Sunday, March 07, 2010

18 Films That Weren't: 2009 Films That Didn't Live Up To Expectations

This post is not about the lowest box office take, or the films with the worst critical response. Or even whether I like them or not.

Instead this is a ranking of the films that a year ago people were buzzing about for Oscar glory, and that will likely warrant hardly a peep at this year's ceremony.

This doesn't mean that they were bad films, but rather they didn't live up to their high expectations.

17 & 18. Greenzone/Shutter Island - These were two films I figured would come into play in at tomorrow's Oscar ceremony. Both film with respected director (Paul Greengrass & Martin Scorcese) with respectable cast. And yet...they were moved to early 2010.

16. The Young Victoria - I think everyone is waiting for Emily Blunt to have a breakout role and score herself an Oscar nomination. It seemed like playing the young queen in a biopic would be the winner. She previously fit in with "the crowd" of Tucci, Hatheway, & Streep in Devil Wears Prada and since then she's picked up little awards and accolades here, but never had the right role to take the prize. Despite critical prizes and satellite noms, she struck out for Oscar's art branches still gave it three nominees but Blunt wasn't in the picture. Nor were any of the other performers.

15. Away We Go - I was intrigued by this project and the cast. Sure John Krasinski and Maya Rudolf aren't, but Sam Mendes is. I appreciated his departure from a typically heavy handed suburban story, and yet this film wasn't.

14. (500) Days of Summer
- How can this film get so much hot & cold love. You would have though early summer that this film was a shoe-in for the original screenplay nod. But was completely shut out at the Oscars. Not a single nod.

13. State of Play - After Michael Clayton came out, I was sure Tony Gilroy would be a name we'd have to reckon with and here again and again. But with two lackluster projects this year, Duplicity & State of Play, I feel like his name might disappear back into the world of ice skating sequels. State of Play was actually an alright film, but it's pretty sad when Rachel McAdams is the best performer in a film staring Russell Crowe, Helen Mirren, Ben Affleck, and Jeff Daniels.

12. The Soloist
- Once it got bumped from the 2008 schedule, you knew there was concerns, but it still baffles me how Joe Wright, director of Pride & Prejudice and Atonement, could create a film with two hot actors, Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx and end up with a film without a single critical award. A biopic none the less. Wright should go back to the drawing board before he does his next project.

11. Bruno - Sacha Baron Cohen had love, love, and more love for 2007's Borat...but the opposite was true of this project. This film was on no-one's short list for another original screenplay nod, nor an actor nod. A complete strike out. Fine by me, but it seems like Cohen's Oscar love was a one time phenomonon.

10. Capitalism: A Love Story - Besides the fact it wasn't short listed in the documentary race, there was time when people though Michael Moore's documentary would jump into the top 10 of the year. But of all the films Moore has ever done this one seemed the least discussed, watched, and cared about.

9. Public Enemies - Michael Mann is one of this directors you always want to consider will show up at the Oscars, and that his films will have some punch that attracts people either to the characters, editing, sound, screenplay, or something. Yet, this film came and went and didn't even show up as a bleep on Oscar's radar.

8. Bright Star - Abbie Cornish, Abbie Cornish, Abbie Cornish. Well before this film came out it seemed like Abbie was a lock as the new young thing that was going to finally get her day of critical love and joy with awards raining from heaven. Yet Jane Champion's film's intrigue waned almost instantly as that release date came close and this film ended up just being one of those sideline costume nominees.

7. Invictus - The two leads in this bio-pic got nods (Matt Damon & Morgan Freeman) but neither are expected to win, and beyond that, people expected more. In the early days (let's call it Spring 2009) we would call this film "The Human Factor" and it was the film to beat. Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela seemed like the baitiest award performance of all, one that we've been waiting for since Mandela was to star in The Long Walk to Freedom. And this was Clint Eastwood and his powerhouse. Yet Clint Eastwood seems to be loosing his street-cred and this film couldn't even make a best picture nominee in a year with 10 nominations...something that was early in the season considered impossible.

6. Where The Wild Things Are - Spike Jonze won over hearts and minds with Being John Malkovich and Adaptation. Yet somehow despite huge advertising compaigns and hype this film this film polarized audiences, occasionally picked up critical support, and lost enthusiasm by fans quickly.

5. Creation
- I was intrigued with the film about Charles Darwin's moral battles until everyone was talked about what a bore of a movie this was. I still might rent it and give it my own vote, but as for now it seems like a bomb of a film in the eyes of anyone I've heard talk about it.

4. Nine - Rob Marshall swept the awards with Chicago, and Daniel Day-Lewis seems like he's the Academy voter's secret crush, plus you have an award studded cast that plays off all the Oscar's favorite women like Dame Judi, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, and Sophia Loren. And yet...Cruz was the only actress who slipped in, and Rob Marshall's name is shown nowhere on the awards lineup, nor did the film even make the 10 nominee best picture line-up.

3. The Lovely Bones - Every actor in this category was tossed around as a potential nominee, and as an adaptation of best selling novel with some spiritual themes directed by Peter Jackson there was always the potential of a bust, but hopes were high a year ago. Saorise Ronan was tossed around as a potential nominee back in the time when everyone thought that the average age of the actress race this year would be in the teens/low-twenties with Meryl Streep pulling up the average (Ronan, Cornish, Sidibe, Mulligan and Streep). But in the end Stanley Tucci got the nod, and some even attribute that nod to his Julie & Julia work, so this film in some eyes only has half a nomination.

2. Amelia - Mira Nair's biopic of Amelia Earhart was an absolute strike out. You would think the world would love an Amelia film, but something about this didn't click with critics or audiences and ended up being one of the biggest surprise bust of the year in my opinion.

1. The Road - This film was hyped for awards in 2008, and then was moved to end of year 2009 and still was a bust. Adapting Pulitzer Prize winning fiction has it's challenges, and perhaps one of the most lauded books of the decade wasn't meant for adaptation, at least not like this. Great cast, and bleak sets couldn't push this film into the hearts and minds of anyone and didn't match any one's earliest expectations or excitement.

No comments: