2016 Most Under-Underappreciated Nominees

The Underappreciated category has become a little odd because there are movies out there that seem to get talked about extensively in the circles I frequent but which would seem kind of unknown to the general public.  That’s not what this category is for.  It’s also not really a category for divisive films like Jackie which didn’t get the reception I’d hoped for but which do have their loud champions just the same and clearly had their day in court.  Instead this category is mainly for films that flew under a lot of radars in general or which I think had an unfair reception for one reason or another.

  • Anthropoid: If there was one thing above all others that probably killed Anthropoid’s commercial prospects it was probably its title.  “Anthropoid” refers to “Operation: Anthropoid,” which was the name of a covert operation in which agents were sent to assassinate the Nazi third-in-command during World War II.  However, the name makes it sound like a bad science fiction movie.  That’s unfortunate because Anthropoid is an imperfect movie with a  couple of really strong scenes in it and it deserved to have at least been considered.
  • Darling: Darling was sort of an alt-horror film that had some trouble finding an audience because it didn’t exactly deliver what the genre crowd is looking for while also being a bit too slight to really cross over to the art house crowd that might have been more inclined to give it a chance.  The title probably didn’t help either.  That’s unfortunate because I do think it was doing some interesting things that made it worth a look.
  • Our Little Sister: I’m a little surprised that Our Little Sister didn’t get a little more notice when it came out this summer given that Hirokazu Kore-eda is a pretty respected auteur at this point who regularly competes at Cannes and even has a film in the Criterion Collection.  Most critics did like the movie but they didn’t really champion it and it didn’t get the attention that Kore-eda’s last movie Like Father Like Son did.  That is unfortunate because well-made character based slices of life like this are harder to pull off than they look.
  • Suicide Squad: Suicide Squad perhaps wasn’t under-rated so much as it was over-bashed.  The movie has its problems and I’m only going to go so far in defending it (this is no Man of Steel situation) but everyone jumped on the hate train so hard that a lot of good stuff in it got ignored.  Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is really fun, Will Smith feels revitalized in it, and there’s just something oddly admirable about their willingness to go all in on this potentially alienating aesthetic in a film landscape where every movie plays things so damn safe to get the widest possible audience.
  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot was a movie that I think mostly got screwed by the advertising campaign.  It was sold as a broad Tina Fey comedy when really the movie is more of a down to earth dramedy about a woman who finds a strange sort of peace in her comradery with other foreign correspondents in Afghanistan.  People expecting “30 Rock in Afghanistan” would have been disappointed but as a low key character study I think the movie works pretty well.

And the Golden Stake goes to…