63. The Missing Person

A film noir starring Michael Shannon as a constantly-drunk PI and featuring Amy Ryan should have been the stuff of legend.  As is, they salvage the movie into something halfway decent.  Writer/director Noah Buschel does a great job capturing the look, sound, and feel of a modern day noir.  But the story is just a little bit too plain, and the 9/11 references seem wedged in, a cheap attempt at poignancy.  Also, I hope there’s someone else out there who immediately thinks (with fondness) of Studio 60 whenever he sees Merritt Weaver.

62. Inglourious Basterds

Click here or on the sidebar to see our thoughts on this Oscar movie.  Gee, I wonder what Adam thought of the film.  I’m not sure I’m contributing anything new to the conversation at this point.  Not like anyone needs me to say that Christoph Waltz is fantastic.  I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I really think Quentin Tarantino desperately needs a writing partner to check his ego.  Don’t get me wrong, if someone wanted to call him a genius, I wouldn’t disagree.  But it sorta feels that he’s at the point where everyone is too scared to call him out on his excesses.

61. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Like there was any chance I was missing a Werner Herzog/Nicolas Cage collaboration.  My only complaint?  That it wasn’t crazy enough!  Well, and also that Val Kilmer (and Xzibit, to a lesser extent) are woefully underused.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s some insanity.  But honestly, this movie should have been just off the charts nuts.  So I feel little let down that the plot was generally coherent and there was no voiceover opining on the meaninglessness of life.

60. The Accidental Husband

I’ll admit to being a little confused as to why this romantic comedy went straight to DVD.  Wasn’t anything groundbreaking, but I’d have to believe it could find an audience.  Uma Thurman plays a radio talk host specializing in relationship advice.  Her advice leads a caller to break up with her fiance (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).  Thanks to a hacker friend, Morgan ends up legally married Thurman, who is about to marry this year’s Oscar nominee Colin Firth.  Romcom hijinks ensure.  It’s a perfectly serviceable movie.

59. Jennifer’s Body

An interesting flop.  Many were pointing to as a surefire summer hit, thanks to a script written by Diablo Cody and Megan Fox headlining the film.  I think the movie’s lack of a defined genre really hurt it.  It has the structure and many conventions of a horror movie, but isn’t really that scary.  The script doesn’t have the anywhere near the charm of Juno, though it certainly has its moments (and its annoying quirks, homeslice).  I’m a little bit biased, but I think Amanda Seyfried is the real star here.  Which is kinda impressive, given that she was playing a character named “Needy” and going up against the lovely Ms. Fox.  Fun fact that amuses me: in Veronica Mars, Amanda Seyfried played Kristen Bell’s best friend, a year below her in high school.  Here, she’s still in high school where we saw Bell was married to Jason Bateman in Couples Retreat.

58. Shrink

Wrote a little bit about this one.  Still holds true I think.  A good movie, but with definite potential to be great.  One of the best uses of an FNL actor.  Though really, is there any bad way to use Landry?  Her character is maybe a little bit pat, but I’m curious to see where a post-True Jackson Keke Palmer goes, she clearly has a broad range, in terms of comedy and drama.  Also, something to think about.  What was the last really good Kevin Spacey movie?  I know he’s been doing the theater thing, but still.  Maybe Casino Jack will be good?

57. 35 Shots of Rum

Slow, languid, almost entirely devoid of plot, this is a movie I should have hated.  I mean, the opening scene nearly put me to sleep, and I suppose would have to rank among my least favorite scenes of the year.  And yet there was something oh-so-compelling about the thinly-sketched out characters.  Maybe it was that they felt real, but I think it was more how much Claire Denis managed to say with so little.  Clearly I would have liked to have seen a little more meat here.  Or a lot more meat.  But there’s a few scenes, like the one where they dance in the restaurant, that are pure magic.

56. The Boys Are Back

There was a few days where Clive Owen was batted around as an Oscar contender, a notion quickly shot down.  He’s very good here, but the screenplay just didn’t find room to squeeze in enough Oscar moments.  I’d imagine the film resonates much more with someone who lost a spouse or parent early.  As is, I wouldn’t call it powerful, but there are certainly moments of insight.  One thing I appreciated is that it would have been very easy to sanctify Clive Owen’s character.  And while he still usually comes across as a good guy, if occasionally misguided, there are times where he’s a dick, and the film calls him out on it.

55. Law Abiding Citizen

Kurt Wimmer has his name on a pretty interesting array of films.  Anyone who wrote the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair is OK in my book.  And Equilibrium deserves a wider audience.  I can’t speak to his other films, like The Recruit, Ultraviolet, or Street Kings, but neither can anyone else, I’d imagine.  He seems to be walking a fine line of action/suspense/scifi, which is great when his cleverness comes through.  This one had the potential for something really fun, but it never quite got there.  I’m still undecided on the casting (and the apparent role switch, where Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler were originally set to play each other’s roles).  I think it could have been better, probably.  Also, here’s Viola Davis again as an authority figure in a scenes with limited actual authority.  Can somebody please get her a decent-sized role?  Oh, and the next movie coming out written by Wimmer?  Salt.

54. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

You are getting exactly what you expect with this romcom.  A light, watchable take on A Christmas Carol.  Matthew McConaughey is the ladies man who needs to be taught a lesson.  Jennifer Garner is the sweet, slightly damaged take-charge girl.  The supporting cast is fun, with Lacey Chabert, Anne Archer, Robert Forster, a surprisingly decent Breckin Meyer.  Michael Douglas cashes a paycheck as a smooth-talking lothario.  He was getting the AFI lifetime achievement award as this movie was rolling out, which made that evening slightly more amusing.  And then there’s Emma Stone.  Who I’m madly in love with.  She’s great.  There’s a fun fact about this movie, I’ve been planning a post on it for some time now, hopefully I’ll get to it.  But the guys who wrote this movie also wrote 2009’s runaway breakout comedy.  Yup, these are the same guys that wrote The Hangover.