The Playlist Staff's Most Overrated And Underrated Films Of 2013

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by The Playlist Staff
December 24, 2013 7:03 AM
161 Comments
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Drew Taylor
Underrated: "The Lone Ranger"
One of the joys of being a film journalist is the blissful ignorance with which you can occasionally watch a movie. I saw "The Lone Ranger" (with Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the titular hero) a while before it came out, in a midtown movie theater with two other journalists (who happen to be a couple of my best buds) and we had a perfectly wonderful time with the movie. I was more outspoken in my appreciation for all of its borderline surrealist pleasures (its wonky tone, its sudden bursts of hyper-violence, the bizarre framing device), but we were in agreement that it was one of the more solid, handsomely produced summertime confections we'd witnessed that year. Flash forward a few weeks and the movie actually opens and critics take a tomahawk to it, scalping it alive. Which is a shame. In a few years, I'll bet there will be a widespread reappraisal of "The Lone Ranger," and the same critics who trashed it initially will bemoan the lack of outspoken acclaim for the movie the first time around. The movie has faults, for sure; it's way too long and too crammed with stuff (ideas, themes, characters) that clog up what could have been a more streamlined and pleasurable narrative. But the movie also has personality, something that was sorely lacking in big studio tent poles this year. Gore Verbinski, the mad genius behind the first three "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies and the Oscar-winning "Rango," fearlessly shifts between tones and genres, offering up a dab of horror movie here, a little bit of historical drama there, all encased in what is literally the biggest western ever made. It leads, of course, to the much-ballyhooed train chase, a mindbogglingly complicated action set piece that remains one of the most peerlessly cinematic sequences all year. When we talked to one of the film's costars, Helena Bonham Carter about it a couple of months ago, she compared the film's reaction to one of her other cult classics that got an initial critical drubbing, "Fight Club." While it will one day undoubtedly reach that status, it's a shame more people didn't get to see it where it was meant to be seen—on the biggest screen you could find.

Overrated: "12 Years a Slave"
On a technical level, "12 Years a Slave" is unimpeachable—it's one of the most rigorously gorgeous, historically meticulous recreations of a specific era that any of us are ever likely to see. (Not that we want to see this kind of thing again, ever.) And yes, the journey of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejofor), who goes from free man to wrongly imprisoned slave, is a harrowing experience for sure. But, ultimately, the movie is more formally impressive than it is emotionally involving. And that's a big problem. Slavery is one of the worst atrocities of humankind and yet director Steve McQueen, with his languid tracking shots and artfully composed brutality, approaches everything with the calculated detachment of a sociologist. In all of his films, McQueen seems interested in humanity, but at a distance, encased in a series of beautiful tableaux. And the filmmaker found his perfect entry point therefore in the character of Northup, since he too is continually kept at arm's length from actually engaging with the senselessness around him. When the movie begins, there is a shot of a paddleboat, with a particular emphasis spent on the paddles as they slam into the water (accompanied by a menacingly grinding Hans Zimmer cue). "Oh," I thought. "This is great. It's like McQueen is focusing on this amazing machine because America is a machine and slavery is a machine." But then that didn't happen at all. There are some thematic concerns that are brought up and dabbled in, stuff about freedom and how we define our own experiences, but nothing all that grand or profound; for the most part it's almost shockingly straightforward. "12 Years a Slave" has had praise heaped upon on it for no apparent reason, other than its unflinching roughness, and even as a likely Best Picture winner it seems a little safe (although its saccharine ending, seemingly airlifted from another movie altogether, should warm voters' hearts). At least "Django Unchained" had the guts to turn slavery into an abstract, blood-splattered comic book. Here, it's like someone reading to you from a stuffy history book. Of all the things I expected a Steve McQueen movie about slavery to be, dry was never one of them.

Kristen Lopez
Underrated:Gangster Squad”
When Ruben Fleischer (“Zombieland”) announced his latest film was a 1940s gangster movie starring Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, and Emma Stone, it was as if the Hollywood heavens opened up and made a movie just for me. According to my friends, that explains why no one else likes it. Really, Fleischer did his homework with “Gangster Squad,” and created a truly legitimate 1940s B-movie. Everything about the movie is true to the time period of the movies referenced; it isn’t a movie about the 1940s or set in that period, it wants to be a movie released during that time period. If you went to the movies during that era, you’d see something similar; more “G-Men” than “White Heat.” As a classic film lover, I applauded Fleischer’s attention to detail. He truly created and attempted to immerse audiences in every facet of Los Angeles during the period, right down to filming on location in places like Grauman’s Chinese Theater. He could have stuck to set design and costume—base elements necessary for creating a period drama—but Fleischer went further. Yes, the dialogue is hokey because the actors aren’t versed in how to make words like “tomato” sound as fluid as in movies past, but you have to applaud them for trying. Yes, other elements like the bare-knuckle brawl finale, and a character’s wife giving birth at home whilst being shot at have an air of camp and ridiculousness exemplified in the more ham-fisted movies of the era it seeks to represent, and the "messages" were less than subtle: a character dies then we cut to a scene of a hamburger being grilled. But the real issue appears to lie in audiences’ belief, at the time, that this would be another “L.A. Confidential” or “The Untouchables,” which it isn’t, or nor does it feel as such. It isn’t a neo-noir, nor is the intention to use a modern lens to look back at noir tropes. It seeks to reinvigorate and recreate the aura of a 1940s movie in tone, characters, and narrative. And then the last-minute reshoots in light of the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting cursed the movie and prevented it from getting a fair shake; it’s far from perfect, but its reverence and adherence to classic film ideals warms the cockles of my heart and makes it worthy of a second look.

Overrated:Captain Phillips
The final ten minutes of “Captain Phillips,” particularly the eponymous character’s breakdown at the end showcases an exemplary performance for which Tom Hanks should be applauded. However, the rest of the movie is too basic and uninspiring by comparison. I remember when Phillips’ boat, the Maersk Alabama was hijacked back in 2009, so where’s the desire to see a recreation of events four years later? I could just as easily go back and watch the original story on YouTube. Yes, director Paul Greengrass is well known for rapidly capitalizing on world events; his own “United 93” came out five years after the events of 9/11. On top of that, director Kathryn Bigelow was inserting history as it happened in last year’s “Zero Dark Thirty,” so I understand the need to produce recreations; however, is this an event which necessitated a movie? The incident happened and people moved on; it never attained the historical significance of Greengrass’ prior work. Greengrass attempts to show balance in his movie, especially humanizing the Somali pirates, but it wears its “America!” heart on its sleeve. It doesn't help that the movie has fallen under attack for authenticity issues, which I’ve heard about since the events happened in 2009. I don’t begrudge either Hanks or Barkhad Abdi’s performances, because they’re phenomenal, but the movie is a victim of its own hype. It’s well-performed, but the impact of the events is negligible and I don’t feel enough time has passed to make me say “Yeah, remember four years ago?”

Diana Drumm
Underrated: “The Last of Robin Hood
Full disclosure, I am a big Errol Flynn fan (carry around a swatch of his clothing for good luck; may or may not own a pair of pants he wore in “The Prince and the Pauper,” etc.). So when I walked in to see “The Last of Robin Hood” this past September, I was ready to pounce at anything inaccurate or inauthentic or generally offensive to his memory. Based on Flynn’s last affair with teenage wannabe starlet Beverly Aadland, the film was overshadowed and written off out of the gate when it premiered at TIFF, but that overlooks one of the best performances of 2013—Kevin Kline as Errol Flynn, a role every critic noted he was clearly born to play. Even before Kline’s face appears onscreen (the first shot being of his hands and torso accepting an award), I was taken aback by the voice, a remarkable facsimile of the star’s. And it wasn’t the young, dashing, bounding-for-life Flynn, but the aged-beyond-his-47-years, world-weary Flynn you can see on his “What’s My Line?” appearance, which by the end of the film turns into the even more aged and bloated, bordering on decrepit, Flynn of his last interviews. Then, as the camera revealed Kline regaling the women’s auxiliary league with stories of “Cirrhosis by the Sea” (the Hollywood playboy bungalow he shared with David Niven) and his dear old friend John Barrymore, the waterworks began. I was sold—hook, line and sinker. Kline brought Flynn back to life and for that, I will always be indebted to him and directors/screenwriters Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland (“Quinceanera,” “Fluffer”). Maybe I went in with too subjective and appreciative an eye, but this film deserves to be seen beyond film festival and classic film fan crowds. Although there are many more redeeming qualities to the film, the most pressing is Kline’s jaw-dropping, heart-melting performance that neither mimics nor impersonates but brings my hero back to life for a brief, all-too-fleeting 92 minutes.

Overrated: “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Knowing full well that this hasn’t been a total critical darling, certainly round these parts (here’s our review), I still believe Ben Stiller’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” is, given its generally warm reception, deserving of some balancing out. After its premiere at NYFF, whispers began around Oscar nominations, but I thoroughly hated it, spending two hours hoping for a punchline that never came, with each superficial reflection feeling like an insult to the intellect of not only the average filmgoer but also the general American public. First among its sins: an onslaught of promotional tie-ins and product placement that goes from obnoxious to downright offensive. You’ve probably seen the eHarmony tie-ins during a few of the film’s TV promo spots, but there’s also the deeply crude use of Papa John's. SPOILER, Walter Mitty (Stiller) loses his father as a teenager and has to give up his dream of skateboarding to work at a Papa Johns. With the blunt knife of doltish symbolism already stabbed in, they decide to twist it a bit more and sprinkle some salt on the proceeding wound with his mother (played by an underused Shirley MacLaine, actually come to think of it, all of the women involved—Kristen Wiig, Kathryn Hahn—were woefully underutilized) commenting on that connection and how hard it must have been for him working somewhere with the name Papa in it after losing his father. Presumably meant to be some profound, heart-tugging moment, it was my last straw. It's simply outright manipulative to tie the loss of both father and childhood to a shameless, clumsy plug for a pizza company. I may be too sensitive, but for a film trying so hard to tug at the heartstrings and draw on the notion of making your dreams come true if you will it hard enough (cue Arcade Fire and some “exotic,” but samey locations), the film doesn’t think too hard about the actual hearts and minds of its audience. It’s an insult not only to the original James Thurber-penned short story and the Danny Kaye-starring 1947 escapist delight of a film, but to daydreamers everywhere, especially to those who actually put some serious thought into their daydreams.

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161 Comments

  • Harry | January 21, 2014 2:00 AMReply

    'Blue' is easily top 4 films of 2013. Spectacular Now and Spring Breakers overrated? Pacific Rim underrated?

    Do us all a favor and don't attempt to write this stupid propaganda until you understand film

  • Joe H. | January 18, 2014 1:35 AMReply

    Hold on, hold on. Maybe I need to get my eyes checked. Only God Forgives OVERRATED?? Since when? Good lord, the majority of people disliked that movie, so how the hell is is overrated?

    I loved it, but that's not the point. Most people didn't. You can hate on that movie all you want, it's your opinion, but to label it as overrated is just plain incorrect.

  • Joe H. | January 18, 2014 1:32 AMReply

    THANK YOU!! I thought I was the only one who thought 12 Years a Slave was overrated.

  • Corny Collins | January 23, 2014 7:41 PM

    Sets race relations back 20 years, at least.

  • Brandon | January 12, 2014 11:22 AMReply

    This post is a fantastic reminder of why I have vowed to never use the words over/underrated. They come as majorly pretentious and dismissive of one's opinion of a film this just breeds a hostile environment to hold a conversation or debate, additionally it screams hey look at my opinion it's so much less mainstream than the other guys' opinion; that is something the Cinephile community doesn't need.

  • reggie e | January 12, 2014 5:07 AMReply

    Haitian Pirates?

  • Nik G. | January 11, 2014 1:49 AMReply

    I'm not part of the staff, but I contribute whenever I get the chance so I'd like to just throw my overrated and underrated ones out there. For whatever it's worth. (Like the intro suggests though, the terms need to be taken with a spoonful of salt - probably two of the most abused descriptors in movie conversations).

    Underrated:
    To The Wonder - Malick's latest movie got so much crap flung at it because of its abstract expressionism that people didn't even care about how stunning it is to look at. Cinematography aside, the film is less film and more essay or meditation on love, loss and faith which can understably drive so many people relying on plot and narrative away. But this is the kind of movie that reminds me of how poetic movies can be.

    Overrated: (hard to choose one to be honest)
    Gravity - both my picks share the same cinematographer and it looks like he's finally heading for that overdue Oscar with this one, so at least there's that. But, talk about a fantastic technical achievement that's hampered by a contrived plot and a protagonist that's so fabricated she might as well been part of the green screen. A technical milestone no doubt and Cuaron together with Lubezki should be applauded and awarded for their achievements but Gravity, together with Sandra Bullock whose mediocre performance might be a highlight in her career but take a look at that career for a second, is getting way too much attention and praise than it deserves. Watch it age like vinegar, not wine.

  • Lucille | January 9, 2014 7:14 AMReply

    I found American Hustle overrated

  • Cerone | January 20, 2014 4:21 PM

    Wolf of Wall Street pisses all over it XD

  • Joe H. | January 18, 2014 1:36 AM

    I do too. I loved Russell's last two films but American Hustle was a big disappointment. Surprisingly shallow...

  • PAPAJOHN | January 7, 2014 8:46 AMReply

    News flash: nobody cares about your strange loathing for Papa Johns. It's a pizza place that people work at in a place called the real world. One many people enjoy. Though I have not seen Mitty yet, that you would let something like that ruin a movie for you while I assure you the vast majority of movie goers will not give a crap seems to be saying more about you than the film. You went on and on about this non issue at length. Almost as if you had nothing else to complain about but that. Would you have been happier if it were "Papa Steve's" and people still obviously knew what real world company was being referenced?

  • Cerone | January 20, 2014 4:20 PM

    Wolf of Wall Street pisses all over it XD

  • um | January 7, 2014 4:49 AMReply

    I know you begin the article by commenting on the flaws of overrated and underrated in relation to film, but what did I just read? With two supposedly "underrated" films exceeding 90% on the tomatometer, and most "overrated" mentions proving to be critical non-events, receiving generally mixed responses all round, I really don't know what to make of this list.

  • Lucas | January 6, 2014 8:45 AMReply

    I'm sorry, but saying that "Only God Forgives" is overrated it's just unacceptable.

  • Trey | January 5, 2014 1:05 PMReply

    "Plush" by Catherine Hardwicke has been underrated. This movies stars Emily Browning and is really interesting by mixing the styles (music film, fame, erotic, thriller). It just got a limited release and it's a shame! I also think that people have been unfair with this movie: they criticized it without watching it because of the tagline "from the director of Twilight". But Catherin Hardwicke also made "Thirteen" and "Lords of Dogtown" which are very good films !

  • md | January 3, 2014 8:23 PMReply

    wha?

  • Devon | January 2, 2014 12:49 AMReply

    Unless you are familiar with Thai cinema, and Asian film in general, you cannot possibly grasp Only God Forgives. So unless you majored in Asian film in college, or have lived in Thailand, you should not be allowed to comment on the movie. Because you're just plain ignorant.

  • Gordon | January 2, 2014 1:45 PM

    This comment is completely idiotic. Film is not esoteric. Film is the most populist of all art forms and artists who try to bypass that do so at their own risk.

  • rodie | January 2, 2014 12:28 AMReply

    Calling Only God Forgives overrated is absolutely ridiculous. A film needs to be highly praised critically or make a ton of money to qualify in that category, and OGF did neither. That said, the cinematography and the music in the film were A+ amazing, and you're wrong Kristin Scott Thomas is fantastic and frightening in the movie. If David Lynch had made Only God Forgives, critics would have called it a triumph. It's flawed, but definitely UNDER-rated.

  • Marlowe | January 1, 2014 9:40 PMReply

    I thought "The Counselor" was way underrated. I know a lot of people hated it(critics and audiences) but I thought it was so nilhlistic and ballsy that it was really fascinating. I even liked the strange, Shakespearean dialogue by Cormac Mccarthy. No Country For Old Men kind of seems tame in comparison. A lot of it reminded me of 70's cinama like Sam Pekinpah films. Nice to see a rare film that didn't cater to the box office or awards. This film almost felt like one big "F You" to both of those things.

  • Jon | December 31, 2013 11:29 AMReply

    The 'male gaze' criticism of Blue doesn't really make much sense to me. The sex scene didn't differ all that much from the rest of the film aesthetically, and its dramatic intentions were clear: a depiction of Adele's voraciousness, and to show that their relationship was predicated more on physical desire than any emotional connection.

    And come on, you're really going to bring up the giggling? As if the reaction something elicits is always the fault of the thing itself. America is a prudish nation; we giggle at sex.

    Some of these complaints seem more politically than artistically motivated.

  • stefan | December 30, 2013 7:49 PMReply

    m8..u are completely idiot

  • MIke | December 29, 2013 12:22 PMReply

    Horrible is such a subjective term, so I'll just say that of the movies that I've actually seen on this list I completely disagree with everything the writer said about it. The one that sticks out more than other is "To do List". I'd go further than saying that movie isn't underrated in the least, I'd say it hella overrated considering all the people I've heard call that movie underrated -- which is why I wasting my time giving that movie a chance.

    And how is Gravity not on every single overrated list? That should be on most overrated movie of ALL TIME lists, not just 2013.

  • Alexandra | December 31, 2013 1:18 PM

    Mike, I don't know you, but I love you for saying what you said about Gravity. I thought the movie was mediocre at best. I do not understand all the critical acclaim at all. Visuals were okay, but if I want pretty pictures of space, I'll watch a documentary. As for the writing, dialogue, character development, story - terrible. Sorry, but terrible. "Either way, it's gonna be one helluva ride." NO. GTFO.

  • Coleman | December 31, 2013 4:19 AM

    Haven't seen the To Do List, but I don't get the Gravity hate dude. Were you one of the people who inexplicably found it boring or are you sick of hearing about how great it is? The movie has spectacular visuals and is incredibly suspenseful. It does some of the best things film as a medium can do. What could have improved it in your eyes?

  • MARTIN | December 27, 2013 6:34 PMReply

    Anyway, I think "Gravity", is absolutely OVERRRATED!!!! I can't stand the "universal acclaim" it holds, it's ridiculous how everyone is buying the idea of a movie like that. I was dying of boredom... If you quite the excellent special effects from it, what do you have? A movie (supposedly) about fighting "adversities". Boring. Next.

  • randall | December 26, 2013 5:16 PMReply

    The Only God Forgives entry is just silly, that film was universally shit on and in no way is overrated.

    If anything, I think the film is probably slightly underrated.

  • Michele | December 23, 2013 8:45 PMReply

    Those who can do and create....those who can't, write over rated/under rated movie comments. GO MAKE A MOVIE and I'll you how over rated/under rated your efforts were.

  • JLP | December 25, 2013 5:56 PM

    Wow, last time I checked, some of the best directors had some pretty colorful comments and opinions regarding the work of their peers. I'm surprised you find time apart from your own creating to feel so superior to others.

  • Themba | December 23, 2013 6:26 PMReply

    "At least "Django Unchained" had the guts to turn slavery into an abstract, blood-splattered comic book. " ?????????

    You mean to say you applaud Tarintino for making slavery comfortable and entertaining for Caucasians and any other race who didn't endure slavery?

    'Django Unchained' (2012) is a fictional account of slavery and was created by someone who stands on the outside looking in. '12 Years A Slave' (2013) is a historical memoir of an educated African American protagonist expressing his journey from the inside looking out.

  • Bforreal | December 28, 2013 11:02 AM

    Thank you! Thank you! My thoughts exactly. The author last all credibility when I read that racist shit. I mean, really. What kind of immature critic writes such a statement?

  • Mark | December 23, 2013 3:19 PMReply

    Drew Taylor's take on "12 Years a Slave" needs an ass whipping! Utter nonsense.

  • JAN | January 2, 2014 1:48 PM

    I think it's harmful to the black psyche to constantly see themselves as a race of slaves. Nearly all of antiquity was built upon slave labor. We're pretty much all ancestors of slaves except for the 1%.

  • Pax Romana | December 25, 2013 5:13 PM

    "Caucasians and any other race who didn't endure slavery?" ????!!!

    Where did you come up with that piece of outrageous historical falsehood? Public Education??

    Where do you think the word "slave" comes from?? And were those slaves Caucasians?? You bet they were!

  • Grego | December 23, 2013 12:48 PMReply

    I cannot share anyone's opinion that 12 Years a Slave is unemotional. It is an emotional powerhouse. Yes, it is dry, but that is what gives it its unsentimental edge that makes sure the movie earns its emotion in a way few pictures about slavery ever have. McQueen keeps us at a distance, frames all the horrors amidst a beautiful painting, so that we can fully comprehend how horrible that period was. The beauty makes the horrors all the more terrifying. I would say in this case the problem is definitely not with the film, but with the rare viewer who didn't let himself look past the surface.

  • Dan | January 10, 2014 8:08 PM

    Thank you for being the voice of common sense! I can't understand how one could not be moved by it.

  • Jack | December 23, 2013 4:45 AMReply

    Under-rated: Agree with The To-do List, also The Bling Ring
    Over-rated: Nebraska (June Squibb FTW though), Epic

  • Joseph | December 21, 2013 6:44 PMReply

    This list is complete bullshit lol

  • yeeesssss | December 21, 2013 4:52 PMReply

    12 years a slave is the only movie that might win Best Picture that will actually earn it. Refn really let everyone down with Only God Forgives. Spring Breakers was ok but Korine needs to know the difference between elaborating on your message than just repeat it over and over (also the acting was awful). American Hustle, Blue Jasmine, and Gravity were all fantastic.

    and also never read anything by Drew Taylor or Kristen Lopez ever again. Go ahead, Indiewire, call me a sexist.

  • Affirmative Actionita | December 21, 2013 2:17 PMReply

    Kristen Lopez is the perfect example of why employers shouldn't hire someone simply because they need to fill their "woman" or "latino" quota.

    Gangster Squad, underrated.
    "Haitian pirates"
    My God.

  • Hugo | December 27, 2013 4:48 PM

    Kristen Lopez: Unfortunately "Latino" isn't a race, you can call that to a person who speaks a language influenced by Latin (e.g. Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, French, Italian, etc.). Now the Americans use it in a very different way (wrong way, misconception), a different connotation, they call that to a person who just comes from a Hispanic American country and whose skin is brown or is just not white or caucasian. But it's not a matter of race or blood is a matter of languages. And yes, "Lopez" is a Spanish last name (you want it or not), therefore you can, technically, consider yourself a part of the group. And unfortunately for you "Lopez" is one of the Top 5 most common Spanish last names along with Gonzalez, Garcia, Rodriguez and Martinez. So you're not only a "Latino" girl but one with a very, very vulgar last name.

  • aa | December 23, 2013 11:50 AM

    Well I agree. Gangster Squad is underrated. I'm a white 40s male.

  • Kristen | December 22, 2013 1:52 PM

    Haha, I love the weird comments about my last name...unfortunately the "latino" in my blood is so white I can't technically identify as such but thanks for considering me part of the group.

  • Goegre | December 21, 2013 1:12 PMReply

    Underrated: Gloria
    Overrated: American Hustle and Blue is the Warmest Color

    Paulina Garcia must be in Best Actress at Oscar because she is simply amazing.

  • Tim | December 21, 2013 12:37 PMReply

    "Haitian pirates"

    Oh wow. How do these people keep their jobs?

  • Bforreal | December 28, 2013 12:27 PM

    Right! Seriously! I wondered the same thing.

  • kyle | December 21, 2013 12:36 PMReply

    Drew Taylor is a ridiculous paid-off hack.

  • Rebecca | December 20, 2013 7:45 PMReply

    Drew Taylor: I hate your opinions the most. Like, who are you? Are you kidding me that a racist piece of shit film will be as lauded as the Fight Club is now because, um what? Because YOU liked it. I wish I never read them, it ruined this whole feature for me.

  • Joe H. | January 18, 2014 1:39 AM

    He's just sharing his opinions. And you're sharing yours. It's called freedom of speech, so chill out

  • ET | December 20, 2013 2:09 PMReply

    Lopez come on, Gangster Squad was a glossy piece of trash with terrible dialogue and acting.

  • Gerard Kennelly | December 20, 2013 2:31 AMReply

    Only God Forgives doesn’t have the soundtrack ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

    the reviews all agreed on two things
    1-this isn't as good as DRIVE
    2-the soundtrack is amazing

  • Justin a | December 19, 2013 11:04 PMReply

    Spring breakers is the most important film of our generation. It embodies perfectly the youth culture of our time period.

  • Bobby De Niro | December 20, 2013 2:34 AM

    @ JUSTIN A

    i have not seen spring breakers yet
    will watch it when i am drunk
    might work then
    same as rum diary or bad lieutenant port of call new orleans

  • Jonlynx | December 19, 2013 9:40 PMReply

    The pirates were Somali, not Haitian. Embarrasing mistake.

  • Kristen | December 22, 2013 1:52 PM

    You're exactly right. I can't defend that error and really feel terrible for committing it, especially in a list like this.

  • Hawaiian Punch | December 19, 2013 6:27 PMReply

    Underrated: To The Wonder (It's Malick, which means you either love it or hate it. This one is no exception.)
    Overrated: 12 Years A Slave (I think the fact that the black man is given his freedom as a present by the white man says it all. Thanks, Brad!)

  • HP | December 20, 2013 11:30 AM

    Indeed, it may have been historical fact, but it's also historical fact that black men cannot appear in popular culture without white benefactors. Given this, I think the film exposes itself as sheer self righteous hypocrisy.

  • josh | December 20, 2013 10:04 AM

    That's historical fact. Sure be a cynic about it all you want but you can't criticise a movie's story for playing out as it happened in real life.
    Can you honestly conceive of a different way Solomon could have escaped without the help of any white men?

  • notstudiofilm.com | December 19, 2013 8:34 AMReply

    Pacific Rim being called underrated is interesting. I found it to be one of those movies where there is constant action but that was it. Didn't feel like a Guillermo del Toro film, which are better paced. Maybe it is because our expectations are so high for his films.

  • Coleman | December 31, 2013 4:13 AM

    Pacific Rim didn't have the emotional intensity of Del Toro's best stuff but I think the constant action was sort of the point as an homage to the japanese anime he grew up on. I feel the film was underrated in the aspect that the fight scenes have been criticized for being hard to follow but I found them to be much more visceral because of the unique views he used and far more hard hitting than other big action set pieces like man of steel. The fights really seemed to have stakes. The characters were not very deep but much like the anime it was inspired by, there were quite a few charming and fun people to follow i.e. Hannibal Chau, Charlie Days character, Idris Elba's character. Charlie Hunnam is bland but served his purpose well as "angsty ace-pilot" and Rinko kikuchi played her part well.

  • john | December 19, 2013 7:24 AMReply

    haitian pirates? c'mon guys

  • Davide | December 19, 2013 4:09 AMReply

    Underrated: The Bling Ring
    Overrated: Gravity

  • Caleb Chadwick | December 20, 2013 2:25 AM

    exactly.

  • Rocky | December 19, 2013 1:42 AMReply

    the fact that the writers would use offensive terms like "take a tomahawk to it" and scalping it alive" is a good indication of why they enjoyed that racist piece of garbage "The Lone Ranger"

  • Piotr | December 21, 2013 11:40 AM

    @Brutal Honesty. That is the most useless comment I have ever seen in my entire life. And I should know! To compare Lincoln (historical fact) to The Lone Ranger (complete fiction) is like trying to compare Pacific Rim to Blue Is The Warmest Colour. They are not the same thing!

    @Rocky. I felt the same way about the Blue Is The Warmest Colour write-up. In one breath to talk about the complicated ethics of that sex scene, and then in the next breath to make an extremely off-colour joke about female oral sex. I don't think it's the director who has a problem with female sexuality, Cory, I think it's you. And that last part wasn't a euphemism! LOL!

  • Brutal Honesty | December 20, 2013 2:36 AM

    spielbergs Lincoln aka the generous white man throwing the black people a bone

    was that racist garbage too ?

  • Skippy | December 18, 2013 3:34 PMReply

    All I know is that I want to hear Diana Drumm's story about she got Errol Flynn's pants.

  • Lisa | February 19, 2014 9:36 AM

    ME TOO!!!!!

  • TC Kirkham | December 18, 2013 12:21 PMReply

    Katie - FINALLY Someone else that sees through "Spectacular Now". I did like this film and gave it a good review, but it was very cliche in more than one place, and Miles Teller probably couldn't have passed for 17 when he actually WAS 17 - which was NINE years ago...had they tried another lead,someone that actually looked the right age, maybe it would have worked better for me, but as it was, I didn't believe his character was a day under 24 or 25...It definitely goes on my overrated list this year, while my most underrated films were the French farce Populaire and David Gordon Green's wonderfully witty return to indie form, Prince Avalanche.

  • Jeb | December 18, 2013 11:16 AMReply

    I think Only God Forgives got a bum deal this year, but calling a film with a 37 aggregated rating overrated is a serious reach.

  • i agree with JEB | December 20, 2013 2:37 AM

    the criterion collection will give OGF the respect it deserves
    trust me

  • christiana | December 18, 2013 10:59 AMReply

    Drew Taylor's comments about 12 Years a Slave are interesting. I have heard quite a few people be critical of this film and bring up Django Unchained as a counterpoint, but I find that problematic. When I left the theater after watching Django Unchained I wasn't even sure why slavery was involved at all, that's how uninterested Tarantino seemed with the it, other than as a means to a revenge plot. On the other hand, 12 Years a Slave left me devastated and I actually attribute that to the naturalism of McQueen's direction. It's almost as if McQueen wanted his direction to seem remote, almost as if to prove that we can try to keep these horrors at arms length, but even that cannot dull their emotional potency.

  • Hannah Montanah | December 19, 2013 6:29 PM

    I think the story really swerved off track when it left off Solomon Northrop and took up with Fassbinder's fascination with the slave, Patsy. And the part when he forces Solomon to whip her? What's that about? Torture porn. With guilt.

  • Washington | December 18, 2013 10:14 AMReply

    Gangster Squad was straight garbage who are you kidding

  • Alan B | December 18, 2013 5:48 AMReply

    I hate pieces like these. They presumptuously demand a special insight into the writers' psychology to the point. How else can you explain 'Walter Mitty' being 'overrated'? And what does 'overrated' even mean? Effectively it's just someone reading that other people like something that he or she doesn't and getting annoyed by that idea.

    Alternatively, the idea of valuing something as underrated isn't so obnoxious ... in theory. However, you have some of these writers who need to declare that this film will be recognized years later blah, blah, blah. Who cares if someone recognizes a film later? Shouldn't a film be good if it stands up on its own? Can't you distinguish its quality (or lacktherof) from whether other people choose to agree with your or not?

    As for the individual writing itself, it's a COMPLETE shock that only Oliver Lyttelton doesn't seem obnoxious and ignorant. He's the only writer who deployed CRITICAL THINKING in attempting to gauge where he was coming from and why he felt that the films in question meet, exceeded or failed his expectations of the material and genre. Wow, that must have been really hard to think before you write but he seems to be the only person capable of doing so. You have other people declare that a film "had praise heaped upon on it for no apparent reason" and that's it. That's their insight into the film and other people's opinions. I guess other people must be if they only do things for "no apparent reason". Or maybe they did have their reasons and you're just unwilling or unable to engage with them on any other level than "ha, ha, ha, they're STUPID". Or maybe the director must be an alcoholic "ha, ha, ha" (oh wait, that was another writer, but really who gives a shit?)

    It's a waste of time and effort to merely engage with people who just don't want to engage with others and that everyone else doesn't get it because, umm, they have different opinions than I do. And you know what? Everyone has different opinions. Critics shouldn't be judged on what films they liked or didn't like (or their status), but how they came to form those opinions. That's the difference between a judgement and an insight. If you can't critically engage with a text, it doesn't matter what publication you write for or what degrees you have, because you will never have an insight and that's what matters.

  • Luisa | December 18, 2013 5:44 AMReply

    Lone Ranger UNDERRATED? Spring Breakers OVERRATED? Gangster Squad UNDERRATED? 12 Years a Slave OVERRATED? This post doens't make any sense, sorry.

  • Oprah is a cu** | December 20, 2013 2:39 AM

    could THE BUTLER be overrated stomach turning american propaganda ?

    are there any possibility :)

  • Joss | December 18, 2013 3:42 AMReply

    Only God Forgives holds 39% on rotten tomatoes, 5.9 on imdb and only made 10 million at the box office. To say it is overrated is plain idiocy.

  • Michael Car Lee Own E | December 20, 2013 2:42 AM

    PHIL SPECTOR is underrated

    pacino reteams with the glengarry glen ross writer/dir
    he plays a genuinely unlikable piece of work

    i predict pacino will win the GG and SAG awards instead of douglas for liberace

  • DJP | December 18, 2013 2:42 AMReply

    Drew Taylor: "Slavery is one of the worst atrocities of humankind. Django Unchained had the guts to turn slavery into an abstract, blood splattered comic book." Idiot.

  • Piotr | December 21, 2013 11:30 AM

    And Django Unchained is more or less the same as Inglourious Basterds. Insert atrocity into pre-existing revenge storyline.

  • DJP hates tarantino | December 20, 2013 2:43 AM

    12 years a slave is more or less the same as the butler

  • Tyler | December 18, 2013 1:58 AMReply

    Underrated - Upstream Color. Why? Besides being the best film to come out of Sundance this year, it is one of the few movies I have seen that's so incredibly aesthetically, emotionally and intellectually engaging (on par with Enter The Void, Tree of Life and 2001: A Space Odyssey).

    Overrated - Stories We Tell. Why? Because it was so damn dull. Does anyone really like watching family home videos of strangers? (Dear Zachary made this idea work so much more effectively)

  • josh | December 20, 2013 10:08 AM

    I agree, I was so disappointed with Stories We Tell. Some people may have found meaning in it but to me it was just too self-indulgent and relied too much on background music and gimmicky direction.

  • Reese | December 17, 2013 11:59 PMReply

    I have never left a comment like this before but I was curious to see the type of people you have writing for you on staff and I was a bit baffled to read the selection of movies picked. This has got to be one of the worst film critic staff's ever.
    Kevin Jagernauth- I agreed with you picks completely, all though I did enjoy Spring Breakers, the acting was horrendous but the part of me that enjoy's shitty movies, enjoyed it.
    Kimber Myers- Never saw In A World but have no desire to because of you thoughts on Room 237.
    Cory Everett- How did you get a job? Really? Pacific Rim? I get where your trying to come from but to claim it is underrated is a joke. You clearly have no taste in movies. And for you thoughts on Blue is the warmest color, that is hands down one of the best most realistic looks at what modern day love actually is, leaving the fact that they are lesbians out of it. There way love is depicted was right on point. If anything that and The Place Beyond the Pines are the only 2 movies to come out this year that have been worth loving.
    I want to keep going and go into more detail with anyone is they are willing to email me.

  • Carlton | December 19, 2013 9:05 AM

    Cory, based on you opinions on "Blue" and "Pines," perhaps your tastes would be better suited to a forum with less refined standards for film criticism. Give Ain't it Cool News a shot.

  • Cory Everett | December 18, 2013 8:25 AM

    I'm not sure you understand what the word "underrated" means. Also: "The Place Beyond The Pines" was terrible. Cheers!

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