Spotlight on Shadows: Unveiling the Hidden Gems of the 2024 Cinema

2024 has been a wild ride of blockbusters and underrated delights at the cinema. Big films such as Dune: Part Two and Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes have dominated the box office, but the cinematic year has also been blessed with an array of sleeper hits. In case you've missed any of these lesser-known wonders, here's an overview of the cinematic underdogs of 2024. The films on this list might not be known to many but all of them are just as enriching and captivating as the cinematic attention-grabbers that have taken the world by storm.

The Trailblazers of 2024's Hidden Cinema

FURIOSA: A Mad Max Saga – A Fiery Prequel Waiting to Be Discovered

A prequel that expands the dystopian, grunge-fuelled universe of Mad Max while also deep-diving into the tragic backstory of its title character, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, Furiosa tells the story of vengeance and liberation at the hands of Chris Hemsworth's Doctor Dementus. It's a spectacle worth watching, and one unfairly eclipsed by its predecessors. Good performances and a compelling plotline haven't landed Furiosa its box office breakthrough – but it has just the sort of production that hidden-gem hunters will value.

The Fall Guy – Action, Comedy, and Heart in Hollywood's Backdrop

In The Fall Guy, director David Leitch celebrates the unsung heroes of cinema: stuntmen. The action-comedy features Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt as a pair of merchants of chaos who pull off elaborate car chases, tank battles and chase sequences involving dozens of extras. As the protagonists struggle with loneliness, emptiness and romantic dilemmas, they're crafting an action spectacle for an audience far removed from their personal turmoil. For all its ingenuity and tenderness in exploring behind-the-scenes Hollywood, The Fall Guy has arrived in theatres in an utterly unjust manner, and is in danger of being overlooked as one of the most rewarding films of the year.

Late Night With the Devil – A Horrific Satire of Fame's Lure

Late Night With the Devil (1979) is a short film based on the premise of a 1970s talk show, wherein a demon-possessed young girl's interview devolves into epic carnage – a brilliant combination of horror and satire that, coupled with the film's unexpected controversy as one of the first instances of art generated by an AI program, makes it a film that deserves to be more widely known, especially to fans of horror and satire.

A Sci-Fi Vision Yet to Be Fully Appreciated

In Zack Snyder's Rebel Moon: Part Two – The Scargiver, the filmmaker's multipart sci-fi epic of revolution opens a galaxy of internecine intrigue, and a cacophony of resistance, to middling results. Though roundly panned for cadging in the artifice of style, the film's scope, scale and ambition betray a longer saga-in-ongoing-progress – or, at any rate, they would were not the director's cut still forthcoming to complete the saga's long-arc visionary intent. But perhaps after watching The Scargiver, many of the psychological and structural elements that have been trumped up to strike an emotional chord will have been better contextualised and understood upon revisiting (and revisioning) the director's cut; the pivotal film that could unlock the entire saga's sweeping world-building and, in turn, its backstory and potential journey ahead.

STING – A Creepy-Crawly Adventure with Depth

Spinning a new take on the classic creature feature, Sting couples the fear of an alien spider on the rampage with a tale that gently explores themes of family and survival. In a locale that transforms a dreary urban landscape into a battleground for survival, the Australian horror adds a bit of humour to its jump scares for a ride worth sharing with the masses, beyond its modest cult appeal.

Wrapping up the Cinematic Journey

What's Next for These Hidden Gems?

The future is bright for them all. As word-of-mouth and acclaim continue to nudge audiences along, an influx of ‘new’ discoveries await. Whenever 2024 is remembered as the year when certain wildly different cinematic forms captured our attention and owned our imaginations, many of these unheralded gems will provide powerful proof of the abundant breadth of the picture.

Exploring the *MAX*: The Heartbeat of Cinema's Unsung Heroes

But in looking past 2024’s seemingly unbeatable favourites, there is a similar theme running through the potentially underdog stories: the exploration of the max under dire circumstances. From the rugged landscapes of Furiosa to the death-defying work of The Fall Guy, or even the atmospheric horror of Late Night With the Devil, it’s the power of the max – the underdog theme, or underground spirit – that will see the multitudes carry movies beyond neat genre confines into a world where the cinematic possibilities are limitless. I can’t wait to see you there.

Jun 16, 2024
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