Movie Review: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Whoa, boy. Buckle your seat belts for a rant.

I try to see some of the Oscar-nominated films every year… but this year I’m actually trying to see all of them.

This arduous task, which I’ve attempted before, has some pitfalls: highbrow artsy movies that play to a specific niche audience.

I watched Beasts of the Southern Wild last night. Let me put it to you this way: if you’ve got a couple of hours and some brain cells to spare, go for it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

If you have an ounce of common sense, I’m betting you’ll turn off your television about 40 minutes into it.


Ohmygod the movie was so terrible, in my opinion. I just didn’t get it. The flood, the angry father, the ice caps melting, the giant boar-type-mystical animal that got thawed when the ice caps melted, the drunks wandering the town, or swimming in it. One thing after another after another. If this all sounds confusing, believe me– it was.

And while I respect the fact that this little girl, nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis, was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar, and it must be a thrill for her and her family, she didn’t deserve it. I’m sorry—- I know I’ll get some attitude for stating this because the girl is young. But when you have to actually work to understand what an actor or actress is uttering, I think that is immediate grounds for elimination from all of the awards-season fun.

I don’t think an artsy movie should be given applause just because it’s artsy— this is what the Academy is obviously doing here. Movies, however artsy they are, should also be compelling and teach something or provide a fun escape. This film did none of the above.

Frankly, I’m bored with writing this. And I don’t want to spend one more second of my life or existence in thinking about this movie. Instead, read this profound paragraph from Vince Mancini:

Also, call me cynical, but watching po’ black characters deliberately misuse words and grammar in folksy phrases written by white people (“cavemens,” for example) feels hokey at best and offensive at worst. Keep in mind, I knew nothing about the filmmakers before I watched this film. It just reeked of theater kid fantasy, and I’ve seen enough Hurricane Katrina narratives written by liberal arts students in New York to recognize this as one. Art students be lovin’ Katrina narratives like fictional Cajuns love crawdads, you all.

You can go read his excellent review of this movie here. 

I’ll close with this: the film is a favorite of Oprah, who learned about it from President Obama. Both of them singled it out as the best movie from this past year. I guess that tells us quite a bit about what’s inside their heads.



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