Happy New Year, everybody! It’s that blessed time of the year when we all recover from our hangovers, growl at diet commercials, and guilt ourselves into exercising more. (Statistically speaking, the growling is more likely to occur than the exercising, but I guess it’s a little early in the year for cynicism.) It’s also the time when — if you’re constantly running behind schedule, as I am — to post the very last of your Year in Review posts. To that end: my 2014 Movie Superlatives!
Read on to discover who won 2014’s Most Fabulous Fashion, Chief Asshat, Creepiest Moment, Best Fight Scene, and more.
1. The only films eligible for this year’s awards are movies I watched for the first time in 2014. I also had to write some kind of review for it, however brief that review may be.
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
Grace – Short Term 12
There’s been some pushback against using the phrase “strong female character,” but it’s pushback I’m mostly going to ignore because I have always thought of the word “strong” as an adjective describing the richness and complexity of the character, not merely the physical strength of the woman. With that in mind, I’m awarding strongest female character of 2014 to Grace, who is extremely competent, incredibly stubborn, and not particularly adept at communicating what’s going on inside her when she needs help. She goes through a lot of shit in this movie, and while she doesn’t always handle it well, her reactions are both understandable and realistic. We could use more people like Grace, and we could certainly use more characters like her too.
Honorable Mentions: Anna (The Third Man); Erin (You’re Next); Natasha (Captain America: The Winter Soldier); Mystique (X-Men: Days of Future Past); Luisa Rey (Cloud Atlas)
WEAKEST FEMALE CHARACTER
The new Mrs. de Winter – Rebecca
If you’ve recently read my 2014 Book Superlatives, you know all about my feelings towards our unnamed protagonist. She’s marginally improved in the movie, I suppose, but she’s still a hopelessly insecure wreck who spends the greater majority of the movie wailing and fretting. She also has virtually no backbone whatsoever, and her priorities seriously leave something to be desired. The new Mrs. de Winter is basically the antithesis of a role model for young women.
(I should be fair here: the actual weakest female character this year is Super Fan Lori from Death Race 2000. But that whole movie is ludicrous, and she’s only in the film for about two minutes. If I’d had to spend even half as much time with her as I did with Mrs. de Winter, well, then we’d be talking about somebody else.)
Honorable Mentions: Super Fan Lori (Death Race 2000); Annie (Death Race 2000); Kelly (Nine Dead); Madge (Dark Passage)
MOST UTTERLY RIDICULOUS TALENT
Kitty can somehow send people back into the past – X-Men: Days of Future Past
Kitty Pryde has a pretty awesome mutant ability: she can walk though walls. It’s a neat power to have, great for infiltration, surprise attacks, and defensive strategies (i.e., running for your life). However, this is the extent of her abilities, which is why her new time machine talent — that is, where she puts her hands on the side of your face and sends your consciousness back into a past iteration of yourself — is incredibly ridiculous, particularly because there is not even a single line of exposition to explain how she’s managed to gain this new power over the years.
Honorable Mention: Cab driver can tell if someone is a killer just by looking at their face (Dark Passage)
WORST HEART KNOWLEDGE
Vincent is innocent (even if he’s not) – Dark Passage
I’ll be honest with you guys: the main reason I wrote a review for Dark Passage at all was so I could include it in my Movie Superlatives. Basically anybody who looked at Vincent knew the guy didn’t have murder in him; actually, even people who hadn’t met him somehow knew that. This Heart Knowledge is particularly terrible for two reasons: one, because it’s obviously ludicrous, and two, both Bob and the cab driver use the words “murder” and “kill” to only mean “premeditated murder.” Both completely absolve Vincent of any possible wrongdoing — because accidentally killing your wife in the midst of a heated fight is pretty understandable, all in all.
Oh, 1940’s. You had some things going for you, but equal gender roles really weren’t one of them. (Also, suit size. What, were you doubling up on fabric? Why is every man’s suit three sizes too large for him?)
Honorable Mentions: Sheriff knows that Jason is killing everyone, despite the fact that Jason has been dead for five years (Friday the 13th: A New Beginning); How Eddie finally reasons out the identity and motivation of the killer (Nine Dead)
Scuba diver superhero chic racing gear – Death Race 2000
Mek made a strong bid for David Boreanaz’s mesh shirt in The Crow: Wicked Prayer, but ultimately, I just had to go with David Carradine’s outfit here instead. Because I know this is the future and everything, but come on. Your mask is stupid, and what in God’s name do you need a cape for when you’re driving a race car anyway? And women apparently find this costume sexy? No. Oh, no.
Honorable Mentions: David Boreanaz’s Mesh Shirt (The Crow: Wicked Prayer); Bad Guy With Fur-Lined Coat and Polka Dot Bow Tie (The Third Man)
MOST FABULOUS FASHION
Effie’s Butterfly Dress – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Ignore her miserable expression here and focus on the clothes. Effie wears any number of crazy ass outfits in this movie, but I actually kind of adore her butterfly dress, to the point that I’ve actually added her to my possible future cosplay list. (It’s unlikely, since I certainly wouldn’t be able to find such a dress and would thus have to commission it. Also, I’m not convinced this would be particularly flattering on someone above a B-cup. Regardless, I’d still like to try.)
Honorable Mention: Zero’s Lobby Bot Hat (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Severinus – The Name of the Rose
Really, all the monks in this movie are contenders for this award, but Severinus’s hair is by far the worst. And I know, I know: they’re monks. There’s probably not a barber shop or beauty salon next door to the reclusive monastery. Well, I don’t care. There is no excuse for that nonsense above. None. Have some pride in yourself, man.
Machine Gun Joe – Death Race 2000
The writing doesn’t do him any favors, I suppose, but Sylvester Stallone is a spectacularly unconvincing villain. (Nor can he blame the writing entirely, since he came up with some of his own dialogue. I can only hope that he’s responsible for “baked potato.”) He’s more obnoxious than intimidating and not particularly effective at anything he does, especially hand-to-hand fighting. The fight scene between him and Frankenstein is particularly pathetic, both in terms of Joe’s capability and the fight choreography in general.
Black Widow – Captain America: The Winter Solider
This one was hard. Like, really hard. There were so many awesome side players this year, not to mention Captain America actually has two sidekicks in this movie. Of course, Black Widow is much more her own hero than Falcon is at this point (after all, she’s an Avenger, even if she doesn’t have her own movie, goddammit), but this is still very much Cap’s story, and she mostly plays backup here. And while I adore Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, I was ALL ABOUT Cap and Natasha’s partnership in The Winter Soldier. I want to see so many adventures with these two. I want them to go on road trips together and talk about trust and necessity and take out random bad guys and eat pie. I would watch the hell out of a movie like that, and damn the actual plot.
Honorable Mentions: Rocket (Guardians of the Galaxy); Falcon (Captain America: The Winter Soldier); Johanna (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire); Groot (Guardians)
BEST SCENE STEALER
Peter – Body Heat
Ted Danson was such a delightful surprise in this movie, a beautiful burst of energy and humor and spontaneous dancing. I liked his character enough that I probably would’ve watched a spinoff movie about Peter. (I mean, I have no idea what that movie would even be about, but still.) He’s easily my favorite character in the whole film and effectively steals the show every time he and William Hurt share a scene.
Honorable Mentions: Quicksilver (X-Men: Days of Future Past); Johanna (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire); Batman (The Lego Movie)
Jay Baruchel & Seth Rogen – This is the End
This was just supposed to be a dumb apocalyptic stoner comedy — I did not at all anticipate This is the End providing one of the most solid friendship stories of the whole year. Yet the rocky relationship between these two guys is relatable to basically anyone who’s ever grown apart from their best friend. It’s pretty much the heart of the whole movie, and I really enjoyed that.
BEST DYNAMIC DUO
Rocket + Groot – Guardians of the Galaxy
Again, there was a lot of stiff competition this year — like a LOT — but between all the space-action hijinks and Rocket hilariously translating different variations of “I am Groot,” these guys were pretty much the new Han and Chewy. And when you’re comparing a couple of characters to basically the most ultimate Dynamic Duo of all Dynamic Duos, you know those guys have pretty much got it in the bag.
Honorable Mentions: Captain America + Black Widow (Captain America: The Winter Soldier); Captain America + Falcon (Captain America: The Winter Soldier); Calloway + Paine (The Third Man); Mickey + Cliff (Lone Star)
Special Honorable Mention for Real People: Jennifer Lawrence + Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire interviews)
WORST WASTE OF AN ACTOR’S CONSIDERABLE TALENT
Susan Sarandon – Cloud Atlas
I know she’s not supposed to be a major player. I know she was probably never supposed to be a major player. But for fuck’s sake, people. This is Susan Sarandon we’re talking about here. She is a wonderful actress — why even bother casting her if you’re only going to give her four minutes of screen time split between four different characters, some of whom don’t even have lines? I’m all for casting big actors in supporting parts, but you could have gotten anyone to play these roles. And don’t even get me started on her “character” in the Timothy Cavendish story. Ugh. UGH.
Honorable Mention: Glenn Close (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Every white actor (but maybe most especially Hugo Weaving) – Cloud Atlas
You lucked out, Melissa Joan Hart. You would have won easily but for this movie.
Cause, look. I understand that there was an effort to make sure that every actor in the cast played every other ethnicity and gender, and I do appreciate that effort. It’s not the usual whitewashing that Hollywood is unfortunately still known for. (Thanks, Exodus: Gods and Kings. Way to keep up an ugly tradition.)
But there are still multiple problems here. One: there are no Latina actors in the main cast, even though Latina characters are portrayed, so your whole ‘everyone plays everyone else’ doesn’t actually pan out. Two: the ratio still breaks down heavily in favor of white actors, with eight white actors, three black actors, and two Asian actors. Three: the makeup is obviously makeup, and fairly terrible at that, both offensive and incredibly distracting to boot. Four: as I’m still not convinced this casting was necessary to the actual story, it feels more like a gimmick than anything else to me.
The casting certainly isn’t the only reason Cloud Atlas ultimately failed for me, but it was a significant part of its downfall.
Honorable Mentions: Charlton Heston (Touch of Evil); Alexis Denisoff (Much Ado About Nothing); Melissa Joan Hart (Nine Dead)
Michael Keaton – Birdman
The casting is so desperately on-the-nose that it flies right past stunt casting and ends up straight at awesome. But more than that, Michael Keaton just gives a stellar performance as a self-centered actor desperately trying to stage a comeback on the brink of both financial ruin and a near-certain nervous breakdown. In fact, he has a very serious chance at getting a Best Actor nod this year for the role, and it’s well-deserved.
Honorable Mentions: Brie Larson (Short Term 12); Enver Gjokaj (Would You Rather); Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy); Bradley Cooper (Guardians of the Galaxy); Kathleen Turner (Body Heat); Richard Jenkins (White House Down)
I know. You probably thought Guardians of the Galaxy was a shoo-in, right? Well, so did I, honestly, because I thought that it was fun and lively and perfectly fit the tone of the film . . . but I really enjoyed the hell out of Drive’s soundtrack, too, and it not only fits the tone of the film; it basically creates the entire mood. The soundtrack here doesn’t play into the story like the mix-tape in Guardians, yet somehow feels even more integral to the movie itself.
Also, honestly, I kind of just like it better, enough that I’m seriously considering buying it from iTunes. (As a whole, the soundtrack for Guardians really works, but I don’t actually want enough of the individual songs to make it worth it buying. After all, I already have what’s clearly the best one: “Cherry Bomb.”)
Honorable Mentions: Guardians of the Galaxy; The Third Man; The Grand Budapest Hotel
FAVORITE INDIVIDUAL SONG
“Untitled Self Portrait” – The Lego Movie
Again, I know I’m supposed to pick “Everything is Awesome,” here, and I liked that, I did, but . . . yeah, I can’t argue this one with any kind of logic. This song just made me laugh really hard in theater and even harder when I listened to the full version. “Kinda makes it better.” Man, that still cracks my shit up every time.
Honorable Mentions: “Nightcall” (Drive); “Oh My Love” (Drive); “Tick of the Clock” (Drive); “Everything is Awesome” (The Lego Movie); “Time in a Bottle” – X-Men: Days of Future Past
BIGGEST GUILTY PLEASURE
Death Race 2000
Because for all of its absurdity, all of its insanity, all of its horrific sexism, fashion, and logic . . . I still had a really good time giggling at this one. Hand Grenades! Nazis! Baked Potatoes! Movie, you have wormed your ridiculous way into my even more ridiculous heart.
Honorable Mention: White House Down
MOST DISAPPOINTING MOVIE
Snowpiercer was hardly my least favorite film of the year, but considering I’ve been waiting to see it for about, oh, three years now, I definitely found it a bitter disappointment. I can praise all sorts of things about this movie — and there really are elements worthy of praise — but for me, it was pretty much Game Over once we hit that disastrous third act. I know lots of people who didn’t mind it, but all the awesome things I’d enjoyed about this film just completely fell apart in the last fifteen minutes.
Honorable Mention: Much Ado About Nothing (2012)
BEST WTF MOVIE
This is an odd fucking movie, and I’m still not sure how I feel about What It All Means, but it’s also very well-made and enjoyable (if, at times, deeply, deeply uncomfortable). I may take serious issue with the director’s opinions on superhero movies, but against all odds, I did like Birdman and I think it’s earned most of the praise its received over the last few months.
Honorable Mention: Death Race 2000
FAVORITE MOVIE I SAW IN THEATERS
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Also winning for BEST SUPERHERO MOVIE and BEST SEQUEL, The Winter Soldier was just an incredible ride in theater, full of amazing action sequences, stellar performances, great character dynamics, and awesome dialogue. I do have a few small problems with this film that I can’t get into without spoilers, but this was a blast to watch and by far and away my favorite Marvel movie since The Avengers.
Honorable Mentions: The Lego Movie; Guardians of the Galaxy; The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
There aren’t a lot of flaws in this movie. It’s a tightly written, clever murder mystery with several viable suspects, outstanding dialogue, and a supremely talented cast. Very few of the characters can be painted as simply Good or Evil, and there are some pretty interesting discussions on race and racial politics. It also manages to do something I usually can’t stand and make it work, which is always impressive, considering the stubborn little thing that I am. I enjoyed quite a few of the noir films I watched this year, but Lone Star really impressed the hell out of me.
Honorable Mentions: Devil in a Blue Dress; The Third Man; Murder, My Sweet
LEAST FAVORITE NOIR FILM
Touch of Evil
No contest here. Other than a few good scenes scattered about, I found Touch of Evil unbearably dull, full of pacing problems, unlikable characters, and uneven performances. Add in Charlton Heston as a Mexican policeman and a seriously squicky subplot that I deeply wish had been cut or at least altered, and I wasn’t left with much to recommend.
LEAST FAVORITE MOVIE
The Crow: Wicked Prayer
Picking this movie (which also won for WORST SEQUEL and WORST WTF MOVIE) kind of feels like picking low-hanging fruit, and yet it was a truly abysmal film. Even for the fourth movie in a dying franchise. Even for a movie starring David Boreanaz, Tara Reid, Edward Furlong, and Dennis Hopper. Cause, you know, I didn’t pick this because I thought it’d be good, but I guess I expected it to be vaguely comprehensible? Well, it wasn’t. At all. I don’t exactly regret watching this movie (because now I have a story to tell), but that being said, I would never willingly watch it again.
Honorable Mentions: Touch of Evil; Open Graves; Open Grave
Lone Star and Captain America: The Winter Soldier
You guys, I tried. I really did. If this award was for best movie, it would have to go to Lone Star . . . but for favorite . . . I just don’t know. I admire the hell out of Lone Star and I had a great time watching it, but The Winter Soldier was just so much damn fun and a really well-crafted piece of popcorn entertainment. I just refuse to pick between them.
Runners Up: The Lego Movie; Devil in a Blue Dress; Guardians of the Galaxy; The Hunger Games: Catching Fire; You’re Next; The Grand Budapest Hotel
MOST ANTICIPATED MOVIE OF 2015
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
The funny thing is, I didn’t even realize this one had competition at first. I’m thinking, Yeah, I want to see the next couple of Hunger Games movies (since I still haven’t seen Mockingjay, Part I yet) and I’m sure I’ll see Mad Max and all, but there’s nothing else BIG coming out, right? And then I remembered Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. And THEN I remembered Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.
And yet my answer does not actually change, despite the fact that I’m a Batman nerd and a DC nerd and I will obviously be seeing The Force Awakens in theater whether people think it’s good or not. It’s not even about the trailer, either, although the trailer itself is obviously EPIC — I just loved the first Avengers movie so much. It came together in a way that I had hoped but never thought was actually possible and was just one of the best times I’ve ever had in the theater. I want this movie to be good. I want it to be so, so good.
Here’s to hoping Age of Ultron doesn’t end up my Most Disappointing Film of 2015.
And now we come to the Spoiler Section. Some of them are fairly light. Some of them are considerably less so, so tread softly (
for you tread on my dreams).
FAVORITE OPENING CREDITS
Chris Pratt dances to “Come and Get Your Love” – Guardians of the Galaxy
Oh, I laughed so hard at this in theater. It’s actually one of my favorite opening credits sequences of all time, I think — it immediately transitions us out of the sad “My Mom is Dead and I’ve Been Abducted by Aliens” stuff and introduces us to both the film’s wacky, irreverent tone and our dance-happy hero. It’s an all-around great start to a movie.
Honorable Mentions: Ryan Gosling driving to “Nightcall” (Drive); Following a car that’s about to blow up (Touch of Evil); Walking with crutches (Kiss Me Deadly)
Grace and Jayden – Short Term 12
First: if you have a better term than “ladymance,” I encourage you to comment and let me know. I prefer it to “sismance” for some reason, but I’m willing to hear other opinions/alternatives. And I like the idea of highlighting specifically female friendship stories, since there are so very few good ones. (There aren’t enough friendship stories period, in my opinion, but the greater majority of them seem to center around men.)
Grace and Jayden start out in a kind of mentor/mentee* relationship but end up on more equal footing by the end of the movie. I really like all of their scenes together, and the two characters end up having quite a lot in common. And nothing better cements a friendship than smashing the shit of an abusive scumbag’s car, or keeping one another from committing homicide.
(*Merriam-Webster assures me that mentee is a real word, despite the squiggly red line of doom I’m getting right now. Regardless, I’m having a hard time taking it seriously. I think I might actually prefer “mentoree,” even though that doesn’t sound like a real word, either. Who’s up for just changing it to “mento” for the hell of it?)
BEST FIGHT SCENE
Captain America takes the ship (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) and Blackout fight with Axe Gang (Snowpiercer)
I couldn’t seem to pick between these two scenes, but at least I could narrow my choices down to movies with Chris Evans, I guess. First up: The Winter Soldier. Guys, this movie had so many awesome actions sequences. It was insane. But the fight scene I’m picking is actually the very first one, where Cap climbs up to the boat and starts kicking all kinds of henchmen ass. Those guys go flying when Cap kicks them — basically, he’s Punchkicker, if Punchkicker actually bothered to kick. Not to mention Cap totally throws a knife at this one dude. Captain America throws knives, people. It’s AWESOME.
Still, the fight scene in the Train Car Full of Axe-Wielding Bad Guys was pretty amazing too, especially when the train goes through a tunnel and only the bad guys are wearing night vision goggles. It’s definitely a holy SHIT scene and beautifully shot, with a Big Choice moment that sadly leaves poor Jamie Bell sacrificed and dead. Overall, I was disappointed with this movie, but I absolutely loved certain scenes, and this was definitely one of them.
BEST BOO-YAH MOMENT
Peeta pretends Katniss is pregnant – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Usually, I think of boo-yah moments as being a little more action-packed or physical, but I just about died laughing when Peeta managed to basically incite a mini-rebellion by pretending to tear up while lying that Katniss has got a bun in the oven. While it isn’t enough to stop the Games, of course, it’s a really clever move on Peeta’s part. Manipulation like this is often considered a “woman’s weapon” in movies and books; I think it’s delightful to watch a male character using supposedly feminine tactics to his advantage.
Honorable Mentions: Emma Watson robs the guys (This is the End); Quicksilver’s “Time in a Bottle” scene (Days of Future Past); Katniss makes a Seneca Puppet (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire); Abby kicks Marty in the nuts (Blood Simple); Fury shoots Pierce (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
The Driver stalks Ron Perlman whilst wearing his uber creepy mask – Drive
It’s kind of hard to describe why this scene is so fucking creepy unless you’ve actually seen it. If you haven’t, you should (if possible) take your computer or phone to a room where there’s a glass window or door. Do this at night. Put your back to the window or door and then listen to the music here while looking at the spooky ass mask in the picture above. Imagine that man behind you, watching you through the glass. Seriously, I think the Driver’s special effects mask may legitimately be the creepiest fucking mask I’ve ever seen in a movie. (If you’re interested in looking at the competition, Buzzfeed has a good list here.)
Honorable Mentions: Waldo Recovers Weapon From the Grandfather Clock (Laura); Jeff Goldblum Runs Through the Museum (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
MOST UNINTENTIONALLY HILARIOUS MOMENT
JFK was a Mutant – X-Men: Days of Future Past
Look, I can be hard to please when it comes to secret histories. It has nothing to do with historical accuracy, either — I just have a hard time taking most of it seriously, and that goes doubly so when JFK assassination conspiracy stuff comes into play. So, let’s be clear: I was already rolling my eyes when Magneto supposedly took out Kennedy. But when Fassbender says, with a straight face, that JFK was a mutant he was trying to save? Oh my god, I was dying. I laughed so, so hard, and I seriously doubt that was the writer’s intent.
Honorable Mentions: Frankenstein sexy-dances in boxer and mask (Death Race 2000); The quite literal hand grenade (Death Race 2000); Bob knows psychologically that Vincent isn’t a killer (Dark Passage)
Magneto – Days of Future Past
Magneto is basically worthless in this movie. They bust him out of prison because, presumably, he’ll be able to reach Mystique and keep her from killing Trask. Only Xavier has already pretty much talked her down when Magneto, that ass, decides the only way to stop Mystique is to murder her. Which, if you think about it, makes absolutely zero sense and is a really shitty way to treat your friend/comrade besides.
He then proceeds to make everything worse by taking control of the Sentinels and forcing them to attack the humans, which would actually have been a pretty good plan if he’d done it in secret to make Trask look incompetent. Instead, he decides to showboat it with his usual Mutants are Superior shtick, which only serves to put his fellow mutants in real physical danger. Because Magneto is — say it with me now — a total asshat.
Honorable Mention: Cop McSneer (Kiss Me Deadly); William Hurt (Body Heat); Edward Norton (Birdman)
Harry – The Third Man
Harry is basically a greedy little sociopath who doesn’t mind using his friends or lovers to get whatever he needs. His schemes cause several people, including children, to grow ill and die. And yet Harry is very entertaining to watch (well, once he actually comes into the story), probably because he’s played with great relish and delight by Orson Welles.
Maybe my favorite scene in this whole movie is the one he shares with our protagonist, Holly. Up until this time, Holly’s been looking into Harry’s supposed death because he thinks his friend has been murdered, only to find out that Harry faked the whole thing and is actually a Very Bad Guy. Harry, meanwhile, is completely unapologetic about everything he’s put Holly through. He also insults the Swiss for being boring and is otherwise entirely delightful.
Honorable Mentions: Waldo (Laura); President Business/Dad (The Lego Movie)
James Franco – This is the End and Felix – You’re Next
Shit, I was sure I had this one figured . . . and then I remembered You’re Next. Well, let’s take This is the End first. This movie wins because the scene in question is hilarious and perfect. James Franco nobly sacrifices himself to save his friends, but before he can be killed, God rewards his heroism by lifting him up to Heaven. Franco is literally in the process of being Raptured to safety when he dooms himself by telling Lead Cannibal Danny McBride to go to hell and suck his dick. God rescinds his protection and drops James Franco back to be eaten by cannibals.
This would already be funny, but the reason it’s especially amazing? Earlier in the film, Seth Rogen and James Franco are talking about making Pineapple Express 2 and, save for the bit about the Rapture, this is exactly how James Franco’s character would have died. Now, THAT is awesome foreshadowing.
Still, Felix’s death in You’re Next also has to win because, dude. Erin kills him with a blender to the HEAD. I mean, come on. That’s just not second place material.
Honorable Mentions: Bryan Cranston (Drive); Jamie Bell (Snowpiercer); Cat (The Grand Budapest Hotel); Michael Cera (This is the End)
Madge – Dark Passage
Oh, this was just ridiculous. I know this movie was made in 1947 and all, but come on — you can’t just have your bad guy run behind a curtain and, whoopsies!, accidentally trip out a window — a closed window, mind — on the fiftieth story. No. The only other movie I can think of that matches this for sheer absurdity is when Rowan Atkinson conveniently walks backwards over a cliff while trying to take a picture in Hot Shots Part Deux. And that’s fine because, you know, Hot Shots Part Deux, but Dark Passage isn’t a parody. Not intentionally, anyway.
Honorable Mentions: Skipp (White House Down)
Mercenary – White House Down; Pablo – Open Graves
First, Skipp (on left) isn’t actually the mercenary I’m talking about in White House Down, but he is a bad guy and also about to die (frustratingly), so he’s who you get. I don’t remember the name of the actual mercenary who earned himself 1/2 of a Darwin Award, but I sure remember why he bought the farm. See, deciding that launching nuclear weapons is a terrible idea and really not the sort of shit he signed up for, Dumbass Mercenary decides to tell the crazy Big Bad that he’s out and then turns his back on the guy. I’m all for strategic retreat, but there is very little strategy involved in pissing off an armed man who clearly doesn’t have a problem with murder and then leaving yourself wide open to get killed. Unless you want to be killed, of course. Then your plan makes sense.
On the other hand, there’s Pablo. Pablo’s death is a byproduct of evil dragonflies, a need to piss, and stupendous idiocy. Pablo could not, necessarily, have prevented his need to piss, nor could he reasonably be expected to anticipate evil dragonflies. (Or the evil crabs that later eat what’s left of his broken but ludicrously still living body.) But if you’re going to piss over the side of a cliff, you need to be standing a few steps back from it. There is no need to stand at the very edge of the cliff to pee, unless you’re trying to silently dare nature into killing you. Cause, the thing is, the evil dragonflies don’t even have to push Pablo to his doom. They just startle him enough that he loses his balance and plummets to the rocky shore far below. A perfectly ordinary fly landing on his ear could have accomplished exactly the same thing. Pablo, you’re an asshole.
Honorable Mentions: Mike Hammer (Kiss Me Deadly); All People Needlessly On the Road (Death Race 2000)
MOST CRINGEWORTHY OH-MY-GOD-OW SCENE
Lucas cuts his own eyeball – Would You Rather
Pretty much all eye damage is cringe-inducing, even if the movie doesn’t really show you anything (and this one doesn’t). But what makes this scene so particularly hard to watch is that Enver Gjokaj goes all out on the acting, pretty much having a sudden nervous breakdown before your very eyes. Time is counting down, and he doesn’t know if he can do it, and you don’t know if he can do it, so it’s super tense when he finally, finally does.
This movie has many, many problems, but this scene isn’t actually one of them.
Honorable Mentions: Breaking off frozen arm (Snowpiercer); Jeff Goldblum’s severed fingers (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
MOST WASTED POTENTIAL
Nine Dead and Open Graves
I watched both of these movies expecting them to be bad, but the truth was, they didn’t have to be, or at least not as bad as they were. Nine Dead had a great premise: nine strangers are locked in a room and have to figure out how they’re all connected before their abductor kills them all. There are so many interesting things you can do with a story like that; unfortunately, what Nine Dead decided to do instead was to create a mystery riddled with gigantic plot holes centered around characters coming to conclusions they couldn’t possibly make. Some supremely bad casting choices didn’t help matters any, nor did the racist and homophobic stereotypes in the script.
Open Graves, meanwhile, probably could never have been a great film. But it sure could have been a lot more fun. The potential in a Jumanji-esque horror movie is just staggering. There are so many hilarious and playful ways it could have gone; instead the film was fairly slow and tedious with mostly unlikable characters and a couple of hugely predictable twists at the end. A horror movie about an evil board game can turn out many ways, but the one thing it should never be is dull.
Honorable Mention: Would You Rather
Gilliam is a bad guy, and the rebellion was planned all along – Snowpiercer
I knew John Hurt was secretly a bad guy ten minutes into this movie. Possibly less. And sometimes, you can figure out a book or movie’s twist early on and it’s not such a big deal, but sometimes, it ruins the whole film, especially if it’s the type of twist you almost always can’t stand. And yeah, this is definitely one of the latter kind for me. I’m so tired of the ‘Your Life’s Mision was Always My Evil Plan, BWAHAHAHA’ twists. Guys, we’ve been there, we’ve seen that. It’s been done to DEATH. Please let it go for the next twenty years at least.
Snowpiercer was wacky and violent and had some great cinematography, but that lamesauce ending really brought this film down hard for me.
Honorable Mention: Robert Redford is a Bad Guy (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
Emma Watson – This is the End
This award was hard to choose — after all, This is the End alone had something like 47 cameos — but I had to go with Emma Watson here, who also took ULTIMATE SURVIVOR. To be fair, no one really SURVIVES This is the End. But we first meet Emma as she’s breaking into James Franco’s house with her trusty axe, like a badass, and when we leave her, she’s venturing back out in the apocalypse after a partially overheard conversation leads her to mistakenly believe the guys are planning to rape her. Not waiting around for that, she immediately takes action, using that trusty axe to hit Seth Rogen right in the face before stealing all their supplies and getting the fuck out of dodge.
When the apocalypse inevitably comes, I hope Emma Watson is on my side.
Honorable Mentions: James Marsden and Famke Janssen (X-Men: Days of Future Past); Stephen Colbert (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug); Michael Cera (This is the End); Buster Keaton (Sunset Boulevard); Basically Everyone From Veronica Mars (Veronica Mars)
WORST RAPE SCENE OR SUBPLOT
Kelly’s last minute and thoroughly unnecessary backstory – Nine Dead
It probably wasn’t actually worse than any year before, but for some reason, 2014 seemed like the year of poorly-handled rape storylines, thus this new superlative. Today we will be discussing Kelly, whose secret “I-was-raped-and-then-killed-my-rapist” backstory is hastily thrown-in during the last ten minutes of the movie for no other reason than it supposedly solidifies that Kelly will do anything to survive. And almost immediately afterwards, she kills two of the good guys so that no one will ever know what she’s done.
The thing is, we absolutely don’t need any of this. (And even if we did, you can’t just throw it in out of the blue ten minutes before the end of the movie.) Kelly already has a motive to kill these guys (she can’t let anybody know that she planted evidence and got a man wrongly convicted) and throughout the film, she’s proven to be a coldhearted bitch who will do anything she can to protect herself and her reputation. You could entirely cut this bullshit traumatic backstory and nothing in the story would really change. And if the argument is that her rape made Kelly this evil way? Nope. Just a big wall of nope.
Honorable Mentions: Demon Rapes Jonah Hill (This is the End); Ambiguous Motel Scene (Touch of Evil); Unnecessary Rapey Son (Would You Rather?)
The new Mrs. de Winter & Max – Rebecca
No surprise here. The best thing I can say for the movie’s version of our heroine is that at least she doesn’t align herself with a guy who intentionally murdered his wife. Then again, Max still killed Rebecca (albeit accidentally and ridiculously), and our heroine’s priorities remain screwed, especially since Max actually seems like even more of an asshole in the movie than he does in the book. In fact, he often treats the new Mrs. de Winter more like a foolish child than a wife. Apparently, I’m supposed to be rooting for these two, but really, I just wanted our heroine to grow some self-respect and leave his churlish ass.
Honorable Mentions: Girl & Adso (The Name of the Rose); Cavendish & Long Lost GF (Cloud Atlas); Scientist Dude & Luisa Rey (Cloud Atlas); After the Fall Tom Hanks & Halle Berry (Cloud Atlas); Laura & McPherson (Laura); Annie & Frank (Death Race 2000)
The Third Man
Now, this is a woman with some self-respect. At the end of The Third Man, Holly gets out of the car and waits for Anna — to apologize, to say he loves her, to presumably make some sweeping gesture of affection and remorse — but Anna will have none of it, and we watch her walk straight past him and off screen without even turning her head to acknowledge him. It’s a great shot and probably one of my favorite film endings of all time.
Honorable Mentions: Double Indemnity; Lone Star; Kiss Me Deadly; Sunset Boulevard
“I was the official witness in Madame D’s presence to the creation of a second will to be executed only in the event of her death by murder.” – Serge, The Grand Budapest Hotel
As always, this was a difficult choice — I was also very taken with Sam Rockwell explaining why Gandhi was wrong — but in the end, I was just won over by Wes Anderson and “death by murder.” I was even inspired to create a second will, despite the fact that I don’t yet have a first will (or much to offer my living loved ones, except plastic weaponry and too many photoshopped posters with my face on them). It’s a mouthful of a sentence but it’s worded and executed perfectly. I’d personally be very happy to see Anderson get a nod for Best Original Screenplay.
MANY, MANY HONORABLE MENTIONS
“Okay, Marlowe, I said to myself. You’re a tough guy. You’ve been sapped twice, choked, beaten silly with a gun, shot in the arm until you’re crazy as a couple of waltzing mice. Now let’s see you doing something really tough, like putting your pants on.” – Marlowe, Murder, My Sweet
“I don’t think you even know which side you’re on.”
“I don’t know which side anybody’s on. I don’t even know who’s playing today.” – Ann & Marlowe, Murder, My Sweet
“How would you like a swift punch on the nose?”
“I tremble at the thought of such violence.” – Marriott & Marlowe, Murder, My Sweet
“You can’t have the Milky Way. It’s my special food. I like it.” – James, This is the End
“What the fuck is wrong with you, Franco? You have iPads all over the godamn walls in your house, but you jack off like a fucking pilgrim.”
“That’s right, man, I like to read!” – Danny & James, This is the End
“Each bite is better than the previous bite. Gluten!”” – Seth, This is the End
“Dear God, I’d like to pray to you for a second. It’s me, Jonah Hill, from Moneyball.” – Jonah, This is the End
“We’re just like Kevin Bacon!” – Gamora, Guardians of the Galaxy
“Where did you learn how to do that?”
“I’m pretty sure the answer is ‘I am Groot’.” – Drax & Peter, Guardians of the Galaxy
“I am not some starry-eyed waif here to succumb to your . . . your pelvic sorcery!” – Gamora, Guardians of the Galaxy
“When I picked you up as a kid, these boys wanted to eat you. They ain’t never tasted Terran before. I saved your life!”
“Oh, will you shut up about that? God! Twenty years, you’ve been throwing that in my face, like it’s some great thing, not eating me! Normal people don’t even think about eating someone else! Much less that person having to be grateful for it!” – Yondu & Peter, Guardians of the Galaxy
“We can’t seem to get through a performance without a raging fire or a raging hard-on. I’m broke, I’m not sleeping like, you know, at all, and um, this play is kind of starting to feel like a major deformed version of myself that just keeps following me around, like, hitting me in the balls with like a tiny little hammer.” – Riggan, Birdman
“You know the story about the scorpion and the frog? Your friend Nino didn’t make it across the river.” – Driver, Drive
“I’m not really in the mood right now, Zee.”
“Come on, I’ll make it quick. I want you to fuck me on this bed next to your dead mom.”
“What? Why would you even say something like that?”
“You never want to do anything interesting.”
“I don’t think that’s a fair criticism.” – Felix & Zoe, You’re Next
“I’m the fastest! Nobody ever gives me credit for anything!” – Amy, You’re Next
“Listen, I’m sorry things got so out of control, but um, how were we supposed to know you were really good at killing people? Which is actually sort of weird, by the way? Had you reacted, um, normally, my parents and siblings would have been killed, you’d have been untouched, and we’d be rich. We’d be on our way to like a vacation in Paris. Maybe an engagement?” – Crispian, You’re Next
“You know, in Greece, they would cut off the head of the messenger that brought the bad news.”
“Now that don’t make much sense.”
“No. It made them feel better.”
“Well, first off, Julian, I don’t know what the story is in Greece, but in this state, we got very definite laws about that.” – Marty & Visser, Blood Simple
“I got a job for you.”
“Well, if the pay’s right and it’s legal, I’ll do it.”
“It’s not strictly legal.”
“Well, if the pay’s right, I’ll do it.” – Marty & Visser, Blood Simple
“Did he just throw my cat out of the window?” – Kovacs, The Grand Budapest Hotel
“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.” – Gustav, The Grand Budapest Hotel
“You’re looking so well, darling, you really are. They’ve done a marvelous job. I don’t know what sort of cream they’ve put on you down at the morgue, but I want some. Honestly, you look better than you have in years. You look like you’re alive.” – Gustav, The Grand Budapest Hotel
“Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the penny dreadfuls, it’s that when you find yourself in a place like this, you must never be a candy ass.” – Gustav, The Grand Budapest Hotel
“Something’s missing. A crucial document, either misplaced or conceivably destroyed. I don’t know what it contains; I don’t know what it represents; I don’t know what it is. But there are traces and shadows of it everywhere.” – Kovacs, The Grand Budapest Hotel
“So. This is happening.” – Logan, Veronica Mars
“We’re not in the habit of handing out case files.”
“I’m not in the habit of dating cops, but I make exceptions. Do you ever make exceptions?”
“I will have it scanned for you right now.”
(in the background) “Would you say I was a good parent?” – Lamb, Veronica, & Keith, Veronica Mars
“In case it slipped your mind, Piz is the one without the baggage and the drama.”
“I will say this for him: he almost never gets charged with murder.” – Wallace & Mac, Veronica Mars
“Go ahead. Go ahead and tell them what you’re been up to now. The shame. The shame.”
“Hooters waitress? Ren Faire juggling?”
“Clubbing baby seals?”
“Worse. I actually took a job with Kane Software . . . I know, I hate it. I do. I wish I was clubbing baby seals, but they just pay me so well!”
“Ten Thousand Dollar Pyramid: Things a Whore Says!” – Wallace, Veronica, Keith, & Mac, Veronica Mars
“In a lesser known epic poem, Dante’s Inferno 2: Hell Freezes Over, ten years after escaping the Nine Circles, Dante returns, you know, for old time’s sake.” – Veronica, Veronica Mars
“You met her family? Think her family’s gonna be okay that you’re a white guy?”
“They think any women over 30 who isn’t married is a lesbian. She figures, they’ll be so relieved I’m a man . . .”
“Yeah, it’s always heartwarming to see a prejudice defeated by a deeper prejudice.” – Mickey & Cliff, Lone Star
“All that other stuff, all that history? To hell with it, right? Forget the Alamo.” – Pilar, Lone Star
“You can’t be desperately in love when you’re fourteen years old.” – Paloma, Lone Star
“We’re not changing anything. We’re just trying to present a more complete picture.”
“And that has got to stop!” – Latina Mother & Caucasian Mother, Lone Star
“He’s available. You’re available.”
“I’m unmarried. I’m not available.” – Pilar’s Friend & Pilar, Lone Star
“All border towns bring out the worst in a country.” – Vargas, Touch of Evil
“So, you were always an asshole.” – Logan, X-Men: Days of Future Past
“An eye for an eye leaves the whole blind. I believe that whole-heartedly.”
“. . . No, it doesn’t! There’ll be one guy left with one eye! How’s the last blind guy gonna take out the eye of the last guy left, who’s got one eye? All that guy has to do is run away and hide behind a bush. Gandhi was wrong; it’s just that nobody’s got the balls to come right out and say it.” – Hans & Billy, Seven Psychopaths
“Yeah, I’m sick of all these stereotypical Hollywood murder scumbag type psychopath movies. I don’t want it to be one more film about guys with guns in their hands. I want it . . . overall . . . to be about love . . . and peace. But it still has to be about these seven psychopaths, so this Buddhist psychopath, he . . . he doesn’t believe in violence. I don’t know what the fuck he’s going to do in the movie.” – Marty, Seven Psychopaths
“I’m going to be over to kill you on Tuesday.”
“That’s good. I’m not doing anything Tuesday.” – Zachariah & Marty, Seven Psychopaths
“Marty, I’ve been reading your movie. Your women characters are awful! None of them have anything to say for themselves. And most of them get either shot or stabbed to death within five minutes. And the ones that don’t probably will later on.”
“Well . . . it’s a hard world for women. I guess that’s what I’m trying to say.”
“Yeah, it’s a hard world for women, but most of the ones I know can string a sentence together.” – Hans & Marty, Seven Psychopaths
“You can’t let the animals die in the movie. Only the women.” – Billy, Seven Psychopaths
“We didn’t need dialogue. We had faces.” – Norma, Sunset Boulevard
“Shhh. You’ll wake up the monkey.” – Joe, Sunset Boulevard
“If you need help with the coffin, call me.” Max, Sunset Boulevard
“I only work in black. And sometimes very, very dark gray.” – Batman, The Lego Movie
“Emmet, you didn’t let me finish. Because I died.” – Vitruvius, The Lego Movie
“I super hate you.” – Superman, The Lego Movie
“We’d rather he die than give it to you.”
“I . . . would rather he not die.” – Lucy & Emmet, The Lego Movie
“You must embrace what is special about you. I know that sounds like a cat poster, but it’s true.” – Vitruvius, The Lego Movie
“Laura considered me the wisest, the wittiest, the most interesting man she’d ever met. And I was in complete accord with her on that point. She thought me also the kindest, gentlest, the most sympathetic man in the world.”
“Did you agree with her there, too?”
“McPherson, you won’t understand this, but I tried to become the kindest, gentlest, most sympathetic man in the world.”
“Have any luck?”
“Let me put it this way: I should be sincerely sorry to see my neighbors’ children devoured by wolves.” – Waldo & McPherson, Laura
“Haven’t you heard of science’s newest triumph, the doorbell?” – Waldo, Laura
“Shelby’s better for me.”
“Cause I can afford him, and understand him. He’s no good, but he’s what I want. I’m not a nice person, Laura, and neither is he. He knows I know he’s . . . just what he is. He also knows I don’t care. We belong together because we’re both weak and can’t seem to help it. That’s why I know he’s capable of murder; he’s like me.” – Ann & Laura, Laura
“I don’t use a pen. I write with a goose quill dipped in venom.” – Waldo, Laura
“How singularly innocent I look this morning.” Waldo, Laura
“Yeah. You seemed pretty helpless without me.” – Captain America & Brock, Captain America: The Winter Soldier
“Fine. But you’ve gotta get Iron Man to stop by my niece’s birthday party. Not just a fly-by. He’s gotta mingle.” – Pierce, Captain America: The Winter Soldier
“Hey, fellas. Either one of you know where the Smithsonian is? I’m here to pick up a fossil.”
“That’s hilarious.” – Natasha & Steve, Captain America: The Winter Solider
“On your left.” – Steve, Captain America: The Winter Soldier
“You aren’t too smart, are you? I like that in a man.”
“What else do you like? Lazy? Ugly? Horny? I got em all.”
“You don’t look lazy.” – Matty & Ned, Body Heat
“I need tending. I need someone to take care of me, someone to rub my tired muscles, smooth out my sheets.”
“I just need it for tonight.” – Ned & Matty, Body Heat
“I’ve got a serious question for you: what the fuck are you doing?” – Teddy, Body Heat
“I had a dream last night so boring it woke me. I was afraid to go back to sleep.” – Peter, Body Heat
“Can I buy you a drink?”
“I told you: I’ve got a husband.”
“I’ll buy him one too.”
“He’s out of town.”
“My favorite kind. We’ll drink to him.”
“Only comes up on weekends.”
“I’m liking him better all the time.” – Ned & Matty, Body Heat
“What you got for pie today, Stella?”
“I got cherry, cherry, and . . . cherry.”
“Well, what do you recommend?”
“I like the cherry.” – Oscar & Stella, Body Heat
“You know that Edmund Walker was a bad guy, and the more I find out about him, the happier I am he’s dead. I figure it’s a positive thing for the world.”
“You’re not known for being a hard-liner.”
“Well, I have my own standards. I just try to keep them private.” – Peter & Ned, Body Heat
“It’s impossible to worry about anything else when there’s blood coming out of you.” Grace, Short Term 12
“I hate that bike. Fuck you, Floyd.” – Mason, Short Term 12
“They’re going to ask you a lot of questions. It’s going to be hard.”
“I’ll try to leave out the part about you breaking into the house with a baseball bat.”
“Thanks.” – Grace & Jayden, Short Term 12
“What’s with her teeth?”
“She had them filed into fangs so she could rip people’s throats out.”
“She’s committed, I’ll give her that.” – Katniss, Haymatch, and Peeta, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
“We wanted our love to be eternal. You know, Katniss and I were luckier than most. I wouldn’t have any regrets at all, if it weren’t for . . . if . . .”
“If it weren’t for . . . what? What?”
“If it weren’t for the baby.” – Peeta & Caesar, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
“They’re holding hands. I want them dead.” – President Snow, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
“So, it’s you and a syringe against the Capitol? See, this is why no one lets you make the plans.” – Haymitch, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
“Can you not hit me in the head with a rocket launcher while I’m trying to drive?” – Cale, White House Down
“Special Agent Todd keeps making those sounds, I’m gonna start looking at him.” – Cale, White House Down
“A person doesn’t change just because you find out more.” – Anna, The Third Man
“Oh please, for heaven’s sake. Stop making him in your image. Harry was real. He wasn’t just your friend and my lover. He was Harry.” – Anna, The Third Man
“You were born to be murdered.” – Calloway, The Third Man
“If you want to sell your services, I’m not willing to be the price.” – Anna, The Third Man
And . . . I guess that’s it. Adios, 2014. Let’s see if 2015 can keep delivering the awesome action sequences and seriously improve on those bullshit romances.