Looking back nearly two decades ago to my childhood, these movies rank as my favorites. I see a pattern in my entertainment tastes, whether it’s a movie or tv show or recording artists. That is I am a fan of the underrated. (As a side note, you will discover that my desire to and appreciation for the environment, history, and culture stem from many of these childhood movies).

Rip Girls (2000)

A story about a Sydney Miller who returns to Hawaii with her parents; she begins taking surfing lessons with the locals, becoming friends with Gia and other skateboarders/surfers while also feeling a deep connection with the majestic landscape around her.

The Color of Friendship (2000)

I literally just bought this movie on Amazon about a week ago. (Nostalgic much?) Like the others in this list, The Color of Friendship stands up for something or someone.
The story takes place in the 1970s when Apartheid divided South Africa, while the United States had passed sweeping civil rights legislation.  It bridges two completely different culture and two completely different people and, as they develop a friendship, the girls learn the importance of tolerance and acceptance.

Motorcrossed (2001)

If you were ever told that you could not play a sport, then this one is for you. Motorcrossed challenged the norm. Because an injury sidelines her twin brother Andrew Carson (Trever O’Brien), Andrea takes his place in competitions. (At least the rules never said that a girl can’t race!)

The Jennie Project (2001)

Inspired by Jennie by Douglas Preston, is by far one of my favorites. (And likely one reason why I am passionate about the environment and conservation). The sentimentality and deep bond that is shared between Jennie and Andrew Archibald (played by Alex D. Linz) is one particular reason to watch this. The family fight to protect the chimpanzee from being sent away and eventually ensures that Jennie can return to the wild.

A Ring of Endless Light (2002)

Starring a young Mischa Barton (from The O.C.) as Vicky Austen, Jared Padelecki of Supernatural fame as Zachery Gray, and Ryan Merriman as Adam Eddington, this is a beautiful coming-of-age movie based on the Madeleine L’Engle novel by the same name.
For animal lovers out there, it is perfect. I love the deep connection Vicky makes with the dolphins. Whether or not it is an actual way to communicate (no spoilers as to what), I’m fascinated by the depth of this film. It touches on both life and death, grief and acceptance.
And the fact that she has not decided what she wants to pursue: following her dream of becoming a published writer or following the direction set out by her parents. I’ll admit I was an awkward, bookish teen: the reader, the loner, the dreamer. And the thing is I still am all of those. But I have come to accept this part of me, much like Vicky needed to do in this movie.

Honorable Mention: The Dust Factory (2004)

The simple story: life and death. Watch this underrated flick and discover a film that appreciates the importance of moving forward and letting go.