The Hidden Gems List (1999)

My Hidden Gems list is an in-depth look at all the films I feel are in some way, underseen, underappreciated, or just plain unknown, and they really shouldn’t be that way.

I have a lot of lists of films I really like on this blog. But there are a lot of films out there that I like, so it can be overwhelming for someone who just wants to find a few movies to watch. Plus, I assume that people reading this know enough about movies and have seen enough to where they know what big shit (Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, etc) they need to see. I don’t need to tell you that. Plus, everyone loves when you can find a movie that not a lot of people know about that’s really good that you can now show other people who don’t know about it.

So the idea was to write, in depth, about some movies that I love that I think people need to see. From each year. And what I’m gonna do is go very slowly go through all of them, and give them their time in the spotlight. And then you can read them and maybe find some to go, “All right, I should check that out,” and maybe add them to your Netflix queue.

The idea is to give you things to see (specifically ones I feel most people would ignore, have ignored, or would assume it wasn’t something they need to see, that I think are really good and worthwhile that not enough people know about), and to show some love to more stuff than the big things from each year. We get enough of that. The big stuff is always there, but it’s these ones that fill out a collection.

You can always buy a diamond, but isn’t it more fun to pan a gem from the rest of the dirt? Here are 1999′s gems.

1. Any Given Sunday

    • I’ve always loved this movie, and I’ve always felt it was never taken seriously enough. Too many people got hung up on the “football as war” metaphor. That’s the thing with critics. They don’t really want to be told a message, they just want to make one up themselves. But this is still an entertaining as hell movie, and I feel like this is one a lot of people will (and do) enjoy, which is saying something, since this is Oliver Stone, and he’s not exactly Mr. Mainstream now, is he? It’s not that his films aren’t accessible, it’s that they have more to say than the average filmmaker. So, all around, I think this is a film worth seeing, and I don’t know if enough people have actually seen this. Better safe than sorry.

2. Audition

    • Ha ha. If you don’t know what this is/haven’t seen it, just put it on. Sight unseen. Trust me on this one. You won’t regret it. Well, you might, but not because it’s bad. Just — trust me on this one.

3. Bringing Out the Dead

    • I think this is Scorsese’s most underrated movie. It’s so engaging, and so funny. There are so many funny moments in this movie. It’s also one of those things where — he cast Nicolas Cage, and Cage, with the right director and the right material, makes magic. And this performance is magic. And the supporting parts are so good. John Goodman, Tom Sizemore, Ving Rhames — fucking Ving Rhames steals this movie. The scene with him reviving an OD’d kid in the club is fucking hysterical. Seriously. This movie is incredible and I know not enough people have seen this. If there’s one movie from this list I’d stress the most that people need to see — it’s this one. (Plus, it’s a Scorsese movie. Why haven’t you seen this already?)

4. The Insider

    • It was nominated for Best Picture, yet I still feel like people haven’t seen this. It’s so good. This is almost definitely Michael Mann’s best movie. It’s so good. In case you don’t know, it’s about a guy who is fired from a major tobacco company, and despite having to sign a confidentiality agreement in order to receive severance pay, goes to 60 Minutes to say that Big Tobacco knows their product kills people and has been lying for years, which leads to a major lawsuit and the shit completely hitting the fan. It’s incredible. If you don’t know about this one, you need to go out and see it immediately. It’s a top ten for 1999, without a doubt.

5. Man on the Moon

    • It’s the Andy Kaufman biopic. I feel like this is one of those movies people acknowledge, but it never really gets credit for being as good as it is. Same for Jim Carrey’s performance. How good is Jim Carrey here? I’m sure a lot of people have seen this one, but I just wanted to remind everyone how good this movie is.

6. Mystery Men

    • Fun fact: The music video for Smash Mouth’s “All Star” originally included clips from this movie. After everyone forgot about the movie as soon as it was released, they edited it to make it seem like its own video. This film, though — I love this film. It’s so unique. They created their own comic book-type city and characters, and the film is just one of those films you just know is destined to be a cult film. I don’t know. I enjoy it. Always have. To hell with anyone who doesn’t. (P.S. Watch for the cameos from people who are (and weren’t then) famous. There are a few.)

7. Payback

    • I’ve always loved this movie. I think it’s so good. And I know this has a pretty — contentious — history. There are multiple versions. Director Brian Hegeland was taken off the film and they reshoot a bunch of stuff, and then he released his own cut six years later, which some people greatly prefer (but I don’t). This is a sort of remake (based on the same source material) of the film Point Blank, which isn’t comparable to it at all, since that one is very 60s, and this one just does different things. I think it’s terrific. I love the tone of this film (the theatrical, as opposed to the Hegeland cut), and I think it’s so much fun. Gibson is so badass here. I love how it’s a film about a guy going through hell just to get $70,000. They even try to give him more money and assume he wants more because it’s such a worthless amount to them, but he’s adamant. He wants that and only that. It’s awesome. I love this movie and think it got a bad rap. This continues to be one of my absolute favorite movies from 1999.

8. Sweet and Lowdown

    • I’m not usually one to recommend a Woody Allen film, so keep that in mind. This film is great because of the two lead performances. Sean Penn is terrific, as is Samantha Morton. It’s not my favorite Woody Allen film, but it’s one of the ones I like, which is a very small list (about eight or nine out of forty). And with Woody Allen, you can’t really be too sure what films of his people have seen. And this certainly doesn’t feel like one of the ones a lot of people have seen.

9. The Talented Mr. Ripley

    • This is one of those movies I know is underrated. I saw this in 1999 and forgot all about it by 2005. And in like, 2009, I remember bringing it up to friends (in a film class, no less), because something else reminded me of it, and no one had seen it. So I went back and watched  this (for the Quest), and was blown away by how good this was. It’s so good. And I feel like this has been almost completely forgotten over time, especially considering how many high profile good films there are in 1999. Go back and give this one a watch. I bet you’ll be surprised at how great this film still is.

10. Three Kings

    • One of the ten best films of 1999. Hands down. This is so fucking good. It’s almost impossible to think of a person who doesn’t like this movie. Honestly, if you don’t know this film (and there’s a surprisingly decent chance you might), you need to go out and see this right now. It’s perfect. No joke, one of the top ten films of 1999 and probably one of the top 100 films of the decade.

– – – – –

Quick Hits:

  • The Big Kahuna — I don’t know why I loved this movie when it came out, but I really did. It’s literally just three guys, sitting in a room and talking. That’s it. Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito and Peter Facinelli. They’re in town for some sort of cosmetics conference or something, and they just talk. I was riveted. I haven’t gone back to this one in a while, but the amount of times I saw this between 1999 and 2003 are enough to know that this should be on this list. I bet almost no one knows about this movie. And that’s not fair, because it’s really well done.
  • Blue Streak — This is one of those movies I saw when I was 11 that I’ve always enjoyed and liked, but never really assumed that extended to anyone else. Then I got to college and found people who also saw and liked this movie, and that gave me hope. So this is going on the list. I enjoyed the shit out of this movie when I was 11, and that’s enough for me. I don’t think this is remembered by anyone at all (unless you’re around my age and saw it when it came out), and I think it’s enjoyable enough to recommend to people. (It’s a Martin Lawrence movie. Don’t expect too much. Temper your expectations.)
  • Deep Blue Sea — because everyone should see it. This movie is so fun. Pure fun. That’s it. And everyone needs to see it. It’s a hidden gem in the sense that I bet people who haven’ seen this assume it sucks. And I bet you’ll be surprised how much fun you have with it. Huge fan of this one.
  • Entrapment — Entertaining little movie from 1999 that’s all but forgotten today. One of SEan Connery’s last movies, and a heist movie. So there’s that. Give this one a shot. It’s pretty good and chances are, you probably haven’t seen it.
  • The Thirteenth Floor — I remember when I saw this movie. It was either late 1999 or early 2000, and we were in my friend’s basement. I think it was one of those things where we all just hung out at someone’s house on the guise of “sleeping over.” And we all stayed up to 6 am and went home once we knew our parents were awake. And we rented a couple of movies, and this was one of them. So we watched it at like, 3 am. I remember really enjoying this that time. I expected it would be shit and found myself really engaged. And I saw it a few times after that and not since. So I don’t really remember this one too well, but I remember liking this at the time and I feel like no one really remembers this at all, so — why not? Maybe this is a real hidden gem. At the very least, it’s an engaging movie that most people don’t even know about/haven’t ever seen.

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