Undefended: The Top Five Overrated Films Of All Time.

Undefended is posted every Friday. All FilmFisher writers are given a prompt and respond with a list of five items, none of which are explained or rationalized. This week…

The top five overrated films of all time?

Remy Wilkins:
1. The Shawshank Redemption
2. The Godfather
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey
4. Pulp Fiction
5. Signs

Sheffield Leithart:
1. Rocky
2. The Godfather
3. Toy Story 2
4. Cool Hand Luke
5. V for Vendetta

Christian Leithart:
1. Braveheart
2. Gladiator
3. Fight Club
4. The Lion King
5. It’s a Wonderful Life

Jon Paul Pope:
1. Life is Beautiful
2. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
3. Shrek
4. Midnight Cowboy
5. The Natural

Joshua Stevenson:
1. Donnie Darko
2. Love Actually
3. A Beautiful Mind
4. Sunshine
5. Looper

Kanaan Trotter:
1. Avatar
2. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
3. Lord of the Rings
4. The Dark Knight
5. The Matrix

Sean Johnson:
1. Lord of the Rings
2. Titanic
3. Crash
4. Raging Bull
5. Casablanca

Joshua Gibbs:
1. Chicago
2. The Lord of the Rings
3. Saving Private Ryan
4. American Beauty
5. The Crying Game

Justin Spencer:
1. Midnight Cowboy
2. Ben-Hur
3. Gone with the Wind
4. Forrest Gump
5. Crash

James Banks:
1. The Long Good-bye
2. Bonnie and Clyde
3. Raging Bull
4. Mean Streets
5. Easy Rider

Thomas Banks:
1. Apocalypse Now
2. Chariots of Fire
3. Gone with the Wind
4. The Sound of Music
5. In the Heat of the Night. In fact, most anything with Sydney Poitier.

Joshua Gibbs

Joshua Gibbs teaches great books, collects records and jogs to work. He and his wife have two children, both of whom have seven names. He tweets at @joshgibbs and blogs for the CiRCE Institute.

38 Responses to Undefended: The Top Five Overrated Films Of All Time.

  1. Top 5 Worst Lists Ever:
    1.Remy Wilkins
    2.Sheffield Leithart
    3.Chrisitan Leithart
    4.Thomas Banks
    5.tie between Kanaan Trotter, Sean Johnson, and Thomas Banks because of The Matrix, Casablanca, and The Sound of Music.

    • Overrated doesn’t mean the film is bad, it just means it is overrated. Of all the lists, mine is the most timid.

    • I’d echo Remy’s clarification that “overrated” doesn’t necessarily mean bad, just that the movie’s reputation is disproportionate to its merits.

  2. These are just lists of awesome movies, so to say that are over rated is just bizarre. Gladiator, lotr, pulp, shawshank, Donnie darko, ben hur, these are all amazing and underrated if anything. Horrible lists, Tom banks and maybe Jon Paul, seem to be the only ones who understood the exercise.

  3. I understand what overrated means. And I’m saying I disagree vehemently that any film on your list is overrated save #3.

  4. I’d echo my understanding of overrated and my disagreement. Especially when saying “most overrated of all time”. And I’d take issue with most movies on these lists. Most are rated properly as superb films or even underrated.

  5. It’s true that movies like 8 1/2 and The Seventh Seal are more egregiously overrated, but who cares about putting that sort of thing on the list? Boring. I’d much rather throw perverts like Kubrick and Tarantino under the bus.

  6. The Boondock Saints and Fight Club belong here somewhere. Both have an odd affect of seeming intensely important to males between the ages of 17 and 21, and then rapidly diminishing as the viewer matures.

  7. The Godfather and Shawshank are not overrated. Not by a mile. And while Tarantino is a pervert, that does not diminish PF, nor does it make the film overrated. I stand by my claim that I hate your list save #3. However, it has generated comments on this post, so perhaps it fulfilled your intention.

    • Funny. I think 2001 is the Least Most Overrated Film of All Time.

      Shawshank is rated #1 on IMDbs list of top movies. Shawshank is not the best movie ever, ergo… Godfather is #2 (and #2 on the AFI top 100 films). Godfather is not the second best movie ever, ergo… Pulp Fiction is #5 has nothing important to say about the world or the humanity, ergo… And as for Signs, I just have a personal grudge against what people have done to that movie.

      Now unless you admit that Shawshank and Godfather are better than every movie in the world then I think my list gets to be legitimate. Though I agree with you, my list is very dull.

      • I’ll confess, I find “2001” one of the greatest movies of all time. Of course, people like me saying things like that is kind of what gets them put on lists like this.

  8. Shameless linkbait! What is this Buzzfeed nonsense? All the same, I’m doing it. These are the 5 most overrated films among people I know and love:

    1. Gladiator
    2. Lord of the Rings
    3. The Boondock Saints
    4. Memento
    5. Drive

  9. I know the whole point was to post these undefended, but I can’t stop myself. I’m not a “cinephile” so I don’t know what’s overrated among movie buffs. The five movies I picked are the sort of movies that would get me looks of disbelief if I tried to point out their flaws. Thus, overrated. (Though I’m not sure about “of all time…”)

    • I also can’t help myself asking, sheerly out of curiosity, why The Lion King? It seems like the “one of these things is not like the others” of your list.

  10. Any list that is critical of movies in any way ought to include Event Horizon. If there is one person on the planet that defends that movie, it is overrated.

    Also, Signs? Really? I would have just listed Pulp Fiction twice.

    • If I coulda listed all of Tarantino I woulda.

      Also I have a personal vendetta against Signs. It’s personal though.

  11. Is it wrong that my only real protest here is against Christian’s inclusion of The Lion King? Could the voices of James Earl Jones and Jeremy Irons be overrated? Is such a thing possible?

  12. I’d have to say that The Sound of Music, Casablanca, and It’s a Wonderful Life are terrible choices for these lists. These three almost can’t be overrated. Re: It’s a Wonderful Life; if you’ve only seen it aired on TV then I’d agree. It’s a tediously mind-numbing movie the way they air it. By the time you get through all the commercial interruptions it’s about 4 hours long–and the interruptions ruin the suspension of disbelief. When I showed the movie to my kids about a year ago I refused to subject them to the TV version.
    The same thing might be true if the reviewer has only seen The Sound of Music dragged out with commercial interruptions. I can’t get enough of The Sound of Music. I have the sound track and all the songs memorized. In addition, the gorgeous scenery and sets were amazing for the time period in which it was filmed. Combine the fantastic songs with the beauty of the scenes and it’s already a fantastic movie before we even consider the plot. Which I also like. I love Julie Andrews. I love Christopher Plummer. I love the music. I love Austria. If I could live in that movie I would. Perhaps I would fall in love with a lonely goatherd and live happily ever after…

    • I would highly commend Anthony Lane’s piece on the film to you insofar as this claim it is overrated.

    • Teacher, I’m with you. The three you listed should not be on these lists. Especially if you consider the time when they were filmed. For their era they were truly great and remain so still today. I also disagree with LOTR being on these lists. It’s a great film, a great trilogy. A movie that lives on and on, in the way these have and will, is not overrated.

  13. If something is going to be undefended, perhaps it should first be explained, that is, a set of criteria for judgment laid bare. Unless, of course, you enjoy how ignorance of such criteria immediately conjures volleys of indiscriminate disparagement.

  14. I am surprised none of the early Star Wars films made the list. I enjoy them, but as films, they don’t seem to justify the sort of cult following they have. I’d say the same thing about Star Trek Wrath of Khan as well.

  15. Am I the only woman who read this, or just the only one with an opinion? Let’s see if I can get the point of this exercise….

    1. Slumdog Millionaire
    2. Finding Nemo
    3. A Walk to Remember
    4. Fargo

    I like all of these just fine, I just don’t understand why people were so obsessed with them.

    5. 2001: A Space Odyssey

    Boring. Boring. Boring.

    • Claire, I’ll confess I dropped out of “Slumdog” after only twenty minutes, and I still regard myself as a massive Danny Boyle fan. Jai ho.

  16. I see you’re all mostly picking films from within your own lifetimes. How about some more consideration of film history.

    • Tucker, your point is understandable. But it seems much easier to list relatively recent and overrated films. The pool is much larger, for much the same reason it is easier to find fault in the modern wing of an art museum than the rest of the collection. There is a critical vetting process that happens naturally over time, such that most of the old stuff that remains is just the good stuff. Or at least, the historically significant stuff. It’s hard to think of early and classic films that are still highly regarded that aren’t so for very legitimate reasons.

  17. only Jon Paul and Thomas Banks lists are credible in my opinion. The rest of you are astonishing me! How dare you claim shawshank to be overrated?! Saving private ryan overrated? Wow Im glad I dont subscribe to that nonsense about everything being a matter of opinion! Donnie Darko, Life is Beautiful, Lord of The Rings, Boondock Saints I can agree with those for sure

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