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The 15 Most Overlooked Films of The 2010s (So Far)

30 March 2015 | Features, Film Lists | by Ian Cahoon

8. Like Someone In Love by Abbas Kiarostami (2012, Japan/France)

Like Someone in Love (2012)

Master filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami’s second foray into features length narrative filmmaking outside of his native Iran is one of the directors most poignant and concise visions of the effects of human relations both good and bad (the directors first international feature was 2010’s Certified Copy, produced in Italy).

The film follows Akiko, played by RinTakanashi, a sociology student who moonlights as a prostitute who goes out to the suburbs one night to meet an elderly client. After it becomes clear the Takashi, the elderly client, doesn’t want to have sex with Akiko as much as make her dinner and have a conversation, she spends the night and Takashi drives her to school the next morning.

When Takashi meets her overly jealous boyfriend Noriaki he slowly begins to realize that Takashi isn’t Akiko’s grandfather as he had originally presumed.

Kiarostami’s trademark long takes and minimal use of dialogue are on full display here as the filmmaker allows the viewers own interpretation of events to impact their overall feelings on the story rather than forcefully depict what is true and what is not, what are the explicit feelings of the characters and what is deemed as reprehensible by the tone of the story. – Available on Netflix Instant Streaming

 

9. Norte, the End of History by Lav Diaz (2014, Philippines)

Norte, the End of History

Lav Diaz is at the head of the Contemplative Cinema movement, a loosely grouped movement of films and filmmakers who utilize long takes and minimalistic action in order to allow an outlet for viewers to reflect upon an contemplate anything from the presentation of the material at hand in each film to the cinema itself to anything else that happens to come to mind during that time by giving them the one thing necessary to do such an internal monologue, time.

Clocking in at 4 hours, 10 minutes Norte is actually one of Diaz’s shorter films with a more compact and explicit story about a law student, Fabian, who commits murder and an innocent family man ends up taking the fall for the crime.

Rather than seek out a more conventional structure of justice and retribution, the film doesn’t resolve this dilemma, forcing Fabian to remain free but imprisoned by his own thoughts about morality and the fact that an innocent man has taken the fall for his crimes.

A film that will not only be revered for years to come as a piece of Contemplative Cinema but also a prime example of Diaz’s craft as his recognition continues to grow as well as that of the Southeast Asian New Wave. – Available on Netflix Instant Streaming

 

10. Once Upon A Time In Anatolia by Nuri Bilge Ceylan (2011, Turkey)

Once-Upon-a-Time-in-Anatolia

Winner of the Grand Prix at Cannes, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s film about a group of men who go in search of a body in the rolling hills of Turkey’s Anatolia steppe plays as a commentary on the state of affairs in modern Turkey and its cultural juxtaposition between European modernity and Asiatic tradition.

By utilizing long static shots and sparse dialogue Ceylan paints an aesthetic picture of beauty that serves as the surface for a far more sinister and conflicted background representational of both Turkish society and the applications of cinematic storytelling.

At once both a personal story of loss and grief and a theoretical and aesthetic exercise in the visual representation of a country torn by cultures and identity, Once Upon A Time In Anatolia is an expressive arthouse staple of the decade so far. – Available on Netflix Instant Streaming

 

11. Post Tenebras Lux by Carlos Reygadas (2012, Mexico)

overlooked films last 5 years

Unfortunately the only film from Central or South America to make this list, Carlos Reygada’s arthouse rumination on life, death, and the importance of self discovery employs elements of dramatic narrative and avant-garde experimentalism (more structurally than aesthetically) to weave together a tale of a family in rural Mexico and the players that surround the family from a discontent murderer to the devil himself.

The film’s dense structure can be seen as a daunting and intellectually draining exercise but the film is also a beautiful and complex examination of not only what it means to be a family but also to have personal belief and identity in a world that is highly out of ones own control. – Available on Netflix Instant Streaming

 

12. Stranger By the Lake by Alain Guiraudie (2013, France)

Stranger By the Lake

Alain Guiraudie’s restrained and explicit thriller Stranger By the Lake is one of the best examinations of sexual identity as well as dramatic and gripping storytelling of the decade up to this point.

Following Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) as he navigates a cruising spot in rural France, a secluded lake surrounded by woods where men go to have anonymous relations with each other, he one day accidentally witnesses a murder by Michel (CristophePaou) whom he has grown infatuated with. What follows is a high tension yet cinematically controlled representation of the power of love and identification.

The frequent use of long two-shots during conversation allows the viewer to create a physical and theoretical space between the characters and setting that all plays into Franck’s own obsessions and needs as he discovers who he really is during that summer at the lake. – Available on Netflix Instant Streaming

 

13. The Turin Horse by BelaTarr (2011, Italy/Hungary/Switzerland)

The Turin Horse

BelaTarr’s final film The Turin Horse is not only the best film so far this decade but of the 2000’s in general.

The film opens on a black screen with a narrator (Tarr himself) retelling one of the most commonly believed tales of Frederich Nietzsche’s death where he saw a cab driver whipping a stubborn horse in the middle of the street and went up and threw his arms around the horse so he would stop beating the animal.

Tarr’s film picks up with that very driver and horse later that day as they head home to a rural cottage in the planes outside of Turin, Italy. Taking place in that cabin over the following six days, the film follows the horse, driver, and his daughter as they navigate their poor rural life as an impending sand storm moves their way.

Metaphorical for any number of interpretations, the film serves as a culmination of Tarr’s cinematic ideas throughout his career and offers viewers an extended study of philosophical conundrums as put into cinematic language. The six-minute opening shot of a swirling camera gliding around the horse and driver is worth the price of admission alone. – Available on Netflix Instant Streaming

 

14. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives by Apitchatpong Weerasethakul (2010, Thailand)

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2010, Apitchatpong Weerasethakul (who also goes by the name ‘Joe’) became the spearhead of the Southeast Asian New Wave with this spiritual and mystical observation of Buddhist tendencies and the power of reincarnation.

The use of social and religious theologies as an examination of one family’s purpose in life and the power of those who aren’t there anymore creates a story about the state of Thailand and its people just as much as about the process of reincarnation in Buddhism.

The title character explores his past lives and is surrounded by his family including his deceased wife and lost son who appears in the form of a catfish while on his deathbed, a process that is ultimately life affirming and resolute for the uncle as he struggles with coming to terms with those he is leaving behind. – Available on Netflix Instant Streaming

 

15. You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet by Alain Resnais (2012, France)

you-aint-seen-nothin-yet

The French New Wave great Alain Resnais’s final film is an examination of growing older, what it means to be an actor/artist, and the power of youthful nostalgia juxtaposed with elderly wisdom and scope.

The film follows a group of friends/actors who all at one point in time appeared in deceased playwright Antoine d’Anthac’s Eurydice as they are gathered together to watch a modern recording of the play by the young acting troupe La Compagnie de la Colombe.

As they are viewing the play they become enamored with their own memories of acting in the play and begin to perform the play again themselves even though the age of their character doesn’t fit that of the play.

A rumination on the power of the theater as well as on that of the power of acting, You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet is a highly fitting swan song for an individual whose own life’s work was mired in the exploration of memory and personal associations of time.

An interesting double feature with Roman Polanski’s Venus In Fur (2013), both films explore memory specifically in terms of stage acting the representation of the audience to theatrical musings and perceived reality in an ultimately fabricated setting. – Available on Netflix Instant Streaming

Author Bio: Ian Cahoon is a Film Studies student at Towson University who is actively involved in the Baltimore film community. He sometimes updates his blog http://ianlcahoon.wordpress.com but wishes to start updating it more.

 

 

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  • Danny Ogle

    Surely the MOST overlooked films would have been overlooked by even this list. woah

    • Carson

      All of these ‘underrated’, ‘…you probably haven’t seen’, ‘obscure’ lists immediately date themselves. It’s clickbait but it doesn’t mean the movies are bad, and in fairness a lot of the movies on this list are fantastic diamonds in the rough.

  • Ramiro Rivera

    México is in North America.

  • Nacho Mancilla

    México is NOT, on either central or south America, is part of North, too.

    • panke108

      Yeah I think he meant Latin America?

  • Col

    For future reference, please look up the meaning of “painstaking”. “The author is also painstakingly aware…” is incorrect.

  • As much as I love this list, I don’t think it consists of overlooked films. On the contrary, many of these films were largely talked about in recent years. Many of them received big prizes at Cannes (Anatolia, Touch of Sin, Uncle Bonmee), featured in many year-end top ten lists from respectable sources and even ranked well in Sight and Sound’s ranking of the best films of all time (Uncle Boonmee at #202, Turin Horse at #235).
    A more appropriate title for this list would be “15 essential films of the last decade that went under the radar” or something. Also, Mexico is in North America, as others have pointed out.

    • box office poison

      i agree. every one of these films were highly regarded by film critics, festivals and cinephiles. but they’re just too difficult to market for a mass audience. there’s just no chance a distributor is willing to spend a lot of money for something like norte or boonmee to advertise when it’s just for a very small group of people. sure, a lot of people could see those films with the right kind of trailer or poster, but they would not be very happy about the experience.

  • Igdy Kajigger

    FYI: Mexico is part of North America http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexico. Alas, no Central American movies in your list.

  • Lars von Trier as Pie

    “Directors such as
    Jane Campion, Claire Danes, Dietrich Bruggerman, Catherine Breillat,
    and ZeresaneyMehari among many others have been creating exemplary
    cinematic achievements throughout this decade and every other during
    cinemas history.”

    That sentence would have been a bit more credible if the author had bothered looking up Claire Denis’ name; I suppose he meant her instead of actress Claire Danes.

    Also, most of these movies can hardly be called overlooked, as I’ve been able to see most of them in the cinema without actively searching for them.

    • Hunter Daniels

      Shows how much you know – Claire Danes is an amazing director!

  • Hey! Nice lists on this site.
    I did a review of Hard to be A God!
    Check it out:

    http://www.thefocuspull.com/reviews/sci-fi/hard-to-be-a-god/

  • HLLH

    Unfortunately for you, Mexico is located in North America. Get a map.

  • Raúl Vargas

    Mexico is in North America guys.

  • Brandon Thompson

    The only I have seen is Stranger by the Lake it was boring.

  • Shlomob

    What film is the image of the red demon-type figure from?

    • shards0fwords

      Post Tenebras Lux

  • Noah Garner

    Hard to be a God is a complete masterwork, better even than his contemporary Tarkovsky. Like Someone in Love is also very beautiful.

  • Stan Moyer

    Thank you for the great list of films that I would otherwise not see. And a special BIG thanks for noting which ones are “Available on Netflix Instant Streaming”.

  • zathorcm

    Nothing of this list is on netflix!

  • Cygnifier

    “B. The author is also painstakingly aware of the fact that there are no female directors included in this list, something that very much disconcerts me but is ultimately what happened when narrowing down the features.

    Directors such as Jane Campion, Claire Danes, Dietrich Bruggerman, Catherine Breillat, and ZeresaneyMehari among many others have been creating exemplary cinematic achievements throughout this decade and every other during cinemas history.”

    Given paragraph # 2, then paragraph # 1 is a crock. Perhaps stretching your viewing and personal tastes to appreciate these “exemplary cinematic achievements” rather than pretending that there is some objective and external criteria for “narrowing down the features” in such as way as to totally exclude them would be advised.

    • Vincenzo Politi

      I don’t think he pretended there is some “objective and external criteria”. I think that his criteria are quite subjective and, from his own subjective point of view, he happens to like the movies in his list more than the movies of the female directors he mentions. So what’s the problem? Why should he “stretch his viewing and personal tastes”? Is there an “objective and external” reason for such a suggestion, other for your subjective irritation toward someone’s subjective taste?

      • Cygnifier

        The very title “THE most overlooked films” implies objective criterion. That generates different expectations that if he titled it “my personal pet peeves for films that have been overlooked.”

        • Vincenzo Politi

          Oh, please! We are talking about cinema and cinematic experience, so what is really implied here is that we are talking about subjective tastes. This is also made abundantly clear from paragraph #1, in which the author of the list actually speaks about his own personal viewing experience as a motivating factor behind some choices. He also says that viewing the same movies in different conditions may have led him to different cinematic experiences. It seems to me that the subjective dimension of what will follow is made abundantly clear from paragraph #1 (which perhaps you have skipped to go straight to #2?). After all, ALL the lists in this site are subjective. Want a demonstration for this? Well, people disagree with these lists all the time. Why? Because there is no such a thing as an “objective criterion” in this type of discussions! Your whole argument seems to rely on the use of the definitive article “THE”, but the use of such an article is justified on a pragmatic basis. Otherwise, every single title in this site should be something like “the most overlooked films FOR ME”, “the 10 horror movies which will scare you for life IN MY OPINION”, and so on. Clearly, such titles would sound extremely redundant, if not plainly ridiculous! Also, in your first comment, it seems to me that you make a connection between #2 (which is about female directors) and the part where he says that “Directors such as Jane Campion, Claire Danes, Dietrich Brüggerman, Catherine Breillat, and Zeresaney Mehari”. Please notice that Dietrich Brüggerman and Zeresaney Mehari are men — meaning that, after section #2, the author is not trying to justify himself for not including women in the list, but he is acknowledging the great contribution of great directors who, for a reason or another, did not make the list (regardless of their gender). Should he have included Jane Campion and Catherine Breillat in the list? Well, Breillat’s 2010 “Abuse of Weakness” was a triumph of critical reception, while Jane Campion’s last movie was “Bright Star” which (a) was not overlooked at all, (b) was release in 2009, so wouldn’t have made a list about the most overlooked movies of the past five years. We are left with Claire Danes… who is actually an actress, not a director, so I don’t understand why her name was put together with the others. Perhaps the author of the list mistyped a name, but it seems to me that you yourself don’t know too much about female directors, the movies they make, how successful these movies are, you don’t seem to even be able to recognise who is actually a female director and who is not and yet you very happily feel entitled to go around telling people how they should broaden their tastes and what to write in their lists. Classy.

          • Cygnifier

            Wow. How sad that the very notion of recommending that films by women directors need to be addressed so infuriates you that you must build a diatribe related to a straw argument. Tsk tsk.

          • Vincenzo Politi

            How funny are people who cannot admit they were wrong.

          • Vincenzo Politi

            (PS: I do suspect that I actually know (and appreciate) far more women directors than you, since it does not look like you have actually recommended any film by any woman director at all. Or have you? I don’t seem to recall that, sorry. I only recall that you wrote a very sour comment against the list we are commenting, criticising the choices of the author but without giving any constructive comment at all and without suggesting possible movies to be included in the lists. And then I am the one building a diatribe related to a straw argument??? Yeah yeah, right.)

  • Jacob Lyon Goddard

    Good disclaimer.

  • Jacob Lyon Goddard

    I feel out of the loop, Uncle Boonmee is the only film on this list I’ve seen.

    • Joel Zachariah

      i know that feeling … have you seen his other works ?

      • Jacob Lyon Goddard

        I have not.

  • FunnyFaceKing

    I Wish by Hirokazu Koreeda is not on Netflix Streaming now.

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    Uncle Boonmee is a true delight.

  • Maximo Cunillera

    In my opinion this films are great cinema but for an speciffic public. Then most of the films themes are very difficult to market outside of the independence circuit , For this reason most of this movies are overlook films for general audiences

  • Blurbwhore

    Clare Danes? you mean Denis right?

  • Overlooked? Excuse me Taste of Cinema ‘journalist’ but have you been living on Mars in the last five years?

  • El Barto

    i can’t believe no one wanted to see a movie called “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives by Apitchatpong Weerasethakul”. That’s totally the most catchy title i’ve ever heard.

  • Zoltán Sándor Varga

    Just correcting: the narrator in The Turin Horse is NOT Béla Tarr

  • Guy Levinberg

    From which movie is the cover frame taken?