By Dan Mecca
This list intends to pay homage to recent classics that have not been given the appropriate respect. In no particular order:
1. Lord of War (2005) – dir. Andrew Niccol
Nicolas Cage as a smooth-talking gunrunner. The opening credits alone are haunting.
2. O. (2001) – dir. Tim Blake Nelson
A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s “Othello” that hits all the notes and adds a few more. Featuring a convincing Josh Hartnett as the Iago character and an intense Mekhi Phifer as Othello (a.k.a. Odin).
3. My Blue Heaven (1990) – dir. Herbert Ross
Perhaps Steven Martin’s funniest movie.
4. The Fountain (2006) – dir. Darren Aronofsky
A masterpiece on par with sci-fi staples such as 2001: A Space Odyssey. Just give it time.
5. Sunshine (2007) – dir. Danny Boyle
Read what I wrote about The Fountain, and repeat it here.
6. Big Fish (2003) – dir. Tim Burton
The film Tim Burton was born to make.
7. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005) – dir. Shane Black
One of the best films I have ever seen. Period. See it NOW.
8. Wonder Boys (2000) – dir. Curtis Hanson
Michael Douglas proves he can act, so does Tobey Maguire, so does Katie Holmes. Meanwhile, Robert Downey Jr. and Frances McDormand continue to be brilliant. Yea, they’re all in this.
9. Insomnia (2002) – dir. Christopher Nolan
In between short term memory loss and caped crusaders, Nolan made this psycho-thriller, featuring Al Pacino’s best performance in any film since Glengarry Glen Ross
10. The Reckoning (2003) – dir. Paul McGuigan
A small period piece starring Paul Bettany as a sinful priest seeking redemption. Beautiful film, beautiful visual style.
11. The Machinist (2004) – dir. Brad Anderson
Also known as, how much weight can Christian Bale lose? 63 pounds to be exact! See it to believe it. It’s also a great piece of psychoanalytical film in the vein of Fight Club.
12. A Home at the End of the World (2004) – dir. Michael Mayer
Never heard of it? Don’t worry, neither has ANYONE. Colin Farrell’s best performance. And he’s good.
13. Out of Sight (1998) – dir. Steven Soderbergh
Arguably the best heist movie ever made. And I’m including all of em.
14. The New World (2005) – dir. Terrence Malick
Remember the whole bit about Colin Farrell being good? He’s in this film too, as Jamestown settler John Smith,; the same one who fell in love with Pochahantas. One of the most beautiful love stories in recent years.
15. The Gift (2000) – dir. Sam Raimi
Starring Cate Blanchett as a Southern single mom with psychic powers, including a supporting turn from Keanu Reeves as a violent hick. Directed by the guy who gave us The Evil Dead. I feel this needs no more explanation.
16. Gattaca (1997) – dir. Andrew Niccol
Andrew Niccol is perhaps the most under appreciated director of our time. This film speaks on genetic prejudice in a world that has broken the DNA code.
17. Reality Bites (1994) – dir. Ben Stiller
Defines Generation X and elicits laughs along the way. Also, see Steve Zahn steal scenes.
18. Payback (1999) – dir. Brian Helgeland
Mel Gibson gets tortured, like in every Mel Gibson movie. But this one does it the best.
19. Catch Me If You Can (2002) – dir. Steven Spielberg
How this thing did not get every major nomination come Oscar time is criminal. Watch it again. Five times better than Gangs of New York, The Terminal, and The Aviator combined. And it’s really funny.
20. A Prairie Home Companion (2006) – dir. Robert Altman
A classic Altman character piece that is as sweet as it is natural. Featuring Woody Harrelson in a nice little role as a singing cowboy.
21. Great Expectations (1998) – dir. Alfonso Cuaron
Takes out nearly every part of Dickens’ classic novel, save the heart-wrenching romance of Pip (his name’s Finn in the movie) and Estella. Starring Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow as the leads.
22. Undisputed (2002) – dir. Walter Hill
Just 110% raw badass prison boxing, starring Wesley Snipes and Ving Rhames. Short, lean and most definetely mean.
23. Vanilla Sky (2001) – dir. Cameron Crowe
A virtuoso of a film with a decidedly ridiculous final twist. But somehow it all works. And, love or hate Tom Cruise, he’s great in this thing.
24. Boiler Room (2000) – dir. Ben Younger
A film inspired by Wall Street that is better than Wall Street.
25. True Romance (1993) – dir. Tony Scott
Evidence that if other directors adapt Quentin Tarantino’s source material the results can be as good, if not better, than a decent amount of Tarantino films. I’m thinking of everything but Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs.
What are some great movies that aren’t highly recognized?