2015 Oscars: Best Picture Nominees!

The 8 movies nominated for this year’s Best Picture Oscar make up a curious group of films. They’ve showcased extraordinary feats of cinematography, editing, acting, and perseverance. A few character actors finally got their time to shine, and a few historical figures in science, war, and civil rights were finally given proper representation on the big screen. Some of the films have elicited absurd amounts of controversy, whereas others have received absurd amounts of praise. My opinion on a few of these films is quite high. On others, I am mostly indifferent. One, I outright dislike, and it is certainly NOT one of the best films this century, Mr. A.O. Scott, thank you very much!

Without further adieu, my take on this year’s Best Picture nominees:

81. Boyhood

Boyhood
Okay. I respect the dedication put into this movie. I happen to really like all but one of the other Richard Linlater movies that I’ve seen (that is, the 3 Before movies, School of Rock, and Bernie; I hated A Scanner Darkly), and I went into Boyhood with extremely high expectations. But 2 hours and 45 minues of nothing was NOT worth my full price ticket at a New York City theater, and watching it a second time completely killed any positive inklings I may have had toward the movie from that first viewing. By the end of the film, I absolutely HATE the brooding, moody, confused hipster that main character Mason has become. And since his poor childhood is the product of all the people around him, I hate them all, too. When you look past the gimmick that was shooting the same movie over a 12 year span, you realize that the film’s writing is not too great, and the acting is actually kind of dull; Patricia Arquette will win Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mason’s mother, but it is more of a consolation prize in my opinion for showing up for the same gig for 12 years in a row than for any sort of profound acting chops on her part. As someone has said, if Boyhood had been shot in one year instead of 12, no one would give a flying bleep about the film, especially due to its lack of story and its crappy, unlikeable characters. And yet it’ll probably win Best Picture. This coming after the fact that Linklater’s immensely-better Before Midnight wasnt even nominated for Best Picture last year just proves that there is no justice in the world for a film curmudgeon like me.

12. American Sniper

American Sniper
I already wrote plenty on Sniper (see previous post), but I still don’t see a reason for all of the controversy, let alone all the hype. While the movie was definitely emotional and worth seeing once, Bradley Cooper’s bulked-up physique was honestly the most impressive part of the film. I guess one positive about the movie was that the entire time, I kept thinking, “How the hell did 84-year-old, senile, grumpy Clint Eastwood direct something so intense and big?” The fact that the finished product hit all the right emotional chords can be attributed to the skills of Eastwood as a director.

133. The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything
Eddie Redmayne was Oscar-worthy as British ASL-stricken scientist Stephen Hawking, though the movie itself wasn’t anything that special. It told a decent, if certainly unconventional love story, and featured some beautiful music, but it still didn’t do that much for me. It was worth seeing once, but Best Picture worthy? Not having it.

6. The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game:
I really enjoyed The Imitation Game the first time I saw it. I loved the British World War II setting, the Desplat score, and the way the story was edited together, with its three timelines and its use of WWII-era newsreels and stock footage. However, the second time I watched it, I wanted to go to sleep. While still in no way a bad movie, it just didn’t seem like anything special upon a second viewing. I love Cumberbatch in almost everything he’s done, but I wasn’t THAT impressed by him as Turing, and Charles Dance literally walked off the set of Game of Thrones, took off his armor and removed the crossbow bolts from his chest, and put on a British Naval uniform. How can that be a bad thing, you ask? It shouldn’t have been, but Lord Tywin popping up in the middle of a World War II biopic just seemed out of place to me. Also, upon second viewing, the ending, while sad and emotional, seemed like it was a little too on the nost in its political messaging. The on-screen text that makes up the film’s epilogue focused more on Turing’s sexuality than his impact on WWII, codebreaking, and computers. While not wrong in any way, this text attempted to make a film that tackled so many broad historical and social topics to be a lot more streamlined and political than it actually was.

127. Birdman

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
I very much enjoyed Birdman the first time I saw it, though, like with Boyhood and The Imitation Game, my enthusiasm for it lessened quite a bit after seeing it again. The amazing feat of Emmanuel Lubezki to make the film appear to be one long take wore a bit thin the second time through. The use of long takes of course made the superb acting stand out even more, as Keaton and Norton and Stone had to memorize large amounts of lines and blocking at a time, though, again, if the movie were filmed conventionally, would its dialogue and plot hold up? Probably not. Michael Keaton deserves the Oscar for his performance, but the rest of the film is a bit too eclectic and schizofrenic for me to outright love it. The drum score drove me a bit insane (as was the point, I think), and the ending really didn’t make any sense at all, no matter how you looked at it. Unquestionably, my favorite part of such a stylized and wonky film was the fleeting moment (probably a mistake that couldn’t be covered up due to the use of long takes) when Zack Galifianakis forgot what movie he was a part of for a split second and reverted into his Hangover schtick by calling Martin Scorsese “Martin Scorseez.” Simply amazing.

8. Selma

Selma
I didn’t expect to like Selma and I wound up loving it. Again, I probably wouldn’t watch it again, but it was worth seeing once and actually left an emotional impact on me, unlike a few of the movies I’ve already mentioned. David Oyelowo was fantastic as Dr. King, and his speech at the end was one of the more inspirational scenes in a movie this past year. I’m extremely happy that the movie remained apolitical for almost the entire time, though the reference of Ferguson in the John Legend/Common song at the end pulled me right out of the historical period of the Civil Rights movement and brought today’s divisive, nasty political maelstrom into a film that, for almost its entire running time, had been above such pettiness. Plus, since the events in Ferguson couldn’t have happened before filming started, it made its inclusion in the film seem even more shoehorned in. Why must everything make a statement, no matter how unnecessary? Why can’t we ever appreciate something in its original context, and not in comparing it to today?

53. Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel
With a film that takes Lord Voldemort himself and makes him into a heroic, comic lead character, uses miniature scale models of majestic hotels and icy mountainsides, features an eclectic group of the quirkiest actors around, such as Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, Adrian Brody, Tilda Swinton, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, etc., and switches between 3 times periods, each represented by a different aspect ration, all while accompanied by a whimsical Alexandre Desplat score, Wes Anderson has finally become mainstream. The Grand Budapest Hotel was by far one of the best films to come out last year and the first of these eight Best Picture winners that I could easily see myself watching again.

WHIPLASH_2.indd

Whiplash
As I said in my last post, a movie that can make me angry enough to feel it in my stomach, that can shock me to the point where I’m yelling “Oh my God” out loud, and that can make me jump out of my seat in triumphant joy is really something special. Whiplash is that type of movie. J.K. Simmons, the Yellow M & M and the Farmers Insurance guy, J. Jonah Jameson and Juno’s father, is the band instructor from hell (not to mention an extremely relatable character to terrible people I’ve experienced in real life), and will deservedly walk away with the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Miles Teller is awesome as a drum student worked to the point of exhaustion, with sweat, blood, and tears literally staining his drumsticks and the heads of his drums, and he reportedly did a lot of his own drumming on the film. The climax, a whirlwind of sound and close ups, is one of the best-edited sequences in a movie in a long time. Whiplash is definitely a painful and exhausting movie to get through, but, oh, is it worth it! And it is my favorite Best Picture nominee by a substantial margin from 2014.

May the best film win (though it probably won’t).

-Flipp

2015 Oscars: 2014 Movies Ranked!

With the Oscars coming up this Sunday night, this is my ranking of the 38 movies that came out in 2014 that I watched between January 2014 and February 2015. I still have not seen Still AliceWild, or Two Days, One Night, three movies that have actresses up for Best Actress, nor PTA’s Inherent Vice, up for Original Screenwriting, but I’ve watched mostly everything else worth seeing. (Sorry, The Judge).

I wish I had more time to see a few more non-Oscar movies before compiling this list, such as Calvary, Only Lovers Left AliveMr. Turner, Under the Skin, and Godzilla, but alas, I ran out of time. I’ll get to them eventually.

I will follow up this post (BEFORE THE OSCARS, I PROMISE) with one focusing just on the 8 Best Picture nominees. I have a lot to say about a few of them, so I’ll keep my comments on them in this post relatively brief.

Anyway, since I like stream of consciousness rants, here we go, from worst to best:

  • North Korea, why didn’t you bomb us for The Interview?? We certainly deserved it, and not because it showed us killing your leader. It was just an affront to the art of cinema.
  • I don’t know what Noah‘s production team was smoking. I sort of get that they wanted to make the movie feel like it was both ancient and futuristic/alien at the same time… but could their costumes have been a bit more…um, biblical? And not like they bought them at Target and made them frayed and dirty?

  • How did Foxcatcher, Into the Woods, and A Most Violent Year get ANY critical praise at all this year?ZzzzzzzzzzzzzZzzzzzZZZZzzzzzzzzzzZZZzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZzzzzz
  • DID YOU KNOW BOYHOOD TOOK 12 YEARS TO FILM? AND THAT OUR MAIN CHARACTER TOOK 12 YEARS TO BECOME AN ASSHOLE? AND THAT IT TOOK 12 YEARS FOR PATRICIA ARQUETTE TO REALIZE SHE WAS A TERRIBLE MOTHER? AND THAT IT TOOK 12 YEARS FOR ETHAN HAWKE TO REALIZE HE REALLY THREW HIS LIFE AWAY BY SLACKING OFF AND NOT BEING A GOOD FATHER? AND SO ON AND SO FORTH AND ONTO MY NEXT POST…
  • Here we go. I’m going to get a lot of flack for this. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and X-Men: Days of Future Past were all critically acclaimed blockbusters…and were all completely blown out of proportion by fans and critics alike. While none of them were bad movies, per say, they were in no means that special either.
  • I was terrified of The Babadook until I actually watched The Babadook. If that makes any sense at all.
  • I wish I remembered Joe… I liked it and thought it was decent in the moment, but thinking back on it, I can only remember the earlier Matthew McConaughey version called Mud. Hell, the same kid was in both movies!!

  • I’m sorry, but due to my sister, I… I… (I feel like Squidward being unable to say his apology to Spongebob aloud here) I…oh, hell, I happen to enjoy One Direction’s music (THERE, I SAID IT), and thus, their concert movie, Where We Are, was definitely worth my time. As it was a concert movie, though, and had no plot, it therefore ranks below most of the other movies I saw from 2014.
  • Jersey Boys and American Sniper, Clint Eastwood’s decent efforts from 2014, were enjoyable and (from what I can tell) faithful adaptations of their source material, while being a bit under par from his normal quality output. Jersey Boys had the perk of being partly shot and set in the town next to mine (though maybe being associated with Belleville, NJ, is really not that much of a perk at all), and who can beat the music of the Four Seasons? American Sniper was certainly emotionally draining, but it was in no way worth all of its hype or derision at all. That being said, Bradley Cooper’s chest deserves its own Oscar category.
  • Annabelle was a fairly straight-forward horror movie in terms of plot and character archetypes. That being said, it certainly had me on the edge of my seat at times and even caused me to yell out loud in the theater. As a lover of Mad Men, I loved the film’s setting. And after seeing the immensely superior Rosemary’s Baby for the first time a week or so later, I could tell that much of the film’s aesthetic and setting owed itself to Polanski’s seminal film. My only major complaint, which is actually my only complaint with Annabelle‘s 2013’s predecessor, The Conjuring, a movie I absolutely loved, was that the Annabelle doll was just too damn scary – absurdly so – before even getting possessed!! It was laughable to me that no one in either movie questioned why any doll like this should even exist, let alone be allowed to reside in someone’s house – AND IN A BABY’S ROOM, AT THAT!

  • The music was the best part of The Theory of Everything. Sorry, Eddie. You did a good job, but your movie just felt like an alternate take on A Beautiful Mind.
  • Ida: beautifully shot, subtly acted, and almost silent. I like when modern films are shot in black and white, and along with The Grand Budapest Hotel, this was the second film I saw that was shot at a 1:33 aspect ratio. And plot-wise, what could be better than a Polish nun-in-training learning that she’s actually Jewish from her Communist official aunt?

  • Apart from a strange modern coda that didn’t really fit the rest of the movie, Dracula Untold was an exciting, medieval actioner with vampires that actually lived up to their mythological reputation. Is it bad that I enjoyed this box-office flop much more than the “Big Four” blockbusters that I mentioned above. Is there something wrong with me, or everyone else?
  • I definitely cried at The Fault In Our Stars and thought there was genuine chemistry between Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, even though I could barely stand a chapter of John Green’s book. I guess that says something about the acting, no?
  • The Imitation Game: very good World War II biopic the first time, a bit tedious and preachy the second. More on this in my later post.
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was at times the most entertaining of the three Hobbit monstrosities and also – by FAR – the most offensive. Nothing in the Star Wars prequels, not even Jar Jar Binks, is as absurd as Legolas (might I remind you that Legolas HAS NO RIGHT EVEN BEING IN THESE MOVIES!!) defying gravity in slow motion to run up falling rocks mid-fight as if they were a staircase.
  • I love James McAvoy normally. I REALLY love James McAvoy as a psycho, vulgar, druggy Nicolas-Cage-in-Bad-Lieutenant police detective. Jim Broadbent and Imogen Poots also make Filth a film that is definitely worth seeing, if for sheer shock value.
  • Overall, I wasn’t too impressed by the plot of Nightcrawler, BUT Jake Gyllenhaal made up for the script’s shortcomings with a performance for the ages. His gaunt, sunken, wraith-like Leo Bloom is the 2010s’ version of De Niro’s Travis Bickle, except even more reprehensible.

  • Intersteller was a much longer, mainstream version of Danny Boyle’s superior Sunshine, one of my favorite movies from recent years, though going in, I expected it to be a lot worse than it actually wound up being. I thought most of it was completely preposterous, especially the end, but the acting, visuals, and music sold the movie as a whole for me. And is it just me, or am I the only one who can’t take Matt Damon seriously? I know he was Jason Bourne and all, but all of his Jimmy Kimmel appearances are too much for me to handle. So the big reveal/cameo/twist with Damon made me laugh, not gasp.

Sunshine & Interstellar

  • Can they make a mid-quel to a film that’s already a prequel, mid-quel, and sequel to another film? Because I think Eva Green’s Artemisia NEEDS her own movie. Most of 300: Rise of an Empire was pretty mediocre, the expected stylized schlock of the first 300, but there’s a reason this was close to being in my top 10 for the year.

  • Snowpiercer is one of the more bizarre but welcome additions to the science fiction genre, and totally worth downloading late one summer night last year. Tilda Swinton makes the movie, in case you haven’t heard by now. And poor Chris Evans can’t catch a break with cold substances… first Sunshine, then Captain America, now Snowpiercer
  • Mitt was a great 22nd birthday present, so thank you, Netflix. For anyone interested in politics, whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, or independent, this documentary was an intimate portrait of a man running for President, and, in stark contrast to how he carried himself outwardly during the 2012 election, it actually showed that Mitt Romney was a man.

  • A quarter of the way through The Lego Movie, I was seriously confused about all the hype. Halfway through, I was enjoying it but only thought it a cute little Disney knockoff, a Wreck-It Ralph-lite. Three quarters, and I was eating my words, mind completely blown. Please, experience it for yourself. The ending is so worth the time and enduring that annoying song.
  • If Tom Hardy had simply used the Welsh accent he used in Locke as his voice for Bane in the awful The Dark Knight Rises, then he would have been absolutely terrifying, not the Darth Sean Connery laughing stock he wound up being. Also, to have an entire film set in a car and consist of only close ups of a single actor’s face, his dashboard phone menu, and of the exterior of his car, and STILL be as engaging and as morally profound as Locke says something about Hardy’s acting and the film’s writing.

  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virture of Ignorance) is a gimmick. But, unlike Boyhood, it is a gimmick that actually works, though I enjoyed it significantly less the second time viewing it. If the film were not shot as if it were done in a single take, the movie would of course be lessened, but its acting is still superb enough to carry it past its cinematography.
  • Selma, a movie I expected to be super preachy, would up being one of the best historical dramas I’ve seen in a while, and apart from the mention of Ferguson in the end credits’ song (my one complaint about the movie), it remained pretty apolitical the entire time. Oyelowo, Wilkinson, and Roth were all eerily close to their historical counterparts.
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel is not my favorite Wes Anderson movie (that probably goes to Rushmore or Moonrise Kingdom), but it is his most lavish and grand and possibly his most zany, and fairly perfect in its composition (literally), and it certainly deserves all the praise it’s been getting.
  • I miss Roger Ebert. I didn’t agree with him politically really at all, and even disagreed with him on a number of film reviews, but he was my go-to movie critic, as I’m sure he was for millions of others, before a movie came out, and if he didn’t like a movie, he was usually in the majority. Life Itself is a must see doc. It is terribly sad at times but also incredibly life-affirming and uplifting, and overall one of the most wonderful films I’ve seen in a long time.

  • Very few things have ever made me laugh as much as the end credits sequence of 22 Jump Street. Add in Ice Cube’s explosion during dinner and Channing Tatum’s realization over why Ice Cube was so angry, and you get my favorite comedy of the year. Yes, it was better than the first movie. By a lot.
  • A movie that can elicit anger that hurts my stomach, shock that makes me yell out loud, and triumphant joy that makes me jump out of my seat is something special. Whiplash is that type of movie.
  • Gone Girl lived up to its expectations, which was a thriller about bad people in an awful marriage doing twisted things to one another. I read the book after seeing the movie and Fincher and the film’s cast really did do the book justice. And I really hope Oscars host Neil Patrick Harris references how his dalliance with a woman did not exactly end too well here…

  • I did not have any more fun seeing a movie in 2014 than when I saw Edge of Tomorrow in theaters over the summer. What could have been another crappy, forgettable, video gamey, generic science fiction/alien invasion/action/disaster movie wound up being an emotional, well-acted, and surprisingly hilarious and fresh take on the genre. This Groundhog Day-meets-Starship Troopers-meets-Minority Report mashup reaffirmed that Tom Cruise can be a very good actor when given good material, and that badass female characters are so much cooler than badass male characters. If Eva Green was awesome in the mediocre 300 sequel, Emily Blunt was incredible in a film that will actually be remembered in a few years!

– Flipp

American Sniper, Selma, & Boyhood and the Let’s Get Offended at Everything! Awards

Okay. After watching Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, I have now seen all 8 of the films nominated for this year’s Best Picture Academy Award. And I wasn’t going to wade in on any of the controversy surrounding it, but this little tweet from The Interview‘s own Seth Rogen set me off just a bit:

He was comparing Sniper to Inglourious Basterds‘ film-within-a-film “Nation’s Pride,” which was about a German sniper’s heroic three day stand in a bell tower against invading American forces. However, commissioned by Joseph Goebbels in the universe of Tarantino’s film, it is first and foremost propaganda, with the German solider Fredrick Zoller (Daniel Brühl) playing himself in the movie, like real-life American soldier Audie Murphy did in To Hell and Back after returning from World War II. Rogen later backtracked, saying he had simply been “reminded” of “Nation’s Pride” while watching Sniper, and that he actually liked Clint Eastwood’s film. Clarification or not, however, his original tweet was one more comment in a maelstrom of controversy surrounding the movie and is still a valid point for discussion.

Fredrick Zoller (Daniel Bruhl) starring in his own film, “Nation’s Pride”

So while, yes, similarities can be made between “Nation’s Pride” and American Sniper, in that they are both about snipers who killed upwards of 150-200 enemy combatants in war and were deemed heroes afterwards, they are in no way the same movie. I simply do not understand the outcry over American Sniper. I happen to be a conservative individual, but apart from (film) Chris Kyle being a Texan who took great pride in serving his country, I cannot – for the life of me – see any sort of conservative slant to the movie. Yes, Kyle killed people in the line of duty, and while many of these deaths are brutally depicted on screen, he never gloats about them. At one point, he clearly has a nervous breakdown after coming seconds away from killing a kid with an RPG (the kid puts the weapon down and runs away), and his demons follow him home. He is distant with his wife and his kids between tours of duty and then when home for good, and prone to violent reactions to seemingly-ordinary things like dogs barking or drilling sounds. The film does not delve too deeply into his PTSD, but it acknowledges its existence, as well as showing other veterans with loss of limb or other forms of psychological problems. Heck, his own brother, also serving in Iraq, curses the sand beneath his feet before heading home after his own tour of duty. 

Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle in American Sniper

If anything, American Sniper showed a horrifying conflict in a horrifying and extremely realistic light. Complaints against it claim that it didn’t show Americans committing war crimes or that it failed to humanize the Iraqi insurgents killed by Kyle, especially the enemy sniper with whom Kyle faces off in an Enemy at the Gates-type snipers’ dual over the years, or the fact that it did not outright condemn the Iraq War itself like many previous Hollywood films had done, but this movie particularly was not meant to show all of that. It was about Chris Kyle, his drive and his dedication to his role as a U.S. soldier, and his role as a husband and father.

Personally, I was not blown away by the movie, just as I was not blown away by 2012’s similarly-themed and -plotted Zero Dark Thirtythough I did like Bradley Cooper’s portrayal and believe the film earned its many Oscar nominations. And I certainly think any outrage over the movie is complete and utter nonsense.

That being said, I also find the other side of the aisle’s (that is, my side’s) complaints against the Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic Selma to be just as unfounded. I actually thought it was one of the better movies nominated for Best Picture this year (I liked it more than Sniper), and apart from the use of “Ferguson” in the Common/John Legend song “Glory” that accompanied the end credits, I believe that it avoided taking political sides and approached the topic of Civil Rights objectively.

David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma

Selma, as well as American Sniper, has been charged with historical inaccuracies to the point of mudslinging and uproars on either side of the political spectrum as their respective horse in the race comes under fire from the other side, but The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything have somehow seemed to creep by scot-free of any major criticisms, even though liberties have certainly been taken in their adaptations to the screen as well. Is it simply because they aren’t focusing on such volatile subjects as Civil Rights and the Iraq War that people haven’t been outraged over them? Or can people just not put aside their views for two hours and try to watch two fairly objective movies in an objective light?

I’ll admit, that’s a lot easier said than done, as I panned Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, which attempted to tell a fictional story in a realistic way. Even though I appreciated the concept of filming the movie over 12 years and the work put into making it over that time, I did not like the actual movie, mainly because I could not stand the main character and the liberal slant to his worldview. Why would anyone laud how this kid grew up? He went from a cute little kid to a complete asshole, and it took 3 long hours for me to watch it happen… However, I am not outraged by the movie; I just didn’t like it. And I will leave it at that. If anyone wants to see it and love it – and hell, a lot of people have as it will probably win Best Picture – then so be it.

American Sniper and Selma were the anti-Boyhood. These two films had STORIES. They told actual stories about flawed characters that WE STILL CARED ABOUT, not idealistic impressions of them, and didn’t forgive or gloss over their characters’ flaws for the sake of having a happy “Hollywood” ending. They told historical events realistically and objectively, and for that reason alone, the should be seen by everyone. Many people just can’t seem to wrap their minds around that.

To come full circle, Seth Rogen… shame on you for speaking negatively (consciously or subconsciously) on another film after that train wreck of a…what? – it’s certainly not a movie – you call The Interview. I didn’t think I could like and enjoy a film from 2014 less than I did NoahAnd nothing I’ve seen in years is as bad as your buddy James Franco’s Gollum impression. 

-Flipp

2014 Golden Globe Predictions

Edit 3: Overall, 9/25. I should never actually gamble. However, I am happy with most of the outcomes of the evening, although I’d rather Birdman had won for Best Musical or Comedy, and while I didn’t necessarily care for Boyhood, I’ll admit that its feat should definitely be recognized. On the TV end, I really overestimated the love for True Detective, which was all but shut out by Fargo (YES!) and The Normal Heart. And I guess Amazon is the new Netflix, with 2 wins for Transparent vs. 1 win for the latter company (Kevin Spacey for House of Cards’ second season). Also, who has actually seen The Affair?? Yeah, me neither.

Edit 2: NEW CATEGORY!! The “George Clooney Award for Being George Clooney” with the only nomination and winner… George Clooney

Edit 1: With less than half of the show left to go…. my ballot is coooompletely off. More to follow afterwards…

Tonight is the 72 Annual Golden Globe awards! Super comedy duo Tina Fey and Amy Poehler return as co-hosts, and with many close races that will serve as a possible preview of February’s Oscars, it should at least be an interesting night. 

MOTION PICTURES

Best Drama

  • Boyhood √
  • Foxcatcher
  • The Imitation Game
  • Selma
  • The Theory of Everything

Best Comedy

  • Birdman
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel √
  • Into the Woods
  • Pride
  • St. Vincent

Best Director

  • Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Ava Duvernay, Selma
  • David Fincher, Gone Girl
  • Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
  • Richard Linklater, Boyhood √

Best Actress in a Drama

  • Jennifer Aniston, Cake
  • Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
  • Julianne Moore, Still Alice √
  • Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
  • Reese Witherspoon,Wild

Best Actor in a Drama

  • Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
  • Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
  • David Oyelowo, Selma
  • Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything √

Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy

  • Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Michael Keaton, Birdman √
  • Bill Murray, St. Vincent
  • Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice
  • Christoph Waltz, Big Eyes

Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy

  • Amy Adams, Big Eyes √
  • Emily Blunt, Into the Woods
  • Helen Mirren, The Hundred-Foot Journey
  • Julianne Moore, Map to the Stars
  • Quvenzhané Wallis, Annie

(Really, HFPA? This is by far the most bizarre category of the night.)

Best Supporting Actress

  • Patricia Arquette, Boyhood √
  • Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
  • Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
  • Emma Stone, Birdman
  • Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Best Supporting Actor

  • Robert Duvall, The Judge
  • Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
  • Edward Norton, Birdman
  • Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
  • J.K. Simmons, Whiplash √

Best Screenplay

  • Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
  • Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo, Birdman √
  • Richard Linklater, Boyhood
  • Graham Moore, The Imitation Game

Best Foreign Language Film

  • Force Majeure Turist, Sweden
  • Gett: The Trial of Viviane Ansalem Gett, Israel
  • Ida, Poland/Denmark
  • Leviathan, Russia √
  • Tangerines Mandariinid, Estonia

Best Animated Feature

  • Big Hero 6
  • The Book of Life
  • The Boxtrolls
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 √
  • The Lego Movie

Best Original Song

  • “Big Eyes” from Big Eyes
  • “Glory” from Selma √
  • “Mercy Is” from Noah
  • “Opportunity” from Annie
  • “Yellow Flicker Beat” from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1

Best Score

  • The Imitation Game
  • The Theory of Everything √
  • Gone Girl
  • Birdman
  • Interstellar

TELEVISION

Best TV Comedy or Musical

  • Girls
  • Jane the Virgin
  • Orange Is the New Black
  • Silicon Valley
  • Transparent √

Best TV Drama

  • The Affair √
  • Downton Abbey
  • Game of Thrones
  • The Good Wife
  • House of Cards

Best Actress in a TV Drama

  • Claire Danes, Homeland
  • Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
  • Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
  • Ruth Wilson, The Affair √
  • Robin Wright, House of Cards

Best Actor in a TV Drama

  • Clive Owen, The Knick
  • Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
  • Kevin Spacey, House of Cards √
  • James Spader, The Blacklist
  • Dominic West, The Affair

Best Actress in a TV Comedy

  • Lena Dunham, Girls
  • Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
  • Gena Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin √
  • Taylor Schilling, Orange Is the New Black

Best Actor in a TV Comedy

  • Louis CK, Louie
  • Don Cheadle, House of Lies
  • Ricky Gervais, Derek
  • William H. Macy, Shameless
  • Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent √

Best Miniseries or TV Movie

  • Fargo √
  • The Missing
  • The Normal Heart
  • Olive Kitteridge
  • True Detective

Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie

  • Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Honorable Woman √
  • Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Freak Show
  • Frances McDormand, Olive Kitteridge
  • Frances O’Connor, The Missing
  • Allison Tolman, Fargo

Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie

  • Martin Freeman, Fargo
  • Woody Harrelson, True Detective
  • Matthew McConaughey, True Detective
  • Mark Ruffalo, The Normal Heart
  • Billy Bob Thornton, Fargo √

Best Supporting Actress in a TV Show, Miniseries or TV Movie

  • Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black
  • Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Freak Show
  • Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey √
  • Allison Janney, Mom
  • Michelle Monaghan, True Detective

Best Supporting Actor in a TV Show, Miniseries or TV Movie

  • Matt Bomer, The Normal Heart √
  • Alan Cumming, The Good Wife
  • Colin Hanks, Fargo
  • Bill Murray, Olive Kitteridge
  • Jon Voight, Ray Donovan

-Flipp

My Year In Pop Culture

Happy New Year, everyone!! My goal for 2015 is to blog more. Seven posts in 5 months is not too great, though I’d say it’s a decent start for someone somewhat lazy like me. So here’s to a year of at least  14-18 posts!!

Anyway, 2014 is over and I consumed a LOT of media throughout the year. Taking a page from Steven Soderbergh, I tried to keep track of everything new that I watched (and, as time went on and I found myself commuting to New York City two days a week, of all the books I read as well) in 2014.

My year in pop culture was as follows:

114. Rosemary's Baby

MOVIES

  1. American Hustle
  2. Hugo
  3. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  4. Braveheart
  5. Don Jon
  6. Her
  7. Frances Ha
  8. Frozen
  9. Inside Llewyn Davis
  10. Saving Mr. Banks
  11. Dallas Buyers Club
  12. Blue Jasmine
  13. Pineapple Express
  14. Raising Arizona
  15. Leaving Las Vegas
  16. Mitt
  17. The People vs. George Lucas
  18. Best Worst Movie
  19. Fantastic Mr. Fox
  20. Lost in Translation
  21. Juno
  22. Oslo August 31
  23. Eyes Wide Shut
  24. Captain Phillips
  25. All Is Lost
  26. (500) Days of Summer
  27. Filth
  28. Friday the 13th Part 3
  29. The Cable Guy
  30. Punch-Drunk Love
  31. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
  32. Iron Man 3
  33. Thor: The Dark World
  34. Magnolia
  35. 42
  36. Great Expectations
  37. A Nightmare on Elm Street
  38. Philomena
  39. Nebraska
  40. The Pirates! Band of Misfits
  41. Moulin Rouge
  42. Hard Eight
  43. Lolita
  44. Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures
  45. Gods and Monsters
  46. Barry Lyndon
  47. The Master
  48. Bottle Rocket
  49. The Reader
  50. Prisoners
  51. Mud
  52. 300: Rise of an Empire
  53. Grand Budapest Hotel
  54. That Guy…Who Was In That Thing
  55. 8MM
  56. Snake Eyes
  57. Point Break
  58. The Kids Are All Right
  59. Serpico
  60. Dog Day Afternoon
  61. Noah
  62. The History of the World Part I
  63. Joe
  64. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  65. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  66. The Fault in Our Stars
  67. Sex Drive
  68. 22 Jump Street
  69. Jersey Boys
  70. Arthur Christmas
  71. Edge of Tomorrow
  72. America: Imagine the World Without Her
  73. Legend
  74. Saludos Amigos
  75. The Three Caballeros
  76. Make Mine Music
  77. Fun and Fancy Free
  78. Melody Time
  79. Battle Royale
  80. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mister Toad
  81. Boyhood
  82. Bernie
  83. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  84. The Family Man
  85. The Lego Movie
  86. The Ides of March
  87. Life Itself
  88. Snowpiercer
  89. Doubt
  90. Guardians of the Galaxy
  91. Good Will Hunting
  92. 12 Angry Men
  93. Jackass 3D
  94. Unbreakable
  95. The Serpent and the Rainbow
  96. The Skeleton Key
  97. The Sword in the Stone
  98. The Jungle Book
  99. Robin Hood
  100. Bonnie and Clyde
  101. The Princess Bride
  102. The Last Detail
  103. Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  104. The Horror of Dracula
  105. Shadow of the Vampire
  106. Insidious
  107. M*A*S*H
  108. Exorcist II: The Heretic
  109. The Exorcist III
  110. Cool Runnings
  111. The Last Picture Show
  112. Annabelle
  113. Gone Girl
  114. Rosemary’s Baby
  115. Poltergeist
  116. Trick ‘r Treat
  117. Exorcist: The Beginning
  118. Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist
  119. John Carpenter’s The Thing
  120. All the President’s Men
  121. Nightcrawler
  122. Suspiria
  123.  [REC]
  124. Dracula Untold
  125. Interstellar
  126. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  127. Birdman
  128. Deliverance
  129. Antichrist
  130. The Help
  131. One Direction: Where We Are
  132. Ida
  133. The Theory of Everything
  134. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
  135. Foxcatcher
  136. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  137. Home Alone

24. The Leftovers S1

TV

  1. Doctor Who S4
  2. Sherlock S3
  3. Doctor Who S5
  4. Doctor Who S6
  5. House of Cards S2
  6. Hannibal S1
  7. Mad Men S2
  8. Mad Men S3
  9. Mad Men S4
  10. Mad Men S5
  11. Mad Men S6
  12. 30 Rock S5
  13. 30 Rock S6
  14. 30 Rock S7
  15. Mad Men S7P1
  16. Hannibal S2
  17. Game of Thrones S4
  18. Fargo S1
  19. True Detective S1
  20. Broadchurch S1
  21. The Legend of Korra S2
  22. 24 Live Another Day S9
  23. Doctor Who S7
  24. The Legend of Korra S3
  25. The Leftovers S1
  26. Twin Peaks S1
  27. Castle S1
  28. The Legend of Korra S4

12. Legion

BOOKS

  1. Preacher: Book One by Garth Ennis
  2. Difficult Men by Brett Marton
  3. The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton
  4. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
  5. The Killing Joke by Alan Moore
  6. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  7. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  8. Atonement by Ian McEwan
  9. The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
  10. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
  11. The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
  12. Legion by William Peter Blatty
  13. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  14. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

I will have another post breaking down the 30 or so films released in theaters in 2014 that I saw before the Oscar Nominations come out on January 15. Overall, 2014 was an okay year for new movies (at least, according to this film curmudgeon over here): I liked a few, and hated a few, but most movies fell into a big ol’ MEH category. But I digress. Some notes on the various forms of entertainment I absorbed this year:

  • I really like Gillian Flynn’s writing style. Gone Girl and Dark Places were both fantastic, and I can only hope her first novel, Sharp Objects, is just as deranged. Did I say that? I meant good.
  • My last spring break as an undergrad consisted of me binging the HELL out of Mad Men and 30 Rock, and both shows quickly shot up my list of favorite shows ever. Don Draper and Jack Donaghy, you make me regret going into a profession where I can’t wear tuxedos after 6 PM or drink whiskey midday while doing business in my midtown Manhattan skyscraper…
  • After previously seeing Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood, I rounded out the Paul Thomas Anderson oeuvre with Punch-Drunk LoveMagnoliaHard Eight, and The Master. So, for a short while until Inherent Vice came out, I had a perfect PTA score.
  • I watched 7 documentaries in 2014, and I can say great things about all of them. Life Itself and Mitt were both extremely charming, and Best Worst Movie made me appreciate the horror that is Troll 2 so much more than I ever did before. The People vs. George Lucas got me angry at George Lucas for messing up Star Wars and then made me feel sad for judging the man who created Star Wars in the first place, which is quite the feat. But Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures takes the cake for my favorite doc and one of my favorite films that I saw all year. I have so much respect for that man, and really wish he made a few more movies before he died.
  • And speaking of Kubrick, Barry Lyndon may’ve been 3 hours long, but I enjoyed all 3 picturesque hours of it. The same goes for Eyes Wide Shut, about which I can’t help but agree with critic Jeremiah Kipp: “Misunderstood as a psychosexual thriller, Stanley Kubrick’s final film is actually more of an acidic comedy about how Tom Cruise fails to get laid.”
  • Apart from a two-minute window at the end that involved skeletons in a pool, Poltergeist was a huge, huge letdown. How it makes any “Best Horror Movie” list is totally beyond me. However, the same cannot be said for that other horror film to come out in 1982, John Carpenter’s The Thing. Those special effects, my God… I’ll take that over computer effects ANY day.
  • The 6 Disney films made during World War II, Saludos AmigosThe Three CaballerosMake Mine MusicFun and Fancy FreeMelody Time, and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mister Toad, are all one big blur to me. That’s, what…? about 7 1/2 hours of my life I will never, ever get back. Thank the good Lord for Cinderella, a film that brought Disney back to life.
  • Carrie Coon wins for my favorite female performer of 2014, as she was great in two of my favorites of the year, as scene-stealing Nora Durst in The Leftovers and as Ben Affleck’s grounded sister in Gone Girl. A close second is Cate Blanchett, winning her Oscar for Blue Jasmine and playing Galadriel in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. I will forever watch whatever they next appear in.
  • Tom Hanks’ last five minutes in Captain Phillips should’ve won an Oscar in 2013, and he wasn’t even nominated. By far my favorite male performance of the year. In TV, I’d say Peter Dinklage for his rousing speech while on trial in Game of Thrones. Oh, and speaking of Game of Thrones
  • …poor, poor Oberyn Martell. Seven months later, and I’m still cringing. (His final words though are quite quotable. “YOU RAPED HER! YOU MURDERED HER! YOU KILLED HER CHILDREN!” served as a good intro for when I FINALLY saw The Princess Bride for the first time later in the year.)
  • Exorcist II: The Heretic was abysmal, but The Exorcist III was a scarily-good successor to The Exorcist, though it was much more of a religious-themed procedural than an outright horror movie. (Its book version, Legion, was my favorite book of the year, but more on that in a bit…) The two prequels, Exorcist: The Beginning and Dominion: Prequel to The Exorcist, were actually not that bad. The former was much more of a modern horror movie with a sillier plot, whereas the latter was much better acted but was much slower and had an awful exorcism as its climax; altogether, they were marred by terrible special effects and felt like two vastly-different, inferior halves of a whole, superior movie.
  • WHAT happened to The Legend of Korra? After a wonderful first season, seasons 2 through 4 were uneven, silly, and offensive to my senses as someone who enjoyed Avatar: The Last Airbender. That is not to say that the last three didn’t have any great moments (they had plenty, and, overall, 3 was very good), but still. Giant anthropomorphic kites? Jinora, the Deus Air Machina? Meelo in general?? And then the ending of the finale that everyone is praising, but was almost certainly just tacked on for the “Children’s Show Political Statement of the Year” award? And to top that all off, an Avatar in Korra (who had potential, mind you) who couldn’t even Avatar correctly after 4 friggin’ years!!! Ugh. Bad tastes all around.
  • And while it may not have been the BEST SHOW EVER like previous seasons, it was absolutely wonderful to see Jack Bauer once again grace my television screen in 24: Live Another Day after a 4 year absence. Oh, how I missed him!! Hopefully, it won’t be the last we ever see of him, but if it is, it was a much better send-off than the original finale from 2010, and the image of Jack throwing Evil Catelyn Stark out of a window in cold blood rivals any of the Jack Bauer Moments from 24‘s original run.
  • Thank God for Good Reads. After having it recommended to me over the summer, I increased my reading output from 2 books through July to 14(!!) by the end of the year. My commute to New York helped, but still. It gave me a purpose to sit down and start reading again. After all, I do love keeping track of movies and books with lists…
  • My least favorite movie of the year was probably M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable. How anyone can still let this man get behind a word processor, let alone a camera, is totally beyond me. Noah and Her also drove me a little insane inside as well. And let’s not even talk about Jackass 3D (which I was forced to watch at a friend’s house. Pleeease don’t judge me.) 
  • My least favorite TV show had to be the second season of Korra (see three bullets above for reasons why) followed immediately by the second season of House of Cards – how do you squander so much promise, especially after that first episode?? My least favorite book was Tom Perrotta’s day-in-the-life of those dealing with the Rapture novel, The Leftovers, which unfortunately was because I read it shortly after watching and loving its vastly different, superior HBO adaptation…
  • …which brings me to my final note, my three favorites in their respective mediums: Rosemary’s Baby for movies, The Leftovers for TV, and Legion for books. All three had religious themes (albeit dark, disturbing religious themes) and I guess having that description alone already piques my interest beyond most other premises. It just so happens that their execution and delivery exceeded my expectations in all three cases.
    • Rosemary’s Baby has quickly become one of the more disturbing movies that I have ever seen, and some of its images and dialogue are seared into my brain. I watched it in a college class and there were snickers during the finale when the film’s antagonists proclaimed their love for a certain devil figure, but I was anything but laughing. I was immensely impressed by the acting and Polanski’s direction, and am still surprised by the amount of violence, sex, and nudity in it. Compared to, say, Bonnie and Clyde, another film from the late 60s that was super controversial when it came out, it actually lived up to its reputation for being risqué and ground-breaking. It is certainly a movie I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
    • I mentioned above that I enjoyed The Exorcist III, which was William Peter Blatty’s own adaptation of his Exorcist sequel, Legion. As I did with most of the books I read this year, I picked Legion up AFTER having already watched its film adaptation. And while I know the studio insisted Blatty call his film The Exorcist III and even tacked on a somewhat pointless exorcism scene to the end of the movie (that still wasn’t that bad to derail quite a scary little flick), Legion was vastly different from its movie version, even though Blatty wrote the screenplay and directed the movie. While the film was a procedural with horror elements and that added exorcism scene, the novel was a procedural with horror elements…and a LOT of philosophical and religious discourse. For a Jewish detective, Lt. Kinderman, certainly did a lot of hanging around with Catholic priests and discussing of the Catholic faith, and spent a lot of time chasing religious murderers and ruminating on the nature of good and evil and man’s purpose in it all… Oh, I loved it. And the actual conflict of the book had a much more low-key, emotional resolution than its bloody, excessive film counterpart. Kinderman is now one of my favorite literary characters. Mr. Blatty, any chance you can add a third Kinderman novel to your works?
    • And that brings me to The Leftovers… I still honestly can’t put my feelings about the show into words. I’ve wanted to blog about 15 different things regarding the show and the book (more on that in just a second) frequently since July when it premiered, but I couldn’t put any of my thoughts down on paper. I’ve just never been as emotionally affected by a show as I was with The Leftovers. The show’s ability to get into the heads of the characters and to play with structure certainly helped make its depressing and bleak themes and setting radiate beyond what we saw on screen. I loved the pilot, but it was the third episode that followed Christopher Eccleston’s Reverend Matt Jamison around as he fought to save his church from foreclosure that made me realize I was watching something I’d never seen before. And then Carrie Coon, playing Matt’s sister Nora, had her own, solo episode and stole the show out from under what was already an amazing cast. No, not all the questions raised were answered, and a vast conspiracy seemed to be hinted at towards the end of the show, but that’s what Season 2 is for. The main arc featuring Justin Theroux’s family reached an apt conclusion by season’s end and that was fine with me. Its book counterpart never reached the scope of the show and answered even far less questions, which actually begged me to ask, “What was the point of this book?” And apart from the initial premise, a few character names and one or two scenes here and there – including the final scene of both the show and the book, the two forms of The Leftovers were entirely different entities. And the book didn’t have Max Richter’s hypnotizing score or Coon or Eccleston or Amy Brenneman (who is also superb in an almost entirely-silent role) or the sheer violence that opened up episode 5 or the stolen Baby Jesus, or the packs of killer dogs and their mysterious hunter, or Garvey’s crazy father, and so on and so forth… Therefore, I was severely disappointed by Perrotta’s novel and came to love the show even more while reading it. I can’t wait for Season 2 and I hope it’s just as thought-provoking and mysterious as the first.

Oh, and the sleeper hit of the year that probably had a major impact on my subconscious and might have actually changed my life? A crappy little comedy I saw at 3 am one summer night on Spike or FX or something called Sex Drive.

-Flipp

Jurassic World: Standing on the Shoulders of Geniuses

Over the last few blog-less months, I have had numerous ideas for posts, but I haven’t been sold on a compelling-enough idea or subject to actually sit down and write.

Thank you, Jurassic World, for helping me overcome my writer’s block…

If you only need to know one thing about me, it is that Jurassic Park is my favorite movie of all time. I watched it more than any other movie growing up and loved everything about it. I became obsessed with dinosaurs like any other 4- or 5-year-old boy, but it was more than just finding the dinosaurs cool or scary or awe-inspiring; the filmmaking itself attracted me, even as a kid. The acting, the dialogue, the quirkiness of Jeff Goldblum, the Britishness of Richard Attenborough, John Williams’ majestic score, the way Spielberg keeps the audience in the dark by lingering on Sam Neill’s and Laura Dern’s surprised faces rather than the dinosaurs they are seeing for the first time, the kitchen scene…. the movie is etched in my brain. I even blame Jurassic Park for my bigotry towards those in the “blood-sucking” law profession! (Sorry, but you don’t leave two children in a car when a T. Rex is on the loose, no matter how badly you “gotta go”…)

Jurassic Park‘s two sequels, 1997’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park and 2001’s Jurassic Park III, are both…well, they’re both quite bad. I did enjoy them to a point as a child, but over the years any sort of warmth that I had towards them has all but cooled.

What did San Diego ever do to you, Spielberg?

Can "Jurassic World" be worse than this? Probably...

Can “Jurassic World” be worse than this? Probably…

However, both sequels, while sorta-kinda-really sucking, still managed to share some similarities with the first film. From Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill returning in The Lost World and III, respectively, to the use of John Williams’ music, to similar shot composition and locations, to a reliance on animatronics and models in addition to some(!) computer-generated imagery, the sequels still contained a little bit of what made the first Jurassic Park film so great.

Jurassic World though…

Based SOLELY on Jurassic World‘s first trailer, this third sequel, coming 14 years after III and 22 after the first, looks like an alien trying to assimilate with something that has been familiar to us for decades…

Actually, as a good friend pointed out to me yesterday, it is literally Alien-in-Jurassic-Park.

A genetically-modified creature (so it’s not even a real dinosaur, just some monster?) escapes from a fully-operational theme park containing dinosaurs. And these dinosaurs include seemingly-trained velociraptors (WHAT?). Add in Chris Pratt (I guess he’s better than Shia LeBeouf), B.D. Wong (the one returning cast member from any of the first three Jurassic Park films, so a silver lining, I guess?), and a TON of crappy CGI (dinosaurs, dinosaur-monsters, dinosaur-shark-monsters, as well as locations, scenery, and backgrounds), and you get….whatever the hell this is.

It’s certainly not a Jurassic Park movie.

It’s as if Hollywood took a page out of John Hammond’s book….

Just because you have the power to do something, DOESN’T MEAN YOU SHOULD DO IT.

Take it away, Ian Malcom:

And I thought I was a bit put out by Star Wars: The Force Awakens… At least that film might not be the most disappointing “unnessesary-sequel-to-a-beloved-movie-from-Flipp’s-childhood” that comes out in 2015 now. Sheesh.

-Flipp

 

A Film Curmudgeon’s Lament: or, How I Saw “Guardians of the Galaxy” and Didn’t Really Care For It

I guess, subconsciously, my goal in life is to become as close to New York Post film critic Kyle Smith as possible.

I saw a little movie called Guardians of the Galaxy yesterday morning, and following my recent trend of completely not caring for a movie that almost everyone else – critics, film buffs, and the average moviegoer alike – has loved and praised, I left the theater neither moved nor disappointed by the film that has a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

There is a point toward the end of the movie where deep-voiced, hooded, staff-wielding supervillain Ronan (which is all I can remember about him) raises his arms mockingly and asks a crowd of scared spectators something along the lines of “This is it? Your guardians of the galaxy?” and I found myself agreeing with him completely.

Really? This is the best blockbuster of the summer? What I’ve seen in headlines referred to as “Marvel’s Most Important Movie”?

I just don’t get it.

GuardiansOfTheGalaxy

Now, I didn’t hate Guardians of the Galaxy. I can’t even say I disliked it. I laughed at some of Rocket’s lines, and generally appreciated Drax the Destroyer and his inability to understand metaphors, and immensely enjoyed that one Jackson Pollock reference…

But I did not care about the plot. About the race of Xandarians or whatever that Ronan was supposedly going to wipe out. I didn’t care about Benicio Del Toro’s cameo as The Collector, which tied into Thor 2 and I’m guessing ties into The Avengers 2 and other upcoming Marvel movies, and I didn’t care about the forced love story between Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill/Star Lord and Zoe Saldana’s Gamora. And then, once the film erupted into an excess of explosions and lasers and CGI ships and dizzying maneuvers in the climactic battle to board Ronan’s ship, my brain kinda-sorta just checked out.

In this regard, Guardians of the Galaxy might as well have been titled Star Trek 3, as it felt exactly like J. J. Abrams’ reimagined, spectacle-filled, and ultimately soulless Star Trek, only this time with some Star Wars-esque clothing and sets. Chris Pine- I mean, Pratt’s womanizing, goofy scoundrel, Zoe Saldana as a hard-ass with a soft spot for said roguish space adventurers, an alien whose humor comes from not being able to understand human emotions and insinuations, and the growling, brooding, cookie-cutter alien of a supervillain out to disintegrate planets for some unknown or boring reason…need I go on? I can only PRAY Star Wars VII is not this generic.

Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy ties into my slight (and I mean slight) disdain with Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, which, while having a remarkable track record of producing a string of decent-to-good films without any major bombs, is all about the end game rather than the movies being made and released “in the moment.” Because Marvel has mapped out its movies for the next ten or so years, each movie released is somehow meant to tie into one, two, or five movies down the road. While admittedly cool to see coherence and a broad sense of continuity between films, as well as all the character crossovers and inside jokes and references to other films, it gets a little tiresome when you realize that none of the films can really stand on their own, and that when you do watch, say, The Avengers in the objective context that five or six other films had built up to this point, you’re almost guaranteed to think “Wait, that’s it? After ALL that?” Yes, these movies are all enjoyable on a superficial level, but think how much deeper they would be if focus were put on each individual film that together naturally build to a crossover film. This crossover would then serve as a compliment to the films that preceded it rather than the end goal of the franchise. Maybe DC can do what Marvel has been unable to– Oh wait. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

facepalm

As for my dwindling taste in movies, let me not stop with Guardians of the Galaxy. Just so people reading this post are even more upset with me, I will admit that this is the third highly-praised film that I have felt “meh” about in the last month alone. Guardians follows in the footsteps of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Boyhood (both also over 90% fresh on RT), but I would honestly say that I enjoyed Guardians a lot more than the latter two.

So… Am I just wrong? Or is everyone else wrong? Either way, I feel cursed, like I somehow found a chest full of Aztec gold that makes me indifferent to current universally-acclaimed movies.

All I know is that next time I decide to go to the movies, before I step foot into the theater, I need someone to ask me, ” Is spending $12 or $7 or even $1 worth it for a movie that will most likely disappoint you?” and then hit me if I answer “Yes.” Please and thank you. You will forever have my gratitude.

– Flipp