Has it ever happened to you that you watched a movie and felt you’ve wasted two hours of your life, but then when you watch the same movie again after some years you hear yourself saying, Wait? Why am I feeling this movie is simply brilliant? Well, I had that moment when I watched Pulp Fiction. I hated that movie when I watched it for the first time. And when I watched it again after a few years, for the next two months I watched it at least four times a week. I was obsessed with it.
So what changed? My perception? My thinking? It’s just that I was not yet ready for it then.
Many visionary filmmakers were executed by critics’ mighty pen only to be praised and celebrated later for their movies because they were way ahead of their time. And it was little difficult for the general audience and critics to digest it and comprehend it. It’s not that all movies were shunned, but most of them are. Time is the ultimate litmus test for movies. Somebody said: to know if the movie is good or bad you need to see how well it is accepted 10 years after its release. Sadly, we don’t have a time machine or Precogs the ‘Minority Report’, and that’s where we’ll start the list. Here’s the list of top movies way ahead of their time.
15. Minority Report
I’m sure most of you must have watched it. For those who haven’t: Set in 2054, the movie is about catching criminals even before they commit the crime with the help of Precogs who receive visions from the future. Watch the movie for its action and thrilling sequences. Now watch it again and you’ll see the movie, on a philosophical level, is about the age-old debate about destiny versus free will. Though the movie was well received, many critics still gave it thumbs down.
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14. The Truman Show
The movie is fun and funny but it also eerily predicted mankind’s addiction for reality shows and how much we rely on television for entertainment. Even if the entertainment comes from the misery of other human beings, we don’t care about it. All we want is, is to have fun. The movie ends with the audience, who are hooked to the show, change the channel like nothing happened when the show ends, just like we do when we do. It’s cold.
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13. Blade Runner
Whether it’s the production house’s version or the director’s cut, many artists have claimed this movie to be a life-changing experience. For some, Blade Runner was the sole reason why they got interested in movies. Released in 1982, the movie failed miserably and disappeared without a trace, only to resurface when the Director’s Cut was out and that’s when it acquired the cult status.
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12. Synecdoche, New York
As a writer or a director, Charlie Kaufman has been giving us movies that have always stood the test of time. Be it ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ or ‘Being John Malkovich’, his movies are way ahead of their time and at the same time are refreshing. Many critics have shunned the movie, but the film is slowly getting its due credit. Some critics have also compared it to Federico Fellini’s ‘8½’. While you’re at it also watch Kaufman’s another movie ‘Anomalisa’. It’s another cult in the making.
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11. Dazed and Confused
Alright. Alright. Alright. I know it’s cliche but cannot help not saying it. If you think high school movies are boring and kiddish, then watch this. The movie is about different groups of kids on the last day of their school. That’s it. That’s the plot. But the screenplay and especially the music have made it one of the most loved movies of all time. Although it was not a huge success, now, it has one of the strongest cult followings.
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10. Strange Days
A movie so ahead of its time that it almost ended the director’s (Kathryn Bigelow) career. Imagine the blow her career took when a 42 million dollar movie makes only 8 million dollars. That’s quite a mis-hit. ‘Stranger Days’ was mostly shunned for its realism. The rape scene had left many critics baffled and disgusted. However, the audience has slowly begun to accept the movie without judging it based on critics’ reviews.
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9. Waking Life
The philosophical theme of the movie and it’s trippy animation will make you go dizzy. The movie is very difficult to watch in one sitting. The content is so dense and meta that you’ll easily fall in your waking dream. Although it’s only an hour and a half, take your time, don’t push yourself to finish the movie just for the sake of it. It’s a beautiful movie and requires your full attention if you want to appreciate it. It’s mentally exhaustive yet enriching.
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If you look up for a list of best non-English films than the majority will have this movie on their list. A movie by Akira Kurosawa, who is highly revered, praised, looked-up to and also one of the most influential directors ever. The movie, though, was written off by Japanese critics but was wholeheartedly embraced by the international audience. It won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1951, including several other.
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If we’re talking about movies that are ahead of their times, then it cannot not have a David Lynch movie in the list.
David Lynch, made this movie when he was only a student at AFI. Eraserhead opened to a handful of audiences but soon become a hit with the midnight audience. The movie is a metaphor for man’s fear of his fatherhood. It took more than a decade for the movie to get its due credit in terms of storytelling and technicalities.
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6. 2001: A Space Odyssey
This Stanley Kubrick’s science-fiction film is one of the most important and influential movies in the cinema history. It’s a display of mankind itself. For a movie released in 1968, it has ground-breaking visual effects, the editing is a class apart. And Kubrick’s visionary direction is mindblowing. The more you watch the movie, the more you start appreciating it. If you call yourself a movie aficionado and haven’t watched the movie then stop whatever you’re doing and watch it.
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5. Citizen Kane
Mother of all movies. But many might still fail to understand the movie. To begin with, the movie is told with different narrators, which filmmakers shy away from even now. Second, the main protagonist has negative shades, which was unheard of then. The lighting was realistic. The storytelling was in flashbacks – not a convention during those time either. Released in 1941, the movie failed to impress the audience although it was critically acclaimed. The movie was given a new life when it was praised by renowned critics. It was revived in 1956.
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4. Bonnie and Clyde
This is “the” movie that started “glorifying” violence in movies. Influenced by French New Wave movies, Bonnie and Clyde was an instant hit with the young crowd. It has attracted its share of flak from a set of audience and critics. The movie is a milestone on so many levels and has inspired many movies on the similar lines such as ‘Natural Born Killers’ and ‘True Romance’.
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Can you believe it that a British critic had walked out of this movies and she went so far that she even quit her post as a film critic? But it got a tremendous response from the audience, which made critics change their opinion over the time. ‘Psycho’, now takes place amongst the greatest movies ever made and is also considered as Hitchcock’s best film.
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The movie is ambitious in terms of storyline, screenplay and cinematography. 8½ deals with director’s block and how he overcomes it in the end. The surreal sequences are exceptionally well shot. Surprisingly, though the movie was decades ahead of its time, the Italian audience and the critics unanimously praised it. However, it did receive some flak when it was released in America.
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Metropolis is probably the first science fiction movie about futuristic dystopia. Directed by Fritz Lang, the movie deals with the cultural divide. It’s almost a century old now but still, has dug its feet and has overcome the test of time. The movie is so strong, especially in terms of special effects that it will still be one of the most highly influential movies of all time.
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