5. New York, New York (Martin Scorsese, 1977)
Martin Scorsese is one of the most popular directors currently working, consistently creating films that are beloved by both critics and audiences, and yet, even a man so acclaimed by film fans, and even casual viewers, has one massively overlooked film in his filmography (maybe two, if you’re willing to also count his wonderful melodrama Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore).
That one film is undoubtedly New York, New York, Scorsese’s passion project about post-war America and his love letter to musicals. He describes in an introduction for the film, featured on the UK DVD, that he wanted to make a film exactly like the ones that he loved so much from his childhood, with a kind of wonderful artificiality to them, hence the obviously painted (but still, gorgeous) backgrounds and sets.
The performances are wonderful, with De Niro in one of his most charming roles and Minnelli also does a great job throughout. It’s so gorgeously shot, so passionate (to the degree that you can feel the screen preparing to burst) and just such a wonderful film. It’s about time that people stopped ignoring it!
4. Meantime (Mike Leigh, 1983)
Coming from one of the most recognisable British directors early on in his career, Meantime is a TV movie about two brothers looking for a job. That sounds boring, admittedly, however the focus of the film is really on the aimlessness that people experienced whilst living in Thatcher’s Britain in the 1980’s, and how that effected the U.K. as a whole.
It’s a surprisingly sad film, however there is also plenty of light humour thrown in, mostly at the expense of the characters. One scene in particular, one of the funniest, sees a man come to the house of the brothers to fix a window and end up rambling about anthills. It’s more meaningful than it sounds.
Need another reason to see it? How about the fact that it is one of the earliest performances from Tim Roth as the protagonist? Alongside Gary Oldman? And how about the fact that it comes from Mike Leigh?
To put it simply, if you’re a fan of voyeuristic cinema, this is a must watch. It has been available on YouTube for quite some time, and has recently been released by the Criterion Collection on DVD and Blu-Ray.
3. Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock, 1964)
Marnie is one of the most overlooked thrillers ever made. Alongside Frenzy (1972), it is also Alfred Hitchcock’s most overlooked film, about Marnie, a kleptomaniac (someone with an inability to ignore the urge to steal things) who becomes suspected by her boss, Mark. Mark tries to blackmail her, and thus, one of Hitchcock’s most impressive films is born.
It’s an incredibly uncomfortable, perverse film about the inability to escape feelings and the past, and Hitchcock directs it with so much confidence that it is simply stunning. The performances are wonderful, the cinematography is gorgeous and the flashes of red work as cinematic gut-punches. It’s an absolutely wonderful film, incredibly daring and really quite upsetting, and to see it so ignored is, frankly, painful.
2. Summer With Monika (Ingmar Bergman, 1953)
Perhaps, seeing as this one is somewhat recognisable, it should be lower down on the list, however, this is one of the two greatest films on this list, and it is still surprisingly overlooked in comparison to Bergman’s other films, largely due to the fact that it was one of his earlier efforts.
Summer With Monika is about a couple, Monika and Harry, who decide to leave their harsh day to day lives and go on an adventure, with just each other and a boat to worry about. Of course, this being a Bergman film, it doesn’t all go too well.
This film is simply crushing. And it’s because there is such an alluring beauty to so many of the more uplifting moments of the film that makes the opening act and the closing so much more crushing. Much like Harry and Monika, you end up falling for the wonderful surroundings, the lacking responsibility and for the characters, until suddenly we are thrown back into the everyday. It’s an excellent film, one of Bergman’s absolute finest outings and a film that can’t be recommended enough.
1. Ludwig (Luchino Visconti, 1973)
Luchino Visconti is one of the greatest directors to ever pick up a camera, and as a whole, his filmography is overlooked, however, Ludwig definitely takes the prize for the most overlooked of his work. Ludwig is a four hour period drama released in 1973, and just by saying that, half of you will likely be turned away from the movie, however, this film can not be ignored.
Epic in scope, with tremendous performances and what might be the single finest cinematography ever put to screen, Ludwig is one of the most visually stunning films ever made, and that’s without even starting to touch on the narrative.
If you like movies at all, you must at the very least try to seek this one out. So few people have seen it, and yet, it is one of the greatest films ever made. The power of this film can’t be put into words.