Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Underrated Movies, a discussion (or a free for all)

Lately my blog has become to political (which is hard for me to refrain from allowing to happen in such uncertain times- with so much insanity out there). However, in an attempt to lighten things up and gather some comments and discussion, I have decided to discuss favorite underrated films.

So, call your friends over from your blogs to comment, fight and become enlightened.

Forrest Gump, Shakespeare in Love, Chicago, American Beauty, Titanic, Out of Africa, Silence of the Lambs, The English Patient, Braveheart, Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind

All Academy Award Winners for Best Picture
All overrated

Since the Academy seldom picks the film I deem Best Picture of the Year and the box office rarely rewards original artistic expression (I have only so much time to waste in front of a television screen), I actually pay attention to certain critics, giving them the authority to help me decide if a film is (1) a must-see in the theater (which means 'get a babysitter'; (2) a must-see, but it can wait until DVD (most good films); (3) a watch on DVD but don't expect much (most Hollywood films); or (4) don't bother (sadly, most of the shelves at Blockbuster).

However, even the critics are not correct or helpful 100% of the time. So, I have been giving consideration to those fine films that either (1) perform very poorly at the box office; (2) perform poorly with the critics; or (3) get less acclaim than they should.

In light of these criteria, I want to elicit your help (so send some film fan readers from your blogs, if you have one).

Comment and share your top 2 or 3 underrated gems (can be all-time or recent). Some films you cannot mention include

Shawshank Redemption (fine film but canonized by TNT and sentimental males)
Braveheart (very overrated, especially by we John Eldredge readers and won best pic)
Star Wars Episode 1 (unless you are 10)
The Matrix (recently canonized and never underrated)
Magnolia (brilliant film that has found its audience and acclaim)
Big Lebowski (which has become a cult classic).

My Top Ten (since it is my blog) to begin the conversation...

(10) Fletch Lives: panned when it was released, it is as good as Fletch

(9) Spartan: detailed thriller by David Mamet and starring Val Kilmer. No one has seen it.

(8) Confidence: Ed Burns and Dustin Hoffman in a fun Sting-like con game. Shallow but worth the time.

(7) Miller's Crossing: could be the Coen Brothers' finest work, but few remember it.

(6) Fearless: one of the best films of past 20 years, directed by Peter Wier and starring Jeff Bridges, it is all but forgotten.

(5) Dodgeball: not Oscar-worthy, but dang funny. One of the better dumb comedies of the last few years, it was panned by critics upon release.

(4) The Limey: underrated Soderburgh gem starring Terrance Stamp as an aging ex-con trying to figure out who killed his daughter. It is dark and quite disturbing. It has signature Soderburgh filmmaking and some great camera work, including the opening credits. Also, it makes use of old film footage of Stamp as a young man (very original). If you liked Sexy Beast, you will like this. I almost went with Out of Sight, which is among his best work, but many people have since discovered its wonder.

(3) Unbreakable: like watching a graphic novel or comic book, Shamalyn's camera work is not for everyone. Only comic readers can truly appreciate what is happening from the framing of each shot to the dialogue and plot.

(2) Three Kings: As many friends know, this is my favorite movie of the past decade. It had no nominations in 1999, and I am still bitter. Give an independent filmmaker $50 million and a long leash and see what happens (big budget art). The camera work, once again, is unparalleled and original. The cast (all big names) is brilliant, especially Mark Wahlberg. This film resonates deeply post-9/11 and its importance continues to rise. It humanizes Arabs and shows the complexity of Iraq's politics and the U.S. mistakes in 1991. It deftly melds comedy, drama, thriller, action caper, war flick, polemic and religion. Name any other big movie so brave and sweeping.

(1) Manhunter: Michael Mann's 1986 thriller is superior to its remake, Red Dragon, as well as the rest of the Hannibel Lector trilogy. Brain Cox's subtle rendition of Lector is more menacing, and C.S.I.'s William Peterson is the perfect foil. The soundtrack, lighting, and slow-burn tension remind me of what filmmaking can be.

I would add Dr. Strangelove. Why? Because most critics don't have it Number 1. It is the best film ever.

So what do you think? Let the games begin!


Alex F said...

I think About a Boy is underrated, but wonder if anyone else agrees.

DJ Word said...

good choice.

Considering its acclaim in certain circles I do not know if many would consider it underrated. But, from an "Oscar" and financial perspective it was. It seems only the critics and certain peeople paid attention.

But, it is a great flick.

Bob Robinson said...

As Good As It Gets is just that. James L. Brooks (director) and Mark Andrus (writer) should get a lot of the credit, and Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt and Greg Kinnear give incedible performances. Very few movies actually make me laugh and cry like this one does.

Christopher Nolan's Memento is an incredibly unique movie.

My favorite M. Night Shyamalan movie is a toss-up between Signs and The Sixth Sense (though I liked Unbreakable too. Was not as crazy about The Village--I guess I've become too aware of Night's tricks).

A good movie for Dads everywhere who are struggling along the rollercoaster ride of life is Parenthood. Steve Martin struggles with family issues (with his wife, kids, and his extended family) with funny and touching moments throughout.

Bob Robinson said...

Some would question whether or not As Good As It Gets is underrated...It probably is not, since it was nominated for Best Picture and because Nicholson and Hunt both won for Best Acting. So sorry about that.

But I think a lot of people dismiss this film as either (a) a Hollywood film so it must not be very good, or (b) a chick flick, so it must not be very good. It is neither a standard Hollywood film nor a "chick flick"

p.a.hiles said...

my list of underrated movies would be:
1. all m.night.shymalan movies.
2. finding neverland.
3. finding forester.
4. saved!.
5. extreme days.
6. army of darkness.
7. bruce almighty.
8. the long kiss goodnight.
9. hotel rwanda.
10. constantine.
let me know what you think! i'd love to hear your thoughts!

p.a.hiles said...

i would also add "as good as it gets" to my list now that i think about it! i love nicholson's character in the movie!

p.a.hiles said...

memento was also a very good movie that was also very underrated! i can't wait to see what christopher nolan has done with "batman begins."man,my list just keeps getting bigger!

g13 said...

there are so many. i’ll just provide a short:

just one of the guys
turner and hooch
road house
vice versa
one crazy summer
war games
ernest goes to camp

DJ Word said...

My thoughts on all the listed movies I think are worthy of comments...

Gentry- Yours may be a joke, but in some avenues Ishatar is now a classic, especially among musicians (esp. those who have toured). I know some highly intelligent people who would rate it very high (I can give names at another time).I still think it is kinda dumb, but it has grown on me a little.

Also War Games may not have aged well, but it was a fine film years ago. As for the rest of the list...


Momento I would not consider underrated. Maybe underviewed. but, it has a nice sized little following. the critics loved it. It is a great flick though. For an entitely underrated gem, check out Nolans first flick, which reminds me of Hard Eight by PT Anderson, before Magnolia.

As Good As it gets is a wonderful movie and one of Nicholsons best, but it was nominated for many Oscars, including Best Pic and it one a few. Probably the most underrated Brooks flick is Spanglish, which was very good, but suffered poor reviews (probably because it was not as good as his previous perfection).

As for the Shamalyn films, I would count Sixth Sense as not underrated because of the Oscar noms and the fact that it changed movie making. Any of the others could be considered underrated because they did not grab people like Sixth Sense. Signs was huge though.

Finding Neverland was great, but had 6 or 7 Oscar Noms. Finding Forester makes sense as a underrated movie choice. the rest of those could def be considered underrrated by some except Hotel Rwanda. It is still too early to see if everyone sees it. It was critically praised, but everyone will hopefully see it one day.

Actually the coup de gras (I speak no French and probably destroyed the phrase) of your list is Long Kiss Goodnight, which is truly one of the great action flicks. Everytime I see it on TV I cannot turn it off. It made no money, even though the critics loved it.After 9-11 it is very spooky and messes with you a little. Truly an underrated film. It is my favorite on the list so far.

Parenthood is a good choice. I had a hard time remembering the good underrated comedies. Parenthood took a critical beating at the time but was painfully funny.

Where are James and Cade?

Anonymous said...

I thought "The Insider" with Russell Crowe and Al Pacino was a very good movie. I know Crowe got an Oscar nomination, but other than that and the subject matter, it seems a bit underated. A good "slow burn" kind of movie. Michael of TN

Anonymous said...

Rushmore, by wes anderson. One of my all time favorites. It's quirky, funny and beautifully filmed.

Anonymous said...

Tron...hands down.

Anonymous said...

Off the top of my head and in no particular order...
1. Evil Dead 2
2. Lost Boys
3. In the Company of Men
4. Rancho Deluxe
5. The Lion in Winter
6. Silverado
7. Young Guns
8. Wall Street
9. Python's Holy Grail
10. Aliens (that's right, with an "s")

Byron said...

I'm not sure if this qualifies me as "highly intelligent" or not, but both my wife and myself consider Ishtar to be one of our favorite films---this despite the fact that it is probably the most-panned movie of all time. Gary Larson did a Far Side cartoon on "Hell's Video Store", and it was shelf after shelf of Ishtar...nonetheless, if you've not seen it, but only heard how "awful" it was, it's worth the 99 cents it'll cost to check it out. I've watched it several times, and plan to again.

Oh...and Parenthood was one of the worst movies I've ever what do I know?

Anonymous said...

11. Three Amigos
12. Ghostbusters

james said...

Sorry I've been late into this...i assure you that I do have my reasons though. Here's 3 that I will through into the mix.

*12 Monkeys
* I will also through in a word for Memento. While it received high honors in critics circles, it received nothing from the academy. Losing Best Original Screenplay to "Gosford Park" while acceptable, i would still consider a snub.
*Vera Drake - (future uderrated film) While this is still too new, and having posted 3 oscar noms, I am almost certain this film will slip off the radar in a year or two. The film is outstanding.

DJ Word said...

James- Send Cade

Here are some final thoughts on the aforementioned movies...

Memento- I am still struggling with "underrated" considering its influence, the resume for Nolan, the love people have. It is somewhere between cult fave and underrated. I might place it with Lebowski as a film that has found an audience. But, I understand the sentiment.

As for Gosford winning the screenplay that year, the sin is that Gosford did not give Altmann a deserved Oscar for direction (on eof the better directed films I have ever seen).

12 Monkeys- good call since it has been forgotten. Brad Pitt changed turned me into a fan with that performance.

3 Amigos is better with the aging.

Ghostbusters is not underrated. For 10 years it was the biggest comedy of all time. Still it is as great as Ghostbusters 2 is bad.

Aliens- I guess I cannot consider it underrated since Jim Cameron made it. Plus, I saw it 6 times (yes 6) the summer I graduated from HS (it is still among my Top 20 all time). Action movies do not get better.

Good calls on Silverado, Evil Dead 2 (any early Raimi), In the Company of Men, Lost Boys and young Guns (which probably suck to anyone below 30 and above 40).

I may differ on Holy Grail since many consdier it a classic.

Dave you are showing your age as someone born in the late 60s.

VERY GOOD CALL ON TRON. Amazing flick. Still good. Oh the wonders of Jeff Bridges.


Rushmore is a good call. Kristi and her best friend mentioned Bottle Rocket, a seldom seen gem.

I think Life Aquatic will become a cult classic. And, Royal Tennenbaums is among my faves all time. Anything by Anderson can be seen as underrated.

Although Oscar nominated, I agree with The Insider. That was the most tension I have felt in a film without guns in a long time. Plus, that is the flick Crowe should be remembered for, not Gladiator and Beautiful Mind.

Anonymous said...

13. Office Space
14. The Beach

Anonymous said...

15. Amistad
16. From Dusk 'Til Dawn
17. Internal Affairs
18. The Apostle
19. Free Enterprise
20. Fever Pitch (the original, I haven't seen the new one)
21. Tin Cup

cade said...

sorry for the tardiness. louisville, kentucky and my own laziness have kept me from even seeing this until today.

so here we go:

-all coen bros movies EXCEPT fargo and o, brother.
-grosse pointe blank
-rashomon (for all you obscure japanese afficianados out there)

-3 words: the english patient
-four weddings and a funeral
-that 'bridget jones' crap

amen on bottle rocket, silverado and 12 monkeys.