5 Favorites #83: 5 Favorite Pleasant Surprises

Every week, we’ll pose a new “five favorites” question. You just list your five favorites that fit in that category (preferably in preference order) and you’re welcome to discuss and debate the selections and see just how much you do or do not have in common with others. If you want to take a look back at our past articles to comment or enjoy, here is a post set aside to track all of our articles.

We’ve all done it. Gone into a movie expecting the worst, but it turned out to be great.

What are your 5 Favorite pleasant surprises?


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  1. Cimmeron (1930): Went into this aware of its reputation as arguably the worst Best Picture winner. While I found it erratic in its performances and social commentary, I did find it compelling and despite some terrible stereotyping, quite socially conscious. I actually agree with its Best Picture win over the likes of Skippy and The Front page, but would still probably put it in the bottom ten percentile of all winners.

    Playtime: Going into this one having seen Tati’s Mr. Hulot’s Holiday, and not expecting too much. While essentially plotless and often dialogueless, I found its production design and chaos oddly absorbing. A modern Modern Times.

    Toys: I expected an unfunny, overblown vanity project. I got an overblown vanity project that while too often unfunny, had enough truly offbeat moments, another nutty gem of a performance from Joan Cusak, and like Playtime, a production design that was truly amazing.

    Dogville: Breaking the Waves and Dancing in the Dark had brilliant moments scattered among its dogma-styled crudeness. I didn’t realize Dogville was filmed on a sound stage beforehand, and it did take a while to accept its approach. I don’t know how often I could watch this one, but after its three hours were up, I was unprepared for its affect on me, and how much I thought about it for some time afterward.

    The American: Anticipated an acceptable George Clooney watch it an forget it movie, but instead found one of Clooney’s best performances wrapped up in a very good European existential character study.

    1. There are only a small handful of egregious winners who are absolutely terrible. Cimarron falls on the upper end of that for me with a 2.5/4 star rating.

      It’s in my bottom ten (Tom Jones is the only one here that most people seem to disagree with me on):

      74.Gladiator (2000) ** ½
      75.The Great Ziegfeld (1936) ** ½
      76.Crash (2005) ** ½
      77.Cimarron(1930/31) ** ½
      78.Tom Jones (1963) ** ½
      79.The Broadway Melody(1928/29) **
      80.The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) **
      81.A Beautiful Mind (2001) **
      82.Cavalcade (1932/33)* ½
      83.Braveheart (1995)* ½

      As for my list, I don’t have everything in front of me, but I know that I expected worse from Real Steel (as Mike included below) as well as The Bridge to Terabithia of most recent films.

  2. Chronological Order:

    Mean Girls
    School of Rock
    Shall We Dance
    Hustle & Flow
    Sky High
    Charlotte’s Web
    Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny
    Black Dynamite
    Youth in Revolt
    The Karate Kid
    Real Steel (I hate to admit this one)

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