(Our Top 10 at Ten -- It's a list of ten that we put up at 10am. You get that, right?)
It’s Sunday afternoon, you’re watching TV and you’ve just tuned in to a famously panned film. But you can’t turn over; this film’s engaging, it’s funny and it features that bloke from that sitcom you used to watch at your nan’s. So why did it not get the recognition it deserved? Simply because film appreciation — like life — isn’t fair.
So we’ve decided to redress the balance and applaud the celluloid creations that never got close to troubling the Academy judges. Wildly disagree with our 10 underrated films? Give us your alternatives in the comments below.
One of the biggest flops of all time and the end of Kevin Costner’s career as a bankable lead. Only one of those statements is true. While Costner never hit Robin Hood heights again, Waterworld is more than $100m (about £63.4m) in profit. It’s difficult to see a reason for the critical ire other than it was Costner’s turn for a backlash. There was ammunition — the film’s spiralling budget and a falling out with director Kevin Reynolds. Far superior to most of today’s blockbusters, the 1995 film is packed with show-stopping action and Costner’s Mariner is a compelling antihero — Han Solo with more menace and the cockiness dialled right back.
The Cable Guy
Just as a broken watch tells the correct time twice a day, Jim Carrey manages to make an outstanding film about once a decade. In the Nineties it was The Cable Guy. Ben Stiller’s second effort in the director’s chair (1994’s Reality Bites, also surprisingly not awful) was dark, surreal and quite incredibly funny for such a mainstream film. Despite cutting reviews and mediocre box-office takings (after a marketing campaign that led audiences to believe they’d be watching an Ace Ventura replica) it did mark Carrey as a performer capable of more than rubber-faced theatrics, and by coupling a renowned slapstick actor with dark satire, shook up the entire comedy genre. Equally, The Cable Guy gave writer/producer Judd Apatow his first real break in cinema. Without The Cable Guy there may have been no Anchorman or Superbad.
In 1999, it was hard to imagine Jennifer Aniston being brilliant in any other role than ‘Rachel’. These days, it’s hard to imagine her being anything other than that woman looking sad on the cover of Heat. It’s unlikely Aniston will ever be able to replicate her deft comedy genius in Office Space. It’s so much like The Office, you will never look at Gervais the same way again, knowing this came out two years before Brent was born.
Dude, Where's My Car?
The unprecedented silliness of this spoke to a generation of DVD buyers bored of God-awful dad comedies such as Mel Gibson’s What Women Want (released the same week). Just as some failed to understand Holy Grail in the Seventies, then Animal House in the Eighties, these two stoners losing their Renault 5 angered so many people in 2000, it still feels naughty to adore it now. “And then?”
Master and Commander
It is perhaps Johnny Depp’s fault that this epic has sunk into obscurity. Russell Crowe put on his sailor’s hat the same year, 2003, that Jack Sparrow first took the wheel of The Black Pearl. Depp’s galleon is the one everyone remembers, but Crowe, oh Crowe. With no female roles and no scenery of note (the boat docks once), he has to own that screen, which he does, beyond belief.
The King of Comedy
The lost Scorsese film, and De Niro’s most overlooked performance as failing comic Rupert Pupkin. Perhaps this was shunned because of its similarity to Raging Bull, Scorsese’s previous film. Dark? Horribly. Terrifying? Almost impossible to watch. Genius? Absolutely. Mark Kermode described 1982’s The King Of Comedy as Scorsese’s finest film. Having been disregarded for years, perhaps Pupkin is finally on the brink of finding love.
The Godfather: Part III
Stop. Hating. This. Film. In 1990, this final slice of the Corleone story was panned for the casting of director’s daughter Sofia Coppola over famous pants thief Winona Ryder. That criticism has snowballed to the point that this is cited as ruining the trilogy. This is hard, beautiful, complex, wonderful — Andy Garcia’s performance is so incredible, he’s never bettered it. If it’s good enough for The Sopranos to pay homage to, it’s good enough for us.
This thriller was smarter than it’s given credit for. It was the first film to embrace the power of the internet. In 1996, rumours spread of drive-through cinemas being destroyed by tornadoes during screenings. Suddenly Warner Bros had a viral, before anyone knew what a viral was. The special effects were also pioneering — angry weather being added in post-production as never quite seen before, and hugely copied since.
The script was witty, the cinematography (yes we did just say cinematography) sharp, and Stallone brutal. It’s hard to imagine in our world full of clever Will Smith and Tom Cruise action epics, that before this 1993 movie, satire was barely allowed in films about men in vests splattering streets with brains. We get pre-California gags about Arnie being president, Taco Bell running the universe and self-deprecating Rambo references.
The notoriously difficult Charles Grodin is often remembered for acting with the Muppets and a huge dog called Beethoven, but he is one of the most underrated comic actors in history. Here he spars with Robert De Niro instead of a St Bernard, and it’s a joy. Director Martin Brest (Beverly Hills Cop) allows entire scenes to be improvised in a style now common. Grodin and De Niro squeezed into 126 minutes more than 100 improvised F-words, a move that was sadly never going to allow this 1988 comedy to be a major hit. Now, 22 years after it flopped, there are mounting rumours of a Midnight Run 2. Rumours seemingly only being spread by a certain out-of-work Mr Grodin.