15 Overrated Films of 2015 That Are Certified Fresh
2015 was a really bizarre year for film. Just like throughout the history of film, I thought there were a lot of great films released as well as some really bad ones. The big difference for me with 2015 was the amount of films that other critics seemed to praise but I just didn’t see what all the hype was about.
Below are my picks of 15 films released in 2015 that I found to be overrated despite popular opinion. I am going to break this list down into three categories. The first few films are ones that I believe are good but are overrated. The second section of films are ok films but nothing more than that. Lastly, the final group are ones that I honestly believe are way below average and have no idea whatsoever what my colleagues were thinking when watching and then rating them.
Group One: Solid but Overrated
The first few titles on this list are films that I would consider well-made but not ones that I believe deserved the level of hype or attention they are getting or have gotten over this past year. Again, I don’t think the following films are bad but just as this article’s title suggests are overrated. I would probably rate each of these films as a 7 out of 10 on my scale.
15. Spotlight – 97% on Rotten Tomatoes
While I can’t deny that the performances from the ensemble cast including Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, and a handful of others were all stellar; I just wasn’t blown away by the film as a whole. I understand that Spotlight is raw and honest look at the lives of journalists doing their jobs but I just wasn’t interested in this story despite the fascinating subject matter. I didn’t find anything about the film all that shocking either. I think Thomas McCarthy directed a fine film with great actors playing great characters but besides that there was no real hook for me with this one. It very much felt like something that could have been a HBO mini-series rather than an actual feature length film.
14. Sicario – 93% on Rotten Tomatoes
Solid direction from Denis Villeneuve. Amazing cinematography as always from Roger Deakins. A great performance from Benicio Del Toro. An underused and wasted Emily Blunt. A story that was done before so it left me wanting more. I must also admit that I found the vast majority of the film to be slow and not as intriguing as I expected it to be. There was a great opening and a solid ending but everything in-between was very standard fare and didn’t do much to shock or impress me at all.
13. Beasts of No Nation – 91% on Rotten Tomatoes
Beasts of No Nation is the first feature film released by Netflix and I was lucky enough to see it at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. The film tackles the difficult subject matter of children of war rather well but I can’t deny that after a while the film became repetitive and wasn’t nearly as impactful as director Cary Joji Fukunaga hoped it would be. I also don’t think that Idris Elba‘s performance was a standout despite his recent Golden Globe Nomination. I will say though that despite the film lacking the emotional punch I was looking for; it was well shot, directed, and featured one hell of a performance by newcomer Abraham Attah.
12. The Danish Girl – 71% on Rotten Tomatoes
When I saw the trailer for the Danish Girl, I was so damn excited to see the film. Directed by Tom Hooper and starring two of the best young actors working today, Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, I was so excited to see the film at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival. Tom Hooper’s direction along with Danny Cohen stunning cinematography really captures and embraces the 1920s. Eddie and Alicia give it there all with the performances and both performances are stellar. However, the problem with Danish Girl is the fact that it just isn’t really gripping nor is there a real payoff for the viewer. The film struggles to tell an important story but doesn’t leave the audiences with an emotional connection once the film enters the third act. I really wanted to love this film because the story at first seemed so engaging yet as the film went on, I couldn’t help but lose focus and not care about the end result. I will also admit that despite Redmayne revealing everything, I did feel Vikander was more of the standout. I know this has been said by others and I can’t help but 100% agree with the argument.
Group Two: These films are Ok but why such a high rating?
The next set of films on this list are ones that I think are all decent films. My problem with these titles is that I don’t understand how they hold such a high rating. I believe all these films should be at a 40% or 50% on Rotten Tomatoes but somehow are all rated higher than that. Personally, I would rate each of the following films somewhere between a 5 or a 6 out of 10 on my rating system.
11. McFarland, USA – 80% on Rotten Tomatoes
A white football coach played by Kevin Costner moves to McFarland, California and coaches cross-country to a bunch of hispanic kids who don’t believe in themselves. How many times have we seen a story like this? 20 times? 30 times? Probably even more than that. There is nothing about McFarland that stands out among other films like it in the genre of sport films or bio-pics. None of the performances are that noteworthy nor is there anything really unique about the story. Its more of the same and while it isn’t a bad film definitely doesn’t deserve such a high overall score.
10. Trainwreck – 85% on Rotten Tomatoes
The fact that I didn’t hate Trainwreck is still shocking to me. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I despise Amy Schumer as a comedian. While others tell me that I do not “get” modern comedy for the most part, I still don’t understand how critics rated this film so highly. The first half of Trainwreck is nothing more than watching one of Amy Schumer’s standup specials. She makes non-stop sex jokes and is pretty much an asshole during the first half of the film. The second half is when the film redeems itself when Schumer tries to act and tell a story with likable characters that included Brie Larson, Bill Hader, LeBron James, and Colin Quinn instead of doing her standup routine. Also, let me point out that the film is over 2 hours long which is way too long for a comedy film like this. Overall, the film was a lot more enjoyable than I would have ever guessed it would be but really a 85% seems a bit too much to swallow.
9. The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2 – 70% on Rotten Tomatoes
My biggest complaint about Mockingjay is that it should have never been split into two films. The first part of Mockingjay was all buildup and the second half is mostly action with a ending that leaves you wanting more. Outside of Catching Fire, I think the Hunger Games film franchise was always just ok. I never understood the universal appeal of these films even with everyone being so infatuated by Jennifer Lawrence as an actress. I don’t think this franchise is as bad as some of the other teen book series turned into film but they aren’t all that great either. This final chapter is well directed, Lawrence and Hutcherson own their roles, and some action scenes are really intense. Overall, the film is rather lackluster and won’t stand the test of time. I think if anyone talks about Hunger Games in the future, they will always mention Catching Fire as the best in the series.
8. Everest – 73% on Rotten Tomatoes
Beautiful snowy mountains and the story of survival. I can’t say I was too interested in this film after seeing the trailers nor can I admit that I enjoyed the film as a whole. What I will say is that the direction is really great here and really showcases the struggle these men faces to survive. The problem is that I just didn’t care about any of them. I really watched this film and felt nothing. I remember at first I was mesmerized by the scenic shots but quickly after that I tried to care about the story and the characters which didn’t happen. I think the main issue with this film is the fact that it focused on way too many people and didn’t develop any characters enough to make them standout. Also, I feel very bad saying this but the climbers knew what they were getting themselves into so that made it hard for me to truly feel bad for them.
7. The Visit – 64% on Rotten Tomatoes
I think everyone was just so amazed that M.Night made another film that didn’t completely suck that they didn’t realize that The Visit was really average at best. The entire film is shot from the whole shaky cam/home video perspective. Ed Oxenbould who plays Tyler was beyond annoying throughout. The idea here was unique so I will give M. Night that but the acting is subpar to say the least. Also, I didn’t find this film nearly as entertaining as many others lead me to believe it was. The ending, I will say is pretty solid but doesn’t make up for bad some of the performances were or the fact that there isn’t much that happens in-between a creepy scene with the grandparents. I will give M. Night some credit but not nearly as much as some of the other critics out there.
6. Jurassic World – 71% on Rotten Tomatoes
I really struggle with where to put Jurassic World on this list because the more I think about it, the more I really didn’t like it. I grew up with Jurassic Park and had a small obsession with dinosaurs ever since I was a little boy. I went into Jurassic World really leery about the film because while I love dinosaurs and Chris Pratt, I just didn’t know if the franchise had any steam left. While I will say that I loved the dinosaur aspect of the film as well as the action sequences for the most part, I hated almost every human character as well as how stupid the overall storyline was. Again, I like Chris Pratt and I think Brice Dallas Howard is a solid actress but their acting in this film was average at best. The two kids in this film were so bad that I actually wanted them to die and truly believe they should earn a Razzie Award for how bad their performances were. Vincent D’Onofrio is hands down one of the worst movie villains to come out of a big budget studio film in the last 5 or so years. Overall: Dinosaurs: Good, Acting: Bad, Story: Bad, Direction: Ok. Movie Itself: Extremely Disappointing.
Group Three: Seriously, what the hell did I miss?
These are films that truly baffle my mind that they are rated this high. I think the following films are below average and the last one on this list is actually one of the worst films of the year. I understand that everyone’s opinion is different but these ones definitely shock me how different my rating for these films are compare to those who rated it on Rotten Tomatoes.
5. He Named Me Malala – 72% on Rotten Tomatoes
Documentaries can be really interesting and thought-provoking if handled right and talk about an important person and/or subject matter. He Named Me Malala somewhat tells the story of the Taliban’s attack on Malala Yousafzai who after that event became the poster child for girls’ education. Her story is fascinating and inspiring to say the least but this documentary is neither of those things. Davis Guggenheim spends more of his time trying to talk rather than just focus on what makes Malala and her family so interesting which is beyond disappointing. This could have easily been one of the best documentaries of the year but sadly instead it is a painfully boring documentary about a person who is nothing short of remarkable.
4. Pawn Sacrifice – 70% on Rotten Tomatoes
Pawn Sacrifice seemed like it was going to be a great film based on the trailer but that wasn’t the case at least not in my eyes. I found Tobey Maguire‘s performance to be a bit too wooden in certain spots and way too over the top in others. The story itself was about as interesting as watching someone else play a game of chess and wasn’t engaging at all. The film is way too long and almost every character in this film isn’t likable so you have no one to root for. This one was just long, boring, and uninteresting all the way through.
3. The Diary of a Teenage Girl – 94% on Rotten Tomatoes
Maybe its because I am not a female but I really did not like The Diary of a Teenage Girl. Based on a novel written by Phoebe Gloeckner, I understand that this is probably a really personal story and maybe others can relate to this but this didn’t work for me. I remember seeing the film at Sundance after hearing so much hype but wasn’t impressed with the film. I think when the film started to talk about Minnie wanting to sleep with her mom’s boyfriend Monroe, I checked out. I found the film to be a weird sexual journey that I didn’t care or need to be part of. I usually like films that explore sexuality and growing up but this one didn’t work for me. I remember watching Thirteen several years ago and loving how raw and honest it was. The lack of concern about the underage sex with the mothers boyfriend really left me scratching my head and really I felt like I was watching someone becoming a whore rather than an actual woman. Again, this is my two cents, I already know that hundreds of others disagree.
2. Digging for Fire – 64% on Rotten Tomatoes
Oh, Joe Swanberg, how I don’t understand thee. My first film experience with a Swanberg film was Drinking Buddies which I enjoyed because I really loved the cast and felt like everyone had great chemistry. It didn’t have much of a story but it was really nothing more than a group of friends hanging out and drinking and talking about love. With Digging for Fire, Swanberg gets another all-star cast that includes Brie Larson, Jake Johnson, Sam Rockwell, Anna Kendrick, and several others. The problem I had with the film is the same I have with all his films, nothing happens. Its like watching a bunch of people standing around and talking about things like how crappy their life or marriage is throughout the film. Its not interesting, its not funny, and it surely, isn’t interesting. I know Swanberg is part of the whole mumblecore film movement but unlike the Duplass Brothers, his films aren’t enjoyable or the slightest bit entertaining after you experienced one. The first go around it may work but using the same formula over and over again only creates a dull and uninteresting film experience.
1. Pitch Perfect 2 – 65% on Rotten Tomatoes
Alright, I understand and accept that I am in the minority when I say that Pitch Perfect is overrated. I also understand that at the time of its release, Pitch Perfect was the first time most audiences experienced the comedic antics of Rebel Wilson. I personally never liked Wilson nor found her to be the slightest bit amusing. In fact, from the very moment she walked on-screen in the first film, I began to dislike the film and really took away from my overall enjoyment of the original. However, with all that being said, Pitch Perfect 2 is just crap. It’s a terrible film. The musical numbers compared to the first film with maybe the exception of Flash Light are bad. The jokes are even more mean-spirited, racist, and unfunny. The story or lack there of is lackluster and uninteresting. And with all that, Rebel Wilson’s Fat Amy is somehow even more annoying than she was in the first film. I don’t get this franchise nor do I get how anyone can state this is a good film. The first film was at least unique and different even though it was just a mean-spirited big screen version of Ryan Murphy’s Glee. This film is just a rehash of the same jokes with several dull and uninspired storylines tossed in with the hope that someone will actually care. I can pick over at least 50 other films that are rated lower than this film that are better from this year alone.