Top 50 underrated films of the 2000s

Odd List NP Horton 8 Mar 2013 - 06:40

Spanning the years 2000-2009, here's our pick of the underrated noughties films you simply have to see...

Looking back at the decade just gone, it seems the 00s will be remembered for the influx and glut of sequels and franchise films. It was the decade where  many thought Hollywood finally abandoned originality altogether. Yet take a closer look, and you’ll see there were a massive number of incredible films out there. While the internet gave film fans a voice and let them spread the word about many smaller pictures, there were still those films that remain underrated in our view.

The word underrated is a broad church in this context – it encompasses small films which not many people may have seen, big budget studio pictures that have been judged more kindly with time, and critically well-regarded movies which you and I may love, but sadly remain unknown for the most part to a mainstream audience.

With that in mind, and with the caveat that the films must be English language and released between 2000-2009, take a look at the 50 we’ve chosen below, and feel free to suggest more in the comments section.

50. Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)

We kick things off with this criminally unseen semi-sequel to Jumanji, directed by one Jon Favreau. Loosely following the same plot of a board game which magically comes to life, but this time setting the action in space, it’s the wonderful practical effects which truly mark Zathura out as something special. Whether it’s robots or aliens, Zathura creates a believable fantasy world for its young actors (including Josh Hutcherson and Kristen Stewart) and correspondingly the audience at home.

An undeserved failure at the box-office, we can thank Zathura for one thing – marking out Favreau as a director with real blockbuster potential, realised perfectly with Iron Man.

See also: The top 10 underappreciated kids' films of the past 20 years

49. Watchmen (2009)

Has there ever been a more slavish attempt to perfectly recreate a work of comic book fiction? I really don’t think so, and for all its faults, Watchmen is a work of dizzying spectacle and craftsmanship, and proved that director Zack Snyder deserved his place at the top table in Hollywood. While a near note-perfect adaptation of the seminal comic, it’s notable that Watchmen falls down when it veers away from the source material – the ending is muddled and nowhere near as iconic as the trans-dimensional squid, while Matthew Goode, as much as I love him, is totally off in his portrayal of Adrian Veidt. But the rest of the cast absolutely nail it (especially Jackie Earle Haley and Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and what was once considered an unfilmable comic is now something which at times is extraordinary.

48. Wolf Creek (2008)

A vicious little horror film from the middle of the decade, Wolf Creek gained a fearsome and deserved reputation, and provided a nice antidote to somewhat stale franchise offerings. Horror is a genre which constantly reinvents itself, but can often do so by going right back to basics – and Wolf Creek certainly does that. Tracing the misfortunes of three backpackers in the outback of Australia, the film has a minimal cast, a terrifying sense of isolation, one of the most depraved and sadistic, yet believable, antagonists in horror in recent years, and some excellent practical effects. All of which combine to produce a smart and violent film which sticks with you long after, and makes you think twice about driving off into the unknown.

47. Master & Commander: The Far Side Of The World

While I often regard it as the ultimate ‘Dad’ film (go on, who hasn’t at some point given this as a copy to their father for a birthday present?), it’s easy to forget just how masterful (excuse the pun) this film is. Not just a thrilling boy’s own adventure of chasing a French ship across the world during the Napoleonic Wars, but a brilliant character study and look into human nature and the depths of true friendship. It is this combination of the epic and the personal that makes Master & Commander a film to treasure and re-watch, rather than write off as just another empty spectacle. Russell Crowe turns in one of his great performances as Captain Aubrey, while Paul Bettany was born to play the role of Dr Maturin, the exasperated ship's doctor.

46. 13 Going On 30 (2004)

Much more than just another rom-com, 13 Going On 30 is that rarest of films – a sentimental love story which is full of smarts, and genuinely funny too. Jennifer Garner plays Jenna, who at the beginning of the film is an unpopular teenager with a geeky friend Matty, who after being humiliated at her birthday party, wishes she could wake up in the future as a 30-year-old.

Wish granted, she sets about finding her life has become everything she didn’t want it to be. Luckily, she tracks down the adult Matty, a dashing Mark Ruffalo, and begins to right wrongs. Capturing the same sense of fun as Big, 13 Going On 30 knows that, as a light hearted fantasy film, it’s not going to change the world, but it can certainly entertain. The key to this is Garner and Ruffalo's pairing, whose easy chemistry makes the film a pleasure to watch. Ruffalo in particular oozes charm, and makes it worth watching, but the constantly amusing and clever script helps too, and allows you to get swept up by the magic of movies.

45. Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)

Developed at the tail end of the Disney renaissance (the period between The Little Mermaid and Tarzan, where Disney’s hand drawn animation was both a critical and commercial success) Atlantis was harshly judged due both to a post ‘fall of the empire’ malaise and the film-going public’s thirst for CG animation. What you’ll find on a later viewing, though, is a pulp adventure that captures the spirit of pioneering adventure, and sees Disney venturing into sci-fi territory and taking visual influence from comic star Mike Mignola. With the initial story written by Joss Whedon, Atlantis is the tale of a 1914 expedition to find the lost continent, and features no songs and a more adult-orientated direction. It’s easy to see why it failed upon release, but it’s a rewarding find over ten years later.

44. Eagle Vs. Shark (2007)

Much of the audience (which wasn’t very big anyway) went into this film expecting a fun blast of surreal Flight Of The Conchords-style comedy. And why wouldn’t they? Directed by Conchords alumni Taika Waititi and starring Jemaine Clement, it was sold on that basis. But what they got was something much more subtle, weird and difficult to watch, and unfortunately not as well received, which is a shame.

Written by and starring Loren Horsley as Lily, it tells the story of the awkward relationship between her and Jarrod, another social misfit. Returning to Jarrod’s home-town in order to watch him get even with a school bully from decades past, it’s an at times painfully honest (and funny) look at small town life, as well as love in all its different forms. Worth it for the computer party and fight scenes alone.

43. My Blueberry Nights (2007)

Hopes were certainly high for Hong Kong-based auteur Wong Kar Wai’s English language debut, but for many it fell somewhat short of what they were expecting – a lesser retread of his earlier Chungking Express, but filtered through the lens of a strange Americana. Oh, and with added Jude Law doing the world’s worst Mancunian accent. But set apart from the context of Wong Kar Wai’s admittedly towering other work, and My Blueberry Nights is a beautiful film, both in aesthetics and message.

Norah Jones is a revelation in her debut acting role, and the rest of the cast serves up beautiful treats along the way, especially Rachel Weisz and Natalie Portman. Playing out in a series of dramatic vignettes tracing Jones’ journey across America, we learn that time heals all, and home is where the heart is. A stunning looking, but ultimately slight, paean to relationships.

42. Open Water (2003)

Based around true events, Open Water is a supremely effective horror film about a couple accidentally left behind on a deep water scuba diving trip. Shot entirely on digital with a well chosen minimalist aesthetic, the film details the chilling simplicity with which the error is made, and how, by not engaging with other people, it's fatally compounded. The use of real sharks also serves to bring a raw terror often  lacking in other films of this ilk, but the real genius is the actual physical effect it has on the audience. Open Water is so horrifying because it could easily happen to anyone, and that nagging fear of being left behind is taken to its grim reality. The main characters' anxiety, mounting dread and doubt of rescue is reflected in the audience, who are all silently thinking, "That could be me..."

41. Blades Of Glory (2007)

After the success of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, it seemed that The New Frat Pack just got together and decided to make comedies about any sport they drew out of a hat – resulting in some good (Talledega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby) and some never to be spoken of again (Semi-Pro). Best of the bunch, though, was Blades Of Glory, a film which I will end up watching whenever it’s on TV despite owning it on disc – a sure sign of a comedy classic. Will Ferrell and Jon Heder (in his best non-Napoleon Dynamite role) are rival male figure skaters forced to partner up in order to be allowed to skate again.

It’s often silly, but always laugh out loud funny, and like the best of the Frat Pack comedies, it works best when ignoring any semblance of plot and just letting the leads bounce off each other (often literally). Elevating it further than the also-rans is the incredible supporting cast, of whom Will Arnett and Amy Poehler stand out as evil brother and sister skaters who are a little too close for comfort.

40. The Number 23 (2007)

Whatever your opinion of Jim Carrey, you can never accuse him of taking the safe option. He’s always willing to broaden his comedic roles and take dramatic risks, and sometimes they pay off in spectacular fashion, such as his turns in The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. Less heralded, but still intriguing and worth seeking out, is his first attempt at a thriller, playing a man who becomes obsessed with a very personal conspiracy regarding the number 23 and past crimes coming back to haunt him.

Overblown and unwieldy it may be, but this is Joel Schumacher guilty pleasure cinema at its best. As long as you don’t take the film seriously as a dark thriller in the same vein as something like Seven, then I guarantee you’ll have a blast with it – piecing together the ludicrous mystery is half the fun, and working out just how it all fits in is a melodramatic delight.

39. Me Without You (2001)

Me Without You is essentially an anti chick-flick. Telling the decades long story of the intense friendship between Holly (Michelle Williams) and Marina (Anna Friel), it’s a warts-and-all portrayal of what can happen when two people become dependent on each other to the point of unhealthiness. Not always pretty, but often painfully truthful, Me Without You is the type of film which touches a nerve and remains with you for the rest of your life. Both brilliant in their roles (Williams in particular), the film excels at not always trying to make the two leads likeable, or selling the over-arching love story as something written in the stars. Instead, like the rest of the film and its characters, it’s unvarnished, and all the better for it.

38. Whip It (2009)

Drew Barrymore’s debut feature is exactly the kind of film you’d expect her to make – a stylish character piece with a killer soundtrack. Based on the underground but definitely hipsterish female sport of Roller Derby, Whip It is at once a charming coming of age tale, and an unconventional underdog sports movie. Ellen Page is as charming as ever as Bliss Cavendish, a small town American teenager forced into beauty pageants but finds her true calling in Roller Derby. Full of clichés but hopelessly charming and enjoyable with it, Whip It is decidedly old-fashioned even if it plays with some modern fashionable trends.

37. The Prestige (2006)

Okay, I’m going to say it – The Prestige is Christopher Nolan’s best film. Not my favourite, or his most enjoyable, but in execution definitely his most accomplished. The flaws apparent in his post-Prestige work (woolly plotting, the visuals not quite matching the ideas) are all dealt with here. Based on Christopher Priest’s novel of the same name, Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman play magicians in Victorian times whose intense rivalry destroys both their lives. The Nolan brothers made significant changes to the book, all for the better in my mind, resulting in a clever and lean piece of filmmaking with a neat trick ending. This was the film which really sold me on Jackman as a bona-fide acting talent, and the addition of Bowie as Nikola Tesla is a masterstroke.

36. Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events (2004)

I’ve never been able to quite understand why Lemony Snicket didn’t explode in the way it should, and get a run of films. Taking its cues from Daniel Handler’s brilliant books, the film version is a subversive treat which doesn’t talk down to kids and makes no concessions to adults either – this is a film which proclaims that it’s us versus them. Taking the best bits of Tim Burton and filtering them through a child’s point of view, Lemony Snicket tells the tale of the Baudelaire orphans and their attempts to escape the villainous clutches of their uncle, Count Olaf.

Jim Carrey puts in a great performance as Olaf, turning the book’s more restrained villain into a pantomime threat, but one that is totally right for the film – his job is not to fade into the background, even as he tries to hide, but instead be the focus of dastardly behaviour and a flashpoint for kids to rally against. Perhaps it was the weird non-conformist tone that led to this sadly being the only film made so far; perhaps the adults who pay for the tickets simply felt out of the loop here.

35. The Rules Of Attraction (2002)

From a mischievous and witty family film to Dawson’s sweaty, grunting sex face. Hello Rules Of Attraction. Based on Brett Easton Ellis’ novel, The Rules Of Attraction is wickedly funny, as well as expertly directed by Roger Avary. Charting the year of wealthy Americans at college, we see the parties, the drugs, the hook-ups and the desperation. While on the surface it seems nothing but good times, like all of Ellis’ best work, it bites deep at the truth of wasted rich youth. Every character is despicable in their behaviour, but special credit must go to James Van Der Beek’s sociopathic portrayal of Sean Bateman (brother of Patrick), and Shannyn Sossamon’s blankness as lust-object and serial fantasist Lauren Hynde (although listening to the commentaries, I’m not sure how much of that blankness was Sossamon acting…). In a film of razor sharp lines and inventive visual tricks, hands down the best scene though Kip Pardue’s breathless narrated trip round Europe.

34. Friday Night Lights (2004)

While the TV series of the same name has rightly gone on to be regarded as one of the most acclaimed shows of the last ten years, it is easy to forget that its journey to the small screen started here, with Peter Berg’s superb adaptation of HG Bissinger’s non-fiction book of the same name. Following the true story of the Permian Panthers' 1988 season and their run to the state championship, the themes prevalent in the later series are magnified here in theatrical form. The pressures of being the stars in a small town, the dreams of making it to the big time, and the ever present fear of injury bringing it all crashing down to Earth.

While Billy Bob Thornton puts in a powerhouse performance as Coach Gaines, it’s surprisingly Garrett Hedlund who proves the real star, as fullback Don Billingsley – a boy struggling with his abusive father, a former high school star himself. While the themes here would be explored at length in the series, and to obviously greater effect, there’s no denying the condensed power of the movie, which stands head and shoulders above pretty any other high school sports film.

33. Treasure Planet (2002)

Yep, it may be another Disney sci-fi animation (they really went hard on those in the early 00s…) but once again it’s another criminally overlooked flick from the House of Mouse, who at this time were under attack not just from Pixar, but from DreamWorks and Blue Sky Studios too.

They responded with a daring take on Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, relocated to outer space. Doing away with the usual conventions of the genre, and making sci-fi seem warm and family friendly, the film was brought to life by voice talents such as Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jim, and Brian Murray as Jon Silver. Like the best of modern animation, Treasure Planet excels in both heart and edge-of-the-seat action sequences, while also telling the heart-warming story of a young boy without a father bonding with a murderous space pirate cyborg.

32. The Wackness (2008)

Confirming his status as one of America’s most versatile and exciting directors, Jonathan Levine followed up his brilliant slasher movie All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (which just missed out on this list) with something completely different – an early 90s-set coming of age story involving teenager Luke (Josh Peck) dealing marijuana to psychiatrist Dr Squires (Ben Kingsley) in return for therapy. What follows is the type of film that really gets under your skin, as the two’s relationship grows and encompasses Dr Squires' failing marriage, Luke falling in love with Squires’ daughter, and his troubled home life.

The Wackness touches so many emotions you’ve felt yourself, but filtered through the lens of film, it makes everything so much more heightened and well, cool.

31. One Night At McCool’s (2001)

This one's a fun, fast, and funny piece of crime comedy that uses a Rashomon style of intercutting stories from different perspectives to create several versions of meeting and being fooled by Liv Tyler’s femme fatale. Matt Dillon, John Goodman, and Paul Reiser unite to play a trio of ultimately loveable if not always likeable losers, and the film plays out with style and panache, though it ultimately feels a bit hollow. But then again, you’re not here for the in-depth characterisation.

30. Solaris (2002)

Taking on an adaptation of Stanislaw Lem’s masterpiece sci-fi novel of the same name was never going to be easy, even with a near four-hour-long 1972 Soviet cinema classic by Andrei Tarkovsky already in existence. But director Steven Soderbergh was never a filmmaker to aim low, and with this effort he created something which many found hard to love, but if you took the time, his Solaris revealed itself as a work of powerful emotion.

George Clooney plays Dr Chris Kelvin, sent to a space station orbiting the living planet Solaris to investigate strange disturbances plaguing the crew. It turns out the planet is reading their minds and trying to communicate with them by reconstructing the most powerful images in their head. In the case of Kelvin, it is his recently deceased wife, who as flashbacks reveal, had committed suicide years earlier. Despite showcasing some of the most spectacular sci-fi visuals ever put on screen, at its heart Solaris is a film about loss, regret and what you would do with a second chance, but presented in a robustly cerebral manner.

29. Reign Of Fire (2002)

Definitely non-cerebral is this post-apocalyptic man versus dragon adventure film, which consistently manages to be equally awesome and awful throughout its run-time. Notable for allowing method actor Christian Bale the chance to use his actual accent (which sounds a bit silly) it pairs him up with beefcake Matthew McConaughey to destroy the reawakened dragons once and for all. I applaud any film that gives its two leads the character names Quinn Abercromby and Denton Van Zan. Oh, and also wants to demonstrate how macho McConaughey is by having him ride around on the barrel of a tank cannon (hint - it symbolises his penis). It’s not all cringy cheesiness though; the dragon fighting action is actually pretty well done, and it rises above other B-Movies through a great concept matched by its great cast. Who doesn’t want to see dragons fighting apache helicopters?

28. Kingdom Of Heaven (2005)

I’m going to cheat a bit here and put Kingdom in based on its director’s cut. While the theatrical cut was a beautiful looking mess of a film, the director’s cut adds in another 45 minutes of material and transforms the entire experience. Adding in vital details such as Michael Sheen’s priest and Orlando Bloom’s blacksmith being brothers, the reveal of Bloom’s military past (clearing up how he can plan for a siege) and explaining the tragic death of Eva Green’s child (rather than having her just go mad halfway through the film for no reason), the entire epic scope of the end of Christendom and the decline of the Crusades is laid out. While still suffering from Bloom’s weird empty vacuum at the centre of the film, it is still the best medieval film ever made.

27. Murderball (2005)

There was a reason why wheelchair rugby sold out the quickest during the 2012 London Paralympics, and why their players are known as the rock stars of the games. That reason is this incredible documentary charting the rivalry between the Canadian and the US squads in the lead-up to the 2004 Paralympics. Completely redefining and blowing apart people’s preconceptions about disability and its limitations, Murderball was as furious as its title suggests, with the action as intense off the pitch as it is on it. With frank discussions about their injuries, sex lives, families and personal lives, this was a documentary that proved the form was every bit as compelling as fictional narratives, and many times more enlightening and rewarding.

26. Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

Charlie Kaufman certainly influenced cinema in the 00s – his brand of metaphysical fantasy seeped through into several films, of which Stranger Than Fiction is probably the best. Known chiefly for starring Will Ferrell in a ‘dramatic’ role, Stranger Than Fiction is far more than its premise – that of Ferrell’s Harold Crick beginning to hear a voice in his head narrating his life to him as he lives, and discovering he is a character in a book. While having fun with this set-up, the film instead takes the smarter route of focusing on the characters, and in particular Crick’s burgeoning love of life and relationship with Ana (a perfect and quirky Maggie Gyllenhaal), as well as novelist Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson) struggle to balance her art with the fact she may have written many people’s deaths. Well worth spending the time with.

25. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)

For those who have yet to see this, make sure you sort that out as soon as you can. Far more than just a silly parody trying to cash in on the musical biopic, Walk Hard skewers every sanctimonious cliché going with impeccable aim, and delivers on the laughs in a big way. It’s one of the endlessly quotable comedies, with many people having a different favourite scene. For me, it’s hard to choose between his Dylan rip-off and the irreverent Beatles sequence (with an uncredited Paul Rudd, Jason Schwartzman, Jack Black and Justin Long as the Fab Four). Walk Hard succeeds chiefly because despite its high gag hit rate, it’s not played for laughs and instead filmed as if it’s deadly serious Oscar bait. Telling of just how much it has succeeded is the lack of successful music biopic since.

24. Morvern Callar (2002)

A stylish and gloomily introspective piece of work that expresses the pain of grief and loss in a powerful an intriguing way. Morvern Callar wakes on Christmas Day to find her boyfriend has committed suicide. Taking his leftover money as well as an unpublished book he wrote, she travels to Spain with her best friend to both lose and find herself, and pass off the book as her own work. Perfectly sound-tracked in the form of a mix-tape her boyfriend left behind, Morvern Callar engages the viewer not just through the words spoken but by the music, the unspoken actions and the visuals, creating a lasting impression of a seemingly inarticulate woman given full voice to her grief but not able to express it. Proving herself once again a skilled adapter of a novel, Morvern Callar is further evidence of Lynne Ramsay’s status as one of the UKs leading directors.

23. Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

If every praised director has an underrated classic, then this is most certainly Paul Thomas Anderson’s. Proving to the world what his fans had long held to be undoubted (and were probably shocked to discover they were right about), PTA unleashed Adam Sandler’s acting talent, and in a dramatic role too. Playing Barry, a social misfit with anger issues, Sandler is a revelation in the lead role. Opposite him is Emily Watson as Lena, a girl almost as odd as Barry. Charting the pair’s quirky relationship, the film takes in a beautifully shot trip to Hawaii, and a sub-plot about a sex-line exhortation racket run by Philip Seymour Hoffman. It’s a delightful film, and truthfully like nothing else the director has ever made.

22. Australia (2008)

If ever a film was released at the wrong time, then it was this. An old-fashioned epic that would have been a jewel of the 1940s, instead Australia was lambasted as unoriginal and overwrought. But give it a second chance, and the film is incredibly rewarding. A technically brilliant piece of filmmaking, it puts paid to the repeated lament that ‘they don’t make ‘em like they used to’. Steering clear of his more post-modern flourishes (which he gets out of the way within the first half hour) Baz Luhrmann quickly settles into telling a spectacular tale of steering cattle across the continent, with a little thing called World War II getting in the way.

Hugh Jackman confirms his movie star for the ages appeal with his turn as the rough and ready Drover, while Nicole Kidman complements him perfectly as Lady Ashley. Falling in love over their epic trip, and faced with impossible odds, it’s melodrama in the best tradition, coupled with some stand-out sequences – I defy anyone to name a more intense war scene than the Japanese bombing of Darwin that Luhrmann recreates. Go into Australia with an open mind and let yourself be transported back to an idealised time when Hollywood produced towering spectacle.

21. A Scanner Darkly (2006)

Taking on the rotoscoped animation process he first used in Waking Life, Richard Linklater applied it to Philip K Dick’s most personal novel, A Scanner Darkly, and made the most faithful and arguably successful adaptation yet of one of Dick’s books. In a tale of rampant drug addiction in the future, and high-tech surveillance, the animation technique works perfectly, allowing ideas such as the scramble suit to really come to life, as well as some of its more outlandish hallucinations.

The casting is pitch perfect, and while it may be a little unfair to say Keanu Reeves is great as an undercover cop so strung out he’s lost his personality, Reeves sells the desperation and heartbreak well. Providing comedic back-up of the dark kind is Robert Downey Jr. (who probably knows a thing or two about addiction), Woody Harrelson and the brilliant Rory Cochrane.

See also: Why A Scanner Darkly deserves a second look.

20. Quantum Of Solace (2008)

Does Daniel Craig’s second outing as Bond really deserve the bad press it received upon release? I don’t think so (although some here at Den Of Geek really can't stand it), and considering the production problems that beset it (namely the writer’s strike), it’s a miracle that we even got a film, let alone something as enjoyable as Quantum. Suffering due to the long shadow cast by Casino Royale, and now likely to be dismissed even more after Skyfall, Quantum is actually a rarity to be treasured – Bond as serialised storytelling.

Wounded and betrayed after the events of Casino, it’s a revenge film at its core, and as fellow Den Of Geek writer Duncan Bowles eloquently summed up, "It’s basically Bond going ape-shit for an hour and a half". This is the progression of Bond from rookie agent to cold-blooded super spy, and Craig sells it perfectly. It might take more time, but Quantum will be better regarded in years to come. Possibly.

19. 25th Hour (2002)

Seemingly forgotten about in the 10 years since its release, 25th Hour is not only one of the best performances of Edward Norton’s career, but one of the best films of Spike Lee’s. Norton is Monty, a former drug-dealer in New York who has one last day of freedom before he's sent to prison. The film takes in a whole range of themes, the nature of friendship, trust and mistakes, New York in the post 9/11 landscape, as well as condensing a difficult father-son relationship into what matters most, regret at missed chances, and an ultimate love for one another. It’s the pain and rage from Norton that ultimately gives way to what he loves the most, the city and those in it, which equals his freedom.

18. Manic (2001)

A great, great ensemble cast elevates this film above merely accomplished to verging on brilliant. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Lyle, who’s sent to a teenage mental institution after beating a kid who made fun of him with a baseball bat. Thinking he doesn’t belong amongst the other inmates, who include Zooey Deschanel and Michael Bacall, it is only through sessions with Don Cheadle’s Dr Monroe that he learns he may be as dysfunctional as everyone suggests. It’s a sublime experience watching all these actors at the very top of their game, with a not a bad performance to be found.

17. Stardust (2007)

A modern-day Princess Bride, Stardust has the potential to be a fantasy classic for the ages, and to be talked about fondly by future generations of movie fans, much like the classic Rob Reiner 80s film. Like that film, Stardust was adapted from a book, in this case Neil Gaiman’s dark fairytale. Made considerably lighter, the film charts the progress of Tristan (Charlie Cox) who must cross over to the magical kingdom of Stormhold to find and bring back a fallen star in order to prove his love for the spoilt Victoria (Sienna Miller). Except it turns out that the star is an actual living being, named Yvaine and played by the incredible Claire Danes. Stardust is captivating, exciting, adventurous, funny when needed, and yes, magical. It also has Ricky Gervais getting killed, so everyone’s a winner.

16. The Mist (2007)

Frank Darabont and Stephen King – it’s been a pretty successful partnership. Proving that he knows how to adapt King’s work, no matter what the genre, Darabont gave us this fantastic sci-fi horror about a group of townsfolk trapped in a supermarket by an otherworldly mist and attacked by fearsome creatures. While the monsters provide the narrative thrust, and some great horror scares and thrills, the film's greatest strength is in its examination of human interactions, and how people react to pressure, tension and terror. Watching the townsfolk tear each other apart lays bare just how far our ‘humanity’ stretches, and the incredible bleakness right through the film is a refreshing change from the majority of films that tell you everything is going to be all right in the end.

15. Zodiac (2007)

Before Zero Dark Thirty, I would have said this was the best procedural film of the 21st century. A visual piece of dramatic journalism, Zodiac traces the unsolved case of the Zodiac killer, who murdered several people in the San Francisco Bay area in the late 60s and early 70s. Action scenes are few, but the film is all about the compulsion to solve a puzzle rather than solving the puzzle itself, all told through its three powerhouse leads, Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr. Painstakingly researched and written, the film is all about little details, the patience, persistence and perseverance required to see an investigation through, and the knowledge that no matter how close you may get, you still might never sate your obsession.

14. Grindhouse (2007)

Unhelpfully split up into its two separate components, Planet Terror and Death Proof, Grindhouse was shorn of much of its purpose and regarded as two misfiring and even misguided movies. However, when you actually watch it as the double-feature it was intended to be, complete with fake trailers, it’s an absolute blast, soaked with nostalgic nods to the past. While Death Proof may be a little slow, it still has some vintage Tarantino dialogue and action in it, while Planet Terror is all kinds of crazy. For those willing to make the effort and get a bunch of friends over, Grindhouse is some of best cinematic fun you can have.

13. The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)

With a career stuffed full of classics, it’s always inevitable that one or two of the Coen Brothers films were going to slip through the net. It’s just such a shame one of them had to be The Man Who Wasn’t There. A dark, dark neo-noir shot in black and white, The Man Who Wasn’t There has the type of multifaceted dense plotting that Coen fans will love, as well as the black humour and unhappy yet perfect resolutions that the Coens themselves seem to prefer. Billy Bob Thornton plays the taciturn Ed Crane, a small-time barber going nowhere who gradually becomes involved in blackmail, murder, UFO conspiracies, and dry cleaning schemes. To say anymore would require far more words than I have here, and ruin the fun of watching how it unfolds.

12. Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind (2002)

Whatever you expected of George Clooney’s directorial debut, it probably wasn’t this. Penned by Charlie Kaufman, the film is based on 60s and 70s game show host and producer Chuck Barris’ amazing claims that he was in fact a CIA assassin throughout these decades. An amazingly odd claim like that is matched by this equally odd movie, which marries pop sensibilities of the 60s and 70s with brooding Cold War era spy-scapes, and makes them both work to enhance an already gorgeously shot film. The casting of Sam Rockwell as Chuck Barris is inspired, with Rockwell giving a performance which is in turns magnetic, unhinged and ultimately believable despite the incredible claims.

11. Inland Empire (2006)

David Lynch’s follow-up to the sublime Mulholland Drive never quite managed the same cultural and mainstream crossover, perhaps because people were still working out what the hell the previous movie was all about. Which is a shame, as Inland Empire deserves far more than to be a curiosity in Lynch’s filmography. A mind-bending and woozy trip into both the mind and alternate realities, Inland Empire plays with chronology, dramatic tone and style, mixing anything up it sees fit.

Loosely revolving around the comeback of an actress and the filming of her new film, like all of Lynch’s best work, this is as much a riddle to be solved as a piece of entertainment to enjoy. And there’s a lot of puzzle-solving to be done here, involving Polish fairy-tales, people trafficking, infidelity and narrative deconstruction. It’s seductive, impenetrable and mysterious, and will keep you coming back for more. 

10. Sunshine (2007)

Believe it or not, there was a time not that long ago when Danny Boyle wasn’t the Academy Award-winning nation’s darling. Between 2002's 28 Days Later and 2008's Slumdog Millionaire, he slipped off the mainstream radar a bit, but happened to release arguably two of his best films – Millions and Sunshine. With Sunshine he created a sci-fi classic which proved he was a master of pretty much any genre he tried his hand at, and a compelling and talented storyteller.

Set in 2057, the sun is dying and Earth has launched one last mission to reignite it. Mixing sci-fi, horror, and good old-fashioned human drama along with moral and philosophical questions, Sunshine makes great use of its self-contained spaceship locations, as well as its brilliant cast, with enthralling turns from Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Michelle Yeoh and in particular Chris Evans, who proved here he had the acting chops to become the leading man he now is. Science advice on this film came from the marvellous Professor Brian Cox, while Mark Strong’s insane Pinbacker is a reference to Dark Star’s Sgt Pinback.

9. The Fall (2006)

Sometimes a movie comes along which is so beautiful it takes your breath away, and makes you realise that first and foremost, film is a visual medium. The Fall is one such movie. Directed by Tarsem Singh and starring Lee Pace, the plot of The Fall is very simple. Set in Los Angeles, 1915, Pace is a movie stuntman crippled while trying to impress a woman with an audacious horse jump from a bridge. While there, he befriends a young Romanian girl, Alexandria, and tells her an amazing fantasy story which is brought to life through the girl’s imagination. It is these imaginative leaps which take The Fall into spectacular territory, and rival any fantasy world ever put on-screen, especially when you realise most of it was shot in real-world locations.

Filmed over four years and visiting over 20 countries (including India, Namibia, Italy and Indonesia), it’s like the best looking travelogue you’ve ever seen. Taking the film to another level, though, is the relationship between Pace and six-year-old Cantinca Untaru, whose conversations are largely improvised, lending the film a naturalistic air which perfectly complements the amazing flights of fancy.

8. The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

The Matrix was a genre redefining classic that took on the first new Star Wars film in 15 years and won. It literally couldn’t have had a bigger cultural and commercial impact. So kudos to the Wachowskis for following their beliefs and making a sequel that was not just more of the same, but a film which went as deep into rabbit-hole as they could and expanded the first movie's philosophical concepts to extraordinary levels. The simple distinction between real and not-real presented in the first film is revealed to have been an illusion, as the Wachowskis get down to exploring ideas about freedom of choice, as well as the power of belief, and enabling us to define the difference (if any) between fate and causality.

On top of all that, Reloaded is also full of incredible action sequences and effects which set the tone for the whole decade – with the freeway chase and the burly brawl being stand-out efforts. Perhaps crushed by the weight of expectation and audience disappointment that it wasn’t a clone of the first film, The Matrix Reloaded is an immensely rewarding return to and expansion of The Matrix.

7. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

A quick-fire, hilarious pulp crime film from Shane Black, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang cemented his reputation as a master of dialogue, and re-established lead Robert Downey Jr as a truly formidable acting talent. Oh, and it’s easily Val Kilmer’s best ever performance too. Knowingly self-aware, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang tells how Downey Jr’s Harry gets mixed up in Hollywood murders, receiving assistance from Perry van Shrike (Kilmer). An absolute blast, you cannot fail to have fun while watching the film, as the leads bounce off each other with a joyful and easy chemistry only heightened by Black's excellent scripting. Both director and lead are clearly revelling working with each other, and if this is anything to go by, Iron Man 3 should be a joy – as witnessed by the Super Bowl ‘extended look’ for the film, which had more than a touch of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang about it.

6. A History Of Violence (2005)

If someone asked me if there was a completely flawless film, I’d probably suggest this one. I simply can’t think of anything wrong with David Cronenberg’s powerful and punchy adaptation of John Wagner and John Locke’s 1997 graphic novel of the same name. Viggo Mortensen is Tom Stall, a small town restaurant owner who becomes a local celebrity after killing two robbers who threatened the life of one of his waitresses. The way he so easily killed them attracts the attention of Ed Harris’ gangster Carl Fogarty, who alleges that Tom is really Joey Cusack, a mobster hitman.

What follows is a narrative so precise and controlled that it makes you want to stand up and applaud. Mortensen sells both his role as family man and potential violent criminal, and the film doesn’t withhold any mystery unnecessarily, revealing the truth exactly when needed to for dramatic effect. It’s a film that makes you earn its beats and payoffs, while also getting you to reflect on just how violence makes you feel – both exhilarated and appalled at the same time.

5. Open Range (2002)

Often cited as Kevin Costner’s comeback film, Open Range reminded us of just what a powerful director and screen talent the man could be, harking back to his 90s heyday (our pick of his ten best films is here). Returning to his Western roots, Costner served up a classic slice of gun-slinging that not only remained true to the best conventions of the genre (the vistas, the shoot-out finale, the taciturn hero) but recognised the post-Unforgiven changes, too.

There’s acknowledgement of the brutality of life and the price of violence, the effect of the Civil War, the advance of modernity and the approach of the 20th century. But none of that gets in the way of a rousing story of two open range cattle herders going up against a powerful and corrupt businessman, and rescuing a town in the process. Absolutely splendid stuff, and a cracking performance from Robert Duvall too.

4. Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)

So, how exactly do you explain Bubba Ho-Tep to the uninitiated? An old Elvis (played by Bruce Campbell), who faked his own death, now lives in an old people's home, where he must team up with a black JFK to fight an ancient Egyptian Mummy. If that doesn’t make you want to watch it, then you're dead to me. From legendary director Don Coscarelli, this is a film that is both a comedy horror classic and a surprisingly moving rumination on growing old and the perils of fame. It is Campbell’s turn as the King which makes this a must see, and it’s easily the best screen interpretation of Presley to date, as not only does he nail the clichés and mannerisms you’d expect, but he also humanises a man more myth than reality these days.

3. Speed Racer (2008)

Initially panned on release, and a subsequent box office bomb, Speed Racer is finally being recognised as a game-changing film which redefined and reconceptualised the film form as we know it. Kaleidoscopic and mesmerising, the visuals, editing, and pace of the film are perfectly in line with 21st century aesthetics and the way a new generation of film fans see the world. An adaptation of the 1960s anime, Speed Racer is pure and simple at its heart – Speed Racer loves to race, and must keep winning in order to race.

Many critics felt alienated by it, dismissing it as pretty but vacant and of limited appeal. What they failed to recognise at the time was that Speed Racer was a glimpse into the future of cinema, and showcasing a new way of telling stories to a generation of gamers. If you’ve never seen it, or watched it once and hated it, I implore you to try again – this will be an important film in years to come.

2. The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (2007)

Criminally ignored upon its release, The Assassination Of Jesse James is an almost perfect film. Charting the months leading up to his death at the hands of Robert Ford, this is a genre redefining Western, with a solemn pace and quiet power which makes it unforgettable.

While the plaudits may have gone to Casey Affleck in the role of Robert Ford - and he is incredible - it's Brad Pitt who really deserved the acclaim. His turn as Jesse James is at once central and removed from the action. He sets the mood of unhinged paranoia which the movie lives and breathes, portraying stillness, regret and violent anger in one of the most notorious outlaws in American history.

Director Andrew Dominik draws brilliant performances from his talented cast, with Sam Rockwell, Jeremy Renner, and Mary Louise Parker in particular standing out. He also benefits from his collaborators, the always magnificent Roger Deakins providing a defining take on the modern Western, and Nick Cave’s and Warren Ellis’ score being a high point for modern film soundtracks.

1. The Fountain

Flawed? Certainly. Inspirational? Definitely. Set across three different time periods, the film tells the interconnected stories of a conquistador trying to find the Tree of Life and save the Queen of Spain from the Inquisition, a modern day scientist trying to find a cure for cancer, and a space-traveller dreaming of his lost love as he hurtles toward a nebula.

The Fountain is simply astonishing, an epic romance across the ages which takes in elements of sci-fi, fantasy, historical swashbuckler, and religion, and blends them with acceptance of death as a part of life, while all the time pushing an incredible and moving love story. The Fountain feels like director Darren Aronofsky’s most personal film, and that passion shows on screen. While it doesn’t always work (it’s at times a bit too earnest and unfocused, perhaps, and the reduced budget from the original version limits Arofonsky’s ability to truly fulfil his ambitions) The Fountain is at times a truly transcendental triumph which speaks to us all, helped by the stunning camera work and macro-effects, as well as Clint Mansell’s finest score (yep, even better than Moon).

Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz bring towering central performances to this meditation on losing someone you love, and the peace and acceptance you can find in the aftermath. Let The Fountain wash over you, and you will be swept away.

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A pleasant surprise to see The Fall in this list. That is one terrific and beautiful movie. Then it was followed up by The Matrix Reloaded? Seriously? Revolutions is better.

The problems with '... Reloaded' are almost entirely in the editing; it needs to be tightened up significantly by dropping the appalling Zion rave scene, the crass orgasmo-cake scene, and the lamentable bathroom kiss scene between Monica Belucci and Keanu, plus some - SOME - of the live-action video game footage should always have been incorporated into the film itself (mainly of the crew of the Hammer hover-ship prior to and during the climax)... if the Wachowski siblings had put pace over personal whims and not bothered with that pretty useless video game, '...Reloaded' would have been all the better for it.

The Matrix is still one of the best trilogies.

Me Without You is a great little film, glad somebody else other than me has seen it!

Gonna disagree on the Watchmen ending - I always thought the space squid was a copout mess of an ending and I think the film version is much better. Also, Sunshine (although good) is a massive ripoff from Event Horizon.

good list, but The Number 23 is bad. Almost career--ruiningly bad.

Glad to see one night at mccools

Except that Event Horizon is appalling and entirely derivative of (and sometimes directly lifted from) it's influences, as is always the case with Mr AVP. Sunshine has the realism edge to it rather than the cliched ragtag bunch of wise-cracking cool badass crew of EH, and a beautiful soundtrack too. I understand that people struggle when it gets to the final act with the mad man, but I think it's incredibly atmospheric in a way that EH patently isn't. Cillian Murphy even went and shadowed Professor Brian Cox to get the mannerisms of a physicist. Event Horizib is to Sunshine what Book of Eli is to The Road.

The Zion rave scene really is shocking, it's painful to watch. In fact the only good thing about Zion is the dock. The council and underground community etc were remarkably poorly conceived for a series of such high concepts.

I'd like to nominate Vanilla Sky, I was surpisingly affected by that one considering the limited talents or Mr Cruise. Cameron Crowe has a good nak for emotive storytelling, and for using music really well to support it.

I think 'Wristcutters: A Love Story' should also be on here. Criminally underrated.

I agree with a lot of these titles. The Prestige is indeed the best Christopher Nolan film and perhaps the best film of the last decade. (either that or Pan's Labyrinth) Master and Commander and Kingdom of Heaven are both fantastic films that should be in anyone's top50 (at least the latter's director's cut should be) Oh and btw I got Master and Commander as a present from my dad. Not the other way around. ;) Watchmen is pretty good but actually a bit overrated imo. Atlantis - The Lost Empire is also a pretty great film. When it came out I thought I was too old to watch Disney films (I was 11) but I watched it several years later and actually enjoyed it a lot. The Number 23 was pretty fun and even kinda smart imo. Treasure Planet was alright but not really that good. Solaris was also fine but it didn't really capture me. Reign of Fire I though was absolute drivel. Same as Quantum of Solace. The 25th Hour was really good, one of my favorite Spike Lee films. I actually haven't gotten round to reading the book despite that t's from one of the Game of Thrones showrunners. Zodiac is also a fantastic film. I love how they handled the ending. Giving closure but not really. The Man Who Wasn't There is also a pretty good film, not what I expected from the Coens but pretty good. Sunshine was watchable but not very original. The Fall was more original but less watchable. In fact I didn't like it at all. The Matrix Reloaded was horrible but I didn't like the first one either so it probably was never for me. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was a lot of fun. Nothing more but sometimes that's enough. Anyway that's my thoughts. So yes definitely some hidden gems.

I actually liked The Book Of Eli. I was expecting a Bible-thumping piece where Denzel cures the world by quoting the psalms. Instead, it explored the notion of religion as a weapon and propaganda tool. To be honest, I liked it that bit more than The Road's "deep down we're animals" subtext.

And while I will admit Event Horizon does cherry pick from other films, it does still stand out on its own thanks to a thick as molasses atmosphere and beautifully-ugly visuals. And at least Event Horizon knows what it is. I do like Sunshine but you have to admit the flilm does drag at times.

Agree with you on Quantum of Solace - it's a good Bond movie which suffers from being after Casino Royale. I personally really enjoy it - especially the scene at the opera. "Well, Tosca's not for everyone."

They may be underrated but for me most of this list contains some of my favorite films from that decade. I've watched Speed Racer and Bubba Ho-Tep numerous times and there are numerous others I could praise - Great List

Interesting list. A couple of my favourite films on here including Punch Drunk Love, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Wolf Creek. Not sure that they're all 'underrated' but it's hard to gauge I suppose. Intrigued by your crazy enthusiasm for Speed Racer. Would never ever have given it the time of day but you might have persuaded me to see it.

Got to agree I thought the movie ending to Watchmen was better. I'm still waiting for that super duper extended version to hit the UK

Oh, but The Matrix Reloaded. Really? Hate it with a passion.

My personal list would have included Moon and The X-Files: I Want to Believe. But a good list none-the-less.

Bravo for giving the Wachowskis love for both Matrix Reloaded and Speed Racer. Both excellent films that deserve a rewatch if you haven't seen them in a long time.
Also - glad I'm not the only Sunshine fan around! Proof (if needed) that Danny Boyle can turn his hand to anything and make something wonderful from it.

One small question - doesn't Moon qualify or does that get enough love?

I did debate including Moon, but in the end felt of the opinion that it does get more than enough love.

If anyone ever tells you that the story of Jesus is the Greatest Story Ever Told, they've blatantly never seen Bubba Ho-Tep. Absolute genius.

Thanks for reminding me of the dumb parts, I was just about to watch it again.

I can't stop putting Joel Schumacher films in these lists.

Treasure planet and planet terror, 2 gems for sure. Assassination of bla bla bla was very good. Jgl Pitt and Rockwell are some of the best actors in this list, and is Pi a 00's film? Just recently watched it and it was unsettling.

Going down the list I'd almost given up hope that you'd include Speed Racer. And I turned out to be VERY happy with it being 3rd. It really is an amazing piece of cinema and every time I rewatch it, I notice more and more levels to the plot and it just gets better and better. I can't watch it now without crying at least 5 times for completely different reasons. Dare I say... the Wachowskis best film?

I agree. Too many fans use the Net to talk themselves into hysteria.

But I think the film would play much better in a re-edited version to cut back on the endless Bourne-esque choppiness and incoherence.

Added bonus for Quantum of Solace?

One of the very best Bond girls in the fabulous Olga Kurylenko.

>

20. Quantum Of Solace (2008)

1998 I'm afraid, but a brilliant, brilliant movie.

You may dare - I think it's going to be studied on film courses in years to come. In fact, if you know any film teachers...

To my shame, I have only seen one film on this list all the way through. But that was Stardust, which is bloody brilliant. So based on that, I will be watching as many of the others as possible at the earliest opportunity. ;)

I was pretty divide on the list until I got to the last two, two of my five favourite movies ever. The Assassination... got good reviews but was pretty much ignored for some reason, but The Fountain seems like marmite to most people, but I adore it, and yes those two scores are amazingly beautiful

No 2000s Rian Johnson love? I thought Brick and The Brothers Bloom were amazing and highly underrated. Considering both JGL and Mark Ruffalo each had two entries, I thought maybe I'd see one of these two make the list as well...

I still resent that Master and Commander failed to spawn a franchise. It's simply perfect.

The only movie that I felt was really missing on this list was Herzog's Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans. Glad to see Inland Empire on there.

Great list. I'd like to make a case for both The Guard and The Escapist, as well as second Bad Lieutenant.

Thank you for putting in The Mist and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. It's amazing how many people I've recommended The Mist too for them to tell me it's awful. I just don't get it!

No doubt, it gave my wife anxiety and headaches

I would love to see a non-directors cut of Quantum of Solace, it was ok but the editing was terrible - you couldn't tell what the hell was going on. Just a bit more time on one shot instead of chopping around. Both Casino Royale and Skyfall proved you could have exciting action sequences and see whats happenng. Go back, look at the deleted footage and re-edit into a better narrative with calmer action scenes and you would have a fitting Bond film to slot inbetween Casino Royale and Skyfall. Oh and can we have the iconic gun-barrel back at the beginning please It has SO pissed me off that its been missing for the last 2 movies as they covered it we.ll in Casino Royal

The extended version of Watchmen has been out for ages in the UK - I got it for Christmas a couple of years back.

Yeah the extended ones out but I want the full version America got; it adds in Tales Of The Black Freighter and is called The Ultimate cut

I have the Ultimate Cut on Blu-Ray as it was region free. It's absolutely fantastic, the longer running time gives the film more time to breathe and settle in. I think the ultimate cut has just been, or is about to be re-released, so you should be able to get your hands on it.

History of Violence and the 25th Hour were excellent, but ther's an awful lot of cr*p in here. Quantum of Solace was a real stinker.

I think it was more to do with the fact that Russell Crowe was going through his nightmare to work with phase. Thats what stopped it. The films great otherewise. Watch the Southpark episode the Russell Crowe show for a comedy half hour you will never forget, with Russel Making movies , writing songs and fightin round the world....

the matrix is but one film, what is this trilogy you speak of? ;)

I really like this list. There's a few I've avoided but I may need to reassess that. One film that I feel has been omitted though was Serenity, as far as i'm concerned it's Whedons' benchmark.( Yes, I do think it's better than The Avengers!) Criminally ignored on release.

ok ok but what about Brick? where is the Brick love?

Another great article. Thanks to you I have now watched TAOJJBTCRF (number 2 in the list). What a great film. I never really thought I'd enjoy it as I believed it to be a dull film. Thanks DOG. I started to watch The Fountain...but just couldn't get into it!

It is the most depressing film EVER!! All he had to do was wait another 30 seconds...30 SECONDS!!

How about - Eastern Promise
The Bank Job
Burn After Reading

Some decent choices particularly Kiss Kiss and The Prestige which I agree is Nolan's best flick. I'd also nominate Mysterious Skin and About A Boy in which Hugh Grant gives an excellent against-type performance.

Great list! Happy to see some love for The Fountain and A History of Violence especially. I also really can't recommend The Dewey Cox Story enough, one of my favorite comedies. Haven't seen some of these though. Now I get to track down copies of Manic and The Fall.

Yeah, it's poor. I can see why he would have been attracted to the project as it must have seemed similar to his other philosophical comedies such as Eternal Sunshine... and The Truman Show.

Hmmmmmm..... Neo = Frodo, Trinity equals Sam, tongue in cheek (eeeeeww, tongue in cheek), agent Smith = Gollum, though he bares a striking resemblance to Lord Elrond of Rivendell... Maury, anyone? No one? K moving on, Morpheus is Aragorn and Gandalf, Tank, Dozer, Mouse, and guy and chick that get unplugged are Gimli, Legolas, Merry, Pippin, and, um, chick that gets unplugged. Whatever. And Sean Bean is Joe Pantoliano, cuz i like sayong Pantoliano, too bad the other 2 matrices didn't stick with the pattern. Then again if an Ent orgy at Club Treebeard Under the Hill might have scarred us for Life, or until all the introductions were concluded. Now I'm glad the sequels sucked

On that basis you could have left out A Scanner Darkly too...I've never heard anyone say a bad word about that film.

The black and white version of the film on Blu-ray is even better!

Thank you thank you thank you thank you for putting The Fountain at number 1. Excellent movie from start to finish, and I'd argue it's Hugh Jackman's best performance ever.

The Fountain doesn't seem like marmite to me at all. I love marmite but I seriously hate The Fountain. Almost as much as I hate Requiem for a Dream.

i was with right up until the fountain. sorry that one's just pretentious tosh.

What about The Dark Knight?

I love the comic but the fact that aliens get blamed for destroying New York never sat well with me as no aliens were ever established. Adrian Veidt putting the blame on Dr. Manhatten instead made much more sense when you consider how he reacted when he was being interviewed on television.

Yay! Love for Stardust *and* A Series of Unfortunate Events. I'm happy now.

Tarkovsky's Solaris is not four hours long. Its only 166 minutes. It's as long as the theatrical cut of Avatar...

How is that underrated?

Some great picks in here but I've gotta disagree with Matrix Reloaded. This is the only film I've ever actually walked out of the cinema because it was so bad.

Overblown pointless action, cheesy rave scenes, rambling pseudo-philosophy...

The final straw was when Neo massaged Trinity's heart back to life saying 'I can't let you die... because I love you too much'

A film series that couldn't make up its mind - did it want to be a boring special fx sci-fi actioner, a kids intro to existential philosophy or a nauseating romance?

Two very different films both from the end of the decade. (2009) I thought Pontypool was great. It would make a great stage adaptation too. Adventureland I also enjoyed but have never met anyone whose seen it. What about Idiocracy too?

Watching Speed Racer would make me cry, but in the same way that accidentally hitting my thumb with a hammer would. Actually I think I rather hit my thumb with a hammer than watch it again. It may dazzle with primary colours but the characters and plot are flatter than the cartoon it derives from. This is a great film in the same universe that Uwe Boll is a genius director. If a film teacher recommends this then its time to change schools..

Speed Racer, Quantum, Watchmen and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind - bloody love all these.
Would also add Welcome to Colinwood. Great film.

Great to hear as all import copies I've found are £90+

Might I nominate Cinderella Man with Russell Crowe. Yes, it is very sentimental and wears it's heart on its sleeve, but it gets me each time I watch it.

Is The Prestige *that* underrated? Stardust I agree with, top film. But I have to say Zathura, Series of Unfortunate Events and Watchmen were poor.
And on a side note about Semi-Pro; it was a great watch. Funny, drags a bit, but ultimately does the job. I think it was poorly-received over here because the topic of the film is not one that is very popular, for the most part

Love, love, love this list! So many films that I adore and wish were more appreciated reside here. My only quibble might be in not including the awesome Brick. It's such a brilliant film, with a unique take on the film noir genre; as much as I think The Matrix Reloaded is probably more maligned that it deserves, I would swap it out for Brick.

Though In Bruges occasionally finds some love on sites like this, I would add it to the great but underrated category...

I've always been a fan of The Fountain, I believe it's going to be regarded as a cinematic gem in the years to come... But personally speaking I've always found the literal interpretation of the story to be wrong... In my opinion SPOILERS AHEAD (as the movie makes clear) The Conquistador story is being written by Izzy and she knows she wont be able to complete it before her death so as her parting gift to Tommy, she asks him to complete it... In my opinion, the ending is Tommy completing the story by coming to terms with Izzy's death. This last part is what most of you might disagree with, I think that the space traveler is not an actual person but a representation of Tommy's subconscious and his obsession over saving Izzy... What is seen in the climax is not the traveler vanishing but Tommy coming to terms with Izzy's death...

Date Night I thought was widely forgotten also I Love You Phillip Morris both fantasticly funny with great performances that seem to have become sadly hidden under the terrible new rom coms

YES brothers bloom a fantastic film

Sunshine is absolutely nothing like Event Horizon...Sunshine = trying to restart the sun to save earth, first crew's commander goes nuts but not because of some alien force, just because he's a religious zealot that lets his fervor get the better of him... Event Horizon = ship travels into unknown reaches of space and gets infected by some malevolent alien force that makes them believe they all went to hell? or did they go to hell and brought hell back with them? Either way the movies have nothing in common except they're both set in space

Speed Racer is one of my favorite films ever, it is just so much fun and every time i watch it i come away with a massive grin on my face. Not a film to be taken seriously though which might be where all the critics got confused!

God, I hated Solaris.

'The best medieval film ever made'? I think Monty Python have had that particular honour all sewn up for some time now.

". . . it’s easy to forget just how masterful (excuse the pun) this film is." If you'd used the correct word i.e. "masterly", there would've been no need to excuse yourself.

Elvis doesn't fake his death in Bubba Ho-Tep. He switches lives with Sebastian Haff and loses the contract in a Gas explosion.

Anything in The Matrix trilogy is supremely overrated.

I'd have The Watchmen right near the top of this list instead of 49th. IMO hipster critics underate the film for being too close to it's subject material is a joke when that same material is so highly regarded.

I'd like to add "Children of Men".

Unforgettable film.

And don't forget the ugly truthful adventureous “Flesh + Blood“ by Paul Verhoeven, not pussying out on the real harsh times including rape and dying of pestilence. Much like "Jabberwocky“ did partly show realistic although satiric parts of these medieval times that blow Ridley Scott's film into Hollywood bullshit heaven. And how Edward Norton easily killed Bloom's leading performance while wearing a mask (!) is quite unbelievable.

Wide stretch that is. Hope you're kidding... on the other hand I got this theory that the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels are kind of a remake of “The good, the bad and ugly“...

Master and Commander underrated? It got an Oscar nomination for Best Picture

Suggesting that one of the reasons that 'Quantum of Solace' is under-rated is due to it lying in the shadow of 'Casino Royale' is like saying that 'IJ and the Crystal Skull' is under-appreciated due to it being in the shadow of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'. The plain reality is that the films themselves were weak in absolutely every aspect. In fact the ONLY reason that both made the box-office returns they did was solely down to the terrific films on whose coat-tails the latter films were hanging onto by the fingernails.

No, no, no, no, and NO. The Matrix sequels were terrible, and Speed Racer was crap. Why not just add the Star Wars Prequels and Indy 4 and be done with it? Because they're the only films that are worse.

I was gonna check out Atlantis and maybe Wolf Creek, but not now. I can't take this list seriously! It makes me wonder what the editorial situation for this site is. I'm guessing non-existent.

I haven't seen that yet- sounds interesting though. In terms of mediaeval movies I still can't believe the reviewer failed to consider the merits of The Seventh Seal, The Virgin Spring or even Excalibur before deeming KoH 'the greatest'.

I'm sorry, I was with you right up until you put Matrix Reloaded in this list. Utterly awful film that undid everything the first film was about. On top of that, the CGI was shocking, even in the cinema back in the day that multiple-Agent-Smiths fight scene makes me weep.

The Matrix is a shining example of a film that didn't need a sequel.

Happy to see the love for Lemony Snicket and Zathura, both excellent adaptations. Where's Nacho Libre though? That movie has it's own little world that just demands to be explored. Great list

Yay, The Fountain! And Solaris. I have nothing to add, except "Thank you, DoG". I feel vindicated among all my friends!

They both end with zombie-chase madness that truly cheapens any grander themes of either film. So they do have that in common. I fail to see how anyone can regard the ending of Sunshine as being the equal of the rest of the film. It's a real bummer, as I thoroughly enjoy it until the last 20 mins or so.

Have to agree with Stardust, found it in the cupbourd of DVD's my mother always claims she has no knowlage of buying several years ago and was pleasently shocked. It's one of the few films I can watch over and over and I'm still in gratefull shock I found it.

Mary & Max?
Let The Right One In?
Me & You & Everyone We Know?
The Royal Tenembaums?
Synecdoche New York?

Seriously.
And as everyone else has said, the Watchmen film ending was superior to the source material.

Not a bad list. The Proposition, Shotgun Stories, Blackbook (if you're willing to count foreign films), and the black and white animated sci-fi noir Renaissance would be my choices that didn't make it.

Open Water is the worst film I have ever seen. Disregarding all other choices, you truely are retarded if you think that film is anything other than pure shite.

The entire time I read this, I was waiting to see Children Of Men on the list.

But it makes the film. It goes against conventions and it's realistic.

Sunshine is on there so I trust your list. Will check out others for sure

Exactly. In fact watching this in the cinema, I was puzzled why anyone would ever think otherwise.

the fountain was the biggest steaming pile of slop I have ever witnessed . I get what it tried to be but it didnt work it was a complete failure of a film and a waste of my time . I am far worse off now having seen it .

The Prestige is EASILY the best movie on here. Truly Amazing movie!

A great, great ensemble cast elevates this film above merely
accomplished to verging on brilliant. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Lyle,
who’s sent to a teenage mental institution after beating a kid who made
fun of him with a baseball bat.

I would be offended if someone made fun of me with a baseball bat.

Though I haven't seen it, people say Quantum of Solace wasn't good. Like Casino Royale, it wasn't Bond-just an angy, pointless, generic action movie they all say. Skyfall saved the Franchise, by being the first "proper" Bond film since A View to a Kill

i like A Night At McCool's cause Matt Dillon was hot in that movie.

It was meant to be dramatic and failed miserably because the ending was hilarious.

Hmmmm A few good ones but several of these are hardly "under-rated" and some, I would venture to say, are actually "over-rated" (I'm looking at you Wolf Creek). Nothing here I haven't seen already (except a couple that I don't think I'd be interested in). LOL *sigh* Off to continue my search.

thanks for the list, its great

the paedophile thing didn't sit well with me in mysterious skin and put me off the film

America often rewrites history through its film makers though doesn't it.

U-571is one appalling example of many

The fact that the fountain is #1 on the list is bad enough for me to dismiss it... the fact that Solaris is on the list at all guarantees it's dismissal

What a great great list! By far one of the best movie lists I have come across. Thanks

I cheered seeing The Fountain as #1. Flawless, epic at times, and a masterpiece visually and in every other way. Truly intelligent film making.

I love that Fountain is Number 1 (and Speed Racer at 3, both on my Top Ten), but I have to say that it is not a flawed movie. Quite on the contrary, it's Perfect!

COME ON! How is 'Before the Devil Knows You're Dead' not on this list?

Thank You.
Definitely one of the most informative list on the matter I've found so far.

Excellent list!!

Children of Men. OK. Better ... "Shoot 'Em Up".

Phillip Seymour Hoffman and John Malkovitch would have been the perfect Aubrey and Maturin. Otherwise, pretty good film. (Although as any reader of the books knows, you never duck during battle; you might put your head in the way of a cannonball.)

You missed out "Serenity" a film I only saw at the cinema because there was nothing else on, when you advertise a movie as being "from the creators of Buffy the vampire slayer" on the poster it doesn't really say come and watch me! BUT its a fantastic film, great cast - the main actor from 12 years a slave is really coming into the lime light now, its witty, funny and i personally think the storyline is great!

A MUST WATCH SCI-FI GREAT

Agreed. Shoot "Em Up was great. I think the problem is that people tried to take it too seriously.

Mysterious Skin and Detachment

wait till you see brody in HARRISONS FLOWERS

best film of 2013 ???

AT ANY PRICE

emile hirsh ??

wtf
how in the hell could the casino royale sequel be under rated ???

Valkyrie is cruise best since magnolia

the Falling Down parody was beyond hilarious

No doubt that Children of Men is a great movie, but its also got a fair amount of renown already. This list is supposed to be for "underrated" flicks.

A History of Violence is hardly 'underrated'.

Where is 'Crank 2'...?

Maybe, but I have friends who didn't like the movie for various reasons. Just depends on who you talk to really. IMDb has it at 7.5 so I guess you're right.

I did not see anything on the list that was "underrated". I did see a list of gems that could use a larger audience.

Especially Bubba Ho Tep. Long Live the Chin!

Highly-rated by everyone, though.

I'm not familiar with a lot of these (for obvious reasons) but I've been pushing several of the movies in the top ten slots for a while. The fountain is one of my favorites. I'd like to point out though, the unheard of b-movie called "The Man from Earth" is an obscure but worthwhile watch.

How is lucky number slevin not on this list?!?

The Fountain doesnt have a space traveller thinking about his past love. The 'space' traveller is the modern day character in his own mind at his death bed shortly before he dies. The 'space' traveller sequences are full of hints from the modern-day storyline. The tree is the seed that the main character planted on his loves' grave. The way he talks to the tree, whispers closely at the tree, is the same way he talks to his love. The tree sustains him like her love does.

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