The Top Twelve Underrated Titles of Twenty Twelve
When the Oscar’s were over the ever-extending award season finally came to a close, this in turn capping the year of 2011 finally putting to rest the many movies that it brought. What is there now for all of us critics to chatter about, well the coming year’s Coming Soon’s of course. Those that didn’t on New Years Day are now compiling lists of upcoming features that capture their fancy and among these will no doubt be a fraternity of familiar names: Nolan’s new Batmovie, the great comic collage five odd films in the making and the return to Tolkien no doubt among them. These are all movies deserving of their hype – at least I hope – but with their promotional cycles still yet to hit the press these are also all names that we will soon get sick of hearing, if we’re not already, and so it seems smart to maybe counter those fan favorites with some slightly lesser known names; so here is my list of the already most underrated movies of the twenty-twelve.
The Wettest County
John Hillcoat is part of a very select club, he is an Australian director who actually makes movies that I want to watch. His previous effort,The Road, was bleak beyond anyone’s personal preference and so it only received a mild response but here he re-teams with Nick Cave, the man who scripted his other two efforts and a whole host of amazing songs beside, for something a little more familiar. Both Ghosts of the Civil Dead and The Proposition told stories of criminal cults and County is no different; set during the depression it details the rise and presumed fall of an American bootlegging family at war with with the authorities. Hardy, Oldman, Pearce and… LaBeouf star.
The Place Beyond the Pines
This is Blue Valentine auteur Derek Ciamfrance’s sophomore effort and Cianfrance has again cast the man of the moment that he arguably launched, Ryan Gosling. The film is about a stunt driver that turns to a life of crime to… Wait? What? That can’t be right. (Wiki’s it) Hmmm, while the synopsis of this picture is eerily reminiscent of Drive’s I have a lot higher hopes for this film. Cianfrance has proven himself a master of evoking potent emotions and also seems to utilize something called a script, so as far as i’m concerned it’s already better.
Andrew Dominick is not just the other Aussie Director that I adore, he is also one of my all-time favorite filmmakers. Having him return to the medium in any way would have been enough for him to make this list, but the synopsis of Cogan’s suggests that he has managed to merge together the best of both his movies: combining the lead (Pitt) and sweep “Jesse James” with the urban crime setting of “Chopper” sounds superb to my mind as both are up there in my all time top fifty.
Rian Johnson has had a quiet patch since his little debut feature Brick hit big on the indie scene, he has even lowered himself so low as to direct episodes of TV shows like Breaking Bad (Fly) to great effect. That movie that he made in-between, The Brothers Bloom, received no recognition but was to my mind one of the best of the decade but more importantly it was a con man movie, which is important because this, his latest effort, is all about time travel. While the two may sound as if they are on opposite ends of the story structure spectrum that couldn’t actually be further from the truth, both are intensely convoluted and complicated tales and both require the same kind of attention to detail, especially when the trope has been twisted into a complex crime story.. So knowing that he nailed one makes me fairly certain that he can nail the other, and who doesn’t love a great time travel film?
Inside Llewelyn Davis
The last time that Coens worked with a protagonist named Llewelyn it earned them the awards and recognition that they deserved for, well, every single film they’ve made thus far (bar The Ladykillers). Need I say any more?
There are a number of similarities between these films: career resurgence, the crime genre and launching hot (in both ways) leading men but then those are true of nearly all great movies aren’t they. Will these all be great? Maybe not. Will they all be better than those bigger releases? Absolutely not. But I do think that these, and many others, are just as worthy of our attention while we wait for good movies to begin airing again.
Argo: Ben Affleck proved himself a prodigious director almost out of nowhere when he released Gone Baby Gone and though The Town was a much more tepid effort Argo‘s black listed script is set to give him the stunning sophomore that he deserved.
Gravity: The only reason that this hasn’t made the list is because you likely know what its about and who stars in it already. Should be getting super coverage though, based on Children alone.
Grandmasters: Maestro Wong Kar Wai’s take on the now oft told tale of Grandmaster Ip Man.
The Silver-Linings Playbook: David O. Russel returns after only a two year break, if the film hits feature length it will a success. To much about it is still a mystery for it to make the five though.
Two to Three Terence Malick Films: Though we don’t even know the titles of these films, or how many they actually are, I am a Malick man and so I will be there no matter what is eventually announced. We’re still waiting on half of the Tree of Life experience though, so who knows when we will actually get these.