I've been slacking on the old blog of late (wish I could say it was because I've been overachieving in the real world but, sadly, that's not true) and this post isn't what I would have hoped it would be but when I think about it more, I'm not sure why I would spend more time improving the post about one of the worst years in film that I can remember. Just a terrible year with very few quality films and not even that many strong performances. So without further to do or ado, here are the 2011 SoulHonky Movie Awards.
Movie I liked More than Others: Margin Call
This year didn't have a bad movie that charmed the pants off of me like "Morning Glory" did last year. The closest I could really come up with was Captain America or Thor but a lot of people enjoyed both of those movies and they weren't necessarily "bad" as much as they were just pedestrian. However, I wil readily admit that Margin Call might not be for everyone but I still think it's a movie everyone should see. I think more people need to see how these corporations really work and how it's often about people saving the corporation, even to their own personal detriment.
Best Monologue: Paul Bettany - Margin Call
A lot of people were most impressed by Stanley Tucci's monologue but I felt like that was more impressive as a piece of memorization of Tucci's part than anything else (if you haven't seen it, there were a lot of numbers involved.) Also, to me it felt like more of a set up for Paul Bettany's one liner in which he kind of crushes Tucci's whole perspective. Instead, I thought the Bettany's cynical monologue (which I can't find on youtube or in the original script) about how people love to look the other way when things are good but are quick to point the finger when things fall apart was stellar. It reminded me a bit of the 25th Hour (another movie that I think it underrated).
The Movie I Disliked More Than I Should Have: Moneyball
First off, the Best Adaptation award should go to this because the book was pretty unfilmable and it was turned into a movie that even non-sports fans love. That being said, I'm not a fan of sabremetrics (although my dislike of them has more to do with John Hollinger and his ilk trying to make it work in basketball, as opposed to using it in baseball where I think it actually can work) and I hated how the movie was basically a propaganda piece for Beane and his mathletes. Art Howe's portrayal seemed unfair, the film overlooked the talent that the A's had (including one of the best pitching staffs in the Majors), and never even let Beane give even a nod to the scouts when they were right about Jeremy Giambi's attitude being a major problem.
But the thing that really annoyed me was what actually happened in the end - the A's lost to a team that had an equally low payroll in the Minnesota Twins (a team that focused on fundamentals that Beane dismissed.) For me, stat based analysis can be important but the problem, and something that Beane suffered from greatly, was the blind allegiance to them. To succeed, you need to look at the numbers but also pay attention to personalities and fundamentals. But why let details get in the way of a good story? For me, the details irked me through the film but Bennett Miller, Aaron Sorkin, and Steve Zaillian realized that people like me would be in the minority and the movie they made was better off for ignoring my issues.
The Movie I Argue Against More than I Mean To: Ides of March
Ides of March getting a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination is yet another example of why screenplay awards, as they are run right now, are stupid. To compare Moneyball (based on a non-filmic book) and Ides of March (based on an award winning play) is ridiculous but what makes the comparison even more one sided is that what George Clooney and Grant Heslov added to the play was little more than a showy role for Clooney and a melodramatic third act. And along the way, they lost the focus of the play and the lead character (played in the film by Ryan Gosling but originally knocked out of the park in the play by Chris Pine), who was kind of all over the place in the movie. Still, the movie was entertaining enough but the critical response is frustrating to me and it's also somewhat annoying when Clooney blasts studios for not having enough faith in the audience but then he went and did exactly what studios do and added melodrama where it wasn't needed. Ides of March is a decent, forgettable movie and there's nothing wrong with that; I guess I just get annoyed by critics trying to make it seem more than that.
Best Worst Chase Scene: The Mechanic
The Mechanic chase scene takes the movement of Chaos Cinema
to new levels. Not only do you not really know what the hell is going on in the chase but there's no way that the chaos is physically possible. There's one point in particular in which Jason Statham would have to be Nightcrawler and have the ability to teleport to cover the ground that he did. And I don't mean the usual chase scene nonsense of a bad guy getting a five minute headstart which the good guy makes up in the matter of two seconds, I mean that he's in a truck at one point (and he just crashed the truck full speed into something, if I recall correctly) and then two cutaways later, he's sprinting in a different area altogether. The movie was a mess but this scene was so joyfully bad that it almost made it worthwhile. (Although I do have to say that the scene was made infinitely better by the fact that my friend who I saw it with broke into uncontrollable laughter for a good five minutes when the aforementioned truck crash happened. There's something about watching a bad chase scene next to someone who is struggling to breathe because they are laughing so hard. I didn't think the chase was THAT crazy but his laughter was contagious.)
WTF?! Moment of the Year: The Lincoln Lawyer
So basically, we learn the Matthew Mccoughwhatever had a client (Michael Pena) who he told to take a plea even though the guy said he was innocent. Later in the movie, Matty Mc goes to see Pena with a picture that resembled the suspect that Pena always said did the killing. Pena's response should be one of thanks or, at least, relief that maybe the real killer will be brought to justice. NOPE! Pena instead flips out and runs off and demands to be brought back to his cell. It is honestly one of the most unrealistic reactions I've ever seen.
Worst Ending: (Tie) Scream 4 and The Adjustment Bureau
I'll try to keep this spoiler free. The Adjustment Bureau's ending was a let down because it was one of those films that was OK but that you knew needed to knock it out of the park in the end but when the final moment happens, everyone in the theater was either chuckling or saying out loud, "What the..." The film paints itself literally and figuratively into a corner and relies on one of the oldest tricks in the book to wrap things up. And it makes you wonder why the hell you just wasted your time (although Emily Blunt is pretty lovable in the movie.)
Then there's Scream 4. The fourth installment of the once seminal series is a terrible movie (save for Allison Brie's performance and Hayden Panettiere reminding me why she was once seen as a future star) but the ending seemed like it might have saved the film and found a new and very interesting (albeit challenging) way to reinvent the series and turn the horror world on it's head once again. But instead, there's an added 10 minutes or so that undo the initial ending and turn the film into being exactly the kind of movie that the original Scream sent up. Which is, ultimately, why the film and the ending were such a let down. The move simply became another forgettable slasher film.
The Movie People Will Discover/Time Will Forgot: Take Shelter
Largely ignored by awards and, to be fair, not an amazing movie, "Take Shelter" is the kind of film that I think people will discover if it gets enough run on the movie channels. It's not good enough to take on a second life ala Shawshank Redemption (an all-time classic that almost nobody saw in the theaters) but it has some great performances and is a very interesting movie. Sadly, as I walked into the theater, I overheard two assholes talking about the ending so it was kind of ruined for me but I still highly recommend people check it out. (Oh, and the film earns points for casting Ray McKinnon as Michael Shannon's brother. I'd love to watch a cop drama with those two in the leads.
Nostalgia Points: The Muppets
Armond White got a lot of shit for ruining the Muppets' 100% at Rotten Tomatoes but I can't really be that upset about it. While it was a good movie, it wasn't great. It was a fitting Muppet movie for the times since it was incredibly meta but I felt like that took away some of the charm of the Muppets. I liked the film but I would have been hard pressed to not like something with the old gang coming back together. In the end, while I liked the movie, I have to say that I really hope that Segal and Company don't return for the sequel and they put the franchise in someone else's hands.
The Breakout Star Nobody Knows: Jessica Chastain
: Chastain is a great example of how Hollywood hypes up someone amongst themselves and ignores the fact that not many people outside of Lalaland recnognize her name. Chastain was all over the place in 2011, appearing in Take Shelter, Tree of Life, The Help, The Debt, Coriolanus, and a few other films. And I will confess to crushing on her a bit but when I mention her name, people don't seem to know who I'm talking about. And that's when I mention her to people who are so-so film fans in LA. Outside of Cali, I get a straight up "Who?" I do think Chastain has a bright bright future ahead of her but I hope that Hollywood doesn't rush her into half-baked leading roles in order to take advantage of a buzz that isn't heard outside of the land of In and Out.
The Save Your Money Award: January Jones
I don't watch Mad Men so maybe Jones shows something more than an icy exterior and absent inner being but I just can't see her getting too many more shots at big supporting roles after this year. Jones is lovely, no doubt, but that's literally all she brings to the table and if you walk around Los Angeles for a week, you can stumble upon a gaggle of good looking ladies who could probably give a vacant stare ala Jones. Nevermind that youngsters like Shailene Woodley and Mia Wasikowska and others are ready to step up and I think Jones might want to curb the spending and save her paychecks while she's still getting them
Audience Participation Award - Fast Five
Yes, people talking in movies is annoying but I have to say that the group of high schoolers who were simply amazed at Fast Five made the filmgoing experience all the better. In the first scene alone, I kept hearing a chorus of "damn. Damn. DAMN!" (heightening in both volume and pitch) until the climax which was met with the quiet disbelief of "Oh, hell no. They couldn't survive that." It was amazing and I'm not sure I would have liked the movie as much if not for the running commentary.
That being said, the "Shut the Fuck Up!" award goes to the women talking behind me and my friends during "Young Adult" These two women yapped away for the whole movie, mostly non-film related small talk and chit chat, and when they were finally SHUSHED! by my friend, they got all uppity and "Oh yeah, you better not turn around!" But to top off that nonsense, near the end of the film someone's cell-phone went off and these women had the gall to say, "Oh hell no. I HATE when people don't turn there phone off in a movie." The hypocrisy was hilarious. Thankfully, Young Adult wasn't good so I didn't miss much but those two women definitely made me miss the Arclight and its quieter, more respectful crowds.
Best Argument for CGI: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Enough has been said about Andy Serkis but I think the real takeaway from the film was that the CGI stuff was better than anything with the humans. The relationships of the apes were better than anything James Franco brought to the table.
Laziest Movie: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
I didn't like the second and third movies at all but this film succeeded in making me at least respect those films a bit more because at least they tried to do something. True, they bit off more than they could chew IMO but it is better than the fourth film just going through the motions and bringing next to nothing new to the proceedings. Still, the movie does gangbusters overseas and it made a billion dollars so we'll see another one but this last one was so dismal that it dashed what little hope or good will I had for this franchise to match the classic original film. I won't even bother with the next installment.
Best Gag in a Bad Movie: "That's What She Said" in 30 Minutes or Less
I know my friend Nick would say the sneeze/shit in Hall Pass should get this but I'm going with "That's What She Said" in 30 Minutes or Less. I'm not sure if you can say the movie is worth watching for it but it's a funny thread that they run throughout the film, culminating with an emotional end. Although the emotion you'll probably be feeling at the end is relief that the movie's finally over. It might tie Laziest Film with Pirate of the Caribbean on Stranger Tides and it was a definitely let down as it was the director's follow up to "Zombieland".
Most Forgettable Movie: Transformers 3
To be fair, it is a third movie so there's the whole issue of confusing it with stuff that happened in the first two but I honestly can't really remember anything from the movie. Oh wait, I remember the trailer and how the moon mission was actually Transformers related but beyond that, yeah, nothing.