Hi Sour Patch Kids,
With the Golden Globes having just passed, and Oscar nominations coming out on Thursday, right now there’s just one thing on everyone’s mind:
Sorry, let me try that again:
This has been a swell year for movies: people-deteriorating-physically movies, kinda-true-but-who-really-cares biopics, depressing musicals—all were legion on the silver screen, and all were much loved.
But what was the best movie this year? What did we learn from movies this year? And is it true, as one movie memorably taught us, that babies taste best?
To answer those questions, and many more, we need TEDDY. Here are my third annual movie awards. Be mindful that there are SPOILERS GALORE. I don’t care, and neither should you. Onto the outrageously long blog post!
The “Tony Almeida in 24” Award for Most Frustrating Inability to Kill Off a Character Who Really Should Die:
All Marvel Movies.
Samuel L. Jackson. The Winter Soldier. Groot the Nice Tree. What do these characters have in common? Marvel milked all of their on-screen deaths for maximum pathos and then brought each of them right back to life within like seven minutes. Just like they did with Loki! Guh.
Come on, Marvel (can I call you Marv?). Kill someone. Permanently. You may be super-popular with us dumb sheep audiences right now, but someday we’re going to wise up to your predictable shtick. So get rid of the glowy balls. Show us that villain with the giant chin. And give us blood. Now. You don’t want to go the way of the Western, do you Marv? Because we will GO you the way of the Western.
The Goofy’s Wife Award for “Okay, But Did You Have to Kill Off THAT Character?!?””
The Hot Nerd Older Brother, Big Hero 6.
Seeing Tadashi on screen was a revelation, like eating Chex mixed with Cheerios for the first time. “Oh my God… a character can be hot—AND a nerd—AND an older brother!” Props to Disney/Marvel for creating a brand new archetype.
But then they had to go and ice him just 15 minutes in?!? And it’s Marvel—who NEVER kills anybody! Maybe I just feel dumb for getting emotionally invested in the HNOB. Maybe I just… sigh… want an HNOB of my own…
The “A Most Boring Movie” Award for Most Boring Movie:
A Most Wanted Man and A Most Violent Year.
These movies were easily the two that made me the sleepiest this year (sorry, Mockingjay: Part I! Better luck next year, Mockingjay: Part II!).
And truly, I think these films were trying to tell us how dull they’d be with their titles. I mean, if you have to say something is the “most” something, we sort of know you’re overcompensating. It’s like the cat litter I get my cat, “World’s Best Cat Litter.” No you’re not! These cat litter movies need to chill.
The “A woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets” Award for Worst Line of Dialogue in an Otherwise Great Movie:
I… could have done without Snowpiercer’s baby eating. And the weirdest part was this: everyone was pretty nonchalant about the baby eating! Halfway through the movie, when the train people realized they’d unwittingly been consuming insects congealed into Fruit Leatheresque bars, they all acted WAY too disgusted for people who had previously dined exclusively on a menu of fresh baby.
The “Young Simba to Teen Mohawk Simba to Old Simba” Award for Best Character Transformation:
Last Place: Mason, Boyhood (I love Mason, but he didn’t change at all. He stayed bad at homework through the entire movie. He just aged! Aging is different from changing.)
4th Place: Ethan Hawke’s guitar friend, Boyhood
3rd Place: The pipe-laying-guy-turned-successful-restaurant-manager, Boyhood
2nd Place: Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
1st Place: Meryl Streep, Into The Woods
When Meryl transformed from Haggard Witch Meryl into Sexy Witch Meryl, my little sister Emma immortalized the new look by dubbing it, “Rockin’ Blue Raspberry Meryl Streep!” I think I speak for all of us when I say I’d love a taste.
The “Shane! Shaaane!” Award for Character Name That Gets Said So Often, It Becomes a Drinking Game:
“Murph. Murph. Murph? Murph?!? MURPH! MURPH!! MURPH!!!!!!!!!!”
-The entire screenplay of Interstellar
The My Dad Crying at the End of Miss Congeniality II: Armed and Fabulous for Most Embarrassing Movie Scene I Cried At:
3rd Place: Every goofy, over-the-top, Laura Dern “I’m a silly mom! I’m a silly mom! I’m gonna die soon!” scene from Wild.
2nd Place: The scene at the beginning of Boyhood where Mason and his family move out of their house, and he waves goodbye to his friend as “Soak Up the Sun” by Sheryl Crow plays.
1st Place: The scene from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes where that sullen teenager shows Maurice the orangutan how to read his fave graphic novel.
(I’m not ashamed at all, though. The only reason I cried is because it reminded me of the time I myself taught an orangutan how to read Persepolis. That’s all.)
The Pre-2013 Matthew McConaughey Award for Most Bizarre Repeated Typecasting:
3rd Place: Laura Dern as “Wacky Mom Who Has to Deal With Cancer In Some Fashion” (Wild, The Fault in Our Stars)
2nd Place: Scarlett Johannson as “Poster Child of the Singularity” (Lucy, Formerly Her)
1st Place: Ed Harris as “Gnostic Demiurge” (Snowpiercer, Formerly The Truman Show)
Important Note: Credit to my brother-in-law (Hot Nerd Older Brother-In-Law!) Brian Aspell for those last two labels.
Other important note: I just finished working on a screenplay in which an overzealous, cancer-afflicted middle-aged mother befriends a sultry-voiced young woman who as somehow harnessed the powers of the entire Internet, all while both are constantly observed by a bald, benevolent monster wearing a headset and a beret. I really hope Laura Dern, Scarlett Johannson, and Ed Harris are all available!
The Glowy Briefcase from Pulp Fiction Award for Biggest Unanswered Question:
3rd Place: Divergent. Unanswered Question: “So why didn’t everyone in Dauntless, like… die from jumping off all those trains?”
2nd Place: Whiplash. Unanswered Question: “Does true artistic genius need to be forced into being by a harsh mentor figure, often in brutally sadistic fashion?”
(Just kidding—this isn’t an unanswered question. The answer is obviously “yes!”)
1st Place: Interstellar. Unanswered Question: “WHAT?”
Best Movie That I Have No Idea What It Was About:
I enjoyed Birdman quite a bit. Great cinematography, stellar score, acting up the wazoo, and yet… what was it actually about? Art and commerce? The superheroification of the entertainment industry? Addiction? Withdrawal? I feel like the answer is all yet none of those things. Mostly I think they just wanted to parade Michael Keaton around Times Square in tighty-whities, which is fine, because that’s all I wanted, too.
Movie That Was Good But Way Too Heavy-Handed In What It Was About:
AMERICA. AMERICA. AMERICA: THE MOVIE. Look, we get it guys, and that’s great, but we already have an America: the movie, and it’s called Rocky IV, and we have another America: the movie, and it’s called Space Jam, and we have yet another America: the movie, and it’s called Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. So step off, Foxcatcher. Take your prosthetic nose and your “wrestling” scenes and get off my lawn.
The Slow Clap at the end of Lucas Award for Best Implementation of a Cliché:
All the buses coming in at the end, Pride.
This is easily one of my favorite clichés, the scene in which a person or group needs some form of support, and at first you think they’re not going to get that support, and then, all of a sudden, they get LOVE FROM EVERYBODY IN THE WHOLE MOVIE!!! Think of all the players giving up their jerseys for Rudy, or Spot Conlon coming in at the end of Newsies – “BROOKYN!”
Well, this year’s extraordinarily effective use of that cliché came at the end of the delightful Pride, when the gay and lesbian activists are about to start the pride parade, and one bus of miners comes, and it’s fine, I guess… but then a MILLION BUSES WITH A MILLION MINERS arrive! By far the most stirring ever use of the stage direction, “some buses pull up.”
The Kid From Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Who Says “It’s like trying to catch smoke… it’s like trying to catch smoke with your bare hands” Award for Most Inexplicable Character:
The Giant Rock Body Guys, Noah
So Darren Aronofsky’s Noah is attempting to be a super-accurate representation of the Old Testament story, and for the most part it kinda is that…. but there are also these gigantic, CGI, Onix-like rock body guys who construct the entire Ark for Noah and who have shiny angels trapped inside of them. WHAT?!?
In any event, I’m glad Aronofsky decided to conflate Hebrew School and Pokemon, just as I myself did during my Hebrew School days.
The Slumdog Millionaire Award for Best/Most Confusing End Credits:
Speaking of things I still can’t explain, so Jersey Boys is overall this sort of plodding, weirdly grim take on the lively Broadway musical… but then for some reason at the end, Clint Eastwood gives us the feel-good movie scene of the year with the end credits, which feature everyone grooving, Frankie Valli dancing with both of his ex-wives simultaneously, a soft-shoeing Christopher Walken, and this insane heavy-breathing, Blaine Community Players ending that MUST be seen to be believed. My only possible explanation is maybe that Clint shot this scene the day after he met the chair, and he was just feeling a little funny.
Enough Bible Pokemon and Murph-nanigans. Let’s get to the real awards, or as I like to call them, “I could have just picked Boyhood for everything, but in the interests of having a mildly interesting blog post, I’ll try not to.”
Best Documentary: Citizenfour
This is surely the most sobering, least sexy movie to ever take place in a hotel room… and then, guess what... our boy Edward Snowden is surprisingly sexy! (Incidentally, he was a runner-up in the “Hottest Nerd Older Brother” category.) Also, this movie made me afraid to text my friends for like, ten minutes. It really had everything.
Best Screenplay: Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
Banal business platitudes have never been so terrifying. Negotiations for salary raises have never been so hilarious. Gyllenhall has never been this creepy. (Okay, that’s a lie, he’s been this creepy in like all his movies except Prince of Persia, and actually, Prince of Persia is pretty creepy, too. My point is, Nightcrawler was badass.)
Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
My life’s goal is to make sure my mom never ever ever sees that Patricia Arquette “Being a mom kinda sucks!” monologue from the end of the movie. Wish me luck.
Best Supporting Actor: Young Alan Turing, The Imitation Game
I see what you’re doing J.K. Simmons, and I loved your “wrestlers walk like this” body stance Mark Ruffalo, and wow, I apparently like Tyler Perry, and I’mma let you finish, Ethan Hawke and Edward Norton, but that kid who played Young Alan Turing had the best “my face just melted because my schoolboy chum-slash-secret crush totally unexpectedly died” facial expression of all time. You hear me? Of ALL TIME.
Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon, Wild
I am not going to put myself through that Julianne Moore Alzheimer’s movie, so for my money, this award is Reese’s piece. Hiking like a dummy never looked so brave!
Best Actor: Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
fter Gyllenhaal’s Lou Bloom comes to power in this movie, he only blinks like four times on screen. FOUR TIMES. I’m not sure why we gleefully fling Oscars at people who lost like 15 pounds for a role, and yet we don’t reward insane stuff like this. Think of how much poor Jake’s eyelids had to suffer! Other than Zac Efron in everything, this was the best eye acting of the decade.
Best Director: TIE! Richard Linklater, Boyhood, and Laura Poitras, Citizenfour
Kudos to these directors for respectively making me feel grateful to have been alive in the years 2002-2014 and also ashamed to have been alive in the years 2002-2014.
And now… the Teddy for Best Picture…
Nominees out of what I’ve seen so far: Edge of Tomorrow, Neighbors, 22 Jump Street, Snowpiercer, Guardians of the Galaxy, Boyhood, Pride, Citizenfour, The Trip to Italy, Whiplash, Birdman, Nightcrawler, Wild, and The Imitation Game.
And the Teddy goes to…
I think Boyhood was honestly one of my favorite movies I’ve ever seen. It seems impossible to me to find the right words to praise it (“Life… as it happens!” “It was about everything… and nothing!” “Drunk stepdads… and Soulja Boy!”) without sounding like kind of an idiot, so I’ll just say this:
Boyhood was the first movie that I INSISTED UPON seeing twice in theaters since a little something called Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Yeah, I think that’s praise enough.