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The 3rd Annual Doobie Awards; or 2010 in Review - Part 2

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As promised, let's take a dark journey into the soul-crushing pit of despair that was 2010 in film with: The 3rd Annual Doobie Awards (or rather, the dubious achievements in film this past year.

I'd like to start out by awarding a Special Honorary Doobie to a film that shockingly did not "win" any of the other Doobies, despite being one of the most abhorrent, depressing, poorly made and irredeemable feature films I have ever seen. That Doobie, of course, goes to Tom Six's disgusting The Human Centipede. I just couldn't allow that travesty to not receive a little more negative attention. DON'T SEE THIS FILM!

Most Disappointing Film

Almost everything that came out this year was disappointing, so this was a tough one. I came really close to giving it to Kick-Ass which I think is absolutely terrible, but my hopes were even higher for a certain sequel to a quite entertaining 2008 action movie. This sequel was every bit as joyless, cliched and incomprehensible as its predecessor was charming and fun. I'm referring to the utterly disappointing Iron Man 2. I can only imagine the filmmakers sitting in a room, slightly drunk, randomly pitching ideas - "Hey wouldn't it be great if Scarlett Johansson is in the movie for no reason?", "Hey, wouldn't it be funny if Iron Man got drunk?", "Hey, wouldn't it be awesome if the director had an extended, awful cameo?" What a mess.

Dishonorable Mention goes to Ridley Scott's awful Robin Hood. Seriously, this is a very hard story to cock up. Ridley and Russell do it again (I really dislike Gladiator, so my hopes weren't colossal but I at least expected something satisfactory). Robin Hood, in a word, SUCKED.

Most Surprisingly Good Film

This 'award' goes to that diamond in the rough each year that, by all means, should both suck and blow, and yet I sit through it....and lo and behold I actually have quite a bit of fun. I'm tempted to give it to Unstoppable, but that's a film with 3 skilled, charismatic leads and a decent director, so I can't say it's a surprise that I enjoyed it so much, even though a movie with such a simplistic plot shouldn't have been nearly that entertaining. No, this Doobie goes to a movie that, as soon as I heard it was being made, I made my mind up to hate it. And then I saw it and really enjoyed it a lot, to my chagrin. That is the ill-advised, but well-executed remake of The Karate Kid. I have no qualms about admitting that I think The Karate Kid is legitimately one of the best films of the 80s. But those awful sequels made clear that it's a story that could easily be ruined (that damned Hilary Swank...). But this remake did a lot of things very, very well. Jaden Smith is very likable in the lead. Taraji P. Henson continues to be excellent in everything she touches and Jackie Chan shows a surprising amount of range. Pat Morita he is not, but he does pretty well for himself. Certainly about as a good as a remake of The Karate Kid could ever hope to be.

Honorable mentions go to 2 movies with Saturday Night Live connections that I had a whole lot of fun with, despite their underlying stupidity: Date Night starring Tina Fey and Stave Carrell and MacGruber which just cracked me up.

The Impossible Expectation for Most Overhyped Good Film

Sometimes your friends and the critics talk up a movie so incessantly that it's simply impossible to enjoy as much as you know you would without that external input. This award usually goes to a film that I see a year later and enjoy quite a bit, once the hype has died down. This year, that movie was Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer. People kept saying how great it was, Roger Ebert implied that it was maybe the best thriller of the year. When I saw it, I felt nothing...except stress that I wasn't liking it as much as I was supposed to. I recognize it as a well made film, but I had trouble getting past the hype. It's in the penalty box for a year and then I can see it and enjoy without any pressure.

The Best Film Nobody Saw

Cairo Time. See it. See it now. See The Munchies for more in-depth coverage. I was just so taken by it and it hardly got released.

The Worst Film Everybody Saw (among the top 20 grossing films of the year)

I actually haven't seen a few of the eligible films. I have a feeling Clash of the Titans or Grown Ups would otherwise stand a real good chance to 'win.' Instead I'm going to go with Tim Burton's hot mess: Alice in Wonderland. Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are both very good, even Mia Wasikowska as Alice is fine, but this movie felt soulless to me. I could not come up with a single reason that I should have cared about anything or anybody that happened or existed in this film. It was maybe the least engaging film I think I saw all year. Alice in Wonderland...the least engaging film. How did they mess this up!?!

Flat-Out Worst Film of 2010

Oops, my pronouncement about Alice doesn't hold up. I saw a film in 2010 that was totally unengaging. As far as I can tell, it is a film, designed to make you despise it. And it succeeds wonderfully. And as I said it's not The Human Centipede. Yes, there was one film in 2010, that was EVEN WORSE than a grotesquely extended digestive tract. Yes, worse than When in Rome, The Bounty Hunter, Kick-Ass, Robin Hood, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief - worse than all of those is Casey Affleck's absolutely unwatchable mockumentary I'm Still Here. It's the worst kind of bad art. It wants to say something really poignant. It wants to be sharp and biting commentary on society. It wants to make the viewers take a close look at themselves. AND IT FAILS SO MISERABLY. It's just excruciating. It's so muddled and unfocused, all of the points I think he's trying to make fall completely flat and get lost in the abyss. I want to be able to applaud Joaquin Phoenix for derailing his own career so he could make this thing. That's some serious dedication. He's trying to do what Andy Kaufmann and other performance-art masters did so well, but he just doesn't come close - maybe he doesn't have the vision or imagination to do it. It's one of the most uncomfortable experiences I've ever had with a film and it's just a total waste of a potentially great concept and, as a result, a total waste of my time.

Alright, well 2010 was a bit disappointing. And 2011 will likely give me plenty of candidates for Doobies (I can't wait to see Nicholas Cage's Season of the Witch and there's always another truly awful Transformers flick to look forward to).

As always I can't see everything every year and I truly can't wait to catch up with Sofia Coppolla's new film, Somewhere, Mike Leigh's Another Year, Blue Valentine andThe Illusionist.

Did I miss anything?

Thanks for reading

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  1. shtexas's Avatar
    I agree about Iron Man 2. I wasn't enamored with the first one, but at least I enjoyed my time in the theater. This one was a bore.
  2. Ti-Amie's Avatar
    Iron Man 2 was awful. The first one was fun.
  3. Moose's Avatar
    Thank you, as always for your outstanding insight and commentary on the year's films, Munchin. I, like you, was a huge fan of "Winters Bone", and I am hoping some nomination love from the Academy will get it, and the many great actors who performed in it, much deserved attention.

    Disappointed you did not have a "Best Animated" category, because I thought there were some stellar animated films this year. "Toy Story 3" definitely earned its kudos, but I loved "My Dog Tulip". And like you, I cannot wait for "The Illusionist", especially since "The Triplets Of Belleville" was such a wonderful movie.
  4. jjnow's Avatar
    Add me to the list that found Iron Man 2 intolerable.
  5. munchin's Avatar
    I kind of avoid the "Best Animated" idea for two reasons, 1) because I put them pretty much on the same level with live-action films, so it's almost moot. And 2) I always see animated films about 18 months after they come out. I just never rush out and see them so I never have a solid enough list. I think this year I only managed to see "Toy Story 3," "My Dog Tulip" (which I agree was excellent, but didn't move me the way I expected it would) and "...Dragon"
  6. Jtdrum10's Avatar
    Completely agree about Robin Hood. I was so disappointed.

    Iron Man 2 was no where near as good as the first but I didn't think it was dreadful either. It was just kinda there.