Most underappreciated movies of the last decade?
April 4, 2011 7:50 PM   Subscribe

What are the most underappreciated (and/or critically-acclaimed but underwatched) movies of the last decade?

Seeking great films that have slipped by over the past ten years or so without getting the exposure they deserve.
posted by killdevil to Media & Arts (117 answers total) 305 users marked this as a favorite
Well this is going to be very subjective but, Charlie Kaufman's "Synedoche, New York" is absolutely brilliant in my opinion. Not easy to watch, but brilliant.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:58 PM on April 4, 2011 [9 favorites]

Cashback (2006) was originally a short film and did so well they filmed extra and made it into a full-length movie.
posted by lizbunny at 8:00 PM on April 4, 2011 [6 favorites]

Pixar movies. The Incredibles, Up, Wall-E, Ratatouille, the Toy Story series, culminating with 3. I know a lot of people who dismiss them because they consider them cartoons.

Others off the top of my head that I enjoyed but didn't hear enough about: Rachel Getting Married, Happy Go Lucky, Letters from Iwo Jima.
posted by pinside at 8:02 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Kinky Boots (2005) is based on a true story - a man saves his failing shoe factory by getting into the niche market of fashionable footwear for drag queens. One of my all-time favorites.
posted by lizbunny at 8:05 PM on April 4, 2011 [4 favorites]

Primer. Really an amazing and unique film on many different levels, though well nigh impossible to follow the first time through.
posted by slide at 8:06 PM on April 4, 2011 [27 favorites]

Seconding Primer. Phenomenal film.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:08 PM on April 4, 2011

I liked Fishtank. Not a happy movie, maybe a bit of a Lolita rehash, but a compelling story. Kind of Mike Leigh-esque. I read somewhere the lead actor was not an actor and had no prior training before the movie was made, but she is just great.
posted by GEB's fun world at 8:09 PM on April 4, 2011 [5 favorites]

if you like ultra-violent crafty gangsta movies 2 sleepers I love:

Sexy Beast
The Way of the Gun
posted by supermedusa at 8:10 PM on April 4, 2011 [5 favorites]

Thank You For Smoking (2005)
posted by lizbunny at 8:10 PM on April 4, 2011 [8 favorites]

I just watched City Island and it was great, but I haven't heard much about it, and most people that I recommend it to haven't heard of it either.
posted by milestogo at 8:11 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Primer is definitely worth watching the several times it takes to catch (nearly) everything
posted by lizbunny at 8:12 PM on April 4, 2011

Summer Wars is nearly unheard of in the US, but it was a pretty big box-office hit in Japan. I happen to think it's an amazing film, and I've watched it many times.

It can be purchased on BD here.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:13 PM on April 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Definitely "Synedoche," I really loved the experience of watching it because it's so intricate and surrealistic.
posted by autoclavicle at 8:14 PM on April 4, 2011

Seconding "Synecdoche". It seemed like it came and went with hardly a notice (except perhaps for this Ebert review). I saw it once, and by the end my brain was spinning and, and, ... well I was amazed. As soon as it ended I realized I was going to have to see it a couple more times. I've been building up to it; I found it very intense.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:16 PM on April 4, 2011

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a beautiful—and I mean beautiful—Western with a stunning soundtrack.

Punch-Drunk Love is a quirky, dark, and dramatic romantic "comedy" starring Adam Sandler in a serious role and directed by P. T. Anderson, who also did There Will Be Blood.

Seconding Synecdoche, New York and Primer. I could go on for hours about Primer.
posted by reductiondesign at 8:16 PM on April 4, 2011 [7 favorites]

Seconding Cashback. It is my favorite breakup movie.
posted by blueyellow at 8:19 PM on April 4, 2011

yeah seconding the Jesse James movie, beautiful is the word and some incredible acting in there.
posted by supermedusa at 8:24 PM on April 4, 2011

I know he's way past his best-by date, but I still think Shyamalan's Unbreakable is a damn fine film. Damn fine.
posted by davidjmcgee at 8:30 PM on April 4, 2011 [11 favorites]

Not sure how much acclaim these got, but most are foreign, so they were probably underwatched.

Amores Perros
Let The Right Ones In
13 Tzameti
posted by meta87 at 8:38 PM on April 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

If foreign films are included, definitely include The Lives of Others, which is maybe my favorite film ever.
posted by andrewpendleton at 8:42 PM on April 4, 2011 [14 favorites]

Akeelah and the Bee.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:43 PM on April 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

Broken Flowers
posted by octothorpe at 8:46 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Moon, if only for the amazing performance by Sam Rockwell. He's basically the only actor in the film.

As a teacher, there've been three great films about the profession that really did a wonderful job of avoiding all the unfortunate, bullshit cliches we still inherit from Dead Poets' Society:

Entre Les Murs, which is almost like a documentary about teachers and inner city kids in Paris,

Happy-Go-Lucky, another film that portrays teachers as real people with complicated, but often interesting lives, with a stunning performance in the lead role, and,

Half Nelson, an understated film about a teacher with a drug problem.

If you're into documentaries, there've been some amazing band docs recently as well:

End of the Century, a sometimes brutal doc about one of America's greatest bands,

We Jam Econo, the brilliant and tragic story of the Minutemen, and

American Hardcore, which was a blast.

IMO we're living in an amazing time for film. Way too much great stuff out there.
posted by bardic at 8:49 PM on April 4, 2011 [7 favorites]

Seconding Summer Wars.
posted by spec80 at 8:50 PM on April 4, 2011

I always highly recommend The Fall and I'm not Scared. Both are just gorgeous, and I loved them, but I have no idea how much acclaim they received. Both are foreign.
posted by routergirl at 8:52 PM on April 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

In the vein of critically acclaimed but underwatched, I would suggest the comedy In the Loop.
posted by prunes at 8:56 PM on April 4, 2011 [13 favorites]

You say nothing about yourself, what you like, where you are.
Look outside of the US for great movies. Look at award winners from non-US-oriented festivals.
The first film to pop into my head was the wonderful Israeli movie, "The Band's Visit."
Thanks for reminding me of it.
posted by Jode at 8:57 PM on April 4, 2011 [4 favorites]

The American Astronaut
Adam's Apples
Year of the Dog
CSA: Confederate States of America
The Living Wake
Punch-Drunk Love
The Devil's Backbone
The Lookout
The Pleasure of Being Robbed
Burn After Reading
Dear Zachary
Fear(s) of the Dark
The Last Mistress
The Devil and Daniel Johnston
Me and You and Everyone We Know
Breakfast on Pluto
Lord of War
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
Femme Fatale
Funky Forest
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:10 PM on April 4, 2011 [8 favorites]

28 Days Later was a good zombie apocalypse film - and the first zombie film worthy of its secondary audio commentary and bonus features since Night of the Living Dead.

The subsequent 28 Weeks Later was also equally valid as social commentary, as it dealt with much larger issues the first was able to bypass. Unefortunately it was largely ignored as such. The US trailer actually hyped the film more as having a budget instead of the actual cinematic themes.
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:18 PM on April 4, 2011

What Just Happened was critically excoriated -- except it's the truest expression of what day-to-day Hollywood life is actually like.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:20 PM on April 4, 2011

Lucrecia Martel's Headless Woman and La ciénaga. I also really liked that crazy fake documentary with Joaquin Phoenix, I'm Still Here. And I agree with bardic, this is a great time for film. There is so much available that it's difficult to know where to start…
Oh… and also Damon Packard. Especially Reflections of Evil.
posted by MrMisterio at 9:20 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Keeping the Faith (2000). Decent rom-com featuring Ben Stiller and Edward Norton.
posted by karizma at 9:23 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Harold and Maude. Not just funny: beautiful. Supremely well acted as well.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:38 PM on April 4, 2011 [5 favorites]

Seconding Moon. Would add In Bruges. I saw it in the cheap cinemas and seem to remember it getting there pretty quickly, so I don't think it did terribly well. Highly reviewed though.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 9:39 PM on April 4, 2011 [10 favorites]

It was a big deal on the internet for about 17 minutes, but man, Triplettes de Belleville is a movie I could watch like a thousand times. Good music, strange story, fantastic animation.
posted by troublesome at 9:54 PM on April 4, 2011 [8 favorites]

Seconding 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later. I also recommend the Danny Boyle film Millions, which is one of the best children's movies ever made.

No Man's Land is an interesting Bosnian film with a snappy set-up. A soldier falls on a landmine. If he gets up, he explodes. An enemy soldier is within blast distance. Now: they are stuck together. What ensues is an absurd dark comedy.

Dust is a fine Macedonian film about storytelling. (It goes further back than your 10 year limit, but you should also check out Before the Rain, from the same director.)

Love Me If You Dare is a solid French black comedy.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:56 PM on April 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

Moon was superb, but underachieved at the box office and was snubbed at award season.

And I'd never heard of Pontypool before reading a question about it on Ask Mefi, but I loved it, and so did most everybody else when I posted it to the blue.

Some other ones I've liked that didn't seem to see much blockbuster success:

The Fountain - mindbending and beautiful philosophical/arthouse film with a gorgeous soundtrack

The Mothman Prophecies - intensely creepy/eerie atmospheric horror

The Invention of Lying - Unexpectedly heartfelt social commentary from what looked like a fairly rote high-concept comedy

Stranger than Fiction - A surprisingly sweet and intelligent film from Will Ferrel with some clever SFX.\
posted by Rhaomi at 10:09 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I know it has its problems, but I can watch Equillibrium over and over again. I think it's brilliant on a few levels.

I also find Collateral to be a very easy movie to watch repeatedly, as well. The characters are fantastic.

Moon: just great.

Brick: yes, yes, yes.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:19 PM on April 4, 2011

Oh yeah: I agree that The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is brilliant, as well. I was surprised at how good it was considering it seemed to not be getting much attention.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:22 PM on April 4, 2011

nthing primer... just be careful reading anything about it. even well-meaning reviewers give away the main twist, and it's worth it to not know.

i'll also toss spartan into the ring. it's a lesser known mamet film, but the dialogue sparkles. it's like primer in that both films have few, if any, explanatory devices. you're dumped into a strange situation with really interesting characters, and everyone (including you) is figuring it out as they go along. i found both films exhilirating.
posted by bruceo at 10:36 PM on April 4, 2011

Nthing Breakfast on Pluto!!!!

I lover it so much, that it's the only DVD I've bought in years and years.
posted by jbenben at 12:09 AM on April 5, 2011

Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner
This was one of the best films I saw in the last decade. It tells an ancient Inuit legend passed down through centuries of oral tradition and was filmed by an Inuit director with a largely Inuit cast and crew. Very slow but you soon find yourself immersed in the world of the story. Stunning and very different.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 12:29 AM on April 5, 2011 [6 favorites]

Not sure how well these did in the US, but I'd recommend Haneke's The White Ribbon (genius dark period piece set in a German village between the wars) and Audiard's A Prophet (A French Arab goes to prison).
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:27 AM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I rather liked Hard Candy, and nobody seems to have ever heard of it. Definitely needs a trigger warning, though.
posted by vasi at 1:41 AM on April 5, 2011

A lot of people seemed to miss Bridge to Terabithia because it was marketed as a Fantasy movie, when it's really a Drama.

Idiocracy is something of a flawed classic. It could have done with better budgeting and editing, but the social commentary is hilarious and the script is very quotable.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 3:30 AM on April 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

I don't honestly know about how well they were received, but movies that I've seen in the last ten years that have really transported me elsewhere have been Punch Drunk Love, Big Fish, and The Prestige. Off the top of my head, those are the big ones for me, but there are so many others that have been mentioned that I'd definitely agree with.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:36 AM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding Pontypool, A Prophet, Brick.

Adding Lebanon - the critics here in the UK loved it, but no one seems to have seen it.
posted by iivix at 4:04 AM on April 5, 2011

I don't have any recommendations off the top of my head but it strikes me that this needn't be subjective. You should be able to find data for every American film over the past decade that correlates to critical acclaim (e.g. award nominations and winners, metacritic score) and data that correlates to audience appreciation (e.g. box-office receipts).

Rank the top ten movies of each year in terms of critical acclaim and order them by box-office draw. Out of those 100 films you should start to see some outliers near the bottom of the list. If not, you expand the search, realizing that as you move further down the list it becomes more difficult to tell the differences between films that are legitimately under-appreciated and films that are unappreciated with cause.
posted by Jeff Howard at 4:16 AM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Two minimalist masterpieces by Kelly Reichardt. Old Joy and Wendy & Lucy.

Both are highly topical poems of American disillusionment, odes to the American Dream gone awry.
posted by rahulrg at 4:31 AM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hey, thanks, great thread, although Netflix Instant Queue is failing miserably as I try and add!
posted by thinkpiece at 4:45 AM on April 5, 2011

nthing Brick and Punch Drunk Love

Just watching the trailers for these movies gives me chills.
posted by j03 at 4:55 AM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wonder Boys
posted by fire&wings at 4:56 AM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

The New World was an amazing cinematic feat about Pocahontas/the first Virginian settlers, but it was so horribly marketed. Terence Malick should fire his agent. It's typical of a Malick film in that it's concerned with the destruction of nature and the meaning of wild vs. civilization, but it doesn't fall into the trap of romanticizing Indians. Malick sets up these lush scenes of Virginian wilderness (filmed on location but it looks like it was set in Brazil) with backdrop of Wagner and Mozart. The acting is suberb, even and especially from Colin Farrel, which was the only reason why I think people didn't take the movie seriously.
posted by Viola at 5:12 AM on April 5, 2011 [5 favorites]

Show Me Love and Together - both small scale but insanely poignant Swedish movies by Lukas Moodysson.

Until "Show Me Love" I had never seen such an agonizingly realistic depiction of teenage angst. When one of the characters wails inconsolably about how bored she is in her small town, punctuated by a little angry scream that you just know signals that you're gonna do something stupid just to feel - you will so know that moment in your core. No American teen movie has come close.

And "Together" - what's it like living in a Swedish commune? Hilarious, apparently - especially when the kids play "Pinochet."
posted by sestaaak at 5:20 AM on April 5, 2011

How about Roger Dodger, a film released in 2002? Jesse Eisenberg was one of the leads in it. It's a low-key film about two men (a worldly and manipulative uncle, a virginal and naive nephew) out on the pull in New York.

It has some great dialogue, including an incendiary, quick-fire opening monologue about the impending obsolescence of men. I also remember it had arresting cinematography which communicated the vibe of getting drunker, along with the intense feelings that the young have on romantic success, very well.
posted by laumry at 5:33 AM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Of the ones mentioned above, I would second Big Fish, Moon, and Thank You For Smoking. I feel Primer is movie canon now along with 1997's Gattaca.
posted by yeti at 5:39 AM on April 5, 2011

Lot's of good suggestions here. I'd add Inglourious Basterds -- much better than I thought it would be.
posted by AwkwardPause at 5:51 AM on April 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. Criminally under-appreciated.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 6:40 AM on April 5, 2011 [13 favorites]

Bad Education - twisty-turny and requires more than one viewing (which you won't mind, because it's so good). It's awesome, clever, gorgeous and handles icky subject matter very gracefully.

Matchstick Men - great cast with amazing performances all round, reminds you that Nicolas Cage can act.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - not underappreciated as much as under-viewed.

The Messenger - truly wonderful performances and surprisingly not depressing considering the grim subject matter.

Pandorum - sci-fi horror, beautifully filmed and very suspenseful.

Gone Baby Gone - gritty, wonderfully acted and doesn't treat the audience like idiots.

And seconding Moon and the Jesse James movie.
posted by biscotti at 6:48 AM on April 5, 2011

Ha, LuckySeven~ beat me to it!

Which reminds me that Lucky Number Slevin is brilliant.
posted by biscotti at 6:49 AM on April 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Elite Squad is one of the best and most interesting cop movies ever made--it's incredibly dense for its running time, and it's simultaneously very visceral and very philosophical. I can't say enough good things about it. The guy who did this movie is supposedly going to direct the Robocop remake.

The Aura is another South American film, an existential thriller about an epileptic taxidermist who is obsessed with the idea of the perfect crime. That may sound quirky-for-its-own-sake, but it's actually done very deftly and has a unique atmosphere. This comes from the director of Nine Queens, a film that got quite a bit of attention.

I find many people haven't seen or heard of The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, but I think it's an excellent parody of 50's sci fi films. Every time I watch it, I'm taken aback by how pitch-perfect they got the tone.

A few others, well-exposed but under-loved: Auto Focus, In the Cut, Shadow of the Vampire, Harsh Times, Spring Forward, Human Nature... somebody stop me...
posted by heatvision at 6:52 AM on April 5, 2011

Probably any of Matthew Barney's films. Drawing Restraint 9 was from 2005 and it was intense in it's breadth. This is an Art film with a capital A.
posted by JJ86 at 7:11 AM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I thought Fido was good, campy, zombie-filled fun.
posted by malocchio at 7:18 AM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead It is one of those Oscar nominated films that no one saw. From Amazon: "Sidney Lumet’s Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is an exceptionally dark story about a crime gone wrong and the complicated reasons behind it. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke are outstanding as brothers whose mutual love-hate relationship subtly colors their agreement to rob their own parents’ jewelry store..."
posted by Gungho at 8:06 AM on April 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Came here expecting "Garden State" recommendations, glad there's none.

Yeah, Me and You and Everyone We Know. Also, Smiling Fish and Goat on Fire.
posted by Rash at 8:31 AM on April 5, 2011

La Communidad. Lovely, Spanish dark comedy.
posted by zerobyproxy at 8:32 AM on April 5, 2011

Fubar its a Canadian mocumentary about two metal heads and while its hilarious it also makes me cry at the end every time.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 9:46 AM on April 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

A lot of my favorites from the "in the past 10 years, period" thread are somewhat underappreciated, IMHO. Top examples to me would be L'ecole, I'm Not Scared (probably my number one in terms of total radio silence for such a well done film, actually), Russian Ark, All the Real Girls or George Washington (a definite case of YMMV though; I know people who hate DGG's stuff), Waitress, Man on Wire, Capturing the Friedmans, Elling, Anvil!, Amores Perros, Our Daily Bread, and Jesus Camp. No Country For Old Men and The Hurt Locker got LOTS of attention, but I still think they're going to age well anyway and people will realize just how profoundly great they are and get more and more out of repeated viewings for years to come.
posted by ifjuly at 9:55 AM on April 5, 2011

Oh, and I forgot...Revanche (how well done it was in a way similar to I'm Not Scared).
posted by ifjuly at 9:59 AM on April 5, 2011

Soul Power was interesting too...and Herb and Dorothy.
posted by ifjuly at 10:03 AM on April 5, 2011

Heat Vision already recommended, as if by passing, Nine Queens, it is truly great.
posted by omegar at 10:32 AM on April 5, 2011

Chop Shop and everything else by the director, Ramin Bahrani
posted by Dmenet at 10:40 AM on April 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'll second All the Real Girls and most everything else by the director, David Gordon Green.
posted by Dmenet at 10:42 AM on April 5, 2011

I don't know how much hype it got, but City of God was absolutely phenomenal.
posted by AngryLlama at 11:12 AM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Fay Grim
posted by asockpuppet at 11:43 AM on April 5, 2011

Secondin The Fall
posted by shesaysgo at 12:02 PM on April 5, 2011

Another vote for Moon.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:10 PM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

These two beautiful animation movies, "The Secret of Kells" and "Mary and Max", are both available for Netflix streaming.
posted by of strange foe at 12:23 PM on April 5, 2011

Yeah this would really help if we got some context - how do you feel about subtitles? Documentaries? Animation? Lots of really great movies in these marginal categories go relatively unnoticed because people generally don't watch them as part of their standard consumption habits. (wow, that came off elitist as fuck.)

Anyway, Slim Susie (2003) is really enjoyable for a bunch of reasons, and everyone should watch Primer twice in a row with that one friend who always complains about how "unrealistic" and/or "simplistic" the time travel paradoxes are in things like Back To The Future and Harry Potter.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 1:08 PM on April 5, 2011

My best friend and I often find ourselves looking at each other after a movie and saying, "That was way better than it had any right to be."

By far the most vehemently we've said this recently was when we watched a perfect B-movie called Piranha 3D.

I swear I'm not kidding.

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (linked above) is a B-movie parody in a completely different way, but also worth your time.
posted by kostia at 1:25 PM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Joining the chorus of "oh how I loved Assassination of Jesse James etc".

The Deserted Station.
Crimson Gold.
(Thanks Iranian cinema class!)
Friends with Money.
posted by phonebia at 1:40 PM on April 5, 2011

I really liked Southland Tales (Trailer). I think it got sort of panned because it wasn't Donny Darko, and it wasn't really supposed to be that serious. It has some awesome, surreal scenes, if you can get past a few stupid parts, and the strangely SNL-heavy cast (for an action movie) actually does a pretty good job, imo.

I described it in the AKIRA thread as being a sort of American AKIRA for the last years of the Bush Whitehouse. You have technology run amok amid a climate of mass corruption and political upheaval with an apocalyptic feel to it, awesome sci-fi cheesiness, and great set pieces. It's not the strongest movie, but if you like stuff like The Fifth Element, then I think you'll like Southland Tales too.
posted by codacorolla at 3:12 PM on April 5, 2011

The New World is amazing
posted by tarvuz at 4:19 PM on April 5, 2011

You Can Count On Me won a bunch of awards but no one I ever mention it to has seen it. I sometimes call it my favorite film of all time when I'm asked for a choice. It's so beautiful, sad, and loving, and it's one of those movies you can't really explain how great it is because "nothing happens."

Also, Danny Boyle's Sunshine is about 2/3rds of one of the best sci-films ever made, only let down by a truly silly third act. Still tremendously worthwhile and not often mentioned when discussing Boyle's oeuvre. It's my favorite of his films.
posted by ORthey at 4:21 PM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Taxidermia. It's a thoroughly disgusting movie but the visuals are excellent and memorable.
Herzog's Encounters at the End of the World
Rubber, a film about a killer tire; you'll either think it's genius or moronic.
posted by benzenedream at 4:38 PM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Jeff Howard said:

I don't have any recommendations off the top of my head but it strikes me that this needn't be subjective. You should be able to find data for every American film over the past decade that correlates to critical acclaim (e.g. award nominations and winners, metacritic score) and data that correlates to audience appreciation (e.g. box-office receipts).

Here's one answer to that challenge: all IMDb movies since 2000 with at least 1,000 votes ranked greater than 7/10 stars by IMDb reviewers, sorted by box office gross in reverse.

Interestingly, when I limited the search to movies I'd seen so that I could provide some personal favorites, the lowest-grossing movie was "The Butterfly Effect" at $23.9K. Weird. But some such favorites are: Autumn Spring, Millennium Actress, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, The Station Agent, and Shattered Glass. Also, although it's been mentioned, In Bruges is hilarious.

Alternatively, if you want to dig really deep, this is the list of movies from 2000-2010 with 100 to 1,000 total votes and better than 7.0 rating, sorted by rating.
posted by cheshirecat718 at 5:35 PM on April 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

I have always thought Valhalla Rising was a good film that went under the radar. It's probably in a little niche of taste, and it's definitely too abstract to have been a mainstream success, but the film is basically an hour and a half of grizzled Norsemen staring at each other (with little to no dialogue) as they slowly go mad.
posted by Demogorgon at 5:56 PM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh man, seconding Valhalla Rising so hard. Demogorgon's synopsis is spot-on.
posted by ORthey at 7:40 PM on April 5, 2011

Most of them have been said but I don't think I read Lars and the Real Girl.
posted by penguinkeys at 8:16 PM on April 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

A while ago I put together a small list for some friends with Briitsh movies (and a couple Irish ones) that I found rather accidentally as they were not really much advertised. Some may have got more exposure than others, but definitely not at big international level. All of them I thought were good if not outright brilliant, and everyone I've passed them on enjoyed them too, so here you go, from memory -- these two you're likely to have heard of already, famous enough actors in them:

- The Constant Gardener
- Dirty Pretty Things

These two you're unlikely to have heard of - for me they were accidental discoveries that I was extremely happy with:

- Boy A - tough, challenging topic, very sad but also very rewarding
- The Disappearance of Alice Creed - this was a random discovery, and much better than expected, simple thriller based on a simple idea but with nice twists, very few actors, great performances - and a wonderful soundtrack for the last scene

Now, in the Irish team we have (and these are SADLY bound to have been very underappreciated):
- Intermission - with Cillian Murphy, a really nasty Colin Farrell and a bunch of super talented Irish actors in it. Funny in a brutal way but also warm-hearted as only the Irish can be. One of the best opening scenes in a comedy ever.
- On the Edge - Cillian Murphy again (I wouldn't have found this movie if it hadn't been for a sudden urge to see anything with Cillian Muprhy in it - also add my vote to other movies already mentioned above, Danny Boyle's Sunshine and Neil Jordan's Breakfast on Pluto), and Stephen Rea - not a 'wow' movie maybe, but clever and touching at the same time, sarcastically funny dialogues.
- Nothing Personal - Stephen Rea again (I wouldn't have found this movie if hadn't been for a sudden urge to see anything with Stephen Rea in it... ) - I'm warning you, this one is very sad, very slow, very atmospheric, may not be your cup of tea, but it is beautiful, beautifully shot, beautifully acted and directed, in a very understated way. And it's got Stephen Rea in it.

This didn't really slip under the radar maybe, but never enough people have heard of it so in case you haven't seen it: In Bruges. With Colin Farrell (he needs to do more of this stuff and less of the silly action or romance roles), a wonderful gangstery Ralph Fiennes swearing every two words, Brendan Gleeson, who is a fantastical Irish actor (note: urge to see anything with Brendan Gleeson in it will also pay off). I have no words to describe how good the script is.
posted by bitteschoen at 7:56 AM on April 6, 2011

I only see one brief mention of Anvil: The Story of Anvil, IMO one of the greatest music documentaries ever made. It's both Spinal Täp funny and heartrendingly realistic and is just a great flick regardless of whether you like (hair)metal or not.
posted by devnall at 8:45 AM on April 6, 2011

Here's one answer to that challenge: all IMDb movies since 2000 with at least 1,000 votes ranked greater than 7/10 stars by IMDb reviewers, sorted by box office gross in reverse.

That's a great concept, but some of that data is surely wrong. It lists The Descent as grossing $13.4k, but if you go to the homepage for that film, it says it took $millions in the US.

That said, there are at least 5 really good films on the first three pages of that list, and that's just the ones I know about. I'll certainly be digging into it for more.
posted by Infinite Jest at 8:45 AM on April 6, 2011

A million times over for The Assassination of Jesse James by The Coward Robert Ford.

Before The Devil Knows You're Dead

Synecdoche, New York

I'll throw one into the hat that hasn't been mentioned yet: Noah Baumbach's The Squid and The Whale.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 11:21 AM on April 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

With respect to codacorolla and Greg Nog, I'd recommend against Southland Tales. Do me a favor, hold your arm out and point to the left as far as you can. That's the whacko territory that this film inhabits, almost a Glenn Beck of the left. I'm politically left-of-center and it was just too much to take. To each their own, but I had to say something. Also, Greg Nog's nods to performances, I'd include Jon Lovitz. He's amazing in Southland Tales. It's a shame he's in it for so little time.

Also, I loved The Fifth Element, saw it 5 times in the theater.

Recommendations that haven't been mentioned already:
Amelie (I'm stunned when I meet people who still haven't seen this.)
Into the Wild
The Happiness of the Katakuris This one is pretty messed up, but I think it's something that should be seen to be believed. I also think it's begging for an American remake starring Steve Martin. (Minus the musical numbers and the clay animation...)
posted by CarlRossi at 1:09 PM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Mick LaSalle (movie critic for the San Francisco Chronicle) would say The New World. I would agree. It's great movie-making and "feels" very historically authentic.

I'm seconding Anvil: The Story of Anvil so very, very hard. It's hilarious and heartbreaking to see these guys pursue a missed dream.
posted by quadog at 3:26 PM on April 6, 2011

  • Children of Men. (Blade Runner for a nearer future)
  • The Good, the Bad, the Weird. (Korean WWII Spaghetti Western)
  • Serenity (Space Western)
  • Paprika (Dream Exploration Anime)
  • Enter the Void (Psychedelic Transcendent Experience.)
  • Kung Pow: Enter the Fist (Meta-Kung Fu Flick)
  • Moon (Old School Science Fiction)
  • Magnolia (Tapestry of Human Lives) (it premiered at the very end of 1999, US release firmly in 2000.)
  • Paradise Now (Palestinian Suicide Bomber Story. Sad.)
  • Four Lions (British Suicide Bomber Story. Dark Comedy.)
  • Dead Snow (Norwegian Zombie Revival)
Ten years is a long time... I'm sure there are more than a dozen movies I've really enjoyed, but I can't remember and probably won't. Mostly the foreign language films with titles that weren't very memorable to me. ten years...
posted by lemuring at 6:20 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Waking Life
posted by northxnorthwest at 10:26 PM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

The Gleaners and I -- poetic, insightful documentary about people in France who live off of garbage

Vinyl -- introspective documentary about men who collect vinyl records and what they're trying to replace

Factotum -- great adaptation of the Bukowski book, hilarious with so many spacious moments

Street Thief -- unbelievable documentary about a guy who steals stuff in Chicago; DON'T read any spoilers (won't even link to the IMDB entry 'cuz it gives stuff away)

Zero Day -- raw, humanizing fictionalization of the Columbine massacre from killer's POV; so distrurbing I could probably never watch it again but it's great
posted by meadowlark lime at 10:58 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I loved the brothers bloom. A totally odd movie, but really great writing and acting.

From imdb

The Brothers Bloom are the best con men in the world, swindling millionaires with complex scenarios of lust and intrigue. Now they've decided to take on one last job - showing a beautiful and eccentric heiress the time of her life with a romantic adventure that takes them around the world.
posted by jourman2 at 10:54 AM on April 8, 2011

Speed Racer. Pure, cartoonish FUN in movie form.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:26 PM on April 8, 2011

The Proposition - Nick Cave's fucked up Western
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:36 PM on April 8, 2011

The Wind That Shakes The Barley
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ...and Spring

and totally seconding the hell out of The Proposition. Awesome.
posted by billypilgrim at 6:37 PM on April 9, 2011

I really liked Cache. (Hidden)
And Memories of Murder was amazing.
posted by PHINC at 7:46 PM on April 9, 2011

I'm gonna add The Vicious Kind.
posted by dobbs at 10:32 AM on April 10, 2011

The 2005 Pride and Prejudice adaptation is an absolutely wonderful film in every respect. It's tightly paced, looks and sounds great and has a perfect cast. I'm under the impression, though, that it did not get very much attention in the US.

Much the same can also be said of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.
posted by Anything at 11:56 AM on April 10, 2011

Two more:
Sunshine State (2002)
Impromtu (1991) - a breezy version of the love story between Chopin and George Sand
posted by of strange foe at 10:05 AM on April 11, 2011

Not sure all are last decade, but:

The Perfume

The Downfall

The lives of the others

Lola runs

The counterfeiters

City of God

waltz with bashir

Old Boy

Sympathy for mr vengeance

Sympathy for Lady vengeance

Ichi the killer


A History of Violence

Can't understand why people don't like it. It is so heartbreaking...
posted by yoyo_nyc at 3:04 PM on April 11, 2011


Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Children of Men
posted by contemplace at 10:09 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Lots of favorites on this list. Don't think Temple Grandin has been mentioned so far, so I will.
posted by msbrauer at 12:20 PM on April 12, 2011

The Door in the Floor, directed by Tod Williams, based on John Irving's novel, A Widow For One Year.
posted by thinkpiece at 5:54 PM on April 16, 2011

Towelhead is directed by Alan Ball and it's great.
posted by maykasahara at 6:37 AM on April 30, 2011

These are some of my favorites and/or movies which are better than their notoriety and/or reputation...

Amores Perros (2000, Alejandro González Iñárritu)
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2007, Scott Glosserman)
The Cake Eaters (2007, Mary Stuart Masterson)
Children of Men (2006, Alfonso Cuarón)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001, John Cameron Mitchell)
Lady Vengeance (2005, Chan-wook Park)
Memories of Murder (2003, Joon-ho Bong)
Moon (2009, Duncan Jones)
My Little Eye (2002, Marc Evans)
Nine Queens (2000, Fabián Bielinsky)
Oldboy (2003, Chan-wook Park)
Once (2007, John Carney)
The Orphanage (2007, Juan Antonio Bayona)
Red Riding: 1974 (2009, Julian Jarrold)
Tell No One (2008, Guillaume Canet)
Thirst (2009, Chark-wook Park)
Touching the Void (2003, Kevin Macdonald)
posted by dgeiser13 at 8:40 AM on May 20, 2011

Just saw Pontypool last night, and seconding enthusiastically - how comes nobody was talking about this? Actually, maybe better they didn't...
posted by Artw at 10:05 AM on October 27, 2011

Artw: check out Rhaomi's post if you missed it.
posted by benzenedream at 10:38 AM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

A very high quality post.
posted by Artw at 10:47 AM on October 27, 2011

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