If nothing else, 2018 has proven to be excellent in its output of film, television and streaming content, giving us all a little something to talk and feel good about. In fact, maybe there was too much content out there. A few good movies and shows just didn’t get the attention, hype or interest they deserved. So to right that wrong, here’s a couple of choice titles that should be available to view online through VOD or the viewing platform of your choice.
Skate Kitchen. Jonah Hill has been racking up hype for his nostalgic directorial debut, Mid90s, which delves into ’90s skateboard culture, but first came Crystal Moselle’s Skate Kitchen over the summer. In this drama, an introverted teen girl named Camille (Rachelle Vinberg) has a passion for skateboarding, but finds her New Jersey suburb too dull and limiting. She takes a risk in heading to New York to attend an open session for other girl skaters held by the all-female crew Skate Kitchen. The tribe exposes Camille to not only new experiences, but also complications as she becomes closer to the ex-boyfriend of one of her newfound friends. Moselle perfectly captures the lightness and freedom of skating, while focusing on the bonds of these young women trying to find their place in a male-dominated sport. (Streaming on Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, VUDU and YouTube.)
The Assassination of Gianni Versace. Ryan Murphy’s latest iteration of American Crime Story didn’t hold up in ratings as well as previous seasons did, but this season reignited the mystery of Andrew Cunanan, a young gay man who killed other gay men throughout the country in the mid-’90s, including superstar fashion designer Gianni Versace. While the murder of his most famous victim hooks you within the first episode, the show jumps around the timeline of Cunanan’s murder spree and, in the process, explores the various layers of homophobia that affected gay men of every class and background. Played with sinister panache by Glee actor Darren Criss, Cunanan’s sociopathic desire for attention and acclaim is scrutinized. (Streaming on FX NOW, Amazon Prime, Hulu and iTunes.)
Mandy. Panos Cosmatos’ second feature film is perhaps the most bizarre of the year: Nicolas Cage stars as a man intent on revenge from a sadistic thrill-kill cult after they viciously burn alive his artist girlfriend, Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). The atmosphere and production design really make this a must-watch; inspired by ’70s fantasy illustrations, Dungeons and Dragons, Heavy Metal back issues, and ’80s films, every scene in Cosmatos’ film is an epic odyssey of lush imagery. Plus, you can watch Cage have one of his legendary cinematic freakouts in his tighty whities. (Streaming on Amazon Prime, Google Play and Shudder.)
Wanda. Barbara Loden’s one and only directorial effort, Wanda was remastered by Janus Films, then rereleased this summer, but it unfortunately went way under the radar in markets outside of New York and Los Angeles. To be fair, it’s not hard to see why: The film was neglected upon its release in 1970, and its art-house grandeur and Loden’s ’70s indie cred don’t necessarily read as mainstream these days, either. If you’re a fan of John Cassavetes’ work and enjoy his cinéma vérité gaze on dysfunctional, adrift characters, Wanda (written and directed by, as well as starring Loden) features its tragic working-class heroine falling in with questionable men after she deserts her husband and children. Now regarded as a feminist masterpiece, it’s a look at Loden’s uncompromising vision and her transition into becoming an auteur. It’s a great thought-provoking film, raising the question of what could have been of her career if she had had a chance to make another movie before she passed away in 1980. (Not available to stream, only for DVD purchase.)
Pose. Drag and ballroom culture is at its highest rate of visibility ever, but somehow this show looking at the various lives of fictional characters who reigned over the scene in its early, underground beginnings wasn’t as widely tended to, although it has been given widespread critical praise. These African-American and Latino gay men delight in the drag world while late-’80s New York City goes through its own economic and social upheavals with the rise of yuppie capitalists and the AIDS crisis. Starring a diverse cast that includes the largest number of transgender actors for a narrative television show, this Ryan Murphy-produced program brings more opulence and drama than one can handle. (Streaming on FX NOW, YouTube, Amazon Prime, iTunes and Google Play.)
Aimee Murillo is calendar editor and frequently covers the Orange County DIY music scene, film, arts, Latino culture and currently pens the long-running column Trendzilla. Born, raised, and based in Santa Ana, she loves bad movies, punk shows, raising her plants, eating tacos, Selena, and puns.