2014 Most Under-Appreciated Film Nominees

Calling a film “under-rated” this year is kind of odd because, frankly, I thought a lot of this year’s movies were actually vastly over rated.  I’ve been kind of hard to impress this year and even among the movies I liked a lot and gave awards to this year I usually wasn’t quite as over the top in my praise as a lot of people and even the good films that didn’t get a lot of money and attention still seemed to have a pretty big fanbases of people who liked them more than I did.  Still I was able to find five movies that didn’t seem to quite get their due, some of them got good reviews, some of them made a little money, but they all seemed to kind of get ignored or under-appreciated when it mattered.

  • The Immigrant: James Gray has made something of a career out of making films that feel like they’re meant for great things and which are then kind of ignored once they get released into the wild.  His latest film, The Immigrant, seems to be particularly mismanaged by the Weinstein Company.  They barely advertised it and they gave it a very half-assed release in general which didn’t even seem to try turning it into the art-house hit that it could have been.  Some critics have tried to save it, but even they aren’t really wild about it.  I don’t necessarily think this is some kind of lost masterpiece but I do feel like it deserved more.
  • Kill the Messenger: I’ve long been kind of fascinated by Gary Webb and the “Dark Alliance” scandal that he uncovered and making a movie about the whole affair made a lot of sense.  The film seemed to have everything necessary to become something of a prestige hit, it has a really good cast and a worthy topic, but when it was released it was met with great indifference.  To be fair, the film itself is more good than great, but I feel like it wasn’t even really given a chance by the public of even the film critics of the world.  That’s a tough break for Jeremy Renner, who does some of his best work in it.
  • Oculus: How the hell did something as unimaginative as The Conjuring make $137 million while something like Oculus (which really does have a spark at its center) only make less than a fifth of that?  Well, I sort of understand it, the “evil mirror” concept does sound kind of lame (not as lame as evil Ouija, but still) and the trailers did nothing to distinguish it from the other haunted house movies we’ve been dealing with.  Also, the movie isn’t “great” per se and I see why it hasn’t had too many champions, but compared to the competition it did deserve better.
  • The Sacrament: Speaking of horror movies that should have left a larger footprint, I’d say that The Sacrament fits that bill as well.  This one was primarily dismissed for being a found footage movie, and I can’t entirely blame people for feeling that way.  Found footage is completely overused in this genre, but I do think this one had some good reasons for using it and the film’s cult ritual was a nice change in pace for this genre which has become increasingly obsessed with ghosts and demons.
  • Wild: On paper this movie probably shouldn’t be considered under-rated.  It’s at 90% on Rotten Tomatoes and it’s made $35 million at the box office, which is actually more money than such success stories as Birdman, Boyhood, and Whiplash.  However, for whatever reason the movie seemed to all but disappear in the month between its release and the awards season.  No one seems to be considering it for their year-end lists and outside of a couple performances the awards body seems largely uninterested.   I’m kind of at a loss for why that is because it’s a pretty strong movie.

And the Golden Stake goes to…


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