My Favorite (Underrated) Films Across 10 Different Genres

I've always enjoyed movie nights with my family, even though they were a rarity in our busy lives. Quarantine was the perfect excuse for us to get more acquainted with the art of cinema. My family caught up on a lot of classics, but we also experimented a lot with different genres and tried to watch films that were not mainstream. I hereby present you all with my list of favorite films across different genres that (I hope) are also films that are lesser known.

assorted movies on bookshelf Photo by Lucas Pezeta from Pexels

Romance:

This one is an easy one for me: my favorite romance movie is Like Crazy. This movie follows two college students who meet and fall in love, and the difficulties they face as they enter a long-distance relationship. 

I love this movie like crazy (pun intended). This movie made me feel emotions that other cheesy, idyllic romance movies have not been able to make me feel. I realized that I’ve become disillusioned with Nicholas Sparks movies because they’re very formulaic and predictable; it’s always two pretty people in a pretty town, picturesque cinematography, and there’s always a canoeing scene, usually followed by a scene of pouring rain and kissing. They’re sweet, but I personally enjoy romance movies that tear my heart out, which is why I loved Like Crazy

It was so raw and real. It was shot in such a way that felt deeply intimate and realistic, with imperfect lighting and a sometimes unsteady camera. I liked that it portrayed the ups and downs of a relationship, something that many romance movies fail to portray. It’s that one movie that never fails to make me shed a tear, no matter how many times I’ve seen it.

Thriller:

My favorite thriller is probably Searching. I wonder why it’s not more popular, since I don’t know anyone outside my family who has even heard of it. My whole family saw it in an empty theater late one night (before quarantine), and it kept us on the edge of our seats the entire time.

Searching is about a single father who discovers that his daughter is missing. He uses clues from her online presence and social media to try to piece together where she is, and through the process, learns more about who she is.

The plot was intricately written. There were so many twists that you never know what’s going to happen next; you feel like you’re figuring out the mystery along with the father. It was also shot very uniquely, in that much of the mystery unfolds on the father’s laptop screen, where you can see what he is searching on the web and what he is clicking and opening. The director, Aneesh Chaganty, formerly wrote and directed Google commercials, so he was skilled at making a thriller fit for the 21st Century, where the characters are trying to solve their problems through leveraging technology and online platforms.

Also, much of the cast is Asian, along with the director. Representation for the win.

Coming of Age

My favorite coming of age movie is another one that’s probably lesser known. I absolutely love coming of age movies, so this one was really hard to narrow down, but I might have to give it to Giant Little Ones

Giant Little Ones is a Canadian film about teenage sexuality and how teens and adults struggle with reconciling it. 

This movie is so underrated. It’s very realistic and relatable to most likely everyone, and it not only talks about the nuances of teenage sexuality, but also the young adult experience more broadly: bumpy friendships, high school egos, as well as darker topics such as sexual assault and the ostracism that victims face.

It certainly made me feel a lot of emotions. The ending is also beautifully simple yet extremely poignant.

Dramedy

I absolutely loved the movie The Edge of Seventeen. You wouldn’t think a movie about a simple high schooler would touch me this much, but it did. 

The Edge of Seventeen is about a girl named Nadine, and the challenges she faces in her life, both trivial and serious.

This movie is truly funny, but it’s also deeply emotional and often heartbreaking. Unlike other cringey teen movies, this one is actually very raw, and it made me think a lot even after watching it. Hailee Steinfeld is also such a talented young Oscar-nominated actress. If you only know her because of her music, definitely check out her movies as well!

Romantic Comedy:

Ah, the classic rom-com. This has to be one of my favorite genres, which is why it was so hard for me to choose my favorite rom-com. But who am I kidding, I just have to give it to Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians is about, well, crazy rich Asians. An NYU professor, Rachel Chu, starts dating a man named Nick Young, only to find out that he’s one of the richest people in Singapore. When meeting his family in Singapore, Rachel struggles with getting his mother’s approval and fitting into the crazy rich lifestyle.

This movie was everything I wanted in a movie. Besides it being an amazing film that anyone will enjoy, as an Asian American, it was historic and powerful to see an all-Asian cast in a Hollywood movie on the big screen. I saw it with all of my Asian friends one night, and there was not a dry eye among us. 

Crazy Rich Asians Color Force

Mystery:

Hands down, Knives Out. It was such a fun movie! They don’t make mystery movies this fun anymore. It was super old-school, Clue-inspired, your classic “whodunit” murder mystery. Throw some humor in and Chris Evans, and you have yourself a good time.

On that note, let’s talk about the cast. It’s truly the dream team. Ana de Armas plays a Latina nurse in the movie, which sounds very stereotypical, but her character is so much more layered and complex than the typical Latina nurse trope. I also never knew I needed to watch a movie where Daniel Craig plays a detective with a questionable southern accent, but I’m happy I did. You could tell the cast had a blast making this film, and if there’s one film I wish I were part of, it’s this one.  

Science Fiction

The Martian hit all the right notes. It’s super funny, charming, emotional, suspenseful, and just pure enjoyment.

The Martian is about astronaut Mark Watney, who’s stranded on Mars, and has to figure out how to survive by using his wits. 

Was it deep? Not particularly, but that’s not to say that it wasn’t poignant. It wasn’t a movie that was trying too hard to impress or reach for an Oscar; it just embraced the fact that it was an easy-going, fun movie, which is why I liked it so much.

History

This one is also easy: my favorite history film is Spotlight

Spotlight is about The Boston Globe’s expose of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, which won them a Pulitzer.

This film is so good and so important. There’s actually two stories in this film; one is about abuse and cover-ups within a powerful institution, and the other one is an ode to the perserverance and bravery of journalists. For all of us journalism nerds, this movie did an excellent job paying tribute to the power of investigative journalism, a true unsung hero.  

Childhood Movie

Bridge to Terabithia is not only my favorite childhood movie, but if I were forced to choose my favorite movie of all time, it would probably also be Bridge to Terabithia

Bridge to Terabithia is about two kids, Jesse and Leslie, who create an imaginary world called “Terabithia” that they use as an escape from reality. When tragedy hits, their imagination becomes more important than ever.

When I tell you that this movie bores a hole in my heart just thinking about it, I’m not lying. All the characters are so well-acted and so beautifully portrayed, and despite it being a children's movie, I think older people might appreciate it more than a child would. Admittedly, I watched this movie for the first time around the time that The Hunger Games came out, because I was in love with Josh Hutcherson and wanted to watch all his movies, but it ended up touching me in ways I never expected. 

Black and White 

I decided to create a “Black and White” genre because I just needed to fit in Roman Holiday.

Roman Holiday is about a princess who experiences a taste of normal life and romance when she meets a journalist trying to cover a story on her. 

I love Roman Holiday because of its simple charm. I feel that movies today are too convoluted and try to do too much, and they just become sensory overload, but Roman Holiday succeeds because of its sheer simple beauty and the poise of its actors: Gregory Peck and the iconic Audrey Hepburn. It’s a forever classic.

 

There you have it!  I seriously enjoyed all of these films, and I especially wanted to give shoutouts to the lesser-known ones in this list that deserve more praise. For your next movie night, be sure to try out one of these.