54. Buried

I have to give credit to whoever convinced the financial backers to sink money into Buried.  Pitching a bleak Iraq movie that takes place entirely inside a coffin could not have been the easiest of sells.  Screenwriter Chris Sparling put forth a sporting effort here, but I’m really hoping he learned from the experience for his script for ATM, hopefully to be released in the near future, which is about three people trapped in (by? near?) an ATM while some killer or robber type person lurks nearby.  Ryan Reynolds, the star of Buried, consistently impresses me, hopefully he can soon find a role that showcases his abilities to a wider audience.  Though this one did get an MTV Movie Award nomination.

53. Easy A

Easily my biggest disappointment of the year, though that’s partially due to the absurdly high expectations I had coming in to the film.  I’m, of course, extremely happy for Emma Stone and all the deserved attention, kudos, and roles she’s received as a result.  It is just so weird because I had been crazy obsessed with her and now that’s actually (somewhat) socially acceptable.  But it is OK, I know our love is strong and can withstand all this fame and fortune thrown her way.  I could spend a nearly endless amount of time discussing this movie (I could probably pull together a thesis comparing the film to the heyday of the high school romcom inspired by classic literature subgenre), but let’s focus on the best parts of the film: the scenes with Stone and her parents (Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson).  They last played a couple in 2009’s Blind Date (which I ranked as my 12th favorite movie of the year) and were marvelous, but here they get to be a lot happier.  Honestly, there weren’t too many better scenes in film this year than when Tucci, Clarkson, and Stone were interacting.

52. The Locksmith

I’ll be honest, it is entirely possible I made this film up.  I mean, I remember watching it.  I think I may have streamed it while on a business trip to Vegas.  Because, yes, I am that cool.  But I can’t remember anyone referencing it ever.  I guess that’s the uphill battle one faces when trying to market an independent film with no budget, huh?  Especially one like The Locksmith, which was decent, if unremarkable, and without any particular hook.  It is a day in the life of a guy in a work-release program who works as a locksmith and his encounter with a slightly unhinged woman.  I can’t really give a reason to see it, but I can’t give one not to, either.

51. Micmacs

From Jean-Pierre Jeunet comes this…I don’t even know how to describe it.  I’m a firm believer that restrictions can be good for creativity.  One reason I like one room films is that that I feel by so severely limiting the scene locations, writers and directors are forced to come up with interesting takes on things.  Anyway, the point is, the film kinda felt like Amelie, but without the central love story to guide the film.  So it gets a little unfocused and precious at times, but it certainly has the same sensibilities as the Audrey Tatou-starrer.

50. The Winning Season

I’m a sucker for sports movies.  Which apparently extends all the way to high school women’s basketball movies.  Basketball is, if you didn’t know, a silly heightist sport.  The Winning Season does its very best to avoid the traditional sports movie storylines.  I don’t know why, since they are what make sports movies great, plus the film eventually falls into the cliches anyway.  Plus, it starts on about five or six subplots that don’t really finish up anywhere.  That said, when you’ve got Sam Rockwell as the coach, the soon-to-be-huge Emmy snub Margo Martindale as his assistant, and Emma Roberts and Rooney Mara as players on the team, you don’t need too much else.

49. Frozen

The film cheats a little bit, but 90% of the movie does take place on a ski lift.  Which is pretty cool.  Especially for something that could be described as a thriller.  I actually found the non-ski lift bits to be the weakest parts of the film.  Writer/director Adam Green came up with a pretty smart idea, because I’m pretty sure everybody who has ridden a ski lift has wondered what would happen if they got stuck up there.

48. The Joneses

Saw The Joneses on an airplane.  I’m kinda surprised the film couldn’t find more traction.  It stars David Duchovny, Demi Moore, Amber Heard, and Ben Hollingsworth who all pose as a happy family newly moved in to an upper middle class neighborhood.  But they are, in fact, employees of a company specializing in what may be best described as real life product placement.  The idea being that this seemingly wildly successful and content “family” use whatever items the company wants to see (be it the latest high-tech toys or jewelry or sports drinks or whatever), and then friends and neighbors (including Gary Cole) will want to use those items as well.  Kinda brilliant, actually.  I understand why a movie with this sort of message may not have been the most popular of things, I suppose.  Plus, the requisite love story wasn’t adroitly handled, and the film does get a little dark.

47. Black Swan

Black Swan may have come across our radar once or twice.  I’m mostly talked out about the merits of the film, I think its placement speaks to my opinion.  And like I’ve said, to me, it felt like a horror film for people who don’t like horror films.  A few months ago, when the devastating news came out about Natalie Portman’s pregnancy and engagement, I had an idea to rank Black Swan last and talk about how it was the worst movie in the history of movies.  But this list has too much integrity for that!  Plus, I totally forgot until just now.  Also, I talk about it in the Spirit Awards post, but I’m kinda surprised Vincent Cassel couldn’t build any awards traction.  Seems like he is bound to get there sometime, hopefully soon.

46. Kites (Remix)

What’s the standard complaint about Bollywood movies?  They are too long and have unnecessary musical scenes.  So Brett Ratner said something along the lines of, “Well, heck, let’s just lop off the song and dance numbers!”  Not a terrible idea in theory.  Or in practice, as it turns out.  Some continuity was undoubtedly lost, of course, but the film was generally coherent.  And Kites had much of what I’d expect from Brett Ratner joint: car chases, shootouts, that sort of stuff.  Now, I’m guessing I personally would have liked the Bollywood version better, but I could definitely see this version having more crossover appeal.  Of course, there’s still a pretty big disconnect between Bollywood and Hollywood in terms of sex scenes (or lack thereof) and gratuitous violence, so I think we may still have to wait a bit before seeing a massive crossover hit.  Though I’d love to be wrong.

45. Robin Hood

Perfectly adequate.  I’d heard that earlier takes on the film had all sorts of interesting ideas about where to take the Robin Hood story, but the ultimate product felt very very safe.

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