What defines a movie as underrated? Is it a film that didn't receive the critical reception it deserved? Or a film that audiences just plain missed out on? I've decided to do a little of both for this list, which details the five films in 2015 that I believe were snubbed by both moviegoers and film journalists. From box office flops to horror gems to an indie sensation that didn't get the attention it deserved, 2015 had its fair share of underrated flicks. Here are my five picks.
5. THE VISIT
The Visit is a silly movie. A horror comedy mishmash about two kids who visit their terrifying grandparents, the latest film from M. Night Shyamalan is all ranges of weird. The pacing is a little wonky and there's a sense of predictability to the whole affair, but there was also something that I just couldn't shake about The Visit. Because while it may be very funny in some instances, it's also deeply disturbing and even a bit emotional. When the horror beats hit, they hit hard and I was genuinely frightened at some moments. Not a perfect movie, but a film that proved that Shyamalan still has a lot of potential as a filmmaker.
4. GOOD KILL
Good Kill was Hollywood's first attempt to tackle the hot button subject of drone use in the military and it was pretty effective. With a sobering lead performance from Ethan Hawke, this haunting, reflective thriller works as both a tense action flick and a compelling character drama. With desolate Las Vegas visuals dominating the landscape of the film, and the mix of suburban life and harsh violence overwhelming the film, Good Kill emerged as one of the year's most surprising films and an insightful look at the effects of distance on war.
Krampus is a delightful film and a new Christmas classic. It's far from a perfect movie- the mid-section is dreadfully slow at times- but there's so much to like about Michael Dougherty's unique combination of horror and Christmas cheer. From the fairy tale structure to the magnificent creature design to the strong performances from Adam Scott and young Emjay Anthony, Krampus smashes all expectations, delivering a film that I believe audiences will be returning to again and again over the coming years.
2. THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.
2015 was a great year for spy movies. Matthew Vaughn's Kingsman brought back a Roger Moore touch with a bit of ultra-violence, Melissa McCarthy delivered the best studio comedy of the year with Spy, and classic franchises like Mission: Impossible and James Bond debuted terrific new installments. Unfortunately, that left Guy Ritchie's 1960s spy caper The Man From U.N.C.L.E. on the outside looking in. A box office flop with a muted reception from critics, this film faded pretty quickly. And that's a shame. Because despite the fact that it pales in comparison to some of 2015's other spy films, this stylish and well-acted movie is still a blast of fun. Ritchie controls the action well and Henry Cavill is magnificent. If you're a fan of espionage capers and haven't seen this one, do yourself a favor and see this one as soon as possible.
1. MISSISSIPPI GRIND
My most underrated film of 2015 is actually one that received great notices from critics. A breakout film from Sundance, this small-scale gambling drama stands at 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. So why is it my most underrated film of the year? Because almost as soon as it debuted, it disappeared. The film made $130,000 in the US and has been a non-factor in the awards race and on most critical lists. All of this is very unfortunate, because Mississippi Grind is one of the best films of the year. A wonderfully balanced study of two men, this blend of comedy, drama and music hits all the right notes. And it's the only film on this list that will be a factor on my Best of 2015 list. See this movie. You'll thank me later.
That's it for my most underrated films of 2015 list. I'll be back shortly with my most overrated films list.
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