Time's film critic Richard Corliss writes one of those "Do film critics know anything?" pieces that get so popular around awards time. This one's cleverly titled "Do Film Critics Know Anything?" In it, Corliss points out that as the Oscars have begun to honor smaller, quality films rather than the "popular movies that had a little art" that won awards in the "Golden Age," TV ratings for the Academy Awards have declined. Apparently, Corliss thinks that America's film critics are just too snooty, and that their critics' awards — given to little-seen, difficult movies like No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, and Persepolis, some of which aren't even out in theaters nationwide — are to blame for the Oscars' low ratings. Shame on you, critics! Shame on you for picking movies you really like!
Let's take a look at Richard Corliss's Top Ten list for the year and see what populist picks he made to single-handedly revive the Oscars' TV ratings.
1. No Country for Old Men
2. The Lives of Others
3. Killer of Sheep
5. Sweeney Todd
7. No End in Sight
8. In the Valley of Elah
So by our count, Corliss's list contains the very movie whose victory at the New York Film Critics Circle spurred Corliss's screed (at No. 1 on his list!); two foreign-language films; four movies that haven't yet been released nationwide (and two that aren't even open in New York yet); a 1977 black-and-white drama in re-release; an Iraq-war documentary and an Iraq-war drama; a charming indie romantic comedy; and one crappy popcorn movie thrown in at the anything-goes No. 10 spot. Combined box office to date, movies 1 through 9: $68 million. Box office to date of Beowulf: $76 million.
Now that's a list for the people, Richard Corliss! When untold millions watch as Beowulf beats out Persepolis for this year's Best Picture Oscar, we'll have you to thank.