The end-of-2013 list boat has sailed, and here I am, yelling at it from the shore as it disappears over the horizon. As mentioned in previous LISTMANIA! ’13 posts it’s been a trying time these last few months, so blogging is a luxury I can’t really afford, but thanks to abnormal cerebral architecture and deep psychological problems, once I embarked on this journey I had to finish even though too much time has passed, so consider this last post the equivalent of me defiantly leaping into the ocean and chasing that list boat, my feeble arms windmilling away with all of the force and speed I can muster. Note: as I’ve now seen The Wolf of Wall Street I’ve added references to it in the post below, even though it isn’t in any of the other posts. But damn, what a movie. That would have found a place in my top ten of last year for sure. But then international release dates are the bane of my blogging existence, as you’ll see below…
Best Movies Released In The US In 2012 That Got On US Critics’ Top Ten Lists But Would Look Weird If I Added Them To My 2013 List Even Though They Were Good Enough To Get On There: Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, Lincoln
Best Hero: Tonto – The Lone Ranger
Tony Stark – Iron Man 3
Our Man – All Is Lost
Mako Mori – Pacific Rim
Superman – Man of Steel
Alan Partridge – Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
Best Anti-Hero: India Stoker – Stoker
Best Villain: Donaka Mark – Man of Tai Chi
Lt. Chang – Only God Forgives
Terry Stankus – All Cheerleaders Die
President Snow – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
General Zod: Man of Steel
Warden Willard Hobbes – Escape Plan
Worst Hero: Jack – Jack The Giant Slayer
Adam – Upside Down
Gerry Lane – World War Z
Percy Jackson – Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
John McClane – A Good Day To Die Hard
Heather Miller – Texas Chainsaw 3D
Worst Villain: Khan (WHOOPS SPOILER) – Star Trek Into Darkness
Whoever was the villain in A Good Day To Die Hard, I can’t even remember who it was now. Vladimir something?
Anonymous Accursed – Thor: The Dark World
Women exercising free will – Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor
The Voice – Getaway (not the terrible talent show, it’s just Jon Voight’s mouth in a bar)
America, or something… erm… youth? No, gangstas? Or are they the good thing? Oh dear… – Spring Breakers
Most Annoying Character of the Year: Lyle – The Internship
AJ – The Place Beyond The Pines
Bruna – I’m So Excited
Haha – Drug War
Frank – Byzantium
Ian the Intern – Thor: The Dark World
Best Live Action Animal: Silver – The Lone Ranger
Best Animated Animal: Sven – Frozen
Best Digitally Created Animal: Riddick’s space dog – Riddick
Worst Digitally Created Animal: Finley – Oz: The Great And Powerful
Badass of the Year: Erin (Sharni Vinson) – You’re Next
Honorable Mention: Yukio (Rila Fukushima) – The Wolverine
Best Purist-Annoying Badass of the Year: Tauriel – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Best Double Act: Robert ‘Bobby’ Trench (Denzel Washington) and Michael ‘Stig’ Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) – 2 Guns
Worst Double Act: Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) – Insidious 2
Best Bromance: Dom (Vin Diesel) and Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) – Fast and Furious Six (the Internet, disappointingly, doesn’t have a video of their final scene together, which brought the house down at the screening I attended, so filled was it with heaving bosoms, sweaty brows, and promises of perspiration-inducing drama and meaningful looks during any future entanglements)
Honorable Mention: Tony Stark and his “therapist” – Iron Man 3
Best “Sismance” Yeah I’m Coining That Shit, Don’t Tell Me If Anyone Else Came Up With That First Because I’m Feeling Pretty Good About Myself Right Now: Frances (Greta Gerwig) and Sophie (Mickey Sumner) – Frances Ha
Honorable Mention: Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) and Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) – The Heat
Best Couple: Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) and Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) – Beautiful Creatures
Worst Couple of the Year: Adam (Jim Sturgess) and Eden (Kirsten Dunst) – Upside Down
“Seriously, They’re So Bad That Even Their Names Are Annoying” Couple of the Year – Adam (Jim Sturgess) and Eden (Kirsten Dunst) – Upside Down
Most Doomed Couple of the Year: Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos) and Emma (Léa Seydoux) – Blue Is The Warmest Colour
Dishonorable Mention: Gary (Tahar Rahim) and Karole (Léa Seydoux) – Grand Central
“I Refuse To Believe These Guys Are Doomed” Couple of the Year: Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) – Before Midnight
“I Hope These Guys Make It” Couple Of The Year: Leena Miller (Sianoa Smit-McPhee) and Maddie Killian (Caitlin Stasey) – All Cheerleaders Die
“I Wish These Guys Had Made It Which Probably Makes Me A Ghoul Considering This Actually Happened And It Was Quite Fucked Up To Be Honest” Couple of the Year: Liberace (Michael Douglas) and Scott Thorson – Behind The Candelabra
“I Am Actively Praying For This Relationship To End And Never Begin Again” Couple of the Year: Sutter (Miles Teller) and Aimee (Shailene Woodley) – The Spectacular Now
Most Offputting and Biologically Incompatible Couple Of The Year Because It Doesn’t Matter How Much You Rewrite The Rules Of Zombiedom You Are Still Basically Asking Us To Celebrate That The Heroine Falls In Love With A WALKING CORPSE WHO ATE HER BOYFRIEND’S BRAIN AND THEN ABSORBED HIS MEMORIES BEFORE ABDUCTING HER JESUS CHRIST ARE YOU INSANE?: R (Nicholas Hoult) and Julie (Teresa Palmer) – Warm Bodies
“Even Taking Into Account The Odd Personalities And Circumstances Involved Here, There Is No Way In A BILLION LIFETIMES OF THE UNIVERSE That This Even Slightly Feels Like Real Love” Couple of the Year: Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) and Frank (Caleb Landry Jones) – Byzantium
Most Perfunctory Couple of the Year, What With Them Probably Existing Only As Playthings Of A Cruel and Unfeeling God: The Counsellor (Michael Fassbender) and Laura (Penelope Cruz) –The Counsellor (Note that this is the scene in which The Counsellor gives his great love a diamond ring, and as Bruno Ganz says in an earlier scene, “To partake of the stone’s endless destiny, is that not the meaning of adornment? To enhance the beauty of the beloved is to acknowledge both her frailty and the nobility of that frailty. At our noblest, we announce to the darkness that we will not be diminished by the brevity of our lives.” That’s an actual quote. And that is why The Counsellor is awesome.)
Most Formidable And Unusually Solid Married Couple Of The Year, Considering Married Couples Are Almost Exclusively Portrayed In Films As Being On The Brink Of Divorce And/Or Adultery About 99.9999% Of The Time, And Are Very Rarely Given As Cool A Job As “Demon-Hunting Badasses With A Nice Line In 70’s Fashion”: Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) – The Conjuring
Best Platonic Couple of the Year: Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) – Pacific Rim
“Ehh, Whatever” Couple of the Year: Clark Kent / Kal-El / Superman (Henry Cavill) and Lois Lane (Amy Adams) – Man of Steel
Best Love Triangle of the Year: Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (OMG look at them they’re adorbs)
Worst Love Triangle of the Year, If Indeed It Is A Love Triangle, I Wasn’t Really Sure What Was Going On For The Most Part What With The Rules Of This Particular Fantasy World Requiring A Flowchart The Size Of The Chrysler Building To Keep Up With But I Got The Feeling That At Least For This Film There Was Meant To Be A Tension Between The Three of Them, Though A Quick Look At The Fifteen Thousand Wikipedia Pages Devoted To This Series Shows That It Resolves Itself Pretty Quickly THANK GOD NOW I CAN RELAX And Not Get Into Any #TeamJacob-style Nonsense Over A Franchise That Quite Frankly Makes No Sense Whatsoever, At Least As Depicted In This Garbled, Ponderous Movie: Clary (Lily Collins), Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower) and Simon (Robert Sheehan) – The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Most Existentially Tortured Love Triangle of the Year: Neil (Ben Affleck), Marina (Olga Kurylenko) and Jane (Rachel McAdams) – To The Wonder (Ben’s hiding behind the fence, being all stoic and closed off because of God or something)
Best Love Rectangle of the Year: Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), Richie Di Maso (Bradley Cooper), Rosalyn Rosenfeld (Jennifer Lawrence) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) – American Hustle (though to be fair, with the addition of Jack Huston’s Pete Musane the whole thing becomes a hellish and even more fractious pentagon)
Worst Love Rectangle of the Year: Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan), Jared Howe (Max Irons), Ian O’Shea (Jake Abel) and Wanda (Saoirse Ronan) – The Host
Worst Love Fucktangle of the Millennium, Having Been Written By A Child-Man, Probably In Crayon, All The While Crying At The Thought of Women Directing Films And Not Knowing Their Place, That Colossal Fucking Asshole: All of the thinly sketched clowns humping each other like rats in a coke frenzy in Bret Easton Ellis’ almost unwatchably amateurish The Canyons
Best Scene: India Stoker has a shower and thinks back on a traumatic night in Stoker
The last ten emotionally devastating minutes of Captain Phillips
Jonathan Kent teaches his adopted son Clark a terrible lesson about sacrifice in Man of Steel
Solomon Northup and a song, in 12 Years a Slave
An intercom buzzes in The Strange Colour Of Your Body’s Tears
“Our Man” and a letter in All Is Lost
Honorable Honorable Mention Now That I’ve Finally Seen The Wolf Of Wall Street: Lemmon Quaaludes – The Wolf Of Wall Street
Best Action Scene: The incredible Buster Keaton homage that is the finale of The Lone Ranger
Dom and his crew battle their evil alter-egos on a plane travelling down the world’s longest runway in Fast and Furious 6
Hong Kong, Pacific Rim
Smallville to Metropolis to the Indian Ocean and back again, in the exhausting finale of Man of Steel
Our heroes escape Mirkwood via barrel with the help of Tauriel and Legolas in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Tom Cruise pilots a rad ship through a canyon with numerous drones in tow in Oblivion
Best Scene in a Bad Movie: The diner robbery in Spring Breakers
Most Erotic Scene: The piano scene – Stoker (yes, I know it’s all implied and weird, but hot damn nonetheless)
Least Erotic Scene: Cameron Diaz has sex with a car while Javier Bardem watches in horror – The Counsellor (yes, this really happens. And this is also why The Counsellor is awesome)
Best Opening Scene: The Place Beyond The Pines
Honorable Mention: Man of Steel
Best Opening Credits: Oz, The Great And Powerful
Best Opening Scene Of An Otherwise Undistinguished Movie: Welcome To The Punch
Best Opening Scene Of A Terrible Movie: Prisoners
Most Satisfying Finale: Frances Ha
Iron Man 3
All Is Lost
The World’s End
Most Satisfying Finale in a Movie I Otherwise Wasn’t All That Crazy About: The Congress
Most Satisfying Finale in an Actively Dreadful Movie: 47 Ronin
Best Set-Up For A Sequel: Fast and Furious 6
Best Closing Shot: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Honorable Mention: All Is Lost
Best Closing Credits: Iron Man 3
Honorable Mention: The Grand Beauty
Ending I Really Would Like To Talk To Someone About But No One Has Seen It And I Don’t Want To Give Anything Away About It, Whether It’s Good Or Bad Or Effective Or Surprising Or Ridiculous Or Anything, I Just Can’t Say, You Just Have To See It, Okay, And Then Let Me Know So We Can Ponder It At Length – Scenic Route
Ending That Gets Better The More I Think About It: Europa Report
Most Fucked-Up Scene That I Wish I Could Stop Thinking About: “Bolito” – The Counsellor (Awesoooooooooooome!)
Best Running Joke: The ice-fishing story – American Hustle (Warning: This clip acts as a big spoiler, in a way)
Worst Running Joke: The “disguises” worn by Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds – R.I.P.D.
Worst Opening Scene: Jobs
Least Satisfying Finale: Upside Down
Star Trek Into Darkness
The Zero Theorem
A Good Day To Die Hard
Most Evil Finale: Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counsellor
Dishonorable Mention: 21 And Over
Most Frustrating Finale In An Otherwise Excellent Movie: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Dishonorable Mention: Riddick
Worst Set-Up For A Sequel: Machete Kills
Longest And Most Wearing Final Act: The Croods
Honorary “The Killer Inside Me” Award for Most WTF Macabre Shit-Storm Ending of the Year: Drug War
Best Trailer: Upstream Color
Worst Trailer: Fast and Furious 6 Superbowl Spot (It’s actually a perfectly fine and exciting trailer, but as the summer approached and the rest of its trailers arrived, I realised that this one had blown its wad by showing the bit with the plane, while the subsequent ones hid that awesomeness. Oh how I wish I’d seen the full movie for the first time without seeing that moment, though there’s a chance that that level of unexpected awesomeness coming after all of the previous moments of awesomeness might have sent me to an early grave.)
Stupidest Joke Trailer That Nevertheless Made Me Laugh A Whole Bunch: Iron Man 3 Extended Look Superbowl Teaser:
Best Poster: The Wolverine
Honorable Mention: World War Z
Worst Poster: The Wolverine
Dishonorable Mention: Trance
Best Single Variant: Gravity
Most Misleading Character Variant: 47 Ronin (this guy is in the film for all of 40 seconds)
Best Series of Variants: Nymphomaniac
Best Variant Featuring A Rad Mech: Pacific Rim (Gipsy Danger variant)
Series Of Variants Most Likely To Make F. Scott Fitzgerald Pull Himself From His Grave And Ominously Intone “Srsly WTF SMDH Over This Ish”: The Great Gatsby (“I’ve always wanted a poster of the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg, old sport,” said Gatsby as he drained his martini glass with such silky ease it was as if he had become a handsome sheet of chromatography paper.)
Worst Anatomy: Jack The Giant Slayer
Dishonorable Mention: Thor: The Dark World
Most Fucked-Up Poster of the Year: A Madea Christmas
Most “Will This Do?” Poster Of The Year: The Host
Worst Photoshop: The Heat
Dishonorable Mention: Now You See Me
Most Unappealing Foreign Variant: Movie 43
Best Foreign Variant As Voted For By #TeamTauriel: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Most Unexpected Use Of Guyliner In A Poster: The Immigrant
Least Helpful Poster In Giving Any Idea Of What The Film Is About: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
“Oh God Please Fuck Off” Poster of the Year: A Good Day To Die Hard
Dishonorable Mention: Despicable Me 2
“I Don’t Know Why This Poster Works, But It Works So Well” Poster of the Year: Her
Most Elegant Expression of a Film’s Message Via Poster: Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Most Elegant Expression Of A Movie’s Tiring Manic Tone Via Poster: The Croods
Best Retro Poster: Computer Chess
Honorable Mention: The Heat
Most Instagram-Filtery Poster of the Year: Side Effects
Epic Flopsweat Of Desperation Poster of the Year: Girl Most Likely
“Who Directed This And Who Does Greta Gerwig Play?” TMI Poster Of The Year: Frances Ha
Worst Font On A Poster: The Bling Ring
Most Unexpected Poster Quote of the Year: Interior. Leather Bar.
Least Accurate Bold Statement On A Poster: Evil Dead
Most Amazing Poster Of All Time: Pacific Rim (I can’t put it on the blog; you have to see it to believe it)
Best Publicity Campaign: Iron Man 3
Firstly because even with the tailwind of The Avengers I don’t think anyone expected Iron Man 3 to make $1.2bn internationally, so some of that has to be down to the publicity campaign. Disney’s PR department organised a number of good trailers and TV appearances around the world with the cast, not to mention smartly courting China’s audience, which accounted for 10% of its gross. But yeah, all of that is fine but what was so great about that campaign is that they kept the year’s coolest secret hidden by not even mentioning that there was a secret in the film, making the eventual reveal even more effective. Compare the joy of that scene to the moment where Benedict Cumberbatch reveals his name in Star Trek Into Darkness with the most ridiculous line reading of the year. Just awful.
But Marvel did it right. They pimped out their film really smartly, they made a ton of money (and a good film to boot, which is more important), and that campaign actually added value to the project. A lot of comic fans were up in arms about the whole thing but seriously, who gives a shit about these clowns anymore. I’ve identified as a hardcore nerd for years now but I’m so ashamed at these entitled idiots and their abusive behaviour and insular nature that I’ve walked away and will never look back. If the choice is between Iron Man 3 and behaving like Smeagol over every single aspect of the things I love, there’s no choice at all, really, especially when they’re up in arms over Shane Black and Drew Pearce trying to make a statement about the real world by cleverly using one of the most racist characters ever to appear in a comic in order to make a point about that very racism, like some kind of delightfully playful intellectual judo. You really want to campaign to see that grotesque Fu Manchu horseshit on a screen? Feel free to die on that hill, motherfuckers.
Worst Publicity Campaign: The Lone Ranger
As with John Carter last year, which was promoted with hideous fonts and baffling imagery that gave no sense of what the movie was about, Disney’s The Lone Ranger was given a half-hearted push with trailers that were no fun and posters that were perfunctory. You hear tell of the publicity campaign being incredibly expensive, leading to an enormous write-down, but this was a movie that got nothing like the push that other movies released this summer received. Perhaps in the US there were TV spots literally every ad break but outside the US we got nothing; over here in the UK I was always shocked whenever I saw a poster in a cinema, reminding me that the film actually existed. Admittedly there was a torrent of bad word to overcome, which arguably doomed it before it came out if Johnny Depp is to be believed, but there was no sense that Disney were even bothered about fighting back. Considering this was a $250m movie, its promotion left it feeling like it was intended to go straight-to-video but got bumped up to the big screen a la Toy Story 2. I mean, look at this thing. Did they really think this would work?
A million conspiracy theories come to mind but Shades of Caruso is a rational blog so let’s leave the madness aside for now, but even if you don’t want to draw a connection between the baffling choices made to promote John Carter and The Lone Ranger, you do have to look at how Paramount fought back against the terrible rumours surrounding World War Z and practically willed it into becoming a hit against all odds. Admittedly The Lone Ranger is a tough sell; it’s kinda nasty and ornery and filled with anti-capitalist sentiment and has a message that the audience has blood on its hands (or should I say cheeks) regarding the genocide of the Native American population, but hell, you could just LIE about that shit. World War Z had ten minutes of zombie action in it, all told, and the trailer showed about 35% of that. It was a genius move; it’s only once you’re watching the film and you know it’s mostly going to be Brad Pitt trying to talk to Mireille Enos on the phone for two hours that you realise you were sold a lemon. Too late! You paid your money. Disney couldn’t even be bothered to do that. The failure is on their hands; whether they actually care about that in a year that their other movies made mad bank (see above) is a question for another time.
Best Publicity Coup of the Year: The Mere Existence Of Jennifer Lawrence
Most Clever and Yet Also Most Bone-Headed Publicity Campaign of the Year: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
There’s been some coverage of the clever and unique publicity campaign for the latest Hunger Games movie (try this and this for starters), which matched startling and futuristic posters with some peculiar corporate match-ups including Cover Girl and Subway. This article expresses it better than I can, though I think I could be allowed to say my own little thing about it; OH MY FUCKING GOD ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THIS? HOW CAN YOU USE SHITTY SANDWICHES TO PROMOTE A MOVIE ABOUT POOR PEOPLE BEING INTENTIONALLY STARVED BY A FECKLESS ELITE IN ORDER TO KEEP THEM DOCILE? The posters are amazing, the trailers were superb, but as soon as advertising money steps in to help out everything just turns to sewage. Watching the film after seeing this was to be perpetually braced for the sudden appearance of Primrose Everdeen nibbling on one of those hideous M&M cookies and talking about how she likes Copper Bliss Queen Collection lipgloss.
Biggest Publicity Gaffe Of The Year (Or Is It?): The Canyons
Paul Schrader allowed the New York Times to run a piece on the shooting of his wretched collaboration with Bret Easton Ellis, and the result was a riveting but uncomfortable glimpse into the desperate world of low-budget independent filmmaking, except with a bona-fide cinema legend stuck in the middle of it (no, not La Lohan). Before it had been released The Canyons was labelled a farrago in the making, and, well, it really isn’t worth defending. Did the producers and Schrader make the worst mistake imaginable by letting a journalist onto their set? Considering it made only one fifth of its shooting budget on theatrical release you could say yes, but if IFC Films are to be believed, it did well on iTunes. Why? Because while Schrader and BEE thought they were making a thrilling peek into the dark heart of Hollywood, they were actually making Sharknado with Lindsay Lohan instead of Tara Reid. Of course people were going to want to watch it, preferably in a group and with a cooler full of beer nearby. And god help us all, this is a movie that demands to be seen and ridiculed. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Worst Product Placement: Disney itself – Saving Mr Banks
Most Product Placement: Man of Steel (The sight of poor Diane Lane forced to wear a Sears uniform is possibly the grimmest moment in cinema, 2013)
Worst Title: Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
In this impossibly pretentious interview with writer/director David Lowery, we find out that the title has no meaning, but is merely there because “it’s right”.
There are all sorts of reasons why it’s right, but the simplest one is that it puts you in the right mindset for the type of experience this film provides. It puts the first wash on the canvas, so to speak. You buy a ticket for a movie with this title, and you sit down in the theater knowing that this is the title of the movie you are about to see, and then the movie begins and on a subconscious level you take that title with you as you watch it. It is the pitch by which the rest of the film finds its key.
In which case it worked perfectly, because that title is obnoxiously precious, meaningless and irritating, just like the movie. Job done!
Best Hair: Emma – Blue Is The Warmest Colour
Worst Hair: Det. Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) – Prisoners
Dishonorable Mention: Ivan Block (Ben Affleck) – Runner Runner Runner Runner Runner Runner Runner
Best Facial Hair: Jeff Bridges – R.I.P.D
Worst Facial Hair: Christopher Mintz-Plasse – Kick-Ass 2
Honorable Mention: Lily Collins – The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones / The English Teacher / Stuck In Love
Best Wig (Actress): Naomi Watts – Diana (I gather that people think this wig is risible but it’s the touch that makes Naomi Watts look enough like the late Princess that she can summon all of the energy she could have wasted on emulating the Queen of Hearts in a vain attempt to make that hysterical dialogue seem less ridiculous than it actually is, even if only by about 6.3%)
Best Wig (Actor): Christian Bale – American Hustle
Worst Wig (Actress): Carey Mulligan – Inside Llewyn Davis
Worst Wig (Actor): Steve Carell – The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (I get that it’s meant to be kind of a joke but just like everything else in this film, that’s all it is; kind of a joke)
Wig I’m On The Fence About: Evangeline Lilly – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Best Hat(s): Denzel Washington – 2 Guns
Most Distractingly Large Hat: Jason Statham – Hummingbird
Oldest Sport: Nick Carraway – The Great Gatsby
Most Platitude-Heavy Speeches: Jobs
Dishonorable Mention: The Internship
Most Standing Ovations Following Platitude-Heavy Speeches: Jobs
Dishonorable Mention: The Internship
Most Tantrums: Sean Penn – Gangster Squad
Honorary Mention: Ashton Kutcher – Jobs
Most Convincing Limp: James McAvoy – Welcome To The Punch
Most Eccentric Gait: Ashton Kutcher – Jobs
Douchiest Elf: Thranduil (Lee Pace) – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Hottest Elf: Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Most Surplus-To-Requirement Elf: Legolas (Orlando Bloom) – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Best Impersonation of John Cusack: Richard Nixon – Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Best Answer To The Question “What Would John Cazale Look Like If He’d Been A Badass Chinese Martial Arts Expert?”: Tiger Chen – Man of Tai Chi
Best Impression of Iron Man With The Faceplate Removed: John Travolta – Killing Season
Most Unsettling Jowls: Liev Shreiber – The Butler
Most Mucus: Blue Is The Warmest Colour
Honorable Mention: Pacific Rim
Fewest Bras: American Hustle
Honorary Steven Seagal Award For Services To Excessive Head-Stabbings And/Or Shootings: Gerard Butler – Olympus Has Fallen
Best Soundtrack Choices of the Year: The Wolf of Wall Street (Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Devo, Bo Diddley, Foo Fighters, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Cannonball Adderley, Charles Mingus, Naughty By Nature, Malcolm McLaren’s Double Dutch; all perfectly chosen, all used at exactly the right moments. Sheer bliss)
Most Conservative Soundtrack Choices of the Year: Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (though of course that’s the joke)
Most Unexpected Choice on the Most Conservative Soundtrack of the Year: Philip Glass’ Opening Theme to Koyaanisqatsi – Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
Most Unexpected Soundtrack Choices in a Period Piece: American Hustle (There were a few expected selections, but if you’re making Duke Ellington a plot point in your film, it’s going to make me happy)
Best Soundtrack Choices in a Lousy Movie: Battle of the Year
Most Perfect And Powerful Use Of A Bon Iver Song At Exactly The Right Moment: The Place Beyond The Pines
Most Obscenely, Depressingly Beautiful Cast: Spring Breakers (Oh Franco…)
Honorable Mention: The Croods
Most Depressing Mise-en-scène: Byzantium (NSFW)
Honorary Mention: Pain & Gain
Best Narrator: Olga Kurylenko – To The Wonder
Worst Narrator: Jim Sturgess – Upside Down
Best Unreliable Narrator: Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
Honorary Manuela Velasco Award for Services to Scream-Queen Culture: Jane Levy – Evil Dead
Heaviest Reliance on The Golden Hour: Wrong
Honorable Mention: Spring Breakers (but oh what a look that film had, oh my oh my…)
Movie I Boycotted The Most Because Of Worthy Reasons: Ender’s Game
Emotion I Expect You To Be Feeling Right Now: Admiration
Emotion You’re Actually Experiencing: Ugh dude what-the-fuck-ever
Most Openly Racist Movie: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Who would be a dwarf in Middle-earth? Holy crap)
Dishonorable Mention: The Croods
Thing I Learned While Writing This Series Of LISTMANIA! Posts: How to spell “Exarchopoulos” without checking
Thing I Did Not Learn While Writing This Series Of LISTMANIA! Posts: How to spell “Saoirse” without checking
Most Logistically Impressive Movie: Man of Steel
All Is Lost
Fast and Furious 6
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Best Location Shooting: The Great Beauty (Rome, Tuscany)
Fast and Furious 6 (London, Gran Canaria, Glasgow, Liverpool, Hong Kong, Los Angeles)
Before Midnight (Messinia [Greece])
To The Wonder (Paris, Mont Saint-Michel, Oklahoma)
Under The Skin (Glasgow, Wishaw, Glencoe, Angus)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Bree, Esgaroth, Mirkwood, Erebor, Dol Guldur)
Most Pontificated-Upon Recurring Theme In Cinema 2013: Survival
Ah, the trend that launched a thousand blogposts! Thanks to the arrival of Gravity, All Is Lost and Captain Phillips, not to mention Riddick (at least its first half), Scenic Route (please please watch this film so I’m not alone), and literally millions of others that we have all conveniently forgotten about (inc. The Croods), there seemed, for a little while at least, to be a trend in cinema for stripped down tales of survival, prompting much pontificating about how this is a reaction to “dark and threatening times” or “uncertainty about the future” or blah blah blah, hey presto, fifty-five link-baity articles on the Guardian film site about Alfonso Cuaron. Writting am eazy.
You know, “uncertainty about the future” is pretty much the reason attributed to any kind of trend in cinema. Movies about superheroes? “Uncertainty about the future means everyone has regressed emotionally and wants to remember the comfort of their youth.” Remakes of shows or films from the 70s and 80s? See above. Films about slavery, as seen last year with Django Unchained, Lincoln, Cloud Atlas, Hunger Games, The Croods, &c.? “Uncertainty about the future means we’re worried about economic disparity and the trap that is modern capitalism”. Films about White Houses being attacked by terrorists? “Uncertainty about the future means we’re yearning to see helicopters crashing into buildings we recognise from the news”. And hey presto! More Guardian articles. It’s literally as easy as pooping. (Sorry if my not-currently-constipated privilege is showing.)
Of course there are other reasons for this mini-trend, most notably that All Is Lost, Riddick and Scenic Route were made for peanuts (relatively speaking), and in an era when mid-level movies are making zero money — leading to studios investing either in huge blowouts $250m gambles or $10m-or-lower safe bets to be targeted to audiences with laser accuracy — there will be more of these small-scale projects capitalising on the current studio strategy, and nothing says “economic storytelling opportunity” than a film about a small cast of characters fighting for their lives. It’s high-drama on a low budget and if it’s done right — as all of these movies were, to one extent or another — then you’ve saved yourself a lot of hassle for maximum impact.
Of course Captain Phillips and Gravity were not cheap to make, but again that simplicity and directness is appealing in the age of sprawling narrative. You won’t hear Shades of Caruso complaining about the expansion of The Hobbit from a book to a nine-hour epic — if it’s evidence of Peter Jackson’s profligacy it’s also further evidence of the richness and malleability of Tolkien’s original work, with literally millennia of backstory and mythical underpinning to draw upon, all of which makes The Hobbit trilogy feel almost as substantial as The Lord of the Rings. However as movies look to serialised TV drama and begin to utilise those methods to expand franchises (i.e. superhero universes, the increasingly complex Fast and Furious franchise), some filmmakers are reacting and trying to show how a reduction of scope can best reveal the magic of cinema, that intense hit of story-telling satisfaction lacking from these other projects. Films are short stories, TV shows are novels. Both are great in their own ways, and this year gave us some of the best examples of both. Of that I’m certain. #CircularReferenceLearnedAtJournalismSchool
Actual Most Important Recurring Theme in 2013: Crappy depictions of magic
I’m sorry, but Now You See Me (which was reasonably entertaining) and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (not even slightly entertaining) replaced wonder with lazy CGI-arrhea in an affront to anyone even vaguely interested in magic. Where were all of the thinkpieces wondering why Ricky Jay wasn’t at least called in to give advice? They called him in for The Prestige and that revolved around science-fictiony claims that Tesla invented teleportation. This is easily the biggest cinematic crime of 2013, even more so than the existence of Movie 43. And no one seemed to care. Hmmph.
Drinking Game Rules For 2013:
- Every time someone gets shot or stabbed in the head in Olympus Has Fallen: pour some petrol over a copy of White House Down.
- Every time Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson or Chris Brown appear onscreen in Machete Kills or Battle of the Year: pour some petrol over the Patriarchy.
- Every time Jake Gyllenhaal remembers his character is supposed to have a blinking tic in Prisoners: drink a bottle of Ol’ Crazy Bastard’s Night Night Juice and fall down a hole.
- Every time Ryan Reynolds sucks the energy out of any scene with Jeff “God” Bridges in R.I.P.D. thanks to his ever-growing anti-charisma and sour screen presence: enthusiastically eat a curry (only about fourteen people will get that reference).
- Every time you hear Ryan Gosling utter a line of dialogue in Only God Forgives: is he in a scene with Emma Stone or Josh Brolin? LoveFilm sent you Gangster Squad instead.
- Every time A Field In England disappears into a vagueness-hole rather than take the time to make sense or generate an emotion or tell a comprehensible story: eat a magic mushroom and wash it down with mead.
- Every time Wrong disappears into a vagueness-hole rather than take the time to make sense or generate an emotion or tell a comprehensible story: clutch a copy of McKee’s Story to your chest.
- Every time Upstream Color disappears into a vagueness-hole rather than take the time to make sense or generate an emotion or tell a comprehensible story: OMG IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!?!?!?!?!
- Every time a joke fails to land in Kick-Ass 2: drink a pureed copy of CLiNT then donate $10 to Planned Parenthood.
- Every time Michael Cera is brilliant in This Is The End: eat a celebratory mayonegg.
- Every time a movie star flushes their career away with an appearance in Movie 43: stare at the box office gross (It made almost five times its budget) and drink a gallon of rat poison because seriously, fuck this reality.
- Every time a skyscraper gets totaled in Man of Steel: write a thinkpiece about how vile and tactless Zack Snyder is.
- Every time a skyscraper gets totaled in Pacific Rim: write a thinkpiece about what a visionary genius Guillermo Del Toro is.
- Every time a skyscraper gets totaled in Before Midnight: write a thinkpiece about how confusing the layout of the Empire Leicester Square is.
- Every time you realise that you’re reading a blog that once got so pissy about the reaction to Man of Steel that the writer gushed a 10000-word thinkpiece at his tiny audience in an attempt to fanwank away every single concern about it and so isn’t really in a position to stand in judgement on anyone else writing about it: look! A cat that can drum! ::runs away::
- Every time James Franco manages to suppress his urge to grin through a take in Oz, The Great and Powerful: eat a poisoned apple and become really eerily smooth.
- Every time Dwayne Johnson is the best thing in any movie he is in by, like, a billion light-years because he is PURE STAR POWER: do five sets of wide grip pull ups, go straight to cable pull downs, kiss your biceps (a must) and then smell what he’s cooking (something smothered in awesomesauce, obviously)
- Every time Don Jon returns to his family dinner table for some life lessons from the caricatures that spawned him: eat a bowl of pasta Adele-Exarchopoulos-style (i.e. noisily and in uncomfortable close-up) then masturbate.
- Every time Jared Harris whips out some swords immediately before being replaced by a far-more-nimble body double for some demon-killing action in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones: drink from The Mortal Cup, one of the three Mortal Instruments given to the first Shadowhunter by the Angel Raziel, now sought after by the rebellious and evil Valentine, who seeks to use its power to defeat the Clave and turn Mundanes into half-Angel Nephilim who will then destroy all Downworlders, not to mention his eventual use of the cup to summon and control Agramon, the Greater Demon of Fear (spoilers for later books/films), all the while playing mind-games with Jace and Clary by making them think that they are siblings who are MAD HOT FOR EACH OTHER okay I admit it I’ll probably end up reading all of these books.
- Every time Sung Kang is cool as ice in something, such as the otherwise forgettable Bullet To The Head: Get a bit excited about Gang Related, which might be hot balls but goddamnit it’s got him, Terry O’Quinn and The RZA in it so I’m obliged to watch the damn thing.
- Every time someone talks about fear in After Earth: suck on a futuristic Jammy Dodger (as with R.I.P.D. only about ten people will get that reference. The things I do for you people).
- Every time Reese Witherspoon is poorly used in the otherwise solid Mud: drink a shot-glass full of rattlesnake venom all rahht all rahht all rahht.
- Every time Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters defies expectations and turns out to be passably entertaining despite feeling like an over-noted re-edited over-thought wild card gamble that nevertheless managed to gross over four times its budget: inject yourself with Ye Olde Insulin.
- Every time Jack The Giant Slayer fails to entertain on four times the budget of Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters despite having Old Dependables Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane and Bill Nighy in the cast: eat a loaf of bread made from the bones of an Englishman.
- Every time Tauriel does something awesome in The Hobbit: The Desol…: Okay we get that you have a crush on Evangeline Lilly, it’s getting creepy now.
Most On-Set Publicity Pictures of a Director: Baz Luhrmann – The Great Gatsby
As ever we have to discount pictures of actor/directors who are appearing in their own movies, so no Keanu, no Franco, no Joseph Gordon Levitt (which is a shame as there are a couple of crackers on IMDb), no Seth Rogen (or Evan Goldberg, I guess), no Jim Rash / Nate Faxon, and no Shane Carruth. The immediate urge after doing that is to check out notorious famewhore and noted public speaker Michael Bay, who has three brilliant examples of the fine art (with one weird replication) to add to his enormous collection (I especially like this one of him pointing with great authority, probably at a sex toy or some breasts). Three is good but then Park Chan-wook also has three on the Stoker set. As for directors with namebrand recognition on their side, Alfonso Cuaron has four as do Martin Scorsese, Danny Boyle and Bryan Singer, Peter Jackson gets three, JJ Abrams gets three (including this one which is pretty nice, I have to say), Lee Daniels gets two on the set of Lee Daniels’ The Butler Directed By Lee Daniels: A Lee Daniels Joint, Paul Greengrass gets one, Guillermo Del Toro gets one, Sir Ridley Scott gets one, Sam Raimi gets none.
It looked like Zack Snyder would take the crown, with seven pictures of him looking commanding on set (and yes, I’m counting the shot of him with Deborah Snyder and Charles Roven because it’s obvious he’s giving them info about what he’s about to shoot: “So basically Superman scythes through twenty-five skyscrapers in a row. Trust me, it’s going to look the tits”). This made sense as last year’s winner was Christopher Nolan on the set of The Dark Knight Rises, and WB are potentially making a habit of bigging up their directorial talent (look, the passing of the torch!). But no. There can only ever be one winner. I doubt that this record will ever be broken…
ELEVEN ON-SET PHOTOS OF BAZ LUHRMANN! Talk about someone being a brand now. There are only three on-set photos of Leonardo DiCaprio, for God’s sake. I’m amazed that Luhrmann didn’t have his face grafted into every frame of The Great Gatsby. Maybe he did! Maybe I should test this theory, though that would mean I would have to watch The Great Gatsby again and that’s not going to happen any time soon unless someone wants to pay me. Amazing. I am genuinely in awe of the man, but then considering how everything about that almost parodic movie is excessive, I shouldn’t have been surprised.
And that’s that, with one more little list to add to the already weird number of lists so far: a Letterboxd list of the 142 movies I saw last year that were released last year (okay, I cheated by adding The Wolf of Wall Street and Carrie, both of which I watched yesterday, i.e. the 19th of January 2014, but give me a break, man, that took me forever). So if you still give a damn about anything I think, you can go crazy over there. Until next year, muddyfunsters!