Take 5: 2010’s Most Overrated Films

Last year, Paranormal Activity had audiences all across the nation screaming in terror.  Having always been a sucker for the horror genre, I believed the hype and committed to an hour and a half of laughable scenes that made me roll my eyes at the current state of our society.  (They obviously have a very thin skin, those poor saps.)  Ever since, my trust in public opinion and the five-star rating system has wavered tremendously.

Now, as my filmmaker boyfriend builds me into a burgeoning movie buff, I have come to see the things that constitute true cinema, as opposed to those that only qualify as spectacle.  And as 2010 comes to an end, my opinions decided to hop on the countdown list bandwagon.  The films listed below, though all enjoyable in their own right, garnered an abundant amount of praise.  Such intense over adulation can only lead to inevitable disappointment, hence why I’ve come to consider these blockbusters to be a tad overrated, for everything that’s overhyped creates the potential for letdown.

**Spoiler Alert: The following blurbs may contain information regarding key plot points. If you haven’t seen a given film, skip that one and go on to the next!**

5. Inception – With amazing effects and shifting architecture, Inception’s greatest optical illusion may still be Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s striking resemblance to the late Heath Ledger.  Upon second viewing (or mere contemplation), viewers will begin to notice numerous plot holes that cannot be filled. However, the fast-paced progression and confusing nature forces the audience to ignore the things they cannot readily answer, pushing forward so they do not lose their place.  And though the film proves to be entertaining and thought provoking, I simply hope this speedy style of storytelling doesn’t become Hollywood’s new way of glossing over less than perfect writing.  However, leaving the ending entirely ambiguous was the only way to proceed, for a concrete finale could have very well killed the magic of the film overall.

4. Black Swan – Once again, we find ourselves faced with incomprehensible confusion, culminating in what must be Natalie Portman’s most demanding, provocative role of her career thus far.  However, her Oscar-worthy performance still cannot overshadow the overly sexual, “in your face” atmosphere that pervaded the entire film.

Black Swan depends on the visceral imagery and perplexing plot line to distract audience members from the fact that one cannot and will not ever figure out which moments were real and which took place solely in Nina’s (Portman) mind.  The only scary thing about this film (other than Portman’s toes) is how moviegoers everywhere are afraid to speak their mind.  I have yet to find one person who adamantly hates this film, finding only those who claim this movie has “blown their mind” and that “you must see it for yourself.”  Unfortunately, Black Swan has blown most minds to bits, casting dissenting opinion to the shadows for fear of looking dumb due to confusion.

3. Despicable Me – Everyone keeps boasting about the endearing super villains, adorable children and silly aliens, claiming this to be one of the greatest children’s movies of all time.  Not just the year – all time.  Unfortunately, Steve Carell’s voice infuses his stale comedic style into an already bland atmosphere that makes this computer-animated film less appealing than most.  Why the exhausted concept of a reformed bad guy has won the hearts of so many still baffles me, especially when there was no shortage of animated pictures this year.  (Insert unyielding praise for How to Train Your Dragon here.)

2. Toy Story 3 – While families flocked to theaters across the country (with children who weren’t even alive for the first two installments), we 20-somethings headed to the movies floating on a cloud of nostalgia.  However, I grew wary of this film’s actual intent when Andy’s mom insisted on wiping his room clean and erasing him from the house when he was only going away to college.  (He’s got to come home for break eventually, and if he’s like those of us who grew up along with him, he may just be moving back in after graduation, too.)  Yet people have spent the last six months praising a film that rubs our faces in how much it stinks to be an adult.  What’s next, Pixar – Up 2: Carl Kicks the Bucket?

1. Shutter Island – Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a man haunted by the memory of his dead wife in this stunning, visual thriller.  Wait, that sounds familiar… Thankfully, DiCaprio makes a delightful deranged widower.   Unfortunately, the wonderful imagery cannot quite cover up the ridiculously predictable plot.  Having heard the end brought about a “shocking twist,” my mom, sister and I made the trek to the theater in search of a good ol’ surprise (and Mark Ruffalo).  Unfortunately, it seems that the majority of moviegoers have never seen a movie, nor had a thought of their own, in their entire lives, for anyone could have seen that DiCaprio was the very psychiatric patient they were searching for within the first 20 minutes.

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  1. First of all, thank you for calling out “Toy Story 3”. I liked it, but it was definitely not the year’s greatest animated film. That would be “How to Train Your Dragon”.

    However, I have to disagree on two points. If you were to deem “Inception” over-rated, I’d do it on the basis of its hollow supporting characters than for any, probably inevitable, plot holes. “Inception” was cool, but as emotionally immersive as it felt it was (at least on my first and so far only viewing.)

    Also the reasons you site “Black Swan” are the reasons I love it. I love the fact that it’s visceral, sexual, ammbiguous and utterly lunatic. Its a lurid backstage melodrama that goes wonderfully, beautifully, madly off the rails in the final act. I was never confused once, and I love that it doesn’t provide easy answers or even want to. What “Black Swan” is, is elegant trash: sexy, stylish, freaky, disturbed, mad, deviant and gorgeous. No, it may not be that scary to hardened souls like me — though the audience I saw it with did jump a couple times — but it was intoxicatingly weird.

    • Lisa F.
    • December 31st, 2010

    I don’t know about the other movies (just because I don’t go to the theatres very much anymore–redbox ftw!!) but the last two movies I saw this year were Inception and Black Swan.

    I loved how I left the theatre both times with an exhausted brain. I wouldn’t say that these movies were overrated–if anything, Black Swan exceeded my expectations. It indeed blew my mind (I have a feeling you saw my tweet hehe) because of the visceral performance that Portman gave. Everything was so intense and psychological and while I know that it would be too much for the casual moviegoer, I ate it up. It was so artistic and real and I agree that this was the performance of Portman’s career thus far.

    As for Inception, I don’t think that the ending was concrete at all. The ending was left totally open based on the established plotline. We as viewers don’t know if the entire events of the movie were a product of DiCaprio’s character’s mind or if it was reality. The whole movie was toe-ing the line of what is real and what is the dream…if anything I thought that the ending was completely appropriate for the themes (even though I threw up my hands and groaned in frustration when the frame cut out).

    For those two movies to stir that much mental gymnastics is the quality that makes them great films to me. I don’t know if they’re overrated, but even my sister said that the trailers for Black Swan in no way prepared her for the plotline and the disturbingly violent images.

    Don’t think that I’m napalming your blog entry, Anna my dear 🙂 I feel like I’m budding into a more intelligent film watcher and I am becoming EXTREMELY picky as to what I shell out my cashola to see in theatres.

    I feel that all serious moviegoers should see both those films in some capacity, though. They didn’t just blow my mind, I want other people to experience it, too.

    Wow, after reading your blog for so many months, and finally commenting on something, it would appear that I wrote you a novel 🙂 Teehee ^_^

    • Anna Papachristos
    • January 3rd, 2011

    @Johnny — So glad to find someone else who doesn’t think Toy Story 3 is the be all, end all of animated films! Perhaps it would have been better if there had been more Chuckles…

    @Lisa — If you read the Inception portion again, you’ll see that I praise the ambiguous ending, saying that a concrete ending would have ruined everything they worked so hard to build throughout the film.

    In general — LOVE how everyone assumes that deeming Black Swan overrated means I hated it or disliked it in any way! In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I also still believe it to be overhyped. It’s different, so people have latched onto it full force because they think praising its artistic nature will make them sound smarter than the average moviegoer, and that’s what has elevated this film to overrated status. However, anyone who takes a moment to think will realize that this film is within the grasp of anyone who shells out the $10 as long as they take the time to THINK about what they’ve just watched. But, instead of using their mind, they deem it “blown” and leave their analysis at that. Seems to be one of those situations where I can fight for or against the film, but in the end, I think I’d be bored upon second viewing.

    Thanks for reading and responding, by the way!

  2. An Entertainment post! Cue…well, me!

    Black Swan was really very solid. I agree with everything JohnnyD said – I wasn’t confused at all, loved the craziness of it all, loved the overly-sexed/psychotic story. I ate it up – Portman for the WIN on Oscar night!

    Inception – I mean…I guuuueeeess I see your point, but I don’t agree here either 😉 I thought for an original screenplay, it was awfully unique and original – plus, the cinematography during the hotel fight scene was fantastic! The ending was perfect – and I usually HATE ambiguous endings – but I was so drawn into the Leo’s character and his children/wife’s storyline that I was sucked in (and in my opinion…the piece fell!)

    TOY STORY 3 AHH! Anna, it was so sad! I mean, OK, I don’t watch many animated films, so I won’t go ahead and say that it was the “best animated film of the year” or whatever…but not only was it nostalgic for me…but I felt like my life kind of mirrored Andy. The fact that they kept Andy aging off-screen meant we were the same amount of years older as he was – and it was powerful! I can’t believe how much I reflected and thought about my childhood, growing up, and adulthood after a stupid ANIMATED MOVIE. It just hit me for some reason.

    I loathed Shutter Island though – so way to call that shit out! Surprise ending my ass!

    • Anna Papachristos
    • January 7th, 2011

    @Nick — Shutter Island was a serious disappointment. If you want to boast about a surprise ending, you actually have to HAVE a surprise ending!

    Also, it would have been just as easy for me to write raving reviews for Inception and Black Swan. But, just because I like/love a film does not negate the fact that said movies are indeed overrated. Inception got my brain working in all sorts of ways, and Black Swan officially made me a Natalie Portman fan (Oscar? Yes, please!), but I still feel like the majority of people I talk to play dumb because they want to understand all that happened, but are just too lazy to think! I stand by my previous statement when I say that a vast majority of viewers simply claim to like said movies because claiming to love such cerebral, artistic films makes them feel superior and more intelligent than the average viewer.

    (I mean, come on. The average viewer can’t be all that smart if Little Fockers was the No. 1 movie this holiday season…)

    And Mila Kunis = overhyped — Yay or Nay? I say Yay. What say you, everyone?

  3. Anna – I hear what you’re saying! I do! It’s why the site Stuff White People Like THRIVES! Because people love to rave about things to feel “in the loop!”

    Yeah, idk…Mila Kunis – I felt like she was just being Mila Kunis. meh. No Oscar for her! No Golden Globe either!

    PS – Have you seen V for Vendetta? Portman is SICK in that movie too! See it if you haven’t!

    • shootthecritic
    • January 24th, 2011

    I agree with you about “Black Swan”. I posted about that film in my own article on the two most over-rated films of 2010, found here: http://shootthecritic.com/features/all_buzz_no_sting. I liked “Toy Story 3” but I preferred “How to Train Your Dragon.” I didn’t catch the “wow” value of the former (it kind of just made me sad), while, for me, “How to Train” boasted incredible visuals.
    – Shoot the Critic

      • Anna Papachristos
      • January 24th, 2011

      Thanks for the comment! Seems the more people who see Black Swan, the easier it is to find others who aren’t all that impressed. Met two people over the weekend who weren’t big fans either and it made me smile considering most people think I’m insane. (Also, they assume I hated the film just because I think it’s overrated. Not so.) Checked out your post, but I haven’t seen 127 Hours yet, so I can’t say whether I agree or not… but there’s a good chance you’re right!

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