This is the second part of a list published here before, with an emphasis on smaller independent productions that, because of smaller financial support, did not get the recognition they deserve. It also emphasizes lesser-known efforts by well-known directors.
10. Dave (1993, Ivan Reitman)
Ivan Reitman is one of the overlooked comedy directors of Hollywood. The Slovakia-born Canadian made his breakthrough with “Ghostbusters,” and went on to direct some fine and warm-hearted comedies in the 80s such as “Twins” and the second part of “Ghostbusters.” In the middle of the 90s he directed “Dave,” one of his most compact works.
It´s about a guy (Kevin Kline) who gets engaged by the White House to take the place of the president as his doppelgänger, while the real president is in a coma. Slowly, people close to him realize something about him has changed. Also, this unnatural situation understandably causes chaos and quite funny and awkward moments.
In addition to good gags and great acting, “Dave” brings us an inside view of the White House, the challenges an American president has to face, and how difficult it is for families to adapt to that lifestyle.
9. True Crime (1999, Clint Eastwood)
After mentioning “Absolute Power” in the first part of the list, “True Crime” is another solid, enjoyable film by master Clint, with a serious topic. Eastwood plays an elderly reporter who’s assigned to do an interview with a death row inmate who faces the death penalty.
For some reason, Eastwood’s character Steve Everett gets the feeling Frank Beechum is innocent, and starts to collect background information on the case. The deeper he gets into the case, the more his “nose” tells him that there is something wrong, and that the wrong guy is facing death…
“True Crime” could be described as a thriller with political implications and emotional scenes. In addition, it has a great cast, led by Eastwood himself, but supported by Isaiah Washington and James Woods as his boss. Unlike most thrillers, it also has a happy and satisfying ending, where justice sustains.
8. The Last Boy Scout (1991, Tony Scott)
Tony Scott is one of the most important and innovative blockbuster directors of all time, who sadly passed away far too soon. His most famous film may be “Top Gun,” the 80’s classic, while his other films did not get the recognition they deserve. One of these is “The Last Boy Scout,” a hard-boiled cop-thriller in the tradition of “Beverly Hills Cop.” Only this time, Bruce Willis teams up with Damon Wayans and a team of losers who mess up the L.A. crime scene.
Willis plays a fucked up private detective who lost his wife, his house and his dignity, but somehow survives on a daily basis with his sarcasm and black humor. One of the great benefits of “The Last Boy Scout” are the sharp and witty dialogues, written by Shane Black, and Willis’ performance.
7. EDtv (1999, Ron Howard)
Ron Howard is, after maybe Steven Spielberg, the most important American mainstream film director. He has delivered entertaining masterpieces like “Apollo 13,” “A Beautiful Mind” and the “Illuminati” series. One of his best efforts, though, is the clever and funny media and reality TV satire “EDtv,” starring Matthew McConaughey as an “average guy next door” who gets famous by participating in a reality TV show.
Howard combines a serious issue, the power of modern media, with funny scenes and good directing, and his effort is backed up by a solid cast that includes Woody Harrelson and Jenna Elfman.
6. Cop Land (1997, James Mangold)
James Mangold, the director of celebrated masterpieces like “Walk the Line” and “Logan: The Wolverine,” has made his debut in Hollywood with this highly underrated cop thriller that can be compared with Martin Scorsese’s gangster epics like “Goodfellas” or “The Departed.” The plot evolves around a suburban community that is the home of a huge number of New York policemen who have established their own town there, known as Cop Land.
It stars a phenomenal Sylvester Stallone as the sheriff of Cop Land who slowly realizes that there is something wrong in his town, and who shows here that he is a truly great actor. He is backed up by other great actors like Harvey Keitel, Robert De Niro and Ray Liotta, who complete the remarkable all star cast. “Cop Land” is a well-made tale about corruption, humanity and justice, and one of the great forgotten thrillers of the 90s.