Some movies have such wide appeal that they’re nearly universally adored. Films like “Casablanca” and “The Godfather” — considered among the best movies of all time — exemplify the best of the medium. Such admired movies have been widely screened, discussed, and praised since they were originally released.
Other films have similar virtues but are far less well known. In certain cases, they may only appeal to a specific subset of audiences or be too downbeat to excite the masses. Other times, they may have been simply overlooked for reasons such a lack of distribution.
24/7 Tempo has identified the 50 best movies you’ve never seen. These are the top rated films on user-based websites Rotten Tomatoes and Internet Movie Database that have comparatively few total user ratings.
Many of the talented individuals behind these movies have had exceptional careers. Acclaimed directors, including John Huston, Sidney Lumet, and Robert Altman, all make appearances, having directed critically praised movies that never matched the popularity of their other work.
Numerous films included on the list had the cards stacked against them from the very beginning. The 1971 Australian thriller “Wake in Fright” was essentially lost for years until the master negative was found in a trash bin and restored in 2009. Similarly, the low budget 1978 movie “Killer of Sheep” didn’t receive theatrical distribution once completed as the filmmakers didn’t clear the rights for the music used in it. These two films have since obtained wider circulation and, correspondingly, admiration.
To determine the best movies you’ve never seen, 24/7 Tempo created an index based on each film’s Rotten Tomatoes average critic rating, Rotten Tomatoes average audience rating, and Internet Movie Database average user rating. To be considered, each film needed to have between 5,000 and 15,000 IMDb user ratings and 10,000 or fewer Rotten Tomatoes user ratings. Only films released since 1950 with English language dialogue were considered as a proxy for cultural relevance.
We averaged the user ratings from Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb and weighted by the number of votes for each. The combined user rating was then averaged with the Rotten Tomatoes critic rating.