The term “cult classic” has likely jumped the shark in terms of it’s original definition. But for today’s purposes, I think the term can be used to describe a movie that didn’t necessarily garner extreme box office success and/or notoriety, but for whatever reason, ends up having considerable staying power.
Below are 19 movies that didn’t necessarily make huge waves relative to their genres and/or the Academy, but might* end up emerging as highly beloved movies down the road:
*Sorry about the “definitely.” You know the headline thing by now.
1. Don Jon (2013)
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6615kYTpOSU&w=584&h=390] After a particularly aggressive homecoming reunion night, my college roommate and I only decided to see this to nurse our hangovers, avoid more homecoming festivities, and go somewhere indoors where it’d be acceptable to fall asleep. But this is a movie that doesn’t let you do that. It’s also a very poignant commentary on the present male psyche and how that affects modern relationships. Very specific movie for a very specific era.
2. Spring Breakers (2013)
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaeVPdsVkyA&w=584&h=390] There’s been enough said about this, and it’s probably already a “cult classic.” Spring Break foreva.
3. Zero Charisma (2013)
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtgoAt7ZTyE&w=584&h=390] Zero Charisma is a movie about a slacker gaming enthusiast who’s fighting to preserve the integrity of his weekly RPG fantasy game after it gets hi-jacked by a “neo-nerd hipster.” It’s described as “a darkly comedic fable of epic proportions,” and is a solid commentary about the changing ideals of “nerd culture.”
4. Pacific Rim (2013)
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5guMumPFBag&w=584&h=390] While it didn’t quite crush at the box office, it’s a fresh take on the apocalypse genre and features a duo of actors who will likely continue to rise; Charlie Hunnam, who recently turned down the role of Christian Grey, and Idris Elba, who has been skyrocketing up the actor ranks.
5. Kings Of Summer (2013)
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cio8LOCZPzw&w=584&h=390] Haven’t seen it, but it’s a coming of age story that got very positive reviews at Sundance (and beyond) last year, and despite being a movie about Rebellious Youths!, features culty darlings Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, and Megan Mullally.
6. Not Fade Away (2012)
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTrN_jyH9Gg&w=584&h=390] This is Sorpranos creator David Chase’s passion project, features James Gandolfini, and has been heavily lauded for it’s attention to detail when it comes to portraying the 60s era New York/New Jersey rock scene. Has all the ingredients.
7. Synecdoche, New York (2008)
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIizh6nYnTU&w=584&h=390] As we’ve already seen, there will be a rise in consumption of movies featuring late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman. As the Synecdoche trailer shows, Hoffman pulls a remarkable turn as a troubled, ailing playwright, in what’s certainly a character for the ages.
8. Prince Avalanche (2013)
This just came out on Netflix, and David Gordon Green’s obscure movie about 80’s highway workers features two big names that’ll carry it through the years. Paul Rudd has firmly become a household name, and Emile Hirsch is always hanging around. He was recently cast for a pretty big role, playing comedic great John Belushi in an upcoming biopic.
9. Warm Bodies (2013)
Zombie comedies will always be beloved, and this one — starring up and comers Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer — has generally been praised as funny, smart, and refreshing.
10. Battleship (2012)
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpoabtbEJOI&w=584&h=390] When it came to the critics corner, Taylor “Texas Forever” Kitsch had a somewhat rough 2013 — he starred in two big budget movies that bombed not necessarily because of him, but just so happened to star the former FNL great.
Despite getting slammed on losing big-time in the box office, there’s a considerable contingent of people who enjoyed Battleship. And the concept is outrageous enough to possibly keep people interested.
11. Only God Forgives (2013)
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhRKlwr1-KM&w=584&h=390] Drive is probably already considered a cult classic, meaning that the more hipstery Drive fans will need a new Drive to diffuse to.
The resulting osmosis will be towards his latest effort, which got slammed across the board — though this slamming seems to mostly stem from people having no clue what the movie’s actual purpose is. “Too sophisticated” is an easy spin here.
12. Mud (2013)
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSLYyPK2vsc&w=584&h=390] McConaughey has had a HUGE rise over the past year or so, and out of all his recent projects this is probably the most overlooked. If he continues on his A-list tear, people will definitely be looking for some of his more under-appreciated roles.
I never saw Mud, but I did read the script (top 5 douchey thing to say in an article like this one), and the Mud character is outrageous. From what the people are saying, he really crushed the role.
13. Greenberg (2011)
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjV2GXxrEMI&w=584&h=390] Noah Baumbach has slowly risen as one of the premier “indie” filmmakers of our generation. He does have some bigger credits to his name (he wrote Madagascar 3 and co-wrote Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox), he’ll probably be best known for his directing prowess in movies like last year’s Frances Ha and the aformentioned Greenberg; a movie about an anxious, very out of place late 30s dude recovering from a nervous breakdown. One of those movies that people who it seem to really like it.
14. Drinking Buddies (2013)
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxuxkQF7Bak&w=584&h=390] Drinking Buddies seems very LOUD on my Netflix instant. It’s got a #fearsomefoursome of Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston, and my friend who I was gchatting while doing this article said I had to include this.
15. The World’s End (2013)
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n__1Y-N5tQk&w=584&h=390] Simon Pegg movies have a very distinct comedic tone, which is a great criteria to have as a future cult classic. This is also a parody of apocalypse movies, another great criteria. Chalk it up.
16. Out Of The Furnace (2013)
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gw0qH34cbRE&w=584&h=390] Out Of The Furnace stars Christian Bale and is directed by Scott Cooper, who also directed Crazy Heart. It seems to have been largely ignored by “The Academy,” but as we all know full well, Christian Bale doesn’t mess around.
17. Bernie (2011)
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJuhWKcY_6U&w=584&h=390] Bernie is a dark comedy that tells the story of a 1996 murder of an 81 year-old millionaire murdered by a man named Bernard Tiede. It’s directed by Dazed & Confused/Before Midnight visionary Richard Linklater, and also has the big McConaughey.
You’ve probably seen it floating around Netflix instant — let’s hope it remains there.
18. Chronicle (2012)
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-M5Qx57_UU&w=584&h=390] Chronicle is a dark, original, and surprisingly smart take on the “unexpected superpower” movie. Fresh concepts have staying power, particularly when they co-star “this generation’s Denzel,” Michael B. Jordan.
19. Blue Caprice (2013)
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btxEOr34nw8&w=584&h=390] Blue Caprice tells the harrowing story of the DC Snipers that crippled the Mid-Atlantic a decade ago. It’s very intense and got very solid critical reviews. Given that the sniper was such a particular feel and heightened state of hysteria, I think this one may grow more powerful as the years progress.