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10 Underrated or Under-Appreciated Movies You Need To Watch

Updated on January 22, 2017
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The List...

There's a lot of movies being released every single week. As a result, a lot of films go unnoticed or under-appreciated in the tidal wave of movie releases every single year. So I wanted to take a little time to showcase what I think are some movies that maybe got missed or didn't get the critical praise they deserved.

This list is in no particular order. I just wanted to give these films a place to be talked about which they may well be missing.

Wanted

Wanted is a film that faded into obscurity almost as soon as it was released. Featuring an all-star cast including James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman and other notable actors, Wanted was based off a graphic novel written by Mark Millar.

This film was a tonne of fun. And that's the main reason it doesn't get the love it deserves. It was a movie made simply to be fun. It's not a perfect movie, and suffers from some serious downtime towards the beginning of the film as we get to know McCoy's character, but the moment Jolie's Fox shows up the film kicks into gear and becomes a smooth, stylised, pure-blood action movie.

True, some people thought the ability to curve bullets was a step too far, but this is a world with a fraternity of assassins are led by a magical loom, so a little suspension of disbelief is to be expected. If you can get past this, the actions sequences are amazingly shot and edited together, with a thumping score from Danny Elfman behind it that just brings up the level of fun you can have with this movie.

As I said, it's not a perfect movie, but if you're looking for an incredibly fun and stupid action movie with a great cast and a great world with a lot of potential for a sequel, then check out Wanted!

Catch Me If You Can

You wouldn't expect to find a Steven Spielberg movie on an under-appreciated movies. But 'Catch Me If You Can' is a great movie featuring two stand-out performances from Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio.

This film oozes cool. Following the true story of Frank Abagnale as he travelled the world whilst conning an absurd amount of money out of the airline industry, DiCaprio puts in a great post-Titanic performance as the con man, but Tom Hanks also serves a masterful detective trying to track this man down.

But what makes this film stand out from the rest of the 'detective chasing criminal' stories is the relationship that forms between the two of them. There's no hatred between them, more of a grudging respect, and it's this dynamic that keeps this movie light and fresh.

Also featuring a young Amy Adams, this movie is fun, refreshing romp based on a true story without dragging it through a murky and depressing filter to make it more real. It embraces the campiness of it's time period and source material. This, in my opinion, is one of Spielberg's greatest movies.

Saving Mr. Banks

Another unsung Tom Hanks performance, 'Saving Mr. Banks' tells the true story of the battle to get Mary Poppins onto the big screen.

Told from the authors perspective, lovingly portrayed by Emma Thompson, this film is heartfelt, displaying a different side to Disney not often seen. The beauty of this film is it's loyalty to the material it's based on. It recreates recordings of the writers room almost beat for beat, showcasing the love that the cast and crew have for it's source material.

A lot of people dismissed this as Oscar-bait, and it is to a degree, but when a film works, why should it be simply dismissed as such? The performances in this film are phenomenal, and the screenplay is lovingly crafted not just from a love of Mary Poppins, but from a love of cinema, a love of writing, and loving a character so much you don't want to let them go, something I know a great deal about.

X+Y

I may be a little biased because the end third of this movie is based in Cambridge (where I grew up), and there's an entire scene that takes place in a Chinese I used to go to after I finished work.

But aside from that, 'X+Y' is a British film featuring a career-best performance from Asa Butterfield (The Boy in Striped Pyjamas, Hugo) and delivers a great story that could be true.

The screenplay does a great job of portraying the loneliness of this boy who is so smart that it alienates everyone around him, so it's all the more impactful when he starts to form tight relationships with like-minded peers. It also does a great job of showing how much a teacher can impact a student in Rafe Spall's character, and his developing relationship with Asa's mother.

With beautiful cinematography, a great screenplay, and once again knockout performances, 'X+Y' is truly an undiscovered British gem of a movie that you need to check out.

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Source Code

The first of my recommendations featuring Jake Gyllenhaal. Source Code is a confusing film towards the end but with a relatively simple time-looping plot that demonstrates how much you can form a relationship with one person in such a short amount of time.

The directorial debut from Duncan Jones feels like he's made countless other films before, but he simply hasn't. It's a well-crafted, excellently structured, suspense film that delivers as much action as it does well-paced character moments.

This film is a deep sci-fi with a lot of hidden messages to unpack, but still maintaining a surface enjoyability that means you can watch it and enjoy it one time, but the more you watch it, the more you can unpack.

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Sunshine

Whilst maybe not completely under-appreciated, Sunshine is definitely one of the more polarising films on this list thanks to its third act twist. Some people love it, some people hate it. But I don't want to talk about that, as it is technically a spoiler.

What I think this film does best is it's use of light. Not just in the design of it but the fact that it's incorporated so seamlessly into the story. Usually, light is a source of safety, it gives the protagonists of a horror film sanctuary from what may be lurking in the shadows. But here that trope is flipped on it's head. Light is something to hide from, to actively avoid.

Danny Boyle is a superb director, and whilst sci-fi may not be his thing anymore, his explorations within the genre gave us this film, a suspenseful horror/sci-fi combo which is not often seen, and for that I am grateful.

Cloverfield

Cloverfield is an example of found-footage film done right.

Large monsters destroying cities is nothing new, and Cloverfield embraces this, and makes something wholly new and innovative using what is, essentially, a cheap gimmick to excuse sloppy filmmaking. It acknowledges it's influences, but it uses that to it's full advantage.

The subway scenes are some of the most tense scenes I have ever seen, and the found-footage idea only adds to this. It's also worth noting that there is no music in this movie until the end credits. It tries it's hardest to fully immerse you into this world; an idea that extended to the films extensive viral marketing campaign, which warrants a topic of discussion on it's own.

Clover field spawned a brand new franchise that is building heavily on it's lore as it goes along, and whilst it may feel like a completely disjointed universe at the moment, we know J.J. Abrams likes to hide things in plain sights, so the connections will be made more apparent as more films are released.

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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

If you love The Nice Guys, you'll love this.

Shane Black is known for his buddy cop comedies, and this film is no exception. The script, in true Black fashion, has an incredibly dry sense of humour, only made all the more amusing thanks to a pre-Iron Man Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer.

It's another film that knows it's influences and inspiration, and wears them like a badge of honour for all to see. Poking fun at old detective stories and the entertainment industry as well. It's a film that may not age well, but enjoy it while you can.

Kubo and the Two Strings

This was one of my favourite films of last year.

Kubo is a stop-motion movie that is absolutely gorgeous to look at. The character models, the backgrounds, everything is breathtakingly beautiful, and this beauty is only accentuated by the fact that it's all real. Almost no CGI was used in this movie, and that in itself is something to be applauded.

The story in this film is also beautifully told, if a little predictable in places. Drawing from Japanese folklore to create a rich, vibrant world full of magic and mystery. If anything, it proves that the people behind these films know exactly what they're doing when it comes to storytelling, and I can't wait to see what they do next.

If you love animated films, or just good movies in general, I beg you to check out Kubo and the Two Strings. It's a love letter to a lot of things. To Japanese culture, to the timelessness of storytelling, and to the art of stop-motion, a form of animation I don't think gets enough love.

Enemy

Another Gyllenhaal performance that proves just how masterful an actor he is.

Enemy got a few people talking upon it's release, but it's a film thats almost faded into obscurity when it really shouldn't. Not only does it showcase Gyllenhaal at his finest playing not one but two characters, it's also one of the films where people started to take notice of Denis Villeneuve, the man who would later helm Arrival, one of my favourite movies of last year.

And like Arrival, this film builds layers with every single step. It's a film that gives you a completely new idea of it once you've seen it then watch it again. It's use of imagery is horrifying but at the same time absolutely genius, and shows just how impactful a single metaphorical motif can be if done correctly.

This is not a movie for everyone, I know that, but it's breathtaking cinematography, it's stellar performances and masterful directing make this a modern arthouse classic that will be studied and theorised about for years to come.

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And There You Have It

That's my list of 10 underrated films I think deserve a little more.

Do you agree with this list? Got any other films you think deserve a little more talking about? Feel free to post in the comments and we can talk movies and TV for hours on end.


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    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 8 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      OK...Asif, you've got my attention. I should explain that although I LOVE movies, I am not an avid movie-goer. In other words, I do not make it a specific point to go to a theater because I simply cannot wait to see a new movie. I've probably done this only twice in my entire life (A LOT of years!)

      Eventually, I will see a movie on TV, online or perhaps if I've rented it or brought it home from the library. Yes, it's because I'm frugal-minded to the nth. degree. The theater price for an adult to see a movie is something I refuse to cough up when I know all I have to do is wait a while and see it for free!! That goes for anything else too!

      In any event, I had never heard of a single one of these movies,( except DiCaprio in Catch Me)but you have piqued my interest. I love Jake Gyllenhaal, so for sure I will track down some or all of these movies. Thanks a lot. I appreciate someone bringing me news & info of things I'm interested in but don't necessarily investigate. Paula

    • Sam Gamble profile image
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      Samuel J Gamble 8 months ago from Winchester

      CYong74, that's actually a good mix of them for a half decent movie night. If you're into crime stuff may I recommend 'Insomnia'? It's one of Christopher Nolan's earlier movies.

    • CYong74 profile image

      Cedric Yong 8 months ago from Singapore

      A long weekend holiday coming up for me. Would be checking out some of these, probably Catch and Kiss.

    • asifahsankhan profile image

      asifahsankhan 8 months ago

      Thanks for the reply. : )

      It's okay, I was just suggesting. A lot of people haven't seen "End of watch" yet but it was one of the best films of 2012. Highly praised by critics. The director David Ayer was in the in the United States Navy as a submariner and have seen action so he knows exactly what gunfights looks like. Plus the film have this unique camera positioning, cinematography. You should check it out when you can, it will be worth of your time, I guarantee that.

      Have a nice day, cheers!

    • Sam Gamble profile image
      Author

      Samuel J Gamble 8 months ago from Winchester

      Thank you! I haven't actually seen End of Watch so I'll put it on the list!

    • asifahsankhan profile image

      asifahsankhan 8 months ago

      I believe Gyllenhaal and Pena's cop/crime/thriller: "End of Watch" deserves a spot in the list....

      Catch Me If You Can was actually a big hit, grossed $350 million+ so it's not underappreciated or underrated. IMDb: 8/10; 96% RT;

      Overall, good list. Hats off for adding "Enemy" up there. It was pure class work.

      Cheers!