[Marxism] The Best and Worst Films of 2013 » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Jan 17 12:27:55 MST 2014


Before explaining my somewhat heterodox approach to best and worst 
lists, I want to follow up on my reporting on the witch hunt against 
Armond White, who was facing discipline over his alleged heckling of 
Steve McQueen at the New York Film Critics Circle awards ceremony. Since 
then White has been expelled from NYFCC. Rather than giving you my take 
on this, I would refer you to an excellent article by Henry Stewart in L 
Magazine titled “Armond White is just a red herring”.  Stewart spoke for 
me when he wrote:

     Armond’s ejection from the organization seems reasonable (if 
regrettably messy); but does the practice of bestowing honors to films 
and filmmakers and then hobnobbing with them at ceremonies and industry 
parties? “Critics should not be in the business of giving out awards,” 
Times critic AO Scott (who’s professionally forbidden to belong to any 
awards-bestowing critics groups) wrote on Twitter, continuing, 
“Criticism rests on the independence and integrity of the singular 
voice, and group voting+partying with the winners undermines that.”

     I haven’t yet seen a critics-group this year recognize a film that 
truly needed recognition: every one praised a piece of prominently 
lobbied-for Oscarbait: 12 Years, American Hustle, etc., the same movies 
that won Golden Globes and which will likely go on to win Academy 
Awards. I’m a member of the Online Film Critics Society (because 
belonging to any group has its useful perks, like year-end screeners), 
which named 12 Years a Slave the year’s best movie. But it was a movie I 
strongly disliked, so what does the group’s award and my membership in 
the organization have to do with each other? This is what Scott means, I 
think, by voting being meaningless: consensus is by definition 
middlebrow, unenthusiastic, dispassionate—nothing we should want our 
film criticism to be.


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