Thursday, July 18, 2024

The Best Movies Of 2024 You Probably Haven’t Seen Yet

With the second half of 2024 officially underway, a barrage of new exciting movies is on the horizon. However, just because fresh cinematic exploits are imminent doesn’t mean we should immediately abandon what the first half of the year delivered to film geeks and casual moviegoers alike. This year has been home to plenty of features that have gripped the pop culture zeitgeist, from massive blockbuster sequels like “Dune: Part Two” and “Inside Out 2” to original R-rated features like “Challengers.”

But what about the films from the first six months of 2024 that weren’t consistently generating significant headlines? What about the smaller films that may have slipped through the cracks despite their endless artistic merits? Those are the motion pictures from 2024’s first half we are here to celebrate. Ahead, let’s look at some of the strongest movies from the first six months of 2024 that, in all likelihood, you haven’t seen yet. Don’t be discouraged if these slipped under your radar; it just means you have some great modern cinema to catch up on!

Bye Bye Tiberias
Hiam Abbass is a performer most famous to Western viewers for her work on “Succession.” However, the documentary “Bye Bye Tiberias” chronicles Abbass’s richly detailed personal life and her origins in the Palestinian village of Deir Hanna. In “Bye Bue Tiberias,” viewers follow Abbass returning with her daughter to the home she left years earlier. The fragility of memories is at the forefront of this work. Meanwhile, daring to archive Palestinian lives and landscapes feels downright subversive in light of the current geopolitical landscape. In the grand scope of history, “Bye Bye Tiberias” is a rebuke to toxic norms, but it’s also just a bittersweet examination of Hiam Abbass grappling with her past.

Chicken For Linda!
Paulette (Clotilde Hesme) would sure like to make a chicken dinner for her eight-year-old daughter Linda (Melinée Leclerc). That’s the entire premise that writer-directors Chiara Malta and Sébastien Laudenbach have conjured up for “Chicken For Linda!” It turns out to be enough to support a profoundly entertaining movie that makes terrific use of being told in hand-drawn animation. Different human characters are brought to life with vivid hues ranging from green to blue to red, among other colors. Some character designs have intentionally sparse facial details that lend an adorable quality to these figures. Such creative visual choices and a lovely low-key atmosphere cement “Chicken For Linda!” as a full-blown delight.

Do Not Expect Too Much From The End Of The WorldDo Not Expect Too Much From The End Of The WorldWe live in an advanced era of human history, with endless forms of technology once unthinkable at our fingertips. “Do Not Expect Too Much From The End Of The World” takes one look at our modern status quo and spits in its face. All this innovation, and what do we have to show for it? “Do Not Expect Too Much From The End Of The World” chronicles a dystopic landscape that you, too, can exist in just by walking outside. The “end of the world” in the film’s title has arrived. Let writer-director Radu Jude take you on a darkly humorous trip exploring how that status quo is perpetuated on a daily basis.

A testament to the healing power of emotional vulnerability that can be expressed on stage as much as behind closed doors should we give ourselves over to it, “Ghostlight” is another deeply intimate and moving story from Kelly O’Sullivan and Alex Thompson, the creative team behind the underrated 2020 gem, “Saint Frances.” “Ghostlight” starts on a wobbly note, with potentially too arch performances and dialogue, but very quickly solidifies itself as a thoughtful portrait of a family coping with unspeakable grief. Break out your tissues and prepare to be once again absorbed by O’Sullivan and Thompson’s insightful depiction of everyday poignancy.

Green Border
Agnieszka Holland has never been one to make movies that are easy to sit through. Her gift for grueling but historically necessary motion pictures is reaffirmed with her craftsmanship in “Green Border.” A humanizing and unflinching look at migrant lives gruesomely impacted by the Belarus–European Union border crisis, “Green Border” is a call to action that should leave viewers in anger. That inevitable impact stems heavily from Holland’s remarkable filmmaking, which frames everything from a brief car chase to a nighttime trek through a hazardous swamp with equal levels of visual precision.

How To Have SexMolly Manning Walker’s “How To Have Sex begins with teenage joy. A trio of best friends, including lead character Tara (an astonishing Mia McKenna-Bruce), are so realistically ramshackle as they adjust to their vacation at Malia. Endless possibilities exist for fun in front of them, and the trio are so stoked to make thrilling memories together. Walker’s screenplay and filmmaking gradually curdles into something more ominous as a guy named Paddy (Samuel Bottomley) won’t leave Tara alone. As a whole, the feature turns into a grueling watch that will leave your heart riddled with pain. “How To Have Sex is a masterfully executed piece of harrowing cinema demonstrating how unspeakable trauma can seep anywhere.

Hundreds Of Beavers A black-and-white silent comedy about a lumberjack attempting to kill a bunch of animals (realized as people inside rabbit/beaver/raccoon suits) for the woman he loves shouldn’t be funny for an entire movie. But oh goodness, does “Hundreds Of Beavers” sustain its comedic momentum for every minute of its runtime and then some! The farcical yuks here are downright ingenious, as this film keeps finding inspired ways to escalate the absurdity of its premise. Rather than wearing out its welcome, “Hundreds Of Beavers” reaffirms how important precise visuals and absurdist imagination are to good comedic cinema – and it doesn’t hurt to nail a joke involving gay rabbits.

Laapataa Ladies
Unfortunately, “Laapataa Ladies,” like many American Production Code-era movies about women’s roles in society (see: “Sylvia Scarlett”), can never quite fulfill all its potential for challenging the gender-based status quo. However, this Kiran Rao directorial effort about a case of mistaken identity between two newlywed brides is still a charming production. Especially entertaining is the storyline involving the lead character, Phool Kumari (Nitanshi Goel), and her exploits in discovering the value of carving out her own identity. That journey involves the deeply entertaining character Manju Maai (Chhaya Kadam), who revels in being single and the freedom she has in life. “Laapataa Ladies” never quite fulfills all its potential, but the charming performances and best comedic moments still make it an enjoyable watch.

ShaydaZar Amir Ebrahimi deserves to be a household name in America. Her work exemplifies this performer’s endless talents as an artist as the titular lead of writer-director Noora Niasari’s Shayda. Here, Ebrahimi portrays a single mother trying to raise her child in Australia in 1994 while dealing with societal stigmas and a hostile ex-husband. “Shayda is rarely an easy watch, but it’s a deeply compelling experience because of that quality. The moments of joy Niasari’s camera captures between the various single moms and their kids are especially moving. A sequence of goofy dancing involving Shayda and the other mothers and children she lives with in her home is incredibly sweet. There’s lots of turmoil in “Shayda, but those depictions of anguish are all the more meaningful, paired with glimpses into unfettered happiness.

I Used To Be Funny
After just a few years, Rachel Sennott has effortlessly cemented herself as one of the most compelling new performers out there. Her deeply varied work across “Shiva Baby,Bodies Bodies Bodies, and “Bottoms demonstrates both her versatility and impressive comic chops. Sennott has once again garnered acclaim for her lead role in the 2024 feature, “I Used To Be Funny,” the critically acclaimed indie film written and directed by Ally Pankiw. This feature has scored positive reviews for its deftly nuanced tone and uncovering further skills in Sennott’s gifts as a performer. If you count yourself as a fan of her work, this one should not be missed.

What do you think of our list? Which films do feel flew under the radar in the first half of the year more people should see? Please let us know in the comments section below or on Next Best Picture’s Twitter account and check out our latest Oscar predictions here.

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