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10 Underrated Movies by Famous Directors You Might Have Missed

June 20, 2017
7 min read

Whenever we think of a director’s filmography, there are some films that instantly come to our mind. They are the ones that captivate us no matter how many times we watch them. But if you look closely, there will be certain films that didn’t do well at the time of their release. In some cases, the film may have been forgotten or become overlooked over the years. But I feel that the films in this list, deserve a second look and should be explored again. It is not just because of what the critics think but also due to the wonderful performances and direction that are present in it. So, here is the list of great movies by famous directors you might have missed.

10. Shadows And Fog (Woody Allen)

This film was crafted as an homage to the German Expressionist movement and films. It is without a doubt one of the stranger films that Allen has made. While it didn’t resonate with the critics, its performance at the box-office was even worse. But you shouldn’t dismiss the film, on the basis of the response of the time. It has a visual tone that is very unique and the dark mood that the film manages to create is very different to the usual Woody Allen film. That alone makes the film worth watching.

 

9. Matchstick Men (Ridley Scott)

One of the hallmarks of any good con movie are the people behind the con. Here, we get a truly memorable con man in the form of Nicolas Cage’s Roy Waller. A man who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder among other ailments, he is one of the smartest con men around. Cage is completely believable and there is a genuine warmth in his performance and especially in the story involving his daughter. He is aided by great work from the supporting cast which includes Sam Rockwell, Alison Lohman and Bruce McGill. Saying more about the film will reveal elements of the story and that should not be the case. Adapted from a novel by Eric Garcia, this film is Ridley Scott at his entertaining best.

 

8. Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock)

The second collaboration between Tippi Hedren and the master director, ‘Marnie’ is a fascinating film because of the way it portrays psychological trauma. It is on this list as it is not one of Hitchcock’s better known films. It has a tightly written plot and genuinely affecting performances from Hedren and Sean Connery as well. The quality of this film was recognized by critics and other directors in particular when it was voted as one of the greatest films ever made, in the 2012 Sight & Sound poll. That is just another reason as to why you should watch it.

 

7. Strange Days (Kathryn Bigelow)

A huge financial failure when it was released, ‘Strange Days’ definitely deserved to be treated better. The film is based on a story by Bigelow’s ex-husband, James Cameron. What the film represents is Bigelow at her most inventive, weaving different genres together to create a highly entertaining film. The sci-fi flick has some fine performances from Ralph Fiennes and Angela Bassett in particular. Although the film has been overlooked by a lot of people, it needs to seen for exploring themes that are relevant even today.

 

6. Insomnia (Christopher Nolan)

Nolan is one of the few directors whose films have always been successful critically and commercially. But then why is he on this list ? It is because ‘Insomnia’ is not a film that one immediately associates with him. It could be because the film is a remake. But one aspect that separates this remake from the other is the fact that it almost matches up to the original. The film has one of Robin William’s finest dramatic performances and even if you have seen the original Norwegian film, this American version has something different to offer the viewer.

 

5. Duel (Steven Spielberg)

One of the earliest films that Spielberg ever directed, ‘Duel’ gives the viewers an example of the director’s expertise in action and suspense that would go on to be celebrated in his later films. Based on a short story by Richard Matheson, the film is a truly thrilling piece of cinema. It features some great action set pieces as well as a terrific performance from Dennis Weaver. ‘Duel’ is proof of Spielberg’s ability to captivate the audience and keep them interested in what’s happening on screen.

 

4. Rumble Fish (Francis Ford Coppola)

One of the two adaptations of S.E. Hinton’s novels by Coppola, ‘Rumble Fish’ was released in the same year as ‘The Outsiders’. While the former was nowhere near as successful as the latter, it is arguably the better film. By making the film in the style of a French New Wave film, it may have made it tough for the American audience to connect with. After the failure of ‘One From The Heart’, this was an example of Coppola returning to his best. The tone of the film polarized the viewers and critics at the time but it is a film that has to be rediscovered. This is because of the film’s ability to analyze real emotions by looking at them through an experimental lens.

 

3. The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson)

Though the film is not as visually appealing as some of the director’s other work, it is perhaps one of the more human films that Anderson has made. As with a lot of his films, the theme of this film deals with a dysfunctional family. But what makes the film a memorable experience is the exploration of brotherhood and the various emotions associated with it. The film is not considered to be among Anderson’s finest but it is surely better than what most people think of it. Also, how many films can claim to have used an Indian backdrop so well. Sometimes the setting is used merely as a gimmick but here, it actually affects the proceedings in an organic way.

 

2. Bringing Out The Dead (Martin Scorsese)

Another entry in this list that flopped at the box-office, it is one of the most criminally overlooked films in Scorsese’s career. The film has an intensity that grabs your attention from the get go. The energy of the director and the actors is present throughout the film. Additionally, the film has a magnificent performance from Nicolas Cage. When the actor decides to do a role in a more subtle manner, the results are always great. Though the film deals with quite a serious subject, it always manages to entertain you. ‘Bringing Out The Dead’ represents a high point in both Scorsese and particularly Cage’s career.

 

1. Punch-Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson)

This film was not what many people expected from the director given the nature of his previous films. But it is nonetheless a very impressive film. It features a career-best performance from Adam Sandler who portrays a role that is quite different from the ones we usually see him in. He showcased his ability to express emotions that we didn’t know he had in him. The way he portrays the depths of darkness as well as sadness is something to behold. Even though the film is much lighter compared to the director’s other work, it has some intense moments spread across the film. The sweet love story that is at the center of the film will surely bring a smile to your face. This film is not just for fans of PTA or Sandler, it is also for someone looking for a more realistic romantic comedy.

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