The number of films produced within a year, let alone a decade, is staggering and it’s only getting bigger. There are a shit ton of films out there which, for a cinephile, is hell because it’s impossible to see them all. There’s hundreds of thousands of movies and if you don’t know where to look, you’re bound to miss some good ones. This list was a collaborative effort to help shine a light on a select few you might not have seen that we think are worth your time.
These are 50 Underrated Movies You Need to See.
50. Godzilla (1998)
This movie should never have been called Godzilla. Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, hot off Independence Day, couldn’t even be bothered to pay lip service to the Toho series, rather famously declaring that they took the “creature created by radiation” origin and dumped everything else. What it should have been, what it looks like to me, is a remake of the classic Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. So drop the Godzilla baggage, watch it as a big, loud, dumb giant dinosaur movie and suddenly it’s WAY more entertaining. The creature design, removed from Big G expectations, is actually pretty good and the effects are as decent as they got for 1998 (unless you were Stephen Spielberg). Yeah, the acting ain’t great, the humor is as broad as 5th Avenue and the whole French Polynesia atomic tests (complete with footage of American H-Bomb tests) was a stupid way to drag Jean Reno into the proceedings, but it’s still damn fun in a bombastic, disaster-movie way. So pretend it’s not a Godzilla movie and enjoy yourself guilt free. Well, mostly guilt free.
49. The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
There are two things every kid watched (at least once) growing up: Sesame Street and Disney movies. The Lion King, Pinocchio, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast; they were all a constant part of my childhood. However, one of my favorite animated classics from the Disney vault went under my radar until I was a young adult. The Great Mouse Detective is not only severely underrated, but it should have been a franchise starter for Disney. I’m shocked that it wasn’t resurrected during the Mouse House’s direct-to-DVD sequel craze. It’s a compelling riff on Sherlock Holmes and mysteries in general with Vincent Price having a blast voicing the Moriarty-like villain Ratigan. I’m positive that if this had been released 10 years later during the height of the Disney Renaissance it would have made a completely different impact on the pop culture landscape.
48. Batman Forever (1995)
Some films are masterworks. Batman Forever is not one of them.
Some films are timeless. This is not one of them.
Some films are cult classics. This is not one of them.
Some films leave a lasting legacy. This is likely not one of them.
And that, dear reader, is how a comic book movie starring one of the arena’s most iconic characters can be the number one film at the box office and still be underrated 26 years later.
Because unlike it’s colleagues in the IP-and-Capes arena, Batman Forever remains a perfect time capsule flick; a romp of it’s time that could only have been made in that fashion at that unique moment and still thrives. Because Batman Forever is the model example of what we mean when we say “camp as high-art”. Because Batman Forever is 100% self-aware and full-blown bonkers anyway.
I love this movie because it’s fun for all the right, vibrant reasons and because Jim Carrey’s Riddler is so damn 90’s that level of perfection ought to be illegal.
So, yes, Batman Forever deserves better as long as we understand the lens of which we ought to use when viewing. It’s never going to top any “Best Batman Movie” lists, but in my humble opinion it’s certainly top-tier even though we tend to forget it. Let’s not forget to relish in the zany fun yet still high-production value experiences we can have at the hands of a finely tuned but wild comic book movie. Because in that sense, Batman Forever is formational.
47. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Having been a fan of the Millenium trilogy by author Stieg Larsson, I was thrilled when David Fincher’s adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was released. Rooney Mara gives an incredible performance as the socially stunted prodigy Lisbeth Salander, who comes together with disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) to solve a 40 year old murder where the family may just be the prime suspects. The film is dark and gritty, the subject matter not at all meant for the squeamish. But it’s also captivating storytelling and is often, unfairly, left out of the conversation when it comes to David Fincher’s best films. It wasn’t the box office success it should have been, but marketing the movie around the “most wonderful time of the year” (Christmas) probably doomed it from the start. It deserves more appreciation.
46. Terminal (2018)
While the story of Terminal goes sideways in the last fifteen minutes, it’s otherwise a criminally underrated film with a mesmerizing performance from Margot Robbie alongside Mike Myers and Simon Pegg. The world is beautifully lit and colored, a neo-noir environment that feels gritty and real while also bordering on the fantastical at the same time. And except for going to pieces at the end, the plot is a thing of beauty, a twisted plot of revenge that will leave you guessing until the bitter end. I really like how the film includes the story of Alice in Wonderland, with references everywhere if you know where to look. Does it try a little too hard to emulate the world of John Wick? Yes…but the attempt is so beautiful that I love to watch this film anyway. Terminal is an underrated film that is a lot of fun to watch.
45. Clerks 2 (2006)
Sailor is dumb and put this lower than I expected. Why we let him do all the rankings is beyond me (:P). But anyway, this movie is way funnier than I expected it to be. I remember being disappointed it was in color and they weren’t at the Quick Stop and RST, but it did make sense. I revisited this maybe 6-8 months ago and I laughed pretty damn hard at it still.
The plot is simple … Ten years after the events of the first film, Dante opens the Quick Stop convenience store to find that it is on fire because Randal had left the coffee pot on after closing the night before. Now in their 30s, they kinda realize it’s time to change their lives and expand their horizons beyond pop culture and sex. As with most of Kevin Smith’s newer movies its cameo filled and full of crude humor. I recommend giving it another shot.
44. The Signal (2014)
This is one film I saw on a Saturday working overtime at my old job. I watched this and The Guest while I worked on client images (I mostly watched the movies to be honest). But I thought this was a really well done, low budget sci-fi flick. Upon looking up some info on this movie, I had no idea the director’s first film was Love, a sci-fi drama produced and scored by former Blink-182 guitarist Tom Delonge’s new band Angels & Airwaves. And he directed Underwater, which I enjoyed as well.
Anyway, three MIT students – Jonah, Nic, and Haley – are on a road trip to move Haley to California. On their way there Nic and Jonah discover that a hacker, who nearly got them expelled for breaking into MIT servers, has found their location and is taunting them with strange and ominous e-mails. They decide to track him down, which leads them to an abandoned house in the middle of Nevada, but no one is there. Nic and Jonah hear Haley scream and run outside, only to see her pulled into the sky before disappearing into a white light themselves. Then the mystery begins.
43. Gymkata (1985)
I was really into martial arts as a kid. I consumed just about everything I could find on the subject. And in the 80s, there was no shortage of material covering that subject. There were books, magazines, and, of course, movies. And when it came to watching karate movies, I didn’t discriminate. If a movie featured Asian martial arts in any way, I’d watch it. But there was one thing that could get me to watch a karate movie over others, and that was ninjas.
If you were around at that time, you’ll remember seeing the box art for Gymkata at your local video store: it featured a guy in gymnast attire kicking the shit out of a trio of ninjas. For ten year old me, that cover was solid gold.
As far as karate movies go, though, Gymkata isn’t that great. The ninjas are lame and the fight choreography isn’t particularly dynamic. So why would I recommend a 35 year old lackluster karate movie?
Well, I’ll tell you since you asked: The Village of the Crazies.
I don’t know how or why this scene was conceived let alone found its way into the film (probably lots of cocaine), but there’s enough atmosphere and creepiness packed in here to make watching this low-budget, schlocky, 80s chop socky movie well worth your time.
42. Creep (2014)
Many big horror fans are aware of this film at this point, but Creep still flies under the radar for mainstream audiences. This may honestly be my favorite take on a “found footage” film. The story follows a videographer, Aaron, who has accepted to do a one-day documentary of the life of Josef at a remote cabin in the woods. This movie works because of Mark Duplass as Josef, giving a bizarre and captivating performance that is constantly making the viewer uncomfortable and unsure of just how this is going to end. Bonus shoutout to Creep 2 which is just as fantastic.
41. Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)
Starring and co-written by Paddy Considine, Dead Man’s Shoes is certainly a challenging watch. It deals with a number of issues, from bereavement to mental illness, with lots of violence in the mix as well. At its heart, it’s a gripping revenge movie crammed full of raw emotion. Considine plays Richard, a soldier returning to his hometown after serving in the military. His brother has fallen in with a bad crowd, and to go into any more detail might spoil the overall experience. One thing I will say is that Paddy Considine makes for a brilliant anti-hero. Director Shane Meadows is probably best known for his This is England film and TV series but for me, Dead Man’s Shoes will always be his best work.
What did you think of the list so far? What are some of your favorite underrated movies? Drop them down in the comments below!