10 Movies that are Seriously Under-Watched

(Thomas Hawk/Flickr/Creative Commons)

None of these are difficult-to-watch, indie/art house movies but they are all great movies from ~2004–2013 that I think are overlooked, forgotten, or generally under-watched. If you haven’t seen these, I’m jealous. Check them out!

Note: I’ve done a 180° on trailers and I wouldn’t recommend watching them before the movie. If they don’t give away the plot, most of them do ruin the emotional beats. But hey, it’s a free country 🤷🏻‍♂️

In no particular order…

An Education (2009)

dir. Lone Scherfig; writ. Nick Hornby; DP. John de Borman; feat. Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina, Rosamund Pike, Emma Thompson

A teenage girl’s coming-of-age story. This movie blows Lady Bird out of the water. Not that I think Lady Bird is a bad movie, this is just… better. Thank you to the one who showed it to me.

Warrior (2011)

dir. Gavin O’Connor; writ. Gavin O’Connor, Anthony Tambakis; DP. Masanobu Takayanagi; feat. Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Morrison

Came into this movie expecting a cheap action flick, Rocky-lite at best. But the family drama outside the ring is more violent and moving than anything that happens in it. This movie has a lot of heart.

Children of Men (2006)

dir. Alfonso Cuarón; writ. Alfonso Cuarón, Timothy J. Sexton; DP. Emmanuel Lubezki; feat. Clive Owens, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor

I know this film is critically very well-regarded but I’m still surprised at how so few people seem to have seen it. I saw it again recently, in a theater for the first time, and I was blown away by its amplified emotional impact on the big screen. Felt like I couldn’t breathe at the movie’s climax. It works as an action-packed thriller and a serious exploration of heavy themes, many of which resonate anew today beyond their original Bush-era, Gitmo/Abu Ghraib context.

Michael Clayton (2007)

dir. & writ. Tony Gilroy; DP. Robert Elswit; feat. George Clooney, Sean Cullen, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton

Peak Grisham-thriller genre. Fantastic writing. I saw this movie on January 1 and it’s still one of the best I’ve seen in 2018.

Syriana (2005)

dir. & writ. Stephen Gaghan; DP. Rober Elswit; feat. George Clooney, Matt Damon, Christopher Plummer, Jeffrey Wright

A personal favorite. I really love Alexander Siddig’s performance/character here and some really memorable lines. Perfect if you like thrillers, geopolitics, spy stories, and the hyperlink storytelling style of Crash, Babel, and Traffic.

Richard Linklater’s “Before” trilogy — Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004), Before Midnight (2013)

dir. Richard Linklater; writ. Richard Linklater, Kim Krizan, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke; DP. Lee Daniel, Christos Voudouris; feat. Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy

I know it’s cheating to include a whole trilogy but I can’t pick one. Ok, Before Midnight might be my favorite overall but I think Before Sunset has the best ending (by an inch) and perhaps the best scene. My college roommate had a poster of Before Midnight in his room which unfortunately I only happened to notice at the beginning of year-end finals. I spent the next day watching these movies, which I now love. These should be better known than Boyhood!

Up in the Air (2009)

dir. Jason Reitman; writ. Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner; DP. Eric Steelberg; feat. George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick

This list is a bit Clooney-heavy, which means I probably won’t put The Descendants on here. No one talks about this one a lot. Maybe it’s a bit too real. If people ever look back and talk about movies of the Great Recession, this will be one of them.

Gran Torino (2008)

dir. Clint Eastwood; writ. Nick Schenk; DP. Tom Stern; feat. Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Ahney Her, Christopher Carley

This movie deals with the decline of Golden Age America and the promise of New America through the lens of religion, race, and age. I think this movie deals with multiculturalism in a more serious and rewarding way than most.

Is Walt Kowalski a white savior? No, I don’t think so, if that term means a cheap plot device of inserting a white dude as a stand-in so we can explore an exotic culture while sidelining it at the same time. It makes sense that his character is there. You can imagine real Walt Kowalski’s all over the country. And it makes sense that he interacts with his neighbors the way he does. As for whose story it should be, I think it’s totally fair to explore that interaction from his POV. It’s not like Eastwod can’t do the other side, just look at Letters from Iwo Jima. But hey, I also love The Last Samurai so…

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

dir. Jean-Marc Vallée; writ. Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack; DP. Yves Bélanger; feat. Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto

I feel like this is one of those movies that people remember exist only when they’re reminded but everyone “wants to see”. Leto’s performance is searingly human.

Apocalypto (2006)

dir. Mel Gibson; writ. Mel Gibson, Farhad Safinia; DP. Dean Semler; feat. Rudy Youngblood, Dalia Hernández, Raoul Trujillo, Jonathan Brewer

The last movie Mel Gibson made until Hacksaw Ridge in 2016. An intense, immersive, transporting experience that I don’t think I’ve felt until maybe The Revenant. Except The Revenant’s stylized cinematography draws attention to itself and sometimes away from its subject. They rarely make ’em like this anymore.