Do you ever have a time when you watch a movie that’s extremely popular, it’s highly rated among critics and casual audience, people talk about it all the time, maybe it won some awards, but you watch the movie, and you really don’t like it that much? You can’t understand why it’s so popular. Sometimes you watch it multiple times, and you still can’t figure it out. Well, that happens to me, too. So I want to talk about the popular films where the majority’s rating is higher than where I would rate it. I want to love these movies. I’m a movie guy. I like to be able to appreciate quality films. That’s important to me. And usually I agree. Many of the films that are on my top favorites lists are widely considered to be some of the greatest films of all time. Like Vertigo, Jaws, The Good The Bad And The Ugly, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and many more. But whenever I don’t agree with a popular film, I always give it another chance, and try my best to understand what makes it so celebrated. But sometimes, even after multiple viewings, I still don’t get it. And it doesn’t mean I don’t like the movies, I just don’t love them as much as most people do. I know whenever someone has a different opinion about a popular film, there are certain people who get angry about that. Like, how dare you say something bad about this sacred film? Hey, if your favorite movie is on this list, that’s a compliment. I wouldn’t be talking about it if it wasn’t already so popular. The majority of people already agree. You’ve won, okay? So, you won! Most likely you’ll be surprised to hear the movies that I don’t love. But think of it this way. If I heard an opinion that I found surprising, like, if someone out there doesn’t like Star Wars, I’d be interested to hear their reasons. For me, it’s refreshing to hear an opinion that isn’t the same as everyone else. Some people have a certain skepticism that if someone doesn’t agree with the popular opinion, they’re doing it on purpose. They’re trying to get attention or just to piss people off. I’m not trying to piss anyone off. That’s never my intention. I’m actually trying to reach out to the people with minority opinions, and say, hey, someone out there agrees. It’s not a good feeling when it seems everybody else is in on the celebration. Why would you disagree on purpose when it’s more fun to be part of the party? Also, they’re just opinions. I say I’m a movie guy, but that doesn’t mean I have any extra authority. That doesn’t mean my opinions are more important than anyone else’s. Just because I don’t love these films doesn’t mean I don’t recommend them. I think everyone should probably see them, so you can have your own opinion. Lots of people love IPA beer. I think it tastes bitter. I hate bitter, but I like people who like IPA beer, so you can drink it all for me. So here’s my top ten movies I don’t get. I won’t go into too much detail or talk about the plots. I assume most people know all about them already. There’s no clear ranking system. I’ll try to put them in order of how popular the film is versus my own opinion, so the more distant I feel, the more confused I am, the higher on the list. So here we go. Number ten – Citizen Kane. This is lower on the list because I actually do get why it’s so important. It pioneered lots of filmmaking techniques. The story is told in a nonlinear way with many flashbacks. There’s a shot where it zooms into a photograph which comes alive as a cool way of entering a new scene. There’s a scene where someone says Merry Christmas, and then it jumps ahead in time to him saying Happy New Year in a completely different year. So it invented all these neat transitions to get from scene to scene. But despite all of that, I just don’t find the story interesting. Even though it encompasses the entire life span of its main character, I just don’t connect with this character in any way. I mean, it’s about the newspaper business, not something that really fascinates me that much. The reason it makes it on to my list is because film critics and teachers have traditionally called it the number one greatest film of all time, including the American Film Institute. It’s always the number one film. I went to film school, and let me tell you, I’ve had lots of professors tell the class that this is in fact the number one greatest film of all time. They really shove this movie up your ass. So maybe you can understand why I feel some resistance to it. Yes, the techniques are cool, and it’s a great film to study, as a film student. But to me, it’s all style and nothing else. I don’t see much entertainment value in it. For me, it’s just an academic experience. I respect it, I just don’t love it. Number nine – Titanic. To be honest, when I saw it in the theater, I was very impressed. It was a very ambitious film for its time. I do love most of James Cameron’s work, and I am fascinated by the history of the Titanic, and it’s easy to admire how much work went into faithfully recreating the ship and its tragic sinking. But the movie was mostly a fictional romantic drama with the Titanic as the setting. When I watch it today, I just feel underwhelmed. It’s a good movie, yes, but man, the hype it got was monumental. It swept every award ceremony imaginable, from the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes, and everything else. The soundtrack was winning Grammys. It was everywhere. For those who love it, I can see why, actually. It’s beautifully made, but for my personal tastes, that high bar is just too high for me to reach. Number eight – The Sixth Sense. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including best picture. It didn’t win any, but if you counted lots of the other award ceremonies, it cleaned up pretty well. When it came out, I liked it. I thought it was well-written, well-acted, and I did not see the twist ending coming. But my second time watching, the whole effect wore off. It no longer works on me the same way. With every viewing, its appeal fades, for me. I think of it as the hit movie of that year and I move on. But still to this day, it keeps coming up, and that’s fine. I think where it gets on my bad side is when it shows up on top horror lists. For me, it’s too mainstream. It’s not even close to being one of my favorite horror films. I guess part of the reason, I’m not really that much of a ghost fanatic. To me ghosts are so intangible and the rules aren’t always clear. What can ghosts do? What can they not do? I don’t know. For me it’s a bit abstract. I mean, I like Poltergeist and The Shining, so it just depends on the movie. But I’ll say again, The Sixth Sense is really well-made. I just don’t think it lives up to the high reputation. Number seven – A Christmas Story. This is a movie that wasn’t very popular when it first came out. It was later, when it played on television and home video, that it got a cult fanbase. But I suppose the fact that it was so overlooked at first caused a counter-reaction to make it into the most mainstream best-loved Christmas movie there is. So I feel the scale was tipping in one direction towards underrated, and now everybody’s jumped on it to overcompensate. But it needs to be somewhere in the middle. It’s a cute, funny, quirky little movie. I love the narrator voice. I think it’s a fine movie. But enough is enough! Every year TBS and TNT runs a 24-hour marathon, playing the movie in loop, as if it’s the only Christmas movie in existence. Many sites rank it as the number one Christmas movie, and IGN ranks it as the top holiday movie. Yes. Counting all holidays. Really? Number one? As far as Christmas movies go, is it really better than the classic Alastair Sim Christmas Carol? Better than Home Alone? Better than Nightmare Before Christmas? Better than Miracle on 34th Street, It’s A Wonderful Life? I think not. Even with Christmas comedies, I’d take National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation over it any day. That movie I love. I’d even put Gremlins and Diehard above it, if you count those. Once again, if it is your favorite, that’s totally cool. I just think the public exaggerated it way too far. Number six – The Matrix. I liked it. Pretty good. That’s it. But then I see it coming up in all these top movie lists. At the moment, it’s number 18 on IMDb. A poll by ABC and People magazine ranked it number four best sci-fi film of all time. It made it on the various AFI lists. It won four Academy Awards, and I have to hit the brakes here and say, hey wait, what did I miss? Was it that good? Maybe part of the problem is that I didn’t see it in the theater. I just didn’t hear much about it. I didn’t feel any kind of push to go see it. It wasn’t until it was on home video that I started hearing everybody rave about it. So I watched it, and over the years I’ve rewatched it to try and figure out what the big deal was, and for my own assessment, I’m guessing it has something to do with the world it creates. It has a mythology and a lore and I can see why that’s appealing. But I think most of the reason it netted so much mainstream spotlight is because of a bullet time. Just the idea of the camera spinning around people in slow motion was such a big fucking deal for some reason. I can’t even count the movies that parodied it. Every comedy had to include a scene where somebody was imitating the Matrix. I just got really annoyed with seeing it all the time. I was like, just stop doing the fucking bullet time thing. If it wasn’t for all those parodies, I probably would have been content with the praise the film got. Good movie. I just think it went too damn far. Number five – The Dark Knight. I liked it, but damn! Number four on IMDb? As in, like, the fourth best film ever made? In fact, it’s one of only four movies to get a ranking as high as nine. Empire ranked it at number three. I can accept it’s the best Batman movie ever made. I wouldn’t agree, but if that’s your preference, I totally get it. But one of the best films of all time? It’s just a crime drama with Batman in it. There’s hundreds of other crime dramas out there. I don’t see what this one did that made it so special. I think of it as a movie with some really good kick-ass scenes. I love when Batman is chasing down the Joker and flips the truck. I love when he’s interrogating the Joker. Basically I love all the scenes with the Joker, but a large percent of the film is without him. I don’t care as much for all the stuff with Harvey Dent, and the whole part where Batman goes to Hong Kong to bring back that guy Lau, I thought was flat out dull. I actually find certain portions of this movie to be boring, and wish it was cut shorter. To me, lots of the tone and dialogue comes off as pretentious. It just sounds like they’re trying so hard to make it so serious and escalate it to a higher art. I’ve rewatched it several times and I still don’t see a whole lot more than just, Batman fights the Joker, Joker corrupts Harvey Dent, Dent dies, Joker gets caught, etc. What is the deeper meaning, and why does that deeper meaning beat out so many other films, all with deep meanings? Many people analyze the themes. But I don’t see how you can’t analyze tons of other films the same way, and find just as many themes. What about the themes in Star Wars? Number four – Pulp Fiction. Number seven on IMDb doesn’t even sum it up. This film is worshipped as changing the face of cinema. Personally, I thought Reservoir Dogs was better, and that came out first. Why couldn’t that be the one that broke ground? I love most of Tarantino’s films. But surprisingly, Pulp Fiction is actually one of my lesser favorites. It just doesn’t do much for me. I’m ashamed to admit it. I was a film student and I took Saturday and summer classes in the 90s when this film was fresh. And even then, film professors were raving about it. We actually studied scenes from it and analyzed them shot-for-shot. We studied the script and matched parts of the script with shots of the movie. So you can’t say I haven’t seen it. I’ve analyzed the hell out of it. I’ve read articles explaining why it’s so great. And I’ve always thought it’s just a decent movie. Obviously, it’s a cultural phenomenon. It did something right, but I’m still looking, here. I like when they’re talking about the burgers, all that, but I just don’t see anything deeper. There must be something there, I just haven’t found it yet. Number three – The Godfather Part Two. I’m sorry. I didn’t do it on purpose. I wish I loved this movie like everyone else. My family’s Italian. I’m supposed to love it. But I don’t. I think I can understand why the first Godfather is important, because it was the first big movie to deal with organized crime and the Mafia, and Marlon Brando is iconic. Just looking at him tells you a lot about his character. But without him, and now that we’re on to the second movie, I don’t see what it did that was so revolutionary. It’s one of few movie sequels to get this kind of praise. It swept the Academy Awards, including best picture, Sight and Sound puts it in the top ten, it’s number seven on Entertainment Weekly, number three on IMDb, number one in TV Guide. Everyone loves this movie! Crime dramas, man. I guess that’s what it’s all about. All other genres have to bow down to crime dramas. If you like crime dramas, that’s fine. So do I, sometimes. But what about Goodfellas? I like Goodfellas better than any of the Godfathers. What about Scarface with Al Pacino? I fucking love Scarface. It’s in my top 50 favorite films. But Godfather 2? Does nothing for me. Number two – Donnie Darko. I had the luxury of seeing this movie without the hype. The fact is, when it came out in the theaters it didn’t have any hype. It had a limited run. It was barely advertised. Most people never heard of it until it came out on video. And I was among the first generation to discover it. I found it purely on my own. I was in the video store. I saw the VHS box with that weird creepy rabbit on the cover and I thought, it must be some shitty horror movie. And sometimes I like watching garbage, so that was what I was in the mood for. I took it home, I watched it, and it was not what I expected at all. I had no idea what I was watching. It didn’t make any sense. So I moved on and forgot about it. Then one of my classmates at the University said, hey, I saw this movie Donnie Darko, It’s really awesome. And I’m like, oh, really? And then I start hearing about it more, like this movie is going around the word of mouth. So I think well, maybe I was in the wrong mood, so I watch it again. And again, and still, it sucks. I – I – what am I missing here? I know people like that it doesn’t make sense, that you could interpret it different ways, people like to analyze it. But no matter how many times I hear it explained, I just think, yeah, and, why does that make it so great? I’ve seen lots of movies with confusing endings and time travel and stuff. I’ve seen it done better. Just pick any Twilight Zone episode. Also, a lot of people like it because it’s a coming-of-age story. Yeah, I mean, so is the Karate Kid. I just don’t see what’s so special about it. Sorry. And number one – The Big Lebowski. Let me clarify. I like this movie … enough. I like it better than most movies on this list. But it’s number one for me because of the gap. The amount of distance between how I feel about it and how others feel. Like Donnie Darko, it wasn’t a big hit when it came out. It didn’t sweep awards ceremonies and all that. It quietly appeared on home video, people discovered it, and the rest is history. I don’t have many stats to back up its popularity. But I talk to people all the time who tell me, in the most genuine way, they think The Big Lebowski is the best film ever made. Movie people. People who’ve seen lots of stuff. There’s a festival dedicated to it – Lebowski Fest. This movie started a religion called duty-ism. Books have been written about it. I actually had a roommate who started wearing a bathrobe around in public. He actually became the character. He watched the movie with his friends repeatedly, so I’ve seen it way too many times. Even when I’m not watching it, I’d hear it from the other room, and every line of dialogue, things I would find mildly funny, they would blow up with laughter. This movie has been beaten into my brain. I’ve watched it alone. I’ve watched it with people, but I can’t figure it out. Like I said, I enjoy it to a certain degree. I think John Goodman is fantastic. Jeff Bridges is good, to a limit. There’s some great exchanges like, I like your style, Dude. I like yours too. You got a cowboy thing going on. That’s funny. Then there’s the line about the porno movie with the cable guy. Guess what happens? He fixes the cable. It’s the same type of joke where he takes something literally. After a while, I just see it as a one track performance, and I get that’s the idea. I get that’s the reason why people love this guy. That so much happens around him and he’s not phased by any of it. People like the crime aspect of it, of course. They love the story of the mistaken identity. But what about North by Northwest? It was done already, and it was done better. I like Big Lebowski, just because it’s kind of quirky, it’s kind of different. But I would have never watched it again if it wasn’t for everybody telling me, like, oh, you got to watch it again because it’s one of those repeat viewing kind of films.The more you see it, the more it grows on you. Well, then let me ask, how many more times do I have to see it before it gets great? And why would everyone else watch it ten times if they didn’t already love it the first time? With other movies on this list, I can sort of understand the appeal. With the Dark Knight, it’s Batman. With Pulp Fiction, it’s Tarantino. But the Big Lebowski, I think it’s just some random movie that blew up. Anyway, I know it’s surprising. I have nothing against any of these films. And if you agree with any of this, speak up. If you have a minority opinion, I don’t think you should feel silenced. They’re just movies..