Most Annoying Performance
ANGELINA JOLIE – Wanted
Best Ensemble Cast
Tropic Thunder – Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr.,
Nick Nolte, Steve Coogan and Tom Cruise.
WTF did I just see?
Most overrated movie
Best juvenile performance
Bee Vang, age 16; Gran Torino
Notes from awards committee:
To begin with, this is a strange year for the Academy awards; not one single Oscar winner or nominee overlapped with the HouseClark Simpson awards. Howls of protests from millions of movie fans derided the Academy choices. Two major blunders stood out the most: the snub for Best Picture of Christopher Nolan's popular, big-budget summer hit, and king of the 2008 box office, The Dark Knight; and #2 the snub of Clint Eastwood for his directing and dramatic role in his hit movie Gran Torino.
In Gran Torino, Eastwood plays a real man (Walter) without a hint of fake Hollywood tropes. Walter is - gruff, tough, aloof, half-broken by the loss of his wife, disappointed and distant with his kids and grandkids, and a bit haunted by the dark memory of war. All the negative reviews of Gran Torino played the “Racist Card” in a sort of knee-jerk reaction to Walt’s non PC language. They are wrong; Walt doesn’t much like anyone, and, if you insist on labels for people, Walt more correctly is a misanthropist – an unlikeable trait in a main character that the movies usually avoid. In fact, Walt prides himself on it. Eastwood takes a big risk here, but it leads to glorious redemption and the best movie finale in the last several years. It is an honor to award the Best Actor Simpson to Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino.
To begin with, you do NOT need to be a comic book superhero fan to enjoy The Dark Knight. From start to finish the film has you on the edge of your seat, enjoying every minute. The acting is first class; Bale is the gold standard Batman, Ledger, as the Joker, is the nightmare villain, twisted, evil, unapologetic, irrational, completely void of a moral compass. The visuals are outstanding. Dark gloomy Gotham City, in a steep cultural decline, is the perfect setting for a dramatic clash between good and evil. Soundtrack puts viewers in the mood and anticipating the next intense scene. It was the best film of the year and not even nominated. We are pleased to correct that mistake and present the HouseClark Best Motion Picture award to The Dark Knight.
Best Actress Simpson winner is Karen Allen. Once again she teams up with her old flame, Indiana Jones, for some seat-of-the-pants adventure. She reprises her role as Marion Ravenwood and picks up right where she left off. At the very least, the award is a worthy valentine to Karen Allen, an actress full of spunk and sparkle, in spades. Harrison Ford and Karen Allen make the best film couple of the year.
Fun Surprises -
Tropic Thunder – Best comedy of the year and as a bonus, an all-star cast of top comedians. It’s a Rumble in the Jungle with a gang of clueless idiots in full camo.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - this is a Lucas Films/Steven Spielberg summer blockbuster and #3 at Box Office. Major big screen visual impact as you would expect - Mutt playing Tarzan swinging on the vines with a bunch of monkeys is very silly, but the frantic car chase through the jungle, complete with sword fights, wildass fisticuffs, giant ants, the sensational boat ride over the triple waterfalls, etc. – the amazing stunts are what you expect from an Indiana Jones movie. And Cate Blanchett is a cool villainess with plenty of Cold War vibes. The Russians are the bad guys – truckloads of them armed with machine guns, but in classic Lucas Films style, the commies could not hit a barn door (suffer from the Stormtrooper syndrome, as it is known). Harrison, age 66, goes full Rambo/Rocky against a big Russian 30 years younger, but You Guessed it! Indy pounds the crap out of him.
Valkyrie – A WW2 story told from the German perspective with American and British actors, directors and writers; even Hitler is played by a UK actor. For once, the story is NOT about Nazis running around killing Jews, but instead we have German officers running around trying to kill Hitler. Why didn’t the Germans come up with this movie idea first? Based on a true story with plenty of suspense and tragedy that typified the 1940s.
Slumdog Millionaire – The storyline is a "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, and so forth" fairy tale and I don't mean that in a good way. The follow-the-dots plot leads to an ending that we all can easily guess. And when the couple finally get together, where are the sparks, you know, the screen chemistry? There is barely enough chemistry to fill a shot glass. The film ends on a hollow, flat note. Queue the Bollywood dancers. Slumdog is an OK watchable movie. Best Picture of the year? You have got to be kidding.
In Bruges – Do not believe the hype that this is a ha-ha comedy about two hit men sightseeing in Belgium; it’s not funny. I never laughed once. In fact the constant vulgarity and bloody mayhem at the ending was shockingly bad and overwhelmed the intended dark humor. The best part of the movie is the charming, well preserved, medieval city of Bruges.