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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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Overrated Underrated 2012

We understand that to many, underrated and overrated are potentially noxious terms thay may want you to punch us in the face. At the very least it’s deeply subjective and relative. What’s underrated to one person is fussed over to someone else. Essentially, it’s all about one’s perception of the narrative that forms around any given film. Some pictures are often undervalued or underepresented by certain sections of the critical cognoscenti and other pictures are lauded as the greatest thing sliced bread and writer’s often feel like they need to make some sort of corrective to that that narrative.

We understand it’s an often polarizing sentiment, but by bringing together the Playlist collective for our annual overrated/underrated piece, and identifying each writer in their subjective thoughts, we thought -- for better or worse -- each individual might illuminate a little bit about how they see film, and what their perception was of films that didn’t get their fair shake and or were overly praised. You'll undoubtedly think some of them are crazy or interesting, and two films that have contradictory takes from different writers (which serves to demonstrate how subjective the idea of something being "under" or "over" rated can be). Let us know which films you think have been overlooked and overblown in the comments section, and for all The Playlist's year-end coverage make sure to follow all our Best Of 2012 features.

Almayer's Folly
Christopher Bell
Underrated - “Almayer’s Folly”
Once "Bridesmaids" made waves at the box office, the discussion of smart female movies and woman filmmakers got a lot louder: why were males so dominant in all aspects of cinema? It's a legitimate topic that needs to be discussed, and more people than ever were having it -- but when the movies came ("Artificial Paradises," "The Loneliest Planet," "The Milk Of Human Kindness" to name a few), nobody cared. One of the more unfortunate films to get the short shrift this year is by the well-respected Chantal Akerman, whose heavy "Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles" is constantly name dropped among today's newest batch of slow-burn, minimalist directors. It's unclear why this terrific movie is so under-the-radar, especially because there's plenty to appreciate within. Taking liberties with the source material by Joseph Conrad, the filmmaker focuses on the relationship (or lack thereof) between a wealthy caucasian colonialist and his mixed-race daughter, the latter whom holds resentment of Pops for sending her away for a “white education” (big surprise: she becomes a victim of racism). Identity is a topic that Akerman constantly prods at, braiding all these ideas into a simple story performed with a subtlety that makes the inevitable emotional breakdowns incredibly stirring. Similar to her older works, the director continues to move at her own speed, playing with the temporal while capturing the lush-yet-unwelcoming jungle that most of the movie lives in. It’s an altogether astonishing work of art, and there’s no reason why the “slow and boring” (really wish there was another name for this niche, even if it ended in "core") advocates wouldn’t gobble this up. Thankfully it’s never too late.

Beasts Of The Southern Wild
Overrated - “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
The amount of pressure this film puts on its audience to break down into tears every ten minutes is utterly insulting. Maybe I’m being hyperbolic here, but this is the reaction you get when you’re expected to emote after a little girl strikes her father to the ground after accidentally burning her house down following a conversation she has with a shirt on a chair that is supposed to represent her deceased mother. That piece of clothing also speaks back to her, with a crisp voice-over of the matriarch’s voice. It’s just too aggressive, and when it’s not going for waterworks, ‘Beasts’ is convinced that you’ll find its wee protagonist engagingly adorable, with her chubby cheeks and loud proclamations coated in cute kidspeak. Basically, if it doesn’t get you in the first five minutes with any of this, there’s really nothing to pull from it -- the landscape does indeed make for some admirable cinematography, but any allusions to real world events feel heavy-handed and not particularly insightful. I admit that this likely reads as a vitriolic rant, but know that I don’t feel “cooler” than anyone else for disliking the movie -- I would’ve loved to be part of this Hushpuppy club -- but the movie doesn’t have an understated bone in its body, and you can only nod along to Beirut and hope to be legitimately moved for so long.

Sam Chater
Underrated: "Bachelorette"
Theres been a lot of talk of late about women in comedy, which felt like a pretty redundant conversation when it began: is the question “Are women funny?” really something we're asking in the 21st century  After all the success of "Bridesmaids" last year, it seems, unfortunately, that the pendulum swung back the other way, with a backlash against women doing “gross-out humour." Unfortunately this kind of sentiment seemed to wash over into the reviews of Leslye Headland’s first film "Bachelorette" -- which definitely features its fair share of gross-out moments, pavement licking and wedding dresses being used as toilet paper, but also goes beyond that. "Bachelorette" isn't funny like Judd Apatow films are funny, instead it's full of biting one-liners and black humour, it's a bit nasty and as smart as heck. You probably don't want to hang out with all the characters at a bar after the movie like I did after seeing "Bridesmaids," but the leads in "Bachelorette" ring truer than most female characters do in film these days, for better or worse. Headland has created the kind of female characters that are severely underrepresented, ones with actual problems, who aren’t always nice but also have shades of grey, are at least semi-functional and maybe talk to each other about something other than a dude once in a while. She also casts it brilliantly, with leads Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher and Lizzy Caplan, all committing to their roles as the "bitchelorettes" with gusto and putting in charismatic performances. The supporting guys aren't half bad either with both James Marsden and Adam Scott filling their roles with perfect panache. "Bachelorette" may not be a comforting feel good comedy, but that doesn't make it any less insightful, witty or entertaining.

Lavant Holy Motors 1
Overrated: "Holy Motors"
Perhaps "Holy Motors" is only overrated in certain circles of cinephilia -- its not likely to win any major awards nor make millions at the box office, but critical reception has been overwhelmingly glowing, with the film making decent showings in both the Sight and Sound and Cahiers du Cinema best of 2012 list. Yes, Denis Levant, the star, the lead, the one with the most screen time, is great, but a film this well reviewed should be more than just an actor's vehicle. Instead, Leos Carax's picture feels repetitive, pushing the same points about reality, fantasy, representation and viewership over and over -- and to tell the truth they weren’t that insightful the first time 'round. Sometimes Carax makes his point in visually arresting ways, and in other scenes he comes close to being emotionally touching, but this is a film that feels all too pleased with its own cleverness, quietly laughing at the viewer for taking any of it seriously. "Holy Motors" ticks a lot of boxes in terms of intertextual references, which will surely make it great fodder for a Film Studies course, but grows tiresome over the course of the film. Its also full of obvious and unaffecting scenes that seem to appear purely for “shock value” -- Levant’s green-suited, flower-eating devil, from his naked erection to bloody finger biting, feels tired and even dated, as do the out of place co-stars like Eva Mendes and Kylie Minogue, who both felt useless in this film, whether purposefully or not. To wrap the film up, Carax’s final scenes only further trivialise the last 100 odd minutes that the audience has endured. Its hard not to feel that one of these vignettes could have been an entertaining short, but as a feature, and a lauded one no less, it is simply tiresome.

The Dark Knight Rises, Anne Hathaway
Cory Everett
Underrated: “The Dark Knight Rises”
Though my initial instinct was to use this opportunity to shine the spotlight one of many smaller film that didn’t get their due this year -- “Sleepwalk With Me,” “Nobody Walks,” and “Smashed,” all made strong cases -- instead I felt compelled to throw down for the most underappreciated blockbuster of the year: “The Dark Knight Rises.” But wasn’t Christopher Nolan’s epic final Batman film released to mostly positive reviews, you say? Well, yes. But in the months following the film’s release it seems like public opinion really began to turn on it. From Bane’s voice to the (perceived) plot holes to the lack of screentime for the title character, there was no issue too small for fanboys not to groan about. The anti-’TDKR’ sentiment grew so loud that I started to question my own admiration for the film. But months after Aurora, the hype and the backlash, I caught one of the film’s final showings in a nearly empty IMAX theatre and quite simply, loved the shit out of it. The little things that had bothered me on first viewing barely registered now and I wondered how I’d ever doubted it in the first place. It was never going to be possible for ‘Rises’ to top “The Dark Knight” -- Ledger’s Joker was lightning in a bottle -- but it’s not for lack of trying. While it’s typical for sequels to go big, this one is a true epic reaching almost operatic heights scene-after-scene. What I still can’t understand is how the film became a punching bag to begin with (being held to a standard of “realism” that Nolan never subscribed to anyway) while another superhero blockbuster gets a pass because its more “fun.” ‘TDKR’ may not have been the film most audiences wanted this summer but Nolan gave them the one they deserved. And it was one for the history books.

Moonrise Kingdom Bill Murray
Overrated: “Moonrise Kingdom”
For a filmmaker as divisive as Wes Anderson, “Moonrise Kingdom” is probably as close as a film the auteur has come to making something universally beloved. It's the director’s second highest grossing film to date, has a 94% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has recently been cropping up on countless Best Of 2012 lists. However this former Anderson devotee finds it not only one of the most unjustly praised films of the year but also the filmmaker’s weakest live-action effort to date. (And yes, that includes “The Darjeeling Limited”). Wes Anderson fans, I completely understand your outrage at yet another critic taking a shot at your favorite director but until this film, I was one of you. Yes, this is the same writer that voluntarily wrote a 2200+ word analysis of the trailer. Continuing on the downward slide that has befallen his work for the past decade, Anderson has lost his grip on character, story and even humor with his latest strained effort. Despite some clever casting, the jokes fall mostly flat and characters amount to not much more than window dressing. (To paraphrase Red Letter Media, it would be difficult to describe the personality of one of the characters in the film without describing what they look like or what their profession is.) The most frustrating part is knowing that 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. Sure, “Moonrise Kingdom” is pleasant enough, but for someone who has invested so much in a filmmaker who showed such promise, it’s an incredibly frustrating thing to watch idly.

Paul Dano Zoe Kazan Ruby Sparks
Kevin Jagernauth
Underrated - “Ruby Sparks”
Every year, critics get out their knives for rom-coms that deliver the same tired formula, gender stereotypes and stories, and sigh and lament about the lack of originality in the genre. But it boggles the mind that when something as truly unique and special as “Ruby Sparks” came along, critics and audiences mostly shrugged their shoulders. It’s a shame because the fresh voice and perspective of screenwriter and actress Zoe Kazan is one we could use more of. On the surface, the film is a Charlie Kaufman-esque lark about a struggling, neurotic writer who one day literally conjures up the the girl of his dreams with a few keystrokes on his old school typewriter. It’s at first bliss, and this seems to be where most people turned off their brain and threw lazy “manic pixie dream girl” comparisons at the picture. But it’s the second half where the film truly matures, turning this fantastical romance into an incisive and insightful exploration of the vulnerability relationships put us in, the power we try to exercise over them in order to maintain some sense of security and what happens when it falls apart. It’s really about learning how to love someone for their flaws instead of their perfections, and it’s all wrapped up in a lovely script, smoothly handled by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. Here’s hoping on home video it takes on a second life and finds more fans. Along with “Take This Waltz,” it’s one of the best relationship movies of the year.

ParaNorman Car
Overrated - “ParaNorman”
It seems that we’ve become so desensitized to the usual animated schlock churned out year by year from studios, that even the appearance of something different sends folks into a tizzy, particularly if its the kind of fare aimed squarely at fanboys. It’s undeniable that “ParaNorman” had a great concept -- a stop motion zombie movie for kids? Awesome. It’s just too bad the filmmakers couldn’t take that creative thinking and apply to the characters or even the basic structure of the story. It’s same old thing, with a outsider kid as the protagonist, coupled with a quirky chubby sidekick (who is kind of a ripoff of the much more engaging lead from “Up”), with an annoying sister and her dumb jock boyfriend along for the ride (though admittedly, the late reveal about the latter character is a nice touch). And let’s not forget the parents who are oblivious to what’s going on with their kid. Once the novelty of the aesthetics wear off, and you quickly realize the 3D doesn’t add much flavor, you keep waiting for the story become as alive as its surroundings. But instead, it plays the the safe and familiar beats of every animated movie, overpunctuating every emotion, taking our hero on a predictable journey from beginning to end with very little to make it compelling or truly memorable aside from that Jon Brion score.

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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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