Miscellaneous (Even More So Than Everything Else)
Worst Conversation With A Squirrel
Some of us are still trying to figure out how “White House Down” didn’t end up in our Worst Movies Of 2013 list. And yet, maybe it’s because this ungodly stupid movie has some absurd, idiotic pleasures (PREZ SHOOTZ BAZOOKA FROM LIMO ON LAWN). One of them however is not an early “character-building” scene where Channing Tatum warns a squirrel again (for what appears to be the umpteenth) time to get out of his boss’ bird feeder. This is screenwriting in 2013, people.
The “Flight” Award For Most Unrepentantly Pro-Drugs Scene/Movie
There's a certain moralism that comes with drug use in movies—if you use them, you can be pretty sure that something terrible is coming your way soon after. Obviously, drugs are bad and everything, but there was still something refreshing about Lynn Shelton's "Touchy Feely," which ends with the uncomfortable-in-his-own-skin dentist played (brilliantly) by Josh Pais taking an E, wandering out and, uh, having a really good time. His sister Abby also goes on an “E”nhanced walkabout, finally achieving her breakthrough to get past her body panic. It's frank, authentic and rather sweet, and a bold stance for Shelton to take. You can see some of Pais’ moment in our Best Music Moments piece.
Best Movie On Television
Some of the year's best movies won't be found on any Top 10 lists, because they actually aired on TV this year. Beyond "Behind the Candelabra," which we've already given a lot of love to, there was Jane Campion's "Top of the Lake," a masterful crime thriller that might just be the director's finest achievement to date. And, on the other side of the pond, there was "Southcliffe," from "Martha Marcy May Marlene" director Sean Durkin. It doesn't quite stick the landing, but for most of its four-hour running time, it's a devastating and finely tuned look at the lead up to, and aftermath of, a mass shooting, with some of the finest performances of the year.
Best Party In A Movie Beginning With The Words ‘The Great…. ‘
Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby" comes most alive during its party scenes, but as far as lavish, indulgent films that begin with the words "The Great..." go, Italians do it better. Paolo Sorrentino's "The Great Beauty" has a number of crackers, but none quite as spectacular as the meticulously choreographed early scene: a raucous, decadent shindig on the terrace of the home of Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo). Luhrmann's parties are lavish and all, but you're not sure you'd really want to go to one, but this looks like a truly spectacular affair, even if, as the fourth-wall-breaking final shot proves, it doesn't seem to bring poor Jep all that much pleasure.
Worst Ending To A Dystopian Sci-Fi Movie
Matt Damon unplugs the mothership and hits reset on a button that essentially says, “ok, heal everyone actually.” The 99% wins! Really “Elysium”? Really?
Best Drinking Game To Play To An Animated Film
Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Wind Rises” is a beautiful picture (and anyone who thinks it's glossing over war probably didn’t watch the first five minutes or read the opening quote which basically says, “live our your dreams, even during the worst of times”), but it’s got a few funny elements to it. One is the perpetually perturbed boss of the lead character who’s always doing some variation of a frown. If you drank a shot everytime he scowled in the movie you’d be passed out in vomit before the movie ended. Also give ‘Wind Rises’ props for Best Earthquake Sequence (positively chilling), and Best Amusing Italian Man Who Always Shoves Butts Into Your Dreams.
Worst Mark Wahlberg Movie You Forgot Was Released
In 2013, Mark Wahlberg appeared in “Pain & Gain,” “2 Guns” and “Lone Survivor,” got the “Entourage” movie rolling, produced “Prisoners” and got his Wahlburgers chain (and soon to be reality show) launched. And they are all a nice distraction from “Broken City,” the lame, political drama/thriller you didn’t see in January. But don’t worry, there are about a half dozen “Law & Order” episodes with the same plot that do it much better.
Most Surprising Comedies To Make Over $130 Million At The Box Office
We know this year left people pretty starved for good comedies. In fact, the situation was so dire that early winter and late summer toss offs “Identity Thief” and “We’re the Millers” were shockingly, hugely successful, tallying over $130 million each. And they weren’t that good. In case you forgot, the price a movie ticket these days can pay for a month of Netflix with some cash left over. It might be wiser to stay in next time than to approve these forgettable laffers to the tune of potential sequel.
Best Movie About Vagina Grooming
Danny Boyle’s “Trance” was many things: a heist flick, a mind game and a twisty mystery. But at the center of it all was Rosario Dawson’s vagina, and somewhat absurdly, the maintenance of it becomes a crucial plot point. Points for originality we suppose.
Best Home Hardware Breakdown
"Another fire!" This superlative easily could have been Best Scene Stealing Supporting Actress In An Already Stellar Ensemble. Jennifer Lawrence kills "American Hustle" and almost runs away with it (though Amy Adams is pure gold). The science oven scene is one for the ages and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that she's no one-trick pony, YA flash in the pan. Bonus clip while it lasts, Jlaw singing Wings' "Live & Let Die."
Best Find-And-Replace Movie That Most Obviously Followed The Die Hard Template
It’s one thing to rip off a movie, but it’s another thing to rip it off well. In 25 years, “Die Hard” has inspired more imitators than most, but those of us on staff that defend “White House Down” maintain that, while it’s a carbon-copy of the template of John McTiernan’s action-classic, it does at least (and unlike its close cousin, “Olympus Has Fallen,” and this year’s actual “Die Hard” sequel “A Good Day To Die Hard”), understand what made the original movie work—a vulnerable, salt-of-the-earth hero, a collection of villains with distinct characterization, a genuine odds-are-against-us feel. It doesn’t win any points for originality, but at least it knows the right bits to rip-off.
Best Beat Movie That No One Watched
While “On The Road” and “Kill Your Darlings” offered up younger, sexier casts and explored the most exciting, youthful times of the lives of the Beat poets who inspired a generation. It was the criminally ignored “Big Sur” that actually nailed the feeling the writers tried desperately to capture in print, while daring to show Jack Kerouac at his most vulnerable, cynical and fragile. And oh yeah, it boasts some of the loveliest cinemtography you’ll see all year too.
The Shia LaBeouf-Related Project That Everyone Should Be Yelling About Instead Of His Relentless Plagiarism
The Shia LaBeouf plagiarism scandal certainly deserves some outrage and discussion, but frankly, the actor’s biggest crime of 2013 was “Charlie Countryman.” A ridiculous, overwrought and nonsensical movie about a grieving romantic who develops an irrational attachment to girl he just met because he was sitting next to her Dad on the plane to Europe when he died…. Did you read what we just wrote? That’s just the first twenty minutes and it gets worse. Much worse. Can we all take a break from seeing what Shia copy and pasted to acknowledge how terrible this movie is?
Least Welcome Directorial Left-Turn
We're all for directors blowing away the cobwebs and trying something different, so a return to the broader comedy of Pedro Almodóvar's early career with "I'm So Excited" seemed like it could be interesting. That is, until we realized that we never liked those early comedies all that much anyway, and the broad sitcom feel of "I'm So Excited" just felt like a inconsequential fancy when put up against the brilliance of "Volver" or "The Skin I Live In."
Most Generic Sundance Movie
So the Sundance Lab is an actual lab? Coming of age: check. Cast-members from “Little Miss Sunshine”: check. Quirky mentor: check. Allison Janney: check. Indie-pop soundtrack: check. “The Way Way Back” feels more like the first screenplay by an advanced computer program developed to create movies that could play at the Sundance Film Festival than it does an actual movie.
Most Interesting Bad Movie
Richard Curtis’ “About Time” is by no stretch a good film, but it’s the kind of bad movie that you’re still glad you saw. For every treacly moment or scene where the female characters prove to have no agency whatsoever, there’s a lovely little performance, genuine, heartfelt moment of feeling, or intriguing time-travel related dilemma. It’s unlikely that you'll love the film, but it’s its own beast. Tasha Robinson of The Dissolve puts it better than we could, in this excellent piece.
"Four in the morning, and I'm zoning
I think I'm possessed, it's an omen
I keep it 300 like the Romans
300 bitches, where the Trojans?
Baby, we living in the moment
I've been a menace, for the longest
But I ain't finished, I'm devoted
And you know it, and you know it"
I mean, what else were we gonna pick, other than the killer teaser to “The Wolf Of Wall Street,” scored to Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead”? OK fine, it was a really close call between that and “Heaven Is For Real”
Thanks for reading this pre-Christmas blowout post! For any sticky, scratchy little movie moments that you need to exorcize, there's a capacious comments section waiting below. Meantime we're all off to make out with each other at the Christmas party, which this year has a "Wolf of Wall Street" theme. (Anyone know where we can score 6 kilos of coke?)