27 January 2011

Oscar Zone Vol. II - Noms and Predictions

Ah that smell's in the air again. People are sweaty trying to get the most out of their New Year's Resolution to lose weight before they give up, the crisp snowfall won't stop ever and there are more pointless Awards Shows than a good film lover knows what to do with. But there is one Awards Show with slightly more importance than all the rest and that is the Academy Awards. More prestigious than the Emmys and certainly more than the Golden Globes and I'm not even mentioning the Grammys. It's the last holdout for rewarding Quality Entertainment.

That said, it's so riddled with politics that it's relatively easy to predict the winners without ever having seen half the actual films (Documentary short subject? c'mon). So here we go. Same as last year, I've highlighted in BLUE are the nominees that WILL WIN. In RED are the noms that let's say in my own simple opinion SHOULD WIN. PURPLE means of course, they are one in the same. Let's get crackin:

Best Motion Picture of the Year

127 Hours (2010): Christian Colson, Danny Boyle, John Smithson
Black Swan (2010): Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver, Scott Franklin
The Fighter (2010): David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman, Mark Wahlberg
Inception (2010): Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas
The Kids Are All Right (2010): Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Celine Rattray
The King's Speech (2010): Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin
The Social Network (2010): Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, Ceán Chaffin
Toy Story 3 (2010): Darla K. Anderson
True Grit (2010): Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Scott Rudin
Winter's Bone (2010): Anne Rosellini, Alix Madigan

By all accounts it seems this race is getting down between The Social Network and The King's Speech. Pundits may tout The King's Speech as typical "Oscar Bait," but really look at the best picture winners of the past five years - LA Racism Epic, Boston Crime Drama, Nihilistic Western, Ode to Bollywood and Iraq War Thriller. Where the hell is the "Oscar Bait" in that lot? I already picked The Social Network as the best film of the past year, and it's got tons of momentum. The King's Speech may pull an upset here, but unlikely.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Javier Bardem for Biutiful (2010)
Jeff Bridges for True Grit (2010)
Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network (2010)
Colin Firth for The King's Speech (2010)
James Franco for 127 Hours (2010)

No Oscar for Mark this year. But Colin is all over this. Reigning BAFTA King, the King has got this by a mile, the Bridges nomination is cute but he's got little momentum, same with Bardem. Franco and Eisenberg don't have the history that Firth has and these have been rewarding bodies of work more often. Also I didn't really realise how many Terrible Romantic Comedies Colin Firth had been in before he became a seriously good actor. This will at least be his second BAFTA in a row, the Brits love their own. In general I don't think mimicry should warrant an Oscar, which Firth does very well, but out of this lot he's the best.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole (2010)
Jennifer Lawrence for Winter's Bone (2010)
Natalie Portman for Black Swan (2010)
Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine (2010)

This is all Portman. Annette Bening, tho winning the Best Comedy Actress Golden Globe (who the hell says The Kids Are All Right is a comedy anyway?) will not supplant the little Israelite. I don't believe Your Highness (2011) or No Strings Attached (2011) will be her "Norbit," and she'll cruise through. Just don't laugh when you win, sweetheart.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Christian Bale for The Fighter (2010)
John Hawkes for Winter's Bone (2010)
Jeremy Renner for The Town (2010)
Mark Ruffalo for The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Geoffrey Rush for The King's Speech (2010)

This is actually pretty interesting, I think Renner and Rush are deserving, but this is Bale's race to lose. He disappears into this role the way he did repeatedly in pre-Batman movies and it's about time he was recognized for some insane method acting. I just want to see how well he packs on muscle to kick Bane's ass in The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Or vice versa.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams for The Fighter (2010)
Helena Bonham Carter for The King's Speech (2010)
Melissa Leo for The Fighter (2010)
Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit (2010)
Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom (2010)

This is a pretty tough one. I went pretty safe with Melissa here, though seeing Amy or Hailee nab one would be wonderful. Coen actors really rarely win (besides Javier). Just for shear weirdness though, we should all board Team Jacki and cheer her on.

Best Achievement in Directing

Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan (2010)
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen for True Grit (2010)
David Fincher for The Social Network (2010)
Tom Hooper for The King's Speech (2010)
David O. Russell for The Fighter (2010)

Nolan whining aside (why don't more Blockbuster directors get nods here? Coordinating these huge projects and egos may be far more difficult), Fincher should wrap this up nicely. He's distinctive enough and has built a good enough resume to really earn this one. Aronofsky would be interesting, but The King's Speech and The Social Network are pretty primed to split most of these kinds of awards.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

Another Year (2010): Mike Leigh
The Fighter (2010): Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington
Inception (2010): Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right (2010): Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg
The King's Speech (2010): David Seidler

Screenplay is usually a quirky one and something like The Kids Are All Right fits that bill pretty nicely, especially one that may not win much else. Inception is like this as well, it's possible Chris gets some love after some snubbing in the other categories. That's also my favourite Screenplay of the year.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

127 Hours (2010): Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network (2010): Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3 (2010): Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
True Grit (2010): Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Winter's Bone (2010): Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini

Sorkin's is the best script in years and a lack of a win here would be a tragedy.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

How to Train Your Dragon (2010): Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
The Illusionist (2010): Sylvain Chomet
Toy Story 3 (2010): Lee Unkrich

C'mon. Tho a traditionally animated film win would be sweet. I still don't get how this works - Toy Story 3 is the only one of these also nominated for Best Picture...that basically means it's the Best Animated already, right?

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

Biutiful (2010): Alejandro González Iñárritu(Mexico)
Dogtooth (2009): Giorgos Lanthimos(Greece)
In a Better World (2010): Susanne Bier(Denmark)
Incendies (2010): Denis Villeneuve(Canada)
Outside the Law (2010): Rachid Bouchareb(Algeria)

I really like Dogtooth's nomination here but this is all Biutiful. Dogtooth was a weird fucking movie, I left it off my best-of list, which it might have earned more on uniqueness than good craft.

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Black Swan (2010): Matthew Libatique
Inception (2010): Wally Pfister
The King's Speech (2010): Danny Cohen
The Social Network (2010): Jeff Cronenweth
True Grit (2010): Roger Deakins

Yeah Wally. Get a win! But this is more likely to go to something like Black Swan. I'm too much of a fan of the technical aspects of Inception, even if the story and acting aren't really Best Picture caliber.

Best Achievement in Editing

127 Hours (2010): Jon Harris
Black Swan (2010): Andrew Weisblum
The Fighter (2010): Pamela Martin
The King's Speech (2010): Tariq Anwar
The Social Network (2010): Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall

The Race scene. Also a film that uses mostly editing to make typing lines of code seem not only interesting, but thrilling. Dude, send Kirk and Angus their Statue in the mail.

Best Achievement in Art Direction

Alice in Wonderland (2010): Robert Stromberg, Karen O'Hara
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010): Stuart Craig, Stephenie McMillan
Inception (2010): Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias, Douglas A. Mowat
The King's Speech (2010): Eve Stewart, Judy Farr
True Grit (2010): Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh

It's possible The King's Speech gets dicked out of a few categories but its prestige will shine through here. Don't you think it would rule if we could finally call a Harry Pothead film "Academy Award Winning?" It won't happen, I don't even know why they nominate flicks like that that don't have a chance, however nice to see it is. The Art Direction from the other nominees isn't all that interesting, Alice in Wonderland and True Grit are made from similar existing material and Inception is full of classy if not exceptional art inspiration.

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Alice in Wonderland (2010): Colleen Atwood
I Am Love (2009): Antonella Cannarozzi
The King's Speech (2010): Jenny Beavan
The Tempest (2010/II): Sandy Powell
True Grit (2010): Mary Zophres

Ditto. Tho it earns it here. Don't you wish that whoever designed that Bear Costume from True Grit wins though? Rooster and Matt Damon looked great, actually all the costumes in True Grit were fantastic. Especially those puffy cow pants. Gee I hope it wins now.

Best Achievement in Makeup

Barney's Version (2010): Adrien Morot
The Way Back (2010): Edouard F. Henriques, Greg Funk, Yolanda Toussieng
The Wolfman (2010): Rick Baker, Dave Elsey

Because the fucking Wolfman can't win.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

127 Hours (2010): A.R. Rahman
How to Train Your Dragon (2010): John Powell
Inception (2010): Hans Zimmer
The King's Speech (2010): Alexandre Desplat
The Social Network (2010): Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

Zimmer's score is actually a bit more iconic and memorable but the achievement by these Nine Inch Nails dudes won't go unrecognized. I don't really think there's any better contenders here.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

127 Hours (2010): A.R. Rahman, Rollo Armstrong, Dido("If I Rise")
Country Strong (2010): Tom Douglas, Hillary Lindsey, Troy Verges("Coming Home")
Tangled (2010): Alan Menken, Glenn Slater("I See the Light")
Toy Story 3 (2010): Randy Newman("We Belong Together")

That was a sweet song playing at the end of Toy Story 3, but the team behind Tangled has three wins already and it's feel good enough to grab that win. I actually wouldn't count out A.R. Rahman, he has some recent history with the Academy and this is the kind of thing that 127 Hours can sneak in pretty easily.

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Inception (2010): Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, Ed Novick
The King's Speech (2010): Paul amblin, Martin Jensen, John Midgley
Salt (2010): Jeffrey J. Haboush, William Sarokin, Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell
The Social Network (2010): Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick, Mark Weingarten
True Grit (2010): Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff, Peter F. Kurland

Tick tick tick on the keyboard, quick cuts in rooms and locales with different ambient noise (Burn After Reading [2008] was incredible with this) and such quick sessions of sharp as shit dialogue delivery, TSN has its way with this category like Ben Roethlisberger at a Sorority Party.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

Inception (2010): Richard King
Toy Story 3 (2010): Tom Myers, Michael Silvers
TRON: Legacy (2010): Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, Addison Teague
True Grit (2010): Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey
Unstoppable (2010): Mark P. Stoeckinger

I love the nominees in this one. I legitimately think the sound creation in TRON: Legacy was pretty sweet but I think Inception can get this like The Dark Knight (2008) did a few years back. I'm surprised not more films shared the two Sound Categories, it's possible there's more blurring than this and either Inception nabs both or True Grit grabs both.

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Alice in Wonderland (2010): Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas, Sean Phillips
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010): Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz, Nicolas Aithadi
Hereafter (2010): Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojansky, Joe Farrell
Inception (2010): Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Pete Bebb, Paul J. Franklin
Iron Man 2 (2010): Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright, Daniel Sudick

The inclusion of Hereafter is cool, that Tsunami was impressive, but for the first time in a while the Academy may award a film that truly adeptly combined practical and computer-generated effects to an incredible result.

Best Documentary, Features

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010): Banksy, Jaimie D'Cruz
GasLand (2010): Josh Fox, Trish Adlesic
Inside Job (2010): Charles Ferguson, Audrey Marrs
Restrepo (2010): Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger
Waste Land (2010): Lucy Walker, Angus Aynsley

Will Banksy show up to collect his Statue?! That would be incredible but Inside Job is the much stronger favourite right now. And I say that thinking that Documentary isn't as hard to call as everyone thinks. Just watch these fucking movies.

Best Documentary, Short Subjects

Killing in the Name (2010): Nominees TBD
Poster Girl (2010): Nominees TBD
Strangers No More (2010): Karen Goodman, Kirk Simon
Sun Come Up (2010): Jennifer Redfearn, Tim Metzger
The Warriors of Qiugang (2010): Ruby Yang, Thomas Lennon

Alright, who knows. That first one sounds pretty cool, what the hell.

Best Short Film, Animated

Day & Night (2010): Teddy Newton
The Gruffalo (2009) (TV): Jakob Schuh, Max Lang
Let's Pollute (2009): Geefwee Boedoe
The Lost Thing (2010): Shaun Tan, Andrew Ruhemann
Madagascar, a Journey Diary (2010): Bastien Dubois

Did anyone else watch The Gruffalo on ABC Family? Man, that looked terrible. The animation in Day & Night was actually very cool and clever, there's a reason Pixar has such a good track record at these things. Actually this was one of their better shorts in quite some time, it earned this.

Best Short Film, Live Action

The Confession (2010/IV): Tanel Toom
The Crush (2009): Michael Creagh
God of Love (2010): Luke Matheny
Na Wewe (2010): Ivan Goldschmidt
Wish 143 (2009): Ian Barnes, Samantha Waite

Mmmm wanna kiss about it?

So that's about it. We'll have to wait and see whether or not I'm full of horseshit. I probably didn't pick The King's Speech enough. There's been a trend of singular films just sweeping, either TKS or TSN is going to dominate. Here's to Zuckerberg!

23 January 2011

Best SNL Sketches You've Never Seen

Maybe it's the occasional marathon Vh1 plays on the weekends these days but for some reason I've been thinking about Saturday Night Live recently. It's an incredible show if only for its longevity, breadth of talent and access to just about everybody (can you imagine Presidential Candidates appearing on Mr. Show?). There are dozens of famous sketches but not unlike my post yesterday, today I'm going for a subaltern approach. Now despite the title, you've probably seen some of these before but regardless these are six of my favourite SNL sketches of all time. Let the ludicricity commence:

#6/5: "Googly Eyes Gardner" / "Meet the Family"

I couldn't decide which of these Christopher Walken Skits I liked better, so what the hell, here's both. Walken is the perfect kind of host, he's game for anything and throws his full talent behind whatever insane thing he's doing. He's also a mostly dramatic actor with incredible natural comic timing and SNL gives him the chance to fully employ it. That said, it's tough to find a bad Walken sketch from "The Continental" to "Colonel Angus" he's got a lot of good ones. "Walken Family Reunion" is incredible though, basically a display of every single cast member's Walken impression but also full of perfectly weird Walken-esque quotes ("I hate ghosts. They're spooky and I don't respond well to spooky behavior"). "Googly Eye Gardener" just comes out of no where, it's Walken alone at his best, a level of extreme weird channeled through a matter-of-fact attitude and skewed common sense. It's so unrelentingly goofy. There is some semblance of rationality in his thought process but it's so damn weird.

#4: "The Joe Pesci Show"

There are a lot of good variations of this, basically Jim Breuer plays an insane pastiche of Joe Pesci's famous persona as a talk show host with silent Robert De Niro as his sidekick. It's mostly used as a showcase for some excellent celebrity impersonations and a lot of meta. Alec Baldwin demonstrates a ridiculously good DeNiro in this one. There's also this incarnation that features Jim Carrey as Jimmy Stewart, then Mark McKinney as Jim Carrey, which of course progresses to Jim Carrey doing Jimmy Stewart doing Jim Carrey and Mark McKinney doing Jim Carrey doing Jimmy Stewart. Jim Carrey is another host that gives everything to SNL, relishing a chance to do some sketch comedy like his roots. But the best version is the one embedded above in which Breuer and Colin Quinn are interrupted by the actual Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro. The irony of the skits are that while Pesci takes insult to being called something like a "crazy character," his actions after being offended prove the offender correct. When the real Pesci shows up, tho he is calm and asserted, he proves to be equally violent to his cartoony counterpart which maintains the typical skits' cadence while rejuvenating the premise. Also funny.

#3: "The Diner"

I could not find a video of this anywhere but here is a transcript of the sketch. This is one of the strangest SNL skits I've ever seen, I'm not even sure what the joke is, but the dialogue is real crisp and the characters are incredibly fleshed out in just a few minutes. Basically Jan Hooks plays a Diner waitress with weird tension between a cowboy who drifts in (Alec Baldwin). There is some great goofiness from Phil Hartman and Kevin Nealon playing some redneck regulars, but the greatness here lies in the mysterious dynamic between Jan and Alec. Whether or not they have a past or just immediately find each other halfway between irresistible and intolerable we never find out. It plays like a mini-soap opera though with no real punchline or easily accessible premise, which is incredibly ambitious for SNL, especially for the early 90s, a time period in its history dominated by overly silly character-based sketches. Baldwin's the perfect host for this kind of sketch, like Jim Carrey and Chris Walken, he's so game for showing a bit of weirdness and poking fun of himself. He makes it work.

#2: "Stevie Nicks' Fajita Roundup"

I don't know why this is so good. Maybe it's Lucy Lawless' perfect Stevie Nicks impression or just the Fleetwood Mac songs that fit so well when given a Mexican Food Theme. Burritos and Nachos are pretty funny foods to sing about, and Fleetwood Mac really fits that need for a band that was kind of good but mostly sucked. It's the kind of sketch that Lucy needed to carry and her timing and pacing shines through. Also the songs are pretty catchy. I still hum "Burrito Dreams" when Mac comes on the radio.

#1: "The Iron Chef"

There's hardly another SNL sketch where every single character is funny. This just knocks it out. Despite having almost the entire cast within the sketch, Will Ferrell is no where and it still holds together very well. Everything is awesome. What's more important is that the characters don't get in each others way. Everyone has their great line then it keeps moving. Nothing is too crowded. Charlie Sheen excels as the American Bachelor Chef, the right combination of sleazy surfer and earnest stoner. The satire of weird Japanese Culture is spot-on with misplaced celebrities, awkward American adoration and of course the terribly dubbed speech. From Shark Heads Rice with Eel Farts to the Famous Murderer and the Triumph of The American Bachelor Chef, this is close to perfect. The best line though goes to Rachel Dratch as the Fortune Teller - "I am a fortune teller, and I predict these Shark Heads will go in my belly!" That line is so incredibly stupid, it's great.

So those are my favourites. There are so many more from this show, the legend lives on. Happy watching, folks.

22 January 2011

Tops: Great Tiny Roles in Terrible Films

There is a certain pleasure we get from watching really bad movies. Whether it's really just turning off brains for a few hours, enjoying making fun of terrible acting and plotting or just getting a chance to see some titties and explosions, bad movies can be pretty fun. Sometimes campiness can also be a true measure of a good time at the theater whether intentional, unintentional, as a metaphor that idiots took at face value or as a metaphor that everyone took at face value. Either way I could sit here and argue the good and fun yielded by all four of those flicks. But that's not what I'm doing today.

Today we look at a handful of performances that stand out from really shitty films. This the kind of stuff that' absolute garbage but then you sit back and think "Yeah but so-and-so was pretty good in that." I tried to weed out movies that may have been pretty shitty but had an awesome lead or otherwise films that may have had a good premise but otherwise failed. No, these are movies that are only worthwhile for maybe a few seconds of funny dialogue from some minor B (or C) Character. I've broken it down into a few parts:

Romantic Comedy Friends:
I can't believe how many times the stars on a bill for a Romantic Comedy are unwatchable but all their friends are hilarious. The problem is that while the producers make an effort for the leads to be believable more often than not they turn out flat and uninteresting. These side-characters peppered throughout the film liven it up and then often remain unrecognized. Take The Break-Up (2006). I didn't even know Jon Favreau was in this movie, but he centers the only good scene in this piece of trash (you can watch it here, as you can see, The Break-Up was so fucking bad that that's the best quality video I can find). On the opposite end we have Vince Vaughn as a major highlight to Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005). I actually like that movie, but we haven't seen Vince as funny since he played Brad's paranoid sidekick here.

Many times these kinds of movies may feature A-Listers a step before they hit it big. I'm thinking about Seth Rogen in You, Me and Dupree (2006), both Anna Faris and Rachel McAdams in The Hot Chick (2002) (McAdams plays a great scumbag) and Kathryn Hahn, Adam Goldberg and Thomas Lennon in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003). Even from last year's Going the Distance (2010) the hilarity came not from the leads or premise but rather supporting actors like Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Christina Applegate and Jim Gaffigan. Sudeikis, by the way, cleans up in this field (see also The Bounty Hunter [2010] and What Happens in Vegas [2008]). I'll also say while watching The New Guy (2002) I kept yearning for Eddie Griffin's character to take over and make the thing watchable. Lastly, that really cute sidechick from Hitch (2005), Julie Ann Emery is the highlight of that film over Will Smith playing himself and Kevin James playing white, fat and awkward.

Action Heroes' Dads, Bodyguards and Rivals:
There are a lot of terrible comic book movies, but some of them have some good characters. Sam Elliott playing the original Ghost Rider in Ghost Rider (2007) always seemed pretty cool as the grizzled cowboy version of the Hellish Badass. Of course his actual purpose in the film is completely unnecessary outside of exposition and his eventual departure leaves some legendary blueballs. I also still actually like this scene in Hulk (2003), Nick Nolte is fantastic as the old insane father of Bruce Banner, mostly because he is old and insane.

Reign of Fire (2002) is a pretty insanely cool concept that really isn't done well, tho it stars a pre-mainstream Christian Bale and Gerard Butler. McConaughey steals it tho as the asshole American who comes in to save the Brits once again. Whenever you get into an unwinable argument with an Englishman, it's always great to rub into his or her face how we saved their asses in Reign of Fire. More in the big-budget vein Tim Robbins gave us the only really interesting character in War of the Worlds (2005) and the only one, Martian or Earthling that gave Tommy any kind of real conflict. Finally in the muddled mess that is Be Cool (2005) The Rock gives us a charming, complicated bodyguard to Vince Vaughn (again?) that is the only interesting part of a terrible film.

Special Cases:
It's an enormous tragedy that Phil Hartman never had a greater film career. His most major late roles were in some terrible movies like Small Soldiers (1998) and Jingle All The Way (1997), but he's spectacular in both, especially in the latter where he really eats up his role as a goody-good but secretly lecherous neighbor. Imagine what Phil could have been in an actually good movie!

Looking through this whole thing I released that Dave Chappelle exhibits the trend in no less than three films. He's the funniest of the convicts in Con Air (1997), tho that film has some great John Malkovich and Nic Cage scenes, as well as Danny Trejo and John Cusack chewing it up. And Steve Buscemi. Alright, scratch that one. Blue Streak (1999), one of my favourite movies of all time also displays some great Chappelle moments. To get serious, Chappelle in Undercover Brother (along with NPH) is also the best part of Undercover Brother (2002). Man are all these Lazy Saturday Afternoon Movies or what?

Let's now talk about a special little movie called Southland Tales (2006). I've never seen another movie that tries so hard to be good and just comes up short. It's Richard Kelly attempting to duplicate the kind of trippy mindfuck he did with Donnie Darko (2001) and instead coming up with a plotless pile of shit. There is one famous incredible scene with Justin Timberlake though, you can watch it with a bit of context here. I actually saw this clip before I saw the entire film and I figured that there would be some really interesting characterisation surrounding this scene as well as some similar themes echoing throughout the rest of the film. No. It comes as suddenly and as strangely as this clip presents, then barely even comes back to JT's character. The film is full of miscast SNL alumni, weird Sci-Fi that doesn't add up and disregarded cool plotlines like this one. I'd love to see a version of this film that digs deeper into whatever the hell JT is thinking and doing in and around this scene but that's just not possible.

Now finally, the Tops, Best Ever Great Character in a Terrible Movie is...

Philip Seymour Hoffman in Along Came Polly (2004). I really wrote everything above as an excuse to talk about this. Hoffman as Sandy Lyle in this terrible, terrible movie is so legendary. He absolutely steals every scene he's in (a feat almost accomplished by Alec Baldwin in the same film). YouTubing this dude is necessary, here's a peak of some of his best work:

"Let it rain!" "I just sharted." "The Best Man is in the house!" It's endless. It's so hard to see this great performance in a movie with a main plot that's so, so shitty. Hoffman as the delusional former child actor Sandy Lyle lights it up, enjoying every fat moment possible. He's a loser that's completely unaware of his own pathetic nature, which provides some refreshing hilarity in a movie with a very uninteresting protagonist (Ben Stiller, at his most awkward), the most overrated funny girl in Hollywood (Jennifer Aniston as the ultimate MPDG) and a ridiculously overplayed plot. The common image of Along Came Polly is either the Hairy Basketball Game, the Ferret or the Indian Food disagreeing with Ben Stiller's IBS. Sandy Lyle trumps all of this, he needs his own spinoff. Of course, watching PSH fall on his face for an hour and a half may be overdoing it.

Or not.

19 January 2011

On Ricky Gervais and Awards Show Hosting

I had to jump on this while it's hot. Now, I typically don't even like Ricky Gervais that much. The kind of super-awkward humour that fills both versions of The Office can be incredible, more often it's just really painful. His film career is full of terrible films and he seems to continuously be in love his own asshole self.

But Extras is the shit and damn this dude was funny at the Golden Globes.

Boo yah!

If you haven't heard Ricky's work yet, you may check some of it out here. I don't even think the material is all that outrageous. He's gained a good amount of controversy by simply saying everything we're all thinking about these moronic celebrities all the time. Of course the major difference is he's saying it all to their faces at an event honouring them without any "Just Kidding, I Love You!" afterward.

I think the positive response to his jabs around the Interwebs is pretty refreshing. It's funny that someone like Robert Downey, Jr attempting to counter while he presented appears more as a whiny celebrity douche than Ricky is an asshole. It's hard to sympathize with these overpaid actors, the audience

Along with deconstructing and ridiculing celebrities, Ricky also ridiculed Awards Shows through his irrelevant attitude, crass drinking and even making fun of how bad some of the movies were that were nominated (The Tourist [2010], what the hell). The underlying issue with a lot of the offense Hollywood took to the act therefore, is the fact that Ricky's again pointing out what we all already think: The most prestigious Self-Congratulatory Awards Shows are pointless; rarely effectively and accurately honour the truly Culturally Significant or Popular films of the year, instead enshrining performances based on arbitrary, mysterious standards and a heavy dose of politics. The Globes are typically far more bullshit and this year in particular had some outrageous nominations (see especially the Nominees for Best Comedy or Musical Picture...seriously, how is The Tourist or Red [2010] even eligible here?). The Globes have always been a joke, suddenly Ricky's controversial for pointing this out.

Now, that said, the Shitshow Award Show should be thanking Ricky for an unprecedented amount of attention. I know my only reason for tuning in was seeing what he'd do, and when the whole thing was over those were the only moments I'm glad I caught (well, that and repeated references to how much fun Table 114 [Bale and Wahlberg] were having. That rules). Supposedly the President of the Hollywood Foreign Press, Philip Berk has banned Ricky from both any further Globes hosting duties as well as any nominations for any film or show he makes in the future. Moronic. Firstly, this also supports the "Globes are Bullshit" hypothesis by acknowledging that if sometime in the future Ricky puts out the greatest acting performance in the History of Time, the Globes will openly ignore it. How can you possibly still maintain yourself as a respectable assessment of the Year in Movies? It's insane.

It's also very clear that Ricky's the talk of the town this week. And may be for some weeks to come. People are talking about the Globes for more than an hour after the show. When's the last time that happened? Besides awkward DeNiro comments (what the hell is wrong with him?), a pissed-off Bruce Willis ("Ashton Kutcher's Dad!") and Downey decrying Ricky while then making a much less funny, awkward sexual pass at the Best Supporting Actress nominees, the only reason to watch was Ricky.

At least he didn't go with his original idea.

17 January 2011

The Long Halloween Vol. II: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

I bet you thought I forgot all about January, right? Well, there's more holidays in this month than New Year's. Today we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which is separate from both Martin Luther Day, Lex Luthor Day and Luther Vandross Day. MLK, Jr. is an important holiday to remember, however, and even if all it means to some people these days is an irritating Bank Closure, it's good to remember the struggles the country and its minorities have had (really not that long ago). Nonetheless, there are some good things to watch today.

Stereotype Busting TV:

There's only one episode that comes to mind to properly treat this holiday. That's of course "Return of the King" from The Boondocks (S1;E9). The episode is one of the best of the series and despite its controversy has some good things to say about Black Culture and the Legacy of Dr. King. It implies that tho Dr. King's ideas were vitally important to the Civil Rights Movement, the respect he enjoys today is due only because of his death. Creator Aaron McGruder presents an alternate reality where Dr. King is just another Black Leader who makes some gaffs on National Television, loses his well earned respect and bounces back angrily against a culture of accepted ignorance he didn't die to create.

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The episode walks a fine line between critiquing actual Black Culture vs. media depictions of contemporary African-Americans. It's difficult to weed between truth of culture and appearance of culture, and if there is even a difference between them at all. Regardless, Black Culture as depicted in the episode (and hell, BET, Tyler Perry, etc) does not agree with the intelligent, peaceful, honorific and forgiving philosophy of Dr. King.

It also speaks to short-sighted conservative propaganda that labels intelligent criticism of this nation's policies, open expression and ironically in this case, Christian Love as Un-American. Basically while King is a struggling Badger in the River in a society now filled with New Media outlets (tho this episode predates the Social Networking Movement) he appears aloof and out of touch. It's only through great controversy (A truthful repeated use of the word "nigga," the ugliest word in the English Language) that he's able to finally catch his people's attention and inspire them for some change for the better. It's important to shock people through some harsh truth because there's no other way serious issues, especially those concerning race (implicit and explicit, de jure and de facto). No show does this better than The Boondocks.

Unifying Movies:

There's no real definitive King Flick to rally behind so why not switch over to the Magneto to King's Professor Xavier, Malcolm X (1992) with Denzel. It's a fantastic movie with some insight into another great Civil Rights Leader (How insane were the 60s, by the way? Everyone got shot all the time. We're in shock over Congresswoman Gifford's near assassination in a monstrous Tucson Massacre, imagine losing JFK, X, MLK and RFK within five years). It's pretty chilling stuff.

Hopefully there is still much to learn from both MLK and Malcolm "In the Middle" X. We can reach some unity in a nation that still very divided despite its Black President and large strides forward for Black Culture and Transparency in the past forty years. We need to keep a keen eye though on when this Transparency leads to more mockery, judgment and ultimately division that prevents true healing to take place. On both sides. I'm mostly talking about stuff like this. C'mon.

Dreamy Food:

Oh snap! No they didn't! A Boneless Rib Sandwich! What will they think of next?

11 January 2011

War of the Months: January

Well it's the Second Tuesday of the Month, which can only mean one thing, of course. It's time for the War of the Months! What does that mean? Um...well we here at Norwegian Morning Wood hold a stalwart belief in Superfluous Journalism and dammit, these are things that deserve examination. Each and every month in 2011 we'll be chatting a bit about what these months typically mean for movies, and a handy list of the greatest films ever released in that month. And by ever I mean dating back to around 1989...because that's the last year that Wikipedia has its movies ordered that way. Let's begin!

January: Month of Shit

The first month of the year is a month of new beginnings, resolutions and Holiday Hangovers. For December oncoming snow is a nice reminder that Christmas is right around the corner. January Snow is a reminder that we've got three months left of this shit. January sucks. It's a way to remind us of shit that we should be doing this year, kids have to go back to school after Christmas, and no one really wants to do anything.

So what movies to release? How about all the crap that wasn't good enough for the Holiday Season? Since the cut-off for the Year's Awards Eligibility ends with December 31st, even smaller films that Studios use to bait Oscar Voters have typically come and gone at this point. So all that's left is spectacular shit like Daybreakers (2010) and Bride Wars (2009). Wow. The old standard is thus that January is this rollover month for both quality and box office. The best we'd get is either an Oscar Bait getting a wider release or some other hangover film from the Christmas Season.

Box Office Returns - Mild to Milder:

Here are two cool lists from BoxOfficeMojo.com. The first is the greatest Box Office Opening Weekends in January of All Time. Take a look. Go, absorb and come back. We'll wait.

Okay, notice a few things. Firstly, that the second-highest here is the release of the first Special Edition of Star Wars in 1997. There isn't another film from the 90s or earlier in the Top 30 and that record of $35 million wasn't beat until Cloverfield (2008). That's hideous. But we can also check out the fact that Cloverfield had a pretty decent January opening, mostly due to a viral mystery campaign that actually worked and a gimmicky yet well-executed plot.

In the years since, though, January has proved not to be quite the commercial mire it once was, if not still lacking in any kind of critical success. You can check out Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009), The Book of Eli (2010), the wide release of Gran Torino (2008) and Taken (2009) as all recent January release that eventually made close to or over $100 million. There is this growing feel for January as a spot to put dumb broad comedies or aging action star vehicles. Just shit that is half-good that can make a quick buck. Movies that are really best served being caught at 2 AM Sunday morning on F/X. January is becoming that kind of month - stupid, not even really entertaining movies, but truly brainless features. Something just slightly better to do for two hours than stare at your thumbs.

The second list from BoxOfficeMojo (so convenient), is the Highest Grossing Januaries of All Time. Go look, back, whatever. You may be wondering why 2010 won easily with Blart and Taken boosting 2009. Well, remember AVABAR (2009)? Yeah, that motherfucker wasn't out of theaters for months while making ridiculous bank all over town. January's cash is almost always fueled by Christmas Hangover Films, really only that 2009 contained a handful of flicks that could survive on their own. While Cloverfield had the greatest weekend in 2008, it didn't really sustain the momentum, the first weekend accounted for 50% of its eventual total Box Office.

Best Films Ever Released in January:

This was pretty tough. Eventually I found really only Eight Films released in this month in the past two decades that I've enjoyed. Some are actually kind of surprising to find out. So, in order of least to most liked by only me, here we go:

#8: March of the Penguins - 01/26/05
#7: Taken - 01/30/09
#6: Orange Country - 01/11/02
#5: Kung Pow: Enter the Fist - 01/25/02
#4: Half-Baked - 01/16/98
#3: Cloverfield - 01/18/08
#2: Grandma's Boy - 01/06/06
#1: Smokin' Aces - 01/26/07

Hey, I said it was rough. Like I said before sometimes you can catch the wide release of some flick like 12 Monkeys (1995), There Will Be Blood (2007) or Gran Torino but more often than not for films that originate in January there's this deep aura of shit. Is Smokin' Aces really the Greatest January Movie Ever? Well fuck, I dare you do show me better. That's a really cool movie. Happy 01/11/11.

08 January 2011

11 Things We're Looking Forward to the Most in 2011

So, fuck 2010. We're living in the future now. It's 2011. We've only got four years to prepare for hydrated pizza, bionic implants in bullies and 3-D Sequels to 80s movies (hey, they got that one right!). So, needless to say, 2011 is going to be a very hip year. Actually the term now I believe is "Fly." It'll be so fly that the G6 is going to look like a fucking crop duster. Anyway, for the sake of gimmicks, here's 11 Things We're Most Looking Forward to in 2011:

#11: Battle: Los Angeles (03/11/11) - I already rambled a bit about this back here, and there is a decent chance for a misfire based on a trailer that shows none of its leading actor (Aaron Eckhart),little of its typecast leading actress (Michelle Rodriguez...as a Tough Hispanic Army Chick! Whoa!) and surging, manipulative cool moments placed together through good editing rather than anything really new or cool. But dammit, we want this to be cool...and that's the point here.

#10: Drive Angry (02/25/11) - Hell yeah, insane Cage movies! Amber Heard, the Cage escapes from Hell, all in Glourious Extra Dimensions! That is, one extra dimension from normal movies. You know, the one we live in. Anyway, this seems all sorts of crazy, which is really the best kind of films Cage can do. Shit like Season of the Witch (2011) that opens this week tends to take its idiotic shit too seriously. Drive Angry can do some damage. Or be terrible, who cares, this is a wishlist. Here's the trailer.

#9: The Thing (10/14/11) - while the idea of a prequel to John Carpenter's original The Thing (1982) seems retarded on paper, this may not be that terrible. The early production stills have seemed promising as is a feeling that the film will employ more practical effects than its contemporaries, part of what made the original (also a remake by the way) so terrifying. Will it be able to capture the claustrophobic paranoia so well? The problem with any prequel or sequel really is that even as good as they might replicate the tone of their original, it substitutes imitation over innovation. So, balls. But Mary Elizabeth Winstead is hot, so despite the Antarctic Setting, there's that.

#8: Cowboys & Aliens (07/29/11) - An incredible cast, a director who doesn't have to fill his film with Avengers Easter Eggs and what looks to be a solid treatment of a ridiculous premise, everyone is excited for this film. When you think Cowboy, you of course think Daniel Craig, and Harrison Ford looks like he's really eager to chew on this role after some decent if not middling hero roles and then of course, some standard rape. If all holds out this could be a nice hit this summer.

#7: Sucker Punch (03/25/11) - The Jailbait event of the Season! You can smell a Zack Snyder flick from miles away these days. Incredible visuals, dark subject matter, pushing boundaries of taste, themes and CGI. Then again, there's Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (2010). Yeah, what the fuck? Anyway, I'm as excited for this as I've been for any Snyder film, which I know now to take a couple grains of salt into the theater. The only question left with Zack is really whether or not Superman be raping Lois slow-mo?

#6: Harry Pothead and the Deathly Swallows, Fart II (07/15/11) - It's all coming down to this one, folks. Will this Harry Potter be good enough to be nominated for something other than Art Direction or Original Score at the Oscars? Or will it win...anything? This is really a moment unlike any other in our cinematic history, the conclusion of a decade long foretold journey with these characters, every arc is wrapped up here. While the books have been alright, the movies are clearly much better. This should be a huge event if the First Part that came out this November is an indication of our very wet appetites. These are exciting times. Especially because by 2013 ABC Family will be able to run full Marathons during its Harry Potter Weekends every other week. Finally!

#5: Transformers: Dark of the Moon (07/01/11) - Speaking of iconic franchises concluding next July, finally we'll get the ending to the epic Transformers Saga. I actually like how Bay has mostly made each of these films decently self-contained, which certainly helps people jump in to the story just about anywhere. While the title is absolutely stupid (apparently we can just take words out of album titles now and slap them on something completely different, nevermind the vagueness which actually seems like it's describing something integral). This looks really, really dumb actually. I'm down for some explosions and important speeches though, which Bay does very well. Man that trailer is bad. It's like, why this conspiracy crap? No one cares about that, it doesn't make any sense. How did they reverse engineer cell phones from Megatron? Ugh. I gave Revenge of the Fallen (2009) a very thorough examination when it came out though, looking forward to holding Dark of the Moon to the same standards. I just hope this is cool.

#4: Year of the Portman - Calling this as Natalie Portman's year. She's got three high profile pictures coming out and could be riding an Academy Award, or at least tons of critical kudos for Black Swan (2010) heading into it. A lot of these films could definitely be pretty shitty though. She starts with No Strings Attached (01/21/11) alongside Ashton Kutcher, who is famous for making as many good movies in his career as Dane Cook. The Red Band Trailer, though (which was released in a 45-minute interval on the web and then disappeared everywhere, I cannot find this bastard) was somehow both very funny and ridiculously sexy. She's then got Medieval Stoner Flick Your Highness (04/08/11), which has a chance of at least starring two Academy Award nominees (herself and Franco), if not winners. Which is staggering. This is also a toss-up for me, I don't think it looks funny at all, but apparently everyone else does. Finally, the chick's in Thor (05/06/11), which I'll get into more later. With admittedly a lot of speculation, this could be a great year for Natalie. If she releases any more Lonely Island Rap Singles, it's a lock.

#3: Detox by Dr. Dre (February?, 2011) - Supposedly Dre is dropping Detox this year, though we've all thought the same thing for about the last six years. Regardless, our hopes and dreams believe this is coming and when it does it's almost sure to be incredible. The released track "Kush" is pretty decent and though Dre has only release two solo albums in the past twenty years they're both incredible. The Chronic (1992) is still a landmark rap album and 2001 (1999) is a classic. The level of time put into Detox and frequent delays have increased angry hype, Dre's track record is spectacular, though it's easier to not fuck up two albums rather than ten. It looks good for Detox coming out this year although there's no release date for such a big album coming up next month supposedly. Here's to hoping it lives up to is long and storied production.

#2: The Return of Parks and Recreation (01/20/11) - In just a few weeks now we'll get back one of the best shows of the past few years, NBC's Parks and Rec, starring Amy Poehler. I can't believe this was shelved for half a season to make room for Outsourced (which had three spectacular jokes over the past half-season). I guess NBC was in this weird position to either grow its line-up of old unwatched but critically loved sitcoms or try to innovate new unwatched but critically loved sitcoms. Hey, that's a tough choice. But Parks and Rec is an incredible show and it'll be good to be back in our Thursday Lives.

#1: THOR (05/06/11) - Alright, let's chat a bit about next summer. The Summer of 2010 was full of fucking terrible movies. Now, is this because of a downturn for Comic Book Properties? I mean, outside of Iron Man 2 we didn't have shit. That's not true because 2009 was incredible mostly off flicks like The Hangover, District 9 and Inglourious Basterds. So no, 2010 just sucked. We're set to have a ridiculous number of Comic Book Flicks in 2011 though. Most of these look terrible. I've seen nothing interesting from Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), mostly because that character isn't all that thrilling. I mean, what are any memorable Captain America storylines? Civil War and that's it. He's got all the powers of Batman but none of the psychosis. I'm smelling a lovely Captain America rant soon, but I'll try to stay on track here.

Green Lantern (2011). One of the worst trailers I've ever seen, and I'm a huge fan! I love Green Lantern comics, some of the Blackest Night arcs have been the best on the shelves in years, but this movie looks so fucking bad. And how have we gotten to the point where all these Fan Made Trailers are far superior? Dammit! We've also got X-Men: First Class, which we've seen nothing about. How are we supposed to get hyped up here, guys?! But then there's Thor. Fucking Thor.

For a while I was wavering back and forth being excited for this, but as of this moment I've landed in the excited column. Thor's a fucking badass and this film is all about that. He's a renegade god, great plastic armour and he's swinging Mjolner around like a boss. It seems like it's probably going to be another 2-hour advertisement for The Avengers (2012), but we're going to have fun along the way. I think this could be the year of Thor, and it'll definitely win the Superhero Derby this Summer, though I'd imagine it loses to Potter and Transformers for the year's box office title.

Honourable Mention: In the Category of "Could Be Cool Shit" we've got: Super 8, Source Code, Unknown, The Green Hornet, The Hangover, Part II and a new Pirates movie for some reason in that order. That's about it, folks. This could be a very exciting year if all the aforementioned things prove to be as cool as I want them to be, the reverse edge of the sword of course being that we'll all be double-disappointed if they suck. Well, pass the beer.

07 January 2011

Capsule 2010: Other Shit

So with Music, TV and Movies out of the way, we can talk a bit about what's leftover from 2010, concluding Norwegian Morning Wood's exhaustive study of all things pop-y about the year we left behind us last week. It's not really that important, but like you reading this out there, it sure kills some time. Let's go:


It was a pretty good year for gaming, though we've gotten to the point where most of the best released games are sequels. In fact, in my scrutiny I only found one really original title, which I call the best of the year, among the rabble. It's like all these games are good only because they mostly follow in line with their predecessors, which were all landmark, innovative titles. Only the #1 spot really earned it this year.

So, firstly in no particular order, the best games of the year include GoldenEye 007 riding on the coattails of its superior N64 source material (possibly greatest game ever. Oh wait), Metroid: Other M, which is admittedly less cool than its commercials but decent enough, Halo: Reach, a series that has been on the decline since the Arbiter showed his fucking four-split face and Dante's Inferno, which kind of sucked but had some really cool levels. Speaking of Dante, God of War III was up there, as was Dead Rising 2, which put just enough of a spin on its concept to remain interesting in this time of endless zombie media. I also enjoyed playing lots of Super Mario Galaxy 2 and BioShock 2 was about equal with its predecessor, which ultimately renders it not as interesting (waiting for BioShock Infinite in 2012 to finally push that envelope again). Finally, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty exists basically to suck our time and money and make us feel inferior to South Koreans. Seriously, StarCraft is Korea's NFL.

But the best game of the year of course goes to Red Dead Redemption. It's a heavy character game, infinitely cool, re-playable, interesting and innovative. Though honestly I feel like I'm the only one who played GUN on GameCube like five years ago, Red Dead's about the same thing. Except better, bigger and crisper in every way possible. Still, it's the best game of the year. Now go hate the sun and play it.


2010 was a pretty good one for all kinds of sporting events. The New Orleans Saints surprised just about everyone by derailing Peyton in the most widely-watched Superbowl (and American Program) of all time in February. New Orleans has been this cool city lately, despite you know, the tremendous Katrina damage, but it seems like it's poppin. You've got like, Benjamin Button hanging out there, Drew Brees, Nic Cage in Bad Lieutenant (2009)...uh...Treme. So that's football.

Winter Olympics were actually kind of forgettable this year. I say that because I almost forgot to talk about it. The most exciting may have been a bitter curling grudge match that finally saw long-time runner up Kevin Martin snag Canadien Gold away from the Strange-Pants Wearing Norwegians. Oh and some Hockey Game. Continuing on the world stage, the 2010 World Cup was mostly known for Vuvuzelas, the United States shut out by Ghana again and an Octopus picking the winners. Seriously, I thought there was some Giant Herd of Bees attacking all the stadiums. I heard that magical psychic Octopus tasted spectacular. At any rate, I'd probably take all that over anything done in Qatar. Actually to be fair, if any country can successfully misappropriate its resources, it's a nation like Qatar. They're going to blow a huge load on these games, it'll actually be awesome. You know, as long as the temperature is under 120.

It was also a year of scandal. Tiger sucks and Favre ruined his legacy for...wow. Have you seen her? I'm sending Jenn Sterger a picture of my dick right now. Also Ben Roethlisberger spent his summer raping everyone in sight.

Go Giants.


I'm out of ideas here. I could talk about books but...well, I bought Earth, which rules (I never knew you could make so many jokes about permafrost and oxygen), but hell, what else is there really? But I do think the City of Miami was pretty big in 2010. South Beach is the hot place, baby. Once known quixotically as a home for Gays, Jews, Cubans and the Elderly, Miami is becoming a hip spot for everyone else. Hell, even I went to Miam in 2010.

LeBron James calls it his new home (can't believe he betrayed Akron for Sun and Busty Latin Girls) and the Heat are poppin' off. This was also one of the most controversial sports stories of the year. South Beach was also the natural destination for the degenerates that call the Jersey Shore home for their second season. And if LBJ and Sitch are wrong, dammit...I don't want to be right.

Now if the Dolphins can win another division title we'll get somewhere. How the hell is a team 1 - 7 at home? That's ridiculous. You're playing in the City of 2010, baby! I mean, give Brandon Marshall the ball, that's why you picked him up. Anyway, that's about it for our 2010 coverage. Bring on the future.

05 January 2011

Capsule 2010: Movies

Here we go, people. A few days into 2011 now, it's time we talk 2010. Always relevant Norwegian Morning Wood is. Anywho, 2010 was a pretty special year, folks. Let's start with some general trends:

There has been a continued shift this year concerning almost every basic of the industry. Studios produced different films, the ones that did well and the ones that flopped were not traditionally predictable (almost) and there have been shifting ideas towards DVD distribution. Here's a nice summary.


Who knew the Third Dimension could be so popular? The biggest event of 2010 was the widespread propagation of flicks shown on 3-D Formats. While attendance decreased, the Box Office was still able to break even on these little buggers. Hooray! There were only a handful of films though where this worked very well (Jackass 3D, Piranha 3D, Resident Evil: Afterlife...surely you may gauge the quality of the films that utilized cool 3D this year). Then there we a good amount of 3D that added nothing really to the experience (Alice in Wonderland, Toy Story 3) and some that was tacked on terribly (Clash of the Titans, The Last Airbender). Feel free to start putting together the future of 3D. Successful Critical and Commercial films such as Inception and Harry Potter and the Deathly Swallows, Fart 1 avoided 3D to acclaim. Have we managed both the rise and fall of 3D this year? Although the best films of the year did not employ the technology and the only ones who did so creatively were absolute crap, messages in Hollywood take a while to sink in. Clash is almost unexplainable as one of the greatest success stories of the year, but the bombs of shit like The Last Airbender bring us to our next topic:

This was the Great Summer of Flops. It's a turning point for American tastes. Big celebrity-driven romps such as Knight and Day, Robin Hood, Killers, Sex and the City 2 and Prince of Persia: Sands of Dick were absolute bombs. As was trash like The Sorcerer's Apprentice and the aforementioned Airbender. What did well? Stark, Toys and Mildly Confusing Passion Projects. Oh, and that Teen Werewolf flick with that chick who looks like a rat.

There is also this budding trend of smaller independent Monster and Alien movies made on tiny budgets with cameras and computers you can purchase at Best Buy. In recent years we've seen this trend start with flicks like Cloverfield (2008) and District 9 (2009). Ultimately this year has boiled down to pure crap (Skyline), middling crap (Monsters) and what-the-shit? (The Troll Hunter...hey go Norway!). There's also some cool-looking crap coming out next year, but I was pumped after the Skyline trailer, too so what the hell. I suppose I'll try to trust a major studio over a Special Effects Company. At any rate, there sure are a lot of interesting Alien Invasion flicks around (see also).

The style of "Fake Documentary" that some of these alien films took was also everywhere in 2010. There were so many Mockumentaries, some without any clear delineation of art and reality (I'm Still Here and Exit Through the Gift Shop). There was also the social networking faux-doc Catfish (which works best without any other prior information before viewing). There's also common fare like Paranormal Activity 2: Electric Boogaloo and The Last Exorcism.

Did anyone else notice the trend of "confined space" flicks that came out in 2010? There were all these films that featured a very limited number of actors with a majority of on-screen action in a very limited location. This ranged from the ridiculousness of Buried, which features only Ryan Reynolds in a coffin to 127 Hours which is mostly James Franco trapped under a rock. But there's also Devil with a bunch of people ("The snozzberries taste like snozzberries!") stuck in an elevator, and Exam (sneaking in with a wider US release date in 2010, while technically premiering in 2009) which has a bunch of people going nuts while taking a weird exam.

Finally, 2010 was filled with enormous amounts of Nostalgia for the 1980s. This came in some direct forms such as remakes of The A-Team and The Karate Kid, homages to an different era of film styles and tropes (The Expendables and MacGruber) and then just straight-up Time Travel (Hot Tub Time Machine). Whether or not this continues in mainstream movies is yet to be seen, but 2010 had such a chubby for the Me Decade. When are we going to reach 90s Nostalgia? That's a scary thought.


So who were the biggest names in 2010? Unlike 2009 when Sandra Bullock reigned over everybody, 2010 was a decidedly male year. Downey had some hits but wasn't really a break-out like 2008. Jeff Bridges had a sweet year, after winning a Best Actor Oscar he starred in both Tron: Legacy and True Grit this past December. While Tron's ultimate legacy may leave something to be desired, Bridges' face on all the advertising months and months ahead of time in Disney's attempt to make an "event" film made it seem like the cat was everywhere. But 2010 wasn't really the Year of The Dude.

Liam Neeson continued his rise as an Action Star in The A-Team (to be continued in Unknown this year and Taken II at some point) and may have the Pop Quote in the year with "Release the Kraken!" from Clash of the Titties. How the hell does this guy think he's too old to play Lincoln but young enough for all these action films? Another action star, Sly Stallone had a big hit with The Expendables and he's a force enough to have the year revolve around him, but not really broad enough. Maybe on the other end of the Spectrum we can call 2010 the Year of the Nerdy Hero with Michael Ceratops, Aaron Johnson and Jesse Eisenberg tearing it up in Youth in Revolt / Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Kick-Ass and The Social Network, respectively. Or how about Wahlberg coming out as the funniest cat one of the year's funniest (The Other Guys) and the toughest in one of the year's best (The Fighter)?

Naaah. This was the Year of the Lion. Leo, baby. Shutter Island, which as an incredibly interesting and cool film up until the last ten minutes, made some great bank and starred a tremblingly great Leo. But Inception was his real cash cow, and that's definitely the film of 2010 everyone's going to remember. It was never really in doubt. Leonardo DiCaprio - Actor of 2010.


Before we dip into a classic Top 10, let's talk Trailers. 2010 had some great ones that pumped us all up for some Shitty, Shitty Movies. There were also a slim few for really good movies. Now, not all these flicks came out in 2010, but I was pumped after all five of these. Let's stat with some shit - Iron Man 2. Look at this thing. We've got Larry Sanders, Sam Rockwell, blossoming love with a tolerable Gwyneth Paltrow, fucking War Machine and a Briefcase Iron Man Suit for the Billionaire Superhero on the Go. This one from 2009 was probably better, though they share the same themes, teaser clips and a still baffling partnership with AC / DC.
"I thought you was going to say the sun was in your eyes...that is to say, your EYE."
Johnny Cash and an admirable Bridges make True Grit work, the timing and focus on Hailee Steinfeld really works. It's already full of some of Cogburn's great quotes and set-ups and establishes plot quickly and coolly. Two films coming out next year had some excellent trailers. I'm intrigued by the aforementioned Neeson vehicle Unknown. There is a lot of intrigue here that keeps the attention rather than squanders it. Also I find myself really enjoying Neeson's Pissed Off voice, probably second all-time to Optimus Prime. Finally, Sucker Punch looks rad and fun as hell. It's surely going to be a classic Zack Snyder film, I'm expecting all cutting edge visuals and action with a muffed punt storyline, but hell, who cares, jailbait for everyone. And fuck dude, Levee. Did I mention Cowboys & Aliens?

Of course though, the best trailer of the year comes from The Social Network.

It's been a while since we had a trailer as perfect as this. The song fits perfectly (Radiohead's "Creep" covered by Scala and Kolacny, conductors of a Belgian Girls' Choir). The trailer starts mildly enough with a montage of typical Facebook clips to hook us into our everyday lives then escalates brilliantly into tons of classic quotes ("The site got 2200 hits within two hours?" "22,000," You know what's cool? A BILLION dollars," "Your actions could have permanently destroyed everything I've been working on" "WE have been working on" and of course "MARK!") It's a short story in itself built upon expertly edited clips of a fantastic film. Smooch.

TOP TEN OF 2010:

Okay, finally what you came for. I'm going to run through this quick for all you out there.

#10: Exit Through the Gift Shop - I'm sold on the idea of this film and the artist/director behind it that pushes the boundaries of art and commercialism over the actual film. Which is also great.
#9: Toy Story 3 - Some bloggers on the interwebs have shut this down for being too emotionally manipulative. Hell, it's just good filmmaking, baby.
#8: Cyrus - Understated John C. Reilly who needs to tune his natural comedy chops along with dramatic credentials into more films like this. Ditto without the dramatic credentials to Jonah Hill.
#7: True Grit - Bridges owns and the rest don't come up short at all. Coens direct outside their own box.
#6: Hot Tub Time Machine - Uggh! Did you have pineapple today?!
#5: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - the most refreshing movie of the year, also the most fun I've had at the Theater in a long-ass time.
#4: Black Swan - For the lesbian stuff alone this should get props, but built around it somehow is an excellent film.
#3: MacGruber - Yeah. Well, I thought it was fucking awesome. Best Supporting Actress for Kristen Wiig?
#2: Inception - So much of this film is incredible, it's the closet thing we have to a modern age excellent blockbuster, everything about this is pretty awesome, the ambiguity, the trippy hallway, brooding Leo, it's got everything.
#1: The Social Network - C'mon. It was.


I enjoyed Kick-Ass mostly for the Cage, Villain of the Year Mark Strong and hearing someone much worse use the word "cunt" so liberally, but it's certainly not an enlightening film, much less one that was supposed to break Superhero conventions. In fact by its end it's extremely conventional. My favourite comedy moments are really a toss up between Sean Diddy Combs in  Get Him to the Greek or Mark in The Other Guys. I saw neither coming at all. Actually, along with Kristen, Diddy should get Best Supporting Actor. He's fucking awesome. Well, probably not, but everything out of his mouth in that film could have ran for funniest quote of the year. Seriously though, will Bale win for The Fighter? Who the hell knows, but Mark trained for half a decade for that film. That counts for something, right? And The King's Speech...isn't that really the kind of bullshit movie the Oscars always kind of glance at this year but doesn't do shit because it's kind of bullshit? Yeah.

By the way, anybody see Dogtooth? That's some fucked up shit!

Oh and scores. Um...everyone went techno but Trent beats Daft Punk. Owned.

Cheers to 2011, it's like living the future...today!
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