Argue over a film this year? You might be able blame James Franco.
A handful of movies this year inspired heated debate. Take "Spring Breakers," for example: The film about a group of debaucherous, law-breaking, bikini-clad college girls who get in way over their head sent moviegoers in two very different directions. You either hated it passionately, or you loved it passionately; there was no middle ground.
Others films, like "Oz the Great and Powerful," (also starring James Franco, go figure), found huge audiences in spite of critical scorn.
The team at Yahoo Movies is stirring the pot even more, going head-to-head on the eight most divisive movies of the year. Here's what went down:
Pro: A dreadlocked, grill-wearing, tattooed James Franco (as Alien) performing Britney Spears's "Everytime" poolside at a white baby grand piano while shotgun-toting, neon ski-masked, college-aged girls gone bad dance innocently around him in the south Florida sunset. 'Nuff said. Why? Because as Alien so eloquently put it, "This is the f---in' American dream." Spring break fo'ever! —
Con: Do you want to watch a movie that makes you feel like a dirty, sweaty, depraved pedophile? "Spring Breakers" is awful. It's filled with hateful characters who engage in gratuitous gun violence, murder, recreational drug use, and sex with barely legals. Sound good? It’s not. —Kara Warner
'Man of Steel'
Pro: This Superman flick is seriously good (and also just serious). As far as superhero origin stories go, it's hard to beat "MoS." The softer, gentler side of Supes comes through in a stoic performance by Henry Cavill. Never before have we seen the world's greatest superhero so vulnerable, so isolated, and so alien. But a superb superhero movie can only be as strong as its villain, and there wasn't a better baddie this year than Michael Shannon as General Zod. —
Con: More like "Man of Ehhh." This was easily the most disappointing movie of the year, a superhero reboot with a passionate director, an intriguing new star, and an inspired supporting cast. But this movie just never took off: It was emotionless, overstuffed, at times incoherent, and worst of all, just not very fun. Don't even get me started on that mass killing of civilians in those buildings during Supes and Zod's final (overly long) fisticuffs. It did have some amazing product placements, though! —Kevin Polowy
'The Great Gatsby'
Pro: It's a tall order, trying to nail a film adaptation of any book, forget about one often considered the best American novel ever. But by staying true to the tone and central themes of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic, Baz Lurhmann found a way to not just honor the honorable source material, but to make it bump with vitality. With Leo's broken-hearted Jay Gatsby making all that money seem so worthless, Luhrmann's lurid style dressing up the fall of the Roman Empire in seersucker, and a controversial soundtrack symbolizing the timeliness and timelessness of the tale, "Gatsby" got me more jazzed than nearly every movie I saw in a theater this year. —
Con: As yes, old sport, "The Great Gatsby" in glorious 3-D, just as F. Scott Fitzgerald would've imagined. Hear that rumble? That was just Mr. Fitzgerald rolling in his grave. I know Baz Luhrmann makes spectacles, not movies, but this superfluous, soulless mess was so Bazzy it hurt. "Gatsby" is overstylized to the max, and the 3-D wasn't just unnecessary, it was distracting. This one goes down not only as the year's least subtle film, but also quite possibly one of the worst screen adaptations of a classic novel we've ever had the displeasure of viewing. —K.P.
(20th Century Fox)
Pro: Hold the phone ... women are funny, too?! How have we not figured this out already? Meet the only female-led studio film to come out all summer … and the first-ever lady cop buddy comedy. The fantasy of this Melissa McCarthy-Sandra Bullock team-up lived up to the expectation with non-stop laughs and still a good dose of heart. More, please. —
Con: I wanted to love "The Heat." I had such high hopes — possibly too high? Sandra Bullock is at the top of her game and Melissa McCarthy is a brilliant comedic actress, but I'd seen these characters before. The few laughs I had — i.e., the Spanx scene — were spoiled by the trailer. And that choking scene, well, that will haunt me for life. —Giana Mucci
'Only God Forgives'
Pro: Sure, a Cannes Film Festival audience booed following the gala premiere of Nicolas Winding Refn's first film after "Drive," with Ryan Gosling back front and center as a Bangkok black marketer. But don't expect "Drive 2." "Only God Forgives" is an exhilarating, atmospheric martial arts movie armed with a killer performance from the queen of British period restraint, Kristin Scott Thomas. Her trash-talking bloody mama with an American accent is a lusty Lady Macbeth for modern times. —
Con: There are absolutely no redeeming characters in "Only God Forgives." Sure, an anti-hero is fun to root for every once and a while, but don't mistake Gosling for that. He is a criminal, lacking any sense of empathy, just like his mother (Scott Thomas). More than that, he's just plain gross. (What's with his weird, kinky "love affair" with a prostitute? There's no backstory to it. We're not invested.) This movie is devoid of any soul, sense of justice, or justification for its existence. —Meriah Doty
'Oz the Great and Powerful'
(Walt Disney Pictures)
Pro: The eye-popping opening credits alone make this worth the ticket price. In spite of some story flaws, the techni-colorful, almost edible world inhabited by Oz (James Franco) and Glinda (Michelle Williams) is enough to make your brain swirl in ecstasy for hours after viewing. It's no wonder moviegoers made "Oz" among the top 10 most popular movies of the year. —
Con: If you like things constantly flying in your face, totally see this movie in 3-D. If you love the original, "The Wizard of Oz," keep in mind that this is not that, has virtually no relation to it, and will only serve to irritate you. This James Franco-starrer has pretty costumes and Michelle Williams looking every bit the Glinda the Good Witch she was born to be, but that's where the good stops. Otherwise, it's just loud, colorful, and deeply grating. —B.H.
Pro: "Pacific Rim" may not be for everyone, but no one can accuse director Guillermo del Toro and his team of just phoning it in. The film is conceived as a high-tech update of a classic low-tech Godzilla film from the 1950's world of Japanese monster movies. "Pacific Rim" does the seemingly impossible: preserves the raw feeling and manic look of those films while reconceiving them with jaw-droppingly beautiful state of the art special effects. The final product leaves audiences feeling as though they have been taken to a world they have never seen before — and not just endured another cookie-cutter superhero story. —
Con: There's no doubt the massive robots and monstrous Kaiju that del Toro created look really, really cool. The big disconnect is the action. By design it was indirect, as the Jaeger pilots inside the big robots manipulated their movements against the Kaijus. The result is a delayed effect that made the battles much less viscerally pleasing. Americans didn't buy into it and ticket sales suffered. Also, all that loud armor clanking gets pretty annoying after a while. —M.D.
'August: Osage County'
(The Weinstein Company)
Pro: This movie is a master class in acting. Meryl Streep is amazing as always, but what surprised me is how much I liked Julia Roberts. This was the best performance I’ve seen from her in — dare I say — ever? This film, which is adapted from Tracy Letts's play about a
very dysfunctional family, will not only entertain but also give you a whole new appreciation for your own family this holiday season. —
Con: I don't care that this is a Pulitzer Prize-winning play or that it stars some of the best actors alive today. No family could ever have this much dysfunction in one go. Suicide, mental health disorders, addictions, cancer, incest, and adultery — and those only scratch the surface. And, yet, the end result is just plain boring. —B.H.
What movie did you find yourself arguing over? Let us know!