Most Annoying Performance
JOHNNY DEPP – Public Enemies
Best Comedy Team
Zombieland – Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, Bill Murray
Best Ensemble Cast
STAR TREK – Chris Pine, Zach Quinto, Simon Pegg, Leonard Nimoy, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin
WTF did I just see? (two way tie)
Solomon Kane and Moon
Most overrated movie
Best juvenile performance
Abigail Breslin, age 13; Zombieland
Notes from awards committee:
Hoping to defuse the loud chorus of angry criticism over the 2009 awards, the Academy finally paid attention to Box Office results and expanded the number of Best Picture nominations from five to ten. Seeing no reason whatever to mock the lame Academy change, HouseClark remained at five noms for Best Picture. The HouseClark top awards and nominations largely differed from the Academy choices which, by the way, totally snubbed our top Motion Picture – Star Wars.
The new Star Wars is the best since 1982 The Wrath of Khan, and successfully reboots and recasts one of the most iconic ensemble casts in 60’s TV and pop culture. The casting also recaptures their distinctive personalities and chemistry, while telling a rather fanciful and complex origin story. The plot is about a time-traveling villain who obtains unimaginable weapons technology capable of destructing an entire planet. J.J. Abrams (director/producer) was given a Mission Impossible task with his Star Trek update, but he actually pulled it off.
Best Actor Simpson award goes to Jeremy Renner for his tour-de-force performance in the Iraq war movie, The Hurt Locker. The movie would have been nothing without him. Best Actress Simpson Award is presented to Meryl Streep for her on-the-nose, amazing resemblance of Julia Child, America’s first famous woman TV chef in the film Julie and Julia. The voice inflections and body language and her infectious enthusiasm was perfectly done. Bravo! As a bonus Stanley Tucci and Meryl Streep made the best screen couple of the year with plenty of joie-de-vivre in gay (in the old sense of the word) Paris.
Fun Surprises -
Sherlock Holmes – Being an old school fan of Sherlock Holmes, I admit I was surprised to see Sherlock in a bare knuckle street-fighting tournament -- where, it turns out we learn that his fists are as quick as his mind. In fact he’s a real bad ass. It was a smart play by Guy Ritchie to re-invent the cinematic Sherlock Holmes (and Watson also) in his first, big budget Sherlock Holmes movie. Robert Downey Jr. navigates the fine line between intellectual superior and social lout, Jude Law is a fantastic straight man, and Rachel McAdams steals many a scene as Holmes’s greatest match. Ritchie takes this exciting screenplay in the right directions, assembles a fantastic cast, and directs one of the top five movies of the year, which was naturally, snubbed by the Academy.
Up - The movie opens with a remarkable sequence that tells much of a man's life story with minimal dialogue. I've never seen anything quite like it in an animated movie, and it is very touching and unexpected. The closest I can think of is silent film. I was very impressed to see how much the animators were able to convey, and the depth of the material in less than five minutes. Arguably Pixar’s finest moment.
Amelia – This is a fine period piece film set in the 1930s for adults with an interest in aviation history; in particular America’s most famous female aviation pioneer – Amelia Earhart. She learned to fly and made a career in a male dominated industry. The story arc takes her from triumph to tragedy.
Zombieland - This hit movie is a fun genre mix with plenty of laughs, and is one of the most quotable flicks in recent memory. A good opening scene gets right down to business with the Rules of Survival in Zombieland: "always check the back seat”, "use the double-tap”, "avoid public restrooms”, "cardio”, and so forth. The plot comes down to a road trip movie where the essential travel items are a tactical shotgun with an extended magazine tube, and abundant ammo. An underrated gem.
Public Enemies – Violent American history of the 1930s is recreated here with great attention to fedoras, overcoats, and vintage cars. The soundtrack blends well with the visuals, but the storyline is flawed. The film falls into the trap of glamorizing John Dillinger, turning him into a tender, devoted, poetic lover boy. WAIT A MINUTE. Dillinger was a thug all his life; a violent, dishonest, hard-core felon. So why the fascination with this loser? There should be a law against this type of movie.
Crazy Heart – It's hard to criticize any movie starring Jeff Bridges and Robert Duvall, but when the credits rolled I was thinking: I saw this exact same storyline back in the 1980s: Tender Mercies. The 1983 film is a classic with five Oscar nominations including two wins. Veteran actor Robert Duvall, as Mac Sledge, won (his first and only) Best Actor Academy award. So, to me, this is Tender Mercies redux, with a serious casting flaw. I could not buy the romance between "Bad" Blake and Jean. The miscasting was pure Hollywood Geezer-Gidget. I could not buy it.
Avatar – I went to see Avatar to find out what all the fuss was about. I was not impressed. Some of the visuals were so colorful it reminded me of cartoons. Speaking of cartoons, the plot is as profound as a Roadrunner cartoon. The plot or storyline is moldy-stale and overused; yet beloved by white liberals. The evil corporation taking advantage of the primitive, noble natives; shame, shame! A fanciful and absolutely incorrect presentation of primitive peoples. Lots of fancy 3D and CGI and zero substance.
The Blind Side is an overlong love letter to college football starring Sandra Bullock in one of the best dramatic performances of the year. She is great, but the movie is awful when she is off screen. The film is not without a message – blacks need White leadership to succeed and learn family values. The movie is more like something from the Hallmark Channel than a Big Screen film.
The Hurt Locker is set during the second Iraq invasion and occupation. The film is deeply flawed by its non-critical approach. There is no debate, zero reflection as to whether the American army had any right to be in Iraq in the first place. Where are all those WMDs that Bush yapped about? To large numbers of Iraqis, the American were simply foreign invaders; hence, the tremendous enthusiasm to build and plant an almost endless number of bombs to kill Americans. The film lacked a purpose, or goal of how to turn off, or stop the bomb making factories and the enemies responsible. Hurt Locker unintentionally displays the cluelessness of US military strategy in Iraq, and the ugly consequences warned by wiser leaders about invading Iraq – “you broke it; now you own it.” Instead the film shows heroic Americans doing thankless, dangerous jobs in Iraq. That makes it a pro-war movie and gives the US soldiers a moral certainty that is denied the faceless army of bomb makers.