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Ten Underrated Movies

May 21, 2010
   10.) Legend (1985):Why, you ask?  Well, if you buy the director’s cut on DVD, you will understand.  If you take away the god-awful Tangerine Dream soundtrack and replace it with the original, orchestral version, it becomes (surprisingly) a decent fairy tale with some pretty awesome effects for the mid-80s.  Also, it replaces a lot of the confusing edits/missing dialogue and removes the “happy” ending, much in the line of Blade Runner.  See this version if you haven’t before. I love the set design and costumes for this flick.  It is worth a watch for these alone.

9.) Pushing Tin (2000):

 One of the most underrated comedies of all time.  John Cusack is just plain hilarious and cad-like.  Angelina Jolie is actually not nearly as obnoxious as she usually is, probably because she is playing a character I suspect was pretty close to her real personality at the time (i.e. drunk, wearing black tight outfits and married to Billy Bob Thornton, who plays her husband in the movie).  Plus, Cate Blanchett plays a New Jersey housewife.  How can one miss that? 

8.) Silverado (1984):

I am not normally a fan of the Western genre, but this movie is the exception.  It has an amazing cast, an interesting screenplay and some pretty spectacular cinematography.    I fell in love with Kevin Kline in this film – I heart Paden.  Try to listen to the soundtrack and not enjoy yourself.  I dare you.

7.) Beautiful Girls (1997):

If you can’t quote approximately 90% of this movie, you are missing out on life.  I can’t find the soundtrack CD in my collection (it is hiding somewhere) and I am very depressed.  Anyone who misses their high school days or remembers their ten year reunion can appreciate this one.  Also, if you happen to be a 30-year-old guy obsessed with jail-bait, this could be a bit of nostalgia.

6.) Serenity (2003):

 Yes, I admit I am a hardcore Browncoat (if you don’t know what that is, go out and rent the whole…and only…season of Firefly and repent, right now).  Still, this movie stands on its own without the backstory and mythology of the series.  I unabashedly adore the rapport the actors have, and due to Joss Whedon’s hard work and limitless talents, the screenplay and dynamics of the story just plain make it one of my faves.

5.) Gangs of New York:


God bless Martin Scorsese.  He managed to rehabilitate Leo DiCaprio, starting with this film.  After Titanic, let’s face it, I wanted to hurl blunt objects repeatedly at poor Leo, but even he can’t ruin this kick-ass flick.  I admit, I am a sucker for well-choreographed violence.  I also appreciate that this is the first time the Civil War Draft Riots have EVER been portrayed on film.  Shame you, writers of history textbooks, for not including a “little” incident of such PROFOUND racism and xenophobia in the annals of record.  The effects of that little riot shook the nation for years, yet you won’t find a single paragraph about it in your kid’s American History book.

4.) Romeo +Juliet (1996):


Baz Luhrman’s update of the bard’s old yarn is one of the few Shakespeare modernizations that actually works.  I admit that I am a Baz fan, but he manages to get the characters RIGHT.  Romeo and Juliet are both appropriately whiny, immature and annoying.  Mercutio is fantastically awesome, as he should be, since he is the true “star” of the play.  Whenever  I teach R and J every year, every guy wants to read the part of Romeo until they realize how obnoxious he is.  Then they all want to be Mercutio, of course.

3.)The Right Stuff (1983):


Although not as fascinating as Tom Wolfe’s book, this movie is a surprisingly accurate look at the development of the space program.  Let’s face it, you don’t need to mess much with the details to make the events spring off of the screen.  There’s enough real-life drama to satisfy everyone at some point.  Great performances by Ed Harris (when is he NOT awesome?) and Dennis Quaid shouldn’t be missed.

2.) The Abyss (1989):

I, for the life of me, cannot understand why this movie didn’t hit big.  It has all the makings of an espionage thriller for the first half hour, and then James Cameron plunges you right into the twist…it’s actually a Sci-Fi film, and a brilliant one at that.  Watch it in the dark with the sound WAAY up.  You feel like you are at the bottom of the sea, right down to the cramped conditions and dripping water.  Plus, it has the first example of the CGI that would rear its head (no pun intended) in Terminator 2 just a few years later.

1.)  Great Expectations (1997):

This was Alfonso Cuaron before Prisoner of Azkaban and the current craze for Latin directors…

This movie is so extraordinarily good that I think the critics just didn’t know what to make of it.  I HATE, HATE ,HATE Charles Dickens, so liking this movie is saying something in the extreme.  Cuaron just has this amazing eye for details (right down to making Pip an artist instead of a useless “gentleman” like in the book).  The setting of  Havisham/Dinsmore’s crumbling Florida mansion and the not-so-neatly-tied up ending really do the trick.  Watch it again with new eyes if you’ve seen it before.

 Feel free to comment if you’ve got any underrated movies on YOUR list to add.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 16, 2010 7:33 am

    I only saw three of these (Romeo+Juliet, The Abyss and Gangs of New York), so can’t comment on the rest, but can’t understand why The Abyss would be underrated. I saw it for the first time this year and was wowed by it, really amazing movie.
    Gangs of New York is very good as well, Daniel Day-Lewis is just stunning in this. Reading about it I really have to watch it again as it’s been a while.

    Will try to check out the rest of your top ten.

    • July 21, 2010 10:13 pm

      Gangs of New York is one of my favorite films. I think it is a case of Scorsese making so many great films that Gangs sometimes gets lost in the shuffle!

  2. July 17, 2010 10:08 pm

    you’re right, great expectations is one of the great but forgotten movies from the 90’s. i discovered it by chance but as soon as i finished watching it, it became one of my favourite films.

    i think nine is also another very underrated movie. from my point of view, it’s one of the greatest musical films ever done, although it seems like it’s just me who thinks like that.

    • July 21, 2010 10:12 pm

      I, too, liked Nine more than most of the critics. I think it was undeservedly panned. Overall it was a very entertaining movie with some great musical numbers and several great performances. I was disappointed Marion Cotillard did not receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She was amazing in the film.

      • July 22, 2010 7:59 am

        i agree, i think marion deserved the nomination much more than penélope cruz. she was brilliant as guido’s wife! (well, she’s almost always brilliant in all movies she does.) anyhow, nine was completely forgotten in the academy awards of this year.

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