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Twenty Unsung Great Movies of the Past Twenty Years 
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Post Twenty Unsung Great Movies of the Past Twenty Years
We can talk about There Will Be Blood and Magnolia and Boogie Nights (and, I suppose, movies not directed by P.T. Anderson :) ) to death, but what about the ones everyone doesn't talk about? Inspired by our terrific discussion about The Truman Show, I decided to pitch 20 undersung great movies of the past 20 years.

So please join in. Add your own (you don't need to come up with 20, I know it's a lot), disagree with my choices all you wish, and let's get some discussion going. My picks are not presented in any order.

- The Truman Show (1998)

Discussion here: viewtopic.php?f=27&t=5589

- Gattaca (1997)

Niccol again, as writer and director this time. A terrific science fiction thriller with a great score, but more than that, a massively powerful film about the human condition. I've brought this up before, but my opinion is that most "inspirational" movies are bullshit since they just involve some sports team overcoming the odds in the most predictable way possible. Gattaca, by contrast, is legitimately inspirational -- it involves a man working incredibly hard to achieve something noble, with legitimate suspense as to whether he will succeed. And the final scene, where he realizes he's had an ally all along, always moves me a great deal. Not to mention its set design, which is brilliant. I could talk about this movie for days.

A Simple Plan (1998)

Three men who don't like each other overmuch find a gym bag with 4 million dollars in it. That plot hooked me, but the amazing writing and direction elevated what could have been a decent genre film into a legitimately great film. Few movies give their characters a chance to make any moral choices -- A Simple Plan gives them a chance every 20 minutes or so, and every one of them is wrenching. Plus the movie features two perfect little miniature twists, one of which is as good as any twist in any film just by its subtlety and set-up.

Show Me Love (1998)

Lilya-4-Ever gets all the credit--and I have no problem with that; it's a classic--but Show Me Love is just as good. As accurate a portrayal of the difficulties of adolescence as has ever been filmed, and a superbly realistic and touching romance, it's a little Swedish masterpiece.

Gone Baby Gone (2007)

I mentioned how rare moral choices are in movies when talking about A Simple Plan, and wow does Gone Baby Gone have a doozy of one at the end. As with A Simple Plan, it might have been a solid thriller without it, but the last 20 minutes elevate the movie into something more, something worth thinking about days after the movie and talking about with friends.

Dark City (1998)

This might be cheating, because Ebert has touted this movie as a masterpiece for years, but I think he's largely alone and I'm with him. A visionary film in every sense of the word, with scenes that i would hang in a museum (if, you know, that were possible) and blazing originality. It's marred slightly by an overlong up in the air action finale (much like Chronicle, btw) but just a quibble.

V for Vendetta (2005)

One of the most ballsy mainstream films I can name from this time period. At a time when most movies about homosexuality tentatively suggested that gays are people too, V for Vendetta came along and said flatout that homosexual rights were worth fighting and dying for. Of course, that alone doesn't make for a great movie--and I still don't think this movie is perfect--but it has so many iconic, striking scenes which make me come back to it.

Blindness (2008)

Probably the only movie on my list that a lot of people outright hated, but I think it's a masterpiece. A grim, dirty study of human nature via a science fiction conceit of the world going blind, it confirmed to me that Meirelles is one of our best working directors but unfortunately confirmed the opposite to the rest of the world.

The Descent (2005)

The Descent sometimes gets half-hearted accolades as the best horror movie made in recent years (which, incidentally, it is) but being the best of a lukewarm group isn't significant enough praise for this film, which legitimately belongs in the pantheon of great horror films. it's not Psycho, but it's almost as good as Halloween and better than A Nightmare on Elm Street and some other accepted classics.

Casino (1995)

It's not just "Goodfellas Lite," goddamn it! It's a companion piece to Goodfellas like Godfather II is to the original. It's definitely a little long, but it's also an incredible story with Scorsese's trademark flair and score, and a pessimism that even Goodfellas can't match.

In the Loop (2009)

Another movie that many people liked well enough, but I think it's been largely forgotten and that's a shame. Between its willingness to mix humor styles, hilariously quotable lines, and razor-sharp satire, it's the Dr. Strangelove of the Iraq War. Now don't get me wrong--the film is nowhere near as well-directed as Kubrick's--but in terms of its political smarts and comedy, it's not far behind.

In the Company of Men (1997)

Another movie whose direction could at best be described as competent, In the Company of Men is so well-written and acted that its occasional staginess can easily be forgiven. Many movies, like say Adam's Rib, are described as being about the "battle of the sexes," but only LaBute really means it. An uncompromising look at the way men often combine masculinity and misogyny, and a rare film without an ounce of sentimentality, it deserves to be seen and discussed.

Sin Nombre (2009)

Ebert et al. have described El Norte as the definitive film about the Mexican-American experience, but for me it's Sin Nombre with its intertwining stories. In the first, a young woman and her family head towards America on the roofs of trains. In the second, an enforcer for a Mexican crime family is having second thoughts about his job. Eventually their paths cross, and every second is riveting. Also, in contrast to the previous two films, Sin Nombre is directed with flair and on gorgeous 35mm by first-time filmmaker Cary Fukunaga.

The Last Seduction (1994)

I love noir. And I love neo-noir arguably even more. Chinatown and L.A. Confidential both crack my all-time top 10, and I love Body Heat as well. But those are big, sweeping movies, especially the first two. Most original noir were much smaller in scale, and so perhaps the Last Seduction is the true successor to noir. But that's just me musing--the film is ballsy as all hell, stylish, a ton of fun, and features the most evil female character (by a long shot) ever to grace the silver screen. Plus it somehow features a performance by Bill Pullman which enhances the movie. That alone earns it a position on this list.

Master and Commander (2003)

On one hand, it's a terrific epic story of men at sea and naval warfare. I show it to my slack-jawed 8th graders and even they get totally into it. But it's also a smart study of character and leadership which rewards repeat viewings, and one that displays more depth of knowledge about military hierarchies than any movie I can name. Plus it pretty much defines verisimilitude.

The Fall (2006)

Though Tarsem Singh has migrated sadly into the mainstream, his first two films announced him a force to be reckoned with visually. The Cell was good, but The Fall was and is his magnum opus. The story of a Hollywood stuntman in the 1920s who spins a tale to a young girl in an attempt to trick her into getting him the morphine he needs to kill himself, it's a wonderful deconstruction of storytelling which, somewhat ironically, functions also as a great story. Plus the visuals are to die for, and no CGI!

Revolutionary Road (2008)

Pegging this film as just another suburbia tale sells this movie so short. Suburbia is just the mechanism Mendes and co are using. The real story is about conformity and the way it affects the two lead characters, neither of whom are cut out for the roles society expects them to play. Particularly interesting is the way Winslet is the stronger one, and DiCaprio the weaker, and Michael Shannon is labelled as insane just because he speaks his mind and doesn't conform to people's expectations. Reading this over I sound like someone in a freshman English seminar, but trust me, the film is quite deep.

To Live (1994)

Raise the Red Lantern gets all the attention, and rightfully so, since it's an assured masterpiece. By contrast, To Live is a quieter masterpiece, telling the story of one family's journey through the cultural revolution in China with an eye towards detail, character, and the perseverance and endurance of people throughout sweeping changes. It's like, say, Hannah and Her Sisters--not the director's masterpiece, but one that slides up nicely alongside of them.

The Square (2008)

What a thriller! I'm not sure it has as much depth as A Simple Plan and Gone Baby Gone, but it's such an unbelievably taut and exciting thriller, that it makes it anyway. I love the way it cleverly interweaves two mysteries, one of which isn't revealed to the viewer until the 3rd act, to heighten tension and I find its study of Murphy's Law affecting the main character positively Hitchcockian. Plus there's one moment at the end that made me literally yell out "Oh fuck!", so brilliantly was it done.

Adaptation (2002)

Another slight cheat by me, since a lot of people thought this movie was awesome, but I feel it gets lost between Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine in the Kaufman ouevre. And that's a shame, since it's the most brilliant and clever genre take-down since Funny Games, which I don't dare put on here, featuring an amazing performance by a pre-crippling-debt Cage and an endlessly inventive and alive screenplay.

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Wed Apr 04, 2012 9:31 pm
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Post Re: Twenty Unsung Great Movies of the Past Twenty Years
Great, great list. As you said, nothing totally off-the-wall, but anyone here who haven't seen some of these would be blessed to encounter them now.

My favorites are Truman Show, A Simple Plan and Show Me Love. Sin Nombre and Adaptation are also favorites of mine. Seriously though, there's not a bad or shaky choice in the bunch. I really enjoyed your assessment of Master & Commander, which pointed things out I hadn't taken great note of before.


Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:10 pm
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Post Re: Twenty Unsung Great Movies of the Past Twenty Years
Affliction, for reasons I don't feel inclined to write down.


Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:57 pm
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Post Re: Twenty Unsung Great Movies of the Past Twenty Years
Excellent list. I haven't seen every movie on there but I would agree with you on the ones that I have watched and even the least of those (The Descent, perhaps) is still a rock-solid effort. One film that I would add to this list would be Animal Kingdom. It received a great deal of attention and acclaim when it hit theaters 2 years ago and eventually scored Jacki Weaver an Oscar nod for her diabolical performance but no one really seems to talk much about it anymore, except maybe for me (I know I've mentioned this film several times on here). For me, this might be the best recent example of the slow-burn thriller subgenre (if such a thing exists). It uses the characters and their ever evolving circumstances to build suspense and then tightens the noose until it's nearly unbearable. This isn't a whole lot of action here, despite the numerous opportunities the film has to steer things in that direction, but ultimately, this movie doesn't need such tactics to keep the audience on the edge and glued to the screen. Making the protagonist a 17-year-old is also a stroke of genius and allows this film to work as an atypical coming-of-age story as well as a crime drama. The transformation that this kid makes from being the hunted to the hunter in this "kingdom" is subtle but unmistakable. The only flaw might be the unnecessarily verbose voiceover near the beginning of the film, courtesy of the aforementioned youngster. Other than that, this is a near-perfect slow-cooking Australian crime drama.

Strange Days is another film that I keep mentioning but that I feel deserves a spot on this list. Unlike Animal Kingdom, this wasn't as highly acclaimed when it came out back in the mid-90's but it's no less engrossing in my book. Only some problems with how the script chooses to resolve things and the miscasting of Juliette Lewis keep this from attaining true greatness but those issues aside, this is still one helluva ride that pumps the adrenaline but leaves the audience with points to ponder. The film may have taken place at the turn of the millennium (which was, of course, still several years into the future when this film was released) but some of what it has to say about race-relations and the addictive nature of technology could be even more applicable now. The script was the brainchild of James Cameron and even though he didn't sit in the director's chair (leaving that duty to his ex-wife and future Oscar winner, Kathryn Bigelow), this feels like the sort of experience we'd expect from him although this is a little darker than most of his output (one scene in particular is extremely disturbing and creepy in its depiction of voyeurism and degradation). The filmmaker made history with his two most recent films, Titanic and Avatar (both of which stand side by side as the all-time box office champions), but this flick is as good as either of those or most other films on his resume.

I'm sure there are more titles I can think of but shuteye beckons me right now. Ta ta! :D


Last edited by oafolay on Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:41 am, edited 2 times in total.



Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:58 am
Post Re: Twenty Unsung Great Movies of the Past Twenty Years
My mom loves Master And Commander, and ironically enough I was shown that film in school as well, only I didn't like it one bit, I found the film incredibly tedious and uninvolving. Of the other films on your list, I enjoyed Simple Plan, Casino, Dark City, V For Vendetta and The Descent 2(speaking of which, i'm going to be watching Descent 2 this week). Didn't really care much for Gone Baby Gone or Blindness, haven't seen the other films on the list.

For me, a great unsung film would be The Siege


Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:33 am
Post Re: Twenty Unsung Great Movies of the Past Twenty Years
I can't think of worse viewing conditions I've experienced than watching a movie at school.

Twenty years... that's 1992 until now. Fuck. That narrowly cuts me off from nominating Barton Fink.

I'll put Eyes Wide Shut. The popular consensus seems to be that it's a forgivable final misstep in the otherwise stellar career of its director. I say give people a couple decades and they'll pull their heads out of their asses. It worked for so many of his other movies.


Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:57 am
Post Re: Twenty Unsung Great Movies of the Past Twenty Years
Great list. Can't disagree with any of them, though I haven't seen Blindness. Definitely agree with Strange Days as an addition as well.

I would throw in Bound, another great modern noir. Since we're going noir, I would also throw in Brick. Some others I would also consider on my list (not to take away from yours, which is great) are Pleasantville, Bubba Ho-tep, Waiting for Guffman, The Cooler , Once, City of God, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Go, The Lives of Others, Almost Famous, In Bruges, Goodbye Lenin, Shallow Grave, La Haine, 12 Monkeys, Before Sunrise ...

Damn, I guess this is turning into a list of my favorite movies of the last 20 years. I better stop. The degree to which any of them are "unsung" can be argued, I guess, but still, not exactly "mainstream"...


Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:33 am
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Post Re: Twenty Unsung Great Movies of the Past Twenty Years
MunichMan wrote:
Great list. Can't disagree with any of them, though I haven't seen Blindness. Definitely agree with Strange Days as an addition as well.

I would throw in Bound, another great modern noir. Since we're going noir, I would also throw in Brick. Some others I would also consider on my list (not to take away from yours, which is great) are Pleasantville, Bubba Ho-tep, Waiting for Guffman, The Cooler , Once, City of God, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Go, The Lives of Others, Almost Famous, In Bruges, Goodbye Lenin, Shallow Grave, La Haine, 12 Monkeys, Before Sunrise ...

Damn, I guess this is turning into a list of my favorite movies of the last 20 years. I better stop. The degree to which any of them are "unsung" can be argued, I guess, but still, not exactly "mainstream"...


I like your list quite a bit. Considered Best in Show for mine, but just passed it up. I love City of God and Eternal Sunshine, but those showed up on every "best of the decade" list so I discarded them because, as you allude to, they're hardly unsung.

Bound is terrific too. It really impressed me. But the one you mentioned that I most regret not adding to my list is 12 Monkeys, which I adore

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Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:45 am
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Post Re: Twenty Unsung Great Movies of the Past Twenty Years
Ken wrote:
I can't think of worse viewing conditions I've experienced than watching a movie at school.



Yeah it's not ideal. I rarely show full movies because the kids' attention spans can't take it. But Master and Commander (and, perhaps oddly, The Good the Bad and the Ugly) always do it for my kids

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Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:46 am
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Post Re: Twenty Unsung Great Movies of the Past Twenty Years
Vexer wrote:
My mom loves Master And Commander, and ironically enough I was shown that film in school as well, only I didn't like it one bit, I found the film incredibly tedious and uninvolving. Of the other films on your list, I enjoyed Simple Plan, Casino, Dark City, V For Vendetta and The Descent (speaking of which, i'm going to be watching Descent 2 this week). Didn't really care much for Gone Baby Gone or Blindness, haven't seen the other films on the list.

For me, a great unsung film would be The Siege


Wow we're agreeing on films WAY more than usual. Though I hear the Descent 2 is terrible

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Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:47 am
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Post Re: Twenty Unsung Great Movies of the Past Twenty Years
oafolay wrote:
Excellent list. I haven't seen every movie on there but I would agree with you on the ones that I have watched and even the least of those (The Descent, perhaps) is still a rock-solid effort. One film that I would add to this list would be Animal Kingdom. It received a great deal of attention and acclaim when it hit theaters 2 years ago and eventually scored Jacki Weaver an Oscar nod for her diabolical performance but no one really seems to talk much about it anymore, except maybe for me (I know I've mentioned this film several times on here). For me, this might be the best recent example of the slow-burn thriller subgenre (if such a thing exists). It uses the characters and their ever evolving circumstances to build suspense and then tightens the noose until it's nearly unbearable. This isn't a whole lot of action here, despite the numerous opportunities the film has to steer things in that direction, but ultimately, this movie doesn't need such tactics to keep the audience on the edge and glued to the screen. Making the protagonist a 17-year-old is also a stroke of genius and allows this film to work as an atypical coming-of-age story as well as a crime drama. The transformation that this kid makes from being the hunted to the hunter in this "kingdom" is subtle but unmistakable. The only flaw might be the unnecessarily verbose voiceover near the beginning of the film, courtesy of the aforementioned youngster. Other that that, this is a near-perfect slow-cooking Australian crime drama.

Strange Days is another film that I keep mentioning but that I feel deserves a spot on this list. Unlike Animal Kingdom, this wasn't as highly acclaim back in the mid-90's when it came out but it's no less engrossing in my book. Only some problems with how the script chooses to resolve things and the miscasting of Juliette Lewis keep this from attaining true greatness but those issues aside, this is still one helluva ride that pumps the adrenaline but leaves the audience with points to ponder. The film may have taken place at the turn of the millennium (which was, of course, still several years into the future when this film was released) but some of what it has to say about race-relations and the addictive nature of technology could be even more applicable now. The script was the brainchild of James Cameron and even though he didn't sit in the director's chair (leaving that duty to his ex-wife and future Oscar winner, Kathryn Bigelow), this feels like the sort of experience we'd expect from him although this is a little darker than most of his output (one scene in particular is extremely disturbing and creepy in its depiction of voyeurism and degradation). The filmmaker made history with his two most recent films, Titanic and Avatar (both of which stand side by side as the all-time box office champions), but this flick is as good as either of those or most other films on his resume.

I'm sure there are more titles I can think of but shuteye beckons me right now. Ta ta! :D


Well you have finally convinced me to add Animal Kingdom to my queue, Mr. Oafalay, so well-played sir. I also liked Strange Days a good deal, but it falls just shy of greatness for me.

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Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:49 am
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Post Re: Twenty Unsung Great Movies of the Past Twenty Years
Shade wrote:
Great, great list. As you said, nothing totally off-the-wall, but anyone here who haven't seen some of these would be blessed to encounter them now.

My favorites are Truman Show, A Simple Plan and Show Me Love. Sin Nombre and Adaptation are also favorites of mine. Seriously though, there's not a bad or shaky choice in the bunch. I really enjoyed your assessment of Master & Commander, which pointed things out I hadn't taken great note of before.


Thanks Shade! I thought Blindless and The Fall were a bit off the wall, but you're mainly right -- I tried to stick with movies others might find good that I find great. Hope you'll contribute some of your own

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Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:52 am
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Post Re: Twenty Unsung Great Movies of the Past Twenty Years
Might I add The Happening? :oops: **runs away**


Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:15 am
Post Re: Twenty Unsung Great Movies of the Past Twenty Years
gkanchan wrote:
Might I add The Happening? :oops: **runs away**

That is so unsung, nobody even knows the words.


Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:28 am
Post Re: Twenty Unsung Great Movies of the Past Twenty Years
A good idea for a thread, JamesKunz, and since you’re inviting discussion, I’m happy to oblige.

There are two films on the list, which I would consider to be “overrated” rather than “undersung”: ‘The Descent’ and ‘V for Vendetta’.

Many critics (BBC film critic Mark Kermode, for one) and horror aficionados rate ‘The Descent’ very highly, mostly calling it - as JamesKunz has said - one if not the best horror movie of recent times. I don’t think that it is even that (it’s certainly not as good as ‘Audition’). In my opinion, ‘The Descent’ has a very promising start and it would have been excellent if it had stuck to being a claustrophobic movie about a group of climbers who are lost in an underground maze. Unfortunately, the filmmakers didn’t trust this material and had to introduce troglodyte monsters. As soon as they appear and behave like only movie monsters do, i.e. exactly according to the requirements of the plot or a specific scene and often contradictory to what has been established about their capabilities beforehand, the movie collapses and becomes a series of “boo” moments.

‘V for Vendetta’ - or rather the Guy Fawkes mask, which has been appropriated by the Occupy movement and the Anonymous hacker group - has had a significant cultural impact, because of its rather vague anti-establishment message. At least in certain circles, it isn’t so much underappreciated as overloaded with meaning, which it doesn’t really have. Quite apart from that, I like the source material - the Alan Moore comic book - very much and think that ‘V for Vendetta’ is a disappointing adaptation. The comic is more about the various functionaries of the proto-fascist system and, consequently, life in a dictatorship and as part of the system, which makes it interesting. This aspect is completely lost in the movie adaptation.

Concerning ‘Adaptation’, you have already conceded that it is a bit of a cheat to call it an underappreciated movie - I believe it has made several best of the decade lists - but it is fair to say that ‘Adaptation’ is somewhat overshadowed by ‘Being John Malkovich’ and ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’. However, there is another excellent and Charlie Kaufman scripted movie, which has never been duly praised and, consequently, deserves a place on the list more than ‘Adaptation’ does: ‘Human Nature’, directed by Michel Gondry and starring Patricia Arquette as a naturalist with full body hair, Rhys Ifans as a man who was brought up as an ape and Tim Robbins as a scientist who tries to teach mice proper table manners. Of all four “Charlie Kaufman movies” mentioned, it is the most overtly comedic and, in my opinion, the funniest, although perhaps not as clever.

Another “undersung” movie of the last two decades is “X-Men” (2000). Before X-Men, superheroes weren’t considered to be viable movie properties after the movie franchises of the two most prominent superheroes - Superman and Batman - had been run into the ground. The more horror-oriented ‘Blade’ aside, “X-Men” was the first superhero movie of the new, CGI-enhanced generation and ushered in a decade, in which superheroes would become the dominant sci-fi/fantasy or action genre. Other superhero movies such as “Spider-Man 2”, “The Dark Knight” or “Iron Man” receive all the plaudits, but they wouldn’t exist if “X-Men” hadn’t worked out. Also, the manner in which “X-Men” adapts the comics by being faithful in spirit but ditching a lot of the baggage (costumes and a lot of character details) is remarkably bold and well done. Finally, mutants as a metaphor for social minorities or even just outsiders work very well and give the “X-men” franchise more heft than is possible for, say, a Superman movie.

Anyway. I have taken note of the movies on the original list, which I haven’t seen, and will add them to my rental queue.

Vexer wrote:
My mom loves Master And Commander, and ironically enough I was shown that film in school as well, only I didn't like it one bit, I found the film incredibly tedious and uninvolving. Of the other films on your list, I enjoyed Simple Plan, Casino, Dark City, V For Vendetta and The Descent 2(speaking of which, i'm going to be watching Descent 2 this week). Didn't really care much for Gone Baby Gone or Blindness, haven't seen the other films on the list.

For me, a great unsung film would be The Siege


You like 'The Siege'? I'm suprised, but you are certainly correct - that is one underappreciated movie.


Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:33 am
Post Re: Twenty Unsung Great Movies of the Past Twenty Years
JamesKunz wrote:
Vexer wrote:
My mom loves Master And Commander, and ironically enough I was shown that film in school as well, only I didn't like it one bit, I found the film incredibly tedious and uninvolving. Of the other films on your list, I enjoyed Simple Plan, Casino, Dark City, V For Vendetta and The Descent (speaking of which, i'm going to be watching Descent 2 this week). Didn't really care much for Gone Baby Gone or Blindness, haven't seen the other films on the list.

For me, a great unsung film would be The Siege


Wow we're agreeing on films WAY more than usual. Though I hear the Descent 2 is terrible


Yeah I'm kinda shocked too, although I thought Gone Baby Gone was excellent. I would also put Ben Affleck's second film as a director, The Town, on this list too. Frankly, I enjoyed this even moreso than Heat, which was an obvious influence on this film. Unlike Animal Kingdom, this crime drama benefits from its action sequences but it doesn't lose sight of the characters in the process. The dialogue is sharp and often funny and the acting is strong all-around, with special notice going to Jeremy Renner for his unhinged performance as Affleck's second-in-command.


Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:53 am
Post Re: Twenty Unsung Great Movies of the Past Twenty Years
20 years. Darn. One of the first movies to pop into my head was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from 1990. I was about 8 when it came out on VHS, and I wore that tape out. One of my all-time favorite movies of my childhood. What surprised me was when a group of us rewatched it in college and realized--holy crap, it actually is a really good movie! I firmly believe that the lukewarm critical reaction was due to the subject matter, not the movie itself. One of my pet theories is that if you release the movie, exactly as it is, one year after Hellboy (a movie with a similar aesthetic and good reviews that I consider inferior to Turtles) it gets far stronger reviews.

Yours is a great list, James. Of the movies to first pop into my head, Gattaca, Master and Commander (even though it was nominated for Best Picture and is pretty much a masterpiece, it seems to have fallen by the wayside for some reason), Dark City (I'm not sure Ebert is quite as alone as he thinks he is in his opinion, but he's certainly right about the movie itself) were all there. As for Truman Show, I brought that movie up on another blog last week an the consensus seemed to be "great movie that somehow got forgotten." I had no idea it had gotten forgotten--I just assumed it was rightly considered the great movie it is. One of the classics from the 90s, to me.

As for Tarsem, I would include The Cell on the list for sure, although with a caveat. For me it's a movie like Avatar, in that it loses something in the translation to the small screen. When I saw it in theaters, there were images that made my skin crawl, that made me avert my eyes, that made me laugh nervously in self-defense. On the small screen, those images just don't work as well. It's another one that Ebert was pretty much alone on, but another I'm right there with him.

Continuing the theme of "Me and Ebert vs. The World," I still consider Knowing a great movie.

From the world of sports movies, one of the best unsung movies of the last 10 years is Friday Night Lights. I have no idea how it got so forgotten so quickly. And I don't think it was just the TV show--even when the TV show was starting out the consensus seemed to be "Hollywood trying to get Friday Night Lights right this time." While some of the on-field action can be a little over-the-top, it's miles ahead of almost any other football movie in that regard. And so many great scenes of human drama. When Boobie runs back onto the field in complete denial... man, my eyes water every time. And the ending is just absolutely perfect.


Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:35 am
Post Re: Twenty Unsung Great Movies of the Past Twenty Years
JamesKunz wrote:
Vexer wrote:
My mom loves Master And Commander, and ironically enough I was shown that film in school as well, only I didn't like it one bit, I found the film incredibly tedious and uninvolving. Of the other films on your list, I enjoyed Simple Plan, Casino, Dark City, V For Vendetta and The Descent (speaking of which, i'm going to be watching Descent 2 this week). Didn't really care much for Gone Baby Gone or Blindness, haven't seen the other films on the list.

For me, a great unsung film would be The Siege


Wow we're agreeing on films WAY more than usual. Though I hear the Descent 2 is terrible

Eh, People said the same thing about Hills Have Eyes Part 2 and AVP 2 and I enjoyed both of those films, so i'm pretty sure that i'll enjoy Descent 2 as well, besides you gotta at least give the filmmakers props for getting the original lead actress from the first film instead of having a different actress play her character.


Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:56 am
Post Re: Twenty Unsung Great Movies of the Past Twenty Years
Bones wrote:
20 years. Darn. One of the first movies to pop into my head was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from 1990. I was about 8 when it came out on VHS, and I wore that tape out. One of my all-time favorite movies of my childhood. What surprised me was when a group of us rewatched it in college and realized--holy crap, it actually is a really good movie! I firmly believe that the lukewarm critical reaction was due to the subject matter, not the movie itself. One of my pet theories is that if you release the movie, exactly as it is, one year after Hellboy (a movie with a similar aesthetic and good reviews that I consider inferior to Turtles) it gets far stronger reviews.

Yours is a great list, James. Of the movies to first pop into my head, Gattaca, Master and Commander (even though it was nominated for Best Picture and is pretty much a masterpiece, it seems to have fallen by the wayside for some reason), Dark City (I'm not sure Ebert is quite as alone as he thinks he is in his opinion, but he's certainly right about the movie itself) were all there. As for Truman Show, I brought that movie up on another blog last week an the consensus seemed to be "great movie that somehow got forgotten." I had no idea it had gotten forgotten--I just assumed it was rightly considered the great movie it is. One of the classics from the 90s, to me.

As for Tarsem, I would include The Cell on the list for sure, although with a caveat. For me it's a movie like Avatar, in that it loses something in the translation to the small screen. When I saw it in theaters, there were images that made my skin crawl, that made me avert my eyes, that made me laugh nervously in self-defense. On the small screen, those images just don't work as well. It's another one that Ebert was pretty much alone on, but another I'm right there with him.

Continuing the theme of "Me and Ebert vs. The World," I still consider Knowing a great movie.

From the world of sports movies, one of the best unsung movies of the last 10 years is Friday Night Lights. I have no idea how it got so forgotten so quickly. And I don't think it was just the TV show--even when the TV show was starting out the consensus seemed to be "Hollywood trying to get Friday Night Lights right this time." While some of the on-field action can be a little over-the-top, it's miles ahead of almost any other football movie in that regard. And so many great scenes of human drama. When Boobie runs back onto the field in complete denial... man, my eyes water every time. And the ending is just absolutely perfect.

I definitely agree with you on TMNT, that was one of my favorite movies as a kid(Secret Of The ooze was decent, Turtles In Time is... better of forgotten, definitely excited the new ninja turtles film though) I also liked The Cell. Friday Night Lights was another film I saw in school, and it didn't really do anything for me, I didn't find the human drama involving in any way and didn't care about the outcome. I also HATE Knowing with a passion, it's one of the WORST movies i've ever seen, FAR too many plot holes, terrible performances all around, even Cage, who I usually love in just about everything wans't enough as he just looked bored and confused for the entire film, and the ending was terrible on so many levels I don't even know where to begin dscribing it, Ebert's 4 star review of that film is by far one of the msot inexplicable film reviews i've ever read, now whenever he calls a film "stupid" I think back to that review and have a tough time taking him seriously.


Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:08 pm
Post Re: Twenty Unsung Great Movies of the Past Twenty Years
I'm with Dark City big time...that is a movie worth seeing if anyone hasn't, especially on Blu Ray.

Truman Show of course I also agree on.

12 Monkeys - excellent addition!

A Nightmare Before Christmas

Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels More unknown in the US it seems...Snatch was more polished, but I really liked the character dynamic better in Lock Stock...

The movie that sort of got forgotten quickly after it came out, was Moon. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think that movie got nearly the exposure and appreciation it should have despite what I thought were mostly great reviews?

I'll have to dig deeper and come back to this thread with some other movies...that's just what popped into my head right away.


Thu Apr 05, 2012 5:01 pm
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