Drew’s Reviews—Underappreciated Films

By Andrew Jenck

One of the great pleasures I have, being a rabid movie fan, is taking interest in great films that may be overlooked by general audiences; which comes with one of the great pains of great films being overlooked by the general public. As such, I’ve compiled a list of films from this decade that I feel deserve more attention and that you should consider viewing in the near future.

SAVING MR. BANKS (2013)—A film about the making of the film.
You will find that some of the best films of all time came from troubled productions and Mary Poppins was no exception. Saving Mr. Banks offers an outlook on the original author, P.L. Travelers, in her conflicts with Walt Disney over creative control. The film does a great job showing Travelers’ struggles and is helped by a great performance by Emma Watson who makes what could’ve been an unlikable character very sympathetic. Tom Hanks might not be the most accurate portrayal as Uncle Walt, but he does give a very good performance. Some may take issue with some of the less accurate facts, but I’d say Disney Pictures deserves credit for portraying their founder in this light. And as someone who enjoys learning about the film, to see the pre-production of such an iconic film was a real treat.

THE NICE GUYS (2016)—Its box office hurts me.
Shane Black, writer of Lethal Weapon and director of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, gives a film that stars a less-than-average private eye and a hit man trying to solve a complicated case involving the porn and motor vehicle industries. The story is pretty hard to follow but honestly, you don’t really care because both Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe are at the top of their game with great chemistry. The action is more grounded but entertaining, the humor isn’t always laugh-out-loud but it is well done, and there’s even a kid sidekick who manages to be one of the best things about the show. The way Black directs the whole thing makes you feel like you’re watching an exploitation film from the 70s but far better executed and directed. This needs to be seen by more people.

EX MACHINA (2015)—Where Po Dameron dances in front of General Hux.
You may be starting to become familiar with Alicia Vikander with the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot. Well, this is where she got her first real break into the industry, and what a break it is. This is a slow moving sci-fi thriller that reveals character motivation and hidden details that may require a second viewing. Some may be familiar with its “if an A.I. were to exist, would it have a soul?” theme but Ex Machina manages to have a unique spin on it thanks to nuanced dialogue and excellent acting. In addition, the film features Star Wars actors, Domhall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac who get to show their full ranges. If you are into more suspenseful, slow burn movies, this is a good one to check out.

ANNIHILATION (2018)—From the director of Ex Machina
This one is still playing in theaters, and I’d originally planned on giving it its own review but will require a re-watch to fully wrap my opinions on it. Nevertheless, I feel this is still worth seeing, even if it may not please everyone. Annihilation is able to take influence from other horror films and styles yet looks and feels unique. The story is about a group of scientists going into an extraterrestrial entity that affects the environment surrounding it, allowing the film to show a lot of creative visuals that demand to be seen on the silver screen. It can be beautiful, grotesque, and even both. The characters are all sympathetic and never feel over exaggerated. I especially liked how the main cast consisted of women but was never overtly marketed and focused upon in the story. It’s one of those films that doesn’t give the full answers but I feel it’s meant to be discussed and analyzed without affecting the story or its themes. In the coming months, I’ll give it a proper review.

And those are some films I hope you’ll add to your “Must-Watch List.” There are plenty of other films from the past decade that I’ve overlooked, so maybe there will be a second edition … Stay tuned.