I have mixed feelings about pieces like this recent anti-snobbery one from Richard Corliss:
On the one hand, I sympathize with the idea that a lot of this year-end, best movie stuff is choreographed posturing. On the other hand, Corliss comes off more as blaming his peers rather than engaging in honest self-reflection.
On the one hand, I'd like to see more personal, interesting Best of the Year choices. On the other hand, my own tastes aren't all that different from those of most critics. Who am I to say that those guys aren't voting with their hearts/guts/souls/etc.?
On the one hand, I, too, am suspicious of the way this shapes the conversation about movies, so that critical discussions get co-opted by the movie industry marketing machine. On the other hand, I like a lot of these big, meaty, year-in-review style discussions of a bunch of movies that we can expect most film buffs have seen. It can get lonely talking about movies like The Tripper all the time.
On the one hand, I agree that giving these awards to movies that haven't even been released yet is kind of a drag. I mean, the whole game of releasing prestige pictures at the end of the year seems a bit bogus. I know that I'm more likely to cool on a movie over time, so showing all of these movies to critics during the weeks before they cast their votes seems to me like a cynical move. On the other hand, I'm not sure I buy this kind of populism from Corliss, whose Best Horror Movie list seemed to be willfully perverse in the way it turned up its nose on the favorite horror movies of horror fans and general moviegoers alike.