Says who? - Thirty-nine Polarizing Hollywood Debates (Resolved)

by Tin_ear | created - 22 Apr 2011 | updated - 09 Jun 2014 | Public

All feedback is appreciated.

1. Heath Ledger

Actor | Brokeback Mountain

When hunky, twenty-year-old heart-throb Heath Ledger first came to the attention of the public in 1999, it was all too easy to tag him as a "pretty boy" and an actor of little depth. He spent several years trying desperately to sway this image, but this was a double-edged sword. His work comprised ...

Consensus is: 'Heath Ledger did not deserve his Best Supporting Oscar/only won his Oscar because he died.'

This one never fails to start an argument, and is quick to lead to digressions so I'll keep it succinct. Ledger was adequate in his performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight. His competition that year was not particularly enthralling. Did that seal his victory? Yes, but Robert Downey never would have won for a comedy wearing blackface. Philip Seymour Hoffman had won an Oscar a few years earlier, and voters do keep that kind of thing in mind. Michael Shannon is a largely obscure actor in a little-seen movie; he had no real shot. Which leaves Josh Brolin in Milk, playing a rather hideous real-life character as compared to the hideous but made-up (and therefore less scary) character of The Joker. Ledger's win is less suprising in retrospect; he already had a 50-50 shot before he passed untimely, I figure.

2. Michael Cimino

Writer | The Deer Hunter

Michael Cimino studied architecture and dramatic arts; later he filmed advertisements and documentaries and also wrote scripts until the actor, producer and director Clint Eastwood gave him the opportunity to direct the thriller Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974). But his biggest success was The Deer...

Consensus is: 'Heaven's Gate is the biggest bomb in history/proved why directors should never have complete control over a film production.'

Francis Ford Coppola pulled just about the same stunt at just about the same time. So, why is Apocalypse Now heralded and Heaven's Gate a panned 'failure'? Both directors ran up big budgets that endangered their studios and the then god-like power of directors through their mutual absurd perfectionism. The big difference is Heaven's Gate was doomed by early bad press it could not recover from. Coppola's movie made money and won awards. Cimino's credibility was destroyed overnight. Though Coppola would prove himself an equally abyssmal disappointment in the following decades. Heaven's Gate seems at least watchable, if terribly flawed. Even correctly edited, Heaven's Gate is still only mediocre, and too self-conscious. But it's not deserving of its reputation.

3. George Lucas

Writer | Star Wars

George Walton Lucas, Jr. was raised on a walnut ranch in Modesto, California. His father was a stationery store owner and he had three siblings. During his late teen years, he went to Thomas Downey High School and was very much interested in drag racing. He planned to become a professional racecar ...

Consensus is: 'George Lucas is a cinematic visionary.'

The Star Wars franchise is remarkable, though one could amend that by pointing out the most recent batch of prequels and merchandizing offshoots are less than memorable, and they compare terribly to the orignal three. I'll ignore the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special for everyone's benefit. Barring Star Wars films or Star Wars-themed productions, he has done little but engage as a producer (which does not by its definition require any real creativity). In the end he seems to have gotten through forty years with excedingly few original or compelling ideas of his own. But he is quite a capitalist visionary.

4. Tom Cruise

Actor | Top Gun

In 1976, if you had told fourteen year-old Franciscan seminary student Thomas Cruise Mapother IV that one day in the not too distant future he would be Tom Cruise, one of the top 100 movie stars of all time, he would have probably grinned and told you that his ambition was to join the priesthood. ...

Consensus is: 'Tom Cruise is overrated.'

This one is hard to debunk. Cruise makes a lot of movies, and very few are legitimately good. He is a victim of his success, and, well, his own persona. I will disregard the irrelevant Scientologist aspect, and simply say he is one of many actors who do not take many risks after becoming a success, and he has a tendency to make average movies. That similarly applies to 90% of Hollywood actors. Considering the excrement George Clooney, Johnny Depp and 'serious' actors regularly churn-out, Tom Cruise deserves a break.

5. Martin Scorsese

Director | Taxi Driver

Martin Charles Scorsese was born on November 17, 1942 in Queens, New York City, to Catherine Scorsese (née Cappa) and Charles Scorsese, who both worked in Manhattan's garment district, and whose families both came from Palermo, Sicily. He was raised in the neighborhood of Little Italy, which later ...

Consensus is: 'Raging Bull was robbed of its rightful Oscar for Best Picture.'

The 53rd Academy Award for Best Picture came down to basically two films, Ordinary People and Raging Bull. In hindsight, Raging Bull appears the best movie of the year, possibly of the decade judging from some critics' opinions. Perhaps Robert Redford's Ordinary People just doesn't age well. I'm of the opinion of many critics, Scorsese's picture was brillant in all aspects. It is devastating, triumphant, and somewhat amusing all at once. It captures the nature of its protagonist's erratic life incredibly well, not to mention the scummy nature of boxing in that era. Ordinary People seems conventional and melodramatic in comparison. Raging Bull never seems dry or deliberate. And despite the fact the two cover similar topics as dysfunctional families, psychology, and has a similarly grandiose soundtrack, only one feels palpably real. Ordinary People elicits an empathetic nod. As a director, Scorsese deserves exactly one Oscar, and that should have been for Raging Bull not The Departed. ...Maybe another for Goodfellas, just to be fair.

6. Daniel Day-Lewis

Actor | There Will Be Blood

Born in London, England, Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis is the second child of Cecil Day-Lewis (pseudonym Nicholas Blake), Poet Laureate of the U.K., and his second wife, actress Jill Balcon. His maternal grandfather was Sir Michael Balcon, an important figure in the history of British cinema and ...

Consensus is: 'Mr. Day-Lewis is the greatest working actor.'

Possibly the above claim is true, but can you say you've honestly ever looked forward to watching -- or re-watching -- one of his movies? It should be noted Day-Lewis has suprisingly few lead roles in his thirty-year career, and fewer truly memorable roles, which probably should count against him. (Look at the first five years of Brando's eccentric career, Deniro's hot streak between 1973-83, Glenn Close in the Eighties, Alec Guinness's work 1949-57, Rob Redford in the late Sixties/early Seventies, or better, Jack Nicholson's career 1969-75 for a sobering comparison.) We the viewer are supposed to endure actorly showcases and historical epics like some kind of cinematic vegetable, but to me, his film choices seem unimaginably bland or scenery-chewing. In a steady stream of overlong costume dramas, biopics & literary adaptations, and angsty social/political films, his career is the epitome of Oscar bait, even his lighter films. His most iconic 'bad guy' roles, like Gangs of NY or There Will Be Blood, are overpowering. He is the epitome of the 'serious actor,' or in other words, an actor you have no choice but to take seriously though most of his films are a chore to see. Should it matter? I think so. As for his legacy, only time can tell.

7. Jean-Luc Godard

Director | Pierrot le fou

Jean-Luc Godard was born in Paris on December 3, 1930, the second of four children in a bourgeois Franco-Swiss family. His father was a doctor who owned a private clinic, and his mother came from a preeminent family of Swiss bankers. During World War II Godard became a naturalized citizen of ...

Consensus is: 'The French New Wave is the most important stylistic breakthrough in film history/Godard the most important director.'

Considering he has four films in Sight and Sound's recent top-fifty list, Jean-Luc Godard is arguably the greatest filmmaker of all time. Godard churned out countless films in his life, a few promising, but the majority of his work is obscure, dated, or too academic. De-emphasized narrative & dialogue, and experimentation too easily leads to plodding, preachy drivel. As Ingmar Bergman put it, 'He’s made his films for the critics' not real audiences. In my opinion he seems unconcerned or incapable of creating timeless characters or stories (which when you think of it, should be considered a damning handicap for a man who makes films for a living) than he is in the language of the craft.

Certainly cinema is better for embracing change (look no further then Italian neo-realism), but the concept was often better than the products. The raw, low-budget aesthetic usually yielded more cheap-looking duds that masterpieces (the dreadful Made in U.S.A., vacuous Alphaville, or masturbatory Weekend leap to mind). Much of JLG's work is redundant, over-conceptualized, and intentionally incomprehensible. Never has style and innovation proved so overrated. An ardent Marxist, Godard's tragic flaw is that as his films became increasingly unwatchable for the common man, Hollywood exploited what it had learned from the New Wave movement for its own advantage. In the process popularizing the irrititating belief among directors that they are all born screenwriters. The success of studio films like Gone With the Wind, Alien, The Wizard of OZ, and Casablanca sap the auteur theory, the essential component of the New Wave, of much of its persuasiveness. Sometimes 'interference' can help a picture otherwise filled with yes men and sycophants, call it the Lucas/Tarantino effect. His lasting legacy is more archetype than artist.

8. The Marx Brothers

Actor | Duck Soup

The Marx Brothers, Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo are a group of actors known for Duck Soup (1933), Animal Crackers (1930) Horse Feathers (1932) A Night in Casablanca (1946) A Day at the Races (1937) and A Night at the Opera (1935). They began their careers in Vaudeville, before becoming stars in ...

Consensus is: 'The Marx Brothers' films are the funniest movies ever made.'

Groucho's jokes don't always age well, and seem less original after years of imitation and outright theft (not really his fault). Harpo is a riot, but like much of the Marx's films, his harp playing often seems like filler. The plots are non-existent. The musical numbers fall flat more often than not. Chico is an afterthought. The problem with the Marx Brothers is they are essentially remaking the same movie ad nauseum. Quite honestly, it's hard to differentiate the films in my mind. They are, after all, vaudeville performers not writers, they only need to update their act marginally from year to year. They are sporadically hilarious, but their movies mostly standout only because of the lack of genuine competitors in that era. Sorry, Stooges.

9. Kevin Costner

Actor | The Postman

Kevin Michael Costner was born on January 18, 1955 in Lynwood, California, the third child of Bill Costner, a ditch digger and ultimately an electric line servicer for Southern California Edison, and Sharon Costner (née Tedrick), a welfare worker. His older brother, Dan, was born in 1950. A middle ...

Consensus is: 'Kevin Costner is a terrible director/Waterworld is the worst bomb ever.'

Say what you want, Waterworld is far from the 'worst movie ever' and it made money when all final worldwide ticket sales are counted. It was daring and, yes, it failed but it was an admirable failure. Costner did drama, comedy, romance, gangster flicks, family films, sports films, then turned to directing and producing and succeeded in all. He won an Oscar and attempted to one-up George Lucas. The lame Waterworld and follow-up diaster Postman ruined his reputation for years, but Costner is a respectable auteur for at least taking chances.

10. Sacha Baron Cohen

Actor | Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

British actor and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen was born in Hammersmith, London. He is the son of Daniella (Weiser), a movement instructor, and Gerald Baron Cohen, a clothing store owner. His father, born in England and raised in Wales, was of Eastern European Jewish descent, while his mother was born...

Consensus is: 'Cohen is the greatest comedian of this generation.'

Not so fast. Borat is a great character, and the movie Borat: Cultural Learnings is rather funny. However, the persona is a recycled character from two prior TV sketch shows. Borat is Cohen's best charcter, and perhaps his only legitimately funny one, and even that one became annoying after his non-stop, six month promotional tour. The Ali G movie is terrible, and Bruno is painfully forced and grating over two hours. His other movie roles are forgettable. He seems to only be able (or willing) to do the awkward, vaguely offensive foreigner caricature. And while he can be funny, he doesn't appear to have that much comedic range or imagination, just a lot of carefully crafted yet predictable antics. One great character, and one good movie in fifteen years in the business speaks for itself.

11. Stanley Kubrick

Director | 2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick was born in Manhattan, New York City, to Sadie Gertrude (Perveler) and Jacob Leonard Kubrick, a physician. His family were Jewish immigrants (from Austria, Romania, and Russia). Stanley was considered intelligent, despite poor grades at school. Hoping that a change of scenery would ...

Consensus is: 'Kubrick never made a bad film.'

Stanley Kubrick never made a terrible film, I can say with certainty. But I would take note of Lolita. His 'clean' version is not as sparkling as the Nabokov book or Adrian Lyne adaptation years later. He seems to handle this subject material with kid gloves or rubber gloves, or something insinuating he is ill-prepared to adequately address the true depravity underlying the book's plot. The story drags, and the title role seems underplayed. Even a game James Mason and Peters Sellers' brief performance is not enough to save this PG-13 friendly adaptation. It's a hiccup in his otherwise peak years. I think this might be Kubrick's single weak link, not counting Eyes Wide Shut. I'll assume he was going senile when he made that.

12. Michael Bay

Producer | Armageddon

A graduate of Wesleyan University, Michael Bay spent his 20s working on advertisements and music videos. His first projects after film school were in the music video business. He created music videos for Tina Turner, Meat Loaf, Lionel Richie, Wilson Phillips, Donny Osmond and Divinyls. His work won...

Consensus is: 'Michael Bay is a hack.'

He is apparently the mind behind the great mid-Nineties 'Got Milk?' commercial about Aaron Burr. He directed many unimpressive films that made a lot of money, and produced even more. He also plans to make a third Transformer movie. And one could assume a forth.

That 'Got Milk?' ad looks more and more like a career peak.

13. Edward D. Wood Jr.

Writer | Plan 9 from Outer Space

Hacks are nothing new in Hollywood. Since the beginning of the film industry at the turn of the 20th century, thousands of untalented people have come to Los Angeles from all over America and abroad to try to make it big (as writers, producers, directors, actors, talent agents, singers, composers, ...

Consensus is: 'Plan Nine From Outer Space is the worst movie ever made/so bad it's good.'

Plan Nine is not as terrible as some would lead on. Tim Burton's recent biopic revived interest in Mr. Wood's creation, bringing it to the attention of a whole new generation. In general, many modern audiences judge all low-budget sci-fi movies made pre-Star Wars to be universally cheap-looking and laughable. Plan Nine, to me, does not look any worse than most movies of the era. Ed Wood's 'classic bomb' is not significantly worse than many films, and because it was made when standards were lower it actually stands up better than some cheap-looking modern duds (do I need mention any Robert Zdar film?). If you can laugh at a film it isn't a total waste, and I'd rather watch Plan Nine sooner than revisit the unintenionally slimy, corporate-con Snakes on Plane or Godard's completely valueless King Lear. Plan Nine is only scarcely memorable in retrospect compared to those much more annoying films; to Ed Wood's chagrin (or relief?), his bizarre flop will likely be forgotten.

14. Alfred Hitchcock

Director | Psycho

Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone, Essex, England. He was the son of Emma Jane (Whelan; 1863 - 1942) and East End greengrocer William Hitchcock (1862 - 1914). His parents were both of half English and half Irish ancestry. He had two older siblings, William Hitchcock (born 1890) and ...

Consensus is: 'Hitchcock is the greatest director of all time.'

Hardly a true consensus, but Sight and Sound has found his Vertigo worthy to knock Citizen Kane out of the top spot after several decades as undisputed 'greatest film ever,' which certainly implies a lot. However, I take exception. I'm not alone in thinking Vertigo has a lot of problems. Never afraid to pour on the contrivances, his films for the most part lacked the emotional weight or psychological menace to pull it off. There is an over-processed artificiality permeating even his best films. The endings were usually too neat for their own good, and rarely satisfying. Look at a film like The Birds as a microcosm of his modus operandi. The film in retrospect is corny, utterly absurd, and dated -- if you watch the restored version you can probably see the strings. Hitchcock, not content with the original story, modifies it by removing the political allusion to Cold War dread and the trauma of the London blitz. In so he sanitizes it, transposing the action to an upper-middle class California hamlet, also inserting his signature Freudian character models and a more audience-friendly ending. He merely interupts a mechanical romance with a B-movie. Like any number of cheesy monster movies of the era, The Birds too includes some cheap thrills along with the standard damsel and her tall, dark and bland suitor. Though the climax here is a welcome change from his normal fare of bad guys falling off stuff.

....Or Psycho... From the extemporaneous captions which are never used the rest of the film, to the needlessly lurid hotel dalliance featuring Janet Leigh in her underwear, to the inexplicable swamp in the middle of the Arizona desert, to the fact Norman Bates could steal his mother's corpse without anyone noticing, the film feels lazily written.

...Or Frenzy... This is a film with such violent tonal shifts, from low brow gags practically out of I Love Lucy to some legitimately gripping horror (this is perhaps Hitchcock's most jarring film), I wonder if he forgot and thought he was filming two separate movies.

...Or Strangers on a Train... An otherwise brilliant premise is ruined by the director's inclination to remind us that we are merely diverting time at the matinee. Hitchcock's ability to churn out endless framed-man plots with happy endings, outrageous turns of fate, and intricate schemes doomed to collapse under their own duplicitous weight, makes it clear that filmmaking was to him more an industry than an art. Which is sadly his approach to almost every project.

...Or Sabotage... Easily one of his shoddiest, worst paced films, the sheer confusion surrounding this 1936 film (originally based upon a novel called Secret Agent, not to be confused with his 1942 film Saboteur or his other 1936 film Secret Agent) seems to hint at the interchangeability of his movies. The main villain is a brain-dead terrorist with an ideology the filmmakers can't bother to elaborate upon -- surely it isn't that difficult to just mention the word 'Anarchist' once in 90 minutes, granted that movement was already passé by 1936 anyway. The hero, the definition of the word 'vanilla,' is employed by a police force brilliant enough to uncover a terrorist ring but so incompetent to let a women who just confessed to a murder go free. The heroine a beautiful cretin who will conceivably lift her skirts for any passing man who smiles at her kid brother. The only thing worse than the direction or writing is the sound editing. The squeak of Oscar Homolka's patent leather shoes is more audible than fifty-percent of his dialogue.

15. Paul Haggis

Writer | Crash

Paul Haggis established himself over twenty years with an extensive career in television, before his big break into features arrived when he became the first screenwriter to garner two Best Film Academy Awards back-to-back for his scripts: "Million Dollar Baby" (2004) directed by Clint Eastwood, ...

Consensus is: 'Crash didn't deserve its Oscar or even merited to be nominated for Best Picture.'

I jumped on the 'I hate Crash' bandwagon as soon as I first saw it, so I am not a neutral voice. I think any one of the other four nominees are justifiably more deserving of that Oscar. They all handle their rather adult-themed material exquisitely, Munich especially (forget the critics. Spielberg, of course, the only man alive that is scrutinized for pandering to and compromising Zionism). Crash is the noticeable ugly duckling of the group. It is contrived, politically correct, has few new insights into race relations, or even has any satisfying resolutions to any of its many loose ends. That it won for Original Script is equally disappointing, when you consider how cheesy and unwieldy the story was compared to the competition. This is why people hate the Oscar voters.

16. Christopher Nolan

Writer | Dunkirk

Best known for his cerebral, often nonlinear, storytelling, acclaimed writer-director Christopher Nolan was born on July 30, 1970 in London, England. Over the course of 15 years of filmmaking, Nolan has gone from low-budget independent films to working on some of the biggest blockbusters ever made.


Consensus is: 'Superhero movies are destroying cinema.'

From Steven Soderbergh, David Cronenberg, down to even Steven Spielberg, many prominent directors have recently targeted Hollywood's obsession with ultra-budget superhero films as evidence of the industry's curdling artistic integrity and possible impending doom. When you consider the proliferation of tentpole franchises the last decade, the 'bergs do seem to make a point. Sequels now are practically obligatory.

Independent and small films will always find an audience and a producer, often govt.-mandated ones. Superhero movies are bad for cinema, but more out of sheer stupidity and unoriginality. People have come to embrace derivative, dumbed-down movies. If not the entire industry, superhero movies are at very least perpetuating the debasement of cinema-goers' expectations. Take the Dark Knight trilogy for example, the most celebrated superhero series. In The Dark Knight, The Joker's basic motivation appears practically indistinguishable from that of South Park's Professor Chaos, itself a parody of comicbook villains, the most severe indictment of the genre's poverty of ideas. The sequel to that film, The Dark Knight Rises, is the worst type of blockbuster, the pseudo-intellectual. The film is only smart in that it doesn't let you ponder the story, dialogue, characters, or any one scene long enough to realize just how silly and illogical they appear before whisking you to another locale and subplot.

The Nolan Batman films despite their stylistic departure noticeably recycle ideas. Nolan's Batman dispenses with the Joker almost exactly as in the original Tim Burton movie, dangling off a building. Two-face's arc mirrors Schumacher's '95 film, a coin flip and fall to his death. TDK's pencil scene serves exactly the same purpose as the electrocution scene from Burton's film, The Joker's indifference to money again harkens back to the 1989 film. The primary set-piece in both TDK and the 1989 Batman serve to demoralize and expose Gothamites' immorality. Catwoman even repeats the same corny line in TDKR as she did in the '92 version. TDKR also features a villain crashing a charity event that evoke the '92 , '95, and the '97 film; the 1989 film even had a Wayne-charity scene. TDK's ultimatum, forcing Batman to choose saving innocents over his love interest, is straight out of Schumacher's '95 project, and also resembling the moral conundrum of the original '78 Superman, and 2002 Spiderman. Batman disposes of a hazardous device much the same as Batman did in Burton's '89 original. The Batman-as-public-enemy plotline, you guessed it, 1992's Batman Returns. Get the picture?... In this genre -- and franchise in particular -- there appears a limited number of ideas and themes to explore, and not nearly enough leeway to truly experiment.

The problem with condemning big, dumb action movies is that people actively anticipate and view them as culture. Hollywood is the same as ever, it has just gotten smarter at selling in bulk what its core audience demands most: formulaic, disposable, shiny dreck.

17. Charles Chaplin

Writer | The Great Dictator

Considered to be one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood, Charlie Chaplin lived an interesting life both in his films and behind the camera. He is most recognized as an icon of the silent film era, often associated with his popular character, the Little Tramp; the man with the ...

Consensus is: 'Charlie Chaplain is the greatest silent movie star.'

I find Chaplin's work similiar to the Marx Brothers', in that many of his comedies depend on drawn-out gags. I prefer Buster Keaton's physical comedy to Chaplin, and I think Lon Chaney Sr was a more intriguing actor; his movies are generally more mature and subtle unlike Chaplin's, whose work alternated from maudlin in the early years to speechifying in the latter. Chaplin's legacy can be partially attributed to the fact he outlived Chaney, Fatty Arbuckle's career was ruined, the silent starlets aged gracelessly into their thirties, and Keaton had little charisma in sound films; Chaplin was essentially the last great silent star standing. But as for directing, I think Fritz Lang or Murnau was obviously more visually creative. Griffith was more innovative. I think one could even make a case why Harold Lloyd is as entertaining as Chaplin for that matter, but I digress... Chaplin seems to be the only silent star most casual fans can name, but that is to their detriment.

18. Timothy Dalton

Actor | The Living Daylights

At a consistently lean 6' 2", green-eyed Timothy Dalton may very well be one of the last of the dying breed of swashbuckling, classically trained Shakespearean actors who have forged simultaneous successful careers in theater, television and film. He has been comparison-shopped roundly for stepping...

Consensus is: 'He was the worst James Bond ever.'

Timothy Dalton is the odd-man-out in the Bond franchise. He only made two Bond movies, neither very memorable. But they made money (the only real measuring stick to those who make the series) and were not as bad as some of Roger Moore's duds or Pierce Brosnan's horrific Die Another Day. He avoided the stupid slapstick and bad puns of Moore for the most part (which oddly few will admonish Connery for originating), and reset a tone of seriousness without playing the role incredibly dour and bland like Craig. Dalton knew well enough what kind of role he was playing, and did it well. His Bond was tough, romantic, charming, but had the right level of smugness. Dalton was a hero in the Errol Flynn mold, but was wise enough to leave the parkour and choreographed fighting to other Bonds. He was unfortunate to follow Moore who had time to make the role his own, and preceded a likable Brosnan who revived a then dead franchise. Dalton is a great actor who found himself in danger of being typecasted, so wisely jumped ship before he found himself cameoing in Jean Claude Van Damme movies like Roger Moore or surfing a hundred-foot CGI wave on a surfboard in the arctic, fleeing a giant laser beam (I still despise Brosnan for agreeing to that scene.) His career suffered none the less, but not from lack of talent. Thus, in fairness, Dalton gets a pass. There is no rightful claimant to the title 'worst Bond' in my mind.

19. Jacques Rivette

Director | La belle noiseuse

Although François Truffaut has written that the New Wave began "thanks to Rivette," the films of this masterful French director are not well known. Rivette, like his "Cahiers du Cinéma" colleagues Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol and Éric Rohmer, did graduate to filmmaking but, like Rohmer...

Consensus is: 'The Holocaust is unfilmable.'

Less a consensus than a devil's advocate set-up -- this debate begins with Jacques Rivette's critique of the film Kapo over a single tracking shot (funnily enough, the notorious shot is much more complex than his facile reading of it would indicate). And though Stanley Kubrick and JL Godard's harsh evaluation of Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List seem personally motivated, Imre Kertész's criticism seems to have superficial merit. Claude Lanzmann, while at least having a point about the semantics of term 'Holocaust,' is another vocal critic caught up in an emotional and surreal argument of who 'owns' history.

When it comes to the Holocaust, the answer to that question varies conveniently depending on who's asking: for Godard, only a European; Lanzmann, only a pedant; Kubrick, a pessimist; Rivette, a morally-correct aesthetic; and Kertész, survivors to the exclusion of all else -- and probably further restrictive at that. Thus you can see the self-important, comically subjective, and increasingly prohibitive nature of 'authenticity.' One may only look at the support of Spielberg from European-born, Jewish filmmakers like Billy Wilder and Roman Polanski, to negate the above claims, as if one needed to. I say 'negate' because there is no answer to the question and not even really any question. Yes, even Uwe Boll has a right to address the Holocaust without pre-ordained moral, national, or artistic stipulations by self-appointed 'guardians' (Kertész's own words) of history and cinema.

20. John Waters

Writer | Pecker

Growing up in Baltimore in the 1950s, John Waters was not like other children; he was obsessed by violence and gore, both real and on the screen. With his weird counter-culture friends as his cast, he began making silent 8mm and 16mm films in the mid-'60s; he screened these in rented Baltimore ...

Consensus is: 'Waters is the greatest subversive (cult) filmmaker/an underrated outsider.'

Another case of the claim being true but none the less still far from a compliment. I have to admit many of his later 'PG-13' movies are not particularly to my taste. The early ones are so obscure and forgotten that I only hear of them in passing film articles or in the form of nostalgic anecdotes. Most only know Mr. Waters from his rather sanitary film Hairspray and its remake. Waters has a unique vision that turns off many, part avant-guarde indie and half geek-show. As far as cult icons go, a drag queen eating a piece of dog *bleep* (fake or not) is pretty great though.

21. Peter Sellers

Actor | Being There

Often credited as the greatest comedian of all time, Peter Sellers was born Richard Henry Sellers to a well-off acting family in 1925 in Southsea, a suburb of Portsmouth. He was the son of Agnes Doreen "Peg" (Marks) and William "Bill" Sellers. His parents worked in an acting company run by his ...

Consensus is: 'Sellers is the funniest actor of all time.'

I think his genealogy is more interesting than many of his later film choices, and I'm not joking (Google it). If you ignore Dr. Strangelove, Being There, and one or two of his better Pink Panther movies, he actually seems to have made very few hilarious movies. Though his timing is impeccable and he always improves whatever project he was in by his mere presence, I always got the impression he wasted his talent on lesser productions. I cannot, however, think of another comedian who could match his wit and physical comedy on screen. Not even Groucho.

22. Ayn Rand

Writer | Noi vivi

Ayn Rand was born on February 2, 1905 in St. Petersburg, Russian Empire as Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum. She was a writer and actress, known for We the Living (1942), Love Letters (1945) and The Fountainhead. She was married to Frank O'Connor. She died on March 6, 1982 in New York City, New York, ...

Consensus is: 'Rand's political message is incapable of being properly translated onto film/her politically incorrect works will never again be adapted by a major studio.'

Aside from a decent, if condensed, version of The Fountainhead starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal made sixty years ago and a recent low-budget, utterly ignored adaptation of Atlas Shrugged, this stereotype appears as solid as ever. An irony considering that one of Rand's first jobs in America was writing screenplays for Hollywood.

23. Lana Wachowski

Writer | The Matrix

Lana Wachowski and her sister Lilly Wachowski, (also known as 'The Wachowskis') are the duo behind ground-breaking movies such as The Matrix (1999) and Cloud Atlas (2012). Born to mother Lynne, a nurse, and father Ron, a businessman of Polish descent, Wachowski grew up in Chicago and formed a tight...

Consensus is: 'The Wachowski Brothers never should have made the Matrix sequels/the Wachowskis ruined the Matrix series.'

(I realize that there are two Wachowskis and the name above is a woman's name, but trust me on this one.) Few would claim the two sequels were in the same league as the original. Noticeably less intellectual in tone, and mostly held together through the audience's anticipation of a few well-placed CGI fight scenes, the Wachowskis seemed to completely forget why the original was so engrossing. The bigger, more tepid, and dumber follow-ups contributed nothing to the achievements of the first. The oft repeated cliche regarding sequels is unfortunately too accurate in this case.

24. Tom Six

Director | The Human Centipede (First Sequence)

Tom Six was born on August 29, 1973 in Alkmaar, Noord-Holland, Netherlands. He is a director and writer, known for The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (2009), The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence) (2015) and The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) (2011).

Consensus is: 'The Human Centipede is the most disgusting film ever made/a work of a repulsive mind.'

I was surprised to find Tom Six's The Human Centipede fairly modest when it came to nudity, explicit violence and, shall we say, biological matters. The film actually is quite well-paced and unpredictable. It is disgusting, but it is internal disgust. Your imagination determines your level of repulsion (or enjoyment, one could guess). It is suprisingly smarter than I expected and well-crafted. It is no masterpiece, and not terribly memorable for its acting or scripting, but is quite a nuanced, nicely executed (no pun intended), little horror film.

25. Sean Penn

Actor | Mystic River

Sean Penn is a powerhouse film performer capable of intensely moving work, who has gone from strength to strength during a colourful film career, and who has drawn much media attention for his stormy private life and political viewpoints.

Sean Justin Penn was born in Los Angeles, California, the ...

Consensus is: 'Hollywood has a liberal bias.'

Well, duh. But that isn't an inherent problem; so-called conservative values are still common, especially capitalism, militarism, and American exceptionalism. As the Blacklist-era proved, Hollywood, especially in the screenwriting department, is clogged with leftists. They never posed a danger of an underground, 'red' fifth column, but still were targeted all the same. Propaganda then, and propaganda like An American Carol today, has a tendency to egregiously misrepresent left of center politics. As loony as dictator-apologists Michael Moore, Sean Penn, and Oliver Stone sound, they are negligible outliers. Ironically, it should be pointed out time tends to make us all into traditionalists; Charlton Heston was a 'bleeding-heart liberal' before he outlived his era and became the quintessential Republican. Jane Fonda went from Hanoi Jane into the Oprah-friendly, born-again spouse of an arch-capitalist. Pro-Palestinian, Maoist Godard snuggled up to Hollywood-loving, Israeli fighter pilot-turned-financier Menaham Golan in the name of cinema. So in the end it really makes little difference. If a pseudo-socialist like Orson Welles can praise a proud Nixon-fundraiser like Jimmy Stewart, there's hope for this world.

26. Terry Gilliam

Writer | Brazil

Terry Gilliam was born near Medicine Lake, Minnesota. When he was 12 his family moved to Los Angeles where he became a fan of MAD magazine. In his early twenties he was often stopped by the police who suspected him of being a drug addict and Gilliam had to explain that he worked in advertising. In ...

Consensus is: 'Terry Gilliam is a genius.'

This sentiment might have made sense a decade ago when his career was on an upward trajectory. Terry Gilliam's success is mostly due to style, and a lot of luck. Admirers claim that his movies are so infused with Gilliam's personality that they can't work without him. That is exactly the problem, if you extract his set-pieces, and signature weirdness from his films you find the remainder trivial, a lot of garbled half-thoughts and rehashed tropes. Whether adapting a celebrated Hunter Thompson book, remaking a classic Chris Marker short film, recycling Orwell, or collaborating with Monty Python, his ego is founded in the exploitation of other's talents. His primary contribution to the Python films being the alien abduction scene from Life of Brian that worked specifically because it was so awkward and pointless within context to the rest of film. To put it bluntly, his own stories stink. Doctor Parnassus notably features such a central set-piece, a confusing dreamworld consisting of a lot of unattractive CGI, bizarre ethical lessons and convenient, contrived moments of catharsis and justice. The nerve of a film that delivers a happy ending while pretending to be too smart or above stooping to such a 'low' is simply aggravating. (Like many an experimental or expressionistic film it fails precisely when you begin to think about it too much.) And no, I don't think Heath Ledger could have saved it. While I admit Gilliam's had bad luck, for all those who claim he is jinxed, prevented from sharing masterpieces with the world, take note that Baron von Munchausen, Brothers Grimm, and Tideland are what happens when his ideas inevitably find their way to the screen.

Brazil, his supposed magnum opus, is at least from a superficial interpretation, the ultimate libertarian kiss-off to the inefficient, crypto-totalitarian model. This from a guy who has none too quietly railed against debt, police-states, bureaucracy, and consumerism his entire career and yet regularly makes twenty-million-dollar films, owns an Italian villa, and lives in London (the center of a stagnant welfare state with uncontrollable debt, the most sophisticated police surveillance system on earth, and sneaker and flat-screen-T.V. induced riots). His entire career is due to conspicuous consumption and financiers. Which is only appropriate for a wannabe Don Martin who makes films about evading reality in your own deluded fantasy world, where everyone is their own brave and righteous hero. No wonder his films are nonsense, his entire life is nonsense.

27. Lars von Trier

Writer | Dancer in the Dark

Probably the most ambitious and visually distinctive filmmaker to emerge from Denmark since Carl Theodor Dreyer over 60 years earlier, Lars von Trier studied film at the Danish Film School and attracted international attention with his very first feature, The Element of Crime (1984). A highly ...

Consensus is: ' "Shaky cam" cinema is for hacks.'

If you've ever seen a Lars von Trier movie or found-footage flick, you know to what I'm referring. To you others, shaky cam is a reference to a particular style of spastic camera-operating that denotes gritty realism or chaos, as if a documentary. A holdover from the defunct Dogme '95 movement, the cinema verite technique is now associated more with blockbusters and Z-horror films. The problem is that the 'shaky cam' technique is so over-used and confusingly utilized today it tends to take one out of a particular scene. It draws attention to the artifice of cinematography much like 3-D does, it subtracts from overall intensity. Despite claims the shaky cam mimics human sight, our brain smooths out visual signals, the normal human body functions closer to steadycams than handhelds clutched by epileptics. As evident in Star Wars' cantina scene, the technique frequently conceals unpolished craftsmanship. When used in calmer moments it appears amateurish or a gimmicky distraction that frequently implies more about the director than the scene (The Road Warrior's scenes filmed atop a speeding semi are more stable than von Trier's unbearably artsy Dogville). It now conveys a visual laziness and a phony sense of authenticity. If a tracking shot is a matter of morality, shaky cam is matter of amorality. Acclaimed for its effectiveness in early films like Cannibal Holocaust, Saving Private Ryan, and Blair Witch, it has now been rightfully denigrated as a clichéd action-film crutch in The Bourne Trilogy, Babylon A.D., and Quantum of Solace. If Cloverfield was the tipping point, Battle Los Angeles is the last straw. Its time as an innovative action movie trope and avant-garde statement has long passed. Now if only we could get rid of the b & w art-film, prequels, and putting film titles at the end of the movie, but that's another headache.

28. Jack Valenti

Self | Beyond Wiseguys: Italian Americans & the Movies

Texas born, Harvard educated, Jack Valenti has led several lives; a wartime bomber pilot, advertising agency founder, political consultant, White House Special Assistant, movie industry leader. In his current role as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Motion Picture Association of America,...

Consensus is: 'Censorship is bad.'

Censorship, in its more restrained form, the rating of films, is quite necessary. That isn't to suggest that the MPAA or other rating boards aren't corrupt or biased, but the modern film boards are a far cry from Joseph Breen. Let's be honest, a sizeable percentage of young adults are impressionable zombies. We aren't so much protecting them from us, as we are retroactively protecting society from a certain number of maladjusted jerks when they grow up. Stanley Kubrick wisely self-censored himself, pulling Clockwork Orange from theaters after hearing of a girl raped in a manner clearly inspired by one of his films' characters (and after receiving death threats too). And we deserved it. Once-respected journalist David Icke was so enamored by They Live he devoted his life to a conspiracy theory based on the film's premise. To deny that movies influence society and behavior is wishful thinking. A frank discussion on the pathetic state of parenting might alleviate the need for ratings, but of course in this country that topic is as taboo as visible public hair and nipples, so why bother. Violent movies won't turn a kid into a killer and porn won't turn him into a rapist, but it can definitely give him some pointers. Though in truth, the media's moronic desire to celebritize spree killers is much worse than the effects of Natural Born Killers or Mortal Kombat combined.

29. Sergio Leone

Writer | Once Upon a Time in America

Sergio Leone was virtually born into the cinema - he was the son of Roberto Roberti (A.K.A. Vincenzo Leone), one of Italy's cinema pioneers, and actress Bice Valerian. Leone entered films in his late teens, working as an assistant director to both Italian directors and U.S. directors working in ...

Consensus is: 'Dubbing sucks.'

Italy serves as a good microcosm, dubbing continues in that country today with little of the taint found here in the U.S. It is a long tradition in part due to an influx of many foreign actors and accents, and the necessary consideration of foreign markets. However, with the exception of Sergio Leone who employed the actors themselves to dub their own lines, the dubbing process rarely worked because audiences often know what certain actors sound like and in any case possess the natural ability to spot bad lip synchs. Worse, dialogue in one language obviously does not translate evenly phonetically into others. Other Italians, like Federico Fellini and Pier Pasolini were even less concerned with seamless vocals, creatively rewriting lines in post-production. Regardless, it still looked shoddy and distracting. The ubiquity of sloppily-synchronized voice-overs in foreign movies was so prominent by the Sixties it became an open joke in the biz and a central gag in Francois Truffaut's Day for Night.

As unnatural as dubbing can be, in some longer, talkier films, dubbing may serve a valuable role. After all, it can be frustrating to spend two hours without the ability to look up and see an actor's reaction or enjoy the cinematography. Animation and documentaries are more forgiving, and a lot of old movies from the Thirties and Forties had terrible acting to begin with. In some cases it might improve a film.

30. Steven Soderbergh

Director | Sex, Lies, and Videotape

Steven Andrew Soderbergh was born on January 14, 1963 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, the second of six children of Mary Ann (Bernard) and Peter Soderbergh. His father was of Swedish and Irish descent, and his mother was of Italian ancestry. While he was still at a very young age, his family moved to ...

Consensus is: 'Behind the Candelabra is "too gay" for Hollywood.'

Where to start... To say that there have been no major gay-themed movies released or distributed by major or even independent studios is just stupid. Some of them have even won Oscars. The fact Steven Soderbergh could get a major theatrical release for duds like Kafka or The Girlfriend Experience but not BtC is either a load of $%^& or delicious karma. If he wanted it to happen, he could. It might take years, but can you blame a company for passing with Soderbergh's shaky track record? His films have an uneven history artistically and financially, and Liberace has a niche audience to put it mildly. To refuse a marginally marketable film in an era where the corporate model is built around blockbusters is not homophobic (Soderbergh's backtracking seems to confirm this). This all missing the larger point that BtC feels like a t.v.-movie. In fact there've already been two separate Liberace biopics on t.v. Apparently not 'too gay' for mainstream American network t.v. audiences in 1988. BtC is an adaption of a twenty-five-year-old property, a low-brow tell-all no less. Considering HBO's success with Mildred Pierce and Game of Thrones, it makes perfect sense; HBO is succeeding making precisely the mini-series and biographic tell-alls that network t.v. used to make. A flashy idea, the film quickly ventures into a mundane romance, the last half is remarkably dull. It's quirky, but there isn't much of a film here. Of course Soderbergh settled for t.v. More and more the 'too gay' remark feels like a calculating headline-grabber or churlish backbiting from a man who admittedly doesn't respect the studio system, or as self-ennobling political rhetoric. Soderbergh and Matt Damon are no stranger to films with overtly political themes, and this movie is, after all, implicitly about gay marriage.

31. Moustapha Akkad

Producer | The Message

The creativity of Moustapha Akkad came in such movies as Lion of the Desert (1980) and The Message (1976), where he directed and showed some really creative amazing view on the history of Islam. As an Arabic Muslim it was really hard for him to make it in Hollywood but no one could deny his talent ...

Consensus is: 'The Prophet Muhammad will never be depicted on screen.'

Whether Muhammad is not widely depicted in Western culture out of respect or safety for all involved are two very different things, and there lies the entire problem. You cannot legitimately appear respectful if there is always a chance you are simply being blackmailed into your position by a threat of violence. And for many Westerners the idea that artists can be collectively blackmailed prevents them from having any respect for Islam as a philosophy to begin. Moustapha Akkad (producer of Mohammad Messenger of God) among a few other non-Muslim filmmakers (entirely documentarians) have avoided depicting the Prophet. The very facts surrounding Mr. Akkad's film's U.S. premier (which narrowly avoided a bombing) and his death (killed in a suicide attack while scouting production of a film based on Saladin's life) bear out the observation, that perhaps it is better to avoid danger than take a chance in the name of art. Which is a shame, because taking risks is certainly what made Akkad a great man, and what often creates great art. Don't count on seeing this truism busted anytime this century.

32. Rodney Ascher

Director | Room 237

Rodney Ascher is a director and editor, known for Room 237 (2012), The Nightmare (2015) and The S from Hell (2010).

Consensus is: 'Wait, huh? The Shining is about Native American genocide, faking the moon landing, and the Holocaust?'

If you haven't seen Room 237, you really are missing out on some brilliant viewing. And regardless if the conspiratorial theories are a little out there, true Stanley Kubrick fans, and horror film fanatics in general, will enjoy the hours of attention the participants put in. The bad news is that while they were fixating upon the 'Calumet' baking soda label, or German typewriter, or Playgirl magazine (Jack Torrance is no dull boy after all) they seemed to willfully disregard the 'Golden Rey' pimento box, Bugs Bunny reference, the fellating bear-suit guy, and erotic Nubian art. A lot of the theories depend upon obvious continuity errors, coincidences, and paying attention to the most minute of details while ignoring others, ahem, bear-suit guy. How it is that people who've seen Kubrick's movie a hundred times obsess about the indeterminate race of a cameo role (who is simultaneously representative of colonized races and the N.S.A., no less) but miss the fact that the Overlook Hotel's maze's map doesn't match the real maze which doesn't appear to match the indoor model, is beyond me. The film seems to prove the human capacity to create and seek subjective patterns, and the inability of those same fans to let go of their idol, an enigmatic, perfectionist with a unique visual style. However, I'm completely buying the idea Kubrick was a bored genius, the symbolism of the Minotaur in the maze primed to 'devour' the resourceful youth does seem calculated in retrospect. The general premise (evident in the Indian burial ground line) does harken to forgotten traumas and repressed histories, though I'm not even sure Kubrick knew what the hell he meant by that ending.

33. Kathryn Bigelow

Director | The Hurt Locker

A very talented painter, Kathryn spent two years at the San Francisco Art Institute. At 20, she won a scholarship to the Whitney Museum's Independent Study Program. She was given a studio in a former Offtrack Betting building, literally in an old bank vault, where she made art and waited to be ...

Consensus is: 'Hollywood is a boys' club/Women are unfairly discriminated against'

Women are disproportionately underrepresented in the fields of producing, directing, and writing. While it isn't a canard, the presumption that these fields must approximate the percentage of the female population is misguided. The disparity is obvious at awards ceremonies. With the exception of The Independent Spirit Award and Sundance, female directors and writers toil in obscurity, but I repeat myself. A critic at Salon has gone as far to recommend splitting Oscar's directorial category into two competitions based on gender, oblivious to the condescension to female directors this will instill (no matter what anyone says, I feel quotas run counter to the idea of credibility -- Title IX still hasn't made women's pro-leagues feasible, has it?), the necessary dilution it'll cause (already evident in knee-jerk expansion of the Best Picture category), and potential to horrifically backfire (can you honestly, off the top of your head, name five truly great films made by female directors in the last three years, let alone five this year?). Parity is fine as a cause, but if this is the way to bring it about, please concede the Academy its remaining dignity.

The hard truth to refute those arguments is that Nora Ephron's exposure for her writing nomination in 1983 did not lead to a stellar career but arguably a rather tepid, overexposed one. Also, many have admitted that Kathryn Bigelow's Best Director Oscar was largely due to mediocre competition, a low but not inaccurate observation. And on the wisdom of gendered categories, it is now evident that Meryl Streep will receive an obligatory acting nod no matter what she is in. Anecdotes I know, but films made by women about women typically gross considerably less in total, a fact studios are aware of by their proclivity toward CGI tentpoles and franchise-'universes.' So we can guess the long term feasibility of that possibility. I'm not sure if proportional cinematic gender-equality is natural or realistic (without draconian measures). This is either a situation of a problem with no answer, or an answer without a dilemma. Time will tell.

34. Peter Farrelly

Producer | Green Book

Peter Farrelly was born on December 17, 1956 in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, USA as Peter John Farrelly. He is a producer and writer, known for Green Book (2018), There's Something About Mary (1998) and Dumb and Dumber (1994). He has been married to Melinda Farrelly since December 31, 1996. They ...

Consensus is: 'Movie 43 is "The Citizen Kane" of bad movies.'

I can't defend this film except on principle. In fairness, it is designed as a spoof. Granted every parody aimed at the film industry (or whatever) doesn't work or even make much sense, but I think it's clear this is trying to subvert the concept of the formulaic, PG-13, mass-appeal film, which is a worthy mission.

In attempting to mock celebrity-fueled, self-indulgent, moron-friendly, unfunny, unpolished, no-reason-to-exist film fare, the film becomes exactly what it had targeted to begin. Though, honestly, I am personally more offended by films like The Big Lebowski, Detour, the first Kill Bill, Only God Forgives, and Ali G: Indahouse, because they receive accolade after lavished praise for their ineptness and irreverent awfulness. And while we are trashing pointless movies that exploit star-power, gratuitous nudity, and shallow ideas to disguise lazy writing, poor concepts, and mediocre acting, let's not forget Contempt. Star-studded, laughable debacles...What about Dune? Unwatchable corporate shams...Snakes on a Plane or Trail of the Pink Panther, anyone? Visceral, soul-hollowing, scattershot filmmaking...You guessed it, Salo and Inland Empire. Shallow, crass $#\¥ and dick 'comedies'?...Superbad, Bridesmaids, Due Date, etc. Is Movie 43 worse than all those? Yes, however the difference is only marginal. All these movies are despicable and annoying in their own unique way. It is the 'Citizen Kane of bad movies' in that it requires no mental exertion or courage for movie reviewers to denounce as it represents most of the worst aspects of filmmaking. As hard to believe as it seems, there are films less entertaining and with less merit (except the superhero and leprechaun segments, which are among the worst things ever filmed).

35. Bob Guccione

Producer | Caligola

Bob Guccione was born on December 17, 1930 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA as Robert Charles Joseph Edward Sabatini Guccione. He was a producer, known for Caligula (1979), Lowball (1996) and Penthouse Interactive Virtual Photo Shoot Vol. 1 (1994). He was married to April Dawn Warren ...

Consensus is: 'Caligula is the biggest debacle in cinematic history.'

It's hard to debunk this myth, the story behind the film is as notorious and entertaining as the deranged Claudian emperor himself. Caligula's plagued production ran over budget, partly leading to the demise of producer Bob Guccione's Penthouse empire, and was a monumental creative cluster$#{¥. Guccione, his director Tinto Brass, and screenwriter Gore Vidal never seeing eye-to-eye on the nature the project was supposed to take. Some of the stars were only cognizant of the pornographic tone and aimless pace of the film after it all was too late. Understandably derided as high-camp, soft core drivel when it was released, a more sober edit available on Netflix is nearly decent.

36. Tommy Wiseau

Actor | The Room

Tommy Wiseau is an American actor, director, screenwriter & producer. He trained to be an actor at: American Conservatory Theater, Vince Chase Workshop, Jean Shelton Acting Lab, Laney College and Stella Adler Academy of Acting.

In 2001 he wrote, produced, directed and starred in The Room (2003), a ...

Consensus is: 'Cult Movies are born not made/so bad they're good'

The definition of a 'cult movie' is usually defined as a bad or eccentric movie later re-discovered and celebrated ironically, with the inevitable hint of economic or artistic failure, or all those viewing parties and re-quotes would just be annoying fanboy fawning over a blockbuster, wouldn't they? However, rating sites like Rotten Tomatoes and our own IMDb expose just how confusing and contradictory this entire premise is. Lists of cult movies are revealing. Harold and Maude is considered a cult film but it has a very high IMDb rating. Roger Corman's Little Shop of Horrors is better written than 99% of movies. Brazil was produced and distributed by large corporate entities and made millions. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is considered a cult work but is the natural culmination of the horror genre and now endlessly imitated. Snakes on a Plane was re-written and marketed specifically to exploit the cult phenomenon; if you can't be smart or entertaining you can at least be too cool for the room -- which speaks to the larger problem of whether you are suppossed to actually like cult movies or just partake in a knowing affirmation of our collective superiority and better judgement. Most modern cults are merely cheesy or unpleasant or some combination, think gore-porn or any low-budget musicals. The 'cult' designation appears as another way to define yourself by your taste in movies, born out of a need to standout against some imaginary mainstream culture and a narrow-minded, stodgy film industry of decades past. It is my opinion that 'cult' is one of the most useless film classifications in cinematic lexicon. People no longer feel stigma for watching trashy movies, so how can you take pride in your ironic (or sincere) love of obscure, trippy, gory, or subversive movies today anyway? The sophistication of a globally connected, diverse film culture that routinely celebrates d.i.y. films like Blair Witch and enables million-dollar budgeted art-house films like Holy Motors has killed the very idea of an 'underground' aesthetic or clientele. The very prospect of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter being green-lit by a major studio twenty years ago strikes me as improbable as the The Producers' Springtime For Hitler. The final frontier and limitation of filmmaking (snuff film or bestiality) is readily available on Live Leak rendering a lot of the Mondo genre utterly dispensable; evidence that cults like Faces of Death can also fade out of cult status as easily as they gained notoriety. Cult is now a broad, mainstream, quaint genre if it can even be said to exist in any meaningful way at all.

37. Quentin Tarantino

Writer | Reservoir Dogs

Quentin Jerome Tarantino was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. His father, Tony Tarantino, is an Italian-American actor and musician from New York, and his mother, Connie (McHugh), is a nurse from Tennessee. Quentin moved with his mother to Torrance, California, when he was four years old.

In January of...

Consensus is: 'QT overuses violence and the word *beep* (i.e. the word so sensitive IMDb just censored it out of consideration of your fragile sensibilities) in his films.'

Critics, even some who aren't Spike Lee, have expressed outrage toward Quentin Tarantino's casual usage of the 'n-word.' Others have criticized him for excessive violence. In the context of the worlds he creates in his movies I don't see any problem. He doesn't make docudramas or pretend to defer toward political correctness, ethics, or good taste, he caters to gory, revenge fantasies. You can reasonably make the argument he comes across as a poseur, trying too hard to recreate the feel of the blaxploitation film of his youth, but a quick swing by WorldStarHipHop [sic] reveals Quentin is surprisingly close in his approximation of a very small but popular sub-culture of black life. It's clear in any case he isn't advocating anti-social behavior. And as the violence and n-bombs pile up, so does his ticket sales; the most important party in this debate, the paying audience, certainly has no complaints.

If there is anything that should nag your conscience it is his increasing predilection for homages, long-winded scripts, and a corny sense of humor. If anything prevented Django Unchained from being the great film it deserved to be it's the padded length and the bad puns, not repetitive use of a single historically accurate racial epithet or cartoon-proportion spurts of blood.

38. Benito Mussolini

Writer | Villafranca

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was born in Predappio, Emilia-Romagna, Italy. He was the son of Alessandro Mussolini, a socialist, and Rosa Maltoni, a devout Catholic schoolteacher. In 1915, Mussolini married Donna Rachele Guidi. Together, they had five children. On October 31, 1922, at the age of...

Consensus is: 'Italian Cinema is dead/dying.'

(I know this technically doesn't fit under the narrow confines of 'Hollywood debates,' but indulge me.) As far as I can tell this maxim has been uttered as far back as 1990, when the NYT claimed that not even Italians were seeing Italian movies anymore, a sea change from Italy's pivotal role in the Forties through the Sixties. Granted that among those Neorealist classics and experimental art films were countless cheesy Hollywood knock-offs in the form of Spaghetti Westerns, Spaghetti Zombies, Spaghetti Bond 'Eurospys,' sword & sandal epics, etc, not to mention the increasingly desperate Mondo genre. And it is all too easy to forget that the Italian cinematic explosion of the late Forties was born from the cinematic culture established by none other than Il Duce himself, Mussolini. While Hollywood survived the collapse of the studio system, Italy is reeling from the Roman Empire-like decay of their primary filmmaking hub.

What's my point? I don't know. But if I can only name three Italian films off the top of my head in the last twenty-years, that's a cliff worthy of Capri. I wouldn't call it a problem, cycles are regular, and national cinema renaissances are so often dependent upon a single national filmmaker, Sweden had Bergman in the Fifties, Kiarostami in the Nineties, France had any number in the early Sixties, Mexico had Bunuel in the Fifties and Sixties, Kurosawa was top dog in Japan throughout the Fifties. If you hadn't noticed the pattern, films in general were better in the late Fifties, but I digress. If there is any bottleneck of creative impulses, ideas, or energy being suppressed, anywhere, at anytime, it is bound to erupt in a fantastic display. Italy, and the world, is due for a revolution on par with the post-war period, I figure.

39. Uwe Boll

Producer | Postal

As a child, he produced a number of short films on Super 8 and video before beginning his studies as a film director in Munich and Vienna. He also studied literature and economics in Cologne and Siegen. Uwe graduated from university in 1995 with a doctorate in literature. From 1995-2000, he was a ...

Consensus is: 'Uwe Boll is a morally bankrupt, artistically handicapped video-game enthusiast with a film crew at his disposal.'

Now we come to the very bottom of the barrel. Harsh I'll admit but it does seem all too true. I can only admit to seeing one of his films (Rampage) in its entirety, and the last thirty minutes of Bloodrayne and another minute or two of another one of his movies (the title escapes me). I intentionally avoid the rest of his work alltogether; I am not adequate to judge his reputation. I can only hope someone can articulate his true talent, because I am not willing to even risk watching any more of his movies.

Recently Viewed