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The Most Overlooked Films of 2012

Written by on December 13, 2012 

With hundreds upon hundreds of films getting theatrical releases this year, it’s easy to see how many got lost in the shuffle. A fair share have garnered proper recognition, whether it be on year-end wrap-ups, in the awards circuit or through strong box-office, but we are here today to showcase films from 2012 that are unfairly lacking in all three categories. Below you will find twenty films that are seemingly absent from year-end discussion, all grossing less than $2 million at the domestic box office (with actual grosses next to each to give you an idea). But we promise each film is well worth your time, so take a look below and get watching.

Beyond the Black Rainbow (Panos Cosmatos; $56,491)

It’s been nearly twenty months since I caught this sci-fi headtrip, but the experience is impossible to ever fully shake. In just his debut feature, writer-director Panos Cosmatos took his bigger cultural and artistic influences, particularly from the ‘80s, blending them together into a psychedelic nightmare that shook yours truly in some inexplicable way. Weirder, yet, is the seamless integration of a fun, funny nature that transforms something I found myself concerned about into a total blast. – Nick N.

The Comedy (Rick Alverson; $35,768)

Since making you feel bad for a chuckle or two is neither a new or consistently effective approach, The Comedy and its helmer, Rick Alverson, deserve some heavy praise for doing both so effectively. It also showed a different (but disturbingly familiar) side of funnyman Tim Heidecker, here playing a perverted version of his, already, typically off-putting persona; the odds you’ll hate yourself for watching him are equal to you also deriving some enjoyment. The same, thankfully, is not true of The Comedy as a whole. – Nick N.

Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg; $763,556)

This one’s been stewing in my brain for months, and none of the reflection has tainted this film one bit; if anything, it’s only grown more valuable over time. David Cronenberg’s limousine trip into the damaged perspective of a young, emotionally hollow fat cat — played to perfection by a not-as-advertised Robert Pattinson — can’t really be considered the most accessible work of 2012, but those willing to go with its strange rhythms and mysterious internal logic are bound to get… something. While I think it’s best people make the thing out for themselves by just letting it all sit, those simply hoping for a left-of-center cinematic experience ought to find themselves more than pleased. And that’s without even considering the incredible music of Howard Shore & Metric. – Nick N.

Chicken with Plums (Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi; $253,705)

After being charmed by this fantastical tale of lost love at Toronto International Film Festival, it was disappointing to see the lack of response when Chicken with Plums got released this past summer. While I wasn’t expecting the next film from the Osacr-nominated duo behind Persepolis, Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi, to break any sort of box office records, it seemed to fly completely under the radar. Filled with imaginative magical realism touches and a strong emotional center, this is a fable that deserves to be seen. – Jordan R.

Damsels In Distress (Whit Stillman; $1,008,455)

Damsels in Distress is a strange kind of movie, the sort that keeps you on the outside even as it slowly wins you over both in the moment and in reflection. Written and directed with an off-kilter sense of whimsy and pluck by Whit Stillman, it creates an alienating, fantastical world and fills it with even more fantastical characters. Luckily, the basic sweetness of the story and a weirdly winning turn by Greta Gerwig come through strong enough to ultimately elevate the movie above that emotional distance. All these elements cohere to make this a subtly triumphant film that should definitely be sought out. – Brian R.

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