24 Movies You Probably Missed This Year, But Should Totally See
5. Dear White People
The secret of Justin Simien’s acidly funny directorial debut is that, despite the title, it’s not about white people at all — it’s about the experiences of being black in a mostly white population, as lived by four students at a high-end college. Some are militant, some are model students, and some linger at the edges of different groups, trying to figure out where they belong. Simien’s smartly observed movie combines normal college identity angst with the hundreds of unintended slights, misunderstandings, and generalizations you have to deal with as a minority, deftly exploring how they can sting and alienate even when there’s no malice meant. —A.W.
Where you can see it: In theaters
15. Obvious Child
Abortion seems like the last possible subject for a successful romantic comedy, and yet, that is precisely what co-writer–director Gillian Robespierre has pulled off with Obvious Child. Donna (Jenny Slate) is a twentysomething confessional stand-up comedian with a perpetually arrested life that is made much more complicated after a drunken one-night stand with a handsome, kind-of-square dude from Vermont (Jake Lacy) results in an unwanted pregnancy. Robespierre and Slate make for a terrific partnership, as they walk the precarious tightrope of playing Donna’s situation for comedy and drama without ever tipping into crassness or after-school–special schmaltz. This was another Sundance hit that made a miniscule impact at the box office ($3.1 million! Argh!), but this was easily one of the most thoughtful and gratifying comedies of the year. —A.B.V.
Where you can see it: Blu-ray, DVD, and digital rental and purchase