Last week, we covered some of the most notable films and television programmes that were released this year. These were big guns, with the boldest action sequences and the biggest names. But on the other side of the industry are the independents and self-made projects, some of which were amazing as well. Here are a few of our favourites.

The Lost City of Z
This may or may not have caught your attention while you were half reading Facebook alerts and watching Netflix on television. And the tone of the movie is also incredibly relevant to the current state of the world. The film looks at the life of Percy Fawcett, a famed English explorer and his work. Fawcett believed that there was an advanced Amazonian civilisation that challenged the idea of white supremacy in the late colonial eras of the early 20th century. Charlie Hunnam takes on the role of Fawcett, and brings an almost genteel Indiana Jones to Fawcett. The film’s ending is a little mysterious, leaving open-ended whether Fawcett finds the city or is lost in the jungle. But it’s breathtaking, to say the least. Watch it if you haven’t.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women
The film, a biographical drama of Professor William Marston, who invented the Wonder Woman character, never made it to our cinemas. But you can get it on iTunes. Director and scriptwriter Angela Robinson explores the thoroughly unorthodox relationships that Marston, his wife and mistress develop as carry out research on lie detectors and DISC theory. Later, Marston’s encounter with fetish art collector Charles Guyette validates his theory. It also inspires him to create the character of Wonder Woman. Its success brings them fame, but it all collapses when their tripartite marriage is exposed. If you found Gal Gadot‘s rendition of Wonder Woman inspiring, you should definitely see how it was birthed.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
I know, Luc Besson‘s obsession with the comic series and a 20-year effort to bring it to moviedom is considered by most people to be a complete flop. The lead actors struggle to find their chemistry and pace, and it all feels incredibly rushed, squeezing the complexity of a thousand planets into a 2-hour film. But that’s exactly it. If you could stretch out Valerian into double or triple its length, you’d have an incredible universe that’s mesmerising and amazingly detailed in every aspect. Valerian may be a box office disappointment for Besson and his investors, but it’s not the aesthetic disaster you might think.

The Disaster Artist
Given that James Franco is fronting, directing and wrote the script for the movie, we agree it should not considered be an indie film. But The Disaster Movie, a re-telling of the making of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room, is just so weird, it has to be indie. Wiseau, a failed actor whose buddy Sestero has equally disappointing success in Hollywood, decide to make a movie and give themselves a role. Wiseau spends the next three years cooking up The Room. You can imagine the disaster that results. But it’s also achieved cult status, and Franco’s execution of this re-telling looks set to achieve the same status. He reportedly stayed in the character of Wiseau for the entire duration of the movie production, which was surely difficult for Dave Franco, his brother who plays Sestero, to handle.

Cats. You love them or you think they are cold, cruel alien creatures who aim to take control of the entire world. But even if you hate cats, Kedi will probably get you to change your mind about them. Ceyda Torun follows the street cats of Istanbul, particularly a pack of kittens who wander around a building, or go to a restaurant for fancy meat. It also looks at the people who interact with, are charmed by and develop an incredible bond with these kittens. If you don’t go ‘aww’ at least once in the film, you should see a shrink.

Dear White People

Dear White People
It’s a gutsy series that takes a closer look at inter-racial relationships in a confined area. Before you think there’s nothing that you can relate to in the series, watch one episode. And see if you recognise anyone who might have done some of the things these characters are when it comes to racial relationships. Both personal and with the establishment. Dear White People isn’t just a majority and minority race accusation. It explores the complexities of a minority in a minority. There are no simple rules to follow here. But it does remind us that racial relationships aren’t mended just by putting everyone on a fair platform. Fair and equal are not the same.

But before we conclude, we have to honour one more choice. The worst movie of the year, in our opinion, must go to Fifty Shades Darker. There’s really no need to explain further.

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