Backlash is a funny thing. It’s always been present in popular culture, but it feels as though it’s become particularly prominent over the past few years, an unavoidable step in any celebrated film, band, book, or television show’s penetration into the cultural landscape: first comes critical acclaim, then financial success, then ubiquity, and then the inevitable backlash from those who object (or who have turned, perhaps because of said popularity and/or ubiquity). Sometimes, the pendulum swings back and the backlash fades — but often, the negative connotation is what sticks, and that’s what becomes the lasting perception.
This week’s 3D rerelease of Titanic got us thinking about backlash, and how often we find ourselves defending movies that were, at least in the beginning, critical and popular hits, but have since fallen out of public favor. Thus, we’ve collected ten movies that the worm turned on — but that we’re standing by, damnit, and we’ll tell you why. Check them out after the jump, and add your own in the comments.
There may be no single film in cinematic history that made as much money as this one, yet became so widely and loudly reviled after the fact. Critics and general public were gunning for Titanic when it hit theaters in December of 1997, after months of breathless (and negative) coverage of writer/director James Cameron’s ballooning budgets and extended scheduling overruns. Yet it struck a chord among both critics and audiences, racking up fantastic reviews, eleven Oscars (including Best Picture and Best Director), and over $1.8 billion in worldwide box office.
The backlash is explainable and, honestly, understandable; we wanted to punch “King of the world” Cameron as much as anybody else during that Oscar acceptance speech, and good Lord, if we never hear that fucking Celine Dion song again, it’ll be too soon. And yes, the movie has its flaws (Cameron’s no great shakes as a screenwriter, and the Billy Zane character is comically thin), while the idea of it beating L.A. Confidential for Best Picture still burns. But all of those things duly noted, it must be said: the movie works. DiCaprio and Winslet’s chemistry is off the charts, and the effortlessness with which they capture the first flush of love is remarkable. And the extended (almost real time) sinking of the vessel remains an astonishing stretch of pure cinema, skillfully intermingling state-of-the-art effects and honest-to-god suspense — no easy feat, considering that we know how the damn thing’s going to turn out. It’s an imperfect film, and we’re certainly not rushing out to see it again in 3D or anything. But what it does, it does very, very well.