10 Famous Filmmakers on Their Favorite Overlooked Movies


It’s always fun to find out what movies inspire our favorite filmmakers, particularly when the Scorseses and Wes Andersons and the like point us away from the traditional canon and towards movies that are a little more obscure and unsung. In that spirit, the new book The Best Film You’ve Never Seen finds writer Robert K. Elder talking to 35 directors about their favorite overlooked, lost, or critically savaged films. Here’s a brief peek at what Flavorwire favorites like John Waters, Edgar Wright, Guillermo del Toro, and Richard Linklater recommended.

The director: John Waters His credits: Hairspray, Cry-Baby, Polyester Film of choice: Boom! (1968) Why: “It’s, in a way, really, really good. But at the same time, it’s so terrible; I’m confused all the time. I don’t know which it is. I love to be confused, artistically. I love to be in on the joke, and I’m not sure if there is one.”

The director: Edgar Wright His credits: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Film of choice: The Super Cops (1974) Why: “I’m going to put it in my top ten of classic cop films. It’s very memorable, and it deserves to be seen. It’s got a great script, the central performance is fantastic, and really deserves to be celebrated a lot more. No, wait, let’s put it in my top five. It keeps going up. I won’t be shy about singing its praises.”

The director: Richard Linklater His credits: Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight Film of choice: Some Came Running (1958) Why: “This film affected me. I remember the next few days thinking about it constantly; it was so much more than I expected. It was a big eye-opener.”

The director: Guillermo del Toro His credits: Mimic, Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth Film of choice: Arcane Sorcerer (1996) Why: “It’s an incredibly well-researched, pastoral, spiritual horror movie. The rhythm and style of it are hard to describe. It’s the Barry Lyndon of horror films.”

The director: Rian Johnson His credits: Brick, The Brothers Bloom, Looper Film of choice: Under the Volcano (1984) Why: “When I first watched it, I didn’t really understand a lot of it, but I knew that I was going on a trip to a really dark and dangerous place. The film always had this mystique to me; it always felt like an unknown country that I had seen through the window of our car when our family was driving through it. It felt like something mysterious and dangerous that I had just glimpsed.”

The director: Kimberly Peirce Her credits: Boys Don’t Cry, Stop-Loss, Carrie (2013) Film of choice: Ugetsu (1953) Why: “It’s very much a Japanese equivalent of Rosemary’s Baby, because it’s the idea that ghosts or witches can exist with us, and it takes a while to figure out that that’s what they are.”

The director: Richard Kelly His credits: Donnie Darko, Southland Tales, The Box Film of choice: Fearless (1993) Why: “There’s never been a film made like it. There are no villains, and the hero is not exactly heroic… There was nothing contrived about the screenplay. It just unfolded in this day-to-day shock and recovery that one must endure after a horrific experience, like a plane crash. I found it to be brutally honest and emotional without ever being manipulative or cheap.”

The director: Todd Solondz His credits: Welcome to the Dollhouse, Happiness, Life During Wartime Film of choice: The Honeymoon Killers (1969) Why: “It’s a fictionalization of a true-life story of a couple who murdered women for their money. It’s very lurid and sordid and yet, by turns, it’s campy and moving and funny as well.”

The director: Danny Boyle His credits: Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours Film of choice: Eureka (1983) Why: “…the film is virtually unknown. That is a wrong, a severe injustice in the cinematic world. It’s an extremely wild pleasure.”

The director: Kevin Smith His credits: Clerks, Chasing Amy, Dogma Film of choice: A Man for All Seasons (1966) Why: On his first viewing, “I was hooked. I was so roped in, literally leaning over the arm of the couch, knees on the couch, almost in that face-in-hands, resting-on-elbows position, like a ’50s schoolgirl would pine over Ricky Nelson.”

Excerpted with permission from The Best Film You’ve Never Seen , published by Chicago Review Press, June 2013, available via www.ipgbook.com, Amazon, and wherever books are sold. http://bestfilmneverseen.com | @robertkelder