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Friday, November 27, 2015

Friday's Top 5... 2015's Low Key Gems

All the big guns will soon be out for Oscar season, but before we get into the thick things, check out some of these smaller (and wonderful) movies from earlier this year:

#5: Appropriate Behavior

A romantic comedy (sort of) about a woman struggling to get over her ex and trying to reconcile her own desires and way of life with the expectations of her very conservative family. Star Desiree Akhavan also wrote and directed the film, which is a genuinely funny and fresh take on a well-worn genre.

#4: The Diary of a Teenage Girl

The Diary of a Teenage Girl doesn't really hold anything back in its exploration of its protagonist's coming of age in 1970s San Francisco. The film can be challenging to watch as its main character lays bare the general pains of adolescence and the specific pains of her own increasingly complicated situation, but it's such a fantastically acted movie that it's utterly riveting.

#3: Phoenix

Christian Petzold and Nina Hoss are one of the great modern director/actor pairings and this, their fifth film together, is a totally engrossing story that's sort of like Vertigo, only told from the perspective of the woman who gives over her identity to a man who wants to remake her. It's also a devastating take on the legacy of the Holocaust and the desire to move forward by forgetting the past, rather than atoning for it.

#2: Clouds of Sils Maria

Juliette Binoche is pretty much always worth seeing, so the real surprise of Clouds of Sils Maria is how good her co-star, Kristen Stewart is. A beautifully shot, somewhat enigmatic tale of an actress whose relationship with her assistant begins to mirror the central relationship in the play she's about to do, Clouds is a masterfully told, surprisingly funny, movie.

#1: The Look of Silence

The Looke of Silence, Joshua Oppenheimer's companion documentary to his widely acclaimed The Act of Killing, is a brutal film that will likely leave you stunned into silence, but it is absolutely brilliant and arguably even better than the great film that preceded it.

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