Most visually stunning films: The Crow (1994), Dark City (1998)

Any filmmaker who can turn an otherwise ridiculously shitty Nicolas Cage movie into a sensory delight is worthy of praise. With 2009’s highly problematic Knowing, director Alex Proyas ignored a script full of pretentious sci-fi hooey and padded Cage’s typically overdone performance with a few awe-inspiring sequences, the best of which is a single-take airplane crash that’s a real showstopper.

Making a film based in everyday life for a change, Proyas approached Knowing with an anti-blockbuster mentality, a gamble that failed, sure, but also proved that he’s the type of director best left to otherworldly fare. Just take a look at this underrated 1998 dystopian freak-out Dark City, or its equally grim predecessor, The Crow, to see just how stunning Proyas’ visual chops can be when he’s generating thinking man’s flicks for the Hot Topic circuit.