Superlatives seem to be thrown around in this business like coke at an Hollywood party in the 80’s, best or worst movie ever is no longer a way to spotlight something special but more something that’s said for whatever’s hot that week, or whatever everyone has chosen to hate. That’s why once a year we like to look back and do some spotlighting of our own. Each one of the PDC has picked the top and the bottom of that heap, one movie that got WAY to much attention and one that got a fraction of what it deserved. Here are the picks for most overrated and underrated movies of the year!
Follow all of our end of the year coverage here!
Follow all of our end of the year coverage here!
Mad Max: Fury Road
I'm probably going to get roasted for this. As a matter of fact, it will probably be the worst roasting since I dissed Drive (I'm looking at you Rocky Hadadi). Before I get rolling on this I will say that I had Mad Max as one of my top films of the year, and rightfully so, I just don't think it was deserving of the laurels it was held on. People held this film up like it was the most innovative greatest action movie of all time and I just didn't see that. I saw a fun movie with awesome visuals and great action. Certainly one of the best action films of the year but I didn’t really get the impression that I was watching a game changing flick…no, that’s reserved for something like The Raid: Redemption.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E
Another movie on my top of the year, The Man from UNCLE, is just one of those movies that delivers on every level. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, there’s not much Guy Ritchie can do wrong in my book and I grew up on the Connery Bond movies so to say this movie is right up my alley may be a bit of an understatement. That being said there are plenty of movies in that vein that are watchable at best. No, the real shiny jewel of this flick is the cast. Armie Hammer and Henry Cavil are absolutely perfect as mortal enemies turned partners (agents of the KGB and CIA, respectively) but it’s Alicia Viklander that really makes this chemistry pot boil over. What a break out year she’s had! Stylish, action packed, sexy, funny, and most importantly damned entertaining. I have a strong feeling this flick is going to reach the wider audiences once it hits cable but be aware now, this was NOT just some throw away late summer action flick!
THE MAN FROM UNCLE
Yeah, yeah, everyone liked this movie well enough and it made a shit ton of money at the box
office. Unfortunately, it did jack squat for me. Chris Pratt is great and all, really he is, but his role as a dinosaur trainer? Meh. Bryce Dallas Howard trying to be all kickass? Meh. And I'm usually all about that. The movie was just too systematic for my taste and even the two leads barely had a lick of chemistry to make the movie very enjoyable. Also, have the staff learned nothing from their predecessors? How many bad things have to happen to people for them to take a hint? Sigh. I'm a big fan of the original Jurassic Park, but this movie was just alright. That's it.
Love & Mercy
With all the films that came out this year, Love & Mercy was one of those films that gained some critical acclaim but kind of flew under the radar for the most part. And it deserved far more
attention than it received. Elizabeth Banks, John Cusack, Paul Giamatti, and most especially Paul Dano give superb performances and the filmmakers really allow us to delve into the head of Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys fame. Yeah, I know that some may not have like the Beach Boys' music and many of this generation don't even know who the Beach Boys are, but the film carries a respect to all aspects of the material that's being presented and it should be seen by more audiences, regardless of their age group.
THE DANISH GIRL
WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS
No, there isn't much in We Are Your Friends that you haven't seen before. A young upstart from the wrong side of the tracks wants his shot to prove himself and his art. At the same time he has to balance his growth with his affection for the friends he knew before he got big; does getting out mean leaving them behind? But for all the familiar ground it dances across, there's something charming here. Zac Efron and Wes Bentley give a nicely complicated, if familiar, mentor-protégé relationship, and Emily Ratajkowski gets at least a little more to do here than look pretty. And even though the basic story has been done before, writer/director Max Joseph does try to be thoughtful about it. But what really grabbed me is the solid EDM soundtrack, the imaginative MTV styling, and the backbeat that pulls us through it all. It's a ride so fun I didn't care that I'd seen it all before.
Oh chill the f**k out already about Dope, will you? I've been hearing about it since I saw it at Sundance when everyone and their mama was proclaiming it a new summertime classic, and I was one of the few who said, "Eh, it's alright." Then it actually came out and the overblown talk began anew. Look, it's a funny movie...for about 30 minutes. And Lord knows I love the old school hip-hop aspects and the comedic riff on the urban dramas that dominated the '90s, but then it gets into a dull subplot about drugs and bitcoin and zzzzzzzzzz. By the time it gets back around to actually being about Malcolm (Shameik Moore, who is really good) and his plans for the future, the message has been lost never to be seen again.
James Vanderbilt's look at the infamous Rather-Gate scandal came out at an unfortunate time as it was quickly followed by a superior film on journalism, Spotlight. But that shouldn't totally discount Truth, which features incredible performances by Cate Blanchett as 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes and Robert Redford in a "please forget A Walk in the Woods" performance as the legendary Dan Rather. While the film certainly serves as a mouthpiece for Vanderbilt and is kind of wish-washy on details as a result, it also raises a very important issue about our news today in which facts no longer matter. Being loud does. Question how a fact was obtained and the whole thing goes away. It's better to focus on the typeface of a typewriter than the crime being committed. That's not an excuse for some sloppy investigative journalism by the 60 Minutes team, their failings are clear, but Truth represents a time when news was considered a public good, not a money-making machine or ideological mouthpiece.