Back in March I posted a belated appreciation of The Guest, a movie that did not get it’s due justice in the year it came out (2014). Here are seven other films of the past ten years that I feel were significantly overlooked by the general public and definitely would have been in the Rated Greg tier had I been doing this blog back then. Each blurb includes links to some of my favorite scenes from each movie.
The Place Beyond The Pines (2012) Summary: This was marketed as your standard Cops and Robbers thriller, pitting Bradley Cooper against Ryan Gosling, but that is not exactly what the theater goers got. TPBTP is an incredible drama separated into three deliberate acts, centering on the drastic effects a chance encounter has on two different bloodlines. I’m not 100% sure why this movie came and went without much fanfare, but part of the blame should go to a bad title, a poorly timed theater rollout in early January, and the aforementioned misdirection in what this movie actually is. What It Should Be Known For: Despite not being nominated, the best movie of 2012 (Lincoln won the Oscar). The third best bank robbing movie of all time. America’s introduction to Ben Mendelsohn. The beginning of the best looking real life couple on the planet (Gosling and Eva Mendez). One of the coolest opening tracking shots ever. Cinemax On-Demand
Pain & Gain (2013) Summary: A reenactment of a 1995 Miami crime story about three bodybuilders and a botched kidnapping scheme. As ridiculous as a lot of this movie is, apparently these events actually happened. It takes about 20-25 minutes for the vibe of this movie to really sink in, so I urge you to stick with it, it will pay off. What It Should Be Known For: Michael Bay’s ode to a Coen Brother’s crime caper featuring characters getting increasingly in over their head (Bay has deservedly taken a lot of shit over the past decade for his Transformers movies, but he still knows how to make a very entertaining R-rated two hours). By far The Rock’s best performance. Mark Wahlberg’s funniest movie.
Celeste & Jessie Forever (2012) Summary: Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg play a couple in the midst of getting a divorce while also remaining best friends. A relationship dramedy in the vein of Judd Apatow’s films, and even eclipses them. What It Should Be Known For: The prolific screenwriting debut of Rashida Jones. Disney clearly took notice because she’s the lead writer of Toy Story 4. Despite the goofball shtick, Samberg can act.
The Grey (2011) Summary: Six oil workers, led by a dexterous Liam Neeson, are stranded in the Alaskan wilderness and must evade a ferocious, hungry pack of wolves. This is downright terrifying at times. What It Should Be Known For: You can have all of the Takens and other formulaic Liam Neeson ass-kicking movies, I’ll take The Grey. This is Neeson’s best action movie by far and one of the great man vs. nature films.
Miami Vice* (2006) Summary: Michael Mann’s big screen adaptation of the swaggerific 80’s TV show, with Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx as Crockett and Tubbs. The brothers from another mother enlist in an undercover operation to…….wait to be honest I couldn’t tell you the exact plot of this movie, but that’s beside the point. What It Should Be Known For: *It’s kind of cheating to include Miami Vice in this list, as I’m pretty sure the film already has a decent sized cult following. BUT, the fact is the movie has a 47% score on Rotten Tomatoes and it was panned by most viewers when it came out, including myself. However, I rewatched it years later and I guarantee if Miami Vice came out today it would earn at least a 90%. Now I legit can’t turn it off anytime I come across it. There’s a very subtle campiness, whether intentional or not, that is much more appreciated by critics these days (i.e. if Drive came out in 2006 it probably would have gotten awful reviews as well). Michael Mann knows how to shoot a movie and this is his most beautiful film. If you enjoyed Farrell’s performance in True Detective, you’ll love Miami Vice. He famously checked into rehab as soon as shooting ended and it shows.
Coherence (2013) Summary: Bill Simmons has a joke about how he always enjoys “Blank from Hell movies” (i.e. the neighbor from hell, the Tinder date from hell, the 13 person brunch bill from hell). Well, Coherence is the dinner party from hell. The less I say about this movie, the better. It’ll keep you guessing through the end. What It Should Be Known For: Coherence would fit right in with the Black Mirror anthology series. For those not familiar with Black Mirror, 1. Watch it on Netflix immediately, and 2. It’s like a present day Twilight Zone. Streaming on Amazon Prime
The Prestige* (2006) Summary: Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman play two feuding magicians in 19th century London with a serious beef. Yeah I know, you hear the subject of magicians and want to hard pass, but trust me it’s GREAT. There’s only two things involving magic that I enjoy. One is telling the story of the worst date of my life at The Magic Castle in LA, the other is this movie. Also stars Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine, and David Bowie. What It Should Be Known For: *It might be cheating to include The Prestige in this list as well since it’s pretty well regarded among cinephiles, but it does seem to be forgotten when speaking on the pantheon of Christopher Nolan’s films. Yes the Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, Interstellar are all-timers, but I really think The Prestige is the true masterpiece of the best working filmmaker today. The greatest twist ending ever? Someone spoiled Sixth Sense and Usual Suspects to me, so Prestige would be my pick for that title. This link literally shows the first two and a half minutes of the movie, so it’s not spoiling anything.