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Friday
Dec262014

The Less Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Or, "Try Harder Next Time You Talented So & Sos!"

Our Worst of the Year feature "Cinematic Shame" has shrunk in size. This is not because movies are better. This is because your host (Nathaniel R) has somehow become less jaded and more appreciative of the cinema over the years. In fact, he often can be seen crinkling his brow when faced with reminders that a lot of people who write about the movies don't like very many of them. Even more casually evident: lots of people who write about awards season don't like awards season. (A solemn promise to the disgruntled: there are plenty of other topics worth writing about - pitch those to your editor and TRUST that this topic will be amply covered, and all over the place, in your absence!)

But let's not distract ourselves.

 In the lists that follow as we gently spank famous people on their virtual bottoms we remember that they can turn right around the following year and wow us, thereby humbling us for doubting them. History is full of examples. We all have our "off" years or... um...decades. 

Uncomfortable segueway to Tim Burton...  [*cough*]

But look how cute this Big Eyes sketch he drew is! [Tomato stained lists are after the jump]

 

W Magazine published that sketch to coincide with his latest movie. I can't exaggerate and place Big Eyes under a "worst of the year" (save for perhaps its third act slapstick courtroom comedy which is...yikes!)  but I really wanted it to be an Ed Wood style comeback. At the very least it was a nice change to see a Burton movie without Depp & Bonham Carter in it. Helena and Tim have officiallly split up. Which is probably very sad for them after 13 plus years together but sometimes it's better to just rip the bandage off, Tim. Dump Depp while you're at it, too, Tim. Start seeing new people!

RECURRENT PET PEEVES O' THE YEAR
Oscar Inequalities. You've heard me bitch about the Makeup & Hairstyling shortlist only being allowed 3 nominees while other categories that are less important get 5 but you may have missed this one: Did you know that documentaries have to play in both New York and Los Angeles in a regular theatrical engagement to qualify for a nomination but regular movies only have to play one week in L.A.? 

Indulgent Running Times. It's not just the final films in trilogies which become the final two films in quadrologies that are having this problem. Frankly, it's easy to understand the padded running time bloat on the franchises in that there are billion more dollars to make from your complacent gullible audience who don't tend to give up on franchises once they're hooked. But why do one-shot movies allow the bloat? Longer running times mean less shows per day and often a longer running time also means your film is less taut and thus less exciting and more tiresome which doesn't bode well for word of mouth which actually sells tickets. For every Ida (82 minutes) and Obvious Child (84 minutes), smart movies that would eat no fat, the bulk of movies will eat no lean. Take the case of Whiplash. That's a good movie overall with killer editing (good job Tom Cross) which makes it feel a lot tighter than it is since it's got about 90 minutes of material but a 107 minute running time. Maleficent is another example. True, it flies in at only 97 minutes but, like its parent movie Sleeping Beauty, this petulant child has only 75 minutes of material. So...

 

 

Also way too long for what the movie actually offers: where to even start? Lots of 'em and everything from arthouse minimalism (Abuse of Weakness, 105 min.), auteurist provocation (Nymphomaniac, 240 min of which about 70 are intriguing)  to auteurist comedies (Inherent Vice, 148 min.) to biopics (Mr Turner, 150 min.) to otherwise sharp and punchy greats (Force Majeure, 118 min.) to silly comedies (22 Jump Street, 111 min.)

DISCLAIMER: This film bitch is not relentlessly impatient and does not always think "too long!". Two examples: Boyhood deserves all of its 165 minutes and Gone Girl's 149 also feel relatively earned since there are so many rug-pullings, rethinks, and clear chapters. There are even rare beasts that really do need to be longer: Snowpiercer (126) and Into the Woods (124) both feel rushed and truncated and though I didn't see this mash-up iteration it's hard to imagine that The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them (123) would be even half as resonant as watching The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him (89) & The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her (100) back-to-back as I was able to last year in Toronto.

FIVE LEAST FAVORITE MOVIES I SAW THIS YEAR
(Alpha Order). Note: I skip *most* of the things that I think will be terrible because I am self-employed. For example: I did not subject myself to The Amazing Spider-Man 2 because the last one was so terrible and even more terrible was the months afterwards in which people tried to pretend it was good. Couldn't get caught in that web (sorry) again. 

I Am Happiness On Earth
Mexican director Julián Hernández's latest is an explicit drama about a gay filmmaker and his relationship to his latest sexual conquest(s) while he makes a movie. Think Almodóvar's Law of Desire for basic plot framework but then subtract the personality of the characters, the quirky humor, the flamboyant style, and nearly all of the dramatic tension. The affair(s) is intercut with a tedious plot free bisexual threesome. Look, I like looking at beautiful naked bodies as much as anyone but I need something more, too. I've tried with this filmmaker before (Broken Sky and Raging Sun Raging Sky) and I'm aware that like most unapologetically inaccessible and very sober experimental filmmakers, Hernández has his ardent fans. Three strikes and you're out, though, so I'll just sadly admit that he's not for me. "Sadly," because the cinema needs less timid queer voices so I wish I could respond.

Jersey Boys
Is there a top ten list out there with this Clint Eastwood film on it or did American Sniper save all the Eastwood apologists from having to go there?  This musical biopic is too dull to be a catastrophe but in a way it has great value as a crystalline portrait of miscasting: Clint lifts the Broadway cast who, like Rent in its day, are now far too old for their roles (seeing 30 and 40somethings playing teenagers is only fun when its a comedy like Grease) and relative inexperience on camera can be a disaster when paired with one take / that'll do lightning fast filming method. But the greatest miscasting is in the director's chair. Eastwood's dour nearly black and white sensibility, unaltered for this colorful jukebox musical, proves an awful fit. (Review)

The Judge
Oy! There are so many things wrong it's hard to catalogue them all so we'll just name a few: rusty or ill-advised performances from a whole bevvy of famous faces who should know better; The cheap TV movie look; the weird shot choices and editing (oh, that person is also in the room? You might have gone with some establishing shots); The unwieldy plot as greedy receptacle of clichés, all of 'em!; Fake stormy weather to illustrate figurative stormy weather (no really); Family drama scenes so hoary you need a vacuum cleaner to clear the cobwebs; and one of the most offensive "jokes" you'll ever see in a movie when a little girl mimics the come-hither look of an 19 year old earlier in the film to her father, sucking on her hair. Get it? Incest! HAHA. Hilarious!

This, dear reader, is the worst movie I saw all year. Should it win a Supporting Actor nomination this year, my condolences to all my fellow Oscar completists.

What else? Let's wrap this up: I'll already said what I had to say about Woody Allen's Magic in the Moonlight here and War Story, a vague listless drama about Catherine Keener as a photojournalist, here. Just missing this list is That Awkward Moment. It's not raucuously funny in the way it's bawdy "cheeto dick" and "peeing horizontal" jokes intend and it's hard to buy into its predictable romantic arcs but it's goofy stupidity is just enough to save it. At least it doesn't take itself seriously.

 

FIVE PERFORMANCES THAT... WELL... UH...
All of these actors have been marvelous in other things and even within some moments from these star turns. But what was going on here? Perhaps you can shed some light in the comments. This list is dedicated to Brie Larson in The Gambler, not because she belongs here but because her part was utterly superfluous and impossible to emotionally justify and could have been played by a cardboard cutout of a pretty college student. So why waste the time of one of the best actresses of her generation? Here's hoping the paycheck was good.  

Emma Stone in Magic in the Moonlight
Her charm deserts her in the role where she's arguably needed it most. It's confusing that an actress this comically gifted (see Easy A for A grade work) wouldn't be able to wring laughs - especially with the kind of gestural comedy she's going for in this "clairvoyant" role.

Christoph Waltz in Big Eyes
Retract his last Oscar bad with an unfailingly over-the-top take on a con artist salesman who gets lucky when he marries the gifted Margaret Keane. In act one when you're supposed to fall under his spell, he plays up the oily 'you shouldn't trust him!' charm, in act two when things are going sour for the couple, he goes more one note when Adams tries to deepen in, and in act three he's just comic grandstanding because what else is there left for him to do in this incredibly weird true story. 

Johnny Depp in Into the Woods
When was the last time Depp gave a world class performance that transcended his inner and outer weirdo? It has to be Pirates of the Caribbean, right, 11 long years ago. (Sigh). Since then, rapidly diminishing returns. He's Into the Woods largest character misstep and they even let him ruin the otherwise wonderful costuming by Colleen Atwood with this Tex Avery zoot suit suggestion

Shailene Woodley in The Fault in Our Stars
Nitpicking! She's quite good in the important moments but it's the baseline that's a problem. Surely someone involved in the production could have reminded her that her character has a terminal illness and hauls around her oxygen tank everywhere she goes so she might have played some lines short of breath or more raggedly exhausted than others? 

Neil Patrick Harris in Gone Girl
It's not quite Tucci level moustache-twirling i'm-a-sicko Lovely Bones overkill but it's close. 

And a few final 'lumps of coal' and then we only celebrate with happy thoughts for the rest of the Year in Review

 

 

And I give one of those disgusting protein meals to...

The Weinsteins & Co - for mistreating The Immigrant with no Oscar campaign and cutting off Snowpiercer's box office for a weird VOD decision when it totally could have built steam and been billed as more of an action movie.

Bryan Singer & Co - for continuing to ignore the fact that the X-Men franchise became as popular as they are  in comic form because of their widescreen fantastic ensemble or characters and unmistakable diversity in their ranks (ethnic, geographic, religion, you name it) and yet the movies stubbornly refuse to look away from only four white mostly male characters: Wolverine/Magneto/Professor X/Mystique. Okay Mystique is blue. Whatever. None of those characters, not coincidentally, are half as crucial to the classic arc in the comic books that X-Men Days of Future Past is based on.

Tiny Distributors - for always believing that November and December are great options for them. Everything gets buried during the holidays if it's not star driven, for the masses, or has a suitable sized promotional Oscar budget. Why on earth did the following films wait as long as they did to open: Zero Motivation (waited several months after Tribeca buzz), Pioneer (waited well over a year after its festival debut), Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, Song of the Sea, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, The Babadook (waiting til after Halloween to premiere? Inexplicable), etcetera

Oscar Pundits, Professional and Amateur Alike - for calling things locks before anybody has seen them. I'm actually feeling bad for Angelina Jolie (the woman who has everything) as a result. And for continual "this changes everything!" hysterics no matter how little the new screening or press release changes anything.

AND THAT'S ENOUGH VENTING. From me. How about you? Pass out a few lumps of coal before and concentrate on the positive leading up to the whole new year. 

 

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Reader Comments (46)

The crazy thing about Big Eyes is that, as far as I can tell, everything that happened in that courtroom scene is true to life (and the writers even claim it's been toned down some). Yes, I thought Waltz was way over the top, but if he's just portraying how loony the character and story were in reality, can we really fault him or the film for seeming so over the top? It's something I've been thinking about ever since seeing it.

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJordan

Boyhood could lose the subplot involving the abusive professor step-father. Because the actor who played him gave one of the worst performances of the year. It was very amateur.

Snowpiecer is ridiculous. And only can be read as mainstream in its relation to other art house titles. But it would never be a sleeper hit with the public. High-minded genre titles always have a way alienating the audience they're most intended to reach.

Gone Girl and Top Five were devastating disappointments.

I love that The Master and Inherent Vice divide critical and public opinion. Because they will gracefully age everything that was lifted above them. Just as Stanley Kubrick's 80's output is considered legendary so will PTA movies after There Will Be Blood.

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Watch the roundtable Shailene did with Aniston etc. She explains the conscious decision not to make the physical ailments of the illness a big part of the character/film. She's very intelligent and articulate about it, although I'm probably being too defensive because it's one of my favourite performances of the year.

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCal

I enjoy you perspective on these things. Mostly because it is based on logic, consideration of the topics and study rather than just emotion (although you are blind to a couple of actresses <wink>but then you wouldn't be human otherwise if you weren't.). Thanks again.

If I could pick out one of your points to magnify---and I'm willing to do door to door petition work to change this if you get it started--it's the late December opening glut. So many great films and worthy performances get lost because of this.

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

If you were to swap Nymphomaniac (Masterpiece) for Eleanor Rigby (which has a premise worth two movies but barely enough insight for 20 min), I'd be totally with you on the overlength/underlength points.

And while i didn't think Emma Stone or her movie were all that terrible, i agree that her performance was jarringly bland and full of missed opportunities

In terms of venting for the year, i can only think of Calvary, which was insufferably pretentious, grotesquely misjudged on every level (but particularly its slow-mo brain splatter climax)

And Love Is Strange, despite interesting individual scenes and elements, made me hope (especially coming after Keep the Masturbatory Self Pity On) that Ira Sachs never makes another movie that gets inexplicable acclaim that forces me to watch it. I just find his writing so unbearably soppy, trite and narcissistic.

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGoran

The total dominance of Transformers

For not giving older actresses who aren't Meryl a chance

Why could Michelle Pfeiffer not come out of retirement to be Havana Legrand

For TLJ for recognising Swank for The Homesman and to her for breaking my heart

Chastain still being called overdue.

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermark

an I just say if defense of The Judge which i didn't like either that Duvall was great in it an dwould not be the worst nomination ever.

I know it was only 7 years ago but has everyone forgot James Marsdens' wonderful take on the prince in Enchanted.

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermark

Chastain still being called overdue.

Approaching forty and passed over for a twenty-two year old. She's the most overdue of current film actresses.

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

RE: Shailene, I think that was more a script problem. In the book, Hazel talks about how she doesn't really have trouble breathing with the canula in unless she undergoes heavy physical exertion (e.g., climbing the stairs at the Anne Frank House), but they didn't really address that in the film IIRC. That's why she has the oxygen tank with her, after all - to help her breathe. It wouldn't be doing its job if she was constantly out of breath. Anyway, it didn't bother me any, especially since she gave such a lovely performance otherwise.

And NPH's performance in Gone Girl is like a microcosm of my problems with the film overall: On paper, he's a perfect fit for Desi, what his WASP-y, to-the-manor-born looks, but in execution it feels flattened out, one-note, and I can't for the life of me determine if it was the screenplay or if it was the actor's choice or if it was the director's decision to cut everything down to the lowest common denominator since the plot is so complicated and twisty. That's not expressing myself well, but that's my problem with that film, which I had a good time with but thought was deeply flawed.

Worst of the year beyond what you've already mentioned easily goes to Tammy, a Special Citation for Wasting Great Actresses in Small And/Or Poorly Written Roles. Also, to the three fairies in Maleficent, performances which made me dislike the terrific Imelda Staunton and Lesley Manville (and Juno Temple, too).

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

I know Weinstein wants to stop anyone in the US from ever seeing it and I think you've been sceptical of all the vitriol directed at it, but: Grace of Monaco really is terrible, and it doesn't even have many unintentionally laugh-out-loud moments that Diana had.

Goran -- Now I want to see Calvary even less. I thought The Guard was at least watchable though disposable, but it seems like John Michael McDonagh wants to make movies that are more and more similar to his brother's, and I absolutely despise both In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths.

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJan

Hmmmm.... I didn't even hate The Amazing Spider-Man 2, to be honest. Given that I'm a Stone-fan and Garfield apologist, that doesn't come as too much of a surprise.

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Don't forget that the Weinstein Co also buried Tracks, a movie which (though I like Wild) probably is clearer than its travelogue colleague in explaining its character's motivations and emotional states.

I think the saddest thing about The Judge is that there's some good stuff hiding in that bloated lump of a film. I particularly like the revelation about RDJ's character's past and how it impacts his father's verdict in a key case.

My five least favorite movies this year: Goodbye to Language (Pretentious with a capital P), Cold in July (horrific acting from Michael C Hall, not to mention boring despite numerous gunfights), What If (whimsy overload), Test (sorry, I know TFE loves it, but I thought the story and acting was all over the place), and Locke (which I will pronounce with a randomly-selected Welsh accent because I'm ACTING!).

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Co-signing your thoughts on Shailene Woodley 100%. I brought personal baggage into that movie, beyond a shadow of a doubt, but there is a grand total of one scene in TFIOS where I believed that she'd ever been sick a day in her life.

I'm going to throw my "worst of the year" vote at The Expendables 3, which compounded the problem of idiotic macho writing with clumsy stakes and bad characters by dressing it up with listless PG-13 action.

Worst of the year in the "but it's so bad that it's fun to watch" category would be The Legend of Hercules, which feels like a bunch of grade schoolers goofing around on the playground had access to the CGI budget of a made-for-Syfy movie.

December 26, 2014 | Registered CommenterTim Brayton

Oh, and to distributors

I'm paranoid. Really, I am. Because I genuinely think the way they handle small/art-house efforts is incredibly flawed. I really do. But what if it isn't? What if it's the absolute best they can actually do.

I mean, lets take a look at SPC and Mike Leigh. For me, there is absolutely no reason to release Another Year or Mr. Turner in December. Both are mid-autumn films - release in early November. But then I look back on the Leigh film before that - Happy-Go-Lucky. It was released mid-October and only grossed 3.5 million dollars - no different from what Another Year grossed. Vera Drake got to 3.7 million and it too was an October release.

Or how about Ida vs A Separation. The former is a very high-profile foreign film and it grossed a superb 3 million. I thought A Separation should've been released again, October/November (basically, after the Toronto reviews were as staggering as they were). But SPC released it in December and were able to crest to 7 million dollars.

So what if the audience for serious adult films - the kind that would derive pleasure from any of the aforementioned titles - knows that it can just wait for DVD/TV/streaming?

On the other hand, if these releases are solely about qualifying for oscars, well, what's the point of qualifying if you don't give yourself the best chance to get into the discussion/monetize the results?

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Worst movie I had to watch with my family during the holidays:
Night at the Museum 2 (or is it 3?)

Best bad movie:
Gone Girl

Worst Line Reading in a Great Performance:
I have Alzheimer's, I forgot. (when Alice is purposely late for dinner plans)

Worst movie of a great director (but still not horrible):
Inherent Vice

Worst Ending:
Mr. Turner (why is the last scene the one with the maid? Is it her story now?)

Worst worst movie:
Foxcatcher

Worst Performance by a great actor:
Joaquim Phoenix in The Immigrant

Worst subplot:
Everything that doesn't involve Julianne Moore in Maps to the Stars

Worst Acting Choice:
Ruffalo playing effeminate here in there in The Normal Heart

Biggest Wasted Opportunity that could have made a so-so movie good:
The Homesman's one-dimensional trio of crazies

Atom Egoyan Achievement Award for worst movie:
Devil's Knot (haven't seen his other release, which I heard is also worthy)

Gran-Prix for extreme self-Indulgence making a novel idea bad:
Nymphomaniac

Blah Award:
Theory of Everything

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMr. Goodbar

Approaching forty and passed over for a twenty-two year old.

You wanna talk age? It was my 86th birthday!

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEmmanuelle Riva

Arkaan: I've been thinking a lot about this too and agree with your point. The biggest problem with Dec releases is that it does work for some films and I think it is going to work for Cake and Anniston as word of mouth precedes (but at a not too lengthy a wait) the release of the film. Personally I would not have gone near it.......but after the nomination (which is based on people who have seen the film, not just the campaign) and word of mouth (including Paul Outlaw and Nat, whose opinions I respect), I'm anxious to see it.

Clearly Maps and Foxcatcher should have been released as close to Cannes as possible to capitalize on the momentum. But then you look at Gatsby, which did release right on top of Cannes, but suffered because it didn't get the response from the festival it had hoped for/expected. I think we would be looking at another Blue Jasmine for J Moore with Still Alice if it had been released immediately after Toronto, but with the advance buzz being eclipsed by newer buzz, we now see people talking about other performances. But, how is a distributor to foresee the perfect release date? Unless you are Woody Allen (with automatic buzz for the performances until proven otherwise) it can be very difficult. It's a crap shoot no matter which way you look at it.

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Mr. Goodbar, I LOVE the "I have Alzheimer's... I forgot" line. It's supposed to be a dark joke and I thought it landed perfectly.

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Henry -- how did Gatsby suffer? It was a huge hit. especially considering people don't go to movies made for adults about adults that aren't "genre" in some way. True Oscar wasn't all that interested beyond a couple thing but i think that had more to do with the mixed reviews than the release date. It still won every Oscar it was ever going to win on the big night.

but yes you have a point on 'how to know in advance?' it is difficult. It's just curious to think that so many small film distributors believe in December. Especially when they're not an Oscar film. I frankly don't understand what kind of audience they're hoping for. Or maybe it's just hoping for residual trickle down ticket purchases since Christmas time is big for movies in general?

December 26, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I am an adult person and I really need to have my counterprogramming during holidays!

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

cal -- haha. i am an adult person who likes movies during holidays too but it's the only time when adults are somewhat catered to. so will people go to dramatic small films without stars that they've never heard of when the big starry dramas and oscar buzzy efforts are around?

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Mr Goodbar - LOL, that's hilarious about Atom Egoyan. I did see THE CAPTIVE and it was *my* worst of the year. NPH in GONE GIRL was a study in manly restraint compared to the awful, moustache twirling villain in this.

So please make the Atom Egoyan Achievement Award for Worst Movie a tie between DEVIL'S KNOT and THE CAPTIVE this year.

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteve G

Um... did no one see Grace of Monaco?! It was released in Australia. Not one minute of it was good!

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterA Mai

Nathaniel: I was speaking in terms of award mileage. I agree it won everything it was ever going to win, but I think they expected to win/be nominated for more, especially acting and didn't anticipate the mixed reviews--I think the oft mentioned Lana del Boring song could have gotten a nomination if the release date had been later (but then, who does expect mixed reviews with prestige projects).

I also agree about the smaller films going into Dec (maybe it's a tax thing--has to open by such and such date to qualify for certain cuts or something) because if that Jerry O'Connell thing with the kangaroos can top the box office on it's opening weekend, why can't an adult, quality film open in the so thought of off season and find its audience. I don't avoid a film because it opens off season if it's one I want to see, but I miss a great many of the same films because they all open at the same time and I just can't get to all of them. Plus, opening in Dec often means they get shunted to the small, cramped theater spaces in the multiplex rather than a decent size screen. Hardly helps the reception.

But then, hind sight is 20/20.

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Worst of the year is Fault in Our Stars. Maudlin and trite and false. Just terrible, with worst performance ie Ansel Elgort mugging for the camera wishing it to fall in love with his constant smiling. And the endless eulogies!!! How many us enough?? I loathed every minute of that movie. If it wasn't for Laura Dern coming in like sunshine every once in a while,I would've walked out.

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMurtada.

I LOVE GONE GIRL! It's my number one movie this year, just fyi lol


Boyhood is unnecessarily long for me, the whole third husband subplot could easily be dismissed,
Arquette's character is the winner for worst taste in men, hands down


The Immigrant non-campaign is The Weinstein's biggest blunder though

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterfadhil

I missed Ida (argh!) but did see The Immigrant and Under the Skin back-to-back in April. I remember very little about the former (save for the bizarre overreactions of Cotillard's character and the "You shamed me!"-level performance by Phoenix), but the latter was pitch-perfect (as was ScarJo). That Jonathan Glazer is a straight-up genius. Please don't make us wait another 10 years for a follow-up, which I type while revisiting Birth for the umpteenth time.

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

Actually, you know who would've killed in Stone's role in Moonlight? Amy Adams.

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGoran

@Goran
Adams would have been too old…:)

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMr. Goodbar

Well, Adams is (allegedly) playing Janis Joplin in that biopic, which is supposed to start filming mid-2015. She'll be 41 at that point, playing a singer who died at 27. Go figure.

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

Worst makeup from an Oscar-winning makeup artist: J Roy Helland, for the ugly Witch in Into the Woods. Didn't someone see the dailies and say, "Um, Roy? Only junior high school productions use kohl eyebrow pencils to make age lines."

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Goran -- oooh, you're so right. That's brilliant. And normally i think Amy is cast too often but that would have fit her beautifully.

Mareko -- except that Amy looks younger than Janis ever did so she'll be fine.

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

Some additional worst performances of the year: Aaron Taylor Johnson in Godzilla, both Stellan Skaragard and Charlotte Gainsbourg in Nymphomaniac, John Lloyd Young in Jersey Boys. Yuck.

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Anyone who thought Depp was bad in "Woods" clearly had the good fortune/sense not to catch Tusk. Ye gods. I was dreading it going in but I still wasn't prepared for just how excruciating it ended up being. I don't think any bad movie has put me in such a foul mood in years.

Still, in what I thought was otherwise a very good year for movies, I suppose I can at least thank Kevin Smith for helping to keep things in perspective. And the nightmarishly bad final 20 minutes of A Dame To Kill For.

December 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTaylor

Maleficent. Never Forget.

December 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBD

Oh and everything about Johnny Depp in ITW was a total non-sequitur. He needs to be forced into a hiatus.

December 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBD

A two things things before I go into my worst:

While I didn't particularly love it, the people that like TASM weren't pretending to like it. They just prefer its tone to what Raimi was going for (funny thing about opinions: they are all different from your own). As for TASM 2; I thought it was a step up from the first film and it at least tried to be its own thing.

The X-Men thing is a thorny issue: the women and minorities should've gotten more attention but the film works well as is, which is what I wanted most to begin with. In saying that, holding the fact that it isn't like the storyline in the comic book against it doesn't make much sense because it's a very loose adaptation of that storyline at best.

In terms of absolute worst, Sabotage and Transcendence easily take the top two spots for me but Divergent, Palo Alto, Men, Women & Children, Dracula Untold and Veronica Mars aren't too far behind. Nymphomaniac, however, is by and large the most self-indulgent thing I've seen this year, though. There is nothing about this story that suggest one film yet alone two and I'm so glad I didn't go see it in theaters.

December 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Armour

further proof we all see things differently; I thought Emma Stone's charm absolutely saved "Magic in the Moonlight"

Neil Patrick Harris was basically used as a doormat in "Gone Girl" for which I'm a bit furious with David Fincher (whom I love). In retrospect "Gone Girl" is easily one of my least favorite Fincher films.

December 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

I'm confounded by the love for Obvious Child (and the fact it ran 80 minutes - I would have guessed it at 125). The idea of Slate as a Best Actress contender seems ludicrous to me; what did she really do to merit a nomination? She's a lot more impressive on Parks and Rec. I wonder whether this movie would be attracting so much year-end hype if we had a Frances Ha, Short-term 12 or Before Midnight this year - another, far better summer indie film with a richer experience female lead performance.

There are movies I liked much less than Obvious Child this year, but I think it may be the most overrated.

December 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

"When was the last time Depp gave a world class performance that transcended his inner and outer weirdo? It has to be Pirates of the Caribbean, right, 11 long years ago. (Sigh). Since then, rapidly diminishing returns."

Um, really!? He's been nominated for the Oscar 2 times after that. Have you not seen his AH-MAZING performances in Secret Window, Finding Neverland, The Libertine, Sweeney Todd and Public Enemies???

December 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJared

Worst Movie: Left Behind
Worst Foreign Language Film: Eight Basque Surnames (Ocho Apellidos Vascos) - the huge sleeper hit in Spain. Beyond irritating.
Worst Director: Vic Armstrong, Left Behind
Worst Actor: Nicholas Cage, Left Behind
Worst Actress: Tara Reid, Sharknado 2
Worst Supporting Actor: Ron Jeremy, Jersey Shore Massacre
Worst Supporting Actress: Lea Thomson, Left Behind
Worst Original Screenplay: Age of Ice
Worst Adapted Screenplay: Left Behind
Worst Cinematography: Age of ice
Worst Score: Age of Ice
Worst Song: "The Ballad of Sharknado", Sharknado 2
Worst Film Editing: Age of Ice
Worst Art Direction / Set Decoration / Production Design: Age of Ice
Worst Costume Design: Sharknado 2
Worst Sound Mixing: Age of Ice
Worst Sound Editing: Age of Ice
Worst Visual Effects: Age of Ice
Worst Make Up: Age of Ice
Worst Animated Feature: Transformers: Age of Extinction (oh, wait!)
Worst Documentary Feature: Jersey Shore Massacre (oh, wait!)

So, "Left Behind" earns 5 awards, including the big ones, while modest - and hilariously bad - Asylum production "Age of Ice" almost sweep the technicals with 9 awards, taking by surprise frontrunner "Sharknado 2: The Second One" which just leaves with victories at Costume, Song and at least, one Worst Actress award for Tara Reid. Way less than they were aiming for.

Big surprise is, Spain's biggest b.o. hit ever (domestically) earning an extremely well deserved award to Worst Film Not in English, I've seen this year. "Ocho Apellidos Vascos", though, may very well be, the most embarrassing success of the year, worldwide.

December 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

This is the first time in 25 years where I won't have seen all of the Best Picture nominees before the ceremony. And for the past few months, I have been trying to figure out why I don't really care that I am breaking the streak. For some reason, I have pretty much stopped going to the movies altogether. I am just seeing the same thing over and over --- your standard "overcoming-strife" movie du jour (Theory of Everything, Still Alice, etc.), overindulgent indies (Boyhood really could have been shorter), super depressing shit (I wanted to slit my wrists after The Immigrant and Two Days, One Night - Marion is great, but I have a day job that is depressing enough). And let's face it ... Gone Girl was basically a reboot of a bad 90s Sharon Stone movie. For some reason, I am just not seeing anything particularly original or interesting. I guess I will stick to Turner Classic Movies.

January 1, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCharlieG

Jared -- of those performances I missed only "The Libertine" but otherwise I stand by my quote. He was completely boring in Finding Neverland (one of my least favorite actor nominations of the Aughts) and can't sing so Sweeney Todd was argh.

January 1, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Charlie G -- if you're feeling that everything is too much like something else I urge you to see BIRDMAN and IDA which are very fresh.

January 1, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nat. Catch the Libertine for Samantha Morton if not for Depp. It's an odd film, but has some moments.

January 1, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Thanks Nathaniel - I did love Ida. It was really lovely. Thanks for reminding me.

January 1, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCharlieG

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