Staff Writer Film Recommendations: The Criminally Underrated Films You Would Die For

We all have those films that we watch and think, ‘why doesn’t everyone watch this movie all the time?!’ Perhaps it’s fallen by the wayside in the decades since it was released, or is an un-streamed masterpiece slowly being forgotten? So, here are the criminally underrated films we would die for from the Non-Fiction Staff Writing team at Farrago.


We all have those films that we watch and think, ‘why doesn’t everyone watch this movie all the time?!’ Perhaps it’s fallen by the wayside in the decades since it was released, or is an un-streamed masterpiece slowly being forgotten? So, here are the criminally underrated films we would die for from the Non-Fiction Staff Writing team at Farrago.


Whip It

By Emma Xerri

Words cannot describe the love I have for this movie. Bliss Cavendar is my spirit animal, the person with whom I want to hold hands as we rollerblade away from the strictures of our small Texan town and into the sunset. I want to go shopping with them for new black and green combat boots, I want to laugh with them as I fall for the seventeenth time whilst learning to rollerblade, and I want to work a Sunday shift with them and Alia Shawkat singing our rendition of Dolly Parton’s Jolene. That this is the only feature film directed by Drew Barrymore sends a single, angsty tear down my cheek, and my iPhone’s reduction of the film to the ‘sports’ genre sends me into a fit of rage. This film is about sisterhood, reclaiming your spark, and crying with your best friend as your indie bandmember boyfriend cheats on you. It’s one of the troubled mother-daughter relationships, learning to understand one another. It’s heartfelt, and it’s honest, and it’s everything a movie should be. To put it simply, Whip It walked (or should I say, skated), so Lady Bird could run.


Crimson Peak (2015)

By Nicole

Crimson Peak is an incredibly underrated piece of gothic media. If you are a fan of the gothic genre, this film follows most of its tropes to a tee.  To describe this movie, I can reiterate a piece of dialogue; “it is not a ghost story but more of a story with a ghost in it. The ghost is just a metaphor for the past.” It has intricate costumes, a phenomenal cast, gorgeous cinematography and incredible use of foreshadowing and colour symbolism. Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain give phenomenal performances with their two characters bouncing off from each other so well, heightening the one-sided rivalry. As someone who once endeavoured to become a set designer, the production design of Crimson Peak has to be one of the most beguiling. Allerdale Hall, where the bulk of the movie is set, is a character in and of itself and is cleverly used to illustrate the conflict and horror occurring within it. Del Toro’s use of practical effects, especially in his depiction of the ghosts, is far more unsettling and effective than some of their computer-generated counterparts. I love how small details scattered throughout the movie lend themselves to intensifying the eerie atmosphere and go unnoticed until the final act. I can go on and on about why this movie is a gem, and I will always recommend it.


Sucker Punch (2011)

By Sophie Goodin

Sucker Punch (2011) might be Zach Snyder’s most widely hated film. Part fantasy, mostly action, the narrative follows five young women trying to escape an underground brothel masquerading as a mental asylum. The protagonist, Babydoll, envisions their getaway plan through violent dream sequences, where all the women band together to square up against dragons, orcs, and robots. If that sounds badass, it’s because it is. The fight scenes have an actual videogame aesthetic—grand quests, surreal arenas, and cooperative play. But with that videogame aesthetic comes a hyper-sexualised depiction of the female body, where much of the film’s controversy arises, which, ordinarily, I’d agree with. But in this case, the women’s design feels like a deliberate subversion of the toxic culture it represents. Rather than being ‘played’ by men, the women in this film ‘play’ themselves, continually striving for personal autonomy. They readily embody the problematic roles assigned to them, only to take over the controls, slashing and shooting their way to the final boss. Sucker Punch is about a group of women who enact patriarchal fantasies on their terms, thereby problematising the very male gaze they appeal to. It’s about time we give this criminally underrated film the credit it deserves.


Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)

By Maggie Slater

Mike Leigh captures the sweetness and giddiness of all your favourite rom-com. Still, he cuts away the fluff and bad-writing, piecing it back together with the help of realism, English wit, and Sally Hawkins’ phenomenal, full-body acting. It’s everything you could ask for from a slice-of-life film and so much more. Hawkins plays Poppy, a lively, hilarious, and unadulterated optimist who also happens to be a woman. Leigh manages (in the same way that The Worst Person in the World has become so beloved for) to tell the story of a person’s life in a way that captivates universally, regardless of gender identity. Whilst simultaneously (albeit unintentionally) highlighting the way that women are socialised in our day and age—to be happy, polite, caring, feminine—creates an unavoidable dichotomy: Poppy’s outlook on life provides her with deep, meaningful connections; she constantly opens herself up to new experiences, she empathises deeply for all, but this care for others, this willingness to say yes and put her trust in people, puts her in real danger. Not once throughout the film does Leigh push the viewer to feel anything. He simply lays it all out and allows you to think critically about what you’ve observed and develop your conclusion. You will finish this film happier and more aware of the pros and cons of life as an optimist than ever before.


Some Underrated Films from 1997

By Daniel Snowden

While I have not seen many films from 1997 (Starship Troopers and Irma Vep have come highly recommended as underappreciated films), there are three Hollywood films which I have gravitated towards as underappreciated classics. They are The Ice Storm, The Edge. and Contact. The Ice Storm (Ang Lee) is a tactfully funny and ruthlessly heart-wrenching exercise in cinematic precision. It is well worth a viewing if you are in the rare mood for a dark and thematically gripping drama about familial fragility and resilience. It was the 126th highest-grossing film worldwide in 1997. The Edge (Lee Tamahori) is simply a well written and highly entertaining survival film. It’s about mental resilience, as all good survival stories are, and if you yearn to see an old billionaire chased down by a bear, this one’s for you. It was the 75th highest-grossing film worldwide in 1997. Contact (Robert Zemeckis) is a sprawling film wherein Jodie Foster must rely on her resilience when the events around her occur on a cosmic level. It has the hallmarks of many Hollywood earth-based sci-fi films, but what stands out to me is its surprising depth and the range of its world and narrative. It was the 17th highest-grossing film worldwide in 1997. To me, these three starkly (and self-critically) American films from 1997 are about resilience. They may be underappreciated for various reasons, but I find them simply enjoyable and thought-provoking. They are well worth a go if you are searching for that next hidden gem.  

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