Weekend On The Couch
February 19, 2010 4:19 PM   Subscribe

What are some of the great but lesser-known films I've missed out on in the past, say, five to ten years?

I've recently got my hands on some great stuff - French horror like Martyrs and Inside, the excellent Spanish original of REC, the truly depressing documentary Darwin's Nightmare, the hilarious British films In The Loop and Four Lions, fun but completely unknown American thrillers like, well, Unknown and A Perfect Getaway. On and on it goes.

But I'm starting to scrape the bottom and am afraid I've missed a turn somewhere. Can you recommend me some great, lesser-known stuff, fictional or not, from the past couple of half-decades? Mainly I've been finding films I like and then seeing what else Amazon recommends, or checking out "boutique" award winners via Wikipedia, so if you don't have a specific film to recommend then I'd love to hear about any other online resources.

Like I say, I'm up for just about anything. Thrillers, horror, action, documentaries, comedy. Stuff that you sit back afterwards and think "I'm glad I watched that" rather than "Boy that was a waste of two hours".

Have at thee!
posted by turgid dahlia to Media & Arts (126 answers total) 360 users marked this as a favorite
Did you see Dead Man's Shoes by Shane Meadows? Do if you haven't; absolute gem and his best to date for my money. Paddy Considine gives a cracking performance.
posted by Abiezer at 4:37 PM on February 19, 2010 [6 favorites]

Honestly, I've never heard of your examples, so these may be far too mainstream for you, but: I highly recommend Spellbound and Mad Hot Ballroom. These two documentaries both focus on children doing competitive stuff (spelling bees and ballroom dance, respectively), and they both put a huge smile on my face.

If I can totally ignore the 5-10 year limit, I also highly recommend Paris is Burning, a documentary about competitive drag queens who band together in families and compete against each other. It is freaking awesome.

Sorry if you've already heard of these!
posted by sallybrown at 4:44 PM on February 19, 2010

Gomorra -- amazing organized crime film.
posted by cog_nate at 4:44 PM on February 19, 2010 [4 favorites]

Do you like Terrence Malick? I am a die hard fan of The New World. It's a lovely, complicated, engrossing film that was marketed very poorly and slipped under the radar. When I read that TIFF Cinemathique agreed with me, I felt less crazy.
posted by zoomorphic at 4:46 PM on February 19, 2010 [4 favorites]

Oh and: My Architect, a documentary about Louis Kahn, made by his son after the architect's death--about his beautiful work and ugly personal life.
posted by sallybrown at 4:47 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Did you see Dead Man's Shoes by Shane Meadows?

Yes, brilliant! And exactly the sort of thing I mean.

sallybrown, I know Spellbound but the other two sound pretty interesting, I'll endeavour to track them down. Thanks!

I've head good things about Gomorra so will grab that one off the shelf too.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:48 PM on February 19, 2010

Best answer: Larry Blamire's film work is worth your time if you enjoy the spoofiest, cheesiest spoofs ever. I like The Lost Skeleton of Cadavera and it's sequel, The Lost Skeleton Returns Again.
posted by carsonb at 4:55 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

12 and Holding if only to see that Jeremy Renner's Hurt Locker performance isn't a fluke. The guy is legit.
posted by dogwalker at 5:01 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Larry Blamire's film work is worth your time if you enjoy the spoofiest, cheesiest spoofs ever. I like The Lost Skeleton of Cadavera and it's sequel, The Lost Skeleton Returns Again.

Sweet zombie of Abercrombie, these appear to be works of genius. Thank you!
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:15 PM on February 19, 2010

Response by poster: Fairchild, those look brilliant. Just a thought, you may enjoy Festen (The Celebration).
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:20 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Brothers (Dutch Version)

You meant to say 'Danish Version', right?

The American Astronaut is one of the movies that stick in my mind from the last decade.
Also Primer.
posted by HFSH at 5:21 PM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

That should be the Danish version.
posted by Fairchild at 5:22 PM on February 19, 2010

Best answer: Well, I don't think I've got a sense of your taste, really, but here are some sleeper favorites of mine from the past decade.

8 Women
Air Guitar Nation
The Believer
Chuck and Buck
Drag Me To Hell
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
The Fall
Far From Heaven
The Fountain
The Gleaners and I
The Great Happiness Space
The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (I'm the biggest fan ever. Previously.)
My Winnipeg
Notes on a Scandal
The Pervert's Guide to Cinema
The Princess and the Warrior
Shanghai Noon
Spectres of the Spectrum
Strangers With Candy
This Film Is Not Yet Rated
Waltz With Bashir
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:26 PM on February 19, 2010 [5 favorites]

And I'll second The American Astronaut. Wha-ooooooo, wha-oooooo, wha-oooooooooo!...
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:28 PM on February 19, 2010

All the ones that I can think of to reccomend I already see here so I'll just second Primer and Waltz With Bashir.
posted by Sargas at 5:36 PM on February 19, 2010

These aren't horror, and they're not quite comedies, but I really enjoyed them. They're not romance -- quite. I'm not really sure what category they fall into... Anyway, I seem to be the only one I know who's ever seen them so I thought I'd throw their names out.

10 Items or Less. Is a great movie with Morgan Freeman - it starts slow, but I liked it.

I also liked My First Mister but I'm a sucker for these kind of movies.
posted by patheral at 5:39 PM on February 19, 2010

All of the films of Ramin Bahrani and Jacques Audiard.

Seconding the Edge of Heaven. Incredible. Fatih Akin's other films are worth seeking out.
posted by fire&wings at 5:40 PM on February 19, 2010

High-5 to AV. My copy of TLSoC is actually her copy. I sleep now.
posted by carsonb at 5:41 PM on February 19, 2010

Just watched Pervert's Guide... great stuff.
Wanting to suggest something Chinese from the last decade: I'll presume you've seen In the Mood For Love, so I'll suggest Crazy Stone and Hou Hsiao-Hsien's Three Times. Both a bit flawed but well worth the time.
posted by Abiezer at 5:41 PM on February 19, 2010

The Music of Chance.
posted by alms at 5:57 PM on February 19, 2010

Horror: The Devil's Backbone, The Orphanage
Thriller(?): A World Without Thieves
Comedy: Ping-Pong Playa
Documentary: Planet B-Boy, The Cove
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 6:15 PM on February 19, 2010

Seconding Gomorra, My Architect, Primer, and, even better than those, Waltz with Bashir. That one is awesome.

Another great doc but less under the radar is The Fog of War, and (not docs) The Lives of Others and Pan's Labyrinth are just spectacular. I need to rewatch Cache, too.

I also just watched Man on Wire, which is really good.

My absolute most favoritist recent films, though, are Wendy and Lucy, which is just devastating, and Old Joy, both by Kelly Reichardt.
posted by The Michael The at 6:20 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

American Splendor is one of the best, least seen films of the last decade.

And multiple thumbs up for AV's suggestions of The Eyes of Tammy Faye and The Fall.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye is a great film, whether you have any prior knowledge or opinion about the subject or not.

The Fall is one of the most amazingly stunning visual masterpieces ever committed to film, even more amazing in that none of the special effects were done by CGI, and the stunning locations are all real places.
posted by The Deej at 6:26 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Chicago 10 is a terrific documentary.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 6:38 PM on February 19, 2010

One Chinese documentary I should mention is Wang Bing's West of the Tracks; weighs in at nine hours, mind, so it really would be a long weekend.
posted by Abiezer at 6:42 PM on February 19, 2010

Oh yeah, Brick is also great- a hard-boiled detective noir movie set in a modern high school.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 6:43 PM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

Caché is arguably the best film of the last decade, and being French it's off most American's radar.
posted by eggplantplacebo at 6:43 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Clay Pigeons. Highly entertaining turns by Joaquin Phoenix and Vince Vaughn.
posted by Leezie at 6:46 PM on February 19, 2010

Breakfast On Pluto, directed by Neil Jordan.

I laughed. I cried. I went home from the theater changed.

Then I bought it on DVD.

posted by jbenben at 6:51 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Revanche
Mamet's Homicide and Red Belt
Werckmeister Harmonies
A Decade Under the Influence (docu)
Overnight (docu)
The Good Thief
Highway Patrolman
The Lookout
Out of Sight
Crazy Love (docu)
Into the Void (docu)
Time Indefinite (docu)
The Moor's Head
Under the Volcano
The Fountain
In the Mood for Love
Fish Tank
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
The Double Life of Veronique
Thin Red Line
Thin Blue Line (docu)
Laws of Gravity
Monsieur Hire and The Hairdresser's Husband (both Patrice Leconte)
The Limey
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
Mulholland Drive
Dogville, Europa, and Breaking the Waves (all Lars von Trier)
Rosetta and anything by the Dardenne brothers
Los Angeles Plays Itself
The Quiet Room
Clean, Shaven, Claire Dolan, and Keane (all by Lodge Kerrigan)
Naked (Mike Leigh)
The Hours and the Times
Spanking the Monkey and Three Kings (both d.o. russell)
anything by Michael Haneke, especially Code Unknown
Whole (docu)
and not a movie, but my favorite piece of filmed entertainment: the entirety of Deadwood, the HBO show

I'll second The Music of Chance, Red Road, and Head-On as well. Someone also mentioned 10 Items or Less, which I didn't care for, but whose director's earlier film is very nice: Moonlight Mile.

And, believe it or not, I'll recommend these Nicolas Cage movies:

the Weather Man
Matchstick Men
Bad Lieutenant - Port of Call New Orleans
Vampire's Kiss (same writer as Scorsese's After Hours, which I'd also recommend, though not before his first, and best, imo: Who's That Knockin' On My Door. His documentary American Boy is also fantastic).

and this Tony Scott film, which he does everything within his power to ruin, but doesn't pull it off: Man on Fire.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 6:59 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

We just watched a Korean flick called "The Host" and it was AWESOME. More of a monster movie than horror, and the box does not make it look all that interesting, but it is beautifully filmed and has a very inventive script. So good that as soon as it ended, I went online and bought the previous film the guy had made. And I'm a cheap bastard.
posted by the bricabrac man at 7:02 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Caché is excellent, but definitely nip out and shoot yourself afterwards material.

Kitchen Stories and O'Horten are fantastic.
posted by scruss at 7:09 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Highly recommend a Korean film called "Three Iron".
posted by effluvia at 7:11 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Maybe too well known, but "Hero" with Jet Lee. The cinematography is just mindblowingly beautiful. It's like someone took all those crazy Japanese comics from the Manga section of your bookstore and somehow breathed life into them. I didn't catch one word out of ten, but I didn't care.
posted by Ys at 7:14 PM on February 19, 2010

These two are both on Netflix Watch Instantly and are kind of perfect for watching on laptop (as I tend to do): compelling, slightly trashy yet well filmed.

Los cronocrímenes
Also known as "Time Crimes:" I'm a sucker for almost any time travel movie and this one ranks up there with Primer as one of my favorites.

The Nest. A combination heist and thriller movie which borrows heavily from John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13 and is just as trashy and exciting.
posted by jeremias at 7:35 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

The Negro (Le Nèg') and Gaz Bar Blues.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 7:35 PM on February 19, 2010

for a weird surreal trip, check out mirror mask
posted by Redhush at 7:39 PM on February 19, 2010

The Triplets of Belleville
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:40 PM on February 19, 2010 [7 favorites]

I'm just turning out for the Lost Skeleton of Cadavra party. It's genius.
posted by Tesseractive at 7:42 PM on February 19, 2010

You are going to drown in recommendations. Here's one more.

The Babysitters.

Amazon. Netflix.

Although the poster makes it appear to be sexploitation, it's satiric, dark, and smart, and not sexy at all.
posted by incessant at 7:50 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have to second American Splendor. So great.
posted by SarahElizaP at 8:14 PM on February 19, 2010

C.R.A.Z.Y. -- Fictionalized memoir about growing up gay in a conservative French-Canadian community in the 1960s and 1970s. Funny and moving. Beautifully directed and shot, great script, fantastic acting.

Les Invasions Barbares (The Barbarian Invasions) -- about a dying man who gathers his family and friends around him during his final days. Very lovely.

Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner) -- based on an Inuit legend about a malevolent force who invades a community and provokes feuding and violence. Multigenerational epic, very different from anything else I've seen.

Water -- set in 1938, about a group of widows in India who are forced to live in poverty after being shunned by their families and the community for religious reasons. One of the widows is a six-year-old girl who was in an unconsummated ceremonial arranged marriage to a sickly older man. Examines the role of women's rights in the context of India's independence movement led by Gandhi.

La Grande Seduction -- light comedy about a small fishing village in desperate need of a doctor. They decide to pull out all the stops to "seduce" a city slicker doctor on temporary duty into staying permanently.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:27 PM on February 19, 2010

Response by poster: You are going to drown in recommendations

*glug glug*

Pretty much everything here is fantastic. A lot I've seen, a lot I've only heard of, but many are totally unfamiliar and sound great. Keep it up people, I've already got my next hundred and twenty hours of couch time locked in.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:04 PM on February 19, 2010

You might like the Dardenne Brothers from Belgium. L'Enfant is one of the most fascinating small movies I've seen in years, about a lowlife who sells his girlfriend's new baby and what happens after that. It's got some almost unbearably suspenseful scenes, but isn't at all a standard "thriller" and has a wallop of an emotional punch.

Thomas McCarthy (he played the lying young journo in Season 5 of The Wire) wrote and directed a couple of films that definitely leave you with an "I'm glad I watched that" feeling: The Station Agent is just incredible, The Visitor a little less so.

For what it's worth, I found Tell No One a kind of disappointing mainstream thriller made a bit edgier only because it was in French. Nothing really revelatory there - to me, anyway.
posted by mediareport at 9:20 PM on February 19, 2010

Oh yeah, 2nding The Lives of Others, probably the best film I rented from Netflix last year.
posted by mediareport at 9:30 PM on February 19, 2010

Chan-wook Park is pretty amazing. You've probably heard of Oldboy, but the other two in the Vengeance Trilogy -- Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance -- are just as good. Mr. Vengeance, with its stripped down narrative, may be the best of the three. Park has a way of simultaneously relaying and holding back information at the same time, so at times you feel lost in the narrative until suddenly he reveals what's going on in some indirect or off-hand way, and you congratulate yourself for piecing it together. Many filmmakers structure their stories this way in much broader sense -- like mysteries where you piece together what happened at the end -- but Park does it within scenes, even within shots. He never lets you stop paying close attention, and the result is that you get sucked in. He does this in Thirst as well, which is also excellent.

Another Korean film I really liked was Barking Dogs Never Bite, by the director of The Host (which I think wasn't his best work, but it was popular).
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 10:05 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Rize is a magnificent
posted by compound eye at 10:08 PM on February 19, 2010

oh damn, i hadn't watched the trailer before i linked to it, the film is magic but the trailer awful
posted by compound eye at 10:10 PM on February 19, 2010

Just a note: Hurdy Gurdy Girl gave a tour de force of non-english Canadian cinema. Just to fill in the other half:

Eastern Promises - David Cronenberg
My Winnipeg - Guy Maddin
The Sweet Hereafter - Atom Egoyan
Pontypool - Bruce McDonald
Last Night - Don McKellar
posted by Alex404 at 10:15 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Many already here I would have recommended, am late to the party: But here are a few possibilities.
- Kontroll ,
- 2004's Nightwatch and later Daywatch (Nightwatch is better, and of course the books are better than the films, but the films are good),
- Black Cat White Cat
may be hard as hell to find, especially on Region 1 DVD but oh my god what a great movie, I ended up buying a VHS from a third party (legit copy mind you) on ebay just to have it.
You must have seen Jeunet's first films? They are older than 10 years, but - Delicatessen and - The City of Lost Children are worth it.
- I still don't know how to react to Big Man Japan, but give it a shot.
- Again older than 10 years and may be hard to find a copy but Until the End of the World is hands down my favorite Win Wenders film.
- Persepolis if you missed it.
posted by edgeways at 10:34 PM on February 19, 2010

I can't believe I forgot Tokyo Raiders... it's complete camp, but I thought it was great fun.
posted by patheral at 11:30 PM on February 19, 2010

So many good recommendations here; I'm exhausted or I'd go through and choose my favorites to second (or third) them.

But one I haven't seen is Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037. A documentary about the manufacturing of a single Steinway piano (L1037). While that's the hook, the meat of the doc is about the people on the factory floor (you'll likely be amazed by the folks who work there), the history of Steinway, the showroom, the customers, the concert pianists, etc.

No two Steinway pianos sound exactly alike. It takes one year to make a single Steinway piano.
posted by tzikeh at 11:37 PM on February 19, 2010

Er, Note By Note is one I haven't seen MENTIONED, not one I haven't seen. I've seen it. *duh*

Also nthing Lost Skeleton. Hilarious.
posted by tzikeh at 11:38 PM on February 19, 2010

Thirding My Winnipeg by Guy Maddin, which is really quite brilliant, although not quite as good as The Saddest Music in the World (also by Guy Maddin), my all time favourite movie, ever. It has music, humour, a child's heart preserved in his father's tears, glass legs full of beer... Seriously bizarre, and so worth seeing.

Also seconding the Triplets of Bellville. I don't watch movies very often, but I saw it twice in theaters. So good.
posted by aconitum at 11:40 PM on February 19, 2010

Response by poster: The Saddest Music in the World

Oh, wow, written by Kazuo Ishiguro - looks awesome!
posted by turgid dahlia at 12:29 AM on February 20, 2010

Wirecutters: A Love Story (Tom Waits in a major supporting role)
Wonderland (not the one starring Val Kilmer)
Central do Brasil
Secret Ballot
101 Reykjavik
Whisper of the Heart
Rules of Attraction (some people loathe that film)
My Son the Fanatic
The Adventures of Sebastian Cole
A Cock and Bull Story
Role Models (especially funny if you're a geek)

I also have to second Last Night, The Fountain, Primer, Code Unknown and, gosh, countless others.
posted by Kattullus at 1:11 AM on February 20, 2010

The very best movie I've seen that came out in the last fifteen years (if not longer) is Pavel Lungin's gorgeous and very thoughtful Ostrov ("The Island.") Sincerely, I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.
posted by koeselitz at 1:29 AM on February 20, 2010

And it came out in 2006, so it meets your criteria.
posted by koeselitz at 1:30 AM on February 20, 2010

> Wirecutters: A Love Story (Tom Waits in a major supporting role)

Wristcutters, that.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:31 AM on February 20, 2010

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:42 AM on February 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Italian director Paolo Sorrentino is without a doubt my favourite film maker to come out of the last decade. His first film, The Consequences of Love is a nail-biting exercise in tension and mystery with a great payoff. He followed this up with The Family Friend, about a small-time loanshark. Finally, he made Il Divo, the opening sequence of which still leaves me picking up my jaw from the floor. It's a masterpiece, and up there with anything Kubrick ever made.

Sorrentino is about to make his English-language debut with This Must Be the Place, starring Sean Penn. I can't wait.
posted by hnnrs at 2:10 AM on February 20, 2010

Best answer: This is a great list and I wanted to have it in a spreadsheet, so I made one on google docs and put it here in case anybody wants it. You can't edit but you can download.

Columns include IMDB link, title, year, director, genres, cast, and plot outline.

Thanks to Eric's Movie Database which made it easy to throw in titles and puke out a nice spreadsheet.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 4:51 AM on February 20, 2010 [63 favorites]

If you want a quiet movie where not much seems to be happening but a lot is, Big Eden is great. It's 10 years old now, but it's just overall real and sweet and beautifully done.
posted by zizzle at 4:55 AM on February 20, 2010

I re-watch Elling at least once a year.
posted by meijusa at 5:06 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Also if this has anybody else's movie-watching pulse racing, there's a good list of links to movie recommendation engines here. Jinni in particular looks pretty great.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:31 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well this thread will fill up your weekends for a couple years, at this rate.

I have but one to add to the list, which I scanned the above and haven't seen yet, which makes it all the more lesser-known and perhaps in that respect even more awesome: The Zero Effect. One of my favorite movies ever. A++ would watch again.
posted by allkindsoftime at 5:34 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oops, one of mine should be L'annulaire instead of Annulaire.

I'll also add

Miller's Crossing
Show Me Love
Time Out
Project Grizzly (docu)
Morvern Callar
Lawless Heart
Boiling Point (the Takeshi film, not the usa one)
Capturing the Friedmans (docu)
The Man Who Wasn't There
Punch Drunk Love
Wax, or the Discovery of Television among the Bees
Mother Night
Miracle Mile
Waking the Dead
The Cruise (doc)
Y Tu Mama Tambien
Burnt by the Sun
Before the Rain
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 5:49 AM on February 20, 2010

Top Hong Kong movies of the last decade.
Best Korean films of the 2000's.

Chan-wook Park is pretty amazing. You've probably heard of Oldboy, but the other two in the Vengeance Trilogy -- Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance -- are just as good. Mr. Vengeance, with its stripped down narrative, may be the best of the three.

Seconding these. Look out also for anything by Kim Ki Duk, esp. Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter Spring, 3-Iron, Samaritan Girl, and Joon-Ho Bong's (Barking Dogs Never Bite and The Host) latest film, Mother, was the best film that I watched in the last twelve months.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:49 AM on February 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

Oh yeah. Seconding Kikijuro too. Wonderful movie. Definitely in my top ten.

Re. documentaries, I see nobody has yet mentioned Bastardy, so let me put in a shout for that.

And back on a Korean tip, I've yet to hear anyone say a bad thing about My Sassy Girl, even if they don't usually dig the rom-com.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:54 AM on February 20, 2010

In no particular order of preference because all of them are great movies:

Jeux d'enfants/Love me if you dare by Yann Samuel. dances between comedy, romance and drama and the relationship between the mains is enjoyable. In a fair world this would have been more popular than Amelie (Cotillard ended up getting an Oscar at least)

Vozvrashcheniye (The Return) by Andrei Zvyagintsev. Not much happens (once) but the direction is great. This one grew on me once I had spent some time grokking it.

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring by Kim Ki-Duk. The visual parts are amazing and this film obliged me to watch anything Korean that got screened in Athens for a few years afterwards. I am fond of his earlier and later work too if you'd like to see more (effluvia mentioned 3-Iron, I'd say The coast guard or Time).

2046 by Wong Kar-wai. A really atmospheric movie and sequel to In the mood for love, though it doesn't require you to have watched In the mood...

2003-4 was a great time to be a moviegoer.

On preview: Heh, Peter
posted by ersatz at 6:18 AM on February 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

It would be better if I used my pb-given preview to correct things.
posted by ersatz at 6:28 AM on February 20, 2010

May not count as a film, but the 2005 BBC miniseries, "Casanova," was absolutely inspired. One of the best uses I've seen of the medium in a long time, and I think you'll understand what I mean by that if you see it. It was also very sensitive and insightful, with wonderfully realized characters to boot. Also, it has Peter O'Toole and David Tennant! What are you waiting for?
posted by Devika at 6:45 AM on February 20, 2010

Late Marriage
The Science of Sleep

Also, I have to ignore your decade limit for just a bit to recommend Lovers of the Arctic Circle from 1998 — it's a gorgeous, underseen film.
posted by thisjax at 7:18 AM on February 20, 2010

After Life (1998)
posted by DarkForest at 7:33 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think this is a bit older, but: The Fast Runner. It is VERY confusing for the first hour or so. Flashbacks, flash forwards, characters who look alike. Well, well worth the effort and concentration. Absolutely an amazing film. Oh...and it also has one of the best 1:1 fight scenes I've ever seen.
posted by Pennyblack at 8:02 AM on February 20, 2010

The latest movie to rock my world was Taare Zameen Par (aka "Like Stars on Earth"). In looking for other films with the same lead actor (Aamir Khan), I also came across and really enjoyed 3 Idiots, Rang De Basanti and Ghajini. Loving everyone's suggestions, by the way - I think it may be time to reboot the ole' Netflix subscription!
posted by globetrotter30 at 8:31 AM on February 20, 2010

Best answer: Here's some feature-length films from 2000 or later I've enjoyed which haven't gotten a wide release. (If you want recommendations for short films too, let me know; I can give you a boatload of those too.) A few have already been mentioned above. I haven't checked to see if these are all available for rental/purchase/download/etc.

  • 10 Items or Less - comedy; an unnamed big film star, played by Morgan Freeman and heavily suggested to be himself, is stuck in a small town with a grocery store clerk
  • Amal - Indian autorickshaw driver interacts with all levels of New Dehli society
  • Battle for Terra - animated; humans try to exploit an alien world for its resources, coming into conflict with the peaceful natives, and one human becomes sympathetic to them (And it's 3-D. Sound familiar? It's good anyway.) Produced by MeFi's own kcalder
  • Better Housekeeping - comedy about rednecks; very funny
  • Day Night Day Night - intense drama about a young terrorist
  • Dead Heat under the Shrubs - action, but not a "lots of special effects" type action. Boy sees woman disposing of dead body, woman sees boy, woman gives chase.
  • Dogville - Nicole Kidman plays a woman on the run from the mob hiding in a small town, but the townsfolk are not so kind
  • Eagle Hunter's Son - coming of age story in Mongolia; traditional vs. modern ways
  • Etienne! - comedy; man finds his pet hamster is dying so decides to take her on a bicycle trip
  • The Fall - injured actor in 1930s California befriends a young girl
  • Her Majesty - girl confronts racial issues against the backdrop of preparations for Queen Elizabeth II's first visit to Australia
  • I Am David - boy in WWII work camp
  • It's Better if Gabriela Doesn't Die - comedy around the production of a telenovela
  • James' Journey to Jerusalem - young African man tries to get to Jerusalem as a pilgrimage
  • Karl Rove, I Love You - mockumentary with Dan Butler ("Bulldog" from Frasier) producing one-man show about Karl Rove, becoming more obsessed with him
  • Lars and the Real Girl - comedy; Ryan Gosling orders a blow-up doll and treats her as real
  • May the Best Man Win - comedy; man organizes a reality-TV style competition to see which friend will be his Best Man
  • Mongol - Genghis Khan's rise to power
  • Pirates of the Great Salt Lake comedy; exactly what it says on the tin
  • Rabbit-Proof Fence - three girls removed from their family by Australia's Aborigines Act, under which mixed-race children can be removed from aboriginal families, try to make it home
  • The Ten - comedy; ten stories each based on one of the Commandments
  • U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha - Bizet's Carmen in Xhosa but with his original music, set in modern-day South Africa
  • Waiter - fictional character confronts his author (reminiscent of Stranger Than Fiction, but plays out differently)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:57 AM on February 20, 2010 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Psychotronic horror:
Possession (1981)
The Tenant

Brain Donors

Disco Pigs
Lovely and Amazing
The Butcher Boy
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:17 AM on February 20, 2010

I'd also like to nth the recommendation for The American Astronaut. Great, great, great movie.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:18 AM on February 20, 2010

Haven't seen mentioned

The Secret Life of Words
posted by gudrun at 9:32 AM on February 20, 2010

I don't know... most of these may be too well known to qualify, but here goes:

Auto Focus. Bio pic about Robert Crane, the star of Hogan's Heroes and sex addict without peer.

Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt . An appropriately downbeat and disheartening biographical documentary concerning the legendary songwriter and booze-hound.

Boiler Room. Hollywood cheese in certain respects, but with some great dialogue and performances. We don't pitch the bitch.

Cocaine Cowboys. This documentary will tell you all kinds of stuff you didn't know about the Florida centered cocaine trade during the 70s and 80s.

Cocaine Cowboys II: Hustlin' with the Godmother. Same as above, but substitute California for Florida and shift the time period a bit.

Day Reagan Was Shot, The. The writing, direction and performances are all quite good, but you watch this one primarily for the "Holy jesus jumping christ! This stuff actually happened??!!??" factor.

Dreamlife Of Angels, The. Just a tad older than a decade, but awfully easy to overlook and heartbreakingly beautiful. Everything a French art film ought to be.

Edgeplay: A Film About The Runaways. Another documentary. Joan Jett refused to be interviewed for this, but it never feels like they're leaving stuff out. Everyone spills everything and it's a hell of a story.

Filth And The Fury, The. A top notch documentary about The Sex Pistols.

Ghost Dog. Jim Jarmusch casts Forest Whitaker as an urban samurai.

Jonestown: The Life And Death Of Peoples Temple. Jim Jones, Guyana, Kool-Aid. Detailed, intelligent, gruesome, and profoundly disturbing.

Palindromes. Todd Solondz deals with teen pregnancy and weirdness.

Party Monster. The true story behind a murder committed among the New York "club kids" during the 90s.

Party Monster: The Shockumentary. The documentary which inspired the above film. It's probably the better of the two.

Punish Me [Verfolgt]. A sadomasochist relationship between an older woman and a young man.

Rabbit-Proof Fence. A true story from the dying days of colonialism in Australia when half-aboriginal children were taken from their parents and sent to live in prison-like group homes. Three sisters escape and walk more than a thousand miles to be reunited with their family.

Reagans, The. The title employs the plural of th surname, but this TV mini-series is actually more about Nancy than Ronald. Judy Davis plays her as deluded and bitchy, but still somehow human and sympathetic.

Saved! If John Hughes had ever made one of his eighties teen dramadies about the students at a Jesus Crispy high school, this is pretty close to what it would have looked like.

Shattered Glass. This is a true story about Stephen Glass, a reporter who did not tell true stories. Hayden Christansen gives an impressive and very sweaty performance. The whole movie has a weird, appropriately claustrophobic feel.

Storytelling. Todd Solondz gives us fact about fiction and fiction about fact. Distressingly funny.

Swimming. A girl tries to figure out which of her friends, family members, and suitors are full of shit. For the love of all that is holy, please see this movie. It's so quiet and restrained that it took me a while to realize it has one of the ten best screenplays in the history of cinema.

Wonderland. Based on the true story of the Wonderland murders; drug related homicides in 1980s California involving porn star John Holmes. Granted, it's not nearly as well written as Boogie Nights and some of the performances are pedestrian, but it's a meticulous account of human destruction and an amazing story.
posted by Clay201 at 11:01 AM on February 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

This is an awesome thread.

Let the Right One In will hit a lot of your notes.
posted by asuprenant at 11:02 AM on February 20, 2010

Sunshine. Follows a Jewish Hungarian family from before WWI to after the '56 Hungarian Revolution; Ralph Fiennes plays three different characters (one in each generation).
posted by asterix at 11:15 AM on February 20, 2010

Capturing the Friedmans (docu)

Seconded. An intense and haunting documentary about human weakness/knowledge that everyone should see. Instantly viewable on Netflix.
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:57 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

!#&$(^#%@$#, I've written this three times now because my browser keeps refreshing.

Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis, or "Welcome to the Sticks" (2008) is a French comedy about a postal worker consigned to work in Northern France, where it always rains and everybody is unsophisticated.

Lakposhtha parvaz mikonand, or "Turtles Can Fly" (2004) is a heartbreaking Kurdish film about children on the Iraqi-Turkish border days before the US invasion of Iraq.

The Boys of Baraka (2005) is about Baltimore city children from violent ghettos who are sent to a boarding school in Kenya for a year.

Great post!
posted by yaymukund at 12:59 PM on February 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

One small note: A Cock and Bull Story (which is weird and meta and amusing) was released--at least in the U.S.--as Tristram Shandy, for the curious.
posted by kittyprecious at 1:56 PM on February 20, 2010

a thai-japanese film called Last Life in the Universe - a story about an isolated Japanese librarian living in Bangkok who annoys a local gangster and is hidden by a Thai woman who is his polar opposite, and their developing relation/friendship. It was released after lost in translation, but has thrillerish elements attached.
posted by iamnotateenagegirl at 2:37 PM on February 20, 2010

cant believe no one asked how you got a copy of four lions already =)
posted by lslelel at 3:03 PM on February 20, 2010

The Story of the Weeping Camel
. A semi-documentary with serious emotional punch, especially if you like camels.

The Saltmen of Tibet
. A documentary that follows four nomads on a salt gathering expedition. But it's a lot more complicated and amazing than it sounds.

These two movies are really good for the armchair traveler that's looking to see some of the more obscure and still unique parts of the world. I like them a lot.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:50 PM on February 20, 2010

A few more that I haven't seen mentioned...

The Class
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (Not lesser known, but overlooked)
Diving Bell & The Butterfly
The Five Obstructions
Happy Go Lucky
The Taste of Tea
Chop Shop
posted by pilibeen at 5:08 PM on February 20, 2010

Bad Education
Seconding Project Grizzly, it is a thing unto itself.

posted by biscotti at 5:40 PM on February 20, 2010

Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist

It's not for everybody.
posted by snowjoe at 7:14 PM on February 20, 2010

The Band's Visit
Wet Hot American Summer
Who Killed the Electric Car
Between the Folds
Harvard Beats Yale 29-29
And though it's a bit outside your ten-year window, I love love love Go
posted by Mchelly at 9:56 PM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Speaking of time-travel movies, my favourite of the decade was Summer Time Machine Blues (one hot summer, the science fiction club finds it necessary to go back in time to find the missing air conditioner remote control).

They Shoot Pictures, Don't They? has a marvelous list of the 250 most acclaimed films of the 21st century to date, which I guess by definition aren't obscure -- but it might be worth browsing in case you missed some.
posted by ffrinch at 12:20 AM on February 21, 2010

Wanting to suggest something Chinese from the last decade

As Abeizer said, Crazy Stone was great. Crazy Racer was very funny as well. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen Huang Bo in a bad film. His most recent, Cow is even better than both of those in my view.

A Tale of Two Donkeys, The Road Home, Artisan Pickpocket, Walking on the Wild Side, Taking Father Home, Unknown Pleasures, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, The Road, Shower (in fact, pretty much everything by Zhang Yang is great) and Lost in Beijing were all better than great.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:46 AM on February 21, 2010

If we're talking Almodóvar, Hable Con Ella/Talk To Her was my favorite movie of his in this decade (even though it's not as campy as previous works).
posted by ersatz at 3:37 AM on February 21, 2010

Layer Cake is far better than it's 'knock off of Lock Stock' advertising made it out to be. Adapted from a great book.

The Red Riding trilogy was on tv in the UK but has just got a cinema release in the US, no doubt DVD will follow. It's another brilliant adaptation.

My Kid Could Paint That Great documentary about a child who's a genius at art... or is she? Far more expansive and interested than I expected.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:22 AM on February 21, 2010

Yi yi (2000) directed by Edward Yang. It takes it's time and doesn't really go anywhere, but is amazingly beautiful while it does it. There's not many movies that I would classify as both sad and optimistic, but this is definitely one.
posted by nangua at 6:50 AM on February 21, 2010

You, The Living
posted by puritycontrol at 7:42 AM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

nangua, I was thinking about Yi Yi when I posted my list of mainland Chinese films above, and wondering why I've never seen a single film from Taiwan that I've enjoyed in the last ten years -- including Yi Yi, which I just couldn't finish.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:14 AM on February 21, 2010

I just wanted to recommend You, The Living too, a slow but beautiful, heart wrenching episodic film.
Andersson's other film, Songs From The Second Floor is very good too.

Takashi Miikes Big Bang Love, Juvenile A.

Aoyama's Eureka.

Io non ho paura.

Let the right one in.
posted by ts;dr at 11:32 AM on February 21, 2010

Pierrepoint. A powerhouse performance from Timothy Spall.
posted by scrump at 12:00 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Many, many wonderful films I would nth, here's some I don't think anyone has yet mentioned.

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
Attack the Gas Station
The Girl in the Cafe
The Salton Sea
Igby Goes Down
posted by haveanicesummer at 3:30 PM on February 21, 2010

Etre et Avoir - a lovely French documentary in which nothing (much) happens. No. 34 on the Guardian's list of 100 best films of the 00's.
posted by Miss Otis' Egrets at 4:14 PM on February 21, 2010

The Skandies are awards voted on by a small circle of film critics and movie nerds. There's plenty of mainstream stuff in their annual top 20 lists, but also lots of more obscure foreign/indy films.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 4:47 PM on February 21, 2010

The Man From Earth, available to watch instantly on netflix. The last work of the writer of the Twilight episode "It's a good life."

A man claiming to friends of 10 years that he is in fact 14,000 years old during the goodbye party they throw for him, as they discuss the implications and express their doubts, first about his telling the truth and then about his sanity.
posted by gryftir at 3:03 AM on February 22, 2010

Caterina in the Big City - superficially represents Mean Girls, what with it being the story of a girl from the middle of nowhere suddenly having to adjust to the revolving social pressures of an upscale high school, but Caterina (which actually came out in Italy the year before Tina Fey's opus) turns out to be a story about the political system at large and would perhaps have been too heady to do well Stateside.
posted by kittyprecious at 5:30 AM on February 22, 2010

Just updated the spreadsheet as of gryftir's recommend of The Man From Earth.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:50 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

(currently at 389 films)
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:51 AM on February 22, 2010

I served the king of england is sweet and funny.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:35 AM on February 22, 2010

Well, I missed this before. Might as well throw a few in for the ages, at least what I can think of right now. Most are older, though, from when I had time to watch movies...
Hombre Mirando al Sudeste (Man Facing Southeast)
I Heart Huckabees (no one has mentioned that one?)
Bliss (1985, Australian)
Nil by Mouth

seconding Everything by Mike Leigh, Paris is Burning, Miller's Crossing (possibly the best Coen brothers), Punch-Drunk Love, Europa, Breaking the Waves, Burnt by the Sun, Limey... jesus, why am I going on? I can't remember so many, anyway.
posted by Red Loop at 5:54 PM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Hidden Blade
Rory O'Shea Was Here
The Commitments
Dinner Rush
The Fisher King

Seconding, thirding, whatevering The Lives of Others, I am David, and The Story of the Weeping Camel.
posted by Soliloquy at 8:58 PM on February 22, 2010

Total thread reversal, but I've just settled down to watch the OP's favourite Inside.

One more recommendation for horror buffs which hasn't been mentioned: The House of the Devil. It's a 2008 horror film that looks exactly like it's been shot in 1982, and it's a masterclass in suspense. The less you know about it, the better.
posted by hnnrs at 12:56 PM on February 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Cashback started out as a short 20 minute film, but was then additional footage was shot to make it feature length.
posted by lizbunny at 9:03 PM on February 24, 2010

Special is about a guy that begins to take medicine and starts to develop super powers.
Kabluey is about an inept young man who comes to help his older brother's family while he is away in Iraq.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:44 PM on February 24, 2010

For this weekend, or maybe the next: Cemetary Man. Rupert Everett is excellent.
posted by carsonb at 11:00 AM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

One of my favorite (albeit depressing) documentaries is Boy Interrupted
posted by majikstreet at 3:06 PM on February 27, 2010

Another very good very strange French movie is Irreversible
posted by majikstreet at 3:08 PM on February 27, 2010

Battle Royale is great. Tarantino calls it the one film he wishes he'd directed.
posted by Starmie at 8:30 PM on February 27, 2010

Rory O'Shea Was Here and The Fisher King came out in the early '90s. If the spreadsheet is still being updated, they should be left off.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:15 AM on February 28, 2010

Chungking Express
FLCL (not a movie, but the six episodes clock in at about 130 minutes total)
posted by clorox at 1:20 AM on March 2, 2010

The Legend of 1900 is one of my favorites and has become a favorite of everyone who borrowed it from me.
posted by ambulocetus at 8:54 PM on March 22, 2010

I noticed that my intended recommendations (Zero Effect, Dead Man's Shoes, The Red Riding Trilogy) all have some balls-out quality acting in them, so in that vein try to grab I'll Sleep When I'm Dead.
posted by fullerine at 5:56 PM on April 24, 2010

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