There will always be a bit of an awkward transistion between the two I think, but I just thought TLOU did a better job than most with it.
The first thing I thought of was the Last of Us when reading this thread. While the gameplay is functional and serves to fill in the fragments between the story, for the most part it just felt like filler. Moving conveniently placed identical rafts, ladders, and planks for the n-th time, not only felt like a waste of time, but in my opinion broke the immersion and took me out of the experience. Having unrealistically many enemies, and kill count just for the sake of providing enough gameplay, didn't add anything to the story either. If they had only one fourth of the enemies they did, the story would have been more believable and hence impactful.
Either way, when a game trys too hard to have a serious story, it usually doesn't mix well with the gameplay, as it still has to be a fun game to play, and it either isn't fun (Heavy Rain) or creates this ludonarrative dissonance (Tomb Raider Reboot).
While I personally love story driven games, I generally end up preffering something like Telltale's games as they don't try to shoe-horn in unnecessary gameplay where it doesn't belong, and focuses on the strong aspects of the storytelling. Alternatively, if the game wants to be fun, don't include overly serious story or there will be the problem of merging the two.
As for the OP. As for downplaying anything by using the word cinematic doesn't make any sense. The word by itself doesn't have much meaning, perhaps it could be said that the game has big set pieces and great visual quality. Neither of which sounds like a bad thing. As much as it is not a very useful term, I could see it applied to Uncharted and that would be a compliment. On the other hand, the phrase "interactive movie", has slightly more negative connotations with it and has been often aimed at Quantic Dreams games, and I've even seen it thrown at Uncharted, and that is a genuine attempt to downplay it's gameplay. But the word cinematic while somewhat meaningless is more of a positive term than a negative one.