Now that all the Oscars have been handed out — to the right movies, of course — we can close the book on the best films of 2016 and look ahead to what 2017 has to offer. Already, Jordan Peele has delivered a critical and commercial favorite with Get Out, a double success also pulled off by John Wick: Chapter 2 and The LEGO Batman Movie. Meanwhile, Sundance 2017 has given us the year’s first big movie award winner — and you don’t even have to go to the theater to see it. Fresh off its world premiere at Park City in January, where it picked up the U.S. Grand Jury Prize for a dramatic film, Macon Blair‘s darkly amusing crime yarn, I Don’t Feel At Home in this World Anymore, went live on Netflix on Feb. 24, one of the fastest turnaround times in Sundance history.
An actor making his feature filmmaking debut, Blair previously starred in Jeremy Saulnier’s breakout festival hit, Blue Ruin. And if you’ve seen that earlier film, you’ll recognize some of its shared DNA with Home, including strands of Blood Simple and Get Carter. In a star turn that taps into her too-often underused flair for deadpan comedy, Melanie Lynskey plays Ruth, a Pacific Northwest slacker clearly in need of a push to get off the couch and out her front door. She finds that motivation after her house is burglarized and the local cops offer half-hearted promises to investigate. In the vacuum of an official manhunt, Ruth launches an independent inquiry, enlisting the aid of neighborhood weirdo, Tony (Elijah Wood), who comes armed with a pair of nunchuks and plenty of nervous energy.
The hunt for the burglar starts small, but gradually escalates in ways that are funny for us, but fairly painful for our dynamic duo. Blue Ruin followed a similar trajectory with Blair’s avenging nomad plunging himself into the deep end of a revenge plan that increasingly threatens to drown him in bloodshed. Paula, at least, doesn’t have to go full vigilante until the final act, which transports her well out of the ramshackle neighborhood she calls home. Handing Blair the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, juror Peter Dinklage described I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore as “a wholly original tumble down the rabbit hole: dangerous, surprising and completely uproarious.” Not only does Tyrion Lannister always pay his debts — he’s also got a great taste in movies.
‘Blue Ruin’: Watch a trailer: