A few months ago, a fellow blogger posted a little known film that moved him deeply. It got me thinking, there are several films out there that have gotten little to no love from the critical world, awards network, or general public that I feel deserve a fair shot. As a Sunday afternoon exercise, I thought I'd post a few of them. My rules are simple but not iron clad. They have to be film's that few people that I know have seen or heard of. They can't have been overly recognized by the academy, the golden globes, or other ridiculous awards committees. Notice, I used the word "overly." My hope with this post is that a few more people will see a few more films that I believe are strong. Here's a list in no particular order.
The Sweet Hereafter (1997):
I know I know. The first thing you may say is that this film had two oscar nominations. Well, my rules are more like guidelines. I don't know one person whose seen this film. I've never been able to discuss it with anyone. I rarely see any film critics referencing it in their blogs. This is a beautiful, tough, and emotionally draining film. I truly had no clue what it was about when I watched it. I encourage you to do the same.
This film opened to good reviews and I went and saw it with my dad. He's the only person I've ever heard mention it. Critics seemed to enjoy it but it got no awards recognition and bombed at the box office. Chris Cooper gives a subtle yet dynamic performance. Ryan Phillipe shows that what he lacks in range he makes up for in film selection. I'm not a huge fan of him as an actor, but he chooses good film to associate himself with, with only a few exceptions.
A few very good reviews and a good showing at the Cannes Film Festival, yet not many have seen it. My jaw was close to the floor when it was over. Gus Van Sant knows what the hell he's doing.
Green Street Hooligans (2005):
This film is virtually unnoticed by anyone. I told a few soccer players I know about it and they loved it. Yeah, the fight club inspiration is evident, but this is a strong dramatic feature showing that Elijah Wood can play more than effeminate mythological characters or Huck Finn.
Menace II Society (1993):
A film with several similarities to Boyz n tha Hood but strong none the less. Very tough film but worth the effort.
Rescue Dawn (2006):
Christian Bale stars in this Werner Herzog true story about a pilot shot down in Laos. Herzog directed a documentary about this guy ten years before and thought his story needed to be told in a feature. Solid film.
Shattered Glass (2003):
While incredibly wooden in the Star Wars prequels, Hayden Christensen gives a compelling performance about a journalist who fabricated several stories. True story.
Very influential independent film, yet nobody I know has seen it.
Danny Boyle's directorial predecessor to Slumdog Millionaire. The ending shows a small lack of focus, but the overall film is a thought provoking sci fi thriller.
Synechdoche, New York (2008):
One of the few films I've seen in which its weaknesses also function as strengths. An imperfect film, but something told me I had just watched something special. Philip Seymour Hoffman is marvelous.
The Way of the Gun (2000):
The writer of the Usual Suspects directorial debut. A few friends in high school were all Usual suspects fanatics, so we rented this one and had a party. I've not met anyone who has seen it since. A modern day western. Like all good westerns, this is a moral tale that disguises itself as action.
Without Limits (1998):
Ok, this film is special because I love to run. This is the Steve Prefontaine film. It didn't even gross 1 million at the box office. It deserves to be seen.
Broken Flowers (2005):
Not a great film, but an interesting Bill Murray performance.
Dancer in the Dark (2000):
Not only does Bjork have an amazing voice, but she can act. This is an emotionally draining film.
Hard Candy (2005):
One of the creepier movies I've ever seen. Ellen Page showed a few years before Juno how well she really can act.
Harsh Times (2005):
Worth it simply for Christian Bale's performance. It is a little derivative of Training Day, same screenwriter, but Bale gives a hell of a performance.
Igby Goes Down (2002):
The Culkin kids can act. This film owes something to Catcher in the Rye. It's the closest thing to Salinger's novel that we are likely to see on screen, seeing as Salinger signed some sort of contract stating that CITR would never be made into a film.
Brad Pitt's creepiest performance. An interesting study of American violence.
Another Danny Boyle film that needs to be seen. This film transcends any sort of label somebody could place on it.
The Proposition (2005):
If you like westerns, here is a solid one.
Year of the Dog (2007):
Not a huge fan of Molly Shannon the comedian. I thought most of her SNL characters like Mary Catherine Gallagher, the licensed joyologist, and others were annoying. However, she does have dramatic acting skills. She is truly wonderful in this film that deserves to be seen.
Hopefully this will inspire some viewing. Leave me comments if you've seen any of these or if there are ones that I missed.