Wednesday, 2 January 2008

A Large List Of Movies I Enjoyed This Year (Updated With Canyon's Picks So It's Even Larger!)

Happy New Year, denizens of the internet! The holiday season is over, unhappy workers are returning to their nasty offices, and I'm cleaning the house. But, before I get into the rest of it, here is an absurdly long list that has missed off a million things either because we've not seen certain films that stand a good chance of getting on here (Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood, Tekkon Kinkreet, Rescue Dawn, etc.), and because I'm forgetful. There was a supporting actor performance this year that I loved but I can't remember who it was now. That's as annoying as later remembering that I wanted to give music of the year shout-outs to Tenacious D's Master Exploder (song of the decade) and Steven Seagal's album Mojo Priest (not the hilarious hubristic disaster people expected it to be; I actually quite like it).

Anyway, here is as complete a list as I can make. Note that the worst film winner is not yet decided. Over the next few days I intend to decide who should win this coveted prize with a Worst Film of 2007 Face/Off special! So stay tuned. Also, I'm hoping that at some point Canyon will include her best and worsts of the year. I'm not 100% sure what her list will look like, though I get the feeling it will be fairly different. I look forward to reading it.

Favourite movies of the year:


1=: Zodiac - A perfect movie about an obsessive quest made by an obsessive perfectionist.
1=: Ratatouille - A perfect movie about a perfectionist and the obsessive quest for perfection.
2: The Bourne Ultimatum - Like being beaten up by a film. But in a good way. Best threequel ever, best action film of the decade.
3: Black Book - Moral quagmires, betrayal, sex, death, twists, violence, blonde women being mistreated by the world but keeping their dignity even when doused in shit. Hitchcock would have loved it.
4: Once - My favourite romantic movie in ooooh, aeons. Lovely soundtrack too.
5: The Darjeeling Limited - Wes Anderson triumphs again! Yeah, I said it.
6: Grindhouse - Sorry to say it, but only the full version gives you the full effect. Fuck you, Weinsteins.
7: Exiled - Johnnie To's gangster masterpiece. The most unpredictable film of the year (other than I'm Not There, but who knows what the hell Todd Haynes was thinking with that).
8: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford - Possibly the best ensemble cast of the year, certainly the best photographed. Hypnotic brilliance.
9: Paprika - A feast for the eyes, and featuring a heroine that I want to see return in a billion sequels.
10: The King of Kong - Best documentary I've seen since the magnificent Capturing the Friedmans. No other documentary I've seen has made me so angry and so overjoyed. Who'd have thought real life could be this interesting?

Honourable mentions:



I Am Legend
Jindabyne
Hot Fuzz
Superbad
3:10 to Yuma


Honourable honourable mentions (there were a lot of good films out this year):

Gone Baby Gone
The Mist
Sunshine
Transformers
Black Snake Moan


Honourable honourable honourable mentions (I mean, seriously, a lot):

The Lives of Others
Beowulf
Charlie Wilson's War
Knocked Up
The Lookout


Favourite movies released in the US in 2006 but then released in the UK in 2007 and were good enough to get a mention here anyway:

The Fountain, Curse of the Golden Flower

Movies that are not getting included because I need to see them a couple more times before I know whether I was crazy about them or not:


No Country For Old Men, I'm Not There

Movie that I didn't want to like because the director is an asshole but damn it's a lot of fun:


Apocalypto

Worst movie:

To be decided between I Know Who Killed Me and D-War (Runners-up: Bubble Fiction Boom or Bust, Spider-Man 3, Southland Tales, The Reaping, Next)

Most pointless movie:

Ocean's Thirteen

Best actor:

Chris Cooper - Breach / Casey Affleck - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Gone Baby Gone (Runner-up: Will Smith - I Am Legend, Kurt Russell - Death Proof, Viggo Mortenson - Eastern Promises)

Best actress:


Laura Linney - Jindabyne (Runner-up: Gong Li - Curse of the Golden Flower, Carice Van Houten - Black Book, Marketa Irglova - Once)

Best supporting actor:

John Carroll Lynch - Zodiac (Runner-up: Chris Evans - Sunshine / Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Sam Rockwell - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang - Exiled) (ETA: OMG how could I forget! James Marsden's hilarious performance in Enchanted! Easily the best thing about the movie.)

Best Supporting Actress:


Robin Wright Penn - Beowulf (Runner-up: Marcia Gay Harden - The Mist, Amara Karan - The Darjeeling Limited, Sairse Ronan - Atonement)

Most entertaining performance in a bad movie:


Nicholas Cage - Ghost Rider

Worst actor:

Patrick Dempsey - Enchanted (Runner-up: Jason Behr - D-War)

Worst actress:

Lindsay Lohan - I Know Who Killed Me (Runner-up: Amanda Brooks - D-War, Claire Danes - Stardust)

Best hero:

Remy the Rat - Ratatouille (Runner-up: Rachel Stein - Black Book, Paprika - Paprika, McLovin - Superbad, King Leonidas - 300)

Best villain:


Anton Chigurh - No Country for Old Men (Runner-up: Billy Mitchell - The King of Kong, Stuntman Mike - Death Proof, Anton Grubitz - The Lives of Others, Mrs. Carmody - The Mist)

Worst hero:

Ghost Rider - Ghost Rider (Runner-up: Elizabeth Swann - Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Ethan Kendrick - D-War, "Jack" - D-War)

Worst villain:

Thomas Gabriel - Die Hard 4.0 (Runner-up: Venom - Spider-Man 3, Doctor Doom - Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Evil General - D-War)

Biggest badass of the year:

Zoe Bell - Death Proof

Best Director:

Brad Bird - Ratatouille (Runner up: Paul Greengrass - The Bourne Ultimatum, David Fincher - Zodiac)

Worst Director:

To be decided between Chris Sivertson - I Know Who Killed Me and Hyung-Rae Shim - D-War) (Runner-up: Mark Steven Johnson - Ghost Rider, Richard Kelly - Southland Tales, Lee Tamahori - Next)

"Stop perving, Grandad!" director of the year:

Mike Nichols - Charlie Wilson's War. We get it, Mike, Charlie Wilson was a big perv, but that doesn't excuse the leering shots of boobs and butts, nor does it even begin to explain why you cast Emily Blunt and then made her sit around in next to no clothes for five minutes and then not have her appear for the rest of the film. (Runner-up: Michael Bay - Tranformers. Megan Fox is not that hot, so please stop staring at her oiled midriff, kthx)

Best cinematographer:

Roger Deakins - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and No Country For Old Men (Runner-up: Harris Savides - Zodiac, Robert Yeoman - The Darjeeling Limited)

Best sound design:

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Runner-up: I Am Legend, Tranformers)

Best visual effects:

Transformers (Runner-up: The Fountain, Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End)

Most improved director:


Danny Boyle - Sunshine. I've always been frustrated by the lionisation of Boyle, whose movies feature pretty shots and no overall coherence or concept of how one shot has to link into another (Michael Bay gets accused of this yet I think he's much better at creating a whole movie than Boyle, and yes, I know that is considered heresy. Whatever!). Sunshine is the first film where he gets it totally right. The whole movie is an perfectly sustained audio-visual assault. He can be proud of it.

Runner-up: Len Wiseman - Die Hard 4.0. I've found Wiseman to be a hack with a bland visual style and little imagination, but even though Die Hard 4.0 shared the same monochrome look of his vampire movies, the action scenes featured some wonderfully imaginative moments, not counting the Jurassic Park 2 rip-off with the car in the elevator shaft. I was very pleasantly surprised. Still got a shit villain, though. Did Hans Gruber have no more brothers?

Most precipitous drop in directorial ability:


Sam Raimi - Spider-Man 3. Jaredan maintains Raimi purposely sabotaged the movie as a screw-you to Sony for making him include Venom, and I can't argue with him. I can't believe someone as talented and conscientious as Raimi could poop out something as dreadful as this. Let's hope he improves soon, as he's still top of the list of directors capable of pulling off The Hobbit.

Disappointment of the year:

Spider-Man 3 (Runner-up: Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End, Eastern Promises)

Most overrated film of the year:

Atonement. Stately, respectable, well-crafted, pretty. It's all of those. It's also empty, features some really dodgy acting, and makes no sense until the final twist comes into play. Then it's all very affecting, but for an hour, the movie is filled with head-scratchers and logical leaps. (Runner-up: 28 Weeks Later)

Most underrated film of the year:

Hot Fuzz. Has none of the respectable cachet of Atonement, but is possibly the most carefully crafted British film in decades. Repeat viewings unearth a wealth of detail and beautiful structure. If only critics loved Point Break and the films of Michael Bay the way they should, they would have appreciated its genius. (Runner-up: Curse of the Golden Flower)

Best comic adaptation of the year:


300. I don't even like it that much, but the competition (Spider-Man 3, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider) is pitiful. Persepolis is almost certainly going to be better, even though Marjane Satrapi is not really a comic writer/artist, more like a writer who draws the odd picture.

Best schadenfreude:


The Brothers Affleck prove to a sceptical world that they are awesome, to the massive happiness of myself.

Best comeback of the year:


Aaron Sorkin's screenplay for Charlie Wilson's War was his best in ages; smart, funny, irreverent, and only a bit pompous. It went a long way towards making up for Studio 60.

Best action scene of the year:

Jason Bourne vs. Desh - The Bourne Ultimatum (Runner-up: Autobots and humanity vs. Decepticons vs. a city - Transformers, motoring ladies vs. Stuntman Mike - Death Proof, Viggo's genitalia vs. hitmen - Eastern Promises)

Best non-action scene of the year:

Anton Ego eats a meal - Ratatouille (Runner-up: Cops interrogate John Carroll Lynch - Zodiac, every conversation between Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in Hot Fuzz)

Best musical moment of the year:

Marketa Irglova sings on her way back home - Once (Runner-up: Samuel L. Jackson sings Stack-O-Lee to a writhing sweaty mass of people - Black Snake Moan, Justin Timberlake lipsynchs to All These Things That I've Done by The Killers - Southland Tales)

Most WTF ending of the year:


The Mist - I cannot spoil it, and am still not sure whether I liked it or not, but I will say this: once seen, never ever forgotten.

Most bullshit death of the year:

Jazz going out like a punk in Transformers. Okay, so Megatron is five times taller, but still, that was not acceptable. (Runner-up: the various "tragic" moments at the end of Spider-Man 3)

Most wasted actors of the year:


Chow Yun Fat - Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End (Runner-up: Emily Blunt - Charlie Wilson's War, Thomas Haden Church - Spider-Man 3)

Biggest jerks of the Year:

The Weinsteins' decision to block the international release of Grindhouse may have been borne of their fears of financial ruin, but the dismissive attitude they have towards international audiences, and the lack of understanding they have of the movie itself (individually hardly anyone likes the films, but together they are perfect entertainment) is notable. Just remember, next time they push for a film to win an Oscar with their bully tactics, it's got nothing to do with championing the film. They're only in it for themselves.

Best screw-you of the year:


Kurt Russell mouthing off against the Weinsteins at the Cannes Film Festival. Just like Snake Plissken would! Now go appear in a bunch of movies next year because you are so awesome, okay?

************

Canyon's Mostly Redundant End-of-Year List

Though you might have caught on that Admiral Neck is very fond of end-of-year list-making, I myself am not. I do love reading other people's lists, I have to admit, and I appreciate the opportunity to step back, think about the year as a whole, and organize your thoughts. The problem for me is that I often don't feel there are ten movies made every year that I will remember and really love as time goes on (the same goes with books and music and tv shows -- most years will produce maybe three or four of each). With most movies I enjoy in a given year, "Oh yeah, that's a good movie" is the first thought that springs to mind when I think about them later -- not "Wow, what a haunting, life-changing masterpiece that was."

I get that it's probably the same for everybody, but I feel wrong memorializing merely good movies in a top-ten list when they probably won't matter much to me in the long run. I guess this is kind of unfair to the very good movies I leave off, but it's my list and I'll do what I want. Also, Admiral Neck and I have very similar tastes, so I mostly have the same movies on as he does, and I liked all the other movies he mentioned mostly as much as he did (except The Darjeeling Limited, because I have been burned by Wes Anderson too many times and refused to see what was by all accounts another dollhouse whimsy-fest). Okay, enough clearing-of-throat preamble: my seven favorite movies of the year (I could stretch this to ten, but I feel a bit wrong doing it, so I won't).

Top Seven

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford -- One of the most gorgeous movies I've ever seen (the visuals in the train-robbery scene will stay with me a long time); the comparisons to Terrence Malick are apt, but this film is no rip-off (as if that would even be a bad thing). The narration was moving and elegiac and wonderfully literary, the pace was perfect, many scenes were incredibly haunting (especially the fantastic ending), and Casey Affleck needs awards shoved between his tiny Chiclet teeth immediately.

Ratatouille -- I adore The Iron Giant but was disappointed with The Incredibles (apparently I was the only person on earth who was), but this movie had Admiral Neck and I sobbing like little babies. I would have cried more if we hadn't been in public. Gorgeous animation, wonderfully funny, with a turn by Peter O'Toole that made me choke up over a discourse on the role of critics. That's some writin', Brad Bird! And damn you, by the way, for making me cry more at your movies than even one of Joss Whedon's.

Zodiac -- Another one that stayed with me for weeks afterward. A meta-comment on obsession that was scary, funny, thought-provoking, and ended perfectly.

(Note: All three of the movies above are what I'd consider the haunting-masterpiece variety.)

I Am Legend -- Yeah, I said it. I think the movie was very unfairly derided as being a typical Will Smith flashy blockbuster, a sci-fi FX-extravaganza with no brain and no heart. (And it almost was -- Admiral Neck got hold of the original script, and it's absolutely terrible, and the kind of movie you can imagine would have been perfect for Michael Bay [he was previously attached to direct].) Instead, it's a quiet, thoughtful, incredibly moving meditation on isolation and loneliness, and the main character's slow descent into madness. I don't often agree with Salon's Stephanie Zacharek (though I love reading her reviews), but I think she was mostly on the mark about this one. I don't agree with the complaint I've often heard about the ending -- I think it flows very well with what came before, and while I think the God stuff and the very end were missteps, those aren't the moments that stayed with me. The shots of a deserted New York are incredible, the action set-pieces are brilliant, and I haven't been able to get some scenes out of my mind since I saw it. There might have even been more sobbing during this than during Ratatouille (though I blame Admiral Neck for being a big crier himself and dragging me down with him).

Once -- My favorite musical of the year (though who knows if Sweeney Todd would have bested it; that doesn't come out here till January, thanks distributors!!!!!). Wonderful performances, beautiful songs -- I went on about it earlier this year so won't belabor it, but it was absolutely lovely.

3:10 to Yuma -- The second-best Western of the year -- perhaps a bit too neatly wrapped up at the end, but that's kind of what I liked about the ending, that even though Russell Crowe's actions are seemingly out of character, they make perfect sense in the context of the movie. I don't know if that makes sense to anyone but me, but I loved the symmetry of it.

Grindhouse -- Planet Terror was a perfect spoof -- mocking grindhouse movies with hilarious accuracy but incredibly clever in its own right. Death Proof wasn't a grindhouse spoof by any stretch of the imagination -- it was more of a Tarantino movie badly filmed and scratched up -- but it was brilliant in its own right (people moaned about it, but would they really want two back-to-back straight spoofs?).

Black Book -- Straight up Verhoevenly goodness. In Dutch!

Best Coen brothers movie I've seen, but which still left me a bit cold: No Country for Old Men

Movie I thought I'd hate and, much to Admiral Neck's gloating joy, I really, really liked: The Bourne Ultimatum

Favorite bad movie: Ghost Rider, mostly because of the weird character quirks Nicolas Cage adds to his performance

Biggest disappointment: Eastern Promises (I loved History of Violence and consider it one of those elusive masterpieces, so it was a huge disappointment to find that this barely felt like a movie)

Movies I liked but am a bit ashamed to admit to: Music and Lyrics, Hairspray, Transformers (and potentially Dan in Real Life, as it's supposed to be a lot better than the mawkish trailer makes it seem)

Movies that would probably be on my list if they came out in the UK in %#$($# December like they should have: Walk Hard, There Will Be Blood, Juno, Sweeney Todd, Into the Wild, Away From Her, National Treasure 2: Book of Seeeeeecrets, No End in Sight

13 comments:

sjwoo said...

Finally caught Zodiac last night. As you know, I'm terrified of movies that march beyond the 120 minute mark, and this one ran well beyond 150. And after it was over, I was mystified -- what happened to my precious minutes. The movie flew by, and rightfully so; one of my favorites of the year, no question. The only part that I thought was a misstep was the basement scene (where Jake G follows the creep guy, Vaughn). Vaughn turning off the light and Jake G running up the stairs -- it was almost comical. Vaughn does smile as he closes the door, but the sequence just seemed a bit much.

A movie I guarantee you'll both hate: No Reservations. Of course, we liked it, even if it was totally predictable from the first minute. Can't go wrong with food and NYC in our books.

Was Patrick Dempsey that terrible? I know you guys didn't dig Junebug, so I'm assuming your love for Amy Adams isn't as blind as ours (and so overpowering that all that surrounds her turns into gold). In interviews, Dempsey talks about how he's just a plot-driver in the film, and that everybody else had a great time while he sort of went through the motions.

I've always thought the Coens make movies for men. So it's no surprise that No Country (which hopefully I'll see tonight) and the rest of their films have that effect on you. Even their softest, Intolerable Cruelty, doesn't have, at the core of it, much evidence of the feminine. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not equating some simple touchy-feely setiments to femininity. It's a sense, and they don't have it.

I take it you guys haven't seen Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. Not a single redeeming character in sight, but man, what a ride.

Charlie Wilson's War = History Lecture. Hoffman was the highlight.

Canyon said...

I thought about mentioning that scene in Zodiac -- actually I think it works really well. Jake's character was so obsessed with the case and incredibly paranoid that of course he would be afraid of anyone even vaguely suspicious. It also seemed like a sly comment on Fincher's part -- a sort of parody of a sillier kind of serial-killer movie where those scenes happen all the time, and it turns out that that guy is the killer.

As you know, I am fond of the mindless chick flick (and Aaron Eckhart, more importantly), so I'm sure I'll catch No Reservations when it repeats endlessly on Sky Movies.

I didn't think Dempsey was awful so much as completely blank. Even his eyes only seemed halfway open in his puffy face. It definitely shows that he didn't have a good time -- I mean, yeah, he had a boring part, but I'm sure it called for more than "mumble vaguely, then stare as if numbly awaiting slaughter." Really, they just should've cast someone else. I liked Adams in it a lot, but best performance was James Marsden, hands down.

I do know a lot of women who love the Coens, so I'm not sure. I still can't put my finger on exactly what I don't like about them -- usually it's the relentless quirkiness (though that bothered me less in O Brother, for some reason), but that was almost entirely absent in this movie. The closest I can come is to say that no person in their movies resembles any person I've ever met, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but they're exaggerated in ways that are completely uninteresting to me.

Haven't managed to get Devil yet, but definitely want to. As for Charlie Wilson, as I said during the movie, Sorkin's one of the few writers who can make history lectures fun (while occasionally [or frequently] reminding you how erudite he is).

Admiral Neck said...

Re: the Zodiac moment you mention, I've mentioned this in other forums, but that's Fincher's joke on the audience. The standard convention for serial killer movies is to have the hero stumble upon their lair, and Fincher knows the audience is expecting something like that, so he slips into the movie a little post-modern comment on his own movie. Note that right at the start of the scene the projectionist unrolls the film leader at the start of the roll of film, "cueing" the mini-movie that takes place within the larger movie. Then it unfolds exactly as horror convention demands, except that at the end it ends happily, with the projectionist, standing in for Fincher, having a wry little smile to himself for his cleverness.

When we saw it at the cinema, the audience reacted very positively at the beginning of the scene, letting out a groan of "shock" that ended up becoming a confused hubbub at the end of the mini-film. Thankfully, the actual finale, with all of its ambiguity, did not seem to annoy anyone. It was a great experience. At the beginning we were worried that the audience would give us trouble as they were really restless, but an hour in we noticed the room was silent with attention. What an incredible movie.

We're not fans of Amy Adams, but she was great in Enchanted (and barely noticeable in Charlie Wilson's War). Dempsey, however, was a void in the movie, sucking all the life out and coating the remains with his hair-slime. Whenever he was onscreen, I was counting the minutes until the simply awesome James Marsden returned.

As for Charlie Wilson's War, yes, I'll grant you that, but it was a really entertaining lecture, with all sorts of jokes and japes and asides that kept us very entertained throughout. I gather Sorkin and Nichols missed out some of the juicier moments from the book they've adapted, so I can't wait to read that.

Weird you say that about the Coens. Canyon has a mini-rant stored about the Coens and Stephanie Zacharek's bizarre review of No Country, not to mention Zodiac and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, so I'll let her respond to that.

Admiral Neck said...

Whoa, Canyon totally beat me to it. Get out of my mind! [/Gaius Helen Mohiam from Dune]

Canyon said...

Gah! I think I have a clone. Unfortunately that clone is more well-spoken than I am and must be exterminated.

Yeah, some of Zacharek's reviews have always mystified me -- she tends to turn on really highly-praised movies and reviews them as if she's decided to hate them before she's even seen them. She hated Brokeback Mountain, Zodiac, Assassination of Jesse James, There Will Be Blood, and No Country, and finally it clicked -- she hates movies without women in them. In all those reviews, she's either mentioned how glitteringly perfect even the smallest female roles were and how they were far more interesting than the men's roles (which I totally disagree with), or said outright, "The filmmakers act as if watching powerful men is interesting (it's not)."

So yeah, pretty big bias there. I really wish she would at least admit it upfront instead of acting as if the problem is with the movies and not with her. Sure, it is a big problem with filmmaking in general, and it would have been great if there'd been bigger parts for women in those movies, but at the same time I can't bring myself to fault them, because those weren't the stories they set out to tell. Anyway, in Zacharek's case, it's definitely a problem that the Coens don't focus on women, though I can't say that's what bothered me about the movie in particular.

Dawn said...

Yeah, what a year it was.

I really did like Zodiac too quite a bit. Had that haunting thing going.

I loved Away From Her...it is still staying with me...great story. And my favorite character in a movie this year, the "color man."

American Gangster had a neat twist ending and good performances.

Sorry we wasted Christmas Day afternoon watching The Great Debaters, it was too long and didn't have a compelling story to tell.

Didn't really care for Charlie's War, it was a lot of information, but other than PS Hoffman's performance (and of course Tom was good as always) it was just too much of a history lesson as sjwoo says.

I don't think I'll be watching NCFOM -- I'll do something else and let sjwoo tell me whether it's "my kind of movie" or not. Probably not.

I really liked Starting Out in the Evening too. I loved Frank Langella and Lauren Ambrose in that. And Lili Taylor too, she was great. It was such a tender tale. Frank should get an Oscar nod for his portrayal. Masterful.

And Once...well, I'm going to be singing those songs for quite a while, and enjoying the memory of that story. Thanks guys for recommending it to us!

Haven't seen Kite Runner yet, or Golden Compass, or Diving Bell...this might be the one to see.

But I loved Patrick Dempsey and Amy Adams in Enchanted...but then I do think AA is enchanted as well.

sjwoo said...

Wait a minute...the guy is the killer? You mean Vaughn is the guy who wrote the words on the poster, right? Or do you mean "killer" within the universe of that little scene (i.e., Graysmith thought Marshall was the writer, but it turns out Vaughn was)?

The postmodern nudge-nudge just didn't work for me. Too much postmodern, too much nudge-nudge. Took me out of the film for a few minutes, which I don't think is ever a good thing, especially for a film that is so absorbing at every level. The more I think about it, the more I feel it was too self-indulgent. But hey, it's party.

Marsden was incredible in Enchanted, wasn't he? With that and his performance in Hairspray, I hope he gets the recognition he so deserves. Which means he'll be doing nothing but musicals for the foreseeable future -- or perhaps a musical superhero film? If you haven't heard the soundtrack to Enchanted, check out the last song -- Marsden does "That's Amore," straight up. I've been a big fan of his ever since Interstate 60, a movie that sadly never found a wide audience (written/directed by Bob Gale, Back to the Future writer).

The Coens are great at what they do. They'll never make movies that relate to us on a realistic level (a la Nicole Holofcener), but then again, I don't expect them to. I'd love to see a gender split on their movies -- I'd be willing to bet a pretty dollar that it's heavily weighted towards men.

Admiral Neck said...

Sorry, my comment was garbled. "Killer" as in the killer in the mini-movie, but not in actuality. Perhaps my indulgence of it is due in part to the enormous audience response. We already knew the Zodiac killer was never caught, so it just struck us as a great joke.

There's a good chance Langella will get some attention come Oscar time, but if so he might nudge out Chris Cooper, who deserves to be covered with garlands for his performance in Breach, which would be pretty forgettable if not for his tour de force.

And yes, Marsden is wonderful. I've been a fan of his since he played Cyclops, as he embodied him totally despite being horribly underused [/bitter Cyclops fan since childhood]. I'd like to hear the Enchanted soundtrack. Menken and Schwartz' songs were terrific. And I wasn't aware that Bob Gale had advanced to directing. I thought he'd vanished from view.

Every time I hear the name The Great Debaters I think of how Stephen A. Douglas was a great debater, but Abraham Lincoln was the great emancipator (from a Sufjan Stevens song). It sounds like a horribly dreary film, even though I usually give Denzel a lot of slack.

Canyon said...

The Coens may be great at what they do, but what they do is not great. Ha! Trademark me. I don't need realism in my movies, but their brand of wacky comedy is, I think, often given a lot more credit for being "smart" than it deserves.

The problem I have with the gender theory, which is the problem I always have with it, is that it renders all other arguments invalid. If I don't like their movies, it's because I'm a woman, not because there's something lacking in the movies. Though No Country lacked something else that was entirely unCoenesque -- just haven't figured out what it is yet.

sjwoo said...

I wouldn't say the gender argument renders your unfavorable reaction to the Coens invalid. It does color it to some degree, though, doesn't it? I'm afraid it has to. As much as we'd like to be unbiased, we all have our biases, whether we're born with them (your gender) or not (yours and Admiral's distaste for Loverboy [not the band -- the movie!]). I mean I still enjoy watching these incredibly awful kung fu movies from the 70s, and I really don't know why. Please, somebody help me...

All right -- No Country for Old Men, here I come.

sjwoo said...

Just finished NCFOM. Underwhelming. First we get the physical violence on screen, then we get the discussion of violence from the characters.

Then again, I didn't love Fargo, either, and everyone was drooling over that one. It's all been downhill since Barton Fink as far as I'm concerned.

When I look back at their work, the last movie I really liked by them was The Man Who Wasn't There. Even if it starred Scarlett "Man-voice/Frog-face" Johansson.

Canyon said...

God help the man who's not born with a bias against old Googly Frog. Having to watch The Nanny Diaries just to get a glimpse of her underwear is a heavy price to pay.

Sure, we're all biased to some degree, but there are plenty of women out there who love the Coens, so they kind of throw off the theory. Besides, I think it's just as unfair to say they appeal more to men -- then your praise is as easily dismissed as my criticism.

Anyway, I think we can both agree that No Country was disappointing. I did like it a hell of a lot more than their comedy -- I really enjoyed it while I was watching it and only felt let down afterwards. I still haven't seen Blood Simple and Miller's Crossing, and I think I'll like those more given what I've heard about them.

Banter!

sjwoo said...

Blood Simple is aces -- very funny in moments. I wish NCFOM had more humor -- the dark kind, of course. Miller's Crossing is good but not spectacular; Albert Finney is wonderful, as always.

If you compare the gender split of Ron Bass pictures vs. Quentin Tarantino pictures, you'll see a sizable difference between the two. It's just facts, statistics, trends, and they can be as meaningful or as meaningless as you want to make them.

It is the easy way out, though, no question, to use gender as an excuse to formulate an opinion, but it's there. Always will be, I'm afraid...