The start of a new year always means things slow down at theaters. Holiday hits and awards movies are still playing but once you see those, pickings are very slim. What’s a movie lover to do? Go back, we say. Go back.
Below, we’ve compiled a list of 22 movies released in the last year or so that you should check out. Some of them you might have missed, some you probably haven’t even heard of. A few you certainly have. But all are 100 percent worth a watch and some are damn near masterpieces.
In the Shadow of the Moon
One of our favorite sci-fi films of 2019 was this time travel police procedural starring Boyd Holbrook, Cleopatra Coleman, Bokeem Woodbine, and Michael C. Hall. It’s about a detective who continuously tries to solve a crime that only happens every nine years. The action is killer, the story is excellent, and we can’t believe almost no one talked about it this past year. See It: Streaming on Netflix.
One Cut of the Dead
We’ve been banging the drum of this one for a while and now we’ll do it again. It’s a masterpiece of zombie comedy with way more to it than meets the eye. Seriously. Check it out, but be sure to give it at least 30 minutes. See It: Streaming on Shudder, also on region free Blu-ray.
Just because the studio dumped J.D. Dillard’s awesome, thoughtful monster movie doesn’t mean you should. It’s Predator meets Castaway starring Kiersey Clemons, which is a pretty compelling combination. See It: Streaming on Netflix, also on digital download platforms.
A mysterious being is haunting a single block in this Argentinian horror movie that legitimately lives up to its title. You might lose some sleep if you watch this one, which is absolutely a recommendation. See It: Streaming on Shudder, also on digital download platforms.
The Kid Who Would Be King
The fact that the director of Attack the Block came back last year with his second film, a kid-driven Arthurian legend—featuring Sir Patrick Stewart, no less!—that almost no one saw is shocking. The movie is totally enjoyable. See It: Streaming on Hulu, as well as on Blu-ray and all general digital platforms.
After Rise of the Planet of the Apes, director Rupert Wyatt was careful when returning to sci-fi. His choice: This gritty, unexpected story of the world after an alien invasion. It’s been hit or miss with critics but, for us, it mostly hit. See It: Blu-ray and digital download services.
This clever take on the general X-Men idea flew way under the radar this past year, but it’s a rousing, beautiful little superhero movie lead by a great performance by newcomer Lexy Kolker. See It: Streaming on Netflix, and digital download services.
If you love sci-fi that makes you think, check out Starfish, which follows a woman who goes to her hometown for her best friend’s funeral, wakes up the next morning, and everyone is gone. But her dead friend did leave her some cassettes. See It: Streaming on Amazon Prime and Hulu, also on Blu-ray.
We put Fast Color—the story of a woman (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) hiding her superpowers for fear of persecution—on our list of the 10 best superhero movies of the decade. What more do you need? It’s incredible! See It: Streaming on Amazon Prime and Hulu, also on Blu-ray.
This one is actually for me. It’s a supposedly amazing sci-fi movie that came out last year which I missed and want to see. It tells the story of a trip to Mars that goes horribly wrong, and I’ve been told that it’s excellent. See It: Streaming on Hulu, also on digital download platforms.
The Art of Racing in the Rain
Technically, this is not a sci-fi film. But is it about a dog who has human thoughts and maybe gets reincarnated? Yes. So I’m gonna let it slide, especially because it’s such a well-done, tearjerker of a movie, especially if you’re an animal lover. See It: On Blu-ray and most digital download platforms.
Tigers Are Not Afraid
A group of kids orphaned by the exploits of a Mexican drug cartel are forced to stick together and begin to turn fantasy into reality to survive. This is a poignant, gorgeous little fantasy film set in a horrible, cruel reality. It’s a must-watch. See It: Streaming on Shudder, also on digital download platforms.
Don’t Let Go
A detective (David Oyelowo) whose niece (Storm Reid) is murdered starts getting phone calls from her in the past in this twisty, turny ode to Memento and Frequency. It’s familiar but engaging. See It: Blu-ray and digital download services.
In the Tall Grass
Based on Stephen King and son Joe Hill’s novella, this thriller follows a group of regular folks (which includes Patrick Wilson and Locke & Key’s Laysla De Oliveira) who get drawn into tall grass and can’t find their way out. What they do find, though, is pretty damn scary and excellent. See It: Streaming on Netflix.
Memory: The Origins of Alien
If you love sci-fi, odds are you love Ridley Scott’s Alien. And if you love Alien and haven’t yet seen this wholly entertaining and thought-provoking documentary, then you have something very exciting coming your way. See It: On Blu-ray and digital download services.
A group of young girls is raised in a sterile environment and trained to be proper ladies. What could possibly be wrong with that except well, everything? Level 16 is a shocking, thrilling dystopian film with some powerful things to say. It’s excellent. See It: Streaming on Hulu, also on Blu-ray and digital download services.
Finally, here are some big Hollywood releases you’ve certainly heard of but maybe didn’t get around to seeing—but they’re all totally worth a watch for various reasons. They’re all on Blu-ray and digital download.
- The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
- Alita Battle Angel
- Ready or Not
- Doctor Sleep
- Terminator Dark Fate
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Update: We added that Freaks is now on Netflix