Underrated Flicks of the 1990s!

Unlike the 1980’s edition, I’ve seen a lot of these, including the entire bottom half of the list, and it’s no surprise they didn’t find a wide audience. Many of them were MEANT to have niche appeal. (Or, at least were inevitably doomed to niche appeal status.) Movies that are too dark, too cold and artificial, or too bohemian tend not to do well with American audiences, no matter their other strengths.

Strange Days (a movie I’ve seen a half-dozen times) had way too much Rodney King white guilt in it, and Falling Down featured way too many Left-wing political rants. Audiences, by and large, don’t like being scolded, unless the movie is very appealing and well done otherwise (see Wall•E).

The message for filmmakers is that you can offend the masses or you can appeal to the masses, but you can’t do both. Pick one and accept the consequences.

Maybe bad marketing had something to do with it.

“Too intelligent and forward thinking for the masses”? Look, you can boost unfairly overlooked movies without being smug dicks about it, WatchMojo.

8 thoughts on “Underrated Flicks of the 1990s!”

  1. I was about to post this in the last one. This list is much worse than the first. I remember seeing Falling Down and even as an action fan, thought it was too weepy and unlikeable to be a hit. Apparently the “masses” thought the same.

    On the other hand, you can see the shift from the 80s to where the barren wasteland of cinema is now just by looking at this list. This is the direction Hollywood wanted and they got it. And audiences yawned.

    Still, I’m legit surprised they didn’t include Joe Vs. the Volcano here.

  2. Exactly. I’m posting these vids not because I agree with them, but because comparing one decade’s list to another’s illustrates something about changes in the movie industry over time. It’s very interesting.

  3. Prince of Egypt was beautifully animated and told a decent story with good characters… but I think the music undermined it. That story isn’t a musical, it’s too somber and epic. Aaron wasn’t done right either, even though I do like Jeff Goldblum in, say, Jurassic park and Independence Day.

    Gattaca… I hadn’t even heard of that one on release, despite being a high school student looking at movies for a career option. My wife introduced me to it via DVD two decades later, and I really like it. It’s a bit dreary, though that’s understandable given the story, but it’s one of the few “futurist” stories that isn’t overly preachy and insanely “progressive”, I think.

    Iron Giant was right in my professional wheelhouse, but the characters grated and the story was just OK. Too anti-weapon/military preachy for my taste, but at least it was optimistic in a decade when “darker, edgier, sexier” was the mantra.

    Similarly, Hunchback of Notre Dame was released when I was getting more serious about producing hand drawn animation. I was paying very close attention to everything about the craft of making such movies. It’s well produced, but the story wants to go darker than the “Disney Animated Feature” categorization allows, and yet, Frollo’s weird obsession is tone deaf for a mass market Disney offering. It’s not a bad film, and Quasi is well acted and animated… but it’s a weak, confused entry in the Disney “renaissance”.

    I’m not familiar with the others, but from the look of them, I wouldn’t like them anyway. That coarsening of films so prevalent in the 90s kept me out of theaters.

  4. I agree with you about Strange Days. I used to love it, but as I become better at seeing the politics in a movie like this, the less I can enjoy it.

    But, I HATED eXistenze. It does the one thing that is utterly unforgivable to me. I will accept the reality you present me with, but if you yank the rug out at the end I will hate you forever. eXistenze pulled the “It was all a dream” ending and there is no getting back from that.

    While we’re at it DW, have you seen “the Zero Theorem”? And, if you have; what are your thoughts on it?

  5. I have a hard time thinking of the top three as underrated. All got ecstatic reviews, two are on my list of personal favorites (A Simple Plan is excellent, but is too grim for me to revisit much), and I’ve only had a bad experience once introducing people to them. Made the mistake of showing Miller’s Crossing to someone who can’t handle onscreen violence, and considers dark humor to be just short of deviant.

    Further, this video shows why I don’t care for WatchMojo. The list breaks the rules it sets out at the beginning (from “no cult classics” to “This movie is a cult classic” in just over a minute), the narrator, while she has a nice voice, clearly is reading from a script with little understanding. And the script uses a wrong word in, to me at least, spectacularly obvious fashion. (They did not mean “respectively”.)

    That said, most of the movies are worth watching. Even if I have a hard time considering them obscure or underrated.

  6. “I dunno if I’ve ever HEARD of the Zero Theorem.”

    I think you should give it a try. Its a Terry Gilliam film if that helps you decide.

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