You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Unstoppable’ category.

64. TRON: Legacy

Saw this one on a plane, which maaaybe limited my enjoyment of the film’s best parts.  But I did happen to be in first class, which probably helped my mood some.  The movie’s many bells, whistles, and shiny bright lights go far to distract the viewer from the generally neglected script, so there’s maybe a fudge factor in my rating here because I didn’t see the film in its true intended glory.  It is still crazy to me that they gave us a sequel to a cult classic from nearly thirty years ago.  Other films that were released within a few weeks of Tron include: Poltergeist, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, E.T., Grease 2, Blade Runner, The Thing, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Night Shift, and An Officer and a Gentleman.  Not a bad little two month run, huh?

63. 44 Inch Chest

This British revenge flick starring Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson, and Stephen Dillane is something Adam and I should love, just on general principle.  It ended up middle of the pack for me because…well, the reasons have been lost to time as I saw the film a year and a half ago and didn’t take any notes.

62. Repo Men

Honestly, Repo Men is a pretty terrible movie.  For me, the last five to ten minutes or so salvaged the operation, bumping the film up to three stars on Netflix and up probably thirty to forty slots in my rankings.  Not everyone is going to feel the same way, understandably, and for once that’s not a dig on Brian’s dismissal of endings.  The film’s a pretty rote tale starring Oscar-nominees Jude Law and Forest Whitaker about an enforcer turned renegade who must take down the system.  The sci-fi aspects are generally underutilized and the love interest (Alice Braga) isn’t shoehorned in very well.  Notable for the RZA cameo and an extremely short scene with Community’s Yvette Nicole Brown.

61. Legion

The trailer does a pretty accurate job showing what this movie is all about: a diner in the middle of nowhere turns into a last stand of sorts for humanity, save for a kinda weird third act.  Paul Bettany is great, naturally, as is Adrianne Palicki, though she plays a pregnant woman, so you couldn’t really call her sexy.  Unless, hey, that’s your thing.  No judgments on this blog.  I’m not saying Dennis Quaid is typecast, but casting him as the restaurant’s owner who has refused to admit that his dream has failed even though the proposed highway (or whatever) that was going to be a boon for business never materialized, and who always insists on manner and doing things the right way wasn’t necessarily the biggest stretch in casting history.

60. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Because I played the game above with Tron, let’s look at some movies that came out within a few weeks of Wall Street: Less Than Zero, The Running Man, Teen Wolf Too, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Three Men and a Baby, Throw Momma From The Train, Empire of the Sun, Eddie Murphy Raw, Overboard, Broadcast News, Moonstruck, and Good Morning, Vietnam.  Huh, another good run, if entirely different sorts of films.  Honestly, I’m kinda surprised Wall Street 2 ended up this high on my list, I think that’s an indictment of the relatively crummy year that was 2010.  Acting-wise, the highlights for me was Eli Wallach being a badass in the courtroom and the few lines Natalie “Dub Dub” Morales had.  I still don’t entirely understand Shia LaBeouf as a star or why Carey Mulligan cut her hair short.

59. Unstoppable

You might recall this film was nominated for an Oscar, so we talked about it briefly.  As I mention there, the dialogue was often painful and the characters not developed at all.  And the story was exactly as simple as it sounds like: there’s an out of control train.  Yet somehow, it kinda works.  Maybe it was the sound.  Maybe director Tony Scott had something to do with it.  Maybe it was how the supporting cast (Rosario Dawson, Ethan Suplee, T.J. Miller, and Kevin Corrigan) can all be really funny?  Beats me.

58. The Tourist

Saw this with Adam during our drunken Passover movie mini-marathon.  Obviously, with Depp and Jolie, not to mention director/Bond villian Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, co-screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie and Julian Fellowes, and a supporting cast that included Paul Bettany and Timothy Dalton, this international spy film should have been huge.  Somewhere along the way, though, they lost the story.  It has the framework of a big spy thriller, but the moving parts of a smaller almost character study.

57. The Good Guy

Like there was any chance of me missing a flick starring Scott Porter and Alexis Bledel, not to mention fellow Maroon Anna Chlumsky.  I very rarely read reviews of films I’m recapping here for fear of inadvertently ripping anything off, so I want to make sure I cite Roger Ebert’s review, which I referenced because I remembered the film gave away a plot point through a book, but couldn’t remember which one.  And of course the good Mr. Ebert reminds me that was Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier, which I happened to have read.  A decent novel, but it will minorly spoiler some elements of the film.  Ebert’s review offers some excellent advice on women, so I suggest you go read it and stop wasting your time here.

56. Passenger Side

No idea how it got in my queue and one of those films I may never think about for the rest of my life.  Then again, youneverknow.  Can we just take a minute to talk about Adam Scott’s career?  Because I have absolutely no idea how to describe it or to whom it compares?  It isn’t just the duality of his comedic and dramatic roles.  While impressive, it certainly isn’t unique.  No, it is more than no matter if he is doing creepy or nice guy or asshole, he somehow quietly commands the screen, no matter the size of the role.  I think in some sense that makes him the consummate straight man.  Because Scott is so rock solid that any sort of antics, be they wacky or melodramatic, are dramatically amplified by bouncing off of him.

55. Fish Tank

It is perhaps fitting that when I go to the critically-lauded Fish Tank‘s imdb page, the user lists that show up are all titled something along the lines of “Movies I Have Seen” or “Watched Movies”.  Because that’s about right.  The film did well for itself on the awards circuit (outside the US, that is), but I’m not entirely certain why.  Maybe I’ve just OD’ed on disaffected youths.  I’m also trying to figure out my stance on Michael Fassbender.  Because so far I’ve found him rather forgettable, in the sense that I don’t remember in which films I’ve seen him.  But I’m sort of wondering if that’s because he disappears so completely into his roles.

We’re going to go ahead and knock out all the sonic categories today. They happen to be some of the favorite niche categories of several Grouches.

Best Original Song

Your nominees:

  • “Coming Home” from Country Strong
  • “I See the Light” from Tangled
  • “If I Rise” from 127 Hours
  • “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3

John bemoans the state of the category:

This is such a bland group of nominees. It was a bland slate of eligible titles this year, so much so that I didn’t even bother with my annual look at this category. Usually there are a couple big names eligible in the category and a few songs I really like that come out of nowhere. And then the Academy will nominate a bunch of songs I’m mostly ambivalent about. This year didn’t have many I actively disliked, but also few really stood out. I don’t anticipate any getting listens after this Oscar season.

And yet this set of nominees still puzzles me. Only four songs got the nod, meaning only those four received scores high enough to be deemed worthy of nomination. It’s no big tragedy that any particular song didn’t get in and it wouldn’t bother me if these four had just happened to rise to the top. But it amazes me that the music branch decided it would rather forgo a fifth nominee than nominate one of the other choices. This crop gets nominations but nothing from Burlesque is even good enough to qualify for a nod??

The only one I dislike is “If I Rise,” which is almost not even a song. It’s about as low-key as music can be, with just enough lyrics to constitute a song and not a chant. I concede it works well over end credits and it’s an effective counterbalance to AR Rahman’s pulsating score through much of the film. The Dido parts aren’t bad, particularly in the beginning, but they feel out of place with the bizarre elements of the rest of the song.

The rest are all generic genre tunes to my ear. “Coming Home” is a bland pop country song that’s devoid of good hooks and is too reptitive. The bizarre thing is that there is a good song from Country Strong. It’s even called “Country Strong.” But it’s not original to the movie! Go figure.

“We Belong Together” is a nice enough ditty, but I defy you to tell it apart from any other Randy Newman contribution to a Pixar film. That leaves “I See the Light,” which is my winner by default. Again, fine enough musical number but I can’t say it had much impact. Disney purposefully only submitted this song to increase its chances at a nomination/win. I’d say there are songs that I like better from Tangled, but at least this one is thematically resonant.

Snubs: Of the weak eligible slate, the Burlesque songs really do stand out. I would have nominated them all and given “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” and given it the win, albeit without a ton of enthusiasm. I also have a small soft spot for Avril Lavigne’s “Alice” from Alice in Wonderland. She really shows off her pipes.

Jared sees things similarly

“If I Rise” is the kind of breathy atmospheric song that is instantly forgettable.  Rahman is clearly better served going big and bold.  And I’ve always viewed Dido’s successes as more plaintive numbers.  It is going to be interesting to see Florence – The Machine tackle the song on Oscar night, even if I’m not yet convinced she can salvage it.

“Coming Home” probably isn’t as good as “Country Strong”.  Either way, the titles hint at the largely generic tunes populating this movie.  “Coming Home” is the type of soaring, chorus-less song that does not exist outside of movies.  And I’m not entirely certain why the Academy insists on continuing to recognize its ilk.

Randy Newman can crank out movie songs in his sleep at this point.  I won’t go for the obvious joke there because I don’t think “We Belong Together” is that bad.  Even if the title conjures superior Mariah Carey and Pat Benatar songs.  This one, however, is pretty decent montage-y type of song.  It doesn’t have a strong presence, and tends to fade into the background at bits, but it has some decent parts to remind you it is still there.

But “I See the Light” is the only legitimate song of the bunch.  Now, OK, perhaps I was always going to liked a song sung by Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi.  I think Moore is an underrated singer.  I probably listened to “I Could Break Your Heart Every Day of the Week” daily for about a month at one point.  And most of you probably know that I have a weak spot for celebrities who dabble in singing.  So when I heard Chuck was singing on an Oscar-contending song, I mean, I was sold.  The song has its own merits.  I found myself humming the song a few times after listening to it, including a couple of times while writing this post.  I mean, yeah, it feels like a traditional Disney song in a lot of ways.  But groundbreaking songs aren’t really the Academy’s thing.  The song is pleasantly uplifting, and that’s going to be enough to take the category for me.

Best Original Score

The nominees:

  • John Powell, How to Train Your Dragon
  • Hans Zimmer, Inception
  • Alexadre Desplat, The King’s Speech
  • A.R. Rahman, 127 Hours
  • Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network

John takes this one:

Score is one of those categories where I’m never sure what I’m going to like. Some music transports me back to a film I enjoyed. Some work great in the context of the movie. Some are wonderful on their own. I’m not sure any characteristic stands out for me. Atonement had wonderful music that stood on its own; Up was less of a good stand alone listen but terrific as a transport back to the film’s rich emotion. This year it’s a bit of all of the above.

When I think of the 127 Hours music, I think of a throbbing score. But most of the pieces are much more subdued. The slower stuff clearly didn’t make much of an impact, while I’m not sure I ever really got into the more up tempo music. It is a compelling artistic choice for a film about a guy stuck in a canyon.

I don’t have anything to say about How to Train Your Dragon except that if I heard it without context, I would suspect its a film score. The potential of a sweep for The King’s Speech has fans particularly annoyed in this category, but Desplat delivers a score I quite enjoy. It works very well in the film and it’s good even on its own. The repeated piano motif is nice.

I love the score from The Social Network and it complements the film beautifully. The electronic music and repeated six distinct notes reinforce the film’s themes. But it’s less fun listening to it on its own so I’m going for the bombast and BRAAAAAAAAAH! Inception‘s score just heightens its already considerable bad assery. It’s big and dramatic, fun and brash.

That said, two of my favorite scores were ineligible this year due to their reliance on preexisting work: Clint Mansell for Black Swan and Carter Burwell for True Grit, which probably would have received my vote if it were nominated.

Snubs: I really enjoyed director Sylvain Chomet’s score to The Illusionist and Rachel Portman’s orchestral accompaniment to Never Let Me Go.


There are two sound categories. Sound Editing is sound effects. Sound Mixing is the mix of all sonic elements: dialogue, music, ADR, and effects.

The nominees for Sound Editing are Inception, Toy Story 3, Tron: Legacy, True Grit, and Unstoppable.

For Sound Mixing: Inception, The King’s Speech, Salt, The Social Network, and True Grit.

Jared talks Editing:

I’m nowhere near observant or knowledgeable enough about sound editing and mixing, so I’ll abstain, even though I’ve seen eight of the ten nominees (and Salt is waiting for me at home).  But I wanted to take a minute to highlight the most unlikely Oscar nominee, Unstoppable.  I saw the film on the plane to Vegas on this trip out, so it is fresh in my mind.  I’ll save my thoughts on the film for elsewhere.  But it was generally exciting.  And considering the dialogue and characters were uniformly useless and the visuals fairly rote, I’m going to go ahead and say that by process of elimination, the sound must have played a key role in my appreciation of the film.

John talks Mixing:

I just happen to have seen all the nominees here. I can’t say I can really judge a mix that well, but I’ll point out that The King’s Speech seems like an odd choice for a sound category. What kind of audio landscape is this? Most of the scenes have two characters talking in a room with whimsical music playing in the background.

The Social Network probably has the most noticeably-mixed scene of the year with its nightclub scene. Cranking up the techno music to nearly drown out the conversation is an interesting choice. And maybe I’m falling into the more = better trap, but I’ll choose Inception for the same reason I’ll choose it in a lot of categories: there’s so much going on that the technicians who make it coherent deserve some recognition.

January 2021