Jan. 22nd, 2010

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1. Crash (2005)
It contained some good performances and a few good moments of drama. But it was also predictible, laughably heavy-handed in its depiction of racism, and its central metaphor was embarrassingly lame. To wit: "It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something." The four movies it was up against (Munich, Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night and Good Luck) were by a large margin more deserving of its Best Picture Oscar.

2. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
A less funny and far more pretentious version of National Lampoon's Vacation, this comedy wouldn't be so annoying if it wasn't working so hard at being offbeat. The filmmakers didn't realize that even if you dress up a conventional story with quirks, all you get is stale bread with icing on it. And yet it was nominated for Best Picture.

3. Moulin Rouge (2001)
An example of audiences rewarding something because it's different, regardless of whether it's actually good. In his first three films, Baz Luhrmann wants us to feel something for his characters, but he sabotages his own movies by overloading the viewer's senses. The result is annoyance and an empty experience. Yet another unworthy Best Picture nominee.

4. Ratatouille (2007)
I don't understand why the universal love that is lavished on most Pixar films extends to this one, which feels as though it was a bit rushed at the conception stage. The human characters have a bland, unappealing look, and aside from Remy, the characters lack dimension. Also, the film is hobbled by a contrivance that's central to the plot. The rat needs a human in order to be able to cook, and the solution the filmmakers come up with - the rat controls the human's movements by pulling on his hair - is (pardon the pun) hard to swallow.

5. The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)
The world loves these movies, but they just didn't grab me. I didn't feel much for the characters until the third installment, and I found the proceedings a touch boring, superficial, and repetitive. After the first one especially, I felt as though all I had witnessed was a series of expensive, pretty pictures. To be fair, there were some high points, such as some of the battle scenes, and the character of Gollum.

6. Donnie Darko (2001)
Richard Kelly is a better director than he is a writer. This is a very enjoyable movie, but its biggest fans attribute it a depth and originality it simply doesn't have. It shoots fish in a barrel, and at heart, it's just a typical "triumph of the special snowflake/adults are stupid" story. It's still more fun than anything else on this list, though.

7. The Pianist (2002)
I felt this movie didn't have much dramatic weight, so I was surprised when Roman Polanski won his first Best Director award for this, which is not one of his best films.

8. Road to Perdition (2002)
So, like, the characters in this movie are on a road, right? And they're headed for a town. And the name of the town is (wait for it) "Perdition". Subtlety just committed suicide.

9. O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000)
One of the Coen brothers' lesser films, this was praised for conjoining Homer's Odyssey with a depression-era prison escape story. But the movie has to strain quite a bit to retrofit the two. More wacky than fun.

10. the first two X-Men movies (2000/2003)
The first installment felt artificial, could have been staged with more skill, and I forgot all about it the second I stepped out of the movie theatre. The second installment was a marked improvement, but still inconsequential fluff. Yet, both were praised as superior superhero movies.

Other movie lists:
most disappointing
most pleasant surprises
most underrated
the worst

Best of the decade lists:
movies
television
music from 60 to 46
music from 45 to 31
music from 30 to 16
music top 15

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