Armond White's 2011 Better-Than List > Pretty Much Every Other Blogger's List

Say what you will about Armond White, at least the iconoclast film critic is a conversation-starter. Over at CityArts White has posted his annual "Better-Than" list, in which he pairs seemingly disparate films of the year to show you why the movies you love/think are great are, in fact, vastly overrated. Example: " Jack and Jill > The Descendants," White insists, in a clear trouncing of "humility" over "sanctity." "Adam Sandler’s affectionate, very broad ethnic satire defies Alexander Payne’s smug denial of America’s ethnic history," he writes. Don't stop there, Armond!

As the 2011-2012 transition births yet more critic Top Ten lists (hey, check out Movieline's here and here and here and here!), it's lists like these that give us fresh perspective on the underrated, or even perfectly adequately-rated films of the year. And at least where White dumps on certain lauded Oscar contenders he also proposes films with themes he sees as tighter, better, more valuable by comparison.

The Adventures of Tintin > The Artist
Spielberg restores the essence of cinema (from the Greek “kinesis,” meaning movement), defying Hazanavicius’ too-cute silent movie hoax. Joy vs. Inanity.

I suppose even The Artist's supporters can acknowledge that it can seem, perhaps, "too-cute" -- and boy, Tintin was nothing but movement. Sure?

Rise of the Planet of the Apes > The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Rupert Wyatt reboots the original series as a fresh, wild vision of modern frustration, defying Fincher’s apathetic wallow in pathology and brutality. Emotion vs. Style.

White raises a good question: What happened to all those critics who Oscar-raved about Apes when it came out last summer?

Paul > Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Greg Mottola, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost grasp the depth of American pop culture while Apichatpong Weerasethakul peddles Asian obscurantism. Joyous vs. Spurious.

"Asian obscurantism" Uncle Boonmee may be, but... Armond, you crazy for this one.

Colombiana > The Help
Olivier Megaton and Zoe Saldana find new racial, sexual and genre archetypes to discover the meaning of love, defying the stereotyping of black women’s civil rights struggle. Progress vs. Relapse.

Are some of these pairings seemingly arbitrary? Sure. Is Colombiana more progressive than The Help? By golly, yes.

Jack and Jill > The Descendants
Adam Sandler’s affectionate, very broad ethnic satire defies Alexander Payne’s smug denial of America’s ethnic history. Humility vs. Sanctimony

I spoke too soon. This shit cray.

Still, thank you Armond for even juxtaposing two movies like Paul and Uncle Boonmee in my brain. True contrarian or no, what a feast for thought. Some of these arguments are just insane enough that they make sense. Read White's full 2011 Better-Than List here and tell us what you think -- and which better-thans you're in agreement with -- in the comments below.

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  • rainestorm says:

    I didn't see Jack and Jill (and I have no intention to... ever) but I agree that The Descendants was fairly awful.

    I totally agree that Rise of the Planet of the Apes is superior to Fincher's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo It's my number one movie of the year.

    I didn't see any of the other films listed above.

  • Alex says:

    Why giving tribune to this raving loon? Nobody in their right mind could possibly enjoy Jack & Jill.

  • Megan says:

    There's a lot to be said about Armond White, but the real problem with this list of his is that it doesn't touch on the craftmanship of the movies (eg, acting, direction, writing), but rather on values and which ones he finds more imporant. That ain't how a review is supposed to work. Then again, why am I wasting my time? He's a f***ing nut.

  • AS says:

    I'll agree with Colombiana > The Help. The Help was one of the few films I saw in 2011 that I could barely stand sitting through.

    • Jake says:

      You must not have seen Colombiana than. As bad as The Help might have been, Colombiana was more cliched and more boring than The Help could hope to be.

  • Andrew says:

    If he thinks Paul grasped American culture then he truly hates America. That movie was on par with Wild Hogs.

  • I've long been convinced White's prolix is in truth a running commentary on film criticism itself -- a perpetuated meta-experiment whereby the profession is satirized with audacious pronouncements.

    While still just a theory, if I had read that the jet-ski scene in "Jack & Jill" (whereby the titular sibling is somehow doing stunts in the family pool and crashes into the patio furniture) was actually a commentary by Sandler on how materialism has destroyed the family construct, it would prove the reviewer as a faux entity. And yet, I could look at the sentence and firmly believe it came from White's pen

  • wigwam says:

    Incendies>A Dangerous Method - true

    The Adventures of Tintin>The Artist - true, but both suck

    War Horse>Hugo - true but both are great

    Rise of the Planet of the Apes> The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - true but both are good

    Attack the Block> A Separation - havent seen the latter but it looks good aside from the woman's facial expressions, attack the block was tedious

    Paul> Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives - haha, they both suck but boonmee was also a disappointment while paul was as terrible as expected, so i agree

    3 Backyards>Melancholia - nonsense but when will Tha Kote work w/ LvT? it'd be so awesome the world might end fo rillz!!!

    Film Socialisme>The Tree of Life - this wouldve been true even if Tree of Life hadnt been the worst of the year which it was was

    Colombiana>The Help - this is where his being a minority must kick in (by minority i mean a gay)

    Winnie the Pooh>Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close - havent seen 2nd and winnie sucked but this is probably true per either the source material or the trailer, take your pick

    The Iron Lady>J. Edgar, My Week with Marilyn - havent seen iron lady but it looks great and jedgar was awwwful, marylin was decent tho

    Jack and Jill>The Descendants - haha, so true! but cmon, fish in a barrel, and let's add Harold&Kumar>IdesOfSmarmch

    What’s Your Number?, Kaboom>Bridesmaids - hmmm, i liked all 3 but Kaboom is top tier stuff

    Rejoice and Shout>Cave of Forgotten Dreams - hmm let's see, a dark quiet cave w/ art on the walls or a shrieking cacophany of tambourines, jesus and purple...

    Your Highness, The Sitter>Midnight in Paris - all were fun but woody's wasnt forced how dgg's were and it was funnier and more genuinely adventuresome than the other two

    Prom, Polytechnique> We Need to Talk About Kevin - didnt polytechnique come out like 2 years ago? and no way did he see prom he just googled it for a 2011 high school movie since he knew polytechnique was a stretch - we get it: you like Villeneuve, join the club kooldood!

    Real Steel>Moneyball - this is just the gaydar talking again, but good for him to enjoy either of these worthless movies

    overall this is the best Our Man Armond has done until he comes around and apoligizes for liking A.I.

    Happy new year, all!


  • Brian Clark says:

    Whoa, he called out Dangerous Method and The Artist on being pretty worthless, and gave props to Kaboom! This is his best since he said Running Scared > The Departed, which was also true.

    Good write up!

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