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What's the most under-appreciated movie of 2010? (Part 1)

December 16, 2010 |  7:59 am

The Golden Globes' denial of any nominations for "True Grit" this week had a number of readers writing in about the unfairness of that awards show, which in turn got us thinking about snubs, and buzz, and quality and other issues that bubble up at this time of year. 

In this age of hype, a lot of films are overpraised, but almost as many get lost in the shuffle. We took an informal poll around the office about 2010 gems that somehow never managed to get their due and came up with an interesting mix of films. Our staff critics, Kenneth Turan and Betsy Sharkey, will weigh in next week with their own lists, but in the meantime here are some titles to get the conversation started (we've linked to some of our reviews too, to refresh your memories):

Some argued for "Let Me In," Matt Reeves' take on the Swedish vampire hit "Let the Right One In" that supporters said was written off as a simple remake and not appreciated for its character complexity and  visual flair.

One colleague suggested "City Island," the Andy Garcia family romp she said should have been a populist crowd-pleaser along the lines of "Little Miss Sunshine," but was only a niche hit instead.

Another made the case for "Devil," the M. Night Shyamalan-guided horror story about a group of people trapped in an elevator that she said became unfairly maligned (perhaps because Shyamalan had released "The Last Airbender" a few months earlier).

One reporter weighed in with "The Switch," the Jennifer Aniston-Jason Bateman fertility comedy that she  said was smarter than the average romcom but caught in release limbo after Miramax was dissolved.

And finally there was "Never Let Me Go," Mark Romanek's exploration of love and morality that several in the newsroom extolled as smart and haunting but was apparently too bleak for audiences.

So what film merits the moniker of most under-appreciated of the year, a movie that didn't get anywhere close to the attention it deserved? Titles, thoughts and arguments welcome (and of course it can be any film, not just ones mentioned here). We'll round up the responses and let you know which movie takes the crown.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Kodi Smit-McPhee in "Let Me In." Credit: Relativity Media


Comments () | Archives (18)

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Never Let Me Go, for sure. A pitch-perfect adaptation of the novel, featuring some of the best performances by the cast.

Remember Me... Seems like many critics made unfair assumptions about the director's/scriptwriters motives in regards to the ending.

Until The Light Takes Us - the film that was largely reviewed as a rock doc instead of a portrait of a socio-cultural movement. It subtly dealt with nationalism and identity, postmodernism, but was mainly just reviewed for the plot about metal musicians who burned down churches and killed people.

Totally agree about Let Me In. Can't believe how it was ignored by critics, award circuit, and box office.

Also I gotta say, SALT. Even though it made respectable box office and mixed to decent reviews I think it really got overlooked being in the shadow of Inception.
This was pound for pound the most thrilling, heart pounding, hard hitting, fast paced action movie this year. The kicker: it's headlined by a woman, and still raked up $300m in worldwide box office. Angelina proves to be a bigger and better action star than Tom Cruise, Sylvester Stallone and The Expendables, The A-Team guys, etc. etc. That's a big accomplishment IMO.

"Animal Kingdom," from Down Under, was one of the best crime dramas I can recall in recent memory, and it's a real shame it barely made a ripple in the U.S. box office. Centered around an orphaned teen who's taken in by a clan of his criminal relatives, the movie is as taut and tense as they come. Jackie Weaver's performance as his sociopath of a grandmother has got to be seen to be believed. The film took the World Cinema dramatic Grand Jury prize at Sundance, and with a little more publicity and audience interest it would have certainly picked up a whole lot more.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. A blast of a movie ignored by pretty much everybody.

I urge people to see the indie thriller "Winter's Bone," which is now on DVD and Blu-Ray. Jennifer Lawrence earned a well-deserved Golden Globe nomination as best actress for her understated yet harrowing performance as a 17-going-on-45 Ozarks teenager who's compelled by circumstances to care for her younger siblings, and then has to search a bleak Ozarks landscape for her meth-dealing father, who subsequently failed to show up in court after first putting the family farm up as collateral for his bail.

I totally agree with City Island, it was WAAAAAAAY better than Little Miss Sunshine, wonderful performances, great script, smart, genuine, drop dead funny... It was seriously underrated, but not many people got to see it.

Scott Pilgrim vs the World
It was a smart, fun, action filled movie that just died at the box office.


Animal Kingdom...

FLIPPED (Rob Reiner dir.) was very good and no one saw it.

GET LOW (Robert Duvall) was also excellent and I think not widely seen.

The Golden Globes are a joke. They're decided by a few dozen third-rank so-called journalists from minor foreign publications. Hollywood knows they're a joke, but they continue to lavishly promote them because of the misconception they somehow predict the Oscars.

Yes on Winter Bone. Superb movie!

Scott Pilgrim, for sure. Weird, but good...

Never let me go... The eerie visuals are accompanied by wonderfully and restrained delicate performances. The movie is uniquely haunting and lingers long in the mind, even after the second viewing.

Remember Me

Rabbit Hole was one of the best films of the year. Kidman, Eckhart and Wiest were stunning. Kidman has uncomfortable nailed, but her acting was elusive and mercurial here. A movie perfectly depicting grief and hope. That is hard to pull off.


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