Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Most Underrated Films Released Since 2005

The end of 2009 is approaching, and you know what that means -- Best-Of lists. It being the end of the decade, we'll be getting more than the usual share. We here at LowBrowMedia are no different; you'll probably be seeing additional lists here soon.

To wet your whistle a bit, and to beat the inevitable onslaught by a few days, I'm presenting five films that I feel are underrated. None are particularly obscure, and many of you may be aware of them. Keep in mind these are not necessarily what I consider the five best movies since 2005, just the most underrated. I'm limiting it to only the last five years because 1.) there were too many entries to consider over ten years and I'm sure I would forget something, and 2.) I didn't evaluate movies the first half of the decade in the way I do now.

Alright, enough explanations. Onto the list.

Honorable Mentions
Brick (2005)
Chinjeolhan Geumjassi
, aka Lady Vengeance (2005)
Apocalypto (2006)
Mission: Impossible III (2006)
Breach (2007)
Die Falscher, aka The Counterfeiters (2007)
The Lookout (2007)
In Bruges (2008)
Redbelt (2008)
Taken (2009)

#5 -- Sunshine (2007)Danny Boyle's intense deep space thriller really awed me when I initially saw it. Very Kubrickian in nature from the subdued performances to the long-tracked shots, Sunshine tells the tale of a team of astronauts on a mission to reignite the sun in order to save Earth. Paranoia and in-fighting continuously strike in a piece of truly excellent science fiction. This was the first movie I saw on bluray that made me happy I had made the investment in all that equipment. The third act is a bit untidy, but I love it regardless.

#4 -- Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005)Kinda hard to remember it now, but this is probably the movie that marked the resurgence of Robert Downey, Jr.'s career. Shane Black's directorial debut is marvelous. Dark humor abounds between the twisting plot and deconstruction of the crime noir genre. Val Kilmer is great here, and makes you wonder where his talent has been hiding in recent years, and Michelle Monaghan delivered one of those performances where you can't help but fall for her. With all of that, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang should continue to be a unique relic in years to come.

#3 -- Miami Vice: Director's Cut (2006)First, forget that it's called Miami Vice and the main characters are named Crockett and Tubbs. Second, remember that it's directed by the guy that brought us Thief, Heat, Collateral and Public Enemies.
This is a brutally realistic tale of urban decay via two undercover officers combating drug cartels. Foxx and Farrell both turn in excellent performances, as do a host of other actors in supporting roles, especially John Ortiz as one of the film's chief villains. This movie was marketed horribly, and shouldn't have been aimed at the old television audience; the film version of Bewitched or Starsky and Hutch, this is not. The standard version was pretty damn good, but the director's cut is definitely superior, expanding on Farrell's character and objection of the anti-drug team more. And not a pastel suit to be seen.

#2 -- Munich (2005)
How can a film by Steven Spielberg that was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards be underrated? Well, when you create levels of enacted revenge not seen since perhaps The Godfather series and no one talks about it five years later, save for that bit in Knocked Up, you do. First off, this cast is insanely good, top to bottom, and placed in some of the most well-scripted espionage sequences in the history of film. And Spielberg avoids here what he does in too many of his movies, which is giving it an obnoxiously sweet ending (oops, spoiler). No such thing in Munich. Plus, like those Apatow boys said, it is two hours of Eric Bana kicking some major ass, not to mention a pre-Bond Daniel Craig. Excellent film.

#1 -- The Proposition (2005)
Who would've thought the best western made in at least the last 25 years would be set in Australia? After two of the four criminally notorious Burns brothers are captured, a lawman gives a proposition to one of them -- find and kill the eldest brother within nine days in order to be pardoned and save his youngest brother or the two of them hang. With a set-up like that, how could it not be good? Only thing is, it's infinitely better than whatever you've conjured up after that description. Nick Cave of all people (yes, that Nick Cave of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) wrote a perfect screenplay. Re-watching it recently, there wasn't as much violence as I remembered. What remained intact was a harsh tale of choosing family over family, and both surviving and attempting to civilize the merciless landscape that parts of Australia offers. The Proposition is the definition of an underrated gem.

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