13 Underappreciated Films of 2013

Let me begin, as this is coming to the end of the year and I will be trying to start and summarize my year in cinema throughout the coming weeks, by saying that this is not a definitive list. My determination for what is an underappreciated film could be completely wrong and misjudged. I’m just going with that little feeling in my gut that as I run down the list of films I saw in 2013 pointing to that movie that somehow I feel we weren’t talking about enough. Or at least, didn’t seem to get as much love as it ‘deserved’.

Also, as I will be mentioning in most of these upcoming posts, I (like most years) have a big omission with a lot of the big December releases. I live in Jamaica guys. Movies aren’t good here.

With that said, let’s go:

In order of release date:

The Last Stand (dir. Kim Jee-Woon) Jan. 18

The Last Stand

I get it. Schwarzenegger isn’t the action juggernaut that he once was in the 80s. Some even – rightly so — like to make the jokes about The Rock being the man to take that title from him and wishing he was the point man in this film. However, there’s something about the fun of this movie that couldn’t stop me from loving it. From the ridiculously dumb plot to the amazingly well done action. That includes all the Luis Guzman and Johnny Knoxville gags that were thrown in there.

2013 was a year, if nothing else, of great Korean directors showing America how to do genre well.

Read my full review

Side Effects (dir. Steven Soderbergh) Feb 8

Side Effects

I’m not quite sure how much I have to fight for this one, but guys… Soderbergh put out a film this year. It’s a film that bothered a lot of people, if I remember correctly, because like a lot of films I fell in love with this year it almost seemed to change genres mid way through its runtime. However, that’s kind of why it works for me. It sucks it’s audience in with a rote psychological thriller and twists the knife midway to turn into this pulp filled amazingly fun film where it seems a twist is going to hit us every half second. It’s an exercise in genre cinema that not many get right, but Soderbergh does so well.

Snitch (dir. Rick Roman Waugh) Feb 22

Snitch

Talking about The Last Stand and B-movie action being fun while at the same time being simple is this movie that I’m certain not many took note of. If there’s something the world has taken note of in the last decade (a lot less probably) is that The Rock is the new action superstar that we’ve needed for a long while. We’ve relinquished that title after those of the 80s and 90s have been overtaken by the martial artists who are allowed to be these tiny anymen. Now The Rock has brought big broad American muscle back to the big screen in a big way (and I almost want to think has allowed for the return of Schwarzenegger and Stallone a lot more palatable to younger audiences).

In Snitch he manages to remain the action hero while attempting to be this every man. Somehow that’s ludicrous, but at the same time it allows for the movie to play out so much more fun when the action begins and when the Rock ends all troubles of the world. Can we make him President of the World now?

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (dir. Don Scardino) Mar 15

Burt Wonderstone

I have a confession. I like magic. I’ve always liked it from I was a child. I like silly comedy. I think Steve Carrell deserves a lot more credit for what he’s doing in comedy than he’s getting. This film is a testament to that. Something about the way he plays off Buscemi, Wilde, Carrey and Arkin (the amazing Alan Arkin guys!) just works for me. There was a time of the birthday magician… this movie makes me want those days again.

The Croods (dir. Kirk de Micco & Chris Sanders) Mar 22

The Croods

I guess this one doesn’t deserve to be in this list. It’s in consideration for animation awards and been pumped up for Oscar and Golden Globe nominations I believe. However, in the animation discussions I’m feeling like people have forgotten this kind of family fun filled flick. I went in skeptical as all hell, but walked out happier than I could imagine. The idea of making fun of backward people who are right – most of the time — and making the technology freak (i.e. fire and wheels) be the butt of all the jokes just worked. Also, Nic Cage as a cave man is funnier than words can describe.

Trance (dir. Danny Boyle) Mar 27

Trance

We can continue to wax poetic about the psychological thriller (as with Side Effects), and how Danny Boyle attempted to materialize it on screen with this film, whether it was good or bad. The focus that the world had on the later scenes with Rosario Dawson being on display and where the film started to blend the real with the unreal. Regardless of where you fall on those arguements, one fact remains true throughout; it was an interesting attempt. For those that it landed (i.e. me) it landed perfectly in that sweet spot of mentally fun play time. Watching the cat and mouse mental games in ways that we adore Inception for I can’t imagine why this one hurt so many people’s souls. This film is visually astounding and queues into it’s world so well with those visuals.

Read my full review

I’m So Excited (dir. Pedro Almodovar) June 28

I'm So Excited

Almodovar knows silly and he knows it well. He flings paint on the frame like it’s going out of style and this time he does it not just with whimsy but with whimsy in character as we follow a plane of eccentric characters going through a weird shared moment as they all are currently on drugs and probably about to die as the plane cannot land and is running low on gas. It’s just one of those quirky “locked in the closet” films that isn’t so much about watching people tearing down the walls but bouncing around them in such a funny manner it works.

Listen to our TUMP

White House Down (dir. Roland Emmerich) June 28

White House Down-1

To those people who liked Olympus Has Fallen, I weep for your action upbringing. White House Down is the correct John McClane (in a year where he was murdered in franchising) child that we want to watch grow up and become something amazing. I doubt it will happen but somehow I want to see WHD the Un-Downing where doves fly everywhere and explosions keep making me laugh and action between bad guys I care about getting.

Drinking Buddies (dir. Joe Swanberg) July 25

Drinking Buddies-1

Ever have that film that just goes down really easy, but for some reason you never seem to actually start that conversation about. I feel that Drinking Buddies is that film. It has all these amazingly adorable elements that we loved in the summer when it hit VOD, but now that we’re more than four months removed it’s become this niche topic of discussion. There are the heavy Drinking Buddies fans who keep raving about Olivia Wilde and Anna Kendrick playing off of Jake Johnson, then there are the rest of you struggling to remember the movie itself. Remember please.

Listen to our TUMP

We’re the Millers (dir. Rawson Marshall Thurber) Aug 7

Were the Millers

I seem to keep focussing on comedies. This is one of those that I can’t help myself but smiling for continuously. Between Sudekis, Offerman, Hahn, Helms and most everyone else that just pops up the right amount it makes me smile. Why didn’t more people like this? I get that Aniston is movie kryptonite, and I hated her “stripper” sub plot, especially as the film moved forward, but she’s verifiably funny in this movie.

Read my full review

Rush (dir. Ron Howard) Sept 27

Rush-1

In the award frenzy that we’re finding ourselves I feel this movie is being forgotten. It feels like people wrote it off as a “okay” film that did certain things well but not enough to be one of the best of the year. While I’m not placing it in my top ten, it’s definitely an amazingly well put together story with characters that won’t be soon forgotten. Even for those unfamiliar with the world of Formula 1 it works even better I feel. I didn’t have to walk in with the baggage of wanting filmmakers to do justice to some “gods” I have in my mind. I can only imagine the criticism that I’ll heap on directors and writers when eventually I watch the Ryan Giggs life story.

Rush is amazing.

Don Jon (dir. Joseph Gordon-Levitt) Sept 27

Don Jon-1

Remember that Sundance darling Joseph Gordon-Levitt who’s always willing to make us smile and just perfect? We love him in all those movies. People went wild for this when it debuted in Utah in January, and somehow since then it’s gotten more festivals and a wide release and been completely forgotten. While elements seem trite and I worried about the “message” being lost in the realm of “I get it” with adults being the audience it doesn’t detract from how well put together this movie is. More than the porn vs. “normal” movies and all fantasies are just that, fantasies, core that the story plays to; I found myself deeply entranced by the idea of ritual and how our lives are constantly surrounded by it and depending on it. Without those rituals, whether it be cleaning our homes, going to church, having that same banter with your friends every Friday night, or spending your Wednesdays at the movie theatre (hand up) we sink ourselves into those things and sometimes coming up for air in the real world is the best thing we can hope for.

Machete Kills (dir. Robert Rodriguez) Oct 11

Machete Kills

I don’t know what Robert Rodriguez did to annoy the world this time but how is this film gone and forgotten already? When Fast Five and Furious Six released the world was down. They wanted insanely ludicrous cinema and ate it up. When Rodriguez hands them the Mexican Shaft that’s more ridiculous than Black Dynamite you guys all turned your backs and coughed.

This film is amazing. It walks in the room knowing what kind of film it is and never stops to apologize for it. Dear God I hope Rodriguez keeps making these movies and keeps the bad cinema jokes coming.

Read my full review

What films do you feel the world needs more appreciation for?

  • Candice Frederick

    wow. i kinda hated Rush, I’m So Excited and The Croods. i didn’t care for drinking buddies or side effects either. but i do wanna see don jon! thanks for the reminder!

  • http://ptsnob.com/ Dan Heaton

    Glad to see Side Effects mentioned. I loved the way it play with genres and switched perspectives multiple times. It all really worked me, though I’m a big Soderbergh fan.

  • http://www.gmanreviews.com Andrew Robinson

    Definitely.

  • http://www.gmanreviews.com Andrew Robinson

    Wow. Well I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Don Jon.