Here are my miscellaneous movie awards for 2006. Enjoy...
Unbreakable award (best trailer): The Prestige. Not even close. The trailer breathlessly presents the three acts of a magician's trick, which conveniently parallel the film itself. It leaves the viewer with a sense of awe and excitement without divulging much of the intricate story. If only more preview editors could do the same.
Best Movie Moment: United 93, when the titular flight departs the runway. Despite knowing what had to happen, I found myself hoping against hope that somehow the plane might not get off the ground. When it did, my heart was ripped from my chest as a combination of pride and sorrow delivered chills through my body.
Kangaroo Jack award (worst trailer): Let's Go to Prison. Can we put the makers of this "movie" in jail? Here's how the pitch must have gone…
Dumb Writer: Okay, let's get that guy who hasn't done anything good since Punk'd, throw him in prison, and make it like a bad camp with every overdone jail joke possible.
Dumb Producer: Great idea. And let's put a bar of soap on the poster…just in case the audience doesn't pick up on the dozen gay jokes we put in the thirty-second trailer.
Unbelievably Dumb Executive: Sounds great! Let's do it!!
Baseball award (best documentary): Once in a Lifetime. I thought about placing this in my top ten, but lumping documentaries in with traditional feature films is too complicated for me. This one tells the story of the New York Cosmos (1970s soccer team), wonderfully capturing the era with an olio of period music and graphics. The fantastic, sometimes grainy soccer footage is often impeccably edited in rhythm with the music or narration, creating a sense of humor that seems appropriate given the ridiculous extravagances in which the team indulged. Any soccer fan needs to see this.
M. Night Shyamalan award (most underrated movie): Lady in the Water. Obviously. On Premiere's annual Critic's Choice list, this was dead last out of one hundred movies rated. Dead last. Rarely have critics completely whiffed on a movie this badly. Two words: BEDTIME STORY! Stupid people.
Ocean's Eleven award (best overall look): Children of Men. Seconds into the movie, the entire mood of the bleak futuristic world is entirely evident, and it never wavers throughout. Throw in pitch-perfect world-weary roles from a solid cast, and this film is the epitome of how cinema can create new environments for their audiences.
King Kong award (best theater experience): Casino Royale, with a couple dozen guys, was good, particularly the chair scene. Little Miss Sunshine was quality, with gales of laughter and even tears. But the start-to-finish winner is easily Snakes on a Plane. The serpents bite just about every human body part, and are killed in equally diverse ways. That induced countless cringes and screams from the people I was with, topped by Doug's "That was not necessary!!" Good times.
Yogi Berra award (movie that triggered déjà vu all over again): Glory Road. A few decades back, a coach takes over a struggling team and controversially integrates it. As they overcome persecution and their own differences, the team manages to learn a ton about the game and themselves, propelling them on a Cinderella run through their sport's biggest tournament. Remember the Titans? Nope. It's Glory Road, which was also a Bruckheimer production. I can't wait until he reworks the baseball version about Jackie Robinson so that Brooklyn wins the World Series in his rookie season.
Showgirls award (worst movie): The Last Kiss. I didn't see any completely horrid movies at a theater this year. So I'll give this award to a movie with a completely horrid foundational premise, that marriage is a transient and meaningless thing. Morons.
Deep Blue Sea award (wholly enjoyable movie that wasn't that good): Superman Returns. Almost all of this movie's quality was derived from imitating the original two movies, and the primary original storyline was a little sketchy. I wholly enjoyed it, but not entirely for its own merits.
Catch Me if You Can award (best opening credits): Casino Royale. Typical Bond opening credits, with girls dancing and guys shooting, except these were two-dimensional scenes composed largely of the four playing card suits. Good stuff, and a great stage setter for an enjoyable escape of a movie.
Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban award (best closing credits): The Fountain. Nothing too fancy here, but instead of merely scrolling through the names, these credits faded them in and out on different parts of the screen. Accompanied by appropriately ethereal music, the credits matched the tone of the film perfectly.
Snake Eyes award (movie that took a dive in the last act): The Departed. Yes, Scorsese put together an excellent film…for two hours. But the final twenty minutes are very unsatisfying. My bitterness has waned since I originally saw the film, as the close does seem more appropriate. But it is still unsatisfying, prevented the movie from being an all-time classic.
Batman & Robin award (most disappointing sequel): Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. I have a hard time believing that there were actually parts cut from this movie to include as deleted scenes on the DVD. Underworld: Evolution was pretty bad too, but it had less to live up to and was significantly shorter.
Shakespeare in (expletive deleted) Love award (movie most overrated by critics): The Queen. This was the #1 movie of the year according to Premiere's annual panel of critics. The two lead performances by Helen Mirren and Michael Sheen were worthy of such acclaim, but the film had very little technical merit. Absent the two leads, it would be nothing more than a decent TV movie, far from an Oscar contender.
Thanks for reading. As usual, I leave you with a few movies I'm anticipating most in the upcoming year. I find it interesting and sad that most of them are sequels of the third degree or more (and I didn't even list the third Spider-man/Shrek/Pirates/Bourne), but I suppose the best original films often lack the buzz until their releases are nearer. For what it's worth, 2006 was filled with a similar number of unoriginal ideas, but only one made my top ten.
Ocean's 13. June 8th. Judging from the trailer and set reports, the cast and crew seem to have recaptured the irreverent spirit of the original without getting lazy or gimmicky like the second one.
Live Free or Die Hard. June 29th. A current front-runner for best trailer and movie of 2007. Yippee-kay-yay, !#$%^*@###^&.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. July 13th. That's right, it's a Friday. The possibility of reading three Potter books and seeing this movie over the course of a few weeks is fairly invigorating.
Across the Universe. September 28th. The always innovative Julie Taymor directs this 1960s love story. The sweet trailer makes it look like a sort of musical set to Beatles music, which promises to be a trippy experience.
Be there. Aloha.