10 for ’10 – Most Forgettable

21 12 2010

It’s that time of the year when it’s time to put on the retrospective lens and look back on 2010 for what it was, the good and the bad, for better or for worse. To commemorate my first full calendar year of blogging, I decided to write a series I am calling “10 for ’10”, ten top 10 lists celebrating all things 2010. Half will be devoted to the movies, and half will be devoted to the blogging. Obviously, it will culminate on December 31 with my top 10 movies of the year.

To kick off, I’d like to feature a list that’s not your typical year-end top 10 list. Rather than celebrating the best or the worst, this list celebrates mediocrity. There were plenty of movies released this year that were just middling, not earth-shatteringly great yet not horrifically bad. These movies are often left to dry by the end of the year, but it’s time that they get their recognition.

So, without further ado, I present the most forgettable movies of 2010.

The American

Did anything even happen in this movie at all? Thanks to the RunPee app, I missed the big sex scene that was apparently so racy. As for any sort of plot, I’m pretty sure I had forgotten it before I left the theater.

The A-Team

Congratulations, you made a bunch of stuff blow up and freed yourselves from death and imprisonment multiple times.  Too bad you didn’t make this movie back in the ’80s, A-Team, because then it would have been exciting.  Now, it’s standard.  Next…


Who knew that DNA evidence could clear someone wrongly convicted of murder? Try everyone who has looked at the front page of a newspaper in the past two decades. Like every single newspaper headline boasting the triumph of the truth, this movie heads for the back of my mind.

The Disappearance of Alice Creed

Not even the movie’s out of nowhere gay lovers twist could save this boring, minimalist kidnapping story from dissolving in my mind almost instantly.

Just Wright

Formulaic romantic comedy. Need I say more?

Leap Year

See above.

Morning Glory

I liked this movie a lot better when it was called “The Devil Wears Prada” and had Meryl Streep instead of crotchety old Harrison Ford.

The Other Guys

This Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg collaboration had nothing to make it stand out in either star’s catalog. Neither has a strong or memorable character spouting any quotable lines. Perhaps it’s best that we can forget this movie because I certainly know Farrell is hoping we forget the movies he made before this.  We’ve seen plenty of buddy cop movies done right, and there’s no reason to ever watch it done to mediocrity as it is here.


I have a well-documented distaste for inspirational sports dramas, mainly because they all come down to “this person shouldn’t have won but they worked hard and they were good people so they did win, and we should all learn a lesson.” This horse racing drama diverts a little bit, but it’s so packed with corny lines that I’ll forever group it with those that follow the template.

She’s Out of My League

“Knocked Up” dealt with everything this Jay Baruchel failed star-launching vehicle tried to tackle, only better and with much more humor. I’ll forever consider this a lame rip-off.

Random Factoid #496

6 12 2010

Well ... I'm bored. Yawwwwn.

Worst blog post ever.

Cinematical reports the curious case of Sondra Lowell, who is to sleep what James Cameron is to visual effects: a cinematic pioneer in refining the craft.  Here’s more:

“Sondra Lowell has made two insufferable movies that even she can’t endure, and yet by some standards she might be the most successful filmmaker to have ever lived. Lowell’s films ‘WebcamMurder.com’ and ‘Sublime Crime: A Subliminal Mystery’ are (ingeniously titled) features explicitly designed to put her audiences to sleep, and the critics agree that her work achieves its goals with a consistency seldom seen in the careers of even the most celebrated auteurs (the Los Angeles Times described ‘WebcamMurder.com’ as “The most boring talkie ever made”). With just two films to her name, Lowell is not only the progenitor of the “film sleepy” genre (a term she coined to describe her work), but also its greatest artistic force.”

Here’s my problem with Lowell: this has been a sub-genre for years, slyly incorporating its way into genre movies since the advent of cinema.  I’ll point to a recent classic, Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation,” and the best of 2010 so far would have to be Tony Goldwyn’s “Conviction.”  So why bother trying to put people to sleep; so many filmmakers are so good at it that they can do it unintentionally!  I mean, how can you compete with Coppola, who can direct these movies in her sleep?  (Horrible pun fully intended.)

REVIEW: Conviction

14 11 2010

There’s something noticeably missing from “Conviction,” Fox Searchlight’s annual super Oscar bait entry: emotion.

The movie has a fascinating premise at its core as Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank) works tirelessly over the course of two decades to acquit her innocent brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell) of his murder conviction, putting herself through law school while raising a family at the same time.  His case is solved quite simply by DNA evidence pulled from the crime scene and getting the witnesses to testify to their intimidation by a crooked female police officer (Melissa Leo).

The struggle against the law manages to keep us interested for two hours, but the way the story is told by screenwriter Gray and interpreted by the actors fails to compel us.  The movie feels like a first draft, lacking any sort of refinement or polish.  I found it particularly alarming that director Tony Goldwyn felt content with the performances of Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell given their history of powerful performances.

Both actors are in low gear, offering work that seems void of any sort of emotion or care.  It feels like they are doing their first read-through of the script and simply reading the words for the first time, not stopping to look into subtext or the true intents of their characters.  Even when the movie tries the typical heart-warming moment, Swank and Rockwell don’t even seem to be trying to convey any sort of feeling.  The movie’s chain of events moves, but we as an audience are not moved.  It’s interesting to see the story of Betty Anne Waters, but since Swank doesn’t seem to find it as such, maybe you’ll find more interest in checking your e-mails or Facebook while following along with the plot.  C

“Conviction” Poll Results

25 10 2010

With a good-not-great 65% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 61 on Metacritic, it doesn’t look like “Conviction” has the goods to make in the Best Picture race.  However, this ship is hardly the Titanic, and all is not sunk for Fox Searchlight.

There is still an incredibly viable contender in Sam Rockwell, who has been the favorite aspect of the movie across the board.  If he gets a nice push from the studio, the underrated Rockwell could get the moment in the sun he deserves.  In my Oscar Moment on “Conviction,” I asked you all whether Rockwell will get a nomination.

You seemed to have faith.  Four voters said yes; one said no.  That’s a whopping 80% in favor of a potential nomination for Sam Rockwell.  The movie opened in Houston over the weekend, and I haven’t been able to see it yet.  Hopefully I’ll be able to join the chorus of adulation soon.

Oscar Moment: “Conviction”

1 10 2010

With the Oscars expansion to ten Best Picture nominees, it’s truly unfortunate that within the first year, the term “The Blind Side slot” became a legitimate phrase.  We now know that certain movies of less Academy-caliber filmmaking have a shot at Best Picture.  “The Blind Side” brought a mixture of inspiration and sports to the table and wound up on the Academy shortlist.

However, those two elements seem to go hand-in-hand nowadays.  Could this same slot be for a movie that is just inspirational?  What I am suggesting is that perhaps “The Blind Side slot” in 2010 is destined to go to “Conviction,” not the presumed heir apparent “Secretariat.”

It’s a legal drama, a genre that has been more traditionally up the Academy’s alley that sports.  Betty Anne Waters, played by two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank, spends a decade earning a law degree to prove the innocence of her brother Kenneth (Sam Rockwell), who is jailed on a murder conviction.  The struggles are many, but the underdog story prevails as always.

On paper, the plot seems to good to be true – and it may turn out to be exactly that way. “Conviction” may be hitting theaters a few years too late as many will feel like they have seen this exact same story several times before.  We’ve seen audience backlash on banality before, and the Academy have echoed their sentiments.  Just look at how they scoffed at “Invictus” last year, a movie everyone thought was safe on the virtue of being about sports and Nelson Mandela.

The movie premiered at the Toronto Film Festival a few weeks ago to fair reviews. Here’s what Brad Brevet of Rope of Silicon had to say:

“‘Conviction’ is a rather simple film, but the emotional impact of the story comes through in the end after what is a rather mundane and cliched story of the innocent man in jail and the person working hard on the outside to get them out. At no point does this seem like new territory, but outside of being about ten minutes too long it’s a decent film despite its rather traditional dramatic nature.”

This might be an alarming review or an almost immediate disqualifying flaw if the same words could not be used by most critics to describe “The Blind Side.”  Nowadays, if the audience is moved and critics aren’t, the former can win out.  I think a Best Picture nomination is a possibility if the reviews can get into the 70% range on Rotten Tomatoes and the box office take exceeds $25 million.  But sorry, Tony Goldwyn, the Best Director field is too talented to make room for you.  (I haven’t seen “A Walk on the Moon,” but “The Last Kiss” was kind of lame, so he can start proving himself here.)

“Conviction” also stands a chance in the acting categories as well.  While I have nothing against Hilary Swank, there are plenty of people up in arms that she has the same amount of Oscars as Meryl Streep.  I think backlash and a strong field of Best Actress candidates will keep her out of the race.

Sam Rockwell, as the convict of “Conviction” (punny, I know), seems to be the movie’s best shot at Oscar glory.  He has been coming into his own as a star as of recent, and movies like “Moon” have made him a cult favorite.  This could be his chance to show the mainstream how talented he truly is, and I think an aggressive campaign could easily get him into the relatively unformed Best Supporting Actor race.

Rockwell seems to be the one part of “Conviction” that everyone can rally around.  According to Katey Rich at Cinemablend, “every scene in the prison interview room and especially flashbacks gives the film a jolt of electricity.”  I think we can expect some sort of representation from the movie, be it just Rockwell or the movie as a whole.

BEST BETS AT NOMINATIONS: Best Supporting Actor (Rockwell)

OTHER POSSIBLE NOMINATIONS: Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay

What To Look Forward To in … October 2010

18 09 2010

In less than two weeks, we are headed into October.  More quality fall entertainment, more Oscar contenders.  But really, “The Social Network” leads off the month and it’s all downhill from there.  Sorry, every other movie coming out in my month of birth.  AND PLEASE TAKE THE POLL AT THE END … I blanked and left it off for a few days, but please vote!

October 1

I’ve stated twice that I’m dying to see “The Social Network,” and I’ve predicted it twice now to win Best Picture.  I’m counting on a great movie, and I’m planning on catching the first showing after school on Friday.

“Let Me In” reminds us of a time when vampires were still scary, not sexy.  Chloe Moretz (best known as Hit Girl) plays the blood-sucking child in question in this remake of the 2008 foreign horror flick “Let the Right One In.”  I think subtitles make anything creepier, but Hollywood sees English-language versions as a way to make things more accessible.

I love the book “Freakonomics,” and I think the documentary montage without any particular focus is a perfect complement to the bestseller.  If it’s anything like the book, it will be fascinating and incredibly thought-provoking.  It’s an interesting tactic to put it on iTunes before releasing it in theaters, and I’ve been asking myself whether or not I should wait for the big screen.

And on another note, poor Renee Zellweger has dropped so low as to start doing low-brow horror like “Case 39.”  To think she won an Oscar just 7 years ago…

October 8

Ugh, “Secretariat.”  Inspirational sports movies now give me an averse reaction.  And there’s also more gross horror in 3D with “My Soul to Take.”  Way to sell your soul, Wes Craven.  With the only other wide release being a corny Josh Duhamel-Katherine Heigl romantic comedy, “Life as We Know It,” it looks like I may be seeing “The Social Network” for a second time.

On the indie side of things, I’ll be happy to see some of the offerings.  For example, I’m sure “Inside Job” will be an illuminating (and probably slanted) view of what really went down with the economic meltdown in 2008.

“Stone” looks intense, much like “Brothers” appealed to me this time last year.  With an impressive cast of Robert DeNiro and Edward Norton (Milla Jovovich to a lesser degree as well), it could be a pretty good under-the-radar movie.

Tamara Drewe” has been playing at a lot of film festivals this year to mixed/positive reviews, most of the praise going not to director Stephen Frears but to leading lady Gemma Arterton.  “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” has also been playing film festivals recently albeit to much less success.  Despite the widespread acclaim the filmmakers’ past two movies, “Half Nelson” and “Sugar,” have received, this just hasn’t caught on.  “Nowhere Boy,” the story of John Lennon, premiered at Toronto this week, but I didn’t hear anything about it.  No news is NOT good news at a festival.

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