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List Sunday - Best Underseen Works from Famous Directors

As a cinephile, I find that most people talk about the same couple hundred titles over and over again. While I love most, if not all, the movies that make up some sort of “canon,” it can get boring talking about the merits of Raiders of the Lost Ark vs. Empire Strikes Back or how Pulp Fiction is a post-postmodern masterpiece. So here’s a shout out to my favorite lesser known works of renowned directors.


1. After Hours

Dir. Martin Scorsese

One of the most intense yet relatable movies I have ever seen, of an interminable night when absolutely nothing can go wrong. I could almost imagine a bright, young indie director using this as a calling card, but this was yet another film from Scorsese. The man’s genius is just unbelievable.

2. Jackie Brown

Dir. Quentin Tarantino

Just because this might be Tarantino’s most conventional film does not mean that it is any less accomplished than his other, flashier work. Tarantino and Leonard are so simpatico that it’s hard to see where one ends and the other begins.

3. The Lady Vanishes

Dir. Alfred Hitchcock

Though Hitchcock definitely had a sick, twisted sense of humor, there is no strong evidence of it in this early work. It’s a marvel how he could use all the same tropes that he used in his later films, but still make a charming comedy of manners.

4. Contagion

Dir. Steven Soderbergh

I find it hard to pin down Soderbergh, but in all of his movies his stamp is instantly recognizable, even in the most genre of genre pictures (Haywire, Magic Mike, Logan Lucky). This movie could have been predictable and boring as hell, but Soderbergh brings style and rich characterization and makes something unique.

5. Matchstick Men

Dir. Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott is someone who has just disappointed me over and over again to the point that I doubt his greatness. Matchstick Men proves that he can have a great eye and make a visually exciting story out of the fairly tired con man tropes.

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