7. Warrior

Director: Gavin O’Connor
Stars: Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo, Kevin Dunn

Warrior’s dismal box office performance is one of the year’s biggest “Y’all fucked up” indictments of moviegoers nationwide. The ingredients for a profitable run were all there: the tried-and-true underdog sports formula, the hugely popular MMA fighting angle, and commercials and trailers that sold it as this year’s The Fighter. Had Warrior starred a name of Mark Wahlberg’s status, director Gavin O’Connor might be active in the current awards season frenzy, but, alas, he’s left to entertain the late praise of sleepers now waking up to the film’s greatness on DVD and Blu-ray.

Well, better late than never. With a plot that’s admittedly clichéd (two estranged brothers square off against each other at home and in the ring), Warrior looks and feels like every other movie of its kind, but very few flicks of this type benefit from a trio of dynamite acting jobs. As the pugilistic siblings, Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton are outstanding, as is Nick Nolte, who plays their formerly abusive, recovering alcoholic father who’s desperate for another chance.

Warrior is a testament to how stellar acting and empathetic characters can uplift even the most familiar of stories into rousing, emotionally rich filmmaking.