If nothing else, 2017 has been a truly great year for science fiction and fantasy films. While many have been major motion pictures that no one could have avoided hearing about, there were also several standout movies that may have fallen through the cracks. We’re here to fix that. Here are the fantastic films you may have missed this year, most of which are now currently streaming or available on Blu-ray.
A girl goes to veterinary school as a vegetarian and quickly becomes a meat eater... a human meat eater. Raw is delightful tale of young cannibalism told with pulse-pounding energy—a unique coming-of-age story with some of the grossest visuals you’ll see in a movie this year. It’s truly awesome.
The Lure is a Polish musical about mermaids who join the staff of a burlesque club. But that doesn’t even come close to describing just how weird the movie is. It doesn’t quite all come together in the end, but its originality, music, and visuals make the film well worth a watch anyway.
Two movies were released this year about something going terribly wrong in an office building and the violence that occurs after that. One is The Belko Experiment and the other is Mayhem. Both are entertaining, but if you have to choose just one, I’d give the edge to Mayhem, simply because it puts a more scifi spin on the material and has a much more kinetic, manic feel to it. It also features Steven Yeun from The Walking Dead kicking all kinds of ass.
There’s every reason and no reason Life should be on this list. It’s got A-list talent both onscreen and off, had a huge release from a major studio, and has some of the best scifi action we saw all year. It should have been a huge hit! But it wasn’t, and that’s a shame. If you missed it, the movie is a hell of a ride with some gorgeous filmmaking and one of the best endings of the year. We’ve got a ton of coverage here.
Remember a few months back when that one Oscar-winning actress basically played Godzilla? Colossal stars Anne Hathaway as a woman who discovers she’s accidentally been controlling a giant monster that’s been terrorizing Korea. It’s a unique and insane movie, but it’s also poignant, exciting, funny, and thought-provoking. You really have to see it.
If you’re a fan of Hellraiser or similarly dark alternate dimension horror tales, you’ll want to check out The Void. It’s about a group of people trapped in a hospital that has some very disturbing secrets. And the more we learn about those secrets, the wilder the movie becomes.
Your Name might be the best film I saw all year, period. It’s an animated film from Japan that was released there last year; it only got a small stateside release this year and, well, that means it fell through the cracks. However, J.J. Abrams noticed it, and liked it so much he began developing a remake. It’s the story of two kids who, at night, mysteriously end up switching consciousnesses, an odd occurrence that may end up saying the world.
Cartoonist Dash Shaw turned the awkward experience of high school life into this fascinating animated film, featuring the voices of Jason Schwartzman, Reggie Watts, and others. After two friends get into an argument, their school starts sinking into the sea and they must escape its demonic layers to save it and their friendship. Here’s our review:
J.D. Dillard’s Sleight is the best superhero movie you didn’t see this year... although it’s only partially a superhero movie. For most of the time, it’s the story of a young man trying to keep his family alive through his magic skills, as well as a a bit of crime. The movie’s story beats can feel sort of familiar, but Jacob Latimore is fantastic as the lead, and it has a truly wonderful finale.
Netflix’s The Discovery has one of the most fascinating premises of the year: Scientists prove that the afterlife is real, and the revelation changes everything and everybody. The film explores this fantastic conceit with total seriousness, and the dark story that it tells feels incredibly authentic.
Spaceships, laser guns, massive alien creatures—The Osiris Child has everything you love about science fiction movies, all rolled into one. No, it’s not exactly novel, but it’s a whole lot of fun with some ultra-impressive visual effects, especially for a low-budget indie movie. Plus, if you watch it, maybe they’ll make Volume Two.
While most movies love to show you as much as possible, It Comes at Night does not. It’s about a family, living alone in the woods after an unknown but possibly apocalyptic event, and what happens with another family crosses paths with them. Why are they alone? What are they scared of? These mysteries are omnipresent but always secondary to this taut, scary character drama.
Sorry, Justice League, but The Bad Batch is the best Jason Momoa movie released this year by far. In the film, he’s a wanderer who teams up with a woman desperate to survive in a brutal post-apocalyptic world. But to do that, they’ll need to take down a kingpin played by Keanu Reeves. No, he movie cannot live up to the impossible expectation that this synopsis has put in your head, but it comes pretty close.
Grab a cup of coffee and dive into one of the year’s slowest, but most rewarding and wonderful films. A Ghost Story is exactly that, the story of what it’s like to be a ghost. Of course, there’s more to it, but it would be crazy to spoil it. Suffice to say, A Ghost Story is a movie I haven’t stopped thinking about since I saw it, and you won’t either.
This is a tiny bit of a cheat. Brigsby Bear, for the most part, is not a scifi film. However, it is a film about a made-up scifi franchise, and that’s why I’m putting it here—well, that and because it’s absolutely phenomenal and it has Mark Hamill in it. Brigsby Bear is a movie about chasing down your dreams and being true to your nerdy passions.
An all-star cast, including Jon Hamm and Geena Davis, star in this heady film about artificial intelligence and how it could help people as they grow older. There’s nothing flashy about it, but it’s intense, surprising, and ultimately more than a little disturbing.
Is Darren Aronofsky’s mother! a science fiction movie? It can be if you want it to be, and that’s why it’s so good. This manic, insane roller coaster ride is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before and is so wide open to interpretations it will leave your head spinning. It’s not a film for everyone, but if it’s for you, you will never forget it.
A man who can’t be killed teams up with a young girl to avenge the murder of her family. That’s the story of Takashi Miike’s adaptation of the famous manga Blade of the Immortal, a film that’s basically a samurai fan’s wildest dream come true. It runs over two hours, and it’s filled with insane battles, crazy weapons, blood, tears, and more blood. Basically everything about it rules.
A coming of age story with a sensual, supernatural twist, Thelma is “a slower, sleepier version of Carrie.” In this film, a woman begins to have seizures as she falls in love with another woman, and eventually those seizures start to reveal she has some deeper powers that her evangelical, oppressive mother despises and fears. It’s a methodical, but beautiful, piece of filmmaking.
This list started with the cannibal movie Raw, and now we end with the movie that may well make you a vegetarian, Okja. Bong Joon-Ho’s story of a young girl who travels the globe to save her massive but adorable monster friend from becoming processed meat is both a great adventure, a touching love story, and a biting commentary. It’s kind of got it all.