Update: In the initial post, I incorrectly stated that Jennifer Garner starred in Morning Glory when it was, of course, Rachel McAdams.  I apologize and thank Brian for noticing the mistake and correctly pointing out that McAdams is hotter.

74. Youth in Revolt

It was as if in one instant, the USA simultaneously rose up as one and said, “No more Michael Cera!”  The publicists desperately tried to by counter by showing Cera blowing up things and playing a dual role, one of which included a wispy mustache.  Alas, it was too late, the country had already thrown in the towel on seeing Cera as a dorky adolescent, comically struggling to embrace adulthood.  Which is a bit of a shame, this film probably deserves better than that.  Especially given its top notch cast, highlighted by Portia Doubleday, and It girl Rooney Mara.

73. The Killer Inside Me

By pure chance, I happened upon this book at a used book store a little bit ago, not realizing it was something of a cult classic or that it was being made into a film.  The book is especially noticeable for its use of an unreliable narrator as a look into the mind of a killer.  Which would have been difficult to translate to film no matter what, but writer John Curran and director Michael Winterbottom don’t really get there, the ultimate failing of the film.  The casting was great, though, with Casey Affleck stellar as the lead and Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba as the two women in his life, plus Ned Beatty and Elias Koteas.  If you follow such things, you may recall the film stirred some controversy due to its (arguably) graphic depiction of man on woman violence.  Said violence was actually taken directly from the book, and I thought handled very deftly by Curran and Winterbottom.

72. The Greatest

Possibly my favorite shot of the year was the opening (or possibly second, I don’t remember exactly) scene of The Greatest.  It is perhaps a minute or three of Pierce Brosnan, Susan Sarandon, and if I remember correctly Johnny Simmons all in a limo, not speaking.  Brosnan’s expressiveness is truly remarkable, doing so much with so little.  Writer/director Shana Feste put together a relatively fresh take on the family affected by a sudden death trope, with Brosnan as the aloof Dad, Sarandon the ever-grieving Mom, Simmons the kid brother trying to find his way, and Carey Mulligan as the unexpectedly pregnant girlfriend, of the golden boy son (Aaron Johnson).

71. Tangled

Nominated for Best Original Song, which we discussed here.  I stumped pretty hard for it, because the idea of Chuck singing an Oscar-winning song is pretty great, plus the other songs weren’t anything special.  The one song from the film that really stood out to me, though, was Grace Potter’s “Something That I Want“, which I listened to a bunch.  Unfortunately, I don’t believe it was eligible for an Oscar, as it was just a reworking of the same song that Potter originally wrote for One Tree Hill.  As for the movie, maybe I’m getting old, but it didn’t feel as epic as Disney movies had in the past.

70. Morning Glory

A movie forgotten as soon as it came out, save for a GIF of Rachel McAdams”s panty-clad rear end that seems to have taken on a life of its own.  Which is surprising, given the star power of Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton, plus director Roger Michell (Notting Hill, Venus) and screenwriter and new invitee to AMPAS Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada, 27 Dresses).  The problem, I think, is that while everything seems to be pointing to the film being a romantic comedy, it really wasn’t.  Ford and Keaton have great chemistry and can banter like pros, but their characters remain platonic.  Garner is hooking up with Patrick Wilson in that GIF, but his character is entirely pointless in the film, and could easily have been cut.  The closer romcom relationship is that of Ford and Garner, but theirs is a platonic one.

69. The Kids Are All Right

We’ve, of course, covered this film a bunch.  Brian has a theory, and I’m paraphrasing here because he’s a bum and never got the post up that he promised, that The Kids Are All Right only received the awards and attention it did because the couple at the center of the film is lesbian and not heterosexual.  Which I buy, because I never really understood the love here.  Sure, the actors were great (I love me some Mark Ruffalo), and Cholodenko/Blumberg came up with some interesting characters, but the film never really delivers on its promise, in my opinion.  And I’m certainly confused by its placement in the comedy/musical category at the Globes, as I didn’t find it particularly humorous.

68. Daddy Longlegs

We talked about the film some during our Spirit chat.  I know John and Brian enjoyed this film and Adam hated it, I’m obviously somewhere in the middle.  Ronald Bronstein was certainly a revelation as a completely irresponsible New Yorker who gets his kids for two weeks a year.  His character, as written by Ben and Joshua Safdie, feels like a really fresh take on a manchild.  It makes the film pretty tough to watch, but Bronstein’s character is unlikable throughout, and doesn’t get any sort of redemption.  Here’s hoping some people somewhere were watching and give Bronstein the chance to shine on a bigger stage.

67. Country Strong

Though the decision to market Country Strong as Crazy Heart Part 2 is understandable, I think it was a pretty big mistake, for two reasons.  First, Crazy Heart wasn’t particularly good, so I’m skeptical anyone really wanted to see another version of it.  And second, though both films feature a strong performance by a name actor playing a country singer struggling with addiction, they really are quite different.  In some sense, Gwyneth Paltrow is actually a supporting actress, as I’d argue the film is actually about Garrett Hedlund’s character.  All of the main characters (rounded out by Tim McGraw and Leighton Meester) start out interesting, but start falling into cliches, which sounds oddly like what I said about writer/director Shana Feste’s other film in this post.  Though John and I weren’t crazy about this movie’s Oscar-nominated song, as a whole, I found the music better than Crazy Heart’s.

66. Paper Man

What’s that?  You haven’t heard of Paper Man?  Huh.  Well, then I guess you don’t care as much as I do about Emma Stone, do you?  <crosses another name of the list entitled “Contenders for Emma Stone’s Heart”>  <ignores another phone call from a loved one pleading for me to seek professional help>  The film stars Jeff Daniels as a writer suffering from writer’s block, Emma Stone as a teenager who he awkwardly befriends, Ryan Reynolds as Captain Excellent, Daniels’s superhero imaginary friend, and Kieran Culkin.  Plus I remembered that Daniels had a wife in the film who was a doctor, had her head on straight, but was maybe a little bit bitchy because Daniels couldn’t accept responsibility.  I couldn’t remember who played her, but I thought, “Gee, that sounds exactly like a Lisa Kudrow role”  And sho ’nuff, it was.  Ready for three fun facts about husband and wife writer/directors Kieran and Michele Mulroney?  1.  Yup, Kieran is Dermont Mulroney’s brother.  2.  Kieran grew up in Alexandria, VA.  3.  The Mulroneys have the sole screenwriting credits for the upcoming Sherlock Holmes sequel.

65. The Exploding Girl

Sadly not the gory actioner its title promises.  Was actually nominated for a couple of Spirit Awards we didn’t cover.  In a number of ways it feels like a stereotypical New York indie arthouse film, but compares favorably to, say, Tiny Furniture in that respect.  The story is very light, one of those coming back home from college for the summer and finding yourself deals.  I saw a lot of Zoe Kazan in a short time last year, for whatever reason, and I do think she has the potential to be something special, hopefully she can keep finding her way to meaty roles.

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