Underrated films are like endangered species if not preserved well they will perish with time, it’s the sacred duty of any cinephile to recommend these rare threatened movie titles and in the following list I will try to add as many titles as I can. These movies were very well received by the critics when they came out, some became talk of the town while some played in front of empty chairs but now compared to other popular films of that time you don’t get to hear about these films that often it’s time to revisit them.
American Honey (2016)
‘Star’ is the name of the protagonist in this film, a teenager who is dirt poor but with realistic expectations from life, despite that a strong desire to be loved dwells in every human’s heart and same goes for her, in the hope of finding love and a better life she accepts Jake’s proposal for joining him and his group who sells magazines across the country, they live in roadside motels, party every night, drink, do drugs ,listen to popular EDM, rap and trance soundtracks. Star tries to blend with them and discovers harsh realities about life in the form of betrayal, thefts and greed, she adapts to some of them to survive while detests some wholeheartedly. She grows and matures with the gang. Movie highlights on importance of finding oneself.
A unique showcase of solidarity between the mine workers and the LGBT community, they support each other’s battles to gain rights for their self identities. Based on a true story this film is a perfect example of a comedy done right, a laugh out loud film which never loses its focus to get some cheap laughs. This small indie was criminally hindered by big budget English films ‘The Imitation Game’ and ‘The Theory Of Everything’ which garnered all the praise despite being equally good ‘Pride’ struggled to get the needed exposure.
Ex Machina (2015)
An ambitious science fiction film dealing with AI(artificial intelligence). Nathan played by Oscar Issac, a billionaire tech genius invites Caleb played by Domhnall Gleeson to his secluded secret mansion in the forest to test his new AI robot Ava played by Alicia Vikander. Caleb and Ava develop a strange relationship which explores themes like identity, purpose, confinement leading to the dramatic climax.
Black Coal Thin Ice (2014)
An intricate Chinese thriller mounted with god like craftsmanship, this film has one of the best cinematography I have ever seen in movies, and every frame has a distinguished purpose. Two detectives trying to solve murder mysteries that have plagued a small town and a femme fatale at the heart of the story adding whole new depth and tension to the narrative. This film beat both ‘Boyhood’ and ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ at Berlin festival to win the golden bear (Highest award given to a film at Berlin film festival) and this film is nowhere near as popular as ‘Boyhood’ and ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’.
The Club (2015)
Pablo Larrain an Oscar nominated Chilean filmmaker more popular for his recent film Jackie- a biographical film about Jackie Kennedy which is not his best work to be honest. Larrain is a fascinating filmmaker who works on odd themes and presents them in as real setting as possible. The Club deals with four disgraced Catholic priests who are forced to live in a secluded house guarded by a female nun. The church officials offer the priest a chance to repent for lifetime for the crimes they have committed, one priest involved in child abuse, one in baby snatching and one worked as a whistleblower. Their lives are deeply impacted by the return of one of the child abuse victim.
What do you need to make a spectacular art? The answer is a BMW car and a powerhouse actor that is the whole setup of Locke. The whole drama unfolds in a car driven by Ivan Locke played by Tom Hardy. Ivan Locke is on his way to attend the child birth, conceived during the one night stand and he is already married to another woman what makes him take the responsibility of the child is the core of the film and the car telephone conversations between him and his wife are very organic. In between Locke’s conscience kicks in asking him to abandon his trip but his tragic past and his strained relationship with his own father keeps him going. The scenes where he talks with his own conscience and tries to convince himself are sad and daunting. It’s a masterpiece, only more people had seen it to appreciate its brilliance.
The Wailing (2016)
Wailing is a master class for all the horror filmmakers; this is how a horror film should be made. Get over Conjuring, this movie is ten times more chilling, graphic, and brutal, it will stay with you for days. Some of the classic chills come from the plot itself not from the cheeky hide and scare or ghost in the attic lazy direction techniques. The film’s plot is its strength with strong acting throughout this might be the best horror film of the decade. The film follows a policeman whose daughter becomes the victim of an unknown physical condition which tempts people to commit murder of their loved ones. Wait for the ending it’s gruesome, unexpected and gory.
The Red Turtle (2016)
The only animated film in the list. The red turtle was nominated for Oscars in best animated feature category and I guess not many people have seen it including the jury at Oscars who gave the Oscar to a far less superior film ‘Zootopia’. The red turtle is one of the most audacious animated films I have seen in my life. It’s relatable with every human being living on the planet. On surface it may look like a fantasy version of Cast Away but it is much more than that, delve deep into the characters it’s hard not be moved by this tale.
Oslo August 31 (2012)
A drug addict is given a chance at redemption he is allowed one day off from his rehab clinic to find a job and interact with people in his life but little does he know redemption comes at a price, the debt of lost time while drugging stays on its conscience so bad that he finds it difficult to explain to people why he had a gap of that many years in his life the correct answer is he wasted it on drugs he knows the ship has sailed and he just kept waiving at it during high times, all of his friends and people in his life are more accomplished than he is and he is swinging in the rift between being sober and high trying to find the right balance but is unable to do so because he feels ashamed. This film could easily have been a cliché but what outclasses it from other drug redemption stories is the way in which it expresses the inner conflict of a drug addict and the acting in this film is top notch, it conveys the message in a more realistic way.
Inside Llewyn Davis (2014)
I don’t see one reason why this movie was snubbed at major award events including Oscars. This is one of the best movies I have ever seen in my life. Movie stars Oscar Issac as Llewyn Davis a struggling folk and country music artist with high level of artistic integrity who refuses to be a sell-out who blindly believes his talent will soon be recognised but when all the pieces don’t fall right in place he wonders whether he really has any talent or he is just dreaming a pipe dream which he may never achieve. Oscar Issac plays Llewyn Davis with utmost precision you can see the anger, frustration, and resentment in his eyes even if he is trying to act cool in social situations. The situations are rather funny from outside but once you are in Llewyn’s shoes you will understand the beauty of this film. Every artist ever born can relate himself to Llewyn and feel his emotions while Llewyn is pushed back by life in every worst way possible in that way it will make you nostalgic for your own failures. This film has a killer soundtrack, all folk and country music which is easy on the ears and heavy on the soul. Directed by Hollywood’s most inventive directing duo Coen Brothers this is probably their best film since ‘ A Serious Man’ which was released way back in 2009.