2012 Anti-Oscars

Most Underrated: “The Muppets”

What’s left to say about “The Muppets” that hasn’t yet been said? Yes, Jason Segel’s script and starring role provided our nostalgic felt friends with a fresh new presence. Yes, Chris Cooper played a villainous oil tycoon who literally said “diabolical laugh” each time his wicked scheming paid off. Yes, there was a musical sequence penned by Flight of the Conchords’ Brett McKenzie entitled “Man or Muppet” and hell yes, you better believe it was righteous.

But “The Muppet”’s true achievement — the one the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences so predictably forgot to acknowledge this year — is that it was completely devoid of crude cheap laughs and utterly stupid pop-culture harvesting, delivering instead a purely joyful, wildly entertaining, get-up-and-dance family film for the ages. 

— Ren Ebel
Hiatus Editor



Best Portrayal of a Famous Figure: “Midnight in Paris”

Since coming up with original characters is no fun in Hollywood, every year there’s a stream of portrayals of famous figures, each more pretentious than the last. 

Last year was no exception. There was Leonardo DiCaprio furrowing his eyebrows as FBI director J. Edgar Hoover (“J. Edgar”), Michelle Williams taking on Hollywood’s most famous blonde (“My Week With Marilyn”) and, of course, Meryl Streep’s Oscar-winning portrayal of Margaret Thatcher (“The Iron Lady”) — all compelling performances in typical biopic fashion: melodramatic and heavily make-up-reliant.

Leave it to Woody Allen to somehow have the most famous face with the least amount of over-acting. His surprise summer hit “Midnight In Paris” had Owen Wilson shooting the shit with Ernest Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds and Gertrude Stein, among other literary/art figures of the 1920s.

But rather than have another ultra-famous actor attempt to explore the psyche of someone we can never really understand, Allen’s film instead plays off the romantic notions we have of the historical characters (Hemingway’s masculine stoicism, Zelda Fitzgerald’s mania) to chuckle-worthy effect. 

Enter the best of ’em all: Adrien Brody’s cameo as Salvador Dali. In over-the-top mustachioed glory, the actor was delightfully kooky, rambling about seeing a rhinoceros and squinting at Owen Wilson in perfect, surrealist thought. Admittedly, the performance is a total caricature, but it’s all in good fun — and it’s one of the most memorable moments of last year’s most charming film without puppets.

— Arielle Sallai
Managing Editor



Best Kiss: “Drive”

When Ryan Gosling historically secured the prestigious honor of Best Kiss at the 2005 MTV Movie Awards for his famous grabbing-Rachel-McAdams-by-the-throat-in-the-rain scene, no one could’ve possibly dreamt that the baby-faced badass would strike again quite as deeply or effectively. But this year, the instant classic elevator sequence of the ultra-stylish “Drive” provided moviegoers with a life-affirming “Yes he can!”

Shot in elegant slo-mo, complete with shifting extradiegetic lighting, Gosling moves from the man he knows to be his predator, taking his fragile Denny’s waitress by the hip and embracing her in a kiss that seems to freeze time and dispel the imminent threat that stands just a few feet away. Then, of course, Gosling proceeds to bash the thug’s head right in. It’s the kind of timeless moment of pulp violence and beauty that can only exist on the screen. 

— Ren Ebel
Hiatus Editor



Best Superhero Movie: “X-Men: First Class”

Let’s face it — Summer 2011 was an endless stream of superhero movies, with all of the blustering special effects and awkward outfits that go with a Captain America song and dance. But not all superhero movies (or superheroes) are made equal. In this summer’s case, more superheroes are better than just one — “X-men: First Class” was clearly the best of the bunch.

The story traveled to the past, to the formation of the original X-men team, replete with members who only real comic book buffs would recognize (Darwin, really?). Apparently, during the Cold War, Professor X had hair and could walk, Magneto was James Bond-dreamy and Wolverine was just as badass as usual. Oh, and Emma Frost was still a terribly-acted ice queen. Some things never change.

—Margaret Yau
Managing Editor

Best Remake: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

Given recent high-budget American adaptations of international films (see “Let Me In,” based on the Swedish “Let the Right One In,” and that classic of laughably unnecessary remakes, “Dark Water”), you might be forgiven for assuming that David Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” would prove to be an uninspired, over-stylized mess. You’d be wrong though: Somehow, Fincher’s “Dragon Tattoo,” in addition to faithfully adapting Stieg Larsson’s powerful story to the screen, manages to build on that story, carefully harnessing its astronomical budget ($90 million compared to the Swedish version’s $13 million) to augment the original film’s stark portrayal of the Swedish novel. Through its gorgeously aesthetic cinematography, lean narrative pace and a fittingly chilling score by Trent Reznor, David Fincher’s “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” not only measures up to its Swedish predecessor, it surpasses it entirely, a rare feat for major American cinema.

— Andrew Whitworth
Associate Hiatus Editor

Best Death By Gwyneth: “Contagion”

What Gwyneth Paltrow lends to any movie isn’t her blonde, ponytailed spunk or even her country strong singing voice — it’s the countless ways she can die. From having her head cut off and sent as a gift to her film husband Brad Pitt in “Se7en” (1995) to voluntarily placing her head in an oven as classic writer Sylvia Plath in “Sylvia” (2003), there is no shortage of ways that the actress can die.

But Paltrow’s most recent movie death takes the cake — in disease thriller “Contagion,” Paltrow gasps her final breath in the opening sequence of the film. With her terror-filled eyes and sickly pale skin, Paltrow has never looked better.

Herein lies the tricky question: Is it a better movie when Gwyneth Paltrow dies in the beginning or the end? As “Contagion” proved, it’s clearly better to have her out of the way in t
he beginning — she gets the film credit but disappears and makes away for better actors like Matt Damon and Kate Winslet. 

— Margaret Yau
Managing Editor

The “Wait, This Film Existed?” Award: “Shame”

Steve McQueen’s “Shame” certainly didn’t fall short of any expectations, mostly because after the hoopla over Michael Fassbender’s full frontal nudity, nobody seemed to care.  During major film festival season, “Shame” received some buzz for Fassbender’s outstanding performance as a NYC sex addict, but the film was soon forgotten by the Academy Awards and audiences alike. It’s as if no one had the balls to approach this film and its graphic content (aka, actual balls). Perhaps people were too self conscious to sit in a theatre with others and feast their eyes on this heartfelt adult film (and did we mention Fassbender’s genitalia?). What a shame. 

— Tanner Cook
Staff Writer

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