If you’ve already seen Oscar buzzy film like La La Land and Hidden Figures and you’ve already had your fill of M. Night Shyamalan twists with Split, what are the best movies to see in theaters now that you might have missed?
Here are nine movies that are playing in theaters now that you should see. With so many wonderful movies being screened in theaters now during the awards season, there are some films that may be overshadowed by Oscar heavy-hitters and some films that haven’t had their acclaim translated into box office earnings. For this reason, the list below highlights the best movies to see in theaters now that have made less than $50 million at the box office so far. Movies that have grossed more than $50 million, including La La Land, Hidden Figures, Fences, and Arrival, are therefore excluded from the list despite their obvious merits.
9. Manchester by the Sea
Jokingly described by Jimmy Fallon, the host of the 2017 Golden Globes Awards, as “the only thing from 2016 that was more depressing than 2016,” Manchester by the Sea is about a reclusive, irascible handyman’s return to his hometown after his brother dies and he is entrusted with the duty of being the guardian of his teenage nephew. For a film that delves into the weightier issues of grief, death, and trauma, Manchester by the Sea has many great, unexpected moments of humor and strong, compelling performances by its actors all across the board.
A fantastical, unusual take on the biopic genre, Neruda tells the story of how the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda went on the run and escaped to Argentine after Communism was outlawed in Chile. Described by Variety as a “Nerudian take” on the famous poet and politician rather than a traditional biopic, Neruda is centered around a cat-and-mouse game between Neruda and his wife and Oscar Peluchonneau, a fictional police inspector that is desperate to catch the fugitive poet to advance his career.
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) January 24, 2017
Adapted from a real-life story, Lion is about Saroo, a young Indian boy who gets separated from his mother by accident and who is later adopted by Australian parents. Now grown up, Saroo uses Google Earth to try to locate his Indian birth family and find his way back into them. Propelled by the strength of its extraordinary true-life story, Lion is an unabashed tearjerker. A reviewer from The Telegraph describes the film as a movie that will “rip you to pieces.”
“True stories of the somebody-got-famous kind are a dime a dozen in cinema. But the one in Lion, involves no one you’ve ever heard of, doesn’t star a soul you’ll recognise for its first 40 minutes, and will rip you into a thousand pieces.”
Pablo Larraín, who also directed Neruda, makes this list again with Jackie, another unconventional drama about a historical figure. Larraín’s first English-language debut takes a close and dizzying look into the events and aftermath surrounding John F. Kennedy’s death through the eyes of his widow, Jackie Kennedy. At once an impressionistic account of personal grief as well as a piquant study of politics and national identity, Jackie may not be for those who are aiming for a more standard, by-the-numbers biopic, but it is a layered, perceptive exploration of a very significant juncture in American history.
— MOONLIGHT Movie (@moonlightmov) January 24, 2017
Moonlight is a quiet, poetic portrait of Chiron, a gay African-American boy growing up in a poor Miami housing project. The story, told through three different stages of Chiron’s life, documents his fraught relationship with his drug-addicted mother and his struggles to reconcile his sexuality with the violence and homophobia that permeates his milieu.
While Moonlight is a strong Oscar contender, having scored eight Oscar nominations and helped its director Barry Jenkins make Oscar history – prior to Moonlight, The Huffington Post points out, no African-American has been nominated for Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Screenplay, its heavier subject matter may have discouraged some moviegoers. Regardless, you should really go see Moonlight as there’s nothing quite like it on screens now.
4. Toni Erdmann
— IndieWire (@IndieWire) May 29, 2016
While an almost three-hour long German comedy might not seem everyone’s cup of tea at first glance, Toni Erdmann is an enjoyable comedy that balances broad comedy with emotional turmoil and devastation. Directed by German writer-director Maren Ade, Toni Erdmann is an intimate study of a complicated father-daughter relationship. In the movie, Toni Erdmann is the name of a goofy alter ego the father creates to cheer up and/or challenge his workaholic daughter, who is herself unhappy in her sexist working environment. The movie was also selected by the A.V. Club as one of the movies in their top 20 best movies of 2016 list and has been nominated for Best Foreign Language Film for the 2017 Academy Awards.
3. The Salesman
The Salesman is a suspenseful drama that depicts the tensions and fissures within a marriage after the wife is violently assaulted by a stranger in the couple’s recently moved-in apartment. Iranian director Asghar Farhadi won a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for his movie A Separation in 2012. This year, his movie The Salesman has been nominated again as Best Foreign Language Film and will contend against fellow Oscar nominee Toni Erdmann. For people who enjoyed the complexities of Farhadi’s previous relationship drama A Separation and who have caught up with the recent incidents surrounding Trump’s Muslim ban and how it would affect the U.S. entry of filmmakers like Farhadi, as reported by Slate, The Salesman is a can’t-miss.
The second film in this article to have a poet as its main character, Paterson is the latest film by Jim Jarmusch, one of the most prominent American indie directors on the scene. Slow in build-up and unhurried by concerns of plot nor pace, Paterson is a lyrical portrait of Paterson, a bus driver in Paterson, New Jersey who secretly writes poetry that he has no intention to publish. Paterson is a loving character study that documents the quotidian details of its protagonist’s life and infuses them with insight and beauty.
1. 20th Century Women
A coming-of-age tale set in 1979, 20th Century Women has been described by director Mike Mills in his interview with Los Angeles Times as his ode to the women who helped him grow into a man, including his mother, his sisters, and the girls he knew during his adolescence. Chock full of interesting, complicated female characters, 20th Century Women is a patchwork quilt of a film that seamlessly sews together illustrations of women of different generations, aptitudes, and aspirations, from Annette Bening’s chain-smoking and Bogart-idolizing Dorothea, who is supposedly based on Mills’s own mother, to the rebellious, precocious 1970s teenager character played by Elle Fanning.
[Featured Image by 20th Century Fox/A24]