster Trucks: Yeah, that’s right the one about monsters in trucks

Before it even opened, this insanely expensive children’s movie was doomed to failure at the box office. So admittedly, the critics who attended its chilly Saturday morning press screening where there with knives out, ready to feast on delicious studio schadenfreude. But my cynicism was conquered by the undeniable silliness and ’90s-style charm of this movie that is literally about monsters and trucks. Is it a great film? Far from it. But it’s wildly original, and maybe not even the craziest thing Paramount doled out this year, followed as it was by mind-meltingly bonkers xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, Transformers: The Last Knight’s which informed us that the good bots befriended Harriet Tubman, and Darren Aronofsky’s controversial, mother! But this one’s definitely the easiest to enjoy in a weekend when you’re looking to cozy up with something fun and family-friendly. —Kristy Puchko
Available on Hulu.

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Kristy Puchko is the managing editor of Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.