I can’t recall every single movie I’ve seen this year. I do know, however, that probably 75% of the movies I’ve seen have been via Netflix. And having no record of the other 25% (which Netflix used to have with the use of a chronological ratings history slider, but I don’t want to get back into the whole Netflix thing again), I’m forced to make my year-end awards selections strictly from the rentals I’ve gotten through Netflix. Using only the list of things I’ve seen via Netflix in 2010, let’s hand out some film awards, which I’m calling TDYLFies (phonetically: ta-dill-fees). Why call ’em that? Why not? Point of clarification- these are strictly films that I watched this year. Some may have been released this year but the overwhelming majority were not.
The “Why the Hell Did I Wait So Long to Watch This?” Award
Bridge on the River Kwai
It was the shortest seven hour movie I’ve ever seen. Ok, ok, it was a little over three hours, but my point remains- it was so good that it didn’t seem like three hours at all. Everything about it was incredible and it made me stand up and notice David Lean.
Most Underrated Low-Budget Horror
There were enough in this category that I couldn’t name just one movie. So the list is:
House of the Devil
Dorm (2006, from Thailand)
And the winner is House of the Devil, for two reasons- A.J. Bowen needs more recognition, and it completely masters the homage to campy 80’s horror.
The “Why the Hell Did I Wait So Long to Watch This?” Category (Foreign)
Fires on the Plain
I’d intended to watch it for a great long time. I went bananas for The Burmese Harp, which is the sister film to Fires on the Plain. I felt extremely stupid when I finally watched it because it’d rested in my queue for two years or more, collecting dust.
Best Swedish Zombie Movie
This category presented the toughest competition, with Die Zombiejäger locking horns with many other Swedish zombie movie titans. For instance, there was… uh… well, I don’t have time to name the others. Here’s a clip. The guy in the Thriller suit throwing nunchucks at zombies was pretty cool:
Poetic realism films are “recreated realism”, stylised and studio bound, rather than approaching the “socio-realism of the documentary”. They usually have a fatalistic view of life with their characters living on the margins of society, either as unemployed members of the working class or as criminals. After a life of disappointment, the characters get a last chance at love, but are ultimately disappointed again and the films frequently end with disillusionment or death. The overall tone often resembles nostalgia and bitterness. They are “poetic” because of a heightened aestheticism that sometimes draws attention to the representational aspects of the films.
In other words, all of the protagonists are cooler than a snowman’s buttcheeks. And the films were almost universally impressive. This leads me to…
Best, Most-Watched Actor
Gabin was the star of a holy trinity of poetic realist films- Pépé le Moko, La Grand Illusion, La Bete Humaine– that each would qualify for the best French film I watched this year. And those films convinced me to watch Touchez Pas Au Grisbi, which is my favorite French noir. Speaking of the best French films I watched this year…
Best French Film I Watched This Year
(tie) Shoot the Piano Player and Pépé le Moko
The former turned me on to the best director of the French New Wave. The latter was a launching point for film noir and influenced major cinematic giants like The Third Man and Casablanca. It’s really only a tie, though, because I’m going to be writing a lot more about Shoot the Piano Player later on here, and I didn’t want to rob my readers of some truly great French cinema.
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
Is it blasphemous if I confess that I prefer this to Peckinpah’s more-celebrated The Wild Bunch?
Worst in Show, Obvious Category
Wait, let me explain. I was talking with a friend of mine about finding the next Troll 2– the type of thing that was so awful that it could be turned into a cult hit of sorts, complete with annual viewing parties and hipster irony. And I’m all for exploiting hipsters for their money. At any rate, it turns out that it’s just plain bad in every way imaginable. I never really had any problem with Ben Affleck or even J-Lo for that mattter. But if I’d seen Gigli five years ago- before J-Lo fell off the face of the earth and Affleck redeemed himself with stuff like The Town and Gone Baby Gone– I’d still be holding a grudge.
In all seriousness, I can’t stress enough how shitty it really was. For chrissakes, there’s a ten minute-ish J-Lo monologue about her vagina. The acting, the screenplay, the dialogue… everything about this movie was a huge pile of shit. Believe the hype, people.
Worst in Show, Not So Obvious Category
Way back in April, I’d mentioned that the Nazi Zombie category would be expanding soon. Shock Waves had recently hit DVD. As a Nazi Zombie enthusiast, and as a fan of Peter Cushing, Shock Waves seemed like the slam dunk 4 or 5 star Netflix rental to end all Netflix rentals. And so when it completely sucked, it was the most unkindest cut of all. I kept trying to forgive it. “It’ll get better”, I thought. “Surely it’ll get better”. And then I moved on to the bargaining stage. “Well, it sucks, but maybe it’ll start to suck in a way that makes me laugh, kind of like the Chicago Cubs”.
Best Performance by a Monkey
You might know by now that I’ll use any excuse I can get to bring up Buster Keaton. 2009 was the Year of Keaton for me. I’d devoured the majority of Keaton films I could find. But early this year, there were still a few I had yet to tackle. One of those was 1928’s The Cameraman. Buster is phenomenal in it, of course- no doubt about it. In the end, though, the entire plot rests on a fulcrum made out of monkey.
Best Performance by a Silent Comedian as a Serial Killer
Once I was done watching everything Keaton had done, I set out to watch more Charlie Chaplin (and Harold Lloyd). Along the way, I stumbled upon Monsieur Verdoux. As I understand it, this film tends to be divisive amongst film scholars. Personally, I thought it was fantastic as a complete rejection of the charming but occasionally cloying character that Chaplin had always been on screen.
Best Tinto Brass Movie
Let’s all pretend that I didn’t just confess to having seen this movie in 2010. Or ever for that matter.
Best Movie About a Murderous Bed That’s Possessed By a 16th Century Demon and Eats People and Fried Chicken and Drinks Wine and Gets Indigestion and Drinks Pepto Bismol to Make It Go Away
Death Bed: The Bed That Eats
Dear Patton Oswalt,
Thank you for alerting me to the existence of this movie.
Here’s a clip, courtesy of thecinemasnob.com:
Enough with the schtick. Let’s get back to one more very serious category and then call it a year.
Best Movie I Received from Netflix This Year
Shoot the Piano Player
There were an awful lot of contenders, many of which I’d already mentioned. Fassbinder’s Chinese Roulette came the closest to winning this category, but fell just short. Truffaut’s masterpiece is a miniature film school course on the French New Wave, on the influence of the French New Wave in the future, on having the chutzpah to experiment in such a way that helps redefine the noir genre… There really aren’t enough superlatives for Shoot the Piano Player.