Why I (kinda) hate “Entertainment Weekly”’s list “The 50 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen”

Don’t get me wrong, I love Entertainment Weekly! It’s the only weekly magazine on entertainment (duh!) that does NOT focus on gossip. There are in depth interviews with filmmakers, TV stars, comedians, authors, bands, Broadway actors, etc. It never failed to neglect any aspect of the entertainment industry, which I applaud.

Naturally, I tend to read more articles that have to do with movies, and always appreciated that they would review the American blockbuster du jour, as well as the little German foreign film. Though somewhat more focused on the American entertainment industry (it is an American magazine after all), I always felt that there was a real effort from journalists to cover what was happening outside of America too… but that feeling is disappearing…

Case in point, their recent list of “The 50 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen”. Why? There are almost ONLY ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILMS… except six, indicated below. Once I noticed this after a first read through, I felt I had to go through the article again; perhaps there was a disclaimer indicating that the list would principaly be of English language films. Nope! The only thing written was: “We’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time compiling a list of the best yet least-seen films from the past two decades. No matter how dedicated a moviegoer you are, some of these will be new to you.” It’s wonderful that they’ve smartly narrowed it down to 1992-2012 but nothing about the selection being of 88% English language films.

Not that I find the selection terrible, on the contrary, there are a lot of movies that seem interesting, I appreciate the inclusion of documentary films, and I certainly agree on the handful of titles that I have actually seen (“Backbeat”, “Safe Men” and “The Ref”); but surely there must have been more foreign language films? Nothing from France, Quebec, Poland, South Africa, Brazil, etc., that could have been included on the list? Again, my question is: why so many English language films? Why only 12% are foreign films?

Come to think of it, EW is a magazine and magazines need to sell copy. With most magazines being readily available for free online, magazine sales have taken a dramatic drop in the last couple years. According to information from retail sales provider Mag Net, magazine sales have gone down about 10% in 2011, which was down about 10% from 2010… and the decline is not likely to stop.

So what would be the conclusion? My take is that EW wished to create an “accessible” list of titles, ones which had stars so as to attract readership and purchasing in case someone saw the magazine on a newsstand. It would explain why the cover of that issue had on its top three small pictures of stars and the “never-heard-of” films in which they acted! (For the record: Christian Bale in “Rescue Dawn”, Sienna Miller and Daniel Craig in “Layer Cake” and Richard Gere in “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale”.) Therefore, there are much more American and UK films, and only a discreet handful of foreign language films.

That being said, I might look up some titles, but I’m not making a point of watching every single title on the list because I like to broaden my horizons and watch more than just US and UK films!

But of course, since this article is about “The 50 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen”, here they are in alphabetical order, with the foreign films in bold:

  • “24 Hour Party People” (2002)
  • “Backbeat” (1994)
  • “Bamboozled” (2000)
  • “Box of Moonlight” (1996)
  • “Broken English” (2007)
  • “Bubba Ho-Tep” (2002)
  • “The Century of the Self” (2005)
  • “Chuck and Buck” (2000)
  • “Cold Comfort Farm” (1995)
  • “The Daytrippers” (1996)
  • “Devil’s Playground” (2002)
  • “DIG!” (2004)
  • “Enter the Void” (2009)
  • “Eve’s Bayou” (1997)
  • “Fish Tank” (2010)
  • “Fly Away Home” (1996)
  • “George Washington” (2000)
  • “Ghost Dog: the Way of the Samurai” (1999)
  • “Hachi’ A Dog’s Tale” (2010)
  • “Happy Accidents” (2000)
  • “Idiocracy” (2006)
  • “The Iron Giant” (1999)
  • “I’ve Loved You So Long” (2008)
  • “Last Night” (2010)
  • “Layer Cake” (2005)
  • “Lilya 4-Ever” (2003) (Russia)
  • “Love and Basketball” (2000)
  • “The Magdalene Sisters” (2003)
  • “Marwelcol” (2010)
  • “Memories of Murder” (2005) (South Korea)
  • “Moon” (2009)
  • “Murderball” (2005)
  • “Next Stop Wonderland” (1998)
  • “The Orphanage” (2007) (Spain)
  • “Perfect Blue” (1997) (Japan)
  • “Prime” (2005)
  • “Primer” (2004)
  • “Rare Exports” (2010) (Finland)
  • “The Ref” (1994)
  • “Rescue Dawn” (2007)
  • “The Rules of Attraction” (2002)
  • “Safe Men” (1998)
  • “Smiley Face” (2007)
  • “My Summer of Love” (2004)
  • “Surfwise” (2007)
  • “Together” (2000) (Sweden)
  • “Two Family House” (2000)
  • “Walking and Talking” (1996)
  • “Wendy and Lucy” (2008)
  • “Wristcutters: A Love Story” (2006)

Taken from Entertainment Weekly, issue #1214, July 6, 2012.


4 thoughts on “Why I (kinda) hate “Entertainment Weekly”’s list “The 50 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen”

  1. Je pense que 6 films sur 50 c’est pas beaucoup, mais faut garder à l’esprit que c’est un magazine américain avant tout. Mais comme toute les listes de top 50 ou top 100, il y a toujours beaucoup de place à la subjectivité.


    • Effectivement, c’est un magazine américain déservant principalement des intérêts (et une clientèle) américains. Reste que j’aurais aimé voir un peu plus de films non-anglo-saxons…

      Oui, les listes seront toujours subjectives; celle-ci a récemment été mise à rude épreuve avec le détrônement de “Citizen Kane” de la liste de Sight and Sound…
      en tout cas, faudrait finalement que je vois “Vertigo” là!! 😉


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