The 2011 Honorary Awards

My Top Ten of 2011 is coming later this week; just as soon as the final disc from Netflix comes in. But, I can give you something in the meantime:

The 2011 Honorary Awards!

The "It Wasn't That Bad" Award:
The movie, while not a contender for my Top Ten, I felt was unjustly maligned by both critics and audiences. It doesn't deserve accolades, but deserves more than it got.

The Green Hornet

Leaving the theater early in 2011, I knew instantly The Green Hornet was a shoo-in for this award. It was silly, preposterous, and yet I loved it. I have this weird thing with superhero movies. When they're good, they're very good. When they're bad, they're still pretty good. See also my opinions on The Shadow, Daredevil, The Punisher and Green Lantern.

Seth Rogen is back in form, his acting skills are equally on par with his work on Freaks & Geeks and Undeclared. Jay Chou as Kato also plays his role well, especially considering he's taking the reins from Bruce Lee. On the negative side, Cameron Diaz and Christoph Waltz are squandered, each turning in a forgettable performance, only one step above stock characters ("Hi, I'm pretty and blonde and you can confide in me!" "Grr, I'm evil and wearing a suit. I will kill you because I'm a gangster and I don't like the law!") Not only that, Michel Gondry's decision to direct completely undercuts his whole filmography, tarnishing what was once a finely sharpened auteur style. This film looks like it could have been directed by anybody.

But The Green Hornet is what it is. It was created in the 60s to cash in on the growing Kung-Fu craze, and it exists today to cash in on the Superhero craze. It's funny to think how back in the 60s, The Green Hornet was the sensible, procedural drama while Batman was the goofy, campy adventure series. Nowadays Christopher Nolan's Batman is a gritty, noir-esque super-serious drama while Green Lantern is the half-smirked action/comedy. The world's weird like that.

The idea of Seth Rogen as a superhero is laughable, but the film hangs numerous lampshades on this. The way it's presented, however, makes the casting decision seem fitting. The drama between Chou and Rogen, especially the brains-versus-talent dichotomy, is believable and makes the film worth seeing. Any action sequence not involving a car is realistic and intense, if not exaggerated for dramatic effect and slightly goofy for entertainment purposes. Any action sequence involving a car is so ludicrous, I couldn't look away. The Green Hornet isn't a great superhero film, but it wasn't that bad.
Honorable Mentions: Elektra Luxx, Sucker Punch, Cowboys and Aliens, Sanctum

The Danny McBride Spirit Award:
For special achievement in portraying an annoying or unlikable character in an otherwise good film.

The Moopets from The Muppets

The Muppets are an institution that everybody, from audiences to film studios, take for granted. There is this untapped potential to make them do anything, solely because they are the only puppet show in town. They made great stuff like Fraggle Rock and The Muppet Movie, but they also made stuff like Muppets Tonight and The Muppets Wizard of Oz. Luckily, The Muppets (the movie) was everything good about The Muppets (the franchise) with one notable exception: The Moopets (the characters).

The Muppets have always enjoyed driving running gags into the ground, and they even do it to success in the movie, such as traveling by map. But The Moopets... egh. The concept of an off-brand Muppet revue subsisting purely on the marquee value of similar names, whilst undermining the key components of the franchise they're cashing in on was moderately funny, but the joke did not go away. I know the characters were supposed to be annoying and unlikable, but when they pop up every fifteen minutes, they just become insufferable. The worst part of an otherwise great movie.
Honorable Mentions: Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) - X-Men: First Class, Sid (Nick Krause) - The Descendants

The Gary Oldman Achievement Award:
For the best onscreen character, both in terms of writing and performance.

Peter Vincent from Fright Night
Portrayed by David Tennant, Written for the screen by Marti Noxon, Based on a character created by Tom Holland

Peter Vincent is a shallow parody of Criss Angel, and in a crappy movie, the character development would have ended there. But Peter Vincent is so much more. He's a dedicated vampire folklorist, masquerading as a stage magician to mask his true identity and hide his scarred personal history from both the creatures of the night and the non-believing public. And he's played by David Tennant. I'm a bit biased here, but I'm just so happy David Tennant's getting work.

Like any good ass-kicking vampire hunter, Vincent's equal parts intelligent and athletic. He's quick with quips and isn't deterred by mere injuries... at least he is at the climax. He evolves as a character. In the beginning, he's just an alcoholic, entitled celebrity. And not just any alcohol, Midori. From the beginning, he's eccentric, abusive, and really fun to watch. Then at the climax, he's a pissed-off, drunken, full-on shotgun-wielding Van Helsing, and still really fun to watch.
Honorable Mentions: Evil Ed (Christoph Mintz-Plasse) - Fright Night, Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) - Hanna, Libby/Boltie (Ellen Page) - Super, Uggy the Dog (as Himself) - The Artist, Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law) - Contagion, Marcus (Sam Huntington) - Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

The 'This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things' Award:
The shittiest movie of the year that makes me wonder why certain people are allowed to live without having beehives thrown through their living room windows.

Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star

Bucky Larson is an exercise in stupidity. The entire plot sounds like the winner of a film variation of the Little Lytton contest. It's what happens when comedians try to push boundaries without having anything worthwhile to justify doing so. It's not just unfunny, at parts it doesn't even try to be funny. Even during the Freidberg/Seltzer monstrosities, it's obvious when they're trying to make jokes. They fail miserably, but they can at least be interpreted as jokes by the very loosest of definitions. The feeble attempts at jokes in Bucky Larson disappear sporadically as the the script shuffles from one plot point to the next like a three-legged cow with gout. Writing a screenplay is hard. Writing a comedy is very hard. Shelving boxes at Payless Shoes is very easy. Stick with what you know.

Nick Swardson looks almost exactly like Simple Jack. The marketing campaign is the worst I've ever seen; I do not need the floating, disembodied head of Peter Dante goading me into seeing a film while I'm trying to watch The Venture Brothers. I hate that fatheaded bastard. The only reason he gets work is because he makes Adam Sandler look like Charlie Chaplin. Sandler definitely knows this, Dante will never catch on because he's the kind of person who would appear in the film Bucky Larson. It's not shocking, abrasive, break-the-rules humor, it's the cinematic equivalent of a senile old man who leaves his house forgetting to wear pants; yes, it's vulgar and you'd think for a moment it would be a funny experience, but when you actually witness it, you just feel bad for the pantsless man.

I did the math; during Bucky Larson's opening weekend at my theater, I made more money working a standard eight-hour shift than the movie grossed in all fifteen weekend showtimes. Clearly, Hollywood should be investing in me.
Horrible Mentions: Big Momma's House 3, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, The Smurfs, Jack &; Jill, The Three Musketeers, Zookeeper, Mr. Popper's Penguins

The All-Coveted "I'm an Idiot" Award:
For the most anticipated, highly regarded film I never got around to seeing, be it because of limited releases, lack of marketing, or my own sheer laziness (mostly that last one).


I live in Saint Louis. Saint Louis is a baseball city. In 2011, the Saint Louis Cardinals won the World Series. Even if you don't like baseball, if you lived in Saint Louis in 2011, you liked baseball. So when Moneyball came to theaters in late September, just as the Redbirds were turning their losing season around into an underdog story we'll be touting for years to come, I was just baseballed out.

It didn't matter the film was getting glowing reviews, or that Brad Pitt gave one of the best performances of his life, or that Aaron Sorkin wrote the script, I just couldn't take any more baseball. It was at my multiplex for ten weeks. That's two and a half months. It didn't get pushed out until the Thanksgiving releases arrived. It was just too much baseball for me.

But the Cards lost Pujols, we have no dugout, and Tony LaRussa's retired. This won't be an issue in 2012. Until then, congratulations Moneyball, I'm an idiot.
Honorable Mentions: Trollhunter, Midnight in Paris, Melancholia, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Machine Gun Preacher, Win Win, A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas

The Game-Changer:
The most influential film of the year, in whatever regards, sure to influence Hollywood's actions and decisions in the near future.


While I didn't think Bridesmaids was anything fantastic in terms of jokes or storytelling, its sheer popularity speaks mounds of the future of comedy. You follow movie blogs, you know this already, but I'll say it again anyways: Women have always gotten the short end of the stick in the field of comedy. From Gracie Allen to Lucille Ball to Sarah Silverman, comediennes have to give 120% effort to get 80% of the recognition. Both in terms of their peers and their target audiences.

Pick any so-called comedy from the past fifteen years with a female lead. Is it a romance where a pretty, svelte girl has to overcome self-imposed obstacles all while trying to capture the attention of a comparably pretty man? Probably. Double or nothing it starred Katherine Heigl or Sarah Jessica Parker. Am I right?

This is what female comedies have been reduced to; a 21st-century variation of the Cinderella story. You can have a husband, and a family, and a career, and a size-four waist, and a high rise New York City apartment, and the only obstacle you'll encounter is occasionally tripping over your four inch heels. And this is comedy for some reason. You can understand why men aren't taking the craft seriously.

But Bridesmaids is the game changer. It proves the fairer sex can be just as crude, vulgar, sharp, incisive and slapsticky as the boys. But it's a slow road. Every scene where Kristen Wiig fawns over the inexplicably Irish cop, but pushes him away because because, and every scene where Wiig and Rose Byrne have a passive-agressive catfight prove the genre still has a long way to go. But a journey of 1000 miles begins with asingle step, and this journey began with Maya Rudolph in a wedding gown taking a shit on a city street.
Honorable Mentions: Mars Needs Moms for killing the 3D Motion Capture animation medium. The Adventures of Tintin for reviving it. Spy Kids 4D for proving Hollywood is never out of gimmicks. The Tree of Life for bringing experimental films to the forefront. Red State for challenging the studio distribution system.

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