I came across this tag via rhiannatoria’s video, go check her channel (she has amazing film and TV reviews), and saw it was a fun one. I will try to highlight more “underground” movies, so these are not necessarily my favourites, but rather those that need and deserve more love. I also took the liberty to pick more than one for certain genres. I had to, okay!
For action Defiance (2008) directed by Edward Zwick. It is a movie that takes aspects of the real life of the Bielski brothers, a Belorussian family, who after the murder of their family for being Jewish, go into the forest and create a camp, constantly moving, stealing to survive from those that have much, and rescuing Jews from the clutches of Nazis and sympathizers.
For adventure I pick The Mummy (1999) directed by Stephen Sommers. I know this movie is well known, but it is one not often loved as much as I adore it. Yes, it has issues, but it has amazing characters and good effects, and is funny. I watch this film at least once a month.
For “general” animation I wanted to select The Secret of Nimh, but in the end I picked Treasure Planet (2002) directed by Ron Clements and John Musker. A film that is often put behind many of Disney’s most well-known animated movies, a mix between Treasure Island, space, and a moon ship. And The Great Mouse Detective (1986) directed by Ron Clements, Burny Mattinson, David Michener and John Musker. For some reason this film is not as popular as it could be, but ever since I was a kid, I would see this movie at least once every couple of months on my old VCR, after all, it is the story of a detective who happens to be a mouse.
For anime, my first thought is always Princess Mononoke or Wolf Children or Grave of the Fireflies, or whatever other amazing Japanese animation film there is out there, but I’m sure most of us have at least heard of these, therefore I pick Perfect Blue (1997) directed by Satoshi Kon, which is not as known, but just as incredible, the story of a singerr who moves on to acting, and who is later plagued by an “alter-ego” as her coworkers are murdered around her.
For stop-motion (I know this is technically cheating), but Corpse Bride (2005) directed by Tim Burton and Mike Johnson, is one of the greatest ones out there. Again, not very underground, but it has everything a Burton film usually possesses but done in animated form. Definitely much better than his latest movies.
3 Idiots (2009) directed by Rajkumar Hirani. This Indian film, which is over two hours long, is one comedy that is not easily forgotten. It follows a college student and his two friends as they try to graduate, find love, and progress, while being scrutinized for more “innovative” ideas. It has all of the usual Bollywood shenanigans, and they are awesome.
One Day (2011) directed by Lone Scherfig. Based on the book of the same name, but much better. Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess play the part of friends in love wonderfully. They begin as a one night stand, but every year they meet on the same day, and soon their story progresses. You might cry at the end, tears of blood.
Lust, Caution (2007) directed by Ang Lee. One of the most fantastic stories of what might have happened during WWII in Shanghai, under a puppet government. A story of survival, fear, horrible job of espionage, and unbearable love.
Stardust (2007) directed by Matthew Vaughn is based off the Neil Gaiman masterpiece, and even though there are many differences, it is simply a good story with an inventive world.
Byzantium (2012) directed by Neil Jordan. Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan star as mother and daughter vampires, in a world in which their mere existence is an abomination. Hunted by an order of vampires while trying to live as normal as possible, this duo bring their own twist to a story spanning years, and the existence of creatures that have gotten a bit of shame recently.
I cannot add Hamilton since it is not even on DVD, so I went with my second favourite: Rent (2005) directed by Chris Columbus, which starts an amazing cast of actors. It is set in New York, and a year in the life of a group of bohemians, as they try to deal with AIDS, love, sexuality, gender, rent, and loss. And I also think The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) directed by Jim Sharman deserves a spot, after all it is the story of a transvestite Frankenstein-like scientist and his orgy party; aliens may also be involved.
I don’t really watch a lot of romance, but I do see films with romance in them, of those, only a few have stuck out as they touch upon more than a simple “love-at-first-sight”. Stuck in Love (2012) directed by Josh Boone tells the story of a writer, of his daughter, and his son, and how each event affects all of them. It is realistic, beautiful, and it has Logan Lerman in it.
Veronica Mars (2014) directed by Rob Thomas is a masterpiece! Yes, yes, I am a fan of the show, but I am sure that those that have yet to see it will be able to thoroughly enjoy it with having only a quick Wikipedia read through the main plot-line of the show. It possesses the ability to suck you into the story, the characters are as compelling as ever, and they are shown to have grown as the years have passed. It is simply, wonderful.
Metropolis (2001) directed by Rintaro. Robots and humans coexist, however discrimination still exists.Basically an old movie about much of the fears people face today when it comes to refugees and immigrants.
Munich (2005) directed by Steven Spielberg. Perhaps it is well-known, but not as much as other Spielberg movies, but just as fantastic as his others. It tells the “true” story of Operation Wrath of God, a secret retaliation by Israel against the Palestine Liberation Organization after theevents of the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics. This is the film that brought me even closer to my interest on Israel, Palestine, Judaism, and Islam.
Argo (2012) directed by Ben Affleck. I had only ever heard of the events depicted here from a quick briefing in class, and as soon as I heard of this story, I went to the internet and researched it. This true story of events during the Iranian Revolution follows Americans who are hid by embassies while a member of their government and a film producer try to get them out safely. Although it has some changes fro the original story, it is a well-made film, and one I am glad to tell everyone to see.
Dead Poets Society (1989) directed by Peter Weir. It happens in a high school, therefore it is one of those. This movie might be as underground as The Breakfast Club, but I still have friends that have not spend a part of their lives observing the beauty and wonder of such a story about literature, identity, and school.
Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004) directed by Guy Ferland. Can I be honest without anyone going bananas? I love the second film much more than the first. Why? maybe it is because it’s set in Cuba, during the Cuban Revolution, and I’m acquainted with the events. Maybe it is because I understand the position he characters were put in, or maybe I just love Diego Luna to no end. It is simply a cool film. Also, I don’t like the term “chick flick.”
Power/Rangers (2015) directed by Joseph Kahn. Yes, there are many amazing superhero movies, but as of recent years, they are all extremely popular. It all must have started with Iron Man, and have definetly continued with Avengers and X-Men but to be honest, this fan-made short film is incredible. We all grew up with Power Rangers, whether it was the original or all the following series, the point is, that with the new movie coming out, and the nostalgia showing, it is nice to see a movie where the characters have frown in time with us. yes, it is much more brutal and dirty than it needs to be, but I adore all of the darkness.
I would also love to put The Killing Joke here, but it has not been released yet, so I give you second best: Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010) directed by Brandon Vietti. With the failure that was Batman V Superman, this story will hopefully appease the wounds, although it is not a Justice League. ( for a Justice League one check out Justice League: The New Frontier and Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths)
I used to see a lot of this type of film when I was a kid, something about Jet Li, Bruce Lee, and Jackie Chan kicking butt gave me a sense of pride. But it has been a long time since I’ve seen one, but these are three of my favourites from when I was a kid:
Enter the Dragon (1973) directed by Robert Clouse. A martial artist who volunteers to spy for a crime lord, and it has Bruce Lee, so it is obviously awesome.
Once Upon a Time in China (1991) directed by Tsui Hark. Jet Li starts in the story of a legendary martial artist who fights against the rule of French, American and British influences over China.
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978) directed by Liu Chia-Liang. Basically learning martial arts simply for the purpose of revenge.
The Magdalene Sisters (2002) directed by Peter Mullan. Not horror in the sense of a scary film because of ghosts of monster, but because it tells semi-autobiographical stories of women who were basically tortured for flirting, having children out of wedlock, and even being raped. The moment since I saw this film, I knew it would stick with me forever, it has been over ten years, and I still get vivid flashes of the story, from how it starts, to the characters, to the ending.
Orphan (2009) directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. A horror film that does not posses ghosts, but it shows a side of humanity that is utterly terrifying.
Freedom Writers (2007) directed by Richard LaGravenese follows the story of your basic “white saviour,” who uses literature to have her students open up about their lives and to diminish racial tensions at a time where gang violence was rampant. We get a glimpse of almost every student’s life, how past and present events affect them, and the why of their actions. It also shows an interesting side to racial inequality, political views, and how much a person can change themselves and others.
Life Is Beautiful (1997) directed by Roberto Benigni. One of my favourite Holocaust movies, the story is set in Italy, and is the tale of a father hiding from his son all that is happening around them, even when they are sent to a concentration camp. You will cry so hard there will be no tears for a couple weeks.
Agora (2009) directed by Alejandro Amenábar. Not very historically accurate, but it shines a light on a woman who was very important to mathematics and science, who lived on a time in which enlightenment frightened many, a period before a lot of the knowledge of the world was lost. I sometimes wonder if events like those depicted would not have happened, including the burning of libraries and intelligent individuals, if we would be traveling in space now, meeting the stars.
For this I have a film that is foreign to others but is actually from my country and I saw it when I was still living there. Viva Cuba (2005) directed by Iraida Malberti Cabrera and Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti. Two kids from different backgrounds who go across country to find the father of the girl so he does not sign the paperwork for the daughter to be able to leave the country for America. It is a tale of friendship, which shines a light on the disparity of the Cuban population, from those that have family in the US and those that don’t. Quite an incredible journey.
This is one I also saw in my country but is not in my native tongue The Island on Bird Street (1997) directed by Søren Kragh-Jacobsen, another Holocaust film but told through the eyes of a child living alone on a ghetto after his family has been sent to a concentration camp.
Have you seen any of these? What is your list? Are any of those films on this list?