It’s a known fact that summer is a hot time for blockbuster movies — big action, dumb fun, superheroes and saving the world.
The MCU reliably churns out movies this time of year, and despite this year’s Endgame perhaps indicating a, well, end to the franchise, summer 2019 was no exception.
But there are also hidden gems, low-budget, and lowkey, movies to check out. Here are a few.
The follow-up to Ari Aster‘s 2018 breakout Hereditary, the movie tracks Dani, a college girl who’s recently suffered an unimaginable tragedy, her jerk boyfriend Christian, his anthropologist friends and their trip to one seriously creepy Swedish cult.
Needless to say, sh*t hits the fan. Horror movies are usually shot in the dark, but this film proves that nightmares can happen in broad daylight. Check out these terrifying theories after you watch to get even more freaked out.
Directed by Olivia Wilde, Booksmart follows two studious, high-achieving (book smart) high-school seniors (Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever) on the eve of their graduation as they attempt to make up for all the parties they missed in high school.
Adding a twist to the conventional coming-of-age story, Kaitlyn Dever’s character Amy is queer, out about her sexuality, and shares an awkward love scene with a female classmate.
Unfortunately, though the movie and director Wilde received rave reviews, it underperformed at the box office, earning only $6.9 million over its first four days and landing at sixth place for the weekend.
Hopefully, the disappointing returns won’t be enough to stop these kinds of movies from getting made.
3. The Farewell
Already being called one of the best movies of 2019, The Farewell stars Crazy Rich Asians‘ breakout Awkafina as Billi, a young woman who returns to her family’s home in Changchun, China after her grandmother is given weeks to live — and her family chooses not to tell their matriarch but rather to host a wedding.
The movie is also notable for who was behind the camera: writer-director Lulu Wang, who as a female, Asian-American director of a U.S. box office hit, is in a very, very select category of people.
— Variety (@Variety) July 14, 2019
In an interview, Wang explains that she based the movie off her life, and her own family’s choice not to tell their Nai Nai (Mandarin for grandmother) that she had been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer.
The experiences depicted in the movie have also resonated deeply with Asian-American audiences and first-gen individuals, people in the Asian diaspora reconciling with their cultures.
I never thought I’d see a version of my family so authentically in an American movie screen. The film resonated from the very first frame. #TheFarewell destroyed me. Beautifully written and directed by @thumbelulu
— chairmanchen (@YingjueChen) July 15, 2019
4. Late Night
Directed by Indian-Canadian filmmaker Nisha Ganatra, the movie follows a never-better Emma Thompson as grumpy late-night talk show host Katherine Newbury.
Mindy Kaling co-stars as Molly Patel, an inexperienced comedy writer hastily added to the all-white writer’s room in an effort to reverse the show’s declining ratings. (An ironic character for Kaling to play since she wrote the film.)
In a world where the late-night talk show landscape is populated by men, it’s refreshing to see two women succeed in the medium.
5. The Art of Self-Defense
Jesse Eisenberg, who I’ll always remember for his arrogant turn in The Social Network, stars in this absurdist comedy that artfully deconstructs toxic masculinity.
The film’s premise is this: after getting mugged, Eisenberg’s meek accountant Casey decides to take night-time karate classes in order to protect himself.
He, along with his fellow dojo red- and blue- belt classmates, soon become desperate to please their sensei (Alessandro Nivola).
6. Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Richard Linklater (Boyhood, School of Rock) directs Oscar winner Cate Blanchett as the titular missing Bernadette in the upcoming movie, based off the 2012 hit novel by Maria Semple.
The novel has a unique form: it is composed of various letters and e-mail correspondence, the purpose of which is also a mystery.
Trips to Antarctica, sustainable architecture, a Russian scam and characters with names like “Elgie Branch” populate this absurd mystery/ comedy/ drama.
I loved the book, but I must say that this trailer, filled with platitudes like “find out what makes you, you,” makes me slightly concerned. Hopefully, this movie won’t turn out to be a mess Cate Blanchett can’t even fix.