Recently, Reddit user Ornery-Mode992 posed the simple question, "What do you think is a pretentious movie?" to the people of r/movies. Here were there top-voted responses:
"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 absolutely has that. A film that is desperate for you to think it's clever and profound, but which is ultimately hollow and not half as clever as it thinks it is. Also, the main character is literally called 'The Protagonist'. Proper pretentious first-year film student stuff."
2.Now You See Me (2013)
"I don't understand how people can be impressed with 'magic tricks' that are only possible with special effects. Bitch, please! I can make fucking Godzilla coming out of my pocket if I can use CGI, that shit is not impressive. On a side note, what a waste of opportunity when they didn't call the second movie Now You Don't."
"Simultaneously the most pretentious movie I've ever seen and the stupidest."
"That movie thinks it's smarter 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 Phoenix."
5.Asteroid City (2023)
"Wes Anderson’s newer films are the definition. Bring back Owen to rein him in."
"I might argue that instead of pretentious I'd maybe say 'trying to do too much,' which is similar but a bit kinder, I think. Is Asteroid City a movie about a TV show about a play? Or something? With not only the 4th wall being broken but the walls between those worlds? 5th walls? I don't know. Again, just trying to do too much."
6.Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)
"A Holocaust and 9/11 mash-up with an autistic kid as the main character? Pure pretentious as shit 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."
7.Garden State (2004)
"A little obvious, but it has all the hallmarks and takes itself way too seriously. 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!
"I found Nymphomaniac super pretentious. Lars von Trier doesn’t understand how humans talk."
9.Don't Look Up (2021)
"I got a lot of shit for not liking it when it came out but Don't Look Up is super pretentious to me. I believe and have believed in climate change since long before the movie came out but it spends the entire movie repeating itself as if you need that much to understand it."
"Such a pretentious self-congratulating movie."
"It's literally about how good and cool Hollywood is. They were slobbering all over themselves making that."
"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."
"I liked it and still find it pretentious, LOL."
12.Eat, Pray, Love (2010)
"A pretentious film based on a equally pretentious true story."
"This immediately popped into my head when I read OP's question."
"I rolled my eyes around the 3rd biblical reference upon realizing what was going on. The movie completely lost me and never got me back."
14.Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)
"He even made the black & white version as an extra pretentious filter on the whole thing."
15.My Dinner With Andre (1981)
"I love the movie, but My Dinner With Andre is pretty pretentious and self-satirizing at the same time."
"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."
16.Cloud Atlas (2012)
"That movie is the definition of smelling your own farts in public. It’s just so goddamn stupid in an 'I’m 14 and this is deep' sort of way."
"Asking some 'big questions' and then just ditching everything isn't gonna work out. And pretending your movie is smart won't fool anyone when it's filled with the dumbest characters you can find."
18.The Tree of Life (2011)
"The OP pointed out that they’re talking specifically about movies that think they’re smarter than they are, and I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a movie with a greater gap between how smart it thinks it is and how smart it actually is."
19.The Lobster (2015)
"I think the premise is kind of interesting, but I couldn't get on board with the decision to make everyone talk in such an unnatural way. (Also, some of the world-building/lack thereof.) I get that each creative choice was meant to represent something, but at some point, it's too much. I 'get' the message. Now make it interesting."
20.The Shape of Water (2017)
"Great acting, writing, art design, directing, etc. An all around well-made movie. But at no point could I look past the fact that it was about some woman f*cking a fish."
21.Finally, La La Land (2016)
"Did absolutely nothing for me. Felt like Hollywood shoving its head so far up its own arse that it was starting to disappear. There were some nice visuals, and the odd song but my god, it just feels like it's clapping for itself."
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.