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Double digits, baby!

103. Killshot

I wrote about this film eleven months ago.  It is always nice when past Jared agrees with present Jared.  The biggest mystery about this action thriller based on an Elmore Leonard novel (in a related note, you should be watching Justified on FX) is how it managed to miss the mark.  It was scripted by an Oscar nominee, directed by an Oscar nominee, stars Oscar nominees Mickey Rourke and Diane Lane along with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Thomas Jane.  And yet, bupkis.  Never so bad that you’ll want to turn off the film, but never so good that you’ll be happy you decided to watch the film.

102. Moon

I consider thought-provoking sci-fi one my favorite film genres.  But there’s a certain strain of brainy sci-fi that I must admit I do not get at all.  I think 2001 is just dreadful.  It took me four tries to get through Blade Runner without falling asleep.  And though my hopes were high, I just was not a fan of Moon at all.  It has an interesting premise, a contained setting (which I tend to love) and a great actor in Sam Rockwell.  But wow was it boring.  Rod Serling would have turned this into a thirty-minute masterpiece.  Instead, Duncan Jones turns in a plodding affair not nearly as awesome as people think it is.  Sorry this was no Journey to the Far Side of the Sun, Dad.

101. Knowing

Speaking of disappointing sci-fi films!  Roger Ebert is a fan of the film, which created some buzz around the movie blogs I read.  I know other people found it epically stupid, I wouldn’t count myself in that camp.  I’m one of Nicholas Cage’s biggest defenders, and I really like supporting actress Rose Byrne.  But Knowing never delivers on its initially intriguing premise.  It ineffectively incorporates creepy elements of horror and at times feels rote.  And I found the ending very unsatisfying and completely out of nowhere.

100. The Proposal

I know!  I’m stunned it isn’t higher on my list, too.  Interesting thought experiment: if this movie doesn’t exist, does Sandra Bullock get an Oscar win and does Betty White host SNL?  I think you could build convincing arguments for both not happening.  Anyway, I really did not see this as the rom-com everyone else does.  Sure, I applaud the gender-reversal where Ryan Reynolds is the young innocent and Sandra Bullock is the hard-bitten older character.  And yup, Betty White was kooky and funny.  Malin Akerman even shows up.  And Oscar from The Office is probably the highlight of the film.   But I think there are fundamental problems with the main characters, specifically around their relationship.  The film, in my mind, never builds any sort of convincing case as to why the two should fall in love.  Plenty of guys and girls have worked together in close proximity or spent time together without falling in love, it is the good romcom that shows how a couple happens.

99. Lymelife

Another one I covered when talking about movies with solid casts that aren’t quite given the script with which to shine.  Honestly, the film just isn’t that memorable.  Fairly standard plot, nothing extremely witty about the dialogue, and I never thought I’d write this, but it needs more Lyme disease.  If I ever saw this movie on TV, maybe I’d put it on when I had some reading or writing to do.

98. Fanboys

If you follow movie news at all, you probably heard all about the issues this film faced in post-production.  The Weinsteins (the producers) were apparently unhappy with how things were going, so they may have brought in a new director and ordered a pretty pivotal subplot cut.  There was much back and forth with the, well, fanboys, who were up in arms.  And after much delay, something resembling the original film was released to little fanfare.  It sure seems like a can’t miss movie: a road trip about Star Wars, with lots of cameos (Seth Rogen, Danny Trejo, William Shatner, etc).  Sure, the main group of guys is extremely white bread, but I’m a Jay Baruchel fan, and Chris Marquette is like the one guy who hasn’t made it huge out of The Girl Next Door.  I guess Sam Huntingdon is milquetoast, and Dan Fogler, well, admittedly, I don’t really get him.  Plus, Kristen Bell!  But as with most films seeing delays and a fight with the studio, the script had some serious flaws.  The cameos got a little indulgent, the humor wasn’t really there at times, and the dramatic subplots were often held on the backburner too long.  If the premise sounds interesting, the film is probably worth seeing, so long as you aren’t expecting anything that’ll blow your mind.  And hey, Kristen Bell in a slave Leia costume.

97. Duplicity

Maybe I just don’t like Tony Gilroy, I dunno.  I find his stuff nowhere near as smart as other people do.  Which is going to be a problem in a spy movie filled with double and triple crosses.  There’s definitely some interesting stuff in here, and it gets high plaudits for how it chooses to end things.  Plus Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti were inspired casting choices.  But ultimately the movie rests too much on Julia Roberts and Clive Owen playing to their strengths and not enough on substance.

96. The Edge of Love

Not sure which is more shocking: Keira Knightley starring in a period piece or that a film about the women who loved Dylan Thomas couldn’t find an audience.  Knightley and Sienna Miller play a little against type, and I actually think it worked out pretty well.  Not entirely certain I’m sold on Matthew Rhys, maybe a bit of a problem since he was playing Thomas and I think Cillian Murphy is best reserved for roles where he can be creepy all of the time.  The film has its moments, but more often than not it is a drab, dry look at the relationship between two women who love the same man.  The women aren’t usually at the front of a movie like this, so that was a little refreshing.

95. Public Enemies

Talk about a can’t miss Oscar movie.  Michael Mann and Johnny Depp as John Dillinger?  Marion Cotillard and Christian Bale were just icing on the cake.  But it seems that finally, everyone collectively realized the fundamental truth about Michael Mann.  He makes boring movies!  And the worst part is that he takes exciting topics and sucks the life out of them.  In watching Public Enemies it occurred to me that Mann has a keen eye for what people find exciting, things like bank heists and shootouts.  But he has absolutely no concept of what makes them so interesting.  Before this movie I did not think it was possible to make robbing a bank look boring.  The cast is a veritable cornucopia of That Guys and fleeting cameos, which only further proves my contention about Michael Mann, I think.  You probably already know that the year’s Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan is in the film for a few seconds.  I kinda liked Emile de Ravin and Lili Taylor showing up.  And I’d of course be remiss not to mention that Leelee Sobieski, the matron saint of our blog, is in the film.

94. Sugar

I had mixed feelings when I heard about this film, because I tend to get excited about any and every baseball movie, but it is from the people who Half-Nelson into the world, and that movie was a blight on humanity.  Fortunately, at no point during this movie did I want to claw my eyes out.  Unfortunately, Sugar is no baseball classic.  I kinda liked the first half of the film.  Was a little bit slow-moving, but there’s lots of interesting things that can be done with the life of Dominican prospects in the game.  And I’m not suggesting they should have changed the choices the main character made.  But the second half the film went off the rails.  The pace slowed down to a crawl and the film attempted to turn into, I don’t know, a character study that just wasn’t happening.

Coming up next: Steve, Dick, and Buck.  Plus a couple of Oscar nominees.

The Oscar races are continuing to shake out and I think we generally know who is in the ballpark for the major awards at this point. This sort of winnowing happens every year for better or for worse. It can be helpful to know that some of your favorites have no shot so as to avoid the frustration on nomination morning. Or it can keep hopes alive so that they are cruelly crushed (see: Dark Knight). And it can be a joy to watch as time goes on and your favorite longshot still holds on (see: Richard Jenkins).

A couple developments in the Best Actor race seem notable to me.

The first is that Johnny Depp in Public Enemies has completely fallen off the map. Thank goodness. The film is one of my biggest disappointments of the year. I’ll never know how such a stylish film based on such an interesting character with an interesting life could be so dull. I never thought I’d care so little about seeing the back of Depp’s head blown off. In all it’s not a bad film, but I forgot about it about 30 minutes after leaving the theater.

Not to disparage Depp, but if he was still in the running at this point it would only be on name value alone. And when that happens it drives me nuts. (Of course when I expect the hype to be based on the name and the performance really does deliver it’s always wonderful; see: Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia.)

Completely countering my joy of not having to discuss an underwhelming Michael Mann film here is how ignored The Informant! has become. Matt Damon should be a lock for a nomination and on the inside track for the win. Instead all you hear about him is a possible Supporting nod for Invictus. What a shame. Thank goodness for the Golden Globes (the first/only time I’ll ever say that?) for giving him some proper recognition.

There’s no film from 2009 I’m more excited to see again than The Informant! and it doesn’t even appear to have a DVD release date yet. Steven Soderbergh saw a tale of corporate price collusion, somehow thought it’d make a great zany comedy, and then totally nailed the necessary timing and tone. Quite an accomplishment and, to me, the underachieving box office disappointment of the year.

At this point Damon probably has to fade in the Supporting Actor race and over take either Jeremy Renner or (hopefully!) Morgan Freeman to make it to Oscar night. Needless to say that looks unlikely. At least a Best Score nomination for Marvin Hamlisch seems probable at this point so at least one major piece of this remarkable work could get recognized.

December 2019
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