A semi-annual tradition here on Cinesnark, the Ethel Awards are our chance to time travel and fix the more egregious of the errors committed by the Academy. In the first Ethel Awards we went back and straightened out the 71st Academy Awards, held in 1999 for movies released in 1998. That was the year Shakespeare in Love beat Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture, but really it should have been The Thin Red Line. For the second Ethels, we’re revisiting the 72nd Academy Awards, held in 2000 for films released in 1999. That’s the year that contains one of the single greatest Oscar blunders of all time. It’s also the year that everyone ran wild over American Beauty and The Cider House Rules, two films that have not aged well, and thought The Insider got screwed. But you know what two movies were released in 1999 that were barely a blip on Oscar’s radar? Fight Club and The Talented Mr. Ripley. Hoo boy, do we have some fixing to do. Read more »
Archive for the Movies Category
The last couple years I’ve actually done fairly well with my handicapping, but this year I am not at all confident in my picks. Too many races are too close, but there’s also a wide disparity between the movies that will win versus the ones that should win. I enjoyed Argo, I like Ben Affleck as a filmmaker and I think he’s developing into one of the most consistent and entertaining American directors, but Argo was not the best movie of 2012. It won’t even go down as the best movie of Affleck’s career. But the politics, they matter this year, even more than usual. With no clear masterpiece to lead the field and critical tastes too evenly spread over too many movies (primarily Argo, Lincoln and Life of Pi) and with Harvey Weinstein shoving Silver Linings Playbook down our throats like it’s something other than a rote, if well-acted, romantic comedy, the Oscar race turned into a dog fight. But it’s almost over. The Oscars are on Sunday, so it’s time for final predictions. Read more »
Now that that’s done, let’s talk about Melissa McCarthy and the humor of fatness.
In his review of Identity Thief, film critic and professional asshole Rex Reed referred to McCarthy with a series of offensive and derogatory phrases relating to her weight, which totally undermined any valid points he may have been making about the film’s quality (which he did conclude was awful and unwatchable, and asshole or not, he wasn’t wrong about that). You can read a summary of that kerfuffle here. Read more »
It’s been an exhausting award season. It’s a knock-down, drag-out fight in most categories, with very few locks going into the Academy Awards in two weeks (only Anne Hathaway and Adele are locked in at this point). But I think we’ve all felt it, yes? The shift toward Argo, whether motivated by pity for Ben Affleck’s director snub (maybe a little) or that Argo is a movie about film literally saving lives (much more likely) starring beloved character actors (yes, very much), you can’t help but feel that Lincoln has been cut off at the knees and it will be Argo’s night.
February, like January, is not a good month for movies. It’s marginally better than January because Valentine’s Day means some deliberate content planning, but it’s not much of an improvement. If January is where studios go to bury their movies, February is where they leave them to die. Mostly dead > all the way dead, I guess.
Bullet to the Head
This February, Sylvester Stallone is…WAY TOO OLD FOR THIS SHIT.
Bad movies are a guilty pleasure of mine (am lately obsessed with Miami Connection, a 1987 wonder-gem of a movie discovered on Ebay by Drafthouse Films—it has karate and friendship and motorcycle ninja gangs, what more could you want?), and I have an unofficial thesis on the different levels of bad that exist in filmmaking. To date I’ve identified four levels, although I suspect there may be five—I’m still compiling data (it’s my life’s work). The four (identified) levels are: Good-Bad, Bad-Bad, Hilariously Awful, and Money Grab. The most inexcusable of these levels is the Money Grab, which is when no one is making any effort at all to make a good movie for the sake of the movie but when it’s very clearly a product created solely to fleece the unsuspecting audience of their dollars (see also: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, still one of the most simply awful and worst-produced-on-every-level movies I’ve ever seen). Read more »
And I’m not just talking about the debate surrounding the film’s perceived pro-torture stance. Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s follow up to the stellar Hurt Locker, is a film with an obscure center, one that suffers from an unfocused point of view. I’m a huge fan of The Hurt Locker, and was very interested in Bigelow and writer Mark Boal’s next project, which got a lot of attention and heat when what was then a movie about the fruitless task of hunting down Osama bin Laden suddenly became a movie about the successful mission to kill him after May 2011. There’s a lot going on with this movie other than its movie-ness—specifically about the access the CIA granted Bigelow and Boal and how that might have affected the film’s “positive” portrayal of torture as an interrogation tactic—but first we’ve got to talk about the movie itself. Read more »