Tuesday, February 28, 2017

My Tops of 2017 - February

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 brought us more Keanu Reeves, more headshots, and more info on the bizarre world of assassins. Too bad it couldn't bring more intelligence to Wick himself or remove the blatant sequel bait.

THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE thankfully gave us not only another great Batman movie but another entertaining love letter to the weird world of the Caped Crusader.

● Overall Film Count: 3 ●

This is the second time where my adventures to the movie theaters in February brought me some solid works, including one film that made it on to my Best Films list. Unfortunately, despite my adoration for it, I believe that Lego Batman will be lower down on the list or even off the Top 20 depending on the rest of the year's output.

March is usually the start of drive-in movie season so if the weird weather whiplashes start to subside significantly, I'll be able to watch more movies.

Best Films of 2017

1. The Lego Batman Movie

Monday, February 27, 2017

Reaction To The 2017 Oscars

What the hell just happened?

Screw the routine, let's start with what happened at the end: Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway are ready to read the winner of Best Picture, Beatty goofily stretches out the suspense, before finally letting Dunaway read off that La La Land. The film's producers are doing their speeches all the while what appeared to be the Oscar show runners running around in the background, looking for the envelope. Jordan Horowitz announces that there's was a mistake and says that Moonlight really won. He keeps repeating that it isn't a joke before showing on camera the evidence.

"Warren! What did you do?!" Beatty then steps up and says that he opened the envelope and saw Emma Stone for La La Land, meaning he received the Best Actress in a Lead Role for the accountants. In other words, he's not the next Steve Harvey.

I'm very glad that Moonlight got the surprise upset but this awards controversy overshadowed its accomplishment of being the first Best Picture winner with a queer lead character. But man, it would have been so bad if the opposite happened; the backlash against La La Land would have been far greater if that transpired.

Due to the epic failure at the end, I'm once again back at my usual average of 16-8. Just great.

As for the ceremony overall, it was alright but way too long. Further plagued down by repetitive anti-Trump remarks and "stand united" declarations. The flat theme of the show was "Inspiration", which was shown via three unnecessary segments where Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, and Javier Bardem talk about their favorite films. Because that draws in the new viewers: Bardem praising Meryl Streep in The Bridges of Madison County.

Jimmy Kimmel started off painfully dull and became awful by the end. His opening monologue had him speaking way too fast, killing the timing of each and every joke, and his material was so softball. It was so bad that he literally retold the same joke about Elle and Captain Fantastic: congrads, Viggo and Isabella, but no one saw your movie. He ran his comedic feud with Matt Damon further into the ground save for his "Inspiration" clip where he mocked We Bought a Zoo. Referring The Great Wall as that "Chinese ponytail movie" also was a pointed observation.

Oh wow, that's a pretty bad tan job there, Alicia Vikander.

Suicide Squad. Oscar winning movie.

The gladhands were the student Oscar winners. They were fine save for the rude bearded guy who was aggressively pushing the make-up winners.

That Rolex commercial with the ill-timed appearance of Bill Paxton from Titanic. Ouch. The commercial itself was pretty good though, basically a truncated version of The Clock.

Lin-Manuel Miranda produced a Hamiliton-like intro before the performance of "How Far I'll Go", just to remind you that Hamiliton exists and everyone can't get enough of it.

Auli'i Cravalho was doing a great job on stage and then that ocean flag waver hit bopped her in the head.

During the ad breaks, Wal-Mart premiered its newest marketing gimmick: having Marc Forster, Antoine Fuqua, and Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg produce a commercial around some random items on a receipt. All ended up being pretty damn bad. Fuqua ripped off Spielberg movies to tell a lame tale of a kid gifting a baby video monitor to an alien spacecraft, who gifts him a bunch of emojis. Forster had a nonsensical one with post-apocalyptic kid ravagers and little pigs. And finally, Rogen & Goldberg's ad was better produced, faking an one shot take of different musical stylings, but clearly showed they didn't give two licks trying to write a story.

So the gifted food to the stars segment this year was candy being air dropped from the ceiling while set to "Ride of the Valkyries". And of course, Kimmel made it so unfunny and repetitive.

Taraji P. Henson was a having a barrel of a time bequeathing the best reaction shots during the evening.

The theme to S.W.A.T.? That's a television show!

Honorary Oscar winner Jackie Chan brought a nice date to the show: a clothed teddy bear.

"My heart was broken!" So glad I don't have to rewatch that clip ever again.

Viola Davis won and gave the best award speech of the night.

Sting's "The Empty Chair" performance was so short and unmemorable, they had to have that "challenge authority with journalism" quote to draw up real applause.

Gael García Bernal remarks about the U.S.-Mexico Wall proposal and then just coldly introduces the nominees to Best Animated Film. Smooth.

It took nearly two hours until La La Land won something, starting first with Best Production Design.

My god, the tour bus gag. Absolute torture. All of the tourists entered into the Dolby Theater holding their phones in front of them. Screw Gary from Chicago, I hated that guy. Yeah, just take Mahershala Ali's well earned Oscar out of his hands and give him your camera so he can do the forced upon selfie, you loser!

The Oscars orchestra played "Nowhere Fast" from Streets of Fire!!! Hell freaking yes!!!

Was the "Movies Around The World" montage really necessary? It was just a bunch of random interviews with foreign people, one of whom said that their absolute favorite American movie was Suicide Squad.

Hey guys, isn't Back To The Future the absolute best? Here's Seth Rogen coming out of the DeLorean with Michael J. Fox while wearing the self-lacing Nike shoes. Not as cool as when the pro wrestling tag team The Time Splitters did it.

Hacksaw Ridge for Best Editing? The movie lambasted for how slow the first half is?

Kimmel's "Circle of Life" gag with Sunny Pawar was so damn awkward and possibly a bit racist.

I don't know what was going on during that teaser for Bright, a Netflix Original Film starring Will Smith, but it looked cool so, yay!!! Get that reference, if you can!

Speaking of Netflix, they finally won their first Oscar for distributing The White Helmets. Eat that Amazon!

Oh god, now its time for Mean Tweets.

John Legend performing both nominated songs from La La Land, neither of which were sung by his character in the film, gave me bad flashbacks to that one Oscars when Beyonce sang three of nominated songs, included the one with the French kid choir.

Justin Schwartz wins Best Score, says he will not bore the million of viewers with a bunch of names, only to contradict himself immediately when he wins Best Score.

A lot of people were Farina'd during the "In Memoriam" segment. The one I noticed right away was Miguel Ferrer. Further omissions include Alexis Arquette, Jon Polito, Robert Vaughn, and Garry Shandling.

We Hate Movies accurately predicted it: John Hurt's clip would be him as Garrick Ollivander from Harry Potter.

Spoilers abound in the movie clips, as per usual with the Oscars, but the reveal for Casey Affleck's stigma in Manchester By The Sea was particularly bad.

And then you know what happened.

Lion and Hell Or High Water were this year's total shut-outs.

A bunch of nice accomplishments throughout the show only to be ruined by a failed finale and a dreadful host.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Bill Paxton - RIP

Absolutely ruining Hollywood's biggest night and actively crushing the hearts of everyone, it was shockingly announced that actor Bill Paxton has died from surgery complications. He was 61 years old.

Paxton got his start in Hollywood alternating between acting and directing. His biggest claim to fame in the early stages of his career was starring and directing the music video for Barnes & Barnes' "Fish Heads", which later would have a special airing on Saturday Night Live.

His fortunes would soon change in 1984 with the release of two films. In the rock-n-roll action musical Streets of Fire, he played Clyde, the resident bartender and close friend to Michael Paré's Tom Cody. It was the first meaty role for him and helped establish one of Paxton's go-to character types: the macho show-off who would buckle under pressure and/or be too laughable to take serious. This type would applied to his more memorable 1984 role as the leader of a group of punks who pick a fight with a naked Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator. This would be the first time Paxton would work with director James Cameron and help lead to a lasting friendship between the two.

Paxton's profile expanded greatly in the next two years, first starring off as Chet Donnelly, the obnoxious older brother of Ilan Mitchell-Smith in the popular sci-fi comedy Weird Science. But it was his new buddy James Cameron who gave his most famous role of all time as Private Hudson in the sci-fi action blockbuster Aliens. A space marine dripping in arrogance who would later find himself way over his head once he takes a walk through the dark corridors of LV-426, Hudson proved to be the fan favorite of the movie. Paxton did a phenomenal job as the cocky and beleaguered grunt thanks mostly to his quote-friendly dialogue. His most memorable line, "Game Over, man. Game over!", was improvised by Paxton and would be later re-quoted and parodied in the years to come.

His very next role allowed Paxton to give another great performance. In Kathryn Bigelow's modern horror western Near Dark, Paxton was cast as Severen, the wild card and second-in-command of a group of nomadic vampires. Severen is the darkest character Paxton would ever play, as evident by the twisted bar scene where he horrifically murders several patrons. For the next couple of years, Paxton would be largely drifting along in Hollywood due to a series of less-than-stellar feature films. He would pull out his popular cocky routine again in supporting roles for Navy SEALs and Predator 2 but he couldn't singlehandedly salvage the entire production.

His return to form would come in 1992 from a little film that was going to be sent straight to video but was given a theatrical release thanks to advance word of mouth and the growing indie movement. One False Move had Paxton play a small town Chief of Police who get wrapped up into the major investigation and chase for three violent killers, one of whom happens to be a former lover.

Paxton then embarked on a series of memorable supporting roles in major Hollywood blockbusters. First up was Tombstone where he played Morgan Earp, the tragic younger brother to Kurt Russell's Wyatt Earp. James Cameron came a-calling again and gave Paxton the role of Simon, a sleazy car salesman with a penchant for lying and pissing his pants at danger, in the comedic action-fest True Lies. Ron Howard then gave him a potential Oscar-nominated role as Fred Haise, the third doomed NASA astronaut in Apollo 13. Paxton was able to put the brakes on his streak of supporting roles for a bit in 1996 and got to star as reckless storm chaser Bill "The Extreme" Harding in the disaster feature Twister. And finally, to put a special pin on his run of blockbusters, he played treasure-seeking oceanographer Brock Lovett in the absolute biggest film of the 90's, James Cameron's Titanic.

Following the success of Titanic, Paxton gave a strong lead performance in A Simple Plan, the neo noir directed by Sam Raimi about a trio of friends who find a cache of money and slowly start to distrust each other. Unfortunately, the film was spurned by audiences and Paxton was overshadowed come Oscar time by his co-star Billy Bob Thornton. The next set of years had Paxton again appearing in several blockbuster hopefuls such as Mighty Joe Young and Vertical Limit but his resources weren't well utilized. Paxton had to take matters into his own hands and in 2001, he directed and starred in Frailty. The dark thriller saw Paxton play a deeply disturbed father of two boys who believes that God tells him to kill several people who are demons in disguise. Paxton's acting and directing skills were hailed by critics at the time and the film has since become a cult gem.

After another spell of supporting roles in forgettable movies and stepping in the director's chair again for The Greatest Game Ever Played, Paxton finally achieved significant critical acclaim with his lead performance in the HBO drama series Big Love. For five seasons, he played Bill Henrickson, a practicing polygamist who must balance out his marriage to three women and the children he breeds with each of them. Since the show's conclusion in 2011, Paxton has once again been popping up in supporting roles for movies. His most memorable year in recent times was in 2014, when he had three roles: baseball pitching coach Tom House in Million Dollar Arm, the comedically cruel Master Sergeant Farell in Edge of Tomorrow, and the unsavory freelance photojournalist Joe Loder in Nightcrawler.

Bill Paxton was one of my favorite players in Hollywood. I vividly remember re-reading a great magazine piece about him around the time of Twister, which helped open my eyes about his extensive work and how largely unsung his career is. He was one of the guys that when you saw his name pop up in the credits, you would get instantly excite because you knew he would always bring his A-game. He was James Cameron's lucky charm and a supporting player who often stole the show away from the leads.

He will sorely be missed.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

2017 Oscars Predictions

As always, these are my predictions to win, not who or what movie I wish would win.

Best Picture: La La Land

Best Actor: Casey Affleck - Manchester By The Sea

Best Actress: Emma Stone - La La Land

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali - Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis - Fences

Best Director: Damien Chazelle - La La Land

Best Original Screenplay: Kenneth Lonergan - Manchester By The Sea

Best Adapted Screenplay: Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney - Moonlight

Best Animated Film: Zootopia

Best Foreign Film: The Salesman

Best Documentary Film: O.J.: Made in America

Best Documentary (Short Subject): The White Helmets

Best Animated Short Film: Borrowed Time

Best Live Action Short Film: Enemies Within

Best Original Score: Justin Hurwitz - La La Land

Best Original Song: "City of Stars" - La La Land

Best Cinematography: Linus Sandgren - La La Land

Best Film Editing: Tom Cross - La La Land

Best Production Design: Jess Gonchor and Nancy Haigh - Hail, Caesar!

Best Costume Design: Madeline Fontaine - Jackie

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo - Star Trek Beyond

Best Sound Editing: Sylvain Bellemare - Arrival

Best Sound Mixing: David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio, and Stuart Wilson - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Best Visual Effects: The Jungle Book

I am so unhyped about this year's Oscars. Everyone already knows La La Land is going to win so there's no suspense to be had, nor is there a sliver of a chance of Moonlight coming out of the shadows to steal Best Picture. Plus, the ceremony will be filled with a lot of political speeches and sick burns against Trump, so the viewing audience will be even more smaller than the previous year. Then you have the extended "in memoriam" segment that's is sure to depress the hell out of you. And finally, Jimmy Kimmel as the host. Ugh!

So I have La La Land winning seven of their 14 nominations. It almost was eight because their is a pretty high chance that Ryan Gosling could win. The prominence of Casey Affleck during the awards season led to previous allegations against the actor to spring up "unexpectedly" and the SAGs responded in kind by spurning him for Best Actor.

It would be pretty cool if Taylor Sheridan nabbed Best Screenplay but it will be Kenneth Lonergan's only chance at getting a golden man.

The lack of Elle means it's open season for Best Foreign Language Film. Unfortunately for Toni Erdmann, not only will it be snubbed for the Palme d'Or but for this one as well, as The Salesman is the likely winner. But hey, maybe the American remake with the returning Jack Nicholson will have a better chance.

Best Documentary is a tricky one, as three of the five nominees involve harsh examinations of the African American experience. They could cancel each other out but O.J.: Made In America is too ambitious to fail.

Similar to the feature length award, the Best Short Documentary has two films that focus on Syrian crisis. I'm crossing my fingers that Joe's Violin doesn't win because it is yet another Holocaust movie, and the Academy just can't get enough of Holocaust movies (see last year's win of Son of Saul).

Piper is Pixar's only chance this year but I think the anti-Pixar animated short Borrowed Time will snuff it out. Pearl is the dark horse however due to its musical story of a father and daughter on a road trip.

Man, it would be hilarious if Suicide Squad won an Oscar. Honestly though, Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini, and Christopher Nelson did a great job on that film.

I really, really wish that Kubo and the Two Strings or Doctor Strange would win Best Visual Effects. The work put into those movies still blow my mind. Sadly, that stupid Sin City wannabe will easily nab it.

See you on Monday with my reactions to the awards and the ceremony itself.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Top 15 Worst Razzie Nominations and Winners

Tomorrow, the night before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have their big gala at the Dolby Theatre, the Golden Raspberry Awards get to have their moment to shine. This "professional" organization, created by John J. B. Wilson and Mo Murphy in 1981, "honors" the fine men and women who brought forth the worst films imaginable. Because of these annual festivities, we have the darker elements of pop culture forever on display, in order to show future generations the stupidity people had to sit through in theaters. Unfortunately, like many award shows, there is debate to what was included and even won. This is my view on the failures of the Razzies.

I previously covered some of my harsh attitudes towards the Razzies way back in 2013 with just a simple top ten list. I have always wanted to give the list a fresh new update, retaining my previous remarks while peppering in some other lowlights, so it is now expanded to 15 entries where the Razzies were the ones that screwed up.

Once again, in order to make it on to this list, I have to have a really strong dislike for what the Razzies have done and are willing to defend it. For example, the attack on Sly Stallone and his two films in 1985, Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rocky IV, can be debatable due to the individual merits and sheer dumb intentions of those films. And, as always, I need to have actually seen the films.

Before we jeer the jeerers, let's chip in some honorable mentions that I didn't seem fit to discuss more about:

* Betsy Palmer got the bad rap being nominated for Worst Supporting Actress for her shocking and risky turn in Friday the 13th.

* Mommie Dearest is pretty campy and laughable for some people to watch but the film and Faye Dunaway does not really earn the eternal scorn the Razzies has given it.

* The multiple nominations and Michael Cimino's win as Worst Director for Heaven's Gate were most likely earned due to the infamous theatrical cut and the general stigma the film had upon release but any film nerd or a simple glance at the Criterion Collection can tell you this is total horse hockey.

* "I Want Your Sex" by George Michael has no right being named the Worst Original Song of 1987.

* Die-hard fans of The Ramones may loathe the song but "Pet Sematary" from the movie of the same name isn't really bad at all. It's just another pop-punk ditty.

* I know that many people are pissed at George C. Scott's Worst Actor nomination for The Exorcist III, let alone that The Exorcist III is anywhere associated with bad movie awards.

* Nominating Danny Devito for Batman Returns? Are you kidding me?

* Still haven't gotten around to seeing it again but I still think Demi Moore's Worst Actress win for G.I. Jane was undeserving. Especially since Fran Descher was right there!

* Jim Carrey certainly wasn't one of the Worst New Stars of 1994 for Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Dumb and Dumber, and The Mask.

* The Most Tiresome Tabloid Targets Award is kinda of a nice snapshot of pop culture in 2005 but has absolutely nothing to do with movies.

15. Body Hair and Body Parts Are Actors Too (1992)

I groan and loathe whenever the Razzies has a jokey nomination in the running for any of their awards. Probably the most egregious moment has to be at the 13th edition, when two dubious noms were entered into the Worst New Star category. The first one was Kevin Costner's crew cut in The Bodyguard. Remember how memorable that was? No? The second nomination was even more stupider than a bad hair job: Sharon Stone's "tribute" to Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver in Basic Instinct. How is that a joke at all? Thankfully, Pauly Shore took home the award but the history books will forever show how pitiful the Razzies can come with their nominations.

14. Robing Hood: Prince of Dweebs (Thieves): Worst Actor (Kevin Costner) (1991)

Yes, Costner didn't even try for a British accent in the movie but he was enjoyable as the renowned outlaw. The reason this is on this list is the sheer fact that Costner won the award largely for such a small excuse compared to his opponents: a shock humor misogynist in his own concert film (Andrew Dice Clay, Dice Rules), a failed attempt to forego action heroics for stilted comedy (Sylvester Stallone, Oscar), an unbearable walking experience of egotism (Bruce Willis, Hudson Hawk), and a graduate of Prince's Academy of Singers Who Can't Act (Vanilla Ice, Cool as Ice). Then, there's the other actors who were off the list but are more deserving to replace Costner, such as Brian Bosworth in Stone Cold (though he was included as Worst New Star) and Chevy Chase in Nothing But Trouble.

13. The Joe Eszterhas Worst-Written Film Grossing Over $100 Million Award (1996)

Every now and then, the Razzies create a new category either to skewer one of their repeated offenders or to mock Hollywood trends. The success of screenwriter Joe Eszterhas was a mighty big thorn in their side, so they crafted a commemorative category for him, designed to include audience favorites that did well in the box office. How this was not brought back up during the Twilight years is anyone's guess. The problem with the category itself is that all of its nominations didn't really truly and absolutely stink in the story: Independence Day and the "winner" Twister were just exciting big-budget B-movies, A Time to Kill is pretty harrowing at times and has a famous if clumsy monologue, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame actually touches upon themes truly shocking to see in a Disney film. The last nominee, Mission: Impossible, I can kinda see fitting since the complicated multiple betrayals are still hard to understand but the film was still entertaining. Speaking of new categories...

12. The Razzie Redeemer Award (2014 - Ongoing)

Does anyone remember The Swan? Hailed as the absolute worst reality television series ever created, the show had a bunch of women get complete makeovers, including plastic surgery, in order to achieve the beautiful outer appearance they always dreamed of having. These same women then immediately compete in a beauty pageant so the show can determine who's the best ugly ducking turned swan. The Razzies proceeded to copy this model of faux good intentions when in 2014 they created the Razzie Redeemer Award. The newly crafted prize was designed to honor past Razzie nominees for their new worthwhile efforts but they still had to compete against each other just to be the real redeemer. Kristen Stewart, Keanu Reeves, Mike Myers, and Jennifer Aniston all helped produced acclaimed works that year but Ben Affleck seemed to do it that much better I guess because he got an Oscar. In the second iteration of the award, the Razzie committee continued the stupid structure but were already stretching at the seems, giving Elizabeth Banks a nomination for directing Pitch Perfect 2 simply because she was one of the 13 directors of the anthology film Movie 43. This year, the Razzies finally changed the award to what it should have been in the first place: a prize of accomplishment for just one single individual. But even with this new change, they still managed to screw it up royally. They are bequeathing the Razzie Redeemer to Mel Gibson for Hacksaw Ridge due to him previously being nominated just one single time for his generally acclaimed supporting turn in the turgid action-fest The Expendables 3.

11. Who The Hell Is Angelyne? (1989)

During the 1980s, a large amount of billboards were erected all over Los Angeles, all bearing the image of a busty blonde and her unique name "Angelyne". She became famous solely because of this feat and proceeded to do nothing of any worth save for a couple of music video appearances. But in 1989, director Julien Temple and comedian Julie Brown wished to give her a nice cameo in the film Earth Girls Are Easy, an underrated sci-fi musical comedy that celebrates the L.A. scene and the MTV generation. Angelyne is barely in the film itself, on screen for just a little over a minute and only having five lines of dialogue. All she honestly does is drive her signature pink Corvette, reacts in horror as it gets damaged by Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans, and airheadily points out Michael McKean to the cops. The Razzie voters unfairly though her small appearance was so heinous to the picture that she was nominated for Worst Supporting Actress. This helped set the precedent for future non-celebrities appearing in movies getting easy nominations simply because the Razzie voters had a bone to grind.

10. Mac and Me: Worst New Star (Ronald McDonald) (1988)

Mac and Me is absolutely dreadful and certainly the true worst film of 1988 (sorry Cocktail). Unfortunately, the Razzies nearly proceeded to give the infamous kids movie a complete shutout. Director Stewart Raffill managed to snag Worst Director but it was a co-win with Blake Edwards for Sunset, which itself isn't very good but certainly not as bad as a E.T. rip-off filled to the brim with distressing amounts of product placement. The sole clean "victory" that the movie earned was for Worst New Star. However, the failed breakthrough performance wasn't for the obnoxious Jade Calegory or even the ugly alien Mac. It was for Ronald McDonald. Yes, that Ronald McDonald.

For those unaware, the biggest lowlight of Mac and Me is when it heads off to the craziest McDonalds of all time, where everyone is dancing non-stop. In this scene, Ronald pops in, does some little magic tricks, compliments the kid's oversized teddy bear (Mac in disguise) and immediately leaves. That's it. Twenty seconds of actual screen time! That's the awful performance that won the creepy yellow clown a Razzie. I frankly despise whenever the voting body hands out jokey wins with this being the prime example. Tami Erin and Don The Talking Horse were far more deserving for this award than for someone with a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo. But hey, it could have been worst: the award could have gone to Jean-Claude Van Damme for his awesome job in Bloodsport.

9. Attacking the Action Heroes (1993)

Cliffhanger and Last Action Hero. One is a rip-roaring action film set in the mountains while the others mocks Hollywood conventions literally inside a Hollywood world. Of the two, I truly enjoy Cliffhanger far more though Last Action Hero has more depth in the thinking department. Even after reading all about the production problems, I still think the Schwarzenegger vehicle is a lot of fun. However, the Razzies always have to mock Stallone and Schwarzenegger whenever they can and handed out multiple nominations for these two films. I could argue against John Lithgow and Janine Turner getting bad notices or the attacks at their scripts but the very real problem lies in the Worst Picture category. These two action films were given prime slots over much more deserving fare: Cop and a Half, Son of the Pink Panther, the failed remake of Born Yesterday, and most especially, one of my most hated films of all time and winner of Worst Director, Boxing Helena.

8. Brian De Palma: Nominated for Worst Director (1980, 1983)

Long mocked for being a Hitchcock plagiarist, Brian De Palma did rightly get his just desserts with multiple nominations, including Worst Director, for his work on the colossal, catastrophic adaptation of The Bonfire of the Vanities. However, the man was unfairly picked upon in the past. Though I can't defend his work on 1984's Body Double, since I still haven't seen it, he did do wonders with 1981's Dressed to Kill and especially in the now iconic Scarface, which was noteworthy among harsh critics in 1983 for its graphic violence.

7. The Supporting Actresses of Sci-Fi & Fantasy (1993, 1997)

Sandra Bullock, Milla Jovovich, and Uma Thurman all received proper justice for other films but some of their standout performances were unwisely given the raspberry treatment. Sandra Bullock broke through in Hollywood with her charming, deliberately dim-witted turn as a futuristic police officer in Demolition Man yet had to suffer dishonor at the 1993 Razzies. The same went for Jovovich and Thurman in 1997. Jovovich ran the gamut of crazy in The Fifth Element as the sexy and violent Leeloo while Thurman channeled Julie Newmar as the very campy Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin, often heralded by critics as the sole redeeming thing from that fiasco.

7. S.O.B.: Nominated for Worst Director, Worst Screenplay (1981)

Blake Edwards has had a very checkered career when it comes to his films and his choice of comedy. But attacking one of the funniest satires of the 1980's, the attitudes of New Hollywood, and his own personal and professional life? I call bull.

6. Annie Was a Supporting Player in Annie? (1982)

One of the things that really ticks me and everyone else off about movie awards is how some studios place their lead actors and actresses into the supporting categories in order to avoid competition and have a better chance at winning. One of the most recent cases of this duplicity is how Alicia Vikander played the female lead yet won several awards as Best Supporting Actress for The Danish Girl. The Razzies pulled off this stunt for their third ceremony when Aileen Quinn won Worst Supporting Actress for her work in Annie. In case you don't remember, Quinn played a red-haired moppet in the film. In case you still can't get it, she played Annie. Even if you weren't not enamored by her performance, how in the hell can the titled character be nominated as a supporting player?

The reason for this stretching of the rules is pretty easy. Back in 1983, the same year as the Hollywood take of Annie, an infamous movie called Butterfly came out, presenting to the world the "newest" star of the movie industry, Pia Zadora. Since she was a cinch for Worst Actress and Worst New Star, the Razzie committee decided to lob Alieen Quinn in the supporting category so they could have an easier chance to lambast her. The Razzies would continue using this pathetic strategy in the future, most notable in reverse when Peter O'Toole was somehow nominated for Worst Actor for his clearly drunk performance in Supergirl.

5. No Love For Electronica (1981, 1982, 1985)

The Worst Musical Score category fell be the wayside in 1985, after six years of largely unfair attacks at scores that often used synthesizers and created moody landscapes. I may let Giorgio Moroder's score for the re-edit version of Metropolis to continue be scorned at by some but I certainly can not give a pass to the nominations of Tangerine Dream for Thief, Vince DiCola for Rocky IV (which "won" in 1985), and most especially Ennio Morricone for The Thing. Yes, one of the most iconic horror and sci-fi scores of all time is considered trash by the Razzies.

4. The Blair Witch Project: Worst Actress (Heather Donahue) (1999)

A way too, too easy target for the Razzies, Heather Donahue's widely parodied performance as a lost and scared documentarian is and forever shall be one of the most famous in film's history. It helped usher the film and the found footage horror genre into serious discussion. When you take a look at Donahue's fellow Worst Actress contenders that year though, it seemed the Razzies had to bite the bullet, as the other nominees weren't truly memorable in their badness. However, Juliette Lewis' much maligned performance as a mentally challenged woman in The Other Sister would have been the ideal choice but the Razzie committee saw fit to have her nominated for Worst Supporting Actress. Gee, where did I hear that awards scenario before?

3. The Unfunny Sexual Humor of the Razzies (Various)

The Razzies have always had a strenuous relationship with the LGBT community when it comes to their form of comedy. They seemed to establish in the very first iteration of their awards that they had some moral high ground when they attacked Cruising and the still unreleased on video even today Windows for their homophobic content. Unfortunately, at the very same event, they also gave a Worst Supporting Actress nomination to Georg Stanford Brown for his drag performance in Stir Crazy. Onwards from this point, the Razzies have routinely yucked it up to themselves by including actors and actress in opposite gender categories whenever they acted in drag or even played a character who is disguising themselves. Brooke Shields, Dom DeLuise, Kurt Russell, John Candy, and Jane March all have either won or been nominated because of this approach. Now, you could make the case that these much publicized Razzie awards and nominations did help lead Hollywood to slowly move away from and/or refine drag humor. Even the Razzies themselves eventually gave up on their lame running joke: For the 1994 awards, Julia Sweeney was nominated as Worst Actress for It's Pat instead of say Worst Actor or some kind of new acting award like Worst Person, given the gag for that crappy SNL character. Unfortunately, the joke reared its ugly head into the limelight again when Jack and Jill swept the entire 32nd edition of the Razzies, netting Worst Actress and Worst Supporting Actress for Adam Sandler and David Spade respectively. This inappropriate revival continues to march on whenever they nominate Tyler Perry for his work as Madea.

But the most egregious sexual barbs to come from the Razzies have sprung up in recent times due to the usage of hurtful epithets. The Transformers franchise has been a favorite target for bad movie lovers and critics due to their bombastic, hard-to-see action theatrics, bad acting, bad direction, bad screenplays, and overall being a general plague to the senses. When the Razzies nominated the films, starting first with 2009's Revenge of the Fallen and up to 2014's Age of Extinction, they have referred to them in press releases and on their websites under the nickname "Trannies". Due to obvious reasons, this has earned them widespread criticism. Sadly, considering the fifth Transformers entry is coming out this year and expected to be a favorite, the Razzies may continue this campaign of hate speech.

2. The Shining: Worst Director and Worst Actress (Shelly Duvall) (1980)

I don't really need to describe why these two nominations for one of the most perennial horror films is sheer insanity. Just watch the film. I will mention that these came from the very first "ceremony" of the Razzies, when the committee was just John Wilson and a pile of his friends and their show was at his tiny living room alcove in Hollywood.

1. Razzies Go Political (2004, 2011, 2016)

For the 2004 awards, the Razzies nearly destroyed everything they ever accomplished, all to seek publicity in a tumultuous time in American history. For the first and last time, a film that was largely deemed top quality, successful with critics and audiences and even the winner of the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, had multiple nominations. That film was Fahrenheit 9/11, the latest documentary from political provocateur Michael Moore. Just to spite the Bush administration, the Razzie committee had the film nominated for Worst Actor (George W. Bush), Worst Supporting Actor (Donald Rumsfeld), Worst Supporting Actress (Britney Spears and Condoleezza Rice), and Worst Screen Couple (Bush and either Rice or his pet goat). All of them, including the goat, would later win. There was much outcry for all of this, mostly accurate, from the left, the right, and anyone that had common sense. The fact that a high caliber documentary, regardless of your political attitudes, would get nominate for anything ruins the whole motive of the awards; bringing reality and personal/national pain into something specifically designed to lampoon narrative drivel and egocentric individuals is a giant culture clash. Then, there's the fact that these political targets won their "awards". What is particularly distressing, and shows how shallow they could get, is that the Razzies wanted to hit at Britney Spears one more time so her extremely brief (i.e. a soundbite) appearance in the doc somehow warranted an award. The Razzies quickly learned their lesson, going back to true blue movies in their nominations.

All until the 2011 awards, where Sarah Palin was nominated for Worst Actress for the documentary The Undefeated, despite the fact she doesn't appear in it as herself (only in voice-over and video clips), and had no part in the beyond terrible propaganda piece (her voice-over came from her audio-book readings of "Going Rogue", which the producers got the rights to). Once again, the Razzies gave no shit about their rules and just threw in a documentary into the acting categories just to be smartasses.

Which brings us to today, where the 2016 awards has multiple nominations for the political documentary Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, including one for Worst Actor and Worst Actress. I can't really rail for or against this action since I didn't see the film, nor had the urge to spend money on it. However, judging solely by what critics had to say, this is an inverse of the Fahrenheit 9/11 debacle, since Hillary's America really, really stretches the term "documentary" and features director Dinesh D'Souza playing a dream version of himself. Nevertheless, mocking the idiots on all sides of Washington and cable television is one thing; mixing it with Bill Cosby riding an ostrich, Pia Zadora vanity movies, and the horribleness of Eddie Murphy is another.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Super Bowl LI Movie Trailers Overview

Super Bowl LI will go down as one of the most famous championship games in history despite the sheer fact that the majority of it was really boring. The Atlanta Falcons was on their way to making Tom Brady look like a complete joke, only for the almighty QB to march his team down the sidelines, get two 2-point conversions, tie up the score at 28 to lead to the first overtime ever in Super Bowl history, and then get an easy touchdown to cinch the win. What a come from behind victory and an epic collapse. As for the commercials, they continued their streak of utterly sucking. The only one I really enjoyed was for Bud Light, where the ghost of the original and literal party animal Spuds MacKenzie tried to get a guy to hang out with his friends more.

Rather shockingly, a big chunk of the limited selection of commercials were brief teasers for upcoming movies. Did any of them work? Let's find out:

The teaser for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 came in early in the show and told the rest to try and top it. This great preview, which is extended online, furthered showed the action and humor of the product. Plus, Gamora hulking a huge ass laser chain gun.

As for the worst of the pack: This was my first time seeing anything for Transformers: The Last Knight and all I can say is, what the hell did I just watch? Just a bunch of random CGI effects, a shot of Anthony Hopkins, and trying to make me care that Optimus Prime and Bumblebee are fighting each other. Michael Bay really doesn't want to do these movies anymore.

Logan basically showed a bunch of its old teaser footage but it's set to a dark version of "Amazing Grace" to make it totally edgy. All anyone needs to do is watch the "red band" trailer to really see how far the movie's willing to go.

Ghost In The Shell had a lame 30 seconds devoted to bad techno blares and titillating looks of Scarlet Johansson's bodysuit. Also, a lame villain revealing that, oh no, Johansson is really a cyborg! Oh my god!

The teaser for A Cure For Wellness was a parody of medical commercials, which would of been effective at any time on television except during prime time let alone the Super Bowl where none exist. They're desperately hoping people come out for this movie.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales had a ton of questionable CGI and resorted to having Johnny Cash to try and give it gravitas. And just when you're rolling your eyes at all of the lame ship combat and skeleton warriors, in comes Johnny Depp. Oh know, the failing actor who's currently reigning as the most hated guy in Hollywood? Additionally, it's extremely funny how new wannabe protagonist Brenton Thwaites is nowhere to be seen here.

The Fate of the Furious was more of the same, save for its crowd-popping stinger with Tyrese Gibson escaping a watery grave via his side door.

And finally, Baywatch glides by with some cheeky jokes, leaving no impact save for those salivating over Zac Efron's buttocks.