Cinema has long been a source of heated debate, especially regarding films that tried too hard to be serious and ended up just seeming pretentious. With the arrival of streaming platforms, more accessible movie-making tools and an increased ability for filmmakers to challenge the norm, recent years have seen a wave of new daring cinema—acclaimed as genius by some yet widely disliked by others.
Nowhere is this disparity in opinion more apparent than with these 20 pretentious movies. So what do you think? Are there times when lines should not be crossed regarding artistic expression, or are pushing boundaries necessary? Below are the top 20 pretentious movies shared across online:
1. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
One user posted, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. A The Holocaust and 9/11 mash-up with an autistic kid as the main character? Pure pretentious as s- Oscar bait.
“I had to read the book in high school, and the best thing I could say about it was that it provided easy pickings for annotation assignments.”
Another user added a story behind the film, “Daily reminder that the author of the book awkwardly flirted with Natalie Portman via email, thought she was as into him as he was into her, and left his wife of 10 years for her, only to be met with bemused puzzlement from Natalie.”
One user replied, “Jesus, those emails were painful to read from both of them. I can’t believe people write like that in their personal emails. He did end up dating Michelle Williams for years after his divorce, so I guess he’s got some game.”
2. Eat Pray Love
One user added, “Eat Pray Love(2010), a pretentious film based on an equally pretentious true story.”
One user replied, “So true, lol. Like I would love to just take off for a year, but unfortunately, I have to work.”
“Crash (2004)—simultaneously the most pretentious movie I’ve ever seen and the stupidest,” one user added.
Another user shared, “I remember seeing it when it came out and found it fairly forgettable. Then it kinda gained this reputation as ‘didn’t deserve the Oscar,’ so I watched it again recently. It tries so hard to be topical (and perhaps it was in a way), but it’s soooo over the top yet surface level at the same time with its message. There are some good performances in the movie, but that can’t save the script.”
4. The Room
One Redditor posted, “I think considering Tommy Wiseau’s intention to make a serious drama, The Room is pretentious. I know he refuted the claim that The Room was supposed to be serious. But sorry, I have severe doubts.”
One user shared, “There’s no way in h*ll that The Room was anything other than a sincere effort by Tommy to make a legitimate dark drama. Making the movie as it is, with the intention of being received as it has been, would make Tommy a comedic genius in three separate areas: writing, acting, and directing. I don’t think he is. Just like some great movies are lightning in a bottle, The Room is lightning in a bottle in the opposite direction.”
5. You People
One online user posted, “You People with Jonah Hill and Eddie Murphy. The film goes out of its way to make Jonah Hill a ‘Bumbling Clueless Overly-Cautious Woke White Guy’ and Eddie Murphy a ‘Put Everyone On The Spot Overly Proud Black Man.’ NO self-respecting person (Jonah Hill’s character) would ever dig themselves into a racial awkwardness hole as often as he does. And no self-respecting person (Eddie Murphy’s character) would go out of their way to be so defensive and make Jonah Hill’s character so uncomfortable.
“If it were purely a comedy, it would have made sense to make them both so clueless, but since it was supposed to be a ‘woke’ rom-com, then they could have done well-meaning people more credit by making Jonah Hill more discerning and Eddie Murphy more gracious. Instead, both characters just reinforced stereotypes from beginning to end.”
Another user replied, “First rom-com I watched that was completely lacking both romance and comedy. To call it a movie at all is a compliment to You People and an insult to all other movies ever created.”
6. Seven Pounds
“Seven Pounds,” shared one user.
Another Redditor replied, “Or any Will Smith bazillion Oscar Bait movies.”
Another user commented, “Collateral Beauty takes the cake for me. Even the title is pretentious.”
One Redditor posted, “Downsizing. I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned this one. I sit down thinking I’m about to watch a lighthearted comedy starring Matt Damon about people who shrink themselves and get into some hijinks. Turns out. Instead, the movie’s message (pretty early in the film, too) is, ‘You can’t shrink the problems of the world, ST*PID!’ The rest of the movie was a guilt trip about lower-class poverty and environmental issues. It seriously felt like the filmmakers were scolding me. …”
One user responded, “I came here to say this. I went to the theatre to watch it because I was excited to see it. It’s a fun movie with Matt Damon and Kristin Wiig getting shrunk down like a grown-up Honey I Shrunk the Kids.
“She was barely in it, super preachy, meandering, boring, and nothing like what was advertised. Oh, and the ending was stupid, too. I shouldn’t have bothered waiting for it, but they already had $40 or so of my money. At least the snacks were ok. Probably the best part of the movie. They realized what a mess it was and pulled a bait-and-switch with the trailers as a last-ditch effort to save it. I’m still mad if you can’t tell, lol.”
8. Now You See Me
“Now You See Me … I don’t understand how people can be impressed with ‘magic tricks’ that are only possible with special effects. B-, please! I can make f- Godzilla coming out of my pocket if I can use CGI. That s- is not impressive.
“On a side note, what a waste of opportunity when they didn’t call the second movie “Now you don’t,” stated one user.
Another user added, “Also, there were zero clues for the twist. It’s just a ‘surprise this random thing happened. Now be in awe.'”
One online user shared, “Given the following definition of pretentious: ‘Trying to appear or sound more important or clever than you are’
“I’ll go for Tenet. When people think of pretentious films, they tend to list arty films. But pretension just means having an unearned sense of self-regard, and Tenet has that. It’s a film that is desperate for you to think it’s clever and profound but is ultimately hollow and not half as clever as it thinks it is.
“Edit: I just remembered the main character is literally called ‘Protagonist.’ Proper pretentious first-year film student stuff.”
One user answered, “I upvoted, even though I like Tenet because I can’t argue with your logic.”
10. Bang Bus “Episode 3”
One user posted, “Bang Bus ‘Episode 3’. The premise was already in. There was nothing new about it.”
Another replied, “Is that the one where they pick up a young woman and interview her in a s- van? I’ve only seen the first 10 minutes. I can’t believe there are sequels.”
11. My Dinner With Andre
“I love the movie, but ‘My Dinner With Andre’ is pretty pretentious and self-satirizing at the same time,” one Redditor stated.
Another user replied, “If you were out to dinner and the people at the table next to you were having that conversation, your eyes would roll right out of your head and fall on your plate.”
12. Most Woody Allen Movies
One Redditor shared, “Oof, I’m gonna get hate for this, but I feel like most Woody Allen movies are pretentious …”
Another user also posted, “When I think of pretentious movies, I think of Woody Allen b- s-. Movies about making movies about New York and how cool you have to be to be famous. F- off.”
13. Garden State
“A little obvious, but Garden State. It has all the hallmarks and takes itself way too seriously.
“That being said, it’s made with a lot of heart and ambition, and I do enjoy it, but it’s just the first thing that comes to mind—from the all-white bedroom to the shirt made out of wallpaper print to literally screaming into a void.
“Well-intentioned, entertaining, endearing but ultimately a pretentious cringe fest—sorry Zach!” posted one user.
One online user posted, “I thought Birdman was pretentious on my first viewing. That being said, I was, like, 19 when I saw it, and I’m 28 now. I may need to watch it again because being pretentious kinda felt like the point of the movie.”
Another user replied, “My favourite part about Birdman was seeing Edward Norton playing himself.”
“Rubber … I thought it’d be about a sentient tire blowing people up. But it kept cutting to a surrogate audience standing in a field watching the events and doing meta-commentary on film. Also, Lady in the Water … He was writing a movie critic character just to make them an ah you can kill off. Then, making the struggling writer the saviour of the world through his excellent writing and then casting YOURSELF for the role? Lol,” one user posted.
16. Wes Anderson’s Newer Films
One user posted, “Wes Anderson’s newer films are the definition. Bring back Owen to rein him in.”
Another user commented, “I came into this thread specifically to see how soon Asteroid City would come up.”
“Wes Anderson is so confident in his style at this point in his career, that someone calling his latest effort pretentiousness would just read as, ‘Oh good, you saw my film. Thank you, it was very pretentious,'” one user responded.
“Mother!” shared by one Redditor.
Another user commented, “This is one movie I loved, but I can recommend it to no one.”
18. Cloud Atlas
One Redditor posted, “Cloud Atlas. That movie is the definition of smelling your gas in public. It’s just so g-d- stupid in an ‘I’m 14, and this is deep'” sort of way.”
“Joker. … That movie thinks it’s brighter than it is but fails to hold a consistent theme in a way that says effectively nothing. It doesn’t work as a character study either because the character is also inconsistent. It’s only really grounded by a legendary performance by Joaquin,” stated one user.
One user replied, “That’s because it’s directed by the man who did The Hangover movies, doing his best attempt at Scorsese.”
20. Tree of Life
One user shared “Tree of Life.”
One user commented, “(whispers) ‘What is life?’ (Random shot of a kid walking into the sunset.) (More whispering.) ‘What does it all mean?’ (Camera pans into a blank wall.) (Whispering so quietly that it’s barely audible) ‘What is all this?’ (Dinosaurs explode in the background).”
Another user commented, “I like the movie (it’s more a montage movie than a movie-movie), but this gave me a chuckle. It’s definitely not for everyone!”
What do you think of the movies listed above? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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