15 Movies That are Hidden Gems you Need to Watch

Last Updated on October 6, 2021 by

15 Movies That are Hidden Gems you Need to Watch

1. Some Kind of Monster – Documentary from 2004

This may be one of the best music documentaries ever made. The documentary makers follow metal giants Metallica during the recording of the scary St. Anger plate (Lars Ulrich’s whirlpool sound!). The documentary is a skinless document of a band in waste that goes into group therapy to cope with life – and each other.

James Hetfield is a lousy dad who goes on vodka-bear bear hunting in Russia instead of spending time with his new-born child, and Lars Ulrichs almost breaks down when his Danish hip dad Torben saw the new album at his feet. Even though you shouldn’t like Metallica, you do it anyway, just because it’s so naked.

2. Saving Banksy – Documentary from 2017

Right now, everyone loves Banksy for shredding his own painting at the moment it was auctioned off for 12 million USD. But the secret British street-art artist who-became-high-culture-painter is also contentious, as a really good artist should be. This documentary shows how Banksy’s Haight Street Rat work divided San Francisco’s population, government and the art world into different camps in 2010.

2. The Prestige – Thriller from 2006

Possibly The Prestige is a bit too well-known movie to be categorized as a hidden gem. But few people think of The Prestige as super director Christopher Nolan’s premier work. In fact, Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, and Michael Caine film are one of Nolan’s three best films – if not the best. The wizard movie The Prestige, which contains both one, two and three brand-close Nolan twists, should not be confused with the much weaker Edward Norton movie The Illusionist that came almost exactly at the same time.

3. Anvil! The Story of Anvil – Documentary from 2008

The documentary about Canadian heavy metal band Anvil with the immensely lovable duo Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner is one of the finest documentaries ever made – of all time. Anvil is the metal band that would become as big as Scorpions, Whitesnake and Bon Jovi, but who wasn’t even close to taking the chance when it showed up. Like 50-year-olds, the duo rock in anticipation of the big break – and the rest, in all their Spinal Tapiga disorder, is the finest story of friendship you’ve seen on a computer screen.

4. Barry Lyndon – Drama from 1975

Stanley Kubrick’s costume drama is perhaps his least popular film. The pace is slow, Ryan O’Neal sluggish, intrigue not noticeably overwhelming. But you have to see it! For the human view is as wonderfully cynical as the doctors are cash. The moods, the sound and the photo are fantastic. The film has formed a school for what the 18th century should look like – before you have seen it you have not seen Kubrick.

5. Pusher – Thriller from 1996

Pusher got a whole generation to travel across the Sound to experience the tough Copenhagen. 22 years later can be found: the Danish cult drug dealer roll has aged fantastically well. Kim Bodnia’s sympathetic, pressed dealer Frank, Mads Mikkelsen‘s young flushing Tonny, the incomparable Zlatko Buric as the Tony Soprano-like Milo – all are brilliant.

6. RocknRolla – Action Comedy from 2008

RocknRolla is the last movie in the old Guy Ritchie school. After the breakthrough with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and five-plus brilliant Snatch (2000), RocknRolla came almost a decade later. Like its stylistic predecessors, comedy contains exactly what you love about Ritchie’s films: clearly cast characters, fast-paced dialogue, and a fantastic soundtrack. Only the scene where The Clash’s forgotten song Bank Robber is played is worth the 104 minutes playing time of the movie.

7. Mean Streets – Playwright from 1973

After Scorsese made his second film, Boxcar Bertha, the mentor, and director John Cassavetes’s judgment were harsh: “You just spent a year of your life making a piece of shit.” Scorsese responded by digging where he stood, letting semi-concealers Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel play petty gangsters in New York’s Little Italy. Mean Streets is worthy of its classic status: De Niro’s fantastically ridiculous Johnny Boy has as tough a nickname as clothing style, the fight scenes are realistically clumsy – and the “mook” scene is one of the funniest in movie history. Although Scorsese, Keitel and De Niro came to make bigger films after 1973, Mean Streets is the movie that took the trio to true star status.

8. Going Clear – Documentary from 2015

Scientology unites man’s search for meaning, American capitalism, cleverly constructed game theory, status-hunting, complete humbug, and a suspicious sci-fi writer. This icy – scary – documentary describes the clear path into the church, and the attempts to get out of it. Tom Cruise is probably laughing. Based on a similarly readable book by super journalist Lawrence Wright.

9. Empire of the Sun – Drama from 1987

The movie title is not to be confused with the Aussie band of the same name that had its period of greatness around 2009. The Steven Spielberg-directed film is based on J.G. Ballard’s autobiographical novel of the same name. The film tells the story of a little boy (Christian Bale) who loses his parents in Shanghai during World War II and ends up in a detention camp in Lunghua where they fight for survival. Not only do we get to see Christian Bale as a little boy – Empire of the Sun is also one of Ben Stiller’s very first film roles and John Malkovich is as usual John Malkovich.

10. Hired Gun – Documentary from 2016

The music documentary where the “back people” finally shines. Hired Gun interviews several studio and live musicians who have been important cogs for big bands such as Alice Cooper, Metallica, Kiss, and Billy Joel. Concert and studio clips are interspersed with anecdotes about the aforementioned bands, and the film’s main characters – the studio musicians – are allowed to show their playing technical skills in a long group jam that comes and goes during the course of the documentary. Fine! For: the musical nerd.

12. Paris is Burning – Documentary from 1990

Iconic 1990 documentary capturing New York’s colorful ballroom scene in the 1980s: the LGBT subculture that made Madonna the world’s biggest pop star and your friends comment “yasss queen” on Instagram selfies. Not entirely uncontroversial thus, the film’s director Jennie Livingston has been accused of cultural appropriation and sued by the film’s protagonists who felt exploited when the film became an unexpected success. Regardless, the film has cemented its place in the focus of pop culture in recent years as, among other things, Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes sampled the film’s dialogue generously a couple of years ago – and the following year Frank Ocean celebrated his 30th birthday by organizing a Paris is Burning theme party.