Armond White vs. Darren Aronofsky: When critics and filmmakers collide in public

Darren-AronofskyImage Credit: D. Dipasupli/FilmMagic.com; Tina Gill/PR PhotosThe New York Film Critics Circle awards dinner is traditionally a festive, elegant affair honoring the filmmakers and actors voted best in their category each year by one of the most prestigious critics’ groups in the country. But after last night’s edition — the 76th in the group’s proud history — all talk of the pleasures of Colin Firth’s charming acceptance speech as Best Actor or Michelle Williams’ sweet presentation to Mark Ruffalo as Best Supporting Actor was drowned out by chatter about critic Armond White and director Darren Aronofsky.

White, the notoriously contrarian film critic who publishes in the free weekly New York Press, was the 2010 chair of the NYFCC (of which Owen Gleiberman and I are members), and therefore, by custom, the emcee of the event. And reliably contrary to most of his voting colleagues, he didn’t like many of the choices made by the rest of the group: He disdained Black Swan, The Kids Are All Right, and The Social Network, among others, in reviews that coincidentally have whipped up publicity and generated page hits for his publication even as they have confounded or infuriated or amused readers. Aronofsky, of course, is the director of Black Swan. And in presenting the NYFCC award for cinematography to Black Swan‘s Matthew Labatique, Aronofsky couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a verbal swipe at the evening’s host, saying, “I thought I was giving White the compassion award because if you don’t have something, you should get it. Seriously, keep it up because you give all of us another reason not to read The New York Press.”

Then White couldn’t resist the opportunity to respond: “That’s all right. Darren reads me. That’s all I want. And because he reads me, he knows the truth.” The proceedings became ruder from there, more self-referential, more uncomfortable. Introducing Angels in America playwright Tony Kushner to present the best picture award to The Social Network, White offered, “Maybe he can explain why it won best picture.” And closing the evening — his final moment at the microphone  – the emcee threw in a gratuitous swipe at director Noah Baumbach, another filmmaker on his s— list, saying, “I thank the Circle for not awarding a single award to Greenberg.”

We all left — okay, I left — feeling sour and lectured to and embarrassed. Represented by an ungracious spokesman, all critics were made to look as sour and bitter and ungenerous as caricature (and Ratatouille) would have us. Judged by snark from one irritated director, everyone in that business was made to look ungracious.

It’s a complex thing, the relationship between critics and the artists we write about. We are not, most of us, filmmakers ourselves, or actors, or screenwriters, and yet we analyze the work of those who are with a sincere trust in our own critical talents. When we praise artists in the course of writing about their work, it’s natural that they feel good. When we criticize their work, it’s understandable that they may feel bad. The possibilities of hurt feelings can’t stand in the way of our critical thinking. But without a mutual appreciation and respect for what both parties do for the love of movies, then, well, we’re all missing the point. Even for critics, a dressed-up evening in the company of those who make movies — even movies we may have criticized in print — ought to be an occasion for pleasure, admiration, joy. Even for the moviemakers, a party night out with critics ought to be fun. Or at least a chance to remember that we’re all decent, thoughtful people, working together on the side of art.

I debated whether this post might be too tricky, talking inside-baseball about an organization to which I belong. But then I got to thinking about the damage done by rudeness in all its forms when we talk about movies. I got to thinking again about the bewilderment of last night, all of us movie critics and movie makers alike ready to party yet being provoked, against our will, to rumble. Then I decided to use this as my podium.

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  • Henry

    Gawd! I would have paid to be there!

    • Tim

      Zul’Jin isn’t half the troll Armond White is.

      • poop

        White’s a d-bag. Serves him right. I’m glad Aronofsky said what a lot of people in Hollywood are probably thinking.

      • JJ

        New York Press is still in business?

      • anna

        White’s problem as a critic is that he is a contrarian ONLY for the sake being just that — and not because he has an honest difference of opinion. It has nothing to do with the quality of the film, acting or screenplay and EVERYTHING to do with his enjoyment of the calculated attention he garners for himself by being the guy who didn’t like . When you read his reviews, it becomes fairly obvious that he’s completely disingenuous.

    • Delon

      I regularly read A.White.The man knows his cinema, ok? If he sees dishonesty he tells it as it is. I couldn’t agree with him more about Inception, District 9, Kids are Alright. Sorry, haters. Whether you like it or not the men knows his cinema. The institution of criticism is the pillar of Western art and culture. You all act like pampered private school kids who cannot stand to hear that someone dislikes what they like. Accept the fact that your knowledge of the medium of film is really weak. There’s no need to praise half-assed dishonest movies with lofty pretensions when superior artists had dealt with the same issues more profoundly before. You haven’t seen The Red Shoes or Persona and yet you go gaga over Black Swan. Haters, you are the actual trolls. Having said that White is indeed super rude socially. Aronofsky’s inappropriate comments are not an excuse for White to be rude and nasty when he is representing a group. I respect his film reviews, but i don’t condone his behaviour in this matter. Tacky.

      • Fairportfan

        White is a pompous jerk who couldn’t write a good review if his life depended on it. The one time i found myself sort-of agreeing with him about a film, i spent some time seriously re-assessing my opinion. My final conclusion was that, like a stopped clock, hehad to be right *sometime*, though it was completely by accident.

      • aaron

        I assume making a film is really hard. Critiquing a film is really easy. My grandma critiques films. I’m a huge film snob, but that doesn’t mean that I would turn my nose up at the director of a movie I hate. Filmmakers are bringing something into this world, whereas critics are just talking about what other people brought in to this world. I don’t read reviews, but if I did, I certainly wouldn’t read reviews from someone who hates movies that a majority of the general public love. Either Armond White needs to find a new line of work or I need to get my Grandma into this racket.

      • aaron

        Also Delon, you hated the most beloved movies of the year and you’re calling people who liked them “haters”. Think about that a second. Don’t type. Just think. It’ll come to you.

      • PJM

        Hey, I have this envelope for you from an A. White. Looks like a check of some kind.

        Sounds to me like White has an ax to grind against the establishment, which is unprofessional because he won’t give an unbiased opinion to each individual movie.

      • Delon

        My objection is to the attitude that says what White writes has no value. It has tremendous value. Not only because of the simple fact that we do need to hear opposing views, but also he is often quite precise about the “bullshit” value a movie possess. When he gets it right(which i think is more times than you’d like to think) i appreciate him. I do not understand this lynch squad that wants to quench his voice.

      • VCR

        I think you’re delving too deep into this. White is a simple man with simple tastes. He doesn’t like movies with unnecessary complexities and deeper subtexts.

        It’s why movies like Grown Ups and Resident Evil get good reviews and Black Swan and Toy Story 3 get negative ones.

        Simplicity is an art in itself, but Mr. White recognizes the wrong movies and forgets the natural complexity of life.

        In summation, he’s a terrible critic. Any other professional organization would strip him of his title after this debacle.

      • Cygnus

        aaron, I agree it’s easier to sit idly by and cast opinions and critiques at things. It’s just words. But to actually create something, whether good or bad, is at least an attempt to bring something into this world. Unlike critics, whose sole purpose is to pick things apart and dissect them.

      • Mike

        Delon, I love how you assume to know what art is, while telling others that disagree with you that they’re, essentially, unintelligent. You, sir, are like a private schooled momma’s boy. You come across as the very definition of pompous and arrogant. Art is in the eye of the beholder, and art doesn’t, and shouldn’t, conform to one mode of thought, or process.

      • ants

        Just because you agree or disagree with someone your a hater? What does that even mean? You think just because someone understands a certain medium that what they say about it & makes it good or bad? Not everyone who doesn’t agree with critics or yourself is wrong? Sometimes people just want to watch a movie to escape not watch a movie because it made certain way. Its a great thing about western civilization that we all don’t think alike. Your comments aren’t wrong their just your opinion and that’s a good thing..

      • Delon

        MIKE, as a consumer of popular art i surely do have an opinion of what art is just like everyone else who consumes it. To expect otherwise would be ludicrous. When an artist comes forth with what he had created he is making a statement and showing where he stands when it comes to certain things which automatically opens up the work to discussion. Discussion is something you desire as an artist. Parading at the awards ceremonies which pamper you is ok, but when somebody voices their dislike it is a horrible thing and should be silenced? I might be a mommy’s boy, who knows, but if you don’t realize that you’re a fascist then i’m lost for words.

      • MDS

        Armond White may have great knowledge of cinema but it certainly is not evident in his reviews. Simply put, he is “The King of the Trolls”. He is purposely contrarian and that is unfortunately how he has decided that he will get ahead in his career. I refuse to believe that he actually likes movies like Jonah Hex, G.I. Joe, and Transformers: ROTF, while hating movies like every Pixar movie ever, The Dark Knight, and the Social Network. Good for him I guess, he seems to be having considerable success the way he is doing things. I actually find his reviews to be quite useful, if he writes a terrible review for a movie I pretty much know that I am going to like it.

      • Japanese Japanese HIROSHI

        Ironically, who “made” him the 2010 chair of the NYFCC at first place?

      • Jon

        Your talking about a guy who claims Jonah Hex is better than True Grit

      • cole

        deleon, you are defending a man who praises jonah hex and michael bay yet completely rips into movies like the social network, the kids are alright and inception. Not that those movies are perfect (it is perfectly okay to dislike them), but to say that a movie like inception has zero redeeming qualities (which armond white did on a slashfilm podcast) outrageous. White is a troll who gets people to read his reviews because they are so contrarian. And also the guy can show a little class, just because he did not like black swan or the social network does not mean he should belittle the mpvies at an aevent which is honoring the them. Also, apparently he was very rude while introducing Michelle Williams and almost made Annette Bening cry.

      • cole

        **is outrageous**

      • help!

        who starred in the “red shoes”?

      • Delon

        I’m defending his right to his opinion. I don’t know the man personally, and i already stated that i don’t condone his behaviour at the ceremony. Maybe, you should take a look at Oscar Wilde’s essay The Critic As Artist before you condemn the institution of criticism through White.

      • cole

        i wasn’t speaking negatively of the art of film crticism. i was jsut saying that armond white clearly writes his reviews in attempt to stir up the most controversy and increase the views of his page.

      • Jerry Saravia

        Don’t assume that some of us have not seen The Red Shoes or Persona or for that matter, the little-seen Altman film, The Company. I have no problem with a critic seeing through certain populist movies, but I don’t like the fact that he may be purposely trying to be contrarian, as opposed to be an honest contrarian. For example, Transformers 2 can’t possibly be half the movie that District 9 is, but that is his opinion. He just disagrees with the mainstream taste a little too often without giving credit where it is due.

      • Kate

        I don’t mean to be rude, but maybe I DO know more about cinema than White. I’ve never read him, and can only speak to the posts above, but if he has praised in any way Jonah Hex or Michael Bay as a filmmaker, then you might want to seriously consider your opinion than he knows film. Those are hack, simple, and intensely conventional movies. It’s fine to have a different opinion about a movie, but if you’re making the claim that his opinion is automatically superior because he’s a critic (for a free print, no less), I’m going to go ahead and disagree. There are several critics whom I just do not read because I feel their tastes don’t align with my own. For example, Anthony Lane is a witty and clever reviewer, but I think he often misses the point on edgier, less conventional fare (he didn’t like Pulp Fiction or No Country for Old Men), so I don’t take his opinion to heart on those kinds of movies. Doesn’t mean that he’s right and I’m wrong.

      • hueymack

        well said DELON. but also , critics arent always accurate. no critic judges self lessly, they all have biased opinions. for example in san francisco we have a critic at the san francisco chronicle newspaper MICK LA SALLE, sometimes he neevr even WATCHES the movie!!!! its just up to the viewers themselves to judge it. shame on us for listening to a guy/girl in a pedestal and going” u were wrong! i listened to you!!!”

        wake up folks

      • Chris

        Delon, while I agree with you White’s point of view is as valid as any other critic’s, I fail to see how not being versed in every film that a subject touches on (i.e. not seeing every film dealing with ballet such as the Red Shoes) makes one’s love of a film invalid. Sure, it would prevent one from make such erroneous statements as “Inception is the best film about dreams ever!” or “Black Swan is one of the most original films in ages!” etc, but the fact that I haven’t seen one particularly acclaimed western shouldn’t compromise my love of True Grit.

      • B

        The man knows his cinema? Personally I don’t think you have the right to tell someone that their film is bad unless you have taken part in that massive labor-intensive process. Unless you’ve worked in the industry (I do), then you have no idea how difficult it is. Film Critics sit on the sideline. And especially when you insult presenters or winners, shows that this Armond White moron is truly classless.

      • Ian

        If a guy like this writes negative reviews solely to drive traffic to his “page” then he is no longer a critic. A critic speaks their mind and offers their opinion whether it’s in the minority or majority. Who agrees with him is not relevant. The idea of writing something only to incite some controversy and increase the views of the article is wrong. He’s more worried about his value as a product than his value as a critic. I have read him, and he falls in line with the hipster goofs who feel the need to rag on anything that a lot of other people enjoyed. He comes across as childish and insecure, and his behavior at the awards ceremony seems to fall right in line with that.

      • Reitman

        All of the people that matter know about White, where he comes from. Trust me, he isn’t as respected and important as he believes he is. Seriously, the big 6 just look on him as a joke.

      • Jason C.

        Delon: White may know cinema, but he doesn’t know critique. Part of critique is knowing your audience and he forgets that he’s not writing for academic journals. In his Toy Story 3 review he admitted to not being interested in the film and did not pay that much attnetion to it. That’s not a critic I won’t to follow. He also has blinders on, he sees what he wants to see and refuses to open his mind up as to what the artist in the film is trying to say. This hurts his analysis because he’ll compare two movies based on his view, when any enlightened person can tell you that one of the two movies don’t belong in the equation. I am perfectly fine with someone disliking a film I love, I’ve read reviews that have caused me to concede to their points. White makes me mad because his points are inane, and he’s pretentious. He tried to say that Ebert knows nothing of film and ruined film criticism, when White himself is ruining film criticism as he’s one of the biggest reasons why people think criticism is a dead art.

        aaron: You think critique is really easy, but it’s not. Critique is more than just writing that a movie is good or bad. There has to be an intellectual examination, you have to see the nuance, you have to dissect each part and see how it adds up to the whole. You have to find the subtext and determine if each element of that film adds to the subtext. On top of that you have to know your audience, and real criticism should focus on whether that film fits your audience, and explain to them why they would be better for having watched that in a way they can relate to.

      • Jason C.

        P.S. Delon – Red Shoes and Black Swan say two totally different things about the art of ballet, therefore I don’t see the point in comparing them. Black Swan deals with the inherent sadism behind the art of ballet, and the need to lose yourself in that sadism in order to truly achieve that perfection. It’s based on what Aronofsky saw in that field when his sister was working to become a ballerina. That’s not the subject or subtext for Red Shoes, so I don’t understand why the two films need to be compared.

      • b-line

        i’m reading A.White and most of the time i agree with him. For me he’s the one of the few american critics that i can take seriously cause he has a great knowledge, very articulated and academic writings with important comparisons in order to understand and locate films in the context of cinema history. He often goes against concensus and that’s why many people hate him but it is something very needed in order to have different angles and point of views on the film. I really dont understand why you care when he doesnt like the movies you praise, why just one opinion matters? Toy story 3 or social network are not scored 100% on rotten tomatoes because of him, so what?? cant you just let one person to not like them? isnt it a little fascist? Having sad that, i can never appreciate or defend someone insulting someone else publicly like he did…but i will always say that A.white is one of the most important critics alive right now. that’s my opinion…

      • b-line

        and the main thing that i see in his writings about his controversial taste is that he tries to evaluate films according to their aims. He likes some pop culture movies cause he thinks they are honnest and they dont try to be something more than they are, for exemple Transformers 2 is just entertaining with good visuals and a nice moral without trying to be an art movie or anything…and when he dislikes films like Black Swan or Kids are Alright that’s because these films aims too big than they are and by consequence he finds them not honnest. And it’s a feeling i get from those movies and that’s why i agree with him most of time. As i said he makes many comparison so dont take his words out of context. Another exemple, he really likes Please Give cause he finds it very honnest in portraying white New Yorkers with a good proportion of funny/sad and he said it s better in this portraying than latest Woody Allen films which i totally agree. So i think the man is trying to find underrated beauties and he doesnt take the easy way. How can you not see that just because he represents a different point of view with solid explications, this is making him important in order to prevent unification??

      • Breckster82

        despite (or because of?) the volume of hypocrisies in your post, YOU are the one who comes off sounding pretentious.

    • harry

      ME TOO!!!

    • Cygnus

      Critics are about as accurate as weather forecasters. I wish I could be correct 30% of the time and get payed for it. The only activity that praises 30% accuracy is baseball. Artists shouldnt allow critics to control their moods and feelings about their works, and fans of the arts shouldnt allow critics to dictate how they should feel about a work of art. Let each have their own opinion about a work of art, and the collective praise or booing of a work will speak for itself. No need to depend upon a single individual to tell you what’s good and what isnt.

      • Kate

        Not only that, but how often do films that were intially panned later praised for their forward thinking? Criticism is not stagnant – it constantly evoles. On the flip side, how many movies were initial raves that have since faded into obscurity?

        That’s why I like rotten tomatoes – aggregate the data!

      • Jason C.

        Wow, comparing critics to weather forecasts?! Really?! If a critic says that House of the Dead is bad, and you like it does that mean House of the Dead is good? No, it means that you like it. A critic is not telling you what you will or will not like, a critic’s job is supposed to be to offer a detailed analysis of a film, whether it’s good or bad, with reasoned thoughts and comparisons to back that up. Part of it is opinion, but overall it’s academic. A true critic studies, whether in school or by reading or watching further details about the subject they intend on critiquing. That’s not the same thing as telling you it’s going to rain tomorrow and then it doesn’t.

      • Mark

        Well, you’re already right only 30% of time with your spelling — it’s paid not payed, you idiot.

      • Breckster82

        and by what metrics are we evaluating opinions as being “correct” or “incorrect?” you really have no idea what you’re talking about, do you?

    • Nathan

      I’m sure White had to pay to be there, can’t imagine a chimp like that would actually be invited to anything other than his mother’s birthday party.

    • Doubt it

      So, everyone has a problem with this guy because he tells the truth? Social Network was ok, but doesn’t deserve an award, niether did Avatar or TDK.

      People get mixed up in the hype about a movie and only see the amount of $$$ the movie made.

      PS.- The write of this article is probably the worst movie critic I’ve come across. Any movie she hates, turns out to be good. Guess what, every movie isn’t made to be award winners, so you don’t have to give it a negative review because it was informative and thought provoking!

      • Jason C.

        While I agree with you on Schwartzbaum, have you actually read a White review? I have no problem with someone’s opinion differing from mine, but his reviews are some of the most inane writings I have ever read when it comes to the field of professional criticism. He doesn’t make any good points, and he hardly crafts coherent sentences.

      • Breckster82

        enlighten us then, what movies DO deserve awards this year?

    • dee

      So Aronofsky ungraciously takes what was admittedly the first to make a rude remark, directed at White. Yet when White responds, he is the d@uchebag?! Gimme a break!

      • Jason C.

        Actually, Lisa didn’t report it, but White started it actually. He took a pot shot at Black Swan earlier in the evening.

  • Henry

    Fight! Fight! Fight!

    • Rob Grizzly

      lol

  • trina

    Good for you for posting this. There is no real legitimate criticism if it resorts to personal attack. I have never read NY Press, and now I know I never will. He really shouldn’t be allowed to be the emcee or master of ceremonies of anything.

    • Will

      Agree with your post.
      The fact that he went out of his way to bash Greenberg, for no apparent reason, just shows what a troll White is.

    • Sarah El

      Agreed; everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but as White was representing a group (not just himself) this just seems rude, selfish, and disrespectful.

  • Cat

    Interesting to hear another film critic’s perspective on the event. Film critics that revel in cynicism, like White, are missing the point, and it’s a shame that he in any way represents criticism as a profession.

  • Colin

    Schwarzbaum’s a hack.

    • Jason C.

      Nice of you to add an opinion that in no way adds to the conversation. Bravo!

      • mary q contrary

        Ditto for you. Fantastique!

    • Nom de plume

      …White, is that you?

    • Doubt it

      She is, and so is Darren…He’s a hack, who’s only made 5 crappy movies his whole career, and and Black Swan made more money than his other 4 movies combined.

      I’m pretty sure he’s make The Wolverine worst the the first o ne, if thats even possible…

      • Stevo

        5 crappy movies?!? Have you seen the Wrestler?

      • D’s Advocate

        I can see not caring for Aronofsky’s films (they aren’t for everyone’s tastes, like any filmmaker’s output), but to call him a hack is simply ridiculous.

  • Jason C.

    I’m glad that someone called out White though, he really needs a wake up call. Slate did a piece dissecting his wretched review of Toy Story 3. White shows that he really has no clue as Slate, not trying to slam White but trying to determine if by fact or error he could be depended on in his contrarian nature, showed that he gets many of his facts wrong. If you can’t name a character write, or if you reference other movies and give the wrong plot synopsis or miss the point you should probably quit. I think White is really detrimental to the field of film critique.

    • Ed

      I agree. In White’s reviews, he just comes off as angry (and his behavior shows this to be true). It seems he goes into movies prepared to hate them, instead of going into each with an open mind.

    • Cookie

      Can you post the link to that article? I can’t find it on Slate

    • pointless

      Haters give this guy power, if people didn’t read his critiques or trash him left and right, he would have no power. Ignore him, and don’t give him hits. So simple.

      • CJ

        Bingo. You nailed it. This is his whole act. He is the equivalent of the class clown in school desperate for people to pay attention to him. I continually shake my head that people keep falling for his crap and giving him links and page hits when he is doing this simply to get a rise out of people.

        Of course I also blame the NYFCC for not having the balls to stand up to him, making him their chairman, and embracing his attention-whorishness.

      • Jason C.

        That would be true if not for the fact that there are actually people who buy into his faux-intelligence. They don’t realize he misuses the $20 words that he pulls out, he makes film comparisons that don’t match, and he dupes the small minded into believing he’s right because of his contrarian ways. I’m not one who hates him for hating what’s popular, I think he’s a horrible critic because of his horrible comparisons and incoherent pompous writing style. Too many people need their opinions validated, those are typically the type of people who get caught up in his ramblings one way or the other, I’m not one of them. I’m a proponent for the art of criticism and it’s in that aspect that I don’t like him, he’s ruining the form.

  • Zach

    Vote him out!!

  • Lazarus Spazarus

    It’s fine to not like Black Swan – I loved it but can see that it’s not for everyone. However, if White is a contrarian and dislikes so many films that are held in high regard by fans and critics alike, then you have to wonder if there is some internalized oppression or low self-worth at work here that he is reacting to in order to be noticed.

    • Lazarus Spazarus

      + what Cat said!

  • Anne Thompson

    Well done, Lisa. It strikes me that Armond White was not socially mature enough to play the role of gracious host, was incapable of understanding what that role required, and predictably, was an inappropriate person to do so. He can write what he wants, and we can choose whether or not to read it. But in this setting he pissed on his entire tribe.

    • Ana

      It strikes me that Armond White is the same when hosting as he is when writing. I really want to know who thought it would be a good idea to give him the hosting job. He’s an unbelievably bad film critic.

    • Woot

      If it was any other critic I would be torn. If the emcee of an award ceremony panned your film, I don’t think you should bring it up or take a swipe at them. Since it is Armond White, who is a douche and thinks he is smarter than everyone else, I could care less. In fact I’m sort of happy Darren called him out. His review of Black Swan, well lets be honest it wasn’t a review. He simply explained how awesome Kayne West is, and how amazing “Runaway” is. When I go to read a review about Black Swan, I don’t give a crap about Kayne.

      • @woot

        Well said, my friend.

  • Quirky

    Armond White is the biggest internet troll in the world.

  • Cara

    Thank you for this thoughtful, thought-provoking post, Ms. Schwarzbaum.

    I’ve known a genius or two in my time, and those I admire most stay humble. They have the ability to realize that though they saw no merit in a certain movie, other intelligent people did… Which means it’s one thing to give a movie a negative review, and quite another to mock those who like it (especially in such a setting!)

  • Mr. Holloway

    Being contrarian just for the sake of being contrarian is incredibly lazy, and I personally find it annoying.

    I’ve never read the NY Press, but judging from your account (and you’re one of his colleagues), this guy sounds like an immature clown.

    I think you summed it up ver well when you said, “…without a mutual appreciation and respect for what both parties do for the love of movies, then, well, we’re all missing the point.”

    • orville

      I couldn’t agree more. I know many people who are contrary just to be contrary–they think it makes them seem urbane, witty, hip, and mysterious. It just makes them tiresome. If you can’t host an event with the knowledge that you may disagree with many of the results, you have no business being there. Agreeing to disagree without resorting to juvenile insults and petulant snarkiness is the sign of a true professional.

      • tvgirl48

        Agreed. You can expect a backlash on any extremely popular film by contrarians who want to seem above everyone else and it’s just lazy ego-stroking. Other do it just to get attention. Armond White really is a professional troll.

    • smith

      Exactly. Agree 100%.

      He often waits to review films until most critcs have gotten their reviews in. If the film is popular among fellow critics he writes a nasty review; if his fellow critics hate a film he gives it a positive review. I doubt he even hates the films he trashes or likes the films he praises – he does it to rile people up which makes him a whore (a well-paid whore but a whore nonetheless)

      He once told Noah Baumbach to his face that his mother should have had an abortion. How that didn’t get him tossed out of the NY Critic’s Circle I have no idea.

      He’s a circus clown who will do or say anything for press. He’s the Ann Coulter or Michael Moore of film critics.

      • Snarky’s Machine

        Do you have a link to source that comment? I couldn’t find it anywhere on the nets.

  • jay

    For me personally, it’s nice to see a critic with specific, decisive taste, as well as a ceremony that doesn’t automatically stroke the egos of every single person there. Sure, White may have crossed the line from opinionated to killjoy, but by all accounts, Darren Aronofsky looked as arrogant and entitled as White did picky and contrarian. I hope that doesn’t go unnoticed.

    • Quirky

      But White’s critism has nothing to do with unique taste. He seems to go out of his way to intentionally hate popular films. If a film has a 99% approval rating on Rottentomatoes.com you can bet your house that Armond White is the 1% that gave the film a bad review.

      If 99 food critics say that ice cream is great while one food critic says ice cream is horrible and no one in their right mind should ever eat the stuff, then you have to start questioning how that one person ever became a food critic.

      • jay

        I totally understand your point, and I’m exasperated by people who are negative just for the sake of being negative too. However, I sifted through a bunch of his recent reviews online today and it’s clear that not all of his reviews are negative. Yes, he hated Black Swan, Kids, Social Network and Toy Story 3 (yikes), but he gave positive reviews to The Fighter and True Grit, two popular movies with both critical and box office success. Not to mention Rabbit Hole, another critical favorite that White joined in praising. This tells me he doesn’t hate good movies on purpose, as you seem to be implying, but is very, very picky about what he does like. Specific taste, like I said.

      • thin

        See Jimmers’ list below of other movies he’s given favorable reviews. This is not the work of someone who is “picky” about what he likes.

      • Mike

        It’s him saying things like Jonah Hex is better than True Grit.

        There has got to be some major valid points, but he never has them. He resorts to calling certain people dumb, if you didn’t “understand” it.

    • Jason C.

      jay: I highly recommend that you read this: http://www.slantmagazine.com/house/2010/07/hating-the-player-losing-the-game-the-armond-white-meta-review/. He doesn’t just have “specific tastes” he uses improper analyses, wrongful judgements, and incorrect information in his critiques.

    • Snarky’s Machine

      Yay for a well-reasoned comment. I thought White’s reviews for Grit and Fighter were astute as were his less favorable reviews of other films popular with critics. I find him less polarizing than David Denby who rarely receives the same level of flack despite being as crispy as White.

  • Katsat

    Rudeness and nastiness had no place in a setting like this. Aronofsky was wrong to start it, and White was wrong to ratchet it up even further.

  • Jimmers

    Armond White is a joke. I can’t believe they would have him host the New York Film Critics Circle Awards when he gave Blue Valentine, Black Swan, Tangled, Toy Story 3, The Kings Speech, The Social Network, The Town, Inception, Inglorious Basterds and District 9 all scathing reviews. Yet praised the latest Resident Evil, Grown Ups, Jonah Hex, Clash of the Titans, The Last Song, GI Joe, Transformers 2, Land of the Lost and Dance Flick. Poor choice for host indeed. I can’t believe he still has a job being a critic.

    • Joe Malik

      Thank you for that list. Proof positive that Armond White is an even bigger douche than both John Edwards.

      • Mike

        I don’t mind him not liking Social Netowrk, Blaqck Swan, Toy Story 3, if he can back it up with good criticism.

        But don’t do dislike them and try to say Dance flick, Jonah Hex, and Grown Ups are good movies. There is something really fishy about that.

    • Fairportfan

      Well, the paper that publishes his junk is a freebie – i doubt he gets paid much. Must be in it strictly for the egoboo.

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