Emily’s Top 5 Underrated Films

Written by Emily McWilliams October 07, 2013

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History can be cruel, and with so many films coming out every year it’s easy for some of them to get lost in the shuffle and never reach the level of appreciation they deserve. Some of these underrated films were huge critical successes that garnered award nominations, but once award season died down they were soon forgotten. Others were small productions from the start that only a few audiences wee able to see before they were quietly taken out of theaters. Whatever the reason, underrated films are the true hidden gems every film buff loves to keep to themselves and recommend to close friends.

5. “ParaNorman” (Chris Butler, Sam Fell, 2012)

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In the Pixar-dominated world of animated films, it can be hard for a stop-motion movie like “ParaNorman” to get noticed. Released in the summer of 2012, “Paranorman” barely appeared on anyone’s radar, despite some big names like John Goodman, Anna Kendrick and Jeff Garlin, who lended their voices for some of the characters. Besides the unique animation style that was a welcome relief from the overused computer generated animation, what was most striking about “ParaNorman” was that it works really well for an adult audience. The humor and emotion of the film was skillfully crafted and makes this film appeal to an older audience than many people realize.

4. “Away We Go” (Sam Mendes, 2009)
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A sweet and low-key road film about a couple expecting their first child who travel to visit family and friends as they try to figure out where they will raise their new family. Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski were able to combine their comedic talents into a more sophisticated style of humor that played off of some of the film’s more serious moments. A great ensemble cast and quirky characters makes this film a worthwhile watch.

3. “Winter’s Bone” (Debra Granik, 2010)
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Before she was America’s sweetheart, Jennifer Lawrence starred in this Oscar-nominated drama about a rural family’s unexpected involvement with a crime. I felt the need to include “Winter’s Bone” on this list because I believe it is Lawrence’s strongest performance to date, but is unknown to many of her new fans.  Lawrence plays the lead and carries the film with a surprising display of strength and in many ways is the main reason why this quiet and understated drama works so well.

2. “Dance Me Outside” (Bruce McDonald, 1994)

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Canadian director Bruce McDonald is known for a certain rock-and-roll approach to filmmaking and “Dance Me Outside” is no exception. This groundbreaking film sheds light on life in a Canadian Native reserve by following the interconnected stories of the film’s characters. “Dance Me Outside” tears down many stereotypes associated with Native Americans through humour while exposing some of the real crises these communities face.

1. “A History of Violence” (David Cronenberg, 2005)

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In this David Cronenberg-directed crime film, Viggo Mortenson plays Tom Stall, a seemingly ordinary business owner in a small town, who in an act of violence reveals a past that he has kept hidden from his family. This slow-burning thriller is tightly shot and executed creating a perfect atmosphere of tension that is broken by scenes of brutal action. Strong performances from the supporting cast that includes Maria Bello, Ed Harris, and William Hurt will make you rethink your perception of Canadian films.

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