With the Oscars quickly approaching, all eyes are on the blockbuster movies of 2011, those that have already won awards at festivals, and those that will win the most coveted of award--an Oscar. But there are other, just as worthy movies that for whatever reason were overlooked and underrated. So okay, only one of the three I listed were released in 2011, making the other two ineligible for awards anyway, but still--these are worth watching. Trust me--they're good.
WARRIOR -- Remember Tom Hardy as the preppy British con-man Eames in Inception? Well, the character he plays in Warrior couldn't be further from Eames in physicality or personality. Mr. Hardy all but disappears as the bitter, angry, rough around the edges MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter Tommy. The movie has some brutal fight scenes, but stick with it--there's a great plot filled with flawed characters (including the always awesome Nick Nolte as Tommy's recovering alcoholic dad), and a showdown in the ring between Tommy and his estranged brother that is as violent as it is heart-breaking.
FISH TANK -- You may have seen Michael Fassbender, well, everywhere last year. He played mutant Magneto in X-Men: First Class; the ever-brooding Rochester in Jane Eyre; a secret sex-addict in Shame; and Carl Jung in A Dangerous Method. Now forget about all those movies for a minute. Are they gone from your memory bank? Good--now go put FISH TANK in your Netflix queue and see the German-born, Ireland-raised Fassbender before he was a hot leading man. Here he plays mysterious boyfriend who gets in a bit of hot water when he gets too cozy with his girlfriend's daughter. The movie is raw and powerful, the ending is completely unpredictable, and Mr. Fassbender's performance--albeit a minor character--rises above the rest and shows a true star on the rise.
THE HIGH COST OF LIVING -- You'd be forgiven for thinking that Zach Braff only does comedy, seeing as he's most famous for the TV show Scrubs and the indie movie Garden State. But he does drama too, and pretty well, in 2010's The High Cost of Living. He plays a small-time drug dealer in Montreal whose whole life changes when he hits a pregnant woman with his car. The movie is life-affirming, touching, and doesn't insult your intelligence with a typical, neatly-wrapped-up Hollywood ending. And Mr. Braff's performance is moving.
Hooked? I thought so. These movies are well worth your time. Go check them out--NOW!