Jan 20 2009

2007 Whitty Movie Awards

Published by Jeff

Hello, welcome to the 5th Annual Whitty Movie Awards.  It’s hard to believe this is the fifth year.  Time has flown by.  Luckily, we have spent that time in the movie theater and are proud to be your choice for commentary on movie excellence.  We tried to get last year’s host, Astronaut Jesse, to emcee this year’s ceremony.  Unfortunately, Jesse is touring the country promoting his book and was unavailable.  We are blessed to have the star of the upcoming bestseller “The Song” with us this year.  Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to Van McGinley.

Violence was the biggest theme in this year’s crop of movies.  I know what you’re thinking: ‘violence is always a big theme in movies’.  This is true.  It seems like this year the theme was even more universal.  I’m not saying violence is a bad thing in movies; just give me a little non-violence with it.  That’s all.  I issue a challenge to studios in 2008 and beyond… at least try to not rely solely on bloodshed and blowing things up.  Having said all that, our list contains a lot of movie violence.  There were so many that some had to be good… real good.

War was prevalent in this year’s group of movies.  Most of the movies about the Middle East performed well below expectations (Lions for Lambs, In the Valley of Elah).  The Kingdom did the best at the box office but hopes were very high.  Only one has realistic Oscar hopes (Charlie Wilson’s War).  Apparently, audiences aren’t ready to spend their free time watching what they’ve been inundated with for years on the news.

There was also violence of a more personal nature.  Revenge (Fracture, Death Sentence) saw its way into our theaters.  This was followed by pride (The Lookout, Live Free or Die Hard), a twisted sense of duty (American Gangster, Michael Clayton) and desperation (3:10 To Yuma, The Brave One).

And, of course, there was “cartoony”, fantasy-type violence.  The biggest box office hits were in this category (Transformers, Spider-Man 3, Pirates of The Caribbean: At World’s End).  Even Shrek the Third had some violence.  Beowulf capped the violent year with the oldest story and most in your face visuals (via 3D technology).

We had more music themed movies.  There was a movie turned musical turned movie again (Hairspray), the most violent and bloody musical ever (Sweeney Todd), a movie using unrelated, but by the same group, music to tell a story (Across The Universe) and an unbelievably ‘real’ music love story (Once).  Those movies could not have been any more different and yet, the music inside connected them in a way.

This year continued the previous year’s theme of few, good lead female roles.  We did receive a few good performances from new sources: Ellen Page (Juno) and Nicky Blonsky (Hairspray).  Here’s hoping the Oscars don’t resort to just nominating more established actors because they are more familiar with them.  Jodie Foster (The Brave One) and Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age) are great actresses but were they actually good enough to discount the greatness of the new kids.  I’m not sure they were this time.

Another interesting thing come Oscar time, how many people from Oceans 13 will be nominated for their roles in other movies?  George Clooney, Don Cheadle and Casey Affleck have a very real chance at nomination (Casey has 2 chances).  Brad Pitt (The Assassination of Jesse James by The Coward Robert Ford) would have a shot in some years but probably not this one.  Matt Damon (The Bourne Ultimatum) won’t be nominated but was in a movie that might surprise you by how many year-end lists it appears in.

We also found out some things.  Ben Affleck can create a really good story (Gone Baby Gone).  Adam Sandler can really act if you give him good material (Reign over Me).  Also, we found that men can go to movies starring half-naked men if those men end up killing a bunch of people (300).

Just like last year, I would encourage each of you to find the time to visit one of your local movie theaters.  I realize that the increasing ticket prices would prohibit many from choosing to go as frequently as I do (99 this year), but a carefully chosen few would yield a very satisfying evening.  As many as I saw, there were three or four times as many that I was unable to see.

All future releases of these awards and, somewhat, more current movie information, can be found at whitshappening.com

And now, on with the show …

Best Chemistry
5.  Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter – Sweeney Todd
4.  Naomi Watts and Viggo Mortensen – Eastern Promises
3.  Ellen Page and Michael Cera – Juno
2.  Don Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejiofor – Talk to Me
1.  Simon Pegg and Nick Frost – Hot Fuzz

Good Movie You May Not Have Heard About
5.  Amazing Grace – yes, it involves the song… and some very good acting
4.  Once – music at its core is painfully beautiful
3.  Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead – interesting tale brilliantly woven together from multiple viewpoints
2.  Lars and the Real Girl – brilliant premise that is executed to perfection
1.  Waitress – I can’t describe how enjoyable this little movie is

Best Ensemble Cast
5.  Gone Baby Gone
4.  Waitress
3.  Talk to Me
2.  Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
1.  Hairspray

What Were You Thinking
5.  Ashley Judd - Bug
4.  Susan Sarandon – Mr. Woodcock
3.  Nicole Kidman – The Invasion
2.  Billy Bob Thornton – Mr. Woodcock
1.  Robert Duvall – Lucky You

Great Idea (at least)
5.  Death at a Funeral – British movies always have huge casts, this time it fits the situation
4.  Beowulf – great effects for a story that’s held up for 1500 years
3.  Into the Wild – the true story was so engaging that a movie needed to be made
2.  I’m Not There – great concept, a man with many lives having 6 different people portray the various incarnations that existed within him
1.  The Simpsons Movie – if you’re on TV for this many years, the audience is already there

Something Different
5.  Lars and the Real Girl – a man and a life-size doll without having to go to pay-per-view
4.  Enchanted – fairy tale comes to life, gets put in a blender and sees what happens
3.  Once – everyone should feel about something the way these two feel about music
2.  Grindhouse – old-school double feature of gore complete with made up coming attractions
1.  Across the Universe – Beatles music probably fits something this ‘out there’

Wha’ Happened
5.  Hannibal Rising – Hannibal Lecter is iconic; we should have expected something a little more subtly demented
4.  Fred Claus – story of Santa’s brother plus great cast should equal something better than this
3.  Lions for Lambs – the best part was actually the war footage and that was the least shown
2.  Evan Almighty – the first had some edge, this was just watered down
1.  Elizabeth: The Golden Age – we know Cate can do this role in her sleep; we need something else with it

Better Than You Think
5.  Halloween – bravo Rob Zombie, nice re-make
4.  Disturbia – welcome to stardom Shia LaBeouf
3.  Mr. Brooks – perfect ending was there but it wasn’t the ending, still good though
2.  The Mist – scary movies aren’t supposed to be this good
1.  Reign Over Me – Adam Sandler movies aren’t supposed be this dramatic, but well done

Stepped It Up
5.  Keri Russell – ‘Felicity’ comes a long way
4.  Michael Cera – two memorable movies takes some of the sting out of your TV show getting canceled
3.  Josh Brolin – five movies, take a breath dude, enjoy the Oscar ceremony
2.  Casey Affleck – man’s got connections, and room on his mantle, for now
1.  Shia LaBeouf – star of 2 of the biggest hits of the year, and now on to Indiana Jones

Best Bad Guy/Girl
5.  Jeremy Sisto - Waitress
4.  Michelle Pfeiffer - Hairspray
3.  Chris Cooper - Breach
2.  Ben Foster – 3:10 to Yuma
1.  Javier Bardem – No Country for Old Men

Lord of the Rings Award (Best of the Trequels)
5.  Rush Hour 3 – just not interesting anymore
4.  Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End – did we really need this one
3.  Shrek the Third – the gang of princesses was funny but that was about it
2.  Spider-Man 3 – Topher was a great choice for a bad guy; I’ll watch whatever these guys put out
1.  The Bourne Ultimatum – so much better than the other four films listed here, it’s not even close

Worst Movie I Saw (there were probably worse movies I did not see)
5.  Bug – just weird, and not a good weird
4.  Next – Nicholas Cage can do no wrong at the box office, but this wasn’t good
3.  The Invasion – none of the previous versions were any good, did anyone think this one would be?
2.  Lucky You – I love poker, but this movie was a fold waiting to happen
1.  Mr. Woodcock – too much talent for a movie to be this bad

Supporting Actress
10.  Allison Janney - Juno
9.  Julia Roberts – Charlie Wilson’s War
8.  Taraji P Henson – Talk to Me
7.  Leslie Mann – Knocked Up
6.  Emily Mortimer – Lars and the Real Girl
5.  Marisa Tomei – Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
4.  Amy Ryan – Gone Baby Gone
3.  Catherine Keener – Into the Wild
2.  Tilda Swinton – Michael Clayton
1.  Cate Blanchett – I’m Not There – convincing as a Bob Dylan-type character; my guess is Oscar agrees with me

Supporting Actor
10.  Paul Dano – There Will Be Blood
9.  Denzel Whitaker – The Great Debaters
8.  Ben Foster – 3:10 to Yuma
7.  Chiwetel Ejiofor – Talk to Me
6.  Paul Schneider – Lars and the Real Girl
5.  Armin Mueller-Stahl – Eastern Promises
4.  Phillip Seymour Hoffman – Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Charlie Wilson’s War
3.  Josh Brolin – No Country for Old Men
2.  Tom Wilkinson – Michael Clayton
1.  Javier Bardem – No Country for Old Men – scariest character in a long time; once again, Oscar will agree with me

Lead Actress
10.  Keira Knightley – Atonement
9.  Cate Blanchett – Elizabeth: The Golden Age
8.  Nicky Blonsky - Hairspray
7.  Naomi Watts – Eastern Promises
6.  Parker Posey – Broken English
5.  Keri Russell - Waitress
4.  Amy Adams - Enchanted
3.  Julie Christie – Away From Her
2.  Angelina Jolie – A Mighty Heart
1.  Ellen Page – Juno – she’ll steal your heart and deserves an Oscar nod, but my guess is Julie Christie wins the Oscar

Lead Actor
10.  Tom Hanks – Charlie Wilson’s War
9.  Denzel Washington – American Gangster, The Great Debaters
8.  Casey Affleck – Gone Baby Gone
7.  Johnny Depp – Sweeney Todd
6.  Ryan Gosling – Lars and the Real Girl
5.  Viggo Mortensen – Eastern Promises
4.  George Clooney – Michael Clayton
3.  Daniel Day Lewis – There Will Be Blood
2.  Emile Hirsch – Into the Wild
1.  Don Cheadle – Talk to Me – I haven’t heard much talk about Don which is a shame because he was fantastic; my guess is Daniel Day Lewis wins the Oscar

Best Movie
35.  Broken English – Parker Posey shines in this expose of a woman in the crossroads of life
34.  Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story – laughed so hard I cried, John C Reilly was great
33.  Reign Over Me – Adam Sandler does a great job of showing what grief can do to a person and the power we all have to overcome it
32.  The Lookout – interesting portrait of a young man with memory issues taking charge of a situation
31.  Mr. Brooks – yes, a Kevin Costner movie made the list, this one surprised me
30.  A Mighty Heart – true story of covering the Mid-East brilliantly conveyed by Angelina Jolie
29.  Away From Her – tale of dealing with Alzheimer’s starring a this year’s likely Oscar winner
28.  Hairspray – fun movie musical that deals with important lessons from our society
27.  3:10 to Yuma – good remake that continues the creepy evolution of Ben Foster
26.  Hot Fuzz – if you like silly British humor, this one’s for you
25.  Across the Universe – there was a brilliant movie in here that was almost lost in some weirdness that seemed out of place
24.  I’m Not There – ambitious weaving of fictional portrayals based on the many lives of Bob Dylan
23.  Superbad – you’re almost ashamed at what you laugh at, but you’ll laugh a lot
22.  The Great Debaters – the debate version of Rocky, well done Denzel
21.  Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead – interesting tale of two brothers who feel that they have no choice but to do a despicable thing
20.  Amazing Grace – yes, it involves the person who wrote the song, the attempted abolition of the British slave market
19.  Knocked Up – funny and sweet, you didn’t just laugh but rooted for the two main characters to be together
18.  I Am Legend – it is difficult to hold an audience with just one actor, this movie did it well
17.  American Gangster – Denzel was great in this violent, true tale of urban organized crime
16.  Sweeney Todd – the most bloody musical ever, very dark and very good
15.  Once – original musical, different type of love story, raw and honest
14.  Gone Baby Gone – well crafted, well acted story of finding the truth behind a kidnapping
13.  There Will Be Blood – great vehicle to show off Daniel Day Lewis at his evil, twisted best
12.  The Bourne Ultimatum – great action from beginning to end and who can resist a scooter chase scene
11.  Eastern Promises – the trials and tribulations of the Russian mafia are explored when a young girl is murdered
10.  The Kite Runner – deals with the human side of some of the atrocities in the Middle East, kids just want to be kids no matter where they are
9.  Enchanted – fairy tale comes to life and then twists the traditional Disney scenario… I really should not have enjoyed this as much as I did
8.  Lars and the Real Girl – story of a lonely boy and his life sized doll that brings him back to reality
7.  Michael Clayton – lawyer gets a conscience and it almost kills him
6.  Charlie Wilson’s War – real life story of the attempt to end the Cold War and possibly sew the seeds of our Middle East conflict
5.  Into the Wild – be careful of a desire to experience “true nature”, you just may find it and it won’t be easy on you
4.  Waitress – wasn’t expecting this little festival movie to be this good… funny, sweet and lots of pie
3.  No Country for Old Men – intense drama led by great acting, great direction and a great story… don’t be surprised if this one sees Oscar in its future
2.  Talk to Me – when I walked out of the theater I was expecting this to be my number 1 for the year… Cheadle and Ejiofor are brilliant
1.  Juno – I can’t think of a demographic that wouldn’t enjoy this movie.  It is real funny, real touching and really well thought out.  The situation of a pregnant teen can often be alarming, but here it was alarmingly entertaining.

Oscar winners: Daniel Day Lewis, Julie Christie, Javier Bardem, Cate Blanchett, Coen brothers for the script of No Country for Old Men, P.T. Anderson for direction of There Will Be Blood and best movie… No Country for Old Men

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