The Best Movies of 2017 You Probably Haven’t Seen

heart blackened

Heart Blackened

A powerful CEO sees his life shattered when his young fiance is killed. Worse, it appears to have happened at the hands of his own teenage daughter. Furious at the possibility, but determined to protect the only family he has left, he heads to court where a devastating truth is awaiting discovery.

Choi Min-sik is always worth watching, and while his latest lacks the dark stylings of Oldboy or I Saw the Devil, he’s every bit as strong in this more traditionally dramatic tale. He plays a father trying desperately to protect his daughter while struggling with the possibility of her guilt, and delivers a performance that walks a firm line between intimidation and suffering. Choi’s sincerity is clear throughout, and he anchors the twisty narrative with a recognizable drive and an undeniable love.

As familiar as its structure may feel at times it actually finds some surprises along the way. Side characters and sub-plots come into play, and the film devotes plenty of time to the ups and downs of the girl’s trial. Viewers shouldn’t grow too complacent, though, as even when it’s over it’s not actually over – the story continues in some smart ways.

Heart Blackened is not currently available, but keep your eyes open.

mr roosevelt

Mr. Roosevelt

A young comedian still looking for a break returns home to Austin, Texas for personal reasons, only to find plenty of fodder for her act. The situation sees her staying with her ex-boyfriend – and his new girlfriend – and it’s just one more struggle making up her lot in life.

Noël Wells writes, directs, and stars in this delightful and very funny film, and while she’s been plenty visible in recent years – most notably as Aziz Ansari’s love interest in the first season of Master of None – she makes her presence and talent immediately known as one belonging on the big screen. She’s quirky without being obnoxious about it, she’s hilarious without being a litany of punchlines, and the pain she feels is recognizable to anyone who’s ever stopped to wonder just what the hell they’re doing with their life.

The film follows the indie tradition of young people returning home to discover truths about themselves, but it distinguishes itself through more than just the presence of a female lead. It’s smarter than many of its contemporaries and more honest in the lessons learned and answers provided. More precisely, those answers are in short supply.

Rent Mr. Roosevelt via Amazon Video.

super dark times

Super Dark Times

Four friends playing on a brisk Autumn day see their lives upended by an accident, and it only gets worse as they attempt to hide what happened from the world. Knowledge is a dangerous thing, though, and each of the three remaining teens handle the truth in different ways.

This is a deceptively affecting drama that suggests John Hughes on a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, and it works like gangbusters at capturing the fierce clash of confidence and concern that is our teenage years. The focus here is on two of the boys, friends since they were young children, and we watch as that bond is tested by the familiar pull of girls and maturity as well as the dangerous grip of their shared secret.

Beautifully shot and smartly acted, the film knows and understands teenage boys from their desires to their fears. The two move in differing directions, and it’s in this split where tragedy turns to terror. It builds to an incredibly tense third act that intertwines angst, doubt, and suspense into some of the year’s most thrilling beats. There’s real pain here, and as with some of the other films on this list it hits hardest for viewers who recognize similar moments from their own lives… except, you know, super dark.

Rent Super Dark Times via Amazon Video.

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