- Sorry We Missed You
The evils of the gig economy are put under the microscope in brutal and long-overdue fashion in this compelling social drama, which centers on a British family struggling to make ends meet. After years of financial struggle since the 2008 crash, Ricky (Kris Hitchen) finally sees a chance to break out of his cycle of debt by becoming a self-employed delivery driver, but ends up trapped in a different and equally toxic situation.
2. Da 5 BloodsDa 5 Bloods
A group of soldiers, who call themselves the Bloods, discover gold while in Vietnam. They decide to bury it and come back for it later, however, unexpected events lead to them not only losing it, but also their beloved squad leader. They return to the country years later in search for the remains of their friend and the gold. The action-packed movie touches on history, racism, greed, and brotherhood in a way only director Spike Lee could articulate.
There’s no shortage of great big-screen Jane Austen adaptations, but Autumn de Wilde’s vivid reimagining of Emma plays by a different set of rules than most. The movie has big shoes to fill – after all, Emma already got a near-perfect and radical reinvention in 1995’s Clueless – and it succeeds, creating a sharply drawn and romantically engaging story that works both as a modern-minded satire and a timeless love story.
Earning a nearly perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes, Miss Juneteenth follows Turquoise Jones (Nicole Beharie) and her daughter Kai (Alexis Chikaeze), on their journey to helping Kai be crowned Miss Juneteenth, a pageant title her mother had earned at her age. Throughout the film, the mother and daughter face a lot of ups and downs, but they do so together.
Not one performance is lacking in this heartwarming film. The late Brian Dennehy plays Del, a Korean War veteran whose recluse next door neighbor has recently died. When her sister Kathy (Hong Chau) and nephew Cody (Lucas Jaye) come to clean out her home, Del befriends them both, and all three start to reexamine their lives.
6. On The Record
This much-anticipated documentary debuted at Sundance this year, and focuses on the hip hop mogul Russell Simmons – specifically the multitude of sexual assault and harassment allegations against him, which were first reported by The New York Times. Centering on harrowing first-person testimony from music executive Drew Dixon, and featuring many of Simmons’ other accusers, the doc explores the too-often-neglected impact that coming forward has on victims, and the unique challenges faced by women of color who choose to speak out.
7. Lost Girls
A fascinating and harrowing true crime story, Netflix’s Lost Girls chronicles the 2010 disappearance of Shannan Gilbert, a sex worker in upstate New York, and her mother Mari’s relentless search for answers and justice. Faced with apathy from the local police department – who took Shannon’s case less seriously because of her profession – Mari, played by Amy Ryan, sets out to solve the case herself, and in the process uncovers a sinister pattern of unsolved murders in her area.
8.The Way Back
Ben Affleck was widely acclaimed for his performance in this sports drama, where he stars as a former high school basketball legend who chose to walk away from the game, and has regretted it ever since. Decades later, struggling with alcoholism and the weight of his abandoned dreams, he’s given the chance to reckon with his demons and redeem himself by coaching the struggling basketball team at his alma mater.
9. Blow The Man Down
This comic thriller made a splash when it debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, and is now finally available on VOD courtesy of Amazon. Reeling from the loss of their mother, sisters Mary Beth and Priscilla (Morgan Saylor and Sophie Lowe) are drawn into the seedy underbelly of their seemingly sleepy Maine fishing village, after a chance encounter with a mysterious and dangerous man ends in violence.
10. Bad Education
Despite being one of the best reviewed movies at last year’s Toronto Film Festival, Bad Education never had a theatrical release, and was instead snapped up by HBO and went straight to home streaming. The film is both supremely entertaining and an eye-opening examination of a broken school system, telling the true story of a mid-2000s scandal in which New York school superintendent Frank Tassone (Hugh Jackman) embezzled millions of dollars from the school district he worked for. Co-starring Allison Janney as a school administrator who becomes Tassone’s accomplice, this is a smart, gleefully strange chronicle of the largest school embezzlement scandal in US history.
11. The Half of It
Netflix has really stepped up to revive the romantic comedy over recent years, and this tender and sharply written coming-of-age story is one of their very best so far. The classic teen movie premise – an introverted straight-A student, Ellie (Leah Lewis) is hired by a jock who needs help winning over the girl of his dreams – gets a refreshing twist when Ellie ends up falling for the same girl.