Though we as moviegoers might think we can spot a dud project coming from a mile away, it's always fun when a film the collective world has written off pre-release actually ends up being shockingly good.
Whether due to poor marketing or the underwhelming track records of the talent involved, these films didn't move the needle at all with audiences en masse - that is, until bewilderingly positive reviews came out and they got to see them for themselves.
Are these 10 pleasantly surprising movies from the past year a testament to the power of low expectations? Perhaps, but that's also a little unfair to the talented filmmakers and actors who evidently went above and beyond to ensure these films all punched well above their weight.
From seemingly low-rent genre films which delivered a damn fun time, to almost hilariously robust entries to long-in-the-tooth franchises, seemingly stodgy video game adaptations, naff corporate biopics, and everything in-between, these movies all turned out so much better than anyone expected.
The lesson here? No matter how bad a movie might look, there's always the possibility it's actually a low-key banger...
Look, it's a movie called Plane starring Gerard Butler and the bloke from Luke Cage (Mike Colter) with the trailer giving off distinct "this should've been a streaming film" vibes. How good could it possibly be?
Yet as much as Plane was a meme long before it came out - largely due to its comically unimaginative title - the end product is precisely the sort of modest, meat-and-potatoes genre film we desperately need more of these days.
Indeed, nobody's going to see a movie called Plane for a nuanced meditation on the human condition, but this gamy action-thriller benefits considerably from the entertaining two-hander between Butler and Colter, its snappy pace, and slew of tense, well-staged set-pieces.
If "Dad Thrillers" tend to be a point of mockery for both critics and audiences, Plane proved that when the ingredients are all there - a fun high-concept, well-matched leads, and loony action - they can be unpretentiously joyous.
That it ended up receiving better reviews than many of the year's most anticipated blockbusters - Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, The Flash, The Marvels, and Wish, to name just a few - is absolutely shocking in the best way.