We are getting to the end of this thing. Now we're crossing over into the current decade, which means that (this week included) we only have five discussions left. This is exciting (nearing the end and the final ranking) and also sad, since I've had such a wonderful time with these incredible bloggers just talking movies!
But let's not dwell on the negative (yet...because there is a lot of negative to chew on below). Instead, let's be happy and get all excited for the conversation below. This year saw a lot of variations in our views of these films. One film in particular had ecstatic reviews from 3 of our five panelists, while another received nothing short of a verbal assault by 4 of us...and then glowing praise!
Before you dig in, here is our panel:
Britt from Rambling Film
Drew (me, duh) from A Fistful of Films
Jeffery from jdbrecords
Kevin from Speaks in Movie Lines
Wendell from Dell on Movies
Drew: Time to talk Inside Job...
Britt: I have a feeling I'm going to regret being *this* person, but as well re-searched as it seemed, I couldn't get into it.
Drew: Me neither. We can be ‘those people’ together.
Britt: I know people who watched this that were totally outraged by it, and I don't know if it just went over my head or I didn't care enough, but I couldn’t share that sentiment.
Kevin: Well, the message this movie is going for is highly important and totally inspires outrage. But it's so fucking boring. Ugh! It was a slog for me. Now, part of that is, for me, is going back to something that was highly topical at the time but not so much now. Of course, the unreal wealth gap in this country is still present. And still nobody is doing much about it. But this story was told many times before (or since then) and this movie gave me nothing new. The best coverage on this topic (in a more personal way) are the episodes of This American Life called "The Giant Pool of Money" among others. Also, the same sort of disgusting villains are presented in an even more fleshed out way in Alex Gibney's 2005 doc "Enron: The Smartest Guys In the Room." I'm sure you're all sick of hearing me harp on that one. But it stands as a prophecy of what was to come with the types of accounting and banking practices that lead directly to the housing bubble and the big crashes of the investment banks and auto industry. When the government decides to let selfish assholes play with your money, then there is a problem. And one thing Inside Job does well is that it contains very little bias. It puts Bill Clinton and Barack Obama on an even keel with W as government leaders with no balls as far as protecting consumers from atrocious business practices. Not even Matt Damon's voiceover could save the boredom I felt at times watching this movie.
Drew: Yeah, I was so bored I couldn't really feel the outrage I should have felt. I get the importance of this story, but this felt so... History Channel dull to me.
Jeffery: A much better movie about this subject from the same year is Client 9. Truly a scandalous watch. This is a pretty muted film, could have been more scathing. There are some important points brought up though (debt, the effects of the American economy worldwide).
Drew: Muted is a great description!
Britt: I like ‘muted’ too. That’s perfect.
Wendell: I like this one a bit more than you guys, it seems. I don't think it's a wide margin, though. It's ridiculously thorough and goes out of its way to interview the people responsible. I chuckled every time they flashed a title card saying some crook or another "declined to be interviewed for this film." I will give credit to the ones who actually did sit and be questioned, even if they gave the most horseshit answers possible. Kudos to the film makers for not playing sides and shedding light on presidents from both sides of the aisle. I did feel a sense of outrage, largely because I haven't watched anything on this subject in a couple years. This just dug up old feelings. I particularly hated that many of the culprits found work in the current administration. Interesting side note to that, did anyone else notice how dejected Pres. Obama looked when he was re-appointing that one guy? Looked like he had his arm twisted first. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I thought that was interesting. In the long run, the film suffered from the same problem as "An Inconvenient Truth." There was loads of great information, but it wasn't presented in the most exciting manner. That includes the narrator. Don't get it twisted, I like Matt Damon as an actor, but he didn't work for me, here. Whenever he started speaking, all I could think about was how much better it would have been to have Morgan Freeman narrating. Of the other nominees, I've only seen "Exit Through the Gift Shop." I really enjoyed that one, it was fun and goofy in a manner similar to "Man on Wire." Of course, it wasn't as socially relevant as "Inside Job," which is why I suspect this got the win.
Drew: Exit Through the Gift Shop was, like Sarah Polley's brilliant Stories We Tell, too brilliant in the way it manipulated the genre that Oscar refused to reward it and chose to go with something more traditionally inferior. They almost mocked a traditional documentary by daring to document near fabrications and challenged what the genre really stood for.
Wendell: Never heard that about Exit. I knew some of it was questionable, but really hadn't paid it any attention as far the how it was made.
Britt: I loved Exit, but the Academy was probably too chicken to award a film where a guy with a mask got up on stage to help accept it.
Kevin: Exit Through the Gift Shop is a genius film and totally deserving of an award for simply being awesome and wholly entertaining.
Drew: I feel like these socially relevant docs have a responsibility to not only expose the atrocities but offer at least proposed solutions, and maybe I missed it through the Matt Damon induced coma, but I didn't catch one.
Wendell: It really didn't offer one, other than saying that we had to get these people out of power.
Drew: Tell us something we don’t already know.
Kevin: Yeah. It's almost a broken record. So so many of this type of doc have no solution. It's just some messed up shit, here's the asshole who did it, now he's the president's right hand man. I feel you Wendell on Obama just sort of having to take it. Ridiculous! I struggled with this one and really this is a topic I generally find interesting. It has been interesting to me in other films and on other media.
Jeffery: I agree with Wendell that its strength is that it's a fairly multi-faceted doc / presents a lot of different angles.
Britt: I’m giving this a C.
Kevin: Great valid points are raised here, but the delivery was just boring. C+
Drew: C+ as well.
Jeffery: B for me.
FINAL SCORE: 54/100
Drew: Let's move on to In a Better World!
Kevin: No. Dogtooth.
Drew: Dogtooth, quite frankly, is the most bizarre film to ever get nominated in this category, and I applaud the Academy for even GOING there.
Britt: I wish Dogtooth would've won. It was probably too bizarre for the Academy. Ha, jinx, Drew. Still, I really liked In A Better World. It's easily my favorite of the four we're talking about this week.
Kevin: Oh, I definitely liked this movie. But this was serious lineup of nominees. Incendies and Biutiful are also movies I heard nothing but good about. This one, I never heard of until this project. Having said that, I had heard of Susanne Bier. She definitely has something. Dogtooth is just maniac- level brilliant.
Drew: This is, for me, lesser Bier. I love her. If she had won for Brothers or After the Wedding, I'd have been thrilled. This is still good but it’s below her best work. I recently saw Incendies and Biutiful. This was better than both of those films.
Kevin: I haven't seen either of those. Just heard a whole lot about them. I can't compare.
Britt: I would definitely say this was better than Biutiful. I haven't seen Incendies. Films that take place in two locations are always at risk of feelings like two different films stuck together, but this one didn't. Everything flowed nicely.
Kevin: Definitely. I rather enjoyed the Africa subplot. Very clever in the way it sort of began mirroring what had been happening back in Denmark. I love the performances in this movie, specifically Mikael Persbrandt. So controlled. All of the performances were strong like that, even the two young boys. Some gorgeous cinematography at times in this thing too. It's funny though. I'm having trouble remembering a lot it. I seriously cannot remember how this movie ended.
Britt: Yes! The acting in this film was fantastic. Persbrandt was my favorite, but the two boys were great as well. Only problem with a subtitled film in a language you're not familiar with was every time someone called Anton a "Swede" I was like "He is?"
Drew: Persbrandt was exceptional, for sure. He's considered the Swedish Alan Rickman, and like, I get it.
Kevin: Yes. I like that comparison.
Drew: And the cinematography worked so much for me, especially in Africa...it almost looked like the skylines were painted and it gave this extra layer of warmth to the scenes, almost dreamy.
Britt: It had a happy ending, Kevin. How many films like this get happy endings?
Kevin: True. I think the happy ending took me so off guard I saw it as a weakness and forgot about it as well. Odd. Because I'm a sucker for happy endings. I think I'm sort of conditioned to think the worst in a serious drama like this one.
Britt: I didn't feel like a happy ending was a weakness in this case because it felt very natural. These kids were young, they had time to improve so ending it on a happy note worked for me.
Drew: Bier has a beautiful way of turning the worst around and making it feel...hopeful. So, yeah, I'm with Britt on the happy ending feeling like a natural fit, despite everything that led up to it.
Kevin: I'm fine with it as well. I feel like I zoned out on this one and need to watch it again. What I do remember and what I most loved was the level of tension Bier was able to pull through every thread of this story. It's like a good novel in that regard. We as an audience always connecting, predicting, inferring, wondering how it's all gonna turn out. Where it's gonna go. I loved that about this film. I expected a tragic ending, and it almost was one. But in the end it becomes about two boys making a mistake (as boys often do) and how that affected those around them and will stay with them forever.
Drew: I'm glad you mentioned that Kevin, because I think this is the best place for me to bring up my one criticism of the film. For me, In a Better World feels a little to plotted...a little to calculated in the way in explores its themes. It manages to convey Bier's message, but in the process it loses some of impact of a more chaotic or sharp progression. The mirrored situations, while interesting from a plotting standpoint, almost make the proceedings feel stretched thing instead of human and honest. I think Bier wanted to say so much that she felt this was the best way, but a more minimalist approach could have actually made this even more intense in the long run. Still, like I said, she pulls this all together in the end and creates something that feels at least earnest in the end, if a bit manipulatedly honest. I look at this film, because of the theme it's exploring (violence and how it effects everyone around it) and I think of some of the more lauded films on the subject (A History of Violence, any film from Michael Haneke) and when I compare them side by side, Bier's Oscar winner loses a bit of my affection because it feels less honest by comparison.
Britt: It doesn't feel less honest to me. It's hard for me to compare it to a film like A History of Violence. I somewhat compared it to Boy A or other films that had children acting out. I get what you're saying about it feeling plotted, I just thought it balanced well. She had a lot to say, and she found the time to say it without dragging the film.
Drew: Like I said, I really like this. It's a very good film. While watching it, I was IN IT...but it's upon reflection where you can sit back and trace the entire plot and know exactly why everything was put in the place it was put and it all starts to feel overly calculated.
Britt: True, but I'll take that over feeling scattered and incoherent.
Jeffery: It's an arresting story, well-acted, and I agree there are some beautiful shots. The violence in the movie is very tense. I do find it somewhat forgettable though, I can't pinpoint why. I LOVED Incendies. Masterful and that twisted ending. Wow. I like a lot of his recent work too (Prisoners, Enemy).
Britt: Prisoners! Drew's favorite movie!
Drew: LOL, Enemy is brilliant, but...the rest of his work is...gross.
Jeffery: Haha. Prisoners is a guilty pleasure for me (awesome cinematography though!).
Britt: Prisoners was excellent and I hate that Deakins didn't win that Oscar.
Jeffery: Yes. Would have been an awesome win!
Kevin: I am so the same as you on this, Jeffery. Somewhat forgettable for reasons unknown. I really want to see all of Villenueve's work. Just because of how much it gets talked about. I've never seen a one. Sicario looks badass!
Wendell: Not a whole lot to say on this one. I did like it, but I didn't love it. Like some of you mentioned, the acting is really strong and it's a great looking film, to boot. It just didn't stick with me the way I wanted it to. At times, I just found it a bit too melodramatic for my liking. I also like the comparison between Persbrandt and Rickman. I'm not against happy endings, but hate when they feel disingenuous. This one skirted that line, but I'm okay with it. I'm with Jeffery in that it does lots of things well, but is sort of forgettable. That's possibly the worst thing you can say about an Oscar winning movie. They should be films that stay with you once you see them. This one doesn't quite do that. The only other nominee I've seen is Biutiful. I like that one a bit better. It wasn't great, but Bardem was so compelling he elevated it. Once again, I much prefer movies that were not nominated. Poetry was a phenomenal movie, I would've been happy with that one getting a win. In a Better World wasn't bad, but it wasn't better than Poetry.
Britt: I give this an A
FINAL SCORE: 68/100
Drew: Now, I need to find some digital duct-tape for Britt's mouth while we discuss the absolute perfection of Toy Story 3!!!
Jeffery: I really struggle with a lot of these 2000s animated movies.
Drew: Do you need duct-tape too?
Britt: Well I was going to be nice about it, but now....
Drew: Here we go…
Britt: So here's my long rant about why I don't like this movie, and I realize that I'm probably being over the top, but I don't care. I loved the first Toy Story. I was 8 when it came out. I played with the toys, I actually still held on to a Woody doll I got from Burger King, AND the town I grew up in actually had a Pizza Planet (though not nearly as cool), so basically this was the perfect movie for me. Then Toy Story 2 comes out, and they add a bunch of new characters that are all awful. (Hated Joan Cusak's voice work as Jessie) So I have this awful movie tainting a childhood favorite. Then Toy Story 3 comes out, and I put aside my hate for the 2nd for some nostalgia and it ends up being worse. Now granted, as an adult and a film lover I'm a bit more jaded, but this story was so predictable and just not funny. There were barely any redeeming qualities to this film whatsoever. I couldn't even try to reminisce about the first one because this was so bad. It's also highly overrated (in my opinion, which is the minority, I know). This film was not better than How to Train Your Dragon in the animated category. "We Belong Together" had nothing on "If I Rise" in Best Original Song. It had no business being in the Best Picture race and Best Adapted Screenplay was laughable. What is so special about this movie besides it having characters that we loved in 1995? I don’t get it.
Drew: Obviously NOTHING you said is correct, you know, outside of the fact that the original Toy Story is great. And, now for my long-winded rebuttal.
Britt: What's it like having bad taste in Toy Story sequels? Lol
Drew: So, like Britt, I saw Toy Story in the theaters. I was ten. I was dragged there by my father who, last minute, decided he didn't want me to see Jumanji, and so I was pissed. I begrudgingly sat in that theater, arms crossed (I'm adding this detail for dramatic effect) but as the film progressed those arms loosened and...I fell in love. My ten year old self GOT this. This beautiful story about the importance of friendship and imagination and childhood. It spoke to me. I was Andy. I was Woody (OMG, I was so Woody...and I still am) and so I got this. Then Toy Story 2 came out, and I was 14 and 'cartoons were beneath me' and so I didn't see it until I was 16 and visiting my nephews and I was babysitting them one night and they wanted to watch this and so I put it on, fully intending on zoning out or calling my GF but... I was brought back to that ten year old in a theater and I completely connected to this movie, the heart, the beautiful nostalgia and the way they were able to create new layers with not only new characters (Jesse's abandonment issues are beautifully fleshed out) but also with the old ones (Woody's emotional transformation and cycle of emotions is so natural and accessible) and I found myself really invested. Then I move on, get a job, get married, start a life...blah, blah, blah and then I have a kid; this amazing, smart, incredible kid and I get the chance to start passing on my own love of movies to this little wonder and I start, obviously, with the films I feel like she'll connect to...and like every other kid, once they latch on to something...they beat it to death. She loved Toy Story (1 & 2) and so she watched it...EVERY DAY! We got her a cowgirl outfit and she wore it...EVERY DAY! She told us she was going to grow up to be a cowboy (she refused to understand that she would be a cowgirl because, to her, they weren't the same thing) and she would only answer to the name Woody. She assigned Toy Story character names to all of us and we had to answer to them as well. It was insane. Everyone we met was given a Toy Story name. When my wife was pregnant with our second daughter, my eldest assigned names to the nurses and doctor and pediatrician. Anyways, when my daughter was nearly 3, Toy Story 3 came out and so we all went to the theater to see it. With my daughter on my lap...we laughed and cheered (she screamed and cried at the horrific intensity that was Lotso) and, as the film drew to a close... I BAWLED LIKE A BITCH! This is, in my humble opinion, the greatest end to any film trilogy EVER! It gave us a proper goodbye to characters we have grown to love, and in that final moment it also gave us this sense of closure to our own assent into adulthood. The thing is, for fans of the franchise, we've grown up with Andy. When the first film came out, we were probably his age, maybe a tad older or younger, and so with each film we're growing with him. With Toy Story 3, we are most likely at that point of moving on (or maybe we've passed it), but for me I was at this special point where I was not merely moving on, I was passing along, and so when I saw that finale where Andy is playing with Bonnie and basically 'passing the torch' so-to-speak, I was overcome with all this emotion, my baby girl bouncing on my knee. I GOT this. I felt it. UGH, I'm crying now just thinking about it. When Andy looks at Woody, the one toy he wanted to keep, the one he loved with all his heart despite the fact he hadn't looked at him in years, I felt that longing to be a kid again, to go back to a time when I didn't have any worries and I could just be me...but I also knew that I was where I needed to be, and like Andy, I saw the importance of not just moving on but passing along, handing that fun and love and wonderment down to someone else. This whole series is just such a beautifully composed and explored story of life. It becomes a part of you. These characters are family. So, long-winded story short, this movie is PERFECTION!
Britt: I'm glad it means something deep to you, but I saw was a reminder that no one has been able to capture the original TS with any of the sequels. And now they're doing a 4th one. GTFO.
Drew: I don’t want to talk about Toy Story 4…at all.
Britt: And Lotso drove me nuts, he was such a cookie cutter villain.
Drew: Um, NO! Lotso was NOT cookie cutter, at all! Lotso is one of my favorite villains of all time, and I've been very vocal on my blog about wanting Pixar to develop a Lotso movie. The brilliance of Lotso is that he is basically Woody gone bad. He's a toy who was loved and adored until he was replaced, but instead of trying to find a place within that structure where he belonged, he allowed the darkness of overtake him and create this harsh feeling of alienation to control his actions. He wanted everyone to feel his misery. The fact that Lotso has NO redemption was also such a bold move. There was no point where he thought, "maybe I don't have to do this"...he was so cold, so broken, so evil that he never wavered. Even after he was rescued from death himself by our heroes, he doesn't even bat at eyelash as opting to KILL them all. There are so many layers to that bear, and I really want a full story, even if I have to write it myself!
Britt: So he's basically all the villains in every TV show I've ever watched, lol.
Drew: I'm going to take the high road and not crap all over How to Train Your Dragon. Just be thankful that mediocre sequel didn't win last year.
Britt: Booo. That Sequel deserved it too. (But we'll be having that discussion later) I will say that I laughed at "The Claw!" joke in TS3. That was the film's shining moment for me.
Kevin: I don't have near the same connection either one of you have, even with the first Toy Story. I do love it though. How couldn't you? It’s so memorable with characters that just never leave and will never. True iconic cinema. The original. I don't hate the second one. It's pretty good, but it doesn't reach the same level of heart. I, too, was in high school by the time this one came out. It was just a stupid kid's movie by that point. Now, Toy Story 3. I saw it once, summer of 2010, on a date with my then girlfriend, now wife. We had just started dating. We were the only ones in the theater. We laughed out loud, really loud, and we cried together for the first time. The end of this movie is more perfect than perfect. I'll stand by that.
Drew: More perfect than perfect…I love that!
Kevin: Oh, it so is. I was literally bawling like a little girl. And I was with really hot woman I'd just started dating. Luckily, she stuck with me.
Drew: Your wife is a good woman. Mine refuses to look at me or makes me sit away from her.
Kevin: Well, she was bawling too. So, I guess it was a match made in heaven. I find Lotso to be a perfect villain. The best villains in literature are always the ones we don't expect initially. I remember Lotso to be manipulative and totally maniacal. The best kind of villain. I am fuzzy on some details. I haven't seen this movie since the theater. But I remember being so totally overwhelmed by how great it was.
Drew: He was like a psychotic Godfather.
Kevin: I remember actually feeling at the time that it was the best of the three. I'd have to watch them all again now to be sure.
Drew: It is.
Kevin: But this is a great Pixar movie. And, in an extended field, I don't see any problem with it getting a Best Picture nom. And the incinerator scene is one of the most powerful movie scenes of all time. I mean that is just pure greatness. The emotion I felt during that scene is almost unmatched...period. You are literally watching your best friends (Andy's best friends) going down with the trash. And it hurts. And it's real. Of course, I've never seen How to Train Your Dragon. And I probably won't...until maybe one day when I have kids that want to see it. What I've learned about myself from this project: I am a Pixar snob. I'm against a Toy Story 4. Totally. You don't perfectly end a trilogy and then make another one. You only make another one when the third one sucks. (See Wes Craven's Scream movies).
Drew: From what I've read, this 4th sounds like a disaster (a romance film) so I'm dreading it wholeheartedly.
Britt: I'm a bit of a Pixar snob too, but the HTTYD franchise is the best thing to come from Dreamworks. Those scores are everything.
Wendell: Brittani, NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! This movie is amazing, easily one of my all-time favorites for all the reasons Drew gave, though I don't have quite the same story. I took my soon-to-be nieces to see the original when it first came out. I was two years away from being a husband and dad. I was just being nice to the girl I was dating, who would become my wife, I didn't really want to see it. When it was over I was so glad I did because it was fantastic. When Toy Story 2 came out, I took my son to see it, who was two. Again, I loved it, but not quite as much as the first. When Toy Story 3 hit theaters, I had three kids. I took all of them plus the son of one of my wife's friends. My youngest was 8, the other child was 4 or 5. Good thing I splurged for the extra expensive candy, popcorn, and drinks because I totally zoned out and ignored them since this had me riveted right from the beginning. Lotso is an amazing villain. I love him so much. That he was so remorseless was just perfect. And Big Baby was a downright frightening henchman for much of the movie. You guys have already heard that I don't cry over movies. Ever. The incinerator scene had me as close as I've ever been. There was a golf ball sized lump in throat and (SPOILER ALERT!) if they hadn't escaped that, I'm pretty sure my sprinklers would've went off. I can't speak to The Illusionist since I didn't see that one, but this is so far beyond How To Train Your Dragon, it's ridiculous. And I really like HTTYD. Overall, I think it was a strong year for animation. I'd put Despicable Me and Megamind on the same tier as HTTYD. I'd have Tangled just a hair behind them. Just a hair, get it? I slay me. Seriously, though, none of them are in TS3's league. I'm cautiously optimistic about TS4. I wasn't exactly thrilled they were doing a third one, and that turned out far, far better than I expected, therefore, I'm willing to give the powers that be the benefit of the doubt.
Drew: lol, I love all these #ToyStories
Wendell: Yes, #ToyStories!!!
Britt: Yeeesssssssz! Your Toy Stories are far better than that actual film, honestly.
Wendell: Easy A+ from me.
Kevin: I haven't watched it in a while but I remember totally loving Toy Story 3. A brilliant conclusion for people who grew up with these wonderful, memorable characters. Solid A.
Drew: Like, complete and total A+...and beyond!
Britt: I give this a D
Wendell: Arrrggghhh. Brit is definitely the Scrooge to TS3's Christmas!
Britt: I came here to have a good time and honestly, I'm feeling so attacked right now.
Drew: I think I'm going to change Kevin's grade to an A+ to offset the bullshit that is Britt's D grade...
Kevin: I can't let you, Drew. It's great and all, but it doesn't have a fish or a rat or a French tightrope walker or Javier Bardem with a bob.
Drew: LOL...then I'll add an extra + to my grade! (I'm kidding readers...I would never tamper a grade)
Britt: Where the fuck is Jeff? Maybe he'll give it a D too
Drew: He still hasn't figured out how to get the digital duct tape off!
Britt: Maybe he's preparing an F grade and he's afraid heads will explode?
Drew: Bodies will drop!
Britt: If I give it a D+ will you feel better? Lol
Drew: LOL, like the Double D I gave Crash?
Jeffery: Britt and Drew's commentary here is amazing. I feel like such a curmudgeon giving animated films like this lower than a B. So B-
FINAL SCORE: 74/100
Drew: Now, here's a film that Britt can give a D to...The King's Speech!
Britt: This is slightly better than Toy Story 3, but only slightly.
Drew: Um, fuck no.
Wendell: There is no way on God's Green Earth this is better than Toy Story 3.
Britt: I think when I originally reviewed this film, I gave it a good grade. Then it happened to be an inflight movie on a plane I was on so I watched it again. It was so boring the 2nd time, and it's largely forgettable, performances aside for me. My favorite part was, "And tits". And don't even get me started on how this was NOT the Best Picture.
Kevin: I almost want to skip this conversation and watch The Social Network instead.
Drew: I wrote an entire post on my blog when this won the PGA/DGA/SAG combo over the weekend about how Tom Hooper was a troll.
Kevin: "Now listen, I have nothing against The King’s Speech. It is an enjoyable film that works well within the bounds of the genre it’s a part of and I liked it, BUT it has NOTHING on The Social Network." Took the words right out of my mouth all those years ago.
Drew: Yeah. This is just so safe. It's a shame...but come on people. This is cookie cutter Oscar bait, and the hardest part to swallow is that up until Oscar night, it looked like it was going to have to settle for a Screenplay and Actor win, which would have been fine (undeserved but fine) and then Oscar went full throttle for this movie in the worst possible way. And...like...who actually talks about this movie? I mean, even people who don't love The Social Network actually talk about it because it was a cultural phenom and will forever be a part of pop culture. And...let's get real here for a minute...The Social Network actually had the BEST reviews of ANY film in 2010. It had RAVES, was declared the first MASTERPIECE of the decade and was universally lauded.
Kevin: The theatrical trailer for The Social Network was better than The King's Speech.
Britt: You're right. This is safe. Way too safe, honestly. It's not like they had a bunch of mediocre films to choose from. This year had really strong contenders. But they were all a little bit out of the ordinary. This one wasn't. It didn't just have nothing on The Social Network. It had nothing on Inception, Black Swan, 127 Hours, The Kids Are All Right OR The Fighter.
Drew: Yeah, I think The King's Speech suffers a bit from Harvey's gargantuan campaign to secure it's Oscar victory. I still remember the promo-spots for this. They were insanely 'cloying' in their marketing this as the triumph of spirit of the decade. Like, the people standing in the theater lobby talking about how "I got chills when he speaks for the first time without his stutter" and "oh, this is so life affirming" and then you watch this and it's like..."oh, that's nice" and then...nothing. ‘The King’s Speech’, while ‘quote-unquote’ delightful, is also teetering on elevated mediocrity. Colin Firth is fine, but nothing special. Bardem, Eisenberg and Franco were all better than he was, and quite frankly, Rush (who was also Lead) was better than he was. Tom Hooper did NOTHING with this material. It's such a lazily directed film...so basic. Hooper showed much more bravado as a director with Les Miserables, despite ALSO being that film's biggest weakness. He's just a very standard and unimaginative director. I’ll never understand how a film with very little depth could manage what this film did. I understand the whole idea that watching someone overcome their seemingly small obstacles can be encouraging and uplifting, but even the way that it is presented in the film borders on the absurd (placing more weight on his speech than the imposing war was kind of ridiculous). While it bypasses the redundancy for the most part, it also loses some connective tissue in the process.
Kevin: You’re right, nobody talks about this movie. I haven't spoken a word about it since I saw it in late 2010. It is fully unmemorable for, except for the performances from Firth, Rush, and Carter. You're so right, Geoffrey Rush could've been a lead contender. I like his work better. Firth was really good though. I don't have a big problem with him winning. But this movie is a laughable Best Picture winner. Good Lord! How atrocious. I should say. I really felt the same way you did, Drew. It's a good movie. It had some good emotional highs. It had zero directorial flair. Hooper is good with period pieces. Granted. That doesn't make them entertaining to watch. Les Mis didn't work for me either. HBO's John Adams (also directed by Hooper) suffered from the same exact thing. Beautiful, realistic period design. But boring as fuck!
Drew: Les Mis was incredible, but I'm partial to the source material.
Kevin: Here's what Oscar should've done: give this Best Art Direction and Actor and Screenplay (maybe?) and be done with it. Giving Tom Hooper a Best Director statue. Ha! I don't have any attachment to Les Mis in any regard. A few of the songs are good. I didn't hate that one. Just as I didn't hate this one. But you do have The Social Network here. That is truly the best movie of this decade. Truly. I am sure of it. I was actually hurt by Oscar on that one. That's how Oscar loses respect from me. To the point, though, The King's Speech is a fine movie. Just fine. I remember enjoying my time with it, and I was certainly moved at times. I have not once had any wish to go back to it, though. And I don't think it deserves Best Picture in any way. Oh, and all the movies Britt listed. I loved all of those. In fact, looking at this list of nominees, The King's Speech is dead last.
Drew: Dead last, indeed!
Wendell: I really liked it the first time I saw it, but as I thought about it...then saw it again...it just doesn't hold up. It lazily goes about the business of ticking off underdog movie clichés en route to our hero winning the big game, or in this case, delivering the big speech. For the record, Rush and Carter were both better than Firth. It is completely safe, never takes any sort of risk. This renders it ultimately forgettable. The big speech is a nice moment, but nowhere near as heartfelt as things that happened in all the other nominees. No, it has nothing on The Social Network, or on any of the nominees for that matter. This is by far the worse movie of the bunch. You can put the other 9 in just about any order and I'd be okay with your point of view. If you move The King's Speech out of that 10th spot, we've got problems. It's not that it's a bad movie, just nowhere near the caliber of the others. There are also a number of non-nominees that are better: Shutter Island, Blue Valentine, Scott Pilgrim vs The World, Easy A, The Town, and yes, I'm even going so far as to include Kick-Ass and Machete. Don't look at me, that way. I can't see this winning any statues, to be honest. Art Direction: No way in hell it outdoes Alice in Wonderland, even if you hate that film. It won Actor, but of the noms Firth's performance was only better than Eisenberg's. It also won Screenplay, but I fail to see where it is better than The Kids Are All Right or The Fighter. And that Director win? Kevin, you had it right when you said Ha! What a joke, that is.
Britt: Dell, Machete made my top 10 list this year. Definitely a more worthy Best Pic choice lol
Kevin: Oh, and Winter's Bone was the shit. I totally forgot it was a Best Picture nominee. Talk about using the extended field in my kinda way. That movie might as well have been made a mile from my house. All you gotta do is hit the nearest holler and you're on that movie set.
Drew: 2010 was such a massive step up from 2009 in just the quality of noms, that it's sad to see the lesser win. I mean, all of the nominees in the principle categories were at least good, The King's Speech included...but...like...everything else was so much better.
Jeffery: Oh god. I guess I'm the only one who liked... and loved this one. Firth is amazing and I loved Rush a lot too (more understated here than usual... beautiful performance). It's kind of a refreshing, low-key handsomely-made film. I was also moved by the script (and the screenwriter's backstory). I understand people's qualms with this one but it hit a nerve with me and I think it's a pretty perfect little film.
Wendell: Standing on its own merit, this is a perfectly fine movie. It's enjoyable and features some fine acting. When graded against the field, it suffers tremendously. C-
Kevin: I would grade this movie a B, if it stands alone. But because it stole the thunder of so many other movies, including the A++ Social Network. I'm going C.
Britt: I'm going C. It's just there. It's a reminder of how wrong the Academy got it. It's easily one of the worst Best Pic winner of all time. But the lead 3 performances were so on point. That's the only reason it gets a C. Acting and Costumes saved it.
FINAL SCORE: 46/100
YEAR SCORE: 242/400
1) Toy Story 3 (74 Points)
2) In a Better World (68 Points)
3) Inside Job (54 Points)
4) The King's Speech (46 Points)
Drew: Toy Story wins!
Wendell: I agree with that, wholeheartedly. The other three movies get a collective "meh."
Britt: Thank God for In A Better World otherwise all these winners would've been a massive let down. And they had no right to be. This was an excellent year for movies and they just got so many things wrong.
Wendell: That's the shame of it all, there were so many more worthy films.
Drew: Like I said during our King's Speech discussion, Oscar really did a great job with their nominations this year, across the board. Sure, there are always some duds (like, you know, The King's Speech), but as far as noms go, they are all pretty solid. The Lead Actress lineup was pretty stellar, nominating Ruffalo and Hawkes and Adams and Eisenberg and Bardem and Fincher and Aronofsky... They really did well...and then they go and reward so much meh!
Britt: It's funny, at the time of the noms, I figured the thing I'd be the most pissed off about was the lack of a director nom for Nolan. Nope, they just kept right on offending. Lol
Kevin: 2010 was a total bummer. Oscar had ample opportunity to be ballsy and they backed down, totally pussed out. How about Dogtooth over In a Better World? What about Exit through the Gift Shop over the boring Inside Job? The FUCKING King's Speech over The Social Network (or any of the other nominees for that matter). What a joke? The only thing they got right with these Picture winners was Toy Story 3. Sad sorry shit! Agreed. Nominations good. Winners crap.
Jeffery: This was an interesting year. Lots of films I loved Kids Are All Right, Social Network, ANOTHER YEAR (in which Lesley Manville was snubbed), Please Give (no noms), Blue Valentine, Winter's Bone, The Fighter. The King's Speech was my favorite film of the year. I understand it's traditional film-making in a sea of more unique choices but I thought it was wonderfully acted and made. Too bad Fincher didn't nab Director though. Would have made everyone happy.
Drew: I would have bitched a lot less.
Jeffery: Believe me. I get it. King's Speech is Oscar-bait and had an obnoxious Harvey campaign but I think it tells a story very well underneath all that.
Let's Get TRENDY!
One of my favorite parts of this week was hearing all the 'toy stories' from my fellow bloggers, and so it makes perfect sense that this week's hashtag would be none-other than #ToyStories! So, let's get trendy! Talk us up on Twitter and be sure to leave us your thoughts below.