The screening at which I saw Oblivion was, as many advanced screenings are, hosted by a local radio station that had given away passes to contest winners. Usually, someone low on the totem pole at the station gives away t-shirts and tries to get the crowd excited that they got to see a movie for free. Some of these people are better at their job than others, and some of them get better movies than others. That said, the poor woman who was assigned Oblivion was not at fault when the audience responded to her question “Who’s excited about Tom Cruise?” with five or six slow claps. Oof. Then someone yelled out, “Morgan Freeman!” And the crowd clapped. Unfortunately for the crowd, Oblivion is 95% Tom Cruise; Morgan Freeman is barely there. However, if you forget that you hate Cruise, you may like him in Oblivion, which is a serious, artful science fiction film hidden behind the veneer of a shoot-‘em-up blockbuster. Continue…
It’s not the worst movie ever made. In fact, it’s kind of fun. But, yes, it’s bad. (Here’s the LGBT Weekly link.)
In the first few minutes of 1980s-set pop-rock musical Rock of Ages, Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough) climbs onto a bus to Los Angeles, flips through her collection of power pop rock albums, rereads a good luck note from her grandmother, sighs hopefully and starts singing – along with the entire bus – Night Ranger’s “Sister Christian,” one of the greatest bad songs of all time. And I laughed out loud. And then I was confused; was I supposed to find this funny? The answer was yes; but it took me too long to decide. Continue…
And the winners are…!
Most Excellent “I’m SO CrAzY!” Acting.[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpNtde_owk4 350 200]
Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight.” There is truly awful “I’m SO CrAzY!” acting, such as Brad Pitt in “12 Monkeys” or Robin Williams in “The Fisher King” showing off a bunch of mannered ticks, and then there is truly great “I’m SO CrAzY!” acting. Not since Anthony Hopkins in “The Silence of the Lambs” has someone done sociopathic so well — so creepy, so deep, so funny, and so captivating.
Most Excellent “I’m so sad and depressed…” Acting.[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uycf4sEOHbY]
Anne Hathaway in “Rachel Getting Married.” This movie bugged hard. It was preposterously plotted and every single character was awful, with the exception of Mather Zickel’s Kieran, Hathaway’s underwritten love interest. I wanted the movie to end about 45 minutes earlier than it did; it was annoying and boring. I guess Hathaway’s performance shows a great deal of versatility. She laughs, she cries, she pouts, she gets into a fist fight. But she’s ACTING. I wanted to slap her.
Most Excellent When Shirtless.
Hugh Jackman in “Australia.” Just watch this clip; you’ll get what I’m saying.
Most Excellent First Half of a Movie.[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UblUO0LjPUg]
“Wall-E.” The first 45 minutes is more or less a silent film; it’s genius — moving, beautiful, hilarious. The moment the robot ends up on the intergalactic Ark, the movie becomes obvious political commentary about Saving the Environment. And that part is kind of annoying.
Most Excellent Rewrite of Source Material to Fit Our Current War.
“Iron Man.” In the original comic book, Tony Stark is kidnapped by the Vietcong and forced to make a weapon. In this movie, it’s some sort of a Al-Qaeda wannabe group. The best part is that Stark is given an Middle Eastern buddy / assistant / doctor that diffuses the otherwise problematic racist overtones. No such Vietnamese sidekick existed back in the 1960s version. Yay for progress.
Most Excellent “You’re doing WHAT?!” Acting. Tie![youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5e7XLioq58k]
Tom Cruise in “Tropic Thunder.” His three scenes are shocking, not just because it’s Cruise but because his character is so shocking. Usually when Cruise pulls a WTF?! moment, it seems to me as if he’s just a sight-gag. This was more. Though, yeah, he is kind of sight-gag. And oddly hot.[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XHsmRVYU-A]
Robert Downey, Jr. in “Tropic Thunder.” Just plain genius. I don’t know how they pulled off his make-up, but Downey pulled off the character by being a brilliant actor. I mean, really. He’s that good. He should win an Oscar.
Most Excellent Reason to Blacklist a Casting Director.[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCaZz2UMml0]
Pierce Brosnan in “Mama Mia!” What were they thinking? The last 15 seconds of this clip … they’re just painful. Oh, my ears.
Most Excellent Gimmick-less Acting.[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WW0lQrWn5VI]
Sean Penn in “Milk.” He certainly looks a lot like Harvey Milk, but not that much. And he certainly sounds a lot like Milk, but not that much. This is a not a simple imitation, like Jamie Foxx in “Ray” (as good as that was). Penn creates a character who is more than Milk; he is a gay Everyman, a Norma Rae for the Gays. He’s also funny, sexy, and flawed. Obviously, Penn’s Milk wouldn’t exist without Dustin Lance Black’s amazing script, which is based on mostly new research.
Most Excellent Gimmick-less Film.
“Milk.” It’s the gay “Gandhi,” except it’s not too long and not boring. And unlike it’s documentary predecessor, it leave you uplifted, not completely depressed. The movie is nearly perfect.
Most Excellent Gimmicky Film[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7L6K3fkwr-Y]
I feared that “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” would be “Forrest Gump” with a darker palette and prettier people, but it was instead a deeply felt, deeply affecting meditation on death, aging, and fate. Like all David Fincher films, every shot was stunningly gorgeous. But it seems that Fincher has allowed his visual and technical virtuosity to serve the story, not his ego (unlike, I feel, he did in “Fight Club”). In his blankness and naivete, Brad Pitt was perfect. As Variety wrote, “Benjamin is a reactor, not a perpetrator, and Pitt inhabits the role genially, gently and sympathetically.” Cate Blanchett, playing a much more complex character, actually goes through more emotional transformations than Pitt does physical. As always, she’s amazing, and I don’t think she’s ever been better.
Most Excellent Trailer for a Movie That Doesn’t Exist and Probably Won’t.[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fb50GMmY5nk]
“Thundercats,” starring Brad Pitt, Vin Diesel, and Hugh Jackman. I mean, really. This is was obviously created by a future Oscar for Best Editing.
Most Excellent Movies That I Didn’t See Either Because I Couldn’t Be Bothered Or Because I Live in San Diego Where the Movies Will Never Open or Will Open Next Year.
Tie! Slumdog Millionaire,
Doubt, Frozen River, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Quantum of Solace, Waltz with Bashir, Happy-Go-Lucky, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Frost/Nixon, The Reader, Revolutionary Road, The Wrestler, Changeling, and Gran Torino. Yeah. So in other words, I based 2008’s Golden Teddy Awards for Most Excellence in Film on, like, 10 movies. Ha. Suckerz.
Tomorrow: The 2008 Golden Teddy Awards for Most Excellence in Books!