Thursday, January 9, 2014

My Answer to the Latest Criticwire Survey: Critical Cliches

Q: As evidenced by Erik Childress' annual survey of blurbmeisters, there's nothing studios love more than a good readymade phrase: your "laugh riot"s and "the best yet"s and so on. So let's role-play. In 2014, you're allowed to remove one hollow, overused turn of phrase from the critical lexicon: Which would you axe, and why?

Admittedly, I have probably used most clich├ęs you can think of at some point in my reviews – I do try and stay away from many, but admittedly it does not always work and sometimes they slip in without my realizing it. The one I have tried to eliminate completely is “Oscar worthy” or really any mention of the Oscars in my reviews. This doesn’t go for my year in review pieces that will be posted next week – because in that case, I do know what I think is Oscar worthy because it’s the end of the year, and so I can be sure that I’m seeing nothing else better than anything I rank as number 1 – and hence in my opinion, worthy of an Oscar. That’s one reason I avoid it – the other is that I don’t like to contribute too much to the annual horse race for Oscars until the end of the year, when I have a complete picture of the movies in play. There is a time and place for discussing the Oscars – but the summer isn’t one of them, even if you think Cate Blanchatt is Oscar worthy in Blue Jasmine. It’s the same reason why I don’t say anything is one of the best of the year unless I am 100% sure that it will end up on my top 10 list at the end of the year.

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