Under the Radar: Stuff to Watch Over Thanksgiving

callmebyyournameSony Pictures Classics

I’ve mostly been using this weekly column to talk about movies you might not have heard of, because there’s so many smaller movies released every week that get lost in the shuffle of studio fare with substantially more marketing dollars.

This week, I’m doing something a little different, knowing that almost everyone at least in the U.S. will have a few extra days off next week that they might want to use to catch up on movies.

Next week, Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name and Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour will be released by Sony Pictures Classics and Focus Features respectively, at least in New York and L.A..  These are two of the best movies I’ve seen this year, so if you’re in one of the cities where they’ll open, that’s really going to be your best bet. (If not, they’re going to expand further over Dec. and Jan.)

I’m thinking Drew McWeeny might review one or both of these movies soon, but Call Me By Your Name was one of the big winners at Sundance this year, not only because it had distribution before the fest even started, but because it’s where critics started realizing the power of Guadagnino’s coming of age drama, starring Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg and newcomer Timothée Chalamet. Even if the two movies might still be “under the radar” at this point, by January or February they’ll be all the talk of the awards season.


Yesterday, Netflix opened Dee Rees’ Mudbound starring Carey Mulligan, Jason Mitchell, Jason Clarke, which I should have a review of soon. While it’s easy enough to stream the movie on Netflix, it’s a great big screen movie so hopefully, it’ll still be playing at a few theaters in major cities if you want to see the movie the way it was meant to be seen i.e on a big screen. It’s a great example of a book adaptation that really shows Rees’ skills with bigger scale material as it deals with the relationship between two families in post-WWII Mississippi.

As far as movies that have been playing in theaters and are likely to expand even further next week, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird starring Saorsie Ronan is my favorite and one that’s likely to be in the Oscar mix in a few months. Same can be said for Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri with Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson, which is a lot darker in tone but has some humorous moments amidst the dramatic story of a small town mother trying to get justice for her murdered daughter.

Another movie A24 has been pushing hard is Sean Baker’s The Florida Project, a fly-on-the-wall drama about a group of young kids at a seedy Orlando motel, which has been getting similar rave reviews and could take Willem Dafoe to Oscar night with his performance as the motel’s manager. Maybe you’ve already read about some of these three movies here on the Tracking Board over the past few months from when they played the Sept. festivals, but they’re three of the “smaller” movies that will be touted during the awards season, all of them based on fantastic original screenplays.

One movie that came out last week that may actually be “under the radar” is Joe Lynch’s office workspace action-thriller Mayhem starring Stephen Yeun from The Walking Dead, and it’s a better version of the thriller The Belko Experiment, which came out earlier in the year. Not sure about whether it’s in theaters through next week, but it’s available On Demand, and I actually have an interview with the filmmaker next week in case you want to know more about it before renting.

My Friend DahmerFilmrise

I also really liked Marc Meyers’ My Friend Dahmer (above) when I saw it at Tribeca earlier in the year, and it’s still playing in select cities through FilmRise. You can read my interview with the director and learn more about the movie here.

If you’ve been reading the “Under the Radar” columns since I began them in August, then you’ll know how much I love docs and though many of my favorite ones barely received more than a week or two in theaters, some of them are available via streaming and other avenues. It might seem like documentaries aren’t terribly worthwhile to those writing their own movies and shows, but they give a look into real-life people and situations that can inspire one’s own writing. The filmmakers behind many of these docs also need to know how to tell a story from existing footage and interviews, which in some ways is tougher than creating footage from a script. Since I don’t know which docs are still playing in theaters, I can only throw out a few names of ones that are worth seeing from Brett Morgen’s Jane (as in Jane Goodall) to Kedi and more recent ones like Alex Gibney’s No Stone Unturned and Joe Berlinger’s Intent to Destroy.

If you’re a member of the WGA, PGA or similar guild, maybe you’ll get a few screeners to watch. Besides the movies mentioned above, there’s a few movies from earlier in the year worth checking out: Marc Webb’s Gifted is one of my personal faves. David Lowery’s A Ghost Story is pretty amazing if you haven’t seen it yet, as is Kumail Nanjiani’s The Big Sick. Like Mudbound, the last two were some of the bigger buzz movies out of Sundance, although A Ghost Story might be a little more arthouse with its examination of love and death.

But again, only a few of the movies mentioned above might actually be considered “Under the Radar,” and that’s mainly because we’ve crossed over to the time of year when studios big and small start releasing their strongest awards-worthy fare.

Hopefully, I’ll be back on Dec. 2 with another “Under the Radar” talking about a few of the more low-key releases that will hit theaters after Thanksgiving, but in the meantime, use the long weekend to catch up on a few movies you might have missed, because December is going to be crazy.

  | East Coast Editor

Under the Radar is a weekly column focusing on one or two movies that you might have missed or wouldn’t have heard much about since they have limited marketing budgets. These aren’t reviews per se and they won’t always be about movies I necessarily like — just movies you should know about and any social implications they might have that would make them worthwhile viewing.

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Still quiet here.sas

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