19 movie stars and their forgotten films

What are the hidden gems hiding in the back catalogues of some of the world’s most popular movie stars?

Johnny Depp as Ed Wood

Sometimes, movie stars make gems of movies that either hit and are then forgotten, or fail to soar in the first place. But sometimes, those movies really deserve more attention. Here are some of our choices…

 

JIM CARREY Man On The Moon

Or the role that should have earned Carrey a Best Actor Oscar nomination. His leading role in the biopic of Andy Kaufman was something really quite special, and Milos Forman’s film around him matched his work too. Carrey would also turn in fine work in Frank Darabont’s The Majestic, but his portrayal of Kaufman was really something else: moving, funny and utterly believable. top movie, too.

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Man On The Moon [1999] at Amazon.co.uk

 

JOHNNY DEPP Ed Wood

Tim Burton’s best film, and most probably, Depp’s too. In the lead role as the world’s worst film director, Edward D Wood Jr, he injects a man who is generally seen as a figure of ridicule with a real love and passion. Whether wearing the director’s favoured angora sweaters, or putting together the seeds for Plan 9 From Outer Space, it’s a great and brave performance from Depp, even if Martin Landau manages to steal every scene the two appear in.

Ed Wood [1994] at Amazon.co.uk

 

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BRUCE WILLIS The Last Boy Scout

A friend of mine argued hard for Last Man Standing in this spot, but for Bruce Willis, surely the best action movie he made that many people forgot to go and see deserves the attention. Boasting a scenery-chewing, wise-cracking lead performance by Willis in a film that easily outdoes three of the Die Hard movies, it’s also directed by Tony Scott, who’s at the top of his game here. We’ve written about our love for The Last Boy Scout before (here), but having caught it again on Sky over the weekend, there’s little way it could be left off this list.

The Last Boy Scout [1992] at Amazon.co.uk

 

HARRISON FORD Clear And Present Danger

Patriot Games was a passable enough thriller, that caused some political stirrings and also boasted a terrific sequence near the end when Ford tries to avoid the bad guys in a power-starved house. Clear And Present Danger, though, frequently gets a bad rap, thanks primarily to its dense plotting, and willingness to try and get across a relatively complex story. It too boasts some great sequences, but it’s also a strong action thriller, with a clutch of really good performances (not least James Earl Jones). The best Jack Ryan movie, by distance, and a film with a case for being Harrison Ford’s best of the 90s.

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Clear And Present Danger Sp Edition [1994] at Amazon.co.uk

 

SYLVESTER STALLONE Copland

Stallone still doesn’t really get the credit he deserves for his lead turn in James Mangold’s terrific ensemble piece. Pitted against the likes of Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta and Harvey Keitel, he not only holds his own, but excels in the role of the Sheriff who discovers that corruption is closer than he initially thought. Stallone, of course, could also sneak into this feature on the basis of Demolition Man, which we’ve spoken about before here.

Copland [1997] at Amazon.co.uk

 

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CAMERON DIAZ The Last Supper

When Cameron Diaz burst onto the scene in a dress too tight for words in The Mask, hers was clearly a star fast rising. Credit, then, for the strong indie drama The Last Supper, where a discussion among a group of students about whether they’d kill Hitler if they met him when he was much younger gets turned into a succession of dinner parties. Said dinner parties also feature a guest, who’s basically grilled to see whet her they should live or die. A great little movie, and Diaz is a strong cog in its ensemble.

The Last Supper [1996] at Amazon.co.uk

 

MEL GIBSON Maverick

A strange one this, because it did actually make over $100m at the US box office. However, it never qualified for a sequel, never seemed to get any special treatment on DVD, and appears to have been blatantly forgotten about. And yet it’s as funny as any film Gibson has appeared in, with the pairing of him and Jodie Foster working better than you had any right to expect. Furthermore, James Garner’s supporting turn is a delight, and Maverick, while a one-off, is still awaiting rediscovery in Gibson’s back catalogue. Payback would have got its place, incidentally, had it not at least had a fresh version unleashed a year or two back.

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Maverick [1994] at Amazon.co.uk

 

KEVIN COSTNER Thirteen Days

To be fair, there are quite a few to pick from here: Tin Cup, Open Range and A Perfect World could each have sat here with little complaint. But it’s Roger Donaldson’s excellent drama set in the midst of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis that gets the nod. It’s an outstanding, and not much seen movie, that looks at how close the world came to disaster, and how the powermongers of the time handled the situation.

Thirteen Days [2001] at Amazon.co.uk

 

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STEVE MARTIN The Spanish Prisoner

Martin took a serious turn in David Mamet’s twisty mystery The Spanish Prisoner, and while it didn’t get close to setting the box office alight, it was still a major contributory factor to a terrific little film. Given that it’s a dish best served cold, we’ll shut up about it right about now…

The Spanish Prisoner [1998] at Amazon.co.uk

 

KEANU REEVES The Devil’s Advocate

This one splits our office, in that we pretty much like it across the board, but for different reasons. Is it the film that gives Al Pacino the chance to finally cut loose? Is it messy, but hugely entertaining nonetheless? Or is there a lot more substance to it than it’s given credit for? Whichever you plump for, The Devil’s Advocate was a modest hit at best on its initial release, and among the Keanu Reeves back catalogue, it stands out as a film worthy of a lot more love than it got.

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Devil’s Advocate [1998] at Amazon.co.uk

 

MARK WAHLBERG The Yards

Many people, fed up with trusting their money to once-reliable institutions such as major banks, and the Enrons of this world, instead chose to put everything they had on the surely-reliable fact that Mark Wahlberg would never get an acting Oscar nomination. And yet his superb turn in The Departed turned that around. But if you’re looking for another solid Wahlberg-starring drama, then The Yards sank without trace on its original release, and still gasps for air now. A pity, too. It’s not without its problems, but it’s still a very, very watchable crime thriller, that also boasts Joaquin Phoenix, Charlize Theron and James Caan among its cast.

The Yards [2000] at Amazon.co.uk

 

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NICOLAS CAGE Red Rock West

John Dahl makes some great thrillers (Roadkill/Joy Ride, depending on where you live in the world, is sorely underappreciated, while The Last Seduction is outstanding). Nicolas Cage, meanwhile, is no slouch either, and the union of them both really deserves fresh attention. Cage plays the man mistaken for a hitman, and the plot starts to twist pretty much from that point…

Red Rock West [1993] at Amazon.co.uk

 

BILLY BOB THORNTON One False Move

Or you can go with A Simple Plan if you like, but Carl Franklin’s outstanding thriller warrants any excuse to be watched. It’s not Thornton in the lead role here (Bill Paxton, step forward please), and we were tempted to put out a shout for Pushing Tin, too. Yet this is one of the very best crime movies on the 1990s, and the less you know about it going in, the better…

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One False Move [1991] at Amazon.co.uk

 

JACK NICHOLSON The Pledge

The trick to director Sean Penn’s drama is that he gets his leading man to act a role, rather than play himself. And Nicholson is exceptional here, as the retiring police detective trying to solve one last case. It’s not an easy film, and it has no easy answers. But it’s arguably the best movie Nicholson has made in the last decade…

The Pledge [2001] at Amazon.co.uk

 

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VIN DIESEL Boiler Room

Call it an updated Wall Street, if you will, but that does Boiler Room a real disservice. It’s the story of a man who dropped out of college, only to land a plumb job in an investment firm. Only thing is, things don’t quite – as you’d expect – turn out to be quite as rosy as they first appeared. A terrific little thriller, this, and Diesel more than happily proves his acting chops.

Boiler Room [2000] at Amazon.co.uk

 

KURT RUSSELL Breakdown

One of a string of middling hits that Russell enjoyed in the 1990s, but one that remains a sorely-underrated thriller. Providing the late, great J T Walsh with one of his last roles, it’s built around Russell’s wife hitching a ride with a trucker to go and get help when their car breaks down. Only thing is, she promptly disappears. Taut and tense, Breakdown was directed by Jonathan Mostow, he who would go on and make Terminator 3

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Breakdown [1998] at Amazon.co.uk

 

BEN AFFLECK Changing Lanes

Boasting a terrific performance from Samuel L Jackson, Changing Lanes was an unusual choice for Affleck. He plays the young lawyer who gets involved in a car accident with Jackson’s parent, and it kickstarts a feud that lasts pretty much the duration of the film. Good, solid, intelligent film making, which relies on a contrivance or two, but that’s nothing you won’t forgive it…

Changing Lanes [2002] at Amazon.co.uk

 

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MICHAEL DOUGLAS The Game

As we wrote earlier this year, The Game appears to be as much David Fincher’s forgotten movie as Michael Douglas’. But it needs an actor of Douglas’ weight to make it work, and he’s utterly buyable as the corporate shit caught in the midst of what could or couldn’t be the most bizarre and nasty birthday present ever. A sublime film, albeit one that’s hard to watch more than once. Perhaps that’s way many seem to have forgotten it?

The Game [1997] at Amazon.co.uk

 

SAMUEL L JACKSON 187

A raw, bumpy and at-times quite flawed drama from Waterworld and Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves director Kevin Reynolds (who we interviewed here), what carries 187 through is that it’s a teacher story without the usual coating of gloss, and that it boasts a stonking performance off Jackson in the lead role. It’s some of his lesser-seen work, sadly, but 187 is crying out to be found again on DVD…

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187 [1997] at Amazon.co.uk

 

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