March 1, 2007

The Donnies

The Wind that Shakes the Barley won at Cannes, Little Miss Sunshine at the Independent Spirit Awards, and The Departed at the Oscars. So now it’s time for me to have a say. Ladies and gentlemen, get ready for…the Donnies.

Best Artsy-Fartsy Film. Conversations with Other Women. Incidentally, this might also be the most nihilistic film I saw last year, but I can put up with a little nihilism when it’s brought to life with such artistic flair. The entire movie is viewed in split-screen, one screen focusing on an immoral and not very likeable man and the other on his immoral, not very likeable lover.

Most Psychologically Insightful Film. The Last Kiss. This film, starring Zach Braff, isn’t a masterpiece, but it does honestly explore an issue that is all but ignored in our society: the midlife crisis that many men face when turning thirty. Don’t laugh. Turning thirty can be incredibly difficult and this film shows why.

Great Movie Quote.
From Scoop. Sondra: “Oh, you always see the glass half empty.” Sid: “No, I always see the glass half full. Of poison!”

Most Overrated Film. Superman Returns. The special effects are great and the film has some very good moments. But the script is lackluster, making Superman, well, boring. And, to boot, he has an illegitimate son! What’s happened to our superheroes?

Most Underrated Film. Sorry, Haters and Scoop (tie). Even if you don’t like Sorry, Haters (and many don’t), the movie is worth seeing solely for Robin Wright Penn’s intense performance. I think the movie is altogether brilliant, although brilliant in a haunting, chilling sort of way. Moving on, I have no idea why Woody Allen’s Scoop got such a bad rap. No, it doesn’t measure up to Annie Hall or Crimes and Misdemeanors, but that was never Allen’s intention. He simply meant to make a funny, flippant film—something reminiscent of Bananas—and in this regard he succeeded wonderfully.

Best Dramedy. Little Miss Sunshine. Okay, that’s a silly word—dramedy. But I had to think up some award to give this film. Maybe it wasn’t the funniest film of the year, or the most profound, or the most touching. But it was funny and touching and profound—and many other things.

Great Movie Quote. From Thank You for Smoking. Nick Naylor: “Right there, looking into Joey’s eyes, it all came back in a rush. Why I do what I do. Defending the defenseless, protecting the disenfranchised corporations that have been abandoned by their very own consumers: the logger, the sweatshop foreman, the oil driller, the land mine developer, the baby seal poacher...”

Most Faith-Affirming Film. Country Boys. This PBS documentary spends three years following two teenage boys living in Kentucky’s Appalachian hills. Through the six-hour series, we grow to care about the boys, one of whom has come to faith in Christ after suffering through a traumatic childhood.

Best Iconoclastic Film. Thank You for Smoking and Art School Confidential (tie). Based on the novel by Christopher Buckley (brother of William F.), the former film devastates the liberal axiom that Big Tobacco is culpable for smoking-related deaths. Aside from being continuously funny, Thank You for Smoking reminds us that all of us, including those of us who smoke, are personally responsible for our actions. Art School Confidential mercilessly lampoons the state of cotemporary art. As the film illustrates, modern art is ridiculous (think of those paintings that look like crayon scribbles from a five-year-old), as are art critics and aficionados (think of those who spend countless hours gushing over these scribbles).

Great Movie Quote. From Scoop. Sondra: “I wouldn't be surprised if he asked me to marry him someday.” Sid: “You come from an orthodox family, would they accept a serial killer?”

Best Scorsese Film.
The Departed. Definitely not his best film. And definitely not the best film of the year (my vote goes to United 93). But this was a very good movie. Entertaining, unpredictable, well-acted, etc. Of course, I just saw it Monday, and it’ll probably be a couple weeks before I’ll be able to leave my house without worrying that I’m about to get whacked.

The Film That Touched Me Most Deeply. United 93. Some of our greatest stories are also the most tragic. Such is the case with the events surrounding the United Airlines flight that crashed into a Pennsylvania field on 9/11. This film shows us what it was like for the people aboard the plane—how they were terrorized by the hijackers and how they finally banded together, stormed the cockpit and sacrificed their lives so that others would live.

Most Inspiring Film.
United 93. Of course, there are two runners-up in this category. First, Little Miss Sunshine inspired me to read Proust. And Akeelah and the Bee encouraged me, although only temporarily, to become a better speller.

Benefit of the Doubt Award. Borat, The Queen.