List compiled by Eddie on 23/07/2021
With more content than ever before coming at us thick and fast, its only natural that certain films slip through the cracks, rarely to be spoken of or watched as they sit idle awaiting to be discovered by willing audiences.
This list of 10 films hopefully allows keen film fans a chance to sit back and examine an eclectic bunch of offerings that for one reason or another remained relatively unspoken about or at least now days are mostly dormant when it comes to worthy film discussions.
While its hard to give too much time to older product with what feels like a constant stream of film heading our way through cinemas and the growing streaming world, I hope you can find time for these films you most likely have missed along the way and deserve a chance to be seen.
Happy reading and happy watching!
Disclaimer – Plot summaries from IMDB
10. The Beautiful Country (2004)
Director: Hans Petter Moland (Cold Pursuit) Cast: Damien Nguyen, Bai Ling, Nick Nolte
After reuniting with his mother in Ho Chi Minh City, a family tragedy causes Binh to flee from Viet Nam to America. Landing in New York, Binh begins a road trip to Texas, where his American father is said to live.
A picturesque human drama that was produced by Terrence Malick, The Beautiful Country is an underappreciated film that features some great work from its cast lead by Damien Nguygen and Bai Ling. While some beats of its story are familiar and unsurprising, there’s enough originality here from Hans Moland’s film to make it stand out from a crowded marketplace.
9. Undefeated (2011)
Director: Daniel Lindsay & T.J. Martin Cast: Bill Courtney, O.C Brown
Chronicles three underprivileged students from inner-city Memphis and their volunteer coach who tries to help them beat the odds on and off the field.
Winning an Oscar for Best Documentary feature and receiving a warm welcome from critics upon release, Undefeated had its fair share of plaudits heaped upon it but it has remained a most unspoken about in film circles in the years since its release as its a moving and insightful examination of sport and the connections/purpose it can bring to peoples lives. A real life Cinderella story that should be sought out.
8. A Bronx Tale (1993)
Director: Robert De Niro (The Good Shepherd) Cast: Chazz Palminteri, Robert De Niro
A father becomes worried when a local gangster befriends his son in the Bronx in the 1960s.
His first film as a director and to this day still only one of two his made in an expansive career, Robert De Niro’s debut may not have set the world on fire when it arrived in the early 90’s but its one of the most underappreciated gangster films of all time that doubles up as a great coming of age drama to boot. A must-watch for fans of the the Hollywood icon and those that like their mob films with heart and soul attached.
7. Toomelah (2011)
Director: Ivan Sen (Goldstone) Cast: Daniel Connors, Christopher Edwards
In a remote Aboriginal community, 10 year old Daniel yearns to be a gangster, like the male role models in his life. Skipping school, getting into fights and running drugs for Linden, who leads the main gang in town.
Ivan Sen has become one of Australia’s most prolific and consistent filmmakers but for all his successes Toomelah managed to slip through the cracks despite it being one of the most affecting and unique Aboriginal based local productions of all time. With a stunning performance from its young actor Daniel Connor’s and a typical assured multi-pronged Sen on hand in a variety of areas, Toomelah is the little Aussie film that deserves more of the spotlight.
6. Winter’s Bone (2010)
Director: Debra Granik (Leave No Trace) Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes
An unflinching Ozark Mountain girl hacks through dangerous social terrain as she hunts down her drug-dealing father while trying to keep her family intact.
The film where the career of star Jennifer Lawrence really started in what was an Oscar nominated performance, Winter’s Bone is a unique and memorable family drama centered in the hearts of the Ozarks. It’s pretty bleak stuff and not one too watch with good times on the agenda but Winter’s Bone remains one of Lawrence’s premier pieces of work.
5. The Assassination of Richard Nixon (2004)
Director: Niels Mueller (Small Town Wisconsin) Cast: Sean Penn, Naomi Watts
Based on real life events, Assassination is set in 1974 and centers on a businessman who decides to take extreme measures to achieve his American dream.
With backing from Leonardo DiCaprio and an all star-cast, one would’ve expected The Assassination of Richard Nixon to make a fairly decent sized splash but Niels Mueller’s confronting drama was sadly misunderstood and underseen upon its release and remains to this day one of the most undervalued products of the modern era. Featuring a fantastic performance from its leading man Sean Penn, Assassination is a haunting drama of the highest order.
4. The Old Man Who Read Love Stories (2001)
Director: Rolf de Heer (Charlie’s Country) Cast: Richard Dreyfuss, Hugo Weaving
A man is forced to confront a dangerous female jaguar and his own past through the sacrificial killing of the beast he has grown to love.
I’ve profiled both director Rolf de Heer and the film in question here previously on the blog but I will always relish the chance to remind viewers about one of the most underappreciated works of the Australian director’s career and one of the great hidden gems of the 2000’s too boot. A unique drama that features Hollywood icon Richard Dreyfuss’s best performance (a big call I know), Love Stories may not be easy to find but its worth the effort.
3. The Chumscrubber (2005)
Director: Arie Posin (The Face of Love) Cast: Jamie Bell, Glenn Close, Ralph Fiennes
A darkly satiric story about life crumbling in the midst of a seemingly idyllic suburbia.
Mixing a bit of Donnie Darko with typical teenage dramas, The Chumscrubber was a memorable debut film from director Arie Posin that divided critics and audiences between love and hate fairly evenly in what eventuated into a low-key release that came and went without much of blink. With a loaded cast and some inventive and memorable ideas, this is a suburban drama unlike any other and one of the best teenage dramas I can recall seeing.
2. Barney’s Version (2010)
Director: Richard J. Lewis (Whale Music) Cast: Paul Giamatti, Rosamund Pike, Dustin Hoffman
The picaresque and touching story of the politically incorrect, fully lived life of the impulsive, irascible and fearlessly blunt Barney Panofsky.
A touching dramedy that features awards worthy performances from its three leads (including an all time great Paul Giamatti turn), Barney’s Version may seem Oscar baity in its approach but its a reflective and emotionally powerful tale about a very unique individual. For any fans of its cast or those seeking something out of the box, Barney’s Version has you sorted.
1. Tyrannosaur (2011)
Director: Paddy Considine (Journeyman) Cast: Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman
Joseph, a man plagued by violence and a rage that is driving him to self-destruction, earns a chance of redemption that appears in the form of Hannah, a Christian charity shop worker.
A stunning and confronting UK drama from one of the countries premium performers Paddy Considine, Tyrannosaur is not for the feint of heart but if you can handle your dramas with searing intensity and powerful performances (star Peter Mullan has rarely been better), this bleak but heartfelt film is the perfect choice.
Honorable Mentions – Tsotsi, Nine Lives, Beautiful Boy, Proof, Margin Call, The Visitor, Half Nelson, The Hawk Is Dying