10. The Lego Movie (2014)
Honestly, I’m not sure anyone was ready for how complex and existential “The Lego Movie” would be. Mark this one in the “nice surprise” column, with Chris Pratt in the lead. This was pure fun for kids and adults.
9. Batman Begins (2005)
After a couple of lackluster installments, Batman was in desperate need of a reboot. It got the one it needed…and deserved in the form of auteur Christopher Nolan. Honestly, the first of Nolan’s Batman films was the best, as it was not nearly as pedantic as the other two.
8. Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
While certainly not superb, “Kingdom of Heaven” is a very, very solid film. The acting is very good, with a well-balanced plot, and plenty of outstanding action. This film lacks a bit though, in the epic qualities that make others in the genre stand out.
7. Michael Collins (1996)
Liam Neeson plays the title character, an Irish revolutionary putting it all on the line. This is a fairly good movie, but some missteps here and there keep it out of the “great” category. This is still a nice watch, especially for anyone who likes historical dramas.
6. The Grey (2011)
“The Grey” was an amazing film with a pretty original premise. Liam Neeson was excellent leading a ragtag group in their efforts to survive the elements and a pack of wolves. As we progressed towards the climax, an inevitable showdown between Neeson and the main wolf was on the horizon. But then it wasn’t…as the film merely teased this before cutting to credits.
5. K19: The Widowmaker (2002)
From the mid-1990’s to the mid-2000’s, there were so many submarine movies flooding (pun intended) the film landscape, that a solid entry like K-19 went largely unnoticed. Having Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson star in this one gave it instant cred, but the plot itself is really thought-provoking and stirring. Unfortunately, this one is largely forgotten today, maybe because the really bad title that makes it sound like a straight-to-DVD release.
4. Kinsey (2004)
This true story of the famous sex researcher of the same name. This one is equal parts touching (get your mind out of the gutter), poignant, and funny…a truly underrated film. Liam Neeson is excellent in the starring role.
3. The Mission (1986)
Robert DeNiro and Jeremy Irons stars as two Christian missionaries, who run into some serious trouble. “The Mission” is a masterwork and features some of the best cinematography in the history of the medium. Few today remember this one. Those who have seen it, will never forget.
2. Gangs of New York (2002)
It’s always a difficult jump from teen to adult roles. While most thought DiCaprio had talent, many believed that he’d be typecast because of early performances. Enter Martin Scorsese. Leo got a great gig alongside the uber-talented, Daniel Day Lewis in “Gangs of New York.” The rest, as they say, is history. DiCaprio is one of the biggest names in modern film.
- Schindler’s List (1993)
This is obviously one of Spielberg’s best, but I’m not sure the occasional heavy-handedness holds up nearly as well today. Schindler’s List is obviously well-sculpted, with a riveting story and excellent acting, but it lacks some of the subtleties that make similar films (i.e. The Pianist) shine a bit more. I also think that the artistic licensing taken with some of the true-life events, leaves educated viewers a bit jaded. Still a great film, nevertheless.