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Jan 3, 2011

The 4th Annual Blog Cabins' End of Year Spectacular!

To see the list of all of films I saw in 2010, click here.

To see a 'resolution list' of films I plan to watch in 2011, click here (no, they're not all classics - I'm being honest and realistic).

Otherwise, let the SPECTACULAR begin!!

The Five Best Films I Saw This Year (Academy Award eligible):

5. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - To quote the immortal Information Society, "Pure Energy." I wanted to love this as much as the 20something fanboys out there, but it just missed being that magic movie for me by thismuch. Still, a hell of a show put on by Edgar Wright and cast.

4. Please Give - You know how rock stars start off poor and whining about the trials and tribulations of life only to make it big and have their third album be about how tough it is to be rich and famous? Well, this movie is kinda like those third albums, in that it's about a family of well-to-do New Yorkers whining here and there about how tough their life is. And yet, they're endearing, and really, really trying to be better people. Moreover, it's just a well-written, funny, expertly acted movie about, by and for adults.

3. City Island - There's no way this flick should be this high on this list. It's a pretty formulaic rom-com featuring a quirky family of archetypes. But it was just so damn charming and I had such a great time watching it. More below.

2. The Social Network - These next two are a cut above the rest, and it was difficult to separate them. It might be a highly unoriginal choice, but David Fincher returned to form with an expertly crafted story that holds a blazing fast script and a(n even more) star-making turn from Jesse Eisenberg as its trump cards. The Social Network may not be the most epic or original of all Best Picture winners (and it will win Best Picture), but it's like a star ballplayer that, while he may not hit the most home runs or steal the most bases, excels at all aspects of the game and has no glaring weakness whatsoever.

1. Inception - The most loved and (probably) hated movie of the year. Loved by those looking for a summer blockbuster that brings more to the table than explosions and rippling abs, hated by those who saw it after that first wave of us who fell in love with it and touted it as a masterpiece. In ten years, perhaps both sets of opinions (and those in between) will come to a happy medium once the dust has settled, but consider me still smitten with Nolan's inventive mind bender...that just happened to include the coolest action set piece of the year.

The Five Films That Barely Missed "The Five Best Films I Saw This Year" List:
5. Exit Through the Gift Shop
4. Toy Story 3
3. Cyrus
2. Winter's Bone
1. 127 Hours

Just missed: Animal Kingdom, How to Train Your Dragon

The Top Five Films I Didn't Get Around to Seeing This Year (I'm Guessing):
5. The Illusionist
4. Rabbit Hole
3. The King's Speech
2. The Fighter
1. True Grit

The Five Worst Films I Saw This Year
5. The White Ribbon
4. Due Date
3. The Book of Eli
2. Dinner for Schmucks
1. The Losers

My Five Ten Favorite Performances of the Year That Won't Win Any Awards:
10. Danielle Catanzariti, Hey Hey, It's Esther Blueberger - Quite possibly a star-making turn for the star of this seriously underseen Aussie coming-of-age flick. If you like Rushmore, well, this isn't as good, but it's still good, as is the girl with the hard-to-spell-and-pronounce last name.

9. Crispin Glover, Hot Tub Time Machine - By all accounts that I've heard, Glover himself is a bit of a loony tune. But give the man some credit. With all those Back to the Future royalties, he probably never needs to work again, but he took some time out of his godknows-how-busy-it-is schedule to poke fun at himself just a wee bit, and damn near stole the show.

8. Robert DeNiro, Machete - I've given DeNiro a lot of shit for his cover-your-eyes resume these last 15 years or so, but I have to hand it to him here. Hamming it up to the hilt to play a corrupt Texas senator, I had just about as much fun watching him as he must have had playing the role.

7. Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom - In a just world, she would receive a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination. We do not live in a just world. Guy Pearce and Joel Edgerton (both criminally underused) brought me in - Weaver (and Ben Mendelsohn and the rest of the cast I didn't recognize) kept me transfixed.

6. Jemaine Clement, Dinner for Schmucks - In a bad movie, Flight of the Conchords star Clement nearly made it worth it, playing a character that only he could play. Arrogant, artistic, outrageous...Clementine (okay, that was cheesy, but I couldn't resist. If only he had been featured more.

5. The cast of City Island - I was going to just put Steven Strait on here. I had no idea whilst watching City that the mysterious hunky guy was played by the same guy who starred in the Roland Emmerich shitfest 10,000 B.C. Yet he was far from the only great one on screen. Andy Garcia was in top form as the macho patriarch hiding his passion from his family. Ezra Miller was hilarious as the son with a somewhat strange fetish. Emily Mortimer did her charming Brit thing. And Julianna Marguiles was tough and sexy as the repressed matriarch.

4. James Franco's prosthetic arm, 127 Hours - Hell, it owned the screen.

3. Sam Rockwell, Conviction - Sure, Conviction might not add up to more than a Lifetime Movie of the Week or Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation. Okay, it's better than that, but it's awfully boilerplate and terribly formulaic. But there's nothing rote about Rockwell's performance as Kenny Waters, an angry, charismatic, depressed, and funny real person who lived a tragic life. Rockwell covered all bases and put on an all-around awesome show.

2. Thierry Guetta, Exit Through the Gift Shop - "But it's a documentary!," you might be saying. "He's a real person!"

I don't care if Guetta (and Exit) are 100% on the level or not, Mr. Brainwash is one hell of a character.

1. Nic Cage, Kick-Ass - I can't think of a better guy to channel Adam West. Perhaps Cage, too, will charm audiences by voicing a side character on an animated sitcom some 30 years from now. We can dream, can't we?

(Sidenote: could he possibly look more out-of-place in the upcoming Season of the Witch? I groan every time the commercial comes on; his monotone just doesn't suit the content...)

And Five That Have or Will Win Some:
5. Catherine Keener, Please Give - Does Keener ever not deliver?

4. Natalie Portman, Black Swan - We all knew Portman could act, but - finally - in Black Swan, she really Acts with a capital A. No surprise coming from Darren Aronofsky - his leading actors seem to always come out shining.

(Sidenote: I'd like to formally start the anti-Kunis-getting-a-nomination campaign right now. Don't get me wrong, I like Kunis a lot and she was fine here. But that's just it - she was just *fine.* At no point did I think that her role couldn't have been played by a number of actresses, even if she was pretty damn funny in the bar scene. And she's barely in it! She pops in and out of the movie like a groundhog, for mere seconds at a time. I'd much rather see the attention she's getting go to Barbara Hershey, or better yet, Winona Ryder (poor thing - always forced to get ugly for a role).

3. Armie Hammer, The Social Network - One could argue whether Hammer's performance was delivered more by him or by the visual masters behind the scenes of The Social Network. But then I would just utter that one line (you know which one) and no one would have a case in which to argue any more.

2. John Hawkes, Winter's Bone - Speaking of campaigns, I'm starting one to get Hawkes known as the modern-day Dennis Hopper. That's neither here nor there, though. In Bone, Hawkes is the "scariest guy that looks 150 lbs. soaking wet" that you've ever seen, and looks to have earned every scar on his body. At the same time, I'd kill to have his loyalty behind me.

1. Pete Postlethwaite, The Town - The best three minutes of acting this year were on display every time Postlethwaite took to the screen in Ben Affleck's heist flick. A pity he wasn't more used; an even bigger one that he died today (an event that had no bearing on his place here). Kobayashi will be missed.

The Five Films I Was Most Looking Forward to Last Year at This Time and the Results
5. The Expendables - Never saw it. Didn't help that it looked dumber and dumber with each new commercial.

4. Hot Tub Time Machine - Delivered on its promise and its title. Dumb fun, but pretty well-written, R-rated dumb fun.

3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Here's what I said about this last year at this time: "True, I was let down by the sixth installment, but that hasn't dampened my excitement for the two-part finale all that much." Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice? See below...

2. Inception - Why wasn't this number one on my Most Anticipated last year?

1. Machete - Almost delivered on its promise, though it definitely delivered on the title. Robert Rodriguez decided to take a bit too much of the fun away in favor of a heavy-handed immigration angle that somewhat bogged down the film. Still, it was a good time, and I'll be there for a sequel. Some great one-liners and audacious action (intestines, anyone?). And Danny Trejo still fucking rules, even if he don't text.

The Five Films I'm Most Looking Forward to for 2011
5. The Descendants - Alexander Payne's latest. That alone is enough for me to perk my ears; having George Clooney star is the icing on the cake.

4. Contagion - As I stated in the "Films I Will Watch in 2011" post, "Damon, Winslet, Fishburne, Law, Paltrow, Soderbergh = I'm in."

3. Paul - Likewise, Simon Pegg + Nick Frost + Greg Mottola = sounds like fun. Hate the title, though.

2. The Hangover Part II - Yes, this is virtually guaranteed to be a major disappointment. I don't care - I'm willing to give Philips and the gang the benefit of the doubt, even if Due Date kinda sucked.

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II - Hmm, let's copy and paste a bit, shall we? "True, I was let down by the sixth seventh installment, but that hasn't dampened my excitement for the two-part finale all that much."

Finally, Mrs. Fletch's Top 10
1. Inception
2. The Social Network
3. How to Train Your Dragon
4. City Island
5. 127 Hours
6. Micmacs
7. Animal Kingdom
8. Hey Hey, It's Esther Blueberger
9. Winter's Bone
10. Exit Through the Gift Shop

20 people have chosen wisely: on "The 4th Annual Blog Cabins' End of Year Spectacular!"

Univarn said...

Gah, I keep seeing the same film pop up on these lists over and over again. I suppose I'll have to watch one more time, but as of right now it sits firmly on my worst of list.

Nick said...

*shakes head in shame of the non-love for Deathly Hallows Part 1*

Colin Biggs said...

I actually think Weaver is sweeping most critic's awards. A nomination is locked up, whether she can beat out Melissa Leo (The Fighter) is the question.

Anonymous said...

How in the world are there films on your list I haven't heard of? I'm supposed to be the guy with the obscure titles!

I'm with you on The Illusionist. Tati is one of my all time favorite directors and I want to see this scrip come to life.

Hurm...well, your looking forward to list seems to just be a setup for disappointment.

Fletch said...

Uni - ...and which movie would that be?

Nick - Hey, at least I keep coming back.

Fitz - well, that's good to hear. I never keep up with all of the smaller awards ceremonies, but aside from when the flick came out, I haven't heard too much buzz for it. Do you really think enough Academy voters will have seen it, though?

Fletch said...

James - which ones? Esther and Animal Kingdom? You hate Australia, don't you?

I tend to agree on the Looking Forward To list, but unless you're the guy from Dark Horizons (who compiles awesome, awesome info on, like, every movie that will ever come out every year), it's hard to know about them smaller films just yet. So it's mostly blockbusterish films, and folks like you and I are often let down by them...

Dan said...

I'm really worried that Paul is going to be awful. I hope it isn't, but I'm scared it will be.

Jess said...

I too loved City Island. Great film that no one saw. Not sure you'll love King's Speech (don't see you with the period, British costume drama) but it is a great film. True Grit is awesome.

Rachel said...

I too had a difficult time deciding between Inception and The Social Network for #1. Shocked the hell out of myself when I went with the more dialogue heavy drama instead of the action-packed blockbuster.

Aiden R. said...

A number of things:
- Didn't see City Island or Please Give (will some day), but great Top 5. Very happy to see Scott Pilgrim up there.
- MAJOR WIN giving up some love for Crispin Glover! He's the very reason I gave that an 8.
- As fun as it was to watch Nic Cage kick ass in Kick-Ass, that South Drawl he started yelling with when he went up in flames made my skin crawl.
- Hell yes to Armie Hammer, hell YES to John Hawkes (shouldn't be long before that guy wins an Oscar), and HELL YES to Postlethwaite. Definitely the best acting from that movie, one of the few roles of his that I felt was really gonna get him noticed. Sad week...
- I'm all about your Top 5 of 2011, but I'm pretty skeptical about Hangover 2 also.
- Solid Top 10 from Mrs. Fletch

Colin Biggs said...

I'm sure the Academy has seen it. I don't see Weaver getting snubbed in a weak Supporting Actress field.

Fletch said...

Dan - believe it or not, I've managed to not even watch the trailer yet. I haven't exactly been avoiding it, but I haven't gone looking for it and it hasn't played in front of any recent theatrical flicks.

BTW - welcome! Checked out your site(s). Sounds like the MidMo Club podcast is a lot of fun - I will definitely have to give it a listen. Also, saw the LAMB link on there - sweet! Have you per chance given the LAMBcast a listen?

Jess - I'm not opposed to Brit historical dramas - heck, I saw The Young Victoria, after all. This one looks more appealing than that one, too. Geoffrey Rush is usually a large enough draw for me, anyway. Loved him ever since Shine.

Rachel - Well, you made the right choice then. After all, your Social Network review was the stuff of legend! :)

Aiden - many thanks, amigo! With your good taste, I'd guess you'd dig both Please and City Island. We'll see, I suppose...

Crispin rocked in Beowulf, no? This thing on?

The Armie Hammer thing is even better 'cause he was an unknown (at least to me). Only on of the major leads in that film you could say that about and he rocked. John Hawkes has been around for years, and I've certainly not seen all his work, but I know I've never seen him have anything so meaty, and he really took advantage of the time given.

I figure the Hangover deserves the benefit, given how good a time I had that first time w/ the first one. It'd have to look just gawdawful for me to not see it in theaters.

I shall pass the news on to Mrs. Fletch...

Fitz - right you are. Bad call by me there, I suppose. In that case, I'll be rooting for her to win!

Anonymous said...

I agree completely on Guetta and Cage in their respective roles ("roles"). Cage was phenomenal in Kick-Ass, and not in an amusing ironic "wink-wink" sort of way, either-- he was genuinely great and gave what could have just been a hokey role some gravity.

Good top five. I'm suffering from "haven't seen a bunch of movies that I'd like to consider for top 10 material" syndrome and so haven't made a list yet but I can say that three of your five will appear on my own list when I finally get to writing it.

Bob Turnbull said...

Glad to see a few folks anticipating "The Illusionist" as it's my favourite film of the year - sad, sweet, funny, bitter, charming and freaking beautiful.

Nice to see Mrs. Fletch giving some love towards Micmacs - it made my last year's Top 10 and even though it dropped a smidge on a rewatch, it's still gloriously creative.

Like many people, I'm browsing the web while eating lunch at work, so when I read "The White Ribbon" as one of your worst of the year, I just about choked on my Thai Pork stir-fry. Feel free not to like it of course, but I found it a fascinating examination of humanity's ability to be cruel to itself and a perfect way of showing how the seeds of unthinkable monstrous behaviour can be sown and nurtured. I'll have to look for your review (if you did one).

Bob Turnbull said...

I just read your White Ribbon review...It didn't take long. B-)

I totally, totally disagree with you (and many of the commenters) as I found it riveting, but that was a pretty funny review...

Oh, I forgot to mention - John Hawkes FTW!

Fletch said...

Andrew - I must admit that my liking of Cage in Kick-Ass was more ironic than anything else. Now that's not to say that he did a bad job - he did great. However, given my usual derision for the guy, I have to say that the match of actor to role there was beautiful, and I liked what he brought to the role.

I know what ya mean about wanting t see them all before compiling your list. As a friend posted recently though, at some point, you just gotta go for it and know that you'll never see everything you want to...at least not before May of the next year or so.

Bob - If memory serves, The Illusionist is the film you spoke about on your Matineecast appearance, no? Love that array of emotions you've got me warmed up for. Hopefully, it'll be on Netflix soon, as I don't recall it ever hitting the theaters here.

Believe it or not, I liked Micmacs even more than Mrs. Fletch...I think there were just more *other* films that I liked more. It's not Amelie 2 (nor should it be), but it's a fun, beautiful watch.

What can I say about The White Ribbon. It couldn't keep my attention. Maybe I had just eaten something bad that day, though I don't know if or when I'll give it another shot. I went in with a pretty negative attitude about Haneke (it was my first!), and sadly, it didn't do much to change my mind. Glad you enjoyed my 'review,' though. :)

Bob Turnbull said...

Yep, that mini-Matineecast was recorded minutes after Hatter and I exited the screening of The Illusionist at TIFF. Other than festivals, it's just been in NY and L.A. for Oscar consideration and will be rolling wider in the next few weeks - it's in Scottsdale starting Jan. 28 (http://www.sonyclassics.com/theillusionist/dates.html), so maybe you'll actually get a chance to see it on the big screen.

As far as Haneke goes, "Cache" and "Code Unknown" are my other favourites. "Funny Games" and "The Piano Teacher" are both really interesting and great for discussion, but aren't easy watches.

Fletch said...

Thanks for the research, Bob! Save me some time. ;) The local arthouse theater has been running trailers here, so I ought to have known it was coming soon. We'll be seeing it for sure.

With Haneke, I'd heard of Cache and probably of him, but didn't really get a lot of scoop on him until the English Funny Games was released, and everything I heard about it just pissed me off. I'm not willing to pay money to be a part of his psych experiments.

Kaiderman said...

I liked it but apparently City Island really struck a chord with you, eh?

Fletch said...

Kai - not really. I mean, it won't be amongst my favorite flicks of all time or anything. I just had a really good time watching it and thought it pretty well-written. I went in thinking it'd be a specific thing, and the weird thing is that it kinda was, but I still dug it. So that said something to me.