Monday, December 14, 2009


Over the weekend, the Critics Awards began popping up, with the unified and regional branches checking in on their favorite films. Generally speaking, this would be the beginning of "award season", a period the Cap'n must profess he gets more and more distant from each year.

Looking at the top choices, it's pretty clear that my favorite movies of the year (so far) aren't going to be jockeying for position come Golden Globes and Academy Awards time.

Rather than list them all (hint, click on each word for the released lists), I'd like to look at some of the data and extract my own thoughts.

To start, it's disheartening that Moon and Thirst only made into the mix once apiece. Alternately, it's kind of cool to see Coraline, Drag Me to Hell, and Anvil: The Story of Anvil make appearances, even if it's just once. Despite the fact that I can't bring myself to believe it's true, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans is on at least one "Top" List for the year, as is the hotly debated (and currently unseen by me) Inglorious Basterds.

I'm totally lost as to why The Men Who Stare at Goats is nowhere to be found, along with Tyson and Crank: High Voltage*.

Star Trek and Avatar each made the list once, so I guess razzle dazzle and impressive effects do get you somewhere after all. That the latter didn't make more lists is not indicative yet, considering I'm not seeing the Chicago Film Critics, The New York Film Critics Circle, or a handful of other major groups who might be waiting for the embargo to lift. Honestly, I don't know, and not being all that interested in Avatar, I don't really care too much.

For what it's worth, Star Trek was an entertaining movie, but then again so was The Incredible Hulk, or, if you think that's an unfair comparison, Iron Man. All three are films I enjoyed, will revisit periodically, but Star Trek isn't going to be in my "Best Of 2009" list. But I digress.

Let's talk about the movies popping up the most:

The Hurt Locker (9)
Up (7)
An Education (5)
Up In the Air (5)
A Serious Man (4)
Precious (4)
Invictus (3)
(500) Days of Summer (3)

I have seen none of these films, and it is likely that watching Up could happen as early as tonight and that I'll be able to catch (500) Days of Summer before the year is out, but I have a few general thoughts.

- Although my outspoken support of Near Dark may not accurately convey it, I am also a supporter of Kathryn Bigelow. The Hurt Locker certainly seems to be the film to beat this year, and I may have to overcome my dislike of topical war movies** and watch this film. Plus, we're talking about the director of cult faves Point Break and Strange Days as a contender for Best Picture and Best Director. Not since Peter Jackson, I say!

- Up in the Air sounds like something I'd want to see. I really liked Jason Reitman's Thank You For Smoking, hated Juno, but I like the cast and thought the novel it's based on (by Thumbsucker's Walter Kirn) was pretty good. This might be a good movie to see on Christmas night.

- To be fair, I didn't know what An Education was, I wasn't planning on seeing Precious, and Invictus has been getting fair to middling reviews. They're more of the "oh, what's that again? Ah, based on a memoir, based on a best-selling novel, and based on Nelson Mandela and... Rugby? Okay...", and I can't honestly say I would've rushed to see any of them, but what matters the Cap'n in Critics Picks?

- Okay, so now can the new Coen Brothers movie open in Greensboro? Please?

- I'm really, honestly surprised by the showing for (500) Days of Summer. I've only talked to one person who saw it, and he enjoyed it with reservations. Ultimately he ended up recommending it to me, but I guess I thought it was more of a "better than average indie rom-com" and not critically acclaimed. Shows what the Cap'n knows.

- Finally, I'd just like to reiterate how bummed I am about Moon and Thirst not making much of a dent with the critics. I can understand why Thirst isn't, because tonally it can be a little weird and I'm sure it's not in vogue to be okay with vampires right now. But Moon is a GREAT MOVIE, and one of the most assured debuts since Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

* Okay, you got me. I know why Crank: High Voltage isn't, but it made you look twice, now didn't it?
** To this point, I will argue that while The Men Who Stare at Goats is partially set in post-invasion Iraq, the thematic elements and actual plot have nothing to do with Operation Iraqi Freedom, and I'll stand by that contention.

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