Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Heart Sequels' Year in Review: 2010

I hate that I can't be a dissenting voice on this, but I have to agree with everyone else; 2010 was a pretty shit year for films. Last year I had a harder time putting together a top 10 best-of. This year I struggled with the idea of putting together a top 10 worst-of list. But I tried to remain optimistic as always and only highlighted a handful of what I felt were some pretty bad moments in cinema in 2010. Plus there are some bonus goodies and topics for discussion. Again, this is MY opinion based on what I saw this year.

Best Sequel/Follow-Up - Jackass 3D

Honestly, was there a better, more overwhelmingly pure cinematic experience to be had at the theater this year? Somebody with tastes running towards the snobbish may say otherwise but J3D is the kind of movie cameras, 3D or not, were invented for. Johnny Knoxville and the boys really came out guns blazing in a film that tops the frequently funny first part and the painfully funny second part in sheer thrills and Oh My God moments. Unlike a lot of YouTube viral vids and other unfortunate ilk of that sort, there's real design and heart behind J3D.

Worst Sequel/Follow-Up - Machete

What a waste. How have more people not come out and just outright taken this thing apart? I'm shocked, since it seems that for a long time it was a fanboy faux pas to not shit on Rodriguez. It's funny because the kind of people who put Rodriguez on blast for the superior Planet Terror are eating this film up. Machete is one big missed opportunity. Trejo's character is wasted on a film overloaded with superfluous characters who get way too much screen time and flat, uninspired action. Even thought there are some good things about the film (Don Johnson, Steven Seagal, Cheech, a handful of funny moments), it really is an overlong mess that takes itself way too seriously, politically and otherwise. The Mariachi remains Rodriguez's Great Mexican Hero.

Not-Nearly-As-Bad-As-All-That Sequel - Survival of the Dead

God, I have to remember to step back from a lot of the shit I hear about movies like this. I wish I had given it a chance in the theater, but Magnet's shit release and a lot of fanboy ire towards the film gave me pause enough to miss out. Now, I'm not claiming this is some kind of overlooked masterpiece. It ain't prefect. But has a Romero flick ever been perfect? What makes his movies great are the ideas in them and how Romero isn't afraid to turn even his own ideas on their head. Plus, and let's not mince words here, I tend to think most people are wrong about Romero around 100% of the time. Again, I need to listen to my heart and head and not the over-bearing shriek of the nerd herd.

Most Overrated Hit of the Year - Inception

Okay, I'm not saying it's a bad movie. Nolan is a great director who is so skilled he can capture an audience's attention with a simple top spinning on a table. But really, of all of Nolan's movies, this one leaves me cold. I know it's a movie that's really about the making of movies. It is well-crafted and very thrilling. But it is as empty-headed and bloodless as Tron:Legacy. And by the end of it, when you grasp the film's conceit, you realize that you've spent almost three hours watching one of the most emotionally unsatisfying films to have kept you so enraptured with its audaciousness and style.

Most Overrated Flop of the Year - Kick-Ass

Again, not a bad movie by any measure. Vaughn's filmatism in many places cannot be denied and was there a more perversely satisfying relationship between two people in cinema in 2010 than the one between Big Daddy and Hit Girl. But the film is even more shallow than the Millar comic that inspired it, which is an incredible feat. The only thing the movie did better than the comic was the aforementioned Big Daddy and Hit Girl relationship and a lot of that could have come off just as poorly if not for the winning performances by Nicolas Cage and Chloƫ Grace Moretz. Their scenes, along with some of the action set-pieces, are what I will be revisiting from this film in the future.

One Film Most Deserving of More Love - The Losers

Of all the big, "we got a team and we're on a mission" movies put out this year, only one was just hands-down a blast from the opening moments. While The A-Team was slowed down by some of its needlessly convoluted story and The Expendables (see below) just didn't deliver the way Stallone could have, The Losers maintained its style and aesthetic, without resorting to over-the-top bloodshed or struggling to find a justifiable plot device to get the ball rolling. Plus, the cast in Losers was aces across the board. A-Team and Expendables suffered from far too many bad or bored actors.

Biggest Misstep of the Year - The Expendables

Damn. After Rocky Balboa and Rambo I thought Stallone was gonna be three-for-three in his comeback campaign. Even if the film was a minor hit, almost guaranteeing a second film, The Expendables is quite a let-down. Though Rourke and Lundgren walk away from the film winners, the rest of the cast, Sly included, were coasting at best. The script seems non-existent and the gore, a proud asset on the relentless Rambo, just drags the preceding down with its huckster-level, tacked-on feel.

Worst Movie of the Year - A Nightmare on Elm Street

Jackie Earle Haley couldn't save this movie. Hell, God couldn't save this movie. I'll admit that hating on Platinum Dunes is a gimme. However, I liked their Amityville Horror and Friday the 13th films. So I was intrigued by this one at the very least, particularly when casting on Freddy was announced. But damn if this isn't the worst thing PD has put out yet. Every decision is a poor one. Of particular waste is Katie Cassidy, the kind of pretty face that gets relegated to crap like this, but who is a much better actress, deserving of better. It's sad that someone like Rooney Mara, guaranteed to become a new it girl once Fincher gets done with her, is getting away from this one scott free, but Cassidy is gonna keep getting more middling shit thrown her way. I hope someone looks past the pretty face and gives her a shot at something better.

My Top 10:
1. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World
2. Shutter Island
3. Waking Sleeping Beauty
4. Who Is Harry Nilsson and Why Is Everybody Talking About Him?
5. The Fighter
6. Black Swan
7. How To Train Your Dragon
8. Despicable Me
9. Toy Story 3
10. Jackass 3D

The Sexiest Moments in Cinema in 2010*:
1. Natalie Portman Taking Care of Business in "Black Swan" - Forget that scene with her and Mila Kunis; that's just scary and lesbian chic as a device for arousal is overrated. But this scene, where Portman's character gives in to herself after instruction from her skeevy director, is just unbelievably sexy in its depiction of someone really discovering their sexuality for the first time.
2. Scott Catches Ramona Changing in "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" - A scene that goes from sexy to sweet and back again, this is the point in the film where Scott (and the audience) falls madly in love with Ramona, played by pretty as a picture Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
3. Marky Mark and Amy Adams Getting Ready Before Being Rudely Interrupted in "The Fighter" - Two people, truly in love, are about to share a mid-day tryst before being rudely interrupted by the guy's crazy fucking family. It is a beautifully intimate scene, the right combination of just enough style mixed with two performances that feel wholly genuine in the moment. It also doesn't hurt that the two leads are absolutely gorgeous people either.
4. Any scene with Zoe Saldana in "The Losers" - One of the best looking actresses we have kicking ass and taking names, all while putting the moves on manly leading man Jeffrey Dean Morgan? I'll have more of that please. Plus, how cute is Chris Evans in this movie? Captain America better not be a waste of this man's talents, but more importantly it better make him the crush of every straight, red-blooded woman in the U.S. of A.!

Least Sexy Movie of the Year - Machete

On top of all the missed opportunities to be had in Machete, one of the most disappointing is the fact that this slice of Mexploitation was exceedingly unsexy. That's not Trejo's fault by the way. Even if he isn't the best looking dude on the planet he has a natural charm and style that could be very sexy if utilized properly. Likewise, the ladies in the film aren't unsexy on their own. (Thought the Lohan is all kinds of nasty.) The problem again goes back to the script and Rodriguez's direction. He doesn't get the swagger and allure of the kind of blaxploitation films he's aping and Machete's own sexual prowess in the film is handled like a joke. Again, Rodriguez has done sexy better previously, but the kind of action Machete should be getting is like all the action on display throughout Machete; in a word, flaccid.

*Please note that all of this sexiness happens with its clothes on, which makes it even hotter.

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