There’s an old saying at the Playlist Mansion: you do not truly know a person until you’ve asked them to chose the one film they feel was most overrated and the one they feel was most underrated in any given year. It’s not very catchy. But it is a credo with a surprising amount of wisdom in it, as well as the welcome potential for our beloved, esteemed and generally faultless contributors to make complete public fools of themselves. It’s a wildly subjective and always controversial list, but often interesting things can come out of considering a film not just in terms of its standing-on-its-own-two-feet quality, but in the context of the noise around it — whether that has been deafening, appreciative, muted or snarky. So much so, in fact that we’ve a regular podcast, Over/Under Movies dedicated to such discussion, and there’ll be a year-end episode of that coming soon.

Here, then, is an unlucky-for-some 13-strong cross-section of our contributorship, individually talking about the films they felt got too much or too little shine over the year. And its purpose, apart from entertaining you, dear reader, is twofold: it shows us as the eclectic and passionate bunch we are, and it unites us in ganging up on one, possibly two, staffers and making the “craycray” gesture behind their backs for the entirety of 2017. No prizes for guessing who that’s going to be once you read the selections below.

Click here for our complete coverage of the Best Of 2016
Everybody Wants Some!!

Kevin Jagernauth
Overrated: “Everybody Wants Some!!”
If there was ever a film that was clearly not made for these times, its Richard Linklater’s superfluously exclamation-pointed “Everybody Wants Some!!” To be fair, it’s not the director’s fault his latest film came in the wake of #OscarsSoWhite and an increasingly voluble conversation about the need for more diversity on screen. However, it’s entirely Linklater’s fault that his tale of a bunch of (mostly) white dudes waiting for college to start and playing baseball is so ferociously dull and unfunny. Billing it as a “spiritual sequel” to 1993’s “Dazed and Confused” only underscores how much Linklater seemingly completely misunderstands his own his cult hit film. Where that film gave us a coming-of-age story from the perspective of the outcasts and those bucking against suburban traditions, “Everybody Wants Some!!” sees us follow a bunch of very attractive guys, who already seem to have it all figured out, and it weirdly manages to give its women in even less agency. I guess if you want to see yet another movie about (mostly) white dudes having keggers, hitting on girls, and uh, discovering that punk rock exists, that’s cool, but let’s not pretend the film’s insights into that fragile time before college and adult life starts are even remotely profound.

The Phenom 12

Underrated: “The Phenom”
A movie that many probably forgot was released or even knew existed, “The Phenom” is a baseball movie that’s not really about baseball, which might be why it had a hard time finding an audience. Written and directed by Noah Buschel (“Glass Chin”), “The Phenom” follows Hopper Gibson (Johnny Simmons), a pitching sensation who has a breakdown on the mound, and with mounting doubts about his talents, sees sports psychologist Dr. Mobley (Paul Giamatti) to try and get to the root of his issues. What emerges is the story of an athlete pushed by his abusive father (a deliciously volatile Ethan Hawke) to make the most of his talents, with “The Phenom” wrestling with the uncomfortable notion that sometimes tough, violent love has productive ends. Well performed and beautifully shot (a baseball setpiece scored to Tchaikovksy is one for the ages), Buschel’s film went undeservedly unnoticed. It’s truly of the year’s best hidden gems — psychologically rich, and wholly original — don’t miss it.

Star-Trek-Beyond-14

Gary Garrison
Overrated: “Star Trek Beyond”
The tragedy of “Star Trek Beyond,” the unseemly CG-calamity from a director of no less than four “Fast And Furious” films, is not necessarily that it’s a terrible film (it isn’t) or an undeserved box office smash (it wasn’t), but that it was pretty frequently touted as one of the best blockbusters of the summer, and for the most part it was. Which, to be clear, says a lot about ‘Beyond,’ but even more about the state of tentpole pictures in 2016: not only are studios churning out an incredible glut of senseless and obscenely stupid movies, but we audiences are continually lowering our standards. ‘Beyond,’ which is held up by the breezy, witty script from Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, is a rote story that’s weighed down by a huge, nondescript cast of characters (for all everyone is done up as one alien or another, it sure is hard to tell who the hell is who) and another bland, poorly motivated baddie. All of which leaves the film with nothing particularly interesting or relevant to say. For something that ought to be a piece of pure escapism, it sure is hard to escape the sense that everyone, at this point, is just contractually phoning it in.

The Dark Horse

Underrated: “The Dark Horse”
To be fair, “The Dark Horse” is not exactly underrated by those who have seen it. James Napier Robertson’s film, which was released in 2014 in its native New Zealand, has racked up a considerable critical consensus, and for good reason. Still, the film was criminally underseen and thus criminally forgotten. Following the real-life Māori speed chess player, Genesis Potini (Cliff Curtis), who suffered from severe bipolar disorder and went on to found a celebrated chess club for underprivileged kids called The Eastern Knights, “The Dark Horse” is an understated, emotional powerhouse of a film. Compassionately realized, and grounded by a towering, tender performance by Curtis, it’s a film that simmers with a manic energy that never boils over (despite all the melodramatic potential). And for a film about chess, it never overuses the metaphors, nor does it ever give way to its crowd pleasing premise; for all Genesis manages to achieve, never does the film downplay the reality of poverty or the emotional severity of depression. Instead, “The Dark Horse” casts a light on the capacity for genius in everyone and the good buried in even the darkest places. Check it out, mate…

rules-dont-apply

Katie Walsh
Overrated: “Rules Don’t Apply”
November 2016. What a time to be alive, what a time for Warren Beatty to drop his endlessly gestating Howard Hughes biopic “Rules Don’t Apply.” Yes, what audiences were really in the mood for at that moment was a two-plus hour romp through the later years of a narcissistic, mentally ill heir to a huge fortune who uses daddy’s money to disrupt the entertainment industry and the federal government. But it’s not entirely fair to blame the political climate for the bad taste in your mouth left by “Rules Don’t Apply.” The movie is bad enough to do that on it’s own. This hectic, annoying meander through the less interesting part of the Hollywood mogul’s life is an overstuffed mess, thanks to the atrociously bad editing, credited to no fewer than four editors, coupled with the terrible soundtrack cribbed from an oldies CD Beatty found under his couch. Not to mention the embarrassing sex scene between Beatty and the adorable Lily Collins (Golden Globe nominated for her efforts). Despite a plethora of beloved actors filling every role (Paul Schneider with a terrible fake tan, the girl from “Smash,” and the best part of the movie, Annette Bening, sent away 20 minutes in), audiences stayed far, far away, and with good reason. Despite the Herculean efforts of poor Alden Ehrenreich and Collins, this stinker was worse than even its bad reviews.

warcraft-f-210865

Underrated: “Warcraft”
Listen, did I think I’d end up at the end of the year being the one critic to die on the hill for “Warcraft”? Absolutely not and in fairness, my first underrated pick (“How to Be Single”) was taken. However, yes, I gave “Warcraft” a positive review when it came out, and even went to see it a second time on my own dime and had fun — I didn’t choose this “Warcraft” life, it chose me. The thing about Duncan Jones’ ambitious orc epic is that if you’ve ever wanted to step inside the cover of an ‘80s heavy metal album, that’s what this movie feels like. That’s a cinematic experience I enjoy, I’ve discovered. Do I want to see an orc ride a giant snow wolf while chopping down humans in oversized shiny armor? HELL YES. The critical odds were always stacked against this multi-player online role-playing game adaptation, so no one really gave it a chance, but Travis Fimmel is deceptively great, and Ben Schnetzer should have a CW spinoff. Not to mention that Jones manages to nail the emotional component with the motion-capture orcs: Toby Kebbell as Durotan should be on our best performances of the year list to be entirely honest. It’s super cartoonish, hardcore deep fantasy stuff that’s yes, super cheesy, but still really fun, if you let your guard down. Come on people, Ben Foster goes to full Ben Foster intensity playing a RAD WIZARD in this movie! The fact that I still don’t have a t-shirt with Medivh airbrushed on it is a travesty. In conclusion, “Warcraft” is the most metal movie of 2016 and I’m sad for you if you can’t have fun with that. Don’t @ me.

petes-dragon-oakes-fegley-bryce-dallas-howard

Oktay Ege Kozak
Underrated: “Pete’s Dragon”
If it was released in the 80s, or even the early 90s, indie up-and-comer David Lowery’s loose remake of “Pete’s Dragon” would have been instantly hailed as a heartwarming and awe-inspiring family classic, on par with “E.T.” and other Spielberg-infused mainstream kids’ entertainment that miraculously captured, without condescension or cynicism, a child’s imagination. Alas, in our contemporary world where our ceaseless need for self-referential nostalgia and aversion to experiencing basic emotions without having to undercut them with irony made it inevitable for this downright lovely story to play second banana to the pretty but instantly forgettable “The Jungle Book.” Lowery takes the core premise of the colorful and goofy original and turns the story of an orphaned child’s friendship with a dragon (spectacularly designed and animated in this version) into a simple yet effective study on a child’s inherent need for a family. By underplaying the film’s nostalgic elements (it’s an obvious period piece but doesn’t clarify what year it takes place in), Lowery creates a bona fide example of the kind of old school family entertainment he clearly loves. In a way, the fact that it’s not an obvious throwback makes it the perfect throwback.

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Overrated: “The Jungle Book”
Yes, the CGI was seamless and terrific, and director Jon Favreau managed to extract an entertaining modern adventure out of Disney’s fun but admittedly episodic animated classic. However, “The Jungle Book”s pedigree as a supposed benchmark for future unnecessary live action remakes (or, let’s face it, CG with a couple of live-action elements) of beloved animated Disney films was overhyped by most critics. “The Jungle Book” is a fairly satisfying yet inconsequential piece of mainstream family entertainment. Even though the gritty and darker look was vastly different from the original’s bright and playful color scheme, it played things safe by rehashing the elements audiences loved from the 1967 film without really adding anything new or exciting. It was so dedicated in its mission to aimlessly stoke the audience’s nostalgia, that it shoehorned bafflingly brief versions of some of the best-known musical numbers from the original, regardless of whether or not its bleaker tone and straightforward narrative invited such a sudden shift into song and dance territory. Especially compared to the more original and heartfelt “Pete’s Dragon”, “The Jungle Book” ended up as a beautiful but unnecessary distraction.

  • Meryl Streep movies in general tend to be a giant bore and mediocre, i dont understand all the acclaim she gets, its all typical Hollywood oscar bait, mediocre, safe and without any risks. Marion Cottilard alone makes her look so inferior in terms of acting and otherwise. And when she gets oscar noms even for Disney dreck, you start to wonder if the Academy simply votes for a name without any merit of the movie itself. The most overrated actress i can remember, maybe her early movies were fine, but she is far from the greatest actress some make her. So many better ones, outside USA and in USA…

  • MAL

    This is an opinion piece — I get that. Which is why I appreciate them whether I agree of not. However, when someone calling herself a film critic (film blogger, whatever) shows such a complete lack of comprehension regarding the meaning of “overrated,” I question the credibility of the entire site. I am referring to Katie Walsh’s comments highlighting why Rules Don’t Apply is overrated but ignorantly concludes with “this stinker was worse than even its bad reviews.” If something has had terrible reviews, how can you justify it being overrated? Every time I read her reviews, commentaries, etc., I am disgusted by her utter ignorance as a film critic/blogger and question why she is still allowed to write for The Playlist. If you can provide a justification for your opinions and/or comments, then do so. If you cannot in any intelligent, logical way, you have no business spouting them. This site is ostensibly a credible film site but I do believe its credibility is waning to a fatal degree. You have lost many readers over the last couple of years and I’m not far behind. I am not one for name calling, but if anyone deserves it on a film site, it’s Katie.

    • Knight Rider

      Technically, she’s correct. Even if a movie has bad reviews, it could be seen as overrated. I.e. it deserves worse than it got. It has 56% on RT, maybe Katie Walsh means it deserves a zero.

      I agree it’s a waste of a choice for most overrated film of the year, but it doesn’t deserve name calling.

    • jawsnnn

      I personally find the entire exercise of building a list of overrated films futile and useless. Why pull down movies that earned good reviews and were well liked? And if it is really really required, shouldn’t it be limited to movies that were critically acclaimed? Calling a blockbuster overrated is inherently stupid. It wasn’t meant to be consumed by a critic in the first place, and while there are merits in calling out mindless fluff – that has already been done to death in reviews during the year. Blockbusters like Jungle book, Deadpool, or even comedies like Sausage Party do not belong in a list of overrated movies.

    • jh

      Sure, it’s an odd choice given that no one actually rates it highly, if at all. But you can’t open by saying ‘this is an opinion piece, I get that’ and then launch into a slanderous attack on the person who wrote the piece and her opinions. That just makes you a hypocrite.

  • Patrick Malone

    Agree with Nikola Grozdanovic re: Knight of Cups. No, there wasn’t much of a plot, but it was so thematically rich, and contrary to what the consensus seems to be, Malick was definitely not just repeating himself; the juxtaposition of gnosticism and sacramentality isn’t politically pertinent, but it was fascinating, and certainly subversive, which is probably a big part of the problem. The club scenes, along with the shots of the woman in facepaint and the mechanized city are some of the best things I’ve seen all year.

    • Rand

      I’m not the first to say this and I won’t be the last to say this. But I totally believe that Terrence Malick films have a love-hate relationship with most people. I’ve always enjoyed films that had a theme and then even if it had a nonlinear plot line or a non traditional narrative as long as the theme was relatively rich with emotion then I’ll usually enjoy it in some form. Though I do understand why many people sit around and call it pretentious and complain about it being boring. But I do think that they do have a point. Though I didn’t enjoy ‘To The Wonder’ as much as Knight of Cups and Tree of Life. I do think that some of the content and Knight of Cups was some of the greatest stuff also. I’m also a bit biased due to the fact that I love mostly anything that Emmanuel Lubezki has something to do with.

  • Knight Rider

    Underrated: Ghostbusters, Tarzan, Nerve
    Overrated: Swiss Army Man, The Birth of a Nation, War Dogs

    • LeGuyWhoDownedQuiet

      Shut the fuck up,will ya??

      • Knight Rider

        Very mature!

        • Sin Shiwei

          your taste in movies screams 12 year old ADHD kid that still sucks on mom’s teets.

          • Knight Rider

            Funny you’d say that, as that’s what your behaviour screams about you.

            It’s hilarious that you’d have the pretension of assuming what my taste in movies are based on a few I consider overrated or underrated.

          • Joanna Falucci

            Apply cold water directly to the BUUUUUURRRRNNNN! Im surprised you didn’t like swiss army man though. Isn’t that your cup of tea?

          • Knight Rider

            Normally yes. I was really hoping to like it. And it’s still a good movie, but I don’t feel it deserves the universal praise it got.

          • Joanna Falucci

            ahah right! hence overrated!

          • Joanna Falucci

            What’re your favorite movies for 2016?

          • Knight Rider

            Arrival, Kubo and Moonlight so far. But I still need to watch La La Land, Manchester, Jackie, Silence… Too many good films, too little time.

          • Joanna Falucci

            Solid list! La La Land is awesome!

  • Marcelo

    Underrated: It’s Only the End of the World

    Playlist, deal with it

  • cirkusfolk

    Underrated – The Accountant
    Overrated – Dr. Strange

    • Rand

      I actually wanted to see The Accountant. I didn’t get a chance to see it yet but I’m hoping that it is good. I heard a few people tell me that it was not bad, and I actually really like what I saw in the trailers.

      • John DiLillo

        It’s really good for the first hour and a half, and then the film throws several actively hilarious plot twists at you.

    • Sin Shiwei

      I agree, I saw the accountant knowing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about it (which is a MUST these days when seeing ANY movie) and it blew me away. After watching the trailers I can see why it didn’t get the best reviews. I disagree, Doc Strange was the best Marvel movie since GOTG. If you like Captain AMerica civil war better, then you’re a kid, fake fights where you know nobody can hurt each other, suspense = zero, predictable shit, Strange from someone who never read any comics was awesome.

      MORAL TO THE STORY: TRAILERS RUIN MOVIES

  • scarlet7

    New BFF: Nikola Grozdanovic. I also want that spiked coffee people were drinking when watching TONI ERDMANN.

  • jawsnnn

    The word “overrated” should be tied up, put in a barrel, sealed shut, weighed down and dropped deep in the ocean where it belongs. It is a word solely used by critics to passively aggressively wag their fingers at their colleagues – an entirely incestuous exercise that no one finds interesting except maybe the small circle of staff members who met and thought – “You know what would be great at the end of each year? Calling well reviewed movies overrated”

    I mean seriously… no one was under the impression that Jungle Book, Deadpool were this year’s Ctizen Kane’s, Sausage Party. They were liked for what they were – well written, well directed entertainers with a shelf life of a few years – but they did end up changing the game significantly (the scope of CG in live action movies, R-rated actioners earning more than $500m) even if for a short while.

  • Rand

    I absolutely loved The Neon Demon and The Invitation. As far as The Invitation goes I’ve always been one of those people that has loved movies that are set in one room for most of the film or all of the film. Especially like ‘Coherence’, or even ‘You’re Next’ which I didn’t hate. I actually recently recommended it on a list of movies that are hard to recommend to people, since it was streaming on Netflix and I got both negative and positive feedback for that. So I’m glad to see The Invitation on here.

    I also love Knight of Cups. Pretentious, the same old Terrence Malick thing, etc…. is mostly what I heard when I told people I liked it. But I also really enjoyed Tree of Life. So I’m one of those people that really enjoyed the cinematography and the way it looks and the theme around it. Though I wasn’t as huge of a fan of ‘To The Wonder’ I still enjoyed Knight of Cups quite a bit.

    Thanks for the list you guys 🙂

  • BvS is fucking amazing…
    Warcraft is underrated too

  • Maria

    Underrated: Macbeth

    • Knight Rider

      It came out last year though.

      • Maria

        Oh you’re right! I just got confused since it actually was released here where I live early 2016.

  • Michaels

    Overrated: MOONLIGHT – It’s like all the critics that loved this movie never saw a gay movie before. This mediocre mood piece is full of cliches and half-baked character motivations. Also, this is what happens when a straight man directs a movie about a gay man – no actual sex.

    • fuzzywarbles

      2015’s Carol is far better imo – I even much prefer blue is the warmest color. Moonlight didn’t have any interesting characters, and I don’t know, I feel as if I didn’t learn anything beyond being gay is difficult even when living in the streets. Meh.

  • DDD

    Where is Civil War? That piece of jokey, inconsequential crap deserve to be in the Overrated list.

    • Sin Shiwei

      Agree, a movie culminating in 2 big fights when you knew neither was going to die, boring as hell other than the popcorn action designed for 13 year old kids in China.

  • Trev

    Underrated – 10 Cloverfield Lane, Our Little Sister, The Love Witch
    Overrated – Deadpool, Everybody Wants Some, Hell or High Water

    • Sin Shiwei

      Hell or High Water was the best film of the year, it will win Best Picture

      I agree deadpool was a run of the mill BS comic movie with blood, that was it, boring.

  • Sin Shiwei

    Underrated: Passengers – Please go see it, if people don’t see original sci fi and they lose money we will be continually forced shit comic movie and reboots.

    SEE ORIGINAL SCIFI MOVIES OR THEY WILL BECOME EXTINCT