We here at IWM2$’s have written numerous articles on underrated films either at the end of the year or just in general. It seems like most of those articles are about comedies though or are just films we really love to quote. This time around I want to talk about underappreciated films, movies that probably come from a great director or have a great cast that for whatever reason just don’t get talked about with their best work. You’ll understand as I go along.
The Game – David Fincher is probably my favorite director going today. Yes I loved Gone Girl, The Social Network and Fight Club as much as everyone else, but I honestly don’t understand how The Game gets no love whatsoever. Seven put Fincher on the map and yet no one remembers The Game came out after that. It’s beautifully layered and Michael Douglas is simply fantastic in the movie. Fincher fans love it, but all movie buffs should as well.
3:10 to Yuma – Yes westerns are nowhere near as popular as they were decades ago, but this James Mangold remake is the best western since Tombstone. The most mind boggling thing about the film is that it stars both Russell Crowe AND Christian Bale, actors who have both won Oscars. Add in the underrated Ben Foster and Alan Tudyk plus a young Logan Lerman and this is a film that should play monthly on cable. Somehow you can probably find The Quick & the Dead more often on TV than this!
Made – Before becoming a huge director with Iron Man and Elf, Jon Favreau was an indie darling to those in the know. Sure even non-movie nerds know Swingers yet nobody talks about Made. Written and directed by Favreau, Made may not be as quotable as Swingers, but if you’ve seen it, you know Favreau somehow got strong performances from both Puff Daddy and Screech!
Smokin’ Aces – To me Joe Carnahan himself is underrated. Stretch should have been a hit in 2014 if the studio didn’t screw it up. The Grey is fantastic and Joe helped get The Blacklist to TV. But to me his best film is Smokin’ Aces. I saw a test screening of it way back when and was hooked from then. With a cast that includes Ben Affleck, Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta, Jason Bateman, Chris Pine, Jeremy Piven, Common and more, there’s no reason this film isn’t listed among the best action movies of the 2000s.
The Friends of Eddie Coyle – Yeah I’m going back a bit for this one, but this truly is an underappreciated film. From director Peter Yates (Bullitt), Eddie Coyle CREATED the Boston Crime Drama genre. Robert Mitchum, Alex Rocco and Peter Boyle are fantastic in a film that for whatever reason just doesn’t get the respect it deserves. It’s just as good if not better than Mean Streets. Yeah I said it!
Memento – Like Fincher, Christopher Nolan is one of the best in the business. Everyone has seen his Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception, but for my money, Memento is probably his smartest film. With a mind blowing performance from Guy Pearce, you can watch Memento 20 times and catch something different every time. Don’t watch it for a few years, pop it in and you’ll view it again like it’s the first time.
Go – Doug Liman may be known for big action films like Edge of Tomorrow, Mr. & Mrs. Smith and The Bourne Identity, but it’s Go that always stood out to me. I loved Swingers, but for him to follow that up with a trippy, multi-layered, huge ensemble cast drug/party movie seemed way out of left field. Katie Holmes was still a Dawson’s Creek darling when this came out and the soundtrack is still great.
Singles – Sure he’s had a few misses lately, but Cameron Crowe was once a top line director. With films like Vanilla Sky, Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous, Crowe went to the big time, but it’s his homage to Seattle in 1992 that I love. I’m a grunge nerd and to this day will buy anything Pearl Jam and Soundgarden put out, but take away the music and Singles is still a genuine film about relationships and friends. Sure live performances from Alice in Chains and cameos from Seattle’s best help and I still listen to the soundtrack to this day, but it’s probably Crowe’s most honest film after Say Anything.
Reign Over Me – Almost every comedic actor makes an attempt at a dramatic role and most film nerds will say Adam Sandler’s best attempt was Punch-Drunk Love. I didn’t like that movie, but I really liked Reign Over Me. Another film I saw a test screening of, Sandler plays a New Yorker who loses his family on 9/11 and can’t cope with life afterwards. 9/11 can be a very touchy subject, but the film handles it well and that event is used more for a backstory than it is an emotional ploy. Sandler gives an amazing performance and Don Cheadle and Liv Tyler round out the cast. Plus Pearl Jam’s cover of The Who’s Love Reign O’er Me is perfection.
My Blue Heaven – I can’t do a list without some comedies and this Steve Martin/Rick Moranis film is truly underappreciated. Written by Nora Ephron, the film, to me, gets more laughs than My Cousin Vinny. Martin is in Witness Protection and plays the classic fish out of water character flawlessly. Moranis walked away from Hollywood, but man was he brilliant and Joan Cusack is always a great addition.
The Invention of Lying – I thought this Ricky Gervais film was absolute genius when I first saw it. Gervais turns the tables on religion, humanity, relationships, wealth & careers and everything else. In a world where no one can lie, there’s no fabricated stories written thousands of years ago, no games being played while dating, and everyone knows what rung on the ladder they belong on. With a cast that includes Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Jonah Hill, Louis C.K., Rob Lowe and Tina Fey, there are huge laughs along with touching scenes and brutal, brutal honesty.
Clue – An absolute favorite of mine since I was a kid, I recently rewatched it for the first time in years and it’s still laugh out loud funny. Based on the board game, the cast includes underrated stars Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, and Martin Mull. Communism was just a red herring.
The Mist – I know so many people who hate this movie, but man is that ending one of my favorite “Middle Finger” moments in film. Based on the novel by Stephen King, director Frank Darabont weaves an ensemble cast that has you rooting for and against characters in this small town. Darabont is known more for The Shawshank Redemption and The Walking Dead, but The Mist has a special place in my heart because of that heart wrenching, anger inducing ending so many people cringe over.
So what are your favorite underappreciated films? Let me know at www.Twitter.com/Murraymaker