2010 wasn't just a great year for good movies, it was also a great year for bad movies that a lot of you mistakenly confused for good movies. No need to apologize, these things happen -- Sometimes in life people love things just a little bit more than they should (I mean, we live in a world where there's a "Tron Guy"). In fact, being wrong can be a beautiful thing, especially for whomever has the pleasure of detailing just how woefully wrong you are.
So behold our confrontational, condescending, and fiercely opinionated list of the year's most overrated movies! Most of these ten films are beloved by a significant portion of the nation's most respected moviegoers, and the rest of them are 'Morning Glory.' The films are ranked by how undeservedly over-praised they were, with the #1 spot occupied by the movie which enjoyed the greatest disparity between its perceived quality and its actual merits.
Enjoy, and feel free to voice your displeasure in the comments.
10. 'Toy Story 3'
Why You Liked It: A vibrant and wistful computer-generated wonder, Toy Story 3' -- Moviefone's #1 film of the year and the highest-grossing film of all time -- not only bests its predecessors in every which way, it also solidifies Totoro's position as the cinema's most hardcore silent badass since Jean-Louis Trintignant.
Why It's on the List: Because it made you cry like you were watching 'Shoah' projected onto a double rainbow. 'Toy Story 3' is a beautiful piece of work that demands to be cherished, but its frank final moments were maudlin and mishandled. The time that Woody and the gang spend at Sunnyside so compellingly dominates the film that Andy is transmuted into equal parts allegory and afterthought. In a $200 million effort to retroactively convince every last person of this film's true value, Pixar will release 'Cars 2' on July 22, 2011.
Why You Liked It: Because like 'Breathless,' 'Jurassic Park,' and 'White Girls' before it, 'Monsters' is made all the more compelling because of its staggeringly creative production. 'The African Queen' meets 'Cloverfield' meets an acting class at the Learning Annex, Gareth Edwards' debut feature is the sly tale of a couple making their way towards America's southern border through a Mexico infested with Cthulu-esque aliens. The film's elusive and unconventional approach garnered it some festival accolades, but the hype machine was really fueled by buzz that Edwards had made the film for about $12 and a gift certificate to Applebee's (which SAG now recognizes as legal tender).
Why It's on the List: Ironically, it's the impressively economical special effects that emerge as the film's most believable element, as the characters that drive 'Monsters' along have all the zest and verisimilitude of a couple from 'Emmanuelle in Space' (you know you get the reference). Ultimately, you can't help but admire Edwards' craft and gumption, and 'Monsters' is perhaps the only film on this list that's less fun to disparage than it is to watch.
8. 'Shutter Island'
Why You Liked It: Because it's a thickly atmospheric Martin Scorsese movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and this time around the hero expresses his potential insanity in ways other than collecting his own urine or falling in love with Cameron Diaz.
Why It's on the List: Because it's a flimsy genre exercise in which supremely masterful direction is hobbled by a noble failure of a script (there are 'Family Circus' cartoons with more satisfying plot twists). Screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis fails to solve the turgid Dennis Lehane novel from which the film is adapted, and neither Scorsese nor his impeccable cast can save this story from meandering off into dull and increasingly silly directions.
7. 'Morning Glory'
Why You Liked It: You probably didn't, unless you enjoyed 'The Devil Wears Prada' but lamented the fact that its climax didn't revolve around slo-mo pigeons and a mysterious frittata. And yet 54% of critics gave it a pass. Honestly, it's like giving the Hindenburg points for being warm onboard (too soon?)
Why It's on the List: Because this joyless bit of anti-intellectual drivel is emblematic of pretty much everything that's wrong with the world. It flaunts logic at every juncture, and actively celebrates the triumph of palatability over substance. 'Morning Glory' isn't only why "they" hate us, it's also why we hate us.
Why You Liked It: Because bold and fearless horror filmmaking is enough for you to excuse a film that consistently undermines its own potential. Vincenzo Natali's film is a rather daring glimpse at the thorny gray areas engendered by genetic mutation, and it's often giddily discomforting to watch Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody parent / dance / bone the mighty morphing creature they've created (that's Delphine Chaneac as Dren).
Why It's on the List: So here's a movie about two hipster scientists who created an ever-evolving genetic experiment that started off as a one-legged albino rabbit, transformed into a pubescent humanoid teenager, grew wings, murdered a kitten, and had sex with just about everything. I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that of those three characters it's the genetic experiment that's going to prove the most interesting (and indeed Dren is quite the time bomb), but the story suffers when the people around her are drawn this thin (difficult to avoid when one of those people is Adrien Brody). Natali's scientists are never more than vessels for their philosophical hangups, and as a result the final scene doesn't raise unanswerable questions so much as it recalls the last moments of 'Alien vs. Predator: Requiem.'
5. 'How to Train Your Dragon'
Why You Liked It: Cuteness! Dazzling 3D! The warm bosom of a narrative that doesn't make a single surprising decision! Dreamworks' toon was a surprise hit with both audiences and critics alike, and might just have been the best Jay Baruchel film to premiere last March. Also, Craig Ferguson makes everything better.
Why It's on the List: Because everyone is likable and no one is interesting, and a needlessly bloated second act makes this feel like the longest movie about dragons since 'The Neverending Story.' Also, as much as we should champion truth in advertising, the first half of 'How to Train Your Dragon' was almost an instructional video about subjugating a fictional species. Oh, and when I pay $20 to see a movie about dragons, one / all of them damn well better be voiced by Sean Connery.
Why You Liked It: You have a thing for guys with tramp stamps. Either that or you blindly slurp down all the hype that dribbles out of Sundance, and consider 'Catfish' to be the best film since 'Happy, Texas.'
Why It's on the List: Because 'Catfish' is really just a sub-par episode of MTV's 'True Life.' Wasting the frontiers of new media which kindly offer the film's story its canvas, this much-ballyhooed bore spends much of its time teasing the tired and hyper-obvious mystery at its core. A documentary for people who don't understand documentaries, 'Catfish' lazily recycles truth-obsessed predecessors like 'Close-up' and 'F For Fake' in its misguided quest to redefine identity for modern times. You know when you pretend to throw something for a dog to fetch, and the dog goes nuts every time until it slowly realizes that you're not throwing anything? That's 'Catfish' (and if you do that naked it's 'The Aristocrats').
3. 'The Kids Are All Right'
Why You Liked It: Because Lisa Cholodenko's breakthrough film is warm and well-worn, and because you were understandably starved for an intelligent, progressive and accessible domestic drama in which there are no caricatures (beside Clay, the young serial killer in training).
Why It's on the List: Because Lisa Cholodenko's breakthrough film is completely unexceptional sitcom stuff in every way beyond its sexual politics, which in 2010 shouldn't be exceptional to begin with. Also, if someone could tell Mark Ruffalo that there's a difference between acting aloof and acting lobotomized, that would be great (I'm no doctor, but I think The Hulk might have a hard time getting angry without a working prefrontal cortex).
Why You Liked It: Because it was April, and anticipation for 'Scott Pilgrim vs. The World' had driven you mad.
Why It's on the List: 'Kick-ass' is such a colossal failure not because it can't even preach its own bone-headed satire to the geek choir, but because it can't even fetishize its fixations properly. Hit-Girl and Big Daddy are too safe and self-insistent, playing less like fantasies for adolescents than they do fantasies by adolescents. The fight scenes are lifeless and ineptly stitched together, the villains aren't archetypical so much as they're lazy, and the whole thing just kind of lies there like an arrogant wet sandwich.
1. '127 Hours'
Why You Liked It: Because Aron Ralston's ordeal was undeniably harrowing stuff, and Danny Boyle captures the spirited hiker's survival story with his unique brand of pizzazz. James Franco has to carry the entire movie with one arm stuck under a giant rock, and he does so magnificently.
Why It's on the List: A pairing of director and material that's as grievously mismatched as a Uwe Boll remake of 'To Kill A Mockingbird,' '127 Hours' finds the hyper-kinetic Boyle trying just about every cinematic trick he knows in an attempt to keep this stationary story moving. The result is a flashy, impersonal, and emotionally disconnected mess that never fully trusts the power of its premise or the strength of its central performance. We're taken deeper into Ralston's camera than we are into his head. It's hard to feel much of anything by the time the film tamely recreates the notorious amputation, especially considering that Boyle has spent the previous 90 minutes stabbing you with the epidurals of his montage.