I hear the complaint over and over: Hollywood is creatively bankrupt. There are no original movies any more. Everything is a reboot, or a remake, or a sequel.
Well, you're not wrong. But the fault, Dear Readers, is not in our Hollywood studios but in ourselves: as long as reboots and sequels dominate the box office, we will get more of them. (But that's not necessarily a bad thing: Captain America 3: Civil War is the best film of the year so far, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise.) But there have been many, many good original films nestled between the tentpole franchises, most of which were missed by mainstream audiences.
So if you want originals, here's a baker's dozen of originality you may have missed, most of which you can now rent, stream or own, and the first four of which are among the best films of the year so far:
1. Hail, Caesar! The Coen Brothers do it again with a love letter to the Hollywood of yesteryear. A kidnapping plot, song and dance numbers, and a star-studded cast make this one of the best movies of the year. And even in a stellar cast featuring George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Scarlett Johansson and Ralph Fiennes, it's newcomer Alden Ehrenreich who steals the movie. Come get clued in to why he was chosen to play young Han Solo in an upcoming Star Wars movie.
Hail, Caesar! is now available on DVD, Blu-Ray, and streaming platforms.
2. Midnight Special A heady film that transcends genres plays on the best of what made kid-centric 80's sci-fi so awesome. The performances are amazing, especially by Michael Shannon as a dad who just wants to protect his superpowered son from religious cults, the government, and everyone else who is after him. The best genre film of the year, and simply one of 2016's best.
Midnight Special is available for streaming purchase/rental now and will be released on DVD/Blu-Ray June 21.
3. The Nice Guys Shane Black's comedy-noir is the perfect blend of script, acting, and action. Between mustaches and muscle cars, you'll feel back in the 1970's so much you can taste the smog in the Hollywood air. Pure originality, except for the fact that borrows and steals so heavilly from the classics of film noir. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.
The Nice Guys is still playing in most theaters and you really should go check it out.
4. Sing Street Boy meets girl, boy forms band to impress girl in 1980's Dublin. As good of a soundtrack as the film itself, it includes period songs from The Cure, Joe Jackson, Hall and Oates and some truly memorable original songs that you'll be singing as you leave the theater.
Sing Street hits streaming and home media July 26th. Make sure you pick this up when it does.
5. The Lobster - Taking advantage of "day and date" release strategy, this absurdist comedy is both in theaters and available on home video now. In a dystopian near-future, everyone must be in a couple or be turned into an animal of your choice. Colin Farrell has 45 days to pair up with someone or be turned into a lobster. And wackiness ensues.
It's now available on DVD, Blu-Ray, and streaming platforms.
6. Green Room is a thriller about a punk band who plays a show with some dangerous people, witness a murder, and then start getting picked off one by one before they can get to the authorities. And it features Patrick Stewart in a goatee as the bad guy, so you can pretend he's "Evil Picard" from the Mirror Universe hunting down New Checkov Anton Yelchin if you like.
Green Room is in literally less than a dozen theaters nationwide, so you may have missed your chance for now-- but you'll only have to wait a month, as it will show up for home viewing on July 12.
7. Eddie the Eagle is the inspiring true story of an English ski jumper who grabbed the world's imagination at the 1988 Olympics by being kind of a misfit and outcast. Featuring Taron Egerton from Kingsman and Hugh Jackman, it's fun to see these guys take on very different roles in this inspiring sports drama.
Eddie the Eagle is available streaming now and on DVD/Blu-Ray on June 14.
8. Eye in the Sky is a timely and gripping war drama about the morality of drone strikes. Timely, yes? Featuring Helen Mirren and Aaron Paul, one of the best reasons to see this is one of the final performances by Alan Rickman. Oh, and the political drama and ethics part.
Still playing in a few dozen theaters, this comes to home distribution June 28.
9. Triple Nine is an amazing police drama/ heist movie about a team of crooked cops in Atlanta forced to rob highly secure banks and facilities for the Russian-Israeli mob. You've got Anthony Mackie, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Aaron Paul as the crooked cops, and Casey Affleck as Mackie's rookie partner who they decide to kill to force a "Triple 9" officer-involved shooting so they pull off one final heist while the police are distracted. Woody Harrelson plays a savant old-school detective who is Affleck's uncle and who starts to put the pieces together. A great heist film, great drama, great acting.
You can watch Triple Nine in your home on any format you like right now, and you really should.
10. The Finest Hours Speaking of Casey Affleck, here he is the engineer on a giant oil tanker torn apart by a massive storm off the coast of New England, and Chris Pine is the Coast Guard captain tasked with bringing them home on what is essentially a suicide mission against raging seas. There's real tension and drama here, and knowing this is based on a real story-- the most successful small craft rescue in the history of the Coast Guard-- makes it all the better.
You can get Finest Hours on streaming, digital, Blu-Ray and DVD now.
11. Keanu is Key and Peele's gonzo action comedy of mistaken identity where they're just trying to save their little kitten. Funny, but also extremely action-packed, you won't believe the lengths they'll go to just to get back their cat. But if you've seen the cat, you understand why. This is the funniest movie of the year and one of the best action films as well.
You can bring Keanu home on August 2.
Honorable Mention: Zootopia Why isn't this on the list of original movies you may have missed? Well, it certainly is original. But, with a worldwide box office of over $1 billion dollars, it's hard to say that people missed this one. The House of Mouse, currently responsible for so many of our reboots and sequels, will hopefully also take the hint and be willing to take a chance on more original ideas too. Then they can have all the money. I should just set up a direct deposit and have 20% of my paycheck given directly to Disney/Marvel/Star Wars.
Zootopia is available streaming and on DVD/Blu-Ray and you really should see it. Everyone else apparently has.
Non-recommendation: The VVitch While I personally hated this film, there are tons of people who do love it. And it is most certainly original and beautifully disturbing. If this is your thing, I can't wholeheartedly recommend this the way I can the other films on this list, but you might enjoy it.
If you want more weekly recommendations on movies, look for my regular reviews, or check out me and Adam McDonald reviewing films every week on the Bored as Hell Podcast.