Monday, February 19, 2007

Beware of the film snob

Often, you will come across a critic's top ten film list of the year or some other compilation of one's favorite films and you'll have no idea what many of the films are and this will make you feel like you have the cultural IQ of a baboon for not even having heard of these movies, let alone having seen any of them. This would be especially stinging if you consider yourself to be a film expert. I have a pet theory, in fact, that film critics try to one-up each other with their top ten lists by finding increasingly more obscure movies, and making their colleagues feel like dopes. Take a look at this list, I saw on a messageboard I was recently browsing. This is one person's opinions of how he would arrange the oscars if he could pick the categories:

Best Picture

Amazing Grace
Children Of Men
Half Nelson
Journey From The Fall
The Wind That Shakes The Barley

Lead Actor

Al Pacino - 88 Minutes [what a fantastic performance for such a horrible film]
Alan Rickman - Snow Cake
Cillian Murphy - The Wind That Shakes The Barley
Ioan Gruffudd - Amazing Grace
Ryan Gosling - Half Nelson

Lead Actress

Emma Thompson - Stranger Than Fiction
Helen Mirren - The Queeen
Julie Christie - Away From Her
Laura Linney - Jindabyne
Sigourney Weaver - Snow Cake

Supporting Actor

Albert Finney - Amazing Grace
Brian Blessed - As You Like It
Forest Whitaker - The Last King Of Scotland
Jackie Earle Haley - Little Children
Paul Giametti - Lady In The Water

Supporting Actress

Bryce Dallas Howard - As You Like It
Cate Blanchett - The Good German
Julia Ormond - Inland Empire
Rinko Kikuchi - Babel
Sarah Polley - Away From Her


Alfonso Cuarón - Children Of Men
Han Tran - Journey From The Fall
Ken Loach - The Wind That Shakes The Barley
Michael Apted - Amazing Grace
Ryan Fleck - Half Nelson

Written For Film

Angela Pell - Snow Cake
Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck - Half Nelson
Han Tran - Journey From The Fall
Paul Laverty - The Wind That Shakes The Barley
Steven Knight - Amazing Grace

Previously Released Writing Adapted For Film

P.D. James - Children Of Men
Patrick Süskind - Perfume [Sorry Will!]
Steven Millhauser - The Illusionist
Tom Perrotta - Little Children
William Shakespeare - As You Like It

Cinematography and Art Direction

Children Of Men
Journey From The Fall
Lucky Number Slevin
Perfume [both Oscars]
The Wind That Shakes The Barley


Amazing Grace
As You Like It
The Magic Flute
The Queen


Children Of Men
Half Nelson
The Illusionist
The Painted Veil


Pan's Labyrinth
Pirates Of The Caribbean
The Magic Flute

Foreign Film

Kekexili: Mountain Patrol
The Lives Of Others [Das Leben Der Anderen]


A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash
An Inconvenient Truth
Buddha's Lost Children
G-d Grew Tired of Us: The Story Of Lost Boys Of Sudan
When The Road Bends

OK, go through this list and while there are some you might recognize like Stranger than Fiction, Lucky Number Sliven and The Queen, even someone who prides himself on being well-versed on movies will wonder "huh?" what the heck are "Wind that Shakes the Barley" "Snow Cake" "As You Like It" "Away from Her" "88 Minutes" and "Journey from the Fall"? If Al Pacino was in 88 Minutes, I'm sure I'd have heard of it or something. If Bryce Dallas Howard was in a film other than Lady in the Water this year, wouldn't the press that did articles on her for Lady in the Water have made a mention of that movie?

I don't blame the guy who posted this and I don't feel like he's a big jerk for posting this. Calling him a "film snob" in the title of my post is really as far as I will go in terms of giving him a bad name, and i don't neccessarily mean that in a duragatory way. He surely didn't have bad intentions and wasn't trying to make us feel dumb. Usually when you ask one of these people, "wtf?" they'll usually say that they should make these movies more advertised and release them on a national scale so that they'll be well-known and more people can revel in their joy. I wrote this guy, and I'm guessing that's what his response will be.

But, nevertheless, I think that most of us would will feel like idiots when we read this.

But don't fret. I did some research to look up these movies if they actually existed and were circulating on a scale of national distribution, and here's what I found.
As You Like It-A picture with Bryce Dallas Howard has that name that was originally released in 1999 that grossed $300,000 total in 2 countries: Italy and Greece and doesn't even list a domestic box office

Snow Cake-Was released in 12 theaters nationwide and made $73,000 domestically and $430,000 internationally.

Away From Her's release date is May 4th, 2007, so the person must've seen that in advance?

Amazing Grace's release date is February 23rd, 2007, this coming weekend. Did this person have a time machine or something?

Perfume made 2 million domestically, $119 million internationally. That might be the most commercially widely seen film of any on the list of questionables, but 2 million opening weekend, let alone total, is considered a failure for any film unless it's an independent film like the ones that come from Sundance.

88 Cakes is listed as 2007, so doesn't count by 2006 standards.

Laura Linney's Jindabayne and Journey from the Fall are not even listed on box office mojo, so they must be incredibly obscure

So in summary:

This guy must be from a country outside the United States or you must be from a very small handful of people who are screening these films inside the US. He also must have a time machine on him.

In short, he's not the average filmgoer and while more power to him for seeing all these films, the number of people he can have an intelligent discussion with about them who aren't full-time professional film critics in the United States is probably somewhere around 100. Don't feel stupid for not knowing as much as he does.


Anonymous said...


Found this great site with lots of weekly comps, any anyone can easily join. :)


Anonymous said...


Think about this.. Most of people in the US didn't even heard about "Brokeback Mountain" and "Crash" before they were nominated in the Academy Awards...

So, i don't think it's weird if "Snow Cake" or "As you Like it" is in someone's personal nomination for the Oscar.

Try check out those two.. I've seen them and i think they are brilliant! ;)