Oftentimes fantastic movies can be either forgotten or were never truly appreciated. Therefore, it is important to occasionally recognize these films in the hope of inspiring others to introduce themselves to a film they would have otherwise not known about. Below are ten such films that deserve more attention and praise:
1. The Visitor (2007)
The Visitor is a film about a burnt out professor (Richard Jenkins in a stellar performance) who discovers a couple squatting in his city apartment and ultimately formulates a friendship with them. The movie is about companionship and how the introduction of something new can completely change one’s perceptions about life and the world. However, the film is also about the flawed immigration system, which is where the film places much of its focus on and offers audiences a powerful message about how we treat illegal immigrants who want to be a part of America.
2. Save the Tiger (1973)
Jack Lemmon won his second Oscar for his emotionally-charged performance as Harry Stoner, who is haunted by his past service in the war, no longer understands society, and is about pay an arsonist to burn down one of his factories to keep his company financially afloat. Save the Tiger perfectly represents the disenchantment of Americans during the 1970s who felt the American Dream has become nothing short of farce.
3. Reversal of Fortune (1990)
Reversal of Fortune is the true story of how Claus von Bülow managed to be exonerated and found not guilty of attempting to murder his socialite wife, Sunny von Bülow, who would spend the remainder of her life brain-dead in a hospital. The film primarily follows attorney Alan Dershowitz and how he was able to manipulate the evidence to not necessarily say Claus von Bülow was not guilty, but that there was enough reasonable doubt to prevent the guilty verdict from happening. Reversal of Fortune is especially worth seeing for Jeremy Irons’ Oscar winning performance as Claus von Bülow, which was the epitome of creepy and devoid of emotion.
4. Carnage (2011)
Carnage is a hilarious satire about two sets of parents who initially speak to solve an altercation between their sons, but their conversation ultimately evolves into them verbally antagonizing and fighting each other in a childlike manner. The film solely stars its four leads, all of whom are brilliant in their roles, and takes place primarily in the same room for the film’s brief 75 minute length. The film satirizes parenting and how adults can regress when attempting to vilify others.
5. Autumn Sonata (1978)
Famed director Ingmar Bergman directed Golden Age icon Ingrid Bergman in her final screen role in this film and it is a stunning final performance. Autumn Sonata is about Eve (Liv Ullmann), a daughter who decides to reconcile with her mother, Charlotte (Bergman), who she has a distant relationship with. What is supposed to be a happy reunion instead becomes a night in which Eve rehashes the past and forces Charlotte to acknowledge that she chose her career of being a concert pianist over being a loving and attentive parent. This film is dense, but so worth watching.
6. Arbitrage (2012)
Richard Gere offers one of the best performances of his career as Robert Miller, who is on the verge of a financial collapse but has been keeping it all below the radar by manipulating his company numbers. When personal tragedy ensues, not only does it threaten his personal relationship with his family, but it could potentially expose the fraud he is immersed in. Arbitrage is an adrenaline rush of a film with a stellar script and excellent acting from all of its principle cast.
7. A Cry in the Dark (1988)
Most fans of Meryl Streep seem to forget about this stunning performance from her in a very eye-opening film. A Cry in the Dark is the true story about Lindy Chamberlain, who was on a camping trip with her two sons, husband (Sam Neill), and their nine-week old daughter Azaria. During a barbecue, Lindy hears a cry and walks back to her tent to see a dingo emerging from her tent with something in its mouth before running off into the wild. It becomes immediately apparent that a dingo attacked and ran off with Azaria in its mouth. However, public sentiment and especially the media doubt her claims, pushing authorities to arrest her for the murder of her child. A Cry in the Dark is important to watch for its portrayal of the media, framing them as people who doubted obvious facts for the sake of sensationalizing a story, which was at the expense of an innocent woman.
8. The Master (2012)
It would be very fair to say that The Master isn’t for everyone. The film is extremely unconventional with a narrative that is extremely vague on what its content is supposed to convey to audiences. Nonetheless, the film is artistically flawless and is a complete odyssey into the mechanisms of a cult and its inner workings. Philip Seymour Hoffman is extraordinary as the leader of The Cause, whose subtle acting crafts a very ambiguous representation of someone who is supposed to be transparent. Yet it is truly Joaquin Phoenix who deserves recognition for his leading role as a mentally unstable ex-Navy seaman who joins The Cause and becomes emotionally attached to it. The Master is a bizarre film, which is precisely why one should watch it.
9. Interiors (1978)
Most people associate Woody Allen with his neurotic comedies, but he has actually written and directed a handful of stunning dramas, Interiors being his first. Interiors showcases the emotional and psychological conundrums of a family after the family patriarch announces he is divorcing their mother, Eve (Geraldine Page). The film centers around Eve, who clings to the unrealistic hope that her husband will come back to her, lashing out at anyone who tries to ease her expectations. The film additionally focuses on the interrelations between these family members, showcasing various dynamics, such as parent-child, husband-wife, and sibling-sibling. Arguably, this is the densest drama film of Woody Allen’s career.
10. They Shoot Horses, Don’t They (1969)
Desperation is the theme of They Shoot Horses, Don’t They and it is almost grueling to view in this film. The movie is about a dance competition during the Depression and those contestants who endure horrific conditions in the hope they will win the coveted grand prize. Yet the system is rigged and drama is inflicted on the contestants for the sake of entertainment for those watching on the sidelines. It’s a sickening display of manipulation that is at the expense of those trying to maintain what little dignity they have left. What this film is especially worth watching for is Gig Young’s Oscar winning performance as the dance emcee, who is charismatic publicly, but vile and repugnant privately. This film is difficult to find to rent or purchase, but it can be watched for free on YouTube (Click HERE to watch the film).