We all know that the business of movie making is first and foremost a business, and as such, making money often overshadows the prospect of creating an innovative or original piece of art or at least entertainment. Therefore, the movies making the big bucks often get all the attention, especially if that attention comes as a result of a fad or tie in with current events. Most people only remember these movies that got all of the attention, forgetting those that were perhaps more important in terms of historical relevance or impact to the art of film making. I have constructed this list using the powers of hindsight with the hope that maybe we can remember that not all movies are big blockbuster spectacles made solely to drain your minds and wallets collectively. 

Top Ten Overrated Movies of All Time

Runners Up: Forrest Gump, The English Patient, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

10. Citizen Kane (1941)- Yeah, this is one of my favorite movies and I do really think that it is a solid movie in many categories, the benchmark which all others should be compared in terms of working towards a cohesive final form of cinema. So why is it on this list? I am tired of people arguing about how great it is. Yes it is a great movie, but THE BEST movie of all time? I can’t really say and I don’t think anyone else can either. If it is the greatest movie of all time, everyone would agree, but they don’t. In fact, lots of people just don’t get Citizen Kane (let alone have the attention span to just watch the whole thing).

9. Memento (2000)- So maybe Memento is an interesting movie for some people to watch, but unless your audience is gonna watch it more than once I don’t think that this complicated method of story telling is the way to go. Just because a movie is complicated does not make it good. Granted, I give the filmmakers and actors involved huge kudos for pulling it off, but the method seems forced. By making a movie that in essence is backwards you immediately alienate a majority of the audience, especially if they can’t relate to your reasoning for taking such drastic actions. Besides the fact that this movie runs backwards, can you remember anything else about it? Don’t be different just to be different.

8. Saving Private Ryan (1998)- Sure, the editing, cinematography,  and even acting are great in parts. But these aspects on their own don’t make a good movie. Maybe there is some sort of sympathetic pull for our troops and apparently every American likes any movie that features killin’ Nazis. But that’s it. This movie is no where near as epic, meaningful, or action-packed as it could have been. The end is the biggest disappointment, essentially adding proof to the idea that the mission the movie is based on is pointless. A movie that compromises its own point of existence is not a great movie.

7. Spider Man (2002)-Fans of the comic may be split over the big screen adaptation, but I am not. Inferior to the sequel but much better than the third installment, Spider Man is plagued with a weak script and weak acting. While the theme of the comic was often how one man can make a difference, the movie seemed to be about how one man can’t make a difference. Watching the movie now with the hype having been all but destroyed by the debacle that was Spider Man 3, the movie plays like an expensive soap opera. An expensive, whiny soap opera with spiffy special effects.

6. Sideways (2004)- Not only is this movie pointless, but it is boring. I can handle pointless but exciting movies and boring but meaningful movies, but what keeps you watching when a movie is both? Critics flock to this one, claiming its a good story that explains the importance of finding yourself. I claim that its only about an already messed-up-beyond repair man who only cares about getting drunk and having sex. If that’s finding yourself than millions of college kids have already done that a million times over. This is the only movie on this list that I absolutely hate.

5. Pulp Fiction (1994)-Pulp Fiction is the perfect example of everything wrong with movies today. Its all gore, no substance. Yes, the movie makes you think there is something meaningful, but there isn’t. Its as hollow as Tarantino’s acting and just as painful to watch if you actually think about it. I don’t understand how people can stand Tarantino’s epic continent-sized ego, especially when it runs rampant like a 5 year old in his movies.Tarantino needs to stop treating his audience as inferior and his audience needs to stop treating Tarantino as a legend.

4. Monster’s Ball (2001)- Of course this is an eye-opening movie. But its also disturbing and difficult to watch. Whether or not Berry deserved her Oscar is not the issue. What is the issue is the point of the movie, something about love, is forced. The fact that the most important part of the movie is a sex scene shows how shallow this movie really is. Its as if the writers thought that bombarding the audience with incredibly sad and awful occurrences will beat them into submission. Then they could build them back up by having the antagonist and protagonist have sex. And suddenly they’re in “love”. Nothing is solved or defined. You’ll be left with lots of questions, most notably “why is this considered good?”

3. Lost in Translation (2003)- I do not understand the point of this film. Not only is it as aggravating to watch as Johnasson’s acting, but it is as boring as hell and ultimately pointless. Nothing happens. No suspense, no tension, no tone. Nothing to make you keep watching unless you’ve got nothing better to do. Just lots of bright lights and Japanese cultural icons. While some people may call it moving I call it stationary.

2. Animal House (1978)- This movie has no plot. Its just a string of sick jokes and pubescent humor held together by Belushi’s own childish behavior. Although the comedy is less crude than any recent American Pie movie, it is no more effective. Maybe its a classic because it defines a generation, but is this really the proper way to define yourself? Its always easier to make something a joke than make people really care about what is happening. Unfortunately that sentiment defined Belushi’s  life as well as this “movie”.

1. The Dark Knight (2008)- No, I’m not saying The Dark Knight is a bad movie or that Ledger’s performance is anything short of legendary (next to Nicholson’s joker in Batman of course). What I am saying is that this movie is hugely overrated. 5 years from now you will look back and see how silly it is in parts; remember that the original Batman (1989) was an epic success when it was released, but kids these days will just laugh at it. That’s the problem with trying to appeal to pop culture. You can create some pretty good movies in the now, but once later comes around your movie will be forgotten. Here, Dark Knight’s grouchy batman, Gyllenhall’s Rachel Dawes character, Eckhart’s brooding Two-Face, the pointless car chase scene, and the Joker’s acts of easily-foiled terrorism (but somehow he always escapes?) will not be taken as seriously as they are now.

Top Ten Underrated Movies of All Time

Runners Up: Independence Day , Brazil , Total Recall

10. The Matrix (1999)- People call it overrated. I don’t think it gets the attention it deserves. Way ahead of its time and totally original. My review adequately explains why its on this list.

9. The Freshman (1990)- What do you get when you mix The Godfather with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? This movie. Entertaining, if slightly predictable, but totally forgotten. If you have a sense of humor you will like this movie.

8. Ronin (1998)- Perhaps the best car chase scene in any movie and Robert De Niro in his prime. Do I need to say anything else? The technical challenge of making this movie makes it a must watch alone. Think of it as a precursor to the Jason Bourne movies, at least in a sophisticated-edgy-European-action-thriller way.

7. Papillon (1973)-Steve McQueen is as awesome as ever, and Dustin Hoffman puts in a very memorable performance. A thoughtful and well-crafted character-driven biopic that steers towards being an adventure movie. Movies like this make you CARE about the characters, especially when they are so well acted. This is a movie that will make you feel something; an excellent example of 70’s era cinema.

6. Black Rain (1989)- As a fan of Ridley Scott, I feel all his movies are underrated, but none more so than this one. Its a gripping cat-and-mouse action thriller, brilliantly crafted as only Scott can. I always find myself going back to this movie when looking for an example of exquisite directing. Take the amazing visuals of Blade Runner mixed with the thought-provoking action of American Gangster, add the charm of Andy Garcia and the intensity of Michael Douglas; what you’ll get is a near-perfect investigation of another culture from a uniquely crafted point of view.

5. THX 1138 (1971)- Before Star Wars, George Lucas made THX 1138, based on a short film he made while in film school. Only one phrase can describe this movie; ahead of its time. The audience is transported away to a minimalist future reminiscent of what we would be seeing in Star Wars, but here humans are prisoners of their own salvation. Tension is abound and reality is more or less unreliable. Few movies before or since have been able to accomplish this surrealism as effectively, and this is even more impressive considering when this movie was made.

4. The Game (1997)- Another ahead-of-its-time movie, this one is brilliant in all aspects. No other movie will draw you into its plot as easily and keep you at the edge of your seat throughout. This is one of those rare films that comes along every once in a while that is so innovative and mold-breaking that almost nothing can compare. And you’d expect nothing less from one of David Fincher’s movies…

3. Contact (1997)- Besides Matthew McConaughey’s appearance here as the same character he plays in every other movie he’s in, Contact is hugely misunderstood. This movie isn’t meant to be some sort of sci-fi action thriller. Its an epic movie, and as such, has many levels. Adventure, emotions, politics, disappointments, and most important intelligent substance are all here. And most interesting, it all works. Of course, such a powerful film is bound to turn some people off, hence its status on this list.

2. Unbreakable (2000)- Take away the twist in The Sixth Sense and you pretty much have nothing left. Take away the twist in Unbreakable and you are still left with a very good movie. This is Shyamalan’s best movie, and perhaps ahead of its time with the whole real-people-can-be-superheroes thing but not going as far as calling anyone a superhero. This movie has emotion, great acting making great characters, and even great direction. It’s impressively crafted in all aspects.

1. Man on the Moon (1999)- While not much of a fan of Jim Carrey or Andy Kaufman, I had low expectations upon watching this one. But it totally blew me away. Without a doubt Carrey’s finest movie, Man on the Moon is an excellent film. It explains so much of Kaufman’s life without diving into the cliches and self-indulgences other biopics find themselves wading through. In short, this movie is one of the most entertaining movies I have ever seen and I recommend it to everyone, even if you don’t like Kaufman of Carrey. The point of this movie is not to glorify Kaufman or explain his antics, the point of this movie is to teach you about life. And I promise you will learn something.

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