Monday, July 20, 2009

At the Movies: Growing old gracefully

This week on At the Movies, Lyons and Mankiewicz give their lists of the five best films of the year so far (plus the single worst film so far):
1. Sin Nombre1. Sin Nombre
2. Tyson2. The Hurt Locker
3. Up3. Every Little Step
4. (500) Days of Summer4. Sugar
5. Star Trek5. I Love You, Man

Ben Lyons' view of a 40-year-oldOn Mank's number 5 pick, Lyons says "When comparing it to the The Hangover, both very funny, both incredibly well written, and also both starring older cast members. They don't play like frat-boy comedies."

Oh boy. "Older cast members?" Meaning in their 30s? Both are about guys who are about to get married--are they supposed to be just out of high school? Now, I'm not one to put Lyons down for his age, but this does not exactly help his credentials as a "mature" film critic. And by the way, The Hangover doesn't play like a frat-boy comedy? Not sure about that.

Lyons also mentions--twice--the "grace" in Star Trek. First saying that the two lead actors "take on iconic roles with an ease and a grace that will surely drive the franchise for years to come." Later, he adds that it is "really difficult to walk that line of the hard-core fans of the franchise and people who are not familiar with the franchise, but [director J. J. Abrams] did so gracefully." Of all the adjectives that I might use to describe the movie, that is probably one of the last.

Their "worst" movies were Bruno (Mank) and I Love You, Beth Cooper (Lyons). After listing these, and wrapping up the show, Lyons and Mank discuss the new rule for the Oscars which will result in ten (instead of five) nominations for Best Picture. Mank adds,

Mank: So I think a movie that just opened a few days ago, the sixth Harry Potter, Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince, it's dark, it's much more grown up, I think that's also a possibility for a nomination.

First off, Half-Blood Prince is doing crazy business, so it does stand a good chance for a nomination. But does it really deserve it? Everybody I know thinks that it is by far the most mediocre--and boring--in the Harry Potter series.

But they also provide no commentary about the economics behind the decision. Clearly, the Academy hopes that expanding the number of films that get a nomination will improve their success at the box office and improve DVD rentals. But how about improving the movies themselves? The big blockbusters this year have been retreads based on already established brands outside the movies and are sequels--Harry Potter and the Transformers.

How about some motivation for something unique and different? I would hope that expanding the number of nominations actually helps smaller films that have a more difficult time finding an audience--like The Girlfriend Experience, my pick for the best movie so far this year. If the new rule just benefits Harry Potter, it is hardly worth it.


Anonymous said...

So, you wanted them to discuss how the Academy Awards decision would impact YOUR choice for the best movie of the year so far (The Girlfriend Experience) instead of THEIR choice for the best movie of the year so far (Sin Nombre)? Seems like an odd thing to say... They did talk about how it would impact Sin Nombre after all.

Scott said...

No, what I said they should talk about is the reasoning behind expanding the number of nominations, which I believe is economics.

What they said about Sin Nombre is that the rule change would NOT affect the movie's chances for nomination. But if the only change is that movies that do not deserve to get nominated--like Harry Potter--do get nominated, then there is hardly any point besides enriching the big productions even more. They, however, seemed to suggest (although Mank more tentatively) that this would be a good thing.

If on the other hand, the rule change means that good movies that most people won't see, like The Girlfriend Experience--or Sin Nombre, Sugar, Goodbye Solo, etc.--get a nomination, then the rule change is worth it.

Anonymous said...

You are saying "GFE" is a good movie and deserves a nomination. But if you're waiting for there to be a groundswell of support for that movie, regardless of how many Best Picture noms there are, don't hold your breath. It's registering at 57% positive on Rotten Tomatoes and only 52% from the top critics. So, it's rotten. Oddly enough, the new Harry Potter is registering at 84% positive with 89% positive from top critics. It's the 3rd highest rated of the Harry Potter series.

Scott said...

I just checked Rotten Tomatoes, and you are correct. Completely ridiculous.

By the way, I am not holding my breath for a GFE nom--or arguing that HP will NOT get the nom. On the contrary, I think this is precisely why there is little point in expanding from 5 to 10. HP absolutely does not need or deserve it, and yet will probably get it.

thevoid99 said...

I haven't seen a lot of films this year with 4 so far, unfortunately.

1. Up
2. The Brothers Bloom
3. Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince
4. Watchmen

The films I wanted to see like The Limits of Control, Goodbye Solo, The Girlfriend Experience, Rudo y Cursi, and Anvil!. There's films like The Hurt Locker and Moon that are currently playing but they're a little far while I'm short on gas money.

It's a frustrating year for me as a film goer and I think it's not going to get any better. There's a lot to look forward to.

As far as the Oscars go for 10 films. I think the choices will be crap and I'm damn sure Sin Nombre won't be nominated against the Oscar bait type of films coming.

Oh, and Ben Lyons had a second cameo in the recent episode of Entourage talking to Vinnie Chase. Now I can hear him say "I was on Entourage!" So?

Scott said...

That's another thing--Mank and Lyons said they were giving a report card but failed to mention what you just did--that it has not been a terribly inspiring year for movie-goers. Maybe things will start to look up in the fall.

TJB said...

Lyons and Mankiewitz are a disgrace, a complete embarassment to the accomplished "At the Movies" franchise. Whatever happened to the intelligence and thoughtfulness of Roger Ebert, Gene Siskel, and Richard Roeper? "Ebert & Roeper" & "Siskel & Ebert" made for must-see television. Now the show is unwatchable.

TCS2013 said...

The Girlfriend Experience won't get nominated. The Academy will never nominate that kind of indie film. Plus it's just too polarizing to be nominated for a major award. I liked it, but it's not Soderbergh's best work, nor is it in my top five of 2009.

TCS2013 said...
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