2009 Most Under-Appreciated Nominees

Often movies will come out to great acclaim that’s well deserved, sometimes movies will come out to great acclaim that isn’t deserved at all.  But then there are the times when movies get some degree of acclaim but not as much as they deserve and that’s what this category is all about.  Bear in mind that Box Office is not a factor in this; I’m talking only about acclaim either among critics or within the cinema-going community.

  • Funny People: Here’s a classic example of a filmmaker trying to branch out and do different things only to have people come expecting more of the same and consequently being disappointed.  Funny People is nowhere near as funny as Judd Apatow’s earlier films, but I don’t think it was really meant to be.  It was a personal statement and I think that it was well executed and made for an enjoyable story, it will probably be better received in a few years when expectations are different.
  • The Informant: Soderbergh is one of our most important filmmakers, and yet this neat project of his was met with a shrug by critics.  I’m going to call snobbery on this one, critics seem to demand that every movie Soderbergh makes should be an inaccessible micro-budget experiment like The Girlfriend Experience or Bubble and when he has the audacity to make a movie that the average filmgoer might also understand they freak.
  • Notorious: Musical biopics are a dime a dozen and I can kind of understand why this one wasn’t universally beloved.  The film’s director seems like a fairly second rate talent and the script plays it pretty safe, not diverging too much from the routine biopic mold.  However, as a fan of Biggie Smalls whose been pretty obsessed with 90s hip-hop for the last year or so, this was still something I was pretty interested to see and for the most part I think it delivers what it promises.
  • Red Cliff: This John Woo epic was a huge deal in its native China, but when it arrived on these shores it was a blip on the cinematic radar.  This is in part thanks to domestic distributer Summit Entertainment, who (perhaps understandably) decided to merge the two film original into one decidedly shorter work.  That was not cool among purists, but the version that remained was still pretty cool and definitely an entertaining visual spectacle that deserved more eyeballs.
  • The Road:  If any movie’s icy reception baffled me the most it was this one.  Granted, it’s certified fresh on RT, though only barely amongst the top critics; and the ones who liked it were pretty reticent.   The most common complaint: “it was depressing.”  Newsflash: movies about the end of the world probably should be depressing.  This is the same critical community that not long ago championed 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, what made them sissy out when it came to The Road?

The Golden Stake goes to…