Philosophy Master’s Graduate. Lifetime Reader. Aspiring Jeopardy Contestant.
These movies had me on the edge of my seat, they’ve stuck with me over the years, and I recommend them endlessly. Some of the movies listed are more well-known than others; they are nevertheless still underrated and don’t get enough limelight.
So, without further delay, this is my curated list of:
10 Incredibly Underrated Movies
- Krisha (2015)
- The Hunt (2012)
- The Sound of Metal (2019)
- The Florida Project (2017)
- Force Majeure (2014)
- The Wife (2017)
- Anomalisa (2015)
- American Honey (2016)
- The Bothersome Man (2006)
- Good Time (2017)
1. Krisha (2015)
We’re coming in hot and heavy with Krisha.
Krisha is the directorial debut of Trey Edward Shults; the guy’s 33 and he’s a rising talent. He’s directed two other films—It Comes at Night (2017) and Waves (2019)—both of which are excellent, though neither stuck with me quite as much as Krisha. His films are all produced by A24, which is no surprise, since they consistently come out with outstanding content.
Krisha follows a middle-aged woman who's been estranged from her family for years, and decides to visit for Thanksgiving. The events unfold from Krisha’s POV. Its 93-minute run-time is intensely uncomfortable and yet, you can’t look away. I was genuinely stressed while watching this movie, and while I know that doesn’t sound like an experience you want to have per se, it somehow feels necessary to watch.
Krisha’s discomfort is palpable through the screen—you can feel it physically. The tension is inescapable, and the discomfort that the other family members she engages with feels is also felt. Shults captures the weird tension that occurs between estranged family relationships and loose ties, and it all comes to a head at the Thanksgiving dinner.
Krisha is a low-budget film that was funded through a Kickstarter campaign, and the entire movie takes place in a single house, which adds to the suffocating feeling you get from watching. Most of the cast are friends and family of Shults, which is pretty cool, and goes to show you don’t need a crazy budget to make art.
2. The Hunt (2012)
I screamed at the screen while watching, mostly from frustration, but any movie that gets me to physically yell out loud has to be doing something right. The Hunt is as intense as it is thought-provoking. Lukas’s circumstance is intimately portrayed, and it is clear that what he is going through could happen to anyone.
The angularities of Mikkelsen’s actual facial bones really lends a hand to his performance in this film (whether that’s to his credit or not…) At certain points in the movie, the way the light hits his face, and how the camera is directed, seem to add to the suspicion. At other points, the lack of dialogue and heaviness in the silence makes you want to rip your hair out.
This is intentional. Vinterberg himself said in an interview that he didn’t think it would be interesting to watch a man defend himself for 2 hours straight, and that silence would make a stronger impact—it turns out he was right.
I’m not going to tell you what to do, but you should watch The Hunt … or whatever.
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3. The Sound of Metal (2019)
At the beginning of the movie, the couple live together in an RV, embracing the rock star lifestyle and touring across the US doing shows. This isn’t so much a spoiler because it happens early on in the movie, but he starts to lose his hearing.
The remainder of the film follows his Ruben as he comes to terms with what is happening to him and his life by going deaf. This movie is beautiful and moving. It is gripping, and it gives an insight on a subject that I had little exposure to until now, especially in film.
I hadn’t heard of Riz Ahmed until I saw The Sound of Metal. I’m calling it now—he’s going big-time, and it seems he is well on his way. I was so moved by his performance that I immediately went and binged The Night Of (starring Ahmed and John Turturro.)
Turns out Ahmed is not a one-trick-pony. The man can act, and I will definitely be watching whatever he happens to be starring in next.
4. The Florida Project (2017)
It’s an East of Eden story—the setting being just outside of paradise—a little to the left on the outskirts of Disney World in Kissimmee, Florida. The story follows Moonee (Prince) a precocious 6 year old living with her teenage-mom Halley (played by Bria Vinaite). The mother-daughter duo live in rundown, low-rent budget motels, along with the numerous other residents that rent out these rooms.
The movie follows Moonee as she spends her days with friends she’s made around the motel, getting into trouble and just being kids. Dafoe is outstanding in this movie, and the role earned him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. This movie is heartfelt, it’s very moving and you can bet that I bawled my eyes out. It looks at the underside of life on the outskirts of Disney world, from the POV of the kids that can look into the amusement park, but can’t afford to get in.
I love this movie. I’ve seen it a bunch of times, and have recommended it to others. It hit me hard in the feels, it’s different and I haven’t seen anything like it before. If you haven’t yet already, do yourself a favour and watch The Florida Project for your next movie night.
5. Force Majeure (2014)
The film depicts a family that is on a ski trip for a family vacation. During a pivotal scene in the film, an avalanche occurs, and the husband prioritizes his own safety and personal belongings instead of immediately protecting his wife and kids. The rest of the film looks at the aftermath of this scene: how the wife deals with how her husband acted amid a life-threatening circumstance, and the tension it creates between the pair.
This movie speaks volumes, though the dialogue is sparse, it is by no means dull and will have you on the edge of your seat. Besides taking on a very interesting subject, the movie approaches it in a way that is unique and compelling. If you enjoy tense marital dramas with some dark comedy, then Force Majeure will not disappoint.
6. The Wife (2017)
The Wife stars Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce and is directed by Bjorn Runge. The movie opens with news of the husband (Pryce) winning the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature. He is ecstatic over the news, but then the camera pans to his wife’s face (Close) and based on her reaction, it’s clear that we don’t know the full story .
Spoiler alert! We learn early on in the film that the wife helped with more than just proofreading or editing his work, she is actually the one who wrote the novels herself. The husband goes on to take all the credit for his wife’s work, and the tension starts to simmer at the surface.
Movies like this should be celebrated because they dive into the complicated internal lives of marriages in a way that few other films do. The Wife depicts the lives of this couple in a way that’s so convincing and intimate, you can’t help but to be emotionally invested in their story.
7. Anomalisa (2015)
This movie is written by Charlie Kaufman. He's the genius behind one of my favourite films of all time, Being John Malkovich. Kaufman also wrote the cult classic, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I’m familiar with Kaufman, so I knew going into the movie that things were about to get weird fast, and I wasn’t wrong.
Roger Ebert’s review of this movie sums it up well, “The film could be described as a midlife crisis drama with puppets.” This is a highly accurate description of Anomalisa, and if that sounds like it’s up your alley, I truly suggest watching this because it’s unlike anything I’ve seen before.
8. American Honey (2016)
American Honey is directed by UK filmmaker Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank) and stars Sasha Lane and Shia LaBeouf. The movie follows Star (Lane) a teenager with a volatile home life, and an absent mother that expects her to look after her younger siblings. Star runs into a group of nomadic teenagers which includes the enigmatic and charming Jake (LaBeouf) and she sees an opportunity with them to escape her home life and experience things new and shiny.
This movie is gritty, at times it’s sad and then at other points infuriating. It has a running time of 2 hours and 43 minutes, but somehow the entire film’s length flashes before your eyes, leaving you wanting more. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and its raw approach to depicting teenage life. It's vulnerable and honest and I recommend at least one watch.
9. The Bothersome Man (2006)
The Bothersome Man pays homage to the classic existential philosophers like Sartre or Camus by emphasizing life’s absurdities and, well…pointlessness. The movie depicts an idyllic society where everything is picture perfect, except for the fact that everyone is miserable or bored, and no one seems to actually enjoy anything ever.
I watched this movie years ago and still recommend it because I haven’t seen a movie quite like it before. The film’s concept is not necessarily the most unique idea ever, but the way it’s executed makes it a compelling experience that will keep you thinking well after the credits are done rolling.
10. Good Time (2017)
Good Time is directed by the Safdie brothers—you may know of them from their more recent film, Uncut Gems, starring Adam Sandler. Good Time stars the exceptionally talented Robert Pattinson, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Ben Safdie.
It’s a gritty crime/thriller drama that takes place mostly over the span of one night. The movie begins with Connie (Pattinson) and his brother (Safdie) as they go to rob a bank, and from there the movie spirals into a cat-and-mouse chase on amphetamines.
This movie won’t be for everyone. It’s messy, stressful, and actually quite exhausting to watch at times. That said, it’s an instantly gratifying experience that keeps you engaged throughout the entire film’s duration, and I was there for it.
If you’re interested in more of Top 10 movie listicles, here are two more to peruse:
- 10 Movies That Made Me Ugly Cry And Left Me Emotionally Gutted
- 10 Instantly Gratifying TV Series for you to Binge (because I’m still trying to nail the perfect clickbait-title combo, for selling-out purposes, because your girl’s gotta eat.)