The Overrated Films of 2020
Okay, so we really only had about two-and-a-half months of moviegoing this year, so it’s hard to define the term ‘overrated’ for 2020. Usually, for me, overrated is people rushing out to see something and proclaiming it a masterpiece when really it’s just okay or just good. Or the media machine hypes the shit out of something and the movie’s just not worth it in the end. Or it’s an awards contender that people build up sight unseen and it turns out to be garbage. This list is always about hype and things not living up to that hype. (And again, based on my own feelings of things. I feel like people often misconstrue overrated to mean ‘bad’. When in reality, something could be the most lauded film of the year and still be overrated. The overrating only speaks more to the people talking about something than the thing itself.
But, whereas most years, the overrated films tend to be the ones that made a bunch of money and become runaway successes. But since we’ve all been stuck inside for the majority of the year and there’s really not much hype to be had, it’s hard to necessarily call things overrated. So I’m just gonna make this one a shorter list than usual. There are really only ten films I can put on here (and even then, I may have stretched it a little bit). The awards movies still have another six weeks to come out and we never had a summer movie season. It’s not an easy year to do this.
So, with as many caveats as I can give, here are my Overrated Films of 2020:
I almost hate to do this… but 2020. I barely got to 10, so you do what you can do. This one I have here for one reason — for the people who didn’t watch Portrait of a Lady on Fire and are gonna see this as the definitive version of this type of story. And that’s not to say there’s not room for both. There absolutely is and I do like both movies. But… it’s the same general narrative as Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and that film is better. And I feel like there will be people who go in on this not knowing about that one, and those people tend to be the ones who completely eschew anything with subtitles. So mostly I’m just getting it out there for those people — there’s a version of this same story, only better, that exists. It’s French and came out last year. Otherwise there’s nothing overrated about Ammonite the film at all.
They hit us with trailers early and were selling the shit out of this movie. Now, had it had a chance to hit theaters and get people to go see it and come out going, “What the hell was that?” then maybe it could have escaped this list (maybe, but doubtful, since the promotion is typically what gets something on here as much as the response to something). But the over-promotion is the reason this is overrated. They sold a bill of goods the movie couldn’t live up to. It happens. The overrating is lesser than it is most years, but I think that if we were to objectively try to make a list of the movies that were most overrated from this year, this would probably be on it.
3. First Cow
I don’t get it. I’m fine with people loving this, but the way they talk about this… there’s always that one movie people rush to put on their top ten list that just feels like they’re doing it to seem cool to all the other people who did. Kelly Reichardt’s been making these same movies for years — Wendy and Lucy, Old Joy, Meek’s Cutoff, Certain Women, Night Moves… why this one getting all the praise? No idea. But the way people are talking about this makes it sound like it’s the movie of a generation. It’s just a pretty good indie. (I could have also put the movie Black Bear on here, but I care so little about seeing people’s opinions — unless I’m speaking to them — that I never bothered to check top ten lists. But I feel like that one’s not nearly on as many lists as this one is. Plus I kept the list to ten. If I went to 15, that would be on here too.) I don’t know. You know I’m gonna do this every year. These movies are always overrated. You know how I know this is overrated? Because I know ten years from now this movie won’t be mentioned by anyone. It’s a flavor of the moment by people who like to be ‘arty’ in their choices. I’ve been doing this a long time, guys. It’s not rocket science. The same shit happens every year.
4. Hillbilly Elegy
Failed Oscar bait. You sell us prestige and it’s bad, it’s gonna hit this list. That’s just how it works. There’s really not a whole lot to add here. Don’t sell a bill of goods if you can’t live up to it.
5. The Invisible Man
This one actually did hit theaters so we did get people overrating the fuck out of this at the time. And then COVID hit and people had the audacity to be like, “If we had Oscars now, this would win!” Which — I fucking hate when people do that to begin with. Any ‘these are the midseason award winners’ lists, or the ‘it’s May, this is how Oscar season might shape up!’ articles are just fucking ridiculous. That said — people went nuts over this, way more than they needed to. It’s one of the most overrated movies of the year, and if you can’t agree with that, you’re in denial. Because it’s not about the quality of the film, it’s about how highly people are touting it. It’s just a solid horror movie with a message behind it. That’s it. It didn’t reinvent cinema and it’s not gonna win a fuck ton of awards no matter how much you think it will because it was one of the eight movies you saw this year. Just fucking chill, guys.
I mean, I’m assuming. There’s always one of those awards-caliber movies that doesn’t translate to most people, and then when it get a bunch of nominations, people go, “But I thought it was just okay.” This feels like the most likely contender for this year. And if it isn’t, there’s another one you could swap in here instead. Put Pixar in here with Soul, put Ma Rainey, put whatever you think. This feels like it was the prestige ‘Oscar’ movie of the winter, so it feels like a good figurehead for this spot. I do this every year. There’s always a catch-all movie for the ‘awards movie that a lot of people think is being talked about too much’. Because we’re in publicity season. They’re selling shit to people for votes. We know how this goes. I’m sure a lot of people didn’t like this or think it was all that special. Which is fine. I’m okay letting it be known as overrated. Not gonna change how I feel about is as a movie.
Because people seem to have the audacity to claim this is as good as top-level Pixar. Either those people have kids, don’t watch a lot of movies (or both) or significantly lowered their standards because of the pandemic, because this disappointed the shit out of me. And I feel like any time Pixar disappoints with an original movie, it counts as overrated. And as much as you could possibly also put Soul on this list, you are not allowed to put Soul and omit this. Soul at least has real themes behind it (possibly even to the point of hurting the film’s actual plot). This is the fucking Zootopia of themes, this movie. I’m okay if you love it, and I’m okay if you think Soul is also overrated, but you can’t say this isn’t being overrated by people. Because this doesn’t even hit the top ten of all-time Pixar movies (and for me it may not even hit top 20, if I cared to try to figure it out).
8. The Rhythm Section
You know why? Because from like October of 2019 all the way through when this came out, they fucking bombarded me with trailers for this. Every single movie I saw for the last three months of 2019 had this trailer in front of it. And I was fucking sick of that trailer and that cover of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” by the end of it. It’s just a generic action movie. We all knew it. Stop fucking bombarding us with advertising. We know it’s coming out. And for that alone, it’s overrated. This didn’t need all the promotion. This wasn’t any more enlightening than whatever Liam Neeson movie is coming out this year.
You can call this overrated from a filmmaking and plot standpoint. I’m not gonna do that. For me, the reason this movie is on this list is because they had the gaul to think that this movie was bigger than a global pandemic. I appreciate Christopher Nolan’s commitment to the theatrical experience. But dude… just fucking push it a year. No one was going to see this movie, and to try to force people into seeing this was absolute hubris. Your movie is not Gone with the fucking Wind. It can wait. And the whole, “We’re coming out July 10th. No July 19th. No July 23rd. No August 12th. No September 3rd.” If you’re really pushing this thing two weeks at a time every two weeks, your movie shouldn’t fucking come out. If you really tried to force a movie to come out during a pandemic, your movie is automatically the most overrated movie of the year.
10. Wonder Woman 1984
Because jesus. This almost made the “Disappointments” list, but really — I knew this was coming. I knew they couldn’t sustain it. It’s D.C. This is overrated because people are treating it like it’s a good movie because they liked the first one and desperately want this piece of shit D.C. universe to work. And the rest of them are holding onto that fucking Snyder Cut, which I won’t even dignify as a good idea. That’s more overrated than this is. But sticking with this — it’s just not a very good movie, and people are trying to talk about it like it is? Or that it captures a tenth of the importance of the original. And it’s an annual thing. We didn’t have Marvel this year, so it wasn’t as bad as it usually is. But most superhero movies are B/B-/C+, and people treat them like As. It’s ridiculous. So yeah, that’s your overrated list. We got here. Hard to really get upset about most stuff because of the pandemic. So let’s see what 2021 brings us.
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