The Hidden Gems List (1995)
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 1995’s gems.
(Note: I had some trouble with 1995. So just go with me on some of these. These lists will be updated in the future. I’ll try to keep everything to actual hidden gems. But for now — some years will be better than others.)
1. The American President
- I’d never seen this movie, but did put it on for my Top Tens of the 90s list, mostly because I knew that Aaron Sorkin wrote it, and all of the films made from his screenplays (granted, I’ve yet to see Malice) have been terrific. So I put it on. And, as I expected, it’s terrific. It’s a romantic comedy and more. And has all the great Sorkin dialogue. Definitely one of the most underrated movies of the 90s.
- I’m sure everyone knows about this movie, but how often do people revisit this one? Shit, I haven’t seen this in like, 15 years. I just wanted to remind people about this one. Go back to it. It’s great.
3. Apollo 13
- As you can tell — 1995 isn’t particularly strong for hidden gems, so mostly I’m just picking what I want to. I love this movie, and it seems like there aren’t enough people who feel this should have won Best Picture over Braveheart. So you know what? Bam. Here it goes. (I honestly had a hard time getting to ten. So for now, we’re gonna leave it. When I watch more stuff and feel it should be on, it’ll go on.)
4. Get Shorty
- Another one of those movies I watched when I first started getting into movies, but really haven’t heard much about since. I enjoyed the shit out of this for a while, and haven’t really seen this in almost a decade. I don’t think people talk about this one much. But it’s entertaining and a pretty damn good movie. So I’ll put it here to remind people of it.
5. Leaving Las Vegas
- This is one of those films… I’m sure people know of it, especially since Cage won for it, but I went back and watched this twice for the Quest… this movie was good enough to be nominated for Best Picture. It’s really good. And I think that might get lost on people. Plus, it’s not a film that’s one of the first ones from this year people will see. So on that level, this is a hidden gem.
6. Mighty Aphrodite
- I pretty much consider every Woody Allen film that’s not one of the really obvious ones to be a hidden gem. If I like it, of course. And I love this movie. It’s hilarious. Mira Sorvino makes this movie. All of her scenes are so fucking entertaining.
7. Mr. Holland’s Opus
- One of my favorite movies from childhood. I feel like this is mostly forgotten now. I mean, people see it, since it’s all over cable, I’m sure, but I don’t think this gets the respect it deserves. I fucking love this movie, and I think everyone should see it. So, if you haven’t — here’s your opportunity. It’s one of the best movies of 1995.
8. Murder in the First
- Now this is a real hidden gem. Here’s the setup — Kevin Bacon is an inmate at Alcatraz. He’s about to try to escape with another dude. Suddenly, he’s caught and thrown in solitary confinement for three years. No being let out, nothing. After the three years, he’s all fucked up and half-crazy. And the first thing he does when he’s out is kill his partner, who had to have given him up, otherwise they wouldn’t have gotten caught. And he’s put on trial for it, and is defended by Christian Slater, who has to overcome all the corruption and stuff and argue the illegality of them throwing him in solitary for three years. Not to mention — they can just fucking kill Bacon in prison and the trial ends. So it’s great on a bunch of levels — the fact that it’s a trial film, the fact that Bacon has to not only worry about the trial but being killed in his cell at night, and the fact that Gary Oldman plays his sadistic warden. It’s an amazing movie that is virtually unknown nowadays. I forget how I saw it in the first place, but I’m so glad I did. The movie is incredible. Absolutely incredible.
9. Nick of Time
- Another true hidden gem. A thriller starring — wait for it — Johnny Depp and Christopher Walken. (Wait, what?) You heard me right. And how do you not know about this? I don’t know. Here’s the setup — Johnny Depp is a regular dude whose daughter gets kidnapped by Christopher Walken at a train station. Walken uses the daughter as leverage to make Depp kill a politician. So the whole movie is Depp trying to figure out who Walken is/get his daughter back, while also doing what Walken says so Walken doesn’t kill his daughter. It’s fucking great. One of my favorite, favorite films of this year and the decade. It’s so much fun. And I know people haven’t seen this. And I bet you’ll enjoy the shit out of it. It’s one of those films that takes place almost in real time, too. Which adds an element of intrigue to it. Give this one a shot. I bet you’ll love it.
- Here’s an underrated movie that’s entertaining as shit. It’s basically like if Contagion were a big budget 90s thriller. It’s awesome. It’s basically about the ebola virus. People catch a strain of something from monkeys and it kills them very quickly. And it’s scientists rushing to figure out a cure. That’s it. I love this movie. And the cast is stacked. So many famous people. And while I’m sure people my age saw this, I doubt the younger people will immediately know about this one. So I’m keeping it here, because I need to make sure people continue watching this movie. It’s so great. This movie feels like the 90s.