All right, folks. It’s that time again. Here are your winners — and decided losers — of the year.
In case you’re curious: Prometheus? Definitely not a winner.
1. The only films eligible for this year’s awards are movies I watched for the first time in 2013. I also had to write some kind of review for it, however brief.
2. Certain awards might come with SPOILERS. I will do my best to indicate these ahead of time. The most spoiler-y awards — like Best Death, for instance — will go under a generic Spoiler Section. But said Spoiler Section will cover lots of different movies, so proceed at your own risk.
STRONGEST FEMALE CHARACTER
M – Skyfall
M has always been cool, but Judi Dench was particularly remarkable this year in Skyfall. M is supremely competent. She’s also obstinate, funny, intelligent, and manipulative, and whether she’s staring down vindictive psychopaths or arguing her agency’s relevancy with the words of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, she is the kind of person I think we all wish was running our spy industry.
Honorable Mentions: Helen (High Noon)
WEAKEST FEMALE CHARACTER
Shadow – All Superheroes Must Die
I thought about giving this movie a pass since it’s such a low-budget affair, but Shadow cannot be forgiven. She’s ostensibly a superhero of her own, but really she’s just a dull love interest with as much personality as a turnip. Possibly less. In a cast full of incompetent characters, she is easily the most useless.
Runners-Up: Dale (Flash Gordon); Gillian (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
MOST UTTERLY RIDICULOUS TALENT
Hat Attack – After the Thin Man
Lum Kee (William Law) disarms and knocks down the bad guy simply by tossing his hat at him. I own well over forty hats. I keep throwing them at my sister, but sadly it doesn’t seem to accomplish much.
(Note: the above picture is very much not William Law, but I didn’t have a good shot of him, so you get an absurdly young James Stewart instead. Sorry.)
WORST HEART KNOWLEDGE
Cave Paintings = Aliens Created Us And Want Us To Visit – Prometheus
Dr. Elizabeth Shaw finds a bunch of cave paintings all over the world that feature the same set of stars. She then randomly decides that these paintings are basically brunch invitations from the aliens who have engineered humanity’s existence. See, it’s science . . . but it’s also faith!
Dr. Shaw, you are the worst fictional scientist in the whole world.
MOST UNINTENTIONALLY HILARIOUS MOMENT
NOOOOO! – Tombstone
This may very well be the best twelve seconds of your entire life.
Runners-Up: “He’s Killing Me!” (Friday the 13th IV: The Last Chapter); The Stag (Snow White & The Huntsman); KHAAAN! (Star Trek Into Darkness)
BEST FIGHT SCENE
Shadow Fight – Skyfall
It may be short, but it’s also incredibly awesome and made my Top 21 Best One-on-One Fight Scenes of All Time list.
The Brothers Bloom
In 2012, I saw three movies in theater starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Amused by this, I made a Best JGL Award that went to his performance in The Dark Knight Rises. This year, I didn’t see any new movies with him in it . . . except for a ten second, blink-and-you-miss it cameo in The Brothers Bloom. So, obviously, I had to award that with something. (Not to mention he’s wearing a white shirt, black tie, and awesome hat. That’s basically the definition of winning, right?)
Doc Holliday – Tombstone
Doc Holliday is one of those sidekicks who’s infinitely more awesome than the main hero. He’s considerably funnier, less whiny, and more talented than Wyatt Earp. Plus (moderate spoilers) he’s the one who takes out the last bad guy standing. Which is pretty awesome.
This is a truly sucky movie, but Val Kilmer is really kind of great in it. He ALMOST takes the award for ‘Best Actor in a Totally Crappy Movie’ too. (James Remar in All Superheroes Must Die had a decent shot at that as well.)
Honorable Mentions: Anderson (Dredd); Cheyenne (Once Upon a Time in the West)
Michael Fassbender – Prometheus
But instead that award — and this one — goes to Michael Fassbender, because while this movie might be terrible, casting Fassbender as David was nothing short of genius. David deserves his own spinoff movie. David is the only reason this film got a ‘C’ grade from me instead of the ‘D’ it totally deserved.
Honorable Mention: Karl Urban (Dredd); Martin Freeman (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey); Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
O.Z. Whitehead – The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Look, this is an incredibly minor role. I know it. I can’t even remember if this guy has lines or not. But people: we do not cast fifty year old men as teenagers. No amount of lollipops will ever make this believable or okay.
Runners Up: Henry Brandon (The Searchers); The Supposed Dwarves (Snow White & The Huntsman)
WORST WASTE OF AN ACTOR’S CONSIDERABLE TALENT
Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, Johnny Harris, and Brian Gleeson – Snow White and the Huntsman
Or actors’ considerable talents, as the case may be. Because speaking of those Supposed Dwarves . . . wow, I just don’t get this.
While I don’t agree with casting non-dwarves as dwarves, I can at least understand why someone might do it. What I can’t understand, however, is casting the collected talents of actors like Bob Hoskins and Ian McShane and not doing anything with them. The dwarves are completely functionless to the plot itself, and the actors get absolutely nothing to work with. It’s ridiculous.
Flash & Dale – Flash Gordon
There are no words for the sheer absurdity that is Flash & Dale’s relationship. I wrote rather extensively about it in my review, but here’s the short short version: they get duped by a mad scientist, are taken prisoner by an evil emperor, have approximately four conversations, and decide to get married and have babies.
Runners-Up: Kirk & Gillian (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home); Hansel & Mina (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters); Wyatt Earp & Josephine Marcus (Tombstone); Django & Maria (Django)
Matt – Red Dawn (2012)
Warning: mild spoilers below:
Generally, we applaud when our heroes attempt to save their incarcerated loved ones, but such is not the case here when Emo Matt screws up his team’s assassination plans and gets one of his fellows rebels killed, all so he can needlessly rescue his girlfriend whose prison is liberated at the end of the movie anyway. And while he pouts about it for a few days, he never actually apologizes or seems to feel particularly sorry for what he’s done. In fact, he immediately equates his three day mope fest with his brother “running away” to the marines after their mother’s death.
Yep. You’re a winner, Matt.
Honorable Mentions: Deputy Pell (High Noon); Newspaper Guy (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance); Odin (Thor: The Dark World)
WORST INSPIRING SPEECH
“Iron Will Melt!” – Snow White and the Huntsman
It’s not entirely Kristen Stewart’s fault but . . . wow, this speech makes absolutely no sense. At all. If you’d care to watch this incomprehensible wonder for yourself, you can go here. (Although I should warn you the quality’s not particularly great.)
Honorable Mentions: Chris Hemsworth’s speech in Red Dawn (2012)
Terl – Battlefield Earth
Oh, Battlefield Earth. You stand a very good chance of — ah — winning many awards, I think.
I was dissatisfied with a lot of villains this year, mostly because they were dull. Terl, however, is more than dull. Terl is terrible. It’s sort of amazing just how atrocious Terl actually is — he proves his staggering incompetence by giving his enemies all the knowledge, weapons, and opportunities they need to not only defeat him but also to wipe out his entire planet.
And of course there is The Accent. John Travolta delivers all his horrible lines in an equally horrible, wavering, and quasi-British accent. It is the worst. He is the worst.
Honorable Mentions: Ravenna (Snow White & The Huntsman)
Stephen – Django Unchained
Ostensibly, Leonardo DiCaprio is the bad guy of this story — and he is one, don’t get me wrong — but I think Samuel L. Jackson’s character is a more complex and arguably scarier villain. It’s a very difficult role to rock — Stephen is not free, and yet has managed to leverage a considerable amount of power — but I think Jackson does a great job with it. I still feel like he deserved an Oscar nod for his work in this movie.
Honorable Mentions: Javier Bardem (Skyfall); Ma-Ma (Dredd); Frank (Once Upon a Time in the West)
“I Like You” – V/H/S
Overall, I was underwhelmed and fairly disappointed with V/H/S, but it did have a few good moments, and this girl . . . this girl was creepy. Kudos, Hannah Fierman.
MOST FABULOUS FASHION
Hats – The Brothers Bloom
Because I’m a sucker for a pretty boy in a hat. Or, as it turns out, a pretty girl in a hat. I’m just saying — Rachel Weisz in this movie? Damn sexy.
We should all wear more hats.
The Blue Outfit – Django Unchained
You know that thing where some women want to dress their men up in nicer clothing and make them look more presentable? It’s not an instinct I fully understand or particularly support, but in this one instance . . . I might be okay with it.
Please talk to your man, Kerry Washington. Don’t let him leave the house killing racist assholes like this.
Honorable Mention: Flash wearing a shirt that says ‘Flash’ (Flash Gordon); Alien codpieces (Battlefield Earth)
Javier Bardem – Skyfall
At this point, I think he’s just fucking with us.
Honorable Mention: John Travolta (Battlefield Earth)
BEST DYNAMIC DUO
Thor & Loki – Thor: The Dark World
I might not have loved this movie the way so many of my friends did, but any scene with these two in it was automatically the best. I actually wish there were more scenes featuring the two of them.
Honorable Mentions: Tuco & Blondie (The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly); Tony and Harley (Iron Man 3); Nick and Nora (The Thin Man, After the Thin Man)
The Good, The Bad, The Weird
Oh God, you guys. Trying to pick this just about killed me. In fact, I vacillated so wildly that if I had posted this list tomorrow, I probably would have picked something else. Especially since I was so sure that Ennio Morricone had this in the bag. (And if the award had been for one individual song instead of the whole score, he probably would have.)
But as of today I’m picking The Good, The Bad, The Weird because I love all the music. It’s quirky and bouncy and fun, and it fits perfectly with the tone of the film. I can’t actually imagine this movie without all the joyful music, and I certainly would have bought the soundtrack by now, if I could find it cheaper than forty dollars on Amazon.
Honorable Mentions: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly; Once Upon a Time in the West; A Fistful of Dollars; The Proposition; Gravity
BEST INDIVIDUAL SONG
“Armonica” – Once Upon a Time in the West
Well, I couldn’t entirely leave Morricone hanging.
This was also an incredibly hard choice. Again, I flip-flopped pretty wildly on this — but I love how “Armonica” transitions from this mournful wailing sound into something considerably more ominous. And I love how the notes from the harmonica actually become an important part of the story.
Honorable Mentions: “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly,” – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly; “The Ecstasy of Gold,” – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly; “Per Un Pugno Di Dollari (#2),” A Fistful of Dollars; “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” – The Good, The Bad, The Weird, “The Proposition # 1” – The Proposition
FAVORITE OPENING CREDITS
This was a pretty close battle, but ultimately I just loved the gorgeous what-the-fuckery of these credits, especially when paired with Adele’s masterful “Skyfall.” Beautiful stuff. You could pick pretty much any one image and use it for a speculative writing prompt.
Honorable Mentions: Django
FAVORITE ENDING CREDITS
Iron Man 3
I don’t know . . . there’s just something about these credits that make me totally happy. I love the music and the pictures from all three films. It’s a really fun way to end a trilogy. (And the scene that comes after the credits is, of course, also amazing.)
Also . . .
FAVORITE SUPERHERO MOVIE:
Iron Man 3
I know this is a big ‘love it or hate it’ kind of movie, and actually, I think I had a few problems with it on the re-watch myself. But . . . I still do enjoy the hell out of it. RDJ is, as always, awesome. There are a couple of moments I really like with Pepper. The kid’s funny. I actually like the VO. I laughed a lot. The Two Big Things that pissed everyone off? I’ll admit to being unsatisfied with one of them, but the other thing didn’t bother me at all.
I liked Thor: The Dark World too — mostly because I like Loki — but I wasn’t nearly as engaged in that film as I was in this one, so I just couldn’t vote for it. (Plus, honestly, I think it has its own share of problems. Like Malekith. And some pretty huge plot conveniences.)
Despite John Wayne’s strenuous objections, I really enjoyed the hell out of High Noon. It could easily have been quite dull, considering that most of the action happens in the last fifteen minutes, but instead it was trim and tense with interesting character dynamics and a spectacular ending. I can even forgive our villain being generally underwhelming because I liked it so well — and, also, because Katy Jurado is entirely awesome. Helen is the best.
Honorable Mentions: A Fistful of Dollars; The Good, The Bad, The Weird
LEAST FAVORITE WESTERN
McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Man, I was bored during this movie. Maybe a second viewing would change my mind, but it’s not happening for a while because seriously. So. Damn. BORED. And as awesome as Julie Christie was in this role, I just couldn’t buy into the relationship between McCabe and Mrs. Miller. Their scenes were fine if you looked at them individually, but I felt — and still feel — that the overall arc of their relationship was weak and took something away from the end of the movie. Which is unfortunate because the last shot of the film is incredibly striking.
I wish I could have liked this one much more than I did.
MOST DISAPPOINTING MOVIE
Star Trek Into Darkness
I don’t hate this movie the way other people do — the fact that it won a ‘Worst Star Trek Movie of All Time’ poll is, in my opinion, pretty ridiculous. But it does fall apart considerably during the second half, and I was really disappointed with how they handled a lot of things. It had potential to be a really good story, but it become a mildly enjoyable — if wholly lazy — one instead.
LEAST FAVORITE MOVIE
A lot of movies got off light this year. I definitely watched some terrible, TERRIBLE films, but nothing could quite compare to the sheer horror that was Battlefield Earth. My god. From the terrible writing to the horrifying acting to the ugly filmmaking and the ridiculous number of plot holes — it was just atrociously bad, all of it. There is not a single redeeming quality to this movie. It’s almost a little impressive, how terrible it is.
Honorable Mentions: Resident Evil 5: Retribution; Prometheus
Also winning for Favorite Movie in Theater — and Best Special Effects, as if that was even in question — this was just such an experience to watch. I was tense practically the entire time I was sitting there. The story is simple and spare but mostly works for me. Sandra Bullock does tremendous work. The special effects are outstanding. The score is superb. It is an outstanding film, and I hope it does well during awards season.
Honorable Mentions: Dredd; The Good, The Bad, The Weird
The rest of the awards are considerably more spoiler-y. If you’re willing to chance that, keep scrolling.
Last chance to avert your eyes!
Kowalski – Gravity
This is kind of a debatable choice since, technically, we don’t even see Kowalski die. We just watch him drift away and away until we can’t see or hear him anymore. But yeah, he’s totally dead, and even though it’s kind of a given — I mean, I doubt anyone was really surprised that George Clooney didn’t make it through the film — it’s still a gorgeous moment. His last line? Fantastic. Very powerful stuff.
Honorable Mentions: McCabe (McCabe & Mrs. Miller); Doc Holliday (Tombstone); Pike and Dutch (The Wild Bunch); Klytus (Flash Gordon)
Judge Dredd and Anderson (Dredd)
Okay, there are two survivors here, but fuck it. Cause honestly? Holy shit, are the odds against these two. It’s basically two police officers — one who’s a rookie — against an entire building of bad guys. The fact that both make it out alive? That speaks to an extreme level of badass.
Honorable Mention: Marshall Kane (High Noon)
Millburn (Prometheus) and Henchman (The Good, The Bad, The Weird)
On one hand, we have a scientist who stupidly picks up an obviously vicious little alien creature, talking about how beautiful and precious it is, despite the fact that he was running from any sign of alien life not five minute previous. The alien, of course, kills him.
On the other hand, we have a henchman who makes the bold decision to ask his clearly crazy, insecure, and trigger-happy boss, Park Chang-yi, about the time he lost a duel to another guy. Our henchman wants to clarify who is “the best.” Quite naturally, Chang-yi shows our henchmen who’s the best when he kills him.
I just . . . I just couldn’t pick between them.
Honorable Mention: Trish (Friday the 13th.) She didn’t die . . . but she should have.
MOST CRINGEWORTHY OH-MY-GOD OW SCENE
Broken Hands – Django
It’s not hugely realistic — I mean, the makeup is from the 1960’s — but it still made me wince to see this guy’s hands get turned into hamburger.
Weyland is Vickers’s Father and is Secretly Hiding on the Ship – Prometheus
This was hard for me — I was pretty infuriated with one of Skyfall’s twists too — but ultimately I had to go with Prometheus because these twists (revealed pretty much at the exact same time) are not only lame but utterly unnecessary to the plot. There is no reason that Weyland should be hiding on his own ship, none. And we waited all that time just to find out that Vickers is his daughter? Who cares? These are unbelievably dumb developments.
Not to mention — “Yes, FATHER” remains one of the worst line deliveries of the year.
Honorable Mention: Eve is Moneypenny – Skyfall
The Fat Tribble (Star Trek Into Darkness) and The Helpful Book on the Afterlife (Tombstone)
It’s impressive, just how bad these two scenes are.
Star Trek Into Darkness basically stops everything it’s doing so that Kirk can ask Bones about the dead and hilariously fat tribble he has. Bones is like, “I’m injecting it with Khan’s super blood cause, you know. Science.” And Kirk is like, “Cool beans,” and moves on. That way, when Kirk dies, Bones can see that his tribble has resurrected and come up with a cure for his dead friend.
It is so immensely bad. It is an embarrassment of epic proportions.
But Tombstone does something equally terrible when Morgan foreshadows his own death by abruptly — and I mean out of NOWHERE — bringing up this book he read on spirituality, and how it talked about this light at the end of the tunnel, and do y’all think it’s true, huh? Do y’all think when I croa — I mean, when people croak, do you think they really see that Light?
There are not words for how flat and obvious and terrible this scene is. And so I simply cannot choose between them.
Captain America (Thor: The Dark World) and Dr. Bruce Banner (Iron Man 3)
Okay, okay, it’s the last tie, I promise, but I just — I CAN’T choose between these two. I can’t. Chris Evans’s cameo was easily my favorite thing about The Dark World, but I’m a huge Science Bros nerd, and seeing Tony Stark and Bruce Banner together again, even for fifteen seconds after the credits . . . it made my geek heart squee for months.
Honorable Mentions: Ellen McLain as the voice of Gipsy Danger (Pacific Rim); Ed Harris as the voice of Mission Control (Gravity)
BEST BOO-YAH MOMENT
Throwing Down the Star – High Noon
Marshall Cooper is supposed to be retiring, but when word comes of Bad Guys heading his way, he takes them down almost entirely on his own after the entire town basically abandons him. And then — in the best entirely silent “fuck you” I’ve ever seen, Kane disgustedly throws his Marshall star down to the dirt and rides off into the sunset with his new wife. Awesome moment. Awesome ending.
Honorable Mention: Doc Holliday killing Johnny Ringo (Tombstone); Tony Stark saving everyone from Air Force One (Iron Man 3)
“I’m not thrilled they set this in Mexico. There could be legitimate reasons, but — and I don’t like to simplistically vilify an entire country — but Mexico’s a horrible place.” – Stephen, The Brothers Bloom
I don’t even want to tell you how long I deliberated on this. Ultimately I picked this one because the quote cracks me up and is delivered perfectly by Mark Ruffalo, but it was an incredibly narrow race between this and all the beautiful one-liners that came out of Judi Dench’s mouth in Skyfall.
In fact, here are ALL the many, many honorable mentions. (Warning: the ‘n’ word appears in one of them.)
“Regret is unprofessional.” – M, Skyfall
“To hell with dignity. I’ll leave when the job’s done.” – M, Skyfall
“My late husband was a great lover of poetry, and I suppose some of it sunk in, despite my best intentions.” – M, Skyfall
“Orphans make the best recruits.” – M, Skyfall
“Look, I’m a geologist. I like rocks. I LOVE rocks. Though it’s clear you two don’t give a shit about rocks. But what you do seem to care about is gigantic dead bodies, and since I don’t have anything to contribute in the gigantic DEAD BODY ARENA, I’m gonna go back to the ship. If you don’t mind.” – Fifield, Prometheus
“You should see the sun shining on the Ganges. It’s amazing.” – Kowalski, Gravity
“I don’t like crooks, and if I did like crooks, I wouldn’t like crooks that were stool pigeons, and if I did like crooks who were stool pigeons, I still wouldn’t like YOU.” – Marion, The Thin Man
“The murderer is right in this room, sitting at this table. You may serve the fish.” – Nick, The Thin Man
“I must tell you the truth, Blondie. In my place, you would do the same thing. It’s all over for you now. There’s nothing anyone can do anymore. It’s my fault! Mine, mine! I’ll tell you one thing, Blondie. If I knew that my last hour had come . . . I swear, in my place, in your place, I would do the same thing. I would tell about the gold.” – Tuco, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
“An Arabic proverb attributed to a prince who was betrayed and decapitated by his own subjects.”
“Well, it’s still a hell of a quote.” – Kirk and Spock, Star Trek Into Darkness
“It’s just sometimes I want to rip the bangs off his head.” – Kirk, Star Trek Into Darkness
“What meaning of this, Mr. Twain?”
“I will tell you, Mr. Wang, if you can tell me why a man who possesses one of the most brilliant minds of this century can’t say prepositions or articles. What IS THE, Mr. Wang. What IS THE meaning of this?” – Wang and Twain, Murder by Death
“I want you to know, Dickie, that if you’re the murderer, I’d still love you. I don’t think it would be right for us to make love, but I’d still love you.” – Dora, Murder by Death
“That’s not a plan. That’s a shit sandwich without bread.” – Hodges, Red Dawn (2012)
“Sandwich Artist! Fill this shit with bread!” – Robert, Red Dawn (2012)
“Don’t shoot! Honestly, I hate working here. They are so weird.” – Guard, Iron Man 3
“Jesus Christ, Stephen! How many people run away while I was gone?”
“Two.” – Calvin Candie and Stephen, Django Unchained
“Django isn’t a slave. Django is a free man. You understand? You can’t treat him like any of these other niggers around here, cause he ain’t like any of these other niggers around here. You got it?”
“You want I should treat him like white folks?”
“No. That’s not what I said.” – Big Daddy and Bettina, Django Unchained
“I think we all know the bags was a nice idea. But — not pointing any fingers — they could have been done better. So how bout this time no bags, but next time we do the bags right and go full regalia.” – Bag Head # 2, Django Unchained
“One, don’t you ever touch me again. Two, don’t you ever touch me again. Now you have no idea who the hell I am or where I’ve come from, and I’m not about to tell you my whole life story. All I need to be to you and everybody else on this dome is a fixed point, the last man standing. I do not need your sympathy or your admiration. All I need is your compliance and your fighting skills, and if I don’t get that, then you can go back to the wall that I found you crawling on. Do I make myself clear?” – Pentecost, Pacific Rim
“Why the hell did you chase me out here?”
“To find out who’s the best.”
“You be the best! I don’t care! Tell people I lost. I don’t give a damn.” – Tae-goo and Chang-yi, The Good, The Bad, The Weird
“In the end, you wind up dying all alone on some dirty street. And for what? For nothing. For a tin star.” – Martin, High Noon
“What kind of woman are you? How can you leave him like this? Does the sound of guns frighten you that much?”
“I’ve heard guns. My father and my brother were killed by guns. They were on the right side, but that didn’t help them when the shooting started.” – Helen and Amy, High Noon
“You’re a good looking boy. You’ve got big, broad shoulders. But he’s a man. And it takes more than big, broad shoulders to make a man.” – Helen, High Noon
“If you want to, you can lay me over the table and amuse yourself. And even call in your men! Well. No woman ever died from that. When you’re finished, all I’ll need will be a tub of boiling water, and I’ll be exactly what I was before, with just another filthy memory.” – Jill, Once Upon a Time in the West
“What would you do in his place? He gave his word.”
“He gave his word to the railroad.”
“It’s his word.”
“That ain’t what counts. It’s who you give it to.” – Pike and Dutch, The Wild Bunch
Thanks, everyone, for visiting the blog and putting up with my ridiculously long reviews and lists. It’s lovely to snark with an audience. See you all in 2014!