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The 2010 Celluloid Zombie Awards

And you thought the award season was over. Not so. On the last day of 2010, I’ve decided to hand out a small series of prestige awards to some of the most notable people, events and movies of the industry year. Trust me, the Oscars will be cleared from the shelves to make room for these babies. Probably.

Welcome to the Celluloid Zombie Awards 2010!

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The Tina Turner Award for Sticking It To Your Ex

Kathryn Bigelow

After years of being ignored by Oscar, watching ex-husband James Cameron win enough of them to form a small army with Titanic, Kathryn Bigelow finally enjoyed some sweet times when The Hurt Locker beat Cameron’s Avatar to both the Best Picture and Best Director awards, at the Oscars and the BAFTAS. Both Academies enjoyed a rare moment of sense and sagacity in choosing  Bigelow, who became the first woman to win the Best Director action figure in the Oscar’s history. Well done, Kathryn. Have another golden paper-weight for the shelf.

No doubt the Oscars will resume normal service in 2011 and hand Best Picture to Transformers 3. Meanwhile, James Cameron is lobbying the Academy for the introduction of a Best Expensive Cartoon With Blue People In It category, in the hopes of a sure-fire win with Avatar 2.

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The Keanu Reeves Award for Disastrous Casting

The Beaver

Poor Jodie Foster. For her third movie as director, Foster turned to wacky Mel Gibson to play the depressed Toy Company CEO who begins communicating through a hand-puppet. With shooting completed and a 2010 release date set, Gibson promptly, and very publicly, imploded. He decided to start communicating through an answer machine and single-handedly made himself the most unpopular actor since Fatty Arbuckle. Since this could spell death for the project, Summit Entertainment promptly pulled The Beaver’s release date, putting the movie ‘in a holding pattern’ in the hopes that the smell around Mel would waft away. At the time of writing, Summit Entertainment have tentatively announced a release date of Spring 2011 for The Beaver, no doubt hoping that Gibson can keep his mouth shut for the next three or four months. Foster must be wishing she’d dialled Harrison Ford.

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The Stephen Sommers Award for Screwing Up a Good Idea

The Expendables

Bring together all the biggest names of action cinema from the last thirty years for a single movie and you have a sure thing, right? Wrong. Stallone’s attempt to create the ultimate action movie merely proved to be a successful exercise in exhuming the decomposing careers of several stars only to shoot them in the head and re-bury them. Just making sure they were really dead, I guess. Unintentionally the worst zombie movie ever made. I’m tempted to change this site’s name to Celluloid Expendable.

The script was apparently written by a child and several action stars all wanting to get their fair bite of the cherry. The dialogue is head-in-hands dreadful, with such cracking lines as, “We are the shadow, the smoke in your eyes, the ghosts that hide in the night”. Stallone says this just before running around shouting and blowing shit up. Because that’s what shadows do.

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The J.J. Abrams Award for Making Television Watchable

The Walking Dead

Zombie movies have long been a genre all their own, with the undead lurching around the cinemas of the world for decades (and in my town that’s just the audience). This year, however, the disease spread beyond the multiplexes and those wacky walking corpses finally got their own TV show, care of Frank Darabont and TV channel AMC.

Based on a comic book (let’s face it, what isn’t based on a comic book these days), The Walking Dead’s tale of survivors in a post-zombified America aired to record numbers despite being the shortest season for a TV show since Joss Whedon last announced a project. However, the success of The Walking Dead guaranteed a second season, scheduled to air October 2011, which is an eternity for those of us ravenous for more than the taster offered by a paltry six episodes.

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The Darth Vader Award for Making a Memorable Entrance

Chloe Moretz

Forget the Chinese Tiger, 2010 was The Year of the Chloe Moretz. The young actress has been around for a little while, but this was the year when Moretz truly entered the radars of movie-goers everywhere. With engaging turns in no less than three acclaimed movies in 2010 (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Kick-Ass and Let Me In) I was almost considering her for The Award for Attempting to Appear in Every Movie Made.

However, it’s for Moretz’s first appearance in costume as Hit Girl in Kick-Ass that Chloe wins her Celluloid Zombie Award. Let’s face it, a 10-year-old girl with purple hair acrobatically carving up a roomful of drug-dealers makes for a memorable enough scene. But give her the line, “Okay, you c**ts, let’s see what you can do now”, and you have a jaw-dropping moment of gleefully irresponsible cinema fun.

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The Dante Alighieri Award for Burning in Development Hell

The Hobbit

Peter Jackson’s prequel to Lord of the Rings started 2010 with Jackson as Producer and Guillermo Del Toro as Director. Ian McKellen (Gandalf) had indicated that shooting would start in July, which was put on hold when MGM’s financial troubles hit the project. Del Toro then quit and rumours began circulating about who would replace him. Jackson began casting in July but this hit a snag when several actors unions urged clients to boycott the film due to contract issues. The movie was officially green-lit in October, the union troubles were resolved but ill-feeling from negotiations with the New Zealand Government left The Hobbit looking to relocate. This was solved, leaving the project back where it started, except with Jackson now down to direct. Casting has continued through the rest of the year and it’s starting to look like The Hobbit might have survived its year in Hell. There and back again, indeed.

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Honourary Award for Being My Son’s Favourite Movie of 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Edgar Wright’s third feature under-performed at the box office, but was still one of the most energetic and imaginative movies of the year. It’s here, however, because it’s at the top of my son’s list. And in the slim hope that he’ll let me off for putting it 6th in my own list.

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31-Day Movie Meme. In 1 Day.

This is a Meme that has been doing the movie blog rounds. Okay, it’s supposed to be drawn out over 31 days but, partially because I don’t have the time and partially because I’m like a kid on Christmas morning who wants to open all his presents right now, I’m going to do this in one swoop. Join in!

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DAY 1: A SEQUEL THAT SHOULDN’T HAVE BEEN MADE

Saw II.

That, and every subsequent Saw movie. The first one was clever, chilling and well executed. The rest have been a steady plopping of tedious, repetitive turds.

DAY 2: A MOVIE MORE PEOPLE SHOULD SEE

The Corporation.

Everyone should see it. A documentary scarier than any horror movie.

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DAY 3: FAVOURITE OSCAR-NOMINATED MOVIE FROM THE MOST RECENT BALLOT

Up in the Air.

One of the best movies of the year.

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DAY 4: A MOVIE THAT MAKES YOU LAUGH EVERY TIME

Withnail and I.

“We’ve gone on holiday by mistake.”

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DAY 5: A MOVIE THAT YOU LOATHE

Van Helsing.

A travesty. Stephen Sommers manages to piss on every classic Universal monster in one movie. Not even Kate Beckinsale in tight leather can save this abomination.

DAY 6: A MOVIE THAT MAKES YOU CRY EVERY TIME

V For Vendetta.

Valerie’s story, written for Natalie Portman to find in her cell, gets me every time.

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DAY 7: LEAST FAVOURITE MOVIE BY A FAVOURITE ACTOR

America’s Sweethearts.

What was John Cusack thinking?

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DAY 8: A MOVIE THAT SHOULD BE REQUIRED HIGH SCHOOL VIEWING

Battle Royale.

This is what we have in mind for you, you little bastards.

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DAY 9: BEST SCENE EVER

Raiders of the Lost Ark.

:-P The opening scene. Spiders, Golden idol, rolling boulder, Alfred Molina and Spielberg doing what he does best.


DAY 10: A MOVIE YOU NEVER EXPECTED TO LIKE BUT LOVED

Sherlock Holmes. I’m a big Sherlock Holmes fan so I was sceptical about Downey Jr. (who looks nothing like the character) and Guy Ritchie (who hadn’t made a movie I liked until this) doing a decent job of this. Kudos to them for making it work and capturing the spirit of stories.

DAY 11: A MOVIE THAT DISAPPOINTED YOU

The Expendables.

Big disappointment, and I wasn’t even expecting that much. Jeez.

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DAY 12: BEST SOUNDTRACK/BACKGROUND MUSIC IN A SCENE

Kick-Ass.

The Banana Splits theme (Tra La La song) playing while 10 year-old Hit Girl slices up a roomful of bad guys. Laughed my ass off!

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DAY 13: FAVOURITE ANIMATED MOVIE

Ratatouille.

I never imagined a story about a rat who loves cooking could be so utterly enjoyable.

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DAY 14: FAVOURITE FILM IN BLACK AND WHITE

Goodnight and Good Luck.

Clooney’s second movie looked to the past to comment on the present. Brilliant.

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DAY 15: BEST MUSICAL

Once.

Not sure if it really qualifies as a musical or not. But I loved it.

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DAY 16: YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE MOVIE

Charlie’s Angels.

Shut up.

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DAY 17: FAVOURITE SERIES OF RELATED MOVIES

The Bourne trilogy.

The only franchise that gets better with each movie.

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DAY 18: FAVOURITE TITLE SEQUENCE

Se7en.

See my last post for more details.

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DAY 19: BEST MOVIE CAST

Wonder Boys.

Michael Douglas, Robert Downey Jr. and Frances McDormand for a start. Yum.

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DAY 20: FAVOURITE KISS

Spider-man.

The upside-down kiss in the rain. Makes me want to pull on my tight spandex.

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DAY 21: FAVOURITE ROMANTIC COUPLE

The Fisher King.

Robin Williams and Amanda Plummer. Awwww.

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DAY 22: FAVOURITE FINAL SCENE/LINE

The Godfather: Part III.

Michael Corleone dies alone and tortured by the life he royally screwed up.

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DAY 23: BEST EXPLOSION/ACTION SEQUENCE

The Matrix.

The lobby shoot-out scene, which probably would have been three minutes shorter in normal speed.

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DAY 24: QUOTE YOU USE MOST OFTEN

The Big Lebowski.

“Lotta strands in ol’ duder’s head.”

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DAY 25: A MOVIE YOU PLAN ON WATCHING

Inception.

Still haven’t seen it and it’s getting harder and harder to avoid the spoilers.

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DAY 26: FREAKISHLY WEIRD MOVIE ENDING

Memento.

The ending is at the beginning. But…but…but….

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DAY 27: BEST VILLAIN

The Joker.

Heath Ledger nails the iconic character.  And, no, it’s not a sympathy vote.

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DAY 28: MOST OVER-HYPED MOVIE

Avatar.

Dances with Pixels. In 3D. Yay.

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DAY 29: MOVIE YOU HAVE WATCHED MORE THAN TEN TIMES

Jaws.

Never gets boring. Never. Not ever. And never will. Amen.

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DAY 30: SADDEST DEATH SCENE

Million Dollar Baby.

So utterly, uncompromisingly sad that even Clint Eastwood cries. I don’t stand a chance.

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DAY 31: SCENE THAT MADE YOU STAND UP AND CHEER

The Contender.

Joan Allen’s courageous Senator Hanson finally sticks it to Republican puritan Shelley Runyon (Gary Oldman) and becomes Vice President. Yay!



Top Five: Overrated Movies

Kill Bill 1 & 2

I have a very low tolerance for Quentin Tarantino at the best of times. All style, little content and remarkably overrated as a director, so the accolades showered upon his two part revenge movie left me utterly perplexed. ‘QT’ is the best example there is of what can go wrong when you put a movie geek behind the camera, and he’s been fortunate to find producers willing to pay him to remake all his favourite movie scenes. Kill Bill was the ultimate in misguided fan-boy filmmaking. Uma Thurman does a good job in the lead but the story is hackneyed, the dialogue is overcooked and where there should be emotional punch there is just the constant desire to appear cool. Kill Bill is an empty, soulless experience, generously garnished with one of the most irritating soundtracks in movie history. Someone needs to remind Tarantino that there’s a reason why people stopped making movies the way they did in the 70s, and that the ability to imitate outdated crash zooms does not make you an auteur.

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Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Until Sherlock Holmes allowed him some redemption, I found Guy Ritchie movies thoroughly irritating. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels was hailed as a shot in the arm for British cinema, but the last thing British cinema needed was another gangster movie. British cinema needed Danny Boyle, and the spark he brought with Trainspotting. It needed to show that it wasn’t just limited to two things; period dramas and gangster movies. Then along comes Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and suddenly all we are making are more cockney gangster films. Yawn. Behind all the hype is a film that’s nowhere near as clever or funny as it thinks it is. Perhaps seeing himself as an English Tarantino, Ritchie certainly makes all the same mistakes; choosing style over content, two-dimensional characters and desperation to prove how cool he is. However, all these things pale into insignificance against the movie’s must heinous crime; launching the screen careers of Jason Statham and ex-footballer Vinnie Jones. Thanks so much, Guy.

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Moulin Rouge

There aren’t very many musicals that I like. Grease, The Blues Brothers and The Nightmare Before Christmas are about it, I’m afraid. As a genre, I find the musical a frustrating one and difficult to relate to. So any musical that I can actually bring myself to watch has to be exceptional to defy my expectations. Conversely, it also has to be appalling to fall below them, but along came Moulin Rouge and fell way below. The success of Baz Luhrmann’s third movie is a mystery to me. You could spend years explaining it to me and I’d still regard you with bemusement. Almost everything about this movie fails to work. The use of contemporary pop songs in the period setting is all very post-modern, but it’s too jarring. Ewan McGregor doesn’t sing too well, Nicole Kidman is not a natural comedienne, and the threadbare story could comfortably fill a half-hour. Yes, it is gorgeous to look at and visually it can’t be faulted, but no more than that. Moulin Rouge is like a cross between a karaoke night and a Michael Bay movie. It’s loud, shallow and feels like being hit repeatedly in the face.

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The Shining

Stanley Kubrick’s big screen version of Stephen King’s book is often held up as one of the finest horror movies ever made, by one of the greatest directors who ever lived. While the latter statement is certainly debatable, I’ll limit myself to the former. The Shining is not a bad film, but it is a bad adaptation and a bad horror movie. While it is heavy on atmosphere, The Shining is never scary, and some of this is down to Kubrick’s inherent inability to find the emotional core of his movies. Often accused of making cold and clinical pictures, Kubrick was certainly guilty in this case. With no emotional connection to the characters and story, the fear of their peril is greatly diminished. Also, the role of Jack Torrence was woefully miscast in the form of Jack Nicholson. The book’s depiction of the slow disintegration into madness of an ordinary man was doomed from the moment Nicholson, who is far from ordinary, walked on set. This Jack Torrance seems a little unhinged from the start, and when he finally begins rampaging around with his axe, he is so over the top that he becomes comical rather than scary. Beautifully shot it may be, but The Shining ultimately fails on all the points which are relevant to the genre.

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Titanic

The story of the Titanic is certainly one of modern history’s most compelling; a true life cautionary tale of the hubris and arrogance of man. It was a story just waiting for a new big budget version, for someone to tell the story as it happened. What it wasn’t waiting for was the addition of a fictional, tedious and predictable love story, a crap Celine Dion song and Cameron’s brand of stick-figure morality (rich people are bad, poor people are good, etc). Utilising Leonardo Di Caprio at the height of his teeny popularity, Cameron was able to pull in more baby-sitting money than all three Twilight movies, but did his by-the-numbers doomed romance with Kate Winslet really need to drag on for over three hours? Cameron spent years preparing and researching this movie and yet Titanic teaches us nothing about the tragic events beyond the few commonly known facts. It’s just my opinion, but if you’re going to make a movie about a real life disaster, don’t make it play second fiddle to a half-assed chick flick. You end up doing the real story a disservice. 1958’s A Night to Remember still remains the best movie made about the ill-fated ship.

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See also: There Will Be Blood, Forrest Gump, Love Actually, Easy Rider and Avatar