If you know who Armond White is, it’s likely that it’s because he’s pissed you off. White is the critic who notoriously offers contrarian opinions on some of cinema’s most popular entertainments. He’s the critic who spiked a number of Pixar films’ perfect ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, and spoke rhapsodically about Michael Bay‘s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Well, he’s done it again as he’s issued his yearly “Better Than” list, and there are some doozies.
For City Arts, White has compared and contrasted some of the year’s biggest films (for cinephiles mostly), in ways that are meant to provoke, and possible outrage. It’s a list where Zero Dark Thirty appears not once, but twice as less than Andre Techine’s film Unforgivable, and less than both Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and Taken 2. But if that didn’t get your goat, perhaps White suggesting that the Eddie Murphy comedy A Thousand Words is better than Argo might get your pulse racing.
White doesn’t go to bat or attack many of the big summer blockbusters (The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises are surprising omissions), as it seems he’s happier to provoke his colleagues by suggesting Todd Solonz’s lastest Dark Horse is better than Bela Tarr’s The Turin Horse, or by suggesting that Les Miserables is better than Once Upon a Time in Anatolia.
At this point it’s easy to know what to expect from White, and that may be why it’s hard to get too upset about his listings. There aren’t that many jaw droppers, because when it’s expected, it’s hardly a surprise. It is worth noting that White is a great scholar of cinema and knows what he’s talking about, and when he gets his teeth into a good idea, he’s a great read. But it’s virtually impossible to suggest he isn’t simply trolling at this point.
Does his list make you mad?