Awards! (2014)

For nominations and explanations/defenses go here.

 

The Tommy Lee Jones Screentime Award (For amassing the most screentime of the year):

– John Cusack (Adult World; Grand Piano; The Bag Man, Reclaim, Drive Hard; Cell)

 

The Kevin Spacey Must Have the Best Agent Award (For appearing in the most top ten movies of the year):

– Chris Pratt (The LEGO Movie and Guardians Of The Galaxy)

 

The Marlon Wayans Award (for appearing in two or more of the worst movies of the same year.]:

– Ray Liotta (The Identical and Sin City: A Dame To Kill For)

 

The Freddie Prinze, Jr. Award (For the best acting in the worst movie of the year – male):

– Alexander Skarsgård (The Giver)

 

The Dina Meyer Award (For the best acting in the worst movie of the year – female):

– Olivia Wilde (Third Person)

 

The Anna Paquin Best Child Actor Award:

– Noah Wiseman (The Babadook)

 

The Nicolas Cage Uneven Performance Award (For the biggest gap in quality between two different performances in the same year):

– Clint Eastwood (American Sniper & Jersey Boys)

 

The Peter Sellers Multiple Role Award:

– Zoe Kazan (The Pretty One)

 

The Sean Connery Best Cameo Award:

– Allison Pill (Snowpiercer)

 

The Casey Affleck Worst Cameo Award:

– Howard The Duck (Guardians Of The Galaxy)

 

The Alfred Hitchcock In Front of the Camera Award (For the least intrusive appearance by a movie’s own director(s)):

– Ben Falcone (Tammy)

 

The Quentin Tarantino In Front of the Camera Award [For most intrusive – not to mention annoying – appearance by a movie’s own director(s)]:

– Shane Dawson (Not Cool)

 

The Drew Barrymore All Grown Up Award:

– Haley Joel Osment (Tusk)

 

The Martin Scorsese Best Use of a Song Award:

– “Everything Is Awesome” by Tegan & Sara (featuring The Lonely Island) (The LEGO Movie)

 

The Andy Garcia Best Shot Award:

– Michael C. Hall (Cold In July)

 

The John Woo Best Shootout Award:

– David Leitch/Chad Stahelski (John Wick)

 

The William Friedkin Best Car Chase Award:

– Jonathan Liebesman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

 

The They Live Best Non-Martial Arts Fight Award:

– Ceasar vs. Koba round 2 (Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes)

 

The Die Hard 2 Icicle Award (for best use of an otherwise benevolent object as a weapon):

– power strip (Broken)

 

The Cast of Nazis from Raiders of the Lost Ark Award (For worst performance of (an) actor(s) in scenes with special effects):

– Louis Cancelmi (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)

 

The Talking Pig Award (For the two movies most alike released in the same year):

The Legend Of Hercules and Hercules

 

The Mulholland Falls Award (For movie that failed most miserably at being as shocking as it hoped to be):

Filth

 

The Mulholland Falls Syndrome Award (For the biggest disappointment from the most promising ensemble cast):

Transcendence

 

The Cecil B. DeMille Award (For best portrayal of oneself):

– Kent Shocknek (Nightcrawler)

 

The Godfather Best Sequel Award:

X-Men: Days Of Future Past

 

The Jaws Worst Sequel Award:

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

 

The The Man Who Knew Too Much Best Remake Award:

Robocop

 

The Breathless Worst Remake Award:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

 

The Kevin Costner Worst Accent Award:

– Eric Bana (Deliver Us From Evil)

 

The Meryl Streep Award for Best Accent (Female):

– Rose Byrne (This Is Where I Leave You & Annie)

 

The Jon Voight Award for Best Accent (Male):

– Ben Kingsley (The BoxTrolls)

 

The Jon Voight Best Impression Award:

– Stephen Stanton of Roger Ebert (Life Itself)

 

The Still Unnamed Worst Impression Award:

– Mark Camacho of President Richard M. Nixon (X-Men: Days Of Future Past)

 

The Gary Oldman Chameleon Award (for the most unrecognizable performance by an otherwise recognizable personality):

– Connie Neilsen (Nymph()maniac Vol. I)

 

The Hamlet Best Production Within A Production Award:

– Horror House segment (Nightcrawler)

 

The “I’m Not The Bad Guy” Award (for the line so bad, it just had to be repeated):

– “I have felt things.” (The Giver)

 

The This Is 40 Award (for supporting cast member(s) most deserving of a sort-of sequel):

– Tanner Bolt (Gone Girl)

 

The Rosemary’s Baby Creepiest Moment Award:

– spider (Enemy)

 

The Citizen Kane Unseen Ending Award:

Enemy

 

The Passenger 57 Award (for the plot most thoroughly ruined by its trailer):

Into The Storm

 

The Nightwatch Award (for the most heavily promoted movie never to grace us with its presence in a theater):

One Chance

 

 

The Ten Best Movies – 2014

This list might as well be copied from the list of top ten box office performers. Maybe it should be embarrassing. But I see Goodbye To Language and Boyhood heading most serious critics’ lists and can’t help but feeling as though they don’t like movies. It’s one thing to rail against what is popular (or meant to be) when it is drowning in its own mistakes. But when that ship gets right and you keep doing the same thing, you are the one who looks dumb. Or crazy. Or both. This list has 3 sequels and something based on three dimensional puzzle pieces. It’s the riskier proposition choosing these over a movie that has no intention of making any sense or another with the emotional resonance of looking at a yearbook. This sort of typically celebrated cinematic achievement cannot compete when mainstream Hollywood is going right. And in 2014, it went righter than it has in a very long time.

 

 

1) The LEGO Movie – The bar for 2014 was set so high so early it could never recover. It tried and tried and really turned out to be a pretty amazing year for movies, but there was barely any hope that it would ever get better than it was the first week of February.

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And really, it didn’t have to. The LEGO Movie is everything a movie can be. It is for absolutely everyone and anyone. It is relentless in its action and its humor and is visually stunning to go along with it. It has simple lessons for younger viewers and more complicated ones for whoever wants that. It has a turn that ratchets every aspect that had been working perfectly up to a level for which you might not be prepared.Worlds_ocean1

 

It appeals to the people who want to say “that was fun” afterwards as well as to the people who want to say, “that was smart” as well as the rest of us who hate when that’s what anyone says after a movie. The LEGO Movie does not leave anyone out.

 

 

2) X-Men: Days Of Future Past – It is both imperative and unfair to bring up all that came before this in the cinematic world of the X-Men. It can’t exist without that history, of course, and it has the benefit of choosing the best of all of them. But everything that might help along the way could serve just as easily as a detriment.

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Trying to merge a successful but largely free standing prequel with a bunch of movies that mostly necessitated that very free standingness is not a promising scenario. And so to emerge from that morass with something better than the average of everything that came before seems unlikely at best. Overcoming all of that is worth mentioning, worth praising, before you get to anything else.

 

But X-Men: Days Of Future Past does not need that comparison to be one of the best movies of the year. It is ultimately it’s own movie. One that can weave together a giant cast and give them all just the right things to do. One that can make everyone matter while never inflating anyone’s importance. Once that can exist within both the history of its own universe and of ours. One that can take breaks from glorious action for just as glorious character moments.

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And perhaps best of all, though ultimately superfluous, X-Men: Days Of Future Past wipes the muddled slate clean for all future endeavors. Which seem all the brighter after this. It’s not overstating things to call this a miracle. And yet it’s already become expectation rather than aberration.

 

 

3) Guardians Of The Galaxy – You heard it here first.

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You loved this movie and for good reason. The best reasons. But then also a dancing tree.

 

 

 

 

4) Whiplash – I’m obviously having trouble writing about anything that was good this year and I think it might be Whiplash’s fault. It tells us all what most of us cannot bear to hear, that we’re not good enough and worse, maybe we could have been but we didn’t want to bleed or get anything thrown at us to get there.

 

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5) Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Chris Hemsworth came from nowhere to forge a dull Norse god into a luminous presence in a landscape quickly filled with them. It isn’t quite as shocking for Chris Evans to have turned this otherwise bland character into one on equal footing with all the other giant Marvel personalities. But while Thor movies have never matched Chris Hemsworth’s enthusiasm, with Winter Soldier, Captain America, the franchise, has proven it can more than handle the cornerstone it’s been called upon to be.new-captain-america-trailer-shows-off-winter-soldier-villain

 

 

6) Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance – Even while the central tenant of Birdman was proven wrong at every other turn this year, it somehow stpostfull-watch-edward-norton-discuss-shooting-birdman-on-letterman-ed_michaelill manages to seem more righteous rather than pretentious. It is just another source of accolade that I want to hate this movie and find myself completely powerless to do so. It is made too well. Which is a vague and empty notion that cannot be put any other way.

 

 

 

7) Frank – In a year when movies wanted to show us how easy and wonderful making music could be (We Are The Best!, God Help The Girl, Jersey Boys, Begin Again, even Get On Up) it is refreshing to see it portrayed as difficult, almost impossible, unless of course you are insane.

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And even then it’s not so simple to find an audience. In a year when movies wanted to incorporate social media into their plots and somehow got it all wrong (Chef, Annie), Frank was decidedly humble and sometimes even insipidly accurate about it.

 

Nothing about Frank is easy and yet it still manages to be a light-hearted unconventional comedy. Not a dark comedy, but a comedy that can be dark if it wants to be. Allowed to find humor in anything, but without leaning on those things you aren’t supposed to laugh at for its laughs. It’s a complicated movie inside a pleasant and expressionless papier-mâché head.

 

 

8) Edge Of Tomorrow – Any Groundhog Day premise is welcome. I will sing you the praises of a Stargate episode that uses it even. So perhaps this movie didn’t have to try so hard.

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And that’s the thing. It does not appear to be trying. At all. This is the most relaxed sci-fi comedy filled with brutality and death there has ever been. Nothing can prepare you. Except maybe that new title.

 

 

9) The Raid 2 – Unfortunately for The Raid 2, The Raid exists. If it didn’t, you might feel as though you’d never seen anything like The Raid 2 before.

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But The Raid does exist and nothing will ever be the same. The Raid 2 though, is not The Raid Too. It is its own entity and goes what seems like a really long way out of its way to differentiate itself. There are still fights that seem designed to thrill you only before exhausting you. There are still weirdo villains you’re not sure you can root against. And there is a palpable desperation to every movement. But this is the second album by that band you like whose fist album was made in a garage and now they’ve been signed to a major label and there’s a team of producers involved. You might resent all that new stuff, but it’s still the same band. It’s your own fault for not giving them the same chance you did originally. If they put the same album out, you’d complain about that too. You’re never satisfied, are you? Well, you will be. The Raid 2 will see to that.

 

10) Coherence – Do you love Primer but wish you understood any of it? Then Coherence is for you. Just esoteric enough to make you consider that either you are too dumb or the movie is just pretending to be smarter than you, but adept enough at an impressive web of interpersonal drama to make your waffling not make much of a difference.

 

Maybe most impressive is how funny this movie can be without ever really making a joke. Everyone tries to recreate that funny evening you had witCoherenceih your friends only to realize if you weren’t there, it just plays like a bunch of people trying too hard. Coherence gets that impossible thing just right, which should really be enough, but then there’s a whole confusing low level science fiction plot to contend with too. And when I say confusing, I do mean for you, sure, but more importantly confusing for everyone in the movie. Watching everyone work everything out (or not work everything out) is like watching a very entertaining scavenger hunt of sorts which sounds horrible so there’s yet another impossible thing this movie did.

 

 

11-15)

 

Nightcrawler – Jake Gyllenhaal took a Daniel Day-Lewis turn in this and will probably go largely unrecognized for it which is too bad because this movie might be slightly more accessible than There Will Be Blood.

 

Blue Ruin – Things can be exciting and tense even when everyone is blinded by revenge and terrible at everything they try to do.

 

Enemy – Jake Gyllenhaal again (twice maybe sort of!) in what is probably the creepiest movie of the year, which is quite an accomplishment considering what he does in Nightcrawler alone.

 

How To Train Your Dragon 2 – I’ll never forgive it for not being called How 2 Train Your Dragon but if there was ever a movie to teach me about forgiveness it’s this one. Jesus.

 

John Wick – Proving great action does need a story and character to thrive but maybe not quite as much as we thought.

 

The Ten Worst Movies – 2014

1) The Identical – Even if you already have a vague idea of what The Identical is, it is going to bear constant repeating.

 

As best we can figure to this point, someone liked the idea of exploring what might have happened to Elvis Presley’s stillborn twin had it lived and been given to a preacher and his wife in order to ease the Depression-era burdens twins could create. Weird, sure, but maybe not the craziest What If… scenario put forth by the cinema of 2014. Of course, there’s aScreen Shot 2015-01-06 at 8.21.35 PMn obvious problem with making a movie from this idea, Elvis songs are expensive. And maybe completely unavailable to the person who wants to explore this weird idea. So now you are going to watch a movie about Elvis Presley’s stillborn twin but with generic rockabilly songs in place of the good ones that were famous for a reason beyond that the world was ready for them. Just in case you were having trouble remembering it is supposed to be about Elvis Presley’s stillborn twin though, because you don’t know any of these terrible songs, this movie will now cast a real life nationwide-contest-winning Elvis impersonator who looks like he should only ever play Sloth in a Goonies remake. So now you are watching a person who is not an actor play two people who sing songs that don’t exist while Seth Green does a bad impression of himself in Airborne in the background sometimes.

the-identical-picture01

All of this is done in a largely unobtrusive, inoffensive way. It’s not a poorly made movie. The songs are dumb, but if you could manage to hear them from three rooms away it might not raise suspicion. Ray Liotta has a lot o missteps but occasionally does some things you probably forgot he has always been capable of. All in all, this should not be the worst movie of this or any year. But every few seconds you will not be able to help yourself as you realize what it is you are trying to watch and exclaim to no one in particular (because that’d be embarrassing) “What is going on?!?” And there is no answer. And then halfway through when someone in the movie says the words, “There’s only one Elvis” you will leap out of your body so you can see your own reaction because there’s nothing t prepare you for that after that long including this thing you just read telling you all about it.

 

The Identical is an enduring confusion. As if you didn’t already know.

 

Reason to watch it anyway: Hey, this kind of movie doesn’t come along so often. The good news is, now it will always exist.

 

2) Winter’s Tale – The person who wrote Batman & Robin and Lost In Space has an Oscar. And before you assume it’s one of those bait and switch Matt Damon/Ben Affleck Oscars, it is, in fact, for writing.

Winter's Dead

It seems like you ought to know that. To me, it seems like one of those things everyone knows, until I realize no one cares who writes what nor should they, really. It obviously doesn’t matter. The guy who wrote Batman & Robin still not only gets hired to adapt some of the highest profile novels into movies, but here, got to direct his own adaptation of a high profile novel. And while you may not know his name, his credits were still used to advertise this one.

 

All this is not to say that Winter’s Tale was always going to be one of the worst movies of the year, but it was and it always was going to be. So it is to say that.

 

The fantastical nonsense, like falling off a bridge and into the future, a horse that saves one person but not another, or demons who need to use knives, or people turning into stars, these are not things that dictate a worst movie. But when they are all treated with the same apathy by everyone around them, as if we should have read this novel and know all the wonderful significance already, one begins to see how perhaps it does matter who writes things. And moreso, that the person writing this particular things shouldn’t be. And further than twinters-tale-review-17hat shouldn’t be directing the thing he wrote because then there’s no one to realize how much is being left out.

 

And this only addresses what isn’t in the (second) worst movie of the year. Because there is so much that is there and zero of it is good. Russell Crowe and Colin Farrell have both proven they can be great in otherwise terrible movies, never mind be great in otherwise great ones. But neither one has any hope in Winter’s Tale. And neither did we.

 

Reason to watch it anyway: You might think Will Smith showing up unannounced as the devil constitutes such a reason, but you’d be wrong.

 

 

3) Persecuted – It’s annoying, at this point, how obviously terrible the new class of Christian movies are intent on being. Saying that they are that terrible never seems to get through to them. They keep making the same mistakes. And making the same amounts of money (which is to say, not a lot, but enough to make more.) The very plot of this one (which you can easily Persecuted1glean from the subtle title) only serves as bait. It could be accused of being so bad on purpose, just so it can point its finger at us all later for being just the sort of people who would attack some innocent God-fearing movie simply because it has the audacity to say what kind of movie it believes in.

 

Ignoring it wouldn’t do any good either of course. And it is feasible in a case like Heaven Is For Real or even God’s Not Dead. Those are movies that are inherently flawed (aside from their religious aspects) but come close to resembling real movies even as they succumb to those flaws. You might have to make compromises in logic to wabruce-davisontch them that way, but generally not more than you would for any other science fiction or romantic comedy. Persecuted isn’t so demanding in that way. It’s presenting you with what it really thinks is reality. God does not intervene in any tangible way. There is nothing to be set aside. The events of the movie, the persecution if you will, are a weak and barely functional metaphor, but it’s meant more as a revelation that this sort of thing could happen to anyone than it is a cautionary tale. Persecuted is like Gone Girl if everyone in the world was crazy instead of just Rosmund Pike. And, of course, if Ben Affleck had never done anything wrong in his entire life and was just telling it like it is on the radio like a responsible American.

 

And of course, if everyone was a terrible actor and wasn’t employable unless they had at some point made their approved religious views public because I mean, we’re all for freedom and everything, but this is God’s country after all.

 

Reason to watch it anyway: Maybe you are a Christian and you are feeling as though the world is chasing you with torches and pitchforks. In that case, you will want to see someone crystallize your feelings onscreen even if it is mostly clunky nonsense. Or perhaps you are one of those torch/pitchfork wielders and are starting to question why you do what you do. You could watch this and be instantly invigorated and redouble your efforts.

 

4) Not Cool – You may already know this, but Not Cool is one of two movies made from the same script as part of the social experiment/reality program called The Chair. If you know that, you already knew this was one of the worst movies of the year even if you never saw a second of it that wasn’t in that show because the guy directing it was so annoying andNot-Cool unfunny and kept wanting to bend the rules of the show to fit his narrow annoying unfunny view that you can see tons of on his immensely popular YouTube channel.

 

About the movie though, because that is what we’re here for: it’s a pretty typical teen comedy type set up but with the most annoying characters you could imagine. It’s kind of amazing really that this tired concept could be made to be this bad even. It seems like the act of making sure two seemingly opposite character types figure out they aren’t so different should just inherently raise things to some buoyant if barely watchable level. But I’m not even so sure that’s what happened. It’s definitely what was supposed to be happening, but there so much tangential nonsense bombarding you at every turn it becomes difficult to suss out. And it isn’t long before you have to take a look at yourself for even trying in the first place.Not Cooler

 

Reason to watch it anyway: I didn’t know it was part of a grander plan the universe had when I saw it, so I have no excuse. But that fact led to my brief bafflement that there were two movies with very similar plots written by the same person coming out in 2014. The other is Hollidaysburg and you should see that instead but really just watch The Chair and consider yourself finished with the whole thing.

 

5) Sin City: A Dame To Kill For – Given the horrendously out of date term used in the very title, one cannot be too shocked or surprised to find a movie that has zero interest in furthering any sort of female agenda. No other movie does either, as we are told over and over, it should hardly matter anyway.

Sin City

When it’s this egregious though, it’s impossible to ignore. To the point where it seems like an inside job. Like PETA showing you slaughterhouse footage. They don’t want to do it but maybe that’s the only way you’re going to wake up. Women can’t do anything on their own, unless they are absolutely and illogically evil, of course in which case it’s cool to kill them (otherwise killing a woman is shorthand for how evil you are, you see) and to do it you might need to enlist the help of another woman, preferably one jealous of how much you love the crazy evil one you are about to kill or else why would she bother?

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But Sin City doesn’t just paint women in these extremes. It can’t really even be blamed because everyone in it is a one note mumbling cardboard cut out (literally, it seems at times.) A man isn’t a man unless he is squinting and grunting and ready to kill someone.

 

With five different overlapping stories going on, you’d imagine at least some of this mess could be salvaged. Even if by accident one would work out. But they all may as well be the same story with a new famous actor whose only importance is being able to put their name on the poster.

 

Reason to watch it anyway: Mickey Rourke is still Marv and that character by that actor will always be a reason to watch something but this really tested that theory.

 

6) The Legend Of Hercules – The Legend Of Hercules was a series of surprises for me. That it existed, first, what with a much more celebrated Hercules movie coming out. That it would star Kellan Lutz who I thought was just some big guy that got to stand next to the star of the movie. That already big guy Kellan Lutz was now suddenly looking as though he could play the Hulk without any computer generated help. That VOD acThe-Legend-Of-Herculestion star Scott Adkins could be the new standard-bearer for worst acting. And, of course, that Renny Harlin was still alive and someone was still letting him direct movies.

 

I didn’t even know it was in 3D and since no one at the theater did either, they didn’t give anyone glasses and we all had to dig them out of the bin in front of The Hobbit.the-legend-of-herculez

 

It became a community experience that immediately devolved into group therapy session with everyone unwilling to come forward with their story of what tragic event led them here.

 

Reason to watch it anyway: I don’t know what circumstance in which this might arise, but if you were to not have any sound available, you could do worse than to watch the visuals of this movie. They are way out of proportion, quality-wise, with everything else.

 

7) The Giver – The John Carter of the current young adult fantasy novel crisis we are mired in right now, The Giver probably never had a chance. All its good poiTHE GIVERnts have already been eroded by two or three years of seeing them all copied and spit back out by (possibly) lesser entities. With every passing installment, it becomes more and more difficult to surrender our disbelief in the ridiculous set ups the utopian worlds these movies inhabit. Never mind the way the main character is always “chosen” to be whatever he or she needs to be in order to be the main character is said utopian world.

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While Mockingjay seemed paralyzed by its own success and The Maze Runner felt like an all out parody of the genre, The Giver plays out like the dull vision of one of its many unenlightened characters.

 

Reason to watch it anyway: Alexander Skarsgård does such an impressive job of being an ignorantly callous babykiller that it should have made everyone involved rethink everything they were doing because no one else around him comes close to inhabiting their characters as well in any way. I know you can’t have a cast of Skargsgaards necessarily, but there are more of them.

 

8) I ◊ Frankenstein – You might be wondering about that diamond symbol in the title. I don’t know where it comes from either, but there it is on screen right in the beginning as though someone discovered a new punctuation mark.

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You might also be wondering why this movie happened, to which you need only to look at any other movie that’s come out over the past few years. It was inevitable and they really do try their best to make it make sense that Frankenstein(’s monster) could be a hero that can think and reason and fire a weapon and basically does not resemble Frankenstein(‘s monster) in any other way than the fact that he has some stitches in his face. In fact, if you can somehow get past the insult of the fast forward version of one of the greatest stories ever written that opens the movie, the idea of it isn’t as jarringly stupid as most of these classic horror reimaginings can be. It is not the given for worst movie you’d be forgiven for assuming it is.

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The problems do not have to go past the casting of Aaron Eckhart though. Which on the face of it, seems like making the best of a bad situation. But his grumbling and lugubrious demeanor can drain the life out of any scene. He never seems to not know what’s happening even though he definitely shouldn’t and you are having enough trouble of your own. When it is revealed that somewhere along the line, the monster has grown a soul (and thus earned the name Frankenstein?) you can only wonder why the movie couldn’t have managed something similar.

 

 

Reason to watch it anyway: You probably think Bill Nighy is always great and wonderful and so it comes as no surprise to you to hear he is the reason to watch this movie. But the first part can be true without the second. Bill Nighy is in plenty of thing not worth watching simply because he is in them, even if he’s not the problem. And he doesn’t really qualify as such here either but I put myself in this precariouys position of ascribing some reason to watch these unwatchable things and there isn’t always an obvious one. So by default, the reason is Bill Nighy. He is great in it, which is a wonder, but is it enough? Not really. Though there is this one part where he turns into a demon and the demon has only three fingers on each hand, thus finally explaining why Bill Nighy can only use three fingers on each hand.

 

 

9) Third Person – You won’t know what’s going on, but it won’t be because you don’t know exactly where everything is headed. The title alone gives all that away. It’s such an obvious tell that you’ll trick yourself into believing there must be some other trick to it somewhere along the line, but you will be doing so much more work than the movie is all that time, so you will only have yourself to congratulate at the end.

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Paul Haggis has made a career now out of proving everyone was right to decry Crash as one of the worst Best Picture winners of all time. I didn’t even agree at the time, but with every subsequent chapter put forth thanks to the blank check that win has written for him it is increasingly clear the world got it right the first time. Or second time, I guess, if the world can also be blamed for letting one of his movies win Best Picture.

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Reason to watch it anyway: Olivia Wilde. You will almost believe she’s some unknown actress getting her big break the way she is acting. Because there’s no other explanation for a well known and admired person to be putting forth one their best efforts in this awful expedition. No one else cares and it is full of people who should know when the person acting across from them is about to embarrass them. The reasons for her character to be as weird as she is are just as unsurprising and nebulous as everything else about Third Person, but you will see a lot less impressive performances in much greater movies.

 

10) Action Jackson – I know it’s already too late, but before you get excited by that title, this is not at all a remake. That’s not even true. It is all a remake, but of another Indian movie you’ve never heard of from not that long ago. There is no one named Jackson in this, although they do somehow still manage to say the title a bunch of times and not in reference to the movie you were hoping this had something to do with.Action_Jackson_hindi_movie_2014_Ajay_Devgn_Sonakshi_Sinha_hd_wallpaper_25

 

If you are confused, that’s fine, because there is no way to make that not the case. I tried and failed to watch some Bollywood movies this year and while some (Happy New Year, Bang Bang) were OK, they were ultimately disappointments considering their clear contempt for taking anything seriously. I don’t think they are making movies the way we have come to think of them and may need another word. In light of this, maybe even Action Jackson shouldn’t qualify for this list. Until I learn this weird cinematic language where no movie and often individual scenes cannot hold on to one tone and plot points and characters can be introduced with minutes to spare, I should abstain. But something about Action Jackson goes beyond just my own incomprehension. It is a movie that still hasn’t decided on anything, including why it wants to call itself by this name.

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Reason to watch it anyway: There is one dance sequence that while otherwise unremarkable and indistinguishable from any other such Bollywood scene, is populated by Elvis impersonators for no discernable reason except that they are all awesome and different and yet working as a team. A team of what I still couldn’t tell you, but it was great while they were there and I wished so badly they would come back. But they did not, because this movie has no idea what it’s doing.

 

 

11 – 15)

 

Perfect Sisters – If this was on Lifetime, you’d still think it was bad, but it probably wouldn’t stand out as such. Except for maybe that Abigail Breslin’s acting battery is running very low.

 

Sex Tape – Fear of technology blended perfectly with a fear of funny things.

 

Alien Abduction – This must be what it is like to be a film school teacher, sifting through endless untrained, ill gotten attempts at recreating something barely understood in the first place.

 

The Nut Job – It doesn’t say anywhere, but I assume this script is based on that C + C Music Factory lyric. You know the one.

 

God’s Not Dead – The true story of a (literally) unbelievably narrow-minded professor and a God who no one notices is just as much of a bully as he is.

 

 

 

The Most Disappointing Movies – 2014

1) The Grand Budapest Hotel – Considering the fact that this is showing up on a lot a best of the year lists from people who know better, I must at least allow for the possibility that this isn’t so different from any other Wes Anderson movie (excepting Bottle Rocket, of course.) And if it is no different, then how could it possibly be a disappointment? Even if I haven’t really loved any Wes Anderson movie (excepting Bottle Rocket, of course) I certainly haven’t disliked any of them either. But even the best ones (Rushmore, Fantastic Mr. Fox) still feel empty. An ornately wrapped box with nothing but very expensive tissue paper inside.

grand-budapest-hotel

What may have been different then about The Grand Budapest Hotel was the advertising. Perhaps someone finally figured out how to make a Wes Anderson look like a more complete version of a movie than it ever could be. Maybe it was just Ralph Fiennes, who seems like he knows how to deliver Andersonian dialogue correctly whereas everyone else has simply been trying valiantly this whole time.

 

So probably it isn’t that The Grand Budapest Hotel is worse than I should have expected, but the trailer was better than I should have expected. The movie is still a mess of telegraphed punchlines, people staring at things and each other and jokes about manners. So its appearance on so many best of the year lists only compounds the disappointment. The Grand Budapest Hotel disappoints in the intended viewing way, but also makes a disappointment out of every otherwise respected critic/person who includes in on his or her list of the best movies of 2014.

 

2) Veronica Mars – I didn’t have the emotional nor the financial stake in Veronica Mars so many others did. So I shouldn’t have any reason to complain. Maybe that is testament to just how terrible a movie this was. But it’s also a little to do with the idea of a crowdfunded movie that is all but guaranteed to play in a theater. A lot of complaining went on about veronica-mars-movie-still-18at the time (though certainly more directed at Zach Braff’s attempt, which was maybe just as bad, but certainly not as disappointing) and while I am generally on the side of the network that cancels a show rather than the irrational side of the fan who just can’t believe this is happening, this all still had the potential to set an exciting precedent.

 

So when all that comes out of it is a long inside joke inside a tepid self-indulgent mystery, it’s disappointing not only to the people trying desperately to be in on that joke but for a regular moviegoer too.

 

3) Sabotage – It’s not just that Arnold Schwarzenegger was improving tremendously throughout this comeback of his. That he was even in this was mostly superfluous. I wasn’t so worried about him, is the point. And it’s not that he’s even slipped back so far as to be as bad as he was in The Last Stand, but he became the non-entity I sort of self-fulfilled prophesized him to be. Which is barely even on the list of disappointing things about Sabotage.

Sabotage

I don’t mind a movie being sold with promises of the wrong genre. That’s understandable with how things are set up at this point and can sometimes lead to great things, at least unexpected things. But when a movie wants to be seen as a fun but ruthless action movie and turns out to be a tepid (but gruesome) mystery about people who do much more exciting things and are good at them being killed off screen there’s nowhere to go but to disappointment gulch. You wait the whole movie for some semblance of the potential it seemed to have only to watch actors you like disappear in horrible fashion. This says nothing of the obvious plot twists nor vestigial Terrence Howard hanging around as an extra until called upon to be a villain.

 

Compounding the disappointment of Sabotage is the later release of Fury, by the same director and co-writer, which is everything and more of what it said it would be, with people you like doing the things the movie tells you they are good at, and action that can be (at times) both fun and ruthless (and even gruesome – though nothing compared to Sabotage.) So clearly he knows better.

4) Tammy – If this was just some misguided attempt to capitalize on Melissa McCarthy’s (hopefully not) brief window of above-the-title marketability, you’d still be disappointed, but you could more easily move past it and wait (hope) for the next one to be better. But Tammy was written by Melissa McCarthy herself (and her husband, who also directed); that’s a whole lot of control to allow a star whose profile has only very recently been raised to this level. More importantly though, and more disappointingly, that means this is the sort of part she thinks she ought to be playing.

tammy-official

Like everyone else, I’ve rewatched some Gilmore Girls on Netflix lately and it’s difficult to reconcile that Melissa McCarthy with the one we are presented with now. Both are great, and it is only more praise to say that they do not seem like they could be the same person. And it’s not as if I am advocating some sort of spin off Sookie St. James trilogy or anything, it’s just upsetting that we can’t still see both. That Hollywood isn’t the only one forcing her to exclusively play variations the abrasive sort of Bridesmaids role is unfortunate and hopefully still only temporary. With Tammy’s failure, hopefully that can be true. But the reality is less promising. And the idea that she’s been firmly rooted in their camp this whole time even less so.

 

5) Cold In July – This is one of those disappointments that only begins halfway through a good movie you had no expectations of in the first place. Usually, that’s just par for the course. You can go home trying to remember the good times, those first 20 maybe even 30 or 40 minutes you had together. But not only does Cold In July start in jarringly interesting fashion, but it speeds along what seems like it could have taken another movie all its run time to tell. Which doesn’t have to be a problem, but seems to have been in this case. Because the turn Cold In Julcijy makes, pinpointed with a bizarrely unfunny pig pun, is so shockingly awful, in so many various ways, you really can’t believe you are still watching the same movie.

 

But it is. Based on one book that may very well have done the same thing within its pages. Perhaps making Cold In July the one time a movie was faithful to a book when it definitely should not have been.

 

6-10)

Big Hero 6 – It might not seem like it, because we’ve been blinded by Pixar most of the time, but regular Disney animation has been a streak lately too. They might not be the commercial successes Pixar’s have been, but not since Home On The Range have they put out anything truly bad. Not that this would qualify either, really, but coming after Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph, it was difficult not to assume this had a chance to surpass them both. It didn’t.

Godzilla – You’ve heard it all before, I know. But you still haven’t seen it. It being Godzilla. I don’t like to judge a movie on what it could or should have been because you usually sound really stupid when you do that, but this seems like it had a really easy fix.

Oculus – Not that I had any expectations for this beforehand, I kind of didn’t even know what it was, but it starts out so well that when it descends into nonsense nightmare flashback jigsaw puzzle you might as well have arrived at the theater expecting The Blair Witch Project.

Gunday – As I made a conscious effort to stop ignoring India as a movie generating sweatshop this year, I came to realize that every Bollywood movie is going to be a disappointment. But while mostly I regard this as my fault for not yet understanding what makes Indian people love Indian movies, this was especially horrendous after (like so many others of its ilk) promising to be an explosive cornucopia of a movie. Also, it turns out Gunday doesn’t even mean you think it does (assuming you are, like me, a dumb isolated American.)

Obvious Child – Jenny Slate is wonderful and this seemed like it would not only showcase that wonderability but do so in a way that wasn’t just a regular romantic comedy. But it was pretty much that interspersed with terrible stand up.

 

The Most Surprising(ly Good) Movies – 2014

1) Edge Of Tomorrow – Yes, they made a mistake on the title. But only because we weren’t ready to accept what this movie really is. They did the right thing. And it is our fault. Most people still have not seen Edge Of Tomorrow (nor Live Die Repeat) because they do not understand what it is. Well, because they think they understand what it is, but they do not. The only way to do that, is to see it. But knowing that it could and should have been called Live Die Repeat hopefully goes a long way to aiding that situation.

Edge-of-Tomorrow

Point is, there was no way to know and as such no way not to be shocked at the outrageous tone of this seemingly serious science fiction nonsense. But if we had thought about it for a second, there was no way a movie like this could have been as serious as it was portending to be. So again, it’s our own fault.

 

2) Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – Every once in awhile you will hear someone lament the idea that the world has allowed 5 Spider-Man movies to happen in the span of 12 years and it is ludicrous, but not in the bad way. It is Spider-Man after all. That 4 of those 5 Spider-Man movies are not good is the real source of bafflement. But that a character like Jack Ryan needs to be revamped every decade or so is legitimate cause for concern.

jrsr

I don’t even know that there has been a bad one. People wanted to hate Ben Affleck so badly for some ungodly reason around the time of Sum Of All Fears, you may remember it that way, but it was fine. And Chris Pine is great, especially at revamping well known characters. And Kenneth Branagh is directing? That’s weird, but yeah, I guess he did do Thor and I’m still not used to that. And Kenneth Branagh is the bad guy? Seriously, there’s hardly a reason we should have so thoroughly dismissed this whole enterprise. But we did. Every one of us. And I am still trying to figure out why.

 

Plus, Keira Knightley’s American accent turns her into an entirely different person. Amazing.

 

 

3) Ride Along – There are worse people than Kevin Hart to have as surprise movie stars. His narrate-what’s-happening-at-high-volume joke is terribly one note that seems like it’s been playing a long time already, but remember when we thought Dane Cook should be the star of things? So you see, it can be worse. But that’s where my expectations were for this one.

ride-along-review

And I hate to encourage more of it in any way, but it’s not Kevin Hart that makes Ride Along one of the funniest movies of the year. (He does have the best acting moment of his career though, I think, when he is in the car, getting a text, which sounds like I’m making a terrible joke of my own but I really do mean it.) It is Ice Cube, put simply, that makes this a thing to be watched. Over and over, I’d assume. He had one of the greatest comedic moments maybe of all time in 22 Jump Street in 2014, but before that he turned the James Woods role in The Hard Way into a comedy masterpiece. And maybe that much should not be so surprising. He’s been doing that for nearly 20 years now. But all the Are We Done Theres since have sort of eroded that notion.

 

4) Non-Stop – Taken was only six years ago. Before then, there was very little reason to think that Liam Neeson could star in a moderately budgeted action movie with no intention of transcending that or any genre. But in those six years Liam Neeson has done little else, even while seemingly never not in a movie currently in theaters. And none of that protracted lineage has come close to living up to its forefather, including direct descendent Taken sequels.

non-stop

And so Non-Stop should be no different. The trapped on an airplane conceit itself unoriginal and those incessant on screen texts in the trailer weren’t helping anybody. But Non-Stop takes its title seriously. It is on its way early and where it must retract from the pummeling action barrage of Taken, it deftly replaces with a thriller tension that most movies touted as thrillers cannot manage.

 

Liam Neeson himself has never been the problem with the long line of plodding work he’s been doing since his wife’s death. Impressive not only given the circumstances, but with the volume and questionable quality of said work. But finally here he is surrounded by a quality cast of passengers and airline staff that creep out of the background and into the story seamlessly.

 

5) No Good Deed – When two of the best actors we have go and do some kind of throwaway thriller, it should probably make us consider it a little less lightly.

film-deed-570

Yes, you’ve seen this movie before and do you really need another woman in peril in her own house thing at this point? There are plenty of reasons to have dismissed No Good Deed. And you’d be right about most of it. It isn’t some kind of shocking deconstruction of the genre. That sounds boring. This is a perfect encapsulation of the genre, with enough flourishes to distinguish itself and those aforementioned actors to sell you on every second of. Right up until the final twist that isn’t even that big of a deal but makes the whole thing make perfect sense.

 

6-10)

Bad Words – Jason Bateman tries to scuff up his image a little and it goes extremely well. Plot wise it’s sort of science fiction in a way, you have to believe in what they’re telling you, but it plays by its own rules and that’s all that matters.

 

Maleficent – It’s really odd to see this on worst of the year lists. I know they are the ones that just safely attack major releases that nobody cared about, but there’s a lot going on in this movie and Angelina Jolie does this one thing that’s more heartbreaking than all the Nicolas Sparks movies put together plus another actually heartbreaking thing.

 

The Purge: Anarchy – This is the movie you were trying to watch while that first embarrassment of a Purge movie was playing.

 

Get On Up – I don’t even know. It’s seriously nuts, this movie. Just like the man himself, I guess, although I don’t think that was the point.

 

Divergent – While every other non-Hunger Games young adult fantasy series getting churned out plays like a parody of the genre, Divergent plays like an actual movie you want to see another one of.

And The Nominees Are… (2014)

Winners in bold. For a list of the award winners without the blah blah blah, go here.

 

The Tommy Lee Jones Screentime Award (For amassing the most screentime of the year):

– Scarlett Johannson (Captain America: The Winter Soldier; Under The Skin; Chef; Lucy)

– Brenton Thwaites (The Signal; Maleficent; Oculus; The Giver; Son Of A Gun)

– Liam Neeson (The LEGO Movie; Non-Stop; Third Person; A Million Ways To Die In The West; A Walk Among The Tombstones)

John Cusack (Adult World; Grand Piano; The Bag Man, Reclaim, Drive Hard; Cell)

– Mia Wasikowska (Only Lovers Left Alive; The Double; Tracks; Maps To The Stars)

 

It’s quantity, not quality.

 

The Kevin Spacey Must Have the Best Agent Award (For appearing in the most top ten movies of the year):

– Chris Pratt (The LEGO Movie and Guardians Of The Galaxy)

 

The unlikeliest!

 

The Marlon Wayans Award (for appearing in two or more of the worst movies of the same year.]:

– Ray Liotta (The Identical and Sin City: A Dame To Kill For)

 

Poor guy.

 

The Freddie Prinze, Jr. Award (For the best acting in the worst movie of the year – male):

– Bill Nighy (IFrankenstein)

Alexander Skarsgård (The Giver)

– Mark Pellegrino (We Gotta Get Out Of This Place)

– Denis O’Hare (The Pyramid)

– Ray Liotta (The Identical)

 

Bill Nighy is great, but he’s the typical things you can look forward to watching in a terrible movie while Alexander Skarsgård is doing something amazing he should really save for something, anything else.

 

The Dina Meyer Award (For the best acting in the worst movie of the year – female):

– Zoe Bell (Mercenaries)

– Annabelle Wallis (Annabelle)

Olivia Wilde (Third Person)

 

Really only one choice. This could be Olivia Wilde’s best performance yet, which is a literal crying shame. I mean, she should be crying about it. Not me or you.

 

The Anna Paquin Best Child Actor Award:

– Emjay Anthony (Chef)

– Rohan Chand (Bad Words)

Noah Wiseman (The Babadook)

– Lorelai Linklater (Boyhood)

– Mira Grosin (Vi Är Bäst!)

 

I get the feeling this kid would played this part exactly the same even if it were kids movie about homemade gadget fights. Because he’s playing a real kid. In a not real situation. Which is what puts him slightly ahead of the real kids playing real kids in real situations, I guess.

 

The Nicolas Cage Uneven Performance Award [For the biggest gap in quality between two different performances in the same year (the good thing is always listed first)]:

– Phil Lord & Chris Miller (The LEGO Movie & 22 Jump Street)

– Scarlett Johansson (Under My Skin & Lucy)

– David Ayer (Fury & Sabotage)

Clint Eastwood (American Sniper & Jersey Boys)

– Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice & Sin City: A Dame To Kill For)

– Bobby Cannavale (Chef & Annie)

 

This is a tough one. 22 Jump Street isn’t that bad in the grand scheme of things, and it’s not fair comparing things to The LEGO Movie. And Scarlet Johansson is pretty good in Lucy before she becomes Lawnmower Girl. And I can’t bear to give it to Bobby Cannavale but man was he bad in Annie. Josh Brolin came in a little too late, but if I’d had time to sit on it, he’dve had a really good shot.

 

The Peter Sellers Multiple Role Award:

– Will Ferrell (The LEGO Movie)

– Liam Neeson (The LEGO Movie)

Zoe Kazan (The Pretty One)

– Jesse Eisenberg (The Double)

– Abhishek Bachchan (Happy New Year)

 

Zoe Kazan might spend the least amount of time onscreen as two different people, but she has to play one playing the other to so many varying degrees. Plus, and not that this should matter, it’s really the only serious one even though probably Jesse Eisenberg thinks his was too.

 

The Sean Connery Best Cameo Award:

– Billy Dee Williams (The LEGO Movie)

– James Marsden (X-Men: Days Of Future Past)

Allison Pill (Snowpiercer)

– Edwin Hodge (The Purge: Anarchy)

– Nick Chinlund (Need For Speed)

– Michael Shannon (They Came Together)

– Scoot McNairy (Gone Girl)

– Phil Donahue (Finding Vivian Maier)

– Domhnall Gleeson (Calvary)

– Tim Blake Nelson (The Homesman)

– DMX (Top Five)

– Ben Vereen (Top Five)

– Hugh Jackman (Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb)

 

With James Marsden and Billy Dee Williams effectively cancelling each other out for awesomely timed and performed cameos by characters we know and love, it must go to the person who could win this award with just her hand movements.

 

The Casey Affleck Worst Cameo Award:

– Michael K. Williams (That Awkward Moment)

– Robert Downey, Jr. (Chef)

– Donald Faison (Wish I Were Here)

Howard The Duck (Guardians Of The Galaxy)

– Taylor Swift (The Giver)

– Tim Roth (Finding Vivian Maier)

– Christopher Lloyd (A Million Ways To Die In The West)

– Jamie Foxx (A Million Ways To Die In The West)

 

It’s difficult not to give it Jamie Foxx. I feel as though I am angry on Quentin Tarantino’s behalf for that, but it isn’t my place. Plus it’s at the end of a movie full of so many awful cameos that didn’t even make the nominations list. Ultimately it goes to the one that not only feels like the most inside of jokes but that let everyone finally trained to stay to the end of the credits down and prompted so many audience members to force a laugh so someone would ask them what the hell just happened.

 

The Alfred Hitchcock In Front of the Camera Award (For the least intrusive appearance by a movie’s own director(s)):

– Tom Gormican (That Awkward Moment)

– Clint Eastwood (Jersey Boys)

Ben Falcone (Tammy)

– Luke Greenfield (Let’s Be Cops)

– Jack Plotnick (Space Station 76)

– Charles Martin Smith (A Dolphin Tale 2)

 

Not only a good cameo, but maybe the best thing about this whole awful mess he made.

 

The Quentin Tarantino In Front of the Camera Award [For most intrusive – not to mention annoying – appearance by a movie’s own director(s)]:

– Jason Nash (Jason Nash Is Married)

Shane Dawson (Not Cool)

– Farrah Kahn (Happy New Year)

– Chris Rock (Top Five)

– Seth MacFarlane (A Million Ways To Die In The West)

 

Easy.

 

The Drew Barrymore All Grown Up Award:

– Georgie Henley (Perfect Sisters)

– Kodi Smit-McPhee (Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes)

– Hannah Taylor Gordon (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit)

Haley Joel Osment (Tusk)

 

Not a great field, so certainly it must go to the person most recognizable if he hadn’t made himself unrecognizable in his absence.

 

The Martin Scorsese Best Use of a Song Award:

“Everything Is Awesome” by Tegan and Sara (featuring The Lonely Island) (The LEGO Movie)

– “Liquid Liquid” by Cavern (Chef)

– “Heavy Soul” by The Black Keys (Bad Words)

– “The Weight” by The Band (Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes)

– “Time In A Bottle” by Jim Croce (X-Men Days Of Future Past)

– “Caravan” by The JVC Ensemble (Whiplash)

– “Mas” by Kinky (The Book Of Life)

– “Pretty Girl Rock” by Keri Hilson (The Rover)

 

The best song in the best movie used in so many different awesome ways. It’s awesome!

 

The Andy Garcia Best Shot Award:

Michael C. Hall – through the eye in the dark (Cold In July)

– Keanu Reeves – through the sun roof (John Wick)

– Keanu Reeves – backward crouch (John Wick)

– Maggie Gyllenhaal – driftwood takedown (Frank)

– Mustapha (American Sniper)

 

Luck over skill, sure, but a thousand times more satisfying than the thousands of people Keanu kills.

 

The John Woo Best Shootout Award:

– Patrick Hughes (Expendables 3)

– Scott Frank (A Walk Among The Tombstones)

David Leitch/Chad Stahelski (John Wick)

– David Ayer (Fury)

– Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler)

– Clint Eastwood (American Sniper)

 

Still, taken as a whole, that night club scene is for the ages.

 

The William Friedkin Best Car Chase Award:

– Gareth Huw Evans (The Raid 2)

– Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The LEGO Movie)

Jonathan Liebesman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

– Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler)

 

This is pretty tough. Tough to give anything noteworthy to this movie and also to decide amongst the rest of a great field.

 

The They Live Best Non-Martial Arts Fight Award:

– Paul Walker and David Belle vs. Robert Maillart (Brick Mansions)

Ceasar vs. Koba round 2 (Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes)

– Taraji P. Hensen vs. Idris Elba (No Good Deed)

– Michael Keaton vs. Edward Norton (Birdman)

– Matthew McConaughey vs. Matt Damon (Interstellar)

– Tommy Lee Jones vs. Tim Blake Nelson (The Homesman)

– Leonardo Sbaraglia vs. Walter Donado (Wild Tales)

 

I don’t like giving it to computer generated fight scenes in this category, but sometimes it’s just undeniable.

 

(I didn’t get to Wild Tales until March 2015. Sorry Wild Tales.)

 

The Die Hard 2 Icicle Award (for best use of an otherwise benevolent object as a weapon):

– steering wheel (Brick Mansions)

power strip (Broken)

– shot glass (The Equalizer)

 

Not a great year for this.

 

The Cast of Nazis from Raiders of the Lost Ark Award (For worst performance of (an) actor(s) in scenes with special effects):

Louis Cancelmi (Amazing Spider-Man 2)

– KIS employees (Transformers Age Of Extinction)

– Scarlett Johannson (Lucy)

– Douglas Banks (Tusk)

– Nicolas Cage (Left Behind)

 

Giving it to Transformers would be more in the spirit of the award but I guess you could argue that at this point nobody in Transformers world cares when they see a Transformer anymore. Plus this guy did some impressively awful things in otherwise simple effect shots. He might have been a contest winner.

 

The Talking Pig Award (For the two movies most alike released in the same year):

Enemy and The Double

– Lucy and Transcendence

The Legend Of Hercules and Hercules

– Divergent and The Giver

– Not Cool and Hollidaysburg

– The Hundred-Foot Journey and Le Chef

As Above, So Below and The Pyramid

Tracks and Wild and Redwood Highway

 

It seems obvious, but it really isn’t. Not Cool and Hollidaysburg were made from the same script. They should have this in the bag.

 

The Mulholland Falls Award (For movie that failed most miserably at being as shocking as it hoped to be):

Filth

– Nymph()maniac

– Tusk

 

All three are very guilty, but Filth depends on its non-existent shock value more than the rest.

 

The Mulholland Falls Syndrome Award (For the biggest disappointment from the most promising ensemble cast):

Jason Nash Is Married

– Calvary

Sex Tape

Transcendence

Annie

 

Leave Johnny Depp out of it even. Great people keep showing up over and over in this and just get folded right into the doldrums.

 

The Cecil B. DeMille Award (For best portrayal of oneself):

– Willie Robertson (God’s Not Dead)

Kent Shocknek (Nightcrawler)

– Ray Liotta (Stretch)

– Hugh Jackman (Night At The Museum 3 Secret Of The Tomb)

– Eminem (The Interview)

 

You can’t even believe that this guy is a real newscaster he is doing such a great job of making fun of one. Never mind that he’s doing it under his own real name.

 

The Godfather Best Sequel Award:

X-Men: Days Of Future Past

– Captain America: Winter Soldier

– The Purge: Anarchy

– Horrible Bosses 2

 

Really more than just a sequel, even without the time discrepancies, but too perfect to give anything else a chance.

 

The Jaws Worst Sequel Award:

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

– Think Like A Man Too

– A Dolphin Tale 2

– Dumb & Dumber To

 

The first one probably wasn’t nearly as good as it seemed like it was. But that could be true of Dumb & Dumber at this point too and I’m just unwilling to find out.

 

The The Man Who Knew Too Much Best Remake Award:

Robocop

 

I know, but what I’m supposed to give it to The Gambler?

 

The Breathless Worst Remake Award:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

 

Annie, you were this close. Just so you know.

 

The Kevin Costner Worst Accent Award:

– Shia LeBouef (Nymp()maniac Vol. I)

– Gemma Chan (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit)

Eric Bana (Deliver Us From Evil)

– Michael Lomenda (Jersey Boys)

– Richard Armitage (Into The Storm)

– Helen Mirren (The Hundred-Foot Journey)

– Tina Fey (This Is Where I Leave You)

– Elle Fanning (The BoxTrolls)

– Jason Isaacs (Fury)

– David Harbour (The Equalizer)

 

Oh man.

 

The Meryl Streep Award for Best Accent (Female):

– Keira Knightley (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit)

Rose Byrne (This Is Where I Leave You & Annie)

– Andrea Riseborough (Birdman)

– Haley Bennett (The Equalizer)

 

I love Keira Knightley’s American accent more than maybe anything. But you probably still don’t know where Rose Byrne is really from.

 

The Jon Voight Award for Best Accent (Male):

– Kenneth Branagh (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit)

– Bradley Cooper (Guardians Of The Galaxy)

Ben Kingsley (The BoxTrolls)

– Domhnall Gleeson (Unbroken)

– Robin Williams (Merry Friggin’ Christmas)

 

He didn’t have to do more than one accent to win this, but he did anyway.

 

The Jon Voight Best Impression Award:

– Rose Byrne of Carla Gallo as Paula (Neighbors)

– John Leguizamo of Sofia Vergara as Inez (Chef)

– America Ferrera of Jay Baruchel as Hiccup (How To Train Your Dragon 2)

– Jay Baruchel of Gerard Butler as Stoic (How To Train Your Dragon 2)

– Lena Dunham of Melanie Lynsky as Kelly (Happy Christmas)

– Chadwick Boseman of James Brown (Get On Up)

Stephen Stanton of Roger Ebert (Life Itself)

 

I’m still not positive Sofia Vergara didn’t dub over John Leguizamo’s lines there. Which I guess should mean he should win, but a lot more people seemed to be tricked by this thing that was never meant to be a trick. Plus I don’t see how that movie exists without this guy doing what he did.

 

The Still Unnamed Worst Impression Award:

– Seth Rogen of anyone (Neighbors)

– Marc Evan Jackson of Tracy Morgan (22 Jump Street)

Mark Camacho of President Richard M. Nixon (X-Men: Days Of Future Past)

– Paul Eenhoorn of Jim Carrey (Land Ho!)

– Ramin Bahrami of Werner Herzog (Life Itself)

 

Tough not to pick the guy who commented on this very post thinking he’d already won, but he wasn’t really even close. But Camacho’s Nixon was a weird awful spot on an otherwise perfect movie.

 

The Gary Oldman Chameleon Award (for the most unrecognizable performance by an otherwise recognizable personality):

Connie Neilsen (Nymph()maniac Vol. I)

– Karen Gillan (Guardians Of The Galaxy)

– Balthazar Getty (The Judge)

– Sienna Miller (Foxcatcher/American Sniper)

 

How does she keep doing this!?!?

 

The Hamlet Best Production Within A Production Award:

Where’s My Pants? (The LEGO Movie)

– The Replicator (The Double)

– What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (Birdman)

Horror House segment (Nightcrawler)

– “Hatar Västerås” (Vi Är Bäst!)

– “I Love You All” (Frank)

– Moonquake Lake (Annie)

 

It’s rare that a non-joke can win this category. But that was much better news than the news ever is and yet seemed perfectly real.

 

The “I’m Not The Bad Guy” Award (for the line so bad, it just had to be repeated):

– “Innovation.” (The Hundred-Foot Journey)

“I have felt things.” (The Giver)

– “Bala.” (Gunday)

– “Do Not Go Gently…” (Interstellar)

 

I feel like I have to have gotten that line wrong. It doesn’t even make sense to say once, never mind over and over.

 

The This Is 40 Award (for supporting cast member(s) most deserving of a sort-of sequel):

– Braden Aftergood (Bad Words)

– Grace Bloom (Wish I Was Here)

– Del Rio (Lucy)

– Eh-To-Zed girls (Tusk)

Tanner Bolt (Gone Girl)

– Two Princes (Into The Woods)

– Mary Somerville (Mr. Turner)

– Elvises (Action Jackson)

– Penny (Dumb & Dumber To)

 

In a year full of possibilities, one of which is already slated to get its own movie (Yoga Hosers) there was no clearer winner than the second Tanner Bolt arrives on screen.

 

The Rosemary’s Baby Creepiest Moment Award:

– picnic (God’s Pocket)

spider (Enemy)

– “I’ll do it.” (It Felt Like Love)

– ??? (Under The Skin)

– Michaelangelo (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

– the future of humanity (Snowpiercer)

– the trunk of an abandoned car in Red Hook (A Walk Among The Tombstones)

– Snatcher’s destiny (The BoxTrolls)

– Hank and Carla (The Judge)

 

I couldn’t prepare you if I wanted to.

 

The Citizen Kane Unseen Ending Award:

The Rover

Enemy

– Gone Girl

– Birdman

 

Like I said.

 

The Passenger 57 Award (for the plot most thoroughly ruined by its trailer):

Lucy

– I Stay

Into The Storm

– This Is Where I Leave You

– A Walk Among The Tombstones

 

I mean, such as there was anything to ruin.

 

The Nightwatch Award (for the most heavily promoted movie never to grace us with its presence in a theater):

Repentance

– Welcome To Yesterday

One Chance

The Interview

Almost had the highest profile recipient in history. Might have had to change the name of the award even. But this feels a little better.

The Five Most Wasted Efforts of 2014

Ask anyone currently working on a movie and they will seem like the most optimistic of people. They have to be. Most movies would never be finished if everyone realized how terrible it was going to turn out. And while that clearly would not be the worst thing, it is very unlikely to ever happen.

 

But the expectations for a potential finished product are not always the same, no matter what the rose-colored perception of that finished product might be. No one involved in Guardians Of The Galaxy was figuring on being the highest grossing movie of the year even if they were sure it was going to be great. They might have been happy with being great and having nobody ever notice. Conversely, nobody involved in Unbroken expects to not be nominated for an Oscar even if they’d never say so where we could hear.

 

And while these future imagined scenarios probably do not impact the quality of the work everyone making these movies puts forth, it can at times seem like a waste of great individual effort when everything around the effort fails so miserably. Or worse, doesn’t fail at all but rather fulfills exactly the destiny it was always meant to, a flatly pedestrian one.

 

In a way, these performances are even more worthy of accolades because there could never have been any chance of getting them. They were always going to be unregarded. But these people made them anyway. Despite the odds. Despite the relative anonymity. Despite everyone around them seemingly unable to give a shit.

 

  1. Leslie Mann – The Other Woman

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She should be nominated for Best Supporting Actress. (Her husband) Judd Apatow ought to be buying billboards all over LA promoting this fact. I’m not even saying she should win. But for this performance to be sloughed off with the rest of the obvious nonsense that was The Other Woman is just appalling. Well, the kind of appalling that you totally expect and will get over pretty quickly, but absolutely appalling nonetheless.

 

Leslie Mann has always been great in such varying capacities and has largely gone unnoticed for them but it has never been unjust. It’s just how it works. But she found another gear in this movie, portraying a woman spiraling out of her mind and forcing every weird decision that coincidentally forwards the ridiculous plot to make complete sense. And was intensely funny doing it. Much is made of comedies being ignored come awards time and that’s terrible and true, but this is so much more than that.

 

  1. Sam McCurdy – The Legend Of Hercules

 

When you sign on to the lesser of two Hercules movies due to be released within months of each other, you can’t be looking for much more than a paycheck. When that lesser Hercules movie is going to be directed by Renny Harlin, you are probably bracing yourself for being involved in yet another dismal box office failure and mostly hope no one ever notices you were a part of it.down

 

But cinematographer Sam McCurdy, who has plenty of other deceptively laudable credits (The Collection, The Devil’s Double, The Descent) is either unwilling or incapable of falling on his sword. The Legend Of Hercules is a failure is nearly every way, but there are plenty of moments where you could be forgiven for not noticing because what you are looking at is stunning. You just hope that Sam McCurdy couldn’t hear the acting going on from where he was positioned with the camera.

 

  1. Everyone involved – Get On Up

get-on-up02

One the one hand, a biopic about anyone might be enough to rouse daydreams of awards somewhere along the line. And this one was about James Brown, starring a guy who just played Jackie Robinson to great acclaim (if not awards) so anything had to seem possible.

 

But it was the guy who just played Jackie Robinson. And it was about James Brown. These are not really the cultural lightning rods they might have been at one time (even if one of those times was barely a year ago.) Beyond that though is the unrelenting and unignorable weirdness of Get On Up. Even in the production stage that had to be palpable. Even the greatest I’m Not There enthusiast wouldn’t watch Get On Up and think, “this is going to win Best Picture!” And it shouldn’t. But maybe it should be considered. For any and every award for which it could possibly be nominated.

 

  1. Ben Kingsley – The BoxTrolls

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Ben Kingsley doesn’t take a minute off. Even in that Jaguar commercial he could have been expecting an Oscar. So I suppose it is not a shock to find him being amazing and totally unrecognizeable in a cartoon that isn’t that great and is full of great actors (Jared Harris, Elle Fanning) being not great right along with it.

 

And BoxTrolls might yet be nominated in Best Animated categories wherever they may be found. It won’t deserve it, not with the field we are given each year at this point, but it will largely be because of Ben Kingsley’s unpredictably evil Archibald Snatcher. Even though it will never seem like it.

 

  1. Hans Zimmer + The Magnificent Six – The Amazing Spider-Man 2

 

When Steven Price’s name was pulled from the envelope last March, it was one of the few times that the best score of the year was recognized as such in any capacity. It’s rare it even gets a nomination. So maybe tides are turning. But they have not yet turned enough for there to be any glimmer of hope for perennially shut out mastermind of movie music Hans Zimmer to be recognized for his work on a sequel to a coldly received superhero movie. A sequel to a movie he didn’t even score in the first place.

Andrew Garfield;Dane DeHaan

There are probably strains of that other person’s work throughout, it is the handicap of any sequel ever getting past that pesky “original” part of the category, but even with them, there can be little argument over the originality of this particular score. Simply in assembling The Magnificent Six (including Pharrell Williams and Junkie XL) he’s gone beyond even his own grand capacity for collaboration (which has also proved an obstacle for recognition in the past, most notably with James Newton Howard on The Dark Knight.) Moreover, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 score incorporates the best of all its conspiring facets, allowing them all points to shine through. It might even make some of them better (specifically, Incubus guitarist Steve Mazzaro.)

 

Ultimately, not even this team of unlikely musical heroes can save The Amazing Spider-Man 2 from its own drudgery and confused motivations. But there was never a chance of it becoming anything more than it is. More than any of these performances are. Fantastic and bizarre and ultimately overlooked pieces of cinema history.

 

 

 

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