Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Top Hidden Gem Movies - Part II

As begun the other day, we are counting down the top 20 IMDb hidden gems that not enough people have seen. Remember that these films were chosen based on a mathematical formula, not picked out of my brain or anything. Criteria and methodology can be found in Part I.

#10: Modern Times
IMDb Rating, Rank: 8.4, 75
Number of Voters: 28,935
Why more haven't seen it: It's a silent film. And to be honest, all Chaplin movies I've not seen tend to blur together for me. He plays the tramp, like he usually does. While it is surely a comedy, I can only imagine that there is an allegorical statement about industry and how we make our doodads and what it does to the average worker. Who wants any of that in their comedy??? Well now that I think about it, I do. I suppose I should rent this guy tonight.
Gushing IMDb user comment: "On a personal level, the aspect of the film that resonates strongest with me is its appeal to the idealistic misfit in all of us. In our hearts, many of us long for the simplicity and exuberance with which The Tramp and The Gamin live life (with attention to the bare essentials and an absence of need for materialism and modern trappings). As Chaplin so skillfully shows, however, our modern times make this lifestyle a faded dream, lost among the sheep-like herds of men and women scurrying through a modern metropolis that only Fritz Lang could make seem darker and more devoid of true humanity. Still, the final image of Modern Times refuses to let the film end on an exclusively tragic note and demonstrates that the individual is still alive and may yet find his way in an ever-changing world." - razwee

#9: Wages of Fear
IMDb Rating, Rank: 8.3, 140
Number of Voters: 11,177
Why more haven't seen it: I think this is the only movie in the list I'd never heard of. Two dudes have nitroglycerin in a South American jungle and they might blow each other the hell up. Does that sound exciting or what? The only thing I can think is that if this film wasn't in French, it would be really popular.
Gushing IMDb user comment: "This movie is well made in every detail. It puts a lot of detail-work in the creation of the characters, and once you think that is over and the "regular action-part" starts, it becomes even better and the story takes a 90 degree turn! After I had finished watching the entire movie, I needed at least 5 minutes just to "digest" it and rethink this fantastic film. If you got a chance to watch it, don't miss it! It is entertaining from the first to the last minute!" - Robert Grill

#8: Kind Hearts and Coronets
IMDb Rating, Rank: 8.4, 131
Number of Voters: 10,601
Why more haven't seen it: This film has the lowest number of votes in our list which means it's the hiddenest gem of them all. It's black and white, but it is in English. Apparently it's a comedy about a guy who's murdering people so he can become some kind of Duke. A bit like Getting In with Andrew McCarthy and Dave Chappelle (a film decidedly not in the IMDb Top 250). It also features Sir Alec Guinness in about 11 roles. Nobody ever talks about this movie, but I'm curious, aren't you?
Gushing IMDb user comment: "So ultra-smooth and urbane, polished to a sheen, this film is best enjoyed by persons of refinement and education, but anyone with even half a brain and an ounce of creativity will appreciate it for the work of genius it is." - TexMan

#7: Once Upon a Time in the West
IMDb Rating, Rank: 8.8, 19
Number of Voters: 59,045
Why more haven't seen it: It's a bit shocking. Sergio Leone's film from just two years earlier, The Good The Bad and The Ugly, has more than double the votes. Are the combined acting forces of Henry Fonda and Charles Bronson that far behind Clint Eastwood in renown? Despite one alarmingly misplayed love scene, this is the better film. Do see it.
Gushing IMDb user comment: "It is films like these that redefine genres and that honorable of all words, a 'classic'. Prove me wrong. For those who experienced it, I hope it has impacted you in much the same way it has me. Upon its release, this film was unsuccessful, because the world wanted another Clint Eastwood picture. But they couldn't see for a mile what was coming. Sergio Leone is platinum. May the force be with him...........always!" - Freddy Levit

#6: Paths of Glory
IMDb Rating, Rank: 8.6, 43
Number of Voters: 37,022
Why more haven't seen it: I have no idea. Starring Kirk Douglas, this isn't the film that put Stanley Kubrick on the map, but it's the one that had people calling him a young genius. The film is funny, interesting, and tragic, bringing to mind the folly of war and the men who call the shots. Of all the films in the list that I have seen, this one has stuck with me the most.
Gushing IMDb user comment: "It is FAR AND AWAY the most realistic, most emotionally draining, and most beautifully photographed movie ever made about trench warfare in WW I, which has to be considered to be one of the significant episodes in all of human history. The story is fiction, but the events are patterned after some actual mutinies in the French army that took place in 1917. You could probably change a few things in most of Kubrick's other masterpieces to slightly improve them, but I DEFY anyone to single out anything in "Paths of Glory" that could be improved upon. I could go on and on raving about the beauty and pathos of this film, but I think I will stop here." - hptaylor

#5: M
IMDb Rating, Rank: 8.6, 45
Number of Voters: 33,005
Why more haven't seen it: In german, black and white, and really freaking old (1931), it's understandable. Also, the main character is a murderous child molester. But the point of the movie is the hysteria involved when a society feels threatened. Though the topic is different, it could be considered an allegory to the current debate on torture. Plus, a chunky Peter Lorre, in one of his first films, gives a riveting performance.
Gushing IMDb user comment: "This film proves that not every monster needs long fangs or a glove with blades. Monsters can and do look human until their deeds are revealed. It also shows that you don't need buckets of blood and gore for a murder to be grisly, and you don't really have to see it on screen. I sat motionless during most of the film, hardly breathing, and my heart pounding; I was practically in tears at the end. This is one of the most terrifying films I have ever seen." - TedEBear

#4: Double Indemnity
IMDb Rating, Rank: 8.6, 46
Number of Voters: 30,436
Why more haven't seen it: What most can agree on about Double Indemnity is that it is the quintessential film noir movie. It has all the key elements: grave crimes, romance, manipulation, guilt, and the walls closing in. It features an impressive cast that carries what is essentially a basic story. I can only think that people are turned off by the black and white cinematography or perhaps the cumbersome name. I highly recommend this movie.
Gushing IMDb user comment: "Double Indemnity is nearly flawless. From the shocking and unexpected beginning to the already known but still surprising end, the audience is held rapt by the excellent performances, the brilliant and imaginative direction, and the flawlessly created atmosphere. This is excellent, excellent filmmaking, and is a classic film that should not be missed." - Michael DeZubiria

#3: Sunset Blvd.
IMDb Rating, Rank: 8.7, 25
Number of Voters: 44,556
Why more haven't seen it: I'm surprised that this movie made the list, let alone at #3. Clearly, this is in part due to the high rating, but I would have imagined it was more popular than this. It is on TV often, frequently shown at art-house theaters and was even featured briefly in the TV version of Trading Places. Also, the female protagonist recently notched #2 on my Top Ten Movie Cougars list. It's a classic that should not be missed. Also, they are currently remaking it as a musical which will sure as hell suck. So see the old version before you are corrupted by whatever they release next year. Also of note, this is the third Billy Wilder movie to make this list.
Gushing IMDb user comment: "One of the rare few films that kept me glued to the screen from beginning to end. Gloria Swanson's performance as Norma Desmond made me see her as sexy yet insane. That's not strange now, is it? Who cares? The movie is still a wonder and pure enjoyment. I particularly love the cinematography and the shot selections. I admired that most about the film... I give the film an "A+" and a 10 out of 10..." - TheQuietStorm

#2: The Treasure of Sierra Madre
IMDb Rating, Rank: 8.5, 50
Number of Voters: 27,461
Why more haven't seen it: Perhaps fitting that near the top of our hidden gem list, we have a movie about treasure. It has been years since I've seen this film, and I must admit that I found it to be overrated, yet enjoyable. Bogart's not at the top of his game on this one, but Walter Huston turns in a great performance, and it may be the cinema's best examination of greed and mistrust. It is one of the two most often incorrectly quoted movies in history, the other being Bogart's Casablanca. Perhaps I should give it another go.
Gushing IMDb user comment: "This film is a masterpiece in every sense of the word. It is the finest work of John Huston's career. It is the story of greed in its ugliest form. Walter Huston is the whole show giving a stunning performance as an old prospector who has seen it all. Bogart's character Fred C. Dobbs is the best performance he ever did." - alan bryant

#1: City Lights
IMDb Rating, Rank: 8.5, 62
Number of Voters: 21,748
Why more haven't seen it: It makes sense that the list is topped by a silent comedy. Also, that it is a film I've yet to see. Charlie Chaplin plays the same character from #10 above, and tries to woo a blind girl who sells flowers.
Gushing IMDb user comment: "When the final scene is shown, you'll understand why many people (including myself) have called this one of the greatest films ever made. Pure magic. A true masterpiece." - Captain_Couth

We'll leave you with a scene (that doesn't give away the ending) from the least watched/best gem in our list, City Lights. Be patient here, folks. Remember, it's a movie, not a viral video.

If anyone has any comments about these - which ones to see first, for instance - let us know!


Chili said...

Great post. I had a mini-marathon of noir films last year for some friends that included Double Indemnity among others. Great movie.

Josh said...

Just stumbled across this countdown: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/guides/best_reviewed_movies/ . #1 should surprise you.

Reed said...

Thanks, Chili. Double Indemnity is the movie that made me realize that Noir is my favorite genre. I should have known all along, but it sent me flying.

Josh: Very interesting. But I wonder how they chose to decide between all the movies that, according to their scale, have the same value. Who is differentiating the top 50 when the Tomatometer is identical for every one? Furthermore, I don't like the rankings because all it takes is one dissenting voice on a great film to knock it out of contention. Some obvious ones: Shawshank Redemption at 89%, Pulp Fiction at 96%, yet they're #s 1 and 5 on the IMDb. I'm sure most of those 96% of critics gave it 4*s, but they count the same as any thumbs up.

Still, I haven't seen the #1 and would love to. Let's find out when it's playing here next. The Porteños love them some Beatles! There must be some festival showing it at some point.

M.R.G. said...

Agree on the simple algoritm for the overlooked gems. Rank is more usefull than 1/score. But making the ecuation, the results doesn´t add up.
It´s (Rank x Votes)/2= and the highest result is the #1 OLG?

Any case, I should work on this list, since I´m a tipical movie fan that avoids not know great movies. Even being a small number, I´ve watched 4 out of 20, against close to 50% of the whole 250.

Great post.

Reed said...

Thanks for the comment, Tín! It's not exactly (Rank x Votes)/2. I took the top 250 and reranked them by the number of votes. So of the top 250, we had 1-250 based on # of votes. The top-ranked gems here are the highest average of the two ranks.

Definitely check some of these out. I'm up for trying to track some of them down here whenever you are!

PMaz said...

I have heard of "Wages of Fear", but only because I have seen the English language remake, William Friedkin's "Sorcerer". And I have seen it multiple times. It didn't do so well at the theater because of that name, but I think it's great. I mainly love it for one scene in which the men are trying to get the trucks over a rickety, old bridge in a rainstorm. Tense as hell.