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Good movies are unspoilable

NY Times film critic A.O. Scott recently discussed the technology he uses to do his job. Near the end (spoiler!), he highlights something that I’ve been thinking about recently: movies worth watching are unspoilable.

Q: Hasn’t social media made it impossible to keep a lid on movie spoilers ahead of a film’s theatrical release?

A: Social media also amplifies the hysteria about spoilers, which I find kind of depressing. There is so much more to movies than plot, or at least there should be, but the studios have so little faith in their products that they mystify banal and obvious story elements. Rosebud is the name of a sled. “Citizen Kane” is still a great movie.

Still, I dislike hearing spoilers and lately have taken to ignoring everything about movies & TV I might want to watch. I’ll sometimes view trailers, but mainly I just pay attention to people I trust telling me to see stuff. Sorry to Bother You, Blackkklansman, Crazy Rich Asians, Eighth Grade, Succession, Sharp Objects, American Animals…I went into all of these without reading anything or even looking at trailers.

Would Sharp Objects have been as entertaining had I known the ending all along? Not quite. Ditto for Sorry to Bother You. I was told not to read anything about Boots Riley’s film before seeing it and I’m glad I listened…there was a scene in there that delivered a feeling of shock and delight that I would hate to have missed out on.

But the charms of Crazy Rich Asians, the creeping anxiety of Eighth Grade, and the dramatic ludicrousness of Succession all would have hit the same had I known all of the plot details beforehand. I’ve seen films like Dr. Strangelove, Ocean’s 11, and Raiders of the Lost Ark more than ten times apiece and rewatching them, while not quite like the first time I saw each, is still very worthwhile and entertaining for me.