The Nine Most Overrated Films of 2001

The Royal Tenenbaums

This has become a very popular list - with me, anyway. When film critics everywhere presented their "Top 10's" a few weeks back, I kept seeing the same dull, forgettable titles mentioned again and again. I won't go into detail here: if you're curious why I felt this way about these films, go read my individual reviews of them.

  1. Waking Life. This rotoscoped bag of hot air is nice to look at, but boring, with sophomoric views on life and free will.
  2. A.I. For once, audiences had it right: this is one to avoid. Never mind the whole "Can Spielberg do justice to Kubrick's vision?" question. No matter who made it, it's pretentious, overlong, and suffocating.
  3. The Royal Tenenbaums. Too cutesy-poo to matter.
  4. Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Self-indulgent and stagy. So you're playing a transsexual German rock singer with identity problems. Who cares?
  5. Amores Perros. Loud, violent, mean-spirited... I guess there are still some critics who equate these qualities with greatness.
  6. Donnie Darko. Some Dockers-clad schmuck's idea of what teen angst is like.
  7. A Beautiful Mind. In a less anemic year, this thoroughly ordinary film would have been relegated to the same dustbin of pandering crap as The Majestic and The Shipping News. But in 2001... Here comes Oscar! Lately the Academy has been honoring middle-of-the-road "prestige" releases from the studios, and since so few of those in 2001 were even halfway decent enough to be serious contenders, we have this well-polished piece of hackwork as the big winner.
  8. The Deep End. For once in a long while, this past year in cinema was not bereft of strong leading roles for women. So why were so many critics quick to laud Tilda Swinton's competent - but certainly not amazing - performance in a tepid remake of an old film noir? (I gave a better review when I first saw the film, but it fades from memory fast.)
  9. Mulholland Drive. Okay, look. I liked Mulholland Drive. But every freaking movie reviewer on the planet has it on his or her Top 10 list! This film has a lot of fine moments, but it's hard to seriously examine a film that was mostly shot 3 years ago as a TV pilot, with a final third added last year for theatrical release. Lynch should be admired for creatively fusing the two into a surprisingly cohesive whole ("cohesive" being a relative term with Lynch). But you'd think this was the Second Coming, with all these critics falling over themselves.