It's time to wrap this film year up and begin my end of year lists, the first being the top five most underrated and most underrated films of the year. These will be measured by a combination of their box office takings, critical reception and general audience's response and popularity. I suspect many of them will be a little controversial, so remember the importance of an opinion in all of this and be sure to share your picks for each list with me!
Links have been added to these film's which will take you straight to my full review of the film, which take a look at them - flaws and all - in far more depth. Enjoy!
Melissa McCarthy does no wrong in my eyes (expect the stain that is Tammy), so I certainly braced myself when heading into the screening of The Boss after the onslaught of extremely negative reviews. My surprise then, when I found the whole thing hilarious. Like, really funny. It features two of my favourite comedy scene of the year - the opening dance number in which Michelle Darnell arrives on the back of a golden eagle and the street fight, in which girl guides are flying left, right and centre. It has issues with its third act and some of the supporting characters are a little forgettable, but it is, at the very least, consistently amusing and a light-hearted watch and McCarthy genuinely riffs incredibly well here.
We all claim to want new, original and innovative ideas from Hollywood, but when Nerve came along, most people passed it by completely. It has a real charm and individuality about it, moving along at a zippy pace that ensures it is continually engaging and thought-provoking with its analysis of tech-culture. Nerve is a hidden gem from this year's cinema, with smashing neon visuals and cinematography, as well as performances from two terrific leads - Emma Roberts and Dave Franco - with chemistry to spare. It received mixed-to-positive reviews with a relatively weak box office show, but one can only hope it finds a new lease of life somewhere down the line.
Expectations were incredibly high in the days leading up to the release of The Girl on the Train, adapted from Paula Hawkin's best-selling novel and starring Emily Blunt in the lead role. Many expected Gone Girl 2.0 because of the film and novel's similarities, and the film suffered because of this comparison. Emily Blunt's sensational performance is the emotion core of the film and she deserves far more attention than was awarded to her in a genuinely engaging and intriguing storyline. In essence, the film fell on a double-edged sword through no fault of its own and simply struggled to live up to the lofty expectations most had for it. We can hope people are kinder to it in the future.
As I stepped into the screening for The Huntsman: Winter's War, to say I was skeptic would be an understatement; the original did little for me, as I found the entire thing rather dull, no reviews had been dropped for the film (typically a sign that studios are trying to hide it from critics) and a rather quiet lead up suggesting it was going to die a quick death. Imagine my surprise then, when I came out of the cinema really rather enjoying myself. Winter's War's luscious production values (seriously, the costumes in particular are Oscar-worthy) and four stellar leads that each hold and demand their own attention. What could have bene a quick cash-in resulted in something really light-hearted and enjoyable - at least in my eyes; critics trashed the film and it died a painful death, barely scrapping back its production budget. The film is far superior to the original and an enjoyable watch if you fancy a fantasy adventure. I get why it failed but I didn't deserved to.
Admittedly, Passengers - one of the year's final big releases - should have been better than it was, on the basis that it starred two of the world's best and brightest actors, directed by an Oscar-nominated talent and featured one of the most popular 'unproduced' scripts of 2007. Rather than 'incredible', Passengers is 'great' - but that's not quite good enough for most and the film fell on its own sword and victim of high expectations. Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt are marvellous, as are the special effects but the film is plagued by an uncomfortable twist that changes everything else moving forward. Still, there is more than enough here to forgive and forget the film's flaws and you will still be impressed by the chemistry of the leads - in which the dynamic is ever-changing - and the visual scope of the film.
God, I hate this film. Among 2016's Best Oscar nominees was my favourite film of the year and my least favourite film of the year, with Adam McKay's The Big Short dishonourably taking the latter title. Despite featuring some strong actors, a lot of their performances are phoned in, not helped by a script that turns the characters into walking pillars of arrogance and self-importance, without one shred of humanity to allow us to care about them, or ensure we see things in their light. Themes that worked well in the superior Wolf of Wall Street from the previous year are woefully mishandled and sloppy with all-round poor execution making this fast-paced political satire really rather boring. Quite frankly, it's terrible (but I'm yet to find someone that agrees with me).
This vulgar 'adult-only' comedy could have (and should have) been a hilarious riff of the animation genre, with an ingenious narrative and premise promising a unique and individual take on the Disney-monopolised genre. Alas, it was not all it was cracked up to be by the critics who gave it a 'fresh' rating and claimed its ingenuity and hilarity. The jokes run dry very quickly and when the film rushes to do something even more outside of the box, it stumbles rather glaringly. It has its moments, but most of them are in the trailer so the rest of the film resorts in having a sausage swear. It's a major misfire and even more of a wasted opportunity; there's a sequel on the way but I'm not too sure if it's even worth the time, judging by how disappointing this first go round was.
I don't actively hate Deadpool, I'm just flabbergasted by the positivity it seems to radiate. Ryan Reynolds does a smashing job as the Merc with a Mouth, but it is never as funny or as subversive as it believes itself to be and there exists a great smugness to the whole proceeding that makes it all more annoying. It's R rating adds a little more oomph but it is otherwise a generic superhero origin story hidden behind fourth-wall breaking and the promise of something new and innovative, to which it ultimately fumbles. I'm not giving hope on this franchise yet but Deadpool is not only disappointing, but terribly overrated - yet, it manages to be one of the better superhero films of the year...
Marvel does wrong too. Once again, Doctor Strange is not actively bad, but it's not too good either. Spellbinding special effects and a decent central performance aside, Doctor Strange is another disappointment in the superhero genre that really needs revitalising, mainly because of an uninspired script that once again bends to the typical convention of a superhero origin story. It feels boringly low-risk and it suffers from being out on its own playing field, with the intention of taking a break from the Avengers and introducing a new wave of heroes, but I still need convincing with it. Marvel fanatic who can't listen to a bad word said of the MCU franchise may need to turn away now, but they have only had a few flashes of brilliance over their run - let's just thank god that Captain America: Civil War was one of them, as this year's superhero genre would have been truly dire.
Going for it, The Revenant has stunning direction and cinematography with a committed performance from Leonardo Dicaprio (and a bear) but pretty much everything else goes against it. The supporting cast is either miscast or useless and the ending is forgettable (beside a bloody brawl, I genuinely can't remember the last half an hour of this film). Pretty damn dull and uninspiring, The Revenant runs on far too long that is necessary, resulting in a plodding mess (but at least it's gorgeous to look at) and isn't worthy of sitting in a Best Picture category with the likes of Room, Spotlight, Brooklyn and Mad Max: Fury Road.
Be sure to check back over the next few days as more film and television lists will be revealed, including the big 'top twenty' on Saturday!