We have already talked about the most overrated movies of the 2010s, so now we examine one of the most underrated movies of the decade in detail, with mention of a few others.
Underrated movies will be those who earned either or both critical and public praise, but ultimately failed at the box office, missed out on award recognition, or have continued to miss viewers and discussion since their release.
“A Ghost Story,” like so many of its A24 produced counterparts, is a severely underrated movie that came out in 2017. It is director and writer David Lowery’s third, of four, feature films.
After Lowery’s first feature “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” debuted to success at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013, screen legend and Sundance founder Robert Redford eyed Lowery’s potential and brought him into the mainstream to direct and write Disney’s ”Pete’s Dragon” in 2016. Redford starred in the film. Following this big studio production, however, Lowery decided to return to his indie roots with “A Ghost Story” one year later.
Lowery enlisted his close friends and “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” stars, Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, to be in his highly personal and original new film.
The basic premise of “A Ghost Story” is that a man (Casey Affleck) dies in a car accident, leaving behind his wife (Rooney Mara), now mourning alone in their ranch somewhere near Dallas, Texas. Affleck’s character then rises from a hospital bed as a white-sheeted ghost and returns to his home to try and reconnect with his wife, despite being an invisible, silent shadow to the living. The story then evolves into something beyond their relationship, playing with the transcendence of time.
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After the film came out, Lowery explained in interviews he kept the film so secret and small while shooting because he was embarrassed he would fail making it. The concept is so out there and explores such deep, existential questions and themes regarding life, death, love, loss, acceptance, time and a meaning to it all.
The movie runs the risk of being or seeming pretentious. This feels especially true during the course of the movie’s one big monologue in the latter part of the film, where it might seem like the director is talking down to his audience.
But Lowery is not talking down to the audience or coming to some final decision on these existential questions. Further analysis would suggest that Lowery doesn’t pretend to have the answers. Rather, with this film, he constantly explores, debates and challenges viewpoints on the subject with love and care.
This movie is not for the mainstream viewer who goes to the movies for pure entertainment and fun. The dialogue is very sparse and the film requires a lot of patience. A lot of patience. This is a difficult watch, but if you make it through the infamous pie-eating scene, there is a good chance you like it.
It is gorgeously shot, which is vital to a movie so dependent on visual storytelling. Daniel Hart’s musical score and soundtrack are heartfelt and haunting, adding to the visuals with emotional depth. In particular, “The Secret in the Wall” and “Safe Safe Safe” are standout compositions, while “I Get Overwhelmed,” performed by Dark Rooms, may be one the finest and fitting featured songs ever put in a movie.
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This is one of the saddest and most emotionally devastating movies of the decade, but if you stick around till the grand finale, the final minutes really are grand, you might find “A Ghost Story” to be one of the most genuine and meaningful movie experiences you’ve ever had. You may not agree with or like all of what the movie is saying, but it will challenge you to think critically and differently about life, as it did for me. Still, a trip to YouTube for the nine minute explanation video is more than likely required for full understanding and appreciation.
Critics loved this film with a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 84 Metascore, while mainstream audiences were split with a 66% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 6.8 IMDb score. Part of the beauty in this film is debating it and discussing the meanings each of us derive from it.
“A Ghost Story” is available to stream on Netflix.
Here are a few more underrated movies of the 2010s.
“The Nice Guys” (2016) is one of the best buddy action comedies in recent memory, starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as a mismatched pair of private investigators in 1970s’ Los Angeles.
“Fruitvale Station” (2013) is the first combination of director, writer Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan, before they gave us “Creed” and “Black Panther.” The film features the true story of Oakland native Oscar Grant over the course of one fateful day on New Year’s Eve, 2008. It’s an emotional gut-punch and a critical commentary on police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement.