2016 Calvin Awards: Best Overlooked Film

By David Mumpower

February 24, 2016

Is that really our 'one more thing'?

Many of the best films each year are not box office hits. That’s just the nature of the beast. In order for a film to appeal to the widest audience possible, filmmakers oftentimes make concessions. It’s why so many generic films and their even more predictable sequels wind up in theaters. It’s also why Michael Bay has a career. The people who master the art of selling to the lowest common denominator reap the financial rewards. Meanwhile, the people who stubbornly side with art in the eternal conflict with commerce wind up with box office disappointments. Alternately, their films never even had a chance to succeed.

BOP celebrates the movies that fall into these categories with Best Overlooked Film, one of our staples since the beginning of The Calvins. Previous winners that have later become accepted cinema classics include The Hurt Locker, The Last King of Scotland, Mulholland Drive, Spirited Away, and Shaun of the Dead. Ones we wish people appreciated a bit more include Exit through the Gift Shop, In Bruges, Murderball, and Whale Rider. Come on, folks! We should have earned the benefit of the doubt by now!

This year’s competition was interesting to say the least. A few major releases that disappointed squared off against a couple of films you may not even realize exist. Our staff was, as usual, divided between voting for films that deserved a better fate and films that didn’t receive the attention their overall quality merits. In the end, an ill-fated major studio release overcame an international sensation that struggled domestically and a trio of small-scale releases.


Part of the fallout from the Sony hack was that the media learned that the studio was shaky regarding the prospects of Steve Jobs. Despite featuring an acclaimed Aaron Sorkin script and a dynamic cast, later deposed studio boss Amy Pascal always worried about its prospects. Due to the uncomfortable reminder of the hack, Sony’s new bosses acted the same as the old ones. They never got behind the film, which is unfortunate.

Steve Jobs is a truly great movie. Sorkin didn’t structure the story as a standard biopic. Instead, it covers a few key moments of the Apple co-founder’s life, tethering all of them to seminal Apple product releases. Sure, it sounds odd, and that’s probably why two different Sony regimes never warmed to it. Their miscalculation is frustrating since the acting performances in Steve Jobs are universally fantastic.

The story itself plays out as a de facto sequel (or prequel?) to The Social Network. It’s another tale of an ethically empty tech genius struggling to relate to his co-workers on a human level. And the interaction between Jobs and his illegitimate daughter is as poignant as anything Sorkin has ever written. Based on true events, it reveals how Jobs knew the girl was his yet constantly treated her mother like a liar for saying so. It’s an astounding piece of back story about one of the most famous men of the past century. Steve Jobs is a defiantly inscrutable movie, but it’s also a brilliant one. It’s our choice for Best Overlooked Film of the year.

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