The 100 Greatest Hidden Gems of the 2010s (10-1)

The number of films produced within a year, let alone a decade, is staggering and it’s only getting bigger. The podcast 80s All Over—which involved two critics watching and reviewing every major film of the decade, one month at a time—recently ended with about half of the decade getting reviewed. They had to pull the plug on it early because it was just too time-consuming for them to track down and review every film on their watchlist. It was just too hard for them and they were doing the 80s, a decade with far fewer films than the 2010s. I only mention them and their podcast to illustrate my point: there are a shit ton of films out there which, for a cinephile, is hell because it’s impossible to see them all. There are 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. 

This is The 100 Greatest Hidden Gems of the 2010s.

10. The Way Way Back (2013)

A perfect summer movie. Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell, Allison Janney, Amanda Peet, Maya Rudolph, and Liam James all starred in this delightfully heartfelt coming-of-age dramedy. This film had all the makings of a surefire, approachable hit. Of course, it made a fair profit at the box office but even in the context of 2013, it felt like an under-the-radar-gem. Jumping into the larger scope of the decade The Way Way Back is certainly on the shortlist of overlooked summer comedies. It’s equal parts teenage romp and surprisingly eloquent commentary on family dysfunction. The vacation water park escapades and fleeting romances lend itself to an enjoyable, yet poignant watch. This one deserves a second-life renaissance.

Mitch Roush

09. Satan’s Slaves (2017)

A prequel to the 1982 cult-classic of the same name, Satan’s Slaves is about a family being haunted by their recently deceased matriarch. Deriving tension and thrills through its well-sustained ominous ambiance, the film expertly juggles dread and haunted house-esque whammies to create a supernatural thriller that’s as entertaining as it is terrifying. With jumps scares that are very James Wan inspired (which is far from a criticism) and a tone that’s a bit Mike Flanagan-ish, Satan’s Slaves is the very definition of a crowd-pleaser.

Sailor Monsoon

08. Hard to Be a God (2013)

A group of scientists are sent to the planet Arkanar to help the local civilization, which is in the Medieval phase of its own history, to find the right path to progress. Their task is a difficult one: they cannot interfere violently and in no case can they kill. One of the scientists tries to save the local intellectuals from their punishment and cannot avoid taking a position. From its inception to its eventual completion, Hard to Be a God had a 45-year journey to get to the screen. The production was marred with so much bad luck, you would think Terry Gilliam was directing it but due to the unwavering passion of the director and dedication of all involved, the film finally came out. And although the director himself wouldn’t be alive to see the final project, his ghost should take solace in the fact that he made a masterpiece.

A fantastical examination of man’s inhumanity to man, Aleksei Guerman’s last film is a neo-medieval tale of depravity which works as an allegory of Russian barbarism and a thought experiment, namely: what would you do in God’s place? Could you allow suffering and injustice to occur if you knew your interfering could potentially do more harm than good? This film is an endurance test that will test you but if you’re up to the challenge, the rewards are worth it.

Sailor Monsoon

07. Armadillo (2010)

To help stabilize the country against the Taliban, Danish soldiers are sent to Afghanistan in 2009 for 6 months. They’re stationed on Armadillo military base in Helman province. As intense and visceral as any drama, this documentary throws you into the shit without a lifesaver. An unflinching look into the life of a soldier, Armadillo depicts every aspect of their time on the battlefield. The tedium, the boredom, the fear, the horror and most importantly: the combat. While it treads similar ground as the far more well known Restrepo, the films offer two different types of experiences. That film was more intimate and this one is more harrowing.

Sailor Monsoon

06. Terrified (2017)

A nonstop barrage of frights and creepy atmosphere, Terrified is one of those films that gets under your skin and lingers. We jump right in the middle of this horrific tale as bewildered as the characters on screen. We aren’t talking about a haunted house story, we are talking about a haunted neighborhood block story with the frightening occurrences taking place at three different houses. As a doctor specializing in the paranormal, her colleague, and an ex-police officer decide to investigate further, they are simply not prepared for what they discover.

Vincent Kane

05. God Help the Girl (2014)

To help her get through some emotional problems, Eve (Emily Browning) begins writing songs as a means of therapy. She eventually runs into James and Cassie (played by Olly Alexander and Hannah Murray respectively), two musicians each at crossroads of their own. The mid to late 2000s had a number of films about teens forming a band and while I can’t in good conscience call this one the best (Sing Street is far better), it is undeniably charming in its own right. With songs so catchy they infect your brain like a virus and instantly likable leads, God Help the Girl is The Young Girls of Rochefort by way of Sophia Coppolla.

Sailor Monsoon

04. White God (2014)

Never mind whatever message writer/director Kornél Mundruczó is trying to sell with White God. Never mind the attention the movie received at the 2014 Cannes film festival. And most of all, never mind the technical achievement of using 200+ shelter and stray dogs for the film’s climax, because that’s just a gimmick if the rest of the movie doesn’t work. You should see White God for those reasons if you care about that sort of thing. But the real reason you should see White God is because it feels fresh and real despite its completely cliche fantasy storyline.

White God is basically Homeward Bound. But the dystopian Europunk version of Homeward Bound. In fact, if that doesn’t sell you, nothing else I write here will. 

But I’ll try.

White God is a gem because it is the one movie out of hundreds of movies released each year that manages to present a unique and convincing world. It’s hidden because it’s a Hungarian art house film that nobody besides me and maybe a half dozen other people (who were probably drunk or high when they bought their tickets) saw at the theater. 

White God is a Hidden Gem. Watch it, Wasteoids. 

William Dhalgren

03. Starred Up (2013)

An explosive prison drama starring Jack O’Connell at his very best. His character Eric is sent to a high-security prison, the same one in which his father (Ben Mendelsohn) happens to reside. It’s a movie full of violence but O’Connell’s visceral performance makes it impossible to look away. The majority of prison dramas focus on escape. Starred Up is all about redemption of character as Eric joins a prison therapy group. Bonds are formed and family tensions are escalated, all in a whirlwind of bloodshed and in-house politics. Exhaustingly good.

Lee McCutcheon

02. Monos (2019)

Ending the decade with what feels like a modern twist of Lord of the Flies, Monos is about teenage kids who live in the mountains of Colombia learning guerrilla warfare tactics while trusted with a milk cow and a hostage. After a ceremony where two of the kids are made to be partners, an accident occurs and their situation changes. Monos is a beautifully shot action thriller directed by Alejandro Landes. Monos is a story of survival that gives you the full gambit of human emotion in under two hours. From love and joy to grief and fear. This film also gives you one of the most underrated action sequences you’ll ever see. Monos probably isn’t making your top ten lists. It also doesn’t hold much re-watch value, but it deserves to be seen and appreciated as the technical feat that it is. 

Cody Legens

01. A Hard Day (2014)

A corrupt cop accidentally kills someone with his car which sets off a series of unpredictable events that culminates in a bloody showdown. The best way to experience A Hard Day is to go in as cold as possible. Don’t look up a plot synopsis, don’t watch a trailer, don’t even finish this write up. Just find it, rent it and be prepared to be blown away. I have never seen a film that just keeps escalating as much as this film does. Every solution brings with it another problem. And another. And another. It’s like a constant rumble from Mount Vesuvius. It builds and builds and builds until the end when it finally explodes into an eruption of violence and death. Hollywood take notes, this is how you make a thriller.

Sailor Monsoon

20-11 | Rewatch?

What did you think of the list? Were there some hidden gems that didn’t make the cut that you think are worth mentioning? Drop them down in the comments below!