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The 20 Best Irish Movies of All Time

16 August 2016 | Features, Film Lists | by Richard Gallagher

Bobby Sands in Hunger

Irish cinema has always been held in high esteem and can boast a catalogue of commercially successful and critically acclaimed films that often draw on Ireland’s strong literary and musical traditions.

Undeterred by an economic recession, Irish cinema could be considered to be currently going through its most successful period. Irish films featuring heavily in the list of Oscar nominations in recent years and two Irish films being nominated for the best picture award at last year’s ceremony are examples of this success.

This list will look to see how the new breed of success stories stack up compared to the established cornerstones of Irish cinema that went before.

These are twenty essential films for anyone interested in or who wishes to be introduced to Irish cinema.

 

20. Once (2007, John Carney)

Once

Once is the first film on the list and is one of many musical dramas, a genre that has become a staple of Irish cinema in recent years. The film is about a busker (Glen Hansard) who meets a flower selling Czech girl (Marketa Irglova) on the streets of Dublin and romance blossoms when they decide to compose a song together.

John Carney’s film gained a wider audience than could have been expected of a film with such a humble budget thanks mainly to the two lead actors winning the Academy award for best original song.

The film is a true musical in the sense that the story progresses more through diegetic musical performances than in dialogue that allows for the story to be told with a refreshing subtlety.

Much more than just a low budget film with a stunning soundtrack, Once is an excellent film and the perfect introduction to Irish cinema.

 

19. The Irish Pub (2013, Alex Fegan)

The Irish Pub

The Irish Pub is the first documentary to make the list and operates as a museum piece, immortalizing and preserving the traditional Irish pub and the fading way of life associated with it.

Alex Fegan looks to examine what it is that makes the typical Irish pub the greatest institution in Irish society and interviews a range of pub landlords and patrons from across Ireland.

This exercise produces an array of unique characters that give their own take on what it is that is so important about their local watering hole, all with a palpable sense of nostalgia, melancholy and an awareness that Irish society is undergoing an irreversible change.

This undemanding documentary is an authentic and endearing snapshot of Ireland and one of many recent Irish films that explore the conflict Ireland continues to grapple with, between the old ways and the new.

 

18. The Snapper (1993, Stephen Frears)

THE SNAPPER, Tina Kellegher (second from left), 1993. ©Miramax

About an independent young woman (Tina Kellegher), unmarried and pregnant, The Snapper broke new waves in Ireland when it came out in 1993. However, its celebration of rationality and human decency over illiberalness won over even the most prudish of Irish audiences.

Colm Meaney is superb as Dessie Curley, the endearing patriarch of the Curley household and the film is the first of many on the list to feature fellow behemoth of Irish cinema, Brendan Gleeson.

The film is adapted from a novel by contemporary Irish writer Roddy Doyle that was part of a trilogy called the Barrytown trilogy.

The other two novels in the trilogy, The Commitments and The Van have been made into successful films as well. However, The Snapper, with Stephen Frears’ able direction and Doyle himself adapting the screenplay, is the film that stays truest to Doyle’s working class Dublin sensibilities. For that reason, it belongs on the list over the others.

 

17. The Secret Of Kells (2009, Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey)

The Secret of Kells (2010)

The Secret of Kells is the first animated film to make the list and is the first feature film by the Kilkenny based production company called Cartoon Saloon. Founded by Tomm Moore and Paul Young in 1999 the company has gone onto become a multi-award winning animation studio with The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea (2014) achieving Oscar nominations.

The Secret of Kells is about a young boy living under the strict care of his uncle, Abott Celach (voiced by Brendan Gleeson) in the Abbey of Kells, a remote medieval outpost under siege from barbaric Vikings and is set in the 9th Century at the time of the creation of The Book of Kells.

More Hayao Miyazaki and less Pixar, The Secret of Kells is a stunningly beautiful animation inspired by medieval designs and Celtic mythology. The enchanting visuals are supported by a mesmeric use of Irish traditional music that make this a must watch.

 

16. The Guard (2011, John Michael McDonagh)

The Guard

The Guard is a comedy set in the west of Ireland about an unorthodox foul-mouthed cop and was written and directed by John Michael McDonagh.

Like his brother, the Irish playwright turned filmmaker, Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psycopaths), John Michael McDonagh has gone onto become a successful film director in recent years and can be seen to share his brother’s offbeat approach to storytelling.

Brendan Gleeson was nominated for a Golden Globe for his superb portrayal of the insolent Garda sergeant Gerry Boyle, who is forced into partnering up with straight-laced FBI agent Wendell Everitt (Don Cheadle), to make the oddest of odd couples as they attempt to take down a group of drug smugglers headed by Liam Cunningham.

Receiving significant critical acclaim, The Guard is also the most successful Irish film of all time in terms of Irish-box office receipts.

 

15. The Crying Game (1992, Neil Jordan)

the crying game

The Crying Game is the story of an Irish Republican Army man, Fergus (Stephen Rea), who, in a hasty but meaningful encounter, strikes up a surprising bond with a kidnapped British soldier, Jody (Forest Whitaker). The film was nominated for 6 Oscars, winning best screenplay, and is widely considered the finest film in Neil Jordan’s lengthy filmography.

The Crying Game is also the first on the list that attempts to deal with the defining socio-political event in Ireland’s recent history; the Northern Irish troubles (however it is unlikely to be the last).

Neil Jordan’s film has been particularly well received by critics and audiences alike because it attempts to deal with the Northern Irish conflict whilst also exploring themes of gender, race, nationality and sexuality.

The film also includes one of cinema’s most jaw dropping twists.

 

 

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  • David Mika Egede

    i think fight club is an overrated movie, on the verge of being bad! pop-culture, hollow and unlovable, all hype!

  • Soothsay3r

    The problem with Interstellar is not timing: It’s the Nolan hype that made it difficult for almost everyone to relax a bit and contemplate a good film, not a masterpiece as it was expected.

    • Xanian

      Interstellar is a decent film. It is too much in 2001: A Space Odyssey’s shadow to be its own movie. The Nolan hype is outrageous though. People act like he can do no wrong when many of his films contain significant flaws.

      • H. Aaron

        Hi All! Thanks to everyone who is responding to this post! Your comments are valued and noted!
        I think the Nolan Hype point is fair and I would even add that having Matthew McConaughey as the star of Interstellar was just adding to the hype as he had just resurrected his career as a serious actor with True Detective and the Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club. I still think that the proximity to Gravity and the inevitable comparisons is what hurt the film most but your point that the hype surrounding the director (and maybe the actors too) really lends credence to why the film didn’t perform as well as it might have.

    • Allister Cooper

      I wasn’t overly impressed with Interstellar, but I found it interesting that, to me at least, it kind of resembled the 1997 effort Event Horizon in some way. Remove the gore and the fear, and pretty much, it’s what you get. Thing is, I feel it got too bogged down. Mind you, I’m not saying it’s a bad movie; it’s just… I didn’t quite like it.

    • V.C. Privitera

      Yeah, I can see & understand this to be the truth for what happened with “Interstellar”
      I would like to ask “YOU” a question Soothsay3r:
      Out of curiosity:
      What do you think of “Inception”
      Believe me, I’m not asking to debate your answer, but I liked your comment enough to want to know what you think of Nolan’s previous film.

      • Soothsay3r

        I really enjoyed the previous films, being my favourite The Prestige. Inception was a close second tied with TDK in a different note. The problem with Interstellar is that the epic scale made it somewhat weaker (Matt Damon, the post black hole), as people always look for something flawless in Nolan’s films.
        Now with Inception, the whole concept is somewhat umbelievable in our times, and that is good, because we didn’t expect some strong logic from it, but philosophically was a masterpiece. That is the problem with Interstellar. It tried to mix logic and philosophy and it was good. If the film maker was someone unknown, the movie would be much more loved, but it was the new Kubrick Nolan, and it should have topped 2001.

        • V.C. Privitera

          Okay, thanks for responding….you totally reminded me of how I had ignored “The Prestige”
          Ironically enough, the fact this list pertains to films that got either lost in the shuffle or missed ample opportunity to build an audience the film deserves……again, I remember that very same year Edward Norton & Jessica Biel released their similar Magician-Genre based film……
          But, I think,we can all agree that “The Prestige” is the victor of the two period-pieces that revolved around early theatrical stage Magicianry….only Nolan and his unique involvement of not only a rivalry between two Magicians played very well by both Christian Bale & Hugh Jackman….
          My absolute favorite aspects of “The Prestige,” actually came from the incorporation of involving the increasingly reclusive Genius of Nicolai Tesla….brilliantly played by David Bowie!
          I remember not getting the fullness of the material or story presented upon first viewings, but as time went on and I gave the film more opportunities, I continue to find an exquisite unique wide range of multiple storylines that at its very core, is mainly about “obsession” & “rivalry.”
          I think the film went under the radar for audiences, cause while the film itself had been marketed as a Christopher Nolan film, starring his then current Action-Hero Star; Christian Bale…..
          I don’t know….maybe people just didn’t care to give the feature a chance, but I think it’s definitely a solid picture with a compelling storyline…..especially the twists & turns that perfectly mold themselves within a Genre-Base like those presented here!

          “Inception,” honestly, I see the worthy attributes that fans have garnered around the film….especially since the film built up more of a fanbase upon its release to the DVD/Blu-Ray/Streaming Services Market…..
          I think this allowed the viewers to absorb the story as a whole in its entirety, as like films similar to the same “dreamscape” & tapping into the very edge of an individual’s consciousness of utilizing the depths of breaking down or breaking into the deepest barriers of one’s own subconscious…..
          All in all…I think and have seen the film build a bigger fanbase since its release, but this has to be a reason for viewers to individually grasp the concepts of the film’s plot/story, rather than going into their 1st viewing that most likely carried a whole ton of weight of over-expectation…..myself included!

          I would same thing that happened with “Inception,” seemed to seep its way when “Interstellar” came out…..while I wouldn’t say it’s an awful film (not by any means), there are some really great ideas orchestrated as a means to drive the plot along…..but, I think it’s just one of those “Hit or Misses” with fans of Nolan’s work….
          Not to mention Matthew McCaunaghey’s career had been revitalize after owning the year previously with TV/Film Roles that earned him various attributes and awards.
          Either way…..it is what it is.

          But thanks for replying to my question Sooth’!

          • Soothsay3r

            I agree with your comment. I didn’t watch The Prestige because it was from Nolan, or even because I liked the theme when I first saw the trailer; It was the movie that was displayed for free in my hometown. I was a teenager and I was in a group with two girls I was fond of back then by each side, but I didn’t even care, because it hooked me from the beggining until the end, totally ignoring everyone. That is the power The Prestige can have in anyone more than 12 years old. It was the obsession the character played by Hugh Jackman that drove it to the point of hating Christian Bale, even though he was the “good guy” because anyone can feel sympathy for someone who sees his lifework becoming meaningless when someone does one thing better. The way HJ becomes more and more psychotic is plausible and understandable, as the Bale’s twist is so simple yet so hard that can show how the “two” people are no different.

            It shows how Nolan works better with simple ideas, as he adds layers and layers until it becomes so deep underneath the surface, and that was the twist he added in the Dark Knight, being Harvey Dent the most meaningful character in the movie: everyone can be deranged when life tells so. The Joker was the catalyst and Bruce was a man who could have become another lunatic.

            Then we talk about the Inception: great action, great premise but, more importantly, the dilemas Leo’s character had to endure during his life and the way out he had. IMHO the idea was the way one can handle with trauma, just like Memento, as the only way Leo’s character could achieve peace was finishing a suicide job or “killing himself” and living forever in an alternate reality that suits him.

            Those are interpretations of someone who is not a cinephile and that can watch a Marvel movie for entertainment and Blade Runner the next hour for the meaning.

          • V.C. Privitera

            hahaha!
            I’m sorry to laugh, but the “2 Girls” on each side….I think we can all relate to that dilemma!
            I really appreciate your explanation…I think it’s also the one thing that didn’t quite connect my likability to the film itself at first (meaning Hugh Jackman).
            I do think he’s a fine Actor, but he was also quite overhyped for his X-Men roles at the time and I personally am not into that sort of stuff….I am no means a “HATER” of the franchise or even Action-Blockbusters, but I just didn’t or couldn’t relate or empathize with Jackman’s character from the “The Prestige,” the overzealous Obsession, the Competitive battle he had for to over-take Christian Bale’s character…..all that, just didn’t seem to resonate within my senses….
            But!
            I know it was the “Timing’ of the film….I can’t recall, but I remember, “The Prestige” came out after “The Dark Knight” and being absolutely absorbed by that whole experience, I think like most people, my expectations had distorted my own preconceived notions of what “The Prestige” would be able to offer, especially since even Christian Bale & Michael Caine had been billed in starring roles…..not to mention the surprise inclusion of the late-great David Bowie, not only playing a small role, but to be play one of the most underlining, underrated, mysteriously Genius Inventor’s of all time; Nikolai Tesla!
            I’m seriously glad I gave the film more viewings, cause Nolan (and Crew) brings us a very compelling story that most probably never even bothered to see or care for.
            I would say that the only thing that “The Prestige” carries involving Christopher Nolan’s trademarks in style, even amongst his “Dark Knight” series, is that the film is a bit “quick” in it’s editing, going from one scene or even period to the next without giving the audience any real moment to absorb the fullness of scenes prior…..whether it’s pacing issues or trying to keep the audience engaged throughout, I would say that if the film had a different approach, at least in the editorial department…..”The Prestige” would be much more well-regarded for it’s quality as a fine work of cinema.
            Other than that…..I love the film!!!!
            “Inception,” you know….I can’t recall whom it was….I DO NOT want to think it was David Lynch of all people, but I remember a Filmmaker remarking that making a Feature Film that revolved around “DREAMS” is damn near impossible!
            I honestly agree with that very notion, cause it’s no easy task and can be a complete clusterfuck of a failure.
            “Inception” is a very unique approach though….we’ve seen Film’s of the past try and I mean “try,” to attempt to tap into the realm of Dream-Scape, like films like “The Cell,” which isn’t horrible film, considering it’s a late 90s flick and it’s fuckin’ Jennifer Lopez…..but in a way, if you think about, even Filmmakers like David Lynch hadn’t totally made entire Feature Film that dug deep into the territory of one’s Dream.
            Plenty of 80s/early 90s films tried and whether they succeeded or not, well, that’s down to personal taste, but “Inception” is one of those films that I think took some major balls to orchestrate.
            Obviously, Christopher Nolan and his Crew definitely established themselves to basically do whatever they wanted, no matter the cost, after delivering 2 Giant Successes and even one very popular intricate indie film that took the Film-World by storm with “Momento.”
            I’m sure it was NO easy task to break into the idea of conceiving “Inception,” shit, I’m sure the Studios even were a bit uneasy about financing such an idea…..but most likely having Leo DiCaprio signed on got the studio to hypocritically be enthused enough to greenlight the picture.
            I will admit, again, the 1st viewing didn’t take for myself personally….it wasn’t anything pertaining to the plot or not understanding, I just felt that there were a few things missing or even just didn’t plain work………pretentiousness is a motherfucker:) hahaha!
            I waited a year or two and then I gave it another chance and I started to comprehend what I had initially disregarded and ignored the first time round…….maybe that’s the genius of the film, that’s it’s not one of those “watch once, that’s all you need” type of flicks.
            So, in terms of the always and constant debate of the ending, as if it were to be some Mysterious Conclusion that is intentionally left for audiences to make their own assumptions as to what the final scene means with DiCaprio finally returning home….seeing his children.
            Being a bit biased myself….and from a film-buff that’s only seen the film twice in full….I could say, “does it matter really?”
            For the first time though, especially after reading your post and take on the whole thing, I actually think it’s the first time I’ve read such a introspective and a completely original take on what the conclusion “could” mean for Leo’s character…..the “suicide” idea is actually the only reasonable and respectable concept that I’ve read about what “…could be the whole conclusion of his character & story itself!”
            I’m sure you get a lot of guff from plenty of naysayers and the likes of such…..
            BUT FUCK THEM!!!
            The way I look at now, is that this Character has been gone for god-knows how many damn years, far from his kids and you’re telling me he returns home to his kids….in that sappy soft-touching tale of a dream he’s held of them throughout the film and his kids haven’t changed or aged a bit……………hahahaha………….I never even thought about that before; “Ignorance is Bliss” my fuckin’ ass!
            I think you hit the nail on the button my friend….and I thank you for that.
            At any rate, again, thanks for your response and explanations….guess we’ll just have to continue our next discussion on NOLAN when his next upcoming film “DURAK” hits theaters……..I haven’t seen the trailer, but here’s to hoping it’ll be worthwhile!

  • Klaus Dannick

    Nicely-done, thoughtful list, though I’d have liked to see some older titles (William Friedkin’s Sorcerer is one such example; one could also make a case for Roeg’s and Cammell’s Performance and Ken Russell’s The Devils. Also, Apocalypse Now and Blade Runner were subject to some level of critical hostility and public indifference upon their release only to be re-evaluated; both are now often considered masterworks).

    • John W. Thackery

      Yes, Sorcerer from 1977 (coinciding with Star Wars’ release) and Fail-Safe released in 1964 after Dr. Strangelove. Also not just Blade Runner, but also John Carpenter’s The Thing released around the release of E.T. (E.T. being a more family friendly approach to extraterrestrial visitors).

      • V.C. Privitera

        HAHAHA!
        That’s awesome, “The Thing” released around “E.T.”
        Not for nothing, but John Carpenter’s The Thing is just soo damn good, wish my mother or father snuck my infant ass into “The Thing,” don’t get me wrong “E.T.” is great for kids, but come on! HAHAHA!
        Oh yeah, if I’m right, didn’t “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” release the same year, just a few months before “Star Wars”
        Just making note of that myself….guess that’s a double dose of Sci-Fi!

    • V.C. Privitera

      I just wrote about “Sorcerer” to the cat above, and the whole time all I could think of was that I need to at least make note here in the comment section for the GREATEST UNDERRATED FILM EVER:
      Ken Russell’s “The Devils”
      Nothing can compare, not even “A Clockwork Orange”
      I think Russell was one of the true giants of Cinema, but seemed to always get overshadowed by others, especially Kubrick….and while Kubrick is a cinematic genius himself, I think the fact that once “A Clockwork Orange” had made its debut just months after the release of “The Devils,” it seems like Russell, or at least from what I’ve read and learned from the Man himself, including Kubrick;
      It seems that Russell was always in some kind of stalemate with himself personally & professionally.
      Sure, it could’ve been (again, personal opinion), that Russell whose career had been rallied throughout the 60s, specifically in England and Europe, then comes along this cat from the Bronx, NYC that snags himself a place within England’s countryside, making films that even revolved around the English/European Culture itself (A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon)…
      I can see how Russell maybe felt a bit of being pushed over to the side to make room for this established auteur from America….but still, that doesn’t mean Russell didn’t continue to make great films, I just think he constantly became overshadowed by other films, especially those that seemed to become bigger blockbusters as the 70s neared itself to the end.
      I also find it quite ironic in that Russell & Kubrick constantly crossed paths cinematically speaking:
      1971: “The Devils” v “A Clockwork Orange”
      1975: “Tommy” v “Barry Lyndon”
      1980: “Altered States” v “The Shining”
      …..God, just writing that out, I really feel for the guy….having to constantly compete or play up against one of the biggest figures in Cinema.
      And all 3 films mentioned are really outstanding films from Ken Russell…but “The Devils” is THE Film, it’s definitely a “trophy” of sorts that displays itself triumphantly on my DVD Shelves.
      __________________

      I will say this about “Apocalypse Now,” since you mentioned it:
      I wouldn’t say that it was necessarily underrated nor underappreciated upon the film’s initial release, the problem was that people seem to forget that the film came out 1 year after “The Deer Hunter,” which had ignited or sparked the very core of the times with direct procedure surrounding the raw inescapable events the Vietnam War had devastated not just America, but our Veterans….when we think of War Films now, we can list off a whole slew of Films, including those that focused entirely on the Vietnam War, but “The Deer Hunter” really became the Launchpad for Filmmakers to be given a bit of a greenlight to “finally” approach such a open-wound of a subject matter that was just too fresh & too soon for those that had personally braved & survived the War itself.
      “Apocalypse Now” is without-a-doubt, one of the most defining achievements in the entire history of Cinema, both domestically and internationally.
      There’s never gonna be a film that can even remotely touch the perfection of execution, both artistically and cinematically.
      Not that it matters, but the only reason why “Kramer vs Kramer” won the “Best Picture” Oscar that year over “Apocalypse Now,” is for the exact reason I just explained with “The Deer Hunter” debuting a year prior collecting every Award available.
      The Academy isn’t or wasn’t saying that “Apocalypse Now” isn’t a Award-Worthy or Deserving Film, I think that they knew that if they were to Award two Vietnam films 2 years straight, it would most likely orchestrate a mutiny of who knows how many similar films of the Genre and Vietnam War itself…..
      POINT-IN-CASE:
      The Mid 80s after Oliver Stone’s Academy Award Winning Vietnam film “PLATOON” hit the market, this launched a few years of Vietnam War films (all were solid and are still great), but it’s the repetitiveness of the whole idea that gets a bit oversaturated and even worse: Exploited (cause it’s War, and not a Fictional War, a real War).

      ****This is exactly the same reason why “Goodfellas” didn’t win a whole slew of Academy Awards like everybody pisses and moans about that it should have……
      Motherfuckers! I’m Italian-American from New York, I’ve always loved Scorsese, but in all seriousness:
      “Dances with Wolves” is the Deserving and Winning Picture from that year….
      1990 was in the same realm that ended the decade in 1999, where Audiences were given probably some of the best of Cinema in all of Film History….the difference between the two years though and why “GOODFELLAS” didn’t win the Best Picture Award or even Best Director, is cause 1990 was just like the mid 80s, being that the GANGSTER GENRE had taken itself into a repetitive state of too many of the same Genre-Based storytelling (whether one is better than the other is based down to personal taste), but come on!
      1990:
      Goodfellas
      King of New York (my personal Favorite Gangster Film)
      Godfather Pt. III
      Dick Tracy
      The Freshman (the Matthew Broderick comedy w/ Marlon Brando playing a mock-version of Vito Corleone)
      ….not to mention that the next year in “1991,” more Gangster Films flooded the market, like:
      Bugsy
      Billy Bathgate
      Oscar (yes, the Sylvester Stallone comedy….which is actually quite fun)
      New Jack City (honestly, I found this to be a bit of a let-down due to it’s rival great: “King of New York,” 2 different films, but very similar!)
      ….So are we seeing a pattern here folks….
      Klaus Dannick: I got caught off guard, wrapped myself into my own personal tangent that is in NO WAY geared towards you or your comment….but Please forgive my lingering commenting ways:)
      Shit, you mentioned “The Devils,” that’s all that I need to know that you have wicked awesome taste in quality cinema!

      • Klaus Dannick

        That’s an excellent analysis of the shadow-rivalry between Russell and Kubrick. In the end, Russell is a director whose work I admire more than I actually like: that is to say, I respect his work and vision, but, in most cases, I’d rather be watching, say, Kubrick. The Devils is the sole exception: it’s been in my top-5 of favorite films for a few decades (and as much as I love Kubrick’s work, there are no Kubrick films in my top-5). Splitting hairs, perhaps, but I find Lisztomania versus Barry Lyndon to be a more appropriate comparison for 1975.

        On the subject of Apocalypse Now, it was met with some level of indifference, especially in the US. I was nine years old when it was released, but I was reading film criticism from a relatively early age. I remember the local newspaper critic rating the film an average one (I remember being particularly drawn to the film’s title, so the review was of some interest to me). I also remember a piece in MAD Magazine which said something to the effect of filmmakers who constantly complain that the industry doesn’t grant them the artistic freedom they desire inevitably end up making turkeys like Apocalypse Now, Heaven’s Gate, and At Long Last Love when they are given that artistic freedom. The piece carried with it a caricature of Coppola holding a film-reel which had sprouted a turkey’s head and tail. Granted, MAD Magazine is not a credible source for cinematic criticism, but it was a reliable barometer of public cultural opinion of the moment.

        • V.C. Privitera

          “The Devils” being in your Top-5 is enough for myself to acknowledge your taste in film as being cinematic-worthy of quality material my friend!
          I applaud you!
          It’s my #2……..it would take the #1 Slot as my All-Time Favorite, but that damn brutal greatness of GONZO brilliance that is “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas”…along with “Where The Buffalo Roam” have too much of a special place in my heart that I will be stuck with for the rest of my daze!

          I do want to say that your written take on Apocalypse Now and particularly the “Mad Magazine” portion gave myself a decent chuckle of laughter….but I do agree with what you wrote.
          Maybe “Apocalypse Now,” had just been too early or too much for American Audiences….but sometimes it takes time for a film to reaffirm itself as a Cinematic Masterpiece, like in the case of “Citizen Kane,” which was meant with quite bad criticism upon release…but now it’s regarded as basically the Greatest Film of all Time by Film Critics.

          BY THE WAY:
          If you haven’t seen the Documentary about Screenwriter/Director John Milius simply called “Milius,” then do yourself a favor and watch it…Milius wrote the screenplay for Apocalypse Now and what I loved to find out that the title came from Milius’s time during the 60s during the days of Anti-Vietnam War Hippies walking around with “Peace Signs” pinned to their clothing with the words “NIRVANA NOW”
          And John Milius being the badass he is, took that very idea and turned the pin sideways making the “Peace Sign” look like an M2 Bomber Fighter Jet with the words “Apocalypse Now,” now if that’s not some badass fucking awesome story of where the title comes from, I don’t know what is, but John Milius is one real fucking badass!!!!! HAHAHA!

          Heaven’s Gate, I think it was just too much too early, with way too much production problems surrounding the damn project….then having to cut the film down to basically it’s bones offering audiences a bleak western film that didn’t connect with anybody; this is falls into the hands of both the Producers and even Cimino himself, as orchestrating a pricey and lengthy production that Heaven’s Gate initially launched off with is quite impossible to begin with…
          I haven’t seen the latest released uncut version, but it’s one of those things where a Filmmaker practically playing dictator onset while everything goes wrong just goes to show that sometimes it’s just not worth it!

          KLAUS:
          Curious to know – What is your TOP 5….shit, TOP 10?

          • Klaus Dannick

            Thank you!

          • Klaus Dannick

            Haha! I didn’t see the rest of this reply until just now!

            My number 1 is Persona.
            My number 2 is Blue Velvet
            The remainder of my top-5 are in no particular order:
            The Devils
            The Bride of Frankenstein
            My Own Private Idaho

            If I expanded to a top-10, these choices could fluctuate given my mood or current temperament, but they could include:
            Double Indemnity
            Sunset Boulevard
            Out of the Past
            Othello (1952)
            Pi
            Mulholland Dr.
            Brazil
            Performance
            Dr. Strangelove
            The Killing
            Titus
            Zentropa (Europa)

            Darn…too many others I’m certain that I’m forgetting right now.

            I’ve not seen the John Milius documentary you mentioned, but I will seek it out!

          • V.C. Privitera

            HAHAHA!
            It’s all good man…
            but “NICE” List!
            Ironic enough, “Persona is in my Personal Top 5 Favorites as well:)
            My List:
            1: Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas/Where The Buffalo Roam
            2: The Devils
            3: Persona
            4: Paris, Texas
            5: Do The Right Thing
            6: King of New York
            7: Eyes Wide Shut
            8: The Master
            9: Mean Streets
            10: Chopper
            ….If I had to add at least 2 more films deserving Honorable Mention for this list:
            11: Wild at Heart – This is my personal favorite David Lynch film, which also was my introduction to his catalogue….I’m glad I’m started off with this film first, as I find “Wild at Heart” to be his most underrated masterpiece…maybe people just expected or wanted “Frank Booth” to make an appearance, but instead we get the likes of “Bobby Peru” in all his madness!
            12: The Godfather Pt. II/Apocalypse Now
            13: Freeway
            …..Honestly, I’ve owned a DVD copy of “Performance” directed Nicholas Roeg for the last couple years…but sadly, NO AMERICAN DVD/Blu-Ray will play the damn thing due to it’s Player-Status being most likely only European-Based…so I’ve been waiting impatiently for my chance to catch a glimpse of the Film as soon as I can!
            Either way, nice List Klaus!

  • John W. Thackery

    Yes, Sorcerer from 1977 (coinciding with Star Wars’ release) and Fail-Safe released in 1964 after Dr. Strangelove. Also not just Blade Runner, but also John Carpenter’s The Thing released around the release of E.T. (E.T. being a more family friendly approach to extraterrestrial visitors).

    • V.C. Privitera

      1st film I thought of after reading the Headline to this List:
      “Sorcerer”
      Shit, man that is without a doubt one of the most underrated and surprisingly “unknown” feature films in all of cinema!

  • Matty Patsy

    Great article. But uh, the characters in Watchmen were actually based on the Gold Key characters that DC had previously acquired the rights to. Though the original pitch called for a non-canon tale about the Justice League, DC nixed it in favor of less well known propwrties. Night Owl for instance is closer to Blue Beetle and Rorschach to the Question.

    Admittedly these aren’t very accessible references to most readers, so I’m gonna assume the substitution was deliberate.

  • Mortimer

    Steve Jobs (2015) – Way too early. It should have been made before Ashton Kutcher travesty or wait till at least 2020.
    Point Blank (1967) – excellent John Boorman’s stylish neo-noir. Belongs more to 1970s than 1960s.
    Heaven’s Gate (1980) – too late. Bleak anti-western released in the year of Iran hostage crisis and Reagan’s victory in the USA elections. Ouch.
    Too many other examples.

  • Ruchit Negotia

    donnie darco was underrated at the time it got released, around 2001. also had a plane crash in it so it got a negative attraction because 9/11.

  • DavidEnder

    The problem with Watchmen is the director, who still made the film like the source material he was supposed to be satirizing.

    Snyder nails the opening credits and then he fails in every scene afterwards when it comes to adapting the work to a new medium. He undersells the impotence of Night Owl with bombast instead of struggle.

    Rorschach is saved by a great performance, but everything raw, menacing, and unhinged about him is from the source material, not direction.

    Maybe I could buy the hypothesis about the audience not being fully caught up with the nuance of the reflective material of the genre, but come on. Comic book movies were pretty well tested at that point. It was year 9 of the comic book boom that X-men kicked off, and was a full 20 years after the first modern Batman. I’m pretty sure the audience could understand it, especially since there were many articles explaining the importance of the graphic novel in the first place.

    The problem with Watchmen the film is Snyder. He was so beholden to the material that he was fearful of change or alterations, especially when it was needed or welcome. (This includes the ending flip of a vagina monster into an explosion, which is fine, but still unresolved in that it makes Dr. M the villain instead of the unknown).

    He’s aggro in his machismo, still can’t direct female characters, even if he fashions himself a feminist, every female seems in need of a man, saving, or unable to advance her own agenda.

  • Rudi

    Good list with some very good movies in there. Although I thought Edge Of Tomorrow was in fact received very well.

    Initially I was glad to find The Village here, one of my absolute favourites. I don’t agree though with the statement that it’s a ‘by-the-numbers Shyamalan film’. I’m definitely not the first one to say this, but The Village isn’t about scares or plot twists, it’s about drama, extremely powerful performances, and beautiful cinematography. That balcony scene with Howard and Phoenix brings tears to my eyes every time, such passion and emotion.

  • Jasper Shriekin’ Knightley.

    I always use Zoolander as the example of a movie which was disliked by the same critics who called it ‘undeservedly overlooked’ when it came out on DVD.

  • DarkInTheBoy

    Cool list. You should include Peter Jackson’s “The Frightners” (1996) to the list, a New Zealand-American horror comedy starring Michael J. Fox. A true underrated cult classic. It didn’t get much attention primarily because it was overshadowed by all the promotion for Roland Emmerich’s “Independence Day” (1996).

  • Ivan Galić

    Ender’s game was totally misguided attempt to make a movie from a great book. It’s even worse than Hobbit, and Proof of life is mediocore genre flick.

  • steelraptor from Saturn

    I would also rank the prequel to ‘The Thing’, also called ‘The Thing’ with Joel Edgerton from 2011, as an overlooked and underrated film. It’s very good and criminally underappreciated. The critics dismissed this film, an intelligent horror film, just as they dismissed Carpenter’s film decades earlier. I mean amidst all that torture porn crap, they dismissed one of the best horror films of the 21st century. Worth watching the two films back to back.

  • Rahul Fageria

    2001.

  • A *lot* of y’all seemed to be content with deconstructing mentioned films qualities v the result of simply shit timing on a film, in some cases rendering a film lost forever to even cultist level adulation (Equilibrium) or simply delaying the inevitable adulation of film and director (Fight Club & Fincher).
    I was quite surprised to see Donny Darko mentioned near the bottom of the comments. Ruchit’s details were spot on, while I am fan of Mr Kelly & his 2nd chance up at bat with Darko’s extant material and the resultant unexpected lucidity of narrative, I find the timing details that gave an ambitious first time director such a high resultant degree of latitude and the eventual impossibly prescient attempt made for mass consumption sophomore effort to play with a classic trope such as “In media res,” and blatantly declare to have found a workaround, allowing for anyone able to buy AND willing to read three figuratively & literally sketchy prequel graphic novels, the unique experience of viewing of “Southland Tales,” would afford you the eventually almost indescibably rare ability to possess a 50/50 chance of being slightly *more or *less confused than the otherwise 100% of fellow ticket purchasers that would help this film reach NEARLY $400,000 in box office reciepts…total.
    Now, whether or not I feel that “Southland Tales” is a rare and true masterpiece of metamodernism’s first salvos fired deliberately & wantonly over the heads of the future fans of The Extended DC/Disney/Marvel/Archies/Image/PostCrisis/PreDeadpool’sPortrayalof MaryJudas&God’ThrobbingInvisibleCock Universe really isn’t applicable here (in all honesty, I feel the words that I used to begin this paragraph were spot on true. I should be paid more than I am currently to view/review movies.
    In three viewings, Southland’s narrative becomes a clear, rounded globe reflecting a melange of Pynchonian Chaos made clear through the tosses that the I-Ching requires as seen through the processed glow of Philip K Dick’s life changing realization that we all are trapped in 32 AD with a cold iron prison encircling our heads for one reason: to cause our suffering as humans to exist forever, foolish in our desire for that which cannot, will not exist.
    In the final review, I give the movie going experience a still strong 3.8 out of a possible 4.

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  • dirkmcquickly

    A decent representation of Irish cinema with at least one glaring error, the omission of Waking Ned Devine.

  • Fa Mariale

    I would’ve liked to see The Commitments here, but i guess that would’ve been way too many musicals. Breakfast at Pluto could also be a nice add, but still, good list.

  • Jean-Louis Seguin

    The Luck of Ginger Coffey is a great character study. Robert Shaw is superb.

  • Adrian Eddyshaw

    Journey to Knock …..