The most questionable Criterion releases

by Something

Created 01/18/14

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Criterion is mainly known as an independent company, releasing mainly Art-house films and foreign films. But once in a blue moon, criterion releases a film that seems a bit to alien for its collection. But that doesn't at all mean its a bad film. Just a little strange for Criterion. Most of these releases (Armageddon, The Rock, Hard Boiled) are just reprints from their laserdisc days, now on DVD/Blu-Ray.

This list is ongoing. Films will be added as I find them.

A special mention to Kim, this list's #1 commentator, happily commenting every month.

  • We all saw this coming. Nominated for 4 oscars and 7 razzies, this film got its reputation as a bad- quite possibly the worst film of all time. But will that stop me from absolutely loving it?

    Hell no.

    Armageddon is bad- and that's why I love it. It's absolutely cheezy to the extreme, the science is unrealistic, and it's laugh out loud hilarious. Michael Bay has perfected the art of Bad filmmaking. But there are some great things about it, the cinematography is pretty nice, Liv Tyler and Ben Affleck look very great together, and "I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing" is too goddamn catchy. And the extra features here are all great. I was kept in stitches by Michael Bay's Gag reel.

    Long story short: Laughably bad film with a great double disc DVD.

  • This Is Spinal Tap might be one of the funniest films ever. It holds the distinction of being the only film on IMDB to be rated out of 11, but on the Criterion Collection? I'm not saying that it's a bad film, it's far from that, but considering the release of films before it including M, Shock Corridor, Seven Samurai, and the inaugural Criterion release: Grand Illusion, it just seems out of place

    Fun Fact: This might be the only criterion release with a double sided disk.

  • I really can't say much about this. Nor can I think of anything to say about it. It's a John Woo action film. Nothing more. Nothing less.

    But who doesn't like watching guns blazing and big fantastic action sequences? It's like a male fantasy.

  • See Hard Boiled.

  • Again, another Michael Bay film. The only reason it's at #4 is that it's a tad but better then Armageddon. Perhaps one of Bay's better films.

  • This film was actually pretty good. Actually very good. A though provoking, tear jerking masterpiece from director David Fincher. So why is it on the list you may ask?

    It was just a tad but too early.

    This release seemed like it was the standard release of the film. Only by Criterion. It's release sparked controversy among criterion collectors, arguing that perhaps criterion lost it's touch. Entire online news articles were dedicated to its release.

    But that will never stop it from being an amazing film from a spectacular director.

  • This film was released to mixed reviews in 1995. It currently holds a 50% approval rating on rotten tomatoes. But then it acquired a cult following.

    So why does it have a criterion?

    Maybe due to Gilliam's relationship with Criterion (his films Time Bandits and Brazil were released into the criterion line up)? Perhaps popular demand? The answer may be uncertain (perhaps a nice google search will do it right).

  • This is a new one. It's not a film, but rather a bunch of music videos. Eighteen to be exact.

    That's different.

    I can't think of anything else to say.

  • An eighties big budget action film, in a place for only the top films from around the world?

  • This trio right here seem almost out of place in a collection dedicated to movies- seeing that this trio all have something to do with television, while Fishing with John and Tanner '88 are both limited series and The Golden Age Of Television is a bunch of television plays, they feel so out of place in a collection dedicated to classic films of long before.

  • Heaven's Gate is usually regarded as one of the worst films of all time. A box office flop. The worst of the worst. Why is it a criterion?

  • Now that I've seen scanners, I can properly judge it. While the lead hero isnt a good actor, Michael Ironside as the villain was great! The middle was a bit shakey but the First and Last bits were amazing. Scanners is a classic, but it's release on here is a bit questionable.

  • Looking back, Criterion has had a lot of odd releases, most of them updates from their laserdisc days (see Armageddon and Robocop) and this was one of them. And even if it is going on this list, just like the description says, doesn't mean this is a bad film, just a bit odd. But in reality, Tootsie is one of my favorite comedies ever. I died laughing when Dustin Hoffman's character had to take care of Jessica Lange's baby and when the kid is crying he breaks character and just tells it to be quiet.

    Even if this is a questionable release, I'll be damn sure i'm going to buy this release whenever I can.

  • Tiny Furniture just kinda seems like a movie that nobody really cared for, but somehow got a criterion release.

  • Commonly regarded as Anderson's worst film (But my favorite however), its his lowest rated film on Rotten Tomatoes and was too a box office flop. Even if it is questionable, it is still my favorite Anderson film


  • By Stephanie
    October 06, 2014
    09:00 PM

    At first, I thought it was weird too that "Scanners" was in the criterion, but after watching it I loved it and thought what made it belong in the criterion collection was its originality. I agree that the main actor was a little stale but Michael Ironside was great! He reminds me of Jack Nicholson a bit. Anywho, great list :)
    • By Something
      October 06, 2014
      10:18 PM

      Thank you!
  • By Gilles Antoine Duchaine
    October 14, 2014
    12:23 PM

    "Heaven's Gate is usually regarded as one of the worst films of all time. A box office flop. The worst of the worst. Why is it a criterion?" Because, like a lot of people (me included), Criterion think it is a masterpiece.
  • By SamWizeGanji
    November 18, 2014
    11:33 PM

    All I have to say is, "BOOOOO!! Your taste sucks!" Hahaha films are so broad, I can't find a reason some interesting contemporary films should be questioned for such a "prestigious" release company
  • By Something
    November 19, 2014
    03:00 PM

    Yeah, I know. I changed my reason and totally agree with you. I keep telling myself to delete this but I never do. Maybe it's because it's got the most comments out of my lists
    • By SamWizeGanji
      November 20, 2014
      12:42 AM

      Don't delete it! I really enjoyed diving into your collection and seeing your appreciation, films are too amazing to shove off =] and yes even Armageddon, though I would argue it's in the bottom three!
  • By LyleG
    February 18, 2017
    11:14 PM

    Spinal Tap was likely added as it is one of the biggest cult films to exist so perhaps CC wanted to commemorate it. Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas is often regarded one of Gilliam's boldest works. Despite the RT scores, it's gained a major following. Beastie Boys Compilation was likely just an experiment CC wanted to try. They do have some of the best videos in the industry but I'd just say stick to Director's Label for MV compilation tapes. Heaven's Gate, while originally bashed, has been given a re-evaluation and despite it's flaws, it has been marvelled for it's attention to detail and sheer ambition. Scanners is one of David Cronenberg's first films to reach success and it demonstrated his skill at crafting tense sci-fi thrillers. Plus it has the best head explosion scene in cinematic history hehe. Tiny Furniture sucked... I think it's just because it's a contemporary indie darling. The Life Aquatic... I think Wes Anderson has signed for almost all of his films to be released by CC so it could be, it's said to be Anderson's most underrated film, so there's that.