This list is harder to put together than it may seem, since one first needs to settle on a definition of "overlooked" and "indie." Nonetheless, I've endeavored to compile a set of seven small films, each of which had some manner of U.S. theatrical distribution, and each of which got less attention than it deserved -- or so I thought. None of these movies figures in the year's Oscar race, but they should be remembered for your DVD collection.

1. Boy A (John Crowley) - This is the movie Harvey Weinstein supposedly championed, though I suspect he only did it so that after it flopped he could point to it as an example of no one caring about whether his movies are any good. Whatever. Boy A is very, very close to being a great film, kept from the mantle by one too-on-the-nose plot thread that rears its head in the late going. Other than that it's a quiet, profound rumination on punishment, forgiveness, and our insistence on letting juvenile convictions haunt people for the rest of their lives. In a better world, Andrew Garfield would get an Oscar nomination for his heartbreaking performance. And the ending is a knock-out.

2. Transsiberian (Brad Anderson) - I don't think I saw a more effectively atmospheric movie this year -- no, not even Let the Right One In. The story is what it is (it's not too impressive), but the snowbound setting -- and the movie along with it -- constantly straddles the line between beauty and menace in a way that's truly gripping. I left the theater in a sad, unsettled funk, even though I get the sense that Anderson was going for breathless suspense. It's pitched as a thriller, and Anderson is a God among horror buffs after Session 9 (which I still haven't seen; it's creeping up my Netflix queue), but Transsiberian is beautiful and hypnotic above all else.
categories Cinematical