December is halfway done, and many are already in a cheerful holiday spirit. After all, Christmas is around the corner, and viewers are probably eagerly consuming Christmas movies like children inside a chocolate factory. There are numerous movies to choose from – classics like It’s a Wonderful Life, hilarious holiday comedies like Scrooged, and heartwarming adaptations like The Muppets Christmas Carol. However, those willing to experiment might find more intriguing movies on streaming this month.
December’s underrated gems include a sci-fi coming-of-age adventure, an intimate dramedy, and a hysterical screwball comedy ideal for the holiday season. As always, there are many more underrated movies on Netflix, Max, Hulu, and almost every other streaming service. However, these three are stellar choices to spend a December afternoon, and you’d be wrong not to give them a chance.
Dylan O’Brien stars in the dystopian monster adventure comedy Love and Monsters, directed by Michael Matthews. Set seven years after an asteroid hit Earth and mutated every animal form, forcing humans to hide underground, the plot follows Joel, a young man who adventures to the surface world to reunite with his high school sweetheart.
Released at the height of the pandemic, Love and Monsters failed to gain much traction. However, the film absolutely deserves your attention. O’Brien is at the top of his game: he’s charming and engaging, effortlessly supporting the film on his shoulders, accompanied only by a dog for more than half of the film. The visual effects are also top-notch, earning a richly deserved Oscar nomination in 2021. Beyond the monster dazzle, Love and Monsters is a surprisingly emotional coming-of-age story about letting go and moving ahead. Few movies balance action, adventure, and genuine pathos as deftly as this underappreciated gem.
Love and Monsters is available on Netflix.
Kelly Reichardt is perhaps her generation’s most underrated director. From her debut film, 1994’s River of Grass, all the way to 2019’s First Cow, Reichardt has been delivering poignant, insightful portrayals of everyday life like few directors can. In 2022, she once again stunned with her dramedy Showing Up, starring her usual collaborator, four-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams. The film centers on a sculptor trying to balance her work and personal life.
Like many of her previous films, Showing Up feels intimate yet powerful, a private depiction of life that almost makes us feel as if we’re intruding. Williams is brilliant as the protagonist, guiding what could easily be seen as an uneventful plot through sheer strength and charisma. There’s a beauty to Showing Up‘s austerity. It’s a movie about what it means to be an artist in a ruthlessly capitalistic world but, more importantly and universally, about living one day at a time. The premise might not be beckoning, but those who watch it will undoubtedly relate to its introspective approach.
Showing Up is available on Paramount+.
You didn’t think I wouldn’t recommend at least one great Christmas movie, did you? William Keighley’s 1942 screwball comedy The Man Who Came to Dinner stars the mighty Bette Davis opposite Ann Sheridan and Walter Woolley. Based on the eponymous 1939 play, the plot follows an arrogant radio personality who accidentally injures himself and must spend the holidays with a prominent Ohio family. When his loyal assistant finds love in a local man, he calls for a famous actress, hoping to sabotage the blossoming romance.
The Man Who Came to Dinner is among the finest examples of the screwball comedy genre. The film is wicked, with sharp and darkly humorous dialogue concealing a heartfelt and familiar message. Woolley is a firecracker as the sharp-tongued critic Sheridan Whiteside, while Davis enchants in a rare gentle and outright passive role. The Man Who Came to Dinner truly has everything: penguins, Egyptian sarcophaguses, lies, and humor to spare. It’s a film about the joy of the holidays wrapped around a hilarious and mischievous story featuring one of cinema’s greatest non-Scrooge Scrooges.
The Man Who Came to Dinner is available on Max.
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