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10 Great Movies Unfairly Rated Lower than 7.0 on IMDB

31 January 2016 | Features, Film Lists | by Matthew Lagalante

underrated movies

Far too often, the general movie-going public will rely on an IMDb rating or a Rotten Tomatoes score to determine whether a movie is worth their time. While these can offer a good idea of a movie’s consensus, it’s hardly the zenith of accuracy. Having a divisive audience reaction can easily bifurcate the ratings, and moreover, popular opinion.

This kind of reaction you’ll see with horror films, mostly. For older films, it could be that they’re dated and never rallied a cult following to append a new appreciation for it. For newer films, it could be marketing and audience’s misguided expectations. They can get huffy because they thought it’d “be scarier” or “funnier”.

The list below had to limit itself to English-language films or else it’d be far too exhaustive to tune. Recent quality films, with a rating under 7.0, have been omitted because they’re still stretching their legs.

These include Enemy, The Mend, It Follows, The Babadook and Mistress America. Some of Woody Allen’s underrated works (Celebrity, Anything Else) are worth honorably mentioning as well as The Fabulous Baker Boys, State and Main, To Die For, Save the Tiger, and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. Here’s a list of movies victimized by subpar ratings that are not indicative of their true quality:

 

1. A Shock to the System (1990)

IMDb rating: 6.7

A Shock to the System (1990)

“Climbing the corporate ladder can be murder.” So goes the tagline for A Shock to the System, a supremely dark satire. Michael Caine plays Graham, a business executive who is prematurely delighted about his approaching promotion. He’s worked hard and put in the years to deserve it. But when he doesn’t get the promotion, he feels burned. At home, his nagging wife doesn’t help. Eventually, his displeasure and contempt eddy into murderous schemes.

A Shock to the System has the flavor of American Beauty, which it precedes, but it’s not as pedantic. Instead of smoking pot and hitting the gym, Graham uses murder to stave off his mid-life crisis. Caine’s performance is a riot, full of maniacal glee and wit. We’re won over by his charisma and flight of fancy, despite his misconduct. When he grins, we know there’s a bizarre, spirited humor behind what he’s doing. The film is briskly paced and subverts expectation. It’s a gem of the 1990s.

 

2. Adventureland (2009)

IMDb rating: 6.8

Adventureland

Flung out of post-grad life, James (Jesse Eisenberg) isn’t exactly fulfilled. His big plans to travel abroad have been thwarted by economic woes and he’s forced to take a job at an amusement park. What he doesn’t know is that this park has all the ingredients for him to come-of-age, namely Em (played with nuance by Kristen Stewart).

There are a lot of humorous shenanigans and three-dimensional characters around James. Even though it’s so drenched in 1980s nostalgia, the film still feels contemporary. Everybody goes through romantic pratfalls.

Following the success of Superbad (2007), Greg Mottola wrote and directed Adventureland, which explores more personal terrain from him. It’s a poignant tribute to awkward young adults. Additionally, the film boasts one of the greatest soundtracks from any recent film.

 

3. After Dark, My Sweet (1990)

IMDb rating: 6.6

After Dark, My Sweet (1990)

As far as sun-drenched neo-noirs go, this is one of the best. Jason Patric is Brando-esque as the ex-boxer Kid Collins, recently released from a mental institution. Drifting around in a deserted town, he soon gets involved with an attractive widow and an older man (Bruce Dern) working on a kidnapping scheme. As customary with the noir genre, there’s a lot of lust and leverage, twists and turns.

What propels After Dark, My Sweet above and beyond regular genre product is James Foley’s keen direction and the terrific central performance by Patric. He plays Kid Collins as damaged, vulnerable, lost, lonely, and sad. He thinks he’s smart but he’s not. What makes this character so tragic is his unbending compassion and how he heroically mounts a rather flawed final act of martyrdom.

Throughout the film, Patric walks in a hulking and swaying motion, like he’s on his last legs in a long, long fight. It’s this hinted inevitability that really channels the essence of noir. The film is based on a Jim Thompson novel (known for his crime fiction, e.g. The Getaway, The Grifters, The Killer Inside Me).

 

4. Bugsy (1991)

IMDb rating: 6.8

Bugsy (1991)

Driven and distracted by everything around him, Bugsy Siegel was a real life mobster that began to spearhead the glitz of Las Vegas, as we know it today. Warren Beatty plays Bugsy with an equal measure of viciousness and vanity. The script is brilliantly layered and invites little comic touches. Like how Bugsy begins wooing Virginia (played with sharp sass by Annette Bening) on a movie set. His affection is genuine but his surroundings are most certainly not.

There are a lot of neat touches. Bugsy is this manly figure of the mob, but he loves getting fake tans and baking cakes. The “birthday cake” scene, in particular, is a master class of tempered acting and escalating tension, as his family life merges with business. The irony in the title is that he hates being called Bugsy (a name given to him by the newspapers and media).

There’s a lot that aggravates Bugsy and he does a lot of aggravating himself. Beatty plays the aloofness of his character believably, without noticeable design. How much money can he extract from the mob before there’s repercussions? He concerns himself more with the lure of luxury and the appeal of Hollywood’s artifice.

Barry Levinson directs, in one of his finest films, which also boasts a top-notch supporting cast of Harvey Keitel, Ben Kingsley, and Elliott Gould.

 

5. French Connection II (1975)

IMDb rating: 6.8

French Connection II (1975)

Gene Hackman returns as detective Popeye Doyle in this underrated sequel. Right after Popeye arrives in France, someone slaps a paper cutout of a fish on his back. He’s quite literally, already, a fish out of water.

The French police don’t exactly respect Popeye, they put up with him. He tries mingling with the locals and the language barrier gives way to a few comedic, seemingly improvised scenes. But Popeye isn’t in France for beignets and baguettes. He’s there to catch the criminal that eluded him in The French Connection (1971).

In New York he was the tough copper that knew his way around, but in Marseilles, he’s lost. As an outsider, there’s an added difficulty in his objective, which makes the film so thrilling and enjoyable. John Frankenheimer directs and exceeds expectations by focusing more on Popeye’s character than the actual plot.

In this way, we get one of Gene Hackman’s very best performances. About midway through, the film takes a shocking detour: Popeye is detained and heroin is intravenously forced upon him. What follows is one of Hackman’s most open and vulnerable acting moments.

 

 

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  • sailor monsoon

    Stoker is terrible

    • Stephus

      Not really, actually it’s good, but I think it’s too “asian” for the American market. If you see some of the best late Asian movies you’ll find many things alike with stoker.

      • sailor monsoon

        If you’re going to rip off Hitchcock, you better do something great.
        It did not.
        Just like disturbia

        • Stephus

          Well, the only one who has done that rip off is Gus Van sant with his awful remake of psycho, Stoker is not a Hitchcock’s rip off

          • sailor monsoon

            Gus van sant didn’t rip off hitchcock.
            He remade psycho.
            A remake is not a rip off.
            Stoker is 100% a rip off of shadow of a doubt. The uncles name is even the same.

          • Vincenzo Politi

            From the Wikipedia page for Shadow of a Doubt: ” “Elements of the story were re-purposed for Wentworth Miller’s 2013 script for Stoker, the English language film debut of Korean director Park Chan Wook.” So, Stoker is a semi-remake of that movie, or at least pays clear homages to it. Since it seems that everybody knows that the plot of Shadow of a Doubt was going to be used as a sort of inspiration for the script of Stoker, I don’t think we can talk of rip off. Plus, Stoker is just amazing.

          • sailor monsoon

            There’s a thin line between inspired and ripped off.
            He didn’t give story credits to the original writers in stoker.
            That’s a rip off

          • Vincenzo Politi

            Do you know what making a “cinematic homage” means?

          • sailor monsoon

            Yeah.
            It’s when you have no talent and you try to justify your theft by saying it’s an “homage”
            Everyone knows it’s shadow of a doubt.
            So Give the writers credit.
            Critics all attacked disturbia for being a lazy knock off and it actually got sued.
            If uncle charlie was a vampire, I’d say it’s an homage.
            But he’s not. He’s a killer just like the original.
            Nothing new.

          • Vincenzo Politi

            erm… it’s not exactly like that, I’m afraid. But it seems one of those very intelligent people who will always stick to their opinions no matter how many will prove them wrong. That’s fine with me. Bye! 🙂

          • Vincenzo Politi

            And beside, your argument is really ludicrous. In Shadow of a Doubt there is an Uncle Charlie who is a killer and in Stoker there is an Uncle Charlie who is a killer. But the stories are DIFFERENT! In Shadow of a Doubt, the father of the main character is alive while in Stoker the film begins with the mysterious death of the father of the main character, a fact which is an important element of the plot. In Shadow of a Doubt uncle Charlie is the brother of the mother of the main character, while in Stoker he is the brother of the father of the main character – and this, again, is an actual crucial point for how the plot unfolds. At the end of Shadow of a Doubt, uncle Charlie wants to kill his niece, but things are far more complicated in Stoker. More importantly, the very character of uncle’s Charlie niece in Shadow of a Doubt and Stoker is different: the two films are about two different girls, with the main character of Stoker being more complex, mysterious, far darker. In short: they are two different stories, which both involve an “uncle Charlie who is a killer”, but they are different stories nevertheless.

          • sailor monsoon

            So basically it’s shadow of a doubt if the girl was as fucked up as uncle charlie?
            If you tweak the original story just a little bit, it’s still a rip off.
            Reservoir dogs- rip off
            Kill bill- homage
            Django unchained- homage
            Hateful eight- rip off

          • Vincenzo Politi

            On Disturbia: it was attacked and actually got sued NOT because it was a rip off of another movie (Hitchcock’s Rear Window) but because it said to be a rip off of a short story (It Has To Be Killed, upon which Hitchcock’s Rear Window was based). But, you know what? At the end the claim was rejected and the judge ruled that Disturbia is “similar in a general way” to It Has To Be Killed, but it is not its rip off. Now, if Disturbia is not a rip off of It Has To Be Killed, Stoker is not a rip off of Shadow of a Doubt, given that it is even less similar to that movie (as I discussed in my previous comment). I hope you are happy now with this explanation, although I am sure your next comment will be “Yeah, but Stoker is a rip off”.

          • Vincenzo Politi

            From the Independent, 1st March 2013: “The first English-language film by the Korean director Park Chan-wook – who built his reputation with idiosyncratic, highly stylised and violent thrillers such as Oldboy – is a kind of gothic fairy-tale homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt.” It seems you are the only one calling it a rip off. If you want to keep on doing so, go ahead then. The point remains, however, that Stoker is a beautiful movie.

          • Vincenzo Politi

            From the Guardian, 28th February 2013: “The South Korean director Park Chan-wook makes an eye-catching English-language debut with his outrageous quasi-remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1943 thriller Shadow of a Doubt.” How come none of these journalists call it a rip-off?

  • Stephus

    There should be a list on toc about the overrated IMDb movies which are a lot including many from the top 250 :p

    • Brandon Thompson

      Like Life is Beautiful, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Usual Suspects and The Imitation Game?

      • Cygnifier

        That would be a matter of opinion. I think Life is Beautiful, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the Imitation Game are quite good. Haven’t seen The Usual Suspects.

        • janet

          If you look at the usual Suspects from a technical point of view then it’s a great movie, if you look at it from a story point of view, it’s all about taste and whether the story appeals or not….people get those two things confused

      • Random Movie Goer

        The only one on that list that is overrated is The Usual Suspects, and I’m pretty sure even then I’m a minority thinking that.

    • Formerly Known as Pnyx

      The first thing that comes to mind is Avatar. Then the floodgates open.

    • Random Movie Goer

      Like Fight Club

  • Brandon Thompson

    Some movies that have too low of scores (in my opinion and under a 7.0 score) include Knock Knock, Spring Breakers, Knight of Cups, Goodbye to Language, Under the Skin, Lucy, The Assassin, The Double, The Tree of Life, Inherent Vice, Enemy, Mistress America, It Follows and All is Lost

    • FAS

      There are many more, e.g. “Castaway” (1984), “The Guest”, “Mountains May Depart”, ” Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives”, etc.

  • Jon Ruth

    I didn’t know knight of cups was released

  • Ubik

    My additions to the list: The Final Girls, Wet Hot American Summer,

    Zoolander, Altered States

  • Inherent Vice, my friends.

  • Guido Von M

    I would add The Idiots by Lars Von Trier. I really think it deserves more.

  • aceblack1965

    Happy to see Shampoo on this list. I always thought it was overrated and self-indulgent. The film may have been relevant to a specific audience in a specific era (although I suspect it’s popularity at the time was more due to Beatty’s star power than any actual quality), but regardless it has not aged well, and deservedly so.

  • Henrik Vinther Sørensen

    Uncle Boonmee who can recall his past lives
    Body Double (1984)
    Femme Fatale (2002)
    The Black Dahlia
    Passion (2012)
    The New World
    The Tree of Life
    The Village
    Lady in the Water
    An American Tail
    All Dogs go to Heaven
    La Luna
    Inherent Vice
    On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
    Quantum of Solace
    Somewhere
    The Bling Ring
    Fellini Satyricon
    Antichrist
    Listen to Britain
    In the Realm of Senses

  • only god forgives

  • Esdras Castiliano

    The Tree of Life
    Where the Wild Things Are
    Inherent Vice
    Marie Antoinette
    It Follows
    Antichrist
    Nymphomaniac
    The Idiots
    L’Apollonide
    The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
    Matilda
    Insidious
    A Series of Unfortunate Events
    Blindness
    Vanilla Sky

  • Klaus Dannick

    I’m not familiar with some of these, but Bugsy was typical over-hyped Hollywood Oscar-bait, deserving of a less-than-7 rating, IMO. It wasn’t a “bad” movie, but how many times must the lavishly-mounted Hollywood crime formula be recycled before it becomes (accurately) assessed as commonplace (and why must they always be lavished with award nominations?)? Like I said, not a “bad” movie, but nothing special either. I’d give it about 6.8 out of ten, especially given that really worthy crime films were made right around the same time, both high-profile (Goodfellas) and independent (Reservoir Dogs).

  • Vincenzo Politi

    I re-watched Stoker yesterday evening and that movie is really amazing. The scene where India (Mia Wasikowska) plays the piano with her uncle is breathtaking. When, later on in the film, that same scene is re-viewed from the perspective of her mother, Nicole Kidman is able to convey so much raw intensity in just one fleeting second. In general, all the scenes with Mia Wasikowska and Nicole Kidman together are just amazing in the way they are constructed and directed. The way in which they say “No, thank you!” at the same time but yet in different ways is amazing! Very well done, mr. Chan-wook Park!

    • Karl Lanthanimos

      that piano scene was fucking brilliant.park chan wook’s talents are off the charts.

  • Veronica Clarke

    I had completely forgotten about ‘A shock to the system’ which I saw many years ago. Yes, agreed it is excellent!

  • Film Central

    under the skin, i heart huckabees,smiley face,cool cat saves the kids.

  • LDV1960

    Haha, I have seen 8/10 here, and I think most fit right in. Am only a particular fan of both, and even Rain People, which I find to be a really good, potentially great film, seem to fit at 6.9, which is a pretty good rating. The only film here I find brilliant is Stoker.

    Interestingly this list seems to focus solely on relatively “unknown” and not so respected/acknowledged films with some cult status – when there are so many acclaimed films, some even considered among the best films of all time, that fall below the 7.0 mark.

    Some much more established films that could have been included are (note, I’m not necessarily a fan of all of these, in fact i detest a couple):

    Wavelength
    Salo
    Pink Flamingos
    Chelsea Girls
    India Song_
    Uncle Boonmee
    In the Realm of the Senses
    Gummo
    La région centrale
    Zorn’s Lemma
    Tree of Life
    Les Vampires
    Xala
    Birth of a Nation
    The Idiots

    (all of which have or are still on TSPDT)

    Just to be clear, I am not saying that any of these films should be included. Personal taste needs to be respected. But it’s interesting that no such films managed to enter the list.

    • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

      Pink Flamingos and Uncle Boonmee would be in imdb’s top 250 in a just Universe.

  • How about:
    The Tree of Life, 2011 (6.7 IMDb score)
    Antichrist, 2009 (6.6)
    Goodbye To Language, 2014 (5.9)
    Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, 2010 (6.6)
    The Milk Of Sorrow, 2009 (6.7)
    Under The Skin, 2014 (6.3)
    The New World, 2005 (6.7)
    Hard To Be A God, 2015 (6.6)
    It Follows, 2015 (6.9)
    Knight Of Cups, 2016 (5.8)

  • JC

    6.8 for Adventureland seems overly generous.

  • Dave

    The ratings on imdb are a complete joke.

  • Melih Sancak

    What about inherit vice and revolver

  • baba

    michael cimino’s year of dragon