The Fisher King (1991)
I don’t get how a film with the sublime Robin Williams, and “The Dude” Jeff Bridges could fall under most people’s radar, but somehow, this Terry Gilliam film isn’t well known.
The sad part of it is, it should be. This is a beautiful comedy/drama about a radio shock jock who tries to find redemption by helping a man who’s life he’s ruined. The film garnered several Oscar nominations and wins, as well as several other awards, but it’s not something the majority of the film going crowd has seen.
Don’t be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood (1996)
In true Wayan’s Bros fashion, this is a hilarious send up of “growing-up-in-the-hood” movies. Most critics hated it, but if you’re into their style of comedy, and you’re a fan of Boyz in the Hood, Do the Right Thing, & Menace II Society, this’ll be right up your alley. Plus it’s insanely quotable.
Mostly assumed to be a Matrix rip-off, with critics ridiculing the “gun-kata” martial art used in the film, this one’s actually highly underrated. This dystopian film starring Christian Bale has a story that revolves around a future where emotions are suppressed and a martial art that’s been formed around the gun, is used to execute dissidents.
While it doesn’t hold up incredibly well 16 years later, it’s still a great watch with a strong statement about individuality and emotion.
City of God (2002)
This Brazilian crime film is visually stunning, but was widely ignored by the North American viewing audience, which is a shame. There’s a lot of great work coming out of unexpected places, and this film about rival drug gangs in Rio de Janiero is pretty violent, but also intellectually compelling.
The Vengeance Trilogy (2002-2005)
Though not a true trilogy, these three films by South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook are connected by themes of revenge, violence and salvation. Most people have seen the second film Oldboy, which was remade with Josh Brolin in 2013, but the first and last films, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance & Lady Vengeance are modern day classics. Playing on the theme of ordinary people seeking revenge for wrongs inflicted on them, they’re darkly violent, and strangely satisfying.
25th Hour (2002)
This Edward Norton-starring drama was hailed as one of the best films of the decade, but that accolade never really translated to box office numbers. The story of a man’s last 24 hours of freedom before he goes to prison is a moving portrait of humanity at it’s best and worst. There’s also a monologue in the film that just puts everything in perspective when you’re making the best and worst decisions of you life.
Hot Shots!/Hot Shots: Part Deux (1991/1993)
I’m gonna include these together, because they’re both awesome. I’m a sucker for a good parody, so these funny versions of Top Gun, Apocalypse Now, & Rambo never fails to make me laugh, especially Part Deux. The scene where Topper Harley is going down the river and encounters Ben Willard (played by his dad Martin Sheen).
Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)
This stop-motion fantasy action-adventure film came out roughly at the same time as Zootopia and was overshadowed by the more family-friendly film. This story of Kubo, whose left eye was stolen as a baby, is a tale of adventure, fantasy and reclaiming your destiny. It’s incredibly moving and one that you definitely shouldn’t miss. Plus it’s a gorgeous watch.
It’s funny how an older movie about hacking and surveillance can still be relevant today, but this is a fun one to rewatch. It’s got an all-star cast with Robert Redford, Ben Kingsley, Dan Ackroyd and the late River Phoenix, and it’s both deftly plotted, sophisticated and cheerfully fun.
Frances Ha (2012)
This one would have even flown under my radar if it hadn’t been for a random free ticket that I got my hands on for this flick. It’s an incredibly human and relatable story of a woman who’s learning how to come with the realities of growing into an adult; losing close friends, figuring out a career and trying to see where you fit in the world.
This one is so incredibly moving and relevant, I’d recommend you don’t miss it.
This stream-of-consciousness style story follows a primary school teacher who’s insanely positive and optimistic – king of like a British version of Amelie.
Sometimes, you just need a film that’s just about the power of just looking up and enjoying life, rather than letting it get you down.
Before he made his mark with Looper & Star Wars: The Last Jedi Rian Johnson cut his teeth on this detective film. Taking place in a California suburb, and is an homage to hardboiled detective films of yesteryear. There’s an amazing performance given here by Joseph Gordon Levitt, and it’s inherently rewatchable.
This cult classic is the atmosphere of the 2000’s captured in a bottle. With the irreverent dialogue, fast pace and tons of interweaving storylines, this is like a millennial version of Pulp Fiction without as much blood. While it might seem dated, it’s still a hilarious watch today.
It seems odd that a film starring stars like Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Ed Harris and John Hurt wouldn’t be widely seen, but that’s the case with this film. Directed by South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho in his English language debut, this dystopian film is a masterpiece.
John Dies at the End (2013)
This dark fantasy/science fiction film is based on a novel, and while it’s not as good as the book, it’s an underrated watch. It takes some paying attention, because it’s trippy and will fuck with your mind, but it’s also a visual spectacle.