Along with naming their best movies of 2010, several critics have compiled lists of the films they rate as the most unfairly overlooked of the year.
It's all subjective, of course, but some choices are truly bewildering, further proof for those who believe many reviewers' tastes are miles apart from those of their readers and the mainstream moviegoing population.
Take The Los Angeles Times' Betsy Sharkey, who champions three movies of highly dubious merit: the crass comedy Hot Tub Time Machine (“so much good, nostalgic fun that it surprised me that more people didn't take a bite,” she gushes); the plodding, dreary, highly contrived Italian melodrama I Am Love; and Martin Scorsese's pretentious, surreal, ludicrously-plotted Shutter Island, which elicited this comment: “Instead of tying up loose ends, he keeps unravelling them so by the time he drops the big one, you should be good for hours of post-cinema parsing.” Actually no, Betsy, I erased the movie from my memory by the time I reached the car park.
Similarly, the Cinema Blend team raved about Nash Edgerton's Australian thriller The Square, which they rated as equally entertaining and more action-packed than Animal Kingdom. Give me a break, guys! Edgerton's film had none of the tension, superb performances, sharply-drawn characters and clever plot twists that elevated David Michôd's debut movie to one of the year's best.
The Cinema Blenders also nominated the critical and commercial dud Going the Distance, declaring “this Drew Barrymore and Justin Long entry is better than the average Katherine Heigl movie” (which is damning with faint praise), and the derivative sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll saga The Runaways.
Most astoundingly, the website lauded Morning Glory, a laughter-deprived comedy starring Rachel McAdams as a TV morning show producer who's forced to work with a cranky, belligerent newsman played Harrison Ford. “You'd think any movie with Harrison Ford might get a second look from the world in general, but critics never championed it, the studio never really did a good job of advertising it, and so the world failed to take notice,” it enthused, ignoring the primary reason why the movie, which opens here on January 6, flopped: it's not very good.
Metromix's Geoff Berkshire plumped for several highly obscure titles including Best Worst Movie (“a heartfelt but critical documentary that uses Troll 2 as the gateway into a fascinating and funny examination of bad movies, the people who make them, and the fans who love to mock them”), Easier with Practice, the story of a shy writer who gets wrapped up in a phone sex relationship with a complete stranger, and French-Canadian vengeance thriller 7 Days.
To be fair, these critics did hail some films which I've seen and believe deserved a wider audience: Buried, Harry Brown, The Disappearance of Alice Creed and North Face (pictured). And they extolled the virtues of others I missed but may well qualify as under-appreciated gems, including Fish Tank, Four Lions, Mother and Child and Please Give.