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Jennifer M. Wood

The 20 Most Underrated Movies of the Past 20 Years

woman peering through hole

Though awards season is already upon us, it certainly doesn’t feel that way. Like so many other things in 2020, Hollywood is in the midst of a sea change. Even if you wanted to, it might be hard to name 10 great films that came out this year off the top of your head. That said, 2020 hasn’t been a total loss for great movies—as long as you know where to look. And if you want to look back even further (as any serious cineaste should), you’ll see that there are lots of movies that you’ve probably overlooked in the past 20 years that are definitely worth revisiting. They’re not all streaming on the major networks, but they can be rented from Amazon, Apple TV+, or YouTube. (We’ve included where you can get those that are streaming below.)

The big question, of course, is: What constitutes a movie being “underrated”? For the purposes of this list, we looked at movies that tanked at the box office (even if they earned a better reputation once they were available on video-on-demand), films that seemed to invite a number of negative reviews and were worth giving a second chance, and movies that were well-reviewed by both critics and viewers, but just never seemed to find an audience. With that in mind, here's everything you need to catch up on before starting your next 20 years of watching movies. 

Ozark star Julia Garner delivers a brilliantly subtle performance as Jane, a recently hired assistant to a major Hollywood power player. While the bulk of her day involves monotonous tasks like answering phones and replenishing the refrigerator’s water supply, it’s within these mundanities that Jane—and the audience—begin to notice small details around the office that hint that not everything going on behind closed doors is appropriate. Garner’s performance, coupled with the film’s understated approach to the film industry’s rampant objectification and outright abuse of women, are what make The Assistant so effective. Writer/director Kitty Green ( Casting JonBenét ) trusts her audience to read between the lines and understand that this is a timely take on the Harvey Weinsteins of Hollywood. While The Assistant received great reviews nearly across the board, the film didn’t get much of a theatrical release (and made just $1 million). Hopefully that can change now that it’s streaming.

Where to stream it: Hulu

Lena (Natalie Portman) is a cellular biologist whose Green Beret husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) suddenly shows up at home a year after being dispatched by the government to analyze an anomalous zone deemed “The Shimmer.” Kane has no recollection of where he has been, or how he got back. As his condition deteriorates, Lena is called out on a mission of her own to go explore The Shimmer herself. But when she and her team arrive, strange things start to happen—and it becomes clear that not everyone will make it out alive. While Annihilation was fairly well received by critics, it was pretty polarizing among audiences, and it’s almost easy to see why. The film was written and directed by Alex Garland, the man behind Ex-Machina (2014) and this year’s FX miniseries Devs —both projects that mix sci-fi themes with deep philosophical questions. Annihilation is no different, and will have you thinking about life, death, and the nature of humanity itself for days after. 

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Where to stream it: Amazon , YouTube

Robert Pattinson never seemed comfortable as the vampire teen idol the Twilight series turned him into, and he’s made very smart decisions in the wake of that franchise to establish himself as one of cinema’s most interesting actors. Good Time is one of the movies that helped put him in this enviable position, as it marked a turning point in Pattinson’s career and helped further establish the Safdie brothers as two of the most compelling directors working today. There’s a visceral feeling with all their work—you can feel your heartbeat quickening with each new scene. In the case of Good Time , Pattinson plays Connie Nikas, a bank robber who recruits his developmentally disabled brother Nick (codirector Benny Safdie) to help him in his criminal endeavors. But Connie might not be as slick as he thinks, and when the two brothers get arrested, Connie then spends the rest of the film trying to bust Nick out of the hospital he’s been placed in—without stopping to think what might be best for his brother. Like 2019’s Uncut Gems , Good Time is made in such a way that you can almost feel the walls closing in on you—which is a good thing.

Where to stream it: Netflix

After stops at some of the world’s biggest festivals, including Venice (where it won Best Film), Telluride, Toronto, and Sundance, 99 Homes had a rather limited theatrical release that brought in less than $1.5 million. Which is surprising, given its major cast—Andrew Garfield, Laura Dern, and Michael Shannon, who earned both Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations for the role of callous real estate pro Rick Carver who thrives in the midst of an economic dip by evicting homeowners with no regard for their individual situations. Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) is one of those evictees, who is working as hard as he can to keep a roof over his family’s head, including his mother’s (played by Laura Dern). When Carver offers Nash a job doing the evictions for him, the money is too good to pass up, so he reluctantly agrees—and quickly comes to regret it. The film’s powerhouse cast is as great as you’d expect them do be, with Shannon specifically playing the role of unhinged megalomaniac to utter perfection.

Where to stream it: Tubi

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One has to imagine that confusing marketing was one of the reasons Charlie McDowell’s The One I Love didn’t take off at the box office. Though it was marketed as a romantic comedy, the film falls more heavily into sci-fi territory. Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss star as a couple having trouble in their relationship, and seeing a therapist to help head off their problems. When the good doctor (Ted Danson) offers them a lovely, secluded place to stay, weird things start happening. Tonally, the film takes a lot of detours and what sort of starts out as a rom-com eventually morphs into full-on “weird” territory. But it’s a journey worth taking—especially if you like unpredictability in your cinema.

Tell someone you want to spend 85 minutes watching a movie about a man driving in his car and talking on his cell phone the entire time and you’ll likely get a series of giant eyerolls. But then tell the same person that the man driving the car is Tom Hardy, and see if their opinion changes. While Hardy’s face is the only one we see (again, this truly is a movie that features a man driving a car for an hour and a half), he’s surrounded by a bevy of voice talent, including Ruth Wilson as his wife, Tom Holland as his son, Olivia Colman as his ex-mistress (who is pregnant), and Andrew Scott (aka The Hot Priest) as a co-worker desperate to get Hardy’s Ivan Locke to attend to his professional business, not his private matters.

Where to stream it: Showtime , Amazon , YouTube

There’s no point in sugar-coating the fact that Enemy is, well, strange . But tonal shifts and last-minute twists are something audiences have come to expect from Denis Villeneuve ( Prisoners , Arrival ). In the case of Enemy , the less you know about the movie going in the more likely you are to enjoy it. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a quiet college professor who discovers he has a doppelgänger. Intrigued, and confused, he starts following his look-a-like to see what he’s up to, and why their lives seem to keep intersecting. It’s not likely that the ending is something anyone would predict.

Where to stream it: Showtime , YouTube

Keira Knightley sheds the elaborate period clothing so many directors want to put her in and joins the modern world in this apocalyptic rom-com. When it’s announced that the world will end in three weeks, people act in all sorts of weird ways. For married couple Linda and Dodge (Nancy Carell and Steve Carell), it means Linda running off in a panic and calling an immediate end to their marriage. For Dodge, business as usual seems to be the best way to deal with the end of the world, so he continues going into work and living out his last days as he always has. But when he befriends Penny (Keira Knightley), his young and seemingly impulsive neighbor, they both realize there’s something left for them to do: for Penny, it’s seeing her family one last time. In Dodge’s case, it’s finding the woman he once loved—“the one that got away”—and spending his final days with her. So the two embark on a road trip, which allows them to see how the rest of the world is reacting to the fatal news and to discover who they really are when there’s no reason to not be completely honest.

Where to stream it: Peacock

If you’re looking for a feel-good movie … this is not it! That said, it’s a fascinating—albeit depressing—watch. Eva Khatchadourian (Tilda Swinton) and Franklin Plaskett (John C. Reilly) are parents to a teenager named Kevin (Ezra Miller) who has committed a horrible act of violence at school. In the wake of the tragedy, Eva flashes back on her life with Kevin, and how she has always felt that there was something evil about him. If you want to feel better about your own family dysfunction, We Need to Talk About Kevin will definitely do the trick.

Where to stream it: Hulu , Amazon

Dr. Catherine Stewart (Julianne Moore) and her husband David (Liam Neeson) have been married for several years and Catherine begins to suspect that David, a college professor, might be having an affair with his student. To discover more, she hires a call girl named Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) to flirt with David then report back to her. As Chloe indulges Catherine’s request to tell every last detail of her affair with David, some lines get crossed. Neeson, Moore, and Seyfried all play against type in this sexual-thriller that mixes B-movie tropes with a Fatal Attraction -like storyline, but manages to do it in an intelligent way thanks to director Atom Egoyan, who might just be one of the all-time most underrated directors, especially when it comes to ‘90s output like Exotica and The Sweet Hereafter ).

Where to stream it: Hulu , Starz

Paul Aufiero (Patton Oswalt) doesn’t have a lot going on in life. By day, he works as a parking garage attendant and still lives at home with his mom in Staten Island. At night, he calls into his favorite sports radio talk show, where he’s a regular caller known as “Paul from Staten Island.” It’s here, within the sports world, that Paul feels like he can be his own man and create an identity for himself. But his fandom is put to the test when he and his best friend spot one of the team’s major players and follow him around for a while. When Paul finally gets up the nerve to approach his hero, things don’t go as well as expected. In fact, they don’t go well at all and Paul is left to make a choice between fandom and fairness. Oswalt is perfect in the role, which allows him to show off his dramatic side (which you may not have known even existed).

Where to stream it: Tubi , Peacock

The main complaint critics and audiences had with Bryan Bertino’s horror flick is that there wasn’t enough character development or plot. But when a group of mask-faced killers are poking around your house trying to kill you, see if any of that really matters. To be honest, the fact that the murderers choose to terrorize Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman simply because “they were home” really only ups the creep factor.

Where to stream it: Amazon

It took a couple of years for The Foot Fist Way to finally make it into theaters, and even that was largely courtesy of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay seeing it and releasing it through their Gary Sanchez Productions. But even after all that, plus screenings at Sundance and the Los Angeles Film Festival, it still earned less than $250,000 when it was released. It’s easy to imagine that things could have been different if Danny McBride had been a better-known entity at the time. After all, anyone who loves Kenny Powers would surely adore McBride’s Fred Simmons, yet another obnoxious small-town hero—in this case a Tae Kwon Do teacher—who plans a road trip for a couple of his closest friends and students to go watch Simmons’ idol, Chuck "The Truck" Wallace, fight at a seminar.

Where to stream it: CBS All Access , Pluto TV

We’re not going to lie: There’s a hell of a lot to unpack in The Fountain , Darren Aronofsky’s passion project. While there’s some truth to the criticisms that the movie is a bit too big and navel-gazing for its own good, there’s also a lot to like about it if you give it the time and attention it deserves (stop scrolling Twitter). The film is packed with time travel and philosophical conversations and situations surrounding love, death, and immortality. Hugh Jackman stars as the man on a quest for love and eternal life, which plays out in several different times and places. To say much more than that would be to go too deep into the story and give too much away. Is The Fountain too ambitious? Probably. But it’s a lot more interesting than most of what comes out. Plus: It’s only 96 minutes long, so what have you got to lose?

Where to stream it: HBO Max , Hulu

Whether you know it or not, Ben Whishaw is one of the greatest actors of his generation. (Yes, this is a fact.) Fresh off his triumphant run in the Olivier Award-nominated title role of Hamlet at the Old Vic, Whishaw took on the starring role in this adaptation of Patrick Süskind’s 1985 novel. It follows the life of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Whishaw)—from his abandonment as an infant to his sentencing in court with his life as a murderer in between. Grenouille has an obsession with the scent of things, a talent that leads him to becoming one of Paris’s most famous perfumers. But his obsession with smells, and recreating them, leads him down some dark paths that, once traveled, cannot be undone.

Where to stream it: Pluto TV , Amazon

A few years before the McConaissance kicked into high gear, Matthew McConaughey teamed up with Al Pacino for this sports crime drama that is harmless fun. McConaughey plays Brandon Lang, a former college sports star who hooks up with Walter Abrams, a sports consultant who takes Lang under his wing to teach him the rules of handicapping. Together, the two work with high-rolling clients to help make and pick bets. But like any kind of winning streak, their good luck is bound to come to an end, which is when the real drama sets in.

Sean Penn stars as Sam Bicke—a down-on-his-luck salesman who determines that the best way to turn his life around is to hijack a plane and crash it into the White House (where Richard Nixon resides). After going on a mini-rampage in his hometown of Philadelphia, Bicke attempts to board a plane for Washington, DC with a gun and a suitcase full of gasoline. But as with everything else in Bicke’s life, the hijack does not go off as planned. The film is based on the true story of Samuel Byck.

Where to stream it: N/A

Dan Mahowny (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is an assistant bank manager who has a job he likes, a girlfriend who loves him, and a debilitating gambling addiction. So when he sees a way that he can leverage the money that’s coming into the bank to help him rack up bigger dollar totals at the casino, it seems like a no-brainer. While he initially finds some success with this scheme, it doesn’t last long. And by the time he’s finished, he now owes his employer a lot of money—and needs to get it back to them soon. Though the film only made back about $1 million of its $10 million budget, Roger Ebert called Owning Mahowny one of the top 10 films of 2003, and specifically cited Hoffman’s performance, stating that it was "a masterpiece of discipline and precision" and described Hoffman as a "fearless poet of implosion, [who] plays the role with a fierce integrity, never sending out signals for our sympathy because he knows that Mahowny is oblivious to our presence."

Years before Ryan Gosling was “OMG—Ryan Gosling!” the then-21-year-old took on a role that would intimidate most actors his age (and many actors twice his age) when he played Danny Blint, a Jewish yeshiva student-turned-neo-Nazi in The Believer . Jamie Russell of BBC Films described the film as "awe-inspiring ... a late contender for one of the best films of the year—an intellectually breathtaking, profoundly moving film." But due to protests and the wake of 9/11, theaters ultimately decided not to book the film and we never heard much about it.

David Aames (Tom Cruise) has got it all: looks, wealth, great friends. Just when he thinks his life can’t get any better, his best friend (Jason Lee) introduces him to a woman named Sofia (Penélope Cruz) and the two of them fall in love. While David is ecstatic, his “fuck buddy” (Cameron Diaz) isn’t so thrilled. So she takes David on a car ride that she hopes will end both their lives. Instead, it leaves David with a severely damaged face that can’t be repaired by plastic surgery, so he opts to wear a creepy mask around instead. And that’s when things get really bizarre. Though it made over $100 million at the box office, Vanilla Sky got killed by critics—many of whom wondered why Cameron Crowe would exhaust so much time and energy remaking what was already a great film (Alejandro Amenábar's 1997 Spanish film, Open Your Eyes ). Others seemed to think that the movie was simply an exercise in vapidity (which was sort of the point, but we’ll leave that to one side for now).

Where to stream it: Pluto TV , CBS All Access

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The lost movies of 2020 to go back and watch

These great films shouldn’t slip through the cracks

Evan Rachel Wood puts her entire arm into a post-office box in Miranda July’s Kajillionaire

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To describe 2020 as one of the most tumultuous and unconventional years in recent memory feels like a gross understatement. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted every sector of life, including the simple pleasure of watching. Theaters and multiplex chains across the world shuttered their doors and the result was a release schedule thrown into a tailspin and an industry scrambling to program streaming platforms. There were lofty attempts to return things to normal; in September 2020, Christopher Nolan bet big in the face of the pandemic and pushed ahead with the release of his science fiction action thriller Tenet , a decision which resulted in a deflated box office and the film’s subsequent release on home video just a few months later. The rollout looks quaint compared to the new normal, in which a movie like A Quiet Place Part II hits theaters in May then appears on Paramount Plus in July.

Tenet was far from the only film whose moment in the spotlight was undermined in the wake of the pandemic. With that in mind, and now halfway through 2021 proper, we’ve created a list of the films we felt warrant a much deserved reappraisal — the “lost” films of 2020. From Kitty Green’s The Assistant to David Prior’s The Empty Man , to Miranda July’s Kajillionaire and Steve McQueen’s Small Axe anthology, here are the newer movies that most deserve their due.

The Assistant

a woman on the phone

One of the first and best films to address the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Kitty Green’s The Assistant is incisive in its obliqueness. The film, which follows a Hollywood production company assistant over the course of a normal workday, never shows the producer that lords over his company with verbal abuse and leverages his power for sexual favors. Instead, the focus stays squarely on the mundanity of Jane (Julia Garner)’s workday, as she encounters all of the people who, as a matter of course, enable and perpetuate the monster who fills every corner of the screen, even if he never appears on it. —Joshua Rivera

The Assistant is streaming on Amazon .

Black Is King

Beyonce in Black Is King, holding up the moon in a desert

It’s hard to imagine a Beyoncé visual album could qualify as “lost,” but such was the power of 2020. On the experimental, sumptuous wavelength of Lemonade , Beyoncé’s Black Is King is the best remake of The Lion King that Disney has ever made (mostly because the literal one stiiiinnnnnks). The music, choreography, and costuming would be enough to make the 85-minute film swirl, but as Jaelani Turner-Williams examined in her write-up at the time of release last summer, the film is filled with potent ideas about Black life and Beyoncé’s own art tucked into all the nooks and crannies if you know where to look. Here’s a snippet from our review at the time :

Having progressed into Black feminist activism since the release of BEYONCÉ , the singer makes room for female collaborators, friends, and family in Black Is King . Tierra Whack, Jessie Reyez, Tiwa Savage, and more segue from their work on The Lion King : The Gift into the new film. For “Brown Skin Girl,” Beyoncé revamps the visuals from intimate home videos to an African debutante ball with appearances from her eldest daughter, Blue Ivy, Naomi Campbell, Lupita Nyong’o and former Destiny’s Child groupmate Kelly Rowland. The statuesque posing of women throughout the film also frames them as an honorable, royal council upholding Black lineage. Along with vibrant wardrobes, the women of Black is King don elaborate natural hairstyles — in varying parts of the film, Beyoncé wears 30 feet of towering box braids as she stands atop a ladder, while in a later scene, Himba women have their hair covered with red clay.

Black Is King is streaming on Disney Plus .

Blow The Man Down

best new underrated movies

Saying something is inspired by the Coen Brothers is usually a backhanded compliment. The duo’s films are so specific and so tonally unique that their imitators often feel more like bad karaoke than clever reinvention. Blow the Man Down is the rare example when that’s not the case.

Set in a Maine fishing town called Easter Cove, Blow the Man Down follows two sisters (played by Sophie Lowe and Morgan Saylor) who accidentally commit a crime and discover the dark past of the town during the cover up. Co-writers and directors Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy, craft a clever twist-filled plot around the crime and cover up, but the darker secrets of Easter Cove’s history, and the collection of old women who keep them, give the movie its darkest and most interesting subplot and folds it neatly in the canon of small-town Americana crime.

Blow the Man Down is both a dark and cynical story of small-town Americana crime, but with a warmth and humor at the center that keeps it from sliding too far into darkness. —Austen Goslin

Blow the Man Down is streaming on Amazon Prime Video .

A teenage boy stands at a lectern pointing as he delivers a speech in Boys State

Political documentaries these days tend to be grim polemics with massive stakes, but Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine’s Boys State is the exact opposite — it’s a lively, funny, but fascinating look at a process that technically doesn’t matter at all. An inside look at an annual political-training event where a thousand teenage boys create their own government from scratch, Boys State captures the wheeling, dealing, and endless political discoveries and compromises as the participants unwittingly re-create all the flaws of modern politics. The access is unbeatable, as Moss and McBaine get up close with one year’s leadership and follows their campaigns and clashes. It’s a hilarious and mesmerizing movie, but it’s insightful and revealing, too. If you missed it because you had enough politics in 2020, now’s the time to go back. — Tasha Robinson

Boys State is streaming on Apple TV Plus .

Children of the Sea

a girl swims in the sea

Ayumu Watanabe’s Children of the Sea is a feast for the senses. Adapted from Daisuke Igarashi’s manga of the same name, Watanabe’s film follows Ruka, a young girl who befriends two boys who possess a strange and otherworldly power over the ocean. As Ruka grows to acknowledge and understand the same power within herself, she’s drawn into a mystery that will thrust her into the most beautiful and harrowing depths of the sea.

Children of the Sea was originally slated for a limited U.S. theatrical release in April 2020, just as theaters around the country began to shutter in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The release was later rescheduled, and cancelled again, before eventually popping up on Netflix. Take some time out of your day for one of the most gorgeous anime spectacles of last year. —Toussaint Egan

Children of the Sea is streaming on Netflix .

A photo taken at Camp Jened in a scene from “Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution.”

Nicole Newnham and James Lebercht’s wonderful documentary shines a spotlight on Camp Jened, a New York summer camp for teens with disabilities. Starting in 1971, Crip Camp follows Camp Jened alumni as they become activists in the disability rights movement pushing lawmakers to pass accessibility legislation. Crip Camp is a vital film that fervently reminds its viewers of an oft-neglected party in the fight for equal rights, and how the work of democracy is never done. —JR

Crip Camp is streaming on Netflix .

The Empty Man

Greg (Evan Jonigkeit) discovers a giant transmogrified skeleton in The Empty Man

Director David Prior’s feature debut is the scariest movie of 2020 and one of its best. The movie’s main story follows a man named James Lasombra (James Badge Dale) as he searches for a missing girl. While on the case, he hears about a legend of a shadowy figure called “the empty man” who stalks anyone who’s seen him for three days before he strikes. While this premise alone might be enough for a creepy-enough movie, Prior blows the concept up into something truly special, spanning the globe — in an outstanding 15 minute prologue — and finally bringing in a cult whose leader might actually have supernatural powers. Despite the fact that none of these make sense together on paper, Prior makes all three feel like part of one cohesive, terrifying story. —AG

The Empty Man is available to rent on Apple .

Lit entirely in red, Freaky star Kathryn Newton brandishes a chainsaw

This slasher-comedy from director Christopher Landon, who also directed both highly entertaining Happy Death Day movies, is a hilarious and gruesome time that could have easily been one of 2020’s biggest hits if anyone had bothered to see it. Freaky ’s premise is charmingly simple: a serial killer called the Blissfield Butcher swaps bodies with a high school student and they have 24 hours to reverse it before they’re stuck like that forever. This twist on a body-swap comedy is gold, but it needs exactly the right actors to pull it off and Freaky found them in Vince Vaughn ( Wedding Crashers ) and Kathyrn Newton ( Detective Pikachu ). Vaugn revives his comedic chops after a few off-years, but it’s Newton’s murderous monster that really steals the movie. —AG

Freaky is available to buy on Amazon and Apple .

Gretel and Hansel

The Witch in Gretel and Hansel, an elderly woman dressed in a black robe and head-wrap, dips her blackened fingers into a brass pot full of goo.

I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House director Oz Perkins’ retelling of this classic fairy tale is as gorgeous as it is creepy. Of course, the story still follows two siblings who run away from home and are found by a deceptively kind witch, but Perkins’ turns it into a dark coming of age story for Gretel, played fantastically here by It ’s Sophia Lillis. The movie is set almost entirely in the deep woods, near a geometrically impossible looking cottage — as any good Hansel and Gretel movie should be — and both are equally entrancing and scary. Perkins fills the movie’s slow first half with beautiful shots of ominous trees towering over the siblings, while shadows seem to creep on their own in the background. But all of this is just careful mood-building set up for a final 20 minutes that explodes into a terrifying sequence of scares that will stick with you long after the movie. —AG

Gretel and Hansel is streaming on Paramount Plus .


Richard Jenkins, Debra Winger, and Evan Rachel Wood slip past their landlord in Kajillionaire

Kajillionaire is easily Miranda July’s most accessible, approachable, and funny film — but it’s still weird and idiosyncratic as heck. Evan Rachel Wood stars as the adult daughter of two petty con artists (Richard Jenkins and Debra Winger) who live via tiny scams like stealing other people’s mail. They’re all equal partners in crime, until she meets a woman (Gina Rodriguez) who wants in on their scams, and accidentally upends their practiced but ridiculous lifestyle. The director of Me and You and Everyone We Know and The Future is all about high levels of quirk, but Kajillionaire adds on a lot of big, relatable, colorful emotions and a pretty hilarious heist plot. — Tasha Robinson

Kajillionaire is streaming on HBO Max .

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

two young women sit together

Written and directed by Eliza Hittman, Never Rarely Sometimes Always follows Autumn Callahan (Sidney Flanigan), a 17-year-old girl living in rural Pennsylvania who discovers she is pregnant. Unable to get an abortion in her home state without parental consent, Autumn and her best friend steal the money they need to buy bus tickets to New York City in an attempt to have an abortion. Never Rarely Sometimes Always is a work of extreme empathy and compassion, the kind of story that addresses an urgent problem by simply depicting a person in need of help and all the ways we have made it casually impossible to get that help. Infuriating yet also tender, Never Rarely Sometimes Always is among 2020’s best film that not enough people brought themselves to see. —JR

Never Rarely Sometimes Always is available to rent on Amazon and Apple .

The New Mutants

Anya Taylor-Joy as Illyana Rasputin in 20th Century Studios’ The New Mutants.

The New Mutants was doomed from the start, trapped in production hell following planned reshoots that never happened and Disney’s purchase of original studio 20th Century Fox. Nothing less of a disaster was expected, especially given its release in August 2020, well into a pandemic when few theaters were actually open and most big releases were put on hold. Most critics hated it , but I’m here to tell you that the movie is actually fine! It’s a 90-minute long superhero movie that is quite unlike any other we’ve gotten and likely will get again; a thriller with some fun creature designs and an interesting spin on the source material. It’s got plenty of shortcomings, dealing in dated tropes of psychiatric facilities and whitewashing a central character of color. It’s mostly interesting as an off-kilter experiment from a time way back (2017, when The New Mutants was actually filmed) when it seemed like superhero blockbusters were about to get weirder than they actually would. —JR

The New Mutants is streaming on HBO Max .

The Personal History of David Copperfield

Dev Patel as David Copperfield in The Personal History of David Copperfield

Armando Ianucci, the mind behind Veep and The Death of Stalin , casts Dev Patel as David Copperfield in an adaptation of David Copperfield. That is, essentially, the pitch: No clever twist, just a clever recasting and an inspired director assembling a terrific cast. The Personal History of David Copperfield is a two-hour dose of cinematic joy that arrived in a dark time, which was unfortunately also the best time for it to be buried in a bevy of haphazard on-demand releases. —JR

The Personal History of David Copperfield is streaming on HBO Max .

Tasya (Andrea Riseborough) bathed in red light in Possessor

Brandon Cronenberg may never escape the shadow of his father David, but only because his horror films are inching toward the greatness of films like Videodrome , The Brood , and The Fly . His latest — released right off the bat with an “uncut” version in order to set the tone — centers on Tasya (Andrea Riseborough), an assassin who implants her consciousness inside her victims’ heads to perpetrate contract kills under the guise of murder-suicides. It’s a living! When we pick up with Tasya, the gig is taking its toll on her mental health, so she prepares for “one final job.” But Colin (Christopher Abbott) isn’t a pushover for possession, and the results of their psychic tango is bloody mayhem. Cronenberg constructs his story like the anti- Inception , leaving most of the rules and world-building unspoken, and replacing them with gory, retro surrealism. Themes of gender, class, and economic warfare are all on the table in Possessor , but so are the nightmares. It’s techno-exploitation horror at its finest. — MP

Possessor is streaming on Hulu .

She Dies Tomorrow

Kate Lyn Sheil in close-up purple light in She Dies Tomorrow

She Dies Tomorrow missed its bigger, normal-life moment while arguably being the most timely release in a year plagued by a worldwide pandemic and awash in a resulting wave of existential dread. In Amy Seimetz’s psychological thriller, Kate Lyn Sheil stars as Amy, a young and otherwise healthy woman who inexplicably begins to harbor an obsessive paranoid fixation that she is going to die tomorrow. Amy’s fear and anxiety spreads like a pathogen, literally infecting her close circle of friends and acquaintances that send each of them spiraling into journeys of fatalistic self-reflection as this sentiment ripples outward into the population and the apparent end of everything that we know and love grows steadily more plausible. It’s a manifestly unnerving work, one made all the more so for the fact that it released well into the summer when cities and moviegoers around the world began their respective lockdowns. It’s fascinating to ponder what the reception to Seimetz’s film might have been had the COVID-19 pandemic never happened. As it stands now however, it remains one of the year’s most crucial and inadvertently prescient films of 2020. —TE

She Dies Tomorrow is streaming on Hulu .

michael stuhlbarg and elisabeth moss as shirley

Instead of explaining the life of Shirley Jackson in a flatly lit, soft-string-scored biopic, director Josephine Decker ( Madeline’s Madeline ) burrows into the author’s life through the entranced perspective of outsiders. Odessa Young and Logan Lerman star as a young couple who find themselves caught in the maelstrom that is Jackson (Elisabeth Moss) and her husband, literati snob Stanley Hyman (Michael Stuhlbarg). Embittered but impassioned, intoxicated but stone-cold furious, the two war like titans over the dinner table, then retreat to their corners to put pen to paper. The decision to live with such a couple — meant to be a few weeks, and lasting what feels like a lifetime — nearly destroys Lerman’s young scholar, but seduces his wife in ways that unlock her deepest thoughts.

At times, Shirley feels like a horror movie. It feels like one of Guillermo del Toro ’s fantasies. There are moments straight out of the John Cassavetes playbook. It’s also wickedly funny. The tonal swirl makes all the sense in the world as Decker keeps her dreamy camerawork locked on Moss’ Jackson, who feels more like the culmination of the author’s work than any kind of mirror reflection. Her volatile actions trigger the senses, and in another feat of casting, Young becomes the perfect ingenue to have it all wash over. It’s a movie to feel — and it’s a movie very few people did in 2020. — MP

Shirley is streaming on Hulu .

The Small Axe Series

A large group of Black protestors carry a Black Panther banner in Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series movie Mangrove

Though generally overlooked by mainstream audiences due to a confusing release schedule, the five Small Axe installments, directed by 12 Years a Slave ’s Steve McQueen, launched a debate in critical circles over whether they should be classified as movies or TV episodes. Just to throw a wrench in the works, here’s a different take: they work best when taken as one long feature. Mangrove , Alex Wheatle , Lovers Rock , Education , and Red, White and Blue are set in London over the course of decades, among a thriving subculture of West Indian immigrants navigating work, romance, community-building, and especially the racism of the white establishment. The individual installments (which range from about an hour long to over two hours) each leave something to be desired, whether it’s a more complete story or tighter editing in the case of the ramblier segments. But taken as a whole, they feel like one staggeringly ambitious narrative, a generational look at a community striving for peace, equality, self-determination, and freedom in what for some is a hostile new home, and for others is a native land that still insists on treating them like foreigners. — TR

Small Axe is streaming on Amazon Prime Video .

To the Stars

Kara Hayward as a young girl in the 1950s standing in a dusty road in To the Stars

Martha Stephens’ old-souled, dust bowl tale of two young women kicking the shins of the establishment in hyper-conservative 1960s Oklahoma would be every 18-year-old’s favorite movie if old-souled, dust bowl stories were all the rage. Kara Hayward ( Moonrise Kingdom ), as an ostracised bookworm dubbed “Stinky Drawers” by the worst of her class, and Liana Liberato ( Light As a Feather ), playing a midwestern firebrand whose urges don’t align with her god-fearing family’s beliefs, form a symbiotic relationship as they ramble towards the absolute worst teenage gauntlet: prom. What they discover on their terms is genuine, and Stephens dustbowl compositions steer To the Stars clear of cliché or period-piece artifice. You’ll never be as mad at modern politicians who want to take us back to the “good ol’ days” as you will watching this adept coming-of-age tale.

To the Stars is streaming on Hulu .

The Vast of Night

Sierra McCormick listens intently to the phone in The Vast of Night

Andrew Patterson styles his directorial debut, The Vast of Night , as a late-night episode of a Twilight Zone/Outer Limits -esque science-fiction TV show, but his film is both more expansive and more character-intensive than those shows ever were. As leads Jake Horowitz and Sierra McCormick investigate a mysterious signal striking their small, rural 1950s town, Patterson treats the material more like a campfire ghost story than an SF story, lulling viewers into a hypnotic wonder with long, quiet storytelling segments. It’s unconventional and idiosyncratic, but the terrific sound design is immersive, and the leads are charismatic and sparky enough to carry the story directly from playful banter to awed fear. — TR

The Vast of Night is included on Amazon Prime Video .

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The 19 Most Underrated Movies on Netflix

best new underrated movies

W hat makes a movie underrated ? The word raises so many unanswerable questions: Underrated by whom? Assessed by what scale? A film considered underrated in one country can be a huge hit in another. The term and the concept are both faulty.

Yet they are convenient, at least as an expression of support for works that have a spark of something yet have somehow become forgotten, if they were ever appreciated at all. For this list of films that are possibly underappreciated by viewers, I propose the more tempered adjective underloved. Some of these films were at least moderately popular when they were released in theaters but have somehow been forgotten in the year-in, year-out waves of new releases . Others are pictures that received largely negative reviews upon their release but deserve a second look. And one is a largely overlooked gem , made in 2020 and released in the United States in 2021, a picture that has earned a great deal of praise from critics but still hasn’t benefited from any groundswell of popular support. At the very least, taken collectively these movies are an invitation to dig deeper into your queue in search of lost wonders. Movie lovers are, after all, treasure hunters at heart.

The Disciple

Writer-director Chaitanya Tamhane has fashioned a gorgeous, quietly affecting film about an aspiring star in the world of Indian classical music (played, superbly, by Aditya Modak) whose gifts may not be enough to earn him the respect and acclaim he craves. Is it possible—or even a good idea—to live for art? The Disciple —one of the finest films of the 2021 release year —weighs both the joys and the consequences of trying to do so.

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Upon its release in 2015, this melodrama for grown-ups , written and directed by Angelina Jolie , received plenty of scoffing reviews. But in addition to being gorgeous to look at (thanks to its French seaside setting, and cinematography by Christian Berger), this story of a complicated, unraveling marriage—starring Jolie and Brad Pitt, at a time when their own marriage had hit rocky shoals —has a dreamy, moody shape. It’s a story about people in trouble, charting their own risky way out.

Mike Hodges—director of the icy-great 1971 Get Carter, as well as the gloriously mad 1980 Flash Gordon —has been a maddeningly un-prolific director, disappearing for years, if not decades, between movies. In 1998, Hodges re-emerged practically from the ether with Croupier, in which Clive Owen gives a sterling performance as a coolly ambitious aspiring writer who, in order to make a living, returns to a line of work he both detests and excels at. The picture was an arthouse hit (remember those?) upon its release in North America. It’s great enough to deserve rediscovery.

French director Mati Diop’s swimmy romantic dream of a movie won a Grand Prize of the Jury at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, and earned ecstatic reviews from critics. But this drama of two lovers in Dakar, played by Mame Bineta Sane and Traore, separated when one strikes out across the sea in search of a better life , casts such a luminous spell that it deserves a wider audience. See if you’re not caught up in its starry net.

Letters to Juliet

This luminous, gentle 2010 romantic comedy, directed by Gary Winick, was treated as a throwaway upon its release. Time to change that. Amanda Seyfried (who is finally being recognized as the terrific actor she is) plays a young woman seeking the wisdom of Shakespeare’s tragic heroine in the Italian countryside. Instead, she meets an older woman—played by perhaps our finest living actress, Vanessa Redgrave—who is herself in search of a lost love. If I tell you that that erstwhile lover is played by Redgrave’s own real-life lost—and then found—love Franco Nero, and that the two are spectacular together, will you watch?

The American

In 2007, Anton Corbijn—who first made his name as a rock’n’roll photographer—gave us the superb drama Control, which told the tragic story of Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis. Corbijn’s second feature, The American, from 2010, wasn’t nearly as acclaimed—maybe because a contemplative thriller that’s low on explosions, car chases and even dialogue seems an unlikely picture for a rock photographer to make. But the movie’s austere stylishness deserves a second chance. George Clooney plays a secret operative with specialized skills, hiding out in the Italian countryside. He’s a man who, it first appears, has no center—and watching Clooney wander toward his character’s lost self is one of this movie’s great pleasures.

In 1974, Christine Chubbuck, a 29-year-old news reporter in Sarasota, Fla., committed suicide while on the air. Antonio Campos’ sensitively handled 2016 film tells the story of events leading up to that tragic incident, and Rebecca Hall is extraordinary as Chubbuck: It’s tempting for a performer who’s playing an alienated, isolated person to just put up a wall of inscrutability. But Hall’s Christine draws us closer rather than pushing us away—this performance is a quiet, multidimensional marvel.

Chadwick Boseman was an extraordinary performer whose career came to a heartbreaking halt just as it was getting started. His greatness was apparent even in his early film performances, among them his turn as James Brown in Tate Taylor’s 2014 biopic Get on Up. The movie is a bit of an experiment, and not everything in it works. But Boseman is wondrous to watch, giving us a portrait of a man whose staggering gifts—accompanied by grand show-biz braggadocio and boldness—made him a royal among American performers.

Double Jeopardy

Got a pile of ironing to do, or some other soul-killing household chore? Time to fire up this 1999 firecracker of a domestic thriller, directed by Bruce Beresford, in which Ashley Judd plays a woman who’s framed and imprisoned for her husband’s murder—and who hatches a revenge plan when she learns he’s still alive. Bruce Greenwood plays the sexy—but evil—spouse. Tommy Lee Jones brings premium cragginess to his role as a by-the-book parole officer. Nothing in Double Jeopardy is remotely realistic, but you’ve probably got enough realism in your life already. That pile of shirts isn’t going to iron itself.

Crimson Peak

Guillermo del Toro may be an Academy Award winner, but that doesn’t mean every one of his films has gotten the notoriety it deserves. Crimson Peak , from 2015, is a work of spectacular, lurid lunacy involving a young newlywed and novelist (Mia Wasikowska) who’s plunged into a whirl of intrigue involving a tumble-down mansion, various unsavory family secrets and some grisly, menacing ghosts. Pour yourself a of goblet of blood-red cranberry cocktail and dive right in.

In this delightful 2007 adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel, Claire Danes plays a star who falls from the sky, and she’s a valuable commodity. More than a few people want what she’s got: Charlie Cox is the lad who tries to capture her to impress the woman he thinks he loves (Sienna Miller); Michelle Pfeiffer is a witch who needs certain celestial components to recapture her youth. This dreamy romantic fantasy is gentle and funny and just a little bit wicked.

David Michôd’s The King , from 2019, is an entertaining riff on Shakespeare’s Henriad, with everyone’s Tiger Beat crush Timothée Chalamet as the prince who will become Henry V, if only he can stop partying and carousing. But the real star of the show is Joel Edgerton’s Falstaff. Grouchy and wary and tender, he’s a sozzled hedonist seemingly out for himself—though his party-animal facade is just a mask for his bottomless generosity.

Only in 1967 did interracial marriage become legal in all 50 states. Director Jeff Nichols’ Loving , from 2016, tells the story of the couple whose case brought that legislation into being, Mildred and Richard Loving , played superbly by Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga. Although Negga was nominated for an Academy Award, this stirring movie never really found the audience it deserved—and it may be even more resonant five years after its release, as a reminder that our country is hardly as progressive as we’d like to believe.

Lingua Franca

In this 2019 film, writer-director Isabel Sandoval stars as an undocumented Filipina working as a live-in caretaker for the elderly Olga (played by the late Lynn Cohen), in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach. Olivia is also a trans woman, which adds layers of complexity to her life: To obtain a green card, she’s seeking to marry a U.S. citizen, a quest that becomes even more complicated when Olga’s roguish grandson, Alex (Eamon Farren), moves in. This is a gorgeous, delicate picture about finding your place in a setting that may not always be hospitable; in other words, it’s simply a film about living in the world.

Director Ron Howard tells the story of the rivalry between English racecar driver James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and the Austrian-born speed demon Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) in this lively, sporty movie from 2013. If Howard, the guy behind tony prestige pictures like Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind, seems an unlikely choice to direct a movie about hotheaded racing rivals, remember that he did make his directing debut with Grand Theft Auto, for shlock impresario Roger Corman, way back when.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Before New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi became part of the Marvel directors’ stable—but after he made the glorious vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows —he brought us this buoyant, expansive coming-of-age story . Twelve-year-old Ricky (Julian Dennison) seems to be a juvenile delinquent in the making, until he’s sent to live in the middle of nowhere with Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and her gruff, laconic husband Hec (Sam Neill). What follows is a wilderness adventure and a story of how mismatched personalities learn to connect with one another, all garnished with Waititi’s characteristic, oddball stamp.

Adapted from Hillary Jordan’s 2008 novel of the same name, this 2017 film, beautifully directed by Dee Rees , is an intimate epic about two American farming families, one Black and one white, working the land in the Mississippi Delta in the 1940s. Mudbound works as a thumbnail picture of midcentury American racism and injustice, and as a reminder of how slowly things change in this country. And the superb cast—including Jason Mitchell, Mary J. Blige and Carey Mulligan—ensure that every minute is deeply felt and believable.

Bright Star

In this radiant film from 2009, director Jane Campion offers a fictionalized version of the love affair between the poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and a woman who was, quite literally, the girl next door, Fanny Brawne (Abby Cornish). The duo’s relationship was relatively short but deeply passionate, largely recorded in letters that Brawne kept. Campion fashions it all into an unfussy and gently erotic love story that never tips into sentimentality.

The Bank Job

In Roger Donaldson’s dazzling 2008 heist movie, Jason Statham plays a family man with a shady past who’s pulled back to a life of crime by an old neighborhood friend (Saffron Burrows). Set in 1971 London, and based on a real-life robbery, the picture captures the vibe of its time, evoking a Great Britain caught in the limbo between post-swinging London and pre-punk. But if The Bank Job is lively and clever, it’s also brushed with an aura of desperation, thanks in part to Statham’s soulful performance, which proves that he’s a much better actor than many of his movies require him to be.

If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. In emergencies, call 911, or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider.

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15 Great Underrated Movies Recommended by Roger Ebert

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Roger Ebert's list of Great Movies is extensive, meaning there are plenty of gems for viewers to enjoy. Those looking for something a little more off-the-beaten-path might like some of the more under-the-radar films that he championed over the years. These films might not be widely appreciated, but Ebert gave them two thumbs up.

Roger Ebert was one of the most influential film critics of the 20th century and the first to win the Pulitzer Prize. His reviews radiate a love of film and life, which he retained to the end, even as he battled thyroid cancer. After he passed away in 2013, the outpouring of affection for Ebert was unlike any accorded to a movie reviewer before. Robert Redford called him "one of the great champions of freedom of artistic expression," while Barack Obama simply said, "Roger was the movies."

Over his career, Ebert published thousands of reviews. In the process, he famously compiled a list of " great movies " he considered the best, including classics and obscure gems. His list is worth exploring in its entirety, but for those in a rush, here are a few of the top underrated movies that many viewers may not yet have seen.

Updated on August 4, 2023, by Luc Haasbroek:

15 'ripley's game' (2002).

ripley's game0

Tom Ripley ( John Malkovich ) is a retired criminal living a lavish life in Italy. After he finds out that his partner Reeves ( Ray Winstone ) was planning to cheat him, Ripley convinces a dying man in need of money ( Dougray Scott ) to carry out a hit for Reeves on a rival mobster. However, not everything goes according to plan.

RELATED: Underrated Movies Recommended by Martin Scorsese

Ebert called Ripley's Game "one of Malkovich's most brilliant and insidious performances; a study in evil that teases the delicate line between heartlessness and the faintest glimmers of feeling." He later added the film to his Great Movies list.

14 'The Pledge' (2001)

the pledge 20010

The Pledge is a psychological thriller directed by Sean Penn . Jack Nicholson stars as Jerry Black , a retiring detective who becomes deeply invested in solving the murder of a young girl found dead in the snow. Haunted by the failure to capture the killer, Jerry makes a solemn vow to the victim's grieving mother that he will find the culprit.

As the investigation progresses, Jerry descends into a psychological abyss, grappling with the thin line between justice and obsession. "Sean Penn shows himself in this film as a sure-handed director with great empathy for performance," Ebert wrote in his review , adding that " The Pledge may be Nicholson's finest performance."

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13 'Heart of Glass' (1976)

heart of glass0

Heart of Glass is a lesser-known early project from filmmaker Werner Herzog . It takes place in an 18th-century Bavarian village known for its precious ruby-red glass. When the village glassblower dies, he takes with him the secret formula for making the glass. The once-thriving glass industry collapses, leaving the townspeople in despair.

The film is meditative and lyrical, with a premium on striking imagery. "Herzog fascinates me," Ebert wrote on his site . "I feel a film like Heart of Glass comes as close to any single one of his titles to expressing the inchoate feelings in his heart."

12 'Santa Sangre' (1989)

Santa Sangre

Santa Sangre (Spanish for "holy blood") is a phantasmagoric horror from cult director Alejandro Jodorowsky . It stars Jodorowsky's son Axel as Fenix, a young man who was a magician in a circus as a child. Jodorowsky's other son, Adán , plays the young Fenix in flashbacks. We learn that Fenix had a traumatic upbringing, witnessing all kinds of violence. Eventually, Fenix's armless mother manipulates him into murdering several people. Santa Sangre tells the story of Fenix's fight to reclaim control.

Jodorowsky is undoubtedly one of the most creative directors of the 20th century, and that is on display in Santa Sangre . He has an eye for striking images and genuinely unsettling plots. Ebert called Santa Sangre one of the best horror movies ever made. It's perfect for fans of gruesome horror films à la Lars von Trier .

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11 The 'Up' Docuseries (1964)

Up doc

1964's Seven Up! is a unique must-see documentary that looked at the lives of fourteen British children; ten boys and four girls. The filmmakers then checked in on the kids every seven years for a follow-up film. Nine films in the series have been made, spanning 56 years, with the most recent entry premiering in 2019. The result is among the most detailed, intimate portraits of real life ever filmed.

RELATED: Unique Documentaries You've Probably Never Seen

The first film was conceived as an exploration of class in the UK. But as the films progressed, they became less political and more personal. They include in-depth interviews with participants regarding their work, family, relationships, and spiritual views. Ebert listed the Up documentaries among his ten favorite movies of all time, calling them "an inspired, even noble, use of the film medium."

10 'Leaving Las Vegas' (1995)

Nicolas Cage drinking a cocktail in 'Leaving Las Vegas.'

One of Roger Ebert's top-rated films , Leaving Las Vegas is a gripping drama about Ben Sanderson ( Nicolas Cage ), a Hollywood screenwriter who loses everything and tries to drink himself to death in Las Vegas. There, he meets Sera ( Elisabeth Shue ), a sex worker, and the two form a complicated and emotionally intense relationship.

Directed by Mike Figgis , The film's outstanding performances, notably those of Cage and Shue, earned them Academy Award nominations. Its honest depiction of addiction and the human propensity for self-destruction garnered it a cult following among fans. Leaving Las Vegas is a film that will emotionally exhaust viewers – it's a one-of-a-kind Las Vegas movie that will strike a chord with its raw performances, frank portrayal of addiction, and intricate relationships.

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9 'Waking Life' (2001)

Jesse and Celine laying in bed in the animated film 'Waking Life'.

Receiving four stars from Ebert , Waking Life is an animated film that depicts a philosophical journey through the realm of lucid dreaming, with a wide cast of characters and a non-linear plot. The film delves into the nature of reality, life's meaning, and the power of the human mind.

The film, directed by Richard Linklater and starring Wiley Wiggins , contains breathtaking rotoscope animation that adds a surreal feel to the frenetic plot. The film's star-studded cast, which includes Ethan Hawke , Julie Delpy , and Steven Soderbergh , also helped to elevate the material. It's a must-see for fans of indie cinema and those searching for a movie that will test their preconceptions, thanks to its mind-bending animation, thought-provoking plot, and talented ensemble.

8 'Cléo from 5 to 7' (1962)

cleo from 5 to 70

Cléo from 5 to 7 is a French New Wave classic movie about the titular Cléo ( Corinne Marchand ), an egotistical and self-centered pop singer who walks the streets of Paris for two hours while waiting for the results of a diagnostic exam that may indicate she has cancer. It's a path of self-discovery and introspection that will keep audiences guessing.

Directed by Agnès Varda , the film's remarkable combination of drama, humor, and existentialism made it a true standout at that time, making it one of Ebert's favorites on his site . Marchand's Cléo was also greatly commended for conveying the character's fragility and ego in equal measure. The French classic is a must-see for admirers of French New Wave cinema and those searching for a film that will make them rethink their own life.

Watch on The Criterion Channel

7 'Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters' (1985)


Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters , directed by Paul Schrader , dramatizes the life of one of the most influential Japanese writers of the 20th century. Yukio Mishima was born in 1925 and lived through a period of upheaval in his homeland. He experienced World War II as a teenager, including Japan's defeat by the American forces. For Mishima, this was not simply a military defeat but a cultural one. He despised the post-war political order and mass consumer culture.

RELATED: Great Unconventional Biopics, Ranked

As a young man, Mishima published several acclaimed novels which expressed his feelings of disconnection from modern Japan. Later in his life, he became increasingly radical and politically active, eventually forming a paramilitary group. Ultimately, this culminated in a misguided attempt to hold a military official hostage. Mishima remains a controversial figure in Japan, and Schrader's film brings his fascinating story to life. Ebert calls the 1985 film "the most unconventional biopic [he's ever seen], and one of the best."

6 'Secrets & Lies' (1996)

Secrets & Lies

Secrets & Lies is a drama by veteran British director Mike Leigh . Like much of Leigh's work, Secrets & Lies was improvised mainly by its ensemble cast and explores issues of class divides. It follows Hortense ( Marianne Jean-Baptiste ), a successful Black optometrist who was adopted as a baby and now seeks to find her birth family. To her surprise, Hortense discovers that her biological mother ( Brenda Blethyn ) is a working-class white woman from a dysfunctional background.

Mike Leigh's movies' strength is their realism. The plot is secondary; the focus is on seeing authentic characters grappling with everyday challenges. And the characters here are among the most well-drawn of any in Leigh's filmography, with Ebert highlighting the way the actors "use the disciplines of the stage as well as the screen." Jean-Baptise and Blethyn are exceptional, as are supporting actors Timothy Spall , Phyllis Logan , and Lesley Manville .

5 'Crumb' (1994)


Meet Robert Crumb , an influential and irreverent underground cartoonist. This documentary – which Ebert describes as "eccentricity at its most extreme" – chronicles his development as an artist and his cynical attitudes toward modern American life. But most fascinating is how the film delves into Crumb's bleak childhood.

The film reveals how Crumb and his siblings suffered under their authoritarian father. Two of his brothers later developed severe psychological problems and met tragic ends. Fundamentally, Crumb seeks to explain why the cartoonist turned out the way he did. In the process, it crafts a compelling character study while managing to become a surprising cult classic over the years .

4 'Au Revoir les Enfants' (1987)

Au revoir les enfants

Inspired by real events, this drama tells the story of a French priest and headmaster who sheltered several Jewish children during the Nazi occupation of France. The film evocatively recreates France under Nazi rule: German soldiers patrol the streets, citizens whisper their rage at the collaborationist government, but mostly life continues. Ebert praises the way it naturally "evokes the daily life of a French boarding school."

Most of the action takes place at a boarding school, where the children are more or less sheltered from the realities outside — until they aren't. Interesting bit of trivia: Quentin Tarantino has said that the title of his first film was inspired by a customer at the video store where he worked who mispronounced Au Revoir les Enfants as "reservoir dogs."

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3 'Wings of Desire' (1987)

Wings Of Desire

This fantasy film from German director Wim Wenders puts a unique spin on the 'fallen angel' concept. Set in Berlin in the years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, it follows several angels who watch over the city's inhabitants, although they are powerless to influence events. One of these angels ( Bruno Ganz ) falls in love with a human ( Solveig Dommartin ) and chooses to become mortal to be with her.

RELATED: Deliberately Paced Movies That Prove Slow Doesn't Always Mean Boring

Wings of Desire is a slow-paced and thoughtful film, more like a poem than a conventional narrative – Ebert points out how it "evokes a mood of reverie, elegy and meditation." It served as the basis for an American remake, City of Angels , starring Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan . But the original is more impactful, maybe because Bruno Ganz is so good in the lead role.

2 'Woman in the Dunes' (1964)

Couple from Woman in the Dunes

A classic of Japanese cinema , Woman in the Dunes is an innovative psychological drama directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara based on the eponymous novel by Kōbō Abe . It has a deceptively simple premise: an entomologist becomes trapped in a sand dune with a woman.

The film is known for its use of sound to create a wholly unique visceral viewing experience for audiences. As the man shovels sand to prevent being buried alive, viewers can feel the frustration, desperation, and even the heat of the desert through the movie's engrossing atmosphere. Of course, Woman in the Dunes is also renowned for its metaphorical and existential story, with the sand dune itself being a symbol for life, of which the protagonist toils against unavoidable death. Ebert calls Woman in the Dunes "one of the rare films able to combine realism with a parable about life."

1 'Dekalog' (1989)


Dekalog is a ten-part series of Polish drama films, each an hour long and inspired by one of the Ten Commandments. All of them revolve around characters living in an apartment building in 1980s Poland as they confront various ethical dilemmas. However, Dekalog is not overtly religious. It's interested in morality in action instead of morality as an abstraction.

What could have been a dry and didactic series becomes a nuanced tale of moral choice, buoyed by excellent performances and an intelligent script. Ebert ranked it among his absolute favorites . Stanley Kubrick was also a fan of Dekalog , calling the series a "masterpiece."

NEXT: Roger Ebert's Most Hated Zero-Star Reviews

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32 Underrated Movies You Need to Watch

Looking for a film to watch, that you might not have considered before? Try some of these...

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This article comes from Den of Geek UK .

Sometimes, we figure, you come to a site like this just to find out about a film you didn’t know about; that you want recommendations of movies that you might not otherwise have uncovered. This list, then, has no theme, save that the films on it are really good, and didn’t get much of an audience first time around.

That, or they seem to have been forgotten. It’s a real mix, but hopefully, there’s something on here that appeals…

The Brady Bunch Movie

No foreknowledge of the series is required, and the first movie takes the Brady film and transplants them into the 1990s, with no change made to them at all. It makes for quite brilliant comedy, with Gary Cole and Sherry Long leading the cast. The sequel, A Very Brady Sequel , is even better, but do go for the first movie before you get to that. A very funny piece of work.

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The Woodsman

A fearless acting choice for Kevin Bacon, taking on the role of a child molester who returns to his home town, following the completion of his prison term. It’s a very uncomfortable drama, as you might expect, anchored by Bacon in the leading role in one of his very best performances. He’s surrounded by an excellent ensemble, and a film that explores the impact of his return to the community that was glad to be rid of him.

Keri Russell’s best screen role to date I’d argue is headlining the terrific Waitress , a comedy-drama where she plays a woman working as – yes! – a waitress, trapped in an unhappy marriage and making pies. Into her life comes Nathan Fillion’s character, a physician who helps her with her pregnancy. A real delightful indie movie ensues, one that’s subsequently been adapted for a stage musical.

2 Days in Paris/2 Days in New York

Stylistically, there are overlaps with Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy, but the doubleheader of 2 Days in Paris and its follow-up,  2 Days in New York , have plenty of character of their own. Julie Delpy headlines, with Adam Goldberg co-starring in the first film, and Chris Rock in the second. The title is accurately reflective of each film, too. Both are impressive character dramas, both are little seen, both deserve a bigger audience…

Based on the novel Derby Girl , penned by Shauna Cross, Whip It is a delightful sports film, one of the few centered around the world of roller derby.

Ellen Page and Marcia Gay Harden headline this one. On the sporting side, it goes through fairly familiar narrative territory, but it’s got a hell of a lot of heart, characters to care about, and a coming of age undercurrent that shines through. Even more than that: it’s a really, really fun movie.

Even though Maggie Gyllenhaal earned a richly-deserved Golden Globe nomination for Sherrybaby , it’s a film that’s sunk out of the public conscious. It deserves not to. Here, she plays a woman who’s just served time in prison and is recovering from drug addiction. She’s also desperately keen to be a good mother to her daughter, the daughter her family have been raising for her. It’s a very human story the film tells, sometimes threatening to veer towards a movie of the week, but strong writing and an excellent leading performance keep yanking it back. Well worth seeking out.

Elvis & Nixon

You think modern films are too long? Check out Elvis & Nixon , a sprightly, enjoyable drama that covers the unlikely real-life meeting between Elvis Presley and President Richard Nixon. It was Presley who requested the meeting, and the film unfussily tells the tale. It’s lifted in particular by Michael Shannon as Elvis and Kevin Spacey as Nixon, two actors who consistently deliver top quality work, as they do again here. The whole film is done and dusted even before 90 minutes is up, too. Bonus.

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The Last Supper

A hugely underrated American indie film of the 1990s, one that’s ripe for rewatching. It posits the question: if you met Hitler when he was young, and he told you his ideas and ethos, would you take him out there and then, and make the world a better place for the future? A young group of friends take that conversation a step further, and begin inviting people with extreme views to their dinner table, before deciding whether to let them live or take them out.

But I’m a Cheerleader

Released around the time that Bring It On became a box office hit (and before it became a straight to DVD boxset), But I’m A Cheerleader is a strong indie comedy, headlined by American Pie ’s Natasha Lyonne in arguably her best screen role so far. She stars opposite Michelle Williams, as a teenager sent to a special rehab camp when her parents suspect that she’s attracted to women. The camp is designed to reverse such feelings but, well, watch the movie. It’s really very good…

Take This Waltz

best new underrated movies

Think Seth Rogen films, and generally, most of us expected an R-rated comedy playing to a fairly wide audience. But he’s also shown an eye for more interesting roles. Observe & Report wasn’t a successful project, but I always admired Rogen for picking it. And then there’s Take This Waltz , a film that follows a woman who loves her husband, yet finds herself attracted to an artist who lives across the street. Rogen is on supporting duties here, with the ever-excellent Michelle Williams in the lead. It’s a quiet, very human movie, that doesn’t veer away from exploring human flaws.

A hard-edged cop thriller from 1989, that casts Jamie Lee Curtis in the lead role as a rookie cop up against a serial killer whose growing obsession with her puts her career and her life in jeopardy. Ron Silver proves a strong foe, but it’s Curtis, demonstrating her range, who gives you a character to root for in the midst of a relatively understated piece of work.

A bit of movie nerd gold, this. Lake Bell and Rob Corddry headline a fun comedy that’s set in the world of movie trailer voiceover work. If the world is a different one to that put on screen before, the tensions, relationships and behind the sides bickering is familiar. The film, though, comes armed with good characters, and a few little turns along the way.

Obvious Child

A film that earned rich acclaim on its release, and then seemed to disappear. Hence, us giving it a slight nudge again here. Obvious Child follows the story of a stand-up comedian who discovers she’s pregnant following a one night stand. Jenny Slate takes the lead role, and it places serious issues at the heart of a very well written and played comedy. Also, one that’s willing to exist in a relatable, real world.

A really, really good movie this. A period piece that’s inspired by a true story, Belle follows Dido Elizabeth Belle – played expertly by Gugu Mbatha-Raw – who’s the mixed-race, illegitimate daughter of a Navy captain. The film skillfully explores what Belle is entitled to as a result of who she was born to, and the denied due to the colour of her skin. There’s a romance in the midst of it too, and it’s a really impressive piece of work, that tells its story and clocks out in 100 minutes flat.

American Splendor

Den of Geek is one of the many sites that’s penned articles highlighting the films based on comic books that aren’t superhero films. Thankfully, pretty much every time we see such a list, we’re all pretty uniform in praising to the skies the wonderful American Splendor . It’s a biopic of the late Harvey Pekar, primarily based on his comic book My Cancer Year . Paul Giamatti takes on the role of Pekar, but in a biopic that shakes up the rules and structure of how such films are made, the real-life Pekar keeps making appearances and having his say. A really impressive piece of work, this one.

The Prince of Egypt

Originally, this was set to be the first film release by DreamWorks Animation, but it moved back in the queue courtesy of the studio’s decision to fast track Antz (to head off Pixar’s A Bug’s Life ). DreamWorks would only make four hand-drawn animated pictures before switching to CG, and The Prince Of Egypt is comfortably the best of them. A hugely ambitious telling of the story of Moses, it takes its cues from 1990s Disney, in that it’s swirling with songs, the odd comedy character, and dramatic animation. But it’s also a real achievement. I don’t think all the songs work, but I do think the telling of the story does, and there’s a glorious score underpinning it all. A shame DreamWorks never bothered to release this one on Blu-ray.

The Peacemaker

You know what? It’s alright this. The Peacemaker is notable as the first movie ever released under the DreamWorks banner, and for all its occasional daftness, it’s an entertaining thriller, with a nuclear bent to it. George Clooney and Nicole Kidman headline the film, one that was beset by problems. The end result is better than much commercial fare that bubbled to the top of the box office towards the back end of the 1990s. No classic, but entertaining.

The Babadook

A film about which a lot of noise has been made, with that not necessarily converting to people actually watching it. We’re firmly on its side. Essie Davis is incredible in the lead role of Amelia, a single mum whose son is scared of an apparent monster in the house. But from a conventional-sounding horror movie premise, the film heads off into far more interesting places. If you’re after a conventional jump piece, The Babadook has its moments but is likely to disappoint. If you like, however, horror films that embed themselves deep into your brain and rattle around there for some time afterward, The Babadook is a modern classic.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

If the common complaint now is that big blockbuster movies have a familiar feel to them, then perhaps seeking out something of a noble failure is a good way forward. Sky Captain has problems, certainly, but this is a really ambitious piece of filmmaking and a more entertaining one than it was ever given credit for. Sadly, its failure at the box office resonated around Hollywood, hence they don’t make ’em like this anymore. And this one was only made last decade…

Little Man Tate

An early 1990s drama lifted by an excellent performance from then-young Adam Hann-Byrd. He plays the seven-year-old who seems to be a genius, but whose intelligence is isolating him from his peers. Enter Diane Wiest, running a school for gifted children that absolutely does not involve mutant powers and bloated running times, and the film becomes a well-made exploration of a young man trying to fit into a difficult world.

Renaissance Man

From the director of Big and A League Of Their Own comes the kind of fun little comedy that Disney has long since ceased making. It’s no classic, granted, but Renaissance Man is a Danny DeVito-headlined comedy that’s good, easy-watching fodder. It plays on the usual fish out of water army conventions, as DeVito finds himself teaching a bunch of recruits who he doesn’t want to teach. But he’s given space to put in a good lead performance, and it’s breezily directed too.

Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself

A strong independent dark comedy, bursting with quirks and terrific performances. The title gives you some clue as to where parts of the movie are going, with Jamie Sives’ Wilbur repeatedly trying to kill himself, whilst his brother – played by Adrian Rawlins – keeps coming to his aid. Deeply enriched with characters you find yourself really caring and rooting for, the less you know about the movie is inevitably for the better. But this is a charming, indie delight.

Arthur Christmas

An odd one this. Something of a monster hit in the UK, but one that notably struggled in the US, Arthur Christmas was Aardman’s second – and to date, last – attempt to bring its style and warmth to a Christmas feature. It’s very funny, packed with details, and in the character of the James McAvoy-voiced Arthur, it has someone to root for. Plus, in no animated film ever has the quality of jumpers been so fine. The high point, I’d suggest, is a lovely sequence where the Father Christmas family sit around a table playing a board game. Loved that, and love the film.

Tank Girl has had a bit of a revival in recent times, and thankfully, the core of something really interesting and fun stayed intact despite extensive studio meddling. That story has long since been told, but the Shout Factory Blu-ray will happily give you a refresher. Lori Petty owns the title role, and there are sparks all over the movie that make it both interesting in its own right, and an indicator of what could have been had the studio concerned taken more of a back seat.

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A funny and very human British comedy, that follows a group of women of differing faiths and beliefs on a day trip to Blackpool. In doing so, they exchange their life problems, and come into conflict with one another. Underpinning all of this – as well as the excellent performances – is a terrific screenplay that’s bursting with very funny jokes and no shortage of humanity. A little gem of a movie.

Something more modern, that seems to still be off many people’s radars. Prevenge follows Alice Lowe’s heavily pregnant Ruth, who becomes convinced that her unborn child wants her to murder people. As such, she sets about murdering people. It’s a jet black horror comedy we get as a consequence and an exceptionally entertaining one. It should, as you might expect, be noted that it’s not for the very squeamish…

Jennifer’s Body

Arguably Megan Fox’s finest screen work to date, she’s superb in Jennifer’s Body , a comedy horror where she plays a stereotypical high school cheerleader, but soon isn’t the stereotypical high school cheerleader at all. For a horror film, granted, it might lack genuine frights, but it’s a clever, well-written film with plenty to say. Even more importantly, it’s a piece of work that comfortably stands time’s test. There’s certainly lots going on under the surface.

Winter’s Bone

Discussions about Jennifer Lawrence’s best screen performance to date inevitably turn to the likes of The Hunger Games , her Oscar-winning turn in Silver Linings Playbook , American Hustle or Joy . But there’s a sporting argument that suggests her astounding breakthrough role in Winter’s Bone is the one to back. It’s a superb drama, powered by Lawrence as the 17-year old trying to map her way through life. The film earned her, rightly, her first Oscar nomination. It should not be forgotten.


It’s telling that Oliver Stone’s recent dramatization of the Edward Snowden story couldn’t get anywhere near the impact of the documentary following his revelations about US surveillance. Citizenfour ‘s lost none of its relevancy either, as terrifying as many horror movies, and wisely giving its subject the space to tell his story. An astounding film.

Love Is All You Need

Pierce Brosnan doesn’t often get the credit he deserves for his film choices since he left his James Bond days behind him. Amongst the best is this classy comedy romance – although it doesn’t feel like a straight rom-com – in which he co-stars with Trine Dyrholm and Kim Bodnia. It’s sparklingly funny, a mix of Danish and British cultures, and an absolute gem. Naturally, the vast moviegoing public has ignored it. It really is their loss.

Linus Roache takes the title role here, as a Catholic priest balancing his love of God with his repressed homosexuality. It’s a challenging film powered by an excellent script, terrific performances, and the ramifications that follow when Roache’s priest hears an unsettling confession from a young girl. A film that caused a reasonable amount of noise on its original release in 1994, this is powerful, brilliantly put together drama.

Simon Brew

Simon Brew | @SimonBrew

Editor, author, writer, broadcaster, Costner fanatic. Now runs Film Stories Magazine.

Most Underrated Movies of 2022, Ranked

2022 was a great year for movies, but there were many underrated films which didn't get enough attention and are seriously worth a watch.

2022 has been a great year for movies. Top Gun: Maverick , Avatar: The Way of Water , and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery have been high-profile studio releases that have wowed critics and audiences. Marvel Studios released three separate superhero movies in 2022 , Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness , Thor: Love and Thunder , and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, ending Marvel Phase 4 with varying degrees of success. Many of the biggest filmmakers have released passion projects, from Steven Spielberg's The Fabelmans and Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio , to Jordan Peele's Nope and Phil Tippett's Mad God . Films like Everything Everywhere All at Once , Tár, and RRR broke out with mainstream audiences and have begun to generate major awards buzz.

Yet for every Prey or The Batman , there are a number of films that go under the radar. These aren't the arthouse films beloved by critics, the ones which will end up on Best Movies of 2022 lists. No, these are generally movies which should have gotten a bigger audience, but for some reason or another they underperform at the box office or don't quiet get the glowing reviews to draw audiences in. These movies may not have gotten the biggest promotional push, but are absolutely worth checking out. Ranging across genres with a variety of subject matters, these are the most underrated movies of 2022.

10 I Want You Back

I Want you Back with Jenny Slate and Charlie Day

I Want You Back premiered on Prime Video in February, just in time for Valentine's Day, and was a very different type of romantic comedy. Charlie Day and Jenny Slate star as two people who have recently both been broken up with by their partners and decide to team up to help the other get back together with their partner, all while also falling for one another.

The great starting premise allows for Day and Slate to show off their comedic chops, with a combination of great physical comedy gags and snappy dialogue. I Want You Back is a great pick for someone looking for a traditional romantic comedy , but also for those looking for a slightly new twist on the genre and a reminder that breakup pains do eventually end.

Adam Sandler as Stanley Sugerman

Adam Sandler makes many Netflix movies , yet most of them have been comedies. However, Hustle continues the actor's recent trend of taking more chances with dramatic work. Hustle follows Sandler as an NBA scout who discovers a young basketball player in Spain and tries to get him in the NBA Draft. Basketball is the backdrop, but the movie is a deeply human story about family, friendship, and how one looks back on their life and Sandler turns many of his traditionally comedic quirks into real moments of genuine dramatic pathos.

Related: How Hustle Stands Out From Every Other Adam Sandler and Happy Madison Production

Sandler received rave reviews for his performance, and Netflix data suggested the movie was the most-watched film on the service the week it premiered on June 8. Yet it feels like the film has already been forgotten in the vast stream of Netflix original films in 2022 , but it remains one worth checking out regardless of if one has a passion or knowledge of basketball.

8 The Outfit

Mark Rylance The Outfit

The Outfit was written and directed by the Oscar-winning writer of The Imitation Game , stars the beloved (and equally Oscar-winning) actor Mark Rylance and an excellent Zoey Deutch, and is a tense, original thriller that takes viewers back to the late 1950s in a mob-ridden Chicago. While it sounds like something that would be successful, The Outfit made $1 million less than its $5 million budget and, despite a ton of praise, received some negative reviews which lowered its critical rating.

Unfortunately, the riveting Outfit was released the same week as X and Jujutsu Kaisen 0 , and just two weeks after the huge success which was The Batman , and its marketing campaign was terrible. Therefore, audiences missed out on this tense story of an old tailor (or "cutter") who gets wrapped up in a dangerous evening of accusations and fatalities between the mafia.

7 Lightyear

Lightyear Izzy, Mo, Darby, Sox, and Buzz

It feels odd to call a major Pixar film underrated, particularly when it is connected to the Toy Story franchise, yet Lightyear did seem to go under the radar for many viewers. Most of the headlines were focused on the film's box office disappointment , which meant many of the good aspects of Lightyear were overshadowed (or that certain audiences are prejudiced against even the smallest of LGBTQ+ content).

Nonetheless, Disney and Pixar crafted a fun and exciting science fiction film that very much feels like the type of movie that would have inspired Andy to want a Buzz Lightyear toy. The movie's commitment to not being too self-referential and instead playing out like a real movie may have put some viewers off, and many might have been confused by the central premise but for those who watched it, Lightyear tapped into that childlike love of science fiction.

Bros Billy Eichner

Bros generated a lot of headlines for being a theatrically released, major studio comedy that focused on a gay romance, and more headlines were made following the movie bombing at the box office . Yet a lot of that actually ignored the real content behind the film and Bros was a humorous, charming, and insightful comedy providing a new twist on a genre audience knows well.

Billy Eichner puts everything out there and allows himself to be vulnerable as both a comedic and dramatic actor and steps up to the plate to deliver a great performance. The film's final moment with the original song "Love Is Not Love" is an all-time great romantic comedy conclusion. Bros might have not found an audience in theaters, but like many comedies before it, the film has a chance to find new life at home.

5 Look Both Ways

The two Natalies revisit the bathroom where she took the pregnancy tests that changed her life

Netflix released two films during the summer featuring the leading ladies of Riverdale , Camila Mendes stared in the widely popular Do Revenge while Lili Reinhart starred in the equally good but lesser-seen Look Both Ways . The film follows Reinhart's character on one fateful night in college where she takes a pregnancy test and explores the two possible timelines where the test either becomes positive or negative.

Look Both Ways weaves two fascinating narratives that allow the viewer to see how life can unfold and pan out, yet neither one is painted as better than the other. Each is emotionally fulfilling for different reasons and shows how life can go one of two ways, and that does not have to mean one is a bad choice.

4 Emily the Criminal

Aubrey Plaza in Emily the Criminal

Aubrey Plaza stars in Emily the Criminal , a crime-thriller about a young woman who is struggling with student debt and loans. When she resorts to credit card fraud to make money, Emily ends up in a major criminal operation, fighting to make a name for herself while also realizing how far she will go to make it at the top.

Related: Exclusive: Aubrey Plaza and Theo Rossi on Emily the Criminal

Emily the Criminal premiered at Sundance and got a limited release in August 2022, and it feels like the film could have been a crossover hit if given the chance. It taps into real concerns millennials feel regarding their future and the massive debt, alongside a competitive and unfair job market. Plaza gives one of her best performances and should be considered for many major awards.

3 A Love Song

Dale Dickey in A Love Song

A Love Song is a simple story, following widowed Faye (Dale Dickey) as she reconnects with her former high school friend and love interest Lito (Wes Sudi). A Love Song is short, but also a beautiful, quiet, and tender film that shows it is never too late to reconnect. The film also provides a great showcase for Dale Dickey and Wes Sudi, two of the best character actors in Hollywood. The fact that they've finally been given the leading roles in this poetic film means that it should not go unseen.

2 Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris

Ms. Harris Goes To Paris is just a delightful film for an afternoon watch. The plot focuses on a British cleaning lady who decides to travel to Paris and purchase herself a Dior dress, and along the way she changes her worldview as well as the lives of the people at Dior. Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris features wonderful performances all around, with a great leading performance by Leslie Manville. Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris is a great feel-good movie and enjoyable to any viewer of any age who wants to see an optimistic worldview.

1 Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

A scene from Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is one of the best movies to be released in 2022, and while it certainly generated a great deal of buzz and did well at the specialty box office, it is a movie that should be viewed by more audiences. Based on the popular YouTube short, this other film with Jenny Slate focuses on the titular character as he, along with the help of a documentary filmmaker, tries to find his family that he has lost. Marcel the Shell With Shoes On is heartwarming and profound, a film that asks deep questions in a story that can be viewed by the whole family. Marcel may be one small little shell, but his film has a huge heart.

Nine Underrated Movies That Are Worth Your Time

Hollywood’s awards shows will overlook these films—but you shouldn’t.

A young woman wearing yellow-red sunglasses reflecting movie characters

Around this time every winter, I find myself talking about the same handful of films that have landed on end-of-year top-10 lists—usually the ones with the most awards buzz, in other words—and sounding a bit like a brainwashed cinephile Barbie. There I go again, enthusiastically cataloging my favorites in an endless loop. (Hi, Past Lives ! Hi, Oppenheimer !)

Plenty of those movies deserve the attention, but if you’ve been feeling similarly driven to seek out or talk about a collection of critically acclaimed titles, there’s a way to break the pattern: Watch a film that’s been overlooked. Below are nine projects released in 2023 that may have slipped past your radar; they’re all now available to stream at home, and they all deserve to be watched. Spanning genres, themes, and run times, they demonstrate cinema’s storytelling scope—and offer a reminder that an underrated gem is a pleasure to indulge in.

young girl praying

The Starling Girl ( Paramount+ with Showtime )

Perfect for : those who enjoyed The Holdovers and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret for the way they gracefully depicted growing pains

Eliza Scanlen—who played Amma in Sharp Objects and Beth in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women —is an actor I’ll watch in anything, and especially in a solid coming-of-age drama such as this one. Written and directed by Laurel Parmet, The Starling Girl follows Jem (played by Scanlen), a teenager growing up in a Christian fundamentalist community who develops an overwhelming crush on her youth pastor, Owen (Lewis Pullman, also fantastic), that threatens to puncture her beliefs. But although the story’s broad strokes may feel familiar, Scanlen’s performance and Parmet’s nuanced script make the film more than a mere portrait of youthful confusion and lust. Instead, the movie offers an empathetic examination of devotion and duty. Jem believes in God’s will, but she’s also figuring out who she wants to be—a journey she understands to be necessary yet feels is sinful all the same. The Starling Girl observes girlhood from a fresh, narratively rich angle—and yields plenty of cathartic revelations along the way.

Young person in snow at sunset near tanks

How to Blow Up a Pipeline ( Hulu )

Perfect for : viewers who want more of the cerebral thrills and fine-tuned ensemble performances seen in Oppenheimer

What do you do when your everyday life is shaped by a series of existential crises? How do you navigate that unceasing hum of anxiety, fear, and anger? What becomes justifiable when traditional modes of protest seem to have no effect? For the young climate activists at the center of this gripping and thoughtfully made thriller, the only path forward is to pull off an act of destruction. How to Blow Up a Pipeline pulses with urgency and intensity, impressively demonstrating how America’s systemic failures—in health care, housing, the environment, and so on—are not only interconnected but have also created a troubling reality in which people cannot imagine a future free from disaster. Inspired in part by the nonfiction book of the same title and featuring an ensemble cast of rising stars led by the movie’s co-writer Ariela Barer, the film scrutinizes the possibilities of social justice as well as the painful limits of idealism.

Group of people looking right at the camera

The Blackening ( Starz )

Perfect for : anyone seeking a mix of Knock at the Cabin ’s unconventional scares and American Fiction ’s tongue-in-cheek social commentary

One of the horror genre’s oldest tropes is that of the Black character dying first—a notion The Blackening skewers with a snarky, terrifically nimble script. The satirical horror-comedy follows a group of Black college friends who, after reuniting in a cabin in the woods to celebrate Juneteenth, find themselves targeted by a masked killer who forces them to answer questions about Black culture—or else. Jump scares abound, but so do laugh-out-loud lines of dialogue dissecting, say, just how many of them secretly watched Friends despite the show’s paucity of Black guest stars, and whether anyone can actually recite the second verse of the Black national anthem. The film is silly but subversive in its design: Though the murderer remains a constant threat, the bigger question for these characters is whether they, too, see one another as a walking collection of racial archetypes. It’s a film that has fun toying with stereotypes and viewer expectations at the same time.

Julianne Moore standing by a window

Sharper ( Apple TV+ )

Perfect for : fans of May December craving another deceptive narrative with shrewd character work from Julianne Moore

A good con just needs to be successful, but a good movie about a con needs to be satisfying to watch. Sharper delivers by offering a series of grifts, each more complex—but no less riveting—than the last. Set in Manhattan, the film unfolds via sleek vignettes told from the perspective of different characters: There’s Tom (played by Justice Smith), a bookstore owner who falls for Sandra (Briana Middleton), a sweet graduate student; Max (Sebastian Stan), a wealthy sleaze with a taste for mind games; and Madeline (Julianne Moore), a stylish woman who’s dating a buttoned-up billionaire (John Lithgow). How they know one another is a puzzle Sharper encourages the audience to solve, and though the dialogue isn’t quite as witty as the story, there’s more than enough pleasure to be gained from watching an ensemble of appealing people charm their way into one another’s lives—and bank accounts.

Cartoon man holding younger girl

Nimona ( Netflix )

Perfect for : those who liked both Barbie and Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves for their big-budgeted sincerity, colorful storytelling, and heartwarming themes of self-discovery

Nimona (voiced by Chloë Grace Moretz) is an irrepressible antiheroine who sports a shock of salmon-pink hair, loves shape-shifting into any creature, and tends to break things and declare her boisterous actions “metal.” Nimona is the same way—an energetic animated film with eye-popping visuals and a rollicking score that offers mischievous thrills with a sweet message about acceptance. Set in a sci-fi medieval world—think flying cars as steeds—the movie follows a lowborn knight named Ballister (Riz Ahmed), who is framed for murder and encounters the titular agent of chaos while trying to clear his name. Adapted from ND Stevenson’s 2015 graphic novel, Nimona nearly didn’t get made; it was canceled in 2021 after the Disney-Fox merger shut down the animation studio Blue Sky. A film that rose from the dead to become one of the best animated films of last year? Now that’s metal.

Woman standing outside an overturned truck

No One Will Save You ( Hulu )

Perfect for : Ari Aster fans who liked Beau Is Afraid ’s deep exploration of its protagonist’s anxiety, and devotees of the Saw franchise who dis liked how much Jigsaw spoke in Saw X

Don’t be surprised if watching No One Will Save You makes you want to venture down some internet rabbit holes, searching for an explanation for what you saw. It’s a film with almost zero dialogue and a deluge of supernatural phenomena, and a lot of questions go unanswered. The story is simple enough: Brynn (Kaitlyn Dever) is a young woman living alone in her childhood home who begins getting hunted by an alien entity. She has no allies to turn to; the local townspeople disdain and dismiss her because of something she did in the past. The movie, then, is part home-invasion thriller, part sci-fi horror, and part character study of an ostracized person left frozen by her unresolved trauma. The lack of conversations can come off as gimmicky in some scenes, but the writer-director Brian Duffield maintains the tension well enough, thanks to some truly creepy, nightmare-inducing sound design.

Three fashionable people walking

Of an Age ( Prime Video )

Perfect for : lovers of Past Lives and All of Us Strangers , films that study affairs of the heart with a soulful, delicate touch

Set in Melbourne in 1999, this romance from the writer-director Goran Stolevski follows a closeted 17-year-old ballroom dancer named Kol (Elias Anton), who thinks he knows what he wants from life—until he encounters Adam (Thom Green), the charismatic older brother of Kol’s dance partner. You can probably guess what happens next, but Of an Age ’s predictable plot belies a remarkable emotional complexity. Stolevski sensitively captures the ache and thrill of discovering a crush, tracking how transformative that feeling can be when attraction blossoms into something more. The camera tightly follows Kol’s gaze, showing the way he can’t help but notice everything about Adam—how his shirt clings to his chest in the summer heat, how he grins with affection when Kol tells a self-deprecating joke. Of an Age can be hypnotizing to watch, because that’s what being smitten feels like: mesmerizing and surreal, as if no one and nothing else matters at all.

Woman and man in a red room

Sanctuary ( Hulu )

Perfect for : anyone desiring another dose of Saltburn ’s psychosexual antics and Poor Things ’ piercing script (and supporting cast)

Sanctuary could technically be called an erotic thriller; it’s about a dominatrix and her client, roleplay is involved, and kinky dialogue gets exchanged. But the film is wilier than that and could perhaps be defined instead as a screwball breakup comedy with some BDSM mixed in. When the movie begins, Hal (Christopher Abbott), the scion of a hotel magnate, is trying to end his “arrangement” with Rebecca (Margaret Qualley), but she’s not about to lose her client so easily. Over the course of a single evening, Hal and Rebecca play power games, negotiate boundaries, and find a strange freedom through the restrictions they’ve established. And though the plot can sometimes feel inscrutable given the characters’ deceptions—and the twists border on the absurd—Abbott and Qualley deliver a pair of committed performances as they channel their characters’ barbed, magnetic chemistry. Like Rebecca, Sanctuary is shifty and alluring and playful—and just a little mean.

Woman wearing headphones and playing guitar with young boy

Flora and Son ( Apple TV+ )

Perfect for : those who watched Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour and would like more love stories to come with an earworm or two

The writer-director John Carney’s films like to affirm music as the universal cure. In Once , duetting with a new partner heals a profound heartache. In Sing Street , forming a band ameliorates the trials of coming of age. And in Flora and Son , his latest crowd-pleaser, these elements combine: A prickly single mother named Flora (Eve Hewson) learns to love again and finally bonds with her surly teenage son, Max (Orén Kinlan), after she picks up—what else?—a guitar. The mere act of practicing chords via video chats with her attractive instructor, Jeff (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), shakes her out of her funk—and opens her long-hardened heart. Though that may sound saccharine, Carney makes such cloying moments work through sharp dialogue and a nifty camera trick that collapses the space between his leads to convey their wistful yearning. Flora and Son may not contain the catchiest original tunes in Carney’s filmography, but it does have an affecting, pitch-perfect warmth.

The Most Underrated Movies Of 2023

The leads of some of 2023's most underrated movies

The world of movies is often molded by its most famous occupants. Big award-season darlings or massive blockbusters are typically the motion pictures that influence the trajectory of the entire film industry. There are many masterpieces and enjoyable features within those two areas of cinematic expression, but let's not forget about the craftsmanship and skill apparent in movies that aren't quite as famous. Every year delivers movies that would be categorized as underseen gems, and though these titles aren't household names, that doesn't erase their artistic accomplishments.

In 2023, several underrated motion pictures have demonstrated that movies flying under the radar can be more powerful and memorable than you'd ever realize. It's a fact that reflects just how expansive the world of cinema is — there's always something new and exciting just waiting to be discovered out there. 2023's underrated titles underscore this impeccably with films ranging from a clever slasher feature to an unforgettable directorial debut to a romantic-comedy heads and shoulders above its modern contemporaries. It can be daunting to realize just how many underrated and remarkable movies are out there from filmmakers all across the world. But that fact should be exciting rather than intimidating, a vivid reminder that there's never a shortage of commendable artistry out there when you look beyond the biggest movies in the marketplace.

Updated on December 28, 2023 : From chilling horror films to powerful documentaries, here are the most underrated movies of 2023.

Sometimes, it's staggering to consider how some quality movies slipped through the cracks of the general public. Other times, it's a lot more understandable why certain motion pictures never had a chance at securing widespread notoriety. Take the 2023 horror movie "Sick," which debuted not in theaters but on the streaming service Peacock. No wonder most people weren't able to watch and appreciate this movie considering its streaming home. While the release plan of "Sick" left something to be desired, the feature itself was a rock-solid piece of scary cinema. Written by Katelyn Crabb and "Scream" veteran Kevin Williamson and directed by John Hyams, "Sick" follows a pair of friends who head out to a lavish cabin during the COVID-19 pandemic only to end up stalked by a masked killer.

While other titles like "Locked Down" have crumbled under the weight of trying to make an appealing genre movie about the COVID-19 pandemic, "Sick" manages to demonstrate real creativity in these confines. Its most inspired touch is leaning into an innately stripped-down cast to really dig into the characters and the extended scary set pieces. A restrained scope just benefits "Sick" rather than taking it down. Plus, Hyams excels as a visualist here, with his lively camerawork adding tons to the tense atmosphere of this movie. Though it was buried away on Peacock, "Sick" deserved way more attention for its accomplishments. 

Knock at the Cabin

"Knock at the Cabin" is not a flawless movie. Is any directorial effort from M. Night Shyamalan devoid of shortcomings? But save for the occasional total failure like "The Last Airbender" or "After Earth," Shyamalan's works being flawed are often a symptom of his admirably ambitious nature as a filmmaker. Shyamalan always shows up to challenge audiences, and his willingness to go for broke results in messy motion pictures that you also can't forget about. So it is with "Knock at the Cabin," an adaptation of the Paul G. Tremblay novel "The Cabin at the End of the World" that manages to deliver enough thrills to compensate for its weaker aspects.

For every line of dialogue or ham-fisted theological allusion that misses the mark, "Knock at the Cabin" cranks out an evocative image or an especially chilling detail reflecting what human beings are capable of in their most extreme moments of desperation. Best of all, this plot offers Dave Bautista a chance to further expand his talents as an actor. Playing a soft-spoken man who can comment on the educational value of a children's television show one moment before brutally slaughtering someone the next, Bautista is gripping throughout all of "Knock at the Cabin." His performance is one of several details in this thriller that flourish because of Shyamalan's creative tendencies. Those expecting a flawless motion picture should skip this one, but everyone else will find plenty in "Knock at the Cabin" to admire.

Magic Mike's Last Dance

Despite being a part of a franchise that previously made nearly $300 million worldwide across just two movies, "Magic Mike's Last Dance" came and went without leaving much of a pop culture impact in its theatrical release at the start of 2023. That's not hugely surprising given that the feature isn't quite as much of an extraordinary bolt out of the blue as "Magic Mike XXL" and its first two acts desperately needed an extra jolt of energy. But sometimes, a good finish is all that's necessary to make an evening memorable. In the case of "Magic Mike's Last Dance," its climax depicting a variety of lavish strip routines is plenty to boost the quality of the entire feature up a couple of notches.

Between the imaginative costumes, richly detailed choreography, and a dance routine that sees leading man Channing Tatum parading around with a lady in an interior rainstorm, "Magic Mike's Last Dance" caps this franchise off with a mighty bang. Plus, even before this unforgettable crescendo, "Last Dance" has its fair share of commendable attributes, including the film's willingness not just to retread the same kind of storylines explored in its predecessors. It doesn't hurt that Salma Hayek remains as magnetic of a performer as ever and a more than welcome addition to this franchise's cast. "Magic Mike's Last Dance" won't be everyone's cup of tea, but that final half-hour certainly works hard for the money and then some. 

The Quiet Girl

The crop of Best International Feature nominees at the 95th Academy Awards left more than a bit to be desired, between contending films like the expansive but ultimately empty "All Quiet on the Western Front" and the derivative courtroom drama "Argentina, 1985." However, there was one gem among the five motion pictures in the form of the Irish drama "The Quiet Girl." Written and directed by Colm Bairéad, this production follows young girl Cáit (Catherine Clinch) leaving her crowded and troubled home to temporarily stay with much kinder relatives, Eibhlín (Carrie Crowley) and Seán Kinsella (Andrew Bennett).

"The Quiet Girl" has an appropriate title since it's a story all about subdued displays of emotion. But even the gentlest gestures and words can leave a mighty impact, as seen by how the various kind acts of the Kinsellas leave such a positive impression on Cáit. Bairéad's screenplay deftly and believably paints this trio of human beings coming closer together, with the surrogate mother/daughter relationship between Eibhlín and the film's protagonist being especially moving in how it forms. It's also a motion picture that matches rich emotions with equally striking imagery, as the Irish countryside looks gorgeous in the hands of cinematographer Kate McCullough. By the end of its runtime, "The Quiet Girl" will wring tears out of even the most jaded viewer. No wonder such an accomplished movie stood out so tremendously at this year's Oscars.

A Thousand and One

It's always remarkable to see a feature-length directorial debut just bursting with personality and skill. From the get-go, these artists demonstrate a commendable grasp of their artform and signal an exciting and promising future. Such is the case with A.V. Rockwell, who transitioned from short films to feature-length motion pictures with "A Thousand and One." Set over more than a decade in Harlem, the feature follows Inez de la Paz (Teyana Taylor) snatching her son, Terry (played by a trio of different actors at different points in time), from his foster home surroundings and trying to make a life for the two of them.

There are many great flourishes in Rockwell's directing here, including the way she frames every nook and cranny of Harlem with such affection and detail. But it's also impressive how she juggles such an expansive narrative without making "A Thousand and One" feel cramped or its characters come off as half-formed. Comprehensiveness doesn't mean trading out intimate details within the confines of this particular movie. Under her direction, unforgettable performances blossom like roses, with Teyana Taylor astonishing in her deeply complicated and compelling work as Inez while Josiah Cross' work as 17-year-old Terry produces some of the most devastating line deliveries of the entire feature. "A Thousand and One" is an incredibly rich depiction of a mother/child dynamic that would register as impressive under any circumstances. As Rockwell's feature-length directorial debut, though, it's especially outstanding.

With "Rye Lane," we find yet another underrated 2023 movie that deserved better than getting dumped onto a streaming service. Since its North American premiere on Hulu, "Rye Lane" hasn't generated much in the way of conversation, which is a tragedy given what a delight this romantic comedy is. Like so many of the best entries in this genre, "Rye Lane" is a conceptually simple tale of two strangers, Yas (Vivian Oparah) and Dom (David Jonsson), stumbling onto each other and proceeding to spend the day together. Yas is boisterous, while Dom is withdrawn. They seem like total opposites, yet they can't stay away from one another.

This classical template is rejuvenated with all kinds of life thanks to the sparkling chemistry between Oparah and Jonsson. It also doesn't hurt that the movie itself looks gorgeous, with every backdrop of this London-set yarn bursting with vibrant hues of red, yellow, and blue. The vivid production design combined with the sharp camerawork makes "Rye Lane" as engaging visually as it is emotionally. On top of all that, director Raine Allen-Miller and writers Nathan Bryon and Tom Melia deliver an incredibly fun atmosphere filled with amusing lines of dialogue and equally entertaining plot turns. Any way you look at it, "Rye Lane" functions as an immensely enjoyable film that makes your heart swell. What a pity domestic moviegoers couldn't have experienced it on the big screen.

Dry Ground Burning

Cinema can be a powerful tool to reinforce the rhetoric of fascist oppressors, as seen by the works of D.W. Griffith or countless filmmakers behind Nazi propaganda films like Leni Riefenstahl. But it can also be a method for the marginalized to be shown as just everyday human beings, with the nonchalant depictions of humanity doing so much to undercut the sensationalist demonization of the oppressed. 

So it is with "Dry Ground Burning," a new motion picture from filmmakers Joana Pimenta and Adirley Queirós set in Brazil that follows half-siblings Léa (Léa Alves Silva) and Chitara (Joana Darc Furtado) as they lead an all-ladies group determined to enact political revolution and secretly sell gasoline to motorcyclists. This is a movie that puts lesbian ex-convicts at the forefront of its narrative and backs up that bold narrative choice with equally audacious filmmaking.

While "Dry Ground Burning" has numerous references to former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, its most striking qualities are ageless. Some of these are terrifyingly timeless, such as a chilling depiction of a group of cops preparing to hurt citizens by engaging in a nationalistic salute that looks an awful lot like a Nazi salute. Other times, the enduring qualities are much more pleasant and richly human, such as quiet scenes of Léa and Chitara just talking. By focusing so much on the latter qualities, "Dry Ground Burning" cements its impressive craftsmanship and reaffirms cinema's capabilities of lending dimensions to the downtrodden.

Kelly Reichardt wrung so much power out of a cow in "First Cow," so it shouldn't be a surprise that she also gets so much dramatic mileage out of a wounded pigeon in "Showing Up." This hurt critter is at the heart of many key scenes in this feature about cantankerous sculptor Lizzy (Michelle Williams), but it's by no means the only element at play here. "Showing Up" is a movie about the ordinary existence of Lizzy, with Reichardt's camera taking so much time to emphasize the humanity of every figure who wanders into the frame. Supporting figures like Lizzy's tormented brother, Sean (John Magaro), who could've been forgettable caricatures in other movies, are rendered with incredible depth.

The screenplay by Reichardt and Jon Raymond is also a pleasant surprise in just how amusing it is. "Showing Up" has lots of comedy to offer up audiences, particularly in the interactions between Lizzy and her busy landlord Jo (Hong Chau). The dissonance between Lizzy's insistence that she get her cold water back soon and Jo just riding back and forth on a tire swing is incredibly amusing. Subtle bursts of comedy like that exchange or the uncommented presence of a big fluffy dog lounging around Lizzy's workspace pepper the world of "Showing Up," which just helps to make it feel even more lived-in. Like so many of Reichardt's other works, "Showing Up" grabs your heart and attention effortlessly.

Whether they realize it or not, the individual characters of "Joyland," a directorial effort from Saim Sadiq, are all trapped. Protagonist Haider (Ali Junejo) is pressured to get a job to provide for his family so that his wife, Mumtaz (Rasti Farooq), isn't the primary breadwinner of the family. Mumtaz, meanwhile, is yearning to maintain her financial independence and her current job in the face of perceptions of what women are "supposed" to do. The rare person to at least transcend some of the bonds of societal expectations is Biba (Alina Khan), a dancer whose both a trans woman and Haider's new employer. 

In brief glimpses into Biba's personal life, including a scene where she walks through a location bustling with other trans ladies, we see the kind of joy that's possible when one is allowed to put their own identity first before "traditional" ideas of how people of certain genders are "supposed" to behave. The screenplay by Sadiq and Maggie Briggs deftly makes Biba represent this concept without turning her into an object or just a source of symbolism. She's still a richly-defined person, just like everyone else in the compelling cast of "Joyland." 

These nuanced characters are told through captivating cinematography by Joe Saade, which frames everybody in a tight 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Through this visual detail, "Joyland" constantly reinforces the idea that these characters are trapped by societal expectations that often crush so many souls. Everyday confinement is at least beautifully realized in the hands of "Joyland."

Guy Ritchie's The Covenant

One look at the poster for "Guy Ritchie's The Covenant" will likely put a pit in the stomach of many viewers. At first glance, this movie looks like it has the potential to be another hollow and jingoistic motion picture about the Iraq War in the vein of "12 Strong" and "Lone Survivor." Thankfully, no uncomfortable Toby Keith needle drops disrupt the cinematic landscape of "The Covenant." In fact, the feature is a very well-crafted action drama concerning Master Sgt. John Kinley (Jake Gyllenhaal) is saved in Afghanistan by his interpreter, Ahmed (Dar Salim). After Kinley is sent back to America, Ahmed is left behind in the Middle East, spurring Kinley to lead a rescue mission.

The strongest section of "Guy Ritchie's The Covenant" is also its simplest and concerns a mid-movie stretch of the story where Kinley and Ahmed are on their own trying to make it across miles and miles of harsh terrain while being chased by the Taliban. Ritchie's filmmaking impresses in how well it musters up tension in smart ways while Salim's largely dialogue-free performance depicting Ahmed carrying the mortally wounded Kinley to safety is truly remarkable. Even with a more generic climax that ends up showcasing lots of American military hardware, "Guy Ritchie's The Covenant" maintains a somber tone and heavily emphasizes the compelling point-of-view of Ahmed. In other words, this movie is no rehash of "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi."

The BlackBerry phone was always going to be a temporary success. Not only is all technology prone to becoming tomorrow's outdated hardware, but when new co-CEO Jim Balsillie (Glenn Howerton) first walks into the ramshackle offices of the company behind this phone, the outfit's already millions of dollars in debt. The real-life exploits of BlackBerry creator Mike Lazaridis (Jay Baruchel) and his associates start out in the land of extreme farce, and things rarely get better for these people from there.

"BlackBerry's" upfront depiction of the innate problems that plagued this phone and especially the company that created it all make for a captivating yarn about good intentions gone awry. Writer/director Matt Johnson does superb work making the snowballing chaos of this company incredibly compelling, particularly when it comes to the moral decay of Lazaridis.

All this entertaining mayhem is told alongside a memorable score by Jay McCarrol, which features intense electronic influences that lend a sense of urgency to everything unfolding on-screen. This story is also lent extra heft by being executed in the hands of a strong cast, with Baruchel especially excelling in portraying the various ups and downs of Lazaridis, while Howerton is a force to be reckoned with as a CEO who'll bite your head off if given half the chance. All that rage couldn't make the BlackBerry phone stick around in the technology landscape ... but it does help accentuate all the entertainment packed into the movie "BlackBerry."

Going back to your childhood home as an adult is always a challenging experience. Even if you had a gloriously idyllic childhood, returning to your roots after spending so long carving out an independent life as an adult is such a surreal experience. For the titular lead of "Monica" (portrayed by Trace Lysette), going home is an especially arduous experience on many fronts, including the fact that her estranged mother, Eugenia (Patricia Clarkson), is slowly dying and losing her memory. On top of all that, Eugenia previously abandoned Monica once she discovered she was trans. There's endless conflict here that's kept Monica away for years. Now, she has to confront all of it under the most trying of circumstances.

While a lot is going on in the personal life of Monica, writer/director Andrea Pallaoro doesn't spoon-feed viewers everything that's happened in the personal life of this woman. Monica's existence is told through quiet, slow-paced storytelling that allows a tense atmosphere to properly take root and for the on-screen dynamics to feel authentic. These are people who've stewed in the past for so long that they're not going to talk about it endlessly in didactic expository dialogue. Monica and her relatives feel like real human beings, which means the aura of mystery surrounding them draws us closer. It doesn't hurt that Monica is portrayed through an unforgettable lead performance by Lysette. Even with everything else this feature has to offer, Lysette's work alone makes "Monica" a must-see.

You Hurt My Feelings

The summer of 2023 was packed with blockbusters that put the entire fate of the planet in jeopardy, but the Nicole Holofcener feature "You Hurt My Feelings" wrung gripping tension and terrific entertainment out of something as minuscule as communication difficulties between couples. Specifically, "You Hurt My Feelings" focuses on the strife that emerges when novelist Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) overhears her husband, therapist Don (Tobias Menzies), revealing that he doesn't like Beth's most recent book. Considering that Don previously told Beth he loved this piece of writing, this revelation shakes Beth to her core.

From there, Holofcener finds glib humor in the imperfect dynamic between Beth and Don, the former of whom is content to stew in resentment over her husband's deception. While we're experiencing them, the smallest trials can feel Earth-shattering in how they impact us, and the comedy of "You Hurt My Feelings" nicely captures that. It's a premise that's also well-handled by a stellar cast, including a winning lead performance from Louis-Dreyfus and an incredibly memorable supporting turn from Michaela Watkins. If bloated summer 2023 blockbusters have got you feeling jaded, then there's no better time to experience the low-key charms of "You Hurt My Feelings."

Ear for Eye

At the end of 2018, debbie tucker green's play "Ear for Eye" began playing in the British theater scene. The play garnered enough acclaim and notoriety to be filmed and released as a standalone movie, also entitled "Ear for Eye." Cinema geeks around the world likely have a preconceived notion of what a filmed version of a play looks like, with many of these projects being very unimaginative shootings of live theatrical performances. That's not what green delivers with "Ear for Eye." Far from it. The movie version of "Ear for Eye" renders the wildly-varied testimonies and perspectives of its various characters in immersive, raw, and vivid terms. This is a piece of cinema that's captivatingly alive rather than something that makes you just wish you'd watched a certain show in person instead.

Everything about "Ear for Eye" immediately stands out as something incredibly unique, with debbie tucker green being as thoroughly committed to idiosyncratic imagery as she is to equally distinctive human beings. For instance, a contentious discussion between a professor and his student is framed against nebulously defined backgrounds that shift in hue based on the direction of the conversation. Meanwhile, the feature is anchored by a slew of unforgettable performances that just burst with so many vibrant emotions, with Lashana Lynch emerging as an especially memorable member of the cast. "Ear for Eye" utterly transcends its origins as a stage play to become essential modern cinema.

In 1988, Jean (Rosy McEwen) is a P.E. teacher in Newcastle just going through the motions on a day-to-day basis. Jean is a closeted lesbian who keeps her identity deeply under her wraps unless she's hanging out with her fellow lesbians at a local gay bar. However, her personal and professional lives collide when a new student at Jean's school, Lois (Lucy Halliday), begins to go to the gay bar Jean frequents. Writer/director Georgia Oakley's "Blue Jean" subsequently becomes a cinematic representation of how systemically normalized bigotry can help turn members of marginalized groups on one another. Jean views quiet, stifled survival as a way forward and sees the presence of Lois, rather than the homophobic society itself, as the problem.

It's a compelling narrative and one that affords a queer woman protagonist the kind of morally complicated quandaries that such characters don't normally get to navigate in cinema. Oakley's quietly assured filmmaking vividly realizes the tension of the world Jean navigates daily while McEwen effortlessly communicates internal conflict within Jean just through a haunted facial expression. Meanwhile, the smart writing finds very creative and hideously authentic quiet ways that intolerance creeps into Jean's world, like a homophobic poster she drives by every day on her way to work. "Blue Jean" is an unflinching work and character study, but it's all the better for its willingness to keep the camera rolling on complicated lives navigating omnipresent prejudice.

The Blackening

When one says the word "spoof movies," visions of "Meet the Spartans" and "Date Movie" immediately dance across the mind. This is a subgenre that does not have a good reputation in the modern world and for good reason. Thankfully, "The Blackening" is here to provide a counterpoint to all the dreadful examples of 21st-century parody films. For one thing, its focuses on poking fun at tropes of one specific genre (horror features) rather than going the "Disaster Movie" route of just overwhelming you with modern pop culture references. The result is a more concise motion picture that relies on quality standalone gags rather than just half-hearted nods to things audiences are familiar with.

Even better, "The Blackening" is anchored by a bevy of memorable lead performances across its ensemble cast. Best among these turns is X Mayo as Shanika, a performance that's chock-full of exquisite line deliveries, and a lively performance from screenwriter Dewayne Perkins as Dewayne. Watching these actors simply bounce off one another and exchange witty dialogue is already a treat. The fact that director Tim Story also delivers clever subversions of hallmark horror narratives is just a most welcome bonus. Needless to say, "The Blackening" is a drastic improvement on typical subpar modern spoof comedies.

Many types of movies get the short end of the stick when it comes to getting dropped on Netflix, but one type of cinema is truly ill-served by this streamer: animated family movies. Whereas theatrical animated features like "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish" or "Elemental" can have underwhelming debuts but leg it out over multiple months, new animated Netflix movies seem to vanish the moment they hit the platform. That's a tragedy under any circumstances, but it's especially a pain when it comes to "Nimona," a feature film adaptation of N.D. Stevenson's graphic novel of the same name.

The story of a shapeshifter named Nimona (Chloe Grace Moretz) who teams up with Ballister, a knight framed for murder (Riz Ahmed), "Nimona" has energy to spare both in its wonderfully frantic animation and live-wire gags. However, it really excels in terms of pathos. The film's depiction of what it means to live life as a societal outsider resonates as truly authentic, despite all the fantastical story elements at play. Plus, the voice work is terrific from top to bottom, with Ahmed and Moretz both turning in exceptional work in the lead roles. A movie as good as "Nimona" really deserves the big-screen treatment so that everyone can discover it, but hey — at least a film this unique and delightful exists at all.

Some of the most moving moments of 2023 are contained in "Every Body." Consider its camcorder footage of a 1996 meeting of the intersex community at an outdoor picnic. At this event, individuals who've spent much of their lives being told to smother their identity can be out, proud, and around their peers. During this social gathering, one member of the group notes that they know this isn't the end of intersex community advocacy — it's just the beginning. That propulsive and richly human spirit courses through every moment of the incredibly compelling documentary "Every Body."

"Every Body" director Julie Cohen largely focuses on a trio of intersex individuals — Sean Saifa Wall, Alicia Roth, and Weigel River Gallo — who all navigate modern life in various parts of the world. While their struggles (in realms ranging from dating to advocating for themselves in local politics) are apparent on screen, "Every Body" doesn't sensationalize the daily existence of intersex folks. Cohen's intimate approach captures low-key moments like Alicia cleaning up her apartment after a long day at work, and members of this community happily coming up with protest slogans. Taking time to focus on these moments within "Every Body" emphasizes how nuanced the lives of intersex people truly are, and lives up to the ideals expressed at that glorious 1996 picnic.

Who is Amanda (Benedetta Porcaroli)? The titular star of writer-director Carolina Cavalli's feature "Amanda" belongs to an incredibly rich family and struggles to think beyond herself. Even her impromptu quest to become the best friend of shut-in Rebecca (Galatéa Bellugi) is laced with self-serving attributes. She's a messy figure, but her flaws are also emblematic of the sense of loss many of us feel in our 20s. Even when it seems like your life has been handed to you on a silver platter, deep internal torment can make you feel adrift and resentful of everyone around you.

Cavalli's portrayal of Amanda is wonderfully intricate, while Cavalli's filmmaking style encompasses a variety of tones. "Amanda" begins with anarchic camerawork, particularly with the film's intentionally tardy title card. Later, though, as Amanda and Rebecca actually begin to bond, a degree of warmth begins to seep in (sprinkled with chaos, as seen through the duo's use of fireworks). Life takes you on all kinds of wild ups and downs. "Amanda," both in its visuals and themes, captures these unpredictable qualities of existence with aplomb.

Civil rights advocacy stretches across centuries and into multiple fields, including the world of baseball. Sam Pollard's documentary "The League" explores this through the history of the Negro Baseball League. Black players were forbidden from joining teams with white baseball players in the late 1800s, thus prompting the creation of the League. Here was a domain run by Black people for Black communities, which gave Black baseball legends a chance to be seen.

"The League" compellingly relates this history, and informs viewers of lesser-known figures scattered throughout the sport. They may not be household names like Babe Ruth, but these men and women's stories are very much worth telling. Interview segments with modern-day figures like Andrea Williams and archival footage of anecdotes delivered by the likes of Maya Angelou makes an already engrossing story even more transfixing. Pollard, who previously helmed the exceptional feature "MLK/FBI," delivers another remarkable documentary with "The League."

Antoine (Denis Ménochet), lead character of "The Beasts," doesn't want trouble. He and his wife Olga (Marina Foïs) are French natives who live on a farm in Galicia, Spain, and try their best to take care of the environment. However, their refusal to have their countryside sold to a wealthy wind energy outfit puts them at odds with local townsfolk. Most notably, next-door neighbors Xan (Luis Zahera) and Lorenzo (Diego Anido) are enraged at losing out on selling their farmland. What results is a gripping thriller, in which Antoine must navigate daily existence and the increasingly malicious behavior of his neighbors.

To say "The Beasts" is a captivating work of cinema isn't enough. Writer-director Rodrigo Sorogoyen places the viewer inside a societal outsider viewed as "the enemy" by fellow working-class people, rather than the actually dangerous wealthy members of society. This misplaced anger on Xan and Lorenzo's part also adds a sense of tragedy to their characters — but this doesn't make their increasing hostility towards Antoine and Olga any less terrifying. The movie's measured camerawork captures several harrowing situations with incredible mastery, while the script isn't afraid to get dark depicting the struggles immigrants face in securing justice. Far from an easy watch, "The Beasts" is an essential piece of 2023 cinema.

The Unknown Country

As "The Unknown Country" begins, the camera breaks away from protagonist Tana (Lily Gladstone) to explore the internal life of an older waitress. She provides narration about her life and her interest in rescuing abandoned cats, while the viewer sees footage of her at home, snuggling her felines. This digression is more important than it initially seems, as it establishes a pattern of pausing for brief detours into  the seemingly throwaway characters Tana encounters. Everyone from Tana's sister to a convenience store clerk to a motel manager has a story worth sharing.

This empathetic gaze underscores "The Unknown Country," which pairs its focus on overlooked souls with loving camerawork, which captures Texas backdrops rarely seen, even in indie cinema. This is a movie about the ignored (particularly indigenous people), and they're well-served by director Morrisa Maltz's filmmaking style. "The Unknown Country" also functions as a fantastic showcase for Lily Gladstone. The role of Tana is a restrained one that makes use of minimal dialogue. Gladstone keeps you glued to the screen with nothing but her facial expressions. She is the beating heart of "The Unknown Country."

Coal. A single rock can hold so much power, especially over territories where one can dig for it. Director Elaine McMillion Sheldon returns to her home of Central Appalachia to explore the power coal and corporate greed have over working-class life with the documentary "King Coal." There's a dark urgency underpinning the proceedings given how much reliance on the coal industry and corporate interference has ravaged the communities sitting atop hordes of coal. However, the dominant aesthetic of the piece is much more languid, which helps to demonstrate how the adverse side effects of coal dependency have slowly but surely taken their toll on small towns and people.

At times, "King Coal" is a therapeutic cinematic exercise, as individuals who've often had their voices erased entirely (chiefly Black residents of Central Appalachia) finally get to have their perspectives captured on film. However, the entire feature carries a deeply nuanced quality that renders its on-camera subjects as actual human beings, a sharp contrast to the way corporations (which only want to exploit the area's coal, safety be darned) treat these individuals. For some, "King Coal" may be too slow-paced to be worth getting invested in. However, patient and observant viewers will be richly rewarded with a documentary that takes a stark gaze onto the present coal-centric communities and attempts to imagine a brighter future for these areas.

There's always a looming fire in the distant background of "Afire," the latest film from writer/director Christian Petzold. That blaze rages on near the vacation home of Leon (Thomas Schubert), a writer who's frantic over his newest manuscript. It doesn't help that Nadja (Paula Beer) — a woman that Leon feels some sort of attachment to but is also incredibly adversarial with — is now his unexpected guest. 

As tensions escalate between these two — and Leon's best friend Felix (Langston Uibel) begins a romance with David (Enno Trebs) — grave trouble feels as imminent as the encroaching presence of that wildfire. Petzold's greatest trick in writing "Afire" is committing deeply to making Leon super unlikeable but also constantly showing him getting one-upped or overshadowed by other characters. He's intentionally insufferable, but viewers are always aware that some form of comeuppance isn't far behind.

Similarly, the script is wise to keep its scope so intimate, especially since the central performers thrive in such low-key confines. Paula Beer especially impresses in peeling back new captivating layers of personality within Nadja as the film progresses. Meanwhile, sharp visuals from cinematographer Hans Fromm inform a sense of quiet dread into every conversation and activity without overwhelming the naturalism of the entire feature. As its title would indicate, "Afire" does indeed involve a wildfire, but what's really dangerous in this gripping drama is simmering animosity between people. 

Before, Now & Then

"Before, Now & Then" protagonist Nana (Happy Salma) cannot stop living in the past. Her time in the present is marked by vivid memories of her husband's murder during an uprising in the past. However, eventually, Nana must awaken and navigate her life in Indonesia in the late 1960s. This new existence includes striking up a dynamic with Ino (Laura Basuki), the lady Nana's husband was sleeping with. Other movies might have Nana and Ino immediately at each other's throats over a man. Instead, the duo find tender comfort in the other's arms as they finally have somebody to talk to, to listen to, and to be free around. A moment where the pair jump off a small cliff and into a pool of water is downright exhilarating, the freedom they share is palpable.

Writer/director Kamila Andini handles this central relationship well, and her strong visual sensibilities capture the quiet aching torment of Nana's everyday life, especially whenever she's dealing with intrusive visions of the past. Just as restrained and effective is the lead performance of Happy Salma — she's mesmerizing in the lead role even when her dialogue is minimal. Salma's subdued physicality conveys a lot about the torment Nana is burying deep inside her body, and the way she subtly communicates Nana being more relaxed around Ino is truly impressive. "Before, Now & Then" is a striking yarn about the ways our past and present are always intertwined.

If you've been understandably yearning for some memorable sex scenes in the modern cinematic landscape (which is often more interested in nostalgic fan service than boning), the new Ira Sachs film "Passages" has got some great sequences for you. This feature concerns the incredibly toxic filmmaker Tomas (Franz Rogowski) leaving his husband Martin (Ben Whishaw) for a woman named Agatha (Adèle Exarchopoulos), and all that relationship drama inevitably leads to some bedroom action. Sachs keeps his camera at a bit of a distance in capturing the bodies of Tomas and Agatha or Tomas and Martin meshed together while also framing these intimate encounters in lengthy static shots. There aren't grand external embellishments to these sex scenes. Sachs wants the viewer to focus on the graphic physicality at hand and the raw emotions underpinning these experiences.

"Passages" certainly delivers the goods on visually striking sex scenes while also proving an engaging exercise even when the characters are all keeping their clothes on. It's especially impressive how much of a realistic monster Tomas is allowed to be, a flawed character queer men aren't often allowed to inhabit without the narrative focusing exclusively on cis-het people. Meanwhile, Ben Whishaw reaffirms his status as the champion of quiet performances jam-packed with tons of power. Come for the compelling sex scenes in "Passages," stay for the remarkable performances and camerawork.


"Shortcomings," the feature-length directorial debut of comedic actor Randall Park, is a reminder that movies with very noticeable flaws can also be deeply worthy of praise. There's no denying "Shortcomings" often has a very unimaginative visual palette while its final five minutes wrap things up in too tidy of a fashion. However, there's far more we can laud here, including Adrian Tomine's screenplay (adapted from his graphic novel of the same name) delivering a thoroughly and intentionally unlikeable protagonist named Ben (Justin H. Min). 

In a delightful 360-degree turnaround from his work in "After Yang," Min is downright repellant at times as Ben, and that's a testament to his great work in the role. Within Min's acting, viewers witness the sort of flawed lead character Asian-American actors aren't often allowed to play. Adam Driver and Robert Pattinson can play monsters and score award-season accolades, but those kinds of roles aren't often afforded to actors who look like Justin H. Min.

The larger metatextual importance of Min's authentic rendering of a toxic guy oblivious to how his behavior impacts others makes Ben a fascinating character rather than one who makes you want to walk out of the theater. Plus, Ben spends much of the movie paired up with Alice, a hysterical supporting character played with transfixing assuredness by Sherry Cola. Even when "Shortcomings" barrels through a rushed predictable ending, performances like Cola's and the better aspects of the script make the movie a pleasing enterprise.

The Last Voyage of the Demeter

Dropped into theaters in mid-August 2023, "The Last Voyage of the Demeter" became one of the rare mainstream horror box office bombs of 2023. This yarn, which tells the fateful story of the crew of the Demeter — a ship that's unwittingly transporting Dracula — just wasn't what horror moviegoers wanted this year, which is a shame. Though far from flawless, "The Last Voyage of the Demeter" has plenty of ooky charms to offer . For one thing, it's a horror film that also doubles as a sea-faring adventure. We don't get a lot of movies set on the high seas, so it's always a treat to see big-budget features recreating the cramped quarters and sails of these vessels.

For another, director André Øvredal mostly commits to a dark tone, reflecting how nobody survived the Demeter voyage in the original "Dracula" novel by Bram Stoker . It's an old-fashioned horror feature with committed performances from talented faces like Corey Hawkins and David Dastmalchian, as well as a script featuring fun graphic deaths for its doomed sailors. Unfortunately, "The Last Voyage of the Demeter" ends on an incredibly awkward final scene hamstrung by didactic voice-over narration and obvious attempts to set up sequels. This ending, so divorced from the rest of the movie tonally, will undoubtedly leave moviegoers with a sour taste in their mouths. Before then, though, "Demeter" is diverting enough to make you wish it'd done better at the box office.

The Pope's Exorcist

You may have seen the memes of Russell Crowe's "The Pope's Exorcist" protagonist Gabriele Amorth riding around on his Vespa scooter. However, nothing can prepare viewers for the hysterical early shot of Crowe cruising around on this vehicle while "We Care A Lot" by Faith No More blares on the soundtrack. It's an unabashedly silly moment that establishes the kind of movie director Julius Avery is aiming to deliver with "The Pope's Exorcist" (as if that trashy title wasn't enough of a hint). This is a deeply preposterous feature and one that proves a perfect fit for Crowe, who's just the kind of A-list star you want mucking around in B-movie trash.

Crowe lends plenty of commitment to Amorth's absurd personality, which veers from being a world-weary veteran of supernatural encounters to a goofy uncle. The erratically defined nature of this character becomes downright charming in the hands of Crowe, who relishes the chance to put 110% conviction into whatever antics Amorth is getting up to at a moment's notice. Meanwhile, Avery and cinematographer Khalid Mohtaseb engage in slightly livelier camerawork than you'd expect, though the drab visuals and generic attempts at exorcism-themed scares are what hold back "The Pope's Exorcist" from reaching its fullest potential. Still, there's plenty of fleeting ridiculous fun to be had in "The Pope's Exorcist," right down to its hysterical final burst of on-screen text referring to books written by the actual Gabriele Amorth.

The Eternal Memory

Augusto Góngora spent his life as a reporter and journalist highlighting atrocities and providing a voice to the voiceless. Now, in his old age, Góngora has been living with Alzheimer's disease and depends on his wife, Paulina Urrutia, to help him get through the day. The latest documentary from filmmaker Maite Alberdi, "The Eternal Memory" begins with this status quo already firmly intact. We do not bear witness to Góngora learning about his diagnosis, but instead, we wander into the lives of this couple years into their existence being molded by the effects of Alzheimer's.

Alberdi's filmmaking never loses a clear sense of empathy and humanity for Góngora, which proves essential in keeping "The Eternal Memory" as engaging as it is. Terrific work from Alberdi and editor Carolina Siraqyan in cutting between footage of Góngora's past on-air segments and his more modern-day vulnerable self also makes the proceedings so emotionally gripping. The focus of this feature is thoroughly intimate, but the editing and sublime use of archival footage provide an expansive scope in other respects to render Góngora as a fully realized human being. He is not just defined by his Alzheimer's, even as "The Eternal Memory" does such good work showing the quiet ways it impacts his day-to-day life.

Kokomo City

Something that defines many great movies is paradoxes. Outstanding pieces of art tend to function in conceptually contradictory terms that feel organic and natural when you're experiencing them. So it is with the outstanding documentary "Kokomo City," which features a gloriously stylized monochromatic color palette. Documentary footage of the film's central subjects (a quartet of Black trans women sex workers named Daniella Carter, Dominque Silver, Koko Da Doll, and Liyah Mitchell) is entirely rendered in black-and-white, which lends a striking look to the proceedings reminiscent of classic film noir. Real life doesn't necessarily look like the black-and-white color scheme of "Kokomo City," yet director D. Smith uses this visual flourish to create images that tap into tangible emotional reality.

That's just one of the many incredible filmmaking feats "Kokomo City" pulls off with remarkable ease. Some of its greatest accomplishments, though, are also its simplest pleasures, like delivering so many lively and fascinating anecdotes from on-camera figures like Liyah Mitchell. It also proves ceaselessly amazing to see a feature that's willing to portray every emotional nook and cranny of trans experiences while reminding viewers that, just as there isn't one way to "look" trans, there also isn't one way to exist as a member of this community. There's a deep sense of humanity bursting through every gorgeously rendered frame of "Kokomo City" that makes it one of the most essential pieces of 2023 cinema.

Watch any high school movie and you're going to see a world incredibly divorced from reality. Even if titles like "10 Things I Hate About You" and "The Breakfast Club" don't acknowledge it, their characters inhabit a realm as detached from reality as any superhero movie. The genius of writer-director Emma Seligman's "Bottoms" is that it purposefully takes that heightened atmosphere to the next level for a comedy about two horny lesbian losers, PJ (Rachel Sennott) and Josie (Ayo Edebiri), who start a fight club to get closer to their cheerleader crushes. It's a preposterous plot told in a comedic style so wacky, it'd make David Wain proud.

That over-the-top tone is just one of many inspired touches scattered throughout "Bottoms." Another great flourish is Seligman and cinematographer Maria Rusche's choice to film all the chaotic gay mayhem with such professional polish. In a welcome rebuke to the flat visual style of other modern comedies like "Strays" and "Stuber," "Bottoms" displays very thoughtful lighting and camerawork that's amusingly juxtaposed against the raunchy and dumb antics on-screen. Break down "Bottoms" to a cellular level, and you'll never stop finding things to praise. Best of all, though, it functions perfectly well as a comedy that makes you laugh a whole heck of a lot, to the point that it surpasses many of the high school movies that inspired it.

Our Father, the Devil

As "Our Father, the Devil" begins, Marie Cisse (Babetida Sadjo) is living a quiet life, working at a retirement home in France. However, her past suddenly comes back to haunt her in the most horrifying ways imaginable when she hears a familiar voice belonging to a man calling himself Father Patrick (Souleymane Sy Savane). Though he claims to be a quiet man of God, Cisse remembers him as the warlord who held her prisoner and turned her into a child soldier in her home country. Writer-director Ellie Foumbi depicts Cisse kidnapping "Father Patrick" and holding him hostage in a cabin she's just been given ownership of. Here, Cisse plans to have her revenge by exacting upon "Father Patrick" the same kind of brutality she endured at his hands years ago.

It's worth mentioning that "Our Father, the Devil" never explicitly shows flashbacks to Cisse's past. The focus here is on the present — yesteryear is only crystallized through the words of on-screen characters. This restrictive storytelling gaze on the part of Foumbi's screenplay is an ingenious move that instills a sense of uneasy ambiguity into the piece, first over the potential identity of "Father Patrick" and then over the scale of the horrors Cisse witnessed in her past. "Our Father, the Devil" keeps peeling back layers of the past within the horrors of the present to create a movie that's never an easy watch, but is an outright tour de force in terms of filmmaking and acting. 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Benjamin Alire Sáenz's 2012 novel is the source material for Aitch Alberto's newest directorial effort, "Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe." The film maintains the intimate gaze of its source material, depicting the burgeoning romance between Aristotle "Ari" Mendoza (Max Pelayo) and Dante Quintana (Reese Gonzales). Experienced viewers knowledgeable about the narrative hallmarks of young adult movies may feel like "Aristotle and Dante" is just more of the same, and in some respects, it kind of is. Still, it's hard to deny a movie that's this cozy and effective at nailing its big emotional moments. Action movies live or die on how they execute punching, musicals sink or swim based on their elaborate dance routines, and films like "Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe" are all about tugging on your heartstrings. 

Alberto's adaptation effectively realizes this sort of emotional material more often than not, while also injecting some really thoughtful visuals into the proceedings. Plus, the performances here are generally quite stellar, including Eugenio Derbez doing shockingly restrained but effective work as Aristotle's father. It's those kinds of assets that ensure "Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe" stands above other, lesser YA film adaptations.

"Godland" begins with 19th century Danish priest Lucas (Elliott Crosset Hove) setting out on a mission. He's to lead a group into Iceland and build a church on top of a Danish settlement. Here, his superiors are convinced they can "civilize" the Icelandic natives. Lucas believes he will easily be able to tame the terrain he is entering, which is why he opts to travel through Iceland to his destination, rather than taking a shorter route by sea. Writer-director Hlynur Pálmason frames Lucas within a constantly humbling narrative, as this man of God is relentlessly reminded that he has no control over the domain he seeks to conquer.

"Godland" is a stinging critique of colonialism, but it's also a mesmerizing visual feat making great use of gorgeous Icelandic landscapes. Much like classic John Ford Westerns emphasize vast deserts to reinforce the smallness of cowboys, Pálmason and cinematographer Maria von Hausswolff use expansive natural backdrops to solidify that Lucas is just a grain of sand in the hourglass of existence. Such unforgettable images are captured on 35mm film and a 1.33:1 aspect ratio; this pair of elements make any frame of "Godland" look as evocative as a rare photograph taken during the century this story occupies. An absolutely gorgeous triumph of filmmaking, "Godland" grips your eyes while tantalizing your brain with meditations on how often the world nonchalantly puts humanity in its place.

Flora and Son

John Carney's latest Irish indie about romance and music isn't quite up to the feel-good standards of his 2016 masterpiece "Sing Street." Most notably, his screenwriting foible from "Begin Again" — having his supposedly cash-strapped characters gain fluctuating access to money, depending on what the script requires at a moment's notice — rears its head again, in this story of young mother Flora (Eve Hewson) struggling to raise her teenage son Max (Orén Kinlan) and learn the guitar. However, whenever Carney needs to, he's really good at nailing those quiet moments of pathos that get you absorbed into a character's world. A small moment in "Flora and Son," where Flora silently becomes absorbed in a video of Joni Mitchell performing "Both Sides Now," is a great example of this. In this scene, you understand why music means so much to Flora as a creative outlet. 

There are some other lovely moments sprinkled throughout "Flora and Son" that are similarly moving, including the tender pieces of connection between Flora and her virtual Los Angeles guitar instructor Jeff (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). "Flora and Son" can't fully outrun some of its more meddling flaws, like supporting characters that need more dashes of personality. But once Carney executes a shockingly moving song performance climax, it's hard to deny that "Flora and Son" hasn't worked on some level, even if only fleetingly. Sometimes, toe-tapping sequences are enough to make all the difference with a feature.

No One Will Save You

Alien invasion movies aren't rare, but "No One Will Save You" does stand out from this crowded pack of sci-fi films with some very creative flourishes. Most notably, this project opts to take a very intimate gaze at following seamstress Brynn (Kaitlyn Dever) as she grapples with her home being invaded by otherworldly beasts. More importantly, this is a yarn told almost entirely without dialogue, a bold move that writer-director Brian Duffield proves shockingly committed to realizing without any cheats or distracting shortcuts. Dever proves more than capable of carrying a film without an ensemble cast or dialogue, while the alien thrills are even more chilling told solely through sound effects and visuals.

"No One Will Save You" even manages to deftly balance out its more grounded explorations of coping with trauma and the extremely heightened alien material, particularly in an unforgettable climactic sequence that makes ingenious use of the visual of alien ships "beaming up" people. On top of all that, "No One Will Save You" even remembers that brevity is the soul of the wit with a runtime that doesn't exceed 95 minutes with credits. This allows it to wring all the dramatic potential of its central concept without overstaying its welcome. Any way you look at it, "No One Will Save You" is a welcome surprise and an incredible acting showcase for Dever.

Mister Organ

Have you ever gotten obsessed with somebody toxic? Somebody whose behavior defies all social norms and tenets of basic human decency? Director David Farrier knows that feeling all too well, and he puts those obsessive emotions on the big screen with his latest documentary, "Mister Organ." Initially, this feature depicts Farrier simply engaging in some research-based journalism into an antique store's weirdly aggressive parking rules. This is a gateway drug of sorts into the world of Michael Organ. This is the man the antique store hired to enforce those parking demands, which slap ordinary citizens with exorbitant fines. Farrier's research reveals this is not the first time Organ's been involved in shady dealings, and begins to fall down the rabbit hole of this guy's past and present.

"Mister Organ" is not a movie that necessarily unveils any profound statements on the human condition or even drops massive revelations regarding its titular figure. However, it is an absorbing movie in the moment because of the tragedy underlying Farrier's attempt to find somethin meaningful within the hollow, selfish shell of Michael Organ. It's a fixation that becomes, much like Captain Ahab's pursuit of the whale in "Moby Dick," both consuming and fruitless. There isn't much more to Michael Organ than his aggravating surface, even if Farrier's camera in "Mister Organ" does  paint this man as an eerie representation of the sort of nasty human behavior that isn't just confined to one New Zealand antique store. 

It may not be quite as good as 2023 comedy champion "Bottoms," but "Joy Ride" is another example of how yukfests in 2023 have been a quietly reliable genre (duds like "Strays" notwithstanding). Hailing from director Adele Lim, "Joy Ride" gets much of its entertainment out of something simple: finding four performers who are fun to watch get into shenanigans for 90 minutes. Leading ladies Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu, and Sabrina Wu are all hysterical on their own merits, and while bouncing off one another. Best of all, they each bring discernibly different virtues to the table, with Wu's unabashedly idiosyncratic impulses playing as a great contrast to the amusingly buttoned-up persona Hsu inhabits.

Screenwriters Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and Teresa Hsiao keep conjuring up highly amusing scenarios for these four performers to navigate as their characters make their way across China; a montage of all four characters (save for Wu's Deadeye) engaging in sexual shenanigans is a particular highlight. Lim and cinematographer Paul Yee also make the whole production look well-polished while the briskly-paced proceedings don't get bogged down in obviously improvised sequences like so many other modern comedies. If you want a comedy that'll provide plenty of amusement for 95 straight minutes, "Joy Ride" fits the bill perfectly.

Trenque Lauquen

Writer-director Laura Citarella's "Trenque Lauquen" begins as a mystery drama about two men searching for an abruptly missing lady named Laura (Laura Paredes, who also wrote the script with Citarella). Just as one gets comfortable with that cinematic mold, "Trenque Lauquen" shifts into something else entirely. Then it goes in another direction. And another. And another . There's no shortage of surprises in "Trenque Lauquen," though they're not played as big bombastic twists. They're just the kind of natural examples of nuance and unexpected detours that life throws at real people every day.

Though its lengthy 260 minute runtime may seem intimidating, the unpredictable storytelling sensibilities of "Trenque Lauquen" are just one of the many wonderful things that make it captivating. Masterful camerawork is another memorable virtue, and the lead performance from Laura Paredes is also a remarkable feat. She's able to keep you on your toes, wondering what Laura's internal motivation or thought process is, and can inhabit any interpretation other characters have of her without missing a beat. Critical supporting turns from Elisa Carricajo and Verónica Llinás are also highlights of the proceedings. You'll never be able to guess where "Trenque Lauquen" is going when it first begins. Similarly, one cannot imagine just how grateful they'll be for the entire movie's incredible craftsmanship as those first scenes begin to unfurl.

"Mami Wata," a feature hailing from director C. J. Obasi, is rooted in ancient West African folklore, yet it couldn't feel more vibrantly modern. Boldly stylized images filtered through a black-and-white color scheme are scattered throughout "Mami Wata," creating a compellingly dreamlike mood. While this is impressive on its own, Obasi's visuals are even more notable for the way they tell the story of Zinwe (Uzoamaka Aniunoh), a young woman navigating a rebellion against her mother, Mama Efe (Rita Edochie), who previously served as leader of their village. This is a feature about ancient traditions brushing up against modern skepticism, creating a mixture of spiritual and pragmatic reality. The visuals emphasize this by making viewers feel as though they're wandering through a dream, or perhaps distant memories. 

"Mami Wata" is further distinguished by a collection of strong performances, led by Aniunoh's outstanding star turn. The film is also accompanied by a terrific score from composer Tunde Jegede. "Mami Wata" is an incredibly distinctive motion picture that proves endlessly absorbing to the viewer's every sense.

It's a shame "The Burial" was buried on Amazon Prime. One only has to watch a single early scene of this courtroom drama, in which charismatic lawyer Willie E. Gary (Jamie Foxx) is introduced, to understand this. In this electric sequence, Gary explains to a jury that his client was totally drunk when he was out riding his bike the day of his fateful accident. Gary goes on and on explaining all of his client's flaws, seemingly handing his opposition an easy win in court. But then Gary offers one final comment: His client had a green light, while the truck that ran him over did not. Right there, Gary clinches the case after keeping both the jury and the viewers on the edges of their seats by simply talking up a storm.

Told through a confident one-take (that Foxx keeps this confident persona going without any hiccups is incredible on its own), this scene makes it clear that Willie E. Gary is not all bluster — he really is that good at this job. From there, director Maggie Betts delivers a film that rarely surprises, but is definitely engaging. Good actors like Foxx and Tommy Lee Jones give their all to the weighty material, which deftly explores the way corporations target Black Americans. Take the time to dig "The Burial" up: There's sharp material here that should be appreciated by a wider audience.

The Royal Hotel

Jobs can be a unique kind of hell on Earth. People get trapped in horrific workspaces because they need to make money to afford the bare essentials of existence. This forces folks — especially those who are marginalized — to endure truly unspeakable circumstances. So it goes in "The Royal Hotel." Protagonists Hanna (Julia Garner) and Liv (Jessica Henwick) find themselves working in the Royal Hotel, an isolated bar in the Australian Outback. Here, misogynistic men are inescapable; Hanna becomes especially disturbed by the suffocating presence of guys who see her as an object.

Writer-director Kitty Green makes "The Royal Hotel" a tremendously gripping thriller, edged with potential violence. We don't need to see buckets of blood to feel uncomfortable — the possibility of nightmarish encounters between Hanna and various men is always lurking in the air. This restrained approach creates mesmerizingly suspenseful sequences, accentuated by Garner's tremendous performance. Much like with Green's 2020 masterpiece "The Assistant," the sound design of "The Royal Hotel" is also incredibly special. This particular feature excels in alternating between overwhelmingly noisy sequences and hauntingly sparse interactions between Hanna and aggressive bar patrons. "The Royal Hotel" is a must-see movie without question, but viewers beware: It'll give you a chill up your spine you won't be able to shake for days afterward. 

Elvis Presley is so ingrained in global culture that we all have a firm idea of who he was. Some view him as a kitsch item, others view him as a mythic musician. Sofia Coppola's "Priscilla" opts for a unique approach to this figure: It renders him as a man, played by Jacob Elordi, who happens to be a discernibly creepy and abusive partner. Told from the point of view of Priscilla Presley (Cailee Spaeny), "Priscilla" chronicles her relationship with Elvis, starting from the moment the icon met her as a 14-year-old girl. This uncomfortable element of Elvis Presley's life is often glossed over in contemporary retrospectives (including in Baz Luhrmann's "Elvis"), but Coppola openly explores the disturbing power dynamics at play.

After these chilling early days, Priscilla navigates an isolated existence in Graceland. She's forbidden to leave the house alone, have friends over, or carry on any kind of independent life. Even as she's suffocated by this classically abusive behavior, Spaeny finds fascinating ways to explore Priscilla's interior world. She delivers remarkable work (particularly in lending age-appropriate authenticity to the character at various stages of her life) and ensures "Priscilla" offers an entirely new exploration of the woman typically left out of stories about the King.

The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial

Director William Friedkin passed away in August 2023, but he left moviegoers one final gift in the form of "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial." Chronicling the court proceedings revolving around Lieutenant Maryk's (Jake Lacy) mutiny against Lt. Commander Queeg (Kiefer Sutherland), "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial" is everything you could want from a courtroom drama. A stern judge (Lance Reddick) warns lawyers that they're on thin ice. A heroic lawyer (Jason Clarke) gets witnesses to accidentally reveal key details. There are unexpected cross-examinations. If you've ever cheered on "Anatomy of a Murder" or "12 Angry Men," you'll be in hog heaven with "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial."

The stripped-down nature of the proceedings gives a bevy of compelling actors the chance to flex their might, particularly Kiefer Sutherland as a commander who is both intimidating and ominously unstable. The late, great Reddick also offers an incredibly engaging performance, delivering even the most conceptually mundane lines with impressive levels of gravitas. Nobody will ever dub "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial" anywhere near as good as Friedkin masterpieces like "Sorcerer" and "To Live and Die in L.A.," but it's a treat for courtroom drama fans that also provides movie geeks a solid farewell to an iconic filmmaker.

Rebellion against fascist forces can be carried out by a wide array of human beings, including college students with a hankering for justice. That's the focus of "The Battle," a new motion picture from filmmaker Vera Egito divided up into 21 chunks, set in late 1960s Brazil. Each segment is executed in a single unbroken take, and shifts focus across a wide assortment of characters. This includes protagonist Lilian (Pâmela Germano), her more immediately radical fellow students, a slew of teachers, and others. Kept largely out of frame are the cops and other supporters of the fascist government. This is a tale of ordinary souls reacting to living under oppressive forces in a multitude of different ways, not just another opportunity for the powerful to be center stage in the media.

Egito's propulsive filmmaking is awe-inspiring. Armed with continuous shots that never blink away from the characters' circumstances, a monochromatic color scheme, and a tight aspect ratio, "The Battle" is a visual tour de force whose striking images make your pulse pound, your heart race, and your blood boil. The exquisite visuals extend to one of the most unforgettable sex scenes of 2023, which filters two women finding pleasure in each other's bodies through surrealistic warped figures. "The Battle's" visual rebuke to conventional filmmaking standards is as remarkable as its characters' uprising against fascism.

Wiser folks have already pointed out that Emerald Fennell's latest feature, "Saltburn," shares key narrative elements with titles like "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and "Teorema." Still others have suggested its social commentary on class isn't all it could be. But for those who can get on its wavelength, "Saltburn" mitigates its derivative elements in favor of a story that's just plain nasty fun to watch. "Saltburn" is the ballad of working-class soul Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan), who comes into the life of rich college boy Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi) and stays at this man's family estate. It's also a devious feature that asks audiences to recoil in horror at passionate displays of romantic longing ... before asking us why we're repulsed by certain on-screen actions and not others.

It's all a lot of warped mayhem that moves at a good pace and is told with tremendous bravura, including an unflinching turn from leading man Barry Keoghan and unforgettably cutting line deliveries from Rosamund Pike. There's also no shortage of gorgeous imagery courtesy of cinematographer Linus Sandgren; just the way beams of light pour into various environments is glorious. "Saltburn" isn't perfect, nor does it break new ground as a piece of social commentary. But it's a hoot to watch, especially with others, and it's hard to resist a freaky little treat told by such talented artists.

Many people and movies perceive struggling with mental illness as something temporary. You grapple with it, figure out coping mechanisms, and then move on. But psychological turmoil is often far more complicated than that, and Michel Franco's "Memory" is a great cinematic demonstration of this fact. Its story concerns recovering alcoholic and sexual abuse survivor Sylvia (Jessica Chastain) as she becomes intertwined in the life of Saul (Peter Sarsgaard), a man in his 50s afflicted with dementia. Though their rapport is initially fraught (Sylvia at first mistakenly thinks Saul is somebody who assaulted her in high school), a bond forms between the duo.

One particularly tender element of "Memory" is the quiet suggestion that Sylvia and Saul don't connect because they're destined soulmates. They're just hugely relieved to be around another person who doesn't treat them condescendingly. "Memory's" subdued atmosphere vividly depicts just how nonchalantly dehumanizing most approaches to people dealing with mental illness are, including those from loved ones. There's an aching longing to be seen, simply, as a person within the two leads of "Memory." Chastain especially excels in a lengthy single-take sequence where Sylvia confronts her dismissive mother, while Sarsgaard's acting choices staunchly refuse to lean on stereotypical ideas of how men with dementia behave. This empathy crystallizes the soul of the film.

Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam

In 2019, director Lijo Jose Pellissery put himself on the radar of film geeks across the world with his feature "Jallikattu," which uses a rampaging bull to create a movie that is always evolving and changing. For his latest motion picture, "Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam," Pellissery opts for a quieter mode that's no less impressive. James (Mammootty) is a tour leader taking a bunch of Malayali tourists back home to Kerala. On the way, the group stops at a village that awakens something in the cantankerous James. He suddenly goes from being somebody who can't stand the radio being turned on to being a boisterous soul named Sundaram who vanished from the village years earlier.

This story of mistaken identity is told through remarkably assured camerawork that always keeps some level of distance between the characters and the cameras. Wider shots allow the viewer to see how all these fictional figures from radically different backgrounds are connected in some shape or form, even if some of them want nothing to do with this village. This remarkable cinematography (courtesy of Theni Eswar) is mirrored in overall quality by Mammootty's lead performance; he makes each side of his protagonist feel vividly real and believable. All these elements are in service of a compellingly uncertain atmosphere you can't turn away from. The quality of "Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam" should put Liji Jose Pellissery once again in high esteem.

Robot Dreams

Adapted from Sara Varon's graphic novel of the same name, "Robot Dreams" occupies an animated world that looks a lot like ours, except it's full of walking and talking animals. The story focuses on lonely Dog, who decides to create a mechanical best friend for himself named Robot. Canine and machine become best buddies, but of course, the mundane tragedy of the real world must eventually create some conflict between the two characters. Writer-director Pablo Berger tells this tale without any dialogue; it's all just facial expressions and body language carrying the story. In an age of animated films weighed down by heavy lore and expository dialogue, the simplicity of "Robot Dreams" is impossible not to admire.

Granted, even though it runs under 105 minutes, "Robot Dreams" occasionally strains to fill up its runtime. However, the creative highs are truly remarkable, like a subplot involving an incapacitated Robot becoming a home and friend to a family of birds. It's tremendously impressive how much of a connection forms between these characters, solely through visual storytelling. The animation team wisely leans into the charmingly streamlined designs of the source material to create mightily endearing critters. "Robot Dreams" doesn't function as a game-changer of a movie, but it does work just fine as pleasant entertainment and a testament to the visual storytelling only animated cinema can accomplish.

Beyond Utopia

Early on-screen text in "Beyond Utopia" clarifies one key element to viewers: Nothing in this documentary is a staged recreation. This is a movie filled with footage of actual North Korean citizens making a break from the country and escaping into the outside world. Such images are tremendously impactful to watch, and the restrained nature of the filmmaking used in these sequences (shaky cameras, reliance on natural lighting, and fragmented capturing of words are all present) reinforce the material's authenticity. The people behind the camera had as much control over their on-screen subjects as these defectors had over their lives in North Korea.

"Beyond Utopia," which is helmed by Madeleine Gavin, would already be a remarkable cinematic accomplishment with just these escape sequences. However, the footage it captures of former North Korean citizens existing outside of their home country is also outstanding. Particularly moving are recurring segments in which a woman tries to get updates on her son, who may or may not be grappling with his desire to leave North Korea. She's pushing a boulder up a hill, trying to get reliable info out of this country, but she has to keep trying. "Beyond Utopia" is an unflinching cinematic testament to human beings looking out for one another under the most unspeakable of circumstances. Who needs recreations when you've got that kind of material?

Fallen Leaves

Modern American movies tend to have a bit of a blind spot when it comes to depicting the plight of the working class. Even indie titles often focus on comfortably well-off souls in Los Angeles and New York City. Thankfully, foreign-language titles like "Fallen Leaves," a new feature from Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki, are here to compensate for that absence. In "Fallen Leaves," audiences follow the everyday lives of Ansa (Alma Pöysti) and Holappa (Jussi Vatanen), a pair of souls who meet by total coincidence at a karaoke bar.

From there, a romantic infatuation blossoms — even in the early days of their rapport, when Holappa doesn't know the name of the woman he fancies. With this yarn, Kaurismäki makes the ordinary aspects of existence hugely compelling, especially in his depiction of what it's like to navigate a modern working-class existence. Challenges for folks in lower economic brackets are endless, with any upward mobility often coming at a brutal cost. Thankfully, bonds between people, though sometimes daunting to carry out, make those struggles easier to bear. Movies as good as "Fallen Leaves" also render that turmoil a tad more palatable.

The Teachers' Lounge

One of the greatest things about being a film geek is that there's no shortage of incredibly talented filmmakers from around the world waiting to be discovered. Take Ilker Çatak, for example. This German auteur has been directing shorts and feature films for years, but he's only now exploded onto everyone's radar, thanks to "The Teachers' Lounge." This project concerns teacher Carla Nowak (Leonie Benesch), who tries to hold onto her principles while working at an incredibly flawed school. Once she accuses another teacher of stealing from her, chaos erupts. Nowak finds herself thrust into a newfound world of moral ambiguity. 

There's plenty to praise in "The Teachers' Lounge," but special props should be given to the young actors  tasked with portraying middle schoolers, who navigate extreme drama. Leonard Stettnisch as Oskar Kuhn, the son of the teacher accused of stealing, is especially remarkable, handling weighty material far beyond his years. He takes on a physicality that makes your skin crawl, then exudes a sense of vulnerability and sorrow in the very next scene. It's a wonderfully complicated performance that pairs well with Benesch's outstanding lead work. One of 2023's greatest cinematic achievements, "The Teachers' Lounge" is a gripping thriller that ensures nobody will be forgetting Çatak's name anytime soon.

A Still Small Voice

For both the patients and employees in a hospital, the experience can be a draining one for different but equally valid reasons. This is exemplified throughout "A Still Small Voice," a documentary chronicling a chaplain who's engaging in a residency at a hospital over the course of a year. During these 12 months, director Luke Lorentzen follows his primary subject, Margaret "Mati" Engel, as she navigates a ceaseless barrage of human beings in immense grief. How do you lend any sort of comfort or solace to these souls experiencing chaotic unspeakable tragedy, let alone a sense of spiritual closure?

There's an inevitable rawness and vulnerability to "A Still Small Voice" that proves deeply moving, especially in scenes with Engel and her fellow residency members just being open about their psychological torment. American movies about folks with spiritual dispositions tend to portray very surface-level forms of conflict or internal woe, the kind of things that could be wrapped up quickly in an after-school special. By contrast, "A Still Small Voice" doesn't shy away from capturing spiritual souls grappling with weighty issues like generational trauma, while no easy answers for how to navigate the pain of existence are provided. "A Still Small Voice," much like the hospital employees who lend an ear to patients, is here to provide a reminder that we're not alone in our struggles. Nobody navigates the draining parts of existence solo.

Dream Scenario

One of the great things about "Dream Scenario" is simply that it's a reminder of how deeply talented Nicolas Cage is as a comedic actor. Cage always commits 100% to his characters, no matter how outlandish they are, so it's no surprise that he excels in embodying the socially inept professor, Paul Matthews, who ends up at the center of "Dream Scenario." Matthews is a meek guy always stumbling over his sentences who also has a quiet vindictive streak, and Cage humorously renders him as someone who very clearly has no plan for anything, including how to deal with suddenly showing up in the dreams of everyone on the planet. He plays Matthews as someone constantly and obviously improvising, and the tiny details he incorporates into communicating that (especially little tics in the man's vocal patterns) are equal parts impressive and hysterical.

"Dream Scenario" is at its best when it leans into Cage's bracingly imperfect portrayal of a dorky middle-aged man, but even in a third act that gets too big for its own good, this lead actor still proves compelling. Plus, the filmmaking chops of director Kristoffer Borgli are similarly consistently solid, especially in how he can make the visual landscape of "Dream Scenario" go from humorous to chilling on a dime. Best of all, he clearly knows how to utilize the endless talents of Nicolas Cage for comedy, and that counts for a lot!

All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt

Writer/director Raven Jackson hits the ground running as a feature-length filmmaker with "All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt," which uses a dream-like structure and filmmaking style to communicate various experiences in the life of Mack (a woman played at various points by different performers, including Zainab Jah). Jackson demonstrates a very precise visual sensibility with the images she puts on the screen, including the striking choice to have key characters slightly out of frame in many shots. What may seem like an initially distracting visual element quietly reaffirms itself as a subdued way of communicating the imperfection of memories. We don't always remember everything we want to in our recollections of the past, nor are our memories populated with perfect blocking.

Jackson also wisely allows the individual shots of "All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt" plenty of time to breathe — this is not a motion picture that's in a big hurry. It's another way Jackson reaffirms tenets of reality through the medium of film since awkward conversations or memories about formative conversations with loved ones rarely have the tight pacing of conventional narrative cinema. These striking choices are unforgettable and make "All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt" a sublime piece of filmmaking, while its intoxicating atmosphere also captures your heart. Such impressive qualities make it clear that Raven Jackson already has an experienced filmmaker's hand in just her feature-length directorial debut.

The power dynamics within "Monster" are never stable. Just when you think you understand who is in the "right" here or who wields the most power, suddenly a new twist comes about that upends the entire way you perceive this fictional universe. Director Hirokazu Kore-eda and writer Yuji Sakamoto concoct an ingenious narrative here (revolving around a troubling incident at a school and revealed in three different segments told from vastly different perspectives) that makes it clear nobody in this tale knows anything really. Everybody is doing the best they can with just fragments of a larger truth that they may never fully comprehend. 

It's a melancholy thesis, but it's also one that rings true to life, where all of us are improvising our responses to anything and everything that crosses our path. It's also a great narrative landscape for Kore-eda to utilize his iconic style of filmmaking that just oozes so much affection for the people on-screen. Scrappy underdogs, societal outcasts, and imperfect folks trying to connect with others are this director's specialty, and that ensures "Monster" is a deeply moving work of cinema. Its narrative structure is also executed with incredible finesse while the actors assembled are all outstanding. These elements all coalesce to make a movie transfixing in its malleability, and you truly never know where "Monster" will go next.

20 Days in Mariupol

It's often staggering to comprehend the images in "20 Days in Mariupol." This Ukrainian documentary is comprised of raw footage chronicled by journalists in Mariupol as Russian started invading Ukraine. Much like the 2019 documentary "For Sama," it feels like a miracle that the footage in "20 Days in Mariupol" survived all the horrors depicted on-screen. Tanks firing indiscriminately at buildings, bodies of pregnant women being carted away to get medical help, Ukrainian citizens unable to wrap their brains around all this suffering ... it's all there in aching detail.

"20 Days of Mariupol" bears witness to those souls that Russian forces want to wipe off the map, lending an undercurrent or urgency to the haunting images captured by director Mstyslav Chernov. If his camera doesn't capture these tormented lives, who will? This filmmaker's recurring bursts of narration, as he talks about what it's like to be a Ukrainian citizen watching all this destruction happening, inject further depth into the proceedings. Chernov is not just a Western reporter covering another foreign invasion — he's a man watching his home get obliterated in real-time. "20 Days in Mariupol" functions as one of the standout documentaries of 2023 due to Chernov using his talents to chronicle the fighting soul of Mariupol in times of unspeakable misery.

Society of the Snow

Director J.A. Bayona has a specialty, and it's making emotionally gut-wrenching movies about people enduring unbelievable emotional turmoil. "The Impossible" was unflinching in depicting a family being torn apart and trying to reunite after a tsunami, while 2016's "A Monster Calls" was a classic tearjerker capturing a kid in the throes of complicated emotions stemming from his mom's imminent death. With "Society of the Snow," Bayona turns his gaze to the tragically true story of the 1972 Andes flight disaster, in which a plane carrying a Uruguayan soccer time crashed in the mountains. The surviving passengers were forced to spend months in the relentless cold and grapple with what they would do to survive the unimaginable.

Bayona's emotionally trying works won't be for everyone, but he's got a gift for portraying human anguish without coming off as exploitative. Here, Bayona emphasizes the youthfulness of many of these main characters to heighten the already tragic circumstances of these people getting marooned in an unforgiving locale. Leaning on this quality in these figures makes their underdog status all the more potent and leaves viewers aching to see them return home. When it's time for unforeseen complications to make their situation even worse (like a harrowing avalanche), Bayona executes these woes with proper levels of devastation. It's not Bayona's highest point as a filmmaker, but "Society of the Snow" still shows this director's skill with making your heart race and tear ducts moist.

Lakota Nation vs. United States

Directors Jesse Short Bull and Laura Tomaselli are telling a story about the history of America in the documentary "Lakota Nation vs. United States," but it's also a story deeply rooted in the present. This recounting of the 1876 Seizure of the Black Hills and its ripple effects into the present is used as a springboard to explore how the Lakota people engage in activism to reaffirm their humanity in the face of colonialism. The horrors of the past do not just define the wide array of Indigenous lives on-screen but how they challenge the status quo in the here and now to make a better tomorrow. "I truly believe the best days of the Lakota are still to come," says one interview subject in the film's final moments.

Needless to say, focusing on this material combined with such compelling on-camera figures and sharp filmmaking sensibilities makes "Lakota Nation vs. United States" a movie you can't turn away from. Among its many fantastic qualities is the ingenious use of archival footage that demeans and/or erases Indigenous perspectives, which ranges from vintage educational cartoons to snippets of Steven Spielberg's 2012 motion picture "Lincoln." The wide range of footage utilized, particularly in terms of the eras in which they originated, exemplifies how wide-ranging the dehumanization of Indigenous communities is in American media.

The Disappearance of Shere Hite

Author Shere Hite proposed one big idea in her texts — the way men and women navigate sex isn't beneficial to anyone. Her point of view, which emphasized and tried to normalize talking about the sexual pleasure of women, caused tons of controversy, particularly from men who were appalled at her words that challenged the status quo. "The Disappearance of Shere Hite" is a documentary from director Nicole Newnham that charts the career of Hite, how she was eventually forced into exile outside of the United States, and everything in between during her life. A lady who isn't quite a household name in the modern world gets to be the central focus of this particular motion picture.

What's especially lovely about "The Disappearance of Shere Hite" is when it emphasizes footage or anecdotes about Hite as just a person. Wistful stories about parties at her apartment or photos taken later in her life in France give viewers an intimate gaze into the psychology of a woman who was often demonized and talked over in the public discourse. Plus, Newnham subtly reflects the reality that the way Hite is turned into a social pariah simply for challenging gender-related norms is a phenomenon that's been repeated throughout history. Even if Shere Hite "vanished", the ways her voice was silenced and — more happily — her insightful words keep reverberating into the present. 

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100 UNDERRATED MOVIES : That Should be in IMDB TOP 250 TO Replace OLD Boring Movies That Were Supercided by New Generation Films

These movies should entered the Top 250 and replace movies that was so overrated like Metropolis, Some Like it Hot, Kings Speech, Cool Hand Luke , Wild Strawberries,ETC,, not because they are there already co-existed with the film industry means they great as they are. Safety reminder folks... nothing against to anyone; these were just all only in MY OWN opinion... so stop *beep* around.. :D

  • Movies or TV
  • IMDb Rating
  • In Theaters
  • Release Year

1. Taken (I) (2008)

PG-13 | 90 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

A retired CIA agent travels across Europe and relies on his old skills to save his estranged daughter, who has been kidnapped while on a trip to Paris.

Director: Pierre Morel | Stars: Liam Neeson , Maggie Grace , Famke Janssen , Leland Orser

Votes: 630,717 | Gross: $145.00M

Completely Underrated Film "Probably the fastest 93 minutes of my life !" A very cool fast paced action triumphant!

2. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

PG-13 | 120 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

A young Chinese warrior steals a sword from a famed swordsman and then escapes into a world of romantic adventure with a mysterious man in the frontier of the nation.

Director: Ang Lee | Stars: Chow Yun-Fat , Michelle Yeoh , Ziyi Zhang , Chang Chen

Votes: 280,570 | Gross: $128.08M

A wondrous mythology, a cinematic masterpiece., It could possibly won the Best Picture although I think both Gladiator and this movie were deserving.

3. Blood Diamond (2006)

R | 143 min | Adventure, Drama, Thriller

A fisherman, a smuggler, and a syndicate of businessmen match wits over the possession of a priceless diamond.

Director: Edward Zwick | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio , Djimon Hounsou , Jennifer Connelly , Kagiso Kuypers

Votes: 582,020 | Gross: $57.37M

A Hollywood movie tells an African story full of death and violence and presents it with impressive truth. Truly Captivating!

4. The Notebook (2004)

PG-13 | 123 min | Drama, Romance

An elderly man reads to a woman with dementia the story of two young lovers whose romance is threatened by the difference in their respective social classes.

Director: Nick Cassavetes | Stars: Gena Rowlands , James Garner , Rachel McAdams , Ryan Gosling

Votes: 614,192 | Gross: $81.00M

An Heartwarming movie that makes your insides go mushy with emotions!!! Best Love Story of the Century!

5. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

R | 101 min | Comedy, Drama

A family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW bus.

Directors: Jonathan Dayton , Valerie Faris | Stars: Steve Carell , Toni Collette , Greg Kinnear , Abigail Breslin

Votes: 514,333 | Gross: $59.89M

Simply perfect as they say! More than a fresh ray of sunshine!

6. Hero (2002)

A defense officer, Nameless, was summoned by the King of Qin regarding his success of terminating three warriors.

Director: Yimou Zhang | Stars: Jet Li , Tony Leung Chiu-wai , Maggie Cheung , Ziyi Zhang

Votes: 187,047 | Gross: $53.71M

This was a very Excellent and terrific movie but most audiences are missing the main points of the movie that was it was underrated

7. Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)

R | 141 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

The story of the battle of Iwo Jima between the United States and Imperial Japan during World War II, as told from the perspective of the Japanese who fought it.

Director: Clint Eastwood | Stars: Ken Watanabe , Kazunari Ninomiya , Tsuyoshi Ihara , Ryô Kase

Votes: 169,380 | Gross: $13.76M

One of the Greatest War Films Ever Made unlike 'Flags', this time Clint Eastwood's war epic has more cohesion in its complexities, and a stronger punch with its theme

8. Catch Me If You Can (2002)

PG-13 | 141 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

Barely 17 yet, Frank is a skilled forger who has passed as a doctor, lawyer and pilot. FBI agent Carl becomes obsessed with tracking down the con man, who only revels in the pursuit.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio , Tom Hanks , Christopher Walken , Martin Sheen

Votes: 1,082,330 | Gross: $164.62M

Top-notch, brilliantly crafted entertainment, rich with fascinating details, memorable incidents and engaging performances

9. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

PG-13 | 117 min | Biography, Drama

A struggling salesman takes custody of his son as he's poised to begin a life-changing professional career

Director: Gabriele Muccino | Stars: Will Smith , Thandiwe Newton , Jaden Smith , Brian Howe

Votes: 555,664 | Gross: $163.57M

Very Meaningful and Uplifting and very Inspiring story! Entertainment galore, plus inspiration for families, for entrepreneurs and for social action Best Drama I've watched recently

10. Almost Famous (2000)

R | 122 min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama

A high-school boy in the early 1970s is given the chance to write a story for Rolling Stone magazine about an up-and-coming rock band as he accompanies them on their concert tour.

Director: Cameron Crowe | Stars: Billy Crudup , Patrick Fugit , Kate Hudson , Frances McDormand

Votes: 291,698 | Gross: $32.53M

Heart-wrenching, honest, clever; everything we like in a film

11. Elite Squad (2007)

R | 115 min | Action, Crime, Drama

In 1997 Rio de Janeiro, Captain Nascimento has to find a substitute for his position while trying to take down drug dealers and criminals before the Pope visits.

Director: José Padilha | Stars: Wagner Moura , André Ramiro , Caio Junqueira , Milhem Cortaz

Votes: 109,461 | Gross: $0.01M

Terrific Thriller! Outstanding Dialogues..

12. Mulholland Drive (2001)

R | 147 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

After a car wreck on the winding Mulholland Drive renders a woman amnesiac, she and a perky Hollywood-hopeful search for clues and answers across Los Angeles in a twisting venture beyond dreams and reality.

Director: David Lynch | Stars: Naomi Watts , Laura Harring , Justin Theroux , Jeanne Bates

Votes: 380,939 | Gross: $7.22M

Possibly Lynch's best; brilliant, enigmatic, and masterfully filmed

13. Kick-Ass (2010)

R | 117 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

Dave Lizewski is an unnoticed high school student and comic book fan who one day decides to become a superhero, even though he has no powers, training or meaningful reason to do so.

Director: Matthew Vaughn | Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson , Nicolas Cage , Chloë Grace Moretz , Garrett M. Brown

Votes: 589,961 | Gross: $48.07M

Kick-Ass is something over-exhilarating and over-satisfying!

14. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

R | 99 min | Comedy, Horror

The uneventful, aimless lives of a London electronics salesman and his layabout roommate are disrupted by the zombie apocalypse.

Director: Edgar Wright | Stars: Simon Pegg , Nick Frost , Kate Ashfield , Lucy Davis

Votes: 589,957 | Gross: $13.54M

Bloody Brilliant! Literally!,

15. 500 Days of Summer (2009)

PG-13 | 95 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

After being dumped by the girl he believes to be his soulmate, hopeless romantic Tom Hansen reflects on their relationship to try and figure out where things went wrong and how he can win her back.

Director: Marc Webb | Stars: Zooey Deschanel , Joseph Gordon-Levitt , Geoffrey Arend , Chloë Grace Moretz

Votes: 552,715 | Gross: $32.39M

"500 Days of Summer" is a delightfully engaging and poignant tale of love Fresh & Original Romantic Comedy

16. Hot Fuzz (2007)

R | 121 min | Action, Comedy, Mystery

A skilled London police officer, after irritating superiors with his embarrassing effectiveness, is transferred to a village where the easygoing officers object to his fervor for regulations, as a string of grisly murders strikes the town.

Director: Edgar Wright | Stars: Simon Pegg , Nick Frost , Martin Freeman , Bill Nighy

Votes: 532,283 | Gross: $23.64M

One of the Most Brilliant Comedies You'll Ever Seen

17. The Hangover (2009)

R | 100 min | Comedy

Three buddies wake up from a bachelor party in Las Vegas, with no memory of the previous night and the bachelor missing. They make their way around the city in order to find their friend before his wedding.

Director: Todd Phillips | Stars: Zach Galifianakis , Bradley Cooper , Justin Bartha , Ed Helms

Votes: 838,619 | Gross: $277.32M

Genuinely funnier than any comedy in recent memory Succeeds Where Old School Fails

18. A Moment to Remember (2004)

PG-13 | 117 min | Drama, Romance

A young couple's enduring love is tested when 27-year-old Su-jin is diagnosed with a rare form of Alzheimer's disease.

Directors: Park Kyung-Jin , John H. Lee , Kim Tae-Won | Stars: Jung Woo-sung , Son Ye-jin , Jong-hak Baek , Lee Seon-jin

Votes: 25,400

Total tearjerker... and I still fell for it... Life, death, happiness, grief, come together in a magnificent production.

19. True Grit (2010)

PG-13 | 110 min | Drama, Western

A stubborn teenager enlists the help of a tough U.S. Marshal to track down her father's murderer.

Directors: Ethan Coen , Joel Coen | Stars: Jeff Bridges , Matt Damon , Hailee Steinfeld , Josh Brolin

Votes: 355,735 | Gross: $171.24M

One of the most crowd-pleasing films I think the Coens have ever made, accessible, simple, mythic and finally beautiful! Good ol' fashioned storytelling!

20. Shrek (2001)

PG | 90 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

A mean lord exiles fairytale creatures to the swamp of a grumpy ogre, who must go on a quest and rescue a princess for the lord in order to get his land back.

Directors: Andrew Adamson , Vicky Jenson | Stars: Mike Myers , Eddie Murphy , Cameron Diaz , John Lithgow

Votes: 727,582 | Gross: $267.67M

State-of-the-art computer animation used to tell a cracking little story The greatest fairy tale never told!

21. Iron Man (2008)

PG-13 | 126 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

After being held captive in an Afghan cave, billionaire engineer Tony Stark creates a unique weaponized suit of armor to fight evil.

Director: Jon Favreau | Stars: Robert Downey Jr. , Gwyneth Paltrow , Terrence Howard , Jeff Bridges

Votes: 1,116,759 | Gross: $318.41M

Delivers Intelligence & Great Acting with its Fun Film That Lives Up To Its Hype And The Expectations Of Comic Readers!

22. Lost in Translation (2003)

R | 102 min | Comedy, Drama

A faded movie star and a neglected young woman form an unlikely bond after crossing paths in Tokyo.

Director: Sofia Coppola | Stars: Bill Murray , Scarlett Johansson , Giovanni Ribisi , Anna Faris

Votes: 484,603 | Gross: $44.59M

A great film, but the rating was lost in translation Sometimes the simplest stories make the best films,

23. Casino Royale (2006)

PG-13 | 144 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller

After earning 00 status and a licence to kill, secret agent James Bond sets out on his first mission as 007. Bond must defeat a private banker funding terrorists in a high-stakes game of poker at Casino Royale, Montenegro.

Director: Martin Campbell | Stars: Daniel Craig , Eva Green , Judi Dench , Jeffrey Wright

Votes: 690,598 | Gross: $167.45M

the best Bond movies in years or should I say the best of them all! bond isn't just back, he's at the top of his game!

24. Once (I) (2007)

R | 86 min | Drama, Music, Romance

A modern-day musical about a busker and an immigrant and their eventful week in Dublin, as they write, rehearse and record songs that tell their love story.

Director: John Carney | Stars: Glen Hansard , Markéta Irglová , Hugh Walsh , Gerard Hendrick

Votes: 120,874 | Gross: $9.44M

A touching and honest film. The best Irish film ever. The way a musical should be, contemporary and cheese-less

25. American Gangster (2007)

R | 157 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

An outcast New York City cop is charged with bringing down Harlem drug lord Frank Lucas, whose real life inspired this partly biographical film.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Denzel Washington , Russell Crowe , Chiwetel Ejiofor , Josh Brolin

Votes: 449,848 | Gross: $130.16M

Excellent story, flawless performances! Another epic from Ridley Scott

26. Jurassic Park (1993)

PG-13 | 127 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

A pragmatic paleontologist touring an almost complete theme park on an island in Central America is tasked with protecting a couple of kids after a power failure causes the park's cloned dinosaurs to run loose.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Sam Neill , Laura Dern , Jeff Goldblum , Richard Attenborough

Votes: 1,057,780 | Gross: $402.45M

A Groundbreaking, Heart Stomping, Dino Sized film. The best dinosaur movie there is; one of the best movies in general!

27. X-Men: First Class (2011)

PG-13 | 131 min | Action, Sci-Fi

In the 1960s, superpowered humans Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr work together to find others like them, but Erik's vengeful pursuit of an ambitious mutant who ruined his life causes a schism to divide them.

Director: Matthew Vaughn | Stars: James McAvoy , Michael Fassbender , Jennifer Lawrence , Kevin Bacon

Votes: 719,790 | Gross: $146.41M

A prequel that does not, in any way, suck. Amazing, isn't it? Superb! Rock-solid script, two amazing lead performances (the film is basically a bromance).

28. Atonement (2007)

R | 123 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

Thirteen-year-old fledgling writer Briony Tallis irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister's lover of a crime he did not commit.

Director: Joe Wright | Stars: Keira Knightley , James McAvoy , Brenda Blethyn , Saoirse Ronan

Votes: 297,754 | Gross: $50.93M

Great interpretation of a wonderful novel! Stunning, absolutely stunning!

29. 127 Hours (2010)

R | 94 min | Biography, Drama

A mountain climber becomes trapped under a boulder while canyoneering alone near Moab, Utah and resorts to desperate measures in order to survive.

Director: Danny Boyle | Stars: James Franco , Amber Tamblyn , Kate Mara , Sean Bott

Votes: 398,635 | Gross: $18.34M

A completely cathartic life-or-death experience; very triumphant film!

30. Apocalypto (2006)

R | 139 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

As the Mayan kingdom faces its decline, a young man is taken on a perilous journey to a world ruled by fear and oppression.

Director: Mel Gibson | Stars: Gerardo Taracena , Raoul Max Trujillo , Dalia Hernández , Rudy Youngblood

Votes: 329,041 | Gross: $50.87M

A Brilliant Message About Civilization! Jaguar Paw's Great Adventure, The Artist As A Tough/Rough Man!

31. The Fugitive (1993)

PG-13 | 130 min | Action, Crime, Drama

Dr. Richard Kimble, unjustly accused of murdering his wife, must find the real killer while being the target of a nationwide manhunt led by a seasoned U.S. Marshal.

Director: Andrew Davis | Stars: Harrison Ford , Tommy Lee Jones , Sela Ward , Julianne Moore

Votes: 315,986 | Gross: $183.88M

Pure action and Tommy Lee Jones make this an unforgettable masterpiece! Fabulous Action-Thriller That Endures!

32. Donnie Brasco (1997)

R | 127 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

An FBI undercover agent infiltrates the mob and finds himself identifying more with the Mafia life--at the expense of his regular one.

Director: Mike Newell | Stars: Al Pacino , Johnny Depp , Michael Madsen , Bruno Kirby

Votes: 329,968 | Gross: $41.91M

A very good gangster film with strong emotional under currents. Depp and Pacino in terrific movie! Superb mafia drama. Deeper, and rings truer than most.

33. The Bourne Identity (2002)

PG-13 | 119 min | Action, Mystery, Thriller

A man is picked up by a fishing boat, bullet-riddled and suffering from amnesia, before racing to elude assassins and attempting to regain his memory.

Director: Doug Liman | Stars: Franka Potente , Matt Damon , Chris Cooper , Clive Owen

Votes: 572,992 | Gross: $121.66M

An Excellent Non-Stop Action Movie! First-class spy thriller but nothing to do with the books !

34. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007)

Not Rated | 113 min | Drama

A woman assists her friend in arranging an illegal abortion in 1980s Romania.

Director: Cristian Mungiu | Stars: Anamaria Marinca , Laura Vasiliu , Vlad Ivanov , Alexandru Potocean

Votes: 63,058 | Gross: $1.19M

Brutal but brilliant film-making. As uncompromising as any film I have seen in recent memory Probably best Romanian movie!

35. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

PG-13 | 105 min | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi

A substance designed to help the brain repair itself gives advanced intelligence to a chimpanzee who leads an ape uprising.

Director: Rupert Wyatt | Stars: James Franco , Andy Serkis , Freida Pinto , Karin Konoval

Votes: 554,504 | Gross: $176.76M

The most emotional Planet of the Apes film! These apes rise not only in style, but also in substance!

36. 13 Assassins (2010)

A group of assassins come together for a suicide mission to kill an evil lord.

Director: Takashi Miike | Stars: Koji Yakusho , Takayuki Yamada , Yûsuke Iseya , Ikki Sawamura

Votes: 68,257 | Gross: $0.80M

Mainstream Film-Making at its Very Best! Another brilliant genre masterpiece from Takashi Miike,

37. A Very Long Engagement (2004)

R | 133 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

Tells the story of a young woman's relentless search for her fiancé, who has disappeared from the trenches of the Somme during World War One.

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet | Stars: Audrey Tautou , Gaspard Ulliel , Jodie Foster , Dominique Pinon

Votes: 75,769 | Gross: $6.17M

Jaw Droppingly Wonderful! Never say never love story!

38. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

R | 103 min | Comedy, Crime, Mystery

After being mistaken for an actor, a New York thief is sent to Hollywood to train under a private eye for a potential movie role, but the duo are thrown together with a struggling actress into a murder mystery.

Director: Shane Black | Stars: Robert Downey Jr. , Val Kilmer , Michelle Monaghan , Corbin Bernsen

Votes: 236,403 | Gross: $4.24M

Great movie with tons of funny scenes. I was rolling in my seat with laughter! Shrewdly written, expertly delivered comic film-noir

39. Eastern Promises (2007)

R | 100 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

A teenager who dies during childbirth leaves clues in her journal that could tie her child to a rape involving a violent Russian mob family.

Director: David Cronenberg | Stars: Naomi Watts , Viggo Mortensen , Armin Mueller-Stahl , Josef Altin

Votes: 259,272 | Gross: $17.11M

Cronenberg and Mortensen deliver in one unmissably solid thriller! deep in rich characterizations, unpretentious in style, perfect performances, one of the 2007 best!

40. Before Sunset (2004)

R | 80 min | Drama, Romance

Nine years after Jesse and Celine first met, they encounter each other again on the French leg of Jesse's book tour.

Director: Richard Linklater | Stars: Ethan Hawke , Julie Delpy , Vernon Dobtcheff , Louise Lemoine Torrès

Votes: 285,559 | Gross: $5.82M

Wow! Satisfying at so many levels! Linklater, Delpy & Hawke make an impossible sequel work

41. Midnight in Paris (2011)

PG-13 | 94 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

While on a trip to Paris with his fiancée's family, a nostalgic screenwriter finds himself mysteriously going back to the 1920s every day at midnight.

Director: Woody Allen | Stars: Owen Wilson , Rachel McAdams , Kathy Bates , Kurt Fuller

Votes: 447,589 | Gross: $56.82M

A Magical Mystery Tour De Force! Woody Allen is back and made his dream as magical as ever!

42. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)

R | 122 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A small-time rancher agrees to hold a captured outlaw who's awaiting a train to go to court in Yuma. A battle of wills ensues as the outlaw tries to psych out the rancher.

Director: James Mangold | Stars: Russell Crowe , Christian Bale , Ben Foster , Logan Lerman

Votes: 329,473 | Gross: $53.61M

An old fashioned modern western! No western, with courageous sacrifice, can be stunning by accident!

43. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

PG-13 | 166 min | Drama, Fantasy, Romance

Tells the story of Benjamin Button, a man who starts aging backwards with consequences.

Director: David Fincher | Stars: Brad Pitt , Cate Blanchett , Tilda Swinton , Julia Ormond

Votes: 691,272 | Gross: $127.51M

An Astonishing Rarity! Fincher's Magical Masterpiece!

44. Adaptation. (2002)

R | 115 min | Comedy, Drama

A lovelorn screenwriter becomes desperate as he tries and fails to adapt 'The Orchid Thief' by Susan Orlean for the screen.

Director: Spike Jonze | Stars: Nicolas Cage , Meryl Streep , Chris Cooper , Tilda Swinton

Votes: 201,933 | Gross: $22.25M

A Guide on "How To Write A Screenplay" and "How to Live Life"… Plot Construction as Protagonist--but what a fascinating construct. Pure brain food.

45. 21 Grams (2003)

R | 124 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

A freak accident brings together a critically ill mathematician, a grieving mother, and a born-again ex-con.

Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu | Stars: Sean Penn , Benicio Del Toro , Naomi Watts , Danny Huston

Votes: 245,010 | Gross: $16.29M

Extremely good, extremely powerful A Small Taste of Tragedy and Beauty

46. Gone Baby Gone (2007)

R | 114 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

Two Boston area detectives investigate a little girl's kidnapping, which ultimately turns into a crisis both professionally and personally.

Director: Ben Affleck | Stars: Morgan Freeman , Ed Harris , Casey Affleck , Michelle Monaghan

Votes: 290,689 | Gross: $20.30M

I was surprised at this movie being so good! Ben hit a commercial and social home run!

47. Road to Perdition (2002)

R | 117 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

A mob enforcer's son in 1930s Illinois witnesses a murder, forcing him and his father to take to the road, and his father down a path of redemption and revenge.

Director: Sam Mendes | Stars: Tom Hanks , Tyler Hoechlin , Paul Newman

Votes: 282,975 | Gross: $104.45M

A true masterpiece delivered by Mendez. A subtle masterwork of a great forthcoming director!

48. Sideways (2004)

R | 127 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Two men reaching middle age with not much to show but disappointment embark on a week-long road trip through California's wine country, just as one is about to take a trip down the aisle.

Director: Alexander Payne | Stars: Paul Giamatti , Thomas Haden Church , Virginia Madsen , Sandra Oh

Votes: 202,782 | Gross: $71.50M

Strong Acting, Character Development and Dialogue A Buddy Film that Lingers Like Fine Wine

49. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

PG-13 | 107 min | Adventure, Comedy, Crime

In the deep south during the 1930s, three escaped convicts search for hidden treasure while a relentless lawman pursues them.

Directors: Joel Coen , Ethan Coen | Stars: George Clooney , John Turturro , Tim Blake Nelson , John Goodman

Votes: 328,823 | Gross: $45.51M

A great sound, a great look, and a great story! Hillbilly hi-jinks. Bluegrass music. Laugh out loud funny

50. 300 (2006)

R | 117 min | Action, Drama

In the ancient battle of Thermopylae, King Leonidas and 300 Spartans fight against Xerxes and his massive Persian army. They face insurmountable odds when they are betrayed by a Spartan reject.

Director: Zack Snyder | Stars: Gerard Butler , Lena Headey , David Wenham , Dominic West

Votes: 859,330 | Gross: $210.61M

The Evolution of Epic Battles! Forget the Naysayers, 300 Delivers!

51. United 93 (2006)

R | 111 min | Action, Drama, History

A real-time account of the events on United Flight 93, one of the planes hijacked on September 11th, 2001 that crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania when passengers foiled the terrorist plot.

Director: Paul Greengrass | Stars: David Alan Basche , Olivia Thirlby , Liza Colón-Zayas , J.J. Johnson

Votes: 110,581 | Gross: $31.57M

Understated but powerful! Devastating, Relentless and Ultimately Cathartic…Essential Viewing. Period

52. Juno (2007)

PG-13 | 96 min | Comedy, Drama

Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, an offbeat young woman makes a selfless decision regarding the unborn child.

Director: Jason Reitman | Stars: Elliot Page , Michael Cera , Jennifer Garner , Jason Bateman

Votes: 546,519 | Gross: $143.50M

A Great Beginning to the Rest of Your Life! Simply Beautiful!

53. The Town (2010)

R | 125 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

A proficient group of thieves rob a bank and hold Claire, the assistant manager, hostage. Things begin to get complicated when one of the crew members falls in love with Claire.

Director: Ben Affleck | Stars: Ben Affleck , Rebecca Hall , Jon Hamm , Jeremy Renner

Votes: 413,076 | Gross: $92.19M

Spectacular...and underrated film by Ben Affleck! A new breed of heist drama thriller!

54. Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)

PG-13 | 118 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

A middle-aged husband's life changes dramatically when his wife asks him for a divorce. He seeks to rediscover his manhood with the help of a newfound friend, Jacob, learning to pick up girls at bars.

Directors: Glenn Ficarra , John Requa | Stars: Steve Carell , Ryan Gosling , Julianne Moore , Emma Stone

Votes: 559,407 | Gross: $84.35M

I enjoyed everything about this movie.! Bittersweet, emotionally uplifting and distinctly hilarious!

55. The Butterfly Effect (2004)

R | 113 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Evan Treborn suffers blackouts during significant events of his life. As he grows up, he finds a way to remember these lost memories and a supernatural way to alter his life by reading his journal.

Directors: Eric Bress , J. Mackye Gruber | Stars: Ashton Kutcher , Amy Smart , Melora Walters , Elden Henson

Votes: 518,106 | Gross: $57.94M

A Real Tripped Out Roller Coaster! Haunting, Tragic, but ultimately Brilliant!

56. Tangled (2010)

PG | 100 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

The magically long-haired Rapunzel has spent her entire life in a tower, but now that a runaway thief has stumbled upon her, she is about to discover the world for the first time, and who she really is.

Directors: Nathan Greno , Byron Howard | Stars: Mandy Moore , Zachary Levi , Donna Murphy , Ron Perlman

Votes: 489,601 | Gross: $200.82M

My Favorite Disney Fairytale Movie! Excellent family entertainment!

57. Zombieland (2009)

R | 88 min | Action, Comedy, Horror

A shy student trying to reach his family in Ohio, a gun-toting bruiser in search of the last Twinkie and a pair of sisters striving to get to an amusement park join forces in a trek across a zombie-filled America.

Director: Ruben Fleischer | Stars: Jesse Eisenberg , Emma Stone , Woody Harrelson , Abigail Breslin

Votes: 616,505 | Gross: $75.59M

Will undoubtedly become a cult classic! Brilliantly crafted with laughs from beginning to end!

58. Kung Fu Panda (2008)

PG | 92 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

To everyone's surprise, including his own, Po, an overweight, clumsy panda, is chosen as protector of the Valley of Peace. His suitability will soon be tested as the valley's arch-enemy is on his way.

Directors: Mark Osborne , John Stevenson | Stars: Jack Black , Ian McShane , Angelina Jolie , Dustin Hoffman

Votes: 512,675 | Gross: $215.43M

Cute animated comedy that inspires lessons in life! Kick ass movie, almost note perfect!

59. Traffic (2000)

R | 147 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

A conservative judge is appointed by the President to spearhead America's escalating war against drugs, only to discover that his teenage daughter is a crack addict. Two DEA agents protect an informant. A jailed drug baron's wife attempts to carry on the family business.

Director: Steven Soderbergh | Stars: Michael Douglas , Benicio Del Toro , Catherine Zeta-Jones , Jacob Vargas

Votes: 218,730 | Gross: $124.12M

60. Black Hawk Down (2001)

R | 144 min | Action, Drama, History

The story of 160 elite U.S. soldiers who dropped into Mogadishu in October 1993 to capture two top lieutenants of a renegade warlord, but found themselves in a desperate battle with a large force of heavily armed Somalis.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Josh Hartnett , Ewan McGregor , Tom Sizemore , Eric Bana

Votes: 420,853 | Gross: $108.64M

61. Equilibrium (2002)

R | 107 min | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi

In an oppressive future where all forms of feeling are illegal, a man in charge of enforcing the law rises to overthrow the system and state.

Director: Kurt Wimmer | Stars: Christian Bale , Sean Bean , Emily Watson , Taye Diggs

Votes: 345,397 | Gross: $1.20M

62. Minority Report (2002)

PG-13 | 145 min | Action, Crime, Mystery

John works with the PreCrime police which stop crimes before they take place, with the help of three 'PreCogs' who can foresee crimes. Events ensue when John finds himself framed for a future murder.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Tom Cruise , Colin Farrell , Samantha Morton , Max von Sydow

Votes: 580,766 | Gross: $132.07M

63. X2 (2003)

PG-13 | 134 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

When anti-mutant Colonel William Stryker kidnaps Professor X and attacks his school, the X-Men must ally with their archenemy Magneto to stop him.

Director: Bryan Singer | Stars: Patrick Stewart , Hugh Jackman , Halle Berry , Ian McKellen

Votes: 572,845 | Gross: $214.95M

64. Collateral (2004)

R | 120 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A cab driver finds himself the hostage of an engaging contract killer as he makes his rounds from hit to hit during one night in Los Angeles.

Director: Michael Mann | Stars: Tom Cruise , Jamie Foxx , Jada Pinkett Smith , Mark Ruffalo

Votes: 430,376 | Gross: $101.01M

65. Munich (2005)

R | 164 min | Action, Drama, History

After the Black September capture and massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics, five men are chosen to eliminate the people responsible for that fateful day.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Eric Bana , Daniel Craig , Marie-Josée Croze , Ciarán Hinds

Votes: 237,289 | Gross: $47.40M

66. The Hurt Locker (2008)

R | 131 min | Drama, Thriller, War

During the Iraq War, a Sergeant recently assigned to an army bomb squad is put at odds with his squad mates due to his maverick way of handling his work.

Director: Kathryn Bigelow | Stars: Jeremy Renner , Anthony Mackie , Brian Geraghty , Guy Pearce

Votes: 471,451 | Gross: $17.02M

67. Watchmen (2009)

R | 162 min | Action, Drama, Mystery

In a version of 1985 where superheroes exist, the murder of a colleague sends active vigilante Rorschach on the trail of a conspiracy that will change the course of history.

Director: Zack Snyder | Stars: Jackie Earle Haley , Patrick Wilson , Carla Gugino , Malin Akerman

Votes: 578,972 | Gross: $107.51M

68. 28 Days Later (2002)

R | 113 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.

Director: Danny Boyle | Stars: Cillian Murphy , Naomie Harris , Christopher Eccleston , Alex Palmer

Votes: 441,330 | Gross: $45.06M

69. The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi (2003)

R | 116 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

The blind masseur/swordsman comes to a town in control of warring gangs, and while bunking with a farming family, he meets two women with their own agenda.

Director: Takeshi Kitano | Stars: Takeshi Kitano , Tadanobu Asano , Yui Natsukawa , Michiyo Yasuda

Votes: 51,317 | Gross: $0.85M

70. A History of Violence (2005)

R | 96 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A mild-mannered man becomes a local hero through an act of violence, which sets off repercussions that will shake his family to its very core.

Director: David Cronenberg | Stars: Viggo Mortensen , Maria Bello , Ed Harris , William Hurt

Votes: 251,347 | Gross: $31.49M

71. Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Peter Parker is beset with troubles in his failing personal life as he battles a former brilliant scientist named Otto Octavius.

Director: Sam Raimi | Stars: Tobey Maguire , Kirsten Dunst , Alfred Molina , James Franco

Votes: 701,580 | Gross: $373.59M

72. The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

PG-13 | 108 min | Action, Mystery, Thriller

When Jason Bourne is framed for a CIA operation gone awry, he is forced to resume his former life as a trained assassin to survive.

Director: Paul Greengrass | Stars: Matt Damon , Franka Potente , Joan Allen , Brian Cox

Votes: 484,477 | Gross: $176.24M

73. The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)

PG-13 | 131 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

A young man, falsely imprisoned by his jealous "friend", escapes and uses a hidden treasure to exact his revenge.

Director: Kevin Reynolds | Stars: Jim Caviezel , Guy Pearce , Christopher Adamson , JB Blanc

Votes: 147,544 | Gross: $54.23M

74. Cast Away (2000)

PG-13 | 143 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance

A FedEx executive undergoes a physical and emotional transformation after crash landing on a deserted island.

Director: Robert Zemeckis | Stars: Tom Hanks , Helen Hunt , Paul Sanchez , Lari White

Votes: 633,739 | Gross: $233.63M

75. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)

PG-13 | 138 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

During the Napoleonic Wars, a brash British captain pushes his ship and crew to their limits in pursuit of a formidable French war vessel around South America.

Director: Peter Weir | Stars: Russell Crowe , Paul Bettany , Billy Boyd , James D'Arcy

Votes: 236,305 | Gross: $93.93M

76. King Kong (2005)

PG-13 | 187 min | Action, Adventure, Romance

A greedy film producer assembles a team of moviemakers and sets out for the infamous Skull Island, where they find more than just cannibalistic natives.

Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Naomi Watts , Jack Black , Adrien Brody , Thomas Kretschmann

Votes: 444,022 | Gross: $218.08M

77. Sherlock Holmes (2009)

PG-13 | 128 min | Action, Adventure, Mystery

Detective Sherlock Holmes and his stalwart partner Watson engage in a battle of wits and brawn with a nemesis whose plot is a threat to all of England.

Director: Guy Ritchie | Stars: Robert Downey Jr. , Jude Law , Rachel McAdams , Mark Strong

Votes: 666,493 | Gross: $209.03M

78. The Fifth Element (1997)

In the colorful future, a cab driver unwittingly becomes the central figure in the search for a legendary cosmic weapon to keep Evil and Mr. Zorg at bay.

Director: Luc Besson | Stars: Bruce Willis , Milla Jovovich , Gary Oldman , Ian Holm

Votes: 502,031 | Gross: $63.54M

79. Despicable Me (2010)

PG | 95 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Gru, a criminal mastermind, adopts three orphans as pawns to carry out the biggest heist in history. His life takes an unexpected turn when the little girls see the evildoer as their potential father.

Directors: Pierre Coffin , Chris Renaud | Stars: Steve Carell , Jason Segel , Russell Brand , Julie Andrews

Votes: 579,916 | Gross: $251.51M

80. Gangs of New York (2002)

R | 167 min | Crime, Drama

In 1862, Amsterdam Vallon returns to the Five Points area of New York City seeking revenge against Bill the Butcher, his father's killer.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio , Cameron Diaz , Daniel Day-Lewis , Jim Broadbent

Votes: 470,022 | Gross: $77.81M

81. The Bucket List (2007)

PG-13 | 97 min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama

Two terminally ill men escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die.

Director: Rob Reiner | Stars: Jack Nicholson , Morgan Freeman , Sean Hayes , Beverly Todd

Votes: 258,499 | Gross: $93.47M

82. The Good the Bad the Weird (2008)

R | 130 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

The story of two outlaws and a bounty hunter in 1940s Manchuria and their rivalry to possess a treasure map while being pursued by the Japanese army and Chinese bandits.

Director: Jee-woon Kim | Stars: Song Kang-ho , Lee Byung-hun , Jung Woo-sung , Yun Je-mun

Votes: 37,754 | Gross: $0.13M

83. The Bank Job (2008)

R | 111 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

Martine offers Terry a lead on a foolproof bank hit on London's Baker Street. She targets a roomful of safe deposit boxes worth millions in cash and jewelry along with a treasure trove of dirty secrets.

Director: Roger Donaldson | Stars: Jason Statham , Saffron Burrows , Stephen Campbell Moore , Daniel Mays

Votes: 188,510 | Gross: $30.06M

84. Fast Five (2011)

PG-13 | 130 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

Dominic Toretto and his crew of street racers plan a massive heist to buy their freedom while in the sights of a powerful Brazilian drug lord and a dangerous federal agent.

Director: Justin Lin | Stars: Vin Diesel , Paul Walker , Dwayne Johnson , Jordana Brewster

Votes: 404,888 | Gross: $209.84M

85. The Next Three Days (2010)

PG-13 | 133 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A married couple's life is turned upside down when the wife is accused of a murder.

Director: Paul Haggis | Stars: Russell Crowe , Elizabeth Banks , Liam Neeson , Michael Buie

Votes: 205,588 | Gross: $21.15M

86. Limitless (I) (2011)

PG-13 | 105 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

A mysterious pill that enables the user to access 100% of his brain's abilities transforms a struggling writer into a financial wizard, but it also puts him in a new world with many dangers.

Director: Neil Burger | Stars: Bradley Cooper , Anna Friel , Abbie Cornish , Robert De Niro

Votes: 608,650 | Gross: $79.25M

87. Face/Off (1997)

R | 138 min | Action, Crime, Sci-Fi

To foil a terrorist plot, FBI agent Sean Archer assumes the identity of the criminal Castor Troy who murdered his son through facial transplant surgery, but the crook wakes up prematurely and vows revenge.

Director: John Woo | Stars: John Travolta , Nicolas Cage , Joan Allen , Alessandro Nivola

Votes: 398,428 | Gross: $112.23M

88. The Rock (1996)

R | 136 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller

A mild-mannered chemist and an ex-con must lead the counterstrike when a rogue group of military men, led by a renegade general, threaten a nerve gas attack from Alcatraz against San Francisco.

Director: Michael Bay | Stars: Sean Connery , Nicolas Cage , Ed Harris , John Spencer

Votes: 356,011 | Gross: $134.07M

89. The Terminal (2004)

PG-13 | 128 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

An Eastern European tourist unexpectedly finds himself stranded in JFK airport, and must take up temporary residence there.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Tom Hanks , Catherine Zeta-Jones , Chi McBride , Stanley Tucci

Votes: 492,150 | Gross: $77.87M

90. I Am Legend (2007)

PG-13 | 101 min | Action, Drama, Horror

Years after a plague kills most of humanity and transforms the rest into monsters, the sole survivor in New York City struggles valiantly to find a cure.

Director: Francis Lawrence | Stars: Will Smith , Alice Braga , Charlie Tahan , Salli Richardson-Whitfield

Votes: 807,343 | Gross: $256.39M

91. Shooter (I) (2007)

R | 124 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

A marksman living in exile is coaxed back into action after hearing of a plot to kill the President. After being-double crossed for the attempt and on the run, he sets out for the real killer and the truth.

Director: Antoine Fuqua | Stars: Mark Wahlberg , Michael Peña , Rhona Mitra , Danny Glover

Votes: 353,009 | Gross: $47.00M

92. Glory Road (2006)

PG | 118 min | Biography, Drama, Sport

In 1966, Texas Western coach Don Haskins led the first all-black starting line-up for a college basketball team to the NCAA national championship.

Director: James Gartner | Stars: Josh Lucas , Derek Luke , Austin Nichols , Jon Voight

Votes: 48,577 | Gross: $42.64M

93. I, Robot (2004)

PG-13 | 115 min | Action, Mystery, Sci-Fi

In 2035, a technophobic cop investigates a crime that may have been perpetrated by a robot, which leads to a larger threat to humanity.

Director: Alex Proyas | Stars: Will Smith , Bridget Moynahan , Bruce Greenwood , Alan Tudyk

Votes: 571,537 | Gross: $144.80M

94. Invincible (2006)

PG | 105 min | Biography, Drama, Sport

Based on the story of Vince Papale , a 30-year-old bartender from South Philadelphia who overcame long odds to play for the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles in 1976.

Director: Ericson Core | Stars: Mark Wahlberg , Greg Kinnear , Elizabeth Banks , Kevin Conway

Votes: 75,000 | Gross: $57.81M

95. Yes Man (2008)

PG-13 | 104 min | Comedy, Romance

A man challenges himself to say "yes" to everything.

Director: Peyton Reed | Stars: Jim Carrey , Zooey Deschanel , Bradley Cooper , John Michael Higgins

Votes: 380,948 | Gross: $97.69M

96. 50 First Dates (2004)

PG-13 | 99 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Henry Roth is a man afraid of commitment until he meets the beautiful Lucy. They hit it off and Henry think he's finally found the girl of his dreams until discovering she has short-term memory loss and forgets him the next day.

Director: Peter Segal | Stars: Adam Sandler , Drew Barrymore , Rob Schneider , Sean Astin

Votes: 378,942 | Gross: $120.91M

97. A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)

PG | 108 min | Adventure, Comedy, Family

When a massive fire kills their parents, three children are delivered to the custody of cousin and stage actor Count Olaf, who is secretly plotting to steal their parents' vast fortune.

Director: Brad Silberling | Stars: Jim Carrey , Jude Law , Meryl Streep , Liam Aiken

Votes: 220,021 | Gross: $118.63M

98. Click (2006)

PG-13 | 107 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

A workaholic architect finds a universal remote that allows him to fast-forward and rewind to different parts of his life. Complications arise when the remote starts to overrule his choices.

Director: Frank Coraci | Stars: Adam Sandler , Kate Beckinsale , Christopher Walken , David Hasselhoff

Votes: 353,959 | Gross: $137.36M

99. Independence Day (1996)

PG-13 | 145 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

The aliens are coming and their goal is to invade and destroy Earth. Fighting superior technology, mankind's best weapon is the will to survive.

Director: Roland Emmerich | Stars: Will Smith , Bill Pullman , Jeff Goldblum , Mary McDonnell

Votes: 602,223 | Gross: $306.17M

100. Armageddon (1998)

PG-13 | 151 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

After discovering that an asteroid the size of Texas will impact Earth in less than a month, NASA recruits a misfit team of deep-core drillers to save the planet.

Director: Michael Bay | Stars: Bruce Willis , Billy Bob Thornton , Ben Affleck , Liv Tyler

Votes: 448,267 | Gross: $201.57M

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3 Hulu movies you need to stream this weekend (Feb. 23-25)

Jason Struss

February’s been a pretty dreary month if you’re single and/or a San Francisco 49ers fan. Ditto if you’re a movie lover. Seriously, has there been a worse time for movies than 2024 ? It’s been pretty bleak these last eight weeks, and March, with its promises of Dune: Part Two and 3 Body Problem , can’t come soon enough.

All of Us Strangers (2023)

Watcher (2022).

  • Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)

To celebrate February’s end, Digital Trends has a suggestion for you: stay in, log on to Hulu , and watch the movies on this list. One is a critically acclaimed drama that was just released in December 2023, another is an underrated thriller from 2022, while the last is one of Quentin Tarantino’s best movies ever.

Do you want to get your heart broken this weekend? If so, you can’t do any better than All of Us Strangers . Director Andrew Haigh’s tender drama stars Andrew Scott as Adam, a lonely fortysomething writer in London who strikes up a cautious romance with his neighbor, Harry (played by Paul Mescal). It was one of 2023’s best movies , yet failed to receive any Oscar nominations. That’s OK, though, as audiences can and will discover it on streaming in 2024; it’s just too great to ignore.

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The movie isn’t just a romance, though; it’s a rumination on family, and how adults can never really escape the shadow of their childhoods. Somehow, Adam is able interact with his long-dead parents, who look and act just like they did when they passed away in a car crash in the mid-1980s. How is this possible? It doesn’t matter; what matters is how an adult Adam interacts with his parents, and how they deal with his sexuality and his revelations about how distant he felt from them both as a child. All of Us Strangers is more of an experience than anything else, so turn off the lights, fire up the Hulu , and let it wash over you.

Oh, what a nifty little thriller this is! In Watcher , It Follows actress Maika Monroe stars as Julia, a young American actress who moves to Romania to be with her boyfriend. She gradually begins to suspect someone is stalking her, which causes her to slowly lose her mind.

Director Chloe Okuno masterfully creates a sense of menace and looming dread as Julia tries and fails to convince anyone she’s in danger. Monroe is great as the increasingly unstable heroine, and the cinematography takes great advantage of the Bucharest locations.

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)

Hollywood, 1969. The studio system is dying a slow death, the hippies and rebels have taken over Hollywood, and a young actress named Sharon Tate is about to become the next big movie star. In Quentin Tarantino ‘s mostly factual, sometimes fantastical Once Upon a Time in Hollywood… , the entirely fictional Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a fading Hollywood star, and his best friend and bodyguard, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), is a genial man with a checkered past. Together, their paths will inevitably cross with Tate’s ( Barbie ‘ s Margot Robbie), who will memorably encounter the Manson family one fateful night.

Or will she? This is Tarantino’s world after all, and if he can kill off Hitler with a barrage of bullets in Inglourious Basterds , he’s capable of anything. That’s a large part of why this movie is so entertaining to watch. You don’t know where it’s going, even though history will tell you where the plot will eventually end up. As a plus, it’s a great immersive experience; you really do feel like you’re in late 1960s California.

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  • Streaming Services

Jason Struss

If you're not on Tubi, what are you waiting for? Since Tubi is a FAST service, subscribers can access 50,000 movies and TV shows for free with ads. With the rising costs of streaming services, why wouldn't you take advantage of a streamer that doesn't hurt your wallet?

Once you sign up for Tubi, what should you watch? This February, our suggestion is to explore the action genre. We picked three great action movies to watch this month. Our selections include a shark thriller, an underrated sports drama, and an action comedy with two A-list stars. Deep Blue Sea (1999)

Peacock celebrated the streaming premiere of Oppenheimer by adding several other Christopher Nolan movies to its lineup for February. What Peacock declined to mention is that The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception, and Dunkirk are all leaving at the end of the month. So you only have a short time left if you want to curate your own Nolan film festival at home.

Our picks for the three movies leaving Peacock in February that you have to watch only includes one of Nolan's films, because it just wouldn't be fair to give him the entire spotlight. Our other picks include a family drama starring George Clooney, as well as a Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller comedy that is turning 20 in 2024. The Dark Knight (2008)

In a landscape filled with streaming services you have to pay for, there's some comfort in knowing that there are some free options out there. Services like Tubi may not have the same name recognition as something like Netflix, but that doesn't mean there isn't plenty of great content worth exploring on Tubi.

Below, we've identified three underrated titles that you may have scrolled by as you explored the service, but are definitely worth checking out. From classics to documentaries and other more recent titles, these are three underrated Tubi movies that are perfect to watch this winter. The Lighthouse (2019) The Lighthouse | Official Trailer HD | A24

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The 21 Most Underrated Movies Of 2023

Mike McGranaghan

The cinematic year 2023 will be remembered for blockbusters like The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse , sleeper hits including Sound of Freedom , and the phenomenon that was Barbenheimer (AKA Barbie and Oppenheimer ). If you've seen all of those but still crave quality viewing, the most underrated films of 2023 deserve to make their way onto your watchlist. They will provide entertainment of the intellectual, emotional, and/or visceral type.

These slept on movies of 2023 come in two forms. Some are major studio releases that underperformed at the box office or were received with unnecessary harshness. The others are indie movies from smaller distributors that didn't get a whole lot in terms of promotion and publicity. What they all have in common is originality. They work hard to give audiences something special. The next time you're looking for something really good to watch, pick one of these underrated 2023 movies.


In a truly baffling decision, Lionsgate chose to bury Cobweb , dropping it in a very small number of theaters with no promotion or publicity whatsoever. This skillfully made horror film is about Peter (Woody Norman), an 8-year-old boy who hears a voice talking to him through his bedroom wall. His parents, Carol (Lizzy Caplan) and Mark (Antony Starr), assure him it's all in his head. But when a concerned school teacher comes by to check on his welfare, Peter begins to suspect his parents might actually be the personification of evil.

The horror of Cobweb comes from the question at its center: what if you were a child and couldn't trust your parents? With that in place, the movie proceeds to put Peter into one harrowing scenario after another, with virtually no one to help him given that Mom and Dad are the problem. Of the two, Carol is especially creepy, thanks to Lizzy Caplan's awesomely unhinged performance. Cobweb is a chiller that will fray your nerves for an hour and 28 minutes. 

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Strays is a movie that would have been huge in the ‘80s or ’90s, had the technology to make it been available at that time. Will Ferrell provides the voice of Reggie, a dog who is abandoned in the big city by his abusive owner Doug (Will Forte). After meeting a tough-talking pooch named Bug (Jamie Foxx) and his crew, Reggie gets talked into finding his way home so that he can bite Doug in a place where no man would ever want to get bitten. 

Talking dog movies tend to be dismissed as cheesy children's fare, which may be why Strays struggled at the box office. This is an R-rated talking dog movie, though, full of outrageously profane sequences that will have you rolling on the floor with laughter, including one where the animals eat hallucinogenic mushrooms. An attempt to escape from an animal control center is equally hilarious, as it involves dogs doing one of the things they do best. For all the raunchy comedy, Strays still has a sweet side, developing the friendship between the canines. Watching the movie is even more fun than biting the mailman. 

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The Last Voyage Of The Demeter

The Last Voyage Of The Demeter

The Last Voyage of the Demeter is based on the chapter of Bram Stoker's Dracula that details how the vampire made his way from Transylvania to London. That may have thrown off viewers who were expecting a traditional take on the character. Corey Hawkins stars as Clemens, a doctor who gets a job on board the title ship. Not long after setting sail, crew members start getting slain in gruesome ways. Clemens eventually realizes there's something very fishy about that one crate they're carrying.

Most horror movies offer non-stop terror and/or gore. There's definitely some graphic bloodletting here, but the movie employs more of a slow burn kind of terror. It's not unlike Alien in the way it spends the better part of an hour building a sense of dread before letting the creature loose. The Last Voyage of the Demeter is better than its reputation suggests, with superior production values and a gloomy atmosphere that keeps you on edge. 

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Dumb Money

Dumb Money is based on the true story of the average people who took on Wall Street by driving up GameStop stock. Paul Dano is Keith Gill, a YouTuber who has become a firm believer that GameStop’s stock is undervalued. His videos inspire other people to buy – and, just as importantly, retain – that stock. Keith becomes a multimillionaire in the process, whereas folks like capitalist Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogen) lose billions.

Movies about the stock market are not easy to sell because the subject is inherently confusing for non-investors. That undoubtedly kept Dumb Money from becoming a hit. One of the film's best qualities is that it takes a confusing subject and finds a way to make it understandable for the average person without dumbing it down. You understand what's happening every step of the way, even if you've never purchased a stock in your life. That allows the true events to leave you flabbergasted. This is a mind-blowing story, told via excellent performances from Dano and Rogen. 

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Joy Ride

The raunchy comedy Joy Ride follows Audrey Sullivan (Ashley Park), a lawyer whose boss sends her to China to seal a big deal. Accompanying her are best friend Lolo (Sherry Cola), Lolo's oddball cousin Deadeye (Sabrina Wu), and her former college roommate Kat (Stephanie Hsu). The women engage in all kinds of wild shenanigans, including a riotous encounter with a drug dealer, a few amorous adventures with strangers, and very hard partying.

Joy Ride has enough wild comedy to keep you in stitches. Underneath that is a surprisingly sweet tale of friendship, as the disparate characters form a kind of sisterhood through their misadventures. Everyone in the cast is stellar, but Sherry Cola gives a scene-stealing performance that, in a just world, would have made her a household name superstar. Being released in the competitive summer movie season was a mistake, so Joy Ride is a picture well worth discovering at home. 

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Emily is a period drama about author Emily Brontë. That may have made it seem like it would be stuffy or overly artsy. In fact, it's quite vibrant and entertaining. Emma Mackey plays the socially awkward writer who is inspired to write Wuthering Heights after a forbidden fling with the town's new clergyman, William Weightman (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). 

The story is speculative, as very little is known about Brontë's inspiration. Still, it's fun to think that this is what might have happened. A dark streak of humor helps to keep the story lively, as does the hot-and-heavy affair Emily and William have. Mackey made an impression as one of the Barbies in the summer blockbuster Barbie . If you want to see what else she can do, be sure to check out her nuanced, captivating performance in Emily . 

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Bottoms is an uproarious comedy about two besties, PJ (Rachel Sennott) and Josie (Ayo Edibiri). The awkward high schoolers capitalize on a rumor that they spent summer in a juvenile probation facility to boost their image. As part of that, they start a fight club that quickly draws other outcasts. Carrying on the ruse takes a toll on their friendship, though. The R rating likely hurt, as the target teen audience may have had trouble getting in to theaters. 

Directed by Emma Seligman, Bottoms is a great mixture of observant adolescent humor and broad comedy. Like Heathers in the '80s, it uses outrageous and occasionally absurdist humor to help make its very identifiable points. Sennott and Edebiri are phenomenal, and Ruby Cruz steals scenes as one of the fight club participants. Bottoms deals primarily with characters who are in the LGBTQ+ community, making it a groundbreaker in the high school movie subgenre. 

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It Lives Inside

It Lives Inside

It Lives Inside is a horror movie with a cultural twist. Despite getting a fairly wide release, the public didn't seem to gel to that idea. High schooler Samidha (Megan Suri) receives a visit from her estranged childhood best friend Tamira (Mohana Krishnan). Tamira has a jar she claims contains a “Pishach,” a flesh-eating demon from Hindu and Buddhist mythology. That seems absurd until the thing gets out of the jar and begins a spree of terror. Samidha has to figure out how to put the Pishach back where it came from and save Tamira. 

Having an original monster helps set It Lives Inside apart. Audiences unfamiliar with the demon get to learn about a whole new kind of evil to fear. The movie has several excellent scare scenes, most notably one involving a swing set. A captivating lead performance from Megan Suri is another high point. Running underneath the horror is a subplot about Samidha learning to re-embrace her culture as a result of the experience she endures. Viewers who have grown tired of the traditional Conjuring and Insidious styles of paranormal horror should absolutely seek this film out. 


Willem Dafoe gives one of the most extraordinary performances of his career in Inside , a picture few people saw when it was released in the spring of 2023. He plays Nemo, an art thief attempting to steal $3 million worth of paintings from a swanky New York City penthouse. While in there, the security system goes on the fritz, leaving him trapped. Since the owner is out of the country for an extended period of time, he's stuck with minimal food, nothing to do, and a thermostat that's broken, leaving the space alternately freezing and sweltering.

Dafoe is amazing in the way he portrays Nemo's increasing desperation. Being stranded in a hostile environment slowly eats away at his sanity. Inside plays like a psychological thriller in that sense, and it definitely gets under your skin. It also works as a portrait of what isolation and confinement can do to a person over the long haul. Even if you breathe a sigh of relief when the film is over, you'll be glad you watched this legendary actor at his finest.

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Gran Turismo

Gran Turismo

More often than not, movies based on video games are terrible. What works in a game doesn't necessarily work in a film. Gran Turismo gets around that problem by telling a remarkable true story. Jann Mardenborough (Archie Madekwe) is a master of the titular PlayStation game. He gains entry into a program run by Nissan executive Danny Moore (Orlando Bloom) to train the best gamers in the world to become actual racers. The movie was released during the actor's strike, meaning none of the stars could promote it, leading to box office underperformance.

Obviously, they wouldn't have made a movie about Mardenborough if he didn't go on to have enormous success on the actual racing circuit. His story is a testament to the power of believing in a dream. The film additionally has thrilling race scenes and an excellent performance from David Harbour as the no-nonsense trainer who whips Jann and the other recruits into shape. You don't even have to care about the game itself to enjoy this tale of a kid who had his fantasy come true. 

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Master Gardener

Master Gardener

Paul Schrader specializes in making movies about damaged men. He wrote Raging Bull and Taxi Driver , and wrote/directed First Reformed , among others. His 2023 effort Master Gardener is one of his best works, even though it got an extremely limited release. Joel Edgerton plays Narvel Roth, a horticulturalist who is employed by wealthy dowager Norma Haverhill (Sigourney Weaver). She asks him to train her biracial niece Maya (Quintessa Swindell) in the art of gardening. That opens up a can of worms he doesn't expect.

Master Gardener is very much about trying to atone for one's past sins. Narvel is a former white supremacist, so working with Maya stirs up a lot of guilt. As for Norma, she's not exactly a picture of antiracism either. Watching how these three alternately connect and collide makes for riveting drama. The plot builds to an explosive climax that then yields to a pensive, emotional final scene. Driven by Edgerton's remarkable performance, this film will stay with you long after it's over. 

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Suitable Flesh

Suitable Flesh

If you're a fan of Stuart Gordon's ‘80s horror classics Re-Animator and From Beyond , you’ll lose your mind over Suitable Flesh . When the filmmaker passed away, his latest attempt at adapting an H.P. Lovecraft story was turned over to director Joe Lynch. Gordon would certainly approve of the result. Heather Graham plays Elizabeth Derby, a psychiatrist who attempts to help a troubled young man named Asa Waite (Judah Lewis). She consequently gets pulled into a bizarre situation involving Asa, his cruel father Ephraim (Bruce Davison), and a sexually-charged entity that passes between all three of them. A very limited theatrical release kept this piece of erotic horror from landing on most people's radar. 

What happens in Suitable Flesh is weird, kinky, and super, super freaky. Graham gives one of the best performances of her career in the movie. As an added bonus, there's an awesome supporting performance from horror legend Barbara Crampton – star of Gordon's aforementioned classics. You aren't prepared for where this story goes, which is exactly what makes it so much fun. The movie also boasts what may be the most delightfully bonkers finale of 2023. 


Carmen features Melissa Barrera – star of the rebooted Scream franchise – as the title character, a young Mexican woman who flees for the American border after her mother is murdered. She's nearly apprehended, but a PTSD-stricken vet named Aiden (Paul Mescal) helps her escape after killing someone to defend her. They go on the lam together, hoping to reach a nightclub run by her godmother. After doing middling business during an initial limited release, the distributor chose not to take the film much wider. 

The story deals with illegal immigration and how people coming to America to escape violence are treated. What makes the film different is that it uses sequences of interpretive dance to tell that story. At key points, the characters launch into choreographed routines. The dancing is hypnotic, Barrera and Mescal work up a strong chemistry, and the tender relationship between their characters is touching. Mixing a gritty plot with dance doesn't seem like it would work, but Carmen is a beautiful, emotional movie. 

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Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken

Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and Elemental dominated the summer as far as animated features go. Because audiences were so enthralled with them, Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken – which came out right after those two behemoths – got unfairly left in the dust. Ruby (Lana Condor) is an adolescent kraken hiding in plain sight by disguising herself as a human. She has all the usual teen problems to deal with, plus a few that are unique to her. One is the arrival of a mermaid, the natural enemy of the kraken. The other is a conflict with her mother that sends her deep into the ocean to seek advice from her grandmother (Jane Fonda). 

Along with stunning animation, especially in the underwater scenes, Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken has a nice story about learning to love yourself. Humor is abundant, with Ruby's awkward attempts to attract the notice of a boy she likes proving especially funny. The vocal performances are terrific too, with Jane Fonda having a lot of fun as the kraken queen. The movie was ignored theatrically but deserves to become a prime feature for family movie night at home. 

Beau Is Afraid

Beau Is Afraid

Anything Joaquin Phoenix does usually attracts attention, but Beau Is Afraid failed to catch on at the box office. Part of that might be because defining what it is and what genre it belongs to is intentionally difficult. The actor plays Beau Wassermann, an anxiety ridden man who tries to travel to his mother's funeral after she's killed in a tragic accident. Some kind of dissociative episode follows, plunging him into a nightmare that's alternately horrific and funny. 

Beau Is Afraid was written and directed by Ari Aster, the man who also brought us Hereditary and Midsommar . He takes a huge swing here, mixing tones, using non-linear storytelling techniques, and ending his tale on the most bizarre note possible. Once upon a time, audiences lined up to see films like this so they could discuss and debate them. Sadly, that doesn't seem to be the case anymore. Adventurous movies are often just labeled “confusing.” Love it or hate it, Beau Is Afraid is a fearless work that will make you feel something and leave you with plenty to ponder. 

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The Royal Hotel

The Royal Hotel

The Royal Hotel concerns Hanna (Julia Garner) and Liv (Jessica Henwick), two Americans vacationing in Australia. When their hard partying ways leave them unexpectedly broke, the women accept bartending jobs at a drinking establishment in a remote mining area that’s populated mostly by men. Their presence evokes a lot of reactions, from inappropriate jokes to the implication of sexual violence. Hanna wants to get out of there, but Liv brushes it off, testing their friendship in the process. That's a hard concept to market, even for an indie drama, so it isn't surprising that the movie flew under most people's radar. 

That's a shame because The Royal Hotel is a powerhouse examination of toxic masculinity. In fact, it would make a weirdly satisfying double feature with Barbie . Free of traditional societal norms, the bar's inhabitants feel free to let their boorish behavior run unchecked. Garner and Henwick both give scorching performances, and the film's ending satisfies on literal and figurative levels. Amazingly, this is based on actual events. That knowledge makes what happens in the story even more impactful. 



Shortcomings marks the directorial debut of actor Randall Park, who adapts Adrian Tomine's graphic novel. The story revolves around Ben (Justin H. Min), a self-centered guy who goes off the deep end when his girlfriend Miko (Ally Maki) goes to New York for a dream internship. Then his best friend/confidante Alice (Sherry Cola) announces that she's also leaving, and Ben is forced to confront the fact that he can't control the important people in his life, no matter how much he'd like to. Despite acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival, Shortcomings was only given a semi-limited release, which prevented more people from discovering it.

The film is smart and funny , with a lot to say about romantic confusion, friendship, and the need to take a cold, hard look at one's own dysfunctional behavior. Even though Ben is a jerk, Min makes sure that we care about him enough to engage with his personal journey. This is a terrific case study of a guy realizing the world doesn't revolve around him. 


Sanctuary 's two-character premise is strange enough to have prevented it from catching on, despite an enthusiastic response from critics. Hal (Christopher Abbott) is about to take over his late father's hotel business. Before he does, he arranges one last session with his dominatrix, Rebecca (Margaret Qualley). She doesn't like her gig being terminated and responds by demanding some sort of compensation. After all, he's only able to take such a high-profile job because she helped him work out his neuroses through their interactions. 

What follows is a tense cat-and-mouse mind game, as Hal tries to get rid of Rebecca and she resorts to the kind of sexual humiliation he pays for as a means of blackmailing him. Clearly, the topic of Sanctuary is on the edgy side, so it's not for the easily offended. The chemistry created by the leads keeps the tension building. Qualley, in particular, is brilliant. The actress expertly conveys the way Rebecca knows which of Hal's buttons to push and has no reluctance about pushing all of them at once. Her performance is one of the best by any actor in any 2023 motion picture. 

Every Body

Gender identity has become a major societal conversation in the past few years. If you don't really understand what the “I” in LGBTQI+ means, Every Body will explain it in detail. Documentarian Julie Cohen ( RGB ) introduces us to Alicia Roth Weigel, Sean Saifa Wall, and River Gallo, three individuals who are all Intersex. That means they have both male and female physical or chromosomal traits. We get to hear their individual stories, including the difficulties they have faced from a world where most people think gender is binary. Non-fiction films rarely do big business theatrically, as was the case here. 

The documentary is extremely enlightening without being preachy. It presents information about what it means to be Intersex and dispels myths surrounding it. Because Alicia, Sean, and River are all immensely likeable people, spending 92 minutes watching and listening to them is a pleasure. They love themselves unconditionally, and you're guaranteed to love them, too. Every Body is entertaining, educational, and one of 2023's most important non-fiction films. 

How To Blow Up A Pipeline

How To Blow Up A Pipeline

How to Blow Up a Pipeline is a provocative title for a provocative movie. Despite great reviews, audiences seemed hesitant to purchase tickets for a picture that announces itself as incendiary. It tells the story of eight disparate environmental activists who connect online, then plot to meet up and destroy a section of an oil pipeline. Each of them has their own individual reason for wanting to engage in this act of domestic terrorism.

Suspense is generated from watching the characters carefully make the explosives, then attempt to attach them to the pipe without blowing themselves to pieces. With strong performances from a cast of up-and-coming actors, the film avoids judgment, instead presenting both sides of the issue and allowing viewers to make up their minds. Is this sort of activism unacceptable, or is it the only way the average person has to take on mega corporations that may not have safety and environmentalism as a priority? Wherever you come down, this nail-bitingly tense drama will have you thinking. 

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The Persian Version

The Persian Version

With The Persian Version, writer/director Maryam Keshavarz delivers a first-rate autobiographical comedy about the cultural clashes within an Iranian-American family. Leila (Layla Mohammadi) has just broken up with her wife and become pregnant from a one-night stand with a man. Her traditional mother Shireen (Niousha Noor) disapproves of all this. The entire clan comes together when Leila's dad gets scheduled for a heart transplant. That's when she learns a shocking family secret, as well as an important detail from her mother's past that makes her see Shireen in a new light.

The Persian Version is one of those stories that manages to be culturally specific and universal at the same time. On one hand, it deals with what it's like to be the Americanized child of old-school Iranian parents. On the other, the central parent/child conflict transcends heritage. The film is very funny at times, observant at others. It even includes a musical number set to a remake of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” This is the kind of heartwarming, feel-good picture we can never get enough of. 

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Most Underrated Movies of All Time

The Grey Movie Poster

For every movie that's celebrated at the Academy Awards, hundreds of others go unnoticed and into the $5 bin at Walmart.

Sure, many forgotten movies are downright terrible, but some don't deserve the bad reputation that comes from poor box-office takes, unfair critical thrashings or weak marketing. 

These films are more than just overlooked or misunderstood. They are the most underrated movies of all time. 

50. Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas Movie Poster

Year : 2012 

Directed by : Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski, Tom Tykwer

Starring : Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent

Budget : $102 million

Worldwide box office : $130.48 million

Opposing Takes: Cloud Atlas

"A daring extravaganza of images and themes, a film that asserts itself as worthy of repeated viewings, not only for its quality, but its generously expansive scope and theme." — Nicholas Bell, IONCINEMA

"This is the Bermuda Triangle of sci-fi — where logic and clarity vanish without a trace." — J. Olson, Cinemixtape

Bottom Line: Cloud Atlas

"Cloud Atlas" deserved more than the complete bomb at the box office that it was. This nearly three-hour science-fiction/fantasy epic based on David Mitchell's bestseller is one of the most divisive films of the 2010s.

Depending on who you're asking, "Cloud Atlas" was either one of the worst films of 2012 or one of the best. It was either a confusing reel of tripe or a thoughtful near masterpiece. The only thing most people agreed on was the film's rich cinematography and beautiful visuals. 

The film takes place within five eras, from the mid-19th century to 2321. The people we meet are all interconnected. What one person does in the past ripples into the future, and we see how. It's a hugely ambitious movie that takes a while to digest long after you've seen it. 

Plus, Hugo Weaving plays an incredible villain (or villains, in this case).

49. American Made

American Made Movie Poster

Year : 2017

Directed by : Doug Liman

Starring : Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright

Budget : $50 million

Worldwide box office : $134.9 million

Opposing Takes: American Made

"One assumes that Cruise got this film made, yet he's a terrible fit for the role: he's always done his best work portraying smart, insightful characters in dramatic stories, but Seal was a yahoo whose sorry escapades are played here for cynical laughs." — J.R. Jones, Chicago Reader

"It skitters and jumps, shivers and boot-scoots, never, ever sitting still. You could say it's like 'Blow,' on well, blow. But there's a breezy sunniness to this film, which looks like a faded snapshot reclaimed from an '80s photo album." — Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

Bottom Line: American Made

Tom Cruise stars in this biopic about Barry Seal, a real-life drug smuggler responsible for transporting loads and loads of coke for Pablo Escobar. 

Unlike "Blow," "American Made" doesn't glamorize the hard and fast lifestyle (Seal wasn't a drug user). Instead, it's a fast-paced and sympathetic look at Seal, who by many accounts was a good guy (minus that whole drug smuggling thing). 

"American Made" went largely ignored when it was released in 2017, but it's worth a watch. 

48. The Black Cauldron

The Black Cauldron Movie Poster

Year : 1985

Directed by : Ted Berman, Richard Rich

Starring : Grant Bardsley, Susan Sheridan, Nigel Hawthorne, John Hurt, John Byner

Budget : $25 million-$44 million

Worldwide box office : $21.29 million

Opposing Takes: The Black Cauldron

"The characters, though cute and cuddly and sweet and mean and ugly and simply awful, don't really have much to do that would remain of interest to any but the youngest minds." — Variety 

"By the end of 'The Black Cauldron,' I was remembering, with something of a shock of nostalgia, the strength and utter storytelling conviction of the early Disney animators. 'The Black Cauldron' is a return to the tradition." — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Bottom Line: The Black Cauldron

"The Black Cauldron" was panned by critics and was a total box-office failure when it was released in 1985. Its budget was supposed to be $25 million but ballooned to an estimated $44 million and nearly killed Disney. To this day, it still bears the stigma of being Disney's worst animated film. It didn't even hit home video until 1998. 

"The Black Cauldron" isn't bad, though. It's a pretty dang good high fantasy movie about a group of kids who must defeat an evil undead king. Also worth noting is that Gurgi, the weird creature that joins the crew, was the inspiration for Andy Serkis' portrayal of Gollum in "The Lord of the Rings."

The themes are darker than most other Disney pictures, and the animation is fantastic (it was Disney's first film to use CGI). It's an interesting movie that is now on Disney Plus and worth a watch.

47. The Rules of Attraction

The Rules of Attraction

Year : 2002

Directed by : Roger Avary

Starring : James Van Der Beek, Shannyn Sossamon, Ian Somerhalder, Jessica Biel, Kate Bosworth, Kip Pardue

Budget : $4 million

Worldwide box office : $11.8 million

Opposing Takes: The Rules of Attraction

"A disagreeable and unrewarding expose of what spoilt college students get up to in expensive New England colleges." — Phillip French, The Guardian

"[Bret Easton] Ellis' satire, filtered through Avary's harsh lens, is hard to stomach, harder to ignore." Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Bottom Line: The Rules of Attraction

Many people missed the point of "The Rules of Attraction." Yes, this movie is about vapid, wealthy college kids and their exploits. The characters are mostly unlikeable, but that's the idea.

This is a movie based on the Bret Easton Ellison novel of the same name. The main character, Sean Bateman, is the drug-dealing little brother of Patrick Bateman from "American Psycho." 

We're not supposed to empathize or connect with these people, but we're supposed to laugh at their wicked lifestyles and horrid behavior. 

46. Treasure Planet

Treasure Planet Poster

Directed by : Ron Clements, John Musker

Starring : Joseph Gordon-Levit, Emma Thomspon, David Hyde Pierce, Martin Short

Budget : $140 million

Worldwide box office : $109.6 million

Opposing Takes: Treasure Planet

"The addition of an insufferable robot named B.E.N. (Martin Short) cripples much of the film's momentum and renders many of the latter scenes unwatchable (a friend once dubbed B.E.N. 'the Jar-Jar Binks of animation,' and she was absolutely right)." — Matt Brunson, Creative Loafing

"This is Disney animation at its best: a witty and swashbuckling tale of adventure." — Jim Shelby, Palo Alto Weekly

Bottom Line: Treasure Planet

"Treasure Planet" is one of the biggest box-office flops ever. Which is a shame, because this futuristic reimagining of Robert Louis' Stevenson's "Treasure Island" didn't deserve to bomb so hard.

The movie was initially criticized for being too much like a Saturday morning cartoon than a Disney film, which may have turned off audiences in the early 2000s but now seems like a breath of fresh air. The animation is awesome (and a big reason why the budget swelled to $140 million), and the movie is just fun.

It's no masterpiece, but certainly entertaining. 

45. Fire in the Sky

Fire in the Sky

Year : 1993

Directed by : Robert Lieberman

Starring : D.B. Sweeney, Robert Patrick, Craig Sheffer, Peter Berg, Henry Thomas, Bradley Gregg

Budget : $15 million

Worldwide box office : $19.9 million

Opposing Takes: Fire in the Sky

"'The X-Files' could have done this story in 42 minutes flat, though in reality, it probably would have deemed it too boring to bother with at all." — Christopher Null,

"Features one of the most harrowing sequences (maybe) ever. I get chills just thinking about it." — Scott Weinberg,

Bottom Line: Fire in the Sky

"Fire in the Sky" is a predictable alien abduction story. But it's also the perfect alien abduction movie, complete with it being based on a "true" story. 

Driving home from work, a group of loggers stop to investigate something strange in the sky. One man, Travis Walton (D.B. Sweeney) gets out of his truck to check it out and is hit by a beam of light. The other truckers flee, and Walton disappears for several days, then reappears buck naked at a gas station. 

Eventually, he starts to remember what happened to him — which ends up being the best alien abduction scene in movie history. 

The special effects in "Fire in the Sky" are top-notch, and the aliens look more menacing than big-headed grey men (though you'll probably still chuckle). The great thing about this sci-fi flick is that the subject material is treated with the utmost seriousness. The alien ship is creepy and organic, rather than a steel saucer. These aliens are mean, and that experimentation scene is terrifying.

The biggest knock against the movie is that there should have been more scenes in the UFO.

best new underrated movies

Directed by : James Gunn

Starring : Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler, Kevin Bacon, Nathan Fillion

Budget : $2.5 milion

Worldwide box office : $422,618

Opposing Takes: Super

"Where it completely fails is when the in-your-face amorality is contextualized with an icky epilogue which tries to justify what came before as some kind of 'spiritual journey' It doesn't convince." — Mayer Nissim, Digital Spy

If you're a comic book lover looking for something bleak and disturbing (but also amusing), 'Super' should prove to be an unforgettable experience." — Marc Nix, IGN

Bottom Line: Super

"Super" is a movie that supposes these things: If a regular guy tried to be a superhero, what would actually happen? How insane would someone have to be to do so?

Rainn Wilson plays Frank Darbo, a pathetic short-order cook who is pushed past the brink of emotional stability when his wife (Liv Tyler) leaves him for a drug dealer. Darbo has a vision telling him he's meant to be a superhero. He teams up with a young store clerk named Libby (Ellen Page), and Darbo invents the Crimson Bolt persona. 

"Super" is a dark comedy that a lot of people didn't like. It's extremely violent and nihilistic, but isn't that what would happen if someone tried to make comic books a reality? 

43. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Year : 2007

Directed by : Jake Kasdan

Starring : John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer, Tim Meadows, Kristen Wig

Budget : $35 million

Worldwide box office : $20.6 million

Opposing Takes: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

"Like the drunk guy who squeezes your arm and tells the same joke over and over until you laugh, goddamn you, laugh!" — Fernando F. Croce, CinePassion

"The entire film has three repetitive jokes: Dewey cut his brother in half, Dewey can't smell, and he's going to take drugs. So it's kind of amazing how well the film works." — Jeff Bayer, The Scorecard Review

Bottom Line: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

"Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" is a mid-2000s spoof biopic that only works for people who like movies filled with stupid humor (which was most comedies made at the time). John C. Reilly plays a Johnny Cash-esque character who accidentally cuts his brother in half with a machete, loses his sense of smell, becomes a rock star and does tons of drugs.

There are a number of fictional portrayals of various musical artists and other industry heavyweights, including a fantastic scene with The Beatles with Paul Rudd as John Lennon and Jack Black as Paul McCartney. 

"Walk Hard" was panned by critics and completely bombed at the box office. However, it gained traction at home with DVD sales and now regularly streams on Netflix.

42. Freddy Got Fingered

Freddy Got Fingered

Year : 2001

Directed by : Tom Green

Starring : Tom Green, Rip Torn

Budget : $14 million

Worldwide box office : $14.3 million

Opposing Takes: Freddy Got Fingered

"Green ... is perhaps the only person on earth who could make a moviegoer actually nostalgic for the subtle intellectual brilliance of Pauly Shore." — Jim Lane, Sacramento News and Review

"Heinous, tiresome, does things with large mammals that are just plain wrong and includes some of the funniest scenes in memory." — John Zebrowski, Seattle Times

Bottom Line: Freddy Got Fingered

"Freddy Got Fingered" is unique because the hate it received was understandable. The jokes are gross, the movie is totally pointless, and the movie seeks to offend at every take. And that's what makes it good! It's pointless absurdity.

Tom Green had $14 million to make "the stupidest movie we could think of," he said , adding that when the film came out, he received so much criticism that he felt like he had murdered someone.

Go into it with that expectation, and you're in for a good time. Probably. 

41. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Year : 2012

Directed by : Lorene Scafaria

Starring : Steve Carell, Keira Knightley

Budget : $10 million

Worldwide box office : $9.6 million

Opposing Takes: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

"[It] unfortunately invites a lethal dose of skepticism toward its cutesy last-ditch matchmaking, obligatory road-trip plotting, and thinly funny jibes at the rest of humankind." — Nigel Andrews, Financial Times

"It's a genre-defying melancomedy that manages to be good science fiction and a moving romance at the same time. Best of all, it never cheats you with false optimism about the fate of the world." — Annalee Newitz, io9

Bottom Line: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

"Seeking A Friend for the End of the World" is a relatively low-budget comedy-drama (with an emphasis on the drama) about two people looking for some kind of love and closure as a meteor hurls toward earth. 

It flopped at the box office, not even making back its $10 million budget after theaters took their cut and received a mix of positive and negative reviews, and struck a chord with some critics. Those who hated it, really hated it. 

The movie is surprisingly subdued given the cataclysmic stakes, but it works. Steve Carell and Keira Knightley give solid comedic performances, and it's certainly not as bad as most of the critics made it out to be. Cutesy? Yes. But it's also bittersweet and watchable. 

40. The Babysitter

The Babysitter

Directed by : McG

Starring : Samara Weaving, Judah Lewis, Hana Mae Lee, Bella Thorne, Robbie Amell

Budget : N/A

Worldwide box office : $404,923

Opposing Takes: The Babysitter

"It may be manic enough to amuse some horror fans, but it's so immature — even about its own immaturity — that it's difficult to recommend." — William Gibbiani, IGN

 "Doesn't break the rules we've come to abide in the genre, if anything it follows them to a tee, but it's delight in being supremely distasteful earns the film a charm that's sorely been missed." — Peter Gray, AU Review

Bottom Line: The Babysitter

"The Babysitter" is a made for Netflix movie about a kid too old for a babysitter who accidentally sees what the babysitter does when he's sleeping upstairs. Hint: It's sacrificing people to Satan. Now, trapped in a house with her and her Satanic buddies, he has to escape.

"The Babysitter" is crass, self-aware and comically gory. It's a good time for those who love bloody schlock, and this film bathes in it.

A sequel is in the works. 

39. The Signal

The Signal

Year : 2008 

Directed by : David Bruckner, Dan Bush, Jacob Gentry

Starring : A.J. Bowen, Anessa Ramsey, Justin Welborn

Budget : $50,000

Worldwide box office : $1 million

Opposing Takes: The Signal

"It doesn't take long for the 'The Signal''s promising beginning to fade into a haze that leaves the viewer exhausted and irritated." — James Beradinelli, ReelViews

"Funny, terrifying and haunting all at once, this tripartite vision of postmodern alienation, societal breakdown and mental disintegration is as arresting as a baseball bat to the head — while still cutting to the heart." — Anton Bitel, Eye for Film

Bottom Line: The Signal

"The Signal" (not to be confused with the 2014's "The Signal" with Laurence Fisburne) is a low-budget horror movie told in three chapters (called "transmissions") in a world where a mysterious signal, emitted through all forms of communication, drives people insane and murderous. 

It's gruesome, humorous and exceptionally well done given its shoestring budget, even if it does gas out at the end.

Unfortunately, most people haven't even heard of it. 

38. Constantine


Year : 2005

Directed by : Francis Lawrence

Starring : Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf, Tilda Swinton

Budget : $100 million

Worldwide box office : $230.9 million

Opposing Takes: Constantine

"Most of the script consists of speeches explaining too many intricate rules of supernatural battles between good and evil. Even the cast seems bored." — Michael Compton, Bowling Green Daily News

"'Constantine' deserves a cult following and should be remembered for all the things it did right instead of its perceived wrongs." — Drew Dietsch 

Bottom Line: Constantine

A comic book movie before comic book movies were the only thing Hollywood produced, "Constantine" is about an occult detective who can commune with the supernatural spirit world. Keanu Reeves plays a wonderful John Constantine, a brooding man with terminal lung cancer condemned to hell because he attempted to take his own life.

"Constantine" was panned by critics when it came out in 2005, but has since become more appreciated for the movie it is and not what the movie people were expecting. It's not a brilliant adaptation of the "Hellblazer" comics, but it's a thoroughly enjoyable movie that didn't deserve the hate. 

37. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Year : 2006

Directed by : Tom Twykler

Starring : Ben Whishaw, Alan Rickman, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Dustin Hoffman

Budget : $64 million

Worldwide box office : $133 million

Opposing Takes: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

"'Perfume: The Story of a Murderer' is another nauseous example of style over content: a toxic tale of serial homicide set in 18th-century France that creeps you out faster than it makes you think." — Rex Reed, Observer

"Plenty of high profile movies are about the tormented lives of artists. 'Perfume: The Story of a Murderer' takes it up a notch: It's a legitimate artwork." — Mark Palermo, The Coast

Bottom Line: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

"Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" is one of the most expensive German films ever made. It's also one of the most interesting. "Perfume" is set in 18th-century France and chronicles the life of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a (fictional) master perfumer and serial killer. 

Any good movie that makes the audience walk in a villain's shoes is a difficult one to watch, and a difficult one to market. Many people felt uneasy watching this film, but that shouldn't be a knock against it. It's an absolutely gorgeous film to watch and makes the story easier to digest. 

36. Kung Pow! Enter the Fist

Kung Pow! Enter the Fist

Directed by : Steve Oedekerk

Starring : Steve Oedekerk

Worldwide box office : $17 million

Opposing Takes: Kung Pow! Enter the Fist

"Not since 'Freddy Got Fingered' has a major release been so painful to sit through." — Robert K. Elder, Chicago Tribune

"Steve Oedekerk's ode to bad '70s Hong Kong cinema is a gleefully bizarre combination of loving homage and merciless satire, bad special effects and unexpected jokes." — Betsy Bozdech,

Bottom Line: Kung Pow! Enter the Fist

We trained him wrong on purpose as a joke. 

Critics hated "Kung Pow! Enter the Fist." That doesn't they were right. The movie stars Steve Oedekerk (who also wrote and directed) in a series of scenes taken from old (and bad) Hong Kong kung ffu movies. Lines are overdubbed to make a semi-coherent story with a ton of good one-liners and funny moments.  

Just forget about the cow fight. It never happened.

35. Robin Hood: Men in Tights

Robin Hood: Men in Tights

Directed by : Mel Brooks

Starring : Cary Elwes, Richard Lewis, Roger Rees, Amy Yasbeck, Dave Chappelle, Mark Blankfield 

Budget : $20 million

Worldwide box office : $35.7 million

Opposing Takes: Robin Hood: Men in Tights

"Marvelously funny even for those who didn't see the film it hilariously parodies — 1991's 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves' — this Mel Brooks comedy is one sprightly spoof." — People Magazine

"A most disappointing Mel Brooks movie parody that suggests that the once hilarious Brooks has completely lost his way." — Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune

Bottom Line: Robin Hood: Men in Tights

An underappreciated movie when it was released in 1993, "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" has become something of a cult classic over the last two decades.

But when it came out, "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" bombed at the box office and was excoriated by critics. It's not as clever as Brooks' classics, but it's fun to watch. 

"Tell everyone that when the day is out we shall have a wedding. Or a hanging. Either way, we're gonna have a lot of fun, huh?"

34. The Night Eats the World (La Nuit a Dévoré le Monde)

The Night Eats the World

Year : 2018

Directed by : Dominique Rocher

Starring : Anders Danielsen Lie, Golshifiteh Farahani

Worldwide box office : $95,208

Opposing Takes: The Night Eats the World (La Nuit a Dévoré le Monde)

"No matter how spare and arty 'The Night Eats the World' is, there's nothing here that hasn't been done before." — Simon Abrams, Village Voice

"The most innovative zombie movie since 'Shaun of the Dead.'" — Eric Kohn, Indie Wire

Bottom Line: The Night Eats the World (La Nuit a Dévoré le Monde)

"The Night Eats the World" is a French end-of-the-world zombie film set in Paris that has gone largely ignored or unseen by most. It's a foreign film with subtitles, so that's working against it, but you won't do a lot of reading when watching TNETW — it's the quietest zombie flick ever made.

Instead of people mulling over what they need to do to survive, our lone survivor quietly walks through an apartment building, figuring out where supplies might be, and fills the roof full of cups and pots to catch rainwater.

The zombies don't snarl or moan, they snap and chatter their teeth. It's a creepy, isolating movie heavy with existential dread that deserves much more attention from horror and zombie movie fans than it ever received. 

33. Equilibrium


Directed by : Kurt Wimmer

Starring : Christian Bale, Taye Digs, Emily Watson

Worldwide box office : $5.37 million

Opposing Takes: Equilibrium

"Bale is too self-conscious an action hero, and although the script may have the virtue of transparent plagiarism, it teeters both dramatically and conceptually." — Wally Hammond, Time Out 

"Despite often being preposterous and heavy-handed, there are enough slick visuals to offset the overall silliness, and the displays of 'Gun-kata' — a blend of martial arts and gunplay — provide some blistering action scenes." — Adam Smith, Radio Times

Bottom Line: Equilibrium

"Equilibrium is a mix (some might even say rip-off) of ideas from Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" and George Orwell's "1984" with awesome kung fu/firearm fights (called "gun kata"). It utterly tanked at the box office, and most critics thought it was stupid. 

Is it a little silly? Yes, and more than a little. Is it fun? Absolutely. Christian Bale takes the role seriously (as he always does), which gives the movie some believability. Another actor would have hammed it up.

32. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Year : 2016

Directed by : Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone

Starring : Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, Sarah Silverman, Tim Meadows

Worldwide box office : $9.7 million

Opposing Takes: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

"'This Is Spinal Tap' was able to turn the knob up to 11 — with 'Popstar,' 4 on the dial is the best one can reasonably expect." — Matt Brunson, Film Frenzy

"Handing Lonely Island $20 million and unleashing them onto the pop music landscape is a no-miss proposition." — Chris MCoy, Memphis Flyer

Bottom Line: Popstar: Never Stop Stopping

"Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping" is a music mockumentary made by The Lonely Island people that's a cross between "This Is Spinal Tap" and "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never." Andy Samberg plays Conner4Real, an obnoxious child pop star who has fallen out of popularity and is trying to make a comeback.  

"Popstar" bombed at the box office, was scorched by critics and almost forgotten. Luckily word of mouth still matters, and those who have seen this film know it's a gem in a box. 

31. Killing Them Softly

Killing Them Softly

Directed by : Andrew Dominik

Starring : Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Ben Mendelsohn, Scoot McNairy

Worldwide box office : $38 million

Opposing Takes: Killing Them Softly

"The anvils of obviousness rain down so hard and fast in New Zealand-born/Australian-based director Andrew Dominik's meditation on low-rent crime and American decline, that it might as well be a Coyote-Road Runner cartoon." — Cary Darling,

"The dialogue is sharp and so are the performances. Andrew Dominik directed this neo-noir in a low-key comic style that's alternately gritty and fancy. The gritty stuff is best." — Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

Bottom Line: Killing Them Softly

"Killing Them Softly" is a gangster movie with a dose of dark comedy. It has an unusual tone, which didn't win the favor of many critics, nor did the film's overt commentary on capitalism. 

It's also kind of difficult to describe. It's not a fast-paced gangster movie like "Goodfellas." It's a slower, quieter movie with flashes of gunplay.

It also has the best closing lines of dialogue in recent movie memory.

30. Crimson Peak

Crimson Peak

Year : 2015

Directed by : Guillermo del Toro

Starring : Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam, Jim Beaver

Budget : $55 million

Worldwide box office : $74.7 million

Opposing Takes: Crimson Peak

"All the carefully orchestrated color schemes and all the dark corridors and secret chambers and all the flowing red metaphors in the world can't accelerate the slow patches, or make us care about lead characters." — Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

"There's nothing else like it out right now, and if you've got an inner Goth or English major, this will be right up your alley. It's utterly unique, and could only have been made by Guillermo del Toro." — Tim Brennan, About Boulder

Bottom Line: Crimson Peak

"Crimson Peak" is a gothic horror/romance film with some of the most stunning visuals in the genre. But "Crimson Peak" limped away from the box office with a mediocre take due to poor marketing.

The film was advertised as a straight-up horror movie, which probably left fans confused. It's not a straight horror film. It's gothic horror — a genre that relies more on atmosphere and tone than scares. 

And it absolutely nails the tone and atmosphere. "Crimson Peak" is transfixing to watch and is one of Guillermo del Toro's most underrated films. 

29. MacGruber


Year : 2010

Directed by : Jorma Taccone

Starring : Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Phillippe, Powers Boothe, Maya Rudolph, Val Kilmer

Worldwide box office : $9.3 million

Opposing Takes: MacGruber

 "An action-comedy-thriller (although the term 'dud' is better), 'MacGruber' is based on a recurring American 'Saturday Night Live' sketch — a joke funny for 20 seconds, but not 99 minutes." — Times UK

"Any fans of satire who haven't checked out MacGruber yet, prepare to be converted into believers like the man himself when he finally uses a gun for the first time." — Joe Berkowitz, Vulture

Bottom Line: MacGruber

Based on a "Saturday Night Live" sketch, "MacGruber" is one of those rare SNL skit-turned-movies that's actually funny.

Ignore the terrible reviews on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes. If you like absurd, "dumb" comedies and action parodies, this movie is a winner.

Panned by critics and ignored by audiences when it was released a decade ago, "MacGruber" finally found appreciation on streaming. 

28. Kingpin


Year : 1996

Directed by :  Peter Farrelly, Bob Farrelly

Starring : Woody Harrelson, Vanessa Angel, Randy Quaid, Bill Murray

Budget : $27 million

Worldwide box office : $25 million

Opposing Takes: Kingpin

"The combination of the overkill factor and a basic mean-spiritedness finally sinks it for me." — Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress

"Some of the gags don't work, and yet I laughed at the Farrellys' audacity in trying them. And the humor isn't just gags and punch lines, but one accomplished comic performance after another." — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Bottom Line: Kingpin

In "Kingpin," Woody Harrelson plays an alcoholic, down-on-his-luck ex-bowler with a prosthetic hand who sets out to hit the pins once again, this time for $1 million in prize money. 

The film was trashed by critics and bombed at the box office, making $2 million less than its production budget. It would be eclipsed by the Farrelly brothers' next comedy, "There's Something About Mary," and by "The Big Lebowski," a better bowling movie released two years later (which is unfair — what movies are better than "The Big Lebowski"? ). 

"Kingpin" is a damn funny film, with Bill Murray in top form as a grade-A jerk and Harrelson giving a hell of a performance. It's crass, sometimes gross, and some of the skits feel lifted out of "The Naked Gun" franchise and don't quite fit. Overall, though, it's a ridiculous and fun film. 

27. The 13th Warrior

The 13th Warrior

Year : 1999

Directed by : John McTiernan

Starring : Antonio Banderas, Diane Venora, Omar Sharif

Budget : $85 million-$100 million

Worldwide box office : $61.7 million

Opposing Takes: The 13th Warrior

"'The 13th Warrior' is a brazen attempt to brand Antonio Banderas as an A-lister with a C-grade script. Failure attends." — Cole Smithey,

"Exciting battle sequences, intriguing period costumes, fascinating cinematography, and stirring background music contribute to the epic nature of 'The 13th Warrior.'" — Betty Jo Tucker, ReelTalk Movie Reviews

Bottom Line: The 13th Warrior

"The 13th Warrior" was one of the biggest box-office disasters ever, costing an estimated $160 million all-in (including promotional expenses) and only bringing in $61.7 million worldwide. It's a violent film based on Michael Crichton's "Eaters of the Dead," which is a retelling of Beowulf. 

It's certainly flawed (the movie went under numerous reshoots and was poorly edited), but "The 13th Warrior" is captivating in a weird way, has an awesome soundtrack and is a solid action movie. 

26. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Year : 2013

Directed by : Ben Stiller

Starring : Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Shirley MacLaine, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn, Sean Penn

Budget : $90 million 

Worldwide box office : $188 million

Opposing Takes: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

"It has little narrative interest and requires that the director latch onto a very specific airy tone of whimsy, lest the whole souffle collapse." — Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

"Stiller delivers an enjoyable take on the modern man's existential crisis, aided greatly by stunning cinematography." — David Brake, One Room With a View

Bottom Line: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" is a whimsical, feel-good dramadey about a daydreaming middle-aged man who wants more out of life. It's a tender movie with excellent cinematography, although many critics derided it for being overly sentimental and unrealistic.

Maybe it is, but it works. Even if Walter's journey is wholly implausible, the movie is a nice escape from reality, like a feature-length daydream. 

25. Death to Smoochy

Death to Smoochy

Directed by : Danny DeVito

Starring : Robin Williams, Edward Norton, Danny DeVito, Catherine Keener, Jon Stewart

Worldwide box office : $8.4 million

Opposing Takes: Death to Smoochy

"This is a particularly toxic little bonbon, palatable to only a chosen and very jaundiced few." — Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post

"'Death to Smoochy' is often very funny, but what's even more remarkable is the integrity of DeVito's misanthropic vision." — J. Hoberman, Village Voice

Bottom Line: Death to Smoochy

"Death to Smoochy" is a black comedy with an all-star cast that made an astoundingly pitiful amount of money at the box office. It features Robin Williams as Rainbow Randolph, a devious children's show host who is fired over a bribery scandal. He's replaced by Smoochy (Edward Norton), whom he then sets out to murder. 

A wave of harsh critical reviews — including one from Roger Ebert, who also awarded "Death to Smoochy" the worst film of 2002 —  drowned out the film's smattering of positive reviews. The movie would have died in obscurity if it were actually bad.

Instead, the film gained an audience at home and then streaming, and has since earned its place as a cult comedy. 

24. The Fall

The Fall

Directed by : Tarsem Singh

Starring : Lee Pace, Justine Waddell, Catinca Utaru

Budget : $30 million

Worldwide box office : $3.67 million

Opposing Takes: The Fall

"'The Fall is an encounter with the mythic in human history and you want to give Singh a pat on the back for his chutzpah, even if the film itself registers as terrifyingly self-indulgent and often incoherent." — Felicia Feaster, Charleston City Paper

"[A] movie that you might want to see for no other reason than because it exists. There will never be another like it." — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Bottom Line: The Fall

"The Fall" is an exceptionally imaginative and visually stunning movie. It's a vanity project — which rubbed critics the wrong way — but it's just fascinating to watch. "The Fall" was mostly financed by the director, Tarsem Singh, took four years to make and was filmed in 28 countries.

"The Fall" is a fantasy tale told to a child and played out on screen, like "The Princess Bride," although that's pretty much where the similarities end. Six heroes venture into exotic lands, seeking revenge on an evil governor. It's told from the hospital bed of a paralyzed stunt man to a little girl with a broken arm, whom he has steal morphine for him. 

Like a book of art, you can skip to any scene in "The Fall" and become engrossed. It's so visually amazing that you'll forgive it for its flaws. 

23. The Fountain

The Fountain

Directed by : Darren Aronofsky

Starring : Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Ellen Burstyn

Worldwide box office : $16.5 million

Opposing Takes: The Fountain

"Ambitious? You bet, but also a towering, tumultuous folly. It's the movie equivalent of a prog-rock double album, short on humor, long on pomposity, and as for what it all means — you might well ask." — Anthony Quinn, Independent

"Although some may find the ping-pong time travels as distracting or even annoying, this is definitely my pick as the most beauteous and emotionally exquisite films of the decade. 'The Fountain' speaks volumes." — Debbie Lynn Elias, Behind the Lens

Bottom Line: The Fountain

"The Fountain" is a sprawling fantasy/science-fiction drama about love, death and what's beyond it. It's abstract, overly ambitious and sometimes confusing. It's also visually stunning and deeply thoughtful with an incredible soundtrack.

It's a difficult film to grasp, and some argue it's ultimately pointless. Yet if this film connects with you, it really connects. There's nothing else quite like it. 

22. The Mist

The Mist

Directed by : Frank Darabont 

Starring : Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden

Budget : $18 million

Worldwide box office : $57.5 million

Opposing Takes: The Mist

"The last 30 minutes play like a dismissive ambush, leading to a final scene so utterly misguided that I wanted to hurl obscenities at the screen." — David Keyes, Cinemaphile

"Unusually dark and gritty, with ace B-movie writing and direction from Darabont and a collection of full-on performances from a gifted cast." — Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

Bottom Line: The Mist

"The Mist" almost entirely takes place in a small-town grocery store, whose denizens are trapped inside by a mysterious fog concealing deadly creatures. 

The monsters in "The Mist" are not the movie's draw (their CGI was bad even for 2007). Instead, the film is really about the complete breakdown of society, with one woman (Marcia Gay Harden) going full zealot and becoming a cult leader in short order. Things get bad, real fast. 

The film moves along at a fast clip and pretty much everything is enjoyable to watch, although some people really hate that ending. But that's what makes it memorable. 

21. Last Flag Flying

Last Flag Flying

Directed by : Richard Linklater

Starring : Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne

Worldwide box office : $1.87 million

Opposing Takes: Last Flag Flying

"What a bland and sugary texture there is to this very conservative, undemanding oldster roadtrip." — Peter Bradshaw, the Guardian

"'Last Flag Flying' tackles what goes on the minds of not-so-happy veterans without serving the jingoistic conservatism that so many military films find themselves worshipping." — James Clay, Fresh Fiction

Bottom Line: Last Flag Flying

"Last Flag Flying" is a slow-paced drama about three Vietnam veterans reunited after one of their sons is killed in the Iraq War. It's based on the novel of the same name by Darryl Ponicsan (the novel is the sequel to "The Last Detail," also made into a film, and "Last Flag Flying" is considered a spiritual or unofficial sequel to that movie). 

This film was financed by Amazon Studios and released on Amazon Prime after a short run at 110 theatres. Despite its cast of Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne — all of whom give stellar performances — this film seems to have disappeared among all the other releases of late 2017. 

Like the movie's subject matter (albeit to a much less important degree), it doesn't deserve to be forgotten. "Last Flag Flying" is a subdued, bittersweet movie that manages to be sincere and funny. Cranston gives a memorable performance. 

20. The Skeleton Key

The Skeleton Key

Directed by : Iain Softley

Starring : Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands, Peter Sarsgaard, Joy Bryant, John Hurt

Budget : $43 million

Worldwide box office : $94 million

Opposing Takes: The Skeleton Key

"The voodoo lore is sketchy (it can't hurt unbelievers, except when it can), the plot obviously did little but build-up to the big reveal." — Rob Gonsalves, eFilmCritic

"This is a moody, creepy thriller with some genuinely scary moments and a couple of twists that took me completely by surprise." — Richard Roeper, Ebert & Roeper

Bottom Line: The Skeleton Key

"The Skeleton Key" was, and is, mostly panned by critics, who wrote it off as cliched, bayou voodoo mumbo jumbo. But it's not, though. Not really.

Sure, there are some terrible Southern accents and a rambling, haunted plantation in Louisiana inhabited by a creepy family. But that's what ghost stories are all about. 

"The Skeleton Key" plays those tropes unusually well. Often overlooked is its portrayal of hoodoo. It can't hurt you if you don't believe in it, which is exactly how hoodoo priests and priestesses present the magic in real life. The spells are accurate, too.

19. Kingdom of Heaven

Kingdom of Heaven

Directed by : Ridley Scott

Starring : Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Ghassan Massoud, Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson

Budget : $130 million

Worldwide box office : $218 million

Opposing Takes: Kingdom of Heaven

"The miscasting of the lightweight Bloom proves fatal: instead of galvanizing this epic, he sucks the energy out of it." — David Ansen, Newsweek

"Is Orlando Bloom enough of a star to sustain a $100 million costume drama? The answer turns out to be yes." — Stephen Hunter, The Washington Post

Bottom Line: Kingdom of Heaven

"Kingdom of Heaven" is an epic war drama set during the 12th-century Crusades. Orlando Bloom plays the lead. Admittedly, the film probably would have benefited from a different actor, but the film should have enjoyed more success than it received.

The flick has some awesome battle scenes, and its enormous budget is well spent. It shouldn't have been marketed as a historical epic — the movie is historical fiction— but it didn't deserve to crash, burn and go ignored. 

Director Ridley Scott released a director's cut with nearly an hour's worth of additional footage (bringing the running time to 194 minutes), and it is overwhelmingly better than the theatrical cut. 

18. Slither


Starring : Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Rooker, Tania Saulnier, Gregg Henry

Worldwide box office : $12.8 million

Opposing Takes: Slither

"This writing-directing debut from the guy who concocted that rip-off known as 'Dawn of the Dead' [2004] isn't that scary, and it isn't nearly as funny as he seems to think it is." — Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel 

"A hilariously gonzo, self-referential neo-Body Snatchers that takes the mickey out of the alien-monster genre the way 'Scream' did slasher films." — Jim Slotek, Jam! Movies

Bottom Line: Slither

"Slither" was James Gunn's directorial debut and a box-office bomb, failing to catch audiences as a smart, slimy B-movie tribute.

Luckily, it found an audience on at home (it picked up about $8.2 million in DVD sales within two weeks) and is something of a cult favorite. 

"Slither" is a genuinely intelligent and funny movie. It's a film that should appeal to more audiences than only B-movie horror fans and deserves more attention from a wider audience. 

17. The Frighteners

The Frighteners

Directed by : Peter Jackson

Starring : Michael J. Fox, Trini Alvarado, Peter Dobson, John Astin

Worldwide box office : $29.4 million

Opposing Takes: The Frighteners

"Story was originally conceived as an episode of 'Tales From the Crypt,' and that is perhaps what it should have remained, as the thinness of the conceit shows throughout, painfully so in the first half." — Todd McCarthy, Variety

"Fortunately director Jackson, at home with all kinds of excess, keeps everything spinning nicely, not even losing a step when the mood turns increasingly disturbing." — Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

Bottom Line: The Frighteners

"The Frighteners" is Peter Jackson's seventh film and the last one before he was catapulted to legend status with "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. 

In "The Frighteners," Michael J. Fox plays a guy who can commune with the dead. He can commune with spirits so well he has his own corrupt ghostbusting service and uses his undead buddies to go "Poltergeist" in his client's houses, then "cleanses" the home for a payday. Things get darker when a hateful spirit starts killing people off one by one, and Fox goes to investigate.

"The Frighteners" is the peak of the 1990s ghost camp. It's fun to watch all the way through, and the special effects were cutting edge for its time and still pretty good today. Weta Digital, Jackson's special effects company, went on to win six Oscars for all three "Lord of the Rings" movies, "King Kong," "Avatar" and 2016's "Jungle Book."

16. The Blob

The Blob

Year : 1988

Directed by : Chuck Russell

Starring : Shawnee Smith, Kevin Dillon, Donovan Leitch, Jeffrey DeMunn

Worldwide box office : $8.25 million

Opposing Takes: The Blob

"All we get is sullen Kevin Dillon subbing for Steve [McQueen] and a bigger, nastier lump that bloodies up its victims in stomach-churning close-ups." — Peter Travers, People Magazine

"Stunning practical effects work, a great story with great characters, and a huge sense of fun, it's a shame that 'The Blob' doesn't have as big of a following as it should have." — Meagan Navarro, Bloody Disgusting

Bottom Line: The Blob

Director Chuck Russell took his "Blob" remake in a much gorier direction than the 1950s camp classic.

In this film, the blob isn't an alien. It's a government experiment gone wrong, and it has a whole lot of fun devouring and melting its victims from inside its acidic, translucent body. 

It's a bloody monster movie romp with gelatinous murder-slime and awesome practical effects taking center stage. It bombed at the box office, but now you can watch it on streaming.  

15. Demolition Man

Demolition Man

Directed by : Marco Brambilla

Starring :  Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Sandra Bullock

Budget : $57 million-$97 million (with marketing costs )

Worldwide box office : $58 million

Opposing Takes: Demolition Man

"A noisy, soulless, self-conscious pastiche that mixes elements of sci-fi, action-adventure and romance, then pours on a layer of comedy replete with Hollywood in-jokes." — Emanuel Levy, Variety

"The pleasant surprise about 'Demolition Man' is that both the script, and Stallone, are funny; the film blends big-budget action and tongue-in-cheek humor in the way that 'Last Action Hero' tried, and failed, to do." — TV Guide

Bottom Line: Demolition Man

The premise of "Demolition Man" is basically a fantasized hellscape from the far right of the political spectrum. In the future, the populace has become so subdued into political correctness, the entire country has been so sanitized that even swearing results in a fine. And all of this happens within maybe 30 years after the initial scene set in a crime-overrun 1996 Los Angeles. 

"The Libs" have won. Everyone has gone soft. The radio plays children's cartoons back to back in self-driving cars. When a criminal mastermind (Wesley Snipes) is released from cryogenic sleep, no one, not even the police, can handle it. So they defrost tough-as-nails Sgt. John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) to take him down. With HGH-fueled veins, he's here to bring violence back to America and this arch-criminal to his coffin. 

But "Demolition Man" is a satire, not a screed. It's silly fun that's totally self-aware. 

"We're police officers. We're not trained to handle this kind of violence!" Rob Schneider cries after watching a squad of LAPD officers get manhandled by Snipes, in a movie released one year after the Los Angeles riots. 

Also, fun fact: According to Dennis Leary , who has a cameo, Snipes insisted on doing all of his own stunts. The director waited until Snipes went back to his trailer and then reshot them all with professional stunt doubles. 

14. Hobo With a Shotgun

Hobo With a Shotgun

Year : 2011

Directed by : Jason Eisner

Starring : Rutger Hauer, Gregory Smith, Molly Dunsworth

Budget : $3 million

Worldwide box office : $748,453

Opposing Takes: Hobo With a Shotgun

"It stomps over any notions of good taste and credibility after roughly five minutes." — Anthony Quinn, Independent 

"There are two kinds of people in the world, people who will watch a movie called 'Hobo With A Shotgun,' and people who will avoid it at all costs. I fall in the former category, and if you do too, I have to believe that you will fall in love." — Ed Travis, Hollywood Jesus

Bottom Line: Hobo With a Shotgun

"Hobo With a Shotgun" is one of the most ridiculous, violently over-the-top and funnest movies made in recent memory.

The film stars the late Rutger Hauer, who travels into Scum Town on a boxcar. He dreams of mowing lawns for a living, but the city is so overrun with criminals that he makes the choice to buy a shotgun instead of a mower, opting to cut down scumbags instead of grass. 

The movie was spawned from a fake trailer for Robert Rodriguez's "Grindhouse" SXSW competition, and somehow it overdelivered. As Nigel Andrews from the Financial Times wrote, it's "designer trash."


Directed by : Mike Flanagan

Starring : Kate Siegel, John Gallagher Jr., Michael Trucco

Budget : $1 million

Worldwide box office : N/A

Opposing Takes: Hush

"Silence is golden in 'Hush,' one of the more inspired concoctions to emerge from the busy Blumhouse horror-thriller assembly line in recent years." —  Geoff Berkshire, Variety

"Formulaic horror movie has gore, violence, cursing." — Brian Costello, Common Sense Media

Bottom Line: Hush

A serial killer hunts a deaf woman in her own home in "Hush," a low-budget slasher film made for Netflix.

"Hush" does what hardly any slasher flick does — it makes you root for the main character. And it does it without a thumping soundtrack or thrashing jump scares.  "Hush" is a quiet movie, which keeps you glued to the screen.

Director Mike Flanagan doesn't waste a second of the film's tight 81-minute run time. 


Directed by : Jonathan Lynn

Starring : Tim Curry, Eileen Brennan, Christopher Lloyd, Madeline Kahn, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, Lesley Ann Warren

Worldwide box office : $14.6 million

Opposing Takes: Clue

"It's not the least bit scary or suspenseful but instead quickly grows tedious. The more you struggle to keep track of the constantly multiplying plot developments, the harder it gets to care who did it." — Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times

"If you're open to a weirdly atmospheric comedy that dashes from deadpan to manic and back again, it's a delight." — Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid

Bottom Line: Clue

Mix camp and madcap humor with some Agatha Christie tropes and a twisted, tawdry take on a classic board game. That's "Clue," a box-office stinker that may be the only movie to have been distributed with three different endings. 

"Clue" was a box-office disaster and received lukewarm to bad critical reviews when it was released. It wouldn't be until much later, perhaps a decade or more, that "Clue" gained an audience.

For those who love the film, you can read all about how it was made .

11. Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow

Year : 2014

Starring : Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton

Budget : $178 million

Worldwide box office : $370.5 million

Opposing Takes: Edge of Tomorrow

"'Edge of Tomorrow' is a decent time waster, but if you're the sort of person who watches a movie every day, you should probably look for something better." — J.R. Jones, Chicago Reader 

"'Edge of Tomorrow' deserves praise and viewers. It is proof that calculated cynicism and recycled content aren't the only ways to deliver big-budget, mainstream entertainment," Ryan Syrek, The Reader

Bottom Line: Edge of Tomorrow

While it was generally well-received by critics, "Edge of Tomorrow" floundered at the box office due to marketing mismanagement. Which is tragic, because Warner Bros. put in $100 million just in marketing to try and make "Edge of Tomorrow" its 2014 tentpole film.

The studio renamed the movie from "All You Need Is Kill" to "Edge of Tomorrow" before releasing it in theaters, and then renamed it "Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow" on Blu-ray and DVD. 

Most audiences couldn't figure out what the plot was due to poor marketing, but it's pretty simple: It's "Groundhog Day" with world-destroying aliens, and Tom Cruise dies over and over again as he tries to figure out how to fight the extraterrestrials (called mimics) and stop the time loop. 

"Edge of Tomorrow" is one of the most fun blockbuster action sci-fi films made in the past decade. Not that it found an audience at home, there's a chance for a sequel . 

10. Wet Hot American Summer

Wet Hot American Summer

Directed by : David Wain 

Starring : Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Micahel Ian Black, Bradley Cooper, Amy Poehler, Christopher Meloni, Michael Showalter, Ken Marino

Budget : $1.8 million

Worldwide box office : $295,206

Opposing Takes: Wet Hot American Summer

"This is supposed to be funny? It was so depressing I almost started to cry." — Stephen Hunter, Washington Post

"This shamefully under-promoted, gloriously silly romp made me laugh harder than any other movie this summer...this blissfully unimportant movie starts in a deceptively low key, gradually unveiling its total lunacy." — David Ansen, Newsweek

Bottom Line: Wet Hot American Summer

"Wet Hot American Summer" was a total wipeout when it was released in 2001. Which is sort of unsurprising because nothing like "Wet Hot" had come before it. It was a pioneer in absurdism and on another level of parody. Describing it as a teen sex comedy parody doesn't do it justice.

Critics absolutely hated it because they didn't get it, but "Wet Hot" slowly picked up a following and has since become a cult favorite. 

Netflix's prequel series "Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp" manages to be just as funny 14 years later, as is the sequel series, "Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later."

9. Death Becomes Her

Death Becomes Her

Year : 1992

Directed by : Robert Zemeckis

Starring : Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn, Bruce Willis, Isabella Rossellini

Worldwide box office : $149 million

Opposing Takes: Death Becomes Her

"If there were something resembling genuine satire of human behavior beyond the simple pretexts for fancy special effects and relentless sadism, I might have found some of this funny." — Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

"Insistently grotesque, relentlessly misanthropic and spectacularly tasteless, ''Death Becomes Her'' isn't a film designed to win the hearts of the mass moviegoing public. But it is diabolically inventive and very, very funny." — Dave Kehr, Chicago Tribune

Bottom Line: Death Becomes Her

Two miserable women seeking eternal youth delve into the dark side when they drink a magic potion which gives them what they desire — with a bunch of caveats.

"Death Becomes Her" is witty, often hilarious and has rock-solid special effects. The film did OK at the worldwide box office (although it only made $58 million domestically), but was not reviewed particularly well and has largely gone forgotten.

However, it has become a favorite in the LGBTQIA community . 

8. Angel Heart

Angel Heart

Year : 1987

Directed by : Alan Parker 

Starring : Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, Lisa Bonet, Charlotte Rampling

Budget : $17 million

Worldwide box office : $17.2 million

Opposing Takes: Angel Heart

"Metaphysical and emotional anemia is an important tradition in cult horror/mystery, a category the daffy plot twists and crimson, incestuous excesses of 'Angel Heart' sit quite cozily in." — Joseph Jon Lanthier, Slant Magazine

"'Angel Heart' is a thriller and a horror movie, but most of all it's an exuberant exercise in style, in which Parker and his actors have fun taking it to the limit," Roger Ebert, Chicago-Sun Times

Bottom Line: Angel Heart

"Angel Heart" is a horror-noir film about detective Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke), who is tasked with tracking down a missing singer in 1950s New Orleans. As he investigates her disappearance, grisly murders follow him, and all the victims bear the mark of a Satanic cult. 

"Angel Heart" is a phenomenal horror film with style and substance that never received the attention it deserved. It did poorly at the box office and often goes overlooked, but it's one of the best devil movies ever made, with Robert De Niro playing Satan himself. 


Directed by : Pete Travis

Starring : Karl Urban, Olivia Thrilby, Wood Harris, Leana Headey

Worldwide box office : $41 million

Opposing Takes: Dredd

"My notes are as follows: 'Shoot bad guy.' 'Shoot bad guy.' 'Shoot bad guy.'" — Kyle Smith, New York Post

"Surprisingly, this flashy facelift happens to be one of the best action films to be made in quite some time, its gritty adult humor and narrative aptitude recalling the best works of genre stalwarts like Verhoeven and Carpenter." — Nicholas Bell,

Bottom Line: Dredd

"Dredd" is a violent futuristic flick stuffed with satire, schlock and a good dose of humor based on the Judge Dredd character from the Dark Horse comics series. But that didn't translate well to ticket sales. "Dredd" underperformed at the box office and received mixed reviews from the media. It also didn't help that the 3D print of the movie was prioritized over the 2D version, hurting its potential audience at theaters. 

The movie takes place in the post-apocalyptic city, MegaCity One (which is essentially the entire Eastern seaboard) that has 17,000 serious crimes reported daily among its 800 million people. To keep the peace, judges have taken the place of cops. They are judge, jury and executioner.

The baddest of them all is Dredd. He's been tasked with clearing out a 100-story tall apartment building/shopping mall hybrid, which is where almost the entire movie takes place. For those who love movies like "Robocop," "Starship Troopers" and other similar films from the 1980s and 1990s, "Dredd" is a comfy throwback to those wonderful films. 

6. Turbo Kid

Turbo Kid

Directed by : Francois Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell

Starring : Mauro Chambers, Laurence Lebeouf, Michael Ironside

Budget : $60,000

Opposing Takes: Turbo Kid

"'Turbo Kid' isn't really more mature than its raw generic parts, nor is it clever enough to disarm viewers who want to regress to childhood without feeling guilty for that naive impulse." — Simon Abrams,

"A pitch-perfect pastiche that never mocks its inspirations, the picture is silly fun to warm the hearts of aging fanboys and delight hipsters who weren't yet born the first time Mel Gibson donned Max's leathers." — John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

Bottom Line: Turbo Kid

"Turbo Kid" did receive positive reviews almost across the board. The problem? Not enough people have seen it. 

Writer-directors Francois Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell made this movie with just $60,000, and it only played in a few theaters on the same day that it was made available on streaming. The release was so limited there aren't any ticket sales numbers available. 

"Turbo Kid" is set in a post-apocalyptic, water-scarce world of 1997. Our hero, the BMX bike-riding Kid, searches the wasteland for old comic books. He meets a girl, they team up, and then she's kidnapped by the typical post-apocalyptic maniac gang. Kid then sets out to take revenge on their leader, Zeus.

"Turbo Kid" is an homage to 1980s post-apocalyptic movies. It's gory, funny and a blast to watch. 

5. Dark City

Dark City

Year : 1998

Directed by : Alex Proyas

Starring : Rufus Sewell, Kiefer Sutherland, Jennifer Connely, Richard O'Brien, William Hurt

Worldwide box office : $27.2 million

Opposing Takes: Dark City

"A mishmash of iconography lifted from better movies." — Lisa Alspector, Chicago Reader

"'Dark City' trades in such weighty themes as memory, thought control, human will and the altering of reality, but is engaging mostly in the degree to which it creates and sustains a visually startling alternate universe." — Todd McCarthy, Variety

Bottom Line: Dark City

"Dark City" is one of the most underrated sci-fi movies ever made. It's visually amazing (the special effects still hold up) with a surreal story that includes a thought-controlling subterranean race of supernatural beings called the Strangers, who can manipulate the entire city when they make the clock strike midnight. It makes "The Matrix" look like a children's movie. 

"Dark City" didn't make a huge splash when it came out in 1998, but it has since become a recommended movie and fan favorite among fans of the genre. It should have at least been nominated for an Oscar for best visual effects ("What Dreams May Come" won in 1999). 

4. Annihilation


Directed by : Alex Garland

Starring : Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Lee, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson

Budget : $40 million-$55 million

Worldwide box office : $43 million

Opposing Takes: Annihilation

"Making movies steeped in vagueness these days is proving to be an excellent way to earn critical praise, but being artfully ambiguous strikes me as a way to cover for not being able to finish the job." — Kyle Smith, New York Post

"Annihilation shares the ambiguous dream logic found in David Lynch's best work, but mixes it with the type of horrific imagery seen in 'Alien' and 'The Thing.'" — Victor Stiff, Goomba Stomp

Bottom Line: Annihilation

"Annihilation" is a science fiction horror movie that turned out to be one of the best sci-fi flicks of the last decade, up there with "Arrival." But it didn't earn nearly as many accolades as the latter and bombed at the box office. 

It probably bombed because "Annihilation" is in a genre that typically does not perform too well at the box office, and is difficult to market. Plus, studios released it in February, a dump month for films they don't think will do well. And then was dumped on Netflix everywhere but the U.S. 

Which is a shame, because "Annihilation" is a smart, dark and slow-paced horror movie that's much deeper than a mutated bear. Four scientists and one paramedic must venture into the shimmer, some kind of expanding alien bubble from space, find out what happened to the previous, now-MIA team, and see if they can figure out what the hell is going on. 

It's worth watching for anyone even remotely interested in science fiction or horror. 

3. The Grey

The Grey

Directed by : Joe Carnahan

Starring : Liam Neeson, Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney

Budget : $25 million

Worldwide box office : $79.8 million

Opposing Takes: The Grey

"'The Grey' is about raging against the dying of the light but also about accepting it with peace once the fight has been lost." — James Berardinelli, ReelViews

"Somewhere along the line, apparently, it was decided that having men fight for their lives is not enough to hang a movie on. It has to be a movie about Big Ideas." — Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger

Bottom Line: The Grey

"The Grey" turned a modest profit at the box office and received generally favorable reviews. Then it sort of disappeared. It deserved so much more. 

Ostensibly, "The Grey" is about a group of men who crash-land in the Alaskan wilderness and must survive the harsh landscape while being stalked by a group of wolves. But underneath the macho action premise, "The Grey" is a philosophical film about death, God and nature. It's a hauntingly beautiful and brutal movie that warrants multiple viewings. 

Critics were quick to point out that in reality, wolves avoid humans, not hunt them, and there's not really such a thing as an alpha wolf. That's true. But the wolves in this movie aren't just wolves. They're death symbols.

2. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

Directed by : Jim Jarmusch

Starring : Forest Whitaker, John Tormey, Cliff Gorman, Henry Silva

Budget : $2 million

Worldwide box office : $9.4 million

Opposing Takes: Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

"A handsomely shot, cool-sounding head-scratcher of a film that probably isn't worth the wear on the fingernails." — Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail

"You don't have to 'get' 'Ghost Dog' to enjoy it; it's an experience more open to interpretation." — David Rollison, The Spool

Bottom Line: Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

Ask anyone — or at least anyone with decent taste— who has seen "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai," and they'll gush about how great a movie it is.

It was widely lauded by critics when it came out, and it made nearly five times its production budget back at the worldwide box office. Yet this is one of those movies that isn't just a hidden gem. It's a diamond that never seemed to reach its potential audience. Worse, its streaming availability is spotty at best, and it's difficult to purchase digitally. 

Forest Whittaker stars as Ghost Dog, a samurai hitman for the mob. The movie flows impeccably, elevated by both RZA's killer original score and Whittaker's performance. It's just flat-out cool and wholly original. 

1. Happiness


Directed by : Todd Solondz

Starring : Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jane Adams, Elizabeth Ashley, Dylan Baker

Budget : $2.2 million

Worldwide box office : $2.98 million

Opposing Takes: Happiness

"...seduces us with subtle humor and then hammers us with unpleasantness; it seems as selfishly opportunistic as anything committed by the perverted characters it portrays." —  John J. Puccio, Movie Metropolis

"Even in the darkest, sickest moments, there's always some kind of humor [but] what makes this comedy superior to most is that it remains painfully sincere." — Kevin N. Laforest, Montreal Film Journal

Bottom Line: Happiness

"Happiness" did receive critical acclaim when it debuted in 1998, but its ability to find an audience was stunted by the MPAA's rating of NC-17. Producers opted instead to go the unrated route, and the movie had a limited release. 

Which is unfortunate, because "Happiness" is one of the most biting and darkest comedies of all the time, if not the darkest. The film follows three sisters and the men involved in their meandering lives. Terrible things happen.

It's not for the squeamish, yet even though there are distasteful and absolutely dreadful characters, Todd Solondz gives them humanity — even if we may think they don't deserve it. 

To this day, "Happiness" is impossible to find on a streaming service or even to purchase digitally. You'll have to find the DVD, which is also out of print. Given it's unavailability to audiences and the sheer quality of the movie, "Happiness" is the most underrated movie of all time. 

The 28 Most Underrated Films Ever Made

Don't overlook these hidden gems.

still of empire records movie

There are good movies. There are bad movies. Then there there are criminally underrated movies that never got the credit they deserve...until now. Each year, Hollywood is inundated with hundreds of films—so many, in fact, that we can miss the hidden gems that are overshadowed by blockbusters and films that are  excruciatingly  boring but will somehow still be nominated during award season (shade, but no shade).

But that ends today. Finally, we're giving the should-be sleeper hits the roses that they deserve while we still can, from kitschy rom-coms to inspirational true story films. Below, some of the most underrated but most deserving films of all time, according to "science" (my opinion).

The Assistant (2020)

Julia Garner gives a sublime performance in this slow-burn drama that feels so insidiously cruel, it also seeps into the horror genre. Garner plays Jane, an overworked assistant to a big-time film producer who uses his power and position to abuse women (the man is never seen nor named, but the comparisons to Harvey Weinstein are fairly overt). It's a movie that will stick with you long after the credits roll.

The Rules of Attraction (2002)

This 2002 movie, based on Bret Easton Ellis’s classically 1980s novel of the same name is a dark satire of the college movie and follows an extremely pretentious group of college kids at a liberal arts school who fall in love, explain books to one another (often incorrectly), and have a lot of sex. The cast alone is a dream of an early 2000s who’s who: Jessica Biel, James Van Der Beek, Ian Somerhalder, Kate Bosworth, Jay Baruchel, and Shannon Sossamon. Fun fact: James Van Der Beek’s character is named Sean Bateman, the brother of Patrick Bateman—you know, the lead character of another, more recognizable Bret Easton Ellis book-to-movie called American Psycho . 

The Village (2004)

Critics of M. Night Shyamalan movies like to say he fell off, quality-wise, after reaching incredible heights with The Sixth Sense and Signs . Those people are not giving enough credit to The Village , which follows an isolated religious community that feels very New World-y as they try to maintain an uneasy truce with the monsters that stalk their village. The twist is…well, very M. Night Shyamalan, but this movie holds up much better than people who poo-pooed it the first time around might remember. 

Beyond the Lights (2014)

This moving love story about a singing ingenue on the edge of superstardom—and at the end of her rope—and the young cop who saves her did not get the attention it deserves. Think The Bodyguard but modern and dealing with mental health. Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nate Parker, Minnie Driver, and Danny Glover are a powerful cast who bring home this story of star-crossed lovers and make it incredibly memorable. 

Stardust (2007)

How this film didn't made it big, I will never understand. It has all the makings of an iconic, early-aughts fantasy flick, including a mysterious wall that separates the world from a magical land (which our protagonist, played by Charlie Cox, bravely crosses), murderous kings, an enchanting star that takes the form of a beautiful human (um, Claire Danes  is  the star), a trio of evil witches, wickedly and deliciously led by Michelle Pfeiffer, who are hell-bent on looking young forever (as all witches apparently are), and...Robert De Niro? Who also makes an appearance! Seriously, how have people not seen this?

Daredevil (2003)

Allow me to direct your attention to a grade-A superhero movie that somehow slides through the superhero movie cracks:  Daredevil.  The titular role of the blind-and-badass masked vigilante goes to Ben Affleck; meanwhile, Jennifer Garner plays  Elektra  (she gets her own spinoff movie in 2005). The two team up to save their city from their foe, Kingpin, and avenge the murder of Daredevil's father. If that description has not yet convinced you, just watch the  very  2003 trailer.

Jennifer's Body (2009)

A little bit campy, a whole lot amazing:  Jennifer's Body  (starring Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried) might have been a mainstream-movie watcher miss, but it earned cult status thanks to its whip-smart script and clever casting. In the dark comedy/horror, Jennifer (Fox), a popular high schooler, gets possessed by a demon and is out for the blood of boys.

Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! (2004)

It was a box office bomb, but I honestly can't understand why. It's a romcom recipe to a T, including but not limited to: Conventionally attractive, small town girl who is courted by conventionally attractive rich movie stare; cue girl's "geeky" best friend, who realizes he's in love with her. Is it stereotypical and shallow? Yes. Is it also entertaining and underrated? Also, yes.

Speak (2004)

Kristen Stewart gives an understated, emotional performance in  Speak.  Trigger warning, rape:  In the film, adapted from Laurie Halse Anderson's 1999 novel, Stewart plays Melinda, a teenage girl ostracized from her peers after she was raped. She ultimately finds some comfort in creating art. The movie is poignant and deserves praise for its thoughtful treatment of the impact of sexual assault.

Locke (2014)

Listen, saying Tom Hardy is a great actor is the most unoriginal take ever. But this small movie (with a budget of $2 million and profit of $5 million) really showcases just how good he is. Unlike  The Dark Knight Rises , you can actually hear what he's saying, and the premise is a really cool one: His character Ivan Locke spends pretty much the whole movie in the car, driving somewhere and looking extremely stressed. On the way, he has a number of conversations with his kids, wife, boss, subordinate, and the imaginary ghost of his father in the backseat. During this momentous car ride, his life basically falls apart: He gets separated, is fired, and gets some urgent news about the one-night stand he had seven months ago. Oh yeah, and Hardy's  in a car , driving, acting against voices on a telephone/an empty car/himself, giving the performance of a lifetime. Oh yeah, and the film was shot  in six days , with Hardy going through the entire film in a single take every time.

Empire Records (1995)

This movie opened to terrible reviews but has since become a cult classic, so if you haven't seen it, consider this your wake-up call. Centering around one epic day at a record store (#RexManningDay), each character brings something different to the table and storyline—including incredible catch phrases those who are cool still recite in everyday conversation. (At least, that's what I tell myself.) (My name isn't f*cking Warren.) 

Sleeping With Other People (2015)

People who complain about a lack of great modern rom-coms simply missed this absolute gem from 2015. Starring Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis as a pair of folks who had a one-night stand over a decade earlier and re-meet as they both try to come to terms with their issues around sex, it’s a charming, sexy (obviously), riotously funny movie that is also swooningly romantic—as all great rom-coms should be. 

Smokin' Aces (2006)

So part of the problem is that the trailer (above)  really  mis-marketed this film. It was billed as a "fun" violent comedy—like  The Departed , for Vegas—but that's not really what it's about at all. There are parts of it that are funny, sure, but the plot is much, much darker than that. Underneath all the fast-paced action, it's a fascinating fictional look at the world of professional killers. The  John Wick  series arguably owes something to this film. Plus, it's absolutely packed with famous actors, and then some of them get unceremoniously killed two minutes in. It's also the first movie where I sat up and started taking Ryan Reynolds seriously as a dramatic leading man.

That Thing You Do (1996)

Written, directed, and starring Tom Hanks, this fantastic, fantastic, fantastic film (yes, I had to say it three times) follows a band as they are propelled to stardom in the '60s. Honestly, not really sure how this didn't gain any momentum until much after it debuted, considering all the amazing reviews (93 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and the fact that the character Lenny was written and exists and has the funniest lines, ("Oh, I'm not here with these fellas. I've got a pig in competition over at the livestock pavilion, and I am going to win that blue ribbon!"), but whatever. Watch it. Buy it. Love it.

Better Off Dead… (1985)

Quotable lines abound ("I WANT MY TWO DOLLARS", "Gee, I'm real sorry your mom blew up, Ricky", etc.) in this dark comedy about a teen (John Cusack) who has everything going against him—parents who don't care, a girlfriend (ahem, ex) who dumps him, and a little brother who is way cooler than he is.  Trigger warning, suicide:  He plans to die by suicide, but he keeps getting distracted by a scary 30-year-old sounding paper boy and a skiing contest against the school bully.

Max (2002)

Another John Cusack film, this time with a weird and new (other adjectives welcome) take on Hitler and his relationship with a Munich art dealer. No, I'm for real. John Cusack plays Max Rothman, a Jewish art dealer, and Noah Taylor plays a young Adolf Hitler. Spielberg was in fact approached about the movie, but passed—saying that while the film was well written, he felt uncomfortable with potentially insulting the memory of Holocaust survivors. Watch and be the judge.

In a World (2013)

Written and starring Lake Bell, this true sleeper is one of those films you can watch over and over and never get sick of. The story stars Lake Bell as a vocal coach who competes against her own legendary voice actor father—as well as the current biggest voice actor in the game—to get a huge gig voicing the trailer for a big budget movie. Huge comedy hitters including Rob Corddry, Demetri Martin, Tig Notaro, Fred Melamed, Ken Marino, and Nick Offerman round out the cast, while a cameo by Eva Longoria is just the best. You'll adore it—we'd bet on it .

Sunshine (2007)

The sun is dying, and earth will too, as a result. After a team of astronauts are sent to revive the sun and fail, a new team is sent seven years later as humankind's last hope. As one YouTube commenter states, "a movie that is equal to  Interstellar  and  Gravity  and still few people have heard of it." This changes now.

Near Dark (1987)

A horror film centering on a farmer's son who ends up traveling with a group of vampires (heh) after a the woman he's trying to seduce turns him in, the film was directed and written by Kathryn Bigelow (yes, the first and only female director to win an Oscar), the film is an 80s thriller take on a modern-day Western.

Disobedience (2017)

Critically appreciated but barely breaking even on its budget,  Disobedience  tells the tale of a women returning to the orthodox Jewish community that no longer accepts her for her father's funeral. While she's there, she connects with the woman she had an illicit relationship with—and their passion rekindles immediately. Not only is this "forbidden romance with a twist" done absolutely perfectly, but it's always undercutting your expectations. The characters never, ever behave and react in the way that you expect—and honestly, that's part of the film's charm.

Big Fan (2009)

This moving and poignant film is one you have to see. Featuring Patton Oswalt as a superfan who gets brutally beaten when he approaches his favorite player to say hello (ugh, my heart), the story hinges on the idea of being so supportive of someone who did something so terrible to you. Emotional, heart-wrenching, and a sleeper—it's just hard to watch and even harder to look away.

Chef (2014)

If you haven't seen this film yet, I'm not really sure what you're waiting for. The story is about a chef who wants to cook, well, good food—and thus, opens a food truck. Everything about this flick is funny, heart-warming, and all things good. And the fact that it stars Bobby Cannavale, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara, Robert Downey Jr., Amy Sedaris—you get the gist—is just marinade on the carne asada. (That's a  Chef  joke.)

The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)

You may have read the revenge epic as a teenager in high school, but Alexandre Dumas didn't exactly do his main character much justice in the 1844 original novel—Edmond Dantes is fine as hell! Played by Jim Caviezel, innocent sailor Dantes becomes the center of a complex government conspiracy and finds himself imprisoned in the Château d'If. Years later, he re-emerges in upper-crust French society as the Count of Monte Cristo, a mysterious billionaire with a serious chip on his soldier. Guy Pearce, James Frain, and a baby-faced Henry Cavil also star in the adaptation.

A Vigilante (2019)

I would argue that Olivia Wilde is a criminally underrated actor anyways—all the buzz she's getting as a director for  Booksmart  is absolutely justified, IMO. And this is the latest example of just how great she can be. A young woman with abuse in her past spends her time beating the crap out of evil men. Think of it as a much darker version of  Promising Young Woman . Wilde absolutely lays it all out there, playing tough, abused, miserable, triggered, and empowered, sometimes all in the same scene. It's totally riveting. 

Just Wright (2010)

There's one thing you need to know about Queen Latifah: If she's going to be falling in love onscreen, she's probably going to be doing so with a very, very attractive man (see  Last Holiday  with LL Cool J or the Fox musical  Star  with Benjamin Bratt and Lance Gross).  Just Wright  is no exception. In the 2010 romantic comedy, our Queen plays a down-on-her-luck physical therapist who gets her big break when a famous NBA player (Common, looking like a snack) injures his PCL. The film is sweet and sexy all at once, and it will probably spark your interest in basketball. At the very least, it will make you reconsider your hard stance against dating athletes. Go team!

I Am Not an Easy Man (2018)

Ever thought about what the world would be like if the patriarchy wasn't a thing? Like, if women were the arbiters of power in society, and men were the ones facing discrimination and getting catcalled on their way to the train station? Well, if Netflix's  I Am Not an Easy Man , that's exactly the case. A confirmed bachelor and sleazeball gets the shock of his life when he awakens from a head injury to find that he's suddenly being oppressed by the women in his life. In this new reality, misandry is actually a real thing, and I gotta's pretty hilarious.

Mississippi Masala (1991)

Denzel has looked good pretty much forever, but he was arguably at his hottest in the underrated romantic drama  Mississippi Masala . The low-key film explored the connection between an interracial couple in the deep south, from their steamy romantic getaways to the drama that unfolds when the news about their secret relationship becomes fodder for the local gossip mill. Released in 1991,  Mississippi Masala  was already lightyears ahead of the recent push for onscreen representation and diversity, starring a black man and a brown woman as leads with legitimate character development as well as their own fully developed storylines. Oh, and did I mention that Denzel looked  really  good in this movie? Because he totally did. 

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019)

Based on the memoir of the same name,  The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind  is the true story of how a Malawian teenager named William Kamkwamba invented a wind-powered electric water pump to help his small village survive a severe drought. Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor ( Doctor Strange, The Lion King ) and Maxwell Simba in his debut role, this film is a definite tear-jerker that will inspire to get off your couch and go do something with the day.

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Megan DiTrolio is the editor of features and special projects at Marie Claire, where she oversees all career coverage and writes and edits stories on women’s issues, politics, cultural trends, and more. In addition to editing feature stories, she programs Marie Claire’s annual Power Trip conference and Marie Claire’s Getting Down To Business Instagram Live franchise.

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best new underrated movies

Best Movies of 2024: Best New Movies to Watch Now

Welcome to our guide of the Best Movies of 2024, featuring every Certified Fresh movie as they come in week by week!

We didn’t have a blockbuster January like we did in 2023 ‘s, when genre surprises M3GAN and Plane went Certified Fresh. But Daisy Ridley got her post-Skywalker win with Sometimes I Think About Dying . Mads Mikkelsen re-teamed with his A Royal Affair director Nikolaj Arcel to find The Promised Land. With The Crime Is Mine , Francois Ozon is getting career-best reviews, and his 10th Certified Fresh film over the past decade-and-change. And Netflix scored with The Kitchen , Orion and the Dark , and Good Grief .

Latest additions: Dune: Part Two , Disco Boy , Maddie Ziegler ‘traumedy’ Fitting In

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The Crime Is Mine (2023) 98%

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Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (2023) 98%

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Tótem (2023) 97%

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Dune: Part Two (2024) 97%

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The Promised Land (2023) 96%

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Fitting In (2023) 95%

' sborder=

Driving Madeleine (2022) 94%

' sborder=

The Settlers (2023) 93%

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Orion and the Dark (2024) 90%

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The Kitchen (2023) 89%

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Disco Boy (2023) 86%

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Sometimes I Think About Dying (2023) 81%

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Good Grief (2023) 76%

' sborder=

Self Reliance (2023) 72%

More countdown.

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Digital Trends

3 underrated Hulu movies that are perfect to watch for the winter

Hulu continues to strike the perfect balance between prestige projects and commercial appeal. Thanks to its partnership with Neon and Searchlight Pictures, Hulu will eventually be the home to  Anatomy of a Fall and Poor Things , two critically acclaimed 2023 films that received a combined 16 Oscar nominations . Hulu is also owned by Disney, meaning subscribers can watch superhero shows, like Echo, or enjoy blockbusters from 20th Century Studios like A Haunting in Venice .

But when perusing the homepage, you’ll find there are many underrated films available on Hulu. Check out these three movies on Hulu that are perfect to watch this winter. Our selections include an uncomfortable satire, a heartfelt romantic comedy, and a terrific coming-of-age film.

Force Majeure (2014)

Over the past decade, Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund is arguably the leading voice in satires and black comedies. Östlund’s  The Square  and  Triangle of Sadness  won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, catapulting both to Oscar nominations . However, the film where Östlund gained recognition for his satirical work was 2014’s Force Majeure . Married couple Tomas (Johannes Bah Kuhnke) and Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) head to the French Alps for a skiing vacation with their young daughter, Vera (Clara Wettergren), and son Harry, (Vincent Wettergren).

While eating lunch on the outdoor deck of a restaurant, the family witnesses a controlled avalanche. Harry flees the table while Ebba stays seated to protect her kids. Luckily, the snow was just a dense fog, so no one got injured. However, a marriage might have been destroyed. Force Majeure  is like witnessing a car crash. It’s painful and uncomfortable to watch, but you can’t look away.

Stream Force Majeure on Hulu.

Fire Island (2022)

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t relive past summers vicariously through movies. A group of queer friends head to Fire Island Pines for a weeklong vacation in Andrew Ahn’s rom-com Fire Island . Inspired by Pride and Prejudice , Fire Island   follows Noah (Joel Kim Booster) and Howie (Bowen Yang), best friends who visit Fire Island looking for adventure.

Soon after their arrival, the guys meet Charlie (James Scully) and his wealthy friends, including Will (Conrad Ricamora). Noah is instantly smitten with Charlie, while Noah and Will are like oil and water. Yet, Noah and Will eventually learn they may not be so different. While romance takes center stage, Fire Island  is ultimately an endearing film about friendship.

Stream Fire Island on Hulu.

Garden State (2004)

Andrew Largeman ( Zach Braff ) is a depressed twentysomething actor who returns to his hometown in New Jersey for his mother’s funeral. Since he was a child, Andrew has been heavily medicated on lithium and antidepressants by his psychiatrist father, Gideon (Ian Holm). While at the doctor’s office, Andrew meets Sam (Natalie Portman), a quirky girl who is also a charming pathological liar.

They form an instant connection as Andrew starts to see the world more clearly while off his medication. Backed by an excellent soundtrack, Garden State  is a heartfelt directorial debut from Braff, who expertly captures the lonely and confused feelings many young professionals face while staring at adulthood.

Stream Garden State on Hulu.

3 underrated Hulu movies that are perfect to watch for the winter

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The best new movies on netflix in 2024: february edition.

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'Society of the Snow' is the current frontrunner to win Best International Film at the Academy ... [+] Awards on March 10, 2024.

As Netflix NFLX continues to expand its vast library, 2024 has already seen an impressive lineup of movies join the streamer’s digital lineup. This article will guide you through the ten best movies added to Netflix so far this year. Among these noteworthy additions, we have: a compelling and hilarious detailing of a Reddit community's forever-changing impact on the stock market; a film that has stands as a frontrunner to win at the Oscars this year; and the latest family-friendly adventure from Dreamworks.

Below you’ll find the ultimate guide to all the best new movies added to Netflix in 2024. The first section will detail the ten best options you have so far. And at the bottom of the article, you’ll find a much more comprehensive list that includes all other honorable mentions. No matter what you’re in the mood for on movie night, this list likely has the movie you’re looking for.

The 10 Best New Movies on Netflix in 2024

Society of the snow (2024).

The Society of the Snow vividly recaptures a Uruguayan rugby team that crashes its plane atop the Andes in the early 1970s. Directed by the acclaimed J.A. Bayona, known for The Impossible and A Monster Calls , this film marks his return to Spanish cinema since The Orphanage . The way in which the movie explores the harrowing survival saga of these crash survivors and the extremities of their human survival instincts—including cannibalism. Starring Enzo Vogrincic Roldán, Matías Recalt, and Agustín Pardella, Society of the Snow is poised to clinch the Academy Award for Best International Film.

New iOS 17 3 Update Warning Issued To All iPhone Users

No neither gmail or google pay closing down starting june 4, apple just gave millions of samsung users a reason to buy an iphone, magic mike’s last dance (2023).

Magic Mike’s Last Dance finds Channing Tatum once again reprising his role as the ever-charismatic Mike Lane, who finds himself caught in the whirlwind of life’s unpredictability, bartending in Florida after his furniture business falls through. This third installment, directed by Steven Soderbergh, catapults Mike across the pond to London, courtesy of a wealthy socialite played by Salma Hayek Pinault. Her proposition is as enticing as it is mysterious, setting the stage for Mike’s final hurrah. Amidst the glitz, he’s tasked with transforming a group of raw talents into a spectacular dance troupe, promising a journey filled with ambition, rhythm, and redemption.

Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)

In Everything Everywhere All At Once , Michelle Yeoh delivers a powerhouse performance as Evelyn Wang, a laundromat owner grappling with the brink of financial ruin, a faltering marriage, and a fracturing family. This chaotic world is flipped upside down when she encounters an IRS auditor, leading to the discovery of a multitude of alternate realities. Directed by the visionary duo Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, this film—which won a slew of Academy Awards last year, including Best Picture—is a whirlwind of existential exploration and emotional turmoil, challenging Evelyn to harness her newfound abilities to thwart a cosmic threat. With a stellar cast including Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, and Jamie Lee Curtis, this infectious movie only captured a huge following almost instantly.

Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken (2024)

Kirk DeMicco’s Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken introduces us to Ruby Gillman, voiced by Lana Condor, a 16-year-old who embodies the awkwardness and invisibility that comes with high school. Her life takes a fantastical turn when she defies her mother's warnings and discovers her lineage as a Kraken queen. Poised to inherit the throne and protect the oceans from mermaids with nefarious intentions, Ruby’s journey is a captivating dive into self-discovery, family legacies, and the power of embracing one’s true self. Featuring voices from Annie Murphy and Toni Collette, this animated adventure is a heartwarming tale of growth, courage, and the importance of environmental stewardship.

Dumb Money (2023)

Dumb Money dives into the 2020 phenomenon where “dumb money” investors turned the tables on Wall Street, propelling GameStop’s GME comatose existence to unexpected heights. Directed by Craig Gillespie and featuring Paul Dano, Pete Davidson, America Ferrera, and Seth Rogen, this film depicts a David vs. Goliath-esque battle in the modern financial world when digital reach is having huge impacts. Through the lens of Keith Gill, who ignites the frenzy with his life savings and social media influence, the story unfolds as a testament to the power of community and the volatility of the stock market. It’s a rollercoaster ride of ambition, greed, and the unpredictable nature of collective action, making Dumb Money an entertaining portrayal of an unprecedented event.

Thanksgiving (2023)

Thanksgiving , directed by Eli Roth, carves into the horror genre with a Thanksgiving-themed slasher that’s as much about guts and gore as it is about dark humor. In Plymouth, Massachusetts, the aftermath of a Black Friday disaster serves as the backdrop for a series of chilling murders by a Thanksgiving-inspired killer. As the body count rises, the town scrambles to uncover the motive behind the madness, revealing a plot more twisted than anyone could have imagined. Starring Patrick Dempsey, Addison Rae, and Milo Manheim, this film blends traditional slasher elements with a sinister holiday twist.

The Kitchen (2024)

Set in a dystopian London of 2040, The Kitchen navigates the dire straits of Izi and Benji, portrayed by Kane Robinson and Jedaiah Bannerman, residents of a defiant community in a city that has turned its back on the less fortunate. Directed by Kibwe Tavares and Daniel Kaluuya, the narrative unfolds in a world where economic disparities have reached new heights, and survival hinges on the choices one is forced to make. When Izi's son falls ill, desperation leads him back into the criminal underworld, setting off a chain of events that could alter their lives forever. This film is a poignant critique of societal neglect—and the spirit required to wade such a storm.

Mary and the Witch’s Flower (2019)

Mary and the Witch's Flower , directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, is a captivating animation that whisks viewers away into a visually stunning world brimming with magic. This enchanting tale follows the young, spirited Mary, who stumbles upon a mysterious flower that grants her the powers of a witch for a single night. Featuring the voices of Ruby Barnhill, Kate Winslet, and Jim Broadbent, the film is a testament to the power of curiosity and bravery. It's a must-watch for its breathtaking animation alone, which paints each scene with vibrant colors and intricate details. Yonebayashi, a Studio Ghibli alum, infuses the film with a heartwarming narrative and a strong female protagonist, making it an inspiring journey for viewers of all ages.

The Equalizer 3 (2023)

The Equalizer 3 , helmed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Denzel Washington, sees the return of Robert McCall, a man seeking redemption and justice in the quiet corners of Southern Italy. But tranquility is short-lived as he discovers his friends’ lives are ensnared by local mobsters. Washington's portrayal of McCall, a guardian angel with a violent past, is much more compelling and complex than it has been in the other franchise film, bringing depth to the action-packed sequences that Fuqua wonderfully directs. Co-starring Dakota Fanning and David Denman, this sequel delivers a potent mix of suspense and retribution that’s just as thought-provoking as it is entertaining.

In X , Ti West takes us back to 1979, where ambition and the pursuit of fame drive a group of young filmmakers to a secluded cabin in Texas to shoot an adult film. Starring Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, and Scott Mescudi, the crew’s aspirations quickly unravel into a nightmare as their elderly hosts reveal their bloody agenda. West crafts a gripping tale of ambition, horror, and survival, blending the allure of cinematic dreams with the stark, chilling realities of isolation and madness. As the night progresses, the line between making a movie and surviving one blurs, culminating in a terrifying climax that questions the price of fame and the darkness it can unearth.

Other Great New Movies on Netflix in 2024

Here are several other great movies that have been added to the Netflix library in 2024.

  • Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017): A former boxer turned drug runner lands in a prison battleground, fighting for survival in brutal combat. A gritty, violent journey of redemption and survival.
  • The Catcher Was a Spy (2018): The true story of Moe Berg, an MLB player turned WWII spy. A gripping tale of espionage and secret missions against the backdrop of war.
  • The Florida Project (2017): Set on the outskirts of Disney World, a precocious six-year-old and her rebellious mother embody the joy and struggle of living in poverty, with dreams larger than life.
  • Lift (2024): Kevin Hart leads a heist to steal $500 million in gold mid-flight, aiming to thwart a terrorist plot. An action-packed adventure with a high-flying twist.
  • Orion and the Dark (2024): Elementary kid Orion, plagued by fears, befriends his greatest fear—the Dark. A heartwarming journey that teaches him to embrace life's uncertainties, featuring Jacob Tremblay.
  • Players (2024): Sportswriter Mack falls for Nick, challenging her no-strings-attached life rule. A com-rom blending sports, laughter, and love dilemmas, starring Gina Rodriguez and Tom Ellis.
  • The Re-Education of Molly Singer (2023): Party-loving lawyer Molly enrolls in college to help her boss's son fit in. A comedic journey through college life aiming to secure her future, starring Britt Robertson.
  • Shortcomings (2023): A Californian filmmaker ponders his love life as his girlfriend heads to New York. Randall Park's debut dazzles with humor, heart, and a standout performance by Justin H. Min.
  • Train to Busan (2016): A father and daughter's train journey turns into a fight for survival amidst a zombie outbreak. A thrilling, emotional ride through a nation in chaos.
  • Waves (2019): A family navigates love and forgiveness after a tragic accident. An emotional rollercoaster that explores the complexities of relationships and healing.

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