Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cinematic Shame: Worst of the Year

year in review part 5 of several
COME SEE THE NEW BLOG FOR THE FINAL CELEBRATION OF 2010


I thought it would be tasteless to drop this lump of coal on Christmas so I saved it one day. It's naughty, not nice. But before we get to the unsatisfying trends, performances, and movies of the year, some caveats. I didn't see everything and am not, generally speaking, paid to attend terrible movies. Even when I'm doing freelance gigs, nobody has ever said to me "Nathaniel, we'd love for you to write a 3,000 word essay about Yogi Bear." [Editors of the world take note: I would totally do this for money.]

Most Repetitive Actor or Actress Dear Leonardo DiCaprio, you have now done three movies in a row where you're a tortured soul with an emotionally unstable dead wife. This is an even more specific brick-wall niche then when Jodie Foster kept getting trapped in small places or when Julianne Moore kept losing her children (imaginary or otherwise).

DiCaprio's new franchise!

It's time to shake things up. Throw us anything at all that's different than this. Love, a former fan who is bored of your worryface.

Unbest Actress This one was hard to choose as no one pled for the title. I didn't quite understand what Diane Lane was doing in the gold-hued Secretariat. She alternated between stiff and overemphatic playing which conjured mental images of someone trying to both be an Oscar and mime the actress winning one. While it's true that Christina Aguilera is no natural in Burlesque, she acquits herself better than some pop divas have in the past and the bulk of her role is singing (which you may have heard she does well). So if she's nominated for Razzies soon, that'll be just mean spirited. Therefore the prize must go to Katie Holmes who played a beautiful intellectual who loved nothing but poetry, philosophy and Josh Duhamel in The Romantics. Only the "beautiful" part was played convincingly.

Duhamel & Holmes: just your average poetry-quoting
post-graduate intellectuals.

Unbest Actor
Aaron Johnson was mildly charismatic in Kick-Ass but in Nowhere Boy, the performance just didn't work and not only because he didn't look right for the part. He kept delivering a decent rendition of an arrogant semi-talented teen ... but where was the future John Lennon in that generic teenager? It's not easy to play a legendary charismatic performer. You've got to bring your own blazing showman's charisma along to function as a makeshift doppelganger.

Unbest Supporting Actress Early in the year I thought this might go to Ellen Page who was too listless in Inception as if she hadn't found any notes to add to an underwritten part but watching the film again, she was better than I remembered. Perhaps I expected a Juno or a Whip It level performance every time out? Still, this character was too much like the one she plays in the Cisco commercials. In both "Ellen Page" enters a room, exhibits curious disbelief about some new technological marvel and says something like  "neato. explain that to me again."



But the choice is clear. Frankly I don't know how you do what Melissa Leo did in The Fighter (best!) and also do what Melissa Leo did in Conviction (worst!) in the same calendar year. In the sports drama she plays a real character, in both senses of the word, with dynamic energy and insight. In the legal drama she plays a real character but as a character-free cartoon.  In scene after scene she was practically twirling an invisible mustache as the reprehensible cop who hates on Sam Rockwell. A lack of recognizable human nuance isn't always a problem if you're willing to go big-bigger-biggest, but she didn't. That's a huge problem when you're in a film with  a showboater (Juliette Lewis), a hard worker (Hilary Swank), a warm presence (Minnie Driver) and a natural (Sam Rockwell).

Unbest Supporting Actor Geoffrey Rush was so far over the top in Bran Nue Dae he was practically acting via satellite from an orbiting space station. But then, that's Rush's M.O. and judging on the rest of the insane musical film, they didn't hire him for subtlety.

But in the end, this came down to a death match between two young men who one presumes weren't hired for their thespian skills. Runner up is Reeve Carney in The Tempest. A block of wood could've out-acted him provided someone carved windpipes for it to sing with. But we're willing to give Carney a pass because he was brave enough to follow up the Tempest gig with another scary Julie Taymor project: Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark. The winner is Cam Gigandet who has never, one presumes, been hired specifically for acting skill. It's not that he doesn't have any. It's just that his musculature has often been the chief requirement, whether that's role-mandated or expected window-dressing. Inexplicably he must have been hired for his acting in Easy A and we also presume there was no audition. Or the casting director was stoned. May he never ever do comedy again! This story has a happy ending, though. Cam redeemed himself in Burlesque later in the year giving his most charming performance to date.


The Mysterious Case of the Vanishing Charisma I've already asked "How do you solve a problem like Christina?" so I shan't go there again. But post After.Life, one hopes that Ms. Ricci resurrects herself with her old sparkle.

Pearls Before Swine (Great performance in a lesser movie): Kirsten Dunst is so aching and intuitive in All Good Things that you desperately hope the movie will jettison all its other myriad parts (way too many parts) and focus on what's working: her. She's even doing the heavy lifting opposite Ryan Gosling who is weirdly undynamic this time, even with a role that begs for scenery-chewing dynamism in a "whoa, this dude is fucked up" kind of way.

Pearls Before Swine (Great scene in lesser movie): Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 1 is, as previously stated, less a movie than a bookmark. But the actual 'Deathly Hallows' scene is an inspired use of storytelling within storytelling and the gorgeously stylized animation haunts. Too bad that scene wasn't released as a stand alone short film to tide you over between Half Blood Prince and a compact two hour Deathly Hallows movie.

Are you Terrible or Great?
Edward Norton acts his ass off in Stone. But w-h-a-t is he doing or should he even be doing it at all?

Tasteless (Tone)
[tie] Red & Kick-Ass. Killing people is HI-LAR-IOUS. And it's especially funny & cool when little kids or old people do it.

Hit Girl and hitwoman. "I kill people, dear."

Tasteless (Look)
Practically everything in Alice in Wonderland. It's as if "more" always always always equalled "not enough."

Edited with a Chainsaw
(3-way tie!) The Tempest triumphs in the "we can't find a rhythm other than 'all' rhythms" division. Stone wins in the "confusingly-artful" category. Finally, Kites wins the "too-eager-to-please but wrongheaded" division. "We're going to cutaway from this dance sequence that just started because we think you might get bored. We've heard Americans don't like that. Here's 17 more dewy close-ups. Oh wait, no, that'll bore you too. How about some action and a few dissolves? Dewy close-ups intermingled? A shoot-out? Flashback? Flashforward? What else you want? You like this movie, right?"

Special Prize for Audacious Randomness in an Opening Scene Secretariat opens by quoting the Biblical story of Job, who famously had it real tough. My favorite film review of the year is probably Andrew O'Hehir's review of Secretariat in Salon which is itself audacious and random but also insightful, provocative and hilarious. This is one of my favorite bits casually referencing that opening monologue.
This long-suffering female Job overcomes such tremendous obstacles as having been born white and Southern and possessed of impressive wealth and property, and who then lucks into owning a genetic freak who turned out to be faster and stronger than any racehorse ever foaled. And guess what? She triumphs anyway!
Worst Opening Never Let Me Go and Shutter Island, both spring from twist novels and strangely both clue you in immediately as to the twists that aren't coming for some time. Never... does this with maudlin voiceover and adult closeups "This will be tragic and sad but very handsomely made starring Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield," it whispers and then starts again as extended prologue with unknown child actors. Shutter Island starts with Leonardo, our hero?, already at sea both literally and emotionally. "Look at him. He's a mess," it warns. "And this is going to be extreme," it adds with a close-up on Leo's extremely wet anguish-face with isolating shots of a tiny ship in the vast seas. In both cases, wouldn't it have been better to let the story and emotional content develop organically and allow us to be undone by the gradual reveals of purpose and identity?

Worst Ending
Two good movies that didn't stick their landings: Salt and The Town. The Angelina Jolie actioner was a fun cartoon but it just ran out of steam and closed awkwardly with the unstoppable diva running through a nondescript landscape. One half expected a "next time on..." preview to play alongside the credits. But this isn't a television series and unless you paid Angie a ton of money in a sequel clause, we're not seeing that one. The Town, an often tense drama ends with a weirdly soft/happy conclusion. What's with the borrowing from The Bourne Identity... or am I remembering that film wrong? Plus there's that magic fruit which doesn't rot and the idea that he's atoning for his crimes... by hanging out in luxury with ample money in a far off location? Tough life! It as if we ended an intense workout and the instructor, fearing those heart-rates he egged on, demands a lengthy cool down period.

Hell's Multiplex: The Worst Films of the Year
Or worst that I personally happened to see. It's very likely you saw different "worsts".

Josh, Woody & Naomi meet a long red carpet.

10. YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER
Woody warns you away from his movie straight away by quoting Shakespeare. It's the 'told by an idiot. full of sound and fury, signifying nothing' bit. These new characters do mostly behave like idiots but the sound and fury aren't particularly fulsome. Here is only the ambient noise of second rate Allen dialogue and unshaped less-than-cathartic misanthropy. This is not the first Woody Allen movie to feature an important subplot about an unpublished manuscript but this may be the first Woody Allen movie to feel like an unfinished manuscript come to life; it wobbles around on two paper legs, poorly bound, unedited, a thin approximation of the humanity it observes with its ink eyes.

09. AFTER.LIFE [previous post]

08. LOVE RANCH
You'd think a movie about Helen Mirren running a whorehouse while sexing up a virile younger boxer and bossing Gina Gershon and Bai Ling around while Joe Pesci swears at everyone would have to be entertaining and frisky and shocking and dangerous, exciting to look upon, superbly-acted and alive. You'd be wrong. You'd be so wrong.

07. THE ROMANTICS [review]

06. REPO MEN
Needlessly sadistic, grimy-looking and strangely insufficient if not entirely devoid in the chemistry department despite the good actors milling about. P.S. If you're going to plagiarize another movie, like say Oldboy (2003), try not to be so obvious about it or at least, only sample it. Don't lift an entire scene!

05. THE WOLF MAN [review]

04. PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME
Feels constructed on an assembly line, with no one ever thinking (or daring?) too put a personal stamp on the material, or even a loving idiosyncratic flourish on any scene. Tell us humans had a hand in making this, please. Footsteps vanish in the sand, and this movie blows away, too. Can you recall any detail?

03. STONE
I'd be happy to read a defense of this because, I'll be totally honest, I have no idea what this movie was on about. (I loved John Curran's last picture The Painted Veil so would like to extend the benefit of the doubt.)

02. THE TEMPEST
Having twenty-four visual ideas is not the same thing as a possessing strong visual storytelling skill. Assembling a group of famous actors is not the same thing as directing them. Attention grabbing gender-blind casting is not the same thing as saying something about character or gender. And so on.

run away... run away...  from The Tempest

01. TIM BURTON'S ALICE IN WONDERLAND
I've literally seen all of Tim Burton's work (there's not a ton of prolific auteurs who I can say that about unfortunately). I've seen the shorts, the films, the gallery showings. I've taken to obnoxiously referring to this movie as Eyesore in Wonderland but I could safely call this Tim Burton's Nadir because I've seen it all. That isn't as catchy a title and it's also hella depressing. I'd rather watch Planet of the Apes on loop than ever go near this one again. [Long-winded hatred for this movie here.]

Which movies made you desperate for the closing credits this year? And which moments in good movies were surprisingly bad?

YEAR END "BESTS"

60 comments:

Liz said...

"Prince of Persia" is the orangest movie I have ever seen. There had to have been some kind of ureported worldwide spray-tan shortage during the filming of that piece of junk.

Ignoring the low-hanging fruit like "Jonah Hex," I'd like to offer up "Tamara Drewe" and "Micmacs." Two movies that I was clearly supposed to find charming, but both of which were so irritating and twee that they actually made me angry.

Ryan T. said...

I, unfortunately, saw these films which were way worse than all of the films in your list. Way, way, WAY worse: MacGruber, Clash of the Titans, When In Rome, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.

Your "worst" list and "winners" were great though. Though for some reason, I actually quite liked Love Ranch for some reason and despite the heinous reviews I'm actually excited about seeing The Tempest. Does Helen Mirren have something over me? Don't know.

Criticlasm said...

I've heard that about the Tempest and that makes me sad. The trailer is odd, and I work with people who make them and they found it inscrutable not knowing the play. I found it the same knowing the play. Sad.

I agree with Alice. I really hated it, and even more so that he had to take a fantastic, interesting story and made it something mundane and obvious. I wrote about it here, I think only outdone by my dislike of Nine.

That said, that Woody Allen film would've been number one for me. It's in my pantheon of badness. A pantheon made up just now so that particular film can have a home.

NATHANIEL R said...

criticlasm -- sort of like the famous woody penned "hall of the overrated" discussed in Manhattan: Vince Van GoCK [sic]

Liz -lol. so true. Movies are so in love with their colored gels and computer corrections these days.

Ryan -- yeah, like I said. if i was given assignments weekly it'd be worse.

fbh said...

I made the mistake of going to see Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief. That is most definitely the worst movie I've seen this year. Just goes to say how much I LOVE Catherine Keener.

I couldn't even finish Alice in Wonderland. I would have watched it all had I been in the theater (like I was with Percy), but when I'm in my own home, I have better things to do.

Erikdean said...

Nate, great observations, as usual. Alice in Blunderland is indeed a travesty of epic proportions. My worst of the year (shh, it's a secret, but not really) was Innaritu's Biutiful. I've never felt so filthy leaving a theater that wasn't showing porn.

Yong said...

Very cool overview of the year. thanks for an enjoyable read.

badmofo said...

Someone needs to greenlight The Dead Wives Club NOW.

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Anonymous said...

The biggest WTF moment of the year:
Tangled is the second most expensive movie in the world unadjusted for inflation...I was like wha?

Evan said...

Love your comments on "Kites."

I completely agree with your assessment of DiCaprio's recent films. He's becoming extremely boring as an actor. It's not that he is untalented, he's just too... business. I want to see some of that Jack Dawson charisma again-- anything that won't make me question if he is as dry and distant as his recent characters.

My most irksome movie of the year: "Waiting for Superman." It's not all bad, but it lacks any sound argument whatsoever and its critical success drives me batty.

Andy Buckle said...

Not a mention of Clash of the Titans...certainly my worst of the year! But Alice was dreadful also.

Sara said...

I completely agree about your assessment of Harry Potter. I think the Deathly Hallows small section was the best part of the film and such a smart way to do it.

Anonymous said...

Despicable Me

Despicable Movie

If it weren't an Animated Film, it could be easily placed beside Red in the category: it's fun to kill, it's fun to punch people around, it's fun to be ridiculous.

Hated it.

Marcelo - Brazil.

Peggy Sue said...

I know I'm all alone here but Inception bored me to death...

/3rtfu11 said...

I hate Shutter Island aside from Leo’s performance, Ruffalo in a wife beater, and Michelle Williams’ thankless work.

I will defend Ellen Page because I really do hate Christopher Nolan these days.

Inception has the worst copout ending of any movie this year.

Worst Performance in a Tyler Perry movie this year goes to Michael Early – For Colored Girls.

On a personal note I’ve been bad for hating on Meryl Streep and now I’m unsure what spurred it? I blame Nathaniel since I can only assume he just added to the meme she’s so great.

OtherRobert said...

I don't even need to ask if you saw Jessica Szorh or Steven R. McQueen in Piranha 3D, do I? I know the answer. I also know that if you sat through it, you would suddenly think Melissa Leo in Conviction was as strong as Melissa Leo in The Fighter by comparison. I know the film spun around their marketing campaign from when I saw a test screening, but I also know that they didn't reshoot all the awful acting scenes involving the two young lovers of the film. You can't have exquisitely executed high camp from Elisabeth Shue and Jerry O'Connel in the same film as SyFy-styled "but we're being serious now" dramatic acting from the young stars. You just can't.

pomme said...

on my opinion,the worst movies of the year are "clash of the titans"(acting,directing,script,score,FX...a bad garbage and even not fun),Lovely Bones,Piranah 3D(again a french director), and i really dislike the pompous movie Shutter Island
I don't care on Alice because it'ws more a BIG disappointment

OT: i hate Inception's score(pompous,pompous and pompous)

Ryan said...

awesome, hilarious, smart piece! and omg, the 'leo's dead wives club' poster is a riot!

although Nathaniel, you really should see LOVE & OTHER DRUGS (yes, it's a mediocre film a best) but Anne, Jake and the Gyllen-buns make it more than tolerable. i mean, the Film Bitch Awards' extra categories (Sex Pot! Sex Scene! Kiss!) won't be complete without at least screening this fun, albite disappointing comedy ;)

stella said...

Nolan, too, needs to back out of the "dead wives/girlfriends club" (Memento, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, Inception). Is this the only source you can turn to for semi-substantial female roles or tortured emotions? Pleazzz

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Didn't realise you were so unimpressed with Johnson in Nowhere Boy. Perhaps, my general lack of interest in Lennon has something to do with it, but I found him to be quite charismatic...

Red was abysmal, the more I think of it the less I like it...but Helen was a beacon.

Daniel Armour said...

In no particular order:

Skyline: Cheap in every sense of the word.

Clash of the Titans: This is blockbuster filmmaking at its most soulless. Everything about this film feels like it was made by committee instead of a filmmaker.

Alice In Wonderland: Overdone and boring in every way possible!

The Last Airbender: I didn't hate it the first time I saw it but a second viewing showed me the error of my ways. There's no really plot to speak of, most of the "story" is told instead shown and the acting is barely visible. It's as if M. Night forgot how to make a movie.

Leo said...

Nathaniel, did you not catch up with SJP in Sex & the City 2? This should have been a tie-in with Prince of Persia.

Arkaan said...

I haven't seen enough films this year to have a "worst" list, but I'm glad you mentioned the ending to THE TOWN. It doesn't so much drop the ball as cannonball it deep into the Mariana Trench.

Benji said...

How about "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse"? Though it doesn't really deserve to be hated. It rather deserves indifference.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

I copied the list of AMPAS' 248 Best Picture contenders. I bolded the titles I'd seen last week. Only now did I realize that I'd completely forgotten Jonah Hex. My eyes just skipped right over it. And then when I think back on it, I'd tie it with The Tourist as "Most Unmemorable". Really, the only thing I remember is Michael Shannon's "cameo", an appearance that lasts as long as a cutaway to an extra.

But Alice in Wonderland? Can I get surgery to remove the part of my brain that refuses to forget every-single-detail? That movie is what the anti-abortion activists are campaigning against. Ugh.

pomme said...

@daniel armour has right on Skyline except i laughed much(it's so cheap)

Dorian said...

The Dead Wives Club! That's awesome. I never would have thought of that, but it's so true! Leo's going to switch things up for his upcoming slate though. "Hoover" sounds like nothing he's ever done before, for starters. But I'd so nominate him this year for "Shutter Island" though.

NATHANIEL R said...

@fbh -- i almost went to percy jackson (on account of UMA with snakes in her hair) but it slipped me by.

@erikdean -- my screener of biutiful is broken but people are still talking about Bardem's performance. i should see it.

@/3rtfull -- i'm not a fan of shutter island either but not enough for it to be a "worst of the year"

Leo -- i did see SEX & THE CITY 2 but like Shutter Island, didn't hate it enough to include it here. (but no it wasn't good.)

@Benji -- i didn't see it.

Ruth said...

ahaha, I saw Wolf Man and I was jumping quite a bit in the cinema (I don't handle sudden gore too well) but it was the most predictable, waste of Anthony Hopkins talent, I'd ever seen.
Due Date was disappointingly un-funny. But I will say I did like Alice in Wonderland. Not the most outstanding Tim Burton (my favourites are Edward Scissorhands and Sleepy Hollow) but I didn't find it horrible. :S Ahh well....

Kevin said...

You are completely on-point about Ellen Page's performances in the Cisco commercials and Inception. I laughed for a good five minutes about it, too haha

Missy said...

When In Rome ftw! It was atrocious.

Glenn Dunks said...

The worst for me were quite obviously:

The Wolfman - which was just atrocious in every aspect - what were they thinking?
Harry Brown - offensive and mean-spirited, tactless and disgusting
Gulliver's Travels - by far the strangest movie to come out of Hollywood since Mamma Mia!, one needs to be a stoned 7-year-old to get it
Love and Other Drugs - Sickening and rotten to the very core.
Savages Crossing - Perhaps the worst made film in Australian history. Inept.
The Human Centipede - The director mistakes shocks for scares and mistakes his shocks are, well, shocking. Boring.
Robin Hood - Oh my GAWD. I was guffawing by the end.
Hot Tub Time Machine - I did not laugh once. I have witnesses.
A Nightmare on Elm Street - The series' nadir. Which says a lot from someone who has seen Freddy's Dead!
Dinner for Shmucks - Painful.
South Solitary - The blandest film of the year. It's frightened of its own beige shadow!

The only film in your bottom 10 that I saw was The Wolfman. We both avoided some bullets.

Vince in WeHo said...

Get Thee to the Greek, Flipped, Green Zone, Kick-Ass, Alice in Wonderland, Don McKay ...

I liked Leo in Conviction.

Ruth said...

@Glenn - I've not heard of Savages Crossing...one to avoid then haha. At least Animal Kingdom was excellent, we do seem to have a history of hits and very bad misses here...

Bryan said...

I agree with Badmofo; can someone cram Williams, Winslet, and Cotillard into the same movie? Like, please?

And Nathaniel: I LOVE your "pearls before swine" categories! I've always been fascinating by discussions of great acting in bad movies, and vice versa. It's a really neglected topic on film/awards sites, I think.

Evan said...

I didn't see 'Conviction,' but I find it odd that you thought Melissa Leo was cartoony there but not in 'The Fighter.' In the latter, I thought she was a caricature of a Bostonian woman who both made me question the veracity of the true story (how did Micky come from *that*?) and wonder why Micky would ever think she was acting in his best interests.

G.G. Pan said...

Well, for "Vanishing Charisma", I did wonder what the fuck Laurence Fishburne was doing in Predators as the crazed-survivalist-on-alien-planet.

As for a "lifting" performance in a bad movie, Aasif Mandvi nearly convinced me that The Last Airbender was an extended skit on The Daily Show. Great or Terrible(?)?

Anonymous said...

All the movies you mentioned in your top ten are key. I'd also nominate Sex and the City 2, The Human Centipede, Black Swan, I'm Still Here and Eat Pray Love as some of the worst films of the year.

Glenn said...

Ruth, as generally bad it is in every regard it's still not the worst Aussie movie I've ever seen (that'd be Footy Legends), but it looks like it cost $5.40 because everyone got drunk and forgot they were actually making a movie that would be seen by people (as few people as it turned out to be, people nonetheless)

cal roth said...

The opening of Shutter Island is really really good. This movie is not expected to be subtle. Scorsese gives us the score and those "he is a mess" close-ups as a cinematic reference. You know Mitchum is trouble in Cape Fear from the first scene. You don't have to be subtle when you're trying to propose the audience a rollercoaster inside a tormented mind. The movie is really brilliant in its narrative borrowed directly from Samuel Fuller extreme classics. It's a real pleasure, a pool of cinematic candy from those who love cinema.

cal roth said...

Everybody hates Alice, but Atwood's costumes are really good.

Cotillard and Winslet will be together in Contagion.

Dimitra said...

Frankly, I've seen almost nothing this year, thanks to my local cinema.

But, OH GOD, the Last Airbender may as well be one of the worst films I've watched in my ENTIRE LIFE.

NATHANIEL R said...

Dimitra -- buzz on THE LAST AIRBENDER was so bad that i avoided. but i'm actually kinda curious. as in 'how could it have been as bad as they say? how could anything be that bad?' if I would have received a screener, I totally would have watched it.

Sam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adam M. said...

How how HOW could you not include 'Sex and the City 2' on your year's worst list??

Also, love this (re: 3,000 words on 'Yogi Bear'):

"Editors of the world take note: I would totally do this for money."

And I would totally read it!

vg21 said...

Very impressive and so spot-on post, I wonder how much work it could be. And it's just getting better...starting with calling RED tasteless, then the killing "You would be wrong. You would be so wrong" about Love Ranch (which I still haven't seen) and finally, the merciless Avada Kedavra for The Tempest. But you are right, I'm just amazed how inforgivingly critical you can be while still objective and as unbiased as possible. I read other "worst of 2010" lists full of self-indulgent negative criticism, so chapeau for that :).

By the way, I loved the animated "story within the story" in HP 7/1, it was very refreshing in such a slow-paced film.

Also, your "Dead Wives Club" poster is phenomenal! XD

vg21 said...

*unforgivingly critical

Janice said...

Nathaniel I haven't seen any of these films but your witty write-ups are almost enough to make me want to. Almost.

Daniel Armour said...

While I do think Deathly Hallows could have been one film, I actually enjoyed Part I enough to see it three times in theaters. It's definitely slow-paced and the lack of an endgame/clear main goal to have it feel like a complete film is frustrating (I mean LOTR was essential one long film but each part felt like a specific journey in and of itself. Why couldn't the same be done with this, I have no idea).

However, it was a nice change of pace from the usually "something's up at Hogwarts" structure, there was a strong sense of urgency in the story (which was lacking from Half-Blood Prince) and the acting all around was pretty good. Does that mean the film deserves a free ride from criticism? No - it has quite a few problems beyond just being half a story - but I think those things should be taken into account when viewing the film.

There's no denying that there's a Matrix sequels vibe going on here - one sequel stretched over two films - but unlike either of those films, there's some genuine merit in splitting up the narrative as it allows for greater character development. Something I feel Deathly Hallows Part I did admirably.

sheila kind said...

cal roth is absolutely straight on about Shutter Island. It isn't meant to be subtle and Scorsese has absolutely no interest in being coy about how badly it's going to go. It's about a man who's mad as a hatter, after all. Everything is perfectly clear in a second viewing, if not the first, and a lot of subtle and not so subtle clues are apparent throughout the enterprise, even amusingly so at times. If you can't appreciate that, then you don't know your film noir too well, do you? Actually loved the Leo Dead Wives Club, though, and well appreciated all 3 films. You still have to hand it to any actor who gets to work with Winslet, Williams and Cotillard in a row, similar themes or not. Lucky bastard.

NATHANIEL R said...

sheila -- i'm not an expert in noir, no. But I'd read the Shutter Island novel and i was just bored. It wasn't cinematically imaginative enough to keep me invested when it telegraphed all the twists I already knew about so blatantly.

but many of these things are subjective. I tend to not respond well to films that have "climax" scenes over and over again instead of waiting for the climax. :)

cal roth said...

Only a tip for those who love Shutter island, and those who don't, too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-m2RY7ln-wI

GaryS. said...

I guess I'm one of the few that thought that Diane Lane was great in "Secretariat." Maybe against this stacked line-up it's not nomination-worthy enough, but considering what's won these past few years, the "in another year" argument is a strong plus in Lane's corner. She could have been the populist choice had the film done better numbers (like "Seabiscuit" or "The Blind Side" $$$).

Ben said...

My worst film of the year has to be the Nightmare On Elm Street remake. It was one of the few franchises that was ripe for a reboot, but it weirdly jettisoned some of the original's most iconic scenes (Johnny Depp's death for instance), instead opting for ochre-tinged dread and a completely pointless twist that turned out not to be a twist at all. Plus, it completely wasted Connie Britton, which should be a crime in anyone's book!

NATHANIEL R said...

GaryS -- i usually like Lane for what it's worth.

Anonymous said...

Nathaniel, I am not suprised on that you were bored to tears with Shutter Island. Infact, I have noticed over the years you haven't been a fan of any of Dicaprio films. Always giving some sort of negativity when your needs arise.
signed Shirley

adri said...

I haven't seen most of these worst movies. (it's more amusing reading people comment on them).

The movie where I thought the credits would never come was The Social Network. I felt that the writer was some incredibly entitled twerp who was used to people who had to listen to him. I agree with the reviewer who called it a movie made by old media about new media. If it had been a movie made by new media about new media, it would have been more like Scott Pilgrim, lighter, quicker, sprightlier, funnier. I like the movie well enough, but that last half hour was just interminable.

Anonymous said...

You have bad taste.

Anonymous said...

For me , the worst film of the year was CHLOE, not that I don't enjoy Atom Egoyan's work , but this one was just so slow-moving and frustrating to watch.