My Guiltiest Pleasures of the 2010s

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A term I’ve had to defend more often than I’ve had to defend my liking of the movies, as though utilizing the term is a manner of self-flagellation in the witness of God or some nonsense like that. I guess the entomology behind using “guilt” is what the hangup is but what a painfully literal manner to decide you have to impose yourself on other people’s viewing practices.

In truth, all it feels like to call a movie a “guilty pleasure” from my end is a subjective way to consider my responses to some movies, no more material than overrated/underrated but no less valid either. I approach movies from a certain standpoint and sometimes my experience with a picture will be so pleasant despite the movie itself conflicting with that standpoint, whether morally or aesthetically or personally or many other ways. I don’t think I need to explain any further beyond that. And in any case, calling a movie a guilty pleasure is a much better way to avoid conflict with those who think they are completely lacking in value which is sadly the case.

Anyway the good news is that this list will come down to 25 after the last one was a whopping 50 entries (although I will admit to adding a couple of bonuses after the main deal. So heeeeeere we go:

My Guiltiest Pleasures of the 2010s

(presented in Chronological Order)

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Step Up 3D (2010, Jon M. Chu, USA)

A confession that I am a devotee of the Step Up movies: unashamed romanticism delivered with thin characterizations and letting all the work be done by the gaudy atmosphere and electrifying dance choreography. And Step Up 3D delivers those things at the series’ all-time high – Jon M. Chu having been a director to show how great he is at making shallow stuff look fabulous and inviting (as in Crazy Rich Asians, his best movie to date). And of course, the 3D (of which you’re going to see a lot of 3D movies here on this list, I just realized) just adds to the glorious tackiness of it all, bringing the kaleidoscopic visuals and wild dances to your face.

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Piranha 3D (2010, Alexandre Aja, USA)

Sure, the original film by Joe Dante, Roger Corman, and John Sayles is better. One of the high watermarks of low-budget creature feature and deeply sincere and grounded while still having a sense of humor. But you don’t expect class from a movie named Piranha and Aja has brought us the flipside to that scenario: a ridiculous filthy tawdry picture of blood and boobs and little else in-between besides a cartoonishness to its proceedings including the most-typecast cameos possible by Christopher Lloyd and Richard Dreyfuss and hilariously shoddy 3D post-conversion to add to the shallowness. Plus given that I have friends who worked on it – it was made close to where my alma mater was – it has a deeper place in my heart.

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Resident Evil: AfterlifeRetribution, and The Final Chapter (2010-’16, Paul W.S. Anderson, Canada/France/UK/Germany/USA/Australia)

I think I’ve already went into how Afterlife has some of my favorite 3D compositions and I didn’t mention how Retribution has a premise that feels most excited about its video game roots but now it’s here. So let’s go over to The Final Chapter and how it wraps up this tale well despite possibly the worst editing in the franchise: it is the single most invested entry in Alice as a character and this sincerely feels like a good anchor to bring the franchise down to a resting place, as well as making narrative good out of the series’ long role as Anderson’s love letter to how badass and cool his wife is. So it gives Jovovich more emotional work to do and remind us why she is one of the most painfully underutilized action actors around.

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Burlesque (2010, Steven Antin, USA)

Yes, in my previous post about underrated 2010s movies, I did state that I don’t intend to penalize Burlesque for proudly wearing its camp on its sleeve and I maintain that. There is however a difference between loving Showgirls and loving Burlesque and I shall leave it at that for anyone who – like me – loves both movies to understand. Anybody who dislikes either is lost forever.

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A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (2011, Todd Strauss-Schulson, USA)

The Harold & Kumar series pretty much surprised everybody who walked into it in the 2000s expecting some silly stoner comedy and instead got hit with a silly stoner comedy that also functioned as an observation on how America treats race domestically and internationally. There is almost none of that social intelligence in this third entry and I think that’s why it didn’t receive as much fanfare as its predecessors, but there’s still a lot of charm present and the gross-out juvenile humor still hits in a manner that plays pretty amusing way (they basically performed 3D ejaculation before Gaspar Noé did, so suck it!). And in the end, I give it the edge just for being more relaxed than Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanemo Bay.

Can you imagine quitting your job at the White House and telling Obama it’s so you can star in this movie, though?

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Dredd (2012, Pete Travis & Alex Garland, UK/South Africa)

And now we get to the 3D movies that finally decided to stop having 3D in their title. The real guilt is from the overwhelming violence and cold portrayal of it as “oh so awesome badassery” when it’s basically a futuristic fascist busting through a decidedly lower-class building (even if he doesn’t kill innocents, there is one sequence that meekly attempts to confront the moral implications of this and falls under), like a version of The Raid where the punching and kicking and macheteing isn’t impressive enough to distract me from how strongly opposed I am to something like this occurring in the world

But you know what? I love dystopian science fiction anyway and the bloody violence of it all is that cool and masterfully choreographed and photographed especially in 3D, like if the Grand Guignol lived to the year 3000 and tried its hand at action but kept all their fake stageblood.

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Battle of the Year (2013, Benson Lee, USA)

Can you believe we’re almost halfway through the decade and I’ve only mentioned one movie that wasn’t released in 3D? Believe me, we’ll get to regular movies soon enough. In the meantime, this is handily the sort of silly earnestness about b-boying as the most important thing in life that we haven’t received since the 1980s. The sort of craven self-advertising Lee performs for his own previous documentary and the deepcut familiarity with the real-life event this movie is named after only sells me on its excitement more than any of the terrible writing or acting could do. I have been told that this is a pseudo-remake of the Taekwondo picture Best of the Best and am now rushing to see it as soon as possible, but I don’t know Taekwondo will give me the same high as b-boying (especially since Miami Connection already fills the Taekwondo gap for me).

Also, I’m all “like what you like”, but it’s impossible not to feel guilty about enjoying a movie with Chris Brown in it.

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Winter’s Tale (2014, Akiva Goldsman, USA)

There are passion projects that you see fall apart as a disaster and it does not feel good at all because who likes poking at movies that filmmakers are passionate about and it feels miserable in its failures. And then there’s something like Goldsman, a writer who I’ve never liked in film (Fringe is tv so that doesn’t count), making his directorial debut with source material long considered unfilmable and… it is the sort of disaster I expected, but it’s also watchable in its Herculean attempt to take all the dissonant elements of its construction and meld it together into something tonally coherent. It straddles the line between romantic (which is what it aims for, to be sure) and daft (which it hits more often) and I must say it did give me a nice high in ’round the end of Winter so… we’ll call it a draw.

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300: Rise of an Empire (2014, Noam Murro, USA)

I’m not one to consider a single great performance good enough to save an otherwise terrible movie, but Eva Green is making an intense argument for it with 300: Rise of an Empire, a movie that uses her character as a means to fear women with any possible agency whatsoever. But boy does she gleefully give guys more to fear and then some, reminding us how she’ll put her all in movies that don’t deserve it.

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The Boy Next Door (2015, Rob Cohen, USA) and The Perfect Guy (2015, David M. Rosenthal, USA)

2015 blessed us with not one but two crappy “sexy boy rebound turns out to be a dangerous psycho” thrillers and while I am more inclined to The Boy Next Door for Jennifer Lopez’s dedication and the shameless innuendos that the dialogue is overflowing with, both of these films show a firm straight-faced treatment to terrible material and filmmaking that only emboldens the potential cult film value once we have enough distance from them. I don’t need that distance, though. I already appreciate them as is.

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Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016, Zack Snyder, USA)

I walked in to the theater knowing I was about to see the worst popcorn movie of the 2010s and walked out quietly blown away by how much it gets right against how much it got wrong. In a genre as thematically barren and stylistically sterile as the superhero movie (at least in the wake of the Marvel Cinematic Universe), it actually impressed me to have a movie just go for it by ambitiously attempting to use shadows to visually mythologize characters and actively trying to engage with the gravity of having a Superman on Earth and what that means as a What If. It doesn’t do these things very well or intelligently to be sure, but there’s a lot of imagery burned into my brain and frankly the fact that it went an entirely different direction than the MCU gave it that freshness out of an otherwise too safe genre.

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Split (2016, M. Night Shyamalan, USA)

Aye, I still stand by my moral outrage with certain parts of it: particularly the third act reveal for Anya Taylor-Joy’s backstory, which I think is the single worst treatment Shyamalan has given very serious subject matter, and the quiet misogyny of its choice in victims (and of course, the pseudo-psychology of it all which is possibly the most harmful element). But rewatching it prior to Glass‘ release helped me recognize that when it came to the horror movie goods, Shyamalan knew how to light and frame hallways and dungeons with decrepit terror and how Taylor-Joy makes for an excellent suvivalist protagonist and how this is most likely the best performance of James McAvoy’s career. And if my previous main complaint of “it’s basically the psychiatrist sequence from Psycho extended to two hours” still stands, I’ve lightened up a lot more on it after seeing from Glass that oh… the pacing could be so much worse. Compared to GlassSplit is a breeze.

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A Cure for Wellness (2016, Gore Verbinski, USA/Germany/Luxembourg)

Definitely the best movie on this list and I’m not sure I’d feel as guilty about loving it if it wasn’t for three things:
1 – It’s 2 1/2 hours and does not need that runtime.
2 – It’s an overplotted mess.
3 – It gets to very creepy (to be modest) places by the final stretch (although I’m not convinced it means to be exploitative about it).
And as a bonus, a queer friend of mine was even able to point out how a movie with no gay characters and almost no mention of queer practices is homophobic in a convincing fashion!

But it’s visually gorgeous, grandly ghostly, populated by young faces like Dane DeHaan and Mia Goth who look like any life out of them was already sapped away by fear, and just generally has a lot of menace surrounding it. The best horror movies in my mind are the ones that are inexplicable and A Cure for Wellness doesn’t wield that inexplicability with the discipline of Kubrick, Wise, Fulci, or Argento but it gets there in a manner that I’m not convinced is by accident.

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The Boss Baby (2017, Tom McGrath, USA)

I don’t know exactly why I’m expected to renounce this movie eventually, but it’s simply not happening anytime soon. I have a love for it that is stronger than you can destroy. If that makes me guilty, heck… I don’t wanna be innocent.

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The Book of Henry (2017, Colin Trevorrow, USA)

What a thoroughly wrong-headed attempt at Spielbergian sentimentality – visuals and music-wise – to a deranged story about a Jordan Peterson-type kid who plots to kill his neighbor before being stopped by cancer and coaching his mom from beyond the grave. Remember when this guy was going to direct a Star Wars?

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The Hurricane Heist (2018, Rob Cohen, USA)

It’s set in a utopian land where proud gun-toting Alabamans can also firmly believe in climate change and preach its dangers with strong “herald of doom” heftiness. Meanwhile, those Alabamans are almost entirely played by non-Americans and so have the chewiest possible fake Southern gentleman accents you could squeeze out of your throats and let’s remember this is a movie about thieves who decide to rob a Treasury facility in the middle of a Cat-5 that happens to feature a CGI skull on it. And personally rain is one of my favorite things to see in a movie, even one as terrible as this.

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Breaking In (2018, James McTeigue, USA)

It is the longest movie I’ve watched that happened to be less than 90 minutes, this thing drags in such a weirdly off-putting way. That said, I am also stunned by how well it shifts perspective to turn into a pseudo-slasher movie right in the middle of the picture: we don’t know where Gabrielle Union is and we’re watching the robbers get incapacitated one by one. Unorthodox in an interesting and fun way.

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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018, J.A. Bayona, USA)

You can tell Colin Trevorrow hates dinosaurs because he thinks they’re only worth 25 million dollars at a start. But thankfully he didn’t direct this movie, he only had the characters make increasingly ill-advised decisions while J.A. Bayona took over and allowed those decisions to lend themselves to wonderful physical comedy of Chris Pratt avoiding lava under tranquilizer or Bryce Dallas Howard cornered by a giant maneater protected by molten steel or the excellent excellent finale where the heroes try to run and hide within a dark and spooky mansion from a quiet stalking thunder lizard. If it takes unwise and inconsistent characters to get those moments, well, I’ll take it anyway.

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The Nun (2018, Corin Hardy, USA)

Technically speaking, all of the Conjuring-verse movies are guilty pleasures on account of being money-printing machines for the real-life Warrens, but since the main series has given us two very good demon possession movies, it lets that guilt go down smoother. The Nun is very very very close to being not good but stays afloat in its nonstop fog-driven, spooky church, chant-driven atmosphere. I don’t need that much subtlety in my ghost stories, so I can forgive the complete lack of it here.

(Shout out to Annabelle Comes Home, which also made an entry on this list as an effectively nice and unthreatening Halloween watch that had recognized the reliable if unsurpring template for the series, but I figured only one Conjuring entry is necessary)

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Robin Hood (2018, Otto Bathurst, USA)

Would you believe me if I said this was the most fun I had with a Robin Hood movie since Errol Flynn? It’s like if you had Baz Luhrmann direct a Final Fantasy movie, it visually treats the Crusades like the Gulf War, it has skeptic icon Tim Minchin playing a very well-humored and intellectual friar, and it’s the movie that finally convinced me that Taron Egerton is maybe an actor to look at for.

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Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019, Rob Letterman, USA/Japan)

I have literally nothing to enjoy about this movie outside of the Pokémon and maybe some of the lighting, but oh my god what wonderfully animated Pokémon with the believable textures and the cartoonish shapes all about them! It is irresistible someone like me who wished as a child to finally live-action Pokémon happen and now gets to coo over Pikachu and Eevee and Jigglypuff and Snubbull, mah boi Snubbull, mah man!

On a really daring day, I’d claim this surpassed Mortal Kombat as my favorite video game movie.

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Yesterday (2019, Danny Boyle, UK/USA/China/Japan)

I completely understand all of the furor over how the movie took an interesting premise and did next to nothing with it, specifically running with the unlikely claim that the Beatles’ songwriting is so evergreen that everyone would love it no matter when it was revealed to us and that rock music would literally be the same as it is today minus one Oasis (plus if there’s anything to by this recent article, Richard Curtis is a prick). But if it wasn’t for that approach, we would not have these new re-arrangements of what are otherwise overfamiliar songs – some stripped down, some wonky, and on and on – to get me to find new ways to fall in love with one of my favorite bands. And more particularly, Himesh Patel and Lily James are an excellent screen couple full of charming chemistry, even if the script is especially unfair to James’ character.

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Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019, David Leitch, USA)

I have it on good authority from fellow Fast & Furious fans that this is the worst Fast & Furious movie since at least 2 Fast 2 Furious. And far be it from me to tell those people that they are wrong, especially since it IS the worst movie Leitch has made to date and came around the time when I’ve grown disillusioned with the Rock as a screen presence. But put The Rock together with Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, and Helen Mirren and they can carry him and the disappointing (although understandable) CGI usage through a very bubbly spy action picture with a wonderful usage of CARS CHAINED TOGETHER TO BRING DOWN A BLACKHAWK. I’m even convinced that you don’t need to cut out Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Hart entirely, just viciously cut down their screentime, and the movie stops being overlong. That or have the robot bike talk to Idris Elba like a villainous sidekick.

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Cats (2019, Tom Hooper, UK/USA)

Possibly the worst movie on this list and I don’t even care, it fixes the theatrical production’s narrative to have more clarity which means we have nothing to keep us from facing that it is the most ambitious clusterfuck I can name out of movies in a long while – spending so much money on such gross CGI delivered with an unnerving smile, polishing the music while still keeping it sounding extremely dated (and I still have a lot of its songs stuck in my head exactly as the movie played it), forcing actors who cannot sing into caterwauling, Ian McKellan and Helen Mirren trying to retain actorly dignity, and it is so horny… so very very horny in an uncomfortable way. 11 walkouts in my theater, a span of time where I threw paper balls at teenagers who were using their cell phones too much, and my friend and I gazing at every wrong thing on screen and it was one of the most memorable experiences in a cinema for me ever. It’s like watching the Hindenburg catch fire. What a hell of a way to leave the 2010s.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS: The films of S. Craig Zahler and Rob Zombie

Zombie is a shaky entry here because the only movie that REALLY qualifies is the ridiculously violent and occasionally racist 3 from Hell (I didn’t dig 31 and I don’t feel anywhere near guilt for loving The Lords of Salem, which happens to be the same reason I didn’t enter Cloud Atlas or Jupiter Ascending on this list) but he has a very clear visual personality that may be a bit repetitive at this point, but excites me with all that white trash funhouse “everyday is Halloween” attitude.

As for S. Craig Zahler, I find being in his company to be a dubious proposition at best but three times now he has delivered three different styles of hardened exploitation flavors from the cannibal Western Bone Tomahawk to the cruel and cold prison picture Brawl in Cell Block 99 to the burning fuse cop picture Dragged Across Concrete. All of them morally suspect (I mean, one of them stars Mel Gibson! As a man who loses his job for being a cruel racist under the guise of “public image”!), 2 of them are overlong, but I can’t help being happy that we have such nose-grinding concrete exploitation pictures in the 2010s.

Together, these two filmmakers are the only ones I can name that have maintained the true grimy attitude of grindhouse cinema while modernizing the presentation enough so it doesn’t look like we’re watching some homage.

HONORABLE “I FORGOT TO MENTION IT UNTIL I ALREADY FINISHED THIS LIST” MENTION: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012, Timur Bekmambetov, USA) – I’m too lazy to elaborate, I just like that it’s pofaced and I think the slow-motion is fun sometimes.

BONUS LIST: I don’t drink but I have way too many friends who do and sometimes those friends like to talk shit about a bad movie and that’s always something I’m willing to do sober (and the only think that makes drunk people tolerable to me) so in their honor:
The Best So-Bad-It’s-Good Watches with Your Buddies from the 2010s (that haven’t been named on the upper list)

  • Anonymous – A very dedicated De Vere truther picture by an overqualified cast and an underqualified filmmaker.
  • Collateral Beauty – Is it weird that some of these great actors give their best performances in a movie so shameless about the deranged emotional dishonesty at hand?
  • Contracted – How did it take us this long for a vampire movie that plays as a bad sex PSA?
  • Deliver Us from Evil – a possession picture by way of cop thriller that almost gives me more ironic joy than its director’s twitter.
  • Dracula 3D – It’s late Argento in 3D, do you need a road map?
  • The God’s Not Dead trilogy – For all your “that’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.” needs.
  • Gods of Egypt – The Gods in question turn themselves into zords of varying scale to fight in video game levels. 
  • Gotti – Travolta and Preston have an argument over their son’s Halloween costume that is almost entirely made up of variations of “wassa matta with you?”
  • The Last Airbender – RIP to your childhood, but I’m different.
  • The Last Song – Nicholas Sparks maintaining the energy of Anakin and Padmé for a whole movie.
  • The Legend of Hercules – Incompetent enough to not just to believe it’s a Renny Harlin movie but also to be the first Harlin movie I’ve enjoyed in a while.
  • Ouija – A glorified toy commercial that understands nothing about teenagers in the 21st century.
  • Serenity – You will never see the twist coming.
  • Seventh Son – Jeff Bridges’ crunchiest hour.
  • Taken 3 – If you drink every time there is a cut, you will die 10 minutes in.

The Most Underrated Movies of the 2010s

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A confession: this was originally going to turn out to be a double post of overrated and underrated, but I decided against it. For one thing, “overrated” is a petulant attitude to have – an easy one and certainly a fun one to have privately, but one based in the most subjective experience with the filmgoing community and that’s really not going to convince anyone. Plus my list of movies I really don’t care for as much as others is a long and versatile one – filled with those beloved of the mainstream, the arthouse folk, and even some that are recognized as representation of marginalized identities that it just feel outright mean to discuss in that context. I don’t feel like fighting that many people and those who know personally and would like to lambast know where to reach out to me for that full list, which will otherwise be under lock and key.

Which means I got to make more room for the underrated, the overlooked, the underseen, those darling pictures that I don’t enough people to talk to about them or don’t get the love I feel they deserve or don’t get any love at all. The misunderstood, the misfits, that one man’s trash that is in fact my treasure. So much room in fact that this blew up to 50 films and I’ll try not to linger on all 50 here – especially since many of them will return in later lists – because I want to move forward on the rest of my 2010s wrap-up lists and ideally what’s going to follow will no longer surpass 30 entries. I just have so much to say and so much to defend.

The 50 Most Underrated Movies of the 2010s

(Presented in Order of Premiere Date)

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Green Zone (2010, Paul Greengrass, France/Spain/USA/UK)

I mean, it’s exactly the perfect mix between message movie and entertainment that I want more of, the kind of movie that is able to double as action picture and outraged anti-War in the Middle East tale that we celebrated Starship Troopers for being eventually. I look forward to this movie gaining that reevaluation.

Film Socialisme (2010, Jean-Luc Godard, France)

Famously the movie that Mark Kermode walked out of at Cannes 2010 and made sure to save a spot for in every possible “worst of” list the movie could qualify for, Kermode was not alone in that attitude but I just can’t relate. Godard – more than anyone else in movies outside of one more name that will show up later on this list – has always shown an interest in messing around with how we expect movies to work and the surprises in store with this were too much fun for me to bother with haters.

Resident Evil: Afterlife and Resident Evil: Retribution (2010/2012, Paul W.S. Anderson, Canada/France/UK/Germany/USA)

I can understand it with The Final Chapter (where satisfying as it was, the editing was physically painful for me to watch), but Afterlife and Retribution particularly stand as evidence on how Paul W.S. Anderson is able to put together effective 3D compositions and also how he knows exactly what to do with a screen personality as baller as Milla Jovovich. I don’t know what the other Paul Anderson could do with either and odds are, he doesn’t either.

Burlesque (2010, Steven Antin, USA)

Trashiness is part of the job requirement for a movie with THAT title of all possible titles and I don’t intend to penalize Burlesque for the means by which it accomplishes that, basically by being Showgirls meets Cabaret and BOTH of those movies are wise ones to aspire to imitate.

Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010, Panos Cosmatos, Canada)

This is a rotten tomatoes rating that really stunned me? I get that it’s a movie that is not going to be for everyone (and unfairly, practically every psychedelic sci-fi cosmic horror aesthetical decision seems tailored to me as the same for Cosmatos’ followup) but 58%?! Say it ain’t so.

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TRON: Legacy (2010, Joseph Kosinski, USA)

It is wild to me that, for a series where the whole point is showcasing the bleeding edge state-of-the-art effects, this movie isn’t recognized for being an outstanding step up from the original. Doesn’t even satisfy y’all as an extended music video for Daft Punk?

Unknown (2011, Jaume Collet-Serra, USA/Germany/UK/France)

Would you believe if I said knowing that the twist is totally ridiculous would only make the experience even better? It’s like Hitchcock says “the best thriller is when the audience knows something the characters don’t” and if there’s one thing this movie desperately wants to pretend to be…

A Dangerous Method (2011, David Cronenberg, Canada/Germany/UK)

We’ve had plenty enough non-body horror Cronenberg by this past decade to know that it’s not the only tool he has to rely on to deliver something his brand of strange so I don’t know what about this movie had convinced others that Cronenberg is now going extra straight-laced. Fassbender, Knightley, and (obviously) Mortensen seemed to be on Cronenberg’s wavelength without flaunting it so much, why can’t y’all?

Southwest (2011, Eduardo Nunes, Brazil)

A movie that I don’t think received very much of a stateside release – I know it’s available online for anybody to watch but I can’t recall ever hearing about it in a theater near me – which is an absolute shame because I can think of very people who will go to Vimeo for an outlet on something this daring and gorgeous.

An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (2012, Terence Nance, USA)

The best kind of personal cinema that lets that function as the seed for some associative storytelling and a gleeful exploration into various film styles to communicate just how messy and indulgent the art can be as much as feelings are. I’m glad Nance is a better known name thanks to Random Acts of Flyness but I’m amiss at why it feels like this movie didn’t reach more romantics.

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Mirror Mirror (2012, Tarsem Singh, USA)

We had two Snow White pictures come out in 2012 (3 if you lived in Spain!) and you guys somehow decided that the worse one was the one with costumes by Ishioka Eiko. Ishioka! Eiko! I swear the gorgeous eye candy of Tarsem Singh’s work is fated to be constantly misunderstood, whether The Cell, The Fall, or this. Do you all really prefer dour grey over the colorful if you prefer Snow White and the Huntsman over this?

The Lords of Salem (2012, Rob Zombie, USA/UK/Canada)

Does it feel insoluble as a horror film? Good. Does it feel indulgent and jagged? Even better. We’re so used to the concept of arthouse horror being significantly austere and polished that when we finally receive something with such a dirty soul and quick to get into the matter of the hallucination, we just about give it no attention.

The Paperboy (2012, Lee Daniels, USA)

I feel like we as a generation have failed Lee Daniels as an effective master of sleazy and sweltering pulp trash cinema and that’s how we get the dude stuck making something as boring as The Butler.

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (2012, John Hyams, USA)

It’s a Universal Soldier direct-to-video sequel so it’s understandable how much we would underestimate it but it is brainy in a very appeasingly cool way and since it has such untrustworthy roots, that smart action movie is going to go on unsung.

Post Tenebras Lux (2012, Carlos Reygadas, Mexico/France/Netherlands)

Yes, it is alienating enough that I can understand how so many viewers were put right off of it, but like most art cinema, if you were willing to meet it halfway, you’d be treated with a very intense blast of nostalgic memory in unconventional film form and that’s just the easiest way to get on my good side.

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The Garden of Words (2013, Shinkai Makoto, Japan)

I mean, let’s be for real… that script is not underrated. It deserves every inch of hate it gets. But we’re missing the forest for the trees – if you’ll pardon the pun here – where Shinkai Makoto has been able to exercise his strength with water in a way that not only do I think he’s been able to beat since, but also think animation has not met with him on for the most part. And that’s something I have to fall head over heels for.

Heli (2013, Amat Escalante, Mexico)

It’s a heavy heavy heavy serving of violence so I can understand what made distributors hesitant to touch it but, y’know, we’re at a dearth of exposure to Mexican cinema that’s not by the Three Amigos (though I’m optimistic Issa López will breakthrough) so maybe we shouldn’t be picky and especially when something this devastating comes around.

Machete Kills (2013, Robert Rodriguez, USA)

Robert Rodriguez is hit or miss with me and Machete Kills was frankly the most solid hit he got with me since Planet Terror. So imagine my surprise when I find that this is not that well-received by the public, making me wonder if you all really thought this movie would be better straightlaced and serious as opposed to the bloody cartoon that it gets to be.

Boyhood (2014, Richard Linklater, USA)

I am certainly grateful to RedLetterMedia for a lot of things (and there are things that I don’t dig out of them) but the single worst thing that film criticism has done for movies in this past decade is them emboldening a bunch of twerps into yelling “IT TOOK TWELVE YEARS TO MAKE!” I fail to see how that’s a little accomplishment and how that doesn’t add greatly to its time capsule value, but what do I know? It’s much more ambitious than Avengers: Infinity War having the money to buy celebrities into standing in front of a green screen.

Godzilla (2014, Gareth Edwards, USA)

On the one hand, I get it. The titular monster’s full screentime is extremely small but on the other hand, I love the tease of it all. It plays extremely well with anticipation and sustains it very well, particularly because the sound and production design and specifically Gareth Edwards’ knowledge of scale helps keep things feeling insignificant and the largeness of the monsters feel insignificant just by how obstructed they are to us. Godzilla may not have screentime here, but he has presence here. That is undeniable.

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The Homesman (2014, Tommy Lee Jones, USA/France)

I mean, I fell for it too. I read the premise, went to the premiere at Cannes expecting some feminist western, and had the rug pulled out from under me but the result was an experience I never stopped thinking about and eventually it came around to my realization that I approached the film wrong (and it seems a lot of folks did in the same way). It’s not a movie about strength in the brutal West, it’s about how easy that brutality can crack a person who isn’t already broken. And it goes about delivering that in a ballsy way that we don’t appreciate as much.

Maps to the Stars (2014, David Cronenberg, Canada/France/Germany/USA)

Seems weird how we’re always ready for another satire on how craven and plastic Hollywood is, but we weren’t ready for one on this level. It even finds a place to fit in Cronenberg’s body horror inclination.

Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu, USA)

Practically every Best Picture winner meets with a sudden whiplash pushback, it’s only Newtonian physics. But this movie – at least around my neck of the woods – got met with the meanest of it and I admittedly can’t sit with the others that way. It is one of only two Inarritu movies that I’ve found psychologically interesting and the only one that got him to show a sense of humor and it’s not the movie’s fault that he went right back to his miserablism with The Revenant.

American Sniper (2014, Clint Eastwood, USA)

Seems like a movie that everyone made their mind about before it even came out, so we have a lot of complexity regarding how mentally broken the War Machine spits its “heroes” out to be and how subtly antagonistic it is to Chris Kyle’s poisonous legacy and how doomed it is that both are valorized and mythologized just because. But no, we kind of threw the baby out with the bathwater here.

Blackhat (2015, Michael Mann, USA)

I mean, sure, I guess it is a silly concept with its selling of Chris Hemsworth as an intelligent cybercriminal and its desperate attempt to deliver an action picture out of some bros typing at keyboards. But it’s no less sleek or masculine as any other Michael Mann movie and it’s more sophisticated about it than any movie since Collateral, maybe even further back.

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Jupiter Ascending (2015, Lana & Lilly Wachowski, USA/Australia)

I’m going to have A LOT more to say about this later on but suffice it to say that it’s so much fun and we have failed the Wachowski Sisters.

Knight of Cups (2015, Terrence Malick, USA)

Terrence Malick has now entered the game as that other filmmaker besides Godard who is trying to turn cinematic language up on its head after perfecting the expressionistic editing styles he’s relied on for the previous 3 decades he dominated (discounting the 80s because that’s cheating). And I can admit understanding why the “rich guy who fucks around ennui” is tired enough to not interest viewers on its own, but it’s not what your movie’s about but how it’s about it. And Knight of Cups is about it in a way I’ve never seen any other movie be about anything.

Crimson Peak (2015, Guillermo Del Toro, USA)

Is it the fact that the film isn’t really a ghost story? Because the movie addresses that. Is it how it had one of the most misleading ad campaigns in recent memory? Is it just the fact that Del Toro’s Spanish-language movies are not as good as his English-language films? Whatever the reason, that big spooky haunted house wins so much goodwill for me even before it proves to be satisfying as a Gothic romance that happens to involve ghosts. On a ballsy day, I’d dare to call it Del Toro’s best English-language movie and maybe even better than Pan’s Labyrinth.

The Belko Experiment (2016, Greg McLean, USA)

Seems to be there’s people who feel there isn’t enough of screenwriter James Gunn tongue-in-cheek satire and too much of director Greg McLean vicious violent nihilism. I like Greg McLean more so this is not at all a problem for me.

The Neon Demon (2016, Nicholas Winding Refn, France/Denmark/USA)

I loathe the antagonism towards “style over substance”, not only because I am a dyed-in-the-wool formalist when it comes to cinema but also because the two can be wholly a part of each other in the best ways and when the substance is delivered by style… it’s a dream team. Refn’s last feature accomplishes this magnficently and reflects the shallowness and antagony of its subject matter just as efficiently as functioning as violence aestheticized.

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A Cure for Wellness (2016, Gore Verbinski, USA/Germany/Luxembourg)

Is it overlong? Absolutely. Is it gross in all definitions of the word? Yes. Is it gorgeous? Absolutely. I guess maybe those three things don’t coalesce very well to people but for me… it felt like a big-budget exploitation film, finally taking advantage of the money to deliver itself in polished form and I found that gleeful fun.

Mudbound (2017, Dee Rees, USA)

The biggest casualty of Hollywood’s previous allergy to recognizing Netflix films for their incredible accomplishments. This Great American Novel of a picture got buried under that debate and it’s unfortunate because 2017 was such a useless Oscar season that it wiped the floor with any Oscar contender outside of Phantom Thread.

First They Killed My Father (2017, Angelina Jolie, Cambodia/USA)

And this never even had a chance to be a casualty of the Netflix debate. Just out and out forgotten as soon as it was released, despite possibly being the most personally staked of Jolie’s films (outside of maybe By the Sea, which was trash) and so maybe that energized her to deliver a much more powerful and scaled-down version of the message picture she spent her previous features made her second language.

Song to Song (2017, Terrence Malick, USA)

For a director as known to be indiscriminatory with cutting actors from his movies as Terrence Malick, the dude really went on during his most experimental decade with giving a movie that pretty much trusts its four core actors to develop the material and carry things over. And since those four actors turned out to be Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, Natalie Portman, and Rooney Mara, I feel to see how this was a losing situation but apparently that happened to how most audiences saw it.

The Boss Baby (2017, Tom McGrath, USA)

It’s bold, it’s colorful, it is yoked stylistically in a flat but engaging way to the imagination of a child processing a fundamental change. What’s the bitch? The only thing more annoying to me than having to defend The Boss Baby’s Oscar nomination in the face of Ferdinand on the same slate was having to explain to people that no, The Boss Baby did not steal Your Name.’s spot… Your Name. was eligible in 2016 so get mad at Zootopia instead.

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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017, Luc Besson, France)

The concept that Star Wars: The Last Jedi had better special effects and more realized space opera worlds than this most comic of comic book movies is wild to me.

Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017, Dan Gilroy, USA)

We deemed it Oscarbait and we weren’t wrong to deem it so, but it’s so out there and pursuing both its ideas and its ideals in such a one-track minded and vicious way that I had a lot more fun witnessing it go down than most of the rest of the Oscarbait that year.

The Commuter (2018, Jaume Collet-Serra, USA/UK/France)

Like the other Collet-Serra/Neeson collaboration up on this list, it’s sub-Hitchcockian but even more than that… it’s an unmistakable knock-off of The Lady Vanishes. Except y’know, masterpiece that that movie is, it didn’t have Liam Neeson kill a man with a guitar.

Everybody Knows (2018, Asghar Farhadi, Spain/France/Italy)

I really don’t get it. Especially so shortly after everyone decided The Salesman was the best thing ever and we gave the milquetoast melodrama of A Star Is Born Oscar praise, I don’t get how Everybody Knows became too much melodrama for others – it delivers the best of Spanish telenovella and Iranian realism flavors for a smacking combo.

Life of the Party (2018, Ben Falcone, USA)

Sometimes a movie comes around and people treat it like it’s meant to be anything more than a good time and it feels like this movie was that unlucky winner of that brand in 2018, which is shameful because in addition to being one of McCarthy’s underappreciated charmingly relaxed performances, it boasts all-timer supporting turns by Maya Rudolph (the performance that convinced me she was the dopest) and Gillian Jacobs.

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Hotel Artemis (2018, Drew Pearce, USA)

Come on, the design of the hotel alone is a lot of fun to explore and think about while all the characters inhabiting are nicely hardboiled archetypes. I don’t understand what about it earns the unfair rating it got on Rotten Tomatoes. 57%!

Incredibles 2 (2018, Brad Bird, USA)

There are people that would have you believe that this movie is not as good or better than its predecessor despite featuring action setpieces that rival those in Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Their loss.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018, J.A. Bayona, USA)

I know that “second best Jurassic Park movie” is not a very worthwhile accomplishment, but seriously this movie knows full well the worst case scenario of its characters decisions and puts them through it… including the resultant Haunted House movie it turns into by the final act. It’s like a version of The Lost World: Jurassic Park that knows its characters are in the wrong but doesn’t treat them with contempt, just gleefully has them jump through hoops to make it out.

The Possession of Hannah Grace (2018, Diederik van Rooijen, USA)

Listen, it’s damp. It’s decrepit. It’s spooky. What else does a possession movie need? They can’t all be epics like The Wailing and would that they’re not and remain this small scale with impressive enough control of atmosphere.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019, Dean DeBlois, USA)

Can you believe that even in a year as empty for phenomenal animation as 2019, people seriously passed on this? It is astonishing to me, it improves on the incredible lighting principles of the last two movies and gives one of the most satisfying ending notes of any movie series from my lifetime. Largely because it relaxes and doesn’t stress those.

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Ready or Not (2019, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett, USA)

Born to be a cult classic eventually but that’s way too long, especially considering how 2019 turned out to be the year for “eat the rich” pictures. The fact that Knives Out robbed all of its power only adds to my angry energy about this movie.

Joker (2019, Todd Phillips, USA)

A movie that could just as easily go into overrated as underrated, but there’s still that remaining eagerness to paint anyone who likes the movie (of which I’m not) as the worst type of human being that I just don’t buy anymore and find very lazy. Your taste in movies is not enough to deem you morally bankrupt or pure-hearted. Anyway, this is very strongly the last time I will listen to Film Twitter’s debates, y’all straight up lost your shit defending or condemning this movie. At least it distinguishes itself in a way that none of the MCU or DCEU movies really do.

Harriet (2019, Kasi Lemmons, USA)

The morality of turning the story of Harriet Tubman into a muted revenge western genre picture is up for debate and a conversation that I honestly have no place in (especially if it causes me to scold black women for making this). But the fact is that it is a much more interesting approach to the boring genre of biopic than most filmmakers are willing to dive into.

3 from Hell (2019, Rob Zombie, USA)

Can’t tell if people are bitter with the fact that it erases the excellent final note of The Devil’s Rejects (I can relate to that) or that they just still haven’t subscribed to the fact that Rob Zombie is the best neo-grindhouse director around (can’t relate to that). In any case, it’s satisfyingly grungy and affrontive the way that the classic grindhouse pictures are meant to be and on top of that it features Bill Moseley and Sheri Moon Zombie’s finest hours in these well-worn characters (and arguably Sid Haig’s too).

Gemini Man (2019, Ang Lee, USA)

Let me get this straight: we had an action movie… made in an abnormally high frame rate… in 3D… and we said no?! I mean, it makes sense since The Hobbit movies made that HFR 3D a nightmarishly bad thing, but Gemini Man redeemed it all on its own and we punished it for doing so.

The Best and Worst Movie Cameos of the 2010s

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Phone rings, door chimes, here come cameos…

Everybody likes to see a familiar face pop into their lives now and again and why should the same be said for cinema? I mean, maybe sometimes the issue will be more insidious than that but I’d like to take a moment if I may of acknowledging my 25 least favorite and 25 favorite moments that a familiar face popped in to say hi at the movies, with attached YouTube clips of the ones I could find. And you know what, some of the actors in the worst list might even get to redeem themselves in the best list, that’s how happy I am to see some of these people.

(Special acknowledgement must be made to the constantly enjoyable musical performances at the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks: The Return, except… y’know, those aren’t movies)

Also gonna take this moment to put a spoiler alert: some surprises are going to be revealed despite my attempts to be as vague as possible, whether plot points or the identity of who shows up

The Worst Movie Cameos of the 2010s

25. Tommy Wiseau – The Disaster Artist

Being the single most interesting moment in an otherwise vapid movie, but that’s more on the part of the lack of control either participant in the scene has and the way they are trying to muscle over the other as the most interesting person on the screen. And the fact that it was relegated to being a post-credit sequence means that Franco and the rest knew that it didn’t fit in and didn’t want it to fit. It feels reminiscent of him pulling up Wiseau at his Golden Globes speech and keeping him deliberately away from the mic.

24. Keanu Reeves – Always Be My Maybe

Victim of the hype more than anything. Perhaps the single most overacclaimed cameo of the 2010s, where it was just another entry in the overabundance of “celebrity mocks himself as a conceited cartoon” with nothing to add to the table – nothing satirical or even necessarily self-deprecating. This is a cameo that could easily have gone to anyone that said yes. Especially in the face of the director’s usage of James Van der Beek in Don’t Trust the B– in Apt. 23, this was really small potatoes. And he’s still more likable as a presence than either lead character, to be honest.

23. Joe Morton – Godzilla: King of the Monsters

I don’t remember if a single word was spoken (now I do, having pulled up the clip and even heard him acknowledged as Corey Hawkins’ character in Kong: Skull Island), it was just the moment where I had to recognize “Oh god, they’re really serious about this MonsterVerse thing”.

22. Quentin Tarantino – Django Unchained

On the one hand, applauding Tarantino for giving him a role that you’d think entitles him to say the n-word and he actually doesn’t. On the other hand, big reminder of what a terrible actor he is with that accent (which I think the clip I posted below doesn’t have him speaking nearly as much unfortunately). On the other other hand, we got to see Tarantino explode. Not all that bad.

21. Benedict Cumberbatch – Thor: Ragnarok

Evidently a write-in for very little reason outside of reminding us that yes, the MCU exists having to deal with one of the least enjoyable performances in all of the franchise having to cut in to give information that probably did not need the cameo to be received.

20. Charlie Sheen – Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Confused on whether or not this is supposed to be a cynical “bygones be bygones” moment or a warm “bygones be bygones” moment, there’s not enough to see how far the character has regressed or if he’s just trying to pass by the moment. A wasted opportunity to dig deep into what capitalism does to a soul the way that the first Wall Street kind of did. Also, in a manner that just bugs the heck out of me looking at this clip… the scene breaks the 180 rule.

19. Jason Momoa & Ray Fisher – Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

It’s one thing to overstuff this movie with advertisements for the upcoming Justice League and heroes within there, but it’s another thing entirely to just make these heroes first big-screen appearance feel so unceremonious as Ben Affleck clicking through lowkey YouTube videos.

18. Ezra Miller – Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Ezra gets their own glorified spot for “Am I too soon?” Heck yes, you were, even before the subsequent collapse of the DCEU’s main actors and the continued development hell of the Flash movie made you too soon.

17. Ryan Reynolds & Kevin Hart – Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Probably closer to becoming actual supporting roles but that’s part of the problem. These actors’ appearance after being annoyingly “those guys who have to be the funny man in every movie from 2010 to 2019” pop in and have extended monologues that run the movie’s already painfully chonky runtime to a speed beyond time and space. I’m convinced that cutting down their screentime would do miracles for the movie’s pacing. And they may never share the screen together, but they both deserve this esteemed spot for having the same effect for the multiple times they popped in.

16. Iggy Azalea – Furious 7

Iggy gives a massively better performance than Ronda Rousey with one line and yet still seems like a transient from Chappie. What on Earth does she know about car racing? Why does everybody at Race Wars stop what they’re doing to hear what she has to say about Letty’s driving? It’s like asking Ja Rule about 9/11.

15. Will Oldham – A Ghost Story

On the one hand, dude isn’t necessarily giving a bad performance. On the other hand, he is being THAT GUY both within the scene as he mansplains and within the film, overdelivering and spelling out the exact themes the movie has spent half its running time establishing elegantly up until that point and the result is the single worst moment in the entire film.

14. Kristen Bell, Ike Barinholtz, Adam Scott, Kevin Smith, Keegan-Michael Key, Lizzy Caplan, Danny McBride, Zach Braff, and JJ Abrams – The Disaster Artist

Most of the Rogen/Goldberg/Franco movies have acted as “look what famous friends we have!” self-congratulation and The Disaster Artist is nothing BUT self-congratulation. But the opening is the clumsiest utilisation of both of those ethos, getting a bunch of faces to try to re-introduce one of the most notorious cult movies that feels like a chopped off Drunk History episode rather than a cohesive explanation of what The Room was. Just “oh my god, so crazy” for five minutes.

13. Ronda Rousey – Furious 7

Y’know there really didn’t have to be any lines spoken at all. Rousey was the biggest face in the UFC at the time and her scowling physical presence, especially since she’s just meant to be a mini-boss to Letty, should have been enough. But instead we had to get not one but two thumping line deliveries and it deflates any personality in the moment, especially since both are try-hard taunts that not even the worst brawler video game would come up with.

12. Sam Witwer & Ray Park – Solo: A Star Wars Story

There is literally nothing that is gained from Darth Maul’s sudden appearance in the movie – especially since as far as most of the movie-going audience in concerned, the character should be dead – and all it does is leave us with space to go “what the heck is happening?”

11. Stephen King – It Chapter 2

The Peter Bogdanovich cameo is weird but explicable. The Xavier Dolan cameo is kind of essential, albeit poorly done. It is extremely bold of this movie – of all Stephen King adaptations – to bring in the man himself so he can make a pithy inside joke about how most of his books have terrible endings and then go on to deliver a significantly worse and emptier ending than the original novel’s already deservedly controversial (and unnecessarily uncomfortable) ending beat had. Way to go, King. You played yourself.

10. Jenna Fischer – The 15:17 to Paris

Judy Greer arguably has to deal with the worse part on account of having to spend more screentime and also one of the worst lines of the 21st Century, but Fischer’s total lack of wiggle room to do anything but look like a concerned mother gives me mental claustrophobia just thinking about it, considering how little presence she has otherwise despite ostensibly raising one of the film’s leads.

9. Toni Collette – Tammy

Practically a wallflower to her scene. She makes Jenna Fischer’s cameo in 15:17 look vibrant and full of inner life while Melissa McCarthy just shouts at her for several minutes.

8. Edward Norton – The Dictator

Oh no… this was flatout the moment I had to concede that Sacha Baron Cohen and Larry Charles had lost it, relying on the crudest and cruelest of rape jokes to get folks in the cinema uncomfortable. I’m not sure if Norton himself is just giving a great performance or if he’s legitimately disturbed at where his career has gone to, but his face made me ready to take a breather for a minute.

7. Ian Holm – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

He looks like he belongs in Madame Tussaud’s, to be quite honest. How on Earth is that the sort of makeup they had to use on him? How did The Disaster Artist have better makeup to give Bryan Cranston than a Lord of the Rings movie had to give its star?

6. Buzz Aldrin – Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Buzz Aldrin appearing in Dark of the Moon is like if Richard Dawkins had appeared in God’s Not Dead. Antithetical to his entire life’s work and painful to witness on account of its association with such a painfully loud movie. Imagine taking a dude who spent most of his life battling conspiracy theories about the moon landing and making him say “we were worn sworn to secrecy” about an insidious cover-up by NASA.

5. Hugh Jackman – X-Men: Apocalypse

Obviously Fox knew which side their bread was buttered on and that’s why they shoveled Jackman into as many movies with the X-Men brand as they could but Apocalypse was already a very cluttered movie to begin with and there’s a difference between muttering “go fuck yourselves” for 3 seconds and having a whole mini-movie portraying the same origin of Wolverine we had seen portrayed twice before. At least it happens to be the first movie to acknowledge that yes, blood will obviously be spilt when Wolverine fights.

4. J.K. Simmons – Spider-Man: Far from Home

I can’t think of a single more self-contemptuous decision in the MCU and that’s considering how they relegated “Shamballa” into a wi-fi password one time. The reason Simmons’ performance in the Raimi Spider-Man films was so good was because of its zippy Hawksian energy, in here they make the man sit in front of a green screen without even so much as Jameson’s famous hairstyle and act like an Alex Jones knock-off in a painfully online way. The character is a punchline and the casting was opportunism and nothing more.

3. Lee Pace – Captain Marvel

Forgot Ronan was a thing. Would have happily stayed forgetting Ronan was a thing for the rest of my life if Marvel Studios didn’t insist that everybody has a contractual obligation.

2. Iko Uwais & Yayan Ruhian – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens. What a goddamn waste! Two of the finest actions stars of the past decade, one of which is so recognizable he gets a close-up and all they do is stand and deliver a few lines and get gulped down by Goosebumps monsters. I think it may have been the start of my bitterness towards the Disney Star Wars era.

  1. Brad Pitt – 12 Years a Slave

No, absolutely not. It may very well be the case that the character existed in real life and that’s fine. But casting yourself as the good white savior Christ figure in the movie you produced is painfully self-congratulatory and satisfied (and he does it again without the race element in his harbinger of doom role for The Big Short 2 years later) and it’s emblematic of all the kind of pageantry within white liberalism that makes me constantly cynical about public acts of allyship. And that’s even without acknowledging that trashfire of an accent, is that supposed to be Canadian or South Park character?

 


Dishonorable Mention: Kamiki Ryunosuke & Kamishiraishi Mone – Weathering with You.
This one is more my hang-up than any actual flaw in their appearance within the film, although having them voice the characters from Your Name. feels like a weird self-congratulatory thing on Shinkai’s part. It quietly ups my rankles a bit because given the places this movie’s story goes, it feels like a late sabotage of Taki and Mitsuha’s future (especially given what she goes through in Your Name.). As my friend Josh said after the movie, “so the bad couple doomed the good couple!”

Can’t Remember Mention: I’m sure that Game Over, Man! with its rolodex of famous names should qualify for this, but I have been blessed with a stricken memory of any celebrity elements outside of Shaggy and I don’t feel enough attitudes about that scene.

Cameo I Really Have No Attitude About but Already Had a Pithy Explanation That I Wanted to Deliver: Action Bronson – The Irishman.
Ghostface Killah could have done it better.

Most Adorably Optimistic Cameo: Edward Norton – Alita: Battle Angel.
Ohhhhh they really thought they’d make enough money for a sequel. At least we got to see how much he looks like James Cameron and Mahershala Ali got to give his best Norton impression.

Not Really a Cameo but Worth a Laugh:
Vin Diesel almost certainly gave Gal Gadot top billing in
Furious 7 because he wanted to ride on that Wonder Woman hype and it’s all for appearing as a photo in the background. Not even archive footage, a photo!

Cameo Somewhere Between Bad and Good: Will Smith – Winter’s Tale.
I mean it’s definitely an inspired choice like practically everything in that terrible movie and Smith actually acquits himself well playing the literal Lucifer, but it’s somehow hard to tell if his delivery of even the most emotionally heightened material is a deliberate attempt to underscore the mundane motions that the Devil is going through or if Smith just needed to do Goldsman a solid and bounce. And by god, that last CGI mouth thing… *chef’s kiss*


THE BEST MOVIE CAMEOS OF THE 2010s

25. Brad Pitt – Deadpool 2

It is not just for the sake of synchronicity that I end the worst with Pitt and begin the best with Pitt. It’s this low because I don’t want to talk about it too much, all I have to say is “don’t blink”. Of all the surprises these lists will spoil, this is maybe the second biggest I don’t want to spoil (other than Winter’s Tale, but like it’s been six years and its an unwatched crappy movie so anybody who was gonna wait to see it has done so by now). It’s an excellent payoff to a running gag that doesn’t run for too long. And I already feel like I said too much.

24. Timothy Olyphant – Rango

Seriously, the man does a way too good vocal impression of Clint Eastwood. And besides which I can’t help loving the fact that the star of my favorite Western of the 21st Century went and got cast as the literal spirit of the West.

23. Matt Damon, Sam Neill, & Luke Hemsworth – Thor: Ragnarok

Nothing really special or deep outside of using a Hemsworth brother to play fake Thor, but it is a most amusing gag that takes the necessity of exposition regarding the last Thor installment and turning it into a playful few minutes.

22. Franco Nero – John Wick: Chapter 2

 

The first of two Nero appearances (I think you’ll be able to guess the other one, it’s not like he was in a lot of popular movies lately), swanky and gladly acting as a final stamp of approval on all the Italianate stylisation that this movie contains with the most ridiculous punchline to that air.

 

21. Channing Tatum & Michael Cera – This Is the End

The only two cameos in the wildly overrated movie to feel like fun cartoonery rather than kid’s gloves self-takedowns, Cera particularly delivering a prequel to his pseudo-Tobey Maguire turn in Molly’s Game 4 years later.

20. Donald Glover – Spider-Man: Homecoming

In almost the entirety of the MCU, we get one flavor of response to the existence of superheroes on such a large scale: “gee whiz” wonder. There’s only two bit performances I can recall that actually approach the matter in a less kneejerk manner and the other one will appear later on this list. In the meantime, here we have Glover evidently tired of having to encounter and navigate around yet another science fiction trope over and over again but treating as just a part of life he has to adjust to.

19. Franco Nero – Django Unchained

Little more than a glorified “passing of the torch” moment with extra “it’s MY time now!” in Foxx’s delivery towards him, Nero is more than game to both concede to Foxx and retain his own dignity as a presence. The coolest moment in the entire film.

18. Jeff Fahey – Alita: Battle Angel

The man only had to do one thing: sit down on a chair surrounded by mechanical dogs while Ed Skrein gives his whole “this here’s Razor, he’s got the death penalty on seven systems. This here’s Ninja, he has over 2000 confirmed kills on call of duty. This here’s Navy SEAL copypasta…” speech. And he acquits himself well, but what really earns its spot here is the sharp facial change he gives to a moment of violence that very clearly bothers him and gets underneath his rugged skin. That it gets to pay off shortly after helps, but it’s one change in his eyes that expresses a range of emotions in an otherwise restrained appearance.

17. Andrew Scott – 1917

The only human presence in the whole movie, however short-lived. Fully living in a casual nihilism (with a hint of modernity in his line deliveries) that provides both a tiny bit of humor to the proceedings and expresses the sort of hopeless miserable carnage that World War I was from beginning to end.

16. Patti Smith – Song to Song

Admittedly a lot of this comes from being a Patti Smith fan and knowing her history but I don’t even recall the exact moment I realized she was talking about her late husband Fred Smith. It just happened to be that Smith’s spacey and clearly genuine account of her grief after Smith’s passing meshed extremely well with Malick’s latest associative editing style (particularly in a film that was most generous to its actors) and that in turn translated to how it was affecting her audience within the film and what Mara’s character was picking up to apply to her relationships. Brave and quietly profound and even a bit playfully mythic.

15. Yayan Ruhian & Cecep Arif Rahman – John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

 

In a franchise full of “Oh my god, John Wick is so OP” lines of dialogue to flex its character, there is no possible bigger flex to pull than having the two most beloved underground action stars challenge the character while expressing what huge fans they are of his work and their excitement to engage him in combat. And then we get to have the best fight in the franchise attached to it as a bonus!

 

14. Uma Thurman – Nymphomaniac

Fudging the rules a bit, but she’s only in the movie for one scene so I’d say I get to go crazy with this. But not as crazy as her uninhibited fury spending her few minutes on screen to add verbally violent puritanism and self-righteousness in various modulating levels and providing the only good scene in the otherwise meandering movie. 

13. Sid Haig – 3 from Hell

Like Thurman, its status as a “cameo” is in question but I qualify it based on having one scene that isn’t archive footage. And what a scene it is as Haig spends his last time on-screen before his passing spitting vile and cruel rhetoric in an apocalyptic manner befitting the last time we will see this remorseless killer and insisting we don’t cry for him because we’re the ones who still have to live in this awful world. It is lit with quiet affection for the actors’ remaining ability to be a grindhouse personality until the end and it basically feels like a moment reminiscent of Bela Lugosi’s spirited “Home?! I have no home!” monologue in Ed Wood’s Bride of the Monster, just now in an actually good movie.

12. Dave Bautista – Blade Runner 2049

I’ll put it this way, he is the only performance in the entire movie’s attempt to invoke religiosity to succeed in acting quietly devoted and assured at once and frankly I spent most of the remaining movie why we weren’t following his character’s story instead of Gosling.

11. Veronica Ngo – Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Basically starring in her own glorified short film for most of the excellent opening scene, Ngo embodies pure physical will and fear in a extended sequence where she inhabits the movie’s otherwise inexplicable insistence on treating space battles like WWII battles amply and gets to let her final beat function as a big “fuck yeah!” moment, even overriding the illogical physics.

10. Patti Lupone – Last Christmas

Probably the single most effortlessly charming moment in the whole movie which desperately needed that positive energy to maintain itself for the rest of its runtime, energetic and happy to be there in a genuine way even if it’s for no apparent reason.

9. Joe Don Baker – Mud

An excellent utilization of his screen persona to condemn the sort of reverence the South has for Good Ol’ Boy figures like him, implying that there is something more self-serving and imposing in such a personality type and adding to the muted disillusion of the film in general.

8. Sigourney Weaver – The Cabin in the Woods Paul

Somewhere between 2011-2012, fantasy cinema decided to deem Weaver the voice of all authority within science fiction and I was all too happy to watch it happen. The Cabin in the Woods gets the edge for me on account of cosmic and cruel her very statements feel, adding one final heavy stake to the last 10 minutes of the movie and making it count.

7. Adrien Brody – Midnight in Paris

And in the blink of an eye, he’s gone but while he was around Brody’s skippy little portrayal of Salvador Dali was the last time I ever found myself actively enjoying a Woody Allen moment and the first time in ages.

6. Alfre Woodard – Captain America: Civil War

The other grounded bit performance in the MCU besides Glover, for one thing being such an excellent screen partner that she coaxes out the single most engaged performance Robert Downey Jr. gives between Iron Man 3 and Avengers: Endgame. But she also basically asks all the questions of responsibility and collateral regarding these big battles that the fans ponder and the movies non-commitally feint towards and asks them hard, using her eyes to deliver the first (and possibly only) instance of raw humanity and pain that the MCU will ever receive in a role that feels left behind in the rubble.

5. Laura Dern – Downsizing

You wouldn’t think an actor would find it necessary to put in THAT much work and personality into a character who is on-screen for less than a minute and is basically spending her whole screentime insincerely selling to rubes, but 2017 was the Year of Dern and by god was not even the smallest part going to be a paycheck to her: there’s three different layers to each line reading and it doesn’t make her the star of the movie, but it does make the character feel more deeply sycophantic than she already was.

4. Carrie Fisher – Maps to the Stars

If I may have a hot take, this is Fisher’s career-best performance. For one thing, it is insanely funny to me how celebrities can use social media to create friendships at this point rather than the old-fashioned way. For another Fisher – particularly through her writing – has long been a source of the unglamorous side of Hollywood and I think she quietly brings a lot of that sardonicness to an already gleefully sarcastic film, particularly letting her history act as a condemnation of Hollywood’s superficiality.

3. Stan Lee – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Not the last Stan Lee cameo in a Marvel film (and while Captain Marvel’s was kind of quiet and warm, Avengers: Endgame flatout wasted that opportunity the staple to end on a pleasant note), but it is the best… anticipating Lee’s passing away a month before the movie’s release is not expectant of the makes of the movie, but his delivery of “I’m gonna miss him”, the mention of Spider-Man as an old friend, and his insistence that the costume will always fit someone all end having multiple emotional associations from that event mixed with the context of the scene. And he still gets to find room for a sense of humor, with the last beat of his cameo and his post-credits appearance as J. Jonah Jameson (a long time wish of Lee’s) letting it all go down smoothly.

2. Harry Belafonte – BlacKkKlansman

This is going to have overlap with a later list so I don’t want to say too much, only that Belafonte’s delivery of a painful account regarding the real-life lynching of Jesse Washington is a core component to what turns out to be a lacerating criticism towards film culture and the United States on several ends.

1. Wolf Blitzer – Mission: Impossible – Fallout

The pièce de résistance in the opening scene’s constant ability to keep pulling the rug out of our carpet and particularly poking fun at the constant usage of political pundits in popcorn movies (one of my least favorite things for them to do, besides using actual politicians in movies). I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but suffice it to say, it was the exact moment the movie won me over with its sense of humor deflecting an operatic darkness it might engage with for drama’s sake.

HONORABLE MENTION: Laurence Fishburne – John Wick: Chapter 2. I mean Chapter 3 just about established him as a central character in the mythos now, but when this first came out two years prior… it definitely felt like just a quick throwback to the good old days where Fishburne and Reeves could establish an excellent rapport like nothing, remarkable given that Fishburne is one of the most quietly underrated contemporary actors these days and Reeves is a constantly misused one.

MOST AMBITIOUS CAMEO MULLIGANS: Sacha Baron Cohen, Will Smith, Kanye West, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Jim Carrey, Marion Cotillard, Liam Neeson, John C. Reilly, and Kirsten Dunst – Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
I didn’t laugh (why would I? The Anchorman movies suck.) but I was absolutely impressed by how on-point the casting was for such a throwaway throwback to a previous sequence, mapping out their screen personalities with the sort of “news” they’d deliver. I don’t know that I care for it more than the first Anchor fight, but it’s clear work was put into it.

The Best and Worst Movie Lines of the 2010s

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So a picture is worth a thousand words? Well that makes a word worth… like… a word.

Listen, I don’t intend on dissecting a bunch of non-sequitur pieces of dialogue, particularly from movies where I think the beauty of the writing expands not just in the line itself but in the context and delivery. The ranking of these lines even – unnumbered, just in descending order – is pretty much arbitrary. You’re not gonna see commentary in this list. If I can find the line in question on youtube, I will provide it but other than that: you will have to take my word for it. I just want to acknowledge some witticisms or dullnesses my ear was happy to hear in the past 10 years.

The Worst Movie Lines of the 2010s

Dagny Taggart (Laura Regan): “Ragnar Danneskjöld?”
Ragnar Danneskjöld (Eric Allan Kramer): “Dagny Taggart!”
-from Atlas Shrugged Part III: Who Is John Galt? Written by James Manera & Harmon Kaslow & John Aglialoro, based on Ayn Rand’s novel.


“If I was no good, why’d you steal my fucking voice?”
– Bobby Maine (Sam Elliott) in A Star Is Born. Written by Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, & Will Fetters, based on the previous screenplays.


“The Vatican did not endorse this film, nor aid in its completion.”
– Title card at the beginning of The Devil Inside. Written by William Brent Bell & Matthew Peterman.


 

Lemuel Gulliver (Jack Black): “War! Huh! What is it good for?”
Princess Mary (Emily Blunt): “Absolutely naught!”
– from Gulliver’s Travels. Written by Joe Stillman & Nicholas Stoller, based on Jonathan Swift’s novel.


Major Ematt (Andrew Jack): “It’s another Death Star.”
Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac): “I wish that were the case, Major. This is the Death Star, THIS is Starkiller Base.”
Han Solo (Harrison Ford): “So it’s big!”
– from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Written by Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, and Michael Arndt.


“If I robbed a church and had the steeple sticking out of my ass, I would deny it.”                – John Gotti (John Travolta) in Gotti. Written by Leo Rossi and Lem Dobbs.


“You wanna make a baby?”
– Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) in Arrival. Written by Eric Heisserer, based on Ted Chiang’s short story “The Story of Your Life”.


Hardin Scott (Hero Fiennes-Tiffin): “Hate to spoil it but it was all a dream.”
Tessa Young (Josephine Langford): “Actually… it was all a lie.”
– from After. Written by Jenny Gage, Tom Betterton, Tamara Chestna, and Susan McMartin, based on the novel by Anna Todd.


Trench Mauser (Arnold Schwarzenegger): “I’ll be back!”
Church (Bruce Willis): “You’ve been back enough. I’ll be back.”
Mauser: “Yippe-kay-yay…”
– from The Expendables 2. Written by Sylvester Stallone & Richard Wenk.


“I read a tweet about a New Yorker article about you.”
– Joni Thrombey (Toni Collette) in Knives Out. Written by Rian Johnson.


“Now certainly you can run past the tortoise as long as you don’t contemplate the mechanics of that, but the question of how turns out to be so complicated that no one really solved it until Cantor proved that some infinities are bigger than other infinities… I think that answers your question.”
-Peter van Houten (Willem Dafoe) in The Fault in Our Stars. Written by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, based on the novel by John Greene.


“Fairy lives don’t matter today.”
– Ofc. Daryl Ward (Will Smith) in Bright. Written by Max Landis.


“He’s been doing all sorts of drugs, but he’s addicted to crystal meth, which seems to be the worst of them all.”
-David Sheff (Steve Carell) in
Beautiful Boy. Written by Luke Davies and Felix van Groeningen.


Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch): [Regarding “Shamballa”] “What’s this, my mantra?”
Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor): “Your wifi password. We’re not savages.”
– from Doctor Strange. Written by Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, & C. Robert Cargill


“When you use a bird to write with, it’s called ‘tweeting’.”
–Maui (Dwayne Johnson) in Moana. Screenplay by Jared Bush.


Dr. Serizawa Ishiro (Ken Watanabe): “There are some things beyond our understanding, Mark. We must accept them and learn from them. Because these moments of crisis are also potential moments of faith. A time – when we either come together or fall apart. Nature always has a way of balancing itself. The only question is… What part – will we play.”
Dr. Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler): “Did you just make that up?”
Dr. Ishiro: “No. I read it in a fortune cookie once. A really long fortune cookie.”
from Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Written by Michael Dougherty & Zach Shields.


“Look, I can’t hold forever. If you reach him, tell him Leia has an urgent message for him… about his mother.”
– Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Written by Rian Johnson.


“It’s been so long since I felt real pain! I missed it, but not as much as I miss inflicting it on others”
– Josh Lambert/Parker Crane (Patrick Wilson) in Insidious: Chapter 2. Written by Leigh Whannell


“From an economic standpoint alone, what you’re asking is problematic”.
–Pharaoh Ramses (Joel Edgerton) in Exodus: Gods and Kings. Screenplay by Adam Cooper & Bill Collage and Jeffrey Caine and Steven Zaillian.


“My God is bigger than your statistics”
– Joyce Eskel (Judy Greer) in The 15:17 to Paris. Written by Dorothy Blyskal.


“The most unreliable narrator is life itself.”
– Abby Dempsey (Olivia Wilde) in Life Itself. Written by Dan Fogelman.


The following entire 8-minute dialogue between Larry Bloom (Kevin Costner) and Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) in Molly’s Game. Written by Aaron Sorkin. Worst moments including “your addiction was having power over powerful men”, “No, you’ve known since you were 5. You saw me in my car and you didn’t really know what you saw.”, “It’s funny how fast you can go when you’re not charging by the hour”, and “I’m your father. Trying to measure how much I love you would be like trying to visualize the size of the universe.”


“I had orgasms, he had wargasms.”
– Ophelia Sage (Blake Lively) in Savages. Written by Shane Salerno, Oliver Stone, & Don Winslow, based on Winslow’s novel.


“A tree falls in the forest, no one puts it on YouTube, did it ever really happen?”
–Bodhi (Édgar Ramírez) in Point Break. Screenplay by Kurt Wimmer.


Lines that are somewhere between the realms of good and bad.

“Release the Kraken!”
– Zeus (Liam Neeson) in Clash of the Titans. Written by Travis Beacham, Phil Hay, and Matt Manfredi, based on the original screenplay by Beverley Cross.


“There are witches that need killing. Fucking witches.”
–Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges), Seventh Son. Screenplay by Charles Leavitt and Steven Knight.


Father Burke (Demían Bichir): “The blood of Christ!”
Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet): “Holy shit!”
Father Burke: “The holiest.”
– from The Nun. Written by Gary Dauberman.


“Your barge and you are quite impressive.”
–Thermistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) in 300: Rise of an Empire. Screenplay by Zack Snyder & Kurt Johnstad.

The Best Movie Lines of the 2010s


“Piss off, ghost!”
-Korg (Taika Waititi) in
Thor: Ragnarok. Written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost.


“Do something. Do something. You phony prick fraudulent motherfucker. Do something! Come on! Prove it! Fuck faith! Earn it! Show me something real! I need it now. Not later. Now! Show me and I’ll believe in you until the day I die. I swear. I’m calling on you. I’m calling on you!… Fuck it. I’ll do it myself.”
– John Ottman (Liam Neeson) in The Grey. Written by Joe Carnahan & Ian Mackenzie Jeffers, based on Jeffers’ short story “Ghost Walker”.


Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist): “I heard you struck my son.”
Aurelio (John Leguizamo): “Yes, sir, I did.”
Tarasov: “And may I ask why?”
Aurelio: “Yeah, well, because he stole John Wick’s car, sir, and, uh, killed his dog.”
Tarasov: “… Oh.”
– from John Wick. Written by Derek Kolstad.


“This guy, he wouldn’t know God if He crawled up his pant leg and bit him on the pecker.”
– Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) in Hell or High Water. Written by Taylor Sheridan.


“Anybody accidentally kills anybody in a fight, they go to jail. It’s called ‘manslaughter’.”
– Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood. Written by Quentin Tarantino.


 

 

I’m 6’5″, 220, and there’s two of me”
– Tyler Winklevoss (Armie Hammer) in The Social Network. Written by Aaron Sorkin, based on the novel The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich.


“If fish looked like that, I would fuck fish. I would only fuck fish!”
-Derrick Jones (Jerry O’Connell), Piranha 3D. Written by Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg, based on the original screenplay by John Sayles.


Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg): “I was drunk, and angry, and stupid.”
Marilyn Delpy (Rashida Jones): “And blogging.”
Zuckerberg: “And blogging.”
– from The Social Network. Written by Aaron Sorkin, based on the novel The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich.


“She’s like having your own Disney villain, plus she won’t let you jerk off.”
-Adam Red Eagle (Forrest Goodluck) in The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Written by Desiree Akhavan & Cecilia Frugiele, based on the book by Emily M. Danforth.


Jack O’Donnell (Bryan Cranston): “Find the White House Chief of Staff.”
Malinov (Chris Messina): “How would I find him?”
O’Donnell: “We’re a fucking spy agency, find him!”
-from Argo. Written by Chris Terrio, based on the non-fiction sources from Tony Mendez and Joshuah Bearman.


Beans (Isla Fisher): You are eating his ashes!
Rango (Johnny Depp): Eh! You carry his remains?
Beans: No! His ashes; he loved to smoke. They never found the body.
Rango: Oh. Um, I’m sure he had his reasons.
– from Rango. Written by John Logan.


Alma (Vicky Krieps): “I want you flat on your back. Helpless, tender, open with only me to help. And then I want you strong again. You’re not going to die. You might wish you’re going to die, but you’re not going to. You need to settle down a little.”
Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis): “Kiss me, my girl, before I’m sick.”
– from Phantom Thread. Written by Paul Thomas Anderson.


“I like it when she puts her tongue in me.”
-Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) in The Favourite. Written by Deborah Davis & Tony McNamara.


“I had a feeling that the great word ‘respectable’ would some day divide us.”
– Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) in Love & Friendship. Written by Whit Stillman, based on Jane Austen’s unfinished work Lady Susan.


“We’re werewolves, not swearwolves.”
– Anton (Rhys Darby) in What We Do in the Shadows. Written by Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi.


“My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around”
-Elsa (Idina Menzel) in Frozen. Written by Jennifer Lee but that particular line is to be credited to Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.


“To be clear, asshole, you fucking asshole, I want very much to have it if it’s Jim’s. That’s what I want. But since I don’t know, you not only fucked things up by fucking me, and maybe making me pregnant, but even if it’s not yours, I can’t know that, so I have to get rid of what might be a perfectly fine baby, a baby I want, because everything you touch turns to shit! Like King Midas’s idiot brother.”
-Jean (Carey Mulligan) from Inside Llewyn Davis. Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen.


“I just thought there’d be more.”
– Olivia (Patricia Arquette) in Boyhood. Written by Richard Linklater, with input from his actors.


“I can’t help you with that.”
-Abby Gerhard (Sarah Paulson) in Carol. Written by Phyllis Nagy, based on the novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith.


Samantha Evans (Lorelei Linklater): “Goodbye, yard! Goodbye, crepe myrtle! Goodbye, mailbox! Goodbye, box of stuff Mommy won’t let us take with us but we don’t want to throw away. Goodbye, house, I’ll never like Mommy as much for making us move!”
Olivia (Patricia Arquette): “Samantha! Why don’t you say goodbye to that little horseshit attitude, okay, because we’re not taking that in the car.”
-from Boyhood. Written by Richard Linklater, with input from his actors.


“So I told him that to condemn a novel he had not read would be like going to Sodom or Gomorrah, and being disappointed that neither were Philadelphia.”
-Vryling Buffam (Catherine Bailey), A Quiet Passion. Written by Terence Davies.


“And please help Richard to marry Diane so that I may have grandchildren, and that the Pope may have more followers.”
– Richard’s mother (Patsy Meck) in American Hustle. Written by David O. Russell & Eric Warren Singer.


Céline (Julie Delpy): “You know what? The only time I get to think now is when I take a shit at the office. I’m starting to associate thoughts with the smell of shit.”
Jesse (Ethan Hawke): “Ha ha. That is a good line. I gonna use that in a book some day.”
Céline: “I’m sure you will. And that’ll be the best line in the book.”
– from Before Midnight. Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, & Ethan Hawke.


“If you must blink, do it now. Pay careful attention to everything you see, no matter how unusual it may seem. If you look away, even for an instant, then our hero will surely perish.”
-Kubo (Art Parkinson) in Kubo and the Two Strings. Written by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler.


Have you ever heard the expression, ‘prevention is nine-tenths the cure?’ Well in the case of suicide, it’s ten-tenths the cure.”
– Violet Wister (Greta Gerwig) in Damsels in Distress. Written by Whit Stillman.


“So that’s the deal. I won’t- I cannot negotiate any more. You take it or leave it. But if you leave it, we go to court. And if we got to court, it’ll get ugly. And we’re not ugly people, Harge.”
-Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett) in Carol. Written by Phyllis Nagy, based on the novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith.


“I don’t hate my fellow man, even when he’s tiresome and surly and tries to cheat at poker. I figure that’s just the human material, and him that finds in it cause for anger and dismay is just a fool for expecting better.”
-Buster Scruggs (Tim Blake Nelson) in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.Written by Joel & Ethan Coen.


“D’accord, mes contours…”
-Marianne (Noémie Merlant) in Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Written by Céline Sciamma.


Damn ye! Let Neptune strike ye dead Winslow! HAAARK! Hark Triton, hark! Bellow, bid our father the Sea King rise from the depths full foul in his fury! Black waves teeming with salt foam to smother this young mouth with pungent slime, to choke ye, engorging your organs til’ ye turn blue and bloated with bilge and brine and can scream no more – only when he, crowned in cockle shells with slitherin’ tentacle tail and steaming beard take up his fell be-finned arm, his coral-tine trident screeches banshee-like in the tempest and plunges right through yer gullet, bursting ye – a bulging bladder no more, but a blasted bloody film now and nothing for the harpies and the souls of dead sailors to peck and claw and feed upon only to be lapped up and swallowed by the infinite waters of the Dread Emperor himself – forgotten to any man, to any time, forgotten to any god or devil, forgotten even to the sea, for any stuff for part of Winslow, even any scantling of your soul is Winslow no more, but is now itself the sea!”
-Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) in The Lighthouse. Written by Robert Eggers.


“I do not have the mental or emotional capacity to deal with his loss, but sometimes, I sit in a chair late at night and quietly feel very bad. When the night is at its most quiet, I can hear death. I am very proud of my sadness, because it means I am more alive. I no longer fall in love with rocks.”
– Emily (Julie Pott) in World of Tomorrow. Written by Don Hertzfeldt around audio recordings of Winona Mae.


“You see, there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. Indeed that’s what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant… oh, fuck it.”
– M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Written by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness, based on the writing of Stefan Zweig.

The Best and Worst Posters of the 2010s

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They say “don’t judge a book by its cover” but they also say “a picture is worth a thousand words”, right? Well, fortunately movies aren’t books so I don’t think I’m going against nature to abide by the second saying for this post. Let’s see what the heck they’re saying, these intros are tiring me out to be honest, let’s just get into the thick of it. 30 posters each, go hard or go home, hajime!

THE WORST POSTERS OF THE 2010s

30. The Ides of March

ides_of_march

This is low on the list and will remain low on the list because I really get what they’re trying to go for and think it’s admirable. They just picked the flattest possible way to execute that idea, especially with that had transplanting and the insistence on stressing Gosling and Clooney’s different eye colors.

29. Christopher Robin – Tigger character poster

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Tigger’s got some dead eyes up in here. All the stuffed animal characters in this movie have dead eyes, but Tigger’s hard green are the most alarming and I don’t want them staring at me. They literally remind me of the Cryptkeeper’s live eyes in a corpse.

28. Tangled – Teaser

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Ah yes, when Rapunzel’s hair in the movie got to make some Killer Klowns from Outer Space cocoon. I’ll forgive how much it obscures its own design principles that are the raison d’etre for the movie to begin with but it’s such a painful overdipping in the principles of teaser posters.

27. Shelter – International Poster

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Gets this low solely because it’s not a home release poster but they could not have airbrushed Jonathan Rhys-Meyes and Julianne Moore further into Twilight characters if they tried.

26. The Old Man & the Gun – International poster

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Not only does any of this reflect the quiet little matinee that the movie actually is – there is not even an explosion, let alone one that looks this stock – but it’s blindingly bright in a way that I find hurts my eyes as hard as an overexposed light in a pitch-black cave.

25. The King’s Speech – Pulled poster

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Again, gets away with this low a status because even the distributors saw it and said “nope, this is not the poster”. That tagline, the fact that Colin Firth has dramatic lighting that goes against the light-heartedness of Rush’s reaction or the pseudo-Andy’s-Room-in-Toy Story background, that sickly color, it’s all making me dizzy honestly. It looks like a fake comedy that would be watched in a terrible Downton Abbey ripoff.

24. The Trust

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Heck of a lot of graininess that makes me feel like I’m passing out looking at this image and also Elijah Wood looks like somebody is draining his blood while he holds the world’s most overlit pistol.

23. Extraordinary Measures

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Brendan Fraser got halfway through his evolution into Harrison Ford. And this also makes me feel like I’m about to die with how overly bright it is.

22. American Hero

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First of all, neither actors head is fully attached to their body, especially Griffin who looks like his will tumble off any second. Second of all, this is shot with the unsteady focus pull of a Punk’d video and with the color palette of a post-apocalypse rather than a comedy. And last of all, somebody overly fill-lit Dorff’s left arm so it looks like it’s in the oven and I am a gnat who has to stare at the brightest thing in the room.

21. Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Ugly bunch of gray, dizzying usage of background business, but the real star of the show is the clumping together of the heroes (another superhero poster will mess this up later in this post) to a manner that messes up their scale with each other. Iron Man looks like he is protecting his baby children Black Widow and Hawkeye, who are in turn protecting their baby child Nick Fury, who you definitely didn’t notice before because there’s less light on him than the backlit Vision in the sky and he’s just hanging off the side like a Swiss Army Utility. Matter of fact, how are any of them standing up with the ground crumbling at the bottom of this image?

20. 6 Underground

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Either everybody is about to get hit by the green car or the chopper is about to crash into the city of Venice due to the Earth beneath it shifting. Either way nobody is getting out of this poster alive.

19. A Dog’s Journey

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They picked the least cute angle you could shoot a dog.

18. Sex and the City 2

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Kim Cattrall is pod-personed here. You can tell because the pod people didn’t finish the contours of her face.

17. Juliet, Naked

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For something trying to use lines to look neat, it’s ended up not looking neat all that much. In fact, it stresses the separation of the subjects on a planal level and also made Chris O’Dowd look like he had a growth spurt.

16. X-Men: First Class – character teaser posters

They messed up the clip art deep fake, clearly. Starting with having to pick the grainiest possible photos for headshots.

15. Ready Player One – teaser poster

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That boy’s leg is still way too long, what are they doing to the poor kid?

14. The Counselor – one-sheet

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You know what happens when you have too many name actors that you end up having to create a monstrous two-headed beast out of Brad Pitt and Javier Bardem’s unfinished hair-do. Was no man in this tequila print ad able to be centered at all?!

13. One for the Money

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One: that ain’t how you hold handcuffs. Two: the handcuffs against the titles make it look like one of those trick images where I can’t figure out if they are meant to be behind or in front. Three: that is the ugliest shade of teal I’ve ever seen and throwing sickly yellow on it makes it look like somebody vomited on a department store catalog.

12. Left Behind

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OK, even beyond the ridiculously hot coloring for whatever green-screen the actors were in front of (absolutely not in the same room together), what really kills me about this is how it does not look like Nic Cage’s facial features are at the slightly wrong position of his head, like it feels approximately correct but like his eyes, lips, and nose will slip off at any moment.

11. I Am Wrath

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Think Cage’s face is bad in the Left Behind poster? The touching up of Travolta’s face here makes him look like a corpse BEFORE the mortician gets to work. Call yourself wrath if you want, but I know one thing you can’t call yourself…

10. Inferno

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Venice is upside down and in negative and if not on fire, it’s smoking and I can’t tell Tom Hanks or Felicity Jones apart. And the prom’s tomorrow.

9. Aloha

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Geometrically inconsistent. All you have to do is start by fixing your eye on the “O” in Aloha and watch it all roll around to different lines and ends like a horrible Choose Your Adventure book. Also that tagline is a bad joke.

8. The Amazing Spider-Man 2

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There is no possible way that the curvature of the Oscorp sign, Spider-Man’s stance, and the positioning of New York make any spatial sense unless this poster takes place in the world of Inception or Spider-Man’s foot is broken.

7. The Adjustment Bureau

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s poster except now you CAN’T ignore that spacing is all wrong here because movement is at the center of it and they didn’t disguise its failures by making it upside down. Also gray is officially the worst color, I declare it here on this post.

6. X-Men: Days of Future Past

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So like… MOST superhero movies of this decade have had frankly garbage posters (probably outnumbered solely by the romantic comedy), but this is particular… you notice how everything is so weirdly forced into the centered space so there’s a lot of emptiness around these folks? It looks like a visual swirly of colors and figures that simply won’t match together. Especially given how blatantly it’s trying to apply our favorite enemy of teal-and-orange to its color scheme? And that central light on Magneto’s hand like it’s the chosen one. Can’t take it, man.

5. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

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You guys are seeing what I’m seeing, right? This isn’t a silhouette… it’s clip art!

4. The Bachelors

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A poster about which I would have never had to see if not for Alternate Ending and I didn’t even need to read the caption before noticing the recycling of Delpy’s image and the illogical of that car seat.

3. Spider-Man: Homecoming

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At least I can laugh at the X-Men: Days of Future Past version of the poster because if you look at that one again, Patrick Stewart is farting fireballs. This…. This has nothing that I get ironic enjoyment from.

2. Yogi Bear

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Oh, something coming in bears, alright.

1. Hit by Lightning

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No further comment.

THE BEST MOVIE POSTERS OF THE 2010s

30. Super 8

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In a decade where Drew Struzan (tributed by the header page on this post) was exemplified by all kinds of movie campaigns whether It‘s childhood nostalgia angle or the fact that Star Wars came back, this is the best invocation of his work. Plus it tells the truth about JJ Abrams’ lens flare fetish.

29. John Carter – IMAX midnight release

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The single time in the entire ad campaign where they finally recognized that maybe we should actually make our “space opera” look fantastical and vast. The softness of the landscape’s colors and what that says about the wistful horizon before us promised more adventure than this movie was capable of delivering.

28. The Lobster – US release

The emptiness of that space within the two hugging posters and the idea that the characters can not be complete without the other feeling altogether hard to stomach with the sickly backdrop color satisfies me enough to place it here.

27. The Handmaiden – US release

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Looking hella like that opening shot from Midsommar where we see the story essentially mapped in invisible ways, but here the rustic colors (and textures even with the brown having those stains around) just force us to sink into it rather than interrogate it.

26. Portrait of a Lady on Fire – US release

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Again, the tangibility of the paint, the warmness of the colors, and I mean… at this point, I’m not gonna reiterate what it looks like but we know what it is and how well it delivers eroticism without being smutty about it.

25. Mad Max: Fury Road – Full Campaign

Almost certainly my favorite ad campaign of the entire decade and it’s terribly hard to pick one poster from the several hot and large images they’ve decided to deliver in anticipation of this movie, but I think I will provide two for example and encourage you to go wild with google images. The army of two poster that does immensely well to communicate the sort of relationship the duotagonists will carry through out and has the smartness to vary in levels and profile direction so that each actor has power in this image (plus the way the motorcycle fills the shape and the chain makes the action feel like it’s approaching). And this singular orange one that actually uses the kludged habit of action movie posters to give it a controlled frenzy and then has that brilliant usage of horizon below to give it momentum, all the more so because of the canted angle of that horizon.

24. Alien: Covenant – Orgy

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Close enough to monochrome to grab that starkness and horrifying in its evocation of the concept’s inherent sexual violence imagery, it’s not at all a subtle poster but it is a very effective one, quoting classical art in statuesque form.

23. Wonder Woman – teaser

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Nice and powerful and dramatic, from the light to the stance to the tagline. DCEU definitely wanted to cover their bases with the movie that had to keep them afloat.

22. Suspiria – teaser series

I mean, when the initial teaser poster came out with that solid pink S, it was some kind of joke to me. Like was it trying to emulate Screen Gems?! And then each subsequent iteration of this poster ends up transfiguring the graffiti into thick smudges of blood in different manners and the result is an extremely effective use of shocking visual violence to tell exactly how dark things will go in this movie.

21. The Dark Knight Rises – teaser

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A nicely epic image invoking the familiar image of the batman logo in the middle of this urban and apocalyptic atmosphere, doubling its impact since we know it’s the ending installment of the trilogy and pretty much follows one of the most popular movies of the 21st Century.

20. Blue Ruin

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Intense presentation of the title, with those bullet holes and cracks that already present violence well before our eyes crawl down to the bottom and see what a rural backwoods crime in the making looks like in silhouette.

19. Joker – teaser

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Effectively cold as an image, where we get to see enough of the figure and his weird posture to recognize him (and that smudge of blood on his chin) and then allows the rest of the poster to be swallowed by black and blue because of how moody those two tones can be.

18. Black Swan – Polish pop art series

I don’t even know what to say about these. They feel like the blocky shadow-based artwork one would find in a gothic metropolitan area, particularly the top-based one. But even the one that looks like evil nega-Bjork is impressive in its usage of subjects and lines to feel like fine art.

17. Buried – “Paul Conroy Isn’t Ready to Die”

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I mean this one is not even trying to hide its lifting of Saul Bass but it works extremely well in establishing a sense of trapped darkness and… dare I say… vertigo?

16. Magic Mike XXL – teaser

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Admit it. You smiled too.

15. Deepwater Horizon – teaser

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Filling up the space with all that smoke for a sense of alarm, letting the blue of the sky and the ocean function as negative space to let that disaster below look that much more isolated and small and doomed.

14. Buried – Pull Quotes

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Almost the same reasons as the Bass homage poster, but this does a more excellent job of trapping Ryan Reynolds into a fixed shape, adding discomfort by shuffling him to a corner of the poster, and most importantly accomplishes that with the power flex of flaunting all its reviews. It’s not just that it feels like the good version of what Her attempted 3 years later, it’s basically the character “suffering from success” as DJ Khaled put it.

13. Shame

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Remember how I spent the trailers post saying how “Oh THIS trailer is better than the movie and THAT trailer is better than the movie”? Not that I hate Shame (though it is dead last in my McQueen rankings), but this poster definitely tells us all about sex and misery more than the movie does.

12. Gone Girl – teaser

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Call me hokey as heck, but the incompleteness of the tagline works for me in the context of this soft and lonely image, with the news banner beneath just quietly invoking the idea of emergency.

11. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – teaser

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Whatever else I say about Harry Potter, the fact that I was particularly in the right age just as the phenomenon was at its height and so I have an irreversible nostalgia for the image of the Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone teaser poster hanging on my 3rd grade classroom door giving mysticism to the children approaching Hogwarts in the night. Wisely returning back to that first image we ever had of the film series – even with such stressed melodramatic context (“IT’S ON FIRE!!!”) – taps right into my association with how far it has come and the heavy steps towards the end of the series. Looking at this poster is the only emotional response I had regarding a Harry Potter movie.

10. Blindspotting

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The most novel possible way to communicate the relationship between its two characters: how they can be tight but they are fundamentally not going to exist in the same experience. Effective usage of lines and profile to tell us that before we even see the movie.

9. Wonder Wheel

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Points enough for having the titular Coney Island attraction in the backdrop of what is a softly nostalgic image, but on top of that, if you had told me the poster with this touch of shadow and color had been shot by Vittorio Storaro himself, I don’t know that I could contradict that save for hard evidence. I haven’t bothered watching it because I know I’m just not in the mood for Woody Allen anymore, but the screener sits on my tv stand just because I love that image.

8. Aniara

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All about the directness of the lines – spaceship included – and the big red target of Mars and how all of that is disturbed by the trajectory of one ship. The patterns in this poster absolutely feel like something you would encounter in an old-school pulp sci-fi novel.

7. Godzilla – Comic-Con teaser

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Wonderfully impish tease that gives us enough to know how big the titular creature was gonna be, but beyond that knows that all good things come to those who wait. And also as someone who actually loves the approach the movie had to the character, the fact that the poster is just as much a tease makes me feel vindicated.

6. The Wolverine – teaser

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Japanese woodblock stylization of the quintessential Wolverine pose? That about does it for summarizing the movie that is to come. That insignia in the bottom left especially in red like a little artistic signature.

5. The Paperboy

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As a deep Lee Daniels apologist, I’m glad at least one of his movies had the marketing to reflect his tawdriness and this one gets it best of all because of how flushed everything looks with pink hues and that angry streak of John Cusack’s eyes. Nice and novelesque look for Southern scandal.

4. Crimson Peak

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First of all, this supersede my childhood memory of the Bram Stoker’s Dracula teaser poster for the best usage of “Beware” as a tagline. But even beyond that, you can’t have a movie with “Crimson” in its title without invoking red and you can’t have a ghost story without invoking blue and this is just a beautiful utilization of both colors overlapping with each other in a smooth manner that distinguishes those primaries but also makes this merge well in the superimposition. Plus I know that “Lovecraftian” is used way too much (and I mean nothing in the movie proper resembles Lovecraft, it’s hardly even a horror movie!) but Wasikowska’s hair in this image… is Lovecraftian.

3. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

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Quietly simple with its usage of shape and color and spacing to define what sort of menace to expect with this directness, except then you look closer and see how crudely the central figure is defined by her outline or the fragmented lipstick and you realize this is a really good horror movie image in its own right.

2. Moonlight

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Had its color scheme delivered to it by the source material, but more importantly, it doesn’t try to hard to tie together its three actors – it knows that it just needs to connect via the eyes and the rest will lay in place to give us this feeling of development in one person. That is finds a way to sneak in implications of the violence of the second third and the performative look of the final third gives this depth.

  1. Gravity – IMAX

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Sometimes the answer is right in front of us the whole time. Zero ambiguity whatsoever about the terrifying reality of its scenario.

DEAN VERNON WORMER’S LOCKDOWN-FRIENDLY, DOUBLE-SECRET PROBATIONARY QUARANTINE-QUALITY MOVIE QUIZ

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Still rolling through the 2010s lists – I’m hoping to have the Best and Worst Posters of the 2010s up tomorrow – but just provide myself a little cooldown, I once again look to the reliable surveys of Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule and lookee here, they even have one relevant to the quarantining happening ’round town. Let’s dive into Dean Wormer’s little questionnaire.

1) You’re on a desert island (and you sort of are)—What three discs do you select out of your own collection to keep if you had to get rid of all the rest?

Very wise loophole-proofing this by saying it has to be “discs” because whoah would a whole lot of box sets be selected otherwise. I guess I’d go with the Criterion blu-rays I have of The Passion of Joan of ArcTokyo Story, and the FOX blu-ray of Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. I do it for the culture, in case they are destroyed outside of my little island.

2) Giuletta Masina or Jeanne Moreau?

I don’t think I’ve ever had an easier version of these “this or that” questions in these surveys. Giulietta Masina is adorable, gave us two of the best screen performances of all time, and honestly reminds me of one of my ex-girlfriends (specifically her performance in La Strada), so that is a no brainer for me.

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3) Second-favorite Roger Corman movie.

This is kind of tough because my actual favorite Roger Corman switches often, so depending on the day, it could either be The Little Shop of Horrors or The Haunted Palace (I of course assume this is referring to Corman-directed rather than Corman-produced). I think I’ll go with The Haunted Palace today because I’m REALLY feeling Horrors‘ sense of humor, but come tomorrow….

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4) The most memorable place you ever saw a movie. This could be a film projected on a big screen or seen in some other fashion—the important thing is what makes it memorable.

Definitely feel like this would be a good place to talk about how Pollack Tempe Cinemas is my favorite movie theater that I have ever encountered, but I don’t think that’s nearly all that unorthodox a location to watch a movie. I don’t know if a bar is an unorthodox place to watch one either, but I don’t know how you’d manage it with the sound and I can’t think of anywhere else that’s interesting than the time about a year and a half ago when a friend (Big up, A-S-) was showing me this horror punk bar in downtown Savannah called The Jinx and The Warriors was playing on the tv above the bar. We ended up watching the whole thing – not hearing a single line of dialogue (I explained any relevant exposition to my friends – also big up L-C- – as it was their first time watching it) – except for the wild hardcore punk playlist that bar had on its PA system which fit very well with its aesthetic.

5) Marcello Mastroianni or Vittorio Gassman?

Mastroianni. I just like his style more. This was tougher than I make it sound, but Mastroianni looking at someone from above his sunglasses is just the slickest.

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6) Second-favorite Kelly Reichardt movie.

Y’know, a while ago Old Joy would have been my pick for favorite but a recent rewatch of Meek’s Cutoff made me seriously re-evaluate the later film hard enough to dethrone Joy down to second place, so at least it still gets acknowledgement up in here.

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7) In the matter of taste, is there a film or director that, if your partner in a relationship (wife/husband/lover/best friend) disagreed violently with your assessment of it, might cause a serious rift in that relationship?

I don’t see myself getting close to anyone who would be in a position to disagree VIOLENTLY with me on a movie-related subject (it sounds like dating myself, which sounds exhausting), but I will say that I don’t think I could possibly maintain a relationship with someone who categorically rejects the work of Ernst Lubitsch. Like if I show them the movie and they’re like “that was garbage, why would you show me that?” I’m showing them something else: the door.

8) The last movie you saw in a theater/on physical media/via streaming (list one each).

In a Theater: Ride Your Wave via semi-illicit means although my last proper movie exhibition in a theater was Emma. the night just before AMC shut down for COVID.

On Physical Media: I kind of fell asleep to The Good, the Bad, the Ugly because it was late at night. Looking forward to rectifying that soon since it’s too perfect of a movie not to complete, no matter how many times I’ve already seen it.

Streaming: Love in the Afternoon, where Gary Cooper tries a role that was definitely made for Cary Grant and in turn makes it way too obvious what their differences are.

9) Name a movie that you just couldn’t face watching right now.

I am constantly THIS close to rewatching Shoah before I rewatch The Last of the Unjust for my Best of the 2010s catch-up and I frequently find myself saying “y’know, just because I have the time doesn’t mean I HAVE to watch a 9-hour Holocaust doc. I could just get to the 4-hour one that’s not as a upsetting.”

10) Jane Greer or Ava Gardner?

It took me time to get used to Greer in Out of the Past, but no such issue with Gardner in Night of the Iguana, so the latter’s had a headstart to win this.

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11) Edmond O’Brien or Van Heflin?

Edmond O’Brien because he looks as zoned out at life as I do.

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12) Second favorite Yasujiro Ozu movie.

Late Spring.

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13) Name a proposed American remake of an international film that would, if actually undertaken, surely court or inevitably result in disaster.

I don’t even like Akira that much but seriously… Akira.

14) What’s a favorite film that you consider genuinely subversive, for whatever reason?

I don’t have to give the reasons that Psycho is subversive, do I? I’m too lazy to think of a less obvious answer.

15) Name the movie score you couldn’t live without.

Joe Hisaishi’s score for Hana-bi has long been a comfort blanket for me before I even ended up seeing the film. I’d like to say The Umbrellas of Cherbourg but I don’t think it would bring me down from certain experiences the way that Hana-bi‘s score does.

16) Mary-Louise Weller or Martha Smith?

I mean, I’m basically being asked to pick between their Animal House characters and while they’re both attractive, only Babs gets me to Universal Studios.

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17) Peter Riegert or Bruce McGill?

I’m very much tempted to disqualify McGill just for the awfulness of FDR: American Badass but then I remember how much ownage he delivered in that one courtroom scene in The Insider and I wipe that smirk off my face and admit McGill is the dopest.

18) Last Tango in Paris—yes or no?

I hardly remember anything about the movie except how awfully Bertolucci exploited Maria Schneider so I can’t say yes, but I also feel like I should remember more about the movie before I say no.

19) Second-favorite Akira Kurosawa movie.

Ran. Asking this question is akin to asking the second-best movie in the world, to be honest.

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20) Who would host the imaginary DVD commentary you would most want to hear right now, and what would the movie be?

I cannot imagine that the future Criterion release of The Other Side of the Wind won’t include Peter Bogdanovich getting down on the commentary and I sure hope so.

21) Favorite movie snack.

It used to be Dots, but I haven’t had them in a long while. (Author’s Note: I have since left to get some).

22) Second-favorite Planet of the Apes film (from the original cycle).

If you hadn’t specified from the original cycle, I’d be dropping Dawn up in here. Instead I’m going with Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, which I also feel is the best-shot and that’s probably not a coincidence.

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23) Least-favorite Martin Scorsese movie.

Boxcar Bertha.

24) Name a movie you feel doesn’t deserve its current reputation, for better or worse.

I feel like it’s probably believable that more filmmakers in the early American industry saw The Birth of a Nation than Cabiria – even if Cabiria pre-dates it, even as movie watched at the White House – but we’re really telling on ourselves by choosing to establish the Klan agitprop film as the foundational text of long-form narrative cinema.

25) Best movie of 1970. (Fifty years ago!)

I’m worried that I’m forgetting something when I say The Conformist, but it is probably The Conformist.

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26) Name a movie you think is practically begging for a Broadway adaptation (I used this question in the last quiz, but I’m repeating it because I never answered the quiz myself and I think I have a pretty good answer)

*shifts eyes around to make sure nobody is listening* …Suspiria.

You can’t tell me it’s impossible to make a good Suspiria adaptation for Broadway. You’d need somebody who really is tuned-in to the material, though.

27) Louise Brooks or Clara Bow?

Louise Brooks. Made a bigger first impression with me than the It Girl. Dream of both in black and white, though.

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28) Second-favorite Pier Paolo Pasolini movie.

Mamma Roma.

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29) Name three movies you loved in your early years that you feel most influenced your adult cinematic tastes.

Spider-Man
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

30) Name a movie you love that you think few others do.

Full Frontal. Which is a-ok, I get to play with it more.

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31) Name a movie you despise that you think most others love.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. I absolutely do not understand the love people have for it. I hear them claim that it’s misunderstood because it’s a comedy, but that doesn’t get us past the point where the movie is just not funny. And unfunny comedies are the worst things in the world.

32) The Human Centipede—yes or no?

Still haven’t seen it. Not really on my watchlist. I’m gonna assume the NO position for now.

33) Anya Taylor-Joy or Olivia Cooke?

Anya Taylor-Joy, who I have been obsessed with since The Witch. Meanwhile I am haven’t yet been brought on-board the Olivia Cooke train, but I could be convinced eventually.

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34) Johnny Flynn or Timothée Chalamet?

Johnny Flynn. I’m really not into the Chalamet hype at this point, he’s not a good actor, he’s just some twink y’all are over obsessed with because twigs make you thirsty.

35) Second-favorite Dorothy Arzner movie.

Dance, Girl, Dance

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36) Name a movie you haven’t seen in over 20 years that you would drop everything to watch right now.

“In over 20 years” is a very hard call to make, especially considering that I was a kid back then. I’m pretty sure I’ve only seen City on Fire the one time before I was ten years old and would definitely like to revisit it knowing the sort of influence it has on Hong Kong crime cinema and Quentin Tarantino’s storytelling.

37) Name your favorite stylistic filmmaking cliché, and one you wouldn’t mind seeing disappear forever.

You can never over-oversaturate your colors for me, I want colors when I go the movies before I want anything else.

Meanwhile, anybody who is still shooting features with iPhones are my mortal enemy forever. If Steven Soderbergh couldn’t accomplish it, that means it’s the devil.

38) Your favorite appearance by a real-life politician in a feature film, either fictional or a fictionalized account of a real event.

I don’t like at all when politicians do this. I think it adds way too much to the current memification of politics which makes me want to set stuff on fire. The closest I am to fine with it is Saadi Yacef essentially playing himself in The Battle of Algiers, especially considering how it involves an event he was personally involved with and especially since that movie is propaganda anyway (my nationality may also explain my leniency on this one).

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39) Is film criticism dead?

Absolutely not. I have been feeling like it’s on the edge for nearly 6 years now, but to be quite honest, I don’t see it ever disappearing fully no matter how dry the money gets. The only thing people want to do with movies more than watch them is to talk about them and there’s no other way that the conversation can actually expand into the rest of the world.

I do feel like we’re leaning more and more into a trend of focusing on the material rather than the aesthetic craft itself that breaks my heart, but whatever keeps the conversation going…

40) Elizabeth Patterson or Marjorie Main?

Marjorie Main. She’s been in more movies I love.

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41) Arch Hall Jr. or Timothy Carey?

I have sadly seen no movies with Arch Hall Jr., but looking into his wikipedia page, it sounds like he would absolutely be my jam, so I need to rectify this immediately.

No offense to Carey as one of our most unforgettable character actors, but whoah what style on Archie there.

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42) Name the film you think best fulfills the label “road movie.”

The Road Movie“, I declare with a giant grin.

But impishness aside, I am inclined to go with Y tu Mamá Tambien.

43) Horror film that, for whatever reason, made you feel most uncomfortable?

Wolf Creek for all the obvious reasons.

44) Least-favorite (directed by) Clint Eastwood movie.

The 15:17 to Paris, oh my word. Eastwood is the last director who should be working with non-actors and it was also the least-baked of his “interrogating a hero” films that he’s in the current phase of making.

45) Second-favorite James Bond villain.

If we’re counting TV movies then Peter Lorre’s version of Le Chiffre from the television Casino Royale. If we’re not, then Goooooooooldfingah!

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46) Best adaptation of a novel or other form that had been thought to be unfilmable.

Cloud Atlas specifically because – in addition to its boundless ambition – instead of trying to adapt the structure of the novel, it opts to use the power of the cut to have an experiential thoroughline instead.

47) Michelle Dockery or Merritt Wever?

I must confess to being hardly familiar with either actor – I especially have never seen either of their popular TV show performances (though I have seen the Downton Abbey movie) – but in terms of appeal, I do dig Dockery. She’s also the single redeeming factor of the horrible experience that was The Gentlemen.

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48) Jason Bateman or Ewan McGregor?

I lied. THIS is the easiest “This or That” question that SLIFR has ever posited to me. McGregor, by far. The only thing Jason Bateman did that has retained a place of pride in my head is Arrested Development. McGregor is constantly entertaining me, no matter how bad the movie surrounding him is.

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49) Second-favorite Roman Polanski movie.

Rosemary’s Baby.

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50) What’s the movie you wish you could watch with a grandparent right now? And, of course, why?

3/4 of my grandparents are dead, one of them died before I even met him. Of the ones I know or knew, none of them were really into movies that I could tell. Maybe The Quiet Man might appeal to at least one of them, possibly my single living grandmother.

51) Oliver Stone two-fer: Natural Born Killers and/or JFK—yes or no?

No to Natural Born Killers. Yes to JFK.

52) Name the actor whose likeness you would proudly wear as a rubber latex Halloween mask.

Vincent Price. At which point I would remove my Vincent Price mask to reveal Dr. Phibes! It’s a perfect Halloween idea!

53) Your favorite cinematographer, and her/his greatest achievement.

Oh my word, that is such a tough question. My kneejerk is to say Emmanuel Lubezki (in which case his achievement is Knight of Cups, in my opinion) but I don’t want to seem basic and I would like to throw onto this holy trinity Gordon Willis (The Godfather Part II being his achievement) and Miyagawa Kazuo (Yojimbo being his best achievement).

54) Best book about the nitty-gritty making of a movie.

I don’t know about best because there is a whole lot of great stuff out there, but Greg Sestero’s The Disaster Artist was such an impressive little combination of character study, conflict, and making-of behind-the-scenes and it was quite the thrilling read for that reason.

The Jaws LogThe Making of The Wizard of OzFuture NoirAlfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, and Breaking In: How 20 Directors Got Their Start are definitely close runner-ups for me.

55) If you needed to laugh right now, what would be your go-to movie comedy?

Duck Soup. Always a new joke I catch with that one.

tenor