Featured below are 12 feature films seen this past year that I believe are worth your while—especially if you identify with outsiders and underdogs. The first eight, having already been reviewed on Minding Therapy, are listed by and linked to their post titles.
Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: “…can barely contain the sheer volume of capital-A Acting in this biopic focused on one of Canada’s best-known painters, a self-taught ‘outsider’ artist before that phrase was in vogue.”
Peter Howell, Toronto Star: “Hilarious and heartbreaking with no clear trajectory, frequently catching viewers off guard, it’s a rom-com of both heart and brain about a couple tested by illness and clashing cultures.”
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: “It makes you feel what it’s like to be tiny and dealing with an all-powerful tyrant who is not only crazy but knows he has absolute license to be crazy, and enjoys that license. In this way, Walls’ story is not unique. Indeed for many of us, it dredges up memories.”
Scott Tobias, NPR: “Stronger is an answer to inspirational dramas that treat the afflicted like the city of Boston treated Bauman after the bombing, as a victory lap instead of a human being.”
Matt Zoller Seitz, rogerebert.com: “It pays attention to issues of racial, religious and gender discrimination without wavering from its main objective: giving us an entertaining film about a couple of guys who are in way over their heads.”
Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice: “So maybe this little movie about a kid with a facial disorder isn’t really about a kid with a facial disorder at all, but about whatever you and I choose to see in it.”
Guy Lodge, The Guardian: “In her bright, awkward, ambitious, insecurity-riddled protagonist, Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, Gerwig has fashioned a heroine reflective of a wealth of outsider identities.”
Kevin Fallon, The Daily Beast: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, especially with that title, might seem to present itself as an idiosyncratic character study of a woman as she launches a David vs. Goliath face-off against her town, but it’s an equally fascinating mirror to the unsavory ways society instinctively behaves when a woman dares to disturb the status quo. That when a woman speaks up, no matter how justified she might be, the reflex is to silence her again.”
Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: “This movie adroitly portrays the sheer waste and inefficiency of racism and misogyny. Just think how much has been lost, the movie suggests, over centuries of depriving ourselves of the brains, talents and leadership of more than half our population?”
Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune: “[Dev] Patel, given a leading man role, easily grows to fill the needs of this complex and conflicted character, a man caught between two worlds, two cultures and two families.”
Dani Di Placido, Forbes: “At heart, this is a story of outsiders and misfits struggling against the system, that feels all too appropriate today, where we’re still having furious debates about the right of others to be themselves.”
Dana Stevens, Slate:
In the end, the viewer doesn’t worry for Elio’s long-term emotional well-being because…we know exactly who this kid is, what he desires, and how much he is and isn’t ready for. He captures the gawky neediness of adolescence, but also its exuberant flights of intellectual, emotional, and sexual self-discovery. Elio has things to learn from Oliver but also things to teach him, and watching the two learn from each other—up to and including the hard lesson of how to let go—is one of the great cinematic pleasures of the year.