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Personally I think it's way too early for anyone to be publishing their 10 best or 10 worst films of the year list-- you never know what gems you might be able to catch up with before year's end, and with Playing for Keeps opening this weekend, do you honestly think you've already endured the year's worst? But Time magazine, bowed by the pressures of print publishing I'm sure, has gone ahead and run Mary Pols's list of the 10 worst films of the year, and she used it to drive a dagger through the heart of one of the most beloved and under seen movies of the year among many Internet critics: Cloud Atlas.
You may remember that we were firmly on the Cloud Atlas train, writing a rave review and a series of impassioned editorials trying to convince people to go see it. It didn't work, and when the movie was a flop, the critics who scoffed at its bigness and open heart seemed to win out. If Cloud Atlas had been a financial hit, it's hard to imagine Mary Pols putting it at the top of her worst of the year, calling it in her writeup a "bloated fantasia of special effects and makeup wizardry." What she writes about the film isn't mean, but placing it at the top of the list-- ahead of genuine drivel like One for the Money and What To Expect When You're Expecting-- has hit a lot of people where it hurts, based on all the angry tweets I caught last night.
I am a huge fan of Cloud Atlas-- it will probably make my list of the year's best films-- and yet, I'm having a hard time working up a whole lot of ire about this. Part of the fun of loving the film when it opened in October was realizing how many people weren't going to get on board, and working to find ways to describe its appeal without resorting to "Well, I just felt it and you didn't." Clearly I felt Cloud Atlas and Mary Pols didn't, but she's not wrong, just picking on the wrong guy. Same goes for her #2 pick, John Carter, which is a misconceived and overlong adventure film, but by no means bad. In her position as a mainstream print critic Pols probably doesn't have to dig through many of the year's tiny, truly reprehensible movies, like the Amanda Seyfried vehicle Gone or John Cusack's turn as Edgar Allan Poe in The Raven. I don't think she's got her knives out for John Carter; she just got off easy in a year full of plenty of grenades of awfulness.
You can click over to Time to see Pols's full list in slideshow format, which includes a few especially salient digs at What To Expect When You're Expecting, plus a vivid reminder of the incredible awfulness of Alex Cross. Part of me thinks that even Pols know it was much worse out there this year than Cloud Atlas.