Finishing this in February feels so wrong it’s almost right. By now I’ve actually seen movies released in 2012 and I’m still posting about last year (the movies from this year being The Muppets, which the UK got obscenely late, and Chronicle, which is fantastic stuff and well worth a watch). The Oscar nominations have also been announced, with the deeply-average The Descendants and the deeply-awful War Horse getting a few nods while Fassbender, Swinton and Brooks are snubbed. Disgusting. If ever proof was needed that the Academy doesn’t know what the hell it’s doing.
Anyway, I’m sure I’ll have a whine about that before the award ceremony, so without any further ado, let’s end Listmania! with a bang. The only other posts that have taken me this long were my Lost finale posts, which took three months to write. This only took a month and a half, so I’m getting better at this. If you’re a fan of pointless miscellania, you’ve come to the right place.
Best Scene: Rango walks through the desert during a crisis of confidence (Rango)
Tom Cruise climbs up the side of the Burj Khalifa (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol)
Matthew Broderick attempts to teach a class of precocious kids about King Lear and it doesn’t go well (Margaret)
Michael Shannon and his family attend a meal with their fellow townsfolk and it doesn’t go well (Take Shelter)
Jung tries to tell his new buddy Freud about synchronicity and it doesn’t go well (A Dangerous Method)
Kristin Wiig gets drunk on a plane and it doesn’t go well (Bridesmaids)
Best Action Scene: Tintin and Captain Haddock chase a hawk through the streets of Bagghar (The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn)
The final physics-mangling car chase in Rio De Janeiro, including some serious hardcore badassery from The Rock and Vin Diesel (Fast Five)
The longest and most explosives-packed train in the history of the world crashes for a long time (Super 8)
The Revolutionary Army of Apedom makes a break for freedom through San Francisco (Rise of the Planet of the Apes)
Alex Pettyfer, Teresa Palmer and a big alien dog wreck a high school using telekinesis and big lasers (I Am Number Four)
Guy Ritchie goes crazy with ramping and cameras attached to people running and all sorts of tricks in a forest (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows)
Best Hero: Caesar – Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Captain America – Captain America: The First Avenger
Thor – Thor
Moses – Attack The Block
The Driver – Drive
Rango – Rango
Best Villain: Loki – Thor
Bernie Rose - Drive
Society’s indifferent or vexed reaction to those unfortunate enough to be afflicted with mental illness – Melancholia
The oppressive horror of modern life – Take Shelter
Rattlesnake Jake – Rango
Chris Cleek – The Woman
Best Couple: David Norris and Elise Sellas (Matt Damon and Emily Blunt) – The Adjustment Bureau
Worst Couple: Emma and Adam (Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher) – No Strings Attached
Most Doomed Couple(s) of the Year: Justine and Michael and Claire and John (Kirsten Dunst, Alexander Sarsgaard, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Keifer Sutherland) - Melancholia
“I Hope These Guys Make It” Couple Of The Year: Russell and Glen (Tom Cullen and Chris New) – Weekend
“Please Bite Them And Get It Over With, Evil Colin Farrell” Couple of the Year: Charley Brewster and Amy Peterson (Anton Yelchin and Imogen Poots) – Fright Night
“Okay, I Really Don’t Think He Should Be Attracting These Improbably Hot High School Hotties In These Movies, What With Looking Like A Surly Child Half The Time” Couple of the Year: Porter and Norah (Anton Yelchin and Jennifer Lawrence) – The Beaver
Greatest Disparity In Energy Levels Between Partners of the Year: Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris (Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively) – Green Lantern
Most Improbable Couple of the Year: Ernesto Botta and Laura Aliprandi (Toni Servillo and Sarah Felberbaum) – The Jewel
“Only In The Movies” Adorable and Romantic Couple of the Year: George Valentin and Peppy Miller (Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo) - The Artist
“Only In The Movies” Twee Asshole Couple of the Year: Enoch and Annabel (Henry Hopper and Mia Wasikowska) – Restless
“Rather Raunchy For A PG-13 Movie, Eh What?” Couple of the Year: Ren McCormack and Ariel Moore (Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough) – Footloose
Most Adorable Fuckbuddies of the Year: Dylan Harper and Jamie Rellis (Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis) – Friends With Benefits
Most Inappropriate Couple of the Year: Robert Ledgard and Vera Cruz (Antonio Banderas and Elena Anaya) – The Skin I Live In
Worst Love Triangle of the Year: Bella Swan, Edward Cullen and Jacob Black (Kristin Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner) – The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part One for the third year running
Best Love Triangle of the Year: Brian O’Conner, Dominic Toretto and Luke Hobbs (Paul Walker, Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson) – Fast Five
Most Satisfying Finale: The Artist
Attack The Block
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Best Finale in a Bad Movie: You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger
Least Satisfying Finale: Green Lantern
The Adjustment Bureau
I Don’t Know How She Does It
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Worst Finale in a Good Movie: Source Code
Badass of the Year: Lisbeth Salander – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Best Double Act: Tucker and Dale (Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine) - Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
Worst Hero: D’Artagnan – The Three Musketeers
Hal Jordan - Green Lantern
Mater – Cars 2
Theseus – Immortals
Joey the Super-Special Horsey – War Horse
Dagny Taggart – Atlas Shrugged: Part I
Worst Villain: Karl Hendricks – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
The concept of generosity – Atlas Shrugged Part I
Hector Hammond – Green Lantern
The Red Skull – Captain America: The First Avenger
That sinful sexuality in any form it’s SO SINFUL – The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part One
Blackbeard – Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Most Likeable Cast: Thor
Least Likeable Cast: Blubberella
Most Annoying Character of the Year: Sid – The Descendants
Moberg - The Rum Diary
Kate Reddy – I Don’t Know How She Does It
Dexter – One Day
Sean Cassidy (aka Banshee) – X-Men: First Class
Homer Yannos – Tomorrow, When The War Began
Best Live Action Animal: Uggie The Dog – The Artist
Best Animated Animal: Snowy – The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn
Best Trailer: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Honorable Mention: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Best Poster: The Tree of Life
Worst Poster: Hall Pass
Limited Edition Poster I Wish Had Been Used: This superb retro Captain America: The First Avenger poster by Paolo Rivera
Most Profound Poster: Shame
No photo of it will do it justice, but the poster for Shame that we saw outside the London Film Festival screening had a reflective surface, but with the word “Shame” printed at the bottom. Because the movie speaks for all of us who have shame, do you see? Something to think about.
Most Misleading and Tonally Inaccurate Poster: We Need To Talk About Kevin
Nicest Photography In A Headshot Poster: Martha Marcy May Marlene
Most Defiantly Wrongly-Angled-By-90° Poster of the Year: Super 8
Most Fucked-Up / Desperately Controversial Poster of All Time: The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)
Most Out-Of-Control Trend In Posters: Character variants (::deep breath:: The Adjustment Bureau; Arthur Christmas; Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked; Bridesmaids; Cars 2; Conan the Barbarian; Contagion; Cowboys and Aliens; Crazy, Stupid, Love; Drive; Footloose; Friends With Benefits, Fright Night, Gnomeo and Juliet; The Green Hornet; Green Lantern; Hall Pass, The Hangover Part Two; Happy Feet Two; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two: Hop; Horrible Bosses; Hugo; Immortals; In Time; Johnny English Reborn; Killer Elite; Kill The Irishman; Mars Needs Moms; Margin Call; Martha Marcy May Marlene; Melancholia [!!!!!]; Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol; The Muppets; Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides; Priest; Puss in Boots; Real Steel; Red State; Rio; Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows; The Smurfs; Snow Flower and the Secret Fan; Spy Kids 4: All The Time In The World; Straw Dogs; Sucker Punch; Super; 30 Minutes or Less; Thor; The Three Musketeers; Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; Tower Heist; Transformers: Dark of the Moon; A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas; Warrior; Water For Elephants; Winnie The Pooh; X-Men: First Class; Your Highness; The Zookeeper)
How many of these posters ever make it into cinemas? How many of them convince people to go and see these movies? Do casual cinemagoers see any of these and think, “Well, I wasn’t going to see Green Lantern but now that I know Tomar-Re is in it I’m IN”? Will people really be excited at the array of not-really-that-well-known actresses in the cast of Bridesmaids before they see how funny they all are (scroll down for the full selection)? Do we really need 31 posters for The Three Musketeers? Do we need more than one poster for Melancholia? It’s not harming anyone, obviously, but it still seems like a waste of resources. If anyone can explain why we need so many variants, please let me know.
Best Publicity Campaign: Paranormal Activity 3
Usually SoC likes to praise a publicity campaign that successfully promotes a tough sell, but this year I have to give huge props to the makers of Paranormal Activity 3 for doing something that should’ve been done a long time ago. However, to do that I have to spoil, so please consider all of the text between these two scary-as-fuck trailers a huge spoiler for PA3‘s best trick.
I won’t lie. That first trailer for this franchise scared the absolute shit out of me when I first saw it, and it deserves some credit for making even this cynic forget about the overwhelming familiarity of the Paranormal Activity template and vow to see the third one as soon as it came out. In that sense, job done. However, what’s really great is that that scene doesn’t happen in the movie, and neither do almost all of the biggest shock moments in the trailer below.
Seeing that at home and getting annoyed at all of the spoilers is one thing; I switched it off halfway through as I was horrified at the amount of spoilage. But if you’re in a cinema and can’t escape, you’re going to absorb all of that information, and more than likely you’re still going to see it (because these movies make money hand-over-fist without even breaking a sweat). And yet all of that stuff you’re expecting won’t happen. Instead you’ll get a bunch of other scary stuff. And even better? You still got scared by those trailers, as if you’re watching a very very short horror movie for free. I’ve waited for a long time to see this done so well. The movie was okay too. That’s a bingo, I reckon.
Worst Publicity Campaign: X-Men: First Class / Green Lantern
Nerds are hard to please; I know because I am one. Thor and Captain America did a mostly good job of introducing two less well-known characters, with the non-mainstream Thor making $450m worldwide and the super-patriotic Cap overcoming some of the anti-American prejudice that could’ve prevented it making any money at all ($370m’s okay. Green Lantern wishes it made that much). If they’re an example of how to do it right, the other two big superhero releases of the year show how to do it wrong, thus squandering all of the nerd energy they needed to stay alive.
Each campaign commits a different crime that has the same result; underwhelming box office. X-Men: First Class‘ promotional crime was to destroy a lot of good will towards a franchise that desperately needed it, even more than the previous X-Men movie did. Wolverine should have killed X-Men dead but Fox wasn’t going to let the franchise go to waste when it could release yet another movie and maybe resurrect it for another few sequels. A lot of good decisions were made regarding casting and crew choices, but all of that was hobbled by some terrible promotional errors.
One was to have the only convention appearance take place at the inaugural London Comic-Con, with an appearance by co-writers Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz. Other than that, the production and release schedule meant they unfortunately missed out on those opportunities, and had to rely on trailers and posters. While all of the trailers are good enough, if a little calm, the first leaked picture of the cast was a disaster. Even worse were the posters: the ones above were two separate teasers, with little heads gestating inside shadowmen; the one below is an advert for X-Men-themed bobbleheads. I can’t understand why someone would sign off on it.
Only one of the posters was any good, but if you look at the bottom of the page you’ll see even more awful examples, including some shocking Japanese ones. XM:FC was considered enough of a success to warrant a sequel (it made less than Cap and cost a bit more, but it’s not a dramatic difference), but that success was only because of the (bafflingly) good reviews and the fact that it had the weekend to itself. Though it’s not a representative sample, there were a number of X-Men fans of my acquaintance who were burned out on the franchise after Wolverine and even the raves for this couldn’t persuade them. Who knows what that opening weekend would have looked like if Fox had done a better job of getting my nerd brethren off their sofas?
Warner Bros., on the other hand, couldn’t do anything to get anyone into the cinema to see Green Lantern. I only went because I try to see as many films as possible, and we’re talking about my favourite superhero of all time here. To be fair to the folks responsible for promoting GL, they were dealing with a (relatively) obscure character with a mythology that’s hard to explain in posters and short trailers, plus it was saddled with a cast and team of writers that didn’t excite the fans either, so they were trying to ice-skate uphill from the start. The posters were okay, I guess. They were nice and colourful enough, though that fucking stupid mask really doesn’t help.
The mainstream audience doesn’t love Ryan Reynolds or Blake Lively enough to take a risk on a movie that looks like the adventures of a rubber-bodied space man versus a creature made of sentient dreadlocks, but readers of the comic weren’t likely to show up either. Most of the initial reports on the movie made it seem like the filmmakers were trying to be loyal to the comics while getting the tone entirely wrong. There was also barely any sight of Oa or the Corps early on (most likely because the FX weren’t finished), so the fans felt even more nonplussed. When footage was released at Wondercon the fans justifiably went nuts. Sadly, that was almost all of Oa / Corps footage that appeared in the finished movie. WB shot their wad in desperation. The movie opened to at best, indifference; at worst, derision. Was that the fault of the promotional campaign? Well, it certainly didn’t help.
Best Hair: The assorted period-appropriate ‘dos in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Worst Hair: Daniel Craig – The latter half of Dream House
Most Appropriate Hair For A Cancer Patient: Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s unnerving shaved head – 50/50
Least Appropriate Hair For A Cancer Patient: Mia Wazikowska’s tasteful pixie-cut – Restless
Best Facial Hair: Dominic Purcell - Killer Elite
Worst Facial Hair: Clive Owen - Killer Elite
Scariest Hair/Make-Up Combo: Tom Hanks - Larry Crowne
Best Wig (Actor): Nicolas Cage – Season of the Witch (possibly borrowed from the set of last year’s winner The Sorceror’s Apprentice)
Best Wig (Actress): Emily Browning – Sucker Punch
Worst Wig (Actor): Logan Lerman - The Three Musketeers (actually they were glued-in extensions but you get my point)
Worst Wig (Actress): Cate Blanchett – Hanna
Wig I’m On The Fence About: Justin Theroux – Your Highness
Best Hats: The Adjustment Bureau
Honorable Mention: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Best Dressed Chap in Sweden: Daniel Craig – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Worst Casting: Sensible Reese Witherspoon as a PG-13-raunchy and unpredictable acrobat in Water For Elephants
Most Scatological Movie of the Year: Spy Kids 4D: All The Time In The World
I’m kinda glad I didn’t see this at the cinema with the Smell-O-Vision scratch card; if the middle section of this movie is anything to go by, I’d just be sniffing a piece of cardboard soaked in Essence of Fart. But I’ll be honest; the cavalcade of poop, barf and fart jokes made me laugh more often than most adult comedies released this year. Shame about that incoherent final act, though.
Most Weather: Wuthering Heights
Best Recasting: The mostly awake and reasonably charming Rosie Huntington-Whiteley replacing orange-hued erotic rabbitbot Megan Fox on Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Messiest Eater: Mickey Rourke - Immortals
Most Expressive Fist: Ryan Gosling - Drive
Biggest Build-Up For Least Payoff: The appearance of Kominsky – New Year’s Eve
Midway through Garry Marshall’s fractured compendium of schmaltz, Hilary Swank decides she needs to hire the legendary Kominsky to fix the broken new year ball in Times Square, and this causes a ripple of excitement to run through the extras clumsily assembled around the set. Kominsky, they whisper with amazement, she’s getting Kominsky. There is much fuss, palaver and hullabuloo about the imminent arrival of Kominsky. It’s infectious. This is, after all, a movie that features a dazzling array of cinema legends like Lea Michele and Josh Duhamel, while filling the smaller roles with yer DeNiros and Pfeiffers. So what legend will they get to play Kominsky? Pacino? Cruise? Hanks? No, silly! It’s Hector Elizondo! For fans of Garry Marshall I’m sure this was a big deal. For the rest of us? Even those of us who have nothing against Hector Elizondo? Not so much.
Most Admirable Commitment To Onscreen Skeeviness: Ben Foster (duplicitous assassin in The Mechanic, wheelchair-bound substance-abusing snitch in Rampart, convicted sex offender and possible murderer in 360)
Most Convincing Lust Object of the Year: Michael Fassbender – Shame (And also X-Men: First Class, A Dangerous Method and Jane Eyre)
Honorable Mention: Hayley Atwell – Captain America: The First Avenger
Least Convincing Lust Object of the Year: January Jones – X-Men: First Class
Dishonorable Mention: Ryan Reynolds - The Change-Up
Most Obscenely, Depressingly Beautiful Cast: Immortals
Ugliest Contact Lenses: The Rum Diary
Honorary Manuela Velasco Award for Services to Scream-Queen Culture: Florencia Colucci - The Silent House
Most Depressing Mise-en-Scène: Tyrannosaur
Honorable Mention: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Best Use Of Split Screen: The Green Hornet
Worst Use Of Split Screen: 360
Most Depressing Depiction of a Sexually Aggressive Woman: Jennifer Aniston – Horrible Bosses
Dishonorable Mention: Marisa Tomei – Crazy, Stupid, Love
Cheapest But Most Effective Device In A Horror Film: The swiveling camera in Paranormal Activity 3
It’s just a camera on the bottom half of an oscillating fan, but that simple trick, with the camera panning back and forth very slowly, amps up the tension more than any expensive CGI trick. Kudos to Henry Joost, Ariel Shulman and Christopher Landon for coming up with it.
Worst Product Placement: New Year’s Eve, because nothing says New Year’s celebrations like those joy-embodying products from Toshiba, Phillips and Nivea.
Worst Manners: Jason Statham – Blitz
Weirdest Impersonation of What Sounds A Bit Like Ray Winstone: Mel Gibson – The Beaver
Weirdest Impersonation Of What Sounds Like Jennifer Jason Leigh In The Hudsucker Proxy: Andrea Riseborough – W.E.
Most Logistically Impressive Movie: Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Honorable Mention: Battle: Los Angeles
Most Unusual Fighting Implement Wielded by Zoe Saldana In An Otherwise Forgettable Luc Besson/Robert Mark Kamen C-Movie Actioner: A toothbrush (Columbiana)
Best Location Shooting: The Descendants (Hawaii)
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Chicago and many other parts of America)
A Dangerous Method (Germany, Austria)
Wuthering Heights (Yorkshire)
Worst Cinematic Trend of 2011: Underwhelming third acts – Insidious, Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor, The Ides of March, Hugo, The Silent House, The Eagle, Dendera, Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil, Warrior, Paul, Cowboys and Aliens, The Adjustment Bureau, The Skin I Live In, Source Code, The Descendants, War Horse, Super 8, Drive, In Time, Trespass
Anne Billson wrote this great article on the problem of the bungled third act, and though I enjoyed a couple of her examples, there are a few there that cannot be argued with. Too many movies this year fell apart in the last 20-30 minutes, sometimes so badly that the rest of the movie was irreparably damaged. I’m not sure what the reason for this is, other than that too often films aren’t rewritten often enough before reaching the set, but whatever it is, three-quarters of each of the films above were reasonably-good-to-great, and that’s a very frustrating fraction.
Most Publicity Pictures of a Director: Paddy Considine – Tyrannosaur
Last year (scroll down to the bottom) I noticed the IMDb page for Biutiful‘s images featured a lot of shots of Iñárritu (aka The Director Formerly Known As Alejandro Gonzales Iñárritu), most of them featuring him pointing and looking very thoughtful on set. It struck me that he was going for the title of Most Pictures Of A Director Pointing And Looking Very Thoughtful on IMDb, a title currently held by Michael Bay. And yet this year there’s a new potential winner in the shape of Paddy Considine, with four pictures on IMDb, more than co-star Eddie Marsan (he gets one), and as many as Olivia Colman. Bear in mind, Considine’s not even in the movie.
Even more shocking, Bay only has three on-set photos from Transformers: Dark of the Moon on IMDb this year, the other 600 pictures being 67% shots of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley getting out of cars, and 33% images of smoking rubble. Considine even manages two more shots of himself than Bay got on his debut movie Bad Boys, though none of the shots of Considine are as moving as this ferociously erotic pic of Bay’s torso. So this race to the bottom of the ego continues, but with a new contender around, THIS SHIT OFFICIALLY JUST GOT REALER.
And with that, I’m finally done. Thanks to all who have contacted me about this epic series of posts, and to everyone who has made their way through this mass of opinion and bad jokes, I doff my cap, and say, until next time. ::theme tune plays me out:: ::collapses::