Subjectivity constrains and widens the lens through which we view and experience life, and our own taste of culture and art is widely determined by it. It is infinitely difficult to trace how subjectivity births in us – it can very well be the result of our hierarchical social standing or the cultural influence and upbringing in our youth. Since, even after using these sociological terms, subjectivity maintains an air of mystery, we can generally attribute it to the random play of our DNA.
This article is not about the philosophical argument concerning subjectivity, but its influence on cinema. Why a film hailed by some as a masterpiece of the medium is thrashed by another, or the frequent distinction in the critical evaluations of a film by the masses and scholars – the answer is still awaiting. Cinema is also a product of time, a worthy friend of life. So, it is not so surprising that the success and acclaim of a film would depend upon a particular time, and the political and social tension and standpoint of that era.
Viewers and critics would always have some bias in their evolution; after all, they are very much human. So, sometimes the technical and cinematic mastery of a worthier contender is overlooked, and a more sentimental but uninspiring film will take all the accolades. It has happened over and over and this is the subject of the list. The films listed in this article are unfairly presented with unprecedented love and acclaim from the masses, while the latter-day critical evaluation says the opposite or the opposite is expected to come soon. Without further ado, here are the 10 most overrated films of the 2010s.
10. Les Miserables
Musicals always strike a chord with Hollywood viewers; it is a sure crowd-pleasing genre, but the great critical appraisal of “Les Miserables” was still hugely unexpected. “Les Miserables,” the film adaptation of the Victor Hugo novel of the same name, is soothing to the ears, pleasing to the eyes, but the appeal doesn’t extend to the intelligence. The camera is seldom static, in order to give a sense of extra dimension, but this constant frantic movement doesn’t give a scope to invest in the great emotional story or simply obstructs it.
There is a great deal of close-up and fish-eye lensing that doesn’t add anything to the story apart from a stylistic decision, and as the performers are never comfortable in their singing capability, this revelation weakens the impact of the melodramatic flow. Classic film fans will love the film, but it’s not a great film for all-encompassing appraise.
9. Wonder Woman
“Wonder Woman” was a breath of oxygen to the DC franchise who was falling behind its competitor Marvel films. The film is surely one of the good ones from the superhero franchise films of DC comics, but it is not one of the better films of the decade. Gal Gadot is amazing as the titular character, the script supplies a much-needed feminist storyline in it and the action set pieces shot by “Monster” director Patty Jenkins. But other than that there is nothing in the film to take home to think about or gladly remember about.
“Wonder Woman” has its fair share of cringe-worthy dialogues, stupid building of political tension when the story comes into a contemporary setting, and the usual bad CGI that attracts bad attention. “Wonder Woman” is a charming film for a while, but the charm soon looses out in favour of a lacklustre pace. Here, Jenkins has shown that she can direct action scenes pretty well, but the human emotions are not compelling to hold to. Perhaps, the familiar studio meddling story has something to do with it.
The opening scene of “Spectre” is spectacular with a long chase scene amidst the Day of the Dead festival. Taking over from Roger Deakins, Hoyte Van Hoytema creates a remarkable action sequence in the festival with Bond frequently missing his target in the crowd; but as the film progresses, the uninspired writing becomes prominent and the fantastic visuals can’t help the film to maintain its quality.
“Spectre” was concerned to maintain the blockbuster quality of the recent mainstream offerings and tried to maintain the serialized storytelling from “Skyfall”; as a result, the film suffers and can’t stand on its own. Daniel Craig later declared that he is tired of the role of James Bond and this boredom is evident in his performance in the film. The urgency is missing in “Spectre,” which is a distinctive quality of the Bond franchise films. “Spectre” only gets its praise for the visuals and for Craig, and to a lesser extent, because it is a James Bond film. Its overpraise is an indication of today’s mediocre sensibility.
7. The Square
In the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, “The Square” surprisingly won the trophy of Palme d’Or, the top prize of the festival. The response of the film was good throughout the festival, but not even the biggest romantics hoped for “The Square” to win the biggest one. Since then, the film has been overtly accoladed, which sometimes questions the film’s true merit. The best cinematic device to expose uncomfortable truths – using sharp satire filmmaker Ruben Östlund – deconstructs the art world and its laughable under-the-cover histrionics.
“The Square” is episodic by nature and truly, some parts of the film are extremely laudable, but the quality is varied in the segments. Thus comes another weak point of the film – the narrative structure is loose and borderline incomprehensible for the general audience. Because of the cluelessness of the narrative, the film sometimes becomes a burden to watch. It may have made a great short film, but for a fictional film, “The Square” is certainly over-appreciated to a great extent.
6. American Hustle
“American Hustle” loosely bases itself upon the infamous Abscam case, a curious and complicated scandal in the history. Just like the case itself, the film is also a complicated and bloated mess, only balanced by the superior performances from the lead cast. But the incoherent plot always distracts the viewer to enjoy the performances from the lead cast, and the bad visuals don’t work either.
The art direction is overwhelming to create an exuberant period setting, but the composition is flat. “American Hustle” works for some and fails for the rest for a singular reason – the theme of the shattered American Dream. This is no Scorsese film, only a rework of various masterpiece genre pictures.