Watch the opening monolog for any presentation of the Academy Awards, and you will likely hear about what movies mean to our society, how films offer escapes from our everyday lives, or some other sell on the overall importance and greatness of the movie industry. The truth of the matter is that a movie is not all that different than any other form of entertainment in that some people are truly into them and watch at least one per week, while there are others who go years and maybe even a lifetime without stepping inside of a theater to catch a flick.
There are movies that have been produced over the years that are, for the most part, universally beloved. You rarely, as an example, see people rant about Christmas Vacation whenever it appears on television during December. That film is viewed as a holiday classic and it is a mainstay of the season for some as much as the carols being played on the radio or Christmas trees being decorated. With that said, some holiday movies are worthy of checking in on this list, and that includes made-for-television specials that are featured by one particular company for, depending on the year, two months.
The Internet was made for “hot takes” and for debates on just about any topic, and that includes conversations about movies. You are bound to find somebody on a social media website or in an Internet forum who absolutely detests some movie that you have watched over a dozen times because you love it so much. Even films that are widely regarded to be some of the greatest ever produced are polarizing among movie aficionados who know their stuff as it pertains to Hollywood. That leads to the question: Which of the 20 films featured in this piece would you say are classics and undeniably great?
20. Every Hallmark Christmas movie
There are two types of people in the world: Those who leave Hallmark Channel on their television sets for much of a two-month period just to watch and re-watch those made-for-TV holiday movies that should be saved for DVR because of the amount of commercials that air, and then there are those who see the Christmas flicks as being hokey and unwatchable. You would have to search far and wide to locate the person who has watched and loved only a single Hallmark Christmas movie only to then never return to watch a similar movie. There is little middle ground on the subject.
19. Training Day (2001)
The back-and-forth debates on what makes this movie so polarizing among viewers may never end. There are glaring potholes that cannot be denied – just how did the character of Denzel Washington get away with everything he did without anybody having even suspicions about his life? – but the action and the movie’s storyline draws me in every time that I find it on television. People cannot even agree on whether or not Washington deserved to win awards for the role that he played in the film. Washington has, for me, been better in better roles and better movies, and that plays a part in why Training Day makes the cut.
18. A Christmas Story
Tune into Cleveland sports talk radio during the holiday season, and you will inevitably hear debates on this movie and also on the merit of visiting the famous house used in the film that resides in northeast Ohio. Some see A Christmas Story as a must-watch classic that deserves to be shown on repeat for 24 hours on Christmas, while others view it as a boring old movie that doesn’t live up decades after it was created. It is arguably the most polarizing film of its genre, and one has to wonder if there will come a time when television stations will stop showing it on December 25.
17. Quarantine (2008)
Diehard followers and supporters of horror movies break into two camps regarding this movie. One viewpoint is that Quarantine is a cheap ripoff of a Spanish movie that got things right and did it much better than the American version. The opposite opinion is that this is a solid spooky movie that is well worth the watch. In actuality, the argument more likely falls somewhere in the middle. Is Quarantine the first movie I am picking out of a group to watch on Halloween night? Of course not, but that does not make it worthy of the criticism it has received over the years.
16. The Simpsons Movie (2007)
How you view The Simpsons Movie is likely an indication on how you felt about the show at the time that the film was released. Those who have stayed with the program since the 1990s claimed that the movie was a great throwback to the classic episodes that were so beloved when they first aired. Viewers who tapped out and stopped watching years ago, however, were, in some cases, left unimpressed by the movie that did little to prove that The Simpsons Movie was not yet another instance of the series jumping the shark. At least we’ll all have that “Spider Pig” moment in our memories.
15. Star Wars Franchise
Do not be even a little surprised to see Star Wars make the cut for this piece. This classic movie still, decades after the fact, remains polarizing among genders. It would be a stereotypical comment to suggest that all males love the movie and that all females are turned off by it. I, as an example, do not really care for Star Wars one bit. It was, for its time, visually spectacular, and there are groups of fans who would tell you that no movie has pulled off what Star Wars accomplished. Not everybody was blown away, though, and non-fans remain bewildered that there are so many who are so obsessed with the series.
14. Titanic (1997)
Men from all around the world were dragged against their wills to theaters by their significant others to watch Titanic, and I remain convinced that relationships literally ended because of the polarizing nature of the film that, for those of us who didn’t love it, went on…and on…and on. The joke over the years has been that it took longer for the movie to come to an end than it took for the actual ship to sink to the bottom of the ocean. Personally, I have never been able to watch the movie from start to finish. Life is short enough as is, after all.
13. War of the Worlds (2005)
The polarizing nature of the ripoff of what was visually a ripoff (Independence Day) of the original War of the Worlds can be summarized in my experience of seeing it for the first time. I journeyed to a local theater with a friend for an afternoon showing, and both of us were excited to see if the remake could hang with ID4. It did not take long for me to begin rooting for the aliens to destroy what is maybe the most annoying family in the history of movies. My friend, however, loved it from start to finish, and she was left stunned that I did not feel the same.
12. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Get a group of your friends and/or family together and ask them about Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Some will not have seen it, at least one person will claim that this is the best on-screen performance Johnny Depp has ever had to date, and at least one person will tell you that he couldn’t even get through the entire film from start to finish. This movie is so polarizing, in fact, that it even seems as if the cult following that it has grows and shrinks on a yearly basis. I am in an unusual group of individuals in that I have seen Fear and Loathing and had little reaction to it once I was done.
11. Avatar (2009)
The second James Cameron super-film to make this list was always going to be polarizing among viewers. This science fiction movie that was seemingly a living video game actually had some viewers inside of theaters standing and applauding during the closing credits. It also, however, left some claiming that the storyline was ripped off from Dancing With Wolves. Whatever you feel about the movie, you have to tip your cap to Cameron for going out of his way to make what was visually a modern epic on the same level as Star Wars. Whether or not you would put the two movies in the same class is up to you.
10. The Passion of the Christ (2004)
Christians, movie fans and those who were curious to see what all the hype was about flocked to theaters to see The Passion of the Christ. Those who gave the film positive reviews pointed out the emotional scenes that, religious beliefs aside, left them in tears. Those at the other end of the spectrum proclaimed that the movie is unnecessarily violent and also that it contained attempts at humor at points when none were needed or appropriate. It is not an easy watch regardless of what you believe about whatever, which is just one reason I have no intention of ever going back and giving it a second viewing.
9. Signs (2002)
Signs is a case of a movie losing popularity in the eyes of some fans the more viewings that they gave it and the more that time progressed. There is a group of fans of the genre who would rank Signs as being one of the best science fiction films of its time, while detractors would point out that the movie disappoints and, in many aspects, lacks logic. Perhaps the best take-down of the film was produced by Internet sensation Maddox, and it is one that those who loved Signs would probably do well to avoid, if only because the points that he makes in the piece do make sense.
8. Boyhood (2014)
Boyhood was advertised to be a movie unlike any other, one that was shot over a 12-year period to depict the adolescence of a boy as the actor grew up. The film was highly touted in the weeks and days leading up to its mainstream launch, but the criticisms of the movie, one being that a movie of this nature running for over 160 minutes is ridiculous, slowly but surely began to see the light of day. Boyhood was then largely snubbed by the Academy Awards, offering further proof that the movie was polarizing among those who are picked to choose which films are worthy of winning an Oscar.
7. Major League II (1994)
Major League was an iconic sports movie with such a cult following that the sequel was always going to get buried. It didn’t help, of course, that Major League II was a stripped-down and PG version of the original. II has been blasted by critics and by fans over the years, but it has also developed a following of fans who don’t miss out when the movie is shown by a station such as the Major League Baseball Network. The commentary that occurs while two teammates on the roster of the Cleveland Indians get into a fight on the field makes the movie worth the watch for me.
6. The Godfather: Part III (1990)
No, III is not in the same tier of the first two movies in this series, but it also is not nearly as bad as some make it out to be. Here is a piece of advice for those who love I and II but despise III: Locate The Godfather Legacy television program that tells the story of the series and give it a watch, and then go back and watch the movies in whatever order you like. You will view III in a different light, even if you likely will not like it as much as you do the first two all-time great films. III serves as a solid wrap-up to the entire story, although the ending leaves you feeling a bit underwhelmed.
5. Citizen Kane (1941)
There are respected movie critics out there who would say that putting this title in a list of polarizing movies is an insult. I, however, feel that Citizen Kane is one of those things that is perceived to be so great just because somebody long ago said that it was and nobody questioned him. The movie is not shown on television nearly as much as you would expect considering the high praise so many have for it. Truth be told, I have never met anybody who is crazy about it. Maybe this is an instance of somebody showing his age, but I cannot fathom why anybody would put this film in the same class as The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II.
4. Cloverfield (2008)
Cloverfield was supposed to redefine the horror genre of movies, and some might argue that it did. Rather than focus on the monster that was terrorizing New York City, this movie instead chose to focus on a small group of individuals and do so via first-person camera work. For every person who loved the scene of the head of the Statue of Liberty becoming a makeshift bowling ball, there exists a critic who was horrified and disgusted by the references made to the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11. Warning if you have never watched it: Doing so may give you motion sickness. Seriously.
3. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
It is rare when a sequel is so much better than the original, and yet that was the case with The Dark Knight. Some, thus, would argue that The Dark Knight Rises never had a chance to live up to the lofty expectations fans and film experts had for it. There are some out there who would claim that this is actually the best of the three films in the series because of the numerous iconic scenes that were produced, not to mention the surprise ending to the main storyline. Others, however, have stated that this is far and away the worst of the three movies.
2. The Graduate (1967)
Where The Graduate exists as a part of our society cannot be questioned. It is widely viewed as one of the best overall movies ever created, and college film class professors show it to students every semester to this very year. What makes it so polarizing in the eyes of some viewers is that there are periods of time when it seems as if nothing of merit is happening, there really aren’t many likeable characters, and everybody speaks with this low tone and seems as if they are somewhat bored. I can live without it, and that statement is blasphemy for some in the movie world.
1. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
I have met all kinds of people in my life; professional athletes, actors, models, you name it. I have never, to this day, encountered an individual who could live either with or without Napoleon Dynamite. What makes this, to me, the most-polarizing film I could think of is the fact that emotions people have about it are so strong. We do not like or dislike this movie. It is either adored or thoroughly hated. Somebody merely wearing a t-shirt that makes a reference to Napoleon Dynamite can spark a legitimate argument among friends. I’ve witnessed it occur with my own eyes.
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