Author: Chiara Benitez

Let’s face it: the Oscars get hyped up more and more every year. And with this year’s outrage at the lack of diversity in the nominees (not to mention all the anticipation for Chris Rock’s take on the ceremony), anyone tuned into pop culture is paying attention to the Academy Awards. While many of the films nominated this year were truly excellent (Mad Max and Room, anyone?), there were also a number of underrated movies that, quite frankly, could have been contenders as well. Here are six movies worth watching that you may have missed this year:

6. Dope

Dope is about high school nerds who somehow end up with a bag full of Molly to sell. It’s produced by Forest Whitaker and co-produced by Pharrell and Puff Daddy. Tyga, Zoë Kravitz, and A$AP Rocky are in it. And it’s on Netflix. You have no excuse for not watching this movie.

5. 45 Years

Ok, I’ll be honest: when I watched this movie, I was one of maybe three people under the age of 60 in the theater. It is, after all, about an old couple’s marriage as their 45th anniversary draws nearer. That being said, while nothing particularly eventful happens in the movie, the simple script, sensitive direction, and subtle acting is powerful enough to keep you engaged throughout the film. While it may not be that much fun to watch, this movie is probably the overall best film on this list.

4. Beasts of No Nation

Just a warning: this movie is hands-down the most brutal, relentless film on this list. Through its powerful performances and stunning visuals, Beasts of No Nation tells the story of Agu, a child soldier in an unspecified African country. If you can get through the movie, it’s definitely worth a watch. Plus, it’s also on Netflix, so no need to look for any sketchy streaming sites for this one.

3. Shaun the Sheep Movie

There have only been three animated movies in Oscar history that were nominated for best picture, so let’s just accept it: there’s no way Shaun the Sheep movie would’ve been selected. But you know what? Who cares. Everyone loves Shaun the Sheep. It’s sweet, it’s funny, and the animation is brilliant. And if you’re not convinced, just remember that the people who made it are the same ones who made Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit. So just watch it. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

2. Sicario

Emily Blunt and Josh Brolin are impressive as American agents in this intense drug-war film, but it’s Benicio del Toro who proves once again that he is no less than legendary as the mysterious Alejandro Gillick, whose allegiances in the war remain unclear. With gripping performances, beautiful long shots, and underlying tension that slowly builds up to a boiling point, Sicario is without a doubt one of the most solid films of the year.

1. Ex Machina

Sure, we loved Domnhall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac as General Hux and Poe Dameron in Star Wars 7. But Ex Machina marks their best performances of the year, and thus takes the number one spot on this list. Smart, stylistic, and haunting, Ex Machina is a fresh take on the artificial intelligence story we all know so well, as Caleb (Gleeson) wins the chance to administer the Turing test to robot Ava (Alicia Vikander), created by programmer Nathan (Isaac). Bottom line is, this movie is not just worth a watch—it’s an absolute must-see.

Happy watching, everyone!