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The 5th Annual Doobie Awards; or 2012 in Review, part 2

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As much fun as it is to celebrate the bright spots of cinema, it's also a hoot and a half to tear apart the films that never should have been made. These are the 2012 Doobie Awards (that is...this year's more dubious achievements in cinema). This will be a bit interesting because I saw a lot of mediocrities this year but not a lot of downright terrible stuff. This year's offerings disappointed me in how infrequently they strove towards aggressive awfulness.

Most Disappointing Film

"What's that you say!?! They're making a big budget, big screen adaptation of the inspirational and heroic story of The Tuskegee Airmen? AWESOME! With Terrence Howard and Bryan Cranston on-board? Fantastic! Oh, and Cuba Gooding...well, he has an Oscar I guess. Executive Producer George Lucas, you say? Um, nevermind." Red Tails was such an incompetent mess, it pained me to sit through it. To call its characters one-dimensional is to insult good quality one-dimensional characters. Every character is an extremely broad cliched "type," nearly every line of dialogue is a cringeworthy howler, and the film is full of inspirational speeches and uninteresting special effects laden dogfights. Dreadful waste of an opportunity to tell an important story of military history.

This was actually a really close race. I came very close to giving it to Hitchcock, a painfully bland and pedestrian telling of the making of Psycho. But that film was merely mediocre. Red Tails was explosively terrible.

Most Surprisingly Good Film

I never know whether to give this to the film I was most pleasantly surprised by or to the best film I saw that happened to be a surprise, so I usually lean toward the size of the surprise. I've talked about how great a year I thought 2012 was for animation and perhaps the purest good time I had with a film was when I watched the stop-motion instant-classic The Pirates! Bad of Misfits. I was expecting something pleasant and clever like the Wallace and Grommit films - perhaps something that would be enjoyable, if forgettable. Instead I got a film that literally made me fall out of my chair in tearful gasps of laughter. I fear that me even saying how surprisingly hilarious this movie is, ruins the experience a little bit but the feeling of being shocked out of my expectations was perhaps my most memorable film experience this year.

Other contenders include: 21 Jump Street, Dredd, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, The Campaign

The 'Impossible Expectations' Award for Most Overhyped Film

Life of Pi was a beautiful film by one of my 5 favorite working directors but I was probably never going to enjoy it as much as I should have with the critics fawning all over it and, importantly, my own personal imagined imagery from the novel already burned into my mind. I recognized the high quality of the film, but I was extremely disappointed not to be hit on a gut level because of outside factors that had nothing to do with the quality of the film. Usually the 2nd time I see the winner of this category, I'm won over, so I look forward to that.

Also: Zero Dark Thirty, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Skyfall, The Sessions and Moonrise Kingdom were in the running here. I've seen 2 of them a second time I liked them much better, so there is hope.

The Best Film Nobody Saw

Very few people seem to have seen or heard of this small film called Compliance. I talk a bit about it and its phenomenal cast in the Munchie award post, but it is a fantastic, disturbing and fascinating film that is appallingly based on several true incidents. It's out on DVD now - I highly recommend it.

The Worst Film Everybody Saw

This is the award for the biggest clunker among the 20 highest grossing films of the year. I'm usually a bad movie juggernaut, but I've only seen 13 of the 20 and I have a feeling either Twlight or Taken 2 would be the actual winner had I screened them all. However with my limited knowledge, the award must go to Les Miserables. There was a good 40 minutes of great filmmaking in this 4000-hour nightmare. It's a film that I was only mildly annoyed out when I came out of it, but its badness really continued to grow in my mind in the following days. Manipulative storytelling, a few really cruddy performances (I'm looking at you, Russell Crowe) and its stubborn refusal to end put this at the top of the list of films I absolutely positively refuse to ever see again. It really is a bit of a nightmare.

Flat-Out Worst Film

I never thought I would see a year where the single worst piece of crap I saw all year was a documentary, but 2012 was that year. Striking really, because 2012 was a great year for really original and affecting documentaries. But what horrific, embarrassing movie arrived just in time for Election Day? Dinesh D'Souza's hilariously inept 2016: Obama's America. It's not that I didn't agree with the filmmaker's philosophy - I've loved films and documentaries that take a conservative stance - it's that the people involved clearly either had no idea how to make a documentary or no regard or respect for their audience. Or probably both. There are scenes in this film that make me think that the director was simply bored and wanted to try things ("Hey, how about during this interview, the camera oscillates back and forth for absolutely no discernible reason!!!). There are dramatizations that made me scoff at their idiocy (if you're ever unlucky enough to see this, keep on the lookout for the scene where the black guy in the bar thinks he's being discriminated against. It's unintentional comedy gold). Most damning is the fact that none of D'Souza's conclusions about Barack Obama make even the tiniest amount of sense. The film is fundamentally dishonest and, unlike the works of Michael Moore for instance, it doesn't even have the decency to be slick and well-made.

Runners-up: Red Tails, One for the Money, A Thousand Words, and The Dictator

Well that wraps up 2012. I've got high hopes for 2013 - maybe the films will all be so good that I won't have any Doobie contenders next time (Ha! I've already seen Movie 43. It may sweep.)

Thanks, as always for reading!

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  1. ponchi101's Avatar
    Thanks for the Les Miserables heads up. I was already thinking about escaping from it (the GF wants to see it, bu no way now) but this settles it.
  2. munchin's Avatar
    Run away!!!