Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Uncategorized Ranked: Top 10 Overrated and Underrated Movies of All Time

Ranked: Top 10 Overrated and Underrated Movies of All Time

We all know that the business of movie making is first and foremost a business, and as such, making money often overshadows the prospect of creating an innovative or original piece of art or at least entertainment. Therefore, the movies making the big bucks often get all the attention, especially if that attention comes as a result of a fad or tie in with current events. Most people only remember these movies that got all of the attention, forgetting those that were perhaps more important in terms of historical relevance or impact to the art of film making. I have constructed this list using the powers of hindsight with the hope that maybe we can remember that not all movies are big blockbuster spectacles made solely to drain your minds and wallets collectively. 

Top Ten Overrated Movies of All Time

Runners Up: Forrest Gump, The English Patient, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

10. Citizen Kane (1941)- Yeah, this is one of my favorite movies and I do really think that it is a solid movie in many categories, the benchmark which all others should be compared in terms of working towards a cohesive final form of cinema. So why is it on this list? I am tired of people arguing about how great it is. Yes it is a great movie, but THE BEST movie of all time? I can’t really say and I don’t think anyone else can either. If it is the greatest movie of all time, everyone would agree, but they don’t. In fact, lots of people just don’t get Citizen Kane (let alone have the attention span to just watch the whole thing).

9. Memento (2000)- So maybe Memento is an interesting movie for some people to watch, but unless your audience is gonna watch it more than once I don’t think that this complicated method of story telling is the way to go. Just because a movie is complicated does not make it good. Granted, I give the filmmakers and actors involved huge kudos for pulling it off, but the method seems forced. By making a movie that in essence is backwards you immediately alienate a majority of the audience, especially if they can’t relate to your reasoning for taking such drastic actions. Besides the fact that this movie runs backwards, can you remember anything else about it? Don’t be different just to be different.

8. Saving Private Ryan (1998)- Sure, the editing, cinematography,  and even acting are great in parts. But these aspects on their own don’t make a good movie. Maybe there is some sort of sympathetic pull for our troops and apparently every American likes any movie that features killin’ Nazis. But that’s it. This movie is no where near as epic, meaningful, or action-packed as it could have been. The end is the biggest disappointment, essentially adding proof to the idea that the mission the movie is based on is pointless. A movie that compromises its own point of existence is not a great movie.

7. Spider Man (2002)-Fans of the comic may be split over the big screen adaptation, but I am not. Inferior to the sequel but much better than the third installment, Spider Man is plagued with a weak script and weak acting. While the theme of the comic was often how one man can make a difference, the movie seemed to be about how one man can’t make a difference. Watching the movie now with the hype having been all but destroyed by the debacle that was Spider Man 3, the movie plays like an expensive soap opera. An expensive, whiny soap opera with spiffy special effects.

6. Sideways (2004)- Not only is this movie pointless, but it is boring. I can handle pointless but exciting movies and boring but meaningful movies, but what keeps you watching when a movie is both? Critics flock to this one, claiming its a good story that explains the importance of finding yourself. I claim that its only about an already messed-up-beyond repair man who only cares about getting drunk and having sex. If that’s finding yourself than millions of college kids have already done that a million times over. This is the only movie on this list that I absolutely hate.

5. Pulp Fiction (1994)-Pulp Fiction is the perfect example of everything wrong with movies today. Its all gore, no substance. Yes, the movie makes you think there is something meaningful, but there isn’t. Its as hollow as Tarantino’s acting and just as painful to watch if you actually think about it. I don’t understand how people can stand Tarantino’s epic continent-sized ego, especially when it runs rampant like a 5 year old in his movies.Tarantino needs to stop treating his audience as inferior and his audience needs to stop treating Tarantino as a legend.

4. Monster’s Ball (2001)- Of course this is an eye-opening movie. But its also disturbing and difficult to watch. Whether or not Berry deserved her Oscar is not the issue. What is the issue is the point of the movie, something about love, is forced. The fact that the most important part of the movie is a sex scene shows how shallow this movie really is. Its as if the writers thought that bombarding the audience with incredibly sad and awful occurrences will beat them into submission. Then they could build them back up by having the antagonist and protagonist have sex. And suddenly they’re in “love”. Nothing is solved or defined. You’ll be left with lots of questions, most notably “why is this considered good?”

3. Lost in Translation (2003)- I do not understand the point of this film. Not only is it as aggravating to watch as Johnasson’s acting, but it is as boring as hell and ultimately pointless. Nothing happens. No suspense, no tension, no tone. Nothing to make you keep watching unless you’ve got nothing better to do. Just lots of bright lights and Japanese cultural icons. While some people may call it moving I call it stationary.

2. Animal House (1978)- This movie has no plot. Its just a string of sick jokes and pubescent humor held together by Belushi’s own childish behavior. Although the comedy is less crude than any recent American Pie movie, it is no more effective. Maybe its a classic because it defines a generation, but is this really the proper way to define yourself? Its always easier to make something a joke than make people really care about what is happening. Unfortunately that sentiment defined Belushi’s  life as well as this “movie”.

1. The Dark Knight (2008)- No, I’m not saying The Dark Knight is a bad movie or that Ledger’s performance is anything short of legendary (next to Nicholson’s joker in Batman of course). What I am saying is that this movie is hugely overrated. 5 years from now you will look back and see how silly it is in parts; remember that the original Batman (1989) was an epic success when it was released, but kids these days will just laugh at it. That’s the problem with trying to appeal to pop culture. You can create some pretty good movies in the now, but once later comes around your movie will be forgotten. Here, Dark Knight’s grouchy batman, Gyllenhall’s Rachel Dawes character, Eckhart’s brooding Two-Face, the pointless car chase scene, and the Joker’s acts of easily-foiled terrorism (but somehow he always escapes?) will not be taken as seriously as they are now.

Top Ten Underrated Movies of All Time

Runners Up: Independence Day , Brazil , Total Recall

10. The Matrix (1999)- People call it overrated. I don’t think it gets the attention it deserves. Way ahead of its time and totally original. My review adequately explains why its on this list.

9. The Freshman (1990)- What do you get when you mix The Godfather with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? This movie. Entertaining, if slightly predictable, but totally forgotten. If you have a sense of humor you will like this movie.

8. Ronin (1998)- Perhaps the best car chase scene in any movie and Robert De Niro in his prime. Do I need to say anything else? The technical challenge of making this movie makes it a must watch alone. Think of it as a precursor to the Jason Bourne movies, at least in a sophisticated-edgy-European-action-thriller way.

7. Papillon (1973)-Steve McQueen is as awesome as ever, and Dustin Hoffman puts in a very memorable performance. A thoughtful and well-crafted character-driven biopic that steers towards being an adventure movie. Movies like this make you CARE about the characters, especially when they are so well acted. This is a movie that will make you feel something; an excellent example of 70’s era cinema.

6. Black Rain (1989)- As a fan of Ridley Scott, I feel all his movies are underrated, but none more so than this one. Its a gripping cat-and-mouse action thriller, brilliantly crafted as only Scott can. I always find myself going back to this movie when looking for an example of exquisite directing. Take the amazing visuals of Blade Runner mixed with the thought-provoking action of American Gangster, add the charm of Andy Garcia and the intensity of Michael Douglas; what you’ll get is a near-perfect investigation of another culture from a uniquely crafted point of view.

5. THX 1138 (1971)- Before Star Wars, George Lucas made THX 1138, based on a short film he made while in film school. Only one phrase can describe this movie; ahead of its time. The audience is transported away to a minimalist future reminiscent of what we would be seeing in Star Wars, but here humans are prisoners of their own salvation. Tension is abound and reality is more or less unreliable. Few movies before or since have been able to accomplish this surrealism as effectively, and this is even more impressive considering when this movie was made.

4. The Game (1997)- Another ahead-of-its-time movie, this one is brilliant in all aspects. No other movie will draw you into its plot as easily and keep you at the edge of your seat throughout. This is one of those rare films that comes along every once in a while that is so innovative and mold-breaking that almost nothing can compare. And you’d expect nothing less from one of David Fincher’s movies…

3. Contact (1997)- Besides Matthew McConaughey’s appearance here as the same character he plays in every other movie he’s in, Contact is hugely misunderstood. This movie isn’t meant to be some sort of sci-fi action thriller. Its an epic movie, and as such, has many levels. Adventure, emotions, politics, disappointments, and most important intelligent substance are all here. And most interesting, it all works. Of course, such a powerful film is bound to turn some people off, hence its status on this list.

2. Unbreakable (2000)- Take away the twist in The Sixth Sense and you pretty much have nothing left. Take away the twist in Unbreakable and you are still left with a very good movie. This is Shyamalan’s best movie, and perhaps ahead of its time with the whole real-people-can-be-superheroes thing but not going as far as calling anyone a superhero. This movie has emotion, great acting making great characters, and even great direction. It’s impressively crafted in all aspects.

1. Man on the Moon (1999)- While not much of a fan of Jim Carrey or Andy Kaufman, I had low expectations upon watching this one. But it totally blew me away. Without a doubt Carrey’s finest movie, Man on the Moon is an excellent film. It explains so much of Kaufman’s life without diving into the cliches and self-indulgences other biopics find themselves wading through. In short, this movie is one of the most entertaining movies I have ever seen and I recommend it to everyone, even if you don’t like Kaufman of Carrey. The point of this movie is not to glorify Kaufman or explain his antics, the point of this movie is to teach you about life. And I promise you will learn something.

Previous Review: Rated for Redux: The Italian Job (1969/2003+2011)

10 thoughts on “Ranked: Top 10 Overrated and Underrated Movies of All Time”

  1. I disagree about your #1 underrated movie of all time. Even though I completely agree that #1 belongs to Jim Carrey & that Man on the Moon is an excellent film, I don’t think this film should be #1, though it’s not a bad choice for #1 I must admit. My pick for #1 would be another Jim Carrey film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It delves into the issue of absence making the heart grow fonder. I thought both Jim Carrey & Kate Winslet were superb. It’s an excellent look into the mind & how we forget information. This is also an excellent film about love & what it means to cherish what you have.

  2. I would have agreed about the Matrix if I hadnt watched Dark City a few days ago. Released a year before the Matrix, so many of its scenes and ideas were ripped off by the Wachowsky brothers that I’m surprised they didnt get sued. An entire first half of the Matrix is a direct Dark City rip off, so I’d say that its the latter that is underappreciated.

    I completely agree about Dark Knight. Its nothing special, and I dont understand the hype.

  3. I don’t think Eternal Sunshine is underrated at all. It has gotten plenty of attention including winning an Oscar and has a 93% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It gets the attention it deserves, where as Man on the Moon is largely passed over because of both its controversial subject and the fact that Carrey is at its center. People who hate Kaufman and Carrey will hate this movie no matter how good it is, which I think is unfair and the reason it is #1 on my list.

  4. I agree with #5 and number #8 on underrated, but completely disagree with #5 and number #8 on overrated list. The most underrated movie of all time is CERTAINLY NOT the most underrated movie ever, let alone #2’s Unbreakable. With that being said, those are both very underrated. The top two are most certainly “Dark City”, Alex Proyas’s best film to date, and “Sunshine”, the best Danny Boyle film. I’d say 2009 Indie “Moon” will probably be #3.

  5. I’m pretty sure that the Matrix was in production far enough along to not be influenced by the plot of Dark City. True it could have been influenced by the visuals, but again, plenty of movies share similar visuals. In fact, Dark City is strikingly similar in plot and visuals to a french movie that was released in 1995 called The City of Lost Children. I’m not calling it a rip off or a bad movie, its just not as influential and important as you make it sound. As far as Sunshine goes, I liked it, but it was nothing more than 2001 meets Solaris meets a slasher movie. I have yet to see Moon but I expect good things. It has gotten a fair amount of attention, whether or not this is deserved I will have to see for myself.

  6. The City of Lost Children shares some similarities its true but Dark City and the Matrix share entire scenes, like the rooftop fight for example and the camera angles in that scene etc. Then the shifting doors/mirrors, the agents, the concept of false reality…

    I don’t see how the City of Lost Children relates to the plot of Dark City, since it was basically a fairytale with a dark slant.

    You’re right in that they are all out of a similar “dystopian noir” cast that seems to borrow ideas back and forth, but whereas the Marix switches to action (great action, true) halfway thorough and never returns to contemplation I’d say Dark City is more satisfying since it drives its plot to a more definite conclusion.

  7. GSP, Moon was beautiful. How did you not love Sunshine? It was one of the best sci-fi movies ever. And Varyag, I agree that Dark City was more intriguing and entertaining than The Matrix, though I tip my hat to both the Wachowski Brothers and to Proyas. Another set of under-appreciated films would be: Passengers, Miracle At St. Anna, The Wrestler, Green Street Hooligans, Snatch, Locked, Stocked and Two Smoking Barrels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Reservoir Dogs, Kalifornia, Identity, the original Solaris, which was brilliant, The Big Lebowski, The Way of the Gun, Miller’s Crossing, The Messenger (2009), Jarhead, 28 Days Later, Trainspotting, Barton Fink, Green Mile, Thin Red Line, The New World and V For Vendetta, along with, speaking of Alan Moore comic-movies, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Watchmen, which was also very good…. And also The Hurt Locker, and Little Miss Sunshine, along withb Synecdoche, New York. The most underrated movies, on another thought, are Pi, Requiem for a Dream, and House of Sand and Fog. So if you agree with all of them, I thank you for actually reading all of these movies.

  8. Totally agreed on Man On The Moon. Carreys performance had so much more to it than just the usual goofball comedy, easily his best performance as you said.

  9. Have to disagree in respect to memento. Not only does Nolan show a refreshing take on the human psyche, the seemless way in which the movie is connected from each plot turn is genius. I dont know about you, but when a movie stays with me for a few hours after I see it, then I think its done its job.

    Also, probably wont be a popular opinion, but my no.1 overrated film of all time would be scarface. To be honest, it always bored the hell out me

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