Here is a question I’ve always wondered about the answer to. Why are so many of the critics “Best Movies Ever” such downers? Seriously. Look at all the lists. At least half of most lists are depressing films.

I’d define a downer as any movie I would watch and then say to myself (who else would listen), “The world sure is a screwed up place”. It doesn’t have to be as depressing as the 1984 version of 1984 and it can even have exciting parts but over all it points out how screwed up life is.

The Godfather and The Godfather Part II are both downers. Sure they’re great movies but depressing. You don’t put them on for a pick me up. They take an emotional commitment to watch.

Citizen Kane – downer.

Casablanca – downer despite the slightly hopeful ending.

Lawrence of Arabia – downer that is epic in scope but still a downer.

Raging Bull – downer. Even chooses to use black and white so it’s extra depressing.

Sunset Boulevard – downer. The story is told by a dead man. Classic downer move.

Gone with the Wind – I’ve never seen it but it take place during the U.S. Civil War on a busted up southern plantation doesn’t it? That has to be a downer. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Chinatown – downer. Everyone is corrupt!

There are plenty more on critics “Best Films” lists but those are ones that dominate top ten lists. At least when the public gets to vote “Star Wars” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” can break into the top ten. Not my favorites but at least they are fun and not downers.

Could you imagine if the “Best Of” lists in other areas were dominated by downers. If someone’s “Top Ten” song list was dominated by depressing songs we would all think there was something wrong with them. A top ten list of blues songs has fewer downers than a top ten list of movies.

How about a top ten list of TV shows? I would guess three to five shows on anyone’s list would be comedies. What top TV show list doesn’t have I Love Lucy, M.A.S.H., Cheers, Seinfeld, or your favorite comedy on it? Comedies are rarely high on critics “Best Movies Ever” lists unless it’s a Marx Brothers movie from eighty years ago. Sometimes they sneak on.

Even the dramas on TV are usually less depressing than any of the movies I’ve mentioned. I don’t like medical dramas but lots of people do and as depressing as they may get they are equally hopeful. If not more so.

If someone’s top ten paintings, pieces of art, or just general images are depressing we’d sign them up for psychiatrist. Just ask all those Goth kids who like to wear black and display images that remind us of death. Who doesn’t think they’re a little nutty. But film critics; they get a pass.

I think it’s because film critics were for so long wanting films to be taken seriously and treated as art that they wanted no frivolity in their “Best Of” lists. It’s part of film critic culture now. In order for a film critic to be taken seriously he has to talk about serious films that take themselves seriously. Humor need not apply.

I think we need a name for this syndrome. And we have to get these critics some psychological help. They’re looking pretty depressed to me.

This line of thinking had me reevaluating my favorite movies too. Not that I have an actual list but I took of my serious critic dark tinted glasses. Now if the discussion comes up I pick “Smokey and the Bandit” as the best movie ever. There‚Äôs a fun film romp that always entertains me.