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From the Wire: The 2012 Better-Than List

From the Wire: The 2012 Better-Than List

It’s been a busy week for Armond White. On Monday night at the New York City Film Critics Circle Awards, he apparently didn’t heckle Michael Moore as he presented Best First Feature to “How to Survive a Plague” director David France — but later took credit for the heckling anyway in a conversation with Indiewire’s own Eric Kohn. Today, he published his annual version of a best-of list, which he calls his Better-Than List.

If you’ve never read the Better-Than List before, it’s perhaps White’s purest expression of his contrarian style. Rather than simply ranking the movies he enjoyed, he denigrates all the movies you enjoyed, while explaining why the movies you never saw or flat-out hated were actually superior. So, for example:

“A Thousand Words” > “Argo”
Brian Robbins and Eddie Murphy dared the most personal Hollywood critique since Clifford Odets’ The Big Knife; Ben Affleck trivialized Hollywood accountability.

Admittedly, I saw “A Thousand Words” on an airplane. So it’s possible all of the subtleties of its “personal Hollywood critique” took place during the beverage and snack service, and I just missed them all. But the movie I saw — the one that sat on a shelf for four years before it got dumped into theaters — was about a literary agent supernaturally cursed to die after he speaks 1,000 words. It was also borderline unwatchable (if my plane ticket came with a parachute, I would have been faced with a real dilemma). Other than that, the comparison sounds dead-on to me.

Just how subversive is White’s list? He even subverts himself! Last July, he gave out his Mid-Year Awards in the New York Press. Amongst his favorites (including “A Thousand Words”), in a category called “Oddities, One-Shots, and Newcomers” he listed “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” Now sixth months later, “Beasts” got stuck on the losing end of a Better-Than with Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom,” because, he says “Wes Anderson’s fable of childhood innocence lifted the curse of racist liberal condescension preferred by Benh Zeitlin’s obnoxious, way-late Hurricane Katrina fantasy.” 

So take that Armond White! Armond White says you were dead wrong! 

Read more of “Better-Than List 2012.”

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It's always the same really. He's pushing a bit to far and too hard, which makes him an easy target for those ready to dismiss movie critics altogether. He makes a few good points… in any case some of them are more interesting than the "safe" choices made recently by most critic circles (keeping in mind than "conservative" seems to have a different meaning in english/american). But they are overshadowed by his others. So yeah long story short, White's more part of a problem than part of the solution. Too bad really.

Pablo Podhorzer

At least he gave space to "Detention", the most interesting pop movie I saw in 2012, perfect for those that want a "Scott Pilgrim" shot but don´t know where to look. "Detention" is non-stop fun, and almost indescribable.

Christopher L. Inoa

While I usually find myself against Mr. White, and find his whole career nothing more than a gimmick to gain readers – for people on the Internet love nothing more than to bash someones opinion – I sort of agree with some of these.
I agreed with him that "Deep Blue Sea" was a better film than "The Lonliest Planet".
I agree that Holy Motors was better than Cosmopolis. And that "Moonrise Kingdom" is a better film than "Beasts" which I did not really fall in love with; as many other cinephiles, and critics did.
Some of these are absolutley preposterous, as I have the Ghost Rider sequel, and others listed down for bad movie nights with my friends; to say they are better films than "Zero Dark Thirty": A film that was so masterfully put together, and encouraged a debate amongest everyone who watched (and did not) watch it, just falls into the gimmick I feel he tries so very hard to pull off.

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