The Hidden Gems List (1996)
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 1996′s gems.
1. Breaking the Waves
- I know it’s revered and all, but I still think there are people that just haven’t seen this. I knew about this film for a long ass time. Still didn’t see it until I had to for the Oscar Quest. And I loved it. Emily Watson is so fucking good in this movie. It’s crazy how good she is. This is one of those movies that you watch for the performance. Like Cassavetes. A Woman Under the Influence. It’s not pure entertainment, but it is solid cinema.
2. Everyone Says I Love You
- Another Woody Allen movie I enjoy. Why? It’s a musical. He took existing songs by Cole Porter and such and wrote them into a script. And all the characters sing the songs. I love musicals, and I love the idea of a Woody Allen musical. Why? Because it’s one of those movies from him that’s actually a movie. Most of his stuff is the psychoanalysis stuff, like Husbands and Wives and Manhattan — but this one is him writing an actual movie. Like Small Time Crooks, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Midnight in Paris — there’s a plot, and there’s a fun set up to them. He might have his usual stuff in those movies, but they’re still more interesting to me than his usual shit because it feels like he’s trying to write a movie first and not trying to work some shit. This movie is just happy. The mid 90s seem to be his happy period, with Bullets Over Broadway, Mighty Aphrodite — he seemed to be having fun, unlike the 80s, where everything was dark and boring. But this movie — I had a lot of fun with this one, and I know a lot of people haven’t seen it, because it’s difficult to find. I was trying to see this for a few years, and it wasn’t (and probably still isn’t) on Netflix. So I know this is definitely not easy to find, which makes it hidden, and it’s a gem, so…
3. From Dusk Till Dawn
- Because I’m not sure how many people have actually seen this. I have a lot of friends who love Tarantino’s stuff and have no idea this even exists. I can’t really explain this movie to you, because it’s such a unique film, structurally, that if you don’t know anything about it (and that’s who this is for. Those people), don’t read anything, don’t watch a trailer — just put it on. It’s… perfect. I’ll just tell you this much — Tarantino wrote it, Robert Rodriguez directed it. George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis star in it. Quentin’s in it, Danny Trejo makes an appearance, Fred Williamson, Tom Savini, Cheech Marin, Michael Parks, John Hawkes, Salma Hayek… it’s a terrific movie. And again, if you don’t know anything about it, go in 100% cold. Trust me. You won’t regret it, and you’ll enjoy the shit out of this movie.
- This movie is comedy genius. It’s so fucking funny. I’m sure most people have seen it, but I don’t care. I think this is one of the most underrated comedies of the 90s. Fuck There’s Something About Mary. This movie is comedy gold. Bill Murray in this? And how about the stroke of genius when it comed to comedy — turning a character’s name into a verb, and then having that verb just become its own thing. “Munsoned”? That’s genius. That’s the grammar equivalent of “Scotty Doesn’t Know.” You have to love when a film does something so smart that it just enters the lexicon. But anyway — this movie is so fucking funny. Everything about it still makes me laugh.
5. The Long Kiss Goodnight
- This is one of my favorite hidden gems to show people. This movie tanked when it came out, and it’s so fucking great. Shane Black wrote this. The setup is — and don’t pay too much attention to the setup. It’s kind of campy, but it’s so goddamn fun — Geena Davis is a housewife. Happy life, idyllic existence. Then one night, after a Christmas party, driving a drunk relative home, she hits a deer. The car careens off the road and she hits her head. And this gets her to start realizing that she’s not who she is. She’s actually an assassin who got amnesia and started to believe her cover. And naturally, now she has to deal with all these people from her past who want to kill her and all that. And she meets Samuel L. Jackson, who is a low-rent private investigator working for her, and — well, it’s fun as shit. Just watch it. Trust me. If you like fun, awesome movies, you’ll love the shit out of this one. One of the most underrated action movies of the 90s. This is one of those movies I sit a bunch of people down and go, “No, no… trust me.” And it never fails. They always enjoy the hell out of it.
- Michael Keaton. I love him. This is a movie about him not having enough time to do all the things he wants to do, so he clones himself. And he ends up with three clones of himself, and naturally, chaos ensues. It’s a funny movie. Very underrated comedy from the 90s. Also, Michael Keaton is a boss.
7. One Fine Day
- This was one of my favorite movies from childhood. I don’t know why, but it always was. I think this is a very underrated movie. It takes place over the course of a day, which I love. And, given how far the romantic comedy has fallen as a genre, this is one of the last ones that I’ve seen that I’ve really liked. And I feel like, unless you saw it around the time it came out, you probably haven’t seen this. This doesn’t seem to be remembered at all.
8. The People vs. Larry Flynt
- Another really solid one. Trial movie, at that. It’s pretty great all around. Milos Forman directing, great performances by Woody Harrelson, Courtney Love (you heard me) and Edward Norton. Underrated in the sense that it’s not the first movie people come across when they look at 1996. I know there’s a decent number of people who have never seen this. And you should. It’s great.
- I really liked this one. I’m not sure why. I guess because it’s simple. John Travolta is a small town guy who one day discovers he has telekinetic powers and a heightened intelligence. No idea why, he just does. And the rest of the movie is him dealing with that, and using them, until eventually people come around to try to figure out why he has them and if it’s true or not. It’s — really engaging. It’s just a really engaging movie. And it’s almost forgotten now.
10. A Time to Kill
- The Grisham movies are always interesting. You can tell. They always attract a crazy good cast. I actually really enjoyed the book, too. Grisham is usually hit and miss with me, even though they’re all pretty much readable. I liked how the trial was similar to the Mockingbird trial — the racial element, anyway. Samuel L. Jackson’s daughter is raped and killed by two white guys, so Jackson goes and kills them once he sees they’re gonna be acquitted. He does this openly and in cold blood. Everyone knows why he did it and even agrees with him, since it’s clear the boys are guilty and were acquitted because of racism. So they go about trying to get Jackson acquitted due to “temporary insanity,” which would basically be as bullshit as the acquittal of the boys, but, in a way, justice would (sort of) be served. And it’s Grisham, so there’s a bunch of other shit thrown in, KKK and whatever. It’s still engaging as hell. And it’s a trial movie — always interesting.
– – – – –
- The Cable Guy — Another one of those movies that’s a bit misunderstood. I love this. I love how weird it is, and how dark everything that’s happening actually is. I think it’s an underrated movie.
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame — This is a very underrated Disney movie. I imagine a lot of people have seen it. But do people realize how good this actually is? I saw it years ago and I didn’t like it at all. It took me multiple watches to realize how great this is.
- Matilda — I love this movie. I had an extra spot. That’s why it’s here. It reminds me of childhood.
- Sling Blade — Some of them french-fried potaters. (P.S. I know a lot of you haven’t seen this. You need to. It’s the best performance of Billy Bob Thornton’s career.)
- Space Jam — It’s fucking Space Jam.