Both New Wife and I have a problem when it comes to movies: we are not enthralled (to put it mildly) by anything that smacks of science fiction or fantasy — although I loved the brilliant About Time, that was more because of Bill Nighy’s performance, which dragged the movie out of the generic time-travel dreck — and that dislike of fantasy extends to horror movies of the Chainsaw Massacre type.
Thus, a compendium along the lines of These 10 Underappreciated Movies Make for the Perfect Quarantine Viewing Experience is of little use to me, mostly because of the list’s reliance on sci-fi / fantasy / horror formats. (Of that list, I’d seen only a couple, and liked only Surveillance. The rest… forget about it. Didn’t see; won’t either.)
So I thought of creating my own list of underappreciated movies, only with a principle theme of adult (in its original sense) entertainment. Some are available on Netflix, Prime and the like, while others may have to be rented or purchased. Here they are:
- Montana (Kyra Sedgwick, Stanley Tucci) — bleakly redefined the gangster-movie genre; both Tucci and Sedgwick are great.
- Sideways (Thomas Haden Church, Paul Giamatti) — a “buddy” movie about a trip to the California wine country: seriously?
- Elizabethtown (Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst) — black comedy/romance, and the story’s occasional missteps can be safely ignored. I even enjoyed Free Bird, which says something.
- The Matador (Pierce Brosnan) — absolutely one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen, and Brosnan is beyond words.
- A Good Year (Russell Crowe) — I’ve talked about this one often, and it’s nearly time for me to watch it again.
- Sliding Doors (Gwyneth Paltrow, ) — when a movie can make Goats ‘N Monkeys Paltrow look good, you have to know — and Scottish actor John Hannah is brilliant, as always. And yes, it’s a time-shift piece, but like About Time, that’s just the background noise.
- O Lucky Man (Malcolm McDowell) — rent it at Amazon Prime, and it’ll be the best $2 you spent all week. The best of Malcolm McDowell’s early-70s movies (alongside A Clockwork Orange and If… the latter being almost as good). And while we’re on Malcolm McDowell…
- Aces High — best WWI movie ever made, better than All Quiet On The Western Front, even.
- Coldblooded (Jason Priestley) — Priestley sheds his pretty-boy image forever.
- Paper Man (Jeff Daniels) — Jeff Daniels has given us several fine performances, and this one is up there with the best.
- Red Road (Kate Dickie) — saddest movie of the lot, set in the bleak (and since-demolished) eponymous public housing complex in Glasgow.
- The Last Seduction (Linda Fiorentino) — another black comedy (anyone sense a theme, here?) but with wicked twists and turns in the plot.
- Criminal (John C. Reilly) — how do you con a conman? And Reilly, as always, is amazing.
Of course there are others, but these are the ones which came to mind immediately. Feel free, as always, to add your suggestions in Comments — just please, please avoid the aforesaid sci-fi, horror and fantasy genres.