When considering entertainment, and more specifically film, decade-in-review pieces tend to thrive. It can remind people of and emphasize their earliest movie-viewing experiences of the decade, helping to eliminate recency bias and allow people to look at movies over the past decade more holistically.
Niche lists require more time and meditative consideration to develop, however. So, since we are well over a month into the 2020’s now, it’s time to examine some of the most overrated and underrated movies from each year in the past decade.
Before we begin, some rules need to be established. The standard for overrated movies will be three-fold, with the first reasoning being the most important. First, any movie that picked up major award nominations and wins but in retrospect has failed to hold up. Second, these films could have also gained a lot of attention, buzz and success at the box office but lacked the quality and ambition of other, smaller films produced that year.
2012 — David O. Russell’s rom-com drama, “Silver Linings Playbook” is another Oscar heavy movie, though despite its eight Oscar nominations, its only win came in the form of Jenniffer Lawerence’s Best Performance by an Actress in a leading role.
Much like O. Russell’s following film, “American Hustle,” “Silver Linings Playbook” hangs its hat on the strength of its actors, who are all pretty exceptional here, but it does so to a fault and in forfeit of great storytelling.
The movie spends a lot of time in the beginning of the movie setting up Bradley Cooper’s damaged and scarred character with emphasis that he is the only central character to be had here. The tone at the beginning is dark and depressive, yet quirky and darkly comedic. When Lawerence’s character enters we get another mentally damaged protagonist and the two spend much of the rest of the movie struggling to open up and accept each other in. Their relationship becomes a constant tug and pull with too many predictable mishaps along the way.
Ultimately, the movie results in a convenient, happy and loving conclusion where these two damaged people end up together. While we are thankful for this movie proving Cooper’s dramatic chops and status as a reliable leading man, the movie took its interesting premise on mentally damaged individuals into an unconventional rom-com that fails to really say anything about mental illness or self-acceptance in the end.
2013 — “Gravity” is one of the most overrated films in recent memory. This film experienced tremendous success at the Oscars, winning seven of its 10 nominations — and at the box office, where it took in almost $400 million worldwide.
Alfonzo Cuaron’s film is ultimately a groundbreaking technical masterpiece and one that is coveted by many critics, but to many viewers, the film’s exciting visuals did little to keep their eyes open or their brains engaged with the story.
Many, including myself, failed to feel any emotional connection with this movie. While Sandra Bullock’s performance as the stranded astronaut is authentic and convincing, the audience almost grows tired of watching her escape peril and survive by the thick of her skin a number of times. Though the run time is only one hour and 30 minutes, being alone with Bullock’s character feels longer.
For a solo-survival movie, you need to feel great care for the central character for it to work, and while the movie has its moments, it largely feels like the film is too caught up in its technical achievement to feel anything real.
With so many ads for this film before it came out and with so much critical buzz backing it, the movie’s lack of storytelling made the hype feel undeserved.
2018 — “Green Book” is a prime example of an overrated Best Picture winner. Yes, 2018 was a supremely lackluster year for film, especially in comparison to 2019. With few options for alternatives, it seemed like an acceptable option to win Best Picture.
The lead performances from Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali are phenomenal —depicting the real people Tony Lip and Dr. Donald Shirley. Ali’s work is especially good, taking home his second Oscar for his performance here. But while the movie’s heartwarming message about a friendship overcoming race barriers might strike an emotional chord with many, its message is too simplistic in what it tries to say about overcoming racism.
It also depicts the white man as a savior for Black people because Lip is the sole catalyst helping Dr. Shirley overcome so much inner turmoil and exclusion for being both Black and gay. In reality, the story this movie is based on has been under a lot of controversy with Lip and Shirley’s families fighting over how the friendship and story actually went. Ultimately, it was Lip’s family who served as consultants and co-writers for the film.
The movie has a fancy 8.2 IMDb score, but just a 69 Metascore from critics — one of the lowest Metascores for any Best Picture winner ever.
Stay tuned for some of the most underrated films from the last decade, later this week.