Hating movies is my thing. At least that’s what I’ve been told. I am an accidental contrarian.
I am not an Armond White troll, working from an aggressive angle of how critical favorites are in fact garbage. I write what I perceive and sometimes it goes against the consensus. Twice in the past year, that has occurred drastically.
Gravity and Boyhood aren’t movies that most people think are good. Most people don’t even perceive them as great. Gravity and Boyhood were welcomed into the world as benchmarks for cinema. Each was seen by critics and, largely, audiences as groundbreaking movies unlikely nearly anything seen before. On Metacritic Gravity has a whopping 96 score, while Boyhood has a ludicrous 100. For those unfamiliar with the differences between Metacritc and Rotten Tomatoes, the more popular critical aggregating website, it’s simple; Metacritic bases its number on the score/grade/rating of major film critics in the country, Rotten Tomatoes bases its number on whether or not a review is positive or negative.
To call either of these pictures anything other than a treasure to behold has been difficult. It’s also how I feel. It’s one of those things that happens when you put out into the world an opinion about a film or other medium on a regularly basis. I’ve been reviewing movies on a roughly weekly basis for nearly six years. Most of the time people react non-chalantly to a particular review. Someone will like a picture slightly more or slightly less. When I am positive, even a shred, on a film that others are less kind towards, it will resonate a bit. I didn’t hate Jonah Hex or Divergrent. I wouldn’t call either film good, neither did or would I lambast them as utter garbage. I’ve received a lot of callbacks to those reviews.
There are even times where it gets oddly local. Steven Spielberg’s War Horse was lauded by and large. That said, in Seattle it was received with something more akin to a thud. Some people found it fine, others in the area laughed at it. Then some laughed at me. I responded to it deeply, relatively infamously. It’s been years now and whenever I choke up during a film, which I do often, I am ribbed, stemming from my willingness to tell an anecdote of standing in a men’s room full of weeping fellas that had just exited the movie.
Gravity and Boyhood are the confusing pair. For a second consecutive year, I have come out against two of my favorite directors who’ve crossed over into the mainstream on a level rarely done. Sure, Alfonso Cuaron had a hit with his Harry Potter installment, as well as critical adulation for several movies; I couldn’t give myself over to Gravity. Richard Linklater’s had hits before too, of varying degrees, and his Before films have become cult classics. Boyhood has reached a different audience, getting chatter from casual moviegoers like Jesse and Celine never managed.
So I here am, annoyed that two of the modern greats are basking in a national lovefest that I long to partake in, yet can’t. I was happy Cuaron won that Oscar, even if in my head I was rooting against it. There’s a strong likelihood Linklater may get his first true run with the Academy in the coming months. All I can think is…yay? I know it doesn’t matter that an artist I profoundly admire could get an award for what I deem his lesser work. That’s the nature of art though. I am ecstatic at what opportunities Boyhood might open up for Linklater. Here I am nonetheless, an accidental contrarian feeling like the sole sane voice in a world of crazies. I won’t pretend to be otherwise.