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The Overrated And Underrated Films Of 2012

by The Playlist Staff
December 17, 2012 2:15 PM
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Drew Taylor
Underrated - “John Carter”
Pixar titan Andrew Stanton's sci-fi epic "John Carter" was one of those movies that was doomed before it ever even opened. It was persistently plagued by bad buzz, with reports of an ever-ballooning budget and creative hot-dogging by a director more used to manipulating pixels than actual human performances, to the point that most of the reviews evaluated the production history as much as the finished film. This is terribly unfair, especially when those reports were, in all likelihood, wildly exaggerated. In a year over-stuffed with big budget product that was notable only for its anonymousness, "John Carter" is an expansive, earnest, emotive and, above all else, singularly weird, piece of full-throttle pulp entertainment. The fact that it doesn't wink or nod at the audience, that it isn't clever-in-quotes, cemented its fate – being genuine is never looked upon as an asset these days, especially when it's housed inside a $200 million labor of love based on a series of yellowed, hundred-year-old paperback novels. This is a movie with not one but two wraparound stories; a phallic dog-monster named Woola; Tim Riggins as a haunted confederate soldier; an audacious sequence that intercuts a monster massacre with a man burying his wife and child; and a climax that plays like the space opera version of the ending of "The Graduate." Stanton is nothing if not ambitious, and "John Carter" is directed like a kid who's finally able to let loose with all the toys at his disposal. It's messy, for sure, but it was a big budget spectacle that looked and felt like nothing else this year (you could practically pull the grainy sands of Mars out from underneath your fingernails). Edgar Rice Burroughs' original "John Carter" tales were so problematic that they were deemed by many to be "cursed." This still might be the case.  

Overrated - “Amour”
The response out of Cannes (where it picked up the top prize) was rapturous – Michael Haneke had crafted yet another masterpiece, this time built around two people (the genuinely legendary Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva) whose love refuses to die even as one of them suffers from failing health. And when I showed up to a screening of "Amour" a couple months after its Cannes triumph I was ready to have my heart broken – to be put through the emotional wringer in a way that only Haneke can muster. But instead, "Amour" proved to be one of those movies that was easier to admire than to actually, well, love. Technically, it's brilliant – restrained and beautiful at the same time. Performance-wise, too, it's virtually unparalleled; to see actors so late in their career dazzle so thoroughly isn't just a triumph of their profession, but something close to theatrical transcendence. It's just that there is still something aloof and removed about "Amour," like watching it through a thick block of ice. The one time the movie really comes to life is a surreal moment when the movie dips into a dream-world fantasy. That's when Haneke's prowess as a filmmaker comes to the forefront, and the disturbing implications of "Amour" take on added dimensions. The rest of the movie is as impressive a piece of filmmaking as anything released this year, but one that doesn't break your heart as much as it tests your patience. Powerful? Yes. But also kind of sleepy. And please, for godsakes, get that pigeon out of here.

Gabe Toro
Underrated: "This Must be The Place"
First impressions are everything in the film world. So if you’re releasing stills that immediately seem dubious, as “This Must Be The Place” did in showing off Sean Penn as an aged, androgynous retired rocker, the initial resistance is going to be met with hostility. So too goes the knee-jerk responses at film festivals, where comedies never go over well unless they’re from an established name -- it usually helps if they’re arch and sarcastic. That’s not the case with Pablo Sorrentino’s boldly warm comedy where Penn plays a faded Robert Smith-type who has aged roughly into being a grandma. Soft-spoken to a fault, he’s unplugged himself from the outside world to an extreme extent since retiring two decades earlier. But he seeks a reconnection by learning that his distant father spent his final days seeking the Nazi who tormented him during the Holocaust. Still glammed up in cakey makeup and ruby red lipstick, he sets out on the most unlikely Nazi-hunting quest imaginable, toting along a single suitcase on wheels behind him as if it were the world’s most cumbersome boulder. Ostensibly a road movie of sorts, Penn’s wryly funny rocker remains soft-spoken as if to appear alien, greeted by locals and taken in as a gentle eccentric; one who is secretly thrilled, for the first time in his life, to be completely out of his element.

Overrated: "Argo"
The material is there for “Argo” to be a savagely funny satire that resonates with the pulse of a political thriller. But as a director, Ben Affleck is a sure hand more than a clever one, and the true story of American citizens hidden in hostile Iranian territory remains stuck in uplifting pro-government pablum mode. It’s a procedural, one that would probably have more Oscar heat had it not been shown up by the similar, and more outwardly upsetting “Zero Dark Thirty,” which proved you can be a procedural with unabashed genre leanings and bleak moral shadings. Instead, “Argo” remains ambivalent about its Hollywood worship, casting the movie-within-a-movie’s table read as a garish collection of wannabes desperate for a piece of the “Star Wars” pie, bizarrely cross-cut with torture footage in the Middle East. Furthermore, a late-film climax that piles on every Screenwriting 101 contrivance allows suspense to be built from whether two big-time producers can cross a Hollywood backlot filming what looks like a bargain basement actioner. It’s not a problem that “Argo” openly mocks Hollywood, but rather that it’s toothless prodding, providing no insight into Tinseltown nor the relationship between the glamour of moviemaking and the actions of the government (insight ironically found in the behind-the-scenes story of how “Zero Dark Thirty” came to the screen). By the time Affleck’s “Mr. Holland’s Opus” abundance of group hugs set to swelling orchestral music overwhelms the film’s garish scenes of crowd-pleasing brown panic, “Argo” has positioned itself as one of the most insincere movies of the year.

Katie Walsh

SnagFilms "Beware Of Mr. Baker"
Underrated: "Beware of Mr. Baker"
The fiery, wholly original documentary “Beware of Mr. Baker” was a shot in the arm at this year’s SXSW. In a rather uneven year for the film conference, where Sundance darlings dominated the field, the doc about wacko drumming genius Ginger Baker was a much needed energy boost within the lineup, and it was handsomely rewarded with top documentary honors. Featuring a plethora of intimate and honest star musician interviews, as well as compelling subjects in both Baker himself and filmmaker Jay Bulger (a former boxer turned writer who swindled his way onto Baker’s compound, only to befriend the curmudgeonly recluse, a few bumps along the way notwithstanding) it’s a creatively rendered piece that fuses film form and storytelling to emcompass the the tale of this outlaw’s rollicking ride through life. That it received only a fall run at the IFC in New York seems criminal, not just because it’s a film that would appeal to so many music fans, but because it’s an example of damn great filmmaking. No Oscar shortlist? Insane. The trouble is, it’s not an “issue” film in a year of so many good ones— the riveting “How to Survive a Plague,Eugene Jarecki’s war on drugs film “The House I Live In,” military doc “The Invisible War”— and it seems that political content outweighs aging rockers this year. Still, the level of filmmaking of “Beware of Mr. Baker” is expert (especially from a first time filmmaker). See this film, if you can, it’s been vastly overlooked in a year of top notch docs. 

Over: "The Dark Knight Rises"
I could go on at length about how the appallingly conservative Randian politics of “The Dark Knight Rises” render this film the worst of the year. That hardly anyone questioned the irresponsible handling of these issues by the Brothers Nolan worries me about the way in which crazed fan boys and certain bloggers/critics alike blindly consume films that play fast and loose with representational politics without enough salient commentary to justify their free pass (other notable 2012 culprits include "Skyfall," "Django Unchained," and "Killer Joe"). But aside from my questioning why I might want to watch a whiny rich white asshole beat up a deformed former political prisoner, "The Dark Knight Rises" was just one hot damn mess. There's something uniquely enraging and simultaneously boring about the way Nolan structures the plots of his Batman films; it feels like an out of control carousel that I'm ready to get off after 90 minutes, and then it just keeps going, scene after scene of exposition, circling and cirling making little to no sense at all. The plot holes in this thing were also completely laughable from the jump: the police trapped in the sewer for three months emerging clean and ready to stomp some anarchist heads being the foremost example (of many). Matthew Modine was laughable, Gary Oldman boring and useless, Joseph Gordon-Levitt forehead-slappingly corny (nice Brooklyn accent, Joey). Anne Hathaway was pretty much the only energizing thing about this two-and-a-half-hour slog, and she was cast aside after two mildly interesting introductory scenes. Superhero movies often struggle with the stakes; they are either way too high or way too low, and the Nolan Batman trilogy is one of the worst offenders. That Nolan relied on such cheap narrative tricks like the ol' school bus full of orphaned moppets just shows what a gimmicky hack he is. And that ending... he negates any semblance of drama and gravitas he was able to drum up and just shoots himself in the foot. Fanboys should have risen up in anger at this film, and not at the critics who called it like it is. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Mark Zhuravsky
Underrated - “The Grey”
Joe Carnahan matures with survivalist tale “The Grey,” and delivers a film that is miles away stylistically from his prior pictures. The remaining members of an oil team post plane crash band together to outlast the unsparing wilderness and the pack of wolves tracking them. Among them is John Ottway (Liam Neeson), initially hired to protect the workers as they drilled in Alaska, and now taking up the mantle of  impromptu leader, attempting to keep the peace even as animals and elements haunt the men mercilessly. Carnahan strives to marry the questions that arise from facing down death, a seemingly inevitable extinguishing of your flame, with an old-fashioned tale of survival. It’s a wonder that the philosophizing works as often as it does, theism weighed against a reality with no evidence of a higher power pulling strings to safety. Carnahan balances the thrills of a man vs. nature entry with emotional heft, especially as Ottway flashes back time and again to a few unforgettable moments with his wife. It’s his life raft and perhaps ours, as “The Grey” proves to be a memorable picture, a bracing portrayal of the will to live and the lengths we go to keep breathing.

Overrated - “Skyfall”
The latest and most successful Bond outing has had goodwill heaped upon it by both critics and audiences. It’s puzzling to this journalist, since the film he saw in a packed house one Sunday morning had only mere shades of the praise granted. It’s certainly a beautiful film, with clean, large-scale action sequences and the requisite moments of Bond swagger. But beyond the technical consideration and the necessary homages, “Skyfall” falls far short of a satisfying picture. The pacing is particularly poor, with the longest Bond film to date making its length thoroughly felt, especially as Bond returns to the MI6 fold and attempts to regain his physical and emotional footing. At worst, it feels like a reboot, with foundation being laid down for future installments. When Javier Bardem’s Silva enlivens the picture a bit, he soon propels the film into a direction that seems to crib story beats from Nolan’s trilogy. Silva is a compelling protagonist but the overbearing theatricality of the performance is distracting, as is his exceptionally poor strategy for assaulting Bond at his childhood home. It’s a serviceable Bond film, though it lacks the moving romantic connection that drove “Casino Royale” and carried on through to the significantly lesser “Quantum of Solace.” Overall, the film feels devoid of any real tension, settling for an overlong collection of set pieces strung together by characters that inspire little sympathy. Occasionally enjoyable, but clearly unworthy of the near-universal acclaim that suggests a feature successful in all respects.

Who do you want to flog or tar and feather? We'll admit, this list is starting our own internal fist fights. Sound off below.

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  • Gabe Zia | May 6, 2013 12:26 PMReply

    How is Safety not Guaranteed overrated? Lots of people liked it, sure, but as an indie film it's by definition underrated. Were it's reviews higher than the quality of the film? In some cases, yes. But to be overrated and an indie film would require critics do hail the film like it was the second coming of christ.

  • Gabe Zia | May 6, 2013 12:26 PMReply

    How is Safety not Guaranteed overrated? Lots of people liked it, sure, but as an indie film it's by definition underrated. Were it's reviews higher than the quality of the film? In some cases, yes. But to be overrated and an indie film would require critics do hail the film like it was the second coming of christ.

  • Joe | April 23, 2013 10:38 PMReply

    The Dark Knight Rises is not underrated! You idiot! Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a score of 87 percent. And the #1 user rated movie on of 2012 on IMDB! 8.7/10, which on imdb is outstanding! Almost everyone i know and from stories i've read have said this film was outstanding!! And not everyone hated on it, almost nobody did! Only a few insecure dipshits who complained about the dark knight being better. So this film is not at all underrated! It is way more overrated then anything even though i thought it was amazing. The Hunger Games and The Avnegers were the biggest disapointments of 2012 and those 2 shit films are overrated!

  • henry | April 11, 2013 12:57 AMReply

    if you think the dark knight rises is underrated, while beasts of the southern wild is supposedly overrated, then you are incredibly stupid.

  • janyx | April 2, 2013 1:10 PMReply

    I totally agree with Argo, Amour and Ruby Sparks.
    But I soooooo like Rust and Bone.

  • David | March 10, 2013 4:16 PMReply

    With the exception of Skyfall, I agree very much with you. I felt that Moonrise Kingdom was Wes Anderson's weakest live action feature and whenever I said that people got annoyed and said how "great" it was. Compared to Rushmore, Moonrise Kingdom was Marmaduke: The Movie. And with Argo, I thought it was a very good movie and maybe deserved the Golden Globe for Best Drama, but with some of the other Oscar movies in the running I thought it was absurd that it won. It was a good intresting thriller nothing else in my view. Now I loved The Dark Knight Rises at first but then I noticed all of it's flaws. But after reading this, I think I should be a little less harsh on TDKR.

  • these writers are fucking losers | January 4, 2013 10:56 PMReply

    so mucu of this article is basically stupid and fucking useless

  • Mimi | December 27, 2012 11:53 PMReply

    I can't believe all of these came out this year and that I'm just barely finding out about them now. Aside from the obvious The Dark Knight Rises and Skyfall, the only movie I had heard of was Bachelorette. One of my coworkers at DISH showed me the trailer while we were working, and although I thought it looked funny, I forgot all about it. Thanks for putting this together so I can have plenty to add to my Blockbuster @Home queue I have through DISH. I may have missed them in theaters, but I'll still get a chance to judge for myself what's over and underrated.

  • Sorrel | December 21, 2012 3:47 PMReply

    Picking just one overrated movie from 2012 is enough to boggle the mind, but your writers did a good job in deflating some of the worst offenders like Moonrise Kingdom, Skyfall, and The Dark Knight Rises. There's a very troubling trend in film these days for critics and fanboys to band together and declare some truly awful stuff to be masterpieces. Time proves to be the only real judge that matters on these things. And it looks like we might be getting a bit of a reprieve from 12-21-12 apocalypse.

  • Lucy | December 20, 2012 9:36 PMReply

    I really enjoyed reading this! 

    underrated: Brave, Ruby Sparks, End of Watch, Seven Psychopaths, Prometheus

  • LEE | December 19, 2012 3:13 PMReply

    YES, TDKR SUCKS! Ruby Sparks is UNDERRATED. I might add that it is a smart rom-com as well as a critique of the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl". The Grey and Seven Psycopaths=UNDERRATED. Argo and The Perks, OVERRATED.

  • David | March 10, 2013 4:26 PM

    I could not agree more about Seven Psychopaths. I hadn't seen a film that made me think, laugh, grimace, and go on the eedge of my seat in a long time before Seven Psychopaths.

    A crime it wasn't Globe or Oscar nominated for best screenplay

  • Elle | December 18, 2012 11:05 PMReply

    I'm a little surprised no one brought up "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" for overrated. It gets all the positive press and word of mouth any movie could ever hope for, but it's really just a semi-competently constructed series of cliches. It's a coming-of-age film about white kids and their dumb high school problems. Big deal.

    Oh, and Emma Watson's character sucks in it.

  • ken | December 18, 2012 9:08 PMReply

    *Also calling Gary Oldman "boring and useless" will require more than a solitary throwaway sentence to justify its existence....just saying.

  • ken | December 18, 2012 9:06 PMReply

    As a consumerist summer movie fan I must ask where the political dimension for the Dark Knight Rises exists to the extent it represents irresponsible storytelling? Putting aside whether or not the film was any good (suprisie, suprise I'm defending and I loved it. Pass the fanboy card on, I've earned it) the actual politics of the film are very broad and peripheral. Surely any superhero film that's celebrating a heroic central figure can lend itself to accusations of "Randian conservatism". Don't the bulk of these pictures place a lone heroic figure or select few against a fundamentally radical figure? It's not a question of poltics so much as which side is it easier to illustrate the kind of radical level of carnage the villian needs in order to raise the stakes. Bane has a revolutionary aspect to him undoubtedly but ultimately he's part of a cult that derives from the comic book mythology (not that I've read them but that League Of Shadows sect is where the "politics" of Nolans Bat Trilogy Parts One and Three respectively come from). As the title hero of a multi-billion dolar franchise how else can Nolan navigate the story with front loading Christian Bale's (rather movingly played) character with the moral authority that seems to manifest itself into extreme conservatism? Anyway I've no doubt my indulgent email will be cast aside with most of the rest but as I am interested in this article (nice to see some kind words for The Grey and John Carter also) any response would be gratefully accepted. Thanks for the good reading.

  • Matt | December 18, 2012 7:59 PMReply

    Most underrated film of the year in my opinion: "Seven Psychopaths"

  • David | March 10, 2013 4:27 PM

    Again, I could not agree more about Seven Psychopaths. I hadn't seen a film that made me think, laugh, grimace, and go on the eedge of my seat in a long time before Seven Psychopaths.

    A crime it wasn't Globe or Oscar nominated for best screenplay

  • Matt | December 18, 2012 7:57 PMReply

    Most underrated film of the year in my opinion: "Seven Psychopaths"

  • Matt | December 18, 2012 7:57 PMReply

    Most underrated film of the year in my opinion: "Seven Psychopaths"

  • ANONYMOUS HATER | December 18, 2012 6:49 PMReply

    UNDERRATED: 2016: Obama's America. You liberals don't know a good documentary when you see one. You're living in Obama's headspace, where you think heaping praise on films like "Beasts of the Southern Wild" will secure your a spot in heaven. FIND THE TRUTH. Open your eyes. Our rights are being taken from us by another antichrist.

  • Christopher Bell | December 20, 2012 2:15 AM

    Now we definitely need to be friends.

  • ANONYMOUS HATER WILL ROCK YOU | December 19, 2012 9:15 PM

    Haha, little Krispy "Kreme" Bell. You make me lauhg

  • Christopher Bell | December 19, 2012 12:58 PM

    At least when I write a sentence it doesn't seem like I'm melting.

  • ANONYMOUS HATER (WITH AVEGEANCE) | December 19, 2012 12:13 PM

    At least I don't submit to the lazy auterish theory bullshit liek your Crispy Bell.

  • Alan | December 19, 2012 2:33 AM

    Did you really just accuse The Playlist of " heaping praise" on 'Beasts' in an article in which the same film was called one of the most overrated films of the year?

  • Christopher Bell | December 18, 2012 8:10 PM

    Trying to get into our "Best Comments of 2012 Piece" last minute, huh? Pretty lazy attempt.

  • Reilly | December 18, 2012 6:06 PMReply

    Right on Katie about Dark Knight Rises. You perfectly encapsulated all the glaring problems with Nolan's final Batman film. Great review !

  • Eamon | December 18, 2012 4:46 PMReply

    Loving this list but ESPECIALLY giving TDKR it's PROPS. It is such an incredible movie and most people could not keep up with the huge scope of things going on and Bane's voice was perfect to give the huge muscle bound Villain some much needed personality.

  • Wash | December 18, 2012 4:21 PMReply

    I'm just pleasantly surprised that movies can appear both overrated AND underrated. TDKR is both better than everyone said - and worse. Aren't we basically just saying "I liked this movie more / less than other people did"?

  • Frank | December 18, 2012 5:39 PM

    Did you read the intro at all?

  • Chris138 | December 18, 2012 2:38 PMReply

    OVERRATED: The Avengers, Argo, Moonrise Kingdom, Looper. UNDERRATED: Prometheus, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Grey, Magic Mike

  • anonymouse | December 18, 2012 11:35 AMReply

    wow is this the stupid list.

  • Cory Everett | December 18, 2012 1:11 PM

    But it's not really even a list. That would require some consensus (of which there is none). Here, each writer selects one film for each over/under designation. I guess if you want to ignore all that and just dump everything into two categories you could see it as a list? But that sorta defeats the point. Cheers.

  • anonymous | December 18, 2012 11:12 AMReply

    What about The Master. That is an awful film that should be here.

  • Jordan | December 18, 2012 10:41 AMReply

    Overrated: Beasts of the Southern Wild, Bachelorette, THE AVENGERS, Flight
    Underrated: Bullhead, A Royal Affair, Prometheus

  • Alan | December 18, 2012 4:06 AMReply

    "I could go on at length about how the appallingly conservative Randian politics of “The Dark Knight Rises” render this film the worst of the year." Actually Katie, you do: in fact, you have expressed the "Randian" politics of the film elsewhere on this site. However, you have never explored them. You don't define those terms, and you have not addressed HOW the film expresses those ideas. It's easy (as you've shown repeatedly) to assign motives and political ideologies to a film: the role of the critic is to unpack those ideas, and present them to the reader with their insight and judgement. This "well, it just IS, ok? and I don't have to explain to the likes of you" heckling is an adolescent fantasy, not film criticism, especially not on the intellectual basis to which you so clearly aspire. The rest of your piece expresses intellectual condescension, rather than a coherent reading of the text: it's as if you are the ONLY PERSON who truly 'gets it', and EVERYONE ELSE is too blind ("blindly consume") or whatever to understand YOUR UNKNOWABLY BRILLIANT understanding of the material. Whilst the other writers at least attempt to recognise the approaches of their selected 'overrated' films, your response is vindictive and self-consciously hostile, preferring to offer dumb jibes than insights into the film. The post is an exercise in incoherence. I wouldn't mind reading a sustained analysis of the film from a Randian perspective, but you lack the the patience to do so, it seems. This is like a Matt Goldberg review: for readers, it's frustrating to be lectured to by someone by someone who lacks the maturity to express a complete idea. To give you a sense of what your post reads like, the piece starts off as "it's so, like, Randian and the Randian thing is like so conservative and, like Randian ..." and ends as "and THIS is stupid, and THAT'S stupid, and YOU ARE ALL STUPID for liking something I don't like, blah, blah, blah ... and nobody understands me, either".

  • Wash | December 20, 2012 12:57 PM

    Thank you, Alan. Since I haven't read her - I will pull an internet rarity and remain neutral on the topic.

  • Alan | December 20, 2012 1:57 AM

    Wash, Randian is a reference to the 20th Century novelist Ayn Rand. Lots of people that haven't read her hate her.

  • Wash | December 19, 2012 8:44 AM

    What's "Randian"?! Isn't that the race of the guy Han Solo shoots in the cantina?

  • Alan | December 19, 2012 3:25 AM

    I am also a little concerned with your attempts to position Bane as a "political prisoner". I may not agree with the assertion that Bruce is a "whiny rich white asshole", but at least there are objective elements in the text that justify such an assertion. However, Bane was never imprisoned for his political values: in fact, the reason for his incarceration is never explicitly stated or even implied. It's easy to throw political judgements at the text without a close (or even accurate) analysis of its content, in which judgements are justified by comments like "I was hostile, because it is stupid." Wait, you actually wrote that? *double-checks, then sighs, triple-checks, looks up every word of that sentence in the dictionary, then sighs again* Wow, you actually did. I hope that you are trying to be funny, because I find it disturbing that any critic could think in such limited terms. And, actually, I have the same problem with your comment that I have with someone like Matt N's comments: those comments are lazy, and both make me saddened at the state of discourse in America(?). (I can't be certain that Matt N. is American, but I am assuming he is). 'Oh, conservative ideas are evil and corrupt' is on the same level of naive/ignorant/unimaginative as 'Oh, Hollywood is so liberal and corrupt'. Both comments hide behind unchallenged and limited ideas of what politics is, and how ideology can define art. Both comments blame some nyktomorph, a shadowy figure, as the reason why the world is bad. 'You see, you see', you both might say, 'that (liberalism/conservatism/socialism/whateverism) is the reason why there is evil in the world. That, and that alone'. Such comments are disappointing, yet are prevalent in modern journalism, which is a frightening concept. In my opinion, Matt N. and yourself are just Robert De Niro/Al Pacino style flip-sides of the same coin, preferring to hate one side or the other as opposed to offering a nuanced reading of the film text. The only difference between you and Matt N. is that you probably haven't read Rand (an author you have bashed multiple times) whilst he probably hadn't heard of Rand before this article. So, congrats, you are mildly more informed than someone like Matt N. High five?

  • ken | December 18, 2012 9:15 PM

    Well Katie you're the critic. With that in mind would you indulge in critiquing the filmmaking qualities of The Dark Knight Rises on a slightly more substantial basis (no need to sacrife brevity altogether) beyond "I was hostile, because it is stupid"?

  • Katie Walsh | December 18, 2012 8:25 AM

    Well, Alan, I decided not to go into a political diatribe/deconstruction for the sake of brevity, and also because I wanted to judge the film based on its filmmaking attributes, not its political content, which, while deeply troubling to me, connected with someone like Matt N. down there. Those filmmaking qualities alone gave me enough rope to hang it with, and yes, I was hostile, because it is stupid. And nonody understands me. So there.

  • jingmei | December 18, 2012 3:01 AMReply

    Glad to share same taste common with Rodrigo Perez: Sleepwalk With Me is underrated indeed. I love this indie film. I wish Mike Birbiglia get his future, is like Jessica Chastain. We are in the same generation.

  • LEE | December 19, 2012 3:16 PM

    Katie, I am with you. I had been looking forward to TDKR, when I finally saw it I was in shock. It is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. What makes it worse, is that it is tremendously pretentious, conservative and just a plain mess!

  • Elle | December 18, 2012 1:20 PM

    Sleepwalk With Me is overrated, if anything. It's a movie about a selfish coward who runs from his girlfriend for several weeks until he cheats on her and then they finally break up. And we're supposed to think he's dopey and likable the entire time.

  • Mark | December 18, 2012 1:03 AMReply

    Simply put, I HATED Christopher Bell's assessment of "Beasts of the Southern Wild." How's that for vitriol?

  • Alan | December 19, 2012 1:39 AM

    Yeah, except my jibes were funnier than Walsh's and I didn't pretend to make a political comment with them.

  • milo | December 18, 2012 10:18 AM

    @ Alan your response is vindictive and self-consciously hostile, preferring to offer dumb jibes than insights into the film. boom. :-)

  • Alan | December 18, 2012 2:34 AM

    Yeah, Christopher Bell, you just don't understand. That thing had an AMAZING script: "Hushpuppy, Hushpuppy, Hushpuppy, Hushpuppy ... Hushpuppy, what are you doing? Hushpuppy, Hushpuppy ..." The film does for shouting the name "Hushpuppy" what Winter's Bone did for teenage girls walking to places ... and then walking to other places ... and then walking to the next place.

  • nightgoat72 | December 18, 2012 12:39 AMReply

    Underrated: The Expendables 2, The Paperboy, The Comedy, Magic Mike, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Jeff, Who Lives at Home, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, Dark Horse

    Overrated: The Cabin in the Woods, The Grey, Chronicle, The Raid, Skyfall, Looper, The Avengers, 21 Jump Street, Silver Linings Playbook

  • asiandude | December 18, 2012 12:12 AMReply

    Overrated: Cabin in the woods. Many people love this 1 because it blends both horror & comedy, i feel being cheated because each of the gerne presented in the movie isnt good enough, just average - if u wanna see a movie that has multi gernes, go see Looper (a scifi with an exiciting twist, a supernatural & ultimately a satisfying drama about people's choices and being given a chance).

    Underrated: 5-year engagement - it was really charming, one of the best romcoms ive seen lately - like a reviewer has said somewhere "there's a great 90-min movie in this good 120-min movie", i understand why people hate it but once you root 4 the main couple and u survived till the last scene, it was really satisfying. I also dont see HAYWIRE anywhere here :( - i cant take my eyes away at the middle of the film and yes, it kinda slows down in the end but i think it speaks of Steven's directing style.

    And TDKR, i appreciate it as both a smart, enjoyable popcorn flick and a thought-provoking pic. The thing is after TDK people get too focused on the political aspect of the series without caring 4 the entartainment. My disappointment in the movie lies in Annie, be4 seeing it, the hype around Catwoman was TOO MUCH. But the truth is Catwoman is really underwritten in the movie, she appears slightly guilty in the beginning, when Bruce missing more slightly guitly and BOOM, in the end decides to team with him. It kinda speaks how underwritten the role when in the ball scene between Cat & Bruce early in the movie, Cat already speaks smth like it's her choice and you dont know me etc - the screenwriters already gave us HER SIDE. I love
    Annie, she is great and stunning in that suit but the catwoman material itself doesnt deserve the hype - probably it's a testament to how good an actress she is because if it was given to other lessors, that role could just disappear without notices.

  • phil | December 18, 2012 2:37 PM

    ASIANDUDE, the point is Anne Hathaway was not given the best material and screen time, yet she still gave a superb performance.

  • DG | December 17, 2012 10:32 PMReply

    Damn I really need to see Ruby Sparks. Rises was awesome, I don't know about underrated but misunderstood for sure. Skyfall for sure overrated. Safety Not Guaranteed was just bad. Beasts was overrated but still a good movie. Argo is good, probably overrated overall, it's a great one-watch kind of movie for sure but not a classic or anything

  • Carson Wells | December 17, 2012 10:12 PMReply

    Underrated: Prometheus.

    Overrated: The Dark Knight Rises.

  • tomincmh | December 17, 2012 8:29 PMReply

    Thank you to Kevin and Rodrigo for the love for Ruby Sparks. It's such an under appreciated film.

  • Zack | December 17, 2012 8:02 PMReply

    Maybe what people find noxious is less the actual words "overrated" and "underrated" and more the way so many of the authors present their choices as though they're John goddamn Proctor for having opinions outside the consensus. Think something is overrated all you want, but don't make half of your argument talking about what a tragic martyr that makes you.

  • Sofia | December 17, 2012 7:41 PMReply

    To Erik McClanahan: I agree with your choices but disagree with your typo: " But it's story and characters come off like like the lifeless creation of some Sundance Lab robot..." made me cringe!!!

  • Meesh | December 19, 2012 2:49 PM

    I'm pretty sure she's referring to your apostrophe in "it's." I swear, I have never seen published work more in need of a copy editor than the stuff that regularly appears on The Playlist.

  • Erik | December 17, 2012 9:23 PM

    Are you referring to the fact that the story was based on an actual ad in a paper? If so, I knew that, but perhaps didn't make it clear enough in my write-up that the way the script was written and the characters had the feel of being conceived in an indie movie factory.

  • JAB | December 17, 2012 7:30 PMReply

    I revisited "The Dark Knight Rises" on Blu-Ray a couple of nights ago after catching it in IMAX this summer. This may be the most overlooked movie in any "awards season" since Michael Mann's "Heat".
    Once you get some distance from it & realize that Heath Ledger's "the Joker" is not in it then Bane becomes a much more complex & troubling character. I'm thinking that this film may be better than "The Dark Knight". It's richer & denser (TDK was pretty dense) & more emotionally touching. It brought tears to my eyes the 1st time I saw it & those tears came flooding back the other night. (I love that ending, that last shot --& for Frank Miller fans its logically sets up a literal film translation of "The Dark Knight Returns" &, yeah, I know the Joker & Dent are very much alive in that graphic novel.)
    "John Carter" is a very good film if you give it a chance making you wonder if this film's bashers actually bothered to see the film.
    "Argo" is the most flat out enjoyable film of 2012. It is NOT overrated.
    Can't wait to see "Zero Dark Thirty".

  • Jimmy King | December 17, 2012 6:30 PMReply

    Dark Knight Rises underrated? Clearly someone got a bit excited by Batman's flying car and a bit horny over Anne Hathaway's rubber suit. My advice? Do NOT order a super jumbo IMAX Pespsi and drink it all yourself. That's too much Pepsi for one person, dude! PS: TDKR was heavy handed, self important and daft.

  • yohand | December 17, 2012 6:23 PMReply

    They're just trying to be provocative.

  • Matt N. | December 17, 2012 3:47 PMReply

    One of the MANY, MANY things I loved about TDKR was it's Randian politics. It's refreshing to see a differing viewpoint rise out of the the liberal trash that is thrown our way year after year. Way to g

  • Wash | December 18, 2012 4:26 PM

    I don't know what "Randian" means, and I don't care. It was a movie about a guy that dresses up like a Bat and a girl that dresses up like a Cat fighting a man who wears a Darth Vader-esque mask. Good / bad. Fun / boring. Sure. But Randian? I was young - so forgive me - but did film critics politicize The Karate Kid Part III and such back then, too? Poor Daniel-son and his environmental crusade to preserve the bonsai - and pan-asian culture - in the zeitgeist.

  • Zack | December 17, 2012 8:04 PM

    ...the fuck is this conversation?

  • Matt N. | December 17, 2012 4:20 PM

    Excellent find. He may not have intended it to be political, but it perfectly captured the left wing/Occupy zeitgeist of the last couple years.

  • Nanz | December 17, 2012 3:45 PMReply

    Dark knight rises underrated??? that has to be a joke.

  • Tim | December 17, 2012 3:31 PMReply

    "Anderson is content to keep making the same movie over and over to diminishing results for as long as he keeps getting patted on the back by critics and fans for doing so. His idea of artistic growth is changing the setting of his films (New York/Italy/India/the ‘60s) without altering his highly affected style."

    This sums up exactly how I felt after seeing Darjeeling Limited. I'm surprised to hear it said about Moonrise Kingdom though, which has restored my faith in Anderson after giving up on him (I wouldn't even have seen the film if I hadn't gotten in for free). Moonrise felt, to me, like as much of a leap forward as Rushmore was from Bottle Rocket. The experience of making a stop motion feature clearly had a huge impact on Anderson, and this film pushed those elements of his style that already felt like stop motion to their limit. I sympathize with the criticism that his films have lost their heart, smothered under artifice; and the child performances were underwhelming. But aesthetically, this film felt like such a fully and meticulously realized vision - utterly original and unique, despite being a logical extension of his past work.

    My vote for most overrated is Looper. Not a bad film by any means, but miles away from living up to the hype. The overbearing expository voice over was only the beginning of my complaints.

  • Elle | December 18, 2012 1:26 PM

    The Royal Tenenbaums AND The Darjeeling Limited actually had emotional content and sympathetic characters, though. Moonrise Kingdom just feels totally vapid.

  • [A] | December 17, 2012 3:15 PMReply

    I agree with the last guy, Zhuravsky. Not only with him, but...more wholeheartedly (sp?)

  • Dan | December 17, 2012 3:13 PMReply

    Nice article. For myself I'd add:


    TDKR-Both arguments against and for the film are outlined pretty well. Cory's argument is pretty much my thinking on the film. It seems that its listing on a good many notable top ten lists has put a lot of the critisms in perspective, and I think the film's reputation will continue to grow.

    Flight-Also had solid reviews and did gangbusters at the box office; however, there seems to be a perception that this went to 'Hollywood' due to the pressence of Washington and Bob Z. The common argument is that it pales in comparison to more indie takes on addiction like Shame and Smashed. Whilst those are solid efforts, as the son of a recovering alcoholic surgeon, I highly appreciate the fact it shows successful, intelligent individuals are also subject to addiction.

    The Master-Not PTA's best effort by a country mile, but a fascinating character study. Harvey needed to expand this gradually.


    Looper/ Skyfall/ The Avengers: TDKR's gets knocked because of 'plot holes' yet these three a freebie...ok. Also, how Looper is a finalist for Best Make Up is sad.

    Cloud Atlas: This got hit hard by most critics, but bloggers seem to think it is the Second Coming. Like Watchmen, David Mitchell's novel works best in its original format. Whilst there are segments that are great, too much of the film tries to be proound and lands flat, or the jarring tonal differences leave for a sour exit from the movie theatre.

  • Chris | December 17, 2012 3:06 PMReply

    If you really think "ParaNorman" is safe and familiar and follows the same old road, you really, REALLY weren't paying attention. Good god.

  • Alan | December 20, 2012 1:58 AM

    Yeah, the film uses tropes, but it doesn't use them well or with any wit: do you really think the "ghost jerk" line is a good one?

  • Rick | December 19, 2012 9:12 AM

    @Alan, should the not-so-smart bully be quoting Shakespeare?

  • Alan | December 18, 2012 2:45 AM

    Oh yeah, it uses horror tropes and it offers a nifty sub-Joe Dante approach to a children's film, but the characters are banal and the dialogue is lowest common denominator stuff: "Hey LOSER! Your LOSERNESS is LAME, LOSER." (Actual dialogue: "Hey, ghost jerk! You know what? Why don’t you see some more ghosts, goober?") It was actually the most depressing film I have seen this year, and I felt sorry for the kids and parents who paid money to see this.

  • Christian | December 17, 2012 2:58 PMReply

    Bravo, at least you "got" Nolan's intetion. I gues The Dark Knight Rises is just too intelligent for the masses because it's damn thoughtful and clever. It's a Dickensian analysis of the post-9/11 American society disguised as a superhero film. Who cares what some Internet trolls say or geeks whose cinematic horizon only includes Star Wars and The Avengers? This is one of the most thematically ambitious actions films ever made. Can't wait to see what Nolan does next. Peace and love.

  • Zack | December 17, 2012 8:05 PM

    "The Dark Knight Rises is just too intelligent for the masses"
    Someone actually wrote this. Dear God.

  • Dan | December 17, 2012 3:43 PM

    KT, you are coming off overtly bitter. There are plenty of parallels in the narrative to A Tale of Two Cities: On character returning after spending a great deal of time hermetically sealed away from the world, a society imploding due to factors setting the various factions against one another, individuals imprisoned under questionable reasons laying down anarchy, the sense of self sacrafice, etc. You are allowed to not like the film, but you should not scream that it is crap, when there is much more there.

  • KT | December 17, 2012 3:27 PM

    " It's a Dickensian analysis of the post-9/11 American society disguised as a superhero film." Jesus Christ, stop it. I swear delusional Nolan fans just make this shit up, continually creating/pulling one faux-intellectual summary after another out of the air trying to exalt the man's seriously flawed Batman trilogy. Nolan should stay away from blockbusters permanently after this one; they're clearly too much for him to handle. So tired of the videogame generation heralding him as the new Stanley Kubrick. Aside from 'Memento', and maybe 'The Prestige', his films aren't profound... And 'The Dark Knight Rises' was about as deep as a fish tank.

  • Pat | December 17, 2012 3:26 PM

    I'm assuming KT never read A Tale of Two Cities. I'll just leave you with the phrase 'Recalled to life' and leave you at that.

  • KT | December 17, 2012 3:06 PM

    " It's a Dickensian analysis of the post-9/11 American society disguised as a superhero film." Jesus Christ, stop it. It was none of those things.

  • Tyler | December 17, 2012 2:54 PMReply

    Silva was the antagonist

  • Meesh | December 19, 2012 2:51 PM

    Thank you.

  • Lora | December 17, 2012 2:45 PMReply

    The Dark Knight Underrated? This guy needs his head examined.

  • Paul | December 17, 2012 2:45 PMReply

    Nice to see "John Carter" and "The Grey" get some props here. "John Carter" was much maligned, with, as the reviewer notes, most of the commentary being about the production scandals and less about the movie itself. I bought it on blu-ray and have watched it several times.

    "The Grey" is just a masterful bit of understated entertainment. And the sound design and mixing is top-notch. Seriously, the wolves' howling will give you chills.

  • Simon | December 17, 2012 2:44 PMReply

    John Carter, wtf?

  • Sean | December 17, 2012 2:40 PMReply

    Ugh at Holy Motors being overrated and god damn Ruby Sparks being underrated.

  • KEN | December 17, 2012 2:40 PMReply

    TDKR is neither overrated nor underrated. It deserves all the negative and positive criticisms it received. Glad Katie mentioned JGL's corniness. Nolan's pretentious and corny dialogues often sound less corny thanks to actors but in TDKR JGL's forced line delivery and inconsistent accent bugged hell out of me.

  • Markunator | December 18, 2012 10:57 AM

    There is nothing "pretentious" about Nolan's dialogue.

  • Christian | December 17, 2012 11:37 PM

    What fucking accent are you guys talking about? He talked like he normally does. There was nothing different in his voice. You guys are just making shit up. JGL was the best part of that movie.

  • KT | December 17, 2012 2:36 PMReply

    'The Dark Knight Rises', underrated? You can't be serious...

  • jm | December 18, 2012 2:43 PM

    Christian, JGL started with a New Yawk accent, but he was not consistent with that accent throughout the film. To be fair, Helen Hunt was consistent with her accent in The Sessions .

  • serpico | December 17, 2012 2:35 PMReply

    My big beef with TDKR is how sloppily it was put together. There was no ebb and flow. It's as if the Nolan brothers were rushed this time around. I'm not trying to be picky either. I have no idea why so many critics liked it.

  • Collin | December 17, 2012 2:31 PMReply

    Pshh. There's nothing overrated about "Beasts of the Southern Wild".

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