Thursday, March 24, 2011

Critically Acclaimed?

It has been nearly two years since I joined Netflix, and I must say it has evolved into the best $10 I spend each month.  Without a doubt Netflix hates me, because I am that customer who throws off their business model.  When I receive a disk I usually watch it that evening (clearly I have a busy social life) and then send it back the next day; in other words, Netflix loses a lot of money on me annually (sorry I'm not sorry).  One of the things I have always made an effort to do since becoming a member is to balance my que with new releases and critically acclaimed classics equally.  There are so many award winners and movies listed on the AFI's top film list that I have never seen, and I thought this membership was the perfect opportunity to view these titles. 

Having viewed numerous Oscar films and other classics, I have come away rather disappointed in most of these films that I viewed.  Don't get me wrong, a lot of Oscar winners are amazing and well deserving of the praise they receive, but a lot of the movies I have seen have been mediocre, and some have been down right bad.  I wonder if it is my generation; have film tastes changed so much that what was considered good in 1984 is so different today?  I don't think that is the case, because I love a lot of older films, in fact some of my favorite films are all from a different era.  I believe the real issue at hand is that film critics and academy voters are incredibly out of touch with what is truly good storytelling.  At the end of the day if the movie doesn't tell an interesting story, then it isn't a good movie.  Below is a sample list of the "acclaimed" films I watched:

The Last Emperor:  This 1987 period piece won 9 Oscars including Best Picture.  This movie tells the story of the last Chinese Emperor and  how his life was affected by the political climate of his day.  This movie was long and boring.  I appreciate the effort of trying to show audiences what things were like in this foreign culture during such a turbulent time, but I don't think ti should have won Best Picture because they tackled a difficult subject.  "Fatal Attraction", "Wall Street", and "The Untouchables" were all superior films and should have carried the day in my opinion.

Amadeus:  This 1984 biopic of the famous composer won 8 Oscars including Best Picture.  This movie was more entertaining than "The Last Emperor", but I still found it somewhat weird and erratic.  The performances were moving, but I definitely don't think it was better than some of the year's other releases:  "The Terminator", "Ghostbusters", "Star Trek III", or "Romancing The Stone".  But when I look at the other nominees for Best Picture, its success is much more evident; 1984 was a weak year.

The Searchers:  While not an award winner, this movie is listed 12th on The AFI's 100 Greatest Films List.  For those of you who don't know, this is a western staring John Wayne, and directed by the legendary director John Ford.  I happen to be a fan of westerns, but this movie straight up sucks.  It is too campy and the plot is terrible.  Wayne's movies are all a bit campy, but this takes the cake.  "Mclintock" and "The Alamo" are far superior John Wayne films, but for my money the best westerns were made by Clint Eastwood, such as "The Good The Bad & The Ugly" and "The Outlaw Josey Wales". 

Chinatown:  This 1974 film was nominated for 11 Oscars, and is widely considered one of the greatest noir films of all time.  I was excited to watch this when it arrived, as I like movies set in the 30's in LA ("LA Confidential", "The Black Dahlia", etc).  I liked this movie much better than the three I have listed above, but it was not the classic I was expecting.  For me it was the ending; I thought it ended rather abruptly and the loose ends were tied up too quickly.  Overall this was a good movie, but not a classic.

The English Patient:  This 1996 film won 9 Oscars. This might be one of the most boring movies of all time.  It took me three nights to watch it because I kept falling asleep during it.  I don't want to waste many words talking about this dreadful film, other than by saying that "Primal Fear", "Waiting For Guffman", and "Jerry Maguire" were all 1,000 times better than this bore.

I have watched many other "classics" over the last two years that have helped reiterate my critic-audience disconnect hypothesis.  "A Passage To India", "A Clockwork Orange", "The Year of Living Dangerously" and others all disappointed me in one way or another. 

What award winners/classics left you unimpressed upon first viewing?


  1. While not out on DVD yet, I highly recommend The King's Speech. Will you do another post about movies you DO like? I want some good recommendations for when baby M comes along and we are cooped up in the house. Hope you're feeling well!

  2. Of course Elizabeth, thanks for chiming in! I am interested in seeing that one as well.

  3. It will be difficult to find an Oscar winner that is worse than "Crash". I'm just sayin'...

  4. Great point Clint.. That film guilt-ed its way to Oscar glory. I wanted to slit my wrists after watching that depressing movie

  5. I have a hard time believing Big Trouble in Little China didn't win anything. Is there no justice in this world? Glad to hear the surgery was a success.