Just as a small point of reference: We've mentioned some movie reviews this week.
Movie reviews are subjective. Different people—even different major reviewers—will react to particular films in different ways, depending on various factors.
You'd think that everyone would understand this basic point. But it sometimes seems that we don't.
This morning, we were looking at the Washington Post's Weekend section. We decided to look at the number of stars the paper's reviewer, Ann Hornaday, gave to each Oscar Best Picture nominee this year.
There are nine Best Picture nominations this year, though only five for Best Director. Below, you see the nine films in question, along with Hornaday's ratings. The Post rates films on a four-star basis:
Washington Post, number of starsHornaday is a major mainstream reviewer. She gave underwhelming ratings to four of the Best Picture nominees.
The Irishman: 3.5
Jojo Rabbit: 3.5
Little Women: 3.5
Marriage Story: 3.5
Ford v Ferrari: 2.5
Once Upon A Time in Hollywood: 2.5
(Based on this Metacritic page, several of those Best Picture nominees weren't all that favorably reviewed.)
On the other side of the coin, Hornaday gave four stars to A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. On her year-end Best Movies list, she listed it as second best film of the year. As you can see at Metacritic, a very small number of other critics rated it that highly.
None of this means that she was "right." None of this means she was "wrong." Reviews, best lists and numbers of stars all involve matters of judgment.
In the end, there is no right or wrong to these assessments. It's amazing to see how many pundits may not have completely internalized this fairly basic point.
It's been a furious week in the neighborhood! That may not be a great thing.
Hornaday got it right: Yes, we know Hornaday a tad, and we like her a lot. But she's always honored in these parts for her 2002 review of Blue Crush, including these assessments:
Spectacularly filmed, well acted and snappily edited, "Blue Crush" exemplifies Hollywood at its best and most brazen: It's honest, even occasionally elegant, American pulp.How many stars did Blue Crush get? The Post's online review doesn't say.
As in his first feature, the teen melodrama "crazy/beautiful," Stockwell has a good eye and ear for characters and their environments, and he is especially sympathetic with women characters.
For ourselves, we like Blue Crush, and the basic idea of Blue Crush, more with each year that goes by. We posted our own capsule review once before at this site:
"That's my sister! That's my sister!" This time, the girls get to win.Inevitably, Stockwell was totally snubbed. The film has become a "cult classic."