5.07.2010

we movie to canada: annual wmtc movie awards, 2009-10 edition

I can't believe it's taken me until May to write my annual movie awards post! During school, such things are impossible. After school, there is such a long to-do list.

A note about my movie life for newcomers or a refresher course for veterans. There are two seasons in Chez L-Sock: baseball season and movie season. Movie season runs from immediately after the Red Sox are no longer playing until Opening Day. We rent everything, usually through Zip, sometimes from pay-per-view. This means we don't see a single movie from April to November. We used to watch movies on any night there was no baseball (off-days and day games), but now on those nights, we sit on our patio, talk, listen to music, drink wine. So we're always at least six months behind everyone else, often closer to a year.

This past movie season, we saw even fewer movies than usual. For one thing, we were working our way through a six-part Ken Burns feature. And for another... this is embarrassing. We were watching "Dallas"! (I wrote about my thing for Dallas here.) Some nights after school, I was so exhausted that I couldn't even concentrate on a movie. My favourite soap was the perfect relaxation. Then there'd be a cliffhanger, then another, and before we knew it, we had watched three or four episodes in a row.

Two years ago, I rated the movies I saw according to famous Canadians: comedians for 2006-07, musicians for 2007-08.

Last year, I rated movies according to my beverage of choice.

This year, I am honouring (or dishonouring) famous people who left this world in 2009.

First up, the Howard Zinn.


Few people have given our world as much, or have meant so much to me personally, as the late Howard Zinn. In keeping, few movies rise to this standard of excellence. These are the must-sees, movies that were as good as they possibly could be.

One Week
-- This was my favourite movie this season. I will be writing a separate post about it soon.
Waltz With Bashir
Food, Inc.
Precious
Doubt


Next up, the Les Paul.


Les Paul was a great musician and an unparalleled innovator. Music is very important to me, but social justice comes first. In keeping, these movies don't rise quite to the level of the Zinn; I might have a small criticism here or there. But these are all truly excellent movies that I highly recommend.

Capitalism: A Love Story
Polytechnique
Julie & Julia
-- I believe this was Allan's favourite movie this season.
Cairo Time
The National Parks: America's Best Idea
-- A separate post about this is also coming soon.
Star Trek


In the midway spot, the Bea Arthur.


Bea Arthur was a talented actor who had a long, rich career, and a life of engagement and activism. It is no slight to be in this third category. These are good, solid movies.

The Brothers Bloom (borderline Les Paul/Bea Arthur)
Whatever Works
Pontypool
Adventureland
Sugar
Bolt
Bart Got a Room
The Hangover
The Navigators
Tickets (borderline Bea Arthur/William Safire)
Triumph of the Nerds (borderline Bea Arthur/William Safire)
-- Documentary about the birth of the home computer industry.
O'Horten
Behind The Sun
Every Little Step
-- A must-see for theatre fans.
Adoration
The Illusionist
Sin Nombre
Slumdog Millionaire
-- I thought I would hate it, but it was all right.
Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder


Not dead last, but almost, we have the William Safire.


As a speechwriter for Richard Nixon and cheerleader for the Iraq War, he was terrible. As a observer of language, he was amusing. These movies won't kill you, but you're better off without them.

Michael Jackson's This Is It
RiP: A Remix Manifesto
Che
Love & Savagery
Stone of Destiny (borderline Bea Arthur/William Safire)
Frost/Nixon
-- We both liked this a lot more until we learned the middle-of-the-night phone call was fiction. For me this dropped it down a peg; for Allan it killed it dead.*
Talk To Me
-- This also lost points for purporting to be history, but actually being mostly fiction.*

In last place, we have the Oral Roberts.


Bigot, hatemonger, huckster, con-artist. Don't bother with these movies.

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
My Winnipeg
-- This also wins the Michael Jackson Award, for being talented and strange, but ultimately a disappointment.
Anvil! The Story of Anvil
The Hurt Locker
Gomorrah




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* We talk about this a lot. Although Allan is more bothered by it than I am, I generally agree with him. If you want to write history, stick to history. Even when you enhance, edit and embellish, as filmmakers always will, get the basic facts right. Don't blatantly distort. If history doesn't suit your story, then write your own story and call it fiction. But don't write fiction and sell it as history.

23 comments:

redsock said...

Julie & Julia seemed like a perfect cadidate for a movie I would suggest L see without me (if I wanted evening computer time or was at work on Friday). But it turned out to be the most enjoyable movie I saw this winter. Nothing else came close.

It was an absolutely wonderful and funny celebration of the drive to create and the joy it (sometimes) brings. I don't think there was a wrong note in the entire thing, which still shocks me, considering its basic premise. Even its core message of individuality (and not caving to the pressures/suggestions of other people) was not overdone. (I'm still surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie, by the sheer fun of watching it. I would see it again -- was it really that great or was I just in the perfect mood for it at the time?)

And Meryl Streep is off-the-charts (and through the ceiling) amazing. I imagine any actor would be thrilled to turn in a performance as remarkable as this once in her or his career. It seems like Streep has knocked off about a dozen of them.

Streep was also in my (I think) #2 movie, Doubt. (I have to dig up my best-of list.)

L-girl said...

Julie & Julia seemed like a perfect cadidate for a movie I would suggest L see without me (if I wanted evening computer time or was at work on Friday). But it turned out to be the most enjoyable movie I saw this winter. Nothing else came close.

Your enjoying that movie so much is even better since it was a complete surprise to you.

I also thoroughly enjoyed it. My only quibble - the reason it's in the 2nd category and not the 1st - is I didn't find the modern Julie story very engaging, or the acting especially good. Streep more than made up for it, but for me this was a great movie with a just-good movie spliced into it.

Streep was fantastic, as she was in Doubt. PSH is probably the greatest male actor of our time, and the two of them together in Doubt was simply amazing.

David Cho said...

I was flipping through Zinn's
A People's History of the United States when I was at Barns and Noble the other day. Read the chapter about the Clinton presidency. I can see why progressives are very unhappy with how the Clinton administration turned out, and Democrats' pandering to corporations.

L-girl said...

David, you should read the whole book. It's a masterpiece.

M@ said...

Phew! I think the couple of movies I recommended when you requested recommendations back at the start of movie season were at least Bea Arthurs. I always feel better when my recommendations are at least watchable.

What did you think of O'Horten, beyond the middling rating? We watched it, were amused by this bit or that bit, but came away thinking, did we miss something in the translation? Is there something cultural that we're not picking up on? I still wonder. Then again, we rented it because there's a dog on the cover, and that was reason enough.

We received The Illusionist from Zip and were planning to watch it tonight. Hope it's at least a Bea Arthur for us too.

Amy said...

That is a lot of movies, most of which I did not see. I think I only saw four of those: Precious, which I also thought was excellent, Julia and Julie, ditto, Slumdog Millionaire, which we both enjoyed a lot, and The Hangover, which I HATED. (Our daughter Rebecca suggested we see it, and I texted her during the movie to ask her WHY she thought we would like it!)

So a few questions: why didn't you like The Hurt Locker? We did not see it, but everyone said it was amazing, powerful, anti-war, so I am curious why you two did not like it.

Two, why did you like The Hangover??

And I agree with everything Allan and you said about J&J, but isn't it funny/ironic that we enjoyed a movie about cooking after all we have said about not liking to cook!? :)

And don't be embarrassed about watching Dallas reruns---it was also one of my favorites back in the 80s. And if I told you what we were watching instead of renting movies, it would be even more embarrassing!

L-girl said...

Phew! I think the couple of movies I recommended when you requested recommendations back at the start of movie season were at least Bea Arthurs. I always feel better when my recommendations are at least watchable.

That middle category is very broad. I really liked the movies you recommended (I believe I had already read about them and was interested), but the competition to get into the Les Paul tier is pretty steep.

But I liked every one of those Bea Arthur movies, was glad I saw them.

What did you think of O'Horten, beyond the middling rating?

I liked it. I thought it was a quiet, sweet story about a man making a leap of faith into a new life - finding the courage to change. So, more than middling. Good.

I think Allan felt like you did. Like, what was that?

M@ said...

Yeah, I got that about O'Horten, it just didn't come together for me. I liked it though -- I'm a sucker for movies with that kind of tone.

I do get that your middle category isn't necessary a middling rating -- and I probably would have put O'Horten in the same category, though on the lower end of it.

Looking forward to hearing the follow-up to those ones you said you'd say more about. Gotta get our zip list beefed up!

James said...

I didn't find the modern Julie story very engaging, or the acting especially good.

The most common thing I've heard about "Julie & Julia" is that it would have been much better just as "Julia".

L-girl said...

why didn't you like The Hurt Locker?

Someone would have to explain to me how that movie is anti-war. I think it's more like an old-fashioned war movie, where war is tough and exciting and sexy. Sure, people get hurt, but that's part of the macho job they're doing.

It's told exclusively from the US POV - the people they are blasting away at are all terrorists trying to kill them, not a thought that perhaps they're trying to drive invaders from their country.

I'd have to hear someone tell me why it was "amazing, powerful, anti-war". Beats me.

why did you like The Hangover??

Because I laughed through the whole thing. That's a big thing for me - I don't find most comedies funny. It was completely over-the-top and made me laugh - a lot.

And I agree with everything Allan and you said about J&J, but isn't it funny/ironic that we enjoyed a movie about cooking after all we have said about not liking to cook!? :)

Well... not for me. I do enjoy cooking (I just don't cook for huge numbers of people). I love food, I love food writing, and I really appreciate creative cooking.

But as Allan said, the movie is really about the joy of doing what you love, the joy of creating.

So did you agree with me or Allan on that movie? Because he placed it much higher than I did. I had a few quibbles.

And don't be embarrassed about watching Dallas reruns

I watch them on DVD! Allan buys me a season or two as part of my bday present every year. I'm completely addicted!

L-girl said...

Oh also, the movies aren't in order in any given category. I could probably shuffle them into some kind of better order. Should I bother?

L-girl said...

I'm a sucker for movies with that kind of tone.

Me too!

James, that's a good way

L-girl said...

The most common thing I've heard about "Julie & Julia" is that it would have been much better just as "Julia".

It was definitely a weak link. The Julie character is unlikeable, too, which doesn't help.

Amy said...

The J&J comment was just a joke. I agreed with your comments that the Julie story line was weaker, both in terms of the acting and the story, but that Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci were wonderful. It was the kind of movie that made me smile or laugh almost the whole time, especially when Streep was on screen.

I did not see The Hurt Locker, as I said. I don't see violent movies, regardless of the reviews or the point of view. I just can't stomach violence, even "fake" violence, and I would rather sleep at night as much as possible. So I can't help answer your questions.

L-girl said...

Leave it to me not to know you were joking! But I do enjoy cooking, in the right circumstances.

I knew you didn't see Hurt Locker (you said above).

L-girl said...

It was the kind of movie that made me smile or laugh almost the whole time,

It's amazing how everyone says this, almost the exact same thing. It's great.

Sarah O. said...

The most common thing I've heard about "Julie & Julia" is that it would have been much better just as "Julia".
-------
It was definitely a weak link. The Julie character is unlikeable, too, which doesn't help.

I have heard so many people say this and I understand completely. And yet, it is also what worked for me in the movie; I agree that Julie is annoying and unlikeable and self-centred. She idolizes this amazing woman, but then by taking the joy out of cooking, she sort of misses the point. I think I was able to forgive Julie for her fits of ego because I can't stand the double standard where women with ego problems get harsher treatment than men with the same issue.

So, I liked the contrast between the stories. Actually made me appreciate the Julia story that much more, even if as a device it made the whole "Julia was the real deal and we are a sad facsimile" storyline a little too obvious.

Stephanie said...

I appreciate everyone's comments on J&J so much!! It's like enjoying the movie all over again.

It's funny I think I remember recommending this one but I’m not sure, doesn't matter...why I say that is that if I had, I would have said that it left me grinning ear to ear from beginning to end. That's really something...however, only now with that initial glow worn off I realise how much I disliked the Julie story.

I think I fell in love with Meryl Streep during that film and blocked out all the bad bits.

On that note I would also highly recommend It's complicated!! It is a film I would not have gone out of my way to see but it turns out that I did...

OMG, scream laughing all around!!

Snallygaster said...

On the Oral Roberts side, I certainly endorse your ranking of "The Hurt Locker," but what was your problem with "Anvil"?
(Seems a little harsh to put "My Winnipeg" there for that matter, although I wouldn't blame anyone for not taking to it)

L-girl said...

So, I liked the contrast between the stories. Actually made me appreciate the Julia story that much more, even if as a device it made the whole "Julia was the real deal and we are a sad facsimile" storyline a little too obvious.

That's great - I'm sure that was the film's intention, and it worked perfectly for you. Cool.

It's funny I think I remember recommending this one but I’m not sure, doesn't matter...why I say that is that if I had, I would have said that it left me grinning ear to ear from beginning to end.

You did, and you did. That comment made me more curious than all the media attention it got! :)

On that note I would also highly recommend It's complicated!! It is a film I would not have gone out of my way to see but it turns out that I did...

OMG, scream laughing all around!!


Now that's unexpected. It looks like so contrived and predictable. But hey, scream laughing is great. I'll put it on the list... :)

L-girl said...

On the Oral Roberts side, I certainly endorse your ranking of "The Hurt Locker," but what was your problem with "Anvil"?

I found it too boring to watch the whole thing. The same thing over and over and over. Started out mildly amusing, but never got off the ground.

Seems a little harsh to put "My Winnipeg" there for that matter, although I wouldn't blame anyone for not taking to it

It isn't meant to be harsh, it's just my honest opinion.

I thought it was a dreadful mess. I couldn't tell if he was trying to be David Lynch (of whom I am also not a fan) or spoof him, be tremendously "arty" and pretentious or spoof movies that are such.

I loathed the tone of the narration.

If it was supposed to be funny, it never made me laugh. If it was supposed to be serious, it was only pretentious. If it was supposed to be a spoof, it fell flat.

What can I tell you. Guy Maddin is welcome to hate anything I write! And he's clearly having a lot of critical success, he doesn't need me.

Nigel Patel said...

That Oral Roberts image freaks me out.
It's very primative. Worries me.

James said...

That Oral Roberts image freaks me out.
It's very primative. Worries me.


It reminds me of the sorts of things dictators erect to themselves:

Hands of Victory, Iraq

North Korean monument