Where have all the good movies gone this year?
I know, I know - I'm sure "Hugo" is magical, "War Horse" is heartwarming and "The Artist" is a beautiful picture. But I find it appalling that the Academy has the nerve to nominate nine best pictures when there's been an overwhelming absence of good movies lately.
For the past few years, to me at least, Hollywood has not really produced anything on a consistent basis worth going to see in theaters. Instead, Redboxes are filled with tween fairy tales and pointless sequels, of which the originals weren’t that good in the first place.
There's been the occasional great film, such as "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and "Harry Potter," but neither of these were nominated for the big prize of the night this year.
The best movie of 2011 may have been "Win Win," this year's "Juno" and "Little Miss Sunshine." I guess Oscar is getting tired of honoring independent underdogs. Maybe we're just between film school generations, as it wasn’t too long ago that celebrating a year’s worth of movie achievements wasn’t a pure marketing platform.
The 62nd Oscars awarded "Driving Miss Daisy" as the best picture alongside nominees as stellar as "Field of Dreams," "Dead Poet’s Society," "My Left Foot" and "Born on the 4th of July." The category was so deep that classics like "Glory" and "Do the Right Thing" were left out.
At the 63rd Oscars, "Goodfellas" and "Ghost" lost to a true American epic, "Dances With Wolves." And of course, "Forrest Gump’s" box of chocolates and classic rock soundtrack upstaged "Pulp Fiction" and "The Shawshank Redemption." These were real contests.
To end this tirade, I humbly present the most awful list of overrated, over-hyped Oscar winners that I could think of, and the films that they snubbed in the process.
On this Oscars eve, let this list of (not-so-great) best pictures serve as a simple reminder of what happens when we begin to lower our standards. There’s no time limit to tell us what you think, so please take your time.
In the immortal words of Siskel and Ebert, "we'll see you at the movies." We can only hope!
1. "The English Patient" (69th Academy Awards) – This film is horribly boring, and I’d be stunned to learn that anyone has watched this twice, and if they did, they wasted their time twice. "Fargo," "Jerry Maguire" and "Shine" were far more deserving.
2. "Shakespeare in Love" (71st Academy Awards) – Another Spielberg snub in a long list of snubbing. "Saving Private Ryan" was the obvious choice for top honors that night. "Shakespeare in Love" is entirely forgettable as far as I’m concerned, and I’m still not sure how Ben Affleck managed to show up in scene after scene with a quasi-British accent.
3. "Chariots of Fire" (54th Academy Awards) – Yes, the film’s score and opening credits are iconic, and the film’s theme music is in my workout playlist. That being said, it’s the most boring sports movie ever made. Moreover, the fact that it somehow beat "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is reason enough to earn it this dubious honor.
4. "Ordinary People" (53rd Academy Awards) – This film about troubled youth and the trials and tribulations of an upper-middle class suburban family is worth watching if you’re interested in serious dramas of the early '80s, and are a fan of Judd Hirsch. However, it’s really no more than an after-school special with the addition of some profanity. How or why it managed to win best picture when "Raging Bull" was its competition will forever be a mystery.
5. "Crash" (78th Academy Awards) – I know this pick will be controversial because for every person I’ve ever spoken to about this film, the opinions vary. The film’s importance for furthering our discussion of American race relations is without question; however, "Do The Right Thing," "Boyz in the Hood," "Menace II Society" and other classics have accomplished the same goal, and with more style and originality. "Crash" seemed over the top, and forgot that a cohesive plot is necessary to drive a narrative forward.
Almost Not Worth (Honorably) Mentioning:
"Unforgiven" (65th Academy Awards) – Clint Eastwood got the Academy’s attention but his anti-hero Western seemed more about revising the Western genre than it did about entertaining audiences. "A Few Good Men" was the better film about good vs. evil that year and "Scent of a Woman" was also better than two hours of Eastwood’s dismantling of Hollywood’s mythic frontier.
"A Beautiful Mind" (74th Academy Awards) – Yes, he saw the world differently than the rest of us, but this story about a dysfunctional genius wasn’t anything that "Shine" or "Good Will Hunting" hadn’t already covered in previous years. "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" was by far the best picture of the year. The Academy must have chosen to recognize Ron Howard’s cumulative career by awarding his film the top prize but was in no way his best work.
"The Last Emperor" (60th Academy Awards) – Bernardo Bertolucci’s epic about China’s transition into Communism overcame "Broadcast News," "Fatal Attraction," "Hope and Glory" and "Moonstruck." "Wall Street" didn’t even make the cut for best picture that year. Instead, we were forced to wonder what that little Chinese kid did to lose all his power.
Caiha, that would make you racist.
time too go–i don't want too hang out with a dud blogger who needs 24 hour attention....
Interesting stuff :) I just wrote my round up of the most overrated movies of 2012 if ye fancy a read...
This analysis is bang on correct. The English Patient, Chariots of Fire...don't get me started on those snoozers. No one needs Ambien. Just spend a few moments with those flicks, curl up with your blankie, and you are out like a light. A Beautiful Mind was trite at best. Crash... it was written and directed by a white man, Paul Haggis. And it starred a beloved American white woman, Sandra Bullock. This is why the more provocative, compelling, dynamically acted, and award worthy films addressing the topic of race relations, such as Do The Right Thing (and many other Spike Lee fiilms), Boyz in the Hood, The Color Purple, etc, list goes on and on, didn't receive the same Academy awards. I guess the Academy thinks that white people tell the story of race in a more Artistic manner. That's also why they liked The Help. White woman saves the day. White man wrote the screenplay. Has a predominately black casted, black directed and/or written film ever won for best picture? The answer is no. The Academy blows stink greater than a morbidly obese person who eats a pound of Taco Bell bean burritos, 5 Big Macs, and a bushel of broccoli and cabbage. It's all about the dollar and who has brown lips after negotiating The Deal. Looks like Harvey Weinstein's funding of The Artist payed off for a similar reason. All gimmick, lots of kitsch, no substance, no remarkable talent. That's usually who wins The Award. Midnight in Paris couldn't win the Oscar, because Woody Allen outwardly snubs The Academy and is busy doing real movies. When Annie Hall won best pic, he didn't show, and was out in a jazz club playing sax. He has the right idea. What The Academy says does not matter at all. It does not define the art of film.
Another racially biased post. Theme: The poor black man is once again kept down by the white demon. And, by the way, your oppressed-by-the-whites film, THE COLOR PURPLE was directed by one of the most celebrated white directors in the history of cinema. And of course the Academy matters; if it didn't, a BILLION people around the world wouldn't watch it. But, in the end, it's all about peoples' opinions. Finally, your God of Directors, Spike Lee, or at least the Spike Lee of the last fifteen years, is a total sell-out. Just check out his IMDB page.
WOW....I like Speilberg a great deal, but Schindler's LIst & Saving Private Ryan were the only ones that deserved Best Picture (except for the fact that "The Thin Red Line" was a better film than Ryan)
As for overrated winners, the fact that "The King's Speech" was not mentioned is a glaring omission. In addition to proving, AGAIN, how out of touch the Academy is, it shows a lack of informed foresight. "Inception" & "The Social Network" were much more relevant, powerful examples of the current state of great filmmaking.
The academy is scared of those things that are different, or dark, or comedic, their choices are always so safe and do not further the craft of filmmaking as they should.
1) 1940: "Citizen Kane" losing to "How Green Was My Valley"
2) 2002: "Chicago" losing to all the other nominees
3) 1994: "Pulp Fiction" losing to "Forrest Gump"
4) 1980: "Raging Bull" losing to "Ordinary People" ** I agree with you on this one
5) 1990: "Good Fellas" losing to "Dances with Wolves"
I know you make note of some of these in your article, but the 5 above & below are FAR worse travesties, than the 5 choices you made. In fact, "Chariots of Fire", "The English Patient" & none of your honorable mentions should even be mentioned.
As for runner-ups:
2010: "King's Speech" over "Inception"
2009: "The Hurt Locker" over "Up in the Air"
2000: "Gladiator" over "Traffic"
1998: "Shakespeare in Love" over "The Thin Red Line"
1988: "Rain Man" over "Dangerous Liaisons"
I love watching the Oscars, but it really seems that they have mostly been disappointing & missing the mark in the last 10 years. They need some nnew yuonger blood in there or they risk losing their relevance.
Now on to the specific faults in this deeply misguided article:
1) "Fargo" is a great film and I am a big Coen Bros fan, but "The English Patient" is a brilliant epic and to describe it as "boring" should be beneath someone who has an article on CNN.
2) Agreed on "Shakespeare in Love", but "The Thin Red Line" was the best film that year.
3) "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is an incredibly fun movie and one of my favorite Spielberg films, but its not in the same league of artistic expression as "Chariots of Fire". You use "boring" as your reason again, you probably couldn't watch "The Artist" either.
4) Agreed on "Raging Bull" being the best film, but "Ordinary People" was by no means an "after school special".
5) "Brokeback Mountain" was the best film, but again "Crash" is still a very good film. However, I applaud your more mature description in the critique of "Crash".
"Unforgiven" was amazing in its scope and depth in this study of violence and its ramifications on people in all walks of life. Comparing it to "A Few Good Men" & "Scent of a Woman" is like comparing a couple of Harlequin romance novels to Hemmingway.
"A Beautiful Mind" and "LOTR: FOTR" are both very well-made films and either one deserved to win.
If wondering what the little Chinese kid did to lose all his power, was all you got from that movie, you should watch it 10 more times, until you can understand the plot. "The Last Emperor" was a wonderful, story in its examination of the emperor's life. The attention to detail in every aspect of this historical epic was near perfection and the other films weren't even close.
CNN deserves a refund of whatever you were paid to write this article.
you think the Harry Potter movies deserve to be nominated for the big price, no wonder you couldnt appreciate the cinematography of The English Patient. your idea of a 'best movie' has to be all actions. you lack depth man.
Anyone who thinks any Harry Potter film was anything other than garbage is not a film critic, or even a film student. That person is someone who only gets the hype, not the joke underlying the hype. The joke of Harry Potter is that it had nothing original in it, it was all copied from real masters of literature, like Tolkien and Lewis. So its not surprising when that same deluded person thinks "English Patient" was boring – wow, we can only hope that someday you get some brains and some feelings, and then you will realize the serious mistakes you made in this so-called article.
The list is pretty good when set against the alternative films and I'd barely quibble about most of the choices. HOWEVER; Unforgiven is one of the finest reflections on the cost of violence redemption and functions far better as a morality play than the formulaic, albeit well-acted, AFGM. I've watched Unforgiven multiple times whilst other than Nicholson's melt down soliloquy in the courtroom there's not much else to recommend AFGM. A really good movie, with a classic scene but not an iconic film, unlike Unforgiven.
#1 in the top 5 Most Pointless Oscar Articles of all time. The "author" might as well have described how they go about organizing their pantry or shaving their corns. With so much to write about in this world, this is the best you could do? YAWN!
Regarding the "Crash" vs. "Brokeback Mountain" controversy: I love "Brokeback Mountain." I thought Heath Ledger was an extremely talented actor, and he gave a powerful, moving performance in a beautiful film. I also happen to be a gay man! However! The evening of that particular Oscars, I was rooting for "Crash" to win. I have seen "Crash" many times. It's a gripping, beautifully-made, dramatic film. (My only criticism of "Crash" is that it includes the insufferable Sandra Bullock. Having Sandra Bullock in your movie is NEVER a good idea. You want overrated? How about a condescending little After-School-Special called "The Blind Side?" "Win Win" is almost the same story, but a much better film. Of course, this year Ms. Bullock made another poor choice by taking part in another uncooked turkey that should have been called "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Annoying." I wish Sandra would take her totally undeserved Oscar and just go away.) Final thoughts: I have studied Shakespeare, but I agree that "Shakespeare in Love" is not nearly as good as people seem to think. It's alright. It's not brilliant. I've seen Gwyneth Paltrow do much better work in other things. It's just kind of light and fluffy. "Ordinary People" was masterful drama, and "A Beautiful Mind" was a spectacular movie! Russell Crowe should have gotten his Oscar for it. I loved that movie! "The English Patient" was a total snore-fest. I'll also take a pass on "Unforgiven."
"Out of Africa" over "The Color Purple" was a travesty. The fact that "Tree of Life" and "Moneyball" made the cut, but "J Edgar" and "The Debt" didn't is crazy. There may not have been 9 worthy pictures this year, but surely there were better available than those picked.
I actually liked the English Patient.. Thought it was done well.. Yes, I have seen it a few times on cable...
How about "Annie Hall" over "Star Wars"? I've always thought that was by far the dumbest vote ever, that the Academy was determined not to recognize a film with special effects. "Star Wars" changed Hollywood forever; who even remembers "Annie Hall" 35 years later?
I LOVE "Star Wars" it is the movie that got me into movies, but just because a movie has great special effects doesn't make it a great movie.
Annie Hall is no doubt, a much better film and any person who had any experience studying film, would know that.
Even "The Empire Strikes Back", is a better film than "Star Wars".
Glaring omission – Annie Hall wins Oscar over Star Wars. Can you really watch Annie Hall today without retching? But Star Wars – the right night, the right popcorn, still great – and at the time, revolutionary.
How can you not list American Beauty somwhere in between The English Patient, The Last Empror, Chariots of Fire, etc?
It was the worst $2 rental of my life.
Wow, what a testement to the dumbing down of movie-watching. Scent of a Woman more compelling than The Unforgiven? Raiders of the Lost Ark more worthy than Chariots of Fire? The Last Emperor on a par with Wall Street? It seems that any film that requires the arousal of deep feelings or actual thought is just too much to bear. I suggest, reviewer, staying home with your collection of run-of-the-mill Hollywood movies with a nice cup of tea. Don't want to over-agitate those brain cells.
I think the writer of this article is dead on. (I did like a Beautiful Mind though). Those awards are frustrating because it always seems like the Academy is only picking based on a popularity contest. For example, I thought Melissa McCarthy was by far the best supporting actress but she lost. Did she lose because it wasn't politcally correct? And I LOVED The Help.
In each year that these films were judged and awarded the Oscar, they were seen and judged in accordance with our society at the time. Whether it was the romance of The English Patient or the beliefs of two men whose faith and talent were tried simultaneously in Chariots of Fire, they filled a void in the lives of people at that specific time. Today the socio-economic times are different; thus, the audience is different and the choices are different. To judge these filmes as "loser" films is to take them out of context and not consider their audiences at the time. You may argue that you were also a part of that audience at the time and still didn't find them Oscar material; however, you were obviously not part of the majority at the time and who decided otherwise,
Sadly – it is not society as a whole that judges what is Oscar worthy but rather a well defined set of Hollywood insiders that try and tell us what society "is" or "should" be.
I liked Chariots of Fire but I do whole heartedly agree with the sentiment expressed in the list. It is too often the "technically" nice looking movie that wins some honor or another while those that entertain audiences and make good money are left on the sidelines. You know – the real reason they make movies.
The Oscars are not about the most entertaining films & neither is thus article.
Please discuss the actual subject, when making a comment, you miss the ENTIRE point, by your statement & should stick to seeing simple films you (and other little kids) can understand. Like anything by Michael Bay.
I loved some of the Best Picture winners but I have to agree about Shakespeare in Love. I saw it then Saving Private Ryan and it wasn't even close. I liked SIL and thought it was charming. But SPR stunned me. It was the best by far.
Agree about Crash and agree about the quality of movies in the last five years. Decline decline decline
Boring must be in the eye of the beholder. Two of my top ten favorite films are on this list; English Patient, which I have watched almost a dozen times, and Chariots of Fire. I feel like there hasn't been a movie of the caliber of The English Patient in quite some time. This list was what was boring. It's too bad I wasted the time to read it.
I couldn't agree more. Movies are for entertainment not to change someone's life. If I pay an average of $12 per person then I would like to be more entertained. The movies in the 90's were a heck of a lot better and told a better story than those of today. Call me shallow, I don't care.
Josh, are you old enough to see R rated movies yet because if you think Chariots of Fire is boring then you need to grow up. Watch it when you are old enough to drink and you might feel different. You think Raiders of the Lost Ark was better because you are probably 10 years old and have a fake lion tamer's whip at home. They don't give awards to derivative cliches like Raiders. Shakespeare in Love is one of the greatest scripts ever written while Saving Private Ryan didn't have a script. You know they don't pick a winner out of a hat don't you? The members of the academy decide who is nominated and who wins. I agree that anything Paul Haggis touches is episodic trash.
REALLY Shakespeare in Love one of the best scripts ever written. I hope that was written for effect and not as a serious comment. And yes I can watch R rated movies and can safely say Chariots of Fire is not Oscar worthy by any means. I think Atlantic City was a far better film and should have won.
IWell, this article, if nothing else, proves irony is alive and well: "The best movie of 2011 may have been "Win Win," this year's "JUNO" and "LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE." And you think "Unforgiven" was overrated???
And now you can add "The Artist" to this list.
I loved Shakespeare in Love. Im a romantic and i watched that movie like three or four times. Saving Private Ryan was a great movie, but it saddens me, and it is not a movie I would watch more than once. Crash, was an excellent movie as well, i totally loved it and i thought the concept and lesson of the movie were right on. I thought they deserved the Oscar that year. I never saw The Last Emperor, so cannot speak for that one, all the other ones, I agree they were boring, but then, I thought Dances with wolves was extremely boring as well, and yet it won many Oscars that year.
Serioualy? Crash was by far worthy, and I feel as though you really should not be posting on any journalistic vehicle be it Internet or print for you total inept reasoning. Seriously if not for the first amendment, this sad little tirade would never have been printed.
First, Jason, the word is spelled "seriously." And second, I think it's great that everyone has an opinion, even you because CRASH, in many learned peoples' opinion wholeheartedly deserves to be on this list. But i'm glad you enjoyed it - just as I'm glad everyone else enjoyed the movies they enjoyed.
UNFORGIVEN is brilliant. Smart, meaningful, and loaded with topdrawer performances from an all-star cast. It's a Hollywood movie with something profound to say, about life, death, violence and the way fiction bends our perceptions (and history) To put it on this list is embarassing for the writer, but especially when claiming the twee SCENT OF A WOMAN or cliched A FEW GOOD MEN (the bad guy is tricked into yelling a confessin on the witness stand! Take that, dumb bad guy!) are superior in any way. Hoo-ah!
I completely agree about "Crash", it was trying WAY too hard. I disagree about "Beautiful Mind" though. I thought that movie was really well done.
A "Beautiful Mind" is a beautiful film. It definitely shouldn't have been on this list. It's obvious that this author lost his mind.
Just about everyone I know didn't like this movie at all.
Really, what is it that anything by Martin Scorsese is considered great. He is probably the most overrated, undertalented director today. When everyone discovers that if he didn't have people surrounding him that truly know what to do there will be great disappointed. Please do not say that is also a talent it is just passive aggressive behavior. this year's Hugo–grossly overrated from a grossly overdone book.
I'll bet you'd find a hundred people who would agree with you... but that's if you asked every human being on the planet... living and dead.
Your opinion is invalid.
The biggest movie snub in Oscar history is the movie "Ragtime". This is one of the most underrated movies in history. All the actors in the movie deserved a win esp. the late great Howard E. Rollins and Elisabeth McGovern. They don't even put this movie on TV anymore...did you hear that Turner Classic Movies!!!
Have to admit, I absolutely hated English Patient. It was like exposing yourself to unnecessary stress and tension. Unfortunately I saw this film with a group of friends and had to stay to the bitter end. The scenery was magnificent, the story was a loser.
I agree with you. The English Patient was boring. Was it 4 hours long? or did it just seem like 4 hours?
Still can't believe Saving Private Ryan didn't beat Shakespeare in Love. Not even close.
I agree if you ended the movie after the storming of the beaches - or at least kept the bookends and cut all the hokum and Hollywood formula of the search for Ryan. My now-dead father (combat vet of WW2, Korea, and Vietnam) thought the entire middle part of the film was, and I quote, "Laughable."
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:/ I saw the English Patient...twice. I thought it was beautiful. Oh well, to each his own.
I couldn't agree more about this year's movies. I've seen about half of what's been nominated and I can say none were truly special. I think Hollywood has been producing such mediocre films that out of necessity some of these need to be thought of as special. Although pleasant to watch, I found nothing special about The Decendents, Hugo or the others I saw this year. Also liked your list of overrated Oscar winners. I didn't enjoy watching any of them.
I've seen every picture on this list except for Beautiful Mind and 7 of them were in the theater – and I completely agree. These aren't bad pictures, but many of them are boring – sorry but Chariots of Fire is a snorefest and English Patient was an hour too long – and all of them lack significant depth. Shakespeare In Love, while enjoyable fun, is NOT the best picture of 1999 by any stretch. Crash – no way is this movie better than Brokeback Mountain.
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You forgot Ghandi....what a snooze fest that was!!!
You're kidding, right? Either that or you were eight when you watched it. Or, you're 38, but with the mental capacity of an 8-year-old. If the latter is the case, my apologies - don't want to sound insensitive.
gud movies have long being acted we are just doing the rebirth.
Please repeat... but in a language found on Earth.
Its sad that you have such little depth. If you weren't so shallow, you would realize why all of these films won.
Overrated! I challenge you to watch The Last Emperor and The English Patient and not get bored
add chariots of fire to that list, too.
While I agree with some of this article, I can't say that I agree with all of it... each of the honored films had its better moments (although I do wholeheartedly agree that "Chariots of Fire" was a stink bomb through and through!!!)... "Shakespeare in Love" was brilliant... IF you are into Shakespeare... what a creative idea, well-executed by wonderful actors all... "Crash" was engrossing... "The English Patient" was scenic and engaging... "Ordinary People" was moving... "Unforgiven", IMHO, was homage to Clint Eastwood for his career, not for that particular film... Russell Crowe SHOULD have won the best actor for his portrayal in "A Beautiful Mind", but the academy didn't want to spoil him with two in a row ("Gladiator" was still fresh in their voting consciences), so they rewarded the flick instead... and "The Last Emperor" was beautiful, if not your 'cup of tea'... Hey, it's what makes the world go 'round... DIFFERENCES of OPINION... When "The Artist" takes home that statue tonight, I'm sure many will also complain... but that film is also a work of art... and worthy of the honor!!!
I think this list is intriguing, but every one of them you sound like you want the more 'entertaining' films to have won over the better made ones. It's as though you're coming into this as an audience member and not as someone who makes films and knows what technical, written, or other various aspects that made all the winners such outstanding examples of the medium. Saving Private Ryan was no doubt a great popcorn movie, but wow did it get unrealistic after the beach scene. And if you think Unforgiven was overrated, then you clearly missed the point of the movie. Thematically, that movie is so deep, and it does it all with as little dialogue as possible. It is hands down the best western made, in a time when westerns weren't being made. But, as someone else said, opinions will differ I suppose. But really, you think Raiders of the lost ark would ever have a chance at winning an oscar? Again, great entertaining movie, but...
I hereby declare this artice to be a finalist in the 'Top Five Most Shallow Reviews of Movies'. Perhaps the author should reconsider his opinions AFTER he has outgrown Saturday morning television. You clearly have the attention span of a moth.
You're absolutely right, Kerri. How could anyone with intelligence prefer Raiders of the Lost Ark over Chariots of Fire?? Mindlessness over substance? Sadly that's typically what we get with American movies.
I partially agree. Most of the movies listed were good movies, but that doesn't mean they deserved to win against the even better movies they were up against. However, I fully agree that rating a movie based on pace is really... I don't even have an adequate word for it... mindless and shallow do seem to fit though.
Chariots of Fire though? Sorry, maybe it's because I'm not white, but I couldn't tell any of the pasty identically groomed athletes in the movie apart, so it was hard to follow.
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