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The 10 Most Overrated Movies On The IMDB Top 250

18 November 2017 | Features, Film Lists | by Conor Lochrie

6. Spotlight (#205)

Spotlight

A return to classic journalistic dramas from the 1970’s like All the President’s Men, Spotlight (2015) hits all the respective marks but overall feels a little undercooked, surprising given the shocking nature of the source material.

The film follows a group of Boston Globe journalists in 2001 who exposed the Roman Catholic church’s institutional protection of sexually abusive priests; a great ordeal for a city that was 50% Catholic at the time.

As one can imagine, it was a massive story when the church was finally held accountable for its actions, leading all the way to the Archbishop of Boston. It’s important at this point to make something clear: by calling Spotlight overrated is in no way meant to imply anything about the actual story, a deeply upsetting chapter of Boston history.

Rather, if taken purely on its cinematic quality, Tom McCarthy’s film is found very lacking. The characters are quite one-dimensional; a fantastic cast including Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams can’t make their characters distinctive or notable.

Perhaps owing to the fact that much of the shocking details that they eventually uncover lie off-screen, in an alternative thriller film version of the story, what we are privy to here is the journalistic process of constant prodding and persisting until something vital comes up. Which is not to say that the film should have made a Hollywood-version of the story, but that not enough is given to the viewer to hold their attention much longer than the end credits.

For McCarthy, in his fifth feature, has yet to develop any semblance of a directorial style. While a technically proficient and well-conceived piece, the lack of something extra provided by his control is what makes Spotlight seem just a rehash of better journalistic films that preceded it. Ultimately too much time seems devoted to exposition reveals and voluminous dialogue at the expense of visual and emotional weight.

A virtuous and vital film only by its subject matter, the question could be raised that this story would have been more suited to the small screen; where the abuse victims could be heard more and the awful details could be explored and understood more. As a result, while Spotlight is important in raising awareness of the Catholic Church’s crimes, the simple presentation doesn’t emphasize its points enough.

 

7. Hacksaw Ridge (#173)

Hacksaw Ridge

Mel Gibson’s 2nd appearance in this list, and perhaps for a more contentious piece. Hacksaw Ridge (2016) won acclaim as the controversial director’s return to Hollywood after a prolonged absence after his many character issues (see anti-Semitism, misogyny and homophobia) made him an unpopular figure.

The film is about Desmond Doss, an American Seventh-Day Adventist and pacifist who signed up to serve in WWII as a field medic but only if he were allowed to refrain from even carrying a weapon into battle.

The true story is indeed an incredible one, a portrait of a heroic and honorable man, but the film’s portrayal of him seems flawed. Like a deeper work would do, the audience is never asked to challenge or question Doss’ beliefs: while he’s no doubt in the right, and Gibson certainly thinks so, it’s merely presented as Fact and Truth.

It feels that Gibson is only content to bombard his audience with this moral absolute, from a position of righteous superiority. It’s through this directorial decision that the Hacksaw Ridge swerves from being a thought-provoking and powerful war story to a seemingly agenda-pushing epic. The result is that this is a very one-sided war film, something unusual lately; the opposing Japanese soldiers are rarely described or humanized.

For a film about a man who doesn’t agree in war or fighting, Hacksaw Ridge is incredibly violent, to be expected with Gibson at the helm. There is an overwhelming sense that he enjoys suffering too much (one only needs to remember his Passion of the Christ), and the film often feels like something akin to war porn.

The intense battle scenes features exploded carcasses, rats feasting on the remains of the dead, slow-motion images of erupting flames, a stunning illustration of War as Hell. It must be noted here that Gibson is a very skillful action director, a recurring feature of all his films, but even for him, Hacksaw Ridge feels too sadistic and gleeful in all the destruction.

Mirroring Doss’ test of his faith, Gibson makes sure to test his audience’s limits for watching violence. For a man who’s been openly anti-Semitic, homophobic, amongst many other things in the past, it just seems unwise and ultimately unfair that he was provided such a large platform to return to Hollywood’s inner ring, especially creating such a personal film.

 

8. Gladiator (#46)

Commodus (Gladiator)

Combining one of Hollywood’s great directors and perhaps the most famous actor of the time, Gladiator (2000) was always destined to be a success and win some acclaim, but it’s incredible just how successful it became.

Winner of Best Picture and Best Director for Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott, it’s by no means a bad film; it contains excellent action scenes and spirited performances. That it was hailed as an important film, an equal to Spartacus and Ben Hur is why it’s overrated. After escaping captivity and finding out that his wife and son have been murdered, Maximus finds his way to North Africa, where he is sold as a slave to Proximo.

When Commodus lifts the ban on gladiators in Rome so as to distract his people from their poverty, Maximus fights his way to the top, to avenge those he lost. Gladiator is definitely a Ridley Scott film but that holds problems as well as positives.

If one considers a large part of his filmography – Black Hawk Down, Kingdom of Heaven, Robin Hood – a common denominator is that they are all technically good, but just above average blockbuster epics, and Gladiator is no different. They’re also known for their gritty serious atmospheres and this film is that to a fault. The whole thing is overwhelmingly grim; the characters mostly seem depressed and morose, at the expense of any personality.

Therefore, for a summer Hollywood epic, it lacks even a touch of joy amidst the gloom. Visually, too, the film is bleak. It looks murky, dark and indistinct. With regards to the performances, Crowe is serviceable and requisitely rough as the lead; Joaquin Phoenix’s bizarre emperor is a burst of energy amidst the constant doom and seems resultantly to be from a different, more exciting version of the film.

In weighing up the merits of this above average work, just like Maximus and the lesser soldiers he bests in the Roman arena, it should be easy to separate Gladiator from being a good film to being one of the greatest of all time.

 

9. Dunkirk (#97)

Fionn Whitehead - Dunkirk

There is no bigger director working today than Christopher Nolan; his films are events and his name is a brand. His latest, Dunkirk (2017), was advertised, as usual, as a masterpiece, a film that had to be seen. Could it be that, like with the underwhelming Interstellar, we’re being fed the myth of the Kubrickian-esque auteur too forcefully? The film relates the incredible story of the evacuation of Allied soldiers at Dunkirk in 1940 during WWII.

By the end of its 8th day, over 300,000 of them had been amazingly rescued by an assembly of fishing boats, yachts, paddle steamers and barges. Nolan split the story into 3 perspectives: the evacuation from land, sea and air. His version, it seems, is more an experiment in filming techniques at the expense of emotional payoff for the audience. Alternating between the 3 perspectives, the fragmentation at times is disorientating.

It can’t be denied that it makes for tense viewing; like all his films, Dunkirk is simmering in suspenseful scenes. The attention to visual spectacle over everything else feels hollow.

The characters, when they are actually used, feel flat and underwritten, largely because of the minimal and at points embarrassing dialogue. Branagh and Hardy, as one would expect, perform their roles admirably, but Rylance’s yachtsman feels all too much like the human embodiment of the British stiff-upper-lip trope. Most of this would be passable but it’s the casting of Harry Styles as one of the main stranded soldiers that can’t be accepted.

If Nolan truly wanted to commit to his filmmaking philosophy for Dunkirk – that the events are much bigger than the people who were part of it – then Styles’ presence feels like a gross abandonment of this. Any pretension to realism and historical perspective is lost as his character performs his lines like an inferior actor in an inferior film.

For a director with bold and adventurous choices in the past, this feels like an uncharacteristically poor move. Many have also highlighted the lack of context in the film, as we never see a German soldier, or any government members behind the scenes.

Nolan’s rebuttal to these criticisms was to state that he didn’t want to get involved in the politics of the event and the war, which would be fine, but unintentionally or not, Dunkirk can be perceived as a patriotic film. It’s a quiet, somber patriotism, certainly, but it exists in the sentimentality of the ending and in the mawkish dialogue. By paying too much attention to cinematic flare, the important human center of the Dunkirk evacuation is lost; it’s far too mechanical and methodical to be truly great.

 

10. La La Land (#177)

La La Land (2016), the 2nd feature of Damien Chazelle, is a musical romance which starred Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as dreamers who fall in love while trying to make it in Los Angeles: she’s an actress, while he’s a budding jazz musician. La La Land was cast as a modern-day love letter to musicals but the connection feels artificial.

It’s referential to a comical level: Singing in the Rain, West Side Story, and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg are just some of the classic musicals that make an almost literal appearance in the appropriation. Every musical relies heavily on the appeal of its leads and in this case, La La Land is starkly lacking.

Much of the negativity has been aimed at Gosling’s character, for his insensitivity and shallowness: he ‘mansplains’ jazz to Mia for instance. She, too, while better acted by the exuberant Stone, is nothing but a stereotypical struggling but talented actress.

The writing doesn’t help either one, however. Getting together at a low point in their respective careers, they spend time together, allegedly falling in love, mentoring each other, and once they find themselves advancing in their personal lives, they decide to stay apart and focus on themselves; how very L.A.

Sebastian and Mia are just hard to root for as a viewer, whether it be due to Sebastian blasting his car horn rather than going to her doorstep, or due to Mia standing directly in front of the screen when searching for him in the cinema.

In terms of a musical film, Gosling and Stone just aren’t up to proceedings. Neither can dance and their singing leaves a lot to be desired too. And this is emblematic of poor casting. For a film to claim to be about the love of musicals, the use of bankable actors rather than true musical actors just feels lazy; simply a way to do well at the box office at the behest of integrity.

Throughout the film the sense prevails that Chazelle believes there’s a distinct line between talented people and non-talented people. Consider the aforementioned part where Sebastian openly resents being in the hugely popular modern jazz band because they don’t play what he thinks is proper, or the studio executives who make Mia utter useless lines at audition after audition. The uneasy feeling is that Chazelle too fervently believes in the power of the artist and that he is most definitely one.

The youngest Best Director winner ever, he feels like the first true millennial filmmaker. Make no mistake, he and La La Land are products of our time. Where Moonlight’s success was a natural by-product of our need for progression, La La Land’s felt the opposite: a complete act of escapism for an audience in need of it.

Author Bio: Conor Lochrie is a Glaswegian currently travelling and working in New Zealand after 4 long and arduous years at university which he survived with a degree in Central and Eastern European Studies. Unsurprisingly, he now works in a warehouse but would much rather be watching and writing about cinema.

 

 

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  • Zwei

    Life Is Beautiful #25

  • Felixliterator

    Avatar too.

  • TatiDemyFass

    Please, write something more original and of more critical worth. Everything you’ve written here is either contrived, off-base, or just pedestrian opinion nowadays (or all of the above). The most egregious clearly being your paragraphs allotted to La La Land — every single sentence is the same exact shallow and projected ignorance that can be found in articles from virtually every major publication. Not to mention that criticizing the IMBD Top 250 is the most redundant action to take at this point…every serious film lover understands the list is largely generic, and people have known this for years. There’s nothing of critical merit or even a resemblance of insight to be found in this whole article. Do better and stop thinking you’re special because you can recycle commonly expressed “criticisms” and don’t agree with the most entry level film list available.

  • Tim O’Hare

    I thought this was a list of overrated films not directors who don’t share your ideological agenda. Mel Gibson’s views are irrelevant to the quality of Hacksaw Ridge.

  • Wyatt W.B

    Aw fuck off

  • This list shouldn’t even exist. Goodbye TOC.

  • giorgio palmas

    The character of Jenny in Forrest Gump was a perfect allegory for the 1960s; a sleazy drug-soaked orgy that destroyed millions of lives and created the addiction culture. The most annoying part of the film was the needle drop soundtrack of every overused song of the different decades. CCR’s It Ain’t Me for a Vietnam sequence? C’mon, man…

  • Can we superkick this motherfucker?

    • giorgio palmas

      Sometimes a film doesn’t have to mean anything .

      • True but if you love something like film. You have to give reasons into why you care about it.

    • Ricardo Correia

      What do you dislike in this list?

      • It’s crap. It’s got a bunch of meaningless comments that really says nothing about anything.

    • LifeOnEarth

      All I could think while reading was “This guy shouldn’t watch movies…”

  • Utopian Hermit Crab

    I think this list is incomplete to say the least. Not to knock Clint Eastwood – he’s a damn fine actor and a decent director – but neither Million Dollar Baby nor Gran Torino have any right to be in the Top 250.

  • colonelkurtz

    Unless you have something better to lend, continue working in that warehouse, and don’t share your writing on cinema. What I read were uneducated and shallow attempts at “profound” criticism.

  • sailor monsoon

    I don’t like to use the phrase ‘meh’ but i believe it’s justified here

  • Juan Mariño

    At least he sure got a lot of clicks

  • Andrew David Boyle

    A few big yes”‘s and a few big no’s as I read this. Hacksaw Ridge, Gladiator and Braveheart are not overrated. But Forrest Hump, Amelie, Shawshank Redemption, I have to agree.

    An entertaining article, keep up the good work. Don’t pay much attention to the critics, none of it seems constructive, therefore by definition it is self-orientated and more about them than you.

    • Kosta Jovanovic

      Yes they are

  • Henrik Öfjäll

    Looks like a hipster list of complaints… hahaha sure they are not supergood but we already knew that

  • Marko Jovanovic

    Mostly of american blockbuster is overrated and too hyped. From this list in top 250 should stay The Shawshank Redemption, Amélie, Forrest Gump and Schindler’s List and probably much lower position what they have. But what is really IMDB list I mean on top 250 are such dull and at most mediocre summer hits like Blade Runner 2049 (wait first movie down on the same list, laughable), Hacksaw Ridge, Logan and much more…

  • Dreaming Wanderer

    Schindler’s List and Hacksaw Ridge the only movies deserve to be in this list.

  • Ricardo Correia

    Loved the placement of Schindler’s List
    But a top 10 is too short to rank the amount of bad films in the IMDB Top 250

  • Kosta Jovanovic

    Yep, even if i agree with the choices, your writing is terrible

  • Black mamba

    What is the point of this article beside you getting to trash these movies… Write something original that will get people interested in seeing movies rather than this… And by the way: Force awakens is also on the 250 list(movies is good but 250 list means it is amongst 250 best movies ever made, so no), The Help, Blade runner 2049, Room, …

    • Mortimer

      ‘The Help’ is in IMDb Top 250 ? Jesus…

  • Marcello Massardo

    fuck forrest gump

  • Alan

    I’m worried about the future of this site. For real.

  • Aidy Shaw

    Mel Gibson is American.

    • Daniel Hammerberg

      This whole time I thought he was Australian! I looked it up on IMDB and found that “Mel and his family moved to Australia in the late 1960s, settling in New South Wales..”

  • Dave

    You took on some sacred cows and will get some blowback, but I agree with you on most of your list. The imdb top 250 is riddled with mediocrity

  • David

    The Help has 8,1 on imbd, The Master 7,1. IMBD is DEFINITELY NOT something that has to be considered as a trustworthy guide for great films.

  • grootrm

    Conor Lochrie your attitude stinks.

  • Vincenzo Politi

    Gladiator is the most overrated movie in the history of cinema. That say, putting Amélie, Schindler’s List, La la Land, Spotlight and not, say, The King’s Speech, Shakespeare in Love or Life is Beautiful means that the guy who wrote this stuff really doesn’t know what “overrated” means.

  • dman131

    Holy $h*t. A list i actually liked on here – i note that everyone else hated it. There are a couple of the flicks (Hacksaw and La La) that are ok. Never ever have understood the love for Shawshank or Amielie. The latter of those two is so mind numbingly boring…

    • Shawshank is just an over bloated Escape From Alcatraz

  • Muh Aldhyansah Dodhy

    When everybody loves Schindlers List, Amelie & Shawshank Redemption, This author comes… The rest is bullshit

  • shamim ahmed

    Most overrated List on TasteofCinema

  • Neil Boreland

    I don’t like Braveheart or Gladiator haven’t seen la la land, spotlight or Dunkirk but the others are fine movies imho

  • David Johnson

    literally every dumb, point-missing thing I’ve ever heard about these movies from their critics.

    write your own shit and stop being your film professor’s ghost writer.

  • David Johnson

    Also, keep your politics out of this, they’re completely irrelevant to the quality of the films. Especially if your political views just make you sound dumb.

    “White Savior?” The fuck color were the Jews then?!