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February 2018

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On a fine year of films, and Oscar's irrelevance

Look at all the delightful and highly entertaining films that came out in 2014.

  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • The Lego Movie
  • Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past
  • 300: Rise of an Empire
  • Hercules
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay


This has in fact been a fairly stellar year for movies. I don't expect any of these films to be shortlisted for an Academy Award. If any are, it will be among the last two. Oscar prefers unwatchable dreck like 12 Years a Slave to anything that people choose for entertainment value. This is why I find it impossible to take the Academy Awards all that seriously.

Replay value is a major, major factor in my assessment of a film's quality. I own Gladiator, but think less of it than I do of 300, or Troy, or for that matter of Triumph of the Son of Hercules, each of which I've watched many times for every time I've seen Gladiator. And Gladiator is supposed to be a great film in one of my favorite genres. Gladiator takes itself too seriously and as a result is much less entertaining. In retrospect, the best thing about it was the soundtrack.

Since objectively speaking I'd rather watch Triumph of the Son of Hercules than Gladiator, I'm not sure what it is exactly that is supposed to make Gladiator the superior film here. The high-seriousness of the proceedings? That's part of what leaves me cold. The lack of reliance on stock genre plots? I consider the embellishment and refinement of stock plots and characters to be an art in itself, and I wouldn't have become a fan of the genre if the stock scenes and characters did not amuse me. Why should I prefer something that deprives me of part of the pleasure and part of the point of choosing that kind of film?

Replay value is huge for me. It's to the point where I use films for other purposes. When I want to brush up on my ability to understand French, I watch Barbarella or Le pacte des loups again. There are artier French films, but none I like better. Same thing with understanding Scandinavian; there I turn to Ronal the Barbarian.

I'm fully aware that this makes The Rocky Horror Picture Show the greatest motion picture ever made. As it certainly is.

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