2010 Calvin Awards: Best Overlooked Film

February 10, 2010

This is me on Halo more often than I'd like to admit.

Each year, we celebrate the irony of a site focused upon box office being comprised of staff members who love movies that fail to earn as paltry an amount as $25 million domestically. In fact, we have had a longstanding discussion about lowering the cut-off point for overlooked films, because a few rare but significant films stir up quite a bit of buzz without ever performing notably at the box office. To wit, prior winners in this category include Mulholland Drive, Hot Fuzz, The Last King of Scotland, and Shaun of the Dead. You can strike up a conversation about any of those titles and the other person will have an idea what they're about. Last year's winner, In Bruges, joins Spirited Away, Murderball and Whale Rider in the group of less heralded films that deserved a better fate, meaning that 50% of the winners in this category wound up gaining more acclaim after their theatrical runs. And we're pretty sure that this year's winner is going to fall into that category rather than being a title like Whale Rider that we have to beg readers to watch.


Our choice for Best Overlooked Film of the year is The Hurt Locker. As I said above, the rules for this category are that in order for a title to be eligible, it has to earn less than $25 million domestically and Kathryn Bigelow's masterpiece currently sits at almost exactly half of that mark, $12.6 million. The problem facing our voters is that as awards season has unfolded, it's gone from being virtually unknown to being a co-favorite in the Best Picture and Best Director categories alongside Avatar, a film that has made, oh, about $2 billion more worldwide. Under the rules of the category, The Hurt Locker absolutely qualifies, but our staff realizes that calling it an overlooked film at this point is pushing the term's usage to its logical extreme. Perhaps this is why the balloting was closer than first anticipated. As we moved closer to the deadline, the voting total for The Hurt Locker actually declined (!) somewhat as people reconsidered whether the spirit of the rule was being violated even if the letter of the law was not. Even so, we obviously have no problem saying that The Hurt Locker is a cinematic masterpiece and a one of a kind viewing experience. As I have told friends, it takes the final climactic events of United 93 and manages to evoke that sort of tension for the entire length of the film save for one dull moment in a grocery store. And that dialing down of the adrenaline is an intentional usage of a change-up to demonstrate how the primary character faces trauma every other moment of his life. The Hurt Locker is quite possibly the most intense movie viewing experience of the 2000s and across the board triumph in movie making. We highly recommend it, even if we realize our terminology is shaky when we state that it is the Best Overlooked Film of the year.

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