The Most Underrated Movies of 2014
by Brad Harris, Jim Puliafico, and William Lindus
Every year, dozens of amazing films fall through the cracks during awards season. Maybe it is because of bad timing or poor marketing, or perhaps a film was unduly panned by the critics. Either way, the Movie Bears Podcast would like to recognize a few movies that didn't receive the proper amount of love in 2014.
You know, I have so much love in my heart for Chef and yet it’s nowhere to be found now that Oscar season is here. Granted, it’s not exactly the kind of movie the Academy goes for I suppose but I thought it was a fantastic film. John Favreau really sold me as a man whose pride sabotaged him at every turn, both as a chef and as a father. Plus — you know — he’s HOT! It was also a treat having John Leguizamo provide some comic relief here and I won’t lie, I really enjoyed the hell out of Oliver Platt here, too. You don’t see him in much anymore so he was a welcome addition to the cast. Chef initially rocketed all the way to the top of my favorite films from 2014 list and though it’s dropped down quite a bit since then, I still ADORE this movie.
There are always movies I really like, but for various reasons never seem to get the popularity that I think they deserve. John Wick is one of those from 2014 that I’d vote as the year’s best straight ahead action / thriller movie that nobody saw. Keanu Reeves stars and is one of those actors who can’t slip the stigma of lacking acting chops. This movie may change that. He’s a great fit here and turns in a compelling performance as an ex-hit man who’s drawn out retirement for revenge, and in getting it does a fuck-ton of killing bad dudes. Sometimes this genre can get overly tired and clichéd, but the story and pacing here are surprisingly solid and smart, with some inventively choreographed action scenes and kills. At 83% on RT, John Wick is an action film that will surprise you.
Dammit, Jim! I was totally going to choose John Wick, because yeah, that movie fucking rocks. With it already chosen, I’ll opt instead to shine my light on Belle, a film that somehow got lost in the pack in 2014. It’s a shame because Belle is gorgeous film that tells the true-life events of Dido Elizabeth Belle, a mixed race woman who is born the illegitimate daughter of an aristocrat. As she comes of age, Dido finds herself in a unique yet lonely layer of England’s class-conscious society, above slaves and commoners, but never truly accepted by the aristocracy because of the color of her skin. Normally, I’m not a fan of period pieces; stilted performances and unwieldy dialogue are enough to make me roll my eyes and look for something different on Netflix. Belle is a rare gem that finds power and emotion in its dialogue, a feat only enhanced by the stellar performances turned in by Guru Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson, and Emily Watson.