Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Top 5 Most Underrated Movies of All Time

For my next series of posts I am going to look at some of the most underrated and overrated movies of all time.  To start off I am going to go over the top 5 most underrated movies of all time.  So what makes a movie "underrated?"  Well there are two possibilities for what can make a movie "underrated."  First, is a movie that didn't get much critical acclaim originally, but after some time and viewings is actually much better than originally thought.  The second type is the one's that did receive some critical acclaim but got "lost in the fold" so to speak because of lackluster box office and therefore most people are privy to the greatness of these movies.  Now, some movies can be both, but most are just one or the other.  These are the movies I will be discussing.  As always with any lists on The Jeff Report, these are movies that I have selected and are my opinion only.  They are meant to be agreed and disagreed with but always meant to start discussion so if you agree or disagree then let me know in the comments.

Number 5:

Donnie Brasco (1997)

Directed by:  Mike Newell

Starring:  Johnny Depp, Al Pacino, Anne Heche, Michael Mann, Bruno Kirby

Academy Awards (winners in bold):  Best Adapted Screenplay

Academy Awards it Should have bee nominated for:  Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography

Why this is underrated:  This is a movie that constantly amazes me how well made and good this movie is.  As far as mafia movies goes I would put this right up there with the likes of Goodfellas and Casino and would prefer this to both movies to be quite honest.  This movie is better acted and just as well made as any other mafia movie out there (with the exception of The Godfather).

The movie centers around FBI agent Joe Pistone who goes undercover to try to take down the mob in New York City.  Pistone goes undercover with the alias 'Donnie Brasco' and is brought into the mafia world by the aging gangster Lefty (Al Pacino).  Pacino gives a phenomenol performance in this role that I would put as one of his best.  There is no scene chewing as we have become accustomed to in his old age, no "hoo-ah!'s" or anything of that sort.  He simply plays the role of an aging mobster looking for his break that he knows is never gonna come.  He is a tragic figure in many ways.

Johnny Depp also gives one of his best performances.  It's hard enough to act and give a good performance but it's even harder when the role you are acting requires you to act in and of itself.  Depp has to be Joe Pistone, the good husband/loving father FBI agent, and then has to switch gears and be Donnie Brasco the violent gangster.  Depp is able to play this flawlessly and I feel it is one of the most underrated performances of his career.

The movie is also full of great supporting performances from actors/actresses such as Anne Heche, Michael Mann, and Bruno Kirby.  This just adds to why this film is so great and so underrated.  I've already talked about how well acted the movie is and it is also very well written and directed.  There are multiple scenes full of tension where we are worried Pistone might get discovered.  This is the type of tension that can't be manufactured, it takes a confident director who understands pacing and tempo as well as convincing actors who understand the tension of the situation.  It is these scenes that really sell the movie (along with Pacino's tragic performance) and make it one of the most underrated of all time.

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