Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Rant About Artsy-Fartsy Top 10's

I miss Roger Ebert (still recovering from salivary gland cancer), but I still watch Ebert & Roeper, with Richard Roeper and revolving guest critics, every weekend. I tend to thing of Ebert as the more reasonable, more open-minded one, but with him on medical hiatus, Richard Roeper sometimes becomes the voice of reason compared to some of his guest reviewers.

I was especially disappointed with the choices made on this weekend's Top 10 of 2006 edition of Ebert & Roeper. Roeper did okay, choosing mostly mainstream movies. I have not seen any of the ten movies in his list (technically, eleven, because he counted Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima together as his #3 spot), but I have been tempted to see several of them or wouldn't mind sitting through others.

For instance, I still want to see The Queen (his #2 pick), United 93 (his #4), and maybe even The Good Shepherd (#8). I wasn't interested in Little Miss Sunshine (his #9), but I've heard such consistently positive reviews, I may have to give in after all. And, I could probably sit through The Departed (his #1) if I were sufficiently persuaded, and I just haven't heard enough about Babel (his #6) to know for sure.

However... A.O. Scott, a columnist for the NY Times and frequent guest critic, was sitting in for Roger Ebert this week and gave a bizarre top ten list. Six out of his top ten were foreign language films, one was a documentary, and he confessed that he gave Prarie Home Companion the #10 spot not because it was the tenth best movie of the year but as a tribute to its director Robert Altman who passed away recently.

Don't get me wrong, everyone is entitled to their opinion, so his top is his top ten (and mine will be mine). However, I don't think Scott's list is representative of what the average movie-goer would typically appreciate, and therefore, I think a more mainstream critic should have been selected to help sum up the year in Ebert's place. Most of the films he listed have probably only been released in big cities. Several of them, I've never even heard of before.

I guess the point of a positive review is that you encourage someone to see something they wouldn't normally have thought to be good. However, many people consider subtitles a deal-breaker. To choose six foreign language films I thinks alienates people more than it encourages them. Again, there's nothing wrong with his choices (he likes what he likes), but I think there is something wrong with the choice to have him on the show.

A. O. Scott filled in for Ebert probably between three to five times. But, Aisha Tyler also filled in at least three times. I would have been much more interested in knowing her top ten film list for the year.

Roger, please, come back soon.

For a diverse list of top ten film lists of 2006, check out

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