Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Year in Review - Movies

As you may know, I use the Glengarry Glen Ross system of rating movies. Everything is either a cadillac, a set of steak knives, or You're Fired. My idea is that the vast majority of movies made should be fired (up to almost 75%). Then a smaller portion are steak knives (about 20%), and the smallest portion are cadillacs (5%). Now, considering that I already filter the movies I see (and I have made an effort to watch classics), my own personal breakdown should (if I have a good filter) have much fewer "fired" and much more cadillacs. And that's about how the year's been. I've seen 116 movies for the first time this year. Not too bad, but nowhere near Todd Jones. 21 were cadillacs, 42 were steak knives, 50 were fired, and 3 I didn't rate (and in hindsight I still don't think I can). That breaks down to 18% cadillacs, 37% steak knives, and 44% fired.

The best movies I saw this year for the first time were
1) Schindler's List
2) Hoop Dreams
3) Slap Shot
4) Kind Hearts & Coronets
5) The Incredibles

Some other movies I thought were notable were Double Indemnity, Batman Begins, Black Narcissus, The Aviator and Spirited Away. One of the ways I've started to think about movies, and what has arisen out of keeping a catalogue of films, is the way that I really like movies that aren't typical. Black Narcissus and Kind Hearts & Coronets are two perfect examples of films like that. Kung Fu Hustle is another.

The worst movies I saw for the first time this year were:
1) Spanglish
2) What the Bleep Do We Know?
3) Envy
4) The Big Bounce
5) Veronica Guerin

The common thread in all of these movies is the way they all seem to come from the boardroom school of screenwriting. It just seemed like a group of supposedly creative people got in a room and one guy said "let's do a romantic comedy with Adam Sandler" and another said "let's have a hot Latina woman be the love interest" and another said "let's have a marriage falling apart with a female role that has plenty of oscar reel scenes" and another said "let's have semicute kids, no wait, let's have 'real' kids with 'real' problems instead" and at the end of the meeting they all thought how smart they were, but they ended up with a movie that makes no sense and fails on a hundred different levels. All of these movies had this problem. And about 15 others on the you're fired list.

A few movies I liked more than I had any business to:
1) Troy
2) The Butterfly Effect
3) Ocean's Twelve

Don't get me wrong. I don't think any of these were particularly great films. I just enjoyed them.

A few movies that, in hindsight, I liked more than initially thought:
1) Spirited Away (and yes, I rated this a cadillac)
2) The Ladykillers (Ealing Studios version)
3) The Bourne Supremacy

A few movies that, in hindsight, I liked less than initially thought:
1) The Station Agent
2) Ali G Indahouse
3) Million Dollar Baby
4) Team America: World Police

Million Dollar Baby probably needs another viewing. Bad theatre experience, and I was kind of pissed off at culture warrior dickheads who ruined the last 40 minutes. Thinking back, the Station Agent bored me to tears and I cannot for the life of me understand why I didn't rate it fired. Ali G and Team America both made me laugh, but there's not much I'd go back to watch again, and that's the hallmark of a good comedy.

The best performances I saw this year:
1) Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator
2) Dennis Price in Kind Hearts & Coronets
3) Clive Owen in Closer
4) David Thewlis in Naked
5) Deborah Kerr in Black Narcissus

And notable are Jamie Foxx in Ray, Terrence Howard in Hustle & Flow, Cate Blanchett in The Aviator, Paul Newman in Slap Shot, Pacino in Seripco, and Johnny Depp in Secret Window.

Worst performances I saw this year:

1) Marlee Matlin in What the Bleep Do We Know
2) Dustin Hoffman and Robert DeNiro in Meet the Fockers
3) JK Simmons in The Ladykillers
4) Cate Blanchett in Veronica Guerin (I blame the director, actually).
5) Every actor except Sandler in Spanglish

#1 is so far ahead of anyone else in this category I may as well have separated them.

Underrated or underseen:
1) Dirty Pretty Things
2) Hustle & Flow (didn't make a tenth of what I thought it had)
3) Secret Window

1) On the Waterfront

And basically the rest of the movies I considered fired that had any critical acclaim at all.

Ranking of movies I saw in the theatre this year:

1) Batman Begins
2) The Aviator
3) Sideways
4) Wedding Crashers
5) Finding Neverland
6) Million Dollar Baby

I really didn't see that many movies in the theatre this year. Just 6. That's it for actually going to the movies for the entire year. Got to be a low for me since I was 5. I missed a lot of the summer movies because of the wedding planning and because it was a shitty year for movies in general. The most interesting thing to me is that I didn't rate a single film I saw in the theatre lower than steak knives. It might be because I don't go to spend the cake on things that even might be shitty. Or it might be because the theatre experience makes the movie seem better than it is. I lean towards the former, since lately it's been pretty hard to convince me to go to the theatre and deal with 18 cell phones going off, jerkasses walking in in the middle, and talkative lowlifes. I'm not sure I mentioned this in my review, but when I saw Finding Neverland, the woman sitting next to me actually translated every single line of dialogue in the movie to her companion. This was a 7:00 show in a packed theatre. That kind of obnoxiousness keeps me away from the movies. That's why something has to have gotten pretty much incredible reviews for me to make the effort.

So there's the list. Feel free to mock and take issue.