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Feb 4, 2010

The 3rd Annual Blog Cabins End of Year Spectacular (2009)

To see the list of all of films I've seen since 2009 started, click here. Otherwise, let the SPECTACULAR begin!!


The Five Best Films I Saw This Year (Academy Award eligible):
1. Inglourious Basterds
2. Fantastic Mr. Fox
3. Moon
4. Zombieland
5. District 9

The Five Films That Barely Missed "The Five Best Films I Saw This Year" List:
1. Adventureland
2. Star Trek
3. (500) Days of Summer
4. Sin Nombre
5. The Hangover

The Best of the Rest that Didn't Make Either of the Above Lists:
The Messenger, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Up, Watchmen, The Hurt Locker, Up in the Air

The Top Five Films I Didn't Get Around to Seeing This Year (I'm Guessing):
1. Un prophète
2. In the Loop
3. The Cove
4. Big Fan
5. Black Dynamite

The Five Worst Films I Saw This Year
1. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
2. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
3. Paper Heart
4. The International
5. The Taking of Pehlam 1 2 3

My Five Ten Favorite Performances of the Year That Won't Win Any Awards:
1. Zach Galifianakis, The Hangover - Previous "winner" of one of these awards Ken Jeong might have literally put it out all there for audiences, but our man Zach G. did so figuratively (and almost literally, down to his tightie whities), playing a man-child the likes of which we'd not seen before. His non-sequiturs were off the charts awesome. Love him while you still can, because I get a strong sense that you're going to be Seth Rogen-sick of him by the end of 2010.

2. Tom Waits, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus - One of the most appealing actors in the game...and he's a musician by trade. He might essentially be playing himself in every role (okay, not so much in Dracula), but his quirks and voice are matched so perfectly with a Terry Gilliam flick that it's wonder that this was their first significant partnership.

3. Rosamund Pike, An Education - Speaking of wonders, here's another one: how is Pike not one of the most in-demand actresses working (looking at her IMDb page, with four projects scheduled for 2010, perhaps she finally is)? She's beautiful. She's British. She's 31. And with performances like the one she gave here - playing a dim bulb, no less - it's clear she's talented. What's missing here? Why has she been relegated to crap like Doom and Surrogates?

4. Woody Harrelson, Zombieland - All it took was one short scene to turn Harrelson's Tallahassee from a pretty thin character to an endearing one. Yea, he kicks plenty of ass and cracks plenty of one liners (and searches madly for a sole Twinkie), but that one scene helped make him the most human character on screen.

5. Jason Segel, I Love You, Man - The spiritual cousin to James Franco's role in Pineapple Express (which topped this list last year), Segel let loose, played some drums, made up goofball nicknames, and was more or less endearing as could be as Sydney Fife. As with Pineapple, the film might be spotty - they even managed to make Paul Rudd unlikable - but it's worth seeing for Segel alone.

6. Selected cast members, Watchmen - Malin Ackerman gets all the blame, but she wasn't that bad. Carla Gugino, on the other hand...awful. And Matthew Goode wasn't exactly worth writing home about. But just about every other actor hit it out of the park, from Jeffrey Dean Morgan to Jackie Earle Haley to even a guy that doesn't have three names, like Billy Crudup.

7. Martin Starr, Adventureland - I'm still waiting for the Freaks and Geeks alum (yes, another, following Segel) to get his turn in the Apatow spotlight (I don't have Starz, so tell me if his part on Party Down is large or not), but he was given some meat to chew on in one of my favorites from the year, and he took full opportunity.

8. Karl Urban, Star Trek - I've been waiting for Urban to become a star ever since seeing him channel Brad Pitt in the latter two LOTR flicks. He seemed destined for bigger things, and got them (to an extent) in the form of two key 2004 roles: first as the pseudo-villain Vaako in the much-hyped letdown The Chronicles of Riddick, then as Jason Bourne's nemesis in The Bourne Supremacy. The problem is, those were more than five years ago. The only films he's had between those two and Trek are Doom (WTF? Again?), Pathfinder, and a New Zealand production (he's a Kiwi, after all) called Out of the Blue. Two bombs and a flick no one's heard of. Not promising. Then the role of Bones came along and he hit it smashed it. Yes, like just about every other Trek cast member, taking over a role someone else originated led to a bit of an impersonation going on, but Urban showed something he really hadn't yet (to my eyes, anyway): humor. And it suited him well. Make this man a star already.

9. Stephen Lang, Avatar - Yes yes yes, his character was thinner than generic paper plates - you know, the ones that are scarcely thicker than a sheet of loose leaf? No matter - Lang was hilariously over-the-top and captivating. Even those goofy scars were pretty cool. Though the "We're not in Kansas" line should be excised from all future versions of the film.

10. The missing half of Frank Langella's face, The Box - Sure, Dick Kelly, Langella's character had to have a large chunk of his face missing to match his back story. Whatever, we believe you. Added for quirky reasons or not, the missing piece turned out to be one of the creepier things about The Box, so even if it was pointless, it was effective.

And a Few that Have or Will Win Some:
1. Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds - the saddest thing about Waltz's performance is that he's gonna have a bitch of a time getting audiences past it. Imagine if Ledger's Joker were his first role instead of his second-to-last. That's the kind of pressure he's dealing with.

2. Woody Harrelson, The Messenger - So glad that Woody got some more Oscar love. Even counting his 2012 hamfest, he had a hell of a year, and this was the type of killer performance that audiences should come to expect from him. I can't think of another actor that's capable of such highs in both the "serious drama" and "silly comedy" categories. The definition of versatility,

3. Sam Rockwell, Moon - I've had a love/not-quite-love type of relationship with Rockwell over the years, but his complete owning of the screen in Moon has put that debate to rest, at least for a while. His lack of love from the Academy is my number one snub.

The Five Films I Was Most Looking Forward to Last Year at This Time and the Results
1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Though it might kill loyal dweller Nick a little bit each time I say it, HBP was, despite still being an above-average film, a tremendous disappointment. Eight months later and I can barely recall much of what occurred. This was to be the great set-up to the two-part finale - instead, it was like watching a greatest hits package of the last few films.

2. Where the Wild Things Are - As you can see, this sniffed the top 10, but couldn't quite bust through. I think repeat viewings will make the final decision, but it might take five years for it to set in. I simultaneously vastly enjoyed it and was let down by it, which almost sounds like an apt conclusion for a Jonze movie at this stage in his career. Tremendous hype can only take you so far.

3. Inglorius Basterds - You could say that this more than any other lived up to the hype. It's gotten better in my mind as time has gone on.

4. 9 - F*cking Tim Burton and what'shisname from Wanted worked no magic here; I'd have been fine with seeing just the short version of this. Some great visuals, but not much else to chew on. And did they really have to play "Somewhere Over the Rainbow?"

5. The Box - Richard Kelly: same as he ever was. As will be my anticipation for whatever whacked-out nightmare he dreams up next - in other words, I'll be dying to see it, but half of that reasoning is to see how screwed up he can make it.

The Five Films I'm Most Looking Forward to for 2010
1. Machete - I'm not sure if Robert Rodriguez knew when making Grindhouse that he would be mapping out his own future at the same time just by making a joke Mexploitation trailer. Though not nearly enough people saw Grindhouse, those that did were smitten with the faux trailers, and this one was far and away the best of them all. And good god, what a cast.

2. Inception - I'm a little frightened by the Matrix-y vibe I'm getting from Chris Nolan's latest, but he's got a Season Pass with me. Nice to see Joe Gordon-Levitt in the fold as well.

3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - True, I was let down by the sixth installment, but that hasn't dampened my excitement for the two-part finale all that much.

4. Hot Tub Time Machine - Stupid? Perhaps. But 80s nostalgia is all the rage, and I feel as though this Cusack-starring comedy has the chance to tap into it better than anything else.

5. The Expendables - No Van Damme or Seagal on board hurts the "credibility" of this action extravaganza somewhat, but I'd be betraying my cinematic youth if I weren't on board for this one.

Finally, Mrs. Fletch's Top 10
1. Inglourious Basterds
2. The Fantastic Mr. Fox
3. Sin Nombre
4. Moon
5. The Messenger
6. Coraline
7. An Education
8. District 9
9. The Hangover
10. Star Trek

Honorable mentions:
She had Waltz with Bashir and Let the Right One In in her list, but since I've excluded them from ineligibility for myself, I'm applying the same rules to her and bumped two others up.


19 people have chosen wisely: on "The 3rd Annual Blog Cabins End of Year Spectacular (2009)"

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

That's who Karl Urban reminded me of. Although speaking of LOTR why hasn't Sean Bean turned into something big?

Why indeed regarding Rosamund Pike. That girl is awesome.

filmgeek said...

Ditto Rosamund Pike. I loved her in An Education

Univarn said...

I got a chance to watch Urban in the film Out of the Blue for my Great Film's Nobody Saw list, and it was quite good, and he's the emotional heart of the movie - great stuff, shame nobody got a chance to see it.

I've always been a fan of Zach Galifianakis (by evidence I can type that without googling it), but I'm still not that big on the film The Hangover to put him high into my praise category, but he was awesome.

Of course any list in which Moon is mentioned several times high on lists is going to get major thumbs up points from me :). I must sound like a broken record talking about Moon so much.

Daniel Getahun said...

As evil as he was, how could anyone not like Stephen Lang in Avatar - or Waltz in Basterds? You have two guys here playing impossibly likable weasels.

On Waltz, though, I think he will do OK after this role. Nothing spectacular but some solid supporting work here and there. I wouldn't compare him to Ledger though because when Waltz was on screen it was much more Tarantino's dialogue that was on display more than typical ACTING like Ledger. Ledger was just so far gone into that character; I think Waltz was significantly more understated and I think we'll be surprised at how easily we can accept him in future roles.

Fletch said...

Andrew - glad I could be of assistance.

Bean...well, he was a bit older even when LOTR was released, but regardless, I'd say he's had a solid career as a venberable tough/sometimes villain. I agree that he should have been bigger, but I think those days might be past him, and I've never thought that he had the range of someone like his LOTR cast mate Viggo.

Univarn - good to hear about Urban's unseen film.

Moon Moon Moon. :)

Daniel - I can't wait to rewatch Tombstone so I can take in Lang anew.

I see what you mean about heavy acting versus dialogue, but either way, Hans Landa is going to go down as an iconic character, and no matter the reason behind it, that's going to be hard to overcome. I certainly think he's got the talent for it, but that doesn't make it all that much easier. He's going to have to choose very, very wisely with his next few projects is all.

Daniel Getahun said...

Perhaps - did you know he's playing the villain vs. Seth Rogen in Gondry's The Green Hornet in December? I say meh, he could do better but is probably capitalizing on the Oscar win. After all, PSH was the villain in MI:3 right after winning for Capote.

Dan said...

Tom Waits has been in a Gilliam film before - THE FISHER KING.

Otherwise, nice post.

Reel Whore said...

I'm right there with you (90% at least). I just saw Parnassus Tuesday, but can't see it making my Top 15.

You're Top 10 performances dead on. Rosamund Pike nailed it in An Education. Woody Harrelson is so underappreciated it ain't even funny.

Harry Potter, 9 and WTWTA were all major disappointments. Carol was a total douche in WTWTA. The Basterds keeps getting better in my mind. Now that it's an Oscar nom Mrs. Whore will have to sit down and see what I've been raving about.

I've gone from 'meh' to 'OMFnG!' for Hot Tub Time Machine. Stupid? Absolutely. But I still can't wait to see it. John Cusack needs a hit to redeem himself in my eyes. The Expendables is a no-brainer. I'd buy my ticket now if I could.

Fletch said...

Daniel - yes, I had seen that about The Green Hornet. I don't say meh - I still like Rogen, I love Gondry, and Lang kicks ass. It sounds like as good a recipe as could be conceived for a superhero flick, or at least as quirky of a recipe.

MI:3 - ugh.

Dan - you are correct, sir, and I have amended. Though that was a wee role.

RW - yeah, Mrs. Whore really needs to get in on Basterds already. Though I know it's not the consensus #1 of everyone right now, I think it will have the best staying power of any of the top films this year, mostly by virtue of not being set in the present and therefore tied to today's current events like Locker and Up in the Air are.

Daniel Getahun said...

I think we've confused each other - I meant WALTZ in The Green Hornet...

?

Fletch said...

No, I just confused myself. You're fine. :D

Nick said...

I totally agree with you on pretty much everything here... except HBP, of course. Loved that movie. Didn't care much for WTWTA, though.

MathAtTheMovies said...

No love for Hurt Locker? I mean, I can understand if its not your top 3, but out of the top 10?

JacksSmirkingRevenge said...

I may have posted this on here before, but if you want to fully appreciate Stephen Lang's range as an actor, you need to watch Gods and Generals soon after watching Tombstone. The dude is amazing as Stonewall Jackson.

Fletch said...

Math - What can I say - it didn't rock my world like so many others. I thought it was a well-made action thriller with a brain and nicely drawn characters, but I never felt like I was watching the classic that so many have made it out to be.

JSR - noted. I loved the "other" side he displayed in Men Who Stare at Goats, also, though his role was pretty meaningless overall.

Bob Turnbull said...

I love these kind of wrap up posts for the year...

I'm in the crowd (OK, apparently small crowd) that just doesn't understand why The Hangover is so well liked. There was potential in the situations, but the dialogue never went anywhere for me. I do like both Galifianakis and Helms, but didn't really get invested with their characters and thought they could've brought more to those roles.

Did you really think Paul Rudd was unlikeable in "I Love You, Man"? I thought he was great (my wife still greets me with "City Slicka!" at random - hell, she instant messages it to me at work...).

Great to see Fantastic Mr Fox so high up your list as well as Adventureland and Moon. I just saw Zombieland and while I liked it, I couldn't help think that it could've been better. Something about the voiceover that didn't always work (either a lame joke or an awkward semi-dramatic statement). Harrelson was great though (yeah, that scene worked well for me too) and I really liked both Stone and Breslin. Jesse Eisenberg was good, but Adventureland seemed more comfortable for him - it just seemed to fit better.

I can't wait until more people see Black Dynamite. It was easily my favourite film-going experience of last year. I'm a bit concerned that it may not play as well without a large audience, but there is a lot to love about it.

Fitz said...

I thought Adventureland might've slipped in as the indie comedy slot taken by Juno and Little Miss Sunshine in past years.

BTW about Inception the fight scene isn't them defying gravity slo-mo fight like Matrix, but them fighting in a building that is being constructed in a memory.

Fletch said...

Bob - Well, I'm certainly not in the crowd that thinks The Hangover should be considered for any awards, but it made it here simply because I laughed more in those 100 minutes than I had at any film since Team America. As someone who doesn't laugh a ton at most comedies these days, that was saying something and warrented placement. Seeing it a second time, I felt that it really didn't hold up very well considering the nature of the storytelling, but I can't let that initial experience go.

It's along those same lines that Grindhouse earned high marks from me in 2007. Neither film on its own is all that spectacular, but I had a hell of a time for those 3.5 hours.

RE Rudd in I Love You, Man - I absolutely thought he was unlikeable. Hell, I thought that was the point, to some extent. He was this closed-off, p-whipped guy that needed to loosen up badly. Basically, I completely understood why that guy had no friends, though I wasn't exactly rooting for him to get any. Ironically, if we were just talking about characters we'd like to be friends with, I'd choose Rudd's jerky version from Role Models. At least I understood him.

The more I hear about Black Dynamite, the more I want to see it. Sounds like an excellent production, and it sounds like it got passed over at least for a Best Costuming nomination...

Fitz - it might've, but I'm glad it didn't. Enough people already have ill will towards Adventureland based on it not being Superbad II. We don't need anyone thinking it's the hipster indie flick du jour.

With Inception, that explanation might tear down one Matrix comparison, but only to build up the other side of it. Remember, the matrix is all a construct and is only happening in your mind.

Heather said...

I've had the same want for Urban to do something big for a long time. I think I gave up after Pathfinder, and then simply forgot about him until Star Trek came around. With a charismatic cast and brilliantly action packed movie, it is saying a lot that he stood out above almost all of it. He was great. Give him all Vin Diesels roles. He hasn't been doing much with them lately anyway.

Great post!