Movies, as an art-form which acts to embody the last century of human culture, are an extremely subjective affair. While there are many separate institutions in place with the solitary goal of determining the most celebration-worthy releases year in, year out- this entire practice could be regarded as an exercise in futility. At the end of the day, individual taste should, and in most cases does, have far more influence than any amount of acclaim or hype ever could. It is this fact that surely allows our film industry to be so vast in the first place, with so many tastes to please- the possibilities when it comes to original filmmaking are fundamentally endless. With this, it could be said that each person you ask will not only have a loose list of movies that they regard as the best of all-time, but a list of those that they believe deserve way more recognition than they have received thus far. This list is an example of both the latter and an exercise in futility. Basically, I compiled a list of 10 films which I feel are far better than the critics have let-on. Either you’ll agree or you won’t, but seeing as I’ve already resigned myself to the bottomless pit that is futility, I care not.
10. Apocalypto (2006)
It doesn’t take the most in-tune of souls to observe the landslide which has engulfed ol’ Mel Gibson’s career of late. Despite rising to prominence as one of the 1980’s most popular action-adventure go-to guys, the American/Australian has spent the last decade or so slowly falling off the wagon, so to speak. With the whole drink-driving/anti-Semitic comments made to a police officer thing, poor Mel’s reputation amongst his a-list peers has gone right downhill. When such a thing occurs in Hollywood, a combination of isolation and rejection usually takes hold, driving an individual into further would-be beaver-puppet-toting obscurity. While 57-year-old Mel’s days in front of the camera may be drawing to a close, few can deny his prowess as a director behind the camera. A personal favourite work of his being 2006’s ‘Apocalypto’, a tale of sheer despair and against-all-odds perseverance set against the stunning backdrop of pre-Spanish conquest South American jungle. Wonderful stuff.
9. Atonement (2007)
Based on the 2001 novel of the same name from English author Ian McEwan, Atonement is a sombre tale of love, sin and war set stunningly over six decades commencing in the 1930’s. Documenting a severe crime, or rather the accusation of one, and its consequences upon three main characters throughout a lifetime, this is a brooding tale far from offering the blockbuster action packed qualities many have come to expect from today’s ‘good’ movies. With an expertly selected cast including James McAvoy, Keira Knightley and Saoirse Ronan, Atonement is an extremely slow-burning affair, which may explain the lack of pundit enthusiasm upon its release.
8. Casino Royale (2006)
I may be cheating a little by including a James Bond movie; however I genuinely believe Daniel Craig’s first foray into the world of the slick MI6 agent to be massively understated amongst fan and critic alike. Fair enough, it is a remake of an already depicted Bond plot, and fair enough- Pierce Brosnan was an outstanding Bond, but there comes a time in every Bonds life when he must step aside and make way for a new, younger though equally as swarve and enviable model. Stepping into such shoes is a task most fail to recognise in terms of its sheer pressure and implication, and I for one feel Mr Craig did, and continues to three movies in, an excellent job.
7. The Godfather Part III (1990)
Now, of all the items on this list- I expect this one to cause the most conflicting opinion. When it comes to this, arguably the greatest trilogy of movies ever created, there are two main sects of popular opinion. The first acts to categorise the third movie as a world apart (and behind) its predecessors, condemning it to an eternity of comparisons which I personally feel to be unfair as well as irrelevant. The second sect, which with every day that passes I believe more and more I may be the sole member of, sets-aside any form of comparison on the strength of several contributing factors. The first of which being that it arrived almost two decades after parts one and two, and the second that part III never was intended to be considered alongside parts one and two. Director Francis Ford Coppola and writer Mario Puzo wanted the movie to be called: ‘The Death of Michael Corleone’, though the studio would not accept such a title.
6. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)
Before I commence my case for this Russel Crowe starring, Peter Weir directed majestic Napoleonic war era naval epic, I should probably point out that it was nominated for ten Oscars and won two of them (Best Cinematography, Best Sound Editing). With such accolades under its belt, ten years on from the movie’s release it may be fair to say it’s not exactly the most underrated piece of cinema in existence. Despite the Oscars (which we already established back in the intro are in fact futile and meaningless), Master and Commander remains, at least in my opinion, wildly underrated. Not only does the movie document one of the most important eras of European history (everyone forgets about Napoleon trying to take over the world just because Hitler did it 120 years later), but its aesthetically stunning, historically flawless and simply action packed in the best possible way.