The Hard Sell Film Awards 2007

I’ve decided to do things a bit different this year and instead of a Top Ten I’m going to do some facetious awards instead; after all, if the writer’s strike continues this year’s Oscars aren’t going to be very fun, so why not?

Again, the usual caveats are that this is all personal opinion and people may or may not agree with any of it. Let’s start nice and go on from there…

  • Most Entertaining Big Budget Action Movie: The Bourne Ultimatum

Stupidly gives away the most entertaining stunt of Bourne’s in the trailer, but even then I don’t think a better rollercoaster ride through the dark side of the War On Terror could be managed. Paul Greengrass’s flashy style really does work for these movies, too; giving it a claustrophobic, realistic feel. Also, it’s clever, and proud to be so, you’ve got to admire that in Hollywood nowadays.

  • Most Unexpectedly Enjoyable Franchise Juggernaut: The Golden Compass

It should have been called Northern Lights (even the credits say “Adapted from the novel ‘Northern Lights'”), and it ends way too early, but their Lyra’s not too terrible, the styling’s pretty neat although a bit too shiny, they didn’t screw up the religion too badly and Nicole Kidman has been unfairly maligned by a lot of people. It’s OK, and it deserved much better; not least from New Line.

  • The Princess Bride Award for the Film that should have Done Much Better at the Box Office: Stardust

Stardust actually made about as much at the box office over here as it did in the States, despite the horrendous marketing campaign that sunk it over there simply being copied; mainly because word of mouth was allowed to spread before it was taken out of the cinemas. The marketing campaign was dreadful: it made the film look like a poor Disney Channel original, taking everything completely out of context and making it look treacly, something which the film most definitely is not.

Stardust is a fantastic film, Ricky Gervais cameo aside, with great humour and verve; owing a lot to the film which this award is named after, which also sank at the box office and was rescued by video. Hopefully Stardust will have the same lasting memory.

  • Most Unexpectedly Enjoyable Sequel: Die Hard 4.0
  • Better Than It Should Have Been: Die Hard 4.0

Yes, it had computer hacking so amazingly unrealistic it made The Net look like an everyday tale of script kiddies everywhere. Yes, it has been toned down severely for PG-13. Yes, it does have some massive plot holes. Yes, it thinks that firing a car into a helicopter is a neat stunt. But you know what? It is. Kevin Smith making a cameo as the traditional basement nerd? Neat! An over-ambitious, completely impossible threat from a bunch of nerds with Alienwares? Hilarious! John McClane? Still the best traditional action hero around, by far. Len Wiseman’s direction? Not awful. Very much my guilty pleasure of the year.

  • The Patrick Bateman Award for the Slimiest Utter Bastard in a Major Motion Picture: David Strathairn for The Bourne Ultimatum

No contest here really – the brilliant Strathairn (last seen as Edward R. Murrow in Good Night and Good Luck) wins this most coveted of screen awards for the role of Noah Vosen, a CIA desk jockey who panics and uses murder as a first resort when the shit hits the fan, thus attracting the attention of one Jason Bourne. “It ends when we’ve won” indeed.

  • Best Performance by a Child Actor: Thomas Turgoose, This Is England

Shane Meadows is the British film industry’s best working director, and his method of finding actors from local youth groups has turned out some startling results; none more in this, where his local ex-troublemaker find Thomas Turgoose is entirely believably brought under the wing of a group of skinheads and eventually is forced to reconsider all his allegiances. Truly astonishing work in an astonishing film.

  • Best Performance Full Stop: Sam Riley, Control
  • Best Ensemble Cast: Control
  • Best Use of Music in a Motion Picture: Control
  • Best Film I’ve Seen This Year: Control

As you may be aware, I am a bit of a Joy Division fan so this might be a little skewed, but everything is right with Control. The use of black and white, Anton Corbijn’s framing and imagery, Sam Riley’s assured and uncompromising performance as the often difficult to like Ian Curtis, the way it all works with the music, the acting talent used for pretty much everyone, the fact that Corbijn managed to do it all on the cheap… Remarkable.

  • Best Ignored Performance of the Year: Michelle Pfeiffer, Stardust

An extraordinarily varied role, Michelle Pfeiffer nails it and gives one of the most confident and fearsome performances that no-one noticed. It’s great to have her back.

  • The David Lynch Award for Weird, Yet Good: I’m a Cyborg, But I’m OK!

The new movie from Park Chan-Wook, the man who gave us Oldboy and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance – and nothing whatsoever like either.

  • The Matrix Reloaded Award for a Sequel that Just Lost Its Way: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

I actually liked Dead Man’s Chest on a “not as good as the first one” level and as such the opening of At World’s End was a bitter disappointment – nothing whatsoever of interest happens in the first hour of the film and it’s a really hard slog to get to anything interesting, the nadir being the poorly thought out sequence with multiple Jack Sparrows that irritatingly recurs throughout the film.

Once you get past that stuff there’s some interesting double-dealing and battle sequences, but it’s really hard getting there – and as such the Matrix sequels are an entirely correct comparison.

(And what was with the opening hanging sequence anyway? It’s completely out of tone.)

  • The Showgirls Award For Sex Scenes That Leave The Least To The Imagination: 300

It starts off like your traditional soft-focus movie sex scene, then it gets harder, and then it cuts back to reveal Gerard Butler and Lena Headey going at it doggy style. It was practically the sex scene from Team America, only with less bodily fluids. And that’s not even mentioning the rape scene later on…

Oddly enough, 300 would later feature the “freedom isn’t free” line from that very same movie, only said entirely seriously by our next winner…

  • Worst Actress: Lena Headey, 300
  • Worst Actor: David Wenham, 300
  • Worst Ensemble Cast: 300
  • Director who should Never Ever Ever Use A Green Screen Again: Zach Snyder, 300
  • Worst Acting Performance from a Normally Decent Actor in a Decent Movie: John Malkovich, Beowulf

Why is it that some people just can’t work in front of a green screen? Headey was far the worst offender of these: she is truly horrible in 300 and brings the entire movie crashing down around her. She’s just wrong; but the thing is, practically everyone else in the movie is too, only slightly less so. Wenham’s voiceover in particular has a massive dose of Braveheart syndrome, and the bits where he’s acting are just as grating – but he was OK as Faramir in Lord of the Rings and so we can only assume he was taken down by the green screen. The same applies to the worst casualty here John Malkovich – almost as bad in Beowulf as he was in Eragon, except here he’s actually killing a decent movie.

Headey is the new Sarah Connor in the Terminator TV series. Hopefully she’ll be better in front of a real camera with a director whose name isn’t Zach Snyder. As you might tell, I am not looking forward to Watchmen.

  • Most Overrated Supposed Geek Movie Which Geeks Unaccountably Seem Forced To Continually Praise: Transformers

Come on, it’s directed by Michael Bay, the man who gave us Armageddon and Pearl Harbor. It’s not for us, it’s for morons. Why do the Ain’t It Cool crowd still think it was manna from heaven? It really wasn’t, it just threw out occasional crumbs to Transformers fans whilst fitting in Bay’s military obsession and a traditional and highly clichéd Government Conspiracy plotline.

Also, I’m not done with this movie, as I bash something I cut out the original review for space reasons with the much coveted

  • Mandingo Award for Gratuitous Xenophobia in the Pursuit of Cheap Laughs: Transformers

Whose bright idea was the Indian call centre scene? Who thought it would be a great idea to have the Big Military Hero bash one of his comrades for speaking Spanish? And who decided to have one of the robots take on the Black Sidekick who Sacrifices Himself For The Crew stereotype? Not only are these scenes tasteless and borderline racist, but the call centre scene doesn’t even make narrative sense in any way whatsoever.  It feels tacked on, sordid, and very much worthy of the trophy.

  • The Rob Halford Award for Manly Men doing Manly Things to Each Other: 300

I suspect that in any other year, 300 would have walked the previous category, but Michael Bay just had to come along and put his foot in. Instead, it can console itself with this, which it greatly deserves.

  • The “Bit With Ricky Gervais In” Award for the Worst Moment in an Otherwise Decent Movie: The bit with Ricky Gervais in Stardust.
  • also considered: The bit with Ricky Gervais in For Your Consideration.
  • also considered: The bit with Ricky Gervais in Night at the Museum (although that movie’s poor even without him).
  • also considered: The bit where the Ordinary Boys show up as the Gryffindor common-room Big Tune in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Ricky is of course a serial offender for movie-killing and he almost does it to the otherwise fantastic Stardust. His cameo with Robert de Niro, otherwise a surprisingly competent comedy performer, almost kills the film stone dead; the only saviour is that both of the film’s villains have their various ways with him afterwards.

Ricky’s performance at the Diana memorial concert, whilst not qualifying for this particular awards night, would be a decent contender for the year’s “Jump The Shark, Hit The Floor” award.

  • Worst Franchise Movie: Saw IV

The world really did not need this movie.

So that’s it, only one final envelope left to go and then we’re done. It’s rather special…

  • Jon Peters Award for Worst Idea of the Year: Harvey Weinstein, Bob Weinstein, Matthew Stern, Rob Zombie, Malek Akkad and everyone else involved, peripherally or otherwise, with Rob Zombie’s Halloween

First, there is Rob Zombie, the man who brought us House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, a man fond of nothing more than tit shots, incest and gore. Then there is the idea of remaking Halloween, John Carpenter’s brilliant, restrained, effective and unimprovable slasher. Then the producers responsible for the series came up with the idea of putting the two together…

Worthy winner, I think. The movie is even worse than the idea, which is somewhat shocking; more shocking, in fact, than anything in the movie which tries to be.

There we go, the awards are done. I’d just like to thank wordpress.com for blog hosting, my family, my friends, my agent, my… [fades to black]

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