The Rundown: 10 Underrated Movies You Need to See

Everyone has those movies that are their movies – those out of nowhere finds they discovered surfing The Movie Network on a lazy Sunday or playing movie roulette on Netflix in those foggy hours where one day blends into the next and you’re not sure if it’s today or tomorrow.

Everyone has them, including us.

Here’s a look at 10 gems you need to check out if you haven’t already.

Frailty (2001)

Today, Matthew McConaughey is an Oscar-winning actor coming off some very strong performances – Dallas Buyers Club, True Detective, Mud. Back in 2001, he was fresh off EdTV and still two years away from becoming a rom-com staple thanks to How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Between the two, he starred alongside the always great Bill Paxton, who also directed this creep-you-out thriller.

Manic (2001)

If you want to watch a bunch of really talented actors in a small, forceful movie that maybe one of 20 people you know has seen, this is your movie. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a troubled kid prone to violent outbursts and is committed to the juvenille wing of a mental institution where he meets several kids dealing with issues of their own. Don Cheadle plays the doctor that has to deal with all these personalities, including Zooey Deschanel, Michael Bacall and Elden Henson.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Looking for the movie that put Robert Downey Jr. back on the map? This is it. Shane Black wrote and directed this noir crime comedy that also features Val Kilmer and Michelle Monaghan and features the snappy, smart banter that is Black’s staple and reminded everyone that Downey Jr. is a phenomenally talented performer.

The Prestige (2006)

Here’s the funny thing about The Prestige: it’s the amazing movie featuring a bunch of crazy good actors and a brilliant writer/director that came out before all those people started getting serious love and publicity. Written and directed by Christopher Nolan two years before The Dark Knight and starring Christian Bale four years before The Fighter, this was the vastly superior of the two magician movies that came out that year; the other being The Illusionist with Ed Norton, Paul Giamatti and Jessica Biel.

Zodiac (2007)

Zodiac is the unsung David Fincher film. The Game is great too, but it feels like the lesser known Fincher flick everyone points to as their favourite Fincher flick. But this one flies under the radar even though Jake Gyllenhall and Mark Ruffalo give standout performances, Robert Downey Jr. does a great “what I would have looked like as a reporter during my sketchy period” performance and the Gone Girl directed hits you with another gem.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

Brad Pitt as the famous outlaw. Casey Affleck in his Oscar-nominated role as the man that idolized James from childhood, but ultimately grew to resent him. This is a slow, quiet, powerhouse of a movie filled with tremendous performances that didn’t get nearly enough attention when it came out and still remains off the radar for far too many people.

Whip It (2009)

Ellen Page as a “gotta get out of this town” 17-year-old discovering roller derby in a flick directed by Drew Barrymore, who co-stars along with Kristen Wiig, Eve, Juliette Lewis and Daniel Stern. What’s not to love? The “finding yourself” movie has been done and redone and done some more, but never did it involve women on roller skates with names like Iron Maven and Maggie Mayhem.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

In about 10 years, people are going to look back at this coming of age tale and wonder how they missed a movie that starred Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller and Mae Whitman. At least two of those four are destined to go on to do really big things in their career and all four could get there if they get the opportunities. There is a little bit of everything in this high school-based tale, but none of it feels forced, cheesy or misplaced.

The Way, Way Back (2012)

What happens when the awkward kid that doesn’t fit in gets dragged to the cottage for the summer with his mom and her dickhead boyfriend, played by Steve Carell? If he’s the kid from this movie, he ends up having a kick-ass summer working at a water park and hanging out with AnnaSophia Robb, listening to Sam Rockwell pass along kernels of wisdom gleaned from years of slacker greatness.

In a World… (2013)

Lake Bell’s directorial debut about a voice coach who stumbles into the competitive world of voicing movie trailers is terrific, featuring strong performances from Ken Marino, Fred Melamed, Demetri Martin and Bell herself. This flick is worth checking out just for the scene where Bell’s character adopts a baby voice to talk to a lost, baby-voiced 20-something searching for a Jamba Juice.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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