While not quite up to being included in Short Ends and Leader's Best Films list, these ten films still represent the reason for each movie season.
As with any category which includes the descriptive term "underrated", setting a clear set of standards is often impossible. Indeed, someone out there right now has already perused the list below, taken umbrage with at least a couple of the choices, and is wondering how "anyone" could consider any one of the titles as "underrated". Perhaps an illustrative explanation is in order.
For someone who watches movies for a living (or what some call "a living"), underrated usually means "underappreciated" or "fell through the cracks". Such a film stands in contrast to the mainstream mindset that gives the latest Michael Bay bombast a billion dollars at the box office, but can't see beyond the spectacle to something smaller, more inventive, and artistic. The tag "underrated" can also mean a commercial endeavor poorly handled by the PR and marketing people hired by the studios, their inability to craft a persuasive ad campaign sorely limiting a good movie's returns.
There are also instances, as with titles like The One I Love or The Congress, where the idea usurps potential interest, making such otherwise excellent movies "difficult" or "arty". So, in considering this year's list, we had to look at both the Cineplex and the specialty label. At least one entry here could easily vie for End of the Year honors had its distributor not dumped it along with several other Oscar wannabes.
Another had an actor and a title that, apparently, confused people. More than a couple were claimed by the VOD/streaming model, while another was just bugnuts insane. Add in returns to form both behind and in front of the lens, a war film that failed to ignite the proper passions, and a bit of the Bible and you have our choices for 2014's most underrated films. While perhaps not good enough to make our final Top Ten, all represent reasons we were glad we went to the movies this year.