Posted by: ckckred | March 20, 2012

The difference between a good and great film

One of the first things I heard after the Oscars was not the egregious snubs of Steven Spielberg, The Adventures of Tintin, or Albert Brooks.  It wasn’t the outrage poured to the nomination of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  It was a complaint that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 wasn’t nominated.

I like Deathly Hallows Part 2, but really, was it a great movie?  I enjoyed all the Harry Potter films (except for the fifth one), but none of them shout out greatness.  Besides, the best one wasn’t Deathly Hallows Part 2.  It was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban.

But this example goes for most blockbusters or big studio films.  No, I am not referring to Tranformers 3: Dark of the Moon or The Green Lantern.  I’m referring to films this year like Rise of the Planet of the Apes or Thor.  They were good films, but were they really ones you will remember 10 years from now?

The best films usually are independent films, mostly because they aren’t aimed at getting an audience.  Films this year like The Descendants and The Artist were both aired at film festivals until they attracted the attention of distributors for the film.  And if you look at most critics’ top 10 lists, you’ll see that the majority of the films are indies.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t great studio films.  Directors such as Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese make terrific studio films.  And plus, there was Super 8, a great blockbuster film that’s soon going to be in my updated Best Films of the Year list.

My point is that calling a hugely enjoyable film great isn’t always correct.  The Oscars don’t really understand this.  Take Titanic for example.  It’s a good film, but really, is it great?  The acting is kind of bloated, and the story is weak too.  So how could it win Best Picture?

It’s clear to see the difference between a good and great film.  I can like a film, but only admire something that is truly groundbreaking or strong to call it great.  A critic’s job revolves around this principle, and that’s why I believe it is important.


  1. I definitely agree. It’s sad to see brilliant works not get rewarded. Keep fighting the good fight!

    • A good example is Drive, a brilliantly done film that received only a single nomination at the Oscars. It definitely is a pretty underrated film.

  2. It must be very hard for unknown directors to be noticed. If an unknown had made Hugo, do you think it would have been noticed. Any unknown directors nominated recently?
    Great post as always.

    • Hugo had a huge budget and was widely promoted, so I don’t think it would have been ignored, though having Martin Scorsese as a director did help.

      I haven’t heard of any great new directors or unknown directors who have been nominated. This year was filled with familiar great names like Terrance Mallick and Woody Allen.

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