25 Acclaimed Hollywood Movies Most People Didn’t Understand

Tatsam Mukherjee

Art is subjective, you might have heard. Film making is an art, and it has more than one time managed to alienate its audience. Especially when the audiences are fed with franchise films all round the year, like – TMNT and GI Joe. Films even remotely challenging the audience fail to click with them. We compiled 25 such movies, which went over the heads of the audiences:

1. Mulholland Drive (2001)

David Lynch’s film extraordinaire weaves 3 stories into one – one, that of a Hollywood hopeful, another of a woman who has lost her memory and the third that of a director involved with mobsters around the casting of his film. Featuring a stellar performance from Naomi Watts, this film’s climax is still a matter of debate among many. Nevermind, the people who understood squat.


2. Fight Club (2000)

David Fincher’s masterpiece wasn’t very warmly received when it came out in 2000. Little did anyone know, how the movie was going to become iconic in the next 15 years which would take Brad Pitt to super-stardom. The third act left a lot of people dumbfounded about what really happened ?

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3. Donnie Darko (2001)

Jake Gyllenhaal’s breakthrough performance in this as an awkward teenager with psychological issues, meets a ‘bunny’ who tells him that the world is going to end in 28 days. The climax trying to explain concepts like a parallel Universe left everyone in a dizzy.

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4. Memento (2000)

Christopher Nolan’s sophomore effort got plenty of heads turning. The film follows a man with a condition where he’s not able to retain memories for more than fifteen minutes, and he’s out to avenge his wife’s killer. As new plot points, true face of the characters are revealed, it can be a difficult film to follow. And immensely rewarding if you stick with it till the end.

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5. Shutter Island (2010)

Martin Scorsese’s dark, moody film on a prison for the mentally challenged, is a very disorienting experience in general. At one point the film’s protagonist begins to hallucinate – and the lines between hallucinations and reality blur. The film’s climax and Di Caprio’s last conversation with Ruffalo left quite a few people with a question mark on their face.

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6. Interstellar (2014)

Christopher Nolan’s space epic is visually stunning and one of the best space films we’ve ever seen. However, it relies on the slurry speech of Matthew McConuaghey to explain quantum physics to us in the final half hour – about how black holes, five-dimensional space and singularity work. Quite difficult to understand for anyone outside of Texas.

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7. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

Guy Ritchie’s directorial debut, which established his slo-mo action sequences. Extremely funny, multiple stories inter-woven as one, it sure as hell requires more than one viewing to make sense.


8. No Country For Old Men (2007)

Coen Brothers made this slow-paced yet thrilling film about a drug deal gone wrong. It features one of the most iconic villains of the decade in Anton Chigurh and his monologues about ‘chance and luck’ before he used his vacuum cleaner-like weapon. One of the most abrupt endings in film history.

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9. Inception (2010)

Classic Nolan, as he made a film about heists that happen in a dream-state. Billed as one of the biggest films over the year with Leonardo Di Caprio’s face surrounded by big names like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy and Ellen Page. The climax left everyone in a fix, does the totem keep spinning? Does it tilt? Well, no one will ever understand.

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10. Primer (2004)

This film follows two friends and their fascination with inventing a device that enables time-travel. The confusion begins as they start going back in time and manipulating the actions of their previous selves which leads to ripple effects in the lives of their past and future versions. It confused the hell out of everyone!


11. The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

The first part of this trilogy established ‘The Matrix’, its characters and the city of Zion. However, the second part managed to compensate as as viewer’s understanding goes – and that final dialogue between Neo and ‘The Architect’ is gibberish max.

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12. Drive (2011)

This film catapulted Nicholas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling in to the big league with prolonged silences and a lot of ultra-violent action scenes. A large part of the audience couldn’t understand the poetry of the steady-shots of this film (including a few of the author’s friends). If you look back, this is one film you should clearly try and decipher.


13. Lost in Translation (2003)

Auteur Francis Ford Coppola’s daughter Sofia Coppola made her directorial debut with this film. It follows an aging actor (Bill Murray) and a newly-wed woman (Scarlett Johansson) as they bond over their loneliness in a foreign culture of Tokyo. A matter of debate is the last scene where Murray’s character whispers something into the ear of Johansson – intentionally made inaudible for the audience.


14. American Psycho (2000)

This so-called satire goes to great lengths to prove its point about how important superficiality of the society is for all the Indians. Christian Bale plays a psychopath trying to fit in to the ‘normal society’ – only he can’t curb his incredible urge to kill. His monologue in the last scene in sure to confuse the hell out of anyone.


15. Black Swan (2010)

This film follows a ballerina obsessed with perfecting her art for a the lead role in the ballet-production of ‘Swan lake’ and how this obsession gets the better of her, answering the question as to what is the cost you have to pay to be the best? The last scene will make your jaw drop and ask – Okay, so what really happened?


16. Tree of Life (2011)

Terrence Mallick’s ode to his childhood, his parents and his life in general. The film follows a middle-aged man Sean Penn – who hears about the death of his sibling. And he reflects on his life, his childhood. His parents – Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain and how they brought him up. Prepare yourself for long silences as he ‘walks’ through his past. Difficult watch!

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17. Enemy (2013)

Denis Vileneuve’s directorial debut with Jake Gyllenhaal’s double role. A college professor finds his double in an actor and curiously digs around the other person’s identity. No one really understood the ‘tarantula’ reference, and there’s a whole lot of interpretations in that last scene.

Akash Sebastian

18. Birdman – Or the unexpected virtue of Ignorance (2014)

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarittu’s masterpiece on the process of a creative person won him awards and glories all around the world. It won the Academy Award for Best Film and yet there was a stretch about that ‘last scene’ and what it meant. Emma Stone looks out from the window fearful and then looks up and smiles. Go figure!


19. Pi (1997)

Darren Aronofsky’s debut feature about a mathematician hell-bent on finding a pattern for the stock market and how certain Jewish fundamentalists hunt him down for his code believing it is the code of the ‘Torah’ and that the religious text was a code sent by God. What happens in the last scene will leave you scratching your head. Go watch anyways!

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20. Cloud Atlas (2012)

The makers of the Matrix trilogy adapted this David Mitchell epic novel that spans several centuries focusing on how one’s actions decide his past, present and future. The film reveals itself snail-paced, however it is a real test of patience and you really need to stick by it till the end ‘to get it’.


21. Vanilla Sky (2001)

Cameron Crowe’s sophomore effort has Tom Cruise playing a rich, vain publishing magnate and how his life turns upside down when he is involved in car-crash with his ex Cameron Diaz and wakes up with a disfigured face. Similar to Inception, exploring the dream-state and a person’s sub-conscious – a lot of the movie can be very difficult to understand if you’re not paying attention.


22. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

From the makers behind the very inventive Being John Malkovich comes the film about a man (Jim Carrey) trying to move on from his break-up with long-time girlfriend (Kate Winslet) and he hires this team to literally erase the relationship from his memory. A lot of the film happens in Jim Carrey’s mind and it can very difficult to follow given the abruptness of the human mind.


23. Synecdoche New York (2008)

Charlie Kaufman’s directorial debut is one of the most personal movies you’ll ever watch as a director of a theater troupe becomes so committed to the realism of the production, that lines between the production and real life begin to blur. Sure to leave a lot of people in a dizzy, however, a champion performance by the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman is one of the main reasons why you should give this film a chance.

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24. Under the Skin (2013)

Johnathan Glazer’s science fiction art-house film stars Scarlett Johansson as the nameless protagonist. The film proved to be elusive for most of its audience, cheers to you if you can make any sense out of it.

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25. Slumdog Millionare (2010)

Now, we’re sure most of the people who watched this movie understood it. However, it is difficult to understand why so much of hate is spewed towards the film. Not many still ‘get’ this movie – which commands your attention from the first scene till the very last one. Danny Boyle’s frenetic direction, Rahman’s brilliant score and assured performances from the cast are some of the reasons why it’s a darn good movie.


All of the above movies are really good movies, do give them a chance and be a little patient with them. You’re sure to come out rewarded.

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