10 Ignored Movies from Famend Administrators

There are only a handful of directors working today who consistently pump out such exceptional films that every new release is considered an event. And there are fewer still whose cinematic repertoire is so varied and impressive that their movies will be remembered for decades to come.

But sometimes, this could be a problem. A director may release a film that is so good and precedent-setting; something that reverberates around the world and strikes a chord with everyone who watches it to such a degree that every other film that director makes is instantly compared to it. From that point forward, the legacy of that film will overshadow everything that has come before and after it.

This is, admittedly, a good problem to have. It’s the sign of a successful director. But it can also lead to a lot of overlooked movies. It’s time we give some of those movies the attention they deserve, so here’s 10 widely overlooked films from some of the most renowned directors working today.


10 Insomnia (Christopher Nolan)

Movie Poster for Christopher Nolan's 2002 crime-mystery film Insomnia

Before he revolutionized the superhero genre with his Dark Knight trilogy, Christopher Nolan spent the early years of his career crafting dark, brooding crime thrillers. After the one-two punch of Following and Memento, Nolan confirmed his status as a noir maestro with Insomnia, a slow-burn mystery that follows two Los Angeles homicide detectives investigating the murder of a high school girl in a small Alaskan town where the sun doesn’t set.

Al Pacino gives a masterful performance as the troubled, increasingly sleep-deprived detective who makes a grave mistake that puts him in the crosshairs of the killer. And Robin Williams plays against type as a cold and methodical local who may or may not be responsible for the young woman’s death.

Although the film was well-received when it was initially released in 2002, it has been overshadowed by Nolan’s big-budget superhero and sci-fi epics. But trust me: Insomnia is more than worthy of your attention.

RELATED: Christopher Nolan Movies, Ranked from Good to Best

9 Panic Room (David Fincher)

Poster Image for David Fincher's 2002 movie Panic Room

Alongside Tarantino, David Fincher is the master of turning pulpy crime stories into cinematic art. While it’s hard to argue that any movie in Fincher’s repertoire is “overlooked,” there is one that never receives a lot of mentions, and that’s 2002’s Panic Room.

The film stars Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart as a divorced woman and her diabetic daughter who must hide in their newly-purchased home’s safe room when three violent burglars break-in, searching for a missing fortune the rich and reclusive previous owner may have left behind. Panic Room features pitch-perfect acting and David Fincher’s distinctive clinical direction, which elevates the relatively straight-forward story into something much more unique and rewarding.

8 Super (James Gunn)

Movie Poster for James Gunn's 2010 superhero comedy Super

Before his tenure at Marvel (and now DC), James Gunn was a gleefully over-the-top indie filmmaker whose bread and butter was button-pushing movies. And no film better encapsulates Gunn’s mad genius than his 2010 superhero satire, Super.

This bleak, irreverent comedy follows sad-sack Frank Darbo – played impeccably by Rainn Wilson – whose unhappy life is upended when he receives a vision from God, proclaiming he’s been specifically chosen by the almighty to fight crime and save his city. Invigorated by his new purpose in life, and desperate to rescue his drug-addict wife from a sleazy strip-club owner, Frank becomes The Crimson Bolt, an unhinged vigilante who deals out vicious beatings with his trusty pipe wrench.

Super is a far-cry from Guardians of the Galaxy and even Suicide Squad. It’s disturbing, uncomfortable, and down-right hysterical if you’re on the film’s wicked wavelength. Don’t miss it.

7 Monster (Patty Jenkins)

Movie Poster for Patty Jenkin's 2003 crime-drama Monster

Patty Jenkins made a name for herself when she directed Wonder Woman in 2017, which many view as the best movie to come out of DC’s struggling cinematic universe. But before she directed Diana Prince’s origin story, the long-time television and commercial director made her feature debut with the powerful and gritty Monster.

Monster is a 2003 biographical crime drama that focuses on serial killer Aileen Wournos, a prostitute who robbed and killed seven of her male patrons over the course of one year. Charlize Theron gives the performance of a lifetime as the film’s violent but ultimately sympathetic protagonist. It’s by no means an easy film to watch; it’s bleak, brutal, and – as people familiar with the true story already know – doesn’t have a happy ending. But Theron’s performance – which Roger Ebert considers “one of the greatest performances in the history of cinema” – and Patty Jenkins’ assured direction truly elevate a potentially exploitative story into something more personal and human. It’s no walk in the park, but this powerful film is certainly worth checking out.

6 Matchstick Men (Ridley Scott)

Poster for Ridley Scott's 2003 movie Matchstick Men starring Nicolas Cage and Sam Rockwell

Ridley Scott needs no introduction. The legendary director has been working behind the camera for close to 60 years, and is responsible for classics like Alien, Blade Runner, and Gladiator. But no movie in his vast catalog has been more overlooked than his 2003 crime-comedy Matchstick Men.

The film stars Nicolas Cage and Sam Rockwell as two con-artists about to pull off the biggest swindle of their career, but their delicate and well-laid plans are interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Cage’s fourteen-year-old daughter. Cage gives a brilliantly comic (and neurotic) performance as the group’s lead scammer, and Rockwell’s usual dry charisma is on full display. Alison Lohman is equally fantastic as the rebellious teenager, who eventually gets wrapped up in her father’s con game. And let’s not forget Hans Zimmer’s buzzing score.

Ridley Scott has made a name for himself with his science-fiction and historical epics, but Matchstick Men shows off his lighter, more comedic side. It’s fast, zippy, heartwarming, and definitely worth your time.

5 Enemy (Denis Villeneuve)

Alternative Poster for Denis Villeneuve's Enemy starring Jake Gyllenhaal

Much like Christopher Nolan, Denis Villeneuve has become the preeminent purveyor of high-minded science-fiction movies such as Blade Runner 2049, Arrival, and Dune. But before his transformation into one of the most in-demand filmmakers working today, Villeneuve directed what very well may be his only horror film: Enemy.

Enemy is easy to describe but hard to understand: it’s a psychological horror film starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Adam Bell, an unhappy man who goes on an existential journey of self-discovery after spotting his doppelganger in a movie. He becomes obsessed with finding his lookalike, and things get…bizarre.

Jake Gyllenhaal fully commits to the gonzo material, giving not one but two masterful performances as the film’s increasingly unhinged protagonists. Enemy is much more somber and esoteric than the director’s other work, and may require multiple viewings (and a lot of patience) in order to fully grasp the film’s meaning and themes, but this small-scale wonder is more than deserving of your attention.

RELATED: Every Denis Villeneuve Movie, Ranked.

4 Rumble Fish (Francis Ford Coppola)

Title Card for Francis Ford Coppola's Rumble Fish

Everyone knows Francis Ford Coppola. The madman behind Apocalypse Now and the Godfather trilogy has been blessing audiences around the world with his wildly audacious movies since 1963. And the man doesn’t appear to be slowing down, as he’s set to release his self-funded $120 million magnum-opus Megalopolis in due time. But in the 1980s, Coppola turned his attention to smaller, character-driven dramas, and none are more powerful than his 1983 film Rumble Fish.

The film follows Rusty James (played by Matt Dillon), a teenage hoodlum who desires to be as feared and powerful as his gang-leader brother, known around town as the Motorcycle Boy. In a lot of ways, Rumble Fish is a spiritual successor to Coppola’s previous film The Outsiders: they’re coming-of-age stories featuring troubled youth; contain much of the same cast (the films were shot back-to-back); and are based on novels written by S.E. Hinton.

But unlike The Outsiders, Rumble Fish allowed Coppola to experiment. The movie is shot in stark black-and-white and features avant-garde cinematography reminiscent of German Expressionism and the French New Wave. And the score feels like a mixture of 80s pop and 50s surfer rock. The acting is theatrical but never over-the-top, and features a truly harrowing performance from lead Matt Dillon. A recent blu-ray re-release from boutique film label Criterion Collection has provided the world with a beautiful restoration, so you have no reason not to check out this deeply personal hidden gem.

3 Cop Land (James Mangold)

Atlernative Poster for Cop Land, starring Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Harvey Kietel, and Sylvester Stallone

James Mangold is a tough director to pigeonhole. He’s dabbled in horror (Identity), romance (Kate and Leopold), westerns (3:10 to Yuma), and perhaps most notably, superheros (Logan). He is, above all, a master of human drama, and no film better highlights his talent for crafting memorable and conflicting characters quite like his feature debut, Cop Land.

The filmfollows Sylvester Stallone’s Freddy Heflin, the mild-mannered Sheriff of a quiet New Jersey community that’s home to a small cabal of corrupt New York City officers. After a police brutality case puts the officers in the crosshairs of an internal-affairs investigator, Heflin’s loyalties are put to the test.

Led by Sylvester Stallone and supported by an insanely impressive ensemble cast including big-hitters like Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, and Robert De Niro, you wouldn’t be wrong for mistaking Cop Land for a Scorsese flick. But this low-key stunner is the type of mid-budget, morally-ambiguous thrillers that studios simply don’t make anymore.

2 After Hours (Martin Scorsese)

Poster for Martin Scorsese's film After Hours

In the world of film, there are very few people as influential as Martin Scorsese. He has an understanding and control over the medium equal to only a handful of other directors, and every film released is an event. And while he’s known for his larger-than-life gangster movies, there is one film that almost no one talks about. And that’s After Hours.

After Hours follows mild-mannered Paul Hawkins as he endures the worst night of his life after agreeing to a date with a beautiful woman he meets at a coffee shop. Except for Wolf of Wall Street, After Hours is arguably Scorsese’s only flat-out comedy, but it’s also an anxiety-inducing nightmare. Imagine a romantic comedy directed by the Safdie Brothers and you will get a good sense of the wild delights to be found in After Hours. Don’t sleep on this movie!

1 The Straight Story (David Lynch)

Alternative Poster for David Lynch's The Straight Story

David Lynch is a cinematic cult icon who has made a name for himself with his beautifully dark and borderline inaccessible movies. From Eraserhead to Inland Empire, Lynch’s distinctive style has cemented him as one of cinema’s most beguiling auteurs. But one film in his impressive catalog is stylistically and tonally different from anything else he’s ever done, which is probably why it’s largely overlooked.

The Straight Story follows Alvin, an ailing old man who decides to ride his trusty lawnmower from Iowa to Wisconsin to visit his dying brother and make amends. The movieis a G-rated(!), Walt Disney biographical drama that couldn’t be more removed from Lynch’s typically oppressive and nightmarish movies. It’s a simple, heartwarming story directed with a gentle touch. And man, does it pack an emotional wallop. It’s a film that’ll make you want to call your loved ones when the credits start to roll.

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