It featured Jack Black as a murderous mortician, Matthew McConaughey as a straight-talking lawyer and a whole lot of amusing small-town locals. And though "Bernie" did decently enough at the box office — it hung in there for 21 weeks and $9 million — the film deserved a lot more recognition than it received, according to our survey of readers.
Richard Linklater’s fact-based homage to his native Texas is the winner of The Times' annual most under-appreciated film poll, drawing more than 31% of the overall vote. The film sought to both capture and subvert the quirks of a colorful insular place, and readers thought it did this in spades.
Asked about the movie at a New York awards event this fall, Black said he enjoyed getting back to an indie place. “It’s a lot more rewarding,” he said, noting the feverish work pace. “There’s not much trailer time on a movie like ‘Bernie.’ ”
Coming in second in the poll was “Cloud Atlas,” the history-jumping adaptation of David Mitchell's novel. The film landed 23% of the survey vote (we'll see shortly how many readers thought it was the most overrated movie of 2012; if nothing else, "Cloud Atlas" was the most polarizing movie of the year"). Honorable mention in the under-appreciated category goes to hard-boiled cop movie “End of Watch,” which landed 14% of the vote.
“Bernie” joins an eclectic group of movies. Like past winners of the underappreciated poll, “Bernie,” a black comedy dramatization that mixes in some documentary conventions, is an idiosyncratic film that falls enjoyably between genres. The lies-we-tell-ourselves, Nazi-hunting tale of “The Debt” earned the honor last year, while the coming-of-age vampire movie “Let Me In” won the year before.
Linklater is poised for more love. “Before Midnight,” his third installment in the will-they-or-won’t-they romance of Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in a few weeks. Here's hoping for more appreciation of deserving movies in ’13.
Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT
PHOTOS: Memorable red carpet moments
VIDEO: Go behind the scenes with the awards contenders
THE ENVELOPE: Awards insider