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Under the radar: Monsters, Tracy Letts and adventure at the multiplex

Under the radar: Monsters, Tracy Letts and adventure at the multiplex
Jason Sudeikis and Anne Hathaway in the film "Colossal." (Neon)

Our annual compilation of overlooked films. Each reviewer chose five films to highlight.

“Colossal”: Even for a movie about a woman’s psychic connection with a kaiju, this one goes in totally unexpected directions. Writer-director Nacho Vigalondo never limits himself or his bonkers story to a single genre, but Anne Hathaway keeps it all grounded in reality.

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“The Lovers”: “Lady Bird” and “The Post” feature great supporting work from Tracy Letts, but this grown-up romantic comedy gives him and Debra Winger the lead. As a soon-to-be divorced couple, they display a lived-in chemistry that makes their struggles and their reconnections feel real.

“A United Kingdom”: Director Amma Assante masterfully balances restraint and passion in this historical drama about the real-life relationship between the king of Botswana and an English woman. There’s serious heft in this interracial romance set against the backdrop of Britain’s shrinking power, but it doesn’t lessen the sweetness of their love story.

“The Girl With All the Gifts”: Like its fellow British film “28 Days Later,” this thoughtful horror movie elevates the genre. Newcomer Sennia Nanua brings humanity to the role of a young zombie who has a tender friendship with a teacher (Gemma Arterton) as the world is threatening to end.

“Mr. Roosevelt”: As a director, actress Noël Wells makes an assured debut that sets itself apart from the uniformity of most indie comedies. Unlike most of its peers, it’s actually shot on film, but it’s Wells’ wonderfully weird cinematic voice that further marks her as a talent to watch behind the camera.

Debra Winger and Tracy Letts in the movie "The Lovers."
Debra Winger and Tracy Letts in the movie "The Lovers." (Robb Rosenfeld / A24)

Yes, please: Studios giving directors big budgets to express their specific visions, even at a potential loss. See “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Blade Runner 2049” and “mother!” No, really, see them to reward the studios for their risks, so we get more adventurous movies at the multiplex.

No more: Performers in independent features who are immediately recognizable as the writer-director-producer by their lack of acting talent. You’re diminishing the story you want to tell by not casting someone better.

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