The final shoutout goes to Ben.  If you are one of our vast audience who didn’t receive a shoutout, there’s always next year!

94. You Again

I’m not entirely certain why Kristen Bell keeps finding herself playing such bitchy characters.   I mean, yeah, she can pull it off, and I suppose if you’ve watched twenty minutes of a Veronica Mars episode, you might think that’s what she does, but Veronica was so much more layered than that.  You Again isn’t quite as stupid as its trailers made it seem.  And the cast (including Sigourney Weaver, Jamie Lee Curtis, James “Lone Star” Wolk, Betty White, Kristin Chenoweth and a whole ton of cameos) certainly help prop up the weak parts.  The film, by the way, passes the Bechdel test rather easily as the men take a backseat.  Of course, they are also the only rational people in the movie.  So You Again is at least somewhat realistic.

93. I Love You Phillip Morris

I was expecting to have a strong reaction to this film.  Not entirely sure why, maybe its unexpected WGA Adapted Screenplay nomination, the week Jim Carrey had Oscar buzz or Brian’s recommendation to stay away.  Instead, I found a serviceable, if unremarkable movie.  I Love You Philip Morris is essentially a con movie, starring Jim Carrey as the con artist and Ewan McGregor as the titular recipient of his affection.  I think a more successful movie would have focused on the cons, though I suppose as it drew from real life, Requa and Ficarra were limited by the actual story.

92. Life in Flight


Absolutely no clue how this one crossed my radar.  It stars Patrick Wilson as a successful and promising architect (side note: is it just me or does it seem there are a ton of film architects) on the verge of a major deal to have his business bought out by a larger corporation.  Amy Smart, his socialite wife, has helped and pushed him along, eagerly anticipating the rise in social status.  But as the deal near, Wilson begins to have second thoughts, both about his career and his wife, after he comes across a graphic designer (Lynn Collins).  Life in Flight achieves its incredibly modest ambitions: depicting the standard movie dilemma of dreams/desire vs. ambition/practicality.  I won’t spoil the ending, but it isn’t imaginative, though the film does try to raise the stakes by giving Wilson a kid.  I’m a huge Patrick Wilson fan, so glad to see him getting leading man gigs, and I think Amy Smart acquits herself well.  Definitely liked Lynn Collins more in this than in stuff last year, maybe it is because this movie had an actual script, maybe it is because she was a redhead here.  Oddly, Rashida Jones and Zak Orth appear in the requisite best friend roles.

91. Get Low

You can read some of John’s thoughts on the film here.  Sadly, I wasn’t quite as high on it as he was.  It is a decent enough flick, but Get Low never really goes anywhere that interesting.  And I think it built up the funeral party too much without being able to deliver; similarly, the decades-old secrets that were revealed weren’t necessarily worth the wait.  It is a little curious Duvall couldn’t get the traction needed to secure an Oscar nomination.  Perhaps a combination of it being a strong year and that there were stretches of time where he wasn’t on screen.

90. Chloe

Chloe is one of those movies that in theory should be amazing, but doesn’t manage to live up to expectations.  Julianne Moore stars as a doctor and loving wife to Liam Neeson, a professor.  She begins to think he’s cheating on her and so, naturally, hires an escort (Amanda Seyfried) to seduce him in order to get proof of the infidelity.  But as her relationship with Seyfried progresses, things get a little more complicated.  The film stirred up some headlines thanks to the sexy time between Moore and Seyfried.  Which, I mean, hey hey, but it actually was relevant to the film, even if not adequately developed.

89. It’s Kind of a Funny Story

My favorite film by writers/directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, also the only one I find tolerable.  Keir Gilchrist is a teen dealing with the attendant problems of being a teen who ends up checking himself into an adult psychiatric ward where he befriends Zach Galifianakis and Emma Roberts, also high functioning patients.  The film certainly doesn’t make light of depression or other mental illnesses, but I wonder if it veered a little too close to falling into the Hollywood trap of depicting mental illness as something that can be solved with a specific key.  They aren’t in the movie often, but Lauren Graham and Jim Gaffigan play Gilchrist’s parents, so props to you, Gaffigan.

88. Night Catches Us

Talked about this one briefly in our Spirit Awards chat.  The film, when you strip away all its adornments, is a fairly standard secret from the past movie.  Characters reunite, but there’s always that elephant in the room about The Secret and then in the climax, all is revealed in a twist, and credits rolls.  I’m not sure the secret was terribly interesting here, but still a solid first effort from writer/director Tanya Hamilton, buoyed by Anthony Mackie and the perpetually underrated Kerry Washington.

87. The Romantics

The Romantics has a very simple story: college friends (Malin Akerman, Adam Brody, Josh Duhamel, Katie Holmes, Rebecca Lawrence, Anna Paquin, Jeremy Strong) are reunited at a beach house for the marriage between Paquin and Duhamel.  The only trouble is that Holmes and Duhamel were an item first.  There are enough side plots with those friends, mother Candice Bergen, and younger siblings Elijah Wood and Dianna Agron to keep things moving.  For a character study, though, there’s not a whole lot of studying characters.  It’d be easy to dismiss the failings of Duhamel and Holmes to carry a movie like this one, but I don’t buy it, certainly not completely.  Because whatever you think of them as actors, it is difficult to convey emotion when there’s apparently none to portray.  Writer/director Galt Niederhoffer (nice try, but not a real name) relies too much on the unspoken love triangle as a crutch instead of defining who these characters are, exactly, save for some very late moment reveals.  There’s a wrenching speech at the rehearsal dinner that brought back memories of the classic scene from Rachel Getting Married.

86. True Grit

These posts are more fun for me when I get to talk about movies no one really remembers from last year, as opposed to the Oscars films where I feel I’ve already said my piece.  Which was: “[Runyonesque] dialogue serves kinda interesting characters doing terribly uninteresting things.”  If it were up to me, the film would be in the conversation for a few acting nominations and that’s it.  But I clearly haven’t been on the same wavelength as the Coen brothers for years and years.  And can we once again have a laugh about Steinfeld’s supporting actress nomination?

85. All Good Things

So you’ve got an Oscar-nominated director (Andrew Jarecki), screenwriter (Marc Smerling), lead actor (Ryan Gosling), supporting actor (Frank Langella), plus Kirsten Dunst as the lead actress in a role where, according to imdb’s trivia page, she felt like Jodie Foster must have when she read the script for The Accused (where Foster won an Academy Award).  So…why haven’t you heard of this movie?  First, this year was an extremely tough one for lead roles.  Gosling was a much better bet to get one for Blue Valentine, so I imagine effort went there.  And while Dunst was fine, there just wasn’t any room for her, not in a movie with a late release that no one saw.  In the film, which is based on a true story, Gosling is the son of a New York real estate maestro (Langella) who first wants to get away from the business, but then, believing he needed to best provide for his new wife (Dunst), starts following in Dad’s footsteps.  Only it turns out that Gosling is apparently severely disturbed, and becomes the center of an investigation surrounding an unsolved murder.  The film, by the way, takes a decidedly biased stand on Gosling’s role in the murder, which officially remains unsolved to this day.  The movie probably deserved a better audience, but there’s just not that much there to the story, which pretty much just sees Gosling get weirder and weirder.  Kristin Wiig acquits herself well in a dramatic role.  But there is one really good reason to see the film:  Nick Offerman.  In a (relatively) serious role.  Without his mustache.