The Guest List: Underrated and Overlooked Movies
I hope you’re all ready for another stellar edition of The Guest List! This week, I’m very excited to have Eric from Underrated and Overlooked Movies contributing his top 10 to the segment! If you don’t already follow or subscribe to his site, you better do so, right now! Honestly, this man knows what he’s talking about. I’ve found so many hidden gems through his efforts to bring the best of hidden cinema to the forefront. So, yeah, go and show him some love!
If you’d like to contribute your own top 10 to The Guest List, here’s how…
All you need to do is shoot me an e mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your name, website info (if you have one), and the topic you have chosen for your top 10. If I like what I see, I’ll give you the all clear and you can begin composing your entry. Make sure to include a descriptive, yet brief introduction and a picture or clip for every entry in your top 10. Use my own top 10s as references. Then, send it back to me and we will discuss a date of publish.
I’m going to turn things over to Eric now, enjoy!
Top 10 Underrated and Overlooked Movies: by Eric
I love finding underrated movies, overlooked films, and hidden gems. Now I know that there are many different interpretations of the words “underrated” and “overlooked,” and even though I understand that distinctions can be made, for the most part I use the two words interchangeably. I usually think of an underrated or overlooked movie as being one that was generally ignored by large, mainstream audiences.
There are so many movies out there, and I’m sure there are many under-the-radar ones that I still do not know about, but I think it is way too easy to just pick “art house,” “experimental” and/or “avant-garde” movies for a list like this… So part of my philosophy is to pick (for the most part) movies that would appeal to a lot of people, but yet were simply passed over by the masses for one reason or another.
There are many, many underrated/overlooked movies on my personal list (I’m up to #275 on my blog), so it was very tough to narrow it down. And there are different kinds of Top 10 lists that could be made, such as My Top 10 Favorite Underrated Movies, or Top 10 Most-Unknown Underrated Movies, or Top 10 Underrated Thrillers, or Top 10 Overlooked Movies Starring Bill Paxton etc. This time, we’ll just keep it simple and count down a general list of the Top 10 Underrated/Overlooked Movies. Here we go! Punch it, Bishop!
This is a story about coal miners in West Virginia and their battle with the “company” to form a union. It is directed by John Sayles, who is known for his independent films. His movies are sometimes “hit-and-miss”, but Matewan is a bullseye. It is amazingly detailed, and it features what might be the two best “bad guys” in movie history. Some movies are overlooked when they are released, but then gain popularity or “cult status” over time, but Matewan has pretty much remained unknown to most people, and it should be known.
9: The Last of Sheila
If you like intricate puzzles and mysteries, then this is your movie. It is about a rich movie mogul who sets up a complex game for a group of “friends” in order to exact revenge for various events in his past. As the movie moves along, the game gets more and more elaborate… So beware: you have to pay attention! There’s a good list stars in this one, including James Coburn, James Mason, Raquel Welch, and Ian McShane. It was actually written by Anthony Perkins (yes, the star of Psycho) and Stephen Sondheim (the Academy Award winning composer and lyricist).
8: Tucker: The Man and His Dream
This is one of those movies in which I wonder, “How in the world could this one have gone unnoticed?” It was overlooked when it was released, and it is still mostly unknown to this day. It’s the story of Preston Tucker, who designed and built a brand new car — the Tucker Sedan — in the mid-to-late 1940’s that was set to rival Detroit’s “Big Three.” Everything about this movie is great: it was produced by George Lucas, so it had a big budget… it is directed by Francis Ford Coppola… and it was even nominated for three Oscars, including Martin Landau for best supporting actor, which he should have won.
7: What’s Up Doc?
I feel like I need to throw-in a comedy, so here is the funniest comedy of all time. Sometimes I judge whether or not a movie is “overlooked” by the number of user votes the movie has on imdb.com, and What’s Up Doc? has about 11,300, which is not very many. This screwball comedy has big-time laughs and is consistently funny throughout. The plot involves the exchange of three bags that… well, the plot doesn’t really matter… Just watch it! Madeline Kahn and Kenneth Mars are especially hilarious.
Who doesn’t like movies about math? Proof is an extremely well done movie based on a play about a brilliant mathematician, played by Anthony Hopkins, who discovers an important new mathematical theorem. Or does he? You wouldn’t think that a movie about math could be almost thrilling, but this is, and it’s got some great dialog as well, and great acting by Hopkins, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Hope Davis. It’s also got one of the greatest musical scores to come down the pike in a long time.
5: House of Games
This movie is written and directed by David Mamet, who is known for his odd and quirky dialog. So I’m telling you to be ready to hear some dialog that might not really sound quite right, but yet in the end, that is what makes it all the more interesting and memorable. Not to mention that this is probably the best con-game movie ever made. It’s about a psychiatrist who decides, arrogantly, that she is going to study and write a book about con men and the games they play. House of Games was hailed by critic Roger Ebert as the best film of the year for 1987.
4: The Lookout
Some movies that I choose as picks for my Underrated Movies List become more popular as time goes on, and this is one of them, probably because of Joseph Gordon Levitt. This kind of sudden “cult status” also happened with another Gordon Levitt movie: 500 Days of Summer, which is now pretty much no longer “overlooked.” My favorite movie genre is the psychological and action thriller, and The Lookout is one of the best. It is about a bank robbery, which has been done many times before, but this is completely different and original. Written and directed by Scott Frank, writer of the Minority Report screenplay.
3: Billy Budd
How Billy Budd isn’t considered one of the all-time classics in movie history is beyond me. It is based on the short novella by Herman Melville. Peter Ustinov is one of my favorite actors, and he was unbelievable in this high seas adventure set on a British man-o-war in the late 1700’s. Ustinov also directed. This was pretty much Terence Stamp’s (General Zod in Superman: The Movie and Superman II) debut film, and he was nominated for an Oscar. Also starring Melvyn Douglas and Robert Ryan as the evil Master of Arms. This is a virtually unknown classic!
2: A Simple Plan
This is another one that is probably more well-known than some of the others on this list, but I consider it maybe the greatest thriller of all time. It’s about a group of “friends” who discover in the woods a crashed plane that contains a bag of money, and their “simple plan” to keep/steal it. This one ratchets up the tension to a high degree, and along the lines of Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment,” makes the point that “crime doesn’t pay.” Plus, I had to include a Bill Paxton movie… he seems to appear in more underrated movies than anyone else. Directed by Sam Raimi.
1: Breaker Morant
If there’s such a thing as a “perfect movie,” Breaker Morant might be one of them. The film is about the court martial of three British soldiers who are set up to take the blame for the disastrous Second Boar War in the early 1900’s, which involved the British Empire’s attempt to conquer the world by force. Everything about the movie is top-notch, but especially noteworthy is Jack Thompson’s performance as the not-so-prepared lawyer who is commanded by the British army to defend the prisoners.
There you go. I hope you enjoy these if you ever get to watch them! And feel free to comment on your underrated/overlooked picks. I’m always on the lookout for more hidden gems…