Free advanced screenings (56): Freedom Writers, Happily N'Ever After, Code Name: The Cleaner, Thr3e, Stomp the Yard, Smokin' Aces, Catch and Release, Because I Said So, The Astronaut Farmer, Music and Lyrics, Breach, Amazing Grace, Reno 911!: Miami, Black Snake Moan, Wild Hogs, The Ultimate Gift, Shooter, Hairspray, The Last Mimzy, Blades of Glory, Meet the Robinsons, Are We Done Yet?, The Hoax, Knocked Up, Fracture, Hot Fuzz, Next, Year of the Dog, Lucky You, Georgia Rule, Waitress, Evan Almighty, Transformers, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Bratz, Hot Rod, Sydney White, The Kingdom, Balls of Fury, The 11th Hour, The Brave One, In the Valley of Elah, Eastern Promises, The Game Plan, Dan in Real Life, August Rush, Enchanted, Beowulf, Juno, The Golden Compass, The Bucket List, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Atonement, Sweeney Todd, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Paid or had passes to see in first run theater (9): I Think I Love My Wife, The Namesake, Spider-Man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Shrek the Third, The Simpsons Movie, The Bourne Ultimatum, American Gangster, No Country for Old Men
Saw on DVD (9): Starter for 10, Gracie, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Pride, Incident at Lokhandwala, In the Land of Women, Talk to Me, Ratatouille, The Nanny Diaries
For whatever reason, there were probably another 10-15 movies I had received from the library on DVD, but never watched. It's almost as if I lose interest in a movie if I can't see it before it gets released. Strange.
Rather than play favorites for the year, here are a few select irreverent categories.
Best Example of My Alienation from Younger Audiences
Smokin' Aces is the winner, though I have a feeling Alpha Dog would win if I hadn't walked out of the screening. Both are guilty of inundating us with soulless and violent characters, with nary a point in sight. Fortunately, I think audiences are so desensitized by this by now that they've stopped attending.
The "Watch Your Back, Dakota Fanning" Award
Hmm. What does this award mean now? Is it devoted to precocious children, or intensely dramatic adolescents who act like miniature adults? If the former, then the Apatow/Mann kids in Knocked Up. If the latter, then Saoirse Ronan in Atonement; even Dakota Fanning would ask her to lighten up.
Style Over Substance Award
Hot Fuzz, but I think that was the point.
Substance Over Style Award
Amazing Grace: I can't remember a single scene, but I could tell you quite a bit about what happened and why I felt it mattered.
Best Line Delivery
I'm not a Hilary Swank fan at all, but it's been over 11 months since I saw Freedom Writers, and her very white-bread reading of the somewhat urban line "Were you trippin'?" still cracks me up.
Best Eye Candy, Female (co-winners)
Jenna Fischer, Blades of Glory: Yeah, Pam from TV's The Office. Until I saw her here, I had no idea.
Kerry Washington, I Think I Love My Wife: With her, I already had an idea. Ms. Washington is all kinds of fine to begin with, and her femme fatale in this strange (and not altogether effective) comedy was, well, altogether effective. You know what I mean.
Best Eye Candy, Male
Ryan Gosling, Fracture: I'm guessing? I'm not good at speculating this. But he plays a charming and intelligent lawyer who comes to a court arraignment wearing a tux. That has to count for something.
Poster of the Year
Michael Clayton. That wasn't hard to determine; the image to your right is perhaps one of the 10 finest
Honorary Brevity Award
This is tricky, because the last two winners are back with new films this year. David Cronenberg (who won in 2005 for A History of Violence) returns to direct the 100-minute Eastern Promises. Meanwhile, Fox Searchlight (2006 winner for Little Miss Sunshine) can boast Juno, which clocks in at 91 minutes.
Both films address the subject of teen pregnancy, but in VERY different ways. At first I was tempted to give the award to Juno, because Eastern Promises is notorious for star Viggo Mortensen's full frontal turn, and I think he'd be upset if I characterized anything about this film as short. But Juno mostly works because it gives us a sample of scenes for each trimester. It does not flow as well as Eastern Promises, though it does have the better ending.
So I'm going to do something that I tend to do, which is be supremely fair and give the award to neither. This year's Brevity Award goes to The Last Mimzy, a vastly underrated family movie that, at 90 minutes, manages to address time travel and all of humankind, present and future. Also, it makes better use of Rainn Wilson than Juno, which gave him a one-scene cameo.