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What's the most overrated movie of 2010? (Part 1)

December 23, 2010 |  4:44 pm

You've been in the situation before. You hear about a movie for weeks on end from your friends and family. Then you finally have a chance to see it, and your first reaction is: "That's what all the fuss is about?"

Below, six movies from the past year that inspired just such a reaction among a number of our colleagues here at The Times. We offer up a synopsis of fans' belief in their greatness, and our colleagues' case for why they didn't live up to the hype. Write in and tell us which of these films (or another movie entirely) you think deserves the title of most overrated movie of 2010.

"The Town"
The buzz: Ben Affleck has crafted an exciting story filled with class tension.
The case against it: We've seen the working-class Boston setting before. The chase scenes are tired. And accents and outfits can't substitute for character depth.

"Winter's Bone"
The buzz: A gritty story with great atmosphere and a powerful central performance.
The case against it: Slow pacing, a contrived world and unearned bleakness make this the emperor's new clothes of the indie world.

"The Social Network"
The buzz: A timely story with crackling dialogue and great performances.
The case against it: A movie that's not nearly as much about sociological trends as it claims to be, and that derives power from truth when it's mostly truthiness.

"The Kids Are All Right"
The buzz: A funny and tender story of a uniquely 21st century family that breaks both social taboos and new dramatic ground.
The case against it: The novelty of the setup can't camouflage a dysfunctional-family dramedy we've seen before.

"Black Swan"
The buzz: A movie with style, scares and sizzling Sapphism.
The case against it: As subtle as a pit bull, it's camp disguised as art.

The buzz: A brilliant exploration of the subconscious and virtual reality, "2001" for a new generation.
The case against it: It might have seemed like a good idea in Christopher Nolan's teenage mind. But complicated doesn't mean brilliant, and the expositional sections are less fun than a freshman calculus class.

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Jon Hamm in "The Town." Credit: Warner Bros.


Film critic Kenneth Turan's 10 overlooked films of 2010

Film critic Betsy Sharkey's 10 overlooked films of 2010

What's the most under-appreciated movie of 2010? (Part 1)

What's the most under-appreciated movie of 2010? (Part 2)

Comments () | Archives (42)

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Scrooge is alive and well. I saw The Town and Inception and enjoyed them very much.

What's the most overrated movie of 2010? Pretty much everything that was released. I didn't go to the theater once this year to see a movie. There isn't anything being produced from studios that I wanted to see.

I've seen all and agree with your Times colleagues most specially in the case of The Town and Inception

Possibly Inception and The Social Network. Moreso The Social Network as Inception was hyped around released then all went silent. The Social Network actually went on to increase Facebook's relevance and make Mark Zucherburger guy of the year in Time magazine. And people still seem to think Mark Z. had/has it rough and was just a poor struggling nerd who used brash brilliance to fight his way out of being a nobody. The Social Network...a story of the American Dream and a true American hero....

inception is a sleight of hand... the wacky stuff is within a dream on a plane. just look at michael caine, he's NOT surprised Leos home. which makes the spinning top the opposite of what we think it means: it reminds him about a dream, rather than remind him he's awake, which is why he never watches it drop.

Honestly, I have to agree about Inception. I was so looking forward to that film, and never caught it in the theatres. Just watched it on PPV. It reminded me of Humanties Honor lectures my freshman year at a UC campus. All about the intersection of non-Euclidean geometry, metaphysics, emoting, etc., etc.

Inception? - More like...BEST MOVIE

In. cep. tion.


This kind of quote always cracks me up:

"A brilliant exploration of the subconscious and virtual reality, '2001' for a new generation."

I will probably cry if it actually DOES become considered the new "2001".

2001 is the greatest film ever made, and that makes it no competition as the best Science Fiction film ever made. Inception, as I've said a billion times, is a dumb action movie. Is the new Star Trek the most brilliant movie ever written? No? Then neither is Inception. Both of them are dumb action movies. I can accept a dumb action movie (I liked Transformers). But Inception is parading around as if it's one of the "greats". Just like how it's offensive that Tarantino considers himself an equal to Orson Welles and Stanley Kubrick (whose worst films are better than Tarantino's best), it's offensive that Inception would be considered the new 2001. That should be seen as a joke. The only film in recent years who can worthily accept that claim is Primer - Primer is the mind-puzzle that Inception should have been, and although 2001 isn't a mind puzzle, but an obscure allegorical tale, Primer, in spirit, is the same as 2001. Both bend and break their genres in order to tell a unique side of old stories, and both of them have fantastic performances, fantastic direction, editing, and cinematography. The major difference is that Primer was made on a budget of 7,000 dollars.

I guess the only real relation to Inception and 2001 is that they both used rotating sets.

Inception. I tried four times to watch this video game in a movie, never gotten past 20 minutes of hokum.

"Inception" is "Ocean's 11" minus the hot dudes & charisma. I would never have watched "The Kids Are Alright" if I'd known it was about an unhappy lesbian couple who needed straight people to fix them up.

Social Network. It's a very well-made movie: great script (dialog and plot), nicely shot and directed, and well-acted. Even the small roles were good; the actor who played the twins fascinated me, for example. It moved at a brisk pace and kept me interested until the end. Still, I don't think it was the best movie of the year - in the end, I've heard and seen it all before. St. Elmo's Fire crossed with Wall Street - something like that. I liked it, but I don't understand why it's at the top of the critics' lists, and the Oscar buzz mystifies me.

look, nolan is no master filmmaker, he can't even pull off a puzzle like Primer, he's really more like a magician that hides central facts from an audience, his circus ringleader, Michael Caine, plays the same role in each of the films he appears in, to stabilize the audience's fooling. Nolan has Rachel send a goodbye letter to Batman? Caine burns it. Nolan has Leo dream an over-the-top fearful chance he may not get through passport control because he hates his dead wife, bingo, Caine is there to bridge the return. I saw Inception once, I knew the moment he woke up on the plane that he had dreamed the entire thing, the machine, the passengers for his team, and I knew he was awake for the first time, how? Nolan MAKES this post-plane scenery DREAM-like in a desperate move to hedge his bet. Look, Inception is one of the cheapest moves in all film history, it's a CON. Like I said above, the joke is the top, it reminds him ABOUT the dream, not PROVES he's awake.

All of them were excellent movies, and not overrated at all. They give one hope that we'll continue to see a growth of dynamic movies for grown-ups not geared to the Video-gammer set. All of them were worth seeing in a movie theatre and not at home via Netflix or DVD.

I agree that WINTER'S BONE, INCEPTION and SOCIAL NETWORK were all overrated, especially the first one. The Zuckerberg film was fine but has been wildly overpraised by the critics. The Nolan film, like all his work, mistakes a convoluted plot for profundity. What dream layer were we in? I was in deep REM state. BLACK SWAN is one of those movies where everyone is right. It is over the top and campy. But then again, that was what Aronovsky was going for, so I guess it all depends whether or not that's your cuppa tea. I enjoyed it but didn't take it too seriously, but Natalie Portman shines.

The others aren't so much overpraised, just a little overhyped. Affleck the director did a better job than Affleck the actor in THE TOWN and THE KIDS ARE ALLRIGHT was a pleasant surprise from beginning to end, thanks to a smart script and an engaging cast. It proves that American indie cinema is still alive (even if $13 million with 3 big stars can be considered indie).

I'm glad you included Black Swan and Social Network, both that will surely be nominated best movie. Black Swan's heavy breathing and camp were laughable and Social Network's droning on in court was forgettable.

Winter's Bone - "a contrived world and unearned bleakness" Amen.

The Social Network - "derives power from truth when it's mostly truthiness" Amen.

Inception - "complicated doesn't mean brilliant, and the expositional sections are less fun than a freshman calculus class." Amen.

I haven't seen the others yet.

Thank you! I totally agree with Inception being on this list. "Complicated doesn't mean brilliant." Exactly! You could totally see that ending a hundred miles away and people were crowing about it's greatness. Winter's Bone was slow paced and I still don't see what's all the hoopla's about. I'm borderline on The Town, but I still liked it. I have to disagree with you on the rest.

Wow, surprised someone actually put this in writing. Some of the films were better than others, but people treated the Town like Ben Affleck had made a new and unique product. It has already been made and better and was called Mystic River, The Departed and maybe even Blown Up (with The Dude and his Dad). The others have been hyped beyond belief as well, but the kool aide was swallowed by many and will no doubt be rewarded during Awards season.

If staff members and readers think Winter's Bone has a "contrived world" and "unearned bleakness" then I suggest they spend more than a few days outside of LA and go to the Ozarks. I grew up there until I was 13 and still have family living there. Drive through the area my cousins live in and it looks just like the film. One cousin deals meth while the other cooks it; their brother is a deputy sheriff. The drug dealing cousins hang with a bunch of hillbilly tweekers--a couple who are morons and a couple that could probably scare the s--t out of the bad guys in this film. This film is a lot more accurate than folks realize...

ive seen every one of these movies and they all deserve to be on the top ten list. the la times' taste has fallen into a pit.

I agree that "The Town" was an over-rated film. I found it pedestrian and quite implausible. The film suffered from drawn out dialogue scenes that interupted the pacing, ultimately resulting in a very difficult watch. The ending was preposterous. Go see "True Grit" and enjoy a modern classic.

The Town was excellent, Inception was excellent and so was The Social Network, mainly because as much as it tried to malign Zuckerberg most people thought he came out looking pretty good. "A guy who makes a really great chair does not owe money to everybody else who ever made a chair." I haven't seen the rest of these movies and probably won't but if you didn't enjoy Inception you must have really liked Avatar, the most overrated and absolute worst movie of the decade.


I didn't grow up in a Winter's Bone environment, but I was closely acquainted with a similar environment through a friend for about 2 years. And I know how outsiders are treated. But that's exactly my issue with the protagonist here. The plot relies on her being different and bizarrely ignorant of the happenings there. She's smart and tough -- but at times she's portrayed like Alice in Wonderland. Everyone knows the deal except her; but she's lived in Wonderland her whole life hasn't she? The settings and characters look authentic to me -- but the situation seems contrived. If this film is an attempt at neo-realism, a 17 yr old in that setting would have 2 kids of her own, a boyfriend or two -- and she'd be taking and selling drugs herself to survive. And the brother would more likely assault her sexually than put himself out by helping her. And what are the chances that the balance of the money is delivered to her that way? She'd never see any of that money. It would all disappear into someone's pocket. Is that accurate? Or just a tack-on to resolve her situation?

Sorry, I have to disagree on The Social Network. I don't use or get Facebook, but the film was a terrific view of a genius at work inventing a social revolution. By the way, it does more than deliver on the crackling dialogue and great performances. How many other films this year did that?

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