“Underrated” is an awkward, complex, difficult term to handle. An adjective that lends itself to many meanings and shades. Yes, because “undervaluation” is a fairly subjective, personal concept, very far from objectivity. Assuming that objectivity really exists. For this, before telling you about our ten most underrated films of recent years, it is right to make some clarifications. First of all, to close an otherwise boundless circle, we will only look at films released from 2010 onwards. Then we will dedicate ourselves only to those titles that had all the characteristics to become very popular (great authors, cast with well-known faces and potential blockbusters), because there are plenty of authorial films that deserve more luck. The following are films sometimes snubbed by the most important awards, forgotten too quickly by the public or not sufficiently supported by critics. At least in our opinion. So here are the ten most underrated films of the last ten years.
1. John Carter (2012)
Often, among the involuntary qualities of a film, there is also timing. In 2012, for example, it happens that John Carter arrives too late. The story of a human being catapulted to another planet? Aliens organized in tribes, strange creatures. Things? A Series B Avatar? And why does the protagonist look like the cosplayer from Prince of Persia? Disadvantaged by a forgettable marketing campaign, defeated from the start and remembered above all as one of the most sensational flops of Disney and cinema, John Carter is anything but the disaster with which he is branded. Inside is good adventure, great visuals, and the creation of a fascinating imagery that would have deserved more luck. Because of this John Carter it is a film that almost makes us tenderness for the bad luck it brings.
2. Cloud Atlas (2012)
After the first Matrix everything that was shot by the Wachowski sisters has split violently. Take it or leave it: cinema without measures. It also happened with the visionary Cloud Atlas, forgotten too quickly, but in our opinion to be re-evaluated with more patience and attention. Because this film, in addition to having an exceptional soundtrack, embraces six stories ranging from the nineteenth century to 2321 aiming to tell many nuances of being, becoming and feeling free. Cloud Atlas almost resembles a large atlas without a bookmark, which can be browsed without the rationality of logic but following the impetus of passions. Between science fiction and philosophy, the Wachowski sisters make a difficult, ambitious film, but certainly not worthy of passing on the sly.
3. The Lone Ranger (2013)
Pirates of the Caribbean director and producer Johnny Depp struggling with a new mask and a promising young man like Armie Hammer. What could possibly go wrong? Maybe even have Kevin Spacey in the role of the antagonist, to complete a splendid trio of repudiated from Hollywood, but no. The problem with The Lone Ranger’s scorching failure wasn’t that. Maybe we trusted too much of an unpopular icon outside the United States, maybe we let ourselves be blinded by easy comparisons with Jack Sparrow, maybe it was the fault of a very expensive 8 kilo-meter long railway created specifically for the film. Or maybe it was the fault of Gore Verbinski’s bravery. The courage to rewrite the rules of the blockbuster with a less explicit plot and motivation than usual. Perhaps we did not appreciate a profound reinterpretation of the American myth. Perhaps we didn’t appreciate a splendid contamination between western and adventure, forgetting an incredible staging and one of the most beautiful action sequences seen on the big screen in the last 20 years. When in doubt: always a lot of affection for a great misunderstood.
Because The Lone Ranger is an underrated movie
4. Operation UNCLE (2015)
Fresh from the success of the two films about Sherlock Holmes, in 2015 Guy Ritchie leaves Victorian London to embrace the suspicions of the Cold War. Inspired by a 1960s TV series, the London-based director creates a dynamic, brilliant and ironic spy story. Armie Hammer and Henry Cavall are very close and credible without ever taking themselves too seriously, yet this is not enough to leave their mark. The film arrives in theaters too anonymously and is forgotten too quickly. Too bad, because in our opinion it remains a perfect example of intelligent entertainment that even deserved to become a franchise.
5. Steve Jobs (2015)
Year 1955. Einstein dies. Steve Jobs is born. The world is too small for two geniuses. The runner-up, who just need white New Balance and a black turtleneck to charm the crowds, had a childhood to throw in a bin which, however, cannot be emptied. Forced removal doesn’t work. He is the “end to end” man, a closed system from which nothing comes out and into which no one enters. A cold patina that distances him from children and colleagues, friends and lovers repudiated. Technology becomes his creed and then ours. His religion has had proselytes and created faithful. Steve Jobs tells all this, a river full of witty words and effective jokes. A long backstage that, almost like Birdman, takes us behind the scenes of one of the most emblematic and representative men of our times. Fassbender doesn’t imitate, Sorkin inspires, Boyle doesn’t judge, Kate Winslet is the most beautiful talking cricket ever. For this reason, in our opinion, Steve Jobs together with The Social network is one of the posters of our times to be handed down to posterity. A film that has never been celebrated enough.
From Zuckerberg to Steve Jobs: with Aaron Sorkin, technology is at the service of talent and love
6. Arlo’s Journey (2015)
Speaking of unfortunate timing, here we are with another emblematic case. Because the biggest “flaw” of Arlo’s Journey was coming out shortly after that Inside Out masterpiece, in the one year Pixar released not one but two films. Crushed by his illustrious predecessor, Arlo’s Journey he is perhaps (along with Brave) the most Disney-like in Pixar. A simple story, branded as “too much for children”, but which reveals our recurring problem with films: we often give too much weight to the plot. The story of Arlo’s Journey does not stand out for its originality, it is true, but on a visual level the film is a small pearl. Panoramic lenses on the landscape, which make us discover little by little a naked, vast, welcoming Nature, made of water and stones, grass and berries. Arlo’s Journey it’s a wild film, because it goes to the roots of cinema, since it could also work as a silent film. A work to be rediscovered, also because it is absolutely complementary to Inside Out. Riley’s story was deep, it went on going inside the protagonist. Arlo’s, on the other hand, always goes out, goes on, supported by curiosity and discovery.
7. Silence (2016)
If this list weren’t in chronological order, this film would be leading the most underrated films of the decade. Without any doubt. Because in our opinion Silence is really a masterpiece that is too misunderstood and too hidden. We are faced with Martin Scorsese’s law of retaliation: after the screams, the din and the clamor of The Wolf of Wall Street, one of the greatest living directors changes register and retires into silence. An intimate and disorienting journey in which a Martin Scorsese in a state of grace films the invisible, stages the faltering Faith, the pain that questions, the doubt that haunts. Silence is a film that tests an excellent Andrew Garfield, but that questions all of us. And it does so by asking us the meaning of many things. Of choices, of religion, of culture, of forgiveness, of piety, of being human. A masterpiece perhaps too difficult, but certainly precious, to be preserved and rediscovered. “Pray, but do it with your eyes open“remains one of the most beautiful, meaningful and emblematic lines of an incredible film.
8. Jackie (2016)
One shot. One life ends and another begins. Suddenly. Mrs. Kennedy’s blood baptism forces her to discover the person behind the character, the woman behind the black veil of mourning. Who is Jackie? What does Jackie feel? Who loves Jackie? Was Jackie ever loved? With a light but penetrating touch, Pablo Larrain creates an unusual biopic that is anything but linear. Thus a slow and inexorable awareness of the good and the bad that has been experienced emerges. And of the duties of life in the face of death. Thanks to a sumptuous Natalie Portman, Jackie is a wonderful and merciless mourning elaboration. Ruthless and liberating, Jackie is a film that deserved even more consideration and popularity.
9. Nocturnal Animals (2016)
We are not afraid to exaggerate in calling Nocturnal Animals one of the best thrillers of its decade. It is because it is merciless, full of tension and with a truly incredible elegance of staging.
A story within history. A book within a film. Nocturnal Animals is a film that you must read, a work to leaf through with caution, where each page is a tear, each word macerates inside you, each bookmark is a sharp knife in the eye of the beholder. One looks back in this book, retraces a painful past, peeks into rear-view mirrors into streets full of asphalt and tears. A grandiose film, dominated by different eyes: the full and suffering ones of Jake Gyllenhall alongside the glassy and glacial ones of Amy Adams. Prey and hunters. Victims and executioners. The basic ingredients of any thriller are not outside the front door. It’s all in there: between two people trying to be together.
Nocturnal Animals: Anatomy of a Perfect Revenge
10. The Last Duel (2021)
We close with the most misunderstood film of 2021. An inexplicable flop given that we are in front of a great film. In this case, the big obstacle to overcome was above all one: watching The Last Duel, because the problem is that very few have seen this film in theaters. Things only improved slightly after it arrived on Disney Plus. A great pity to have stifled such a film on the small screen, because with The Last Duel Ridley Scott is back to dueling as he used to, and he did it in a big way. At the age of 84 he still demonstrates how great cinema is built. The one who thrives on sharp words and grandiose images. Far from the simplification of black-on-white, The Last Duel is a story of nuance, never dictating a single truth. To win is only one thing: the perception of reality that defeats reality itself. Different ways of feeling things, seeing the world and consequently telling them to others. Small differences staged with inconspicuous but decisive touches of direction: gestures, expressions, shots capable of restoring the interiority of three different people. And then there is the show. The pure, violent and realistic one of an extraordinary sword fight.
The Last Duel, the review: the gladiator who challenged the duelists