If you treasure tiny movies, you know this problem well: You go to the art house you love so well, your mind is blown by awesomeness, you proceed to sing this movie’s praises from the mountaintops, and then people are like “Wait, is it a Star Wars or Hunger Games? No? Eh, I don’t think so.”
But now we live in the glorious age of streaming and the gems you missed in theaters are usually just a click away. Technology, we love you like a sister. Below, some of the best from this year.
What We Do in the Shadows
I know you think you’re done with vampires forever. I know you think this, but you’re wrong, because you haven’t seen What We Do in the Shadows, a mockumentary that follows a group of New Zealand bloodsucker roommates, the funniest movie I saw this year and, I’m just going to go out on a limb and say one of the funniest movies I’ve seen ever. A lot of Flight of the Conchords alum are involved, but it’s even funnier than Flight of the Conchords, it’s basically funnier than anything any other humans have ever made.
(It’s okay, you can stream on Amazon and iTunes)
The Clouds of Sils Maria
This movie is SO BIZARRO WORLD. Juliette Binoche is playing a bizarro world version of herself, and Kristen Stewart is playing a bizarro world version of herself, but Chloe Moretz is also playing a bizarro world version of Kristen Stewart, and it’s just twisty-turn-y, art-imitating-life-and-life-imitating-art, Escher-drawing puzzle-box madness.
(Never fear, you can stream on Amazon)
Z for Zachariah
I’ve never seen a post-apocalyptic movie like this, I doubt I’ll see one like it again. This three-hander (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Margot Robbie, and Chris Pine make up the entire cast) is so quiet and beautiful and the loneliness of the characters is so palpable and the whole thing is just so flipping profound, I hate you all for not seeing this movie, I will hate you re: this for ten lifetimes.
(Just kidding, all is forgiven, you can stream on Amazon)
This documentary about a trio of climbers who attempt to summit one of the toughest peaks in the world is basically like watching Moby Dick in 2015. If you are not on the edge of your seat for the whole movie, you are part-robot.
Also, bonus plus, I interviewed the filmmakers earlier this year and they were as incredible as their movie.
(Calm yourself, you can stream on Amazon)
Kumiko the Treasure Hunter
Based on the true story of an unstable Japanese woman who travels to North Dakota to find the money suitcase from the film Fargo because, um, she mistook the Coen Brothers movie for a documentary, this movie is so tragic and beautiful and human, it f—ed me up forever, and I mean that in the best possible way.
(Shhhhh, all will be well, you can stream on Amazon and it’s free with Prime, yipee!)
This documentary follows an American girl who finds out that she has an identical twin living in England. “Wait, is this just The Parent Trap but real?” Yes, yes it is, because life is beautiful.
(Stop kicking yourself, you’ll break something, you can stream on Netflix)
The teeny-tiny film follows a survivor of sexual assault who creates unsettling costumes and art as a way of coping with her trauma. Her coping strategies grow stranger as she embarks on a new relationship. This film was simultaneously disturbing and moving, and it’s still with me, months after viewing.
I was also lucky earlier this year to interview star/co-screenwriter Amy Everson, also just as fantastic as her film.
(Stop crying, you can stream on Netflix)
Okay, you MAY have seen this last one because Netflix has been pushing this one hard. But if you HAVEN’T seen this documentary, it’s about six brothers whose father only lets them out of the house once a year and so they kill time by recreating every great movie ever made in their cramped NYC apartment. If the synopsis alone doesn’t make you want to stream, than I’ve totally lost faith in the human race.
(Everything’s gonna be all right, you can stream on Netflix and Amazon)
(Images via Unison Films, CG Cinema, Music Box Films, Amplify, Altitude,Magnolia Pictures)