Each and every year there are films released that don’t get the attention and shine they deserve. Some of them are blasted by critics, while others simply make no impression at the box office.
Whether it is due to a poor marketing campaign or an unfortunate release date next to a big blockbuster, sometimes the best films of the year go unnoticed by audiences even when critically they are acclaimed.
Moonshot News has gathered up a selection of “underrated” films that went under our radar when released, but are worth giving a second chance. Our list consists of movies that tanked at the box office (even if they earned a better reputation once they were available on video-on-demand), films that got negative reviews, and movies that were well-reviewed by both critics and viewers, but just never seemed to find an audience.
10 underrated movies to watch
Perverse, challenging but brilliant, Dogtooth is a bizarre fantasy that takes the concept of home schooling to squirmy extremes. The film, directed by Giorgos Lanthimos, tells the story of a mother and father who raise their three children behind closed walls, teaching them to believe in a fantasy world of their devising. Incest, homeschooling, the power of parenting and violence as a means of control, Dogtooth tackles a varied and interesting number of topics. Yet, it is shot with extreme simplicity. “A black-comic poem of dysfunction, a veritable operetta of self-harm, this brilliant and bizarre film from the Greek director Giorgos Lanthimos is superbly acted and icily controlled – it grips from the very first scenes,” the Guardian wrote.
A perfect example of an excellent film which could have only been produced abroad, Soul Boy tells the story of a young slum boy from Nairobi and his quest to restore his father’s stolen soul. The film taps into many Kenyan myths, but does so in a way that is incredibly inclusive for a wider audience. It’s a pulsating, brilliant movie that never got the attention it deserved and is definitely worth watching.
An Oscar win and numerous other critical awards haven’t been enough to make A Separation register on most people’s film radars (if it has for you, then we salute you). The film follows the story of a married couple who after 14 years decide to divorce – wife Simin no longer wants to remain in Iran, while husband Nader wants to stay and care for his Alzheimer suffering father. What follows is a compelling study of family conflict and love, and a great insight into the social and religious divisions in Iran. Never has a film said so much with so little.
We Need to Talk about Kevin
If you’re looking for a feel-good movie … this is not it! That said, We Need to Talk about Kevin is a fascinating – albeit depressing – film. Eva Khatchadourian (Tilda Swinton) and Franklin Plaskett (John C. Reilly) are parents to a teenager named Kevin (Ezra Miller) who has committed a horrible act of violence at school. In the wake of the tragedy, Eva flashes back on her life with Kevin, and how she has always felt that there was something evil about him.
Hugh Jackman stars as the man on a quest for love and eternal life, which plays out in several different times and places, in Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain. We’re not going to lie: There’s a lot to unpack in this film. While there’s some truth to the criticisms that the movie is a little too big and navel-gazing, there’s also a lot to like about it if you give it the time and attention it deserves. The film is packed with time travel and philosophical conversations and situations around love, death, and immortality.
The One I Love
One of the reasons Charlie McDowell’s The One I Love didn’t take off at the box office was confusing marketing. Though it was marketed as a romantic comedy, the film falls more into sci-fi territory. Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss star as a couple having trouble in their relationship, and seeing a therapist to help head off their problems. When a doctor offers them a lovely, secluded place to stay, weird things start happening. So, what sort of starts out as a rom-com eventually morphs into full-on “weird” territory. But it’s a journey worth taking, especially if you hate predictability in movies.
Critically appreciated but barely breaking even on its budget, Disobedience tells the story of a woman returning to the orthodox Jewish community that no longer accepts her for her father’s funeral. She then connects with the woman she had an illicit relationship with – and their passion rekindles immediately. This “forbidden romance with a twist” is done absolutely perfectly and you should definitely add it in your to-watch-list.
I Am Not an Easy Man
Have you ever thought about what the world would be like if the patriarchy wasn’t a thing? Like, if women were the arbiters of power in society, and men were the ones facing discrimination and getting catcalled on their way to work? Well, in the French movie I Am Not an Easy Man, that’s exactly the case. Without drama or scholar approach, but with lots of humour and some hilarious scenes, this social satire movie is available to watch on Netflix.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Based on the memoir of the same name, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is the true story of how a Malawian teenager named William Kamkwamba invented a wind-powered electric water pump to help his small village survive a severe drought. Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Maxwell Simba, this film is a tear-jerker that will inspire you to get off your couch and go do something with the day.
The Love Punch
Set in the French Riviera, The Love Punch brings together Pierce Brosnan and Emma Thompson in a feel good romantic comedy about an estranged couple who, after having their pension stolen by a crooked businessman, must reunite to steal it back. This is an entirely ridiculous, cheerfully daft and very amiable midlife comedy, ideal for a weekend afternoon.