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10 Fantastic Movies You May Have Already Missed In 2015

By  · Published on June 26th, 2015

2015 is half over, and while that means we’re still six months away from our official ‘Best Of’ lists it also means it’s time to point out several great movies that you may very well have missed so far. By their very nature these tend to be smaller movies – films that bowed in limited release, VOD or even straight to DVD instead of getting the nationwide roll-out – so we’re taking this opportunity to shine a light on them so they don’t get lost in the summer shuffle or the end of year awards frenzy.

Landon Palmer and I have once again selected ten fantastic films from the past six months that we think deserve more attention than they’ve received. These aren’t necessarily the ‘best of the year’ material, but they’re still great movies well worth remembering into the next six months.

About Elly

The success of writer/director Asghar Farhadi’s 2011 drama, A Separation, announced him to the Western world as a major talent, but he had already made four feature films prior to that award winner including 2009’s dramatic mystery, About Elly. The film made the festival rounds in 2010 but only just received an official U.S. release earlier this year. Set in Iran, the tale follows a group of college friends spending a weekend by the sea along with a newcomer to the tight circle brought along as a possible romantic interest. There are no dark dramas or portents or doom here, just friends and families having a good time, but when Elly goes missing the orderly construct begins to crack beneath the pressure. Blame is tossed around like sand on the beach, small lies grow in size and number, and the mystery of Elly’s disappearance becomes compounded by the mystery of her life. Intensely engaging performances, striking cinematography and a smart unraveling of the truth combine for a film that’s every bit a beautiful piece of international cinema as Farhadi’s later works. — Rob

Where can you see it? Currently unavailable

Clouds of Sils Maria

Olivier Assayas’s talents have shown a remarkable range in recent years, as his films have covered an enormous swath of territory across genre, tone, scope, and subject matter, from a biography of an international terrorist to a nuanced family drama around what to do with an estate. But Assayas’s work is also resonantly his, each bearing the delicate touch of a truly thoughtful filmmaker deeply interested in the worlds of his characters. That’s why Clouds of Sils Maria is one of the filmmaker’s best works to date, for it uses an enduringly familiar scenario – an aging actress (Juliette Binoche) risks being upstaged by a charismatic rival (Chloe Grace-Moretz) a la All About Eve – but enacts this scenario as neither homage nor pastiche, with Assayas using this framework to explore territory about the tenuous, often obscure elements of personality that constitute human relationships and personae. Binoche’s graceful yet vulnerable tête–à–tête with Kristen Stewart’s headstrong assistant is divine. — Landon

Where can you see it? Currently in limited theatrical release, coming to DVD on July 14th, 2015

The Duke of Burgundy

Peter Strickland’s playfully enigmatic and intricately stylized The Duke of Burgundy brims as an evocative, haunting, and resonant sensory experience that builds upon the enormous talents he displayed in his previous ’70s homage, Berberian Sound Studio. The film opens with a maid (Chiara D’Anna) who has just come into the employ of a cold, distant aristocrat (Sidse Babett Knudsen), a situation that is cleverly upended early in a deft reveal that shows the maid/aristocrat scenario as part of a thoroughly realized game of sexual domination. The exact power dynamic within the relationship between these women unravels layers of complexity as one partner wants to go deeper into their games while the other grows ambivalent. Strickland fascinatingly plays with context, sight, and sound towards a film that always leaves the viewer questioning what before them is real, a performance, or even perhaps a dream. — Landon

Where can you see it? Coming to Blu-ray/DVD on September 29th, 2015

Hard to Be a God

Renowned Russian auteur Aleksei German’s final film (and a project he worked to get to screen for decades), Hard to Be a God will likely prove to be, on a visceral level, the hardest film to stomach of any new commercial release this year. But the film is less interested in the spectacle of shock than in bringing to life a stark, disturbing, yet beautifully rendered vision of a society without enlightenment. Depicting an Earthling scientist (Leonid Yarmolnik) trapped on a foreign planet currently enduring its Dark Ages who must attempt to protect the culture’s burgeoning intellectuals from execution without revealing himself an Earthling, Hard to Be a God constructs a horrifying, immersive, yet stunning glimpse into a world that knows neither beauty nor art nor civility. This is what daily life in the world of Game of Thrones or Mad Max: Fury Road might be like. — Landon

Where can you see it? Currently on VOD, coming to Blu-ray/DVD on June 30th, 2015

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

Sibling filmmakers David and Nathan Zellner use the urban myth surrounding the death of a Japanese woman who died in rural North Dakota in 2001 and was believed (likely erroneously) to have been in search of the suitcase of cash hidden on the snowy roadside by Steve Buscemi’s character in the Coen brothers’ Fargo. Motivated by Fargo’s similarly playful approach to the relationship of film and fact, the Zellners choose a “print the legend” pathway to this strange scenario, devising a character study about a solitary office functionary (Rinko Kikuchi) who encounters a worn VHS tape of Fargo that motivates her travel across the Pacific in search of the famed suitcase. Along the way, Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter stages a wry, subtly realized dark comedy about the alienating nature of cultural distance, and also manifests what may be cinema’s strangest travelogue of the Upper Midwest. — Landon

Where can you see it? Currently on VOD, coming to Blu-ray/DVD on June 30th, 2015

Man From Reno

Aki is a successful mystery author from Japan who has decided to call it quits on her current book tour. She tells no one and instead simply absconds to San Francisco to hide out and catch her breath, but it’s a handsome stranger who catches her eye instead. His abrupt exit the following day combined with the suitcase he left behind triggers her nose for mystery, but as a trio of curious strangers begins circling she realizes too late that this is one mystery with an ending out of her hands. Easily the most low-key of my choices here, Dave Boyle’s casual noir is an addictive character piece layered into a slight mystery, but while the details of the tale are ultimately less important than the whole it remains a deceptively engaging film. Guilt and loneliness rub shoulders with cultural observations and subtle, dark comedy, all set against the backdrop of San Francisco’s beautiful and mundane locales. — Rob

Where can you see it? Currently unavailable

Slow West

It’s a goddamn travesty how few westerns have hit screens in recent years, but thankfully 2015 is looking to fix that with three high profile entries opening later in the year and one brilliant example available now. Writer/director John Maclean’s feature film debut (after a career that involved being a member of The Beta Band and writing “Dry the Rain”) is a western that features eccentric characters, tensely-crafted gunfights, beautiful landscapes – but it executes it all with a fresh, exciting attitude, an air of melancholy and an unexpected sense of humor. The story follows a Scottish teen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who arrives in 1800’s America in search of the girl he loves, but after a close call on the frontier he hires a morally dubious cowboy (Michael Fassbender) to guide him to his goal. Their resulting journey is filled with banter, mistrust and sporadic action but it builds to a third act that delivers visceral thrills, dramatic weight and one hell of an unexpected laugh. — Rob

Where can you see it? Currently on VOD, coming to Blu-ray/DVD on July 7th, 2015


A work of genre rich in its surprises and rewards, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead’s Spring uses a strictly demarcated supernatural world in order to realize an inspired, deeply felt character study of two wandering souls who have made an unlikely encounter. Lou Taylor Pucci’s Evan is a directionless bartender reeling from his mother’s death and, during an impetuous trip to Italy, meets an alluring yet inscrutable woman, Louise (Nadia Hilker), whose gradual relenting of trust yields ever more bizarre clues to who she really is. Few films this year bear the structure of a journey quite like Spring, a film that well earns and benefits from the extraordinary twists and turns it asks its audience to take. — Landon

Where can you see it? Currently available on Blu-ray/DVD

These Final Hours

It’s the end of the world and they know it in this apocalyptic thriller about mankind’s last few hours on Earth. Equal parts human drama and nihilistic thriller, writer/director Zak Hilditch’s film drops us into world on the brink – there’s no hope or effort to avoid the impending demise, death is inevitable – and follows one man’s struggle to go out numb to the hellfire rushing his way or to do what’s right up until the very end. The heat of pre-apocalypse Australia is felt as tangibly as the last ditch battle between chaos and humanity unfolding onscreen, and we find ourselves caring about these characters’ immediate circumstances today even as we know they’ll be having no tomorrow. I’d still love to see an adaptation of Ben H. Winters’ The Last Policeman trilogy, but until that happens this is an equally fine example of pre-apocalyptic human drama. – rob

Where can you see it? Currently available on Blu-ray/DVD


Director Abderrahmane Sissako applies a fictional lens to a very real tragedy with his narratively loose look at the the real-world takeover of Mali’s city of Timbuktu by Jihadist extremists. The film manages to be an indictment of an oppressive movement while avoiding the use of simple cardboard bad guys. It’s a casual, fly on the wall affair at times as we’re made to witness Jihadists milling about bored and aimless as frequently as they find an offense worth punishing. A couple is stoned to death before our eyes, a woman is given lashes, a man threatens violence to secure the child bride he feels he is owed – terrible events unfurl before us, but Sissako shows us immense beauty too. A scene showing a soccer game played without a ball is simultaneously sad and beautiful and one of the year’s best, and the landscapes reveal natural wonders that temporarily distract from the pain mankind is inflicting on itself. Devastating, playful and wise, the film shines a light on the people both behind and in front of the inhuman yet specifically human actions. — Rob

Where can you see it? Currently available on Blu-ray/DVD

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.