I was looking over the praise and accolades heaped on E.T., and then I looked up 1982 in film. Now, I’m going to be honest here, I never got up in the E.T. craze. I was one of three people who didn’t see the film until it’s release on video a billion years later. That said, I look at the list of films and then compared them to my friend’s asinine statement: “E.T. is one of the best films ever, easily the best film in 1982.”
First off, the winner of the Oscar that year is a brilliant biopic featuring one of the greatest performances by an actor I’ve ever seen. So, a puppet and a trite plot is better than Ghandi? Ok, you lose one internet.
Well, it’s got to be the best kids movie, right? Well, for my money, a kid learning to distrust everyone around him, being chased by the police, and manipulated by an alien is a little less inspiring than being saved by the love a mother has for her child. So, by my account, E.T. fails to beat The Secret of Nimh. In the interest of full disclosure however, I must say I also consider The Secret of Nimh to be the fifth best movie ever put to film, and the best animated film of all time. So, there’s bias. But at ten, I think I still liked mom more than potato-man from outer space. But, in Secret of Nimh’s defence, The Dark Crystal came out this year too, and it’s got E.T. beat from hell to Breakfast.
Ok, Science fiction. Talking rats aside, E.T.’s got this one down pat right. Human-alien interaction, MacGyvering an interstellar communicator, spooky decontamination sets. Well, there’s Blade Runner. I’ve said so much on that film, I really don’t think I need to point out again why I think it’s better than, well, everything. So, on to second place… It’s a good thing that no one decided to make an exciting space opera that year that would put two iconic actors into a mano-e-mano duel between their wills and their crews. Wait, oh crap. Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan came out this year… third place, though! Unless someone came up with an innovative look at a technology beginning to effect all of our lives, bring up the interconnectivity between people and machines… crap, ok we’ll take #4 behind Tron. #5 behind The Thing? Christ, how low are we going to go?!
Don’t get me wrong, E.T. is a decent movie, but my friend’s statement is colored by the fact that he’s looking back at a time when he did get caught up in the hype, seeing the film 17 times in the theater. I look at it with the cold dispassion of someone who saw it independantly of the marketing machine it had behind it, both paid and unintentional, and see it for what it is. A good film.