Every year there are films that get either misunderstood or just fall under the radar. Most of the times this just means finding five movies that kind of fell by the wayside, and there’s a little bit of that this year, but I’ve got to say that the lack of appreciation for these five stings a little more than usual. I don’t know, I feel like the film intelligencia let me down this year and weren’t doing their jobs right when these movies came out.
- Blancanieves: I was less than thrilled with the over-the-top response to The Artist two years ago for a number of reasons and this year that movie found a new way to annoy me: it drowned out the response to this much better contemporary European silent film. The people who did see this movie mostly had nice things to say about it, but for the most part it wasn’t able to get much traction with audiences simply because a lot of people just didn’t have the enthusiasm to see more than one movie that harkened back to early cinema in a decade.
- Elysium: I like Neil Blomkamp’s District 9, but I didn’t love it as much as many people did. Then he made Elysium and I thought it was very similar to and about as good as the earlier film, but was surprised to find that most of the people who were over the moon about that earlier film absolutely hated the later one. I kind of get the problems that these people have with Elysium, but it seemed to me that District 9 is mostly guilty of the same things they were complaining about, so I was kind of left wondering what happened between the two reactions. Expectations can be a bitch I guess.
- Ender’s Game: Ender’s Game is… not a great film, but it’s not a bad film either. It probably didn’t deserve to be turned into a blockbuster, but it did probably deserve to be more than shrugged off. Put it this way: this was a year when the internet collectively blew their wads anticipating the likes of Pacific Rim, and if the likes of that can fill up blog posts and earn over four hundred million dollars worldwide, I feel like a science fiction film that’s actually interested in exploring some interesting themes about militarism and conformity maybe deserved more than a brief shrug from the press.
- Man of Steel: To call Man of Steel polarizing would be an understatement. People seem to either recognize its majesty or that seem to despise it almost on principle. Its odd because most of the objections people have towards it are things they seem to have zero problem with in other films. They either think there’s too much destruction in it (as if a city wasn’t also destroyed in The Avengers), or they think it wasn’t true enough to the comic book (as if The Dark Knight was fully in line with Bob Kane’s vision of that character), or they just couldn’t stand that the movie took itself even remotely seriously and didn’t hide itself behind a thick layer of irony and cynicism (because that’s apparently a crime now).
- To the Wonder: I feel like Terrence Malick should have done enough at this point to have earned just a little bit of a benefit of the doubt, but that certainly wasn’t extended to his film To the Wonder. Alright, I get why this movie wasn’t going to be for everyone, its storytelling certainly wasn’t very clear or conventional. But I can’t help but think that a lot of critics would have been a lot more curious and patient with it if it hadn’t starred Ben Affleck or if it had been made by a European auteur. Instead I feel like it was met with a very dismissive if not apathetic response, as if any movie whose message isn’t immediately apparent to everyone isn’t worth talking about at all.