The following is a compilation of brilliant films that critics and moviegoers feel have been overlooked and deserve more attention and success. The underrated gems we have listed here were either released at the wrong time, judged harshly or entirely ignored initially, overshadowed by blockbusters, lost money at the box office, have been forgotten over time or remain unknown by movie enthusiasts, and dare I say, were ahead of time. This list is to enlighten you and to revive memories of some forgotten treasures.
The mystery thriller was released on March 2, 2007. It was screened at the Cannes Film Festival on May 17, 2007. The film features Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey, Jr. in leading roles and Anthony Edwards, Brian Cox, Elias Koteas, Donal Logue, John Carroll Lynch, Dermot Mulroney and Chloë Sevigny as supporting cast.
Several people are murdered in San Francisco in the late 60s and early 70s by a serial killer who also sends encrypted letters to the press. The killer refers to himself as Zodiac and both the police and the reporter’s launch investigations to unveil his identity and arrest him. The killer continues his killing spree, sending cryptic letters and making creepy calls.
The film was not a success at the box office. However, it received excellent reviews for its intrigue, determination, and meticulousness. It received several nominations and won the 2007 Dublin Film Critics’ Circle Awards for Best Director and has made it to many lists of the greatest films.
The independent feature film was released in 1970. It featured Barbara Loden in the starring role. She also wrote and directed it. Wanda Goronski lives an empty life, getting from one lousy situation to another. Her life revolves around bars and men. She cannot find a job, and she divorces her husband and gives him custody of their children. The men she sleeps with abandon her until she meets Norman Dennis in a bar. Dennis is a robber, and she stays with him and acts as his accomplice, despite his physical and emotional abuse. A planned heist goes wrong, and Wanda finds herself back to her old life.
The film was largely ignored when it was first released, apart from the International Critics’ Prize for Best Film win at the 1970 Venice International Film Festival. It received renewed interest after Loden died ten years later. In 2010, the film was restored and released. It has now won its long due recognition among fans.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
The neo-noir black comedy crime film was released in 2005. It stars Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan and Corbin Bernsen.
(Photo credit FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)
Harry Lockhart stumbles into an audition while fleeing from the police who have shot his friend in a botched robbery. After acing the test, he is assigned to private investigator Perry for on-job preparation for his acting role. The two find themselves investigating a suicide, murders and a conspiracy which involves Harmony, Harry’s childhood crush.
The film debuted at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival and was released on DVD in 2006. Initially released as a limited release, it received several positive reviews which gradually increased its distribution, even though it did not have much success in the box office. The film managed to recoup its budget, with 70 percent of its revenue coming from overseas. The Phoenix Film Critics Society voted it the “Overlooked Film of the Year” in 2005.
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
The crime drama was released in 2007, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei and Albert Finney.
Andy Hanson who is struggling with debts and trying to cover up his embezzlement lures his brother into robbing their parents’ jewelry store so he can get money to flee to Brazil. The plan backfires, and Andy’s mother dies. A plan to stop blackmail sets the brothers further on the path of destruction. Meanwhile, their father investigates the robbery not knowing his sons were responsible for it.
The film received was a commercial and critical success. It has appeared on several top lists of critics, including 2007’s ten most influential American films. Though it won in the American Film Institute Awards 2007, Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cast, Gotham Awards – Best Ensemble Cast and Satellite Award for Best Cast – Motion Picture, it failed to win other more prominent awards.
Ace in the Hole
The film was released in 1951. It reflects on the manipulation of a gullible public by the press.
After getting fired from 11 newspapers, Chuck Tatum finds a job with a small publication. He comes across a trapped man and convinces a local sheriff to use a more extended rescue method so he can stay in the news. The victim’s wife and photographer play along and when the editor protests, Tatum quits and sells the rights of his story to his old employer. The delayed rescue proves to be fatal for several parties.
Starring Kirk Douglas, Porter Hall and Jan Sterling, it was Billy Wilder’s first film to be considered a commercial and critical failure. Critics labeled it cynical, and a dramatic grotesque, but others have started warming up to it. In 2017, the Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the United States National Film Registry for its historical, cultural, historical and aesthetic significance.
The thriller starring Morgan Freeman and John Cusack was released in 2006. World-class professional assassin Frank Carden lands a lucrative contract to murder a reclusive billionaire. He is involved in an accident before he accomplishes his mission. A gun found on him after his admission in hospital leads to his arrest by federal marshals. An ex-cop, Keene, and his son, Chris, happen to be around as Carden’s accomplices get into crossfire with the police to rescue him. Carden escapes with Chris as his hostage. A news item enables Keene to track down Carden and subsequently saving his life. In gratitude, Carden reluctantly allows Keene to rescue his son. A news report makes Keene realize that Carden has completed his mission, after all.
The film did not find an audience as critics ignored it, despite its well-known actors. The few reviews available are mostly negative, citing the weak plot, clichés, lots of holes and mediocrity in general. While the film is not the most intriguing, it has its humorous moments which make it worth a try.
The Red Violin
Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Carlo Cecchi and Sylvia Chang, this drama film was released in 1998.
FRANCOIS GIRARD, DIRECTOR OF ‘THE RED VIOLIN’ (Photo by Jeremy Bembaron/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)
Through several stories with different characters in different periods, we trace the history of a perfect acoustic violin that was made by Niccolo Busotti in Italy in 1681. His pregnant wife consults a fortune teller for reading, and we soon learn that she unknowingly gives the reading about the life of the red violin. Through its different owners, the violin has been in five countries over four centuries before ending up at a modern auction. Morritz, an expert appraiser deems it priceless, and the violin’s previous owners jostle to repossess it.
The film received standing applause when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival. The public and movie critics gave it glowing reviews. The film was nominated for several awards and won eight Genie Awards and an Academy Award for Best Original Score, among other honors. Unfortunately, the critical acclaim did not translate to success at the box office, and the movie has mostly been forgotten.
The sci-fi thriller was released in 2006. It stars Denzel Washington, Adam Goldberg, Paula Patton, Jim Caviezel, Val Kilmer, and Bruce Greenwood.
(Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
ATF special agent Douglas Carlin is sent by a new detective unit to investigate a bombing that killed ferry passengers and track down Carroll Oerstadt who is responsible for it. Using the Snow white program which can show events that have unfolded in the past four days, the unit reviews the suspected terrorist’s movements and capture him. Douglas tries to use the technology to reverse the ferry disaster.
The film was a box office success and went on to become the 23rd most successful film of 2006 in the world. It received six nominations, but only won the International Gold Reel Award. Despite its financial success, it received negative reviews for its plot holes, especially the time travel which was described as silly and preposterous.
Atlantis: The Lost Empire
The animated sci-fi film was released in 2001. It features Michael J. Fox, Cree Summer, James Garner, Leonard Nimoy, Don Novello, Phil Morris, Claudia Christian, Jacqueline Obradors, and Jim Varney.
Source: Past Posters
A group of explorers set out on an investigative mission to locate the lost empire of Atlantis. Milo Thatch, following in Thaddeus Thatch’s steps, believes that The Shepherd’s Journal is the key to finding the lost island. The exploratory trip is funded by the wealthy Preston B. Whitmore, and Rourke leads the expedition.
Even with heavy advertising before the release, the film had moderate success at the box office leading Disney to cancel a spin-off series. Critics panned its lack of music, and it’s more adult-oriented inclination. Despite several nominations, the film only won the Golden Reel Award in 2002. Even though it is easy to see why it was not more successful, the film provides good entertainment.
The Black Cauldron
At a budget of $44 million, the then most expensive animated film was released in 1985. It featured Nigel Hawthorne, Grant Bardsley, John Byner, Susan Sheridan, John Hurt and Freddie Jones.
In the land of Prydain, Taran, a pig keeper longs to be a knight. When Hen-Wren, a pig in Taran’s care that can foretell the future, is kidnapped by the Horned King, Taran gets his chance to be the knight in shining armor. He enlists the help of Princess Eilonwy and his right-hand Gurgi to locate the black cauldron with magical powers before the King summons the mighty undead army with it.
The animated adventure fantasy bombed upon release and received heavy criticism, but Elmer Bernstein was praised for his arrangement and melodies. Until today, it is considered one of his best works. However, it was released on VHS and a Special Edition DVD in 1997 and 2010 respectively due to requests from Disney fans.
The Black Cauldron was the first animation film by Disney to use CGI and the first to be rated PG.
ZATHURA: A Space Adventure
The sci-fi adventure film was released in 2005. It featured Josh Hutcherson, Jonah Bobo, Dax Shepard, Kristen Stewart and Tim Robbins.
As their older sister takes a nap, Walter and Danny Browning) find Zathura, a mysterious board game with space themes, in their house’s basement. They discover the magical powers of the board as they play the game and their house is launched into space. Dax Shepard, an astronaut, guides them on how to play the game and helps them to return home.
The film received positive reviews but was considered a commercial failure that barely recouped its budget. It trailed behind Chicken Little and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which opened around the same time. Zathura’s timing may have been wrong, but the film creates a believable fantasy world for children and deserves more success.
The film noir crime movie was released in 1954. Starring Sterling Hayden, Frank Sinatra and James Gleason, the film revolves around an assassination plot. A tranquil suburban that is located next to a railway station is thrown into chaos when shooters infiltrate it and take hostages as they use the place to ambush and plan to assassinate the president.
Critics hailed the film and Frank was praised for his spectacular tour de force performance. It has been compared to Kiss Me Deadly and The Big Night. The remake of the movie was released in 2013. It was directed by Uwe Boll and featured Dominic Purcell. The movie is currently free to view and download. Though freely available, it now seems to have been forgotten among other great classics.
After the rumor that President Kennedy’s shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, had watched the film, Frank Sinatra tried to buy its rights and stop its circulation.
The double-feature horror film was released in 2007. It stars Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Marley Shelton, Michael Biehn, Jeff Fahey, Josh Brolin, Naveen Andrews, Fergie, Bruce Willis, Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Tracie Thoms and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
In Planet Terror, A scientist releases gas in a small Texas town that turns people into zombies. Cherry Darling and her boyfriend, El Wray, join other survivors to flee the carnage. In Death Proof, Stuntman Mike, a body double, has his car customized against impact to keep him safe when he kills his female dates by wrecking their cars. He, however, faces a challenge when he comes across a Dodge Challenger.
The movie surprisingly flopped at the box office even after receiving positive press and glowing reviews. It was later re-released as two feature films with fake trailers, but while the total sales recouped the budget, the numbers were still low.
This sci-fi horror and the autographical film were released in 1979, starring Oliver Reed, Art Hindle, and Samantha Eggar.
Frank Carveth is concerned about Nola, his ex-wife’s, Psychotherapist treatment at the Somafree Institute. The Institute is headed by Hal Ragan whose treatment of psychiatric patients manifests the symptoms physically. Nola vents the pent-up rage during the sessions, and she does this, a series of brutal murder occurs. Frank’s daughter is kidnapped and taken to the Institute. He heads there and discovers a bizarre secret that might be linked to the gruesome murder.
The film received mixed reviews upon release but has since become favorite among horror fans and made it to top 100 scary movie lists. It was also a commercial success. In 2015, it was released in Blu-ray and on DVD.
David Cronenberg was fighting for custody of his daughter when the film was being developed, thus drawing similarities to it.
This crime thriller released in 1997, is based on Elmore Leonard’s novel, Rum Punch. It features Pam Grier in the leading role and Robert De Niro, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, Robert Forster and Bridget Fonda in supporting roles.
New York Premiere of ‘Jackie Brown’ and After Party at Laura Belle’sRobert Forster, Michael Keaton, Pam Grier, director Quentin Tarantino and Bridget Fonda (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
A flight attendant finds herself torn between betraying her boss who could kill her and go to prison. She opts to deceive both parties and flee with the smuggled money that had put her in that situation.
The film received positive reviews, and it was also a commercial success. The Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics nominated the film for the prestigious Grand Prix Award. Grier and Jackson received Golden Globe Award nominations while Forster was nominated for Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. In 1998, Jackson won the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the Berlin International Film Festival. While the movie was a commercial and critical success, it is a gem that is frequently forgotten.
This action comedy was released in 2008. It features Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, Matthew Fox, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, Roger Allam, Benno Fürmann, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rain, and Richard Roundtree.
Speed Racer comes from a family of racers. His late brother, Rex Racer, was a record-breaking racer whom he admired and he decided to follow his footsteps after he died in a racing rally accident. When Racer rejects Royalton’s offer to sign up with him and signs up with a rival team, he unveils a secret and manages to expose Royalton’s underhanded tactics to the world.
The film was a box office failure on release, and the reviews were mostly negative. Critics panned its storyline. It received several award nominations but won none. The few who praised it for its cinematography have been proven right over the years because the film now appears on various lists of top movies and is considered an underrated movie ahead of its time.
The Sci-Fi fantasy film was released in 1985, with Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix making their feature film debut. The production and release were rushed because Paramount wanted to take to capitalize on the busy summer.
Ben Crandall is obsessed with comic books, video games, and sci-fi films. His fantasy-based hobbies become a reality after a vivid dream on technology. He joins Darren Woods on a spacecraft created by Wolfgang Miller, and they all fly into outer space where they have a strange, extraterrestrial experience.
The film bombed in the box office due to timing which coincided with the Live Aid concert. It performed better in cable broadcasts and video rentals and received excellent reviews. It has since gone on to earn a cult following. Cherie Currie’s drug dependency prevented her from joining the film.
The Rules of Attraction
The black comedy film was released in 2002, starring James van der Beek, Shannyn Sossamon, Ian Somerhalder, Jessica Biel, Kate Bosworth, and Kip Pardue. The film is based on Bret Easton Ellis’s novel which bears the same name. The author who has had his other books made into movies considers this film his favorite.
The Rules of Attraction’ Premiere – ArrivalsJessica Biel, James Van Der Beek and Kate Bosworth (Photo by Ray Mickshaw/WireImage)
Lauren Hynde, Paul Denton, and Sean Bateman are students at Camden College who find themselves in a love triangle. The greedy, privileged students will stop at nothing to achieve their self-centered goals. We see so much depravity happening around the parties they attend that it is a surprise that the students survive. The film features rape, drugs, suicide, promiscuity, anorexia, and bisexuality.
The film was moderately successful on release, with critics having mixed reviews. While others criticized it as exaggerated and morally repulsive, others found it bold and brilliant. In 2003, it received a GLAAD Media Awards nomination for Best Film. The film has gained a cult following, and a TV series is due for production by Bravo.
Salt of the Earth
Salt of the Earth was released in 1954 and Hollywood had blacklisted the writer, producer, and director because of their radical politics. They moved to New Mexico to shoot the film which is based on feminism and female empowerment. David Wolfe, Will Geer and Rosaura Revueltas star in it.
The story features Ramon Quintero who is a strike organizer with progressive beliefs. His pregnant wife, Esperanza, gradually becomes bolder and plays a significant role in mobilizing other women to protest and fight back against the bullying bosses at the factory as well as the corrupt police force. During its initial release, Hollywood criticized it, claiming that the film had been made at the behest of Kremlin and labeling it Communist propaganda. In the 1960s, the film received renewed attention from feminists and union officials. Its 50th anniversary was commemorated across the U.S., and a college has been named after it. The film used actual miners and their relatives as actors.
The animated sci-fi adventure film was released in 2002. It is based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, Treasure Island. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brian Murray, David Hyde Pierce, Martin Short, Roscoe Lee Browne, Emma Thompson, Laurie Metcalf and Patrick McGoohan lend their voices to the film.
Jim Hawkins, a restless and rebellious teenager, is about to make his dreams come true after a dying pirate gives him a map to the legendary Captain Nathaniel Flint’s stashed loot. Jim boards a ship and starts his journey to find the mysterious Treasure Planet. He befriends John Silver, the charismatic cook, but soon finds out a secret that teaches him that not everything is as it seems.
The film was a failure at the box office, despite the majority of positive reviews. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2002 as well as some Annie Awards.
Pat Garret and Billy the Kid
This western drama was released in 1973. It stars James Coburn, Barry Sullivan, Kris Kristofferson and Bob Dylan. Due to pressure from the electorate, Governor Wallace orders Sheriff Pat Garrett to recapture Billy the Kid, a cattle rustler who had escaped from prison where he had been arrested for murder. Billy kills the cops and flees. The film focuses on Garrett’s pursuit of the cunning Billy who keeps slipping from his grasp.
The film bombed at the box office but performed better worldwide. Critics who had high expectations of the Peckinpah were underwhelmed by it and its re-edited and truncated version due to wrangles behind the scenes. In 1988, Sam Peckinpah’s preview version was released, and critics raved about its brilliance. This version increased the film’s popularity, and it became a modern classic that is considered one of the greatest movies of all time. It is a treasure that deserves more recognition.
The documentary film about physically-challenged athletes was released in 2005. It starred Keith Cavill, Andy Cohn, Scott Hogsett and Christopher Igoe, among others.
Director Henry Alex Ruben attends the premiere of ‘Murderball’ on June 28, 2005, at Westwood Crest Theatre in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)
The film featured wheelchair rugby and the rivalry between the Canada and U.S. teams in the build-up to Paralympic Games in 2004. The film follows the lives of the paraplegic players who form the U.S. rugby team. The young men talk about how they found themselves in wheelchairs, and discuss various aspects of their lives. The documentary also features them playing competitive rugby games as they prepare for the Paralympic Games.
The film received universal acclaim on release, and the heaps of praise continue to pour to date. The unedited version was screened at the United Nations. In 2006, the film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature. It also won the Best feature and the Best Non-Fiction Film at the Indianapolis International Film Festival as well as the Best Documentary Feature at the Sundance Film Festival.
The horror film, featuring Jenny Wright and Adrian Pasdar was released in 1987. It was a combination of the vampire and western genres.
Caleb Colton is a cowboy who immediately hits it off with Mae at a bar. The disguised vampire bites him on the neck and transforms him. Caleb leaves his family to join Mae and her vampire friends. However, when they try to turn his sister, it leads to wrangles within the group. He leaves, but the vampires go after his family. Mae is forced to choose between her love and her friends.
The film was a failure at the box office, but it received positive reviews with some describing it as poetic and outrageous and others referring to it as gory and gorgeous. It has now earned a cult following. The Blu-ray disc was released in 2009. It included Living in Darkness, the film’s documentary.
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Starring John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer, Tim Meadows and Kristen Wiig, this comedy film was released in 2007. A childhood accident threatens to sabotage Dewey Cox’s dreams of becoming a superstar, but he gets a chance when he impresses industry executives after replacing another singer. Dewey is introduced to drugs and marijuana by drummer Sam. His marriage worsens, and he starts an affair with Darlene, the backup singer, who later leaves him before remarrying him. He regains his sense of smell as a result. His drug addiction leads to hallucinations, rage and maniacal tendencies which cause the band to break up. He later re-joins the group for his final performance.
The movie received positive reviews, and the soundtrack earned Grammy and Golden Globe Award nominations. Las Vegas Film Critics Society also awarded it a Sierra Award for the Best Song in a Motion Picture. Despite this, the film performed dismally at the box office when it was released.
The IPCRESS File
Starring Michael Caine, Sue Lloyd, and Nigel Green, the espionage film was released in 1965. Harry Palmer is a British spy who has been given the task of investigating kidnappings and the brainwashing of prominent scientists. He has to find his way through his superiors, secret agents and criminals while avoiding bureaucracy. While on his mission, he stumbles on an audiotape which proves to be a vital piece of evidence.
The film was seen as a less glamorous version of the Bond films which had enjoyed immense success. This led to some mixed reviews. However, it won the BAFTA Award for Best British Film and the Best British Art Direction. In 1966, James Doran and Bill Canaway won the Best Foreign Film Screenplay Award in the Edgar Award organized by the Mystery Writers of America. The film was based on Len Deighton’s novel which goes by the same name.
This romantic drama was released in 2002, starring Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Luis Guzmán, and Mary Lynn Rajskub.
Barry Egan is a lonely and timid man as a result of bullying by his seven sisters. He falls in love with Lena Leonard, his sister’s co-worker and as his life improves for the better, he is blackmailed by a sex operator who sends goons to attack him. Lena is injured, and Barry is forced to confess to her about the extortion plot after he has put an end to it.
Despite positive reviews by critics who described it as funny and unique, the film failed to get an audience at the box office and was a commercial failure. It received a Grand Prix nomination from the Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics. Sandler received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. He also won the Best Actor award at the Gijón International Film Festival. In 2002, Paul Thomas Anderson won the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival.
The crime thriller was released in 1979. It features Ryan O’Neal, Isabelle Adjani and Bruce Dern in starring roles.
A driver who is an accomplice to robbers steals fast cars to serve as getaway vehicles. A mysterious woman denies witnessing the driver speeding away after a robbery at a casino. The cunning driver has never been caught which causes a detective to obsess over it as he takes extreme measures to bait and arrest him. He uses unorthodox methods which might be detrimental to his career.
The film flopped upon release, and it received negative reviews. The cast also felt disappointed and was worried the failure might hurt their record. Interestingly, the film has had a 360-degree, and it is now considered a cult favorite, with critics giving it glowing reviews and other reputable movies paying homage to it. It has also influenced video games. As the Director advises, sometimes it is best to wait out.
Kingdom of Heaven
This epic historical drama was released in 2005. It features Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Ghassan Massoud, Jeremy Irons, David Thewlis, Brendan Gleeson, Iain Glen, Marton Csokas, Liam Neeson, Edward Norton, Michael Sheen, Velibor Topic and Alexander Siddig.
Blacksmith Balian relocates to Jerusalem with his father to help Jerusalem fight against Muslims who want to reclaim the city. He also wants to redeem himself and ask for forgiveness after murdering a priest. They are accosted on the way, and his father knights him just before he succumbs to his wounds. Balian survives a shipwreck and spares a servant after killing a Muslim cavalier. He is later captured in the Kerak attack, and the servant frees him.
The film performed poorly at the box office, but its overseas performance made it a moderate success. There were mixed reviews with divided opinions. The film received several nominations and won three awards. Bloom’s performance was considered lukewarm, but he still received two Teen Choice Awards nominations. In 2006, the director’s cut was released, and many reviewers praised it as the film’s definitive version.
Young Sherlock Holmes
This mystery adventure, starring Nicholas Rowe, Alan Cox, and Sophie Ward, was released in 1985.
Scottish actor Nicolas Rowe and British Alan Cox on the set of Young Sherlock Holmes, directed by Barry Levinson. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Sherlock Holmes meets his future right-hand man, John Watson, and they become friends. He also falls in love with Elizabeth Hardy. A series of deaths occur when they are in boarding school. Suspecting foul play, Holmes decides to investigate and starts doubting a dangerous hallucinogen. A dying victim gives a word that seems to be a clue. The two friends also come across a cult that performs human sacrifices and use blowpipes as weapons. They narrowly escape, but not without consequences.
The film was not a commercial success, and it received mixed to positive reviews. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Visual Effects. The music received a Grammy nomination and a Saturn Award.
The story was written by Chris Columbus, who tried to create a background for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character, Sherlock Holmes.
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
The biographical spy comedy based on Chuck Barris’ life was released in 2002, starring George Clooney, Sam Rockwell, Julia Roberts and Drew Barrymore. It was Clooney’s debut as a Director.
Sam Rockwell during Confessions of a Dangerous Mind Premiere at Mann Bruin Theatre in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Game show creator, producer, and host, Chuck Barris, gains fame after his show “The Dating Game,” is given the green light by ABC. The show and the subsequent ones become a hit on the network and bring him fame. Meanwhile, Barris also works as an undercover assassin after his secret recruitment by the CIA. The discovery of the secret behind his CIA recruitment devastates him, and he breaks down on air and goes into seclusion. He also sets out to identify the mole in the agency.
positive reviews from critics, but it just managed to recoup its budget at the box office. At the 2003 Berlin International Film Festival, Clooney received a Gold Bear nomination, and Rockwell won the Silver Bear Award for Best Actor.
Starring Sophia Lauren and Gregory Peck, this comedy thriller were released in 1966. It is described Hitchcockesque because the protagonist finds himself in life-threatening and unlikely situations. Prime Minister Hassan Jena discovers a plot against him which is believed to be coded in hieroglyphics. Nejim Beshraavi hires David Pollock to decode it and unveil the scheme. David enlists Yasmin Azir, Neji’s mistress, who seems to double-cross him but they finally succeed in stopping the assassination.
The film had mixed reviews, but it was a commercial success. Frederick Wilson was nominated for Best Editing, and Christian Dior who designed the costumes was nominated for Best Costume Design at the BAFTA Awards. Christopher Challis won the Best Cinematography at the BAFTA Awards. Henry Mancini was also appointed for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Show at the Grammy Awards. Before they settled on Arabesque, other working titles had included Crisscross and Cipher.
This international feature film set in Lynchian style was released in 2006. It stars Laura Dern, Justin Theroux, Harry Dean Stanton, and Grace Zabriskie, as well as Jeremy Irons, Karolina Gruszka, Peter J. Lucas, Krzysztof Majchrzak, and Julia Ormond.
Nikki Grace is preparing for her new role, and she finds herself falling in love with Devon with whom he is supposed to have an affair in the film. This makes her realize that her reality is mimicking the film. The two discover that they are remaking a supposedly cursed film that was never completed after its two leading actors were murdered. A series of odd scenes appear on the screen leaving her mind distorted.
The film premiered at different festivals around the globe. The public gave it favorable reviews, but the critics were torn in their opinions. In 2006, the film won the Best Experimental Film at the National Society of Film Critics’ Awards and the Future Film Festival Digital Award at the 2006 Venice Film Festival. Dern was praised for her performance, and she received three nominations.
This horror film which is an adaptation of the Stephen King’s novel of the same name was released in 1980. It features Jack Nicholson, Danny Lloyd, Shelley Duvall and Scatman Crothers in starring roles.
Spray-painted shop front by French street artist MTO in Berlin’s Kreuzberg districtPhoto by DAVID GANNON/AFP/Getty Images
After a writer’s block, Jack Torrance relocates to Colorado with his family for his position as the caretaker of the isolated Overlook Hotel. His son, Danny Torrance, experiences disturbing premonitions, a condition he shares with Dick Hallorann, a cook at the hotel. Jack unveils the hotel’s secret past and which sends him to the brink of losing his sanity and turns him into a homicidal maniac.
The film was off at a slow start and mixed reviews, with most critics blaming the pacing. It was nominated for Worst Actress and Worst Director in the first ever Razzie Awards. With time, the reviews became favorable, and it became a commercial success. It is now rated among the best horror films ever. It is also popular in pop culture.
This sci-fi thriller was released in 2007. It starred Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Rose Byrne, Michelle Yeoh, Cliff Curtis, Troy Garity, Hiroyuki Sanada, Benedict Wong and Chipo Chung.
The dying sun which is causing the earth to freeze could be the end of humanity unless something is done to mitigate it. Eight pilots board Icarus II spaceship with a nuclear bomb that could reignite the sun. They discover a distress beacon from the first spaceship that had disappeared while on a similar mission and it puts a spin in their plan. The crew encounter situations where their morality and ethics are tested.
The film failed to perform well at the box office, and the critics’ reviews were mixed in the UK and mainly positive in the U.S. In 2008, it won the Best Technical Achievement award at the British Independent Film Awards. It was also nominated for several other awards.
The Missouri Breaks
This epic western film, starring Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson, was released in 1976. Kathleen Lloyd, Harry Dean Stanton, John McLiam, Randy Quaid and Frederic Forrest feature as supporting cast.
David Braxton a land baron hangs a friend of cattle rustlers who are led by Tom Logan. The gang revenge by killing the foreman and stealing more of Braxton’s cattle using the farm they have bought next to him as a front. Enraged Braxton enlists the help of sharpshooter Robert E. Lee Clayton. Clayton goes after the rustlers, eliminating them one by one, as Logan falls in love with Braxton’s daughter. Braxton tries to fire Clayton after he taunts him about his daughter’s affair with a rustler, but Clayton is hell-bent on completing his mission of eliminating all the cattle rustlers.
The film was a commercial failure, despite its leading actors having won Oscar awards. With time, it has gained popularity among fans. Rotten Tomatoes gives it an approval rate of 79%.
This adventure fantasy film, starring Lee Pace, Catinca Untaru and Justine Waddell was released in 2006.
Hospitalized and bedridden stuntman, Roy Walker, tells an epic fantasy tale to Alexandria, a patient he met at the hospital. The story is about her namesake, Alexander, the Great. As he narrates it, her vivid imagination brings the story to life. Roy unsuccessfully attempts to commit suicide by using morphine after his wife leaves him for an actor.
The film premiered at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival to mixed reviews by critics. However, the reviews later became more favorable, and several critics included the film in their lists of top ten films of 2008.
The film was shot in more than 20 countries over a period of four years. Most of Catinca’s lines were unscripted to increase the spontaneity. To further the realism, Pace spent most of the shooting time in a bed.
Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine star in this heist film which was released in 1966.
Shirley MacLaine And Michael Caine walk through a crowd of people in a scene from the film ‘Gambit’, 1966. (Photo by Universal Studios/Getty Images)
Harry Dean is a professional burglar who is determined to steal a priceless statuette from the wealthiest man in the world. He enlists the help of an exotic showgirl, Nicole Chang, who bears a striking resemblance to the wife of Shahbandar, the tycoon. Dean comes up with a scheme which he deems perfect on how to carry out the heist, but his plans go awry because of misplaced assumptions and withholding vital information from Nicole.
The best thing about this funny movie is that the plot twist is revealed at the beginning, not the end. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Sound, Best Art Direction, and Best Costume Design. The remake of the film was released in 2012, starring Cameron Diaz and Colin Firth.
The film’s advertising tagline was “Go Ahead: Tell the End (It’s Too Hilarious to Keep Secret), But Please Don’t Tell the Beginning!”
Tomorrow Never Dies
This James Bond spy film, the eighteenth in the series, was released in 1997. It features Pierce Brosnan, Joe Don Baker, Teri Hatcher, Jonathan Pryce, Michelle Yeoh and Judi Dench.
Photo by Keith Hamshere/Sygma via Getty Images
After the Chinese government denies him a license to broadcast in their country, Elliot Carver, a media mogul, decides to use his media empire to incite the UK against China. He uses his men to destroy a British fleet with Chinese weaponry, and the UK plans to retaliate. The Head of M16 becomes suspicious of Carver after his empire publishes the news of the attack and he sends James Bond to stop the media baron.
Critics panned it upon release and described it as a flat, impersonal, been-there affair. Despite this, the movie was a massive success at the box office and would have been even more successful if the timeless Titanic had not overshadowed it. The film had four nominations and a win at the Saturn Awards. It was also nominated for Grammy and Golden Globe awards.
This comedy horror film was released in 2006, starring Bruce Campbell, Ossie Davis, Ella Joyce, Heidi Marnhout and Bob Ivy. The film is adapted from Joe R. Lansdale’s alternate history novel of the same name.
In an East Texas nursing home, a frail Elvis Presley wakes up from a 20-year coma caused by a hip injury infection. He laments his aging, impotence, and loss of status. He becomes friends with Jack, a black man who claims to be President John F. Kennedy. Jack even has a scar at the back of his head that renders credibility to his claim. The two discover a murderous Egyptian mummy, Bubba Ho-Tep, which feeds on souls at the nursing home.
Initially, the film was released in insufficient copies. It quickly achieved cult status, leading to a massive demand for the DVD release. The film was positively received by the public and the critics, with only a few criticizing the mummy plot and the ending.
The Return to oZ
This fantasy adventure was released in 1985. It stars Nicol Williamson, Jean Marsh, Piper Laurie, Matt Clark and Fairuza Balk.
Dorothy finds herself back in the Land of Oz after fleeing from the deceptive doctor with the help of a mysterious girl. She sees the land on the brink of destruction and the people almost extinct. After discovering that the evil king now rules the magical empire, she joins hands with her new friends for a rescue mission.
The film flopped and was met with mixed reviews. Critics found it too dark and scary for children. The film still was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and two Saturn Awards for Best Fantasy Film. Emma Ridley and Fairuza Balk were nominated for Young Artist Awards, and Fairuza also received the Best Younger Actor nomination at the Saturn Awards. The film remains somewhat unknown to people.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
The revisionist western film was released in 2007. It features Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Shepard, Mary-Louise Parker, Paul Schneider, Jeremy Renner, Zooey Deschanel and Sam Rockwell.
Jesse James has a lucrative bounty on his head. After his gang robs a train, some of the members leave to start a new life, and he has to recruit to replace them. Meanwhile, he grows restless and suspicious of betrayal by his men, and he interrogates them, including Robert, a recruit. Robert and his older brother collude to kill Jesse, whom they envy, for a bounty. His death increases his cult following.
The film was released in limited copies in 2007 and on DVD in 2008. It received high ratings from the critics and won several awards and received two Academy awards nominations and a Golden Globes nomination. Shockingly, the film performed dismally at the box office and made losses despite being one of the most decorated movies of 2007.
Phantom of the Paradise
The rock opera film which features horror and comedy was released in 1974. William Finley, Paul Williams and Jessica Harper star in leading roles.
Songwriter Winslow Leach’s music is stolen by producer Swan who gives it to his band. He sneaks into Swan’s office and is arrested and given a life sentence after getting framed for drug dealing. He escapes and hides into the offices again where he is disfigured in an accident that also makes him lose his vocal ability. He wears a costume and transforms himself into Phantom and resumes his mission to destroy Swan and rescue Phoenix, a singer in Swan’s group.
The film bombed at the box office and received poor reviews. However, its music received an Academy Award nomination for Original Song Score and Adaptation and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score – Motion Picture. Current reviews are favorable, and the film has now reached cult status.
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Christopher Walken, Rosario Dawson and Seann William Scott, the action comedy was released in 2003.
Beck is a bounty hunter debt collector and professional retriever of people and items. His employer, Walker, asks him to retrieve his son, Travis, from a mining operation in Brazil. He has to fight Hatcher, who heads the mining operation because he does not want to let Travis go. Hatcher is interested in the golden treasure, O Gato do Diabo, which Travis found. Beck fights him and flees with Travis to a rebel camp. After Hatcher attacks the camp and captures the rebel leader, Mariana, Travis and Beck are forced to work together to survive.
The film’s release was well received with critics giving it positive reviews, but this success did not translate to the box office where it was considered a commercial failure, subsequently ending the hope of a sequel.
The film starring William Shatner was released in 1962. It portrays the manipulation of a racist against integration. Adam Cramer arrives in a small town with the intention of inciting the white locals against the black people and against the school integration which has been ordered by the court.
The charismatic man, under the guise of a social reformer, riles up the white people and ignites racial tension which leads to an editor and a black preacher experiencing the wrath. After lying to Ella, the editor’s daughter and colluding with her to accuse a black student falsely of rape, he loses control over the people who realize he has been misrepresenting himself and ignored him.
Though the movie experienced difficulties in releasing it, it received glowing reviews and was hailed as a bold move. The film is based on a 1959 novel by Charles Beaumont. William Shatner has also gone on to write many memoirs and books.
Lord of War
The crime drama war film was released in 2005. It stars Nicolas Cage, Ethan Hawke, Bridget Moynahan, Jared Leto and Ian Holm. It was later released on Blu-ray disk and DVD the following year.
Yuri Orlov is inspired to start arms dealing career after witnessing the murder of potential assassins by a Russian mobster. He sees the need for guns as essential as food and convinces his brother, Vitaly, to join him in his new trade. Despite being the son of refugees, Yuri sells weapons to the warring sides of the 1982 Lebanon War, making a fortune, and subsequently attracting the attention of Interpol and agent Jack Valentine. His brother is killed during one of their business trips to Africa.
Despite its star-studded cast, the film received a lukewarm response that saw it getting average ratings from critics and performing poorly at the box office. Amnesty International endorsed the film for shedding light on arms trafficking perpetrated by the international arms industry.
The sci-fi horror directed by John Carpenter was released in 1988, starring Meg Foster, Keith David, and Roddy Piper. It is adapted from Ray Nelson’s short story, Eight O’clock in the Morning.
John Nada discovers a church used as a decoy for scientific equipment. He retrieves sunglasses which reveal collusion by government and the media to manipulate the public through subliminal messages in the press. He also discovers that the elite are aliens seeking to dominate the world. Nada fights to save humanity from these aliens.
The film debuted at number one though it was met with mixed to positive reviews. Some considered it underrated, and other felt it had holes and shortcuts. It received two Saturn Awards nomination for Best Science Fiction Film and Best Music.
The movie has grown into a cult film and become popular in pop culture, with artists, directors, bands, and writers drawing inspiration from it.
Searching for Bobby Fischer
Starring Max Pomeranc, Joan Allen, Joe Mantegna, Laurence Fishburne and Ben Kingsley, this drama film was released in 1993. It is adapted from Fred Waitzkin’s book on the life of his prodigy chess-playing son, Joshua. The book shares the same name as the film.
(Photo by Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images)
7-year old Josh Waitzkin beats his father in a chess game, bringing his talent to the forefront. Josh continually plays speed chess with a hustler, Vinnie, who mentors him. However, his parents hire a famous chess coach and instructor, Bruce Pandolfini, to teach him. Both Bruce and Vinnie vary in their teaching methods and their life outlooks, which cause conflict with Josh finding getting caught in the middle of it. Bruce particularly resents Vinnie mentoring Josh, but Josh is determined to do it his way.
The film received positive reviews from movie critics and the chess elite who included grandmaster Nigel Short. Despite the critical acclaim and its reverence as a classic, the film was snubbed at the box office and in awards, only receiving a Best Cinematography Academy Award nomination in 1993 and winning the category in American Society of Cinematographers Awards.
Starring Gabriel Byrne, John Turturro, Marcia Gay Harden, J. E. Freeman, Albert Finney and Jon Polito, this neo-noir gangster film was released in 1990.
Leo O’Bannon, an Irish mobster, moves to protect Bernie Bernbaum after his Italian rival threatens to kill the corrupt bookie. He does this because he is dating Bernie’s sister, Verna, whom his right-hand man, Tom Reagan, is also sleeping with. Tom leaves Leo for Bernie, and the two mobsters escalate their fighting.
Despite the universal acclaim by the public and movie critics, the film was a massive disappointment at the box office, grossing less than half of its budget. It, however, made decent sales in video and DVD. The film was nominated by the Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics for the Grand Prix award and won the Critic’s Award at the 2nd Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival in 1991. Time listed it among the 100 greatest movies ever made.
P.S. I Love you
This drama film was released in 2007. It starred Hilary Swank, Lisa Kudrow, James Marsters, Gerard Butler, Harry Connick Jr., Gina Gershon and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. The film is adapted from Cecelia Ahern’s novel that bears the same name.
Photo by Chris Polk/WireImage
Holly Kennedy realizes she has lost the love of his life and went into seclusion when her husband, Garry, suddenly dies. When she turns 30, she starts receiving several letters that her husband had written as a plan to ease her grief after his death. Holly’s mother feels that the messages are preventing her daughter from moving on with her life, but they serve to help her rediscover life.
Upon release, critics heavily criticized the film’s plot and the preposterous scenes. However, the film was a massive success at the box office, grossing $157m against its $30m budget. Hilary Swank, whose performance had also received several negative reviews from critics, won the People’s Choice for Best International Actress award at the Irish Film and Television Awards in 2008.
Featuring Melanie Mayron and Anita Skinner in leading roles, this comedy-drama was released in 1978.
Susan Weinblatt is a photographer who has been struggling to sell her portraits. She lives with her roommate Anne Munroe. Anne moves out to marry her boyfriend and start a family, leaving Susan feeling lonely and abandoned. Susan’s crush on the Rabbi Gold dissipates after she finds out he’s married. Dejected, she soon gets her show at the gallery and starts dating Eric. Anne envies Susan’s independent life while Susan, who is not keen on settling down, hates Anne’s marriage. This leads to fights, but they later reconcile, and Anne reveals that she has had an abortion.
Though it failed to get an audience, the film was nominated for a Golden Globe award and a BAFTA Award in 1979. It won the People’s Choice Award at the 1978 Toronto International Film Festival and a Special David award at the David di Donatello Awards. The movie has become more popular after Stanley Kubrick, and Lena Dunham praised it.
Me and Orson Welles
Starring Zac Efron, Claire Danes, Ben Chaplin and Christian McKay, this historical period drama was released in 2008. The film is adapted from Robert Kaplow’s novel of the same name.
Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage
Teenager Richard Samuels is offered an acting role after a coincidental meeting with Orson Welles, a famous director, who is cheating on his pregnant wife with a leading actress. Samuels falls in love with Sonja Jones, a production assistant, who sleeps with Welles in a coupling game, setting off Samuel whose rants get him fired.
The film’s release received many positive reviews and critics were unanimous in their praise. It also earned several nominations and won two Austin Film Critics Association awards. Christian McKay received numerous nominations as well and won San Francisco Film Critics Circle, Austin Film Critics Association, and Utah Film Critics Association awards. However, the film failed spectacularly at the box office, grossing $2m against its $25m.
Starring Burt Kennedy, Karen Steele and Randolph Scott, this film was released in 1959. It is easily one of the best by Budd Boetticher’s films.
Ben Brigade captures Billy John and heads with him to California to stand trial for shooting a man in the back. They run into problems on the way, including an impending Indian war at a frontier post. They come across Carrie Lane who is waiting for her husband to come back from finding lost horses. She is with two bandits with a reputation that Brigade is familiar with. When they all discover that her husband has been killed in the battle, they decide to all stick together to defend themselves from the killers who are in pursuit. Brigade allows them to join him as they continue with their journey to Santa Cruz, knowing that they may have an interest in the bounty and that John’s brother, Frank, is also hot on their heels.
Even though the film did not win any awards, it has become a favorite of fans of the Ranown cycle of Westerns for its script, pace, and superb cinematography.
Released in 2009, this romantic comedy-drama features Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg in starring roles and Ryan Reynolds, Martin Starr, Kristen Wiig, Margarita Levieva and Bill Hader in supporting roles.
James Brennan, a recent college graduate, is anticipating his Europe tour to pursue journalism, but he is forced to change his plans and seek a temporary summer job because his parents are experiencing financial difficulties and cannot fund his education. Adventureland hires him, a local amusement park and what was to be a boring summer turns out to be exciting after he falls in love with a beautiful co-worker, Emily.
In 2009, the film was screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival. It achieved moderate success at the box office although critics positively reviewed it and continued to have high ratings. The film received a Best Ensemble Cast nomination at the Gotham Independent Film Awards.
Starring Jon Voight, Rebecca De Mornay, John P. Ryan and Eric Roberts, this action thriller was released in 1985.
Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage
Two prisoners escape and board a train whose driver suffers a heart attack, and the train accelerates out of control. Sara persuades the two prisoners not to jump out and instead press the kill-switch in the engine. With the sadist warden catching up with the train using a helicopter and the train still speeding out of control, the passengers appear destined for an imminent disaster.
The film was not a commercial success, but it received positive reviews and was up for several awards. It featured in 1986 Cannes Film Festival and received three Academy Awards nominations and three Golden Globe nominations. Jon Voight’s performance was lauded, and he went on to win a Golden Globe Award for the Best Actor in Motion Picture Drama. Critics have described Runaway Train as the most underrated movie of the 1980s, and it has also appeared in their top action movies list.
The New World
This romantic historical drama was released in 2005. It stars Colin Farrell, Wes Studi, Q’orianka Kilcher, August Schellenberg, Christian Bale, David Thewlis, Yorick van Wageningen and Christopher Plummer.
Arriving with a British expedition in Virginia in 1607, Captain John Smith is captured by the local Native Americans and is due for execution when Pocahontas, their Chief’s daughter, intervenes. Smith and Pocahontas start an affair, and her father sends him away and where false reports of his death are made.
Critics slammed it upon release and labeled it underwhelming. It only managed to recoup its budget at the box office. However, there has been a drastic change in its perceptions, with critics and fans universally praising the film. The film has received several nominations for its acting, cinematography, and music. It has also appeared on several top movies lists with critics ranking it one of the best films of the decade.
The crime film was released in 1973, starring Robert Duvall, Joe Don Baker, Karen Black and Robert Ryan. It is based on Richard Stark’s novel with the same name.
Earl Macklin is released from prison only to find that his brother had been murdered over their previous bank robbery. He sets out to revenge against the mobsters and enlists his girlfriend and friend’s help. After his girlfriend is threatened into luring him into a trap, he discovers the mobsters also have a hit out on them. It becomes a cat and mouse game with both parties trying to hunt down the other. Macklin and his group carry out a series of robberies before trying to infiltrate the home of Mailer, the mobster leader.
The film received a lukewarm response and mixed reviews upon release, with critics finding it ordinary. However, it has retained its relevance and favorable ratings and has been on several lists of films recommended by writers.
This psychological drama which was released in 1962 is set in the Civil Rights period which defined the 1960s. It focuses on racism issues and their causes and features Bobby Darin and Sidney Poitier in starring roles.
A young psychiatrist is frustrated when he has to counsel a black patient and asks his boss to assign another psychiatrist the task. Through flashbacks, his black boss recounts an account of a similar situation he faced earlier when he had to treat a Nazi sympathizer and was torn between personal bias and professionalism. We learn that the patient was a troubled man who had a difficult childhood and joined the wrong peer groups before joining the Nazi movement. These cause him nightmares and sleepless nights. After he is helped through it, he demands to be released, but the doctor refuses due to his Nazi inclinations.
The film was a commercial failure, but Darin received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture. It is an underrated film which tackles racial relations while eliminating the bias associated with mental health and Darin’s performance is unforgettable.
The film which is based on Robert Lindner’s Destiny’s Trot short story was previously known as Point Blank.
This thriller and crime drama were released in 1987, starring Theresa Russell, Sami Frey, Debra Winger and Nicol Williamson.
Alexandra Barnes is a Federal agent who suspects that Catherine Petersen is a psychopathic temptress who seduces men into marriage and then kills them for money. She is unable to prove her suspicions because Catherine has numerous identities, personalities and she has mastered disguise. She decides to use unconventional methods and goes undercover, hoping to catch Catherine when she slips up.
The film has had mixed reviews, and it has not won any awards, though its writer, Ronald Bass, later won an Academy Award for another movie; Rain Man. Black Widow is an underrated gem which I would recommend watching. It is compelling to watch two sensational women who with different, but intriguing obsessions. We are pleased that more people are becoming aware of this fun film noir.
The American Friend
Starring Dennis Hopper and Bruno Ganz, the neo-noir film was released in 1977. It is adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s novel, Ripley’s Game.
Tom Ripley is a wealthy American expatriate who manipulates auctions on his accomplice’s forged paintings. He is approached to carry out an assassination, but he proposes Jonathan Zimmermann for the task to get back at him for snubbing him. While initially reluctant, Zimmerman accepts so he can leave his family extra cash before he succumbs to Leukaemia which Ripley has convinced him is getting worse. They soon find themselves targeted by the Mafia.
The film received positive reviews by the public and critics. Even Highsmith who initially dislike it later warmed up to it. Its approval rate on Rotten Tomatoes is 88%. The film was featured in 1977 Cannes Film Festival. The desperation and humanity, or lack thereof, depicted in this film makes it a worthwhile watch.
This thriller was released in 1968, starring Boris Karloff and Tim O’Kelly. Byron Orlok abruptly decides to retire because he believes current news is more horrifying than the horror movies he has been acting in. At the insistence of Sammy Michaels, he agrees to make a final appearance before retiring for good. Bobby Thompson, a gun collector, murders his family and goes on a shooting spree before hiding in the theatre where Byron is due for an appearance. As Byron’s film is showing, Bobby kills patrons and Byron manages to disarm him.
The film’s release after Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated made it relevant and gave it a moderate success at the box office as well as instant profit when Paramount acquired it for $150,000 before its release. The events of this film inspired Elton John’s Ticking lyrics from the Caribou album.
The satirical comedy featuring Bruce Dern, Barbara Feldon and Melanie Griffith was released in 1975.
The film focuses on the chaos, fights, and tension that dominate the annual Young American Miss Pageant; Brenda DiCarlo, the Executive Director, loses herself in her pet project. She is so obsessed with planning it that she ignores all complaints and her husband who attempts suicide. The producer of the event falls out with the skeptical and nasty Hollywood choreographer. The Chief Judge’s son spies and films the contestants. The contestants use ingenious and unconventional methods to win. The winner is a surprise.
The film received excellent reviews for its satire and humor. In 1986, it was adapted into a Broadway musical with songs by Marvin Hamlisch and Howard Ashman. Rotten Tomatoes currently gives it an approval rate of 100%. Its initial release was, however, overshadowed by Shampoo and Nashville, which were released the same year.
Flesh and Blood
This romantic historical adventure drama was released in 1985, starring Jack Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Burlinson and Rutger Hauer. Paul Verhoeven secured the film’s funding from Hollywood after the Dutch government kept subsidizing his controversial work.
Arnolfini is away when his city is taken in a coup. He hires mercenaries to reclaim it then cruelly dismisses them afterward without keeping his end of the bargain. To revenge, the mercenaries abduct his son’s intended wife, leading to an ongoing battle between the two groups with the leaders fighting for her affection.
The film was a commercial failure probably owing to its limited release, but it has become a firm cult favorite with critics and fans over the years. The popularity of the Game of Thrones series has also renewed interest in similar films like Flesh and Blood which feature sword fights, castles, and knights in a medieval set up.
This drama featuring Burt Lancaster, Janice Rule, and Janet Landgard was released in 1968. The film is based on John Cheever’s short story, The Swimmer.
After attending a pool party and noticing the many backyard pools, Ned Merrill decides to swim home through the pools. Every poolside reveals a part of his life which we end up learning is a story full of failure on the domestic, romantic and financial fronts. We learn something about this man’s life at every poolside until finally, we can piece together a story of his disgrace and failure.
The film was released to lukewarm response but has since gained a cult status. After the film’s rerelease restoration in 2014, it won the Satellite Award for Outstanding Overall Blu-Ray/DVD in 2015. This film has successfully managed to recreate a short story in the film. Lancaster feared water and had to take swimming lessons.
Pump up the Volume
The comedy-drama, starring Christian Slater and Samantha Mathis, was released in 1990.
To escape loneliness, an introverted teenager, Mark Hunter starts an FM pirate radio at the basement of his parents’ house. His on-air name is “Hard Harry,” and he is careful to conceal his identity, but a student tracks him down and reveals it. His show gains popularity among students after one of them commits suicide. Harry discusses the issues they face in school and their local community. He encourages students to confront their problems, and they start going about it in bizarre ways, leading to an investigation by the FCC. The principal‘s fraudulent activities are unveiled.
The film was generally received positively by the critics, and the ratings continue to be favorable, but it failed to find an audience at the box office upon release. It won the Golden Space Needle Award at the Seattle International Film Festival.
The sci-fi horror was released in 1985, starring Peter Firth, Steve Railsback, Mathilda May, Frank Finlay and Patrick Stewart.
While on a space mission, British and American astronauts come across an alien spaceship with three humanoids. They decide to bring them back with them to earth, but they encounter trouble that initiates a rescue mission. The astronauts and their shuttle are destroyed, but the extraterrestrials survive, with one sucking the life force out of people and turning them into zombies. A surviving astronaut discovers the aliens have tricked them and went on a mission to destroy them.
The film opened in fourth place and was heavily criticized upon release which described it as silly, hysterical and peculiar. Colin Wilson considered it the worst movie ever made. In 1986, John Dykstra won the Caixa Catalunya Award for Best Special Effects. The film reviews have gradually become more favorable, and as of this year, it has a 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
It was adapted from Colin Wilson’s novel, The Space Vampires, but the studio felt that the name sounded too similar to their other work.
Johnny Got His Gun
The anti-war drama film based on Dalton Trumbo’s novel with the same name was released in 1971. It features Timothy Bottoms, Jason Robards, Diane Varsi, Marsha Hunt, Donald Sutherland and Kathy Fields.
Joe Bonham is a quadruple amputee who was a victim of World War 1. The disabled army veteran has lost his sense of smell, sight, speech, and hearing. He reminisces about his girlfriend and family. Using Morse code, he asks to be used by the Army in a freak show to demonstrate the effects of war, but his request is rejected. A frustrated Joe begs to be euthanized and a nurse he has bonded with attempts to grant him his wish.
The film was a success with the audience and critics. In 1971, the film won the Grand Prix Spécial du Jury and the FIPRESCI Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. The film got a renewed jolt in the limelight and became and amassed a cult following after Metallica band featured footage of it in their “One” hit song.
The then Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter required all his staff to watch this film.
These are the Damned
Referred to as “the highpoint of the first wave of the British postwar Science Fiction films,” this film was released in 1963. It features Oliver Reed, Shirley Anne Field, Macdonald Carey and Viveca Lindfors in starring roles.
Joan tricks Simon Wells into getting mugged by her incestuous brother and his gang and is found by soldiers attached to Bernard. Bernard, a scientist, refuses to talk about his secret project which involves kids living in an underground bunker. Joan joins Simon, and they both flee from her brother. The radioactive kids rescue them and start living with them.
The film was not considered a hit probably because of the controversy surrounding it, from the content to the Director, Joseph Losey, who had been blacklisted in Hollywood. There were rumors that the release of the film had been suppressed.
A shorter version of The Damned was released in the U.S. in 1965 as These Are the Damned.
This black comedy horror which is adapted from Bret Easton Ellis’s novel, American Psycho, was released in 2000. It stars Reese Witherspoon, Christian Bale, Josh Lucas, Chloë Sevigny, Willem Dafoe, Samantha Mathis, Cara Seymour, Jared Leto and Justin Theroux.
Patrick Bateman, a wealthy investment banker in New York, lives a double life as a brutal serial killer. One of his victims is a co-worker he envies. He goes on a killing spree that is mostly unprovoked, and he seems to keep getting away with it. A co-worker unknowingly survives his attack when he mistakes the offense for an amorous display.
Upon releasing the film, its reviews ranged from negative to mixed, with critics scorning it for its violence and disturbing nature. However, the film was a commercial success, grossing $34m against its $7m budget. Recent reviews of the film have been favorable, and it has earned a cult following.
MISHIMA: A Life in Four Chapters
This biographical drama that is based on the work and life of Yukio Mishima was released in 1985, starring Ken Ogata in the leading role. It also featured Toshiyuki Nagashima, Kenji Sawada, and Yasosuke Bando.
The film sets in on November 25, 1970, the last day in Mishima’s life. He is shown finishing a manuscript. Then, he puts on a uniform he designed for himself and meets with four of the most loyal followers from his private army.
We have come to expect Paul Schrader’s movies to start with a man dressing and preparing himself to go out and do battle for his goals. This film begins the same way. Shortly after finishing his manuscript, Yukio Mishima wears his own-designed uniform for a meeting with members of his private army. It is the last day of his life. Through a series of flashbacks and dramatization of his novels which mirror his life, we see the formative years of his experience and his journey as a shy, stuttering boy, an isolated writer and a commander of his army. He is an extremist who frowns upon materialism and western influences and subsequently recruits his private army to reinstate the Emperor as the head of state. His mission fails, and he commits suicide by disemboweling himself.
The film has received raving reviews with critics labeling it a masterpiece. John Bailey, Eiko Ishioka and Philip Glass won the Best Artistic Contribution Award at the1985 Cannes Film Festival.
The Day the Earth Caught Fire
This Sci-Fi film starring Edward Judd, Leo McKern, and Janet Munro was released in 1961. It is considered one of the classic apocalyptic films of the 60s.
Strange occurrences around the world, including flooding in Sahara, heavy mists in London and tornadoes in the Soviet Union, baffle journalists at the London Daily Express. The editor and veteran reporter Peter Stenning learn that the United States and USSR carried out nuclear tests. Jeannie Craig tells Peter that the earth’s orbit has shifted towards the sun. Publishing of this information by the press causes mass hysteria, and the government takes drastic measures to keep people safe. As people evacuate, the press prints two different headlines as they wait for the day of the nuclear detonation. The film was released to critical acclaim, and Wolf Mankowitz and Val Guest won the Best Film Screenplay at the 1962 BAFTA Awards.
Viewers were awed by the restored version in 2014 for its relevance and similarity to current events.