Best Lesser-known Movies from 2012

The Best of 2012! Check out these great lesser-known films, and forgive me for the inclusion of a small number of Hollywood and bigger indie releases.

#1 The Diary of Preston Plummer


Preston falls in love, Kate falls apart, and the Universe expands as it always does.
Preston Plummer (Trevor Morgan) is graduating from university with the feeling of never really having loved anything. At a party he meets a girl who wants him to drive her home. Not just college home, but home, home – in another state. She needs to go home and he needs an adventure which he never got to experience. “The Diary of Preston Plummer” is about the long journey home — physically, emotionally and spiritually.2012

Directed by: Sean Ackerman

Screenplay by: Sean Ackerman

Starring: Trevor Morgan, Rumer Willis
See full review of The Diary of Preston Plummer

#2 The Paperboy

In southern Florida where a racial murder case turns into a coming-of-age character study.

“The Paperboy” has received some harsh criticism, not just divisive but mostly negative reviews. I’m happy to provide an opposite perspective but it is worth mentioning that most critiques seem to come from a superficial point-of-view. Anita (Macy Gray) as the narrator takes us down to small town life in Florida in the late 1960s where she worked as a maid for the white, upper class Jansen family. Nothing is as it seems. 2012

Directed by: Lee Daniels

Screenplay by: Lee Daniels, Peter Dexter
Based on the novel by Peter Dexter

Starring: Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey, and Nicole Kidman
See full review of The Paperboy

#3 Newlyweds


Characters who step out of their relationship and into real life.

The opening scene of “Newlyweds” looks like it could have come out of any Woody Allen movie (or “Husbands and Wives” to be more specific). Two couples are sitting in a restaurant discussing the various ins and outs of married life. And then they turn to the camera and start saying what they really think. The editing from typical romantic dramedy-styled scenes to documentary-styled scenes is where the comedy comes in. 2011

Directed by: Edward Burns

Screenplay by: Edward Burns

Starring: Edward Burns, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Kerry Bishé
See full review of Newlyweds

#4 Jesus Henry Christ


Eccentricity and precociousness put to the paternal test with hilarious results.

“Jesus Henry Christ” is a quirky indie comedy with a genetics, homosexuality and heresy bent. It starts off with heavy ‘70s-influenced comedy which you just have to hustle through to get to the heart of the story. The plot might seem a bit eccentric, but that is probably necessary if the comedy is going to be actually funny. Henry is a genius test-tube baby. He might be a freak but his mother (Toni Collette) wants to raise him normally. 2012

Directed by: Dennis Lee

Screenplay by: Dennis Lee

Starring: Jason Spevack, Toni Collette, Samantha Weinstein and Michael Sheen
See full review of Jesus Henry Christ

#5 Virginia


Undertones of mental illness, religion and politics take Virginia to interesting places.

Virginia (Jennifer Connelly) is one seriously disturbed woman. One possible look at it is that she was screwed over by having an affair with an aspiring Senator, Dick Tipton (Ed Harris), who left her pregnant and alone to raise her son as a single mother. “Virginia” has a number of storylines, some in present time, some in flashbacks, but all resulting from the affair between Virginia and Sheriff Tipton. 2010

Directed by: Dustin Lance Black

Screenplay by: Dustin Lance Black

Starring: Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris
See full review of Virginia

#6 Janie Jones


A subtle father-daughter story told with quiet undertones.

Janie Jones (Abigail Breslin), a 13 year-old girl is with her mother and they are off to meet her father. Except her mother (Elisabeth Shue) is a whore-like drug- addicted loser who’s abandoning her daughter. And her father (Alessandro Nivola) is a fading rock-and-roll star who has no idea he has a daughter, let alone any intention of being a father to one. “Janie Jones” the film and each of the characters pick all the right notes.2010 (with 2012 DVD release)

Directed by: David M. Rosenthal

Screenplay by: David M. Rosenthal

Starring: Abigail Breslin and Alessandro Nivola
See full review of Janie Jones

#7 Stuck Between Stations


A relationship drama about the characters and what they have to say.

Not too often do small, indie, unknown films come along and engage you with dialogue, only dialogue. That’s what makes “Stuck Between Stations” such a good movie. There isn’t really a story as it just meanders along with two semi- directionless people on one night with parties and conversations. The trailer suggested there was a mysterious element, but none to be found. Rebecca and Casper connect and reconnect and we connect with them on a very meaningful and personal level.

Directed by: Brady Kiernan

Screenplay by: Sam Rosen, Nat Bennett

Starring: Zoe Lister Jones, Sam Rosen and Josh Hartnett
See full review of Stuck Between Stations

#8 Rid of Me


A bleak character study encompassing the best and discomfort of a dark comedy.

Advertised as a black comedy, and that’s all, “Rid of Me” suggests that there is an event or plot twist that should not be revealed. And indeed it does open with an obscene, aberrant action which most people have the little bit of self-restraint required to never perform such an act. Following that opening sequence, the film reveals two subtle twists which show how unique and independent this is.2011

Directed by: James Westby

Screenplay by: James Westby

Starring: Katie O'Grady
See full review of Rid of Me

#9 Dirty Girl

   Embracing the dirty girl attitude.

I liked “Dirty Girl” because it was unabashedly fun. It was pro-gay rights, pro-female independence, and anti-religious persecution without it being about any of that. On the surface it was an ‘80s throwback with the teen kids embracing the “anything goes” attitude while their parents clung to their conservative values. Pack a suitcase, pop in a mixed tape and run away.2010

Directed by: Abe Sylvia

Screenplay by: Abe Sylvia

Starring: Juno Temple
See full review of Dirty Girl

#10 Darling Companion


Finding a heart-warming relationship dramedy after losing the dull romantic comedy.
I know what you’re thinking, do we really need another must-love-dogs romantic comedy? Thankfully, contrary to marketing attempts, “Darling Companion” is not a romantic comedy. It’s more like an outdoor adventure, relationship dramedy, mystery. Unfortunately, it did start as if it was a romantic comedy. Mother and daughter were annoyingly commiserating on the problems of finding a good man. Then they found a dog and met a cute doctor. 2012

Directed by: Lawrence Kasdan

Screenplay by: Lawrence Kasdan and Meg Kasdan

Starring: Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, Richard Jenkins, Dianne Wiest and Mark Duplass
See full review of Darling Companion

#11 Compliance


Straight-forward approach to the realistic depravity of mankind.

“Compliance” is about how far people will go to a voice of authority. Sandra (Ann Dowd) the manager at a fast food restaurant is called by an Officer Daniels (Pat Healy) and is told to interrogate and search the young employee Becky (Dreama Walker). It’s yet another example of the Milgram experiment in real life. The drama is not just based on one true event, but a true event that occurred 70 times. 2012

Directed by: Craig Zobel

Screenplay by: Craig Zobel

Starring: Ann Dowd, and Dreama Walker
See full review of Compliance

#12 A Beginner's Guide to Endings


A life adventure for three common-sense-lacking, dysfunctional brothers. 

“A Beginner’s Guide to Endings” begins with Duke White (Harvey Keitel) rattling off odds of chance, of life, of games, and of death. He’s determined to kill himself one way or another and see if his death can give his sons better odds at living a semi-functional life. He has five sons, from three different women, and we first meet them at his funeral. 2010 (with 2012 release)

Directed by: Jonathan Sobol

Screenplay by: Jonathan Sobol

Starring: Jason Jones, Scott Caan, Paulo Costanzo and JK Simmons
See full review of A Beginner's Guide to Endings

#13 For a Good Time, Call...


Crass and crude but sweet and cute, this female friendship is funny and enjoyable.
Lauren (Lauren Miller) and Katie (Ari Graynor) have a mutual friend (Justin Long), but they hate each other. A humorous flashback scene is included to help explain their hatred. Essentially, they’re opposites. Lauren lives the settled conservative life with her perfect, boring boyfriend; Katie is an adventurous, flamboyant sex phone operator. And now their current situations force them to become roommates. 2012

Directed by: Jamie Travis

Screenplay by: Lauren Miller, Katie Anne Naylon

Starring: Lauren Miller, Ari Graynor, and Justin Long
See full review of For a Good Time, Call...

#14 Ingenious

Walking the typical drama-comedy line but with great camaraderie.

“Ingenious” (formerly known as “Lightbulb”) is a typical drama-comedy about putting yourself out there and following your dreams no matter how broke or desperate you become. But don’t worry, it’s not as cliché as it sounds. It plays out with comedy and their ideas are anything but commonplace. Matt (Dallas Roberts) and Sam (Jeremy Renner) are life-long friends trying to make it rich with the next genius idea. 2009 (with 2012 DVD release)

Directed by: Jeff Balsmeyer

Screenplay by: Mike Cram

Starring: Dallas Roberts, Jeremy Renner
See full review of Ingenious

#15 Juko's Time Machine


Creating rules of time travel that are clever and hilarious.

There are some genres where the less money you have, the harder it is to make a worthwhile film. Science fiction is one of those genres. But “Juko’s Time Machine” does it right. Juko (Nathan Cozzolino) has been in love with Rory (Zibby Allen) forever, but she is now engaged. The only way he can win her over is if he goes back in time and gets her to fall in love with him. 2011

Directed by: Kai Barry

Screenplay by: Kai Barry

Starring: Nathan Cozzolino, Alex Moggridge and Zibby Allen
See full review of Juko's Time Machine