With awards season well and truly upon us, our cinemas are flooded with ‘smart’ movies – the films that are made to be provoke discussion beyond what your favourite explosion was. It’s incredibly easy to be cynical about the films that get trotted out for the Academy’s viewing pleasure every year and bemoan Harvey Weinstein for keeping what should be a celebration of all things cinema another business event, but I’d be lying if this wasn’t a great time to be a film fan.
There are as many duds amongst the ‘serious’ movies with ‘proper’ actors as you’d expect at any time year, but when one hits it’s normally a home run. These are often the ones that don’t come with a point to prove, presenting an emotional or thrilling cinema ride; look at the unbridled simplicity of ‘concept is the movie’ All Is Lost, which follows Robert Redford surviving in a boat and literally nothing else.
Fans of blockbuster fare, however, tend to tire of the winter months where it’s Hobbit or naught, overwhelmed of the films that think they’re smarter than they actually are. Far from being a problem with awards baiters (often criticised under the sometimes right, often misattributed pretentious banner), you can go to the cinema all year round and end up with a film where it’s brains are all a figment of the director’s imagination.
These nine films are notable examples of this misattributed intelligence. Not all are bad, but they all overestimate just how much is going on behind their (sometimes otherwise accomplished) exteriors.
This article was first posted on January 9, 2014