2012 Calvin Awards: Best Overlooked Film
By Tom Houseman
February 15, 2012
We here at BOP are not content to be merely the purveyors and reporters of the shlock that those troglodytes and philistines who call themselves “filmgoers” deem quality cinema. We are always hungry for the chance to promote films that did not get the attention of the masses, but that those of us who took the time to go out and see recognized as some of the best, or at least the most entertaining, films of the year. That is why, when we created the Calvin Awards many moons ago, we decided to dedicate one category just to those films that made less than $25 million during their theatrical release, or what Mitt Romney would call “pocket change.”
Besides not getting nearly as much attention as they should have, what do all of the recent winners of our Best Overlooked film have? They're all about men. And pretty manly men at that. In recent years we have awarded films about vigilante street artists, bomb defusers, cops, hit men, and violent dictators. You have to go back to 2004's Whale Rider to find a film with a female protagonist taking the top spot in this category. And the trend continues this year, as BOP's pick for the best overlooked film of the year is Gavin O'Connor's Warrior, a drama about two brothers competing in a UFC tournament.
There were high hopes for Warrior, which was expected to open north of $10 million, and received rave reviews. But when Curt David put the film in third on his This Weekend, Watch This column behind Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star (I hope you're happy, Curt), you might as well have dumped every print of the film into a pit. Warrior opened to less than $6 million and never caught on with audiences, finishing with just over $13 million at the domestic box office as BOP watched on and wept... I mean, we had something in our eyes.
Oh, who are we kidding, Warrior is a practically perfect inspirational sports movie, featuring a trio of superb performances. Tom Hardy, of course, stole the show, and gave a brilliant performance as dark, brooding fighter Tommy Conlon. As family man Brendan Conlon Joel Edgerton didn't have as much scenery to chew, but was memorable as the more stable, sensible brother. And Nick Nolte, as the emotional recovering alcoholic father, was extraordinary, richly deserving the Oscar nomination he received. Warrior is proof, the same way that Remember the Titans and The Fighter were, that when you have a strong concept for a sports movie, and you get great actors to be in it, you can't go wrong.
Finishing a very distant second is another film about guys overcoming adversity, only these guys are much younger and killing aliens. While audiences wasted their time on Transformers 3 and Cowboys and Aliens, the BOP staff snuck off to watch Attack the Block, Joe Cornish's delightful twist on the alien invasion genre. Edgar Wright had his hand in this film, so it's no surprise that we loved it, considering Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead have both been voted Best Overlooked Film of years past. This small but electric sci-fi film is the perfect mix of action and comedy, and features a thoroughly endearing group of English teens and preteens living in London's inner city dealing with a sudden alien invasion. Sadly, Americans didn't notice, as Attack the Block barely broke the million dollar mark at the domestic box office.