If you're a movie buff, you probably spend most of January catching up with all the awards movies released in December, especially since most of them initially open in big cities, and then expand across the country. But movie critics see all the December movies in December, leaving only January movies in January. And it doesn't take long to notice that January has become a dumping ground for terrible movies that no one wants and no one wants to see (witness: Bride Wars, Paul Blart Mall Cop, Not Easily Broken, Hotel for Dogs, The Unborn, etc.). But fortunately, that's not a hard and fast rule; every so often a true gem comes along in January, perhaps misjudged by the powers that be, or just overlooked.

1. Cloverfield
Released January 18, 2008
In last year's surprise hit, a group of twentysomethings race across Manhattan, dodging a giant city-stomping monster, to rescue Odette Yustman. Because... wouldn't you? It feels like a low-budget monster movie, but also features top-of-the-line effects and citywide destruction. Its characters may struggle for interesting things to say on camera, but the film nonetheless reveals hidden depths. It's vaguely similar to The Blair Witch Project and Diary of the Dead, but has its own ideas. (It was recently chosen by the editors of the prestigious French film magazine Cahiers du Cinema as one of the year's ten best films.)

categories Cinematical