It’s that time of year, folks–AWARDS! BEST LISTS! WORST LISTS!
Everybody’s doing it. I thought I would get in on the act, too.
Here’s the thing, though: I haven’t seen every movie, TV show, read every book, listened to every album, or even followed the gossip about every celebrity. I’m also not fond of “best” and “worst” lists on principle, because very few critics, professional or amateur, seem to use objective criteria when assembling their lists.
So I’m making up my own categories, to recognize what enthralled me and what repelled me in pop culture this past year:
1. The Most Inexplicable Choice For Worst Movie Award: Mary Pols, Time Magazine, for choosing Cloud Atlas as worst movie of 2012.
First of all, let me just say that I can understand someone not liking the movie Cloud Atlas. Followers of this blog know that I adored the movie, but I can totally see how it would not be everyone’s cup of tea. That is not my gripe.
But WORST movie of the year?
By what criteria?
The acting was phenomenal. The direction and cinematography were stunning. It was a faithful adaptation of an award-winning book. It has its flaws, sure, but, if nothing else, at least it TRIED to be something more than most blockbuster movies and do something other than a reboot or continuation of a previous movie.
In spite of Ms. Pols’ explanation for why she didn’t like the movie (it sounds like it merely wasn’t her cup of tea) I suspect she thought Cloud Atlas was easy pickings because it did so poorly at the box office. She picked John Carter as second worst movie, and it also made a poor showing at the box office.
Well, I watched some of John Carter on cable the other day, and while I wouldn’t say it’s a good movie, it’s also not the worst I’ve ever seen.
Box office is not an indicator of quality or lack of quality of a film. Many movies that did disappointing business in their initial theatrical release–and these include classics such as The Wizard of Oz and It’s A Wonderful Life, as well as more recent films like The Shawshank Redemption and Blade Runner–often find their audiences in their afterlife on DVD, cable and so on.
Something I’m quite confident will happen eventually with Cloud Atlas.
2. The Television Episode That Kicked The Ass Of Anything In Movies Award:
Dead Freight, Breaking Bad – in this taught and unbearably suspenseful episode, an entire shipment of methylamine is drained and stolen from a freight tank on a train by protagonist Walter White and his henchmen Jesse, Mike and Todd. The daring robbery is executed successfully, but not without a few hitches–and one tragic outcome. When you watch this you will bite off every bit of every nail on both your hands, it’s that tense.
Blackwater, Game Of Thrones – the producers of Game Of Thrones fought for more money from HBO so they could do justice to one of the biggest battle scenes in the books, and they got it. Every penny showed on screen. Up to then, they managed to get away with merely suggesting the carnage. Here, they showed it all, and cleverly intercut the battle scenes with those of the women barricaded in the royal keep, waiting to find out if they would become the spoils of war. It is not hyperbole to say this set a whole new standard for what is possible with the medium of television.
Margate Sands, Boardwalk Empire – there had been some complaining by fans early on during Season 3 that the show was moving too slowly. There was a method to the creators’ madness, as they built up to a stunning bloodbath in the finale. The central moment–Richard Harrow storming a whorehouse alone to rescue the young son of his late friends Jimmy and Angela–is a tour de force by actor Jack Huston and director Timothy Van Patten. Most who doubted they could come back after killing off one of their most popular characters last season became a believer at that moment.
3. The I Love Your New Album But Get Rid Of The Banjo Award: Mumford & Sons.
I love, love, love Mumford & Sons’ new album Babel, but, dudes, what’s with the banjo? It’s fine to have a signature sound, but you’re overdoing it. So much so that you were nominated for the Best AMERICANA Album Grammy when you’re a BRITISH band.
A little less banjo, a little more cowbell next time, please.
4. The Why Do Little Girls Aspire To Be Princesses, Anyway? Award: Kate Middleton.
For getting the media to stop obsessing over her boobs by forcing them to start obsessing over her uterus instead.
5. The Watch Out Jessica Lange, Another Actress is Nipping At Your Heels Award: Lily Rabe, American Horror Story: Asylum
This season of American Horror Story has been literally an insane ride, with the show riffing on pretty much every horror trope you can think of. Jessica Lange returned to play the lead, Sister Jude, a nun who runs the asylum Briarcliff with an iron fist. With each episode, the seemingly minor and mild character of Sister Mary Eunice, played by Rabe, has been increasingly upstaging the always fabulous Lange. But possession by the devil will do that for a girl.
6. The Why Won’t They Just Go Away? Award: The Kardashians.
7. The OMG, They Might Actually Go Away Now Award: The cast of Jersey Shore.
8. The Best Pilot Of A TV Show That Had No Chance Of Becoming A Long-Running Series Award: Last Resort.
The pilot for Last Resort was truly amazing, as the captain of a nuclear submarine questions an order to fire and ends up commandeering the sub, making himself and his crew enemies of the United States. Here’s the problem: the creators didn’t seem to realize this premise would have made a good movie, but had almost nowhere to go as a TV series. Not surprisingly, it was quickly cancelled.
9. The How Could You Abandon The Fandom You Served So Well? Award: Gary Ross, director of The Hunger Games.
I’m sure Francis Lawrence is acquitting himself well as director of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, but how could you leave us, Gary? You could have found a way to make it work! We feel so, so — DUMPED.
10. The Popular Author Who Keeps Writing The Same Book Over And Over Award: John Grisham, for The Racketeer.
It’s cool that you chose to write a book with an African American character as the protagonist, but did you really think that would fool anyone into not realizing you’ve written this same story several times already?
Ditch this plot once and for all. Please.
11. My Favorite Teaser Trailer, Ever Award: Star Trek: Into Darkness.
Check it out for yourself:
12: My Least Favorite Teaser Trailer, Ever Award: Man Of Steel.
Come on, it looks like a cheap book trailer. For a self-published book.
13. My Favorite Movie Trailer Mash-Up That Makes Me Wish I’d Seen More Movies This Year Award: By Sleepy Skunk