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.
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.