5 Most Underrated Movies of 2013

The Washington D.C. snipers' story and a found footage sci-fi thriller are among our picks. Check out what other films should have done better at the box office.

As I mentioned in my Overrated Movies of 2013 piece, I have decided to switch up my usual format of posting my Top 10, Overrated and Underrated movies of the year in one big story. Instead, I'm breaking each category into its own story, with today's piece focusing on my picks for the Most Underrated/Underseen movies of the year. These five films (and one honorable mention) all made under $200,000 at the box office, though many of them also debuted on VOD formats before and/or during their theatrical runs. However, VOD sales data is hardly ever released to the general public, so it isn't known how well these films fared in that format. Still, these indie gems represented quality far greater than several films with enormous budgets, and even though they may not have raked in the big bucks, they're well worthy of being recognized for their greatness. Also, in case you're curious, you can Click Here! to check out the full list of every 2013 release I have seen this year. So, without further ado, here are my picks for most underrated, along with one honorable mention that didn't even make it into theaters.

1Europa Report - $125,687 U.S. Box Office Gross

Europa Report

When I first saw the trailer for Europa Report, I didn't pay it much attention, because it seemed like they just pilfered the District 9 documentary/found footage format and used it for an outer space thriller. However, I kept hearing really good things about it, and gave it a shot on VOD this summer. I'm very glad that I did, because it is a brilliant film, crafted in a way where you just can't look away from the screen, not even for a millisecond, because you never know what little tidbit you may miss. Christian Camargo, Embeth Davidtz, Anamaria Marinca, Michael Nyqvist, Daniel Wu, Sharlto Copley and Karolina Wydra deliver compelling and authentic performances as astronauts engaged on a long-term mission to find life on Jupiter's fourth largest moon, as they discover something much more horrifying. While I really loved watching the film at home, even I was disappointed that I didn't check this out on the big screen, and if you haven't seen this yet, I highly recommend it.

2Blue Caprice - $92,336 U.S. Box Office Gross

Blue Caprice Photo

After debuting at Sundance, IFC Films picked up this riveting debut from director Alexandre Moors and gave it a platform theatrical release along with its VOD rollout. Unlike Europa Report, I was instantly drawn to this drama based on the true story of the Washington D.C. snipers John Allen Muhammad (Isaiah Washington) and Lee Malvo (Tequan Richmond), whose 2002 shootings terrified Beltway residents. Joey Lauren Adams, Tim Blake Nelson and Leo Fitzpatrick round out a diverse cast, but Isaiah Washington and Tequan Richmond deliver performances of a lifetime as this troubled duo who killed 14 random people during a 20-day stretch before their arrest. It's a chilling look inside a brief but terrifying time in our recent history, which also offers our first look at an immensely talented filmmaker I'll surely be keeping an eye on from now on.

3Maniac - $26,826 U.S. Box Office Gross

Maniac }

You have to respect an actor like Elijah Wood, who has essentially made a career out of playing incredibly genial characters, for going far against type by inhabiting the deranged killer Frank in this remake of William Lustig's 1980 horror classic. Elijah Wood shows off the sinister side of his amazing range by taking on this role of a mannequin store owner who prowls the streets of present-day L.A. at night, looking for the most perfect female scalps to add to his collection, a bloody quest that becomes complicated when Frank befriends a young artist (Nora Arnezeder) seeking help for a new exhibit. Director Franck Khalfoun (P2) and writers Alexandre Aja and Grégory Levasseur (High Tension) brilliantly update this gory classic in one of the best horror films of the year, that went sadly unnoticed at the box office this summer.

4I Declare War - $14,928 U.S. Box Office Gross

I Declare War

An innocent game of Capture the Flag has never been more compelling and entertaining than in Jason Lapeyre and Robert Wilson's imaginative "war" drama I Declare War. With just the power of imagination, sticks become machine guns and water balloons transform into grenades when a group of kids head off into the wilderness to defend their respective turfs, with an elaborate set of rules for this game that some kids take more serious than others. The filmmakers brilliantly alternate between these kids' mentality (where they're holding real guns instead of sticks) to their actual reality, as the game begins to spiral out of control in fascinating ways. The young cast, lead wonderfully by Gage Munroe and Michael Friend as battlefield enemies, turn in remarkably captivating performances for actors their age, and this is well worth seeking out, especially if you played any similar "war games" as a child.

5Best Man Down - $1,938 U.S. Box Office Gross

Best Man Down

I wish that paltry box office tally was a typo, but, sadly, it's not, even though it deserves so much more. Ted Koland makes his feature directorial debut with this fantastic indie comedy, which follows newlyweds (Justin Long and Jess Weixler) who discover that their best man (Tyler Labine) unexpectedly passed away the night of their wedding. They reluctantly put their honeymoon plans on hold to deal with the funeral arrangements for their late friend, learning that there was much more too this gregarious man than just his hard-partying lifestyle. It's an incredibly sweet film about the things one finds when looking past our own judgments and pre-conceived notions about a person. I'm not sure why Magnolia chose to only open this comedy in three theaters over two weekends, but hopefully it finds a better life on VOD, Blu-ray and DVD, because that's exactly what it deserves.

Honorable Mention - Magic, Magic

Magic Magic

While I try to discover as many films as I can on my own, I'm often exposed to certain movies because of interviews assigned to me. While I had vaguely heard of Magic, Magic before, I didn't known much about it until I popped it into my Blu-ray player to prepare for interviews with writer-director Sebastián Silva (Click Here!) and star Michael Cera (Click Here!). To be honest, it took me awhile to realize exactly what Sebastián Silva was doing with this story about a young American woman (Juno Temple) stuck in Chile with her cousin's strange friends (Michael Cera, Catalina Sandino Moreno and Agustín Silva), but if you can read between the lines, this is one hell of a film, filled to the brim with amazing performances and a story that always keeps the viewer on his or her toes.

That about wraps it up for my Most Underrated Movies of 2013. Stay tuned for my Top 10 later this week, as we bid adieu to the glorious cinematic year that was 2013. If you agree or disagree with my picks, let your voice be heard by hitting me up on Twitter (@GallagherMW).



Sources: Brian Gallagher

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Comments (20)

  1. Brian Gallagher

    @undeadslayer4 They have been released to the public, just usually in limited theatrical release. In fact, i watched all of these on VOD, so they are available, but the theatrical release is very very small.

    9 months agoby @gallagherFlag

  2. undeadslayer4

    @gallagher so if some of these movies have never been released to the public than whats the point of making them then

    9 months agoby @undeadslayer4Flag

  3. Dominique Bell

    I put DISCONNECT on this list as well

    9 months agoby @Dominique-BellFlag

  4. Brian Gallagher

    @2movieguys Now You See me made $350 million worldwide, which doesn't exactly scream "underrated" to me.

    10 months agoby @gallagherFlag

  5. CelluloidDreams

    I would add: " "Now You See Me".....You're Next"...and "Pain & Gain" to the list!.

    10 months agoby @2movieguysFlag

  6. renodc

    We live in a world where consumers are driven entirely by marketing which is unfortunate because many really good products and services (in this case films) get looked over. It's the old saying don't just a book by it's cover but that's the opposite of most people do. They only judge a book by it's cover.

    10 months agoby @renodcFlag

  7. ed_wood

    I've seen Europa Report, Blue Caprice and I Declare War. Europa was my favorite but the acting in Blue Caprice was really good.

    10 months agoby @ed-woodFlag

  8. Ghostman

    @gallagher I did know about Europa Report though, just never saw it because it reminded me too much of Apollo 18; the others on list, I was not aware of. But seeing how well recieved they are, I'll check them out when I get a chance to :)

    10 months agoby @ghostmanFlag

  9. Bawnian©-Dexeus

    Or the hipster list, or the list that only people like us are aware of.

    10 months agoby @bawnian-dexeusFlag

  10. Mr.K

    Interesting choices you made here. Might check them out.

    10 months agoby @mr-kFlag

  11. skywise

    @gallagher Excellent list. I have not seen Magic Magic yet but agree 100% with the rest of this list. JUST got around to Europa Report myself and like you was glad that I did. One of the best Sci-Fi movies in a while (with believable science fiction).

    10 months agoby @skywiseFlag

  12. Brian Gallagher

    @brady1138 It was released in U.S. theaters in 2013, so that makes it a 2013 movie to me. I liked Escape From Tomorrow, but not nearly as much as the films on this list.

    10 months agoby @gallagherFlag

  13. LuxoIII

    Maniac was technically a 2012 movie, but it's still a good entry on the underrated list. Escape From Tomorrow should be on this list as well.

    10 months agoby @brady1138Flag

  14. cvnt$top

    Blue Caprice was great. As was Maniac, ill watch the rest soon.

    10 months agoby @cvntstopFlag

  15. mindless232

    I've seen magic magic and maniac. Both were terrible. Won't be watching any of the others suggested.

    10 months agoby @mindless232Flag

  16. Brian Gallagher

    @ed-wood Thank you, sir. What have you seen out of these?

    10 months agoby @gallagherFlag

  17. ed_wood

    Good list, I've actually seen three of them.

    10 months agoby @ed-woodFlag

  18. Brian Gallagher

    @ghostman If you've never heard of them, then you're only proving my point more. These are great films that no one has seen but deserve a shot.

    10 months agoby @gallagherFlag

  19. dess

    @ghostman ROFL right on the nail.

    10 months agoby @dessFlag

  20. Ghostman

    Or "5 Movies You Never Heard Of."

    10 months agoby @ghostmanFlag