By Christian DiMartino
Let’s take a further dive into the movies of the past decade, shall we?
I mean, we have 10 years worth of movies. Why the hell not? The term “overrated” is one I use lightly. Because often times, I can see why people may love a movie more than I do. They just happen to enjoy it more than I do. Then again, part of the magic of movies is that not everyone gets the same thing out of it. Some might be deeply moved by a movie, others might go untouched. You really just don’t know. The films I have chosen for the “overrated” category are films that did the trick for a lot of people, and more power to ya, but I never fully bought the hype. The films in the “underrated” category are movies that didn’t get their day- perhaps they did critically, but were worthy of more recognition. For this latter category, I will avoid using any of the ones on my “best of the decade” list, seeing as they, finally, got their recognition.
The Most Overrated Movies of the Decade (in alphabetical order)
A Ghost Story: Here is one where people might shout, “you’re wrong!” or “you’re stupid!” or “shut up!” And… sure, maybe you’re right. A lot of people really love this film, and A24 is one of the best production companies we have right now. But… this movie irked me. I went into it expecting to love it, and maybe if I rewatched it, I would. But it didn’t affect me. Instead, there were many times where I wanted to chuck something at the screen so then we could get on with it (Rooney Mara eats a pie for 10 minutes, some weird redneck goes on a pretentious tangent, etc). Normally this sort of thing is my cup of tea, and it was for many. I am not opposed to an art film- again, on my best of the decade list I included The Tree of Life. But to me, this one just feels a wee bit too pleased with itself.
Big Hero 6: I love Disney until I don’t. They can be filled with invention and they can warm out hearts… and then they can feel like a greed machine. Something about their 2014 Oscar winner Big Hero 6 didn’t fully do it for me. It’s big, cuddly hero Baymax always felt like Disney leftovers, and it’s not a story that ever had me too invested. Then again though, a rewatch might not hurt. (Note: I could’ve included Frozen on this list, but that feels overdone).
Black Panther: Now don’t get me wrong, I actually like this movie a decent amount. For a Marvel movie, its production values are first-rate (from the production design to the costumes, and they’re never really a company that spares expense). Yet I was never fully wowed by it. Make no mistake, the lands of Wakanda are beautiful to behold, and Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger is the most interesting villain from the MCEU. Yet people talk about this film as if it were the second coming- a revolutionary masterpiece that tops any comic book film before it and after it. To which I say… um, no. It’s great that this genre is being taken seriously by some (not named Martin Scorsese), but at the same time, the overall structure of this film is just a wee bit too predictable to rank among greats such as Logan, Superman, The Dark Knight, or this year’s Joker.
Bohemian Rhapsody: I never liked this movie, mostly because of what a lazy, silly, cliché, ridiculous cash grab it was. It was as if the filmmakers didn’t put any actual effort into it, and said, “eh, it’s Queen, they’ll love it.” I did not, and critics were so-so. Yet the film made the millions that we knew it would. I just assumed that it would make its millions and f–k off, and fade into irrelevancy… but it didn’t do that either, gaining 5 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, and winning 4 of them, giving it a larger Oscar total than The Godfather. You know, an actual movie.
Booksmart: I have never reviewed this movie, because I know that people adore it and I’m an idiot or something. I went to a preview screening of this, knowing that the buzz was quite high. I was also ready to join in that choir… but eh, I thought it was okay. Nothing more, nothing less. It has some good laughs, and some mildly funny. The performances are fine, and director Olivia Wilde has a keen eye for visuals. Yet I just didn’t fully buy into the events that happened before me. It’s a comedy, and belief should be suspended. Yet to me, it was just a little too ridiculous, and not funny enough. Again though, everyone’s humor is different. I think Death to Smoochy is a funny movie, and I know I’m alone on that island.
Despicable Me: The first movie was fine, but man did these things BLOW UP. After a while, I wish they would’ve literally blown up, seeing as everywhere you go, you see those Minions. I do not think this film is bad, yet it had so much hype the summer of its release, and to me, when I finally got around to seeing it, it was just another animated movie, and one from one of the lamest animation studios in the biz, Illumination.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: Here was another movie that was so-so critically, yet nominated for Best Picture. Why? They probably heard 9/11 was involved, and felt it necessary. Yet it doesn’t handle that subject well. In fact, it doesn’t handle very much very well. I’ve always found this film really annoying, with a story that isn’t as deep as it thinks it is. It also doesn’t help that the glue holding it together is an extremely obnoxious & incredibly annoying child that reminds me of why I never want children. Maybe you got something out of it, but Best Picture? GTFO.
It: Another movie that I enjoy, just not as much as you. Stephen King is a tremendous writer, and it’s good that Hollywood is giving his work another shot. To me though, while It is an enjoyable movie, thanks mostly to the young stars anchoring it, I have never found it scary. I also found its overuse of visual effects to be a bit much, and frankly, the kids are so good in it that whenever Pennywise appears, he just feels like a distraction. It’s still a decent movie, but for my money, the best King adaptation in recent memory is the one you all skipped for some reason, Doctor Sleep.
Les Miserables: This one, to many, could also spark an argument. But you know… I just don’t care. Here is a movie that I admire, but don’t enjoy. I admire its scope, I admire its performances. It’s very clear that a lot of talented people worked hard on it. But for me, a musical has to have two main things: a compelling story, and great songs. Les Miserables has about two or three great songs- keep in mind, the entire bloody movie is singing- and a story that is interesting for about 40 minutes. Yet after that 40 minutes, I was envious of Anne Hathaway’s character, who bites the dust. A lot of the music here isn’t songs, but rather, people speak-singing, and I know that is the goal, but it’s not for me. As movie musicals come, this ain’t no Sweeney Todd, but at least it isn’t Cats (also directed by Mr. Oscar bait himself, Tom Hooper).
Life of Pi: On another note, I actually liked Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, but… I’ve never fully understood the hooplah. It’s one of the most visually remarkable films you’ll ever come across, no doubt, and its story is a good one. But for whatever reason, I have never been that moved by it.
The Most Underrated Movies of the Decade
Big Eyes: It seems like the only Tim Burton movies that make money these days are the lesser ones, leaving the good ones to go unnoticed. Burton’s 2014 gem Big Eyes is one of his best, and one of his most entertaining, featuring a performance by Amy Adams that should’ve gotten her an Oscar nomination.
Cloud Atlas: The Wachowski’s (what an interesting decade it’s been for them) can be great, and then they can miss big time (don’t see: Jupiter Ascending). But I, unlike most, have always been a fan of their sprawling, nutty, gorgeous, messy but wildly ambitious and expensive box-office flop, Cloud Atlas. I feel like Cloud Atlas serves as an explanation as to why major studios don’t take risks on such projects anymore, seeing as this film is totally weird, totally original, star-studded, and… nobody cared to show up. For those of us looking for a challenge though, it did the trick.
Edge of Tomorrow: Man do I love Tom Cruise. I think he’s a mad genius and I’ll watch him in anything. His most entertaining movie in years, Edge of Tomorrow, wasn’t a hit at the box-office either, but I believe it’s developing something of a following, which warms my heart. Edge of Tomorrow is a wonderfully entertaining action ride filled with dazzling effects and creativity out the yin-yang.
Nocturnal Animals: My sister claimed this was the best movie of the decade, and gave me quite a bit of s–t for not putting it on my list. So I figured I’d give her, and director Tom Ford, their due here. Because I do in fact love this film, which is a thrilling, bleak, haunting work of art with tremendous performances, along with moments and images (remember the opening sequence? Good luck forgetting that) that linger long after you see it.
Prisoners: For whatever reason, Denis Villeneuve’s first mainstream (and perhaps English speaking) film didn’t really take off. Yet there is a lot to love here- Roger Deakins’ beautiful cinematography, the performances by Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Melissa Leo, its craftsmanship. Yet what works so well is how much it gets under your skin. How unsettling it is as you’re watching it and after. It’s a tremendous thriller.
Short Term 12: For all of the trolls who don’t like Brie Larson, might you consider giving Short Term 12 a go. Her brilliant work, and this film itself, can make up for any taboo headline.
Side Effects: Once upon a time, 6 years ago, Steven Soderbergh acted like he was going to quit making movies. Four years later, he returned, as we knew and hoped. Yet had he ended his career with Side Effects, it would’ve been a mighty fine swan song. I love this movie to death. It’s a great, lurid, trashy, and ridiculously entertaining and perfectly acted thriller that holds you in its grip for the entirety of its runtime. Not to mention, it has one of the most satisfying conclusions you may ever see.
Silence: Imagine a world where not even Martin Scorsese can get people’s attention. Well, that was the case with his 2016 work of beauty Silence, which was pretty much silenced upon arrival. I’ve always found it beautiful, moving and haunting, not to mention, impeccably well crafted.
Take Shelter: Here is one of the best films you haven’t seen. Take Shelter made Roger Ebert’s list of the 5 best films of 2011, and with good reason. For those of us who have discovered the magic of Jeff Nichol’s overlooked gem- which features a career best performance from Michael Shannon- then you know just what a special, unforgettable piece of work it is.
Thunder Road: I know for a fact that barely any of you saw this wonderfully dark, wildly entertaining smash from director/ star Jim Cummings, to which I say… what are you waiting for? Cummings should certainly be a star, if he isn’t already, for this clever, creative, and tonally original piece of awesomeness. I believe it’s on Prime Video. Hop to it.
Best Looking Movie: Technology has come a long way, as you may know, and it’s amazing what technology, and a whole lotta money, can bring to the movies. So, my vote here goes to Blade Runner 2049. Whether you loved it, like me, or you found it a slog, this film dazzled the eyes for 3 hours straight, thanks not just to its amazing visual effects, but especially thanks to the gorgeous cinematography from Roger Deakins.
Best Comic Book Movie: Well as you can tell, my vote ain’t going to Black Panther. For my money, the most satisfying and enjoyable one was the beautiful, spectacular, doomy and gloomy The Dark Knight Rises. Having said that though, I am also a huge fan of Logan and Joker.
Best Animated Movie: I loved a lot of animated movies over the last 10 years, but my vote goes to Pete Doctor’s Inside Out, which breaks my heart at the very thought of it.
Best Action Movie: This one is a tricky one. Seeing as I just credited The Dark Knight Rises, I think it’s only fair to give this one to something else. So I’m gonna go with George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road. Perhaps too easy of a choice, and not particularly inspired, but I mean, have you seen it?
Best Comedy: So I will try to avoid any that have been listed already (I broke that rule for Inside Out, whoops). If we are talking about the funniest movie, one with tremendous replay value, one that we will be watching for the rest of our lives, well… my vote has to go to Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, for its coke-fueled energy, along with Leonardo DiCaprio’s phenomenal work (it also introduced us to Margot Robbie, another gem).
Aaaaaaand… that’s all folks. Happy New Year!