These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Award Snub: It was nominated for the Best Picture and Director Oscars, but lost both to Richard Attenborough's Gandhi. Attenborough even stated in his acceptance speech that he believed E.T. should have won, since it was truly the better film. This was at least partly due to a rather sleazy Oscar campaign by Columbia Pictures, where they more or less stated that a vote against the film was a vote against Gandhi himself.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Elliot getting drunk (via his connection to ET) seems a lot harsher knowing the Drew Barrymore, Elliot's sister, would soon have drug problems as a young child.
Harsher in Hindsight: There's a picture of Michael Jackson with E.T. and he narrated an E.T. Storybook Record. In real life, Michael Jackson's skin turned from brown to white and he looked rather sickly before he died, just like E.T. towards the end of the film.
"Does E.T. recognize Yoda? Now that I think about it, his "powers" seem to fit the description of the Force.... Could he have come from a certain galaxy far, far away? Nah...." Seventeen years later, look whose race can be found in that particular galaxy far, far away.
Magnum Opus: Beloved enough to be considered as a candidate (one of many) for Steven Spielberg. Spielberg himself has said it's one of his proudest achievements, citing it as being the film he'd most like his kids to watch.
Narm: The scientists showing up at Elliot's home in full-on NASA spacesuits. Presumably done so the audience knows to associate the scientists with a space program, but it doesn't change the fact it's entirely nonsensical.
When the scientists show up at Elliot's home in environmental suits. The whistles of the train set in the background don't help.
E.T.'s appearance may be unsettling for younger viewers, even more so when he's dying.
The whole first fifteen minutes or so of the movie are pretty scary, from when the scientists show up at the spacecraft's landing spot to when Elliott explores the backyard and sees ET for the first time and both scream.
Drew Barrymore is Elliott's little sister. She has had the exact same face for over 20 years.
Erika Eleniak, who would later be known as Shauni in Baywatch, in the role of Elliott's classmate on whom he has a crush. Also a case of Dawson Casting - a 13 year old girl playing a classmate of a 10 year old boy?! Yeah, right!
The red light on a rail in the opening sequence. Its replacement is about the only thing you won't hear people complain about in the re-release.
A mild example on the blu-ray The movie looks great but in some wide shots, like when Elliot introduces E.T. to Michael, you can tell it's a guy in a costume. It's apparent because in the next shot it's the expressive E.T. puppet, and the costume has a mask with a blank stare.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks: A response generated by the edits for the 2002 20th Anniversary edition, which included replacing guns with walkie-talkies and changing "terrorist" to "hippie." Mercilessly lampooned in the South Park parody episode "Free Hat." Incidentally, while said episode portrays Steven Spielberg as the diabolical mastermind behind editing Raiders of the Lost Ark, with George Lucas only reluctantly following, in Real Life Spielberg later stated that editing the movie was a mistake and restored the original version for the Blu Ray release.
Ugly Cute: ET himself. Any description of him sounds hideous, but he's obviously not without his charm.
Values Dissonance: In a post September 11th world, not many kids would go as a terrorist for Halloween.