Friday, February 11, 2011

"Good" Movies and the Things People Watch

This post was prompted by the fact that I started to organize my favorite films of the year (an idea I got from Howard Tayler), and found I'd seen movies I knew were good that I just didn't like that much, and movies that had a ton of problems that I still enjoyed. It reminded me that "best" isn't a qualitative term when it comes to movies. It's a subjective matter of personal opinion and that's something that gets forgotten in too many critical and academic circles.

I saw a lot of movies in 2010. I think I averaged almost one every week. So when the Academy Award nominations were announced and I'd only seen three of the Best Picture Nominees it was another example of the disparity between the movies critics consider good and movies people actually go see. And I consider myself a film fan. Sound on Sight seems to have summed up the current Oscar situation pretty nicely.

But I don't think the fact that Hollywood movies are targeted at popular audiences necessarily makes them bad. Sure the storyline of Avatar was incredibly derivative and needed a good rewrite, and Transformers 2 devolved into a mindless blur of action and explosions, but other blockbusters, like this year's Inception and Toy Story 3, are extremely well-made, well-written films. I would point to the first Iron Man and J.J. Abrams Star Trek as examples of blockbusters that didn't receive any critical acclaim but were among the better films released during their years. The new 10 Best Picture nominee field lets the Academy acknowledge some films (because let's face it, they need to do anything they can to make sure people will actually watch) but if they keep not winning, it's probably just going to turn the whole ceremony into a joke.

So this was a long way of me justifying my own opinions, but I thought it needed to be stated before I put my list, which I'll have up in a couple of days. 

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