It’s been over a half-year since The Last Jedi divided America. One side frantically applauded it for breaking away from the norms of the series and delivering a resonating finish. The other side cursed it for its agendas, its Mary Sue, and the disrespect of Luke Skywalker. Oh, and the sea cow milking. That too.
But while the TLJ argument will continue from now until episode IX, were here to talk about ten other recent movies that’ve pitted neighbor against neighbor. Sure, these discussions may’ve lacked the foaming mouths that made up the Star Wars arguments. But they split up their audiences just as much.
For this list, we chose films from the last decade. So, don’t expect 21st century films like The Fountain, Dogville, or Saw. And no, were not talking about Batman v Superman or its director’s cut. Because that movie is awful no matter what you add or slice.
Who would have a list like this without adding Lars von Trier? There’s a few pictures you could choose from in his filmography. In fact, the entire “Depression Trilogy” could be discussed here.
Nymphomaniac (especially pt. 2) obviously has a multitude of varying opinions. You could easily say the same for Antichrist, although von Trier’s style doesn’t necessarily sit well with everyone to begin with. And that goes for critics too.
But while Melancholia was the best reviewed of the trio, that praise only extended to certain film lovers. Most of the divide revolved around von Trier’s methods more than anything else. Many view Melancholia as pretentious filmmaking about pretentious people, a film that’s too self-aware and trying too hard. Others focus more of their complaints on how awful the dialogue is.
Fiercely meeting those charges are von Trier’s arthouse aficionados, who not only praise the film’s deep awareness of human emotion, but also scoff at the idea that the drama is exaggerated.
Most would meet in the middle when it comes to Kirsten Dunst’s performance, even if you’re not her biggest fan. And the visuals are also worth observing even by those who despise von Trier’s depressing tone. But for the most part, you’re left with those who think the film is one of the year’s best, and those who think it’s full of itself.
This was crowned an Oscar darling before the Academy Awards even rolled around in 2015.
It only won one of the six golden statues it was nominated for, but there’s still debate in who should’ve won best picture, Birdman or Boyhood. Honestly, the answer is Whiplash, but that argument is for another list.
But while critics swooned for Boyhood, not all audiences had the same full-force love. For as many people who said it was charming and revolutionary, others said it was dull in look and clunky in dialogue. Retractors were especially irked by the fact the filmmakers patted themselves on the back for making it over the course of 12 years. They talked about how audiences got to literally see the lead actor grow up on-screen, and how unique of an idea it was.
But beyond that (possibly) weak selling point, many filmgoers considered Boyhood the ultimate coming-of-age story. Most of the praise centered on the film’s realism and sincerity. Also, Patricia Arquette’s performance was of note. But many others thought her acting to be overdone and one-note, and the film itself to be a complete bore.
Whether it was a triumph in filmmaking or a collection of bland snapshots, we can all agree Boyhood will always be debated.
3. Cloud Atlas
We can all agree Cloud Atlas being adapted seemed like an intriguing diversion from most big-budget fare. But the execution by the Wachowski’s is more than up for debate.
Beyond the fact that this was a box office bomb, the average rating for audiences on Rotten Tomatoes is 3.6 out of 5. A moviegoer must give a film a 3.5 to consider “liking” it. That’s how close it is to the middle. Not because everyone’s giving it grades right on the line, but because for every audience review calling it unintelligible nonsense, there’s just as many calling it a stimulating masterpiece.
All the philosophical ambition tipped audiences one way or another. For some, it was so confusing that it became boring. Much of that had to do with what they thought was a mess of a script mixed with a concept that wasn’t even that intricate. It was almost as if the deeper it got, the more disjointed it became.
But apparently there were just as many, if not more people, who connected all the narrative and philosophical dots. Not only were they linked throughout the weaving jumps of the timeline, but it made the movie more appealing. Showing the impact human lives have on one another over the ages appealed to them in ways most big-budget movies couldn’t dream of.
Yes, it’s almost as if these sides saw two different movies completely. But if anything, no one minds Tom Hanks acting his heart out.
DC and Marvel fans have an obsession of tearing down each other’s movies and endlessly parading their own. But before The Dark Knight Rises, Iron Man 3, BvS, and the like rose up a storm of disagreement, there was Watchmen.
The critics were already split into major factions over the film, which had quite a load of hype behind it. But there was no true separation like the one between moviegoers.
To this day, many fans of the movie believe it is not only one of the more relatable superhero tales, but one of the best. Its political and moral messages were driving forces for their love of the film, as were the conflicted heroes.
In the other corner of the ring, there was a swarm of criticizers who thought director Zack Snyder didn’t provide any emotional depth to the story. They added that some of the lead performances were dreadful and that the story itself was told in a boring, straightforward fashion.
It definitely wouldn’t be the first or the last time Snyder was put on display to be praised or picked apart. The values of such films as 300, Sucker Punch, and BvS are still widely discussed.
But if one thing can be agreed upon by most, its that Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach was both entertaining and convincing.
You may take one look at the box office champion of champions and think most mainstream audiences wouldn’t debate its appeal. But there’s some real hate that’s been thrown on this movie, and it may be as strong as ever nine years later.
Worn out storylines and caricatures are big reasons why it receives harsh disapproval. It’s also way too long and drawn out for many viewers. That’s especially because they feel like they’re following a generic lead character and another white guilt fantasy. A rehash of colonization in America and the genocide of Native Americans wasn’t what they had in mind when they went to see a sci-fi/fantasy flick.
But countless others were just fine with the plot lines, crediting Avatar as a once-in-a-generation movie experience. The symmetry of the Dances with Wolves narrative and the sci-fi effects make it a classic to many, even if it isn’t very dense storytelling. James Cameron was a king of blockbusters before Avatar, and many believe he still is after it.
Are that many people excited for his sequels? It doesn’t seem like it. But when was the last time he failed to put cheeks in seats? Whether good or bad, we all know the hype will be monumental.