We all love movies. Many times a film will sweep a bunch of Academy Awards and public attention while I applaud and murmur, “Huh? I mean, it was all right, but aren’t we going a little overboard here? I give it one thumb up.”
Here are the 10 movies I feel have been the most over-heaped with praise as brows knitted and shoulders shrugged.
Sir Richard Attenborough’s epic homage to the Indian leader was so long, it surely could have used a fast. Ben Kingsley was remarkable and certainly a lot of makeup was used throughout, not to mention tender loving care. But would you want to sit through it again? Oh, really? Well, I want you to look me in the eye and answer that question again, with full honesty. OK, one more time.
“The Artist” (2011)
This movie charmed festival audiences and critics and built steam all the way to winning the Best Picture Oscar. And I think someday, people will look back and say, “Wha???” It’s perfectly delightful, and Jean Dujardin is utterly charming as the silent star who hooks up with a dancer at the advent of pictures. But while the final dance leaves you with a wow, it deceives you into thinking the whole thing was magical, from beginning to fin. I prefer to think of it as a lavish stunt with some nice scenes.
“As Good As It Gets” (1997)
The James L. Brooks-directed tale of a grouch, a waitress and a victimized gay, this one struck Oscar gold, but I didn’t buy it, didn’t like it and definitely couldn’t believe the story of a cute, nice gay whose friends deserted him and who has to befriend a homophobe. But Brooks did great work on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”
“Moulin Rouge!” (2001)
It’s about a pneumatic, prostie-laden love triangle in 1899, but the music could be from any time and the editing could give you a headache. The stars are good, but Baz Luhrmann’s frenetic, distrusting, ADD approach was irritating, and the way the film’s admirers felt they had to see it 30 times made me worry for them — and for cinema.
The wonderful Steven Soderbergh won kudos and awards for this tough drama about a judge (Michael Douglas) leading the war against drugs while finding that his daughter is hopping on them. I didn’t find it that much more absorbing than an old “Columbo” episode, but I am totally alone in this, so please ignore this whole paragraph like I ignored “Traffic”!
“Brokeback Mountain” (2005)
As a gay, I was probably supposed to join the hordes in anointing this the greatest achievement in modern film, but the reality is, I wasn’t all that moved. Maybe I was predisposed to not want to see gay victims portrayed on the screen one more time, even if it was to point out the oppressions that make life hell for certain people. Maybe I didn’t quite believe the wildly overpraised performances by Health Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal as two cowboys secretly in love, one gruff, one more hunched over. Ang Lee did an OK job of adapting the short story by Annie Proulx, but for me, it was far from life changing — though, considering the kudos, it had to be homophobia that kept it from getting Best Picture. Now that was something I could get worked up about.
This was a Best Picture Oscar winner based on a Noel Coward play about many years in the life of some rich Brits, and boy, is it a snooze! I couldn’t find the Coward wit, pizzazz or life in it, and as much as I love a good drama spanning the Boer War, this one struck me as a complete Boer.
“The Apartment” (1960)
I love Billy Wilder, adore Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine and can see why this dark comedy about a guy who lets the boss use his place for illicit encounters hit a raw, sexy nerve. It was considered darkly appealing and quite daring in its day. I just don’t see the brilliance, and I especially find it hard to like Shirley’s character, since she’s mad for a married man that any fool could see she can’t have. I know the ambiguity is supposed to be there, but you’re also supposed to be crazy in love with her. Weird.
“Kitty Foyle” (1940)
Ginger Rogers stopped dancing for a second and won an Oscar for playing a white-collar girl who falls for a male socialite to the chagrin of his family. I would rather see her do a tap routine any day. Ginger was actually great in a variety of non musicals (“Bachelor Mother,” “Tom, Dick and Harry,” “Primrose Path”), but I found this flick so dreary that I kept hoping Fred would pop up in some tap shoes.
“The Blind Side” (2009)
Everyone loved this cannily packaged true story of a white woman caring for a homeless black boy and helping him triumph. Guys and gals alike went to see it, as did people of all colors, ages and political leanings. And I thought it was meh. I love Sandra Bullock, worshiping her in “Miss Congeniality” and finding her a fine dramatic actress in “Crash” (in which she played a racist shrew). But I didn’t see what made this vehicle so extraordinary that it copped her an Oscar and was even nominated for Best Picture! To me, it’s the new “Kitty Foyle.” Sort of.