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10 awesome below-the-radar films guys need to see

By / 09.19.12
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Our culture loves big, record-smashing movie events, but how about the great films that never got the distribution or word-of-mouth they deserved? We've put together a list of kick-ass, non-mainstream movies that have a unique style and leave a serious impact. What's your favorite below-the-radar movie?


Photo Credit: YouTube/Icon

YouTube/New Line


After small-town diner-owner Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) kills two robbers, he becomes an overnight celebrity. Soon after, he's visited by a gangster who alleges that Stall isn't who he says he is. This is a film that has something deep and dangerous broiling underneath that surfaces right in time for its explosive finale.

Genre:

Drama

Starring:

Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris

Box Office Gross:

Domestic - $31.5MM, Total - $60.7MM


Photo Credit: YouTube/New Line

YouTube/Fox Searchlight


Danny Boyle directs this space thriller where-in a crew of scientists set out to re-ignite a dying sun with a Manhattan-sized bomb in order to save planet Earth. It's brilliantly tense and ramps up to a horrifying and stellar conclusion.

Genre:

Sci-Fi Thriller

Starring:

Rose Byrne, Chris Evans, Cillian Murphy

Box Office Gross:

Domestic - $3.7MM, Total - $32MM


Photo Credit: YouTube/Fox Searchlight

YouTube/IFC


This gripping drama centers on preparation for a live-cast five minute interview between two men. One man (played by James Nesbitt) watched as his brother was murdered in front of him as a child, while the other (Liam Neeson) is the murderer, but did his time in prison and is known as a completely reformed man. The exposition depicting the murder is brief, but shocking. The real beauty comes from the tension leading up to their meeting when we discover that one man is planning to use his on-air time for revenge. The slow-burn culminates into a monstrous ending.

Genre:

Drama

Starring:

Liam Neeson, James Nesbitt

Box Office Gross:

Domestic - $15,676, Total - $87,906


Photo Credit: YouTube/IFC

YouTube/Dimension


Based on a novel of the same name, The Road takes the standard post-apocalyptic world formula and creates a bleak, horrific setting. The world around shows a deep contrast to the touching, father-son survival story that acts as the beating heart of the film. Viggo Mortensen's portrayal of a desperate dying man who will do anything to keep his son safe is one of his absolute best while newcomer Kodi Smit-McPhee nails it as the young boy who ignites the flames to his father's will to survive. On their journey they face bandits, cannibals and toughest of all: hopelessness.

Genre:

Dramatic Thriller

Starring:

Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee

Box Office Gross:

Domestic - $8.1MM, Total - $27.6MM


Photo Credit: YouTube/Dimension

YouTube/Icon


James Bond and that bad-ass dude from Taken/Schindler's List/The Grey (take your pick) face off as two enemies with a dark history in this amazing Western. Hands down, this is Pierce Brosnan at his best, immediately evidenced by the anguish-filled opening scene where he is shot, tumbles down a snowy mountain, is swept through a surging river and then emerges, stripping down in the freezing cold to extract the bullet via excruciating self-surgery. He truly makes the viewer feel his pain Seraphim Falls is rife with visual artistry and anti-war messages toward the end, but the ride up to it has plenty of "holy shit" moments that will keep fans of Brosnan, Neeson or Westerns in general, glued to their screen.

Genre:

Western

Starring:

Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson

Box Office Gross:

Domestic - $418,296, Total - $1.2MM


Photo Credit: YouTube/Icon

YouTube/Focus Features


I know, I know...another Viggo Mortensen film? Yes, and for good reason. Eastern Promises casts Viggo in the role of a tattoo-covered Russian mobster named Nikholai who's torn between his rising status in the "family" and the fate of an abandoned baby girl whose mother was raped and killed by the same "family." Since this is a mob movie, there's some particularly brutal violence, but it's all hand-to-hand combat as not a single gun is to be seen in the whole film. The most memorable scene is set in a public bathhouse, pitting Nikholai against two attackers armed with linoleum knives, nudity and all. It's disturbing, but Nikholai's vulnerability makes it all the more thrilling.

Genre:

Dramatic Thriller

Starring:

Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts

Box Office Gross:

Domestic - $17.3MM, Total - $56.1MM


Photo Credit: YouTube/Focus Features

YouTube/Overture


This is about a little girl who just so happens to be a vampire. But, unlike other vampire films that lose themselves in the "magic" behind the undead, this one focuses on its very human elements. 12-year-old Owen, (played by Kodi Smit-McPhee, who also happens to be in The Road) a lonely, neglected bully-victim is befriended by his neighbor: a vampire-girl named Abby. It's apparent that she's different, but Owen can't quite figure out how. So far, Abby has managed to keep a low profile. Her father-figure caretaker murders, exsanguinates and disposes of victims, bringing her their blood so she can feed without risking her secret by leaving home to attack the living. It's a cross between a tale of young friendship, familial love, and a creepy, bloody vampire film that transcends genre.

Genre:

Horror

Starring:

Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Moretz, Richard Jenkins

Box Office Gross:

Domestic - $12.1MM, Total - $24.1MM


Photo Credit: YouTube/Overture

YouTube/Sony


Moon functions, in essence, with a single actor: Sam Rockwell. He plays Sam Bell, a contract worker who operates a largely self-automated lunar base, extracting valuable elements from the moon to ship back to his employers. Not long before Sam is due to complete his job and return to his family on Earth, he hallucinates visions of a teenage girl while out on the lunar planes and crashes his rover into a harvester. Sam awakes in the infirmary, being tended to by GERTY (a robot voiced by Kevin Spacey), but it isn't actually Sam, it's Sam's clone. Sam 2 goes out to save Sam 1 and that's when the movie begins to get truly interesting.

Genre:

Sci-Fi

Starring:

Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey (voice)

Box Office Gross:

Domestic - $5MM, Total - $9.8MM


Photo Credit: YouTube/Sony

YouTube/Icon


Just like with Moon, there is one actor in this movie. The difference is that in this highly conceptual thriller, the action takes place entirely inside a cramped wooden box that's been buried deep underground. We're treated to the reason that Conroy (played brilliantly by Ryan Reynolds) was buried early on in the movie. Rather than the mystery behind the burial, the tension is derived from Conroy's negotiations with the men who did this to him (via cell phone) and the deadly environmental hazards of being buried alive in the desert. Buried progresses into a truly unexpected ending that resonates long after the credits roll.

Genre:

Thriller

Starring:

Ryan Reynolds

Box Office Gross:

Domestic - $1MM, Total - $19.1MM


Photo Credit: YouTube/Icon

YouTube/Gaumant


JCVD opens with a spectacular, single-shot action sequence that rivals anything Jean Claude Van Damme has ever done. But is it really happening in the movie? Nope, it's just JCVD himself on-set, filming a scene. This is a super-meta, semi-fictionalized character profile on the man himself as he goes about his life as a celebrity in his home country of Belgium. Then all of a sudden, he's taken hostage during a bank robbery and is tasked with taking out the bad guys and saving the other hostages, not as an action hero, but as a man who only plays an action hero on the big screen. It's amusing and dramatic, but JCVD's climax has nothing to do with explosions or leaping kicks: it's a one-take, six-minute monologue that digs deep, showing serious acting chops no one ever knew the man had.

Genre:

Crime Comedy/Drama

Starring:

Jean Claude Van Damme

Box Office Gross:

Domestic - $470,691, Total - $2.3MM


Photo Credit: YouTube/Gaumant

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TAGSArbitrary RankingsBuried movieEastern Promisesfeaturedfilms for guysfilms for menFive Minutes of Heavenguy moviesHistory of ViolenceJCVDLet Me In movieListsMoon moviemovies for guysSeraphim FallsSunshine movieThe Road movieunder the radar filmsunder the radar moviesunderrated filmsunderrated movies
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