The 5 Most Overlooked Films of Winter Break

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Published January 28, 2016
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The Montclarion
Photo courtesy of David Holt (Flickr)

Over our month-long winter break, the world was taken by storm, with box office smashes Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Revenant seeing releases in December and January, respectively. Even though the entertainment industry was mainly focused on the record breaking success of Star Wars, there were a total of 16 movies released while we were at home celebrating the holidays. What happened to the other 14 movies? Some have been mentioned more in the last two weeks, since the Academy Award nominations were released, but most have been forgotten by the general public. This article is dedicated to the five most overlooked movies that were released this winter.

5. The Danish Girl was a hotly anticipated independent film being released just in time for the awards season nominations. Featuring last year’s Best Actor Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne as the lead, The Danish Girl tells the story of painter Lili Elbe, who was one of the first people to have gender reassignment surgery in the 1920s. The film is directed by Academy Award winning director Tom Hooper. With 63 total awards nominations, The Danish Girl seemed like it had a lot of attention. Unfortunately, the awareness of the film has not translated with audiences. It has only grossed $9.7 million at the domestic box office so far and is only playing in less than 800 theaters. (Take into consideration that Star Wars is currently playing in just shy of 3,400 theaters.) This under-performance is a little strange considering how much award attention the film has garnered. As the awards season progresses, it will be interesting to see if The Danish Girl will fare any better.

4. The Hateful Eight is director/writer Quentin Tarantino’s latest out-of-the-box film. Tarantino is known for his artsy, comedic and gore-infused films that leave some wondering what they just watched and others beyond satisfied. His films are an acquired taste and are not for the queasy. The Hateful Eight is not exactly a success, considering that it only grossed half as much as Tarantino’s previous film, Django Unchained, in its opening weekend.

The film is overlooked for a few reasons. First, it has widely been left out of the award nominations. Tarantino has been left off the list for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay in many of the major awards shows. The film has been consistently nominated for Best Score and Best Supporting Actress for Jennifer Jason Leigh’s performance, which are both well-earned nominations and the two highlights of the film.

Second, The Hateful Eight opened with six other Christmas Day releases. It is hard to get a lot of attention when the market is already very saturated.

Third, the spaghetti western is not a film genre that most people enjoy. Tarantino does make great movies within this genre, but this one was not as good as his previous movies, which is the last reason this film was overlooked. With a boring first half and minimal story and character development, The Hateful Eight will not blow you away. This niche film had a wide marketing campaign, but could not hold its own at the box office.

3. Concussion should have been a better Christmas Day release contender. This film tells the true story of how Dr. Bennet Omalu discovered the deadly brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE was discovered in 2002 in the brain of former NFL fan-favorite Mike Webster of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Concussion centers around the discovery of the football-related disease, the NFL’s denial of it and Omalu trying to tell the world that concussive hits are dangerous.

Will Smith gave his best performance of his career as Omalu and certainly deserved to be nominated for an Academy Award. It is a shame that he is not being honored for bringing a story of this magnitude to the big screen. The worst part is that the NFL tried to shut the movie down, which was released in the documents from the Sony hack. The NFL did not want to look bad for their years in denial of this serious brain disease. They used their power to shut down most of the discussion about this film.

Concussion is a great film and should be watched by all parents before letting their children walk onto any sports field. CTE is a very serious issue that not many people are aware of.

The NFL’s holiday wish came true as Concussion has only made $33 million domestically, which is only $5 million more than the train wreck that is the Point Break remake.

2. Sisters is the most overlooked comedy that was released over break. Unfortunately for Sisters, it was released on the same day as Star Wars. With all the focus averted elsewhere, the winter’s funniest film has had success that has gone unnoticed. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s R-rated comedy has grossed a pretty decent $85.8 million at the domestic box office so far. Fey and Poehler bring tons of laughs throughout the whole raunchy film. If you enjoy either actress or Saturday Night Live-esque humor, then Sisters is the comedy for you. Sisters was also overshadowed by the following week’s release of Daddy’s Home, starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. Daddy’s Home proved to be a weaker comedy, with all the good parts being shown ahead of time in the trailers. Sisters is a very entertaining film and a good alternative to the more serious films that are currently showing.

1. 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is the most overlooked movie of the winter. The Michael Bay film snuck into theaters on Jan. 15. The film depicts the true events of the 2012 terrorist attack that left a United States ambassador dead in the Libyan embassy. Many will remember this event as the scandal that now-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton allegedly covered up. Bay has said that 13 Hours has no political implications in multiple interviews, but why would this film have been made and released in 2016 if it was not meant to affect the political horizon? The title directly tells the audience that the secrets of the attack on Benghazi are the focus of the film, making it hard to believe Bay’s previous interviews. With a film that could potentially have an impact on the upcoming presidential election, one would think that this film would spark up a big conversation, whether the politics are a prime focus of the film or not. However, there is very minimal conversation about this film. There are not too many articles being posted about it and the film has not had a large social media presence. This is baffling because of the topic. Military movies have done well at the box office recently thanks to the success of Lone Survivor and American Sniper. With 13 Hours only bringing in $32.7 million in its first two full weeks, it is the most overlooked film of the winter. This movie should be grossing more and have more of an impact in the news.

All in all, this winter has had some incredible films released. It is too bad that not all the great films will get the attention they deserve due to the overshadowing of larger releases. The five most overlooked movies of the winter should not have been on this list and are all worth seeing.

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