question of the day: What non-hit of the 00s will be an acclaimed favorite by 2020?

Today’s question comes from reader Patrick, who writes:

In the 80’s it was “A Christmas Story”; in the 90’s it was “The Shawshank Redemption”–both films developed into monstrous hits after their initial box office failure in the next decade. So, I must ask: what do you predict will be the film of the 00’s that didn’t do all that well in its theatrical run but will be given its long overdue accolades as a classic in the 10’s? (Basically a film that TNT will play endlessly–not that’s there’s anything wrong with that!)

In other words: What non-hit of the 00s will be an acclaimed favorite by 2020?

I’ve got a few possibles:
Big Fish
Gone Baby Gone
Hamlet 2
The Ice Harvest
Kinky Boots
The Kingdom
Children of Men
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
The Mist
The Prestige
Secondhand Lions
16 Blocks

In the reverse, we’re probably doomed to endless reruns of Nicolas Cage’s Knowing on SyFy throughout the coming decade…

If you need a reminder of what opened in the 2000s, see this list at Wikipedia.

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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Cori Ann
Cori Ann
Tue, Dec 22, 2009 11:17am

Well out of your list I would have to say Secondhand Lions for sure. That’s one of those movies that every time I stumble across it on TV, I stop and watch it, even though I have it on DVD. It’s just such an excellent “feel-good” movie, and it survives the editing to be aired on television pretty well too.

Tue, Dec 22, 2009 11:48am

“Serenity” is already a cult, I think. I’d be surprised if it isn’t part of the mainstream by 2020. Some other possibilities: “In Bruges” and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” Somehow, Christmas makes me think of violent movies. On second thought, I dunno if they’ll be widely acclaimed, but they’ll have a following.

Trash Film Guru
Tue, Dec 22, 2009 11:49am

I understand the basic premise here, but in truth I’m not sure I’d categorize either “Shawshank” or “A Christmas Story” as box office “underperfomers.” I absolutely agree that both films went on to become downright cable-TV phenoms and are best known as “movies you’ve seen on TV”—but both did pretty well at the box office, as well. “A Christmas Story” raked in about $16 million and had a budget of about $3 million, while “Shawshank” had a budget of around $25 million and took in about $28 million in the US and something like $50 million worldwide. Considering that absolutely nothing was expected of either, particularly “A Christmas Story” which didn’t even boast any marquee names, I think the studio was pleased to more than break even on both of them. So yes, they achieved much greater renown on TV than at the theaters, but neither was exactly a flop.

As to which films of this decade will find TNT/TBS immortality, I think “The Ice Harvest” and “The Mist” are both excellent choices. First off, both are just plain great films, the broadcast rights to each will certainly come cheaply, and both have the type of stories that scream “cult audience favorite,” not to mention great acting from all the leads involved. Given that Thomas Jane and Andre Braugher from “The Mist” have both gone on to television success, they’ll be familiar faces to many viewers now while they weren’t so much at the time of the film’s release, and “The Ice Harvest” is, of course, packed with familiar faces, and given its holiday setting, it would play well as something for the grown-ups to watch on Christmas after the kids have (finally) gone to bed. It could very well be a Christmas Eve or Christmas night at 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. staple, in fact it’s a broadcast scheduler’s dream in a slot like that.

Why neither film really did any business at the box office is anyone’s guess, but I could see either or both becoming cable sensations.

Tue, Dec 22, 2009 1:36pm

From your list, I’m rooting for Master and Commander, The Prestige, and Serenity.

My parents gave me a DVD of Secondhand Lions that I never got around to watching… think I will now.

Tue, Dec 22, 2009 1:51pm

There’s really two questions here, one for movies in general, and more specifically for Christmas.

Is it cheating to pick a movie that’s already a favorite? If not, my choice would be Idiocracy.

As for Christmas, while it wasn’t exactly a box office failure, I think Bad Santa doesn’t get quite the respect that it should.

Hank Graham
Hank Graham
Tue, Dec 22, 2009 2:00pm

I’m thinking it will be Children of Men. I keep showing that to people whose reaction is consistently one of wondering how they missed this great film when it first came out.

Tue, Dec 22, 2009 3:13pm

Watchmen of course, but it will take years, just like Shawshank and Blade Runner

Tue, Dec 22, 2009 3:31pm

speaking of comic book movies , many gave ” Superman Returns” the slip. Its only a matter of time people start to wonder why there hasn’t been a Superman movie in a while, then their realize “oh yeah, there was one back in 2005”. Lets face it Kevin Spacey was a great Lex Luther.

Tue, Dec 22, 2009 5:00pm

I think State and Main could be a strong contender. I could also see Collateral getting more traction over the years. Assuming that the Daniel Craig Bond movies continue to do well, Munich may benefit from the association. On the TV side, I think Battlestar Galactica will continue to reach wider audiences on reruns and discs, and will probably be routinely making lists of “best TV series of all time” by 2020. At least one of the BSG actors will probably get a major break into A-list movies.

I think that critical consensus will probably come around to regard A.I. and/or Minority Report among Spielberg’s better films. Critics seemed mixed on both at the outset, but time always works in the favor of Kubrick films, which A.I. sort of is, and well-done P.K. Dick has a great shelf life, although there’s only one other movie in that category. Plus, repeat viewings of both are really rewarding. More so than, say, Amistad.

Der Bruno Stroszek
Der Bruno Stroszek
Tue, Dec 22, 2009 5:03pm

I think Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is already excitingly close to canon status. It just feels like everyone I meet, whether they’re heavily into films or not, has seen and adored that movie by now. Also regarding Robert Downey Jr, I think Zodiac is pretty much established by now. It already feels hard to remember a time when it was a commercial disappointment.

I have a number of friends who are completely baffled by the tepid initial response to The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, and these aren’t just Wes Anderson die-hards I’m talking about.

Off MaryAnn’s list, I think Children of Men is a definite, Big Fish is a likely and Master and Commander is nearly there as it is. (Again, the number of people I hear mentioning it as a great movie – people of all tastes and from all backgrounds – already feels telling) I also think history will vindicate Lust, Caution, which I honestly feel is Ang Lee’s greatest and most fascinating film.

I would like it if Kinsey and A Prairie Home Companion made it out of the shadows, though I sadly haven’t seen any evidence of this yet. Everyone I’ve shown these movies to ends up loving them, mind you.

Was Eastern Promises a success at the box office? I’m always surprised as to how many people end up having that movie in their DVD collection.

Tue, Dec 22, 2009 5:19pm

I’d wager The Prestige will be the ‘New Classic’ of the Aughts era: the stars (Jackman, Bale, Caine, Scarlett J) are major names; the director Nolan is well on his way to establishing his style much in the way that Speilberg, Scorsese, Burton, and other big-name directors have in their days.

Wed, Dec 23, 2009 12:01am

Life Aquatic! Bah, that’ll never happen, even if it is the best movie ever. I think Big Fish will end up being a tv staple. It’s got the right vibe.

Wed, Dec 23, 2009 10:49am

From your list I’m rooting for Brick, Kinky Boots, Children of Men, and Serenity.

I loved them all when I saw them and a few of them already are garnering cult status some (Children of Men and Serenity) more than others.

I’ll chime in with others about Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and In Bruges. Fun and violent, but also smart. Great recipe.

Victor Plenty
Victor Plenty
Fri, Dec 25, 2009 3:41pm

In the future, I am firmly convinced, scholars and ordinary people alike will ponder the hidden riches of symbolism and meaning to be found in the multiple levels of metanarrative contained within Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay.

Tonio Kruger
Tonio Kruger
Sat, Dec 26, 2009 2:13pm

Well, Serenity is already popular with a lot of people I know who aren’t necessarily sci-fi buffs.

The Ice Harvest is never going to appeal to the exact same people who like A Christmas Story–unless they’re like our dear hostess–but it too deserves a cult following–more so than, say, Mystery Men or Tropic Thunder.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang always deserved to be more of a hit than it was–and it’s certainly more audience-friendly than Brokeback Mountain.

I find myself referencing a lot more than I ever expected to when it first came out so I suspect it will make the list eventually even though Keanu Reeves is hardly the definite take on John Constantine. Tilda Swinton’s Gabriel, on the other hand, is one of the most memorable supernatural entities to appear in the movies this decade outside of the Rings trilogy. Plus, her character made for a nice dry run for her Wicked Witch character in the Narnia movies.

Tonio Kruger
Tonio Kruger
Sat, Dec 26, 2009 2:15pm

I find myself referencing a lot more than I ever expected to when it first came out so I suspect it will make the list eventually even though Keanu Reeves is hardly the definite take on John Constantine.


I obviously meant:

I find myself referencing Constantine
a lot more than I ever expected to when it first came out so I suspect it will make the list eventually even though Keanu Reeves is hardly the definite take on John Constantine.

Sun, Dec 27, 2009 11:58am

I’m only seeing Serenity fade with time, myself. There’s not a lot there to find on repeat viewings. The show is very strong and even after marauding browncoats tired the whole internet on the subject people will remember that much. But the movie just doesn’t have it.

I’d like to see Solaris get some due. I think it was mostly damned with faint praise on release. Movies like that and AI get to me more than most just by addressing these existential themes. But Solaris has this terrible claustrophobic mood that’s quite cleverly created in every aspect (and it goes one better than Eternal Sunshine by at least bringing up the tragic reality that the person in your memory is probably a limited version of the real thing, but that might be all you’ve got).

Incidentally, I liked Keanu in Constantine. It’s not much of a movie but it was fun and he had that put-upon hero thing down really well (I don’t know if it’s true to the character, but it was entertaining in the movie).