The Best Overlooked Movies & Shows of 2010

All the movies here are highly-rated (by both critics and viewers), little-known, and handpicked by our staff.

This list is ordered by most recent good movies, and therefore is not a ranking. Here are the titles considered as the best from the year 2010.

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Stars: Adeel Akhtar, Riz Ahmed, Will Adamsdale
Directed by: Chris Morris

Four Lions is as black and as dark as a movie can ever get, mixing cultural relevancy with humor and ridiculousness. It is insensitive to Islam, insensitive to terrorism and insensitive to the viewer. But it is hilarious.

The director spent three years talking to Imams, terrorism experts and basically everyone. The result? A legit 97 minutes that will dazzle even extremists with its knowledge of Islam and the accuracy of its lines. Needless to say that it will upset quite a few people, but that is always a good sign for black comedy movies, right?

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Stars: Iwan Rheon, Joseph Gilgun, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett

Five delinquents are stuck together in juvenile detention. The kids are bored, and they are all doing their best to be as rude as possible to each other and their supervisor. One afternoon there’s a big storm and they all get struck by lightening. The next day they wake up with the realization that they are not the same people as they were the day before. Each episode follows the perspective from a different character.
This is not your average superhero gang – nor are their powers particularly desirable. In essence the show is about a group of “misfits” trying to make connections and fit in. It’s at times heart warming, at others it will make you cringe. There is some seriously good acting between Iwan Rheon (Game of Thrones) and Antonia Thomas (Love Sick). The plot is very gripping so it will be hard to not watch the whole first season (6 Episodes) in one afternoon.

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Stars: Hanaa Bouchaib, Javier Bardem, Maricel Álvarez
Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Ever wondered how much your life will change when faced with the reality that death is about to come? That’s normal, and not nearly as life-altering as being told you only have a few more moments to live. Because of a terminal illness, Uxbal (Javier Bardem) is driven to this situation and tries to right his wrongs in the wake of modern Barcelona.
This melodrama is supercharged by Bardem’s unearthly performance as the story’s only hero, demonstrating the selfless love of a destroyed and dying father to his children – paired with cinematography unlike any other, this film is exceptionally beautiful. Directed by González Iñárritu’ (Babel, Birdman, The Revenant).

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Stars: Dermot Crowley, Idris Elba, Warren Brown

An 11-time Primetime Emmy nominated BBC series. Two words: Idris Elba. This is his show. He stars as DCI John Luther (watch this show and you’ll never be able to pronounce that without a British accent), an extremely smart, committed yet unpredictable and sometimes violent detective.
The creator and writer, Neil Cross (Doctor Who), has said to be inspired by a mix of Sherlock Holmes and Columbo. The show really succeeds at hitting that right balance. The only difference is that both the crimes portrayed and the context of the show are very modern.
Luther will sometimes play with your mind, entertain you at others, but mostly it will keep you captivated. And without realizing it, it will make you develop an interesting closeness with Elba’s character. The supporting cast, from other police officers to villains, are all terrifically acted. This is British mystery at its very best.

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Stars: Ewan McGregor, Olivia Williams, Pierce Brosnan
Directed by: Roman Polanski

Craving mystery? This is the film for you. A writer (Ewan McGregor) is given the lucrative task of bringing to life the memoirs of Adam Lang, the former British Prime Minister. Lang, now retired in an island in America, was once one of the world’s most influential politicians. When a scandal erupts about him, which reveals details about his approach to the relationship between America and Britain, the ghost writer finds himself in the possession of highly sensitive material and dealing with many interested parties.

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Stars: Emma Roberts, Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis
Directed by: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

Stressed by adolescence, 16-year-old Craig Gilner checks himself into a mental-health clinic. Unfortunately, the youth wing is closed, so he must spend his mandated five-day stay with adults. One of them, Bobby, quickly becomes his mentor — and him his protege, while Craig finds himself drawn to a fellow teen, Noelle, who just may be the cure he needs to forget an unrequited crush. Starring Keir Gilchrist and Zack Galifianakis, It’s kind of a Funny Story is based on a novel of the same name.

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Stars: Monica Bellucci, Rachel Weisz, Vanessa Redgrave
Directed by: Larysa Kondracki

Based on a true story, The Whistleblower is the biography of a once Nebraskan police officer who volunteers for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in post-war Bosnia. Once there, she uncovers a human trafficking scandal involving peacekeeping officials, and finds herself alone against a hostile system in a devastated country. Rachel Weisz plays the whistleblower in a powerful lead role, but the true star of the movie is its director, Larysa Kondracki, who thanks to near documentary-style film-making delivers a perfectly executed political thriller with utmost authenticity.

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Stars: Andrew Garfield, Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley
Directed by: Mark Romanek

A dark and sophisticated slow-burning drama, Never Let Me Go is adapted from the highly acclaimed novel of the same name by Japanese-born British author Kazuo Ishiguro. It stars Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield as boarding school raised teenagers eager to explore the outside world when they learn a secret that will threaten their very existence. Anything more is a spoiler, watch it.

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Stars: Jim Broadbent, Lesley Manville, Ruth Sheen
Directed by: Mike Leigh

This is a very nice movie about a lovely older couple named Tom and Gerri. It follows their lives for an entire year, as they work at their jobs, invite friends over for dinner, and work in their garden. They live modest but fulfilling lives, and they seem mostly happy and very much in love, a rarity in the movies. This probably sounds horribly boring to most people, but since Mike Leigh is the director, the film is instead a touching and realistic portrayal of love and how people spend their time together. We should all be so lucky as to live a life as charmed as the central couple in this film.

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Stars: Anton Yelchin, Kelsey Grammer, Lexi Medrano
Directed by: André Øvredal

Filmed as a “found footage” of a Norwegian college film crew investigating local poachers, this movie really surprised me. To be fair, I didn’t really know what to expect. But I definitely didn’t expect to like this movie as much as I did. The pacing is on point. The suspense hits you at just the right times. There are a few drops of humour trickled throughout to keep a smile on your face. And that’s how my face stayed when the credits rolled.

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Stars: Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall
Directed by: Ben Affleck

A dark and gritty movie about the lives of two of Boston’s finest. This film portrays the hard and unbearing choices the leading man has to make; lose his friends and continue with the only life he ever knew and maybe even end up dead or challenge his predicament and burn every last ship behind him. The amazing and impressive cast delivers an outstanding performance, the characters are all in their own way realistic and have all good reasons to behave like they do. Jeremy Renner is a major force in this movie. In every scene you can feel his strong presence. Renner wiht his chilling, loyal and violent attitude looks like he can explode anytime but he just waits for the right moment to blaze off.

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Stars: John Doman, Michelle Williams, Ryan Gosling
Directed by: Derek Cianfrance

A heart-breaking examination of a decaying shell of a once-bright marriage, this sad and erotic story uses juxtaposition between happy flashbacks and the grim reality of an ordinary and dull life. This film features electrifying performance from Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling, who seamlessly combine tenderness, rage, lust and sadness. This is a guaranteed tear-jerker, so make sure you’ve brought your Kleenexes!

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Stars: Christopher Plummer, Ewan McGregor, Mélanie Laurent
Directed by: Mike Mills

An American romantic comedy, Beginners is told through a series of flashbacks telling the story of Oliver and his complicated and difficult relationship with his father. The film is gorgeously heartbreaking, demonstrating how hurtful we are to those we love, while showing the ties of mutual need that bind people. In the way it also takes on the process of finding one’s happiness, through the character’s eyes and his father’s, what that process has in common for both, and how one is inspired from the other. Beginners is lovely, funny, interesting, and above all very enjoyable.

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Stars: Garret Dillahunt, Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes
Directed by: Debra Granik

A young girl is looking for her father while struggling to care for her family. The film is bleak and slow but great performances from the cast, especially the lead, will keep your engaged throughout. The story has a very real, raw and natural feeling to it, so natural in fact, that at times you will forget it is a movie. And in many ways, it feels that Winter’s Bone is to Jennifer Lawrence what The Believer was to Ryan Gosling, as her performance is nothing short of perfect.

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Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, JJ Feild, Tom Burke
Directed by: Hattie Dalton

A comedy (!) that follows James (Benedict Cumberbatch) a man terminal cancer who knows that he doesn’t have long to live, so he goes on a journey with his closest friends, Bill (Adam Robertson), Davy (Tom Burke) and Miles (JJ Field), to Barafundle Bay in Wales. The journey itself is funny and the characters have many issues to sort out, some lighter than others, but the film is by no means completely lighthearted, so if you aren’t prepared for some tears with your laughter, maybe look elsewhere!

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Stars: Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo
Directed by: Lisa Cholodenko

Sit back, relax, and wait for the feels. With amazing performances from the ensemble cast including Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo and Annette Bening, as well as excellent directing; The Kids Are Alright is a highly realistic yet entertaining take on family, growing up, and witnessing children grow up. Two kids meet the sperm donor who enabled their parents to have them, and develop a relationship with him. This confuses everyone as to how it redefines their status, from the parents who add a major issue to their already delicate relationship, to the laid-back and lovingly goofy sperm donor (portrayed perfectly by Ruffalo). The Kids Are Alright is beautifully emotional, funny, and just overall a pleasant watch. Nominated to four Oscars and winner of two Golden Globes.