26 August 2008
Overrate This, Buddy
An easy way to start a debate is to make an "overrated" list. It's especially easy when the topic is films. Today's list on the wonderful Web site, The List Universe is "Ten Most Overrated Films."
There is, of course, nothing wrong with compiling such a list but it is disingenuous not to include the criteria. Otherwise, the list is merely a case of the author saying,"Here are some popular movies that I don't like, or don't like as much as most people do." Big deal.
How about some specifics? Like most overrated films to win the Best Picture Oscar? Or most overrated on AFI's top 100 list? Or most overrated box office smashes (that'd be an easy one). Picking ten films from the entire history of movies is much too broad, especially if you're not claiming they have something else in common besides their unmerited rating.
For a site like The List Universe such a list will engage people. Indeed, many of the comments below the list point that out.
Having voiced my objections, I must say that I agree with most of the selections. This may mean that the author and I have similar views on movies. Or it may mean that many of the films on this list have generated what seems an excessive amount of notoriety over the years. That's one reason I wholeheartedly agreed with his selection of Brian DePalma's Scarface (1983). I've always thought it was mediocre film that has developed a cultural status far beyond its artistic merits– especially compared to other far superior gangster films such The Godfather (1972) or Goodfellas (1990).
Titanic (1997) also made the list as well it should. It made far more money and garnered far more awards than it deserved.
Shakespeare in Love (1998) and Chicago (2002) were two more Best Picture winners that made the list. Anytime a mediocre –or merely pretty good –film wins the Oscar it becomes a candidate for an overrated list. But there are far worse injustices than Chicago. Crash (2003) and Million Dollar Baby (2004) are two recent examples.
The one objection I have to The List Universe list is Apocalypse Now (1979) (pictured above) regarded by many people besides myself as one of the greatest films of all time. The author went so far as to call it "a terrible movie." This "terrible" film was 30th on the AFI's top films list, 35th on IMDb, made the BFI's list of greatest films of all time, made Premier Magazine's Centenary List, and is among Roger Ebert's greatest films, etc. etc.
I suppose the point is that if you want to stir it up, compile an overrated list. As you can see, it worked on me.