This is a list of the 40 movies of the last ten years that affected me the most. They aren’t the “best” movies by any stretch of the imagination (Even the stubborn narcissist in me can’t call movies 22, 23 or 27 “good”), just the ones that moved me, entertained me, and enlightened me. They are the 40 movies I will remember, and care about, from the 2000’s.
The hope is that reading this list will help you to learn more about Jason Matthews (aka “The Jay’). It shouldn’t be an exercise in bashing my taste. Cause we all like some really bad pop culture (hey Keanu!), and no one should be judged by their guilty pleasures. The idea is not for me to tell you what to like or what you should think. I’m not making a case that my list is any better or valid than any of the other indulgent Best Of The Decade lists (which all suck) that are overloading the Internet right now. I didn’t pick these movies to make you think I’m some cool, with it know-it-all. Frankly, all that doesn’t matter to me.
I’m simply saying, for me, these were the ones that mattered. For whatever it’s worth.
40 – Mean Girls
Was the catalyst for the rise (and fall) of Lindsey Lohan: failed actress, successful tabloid whore, ginger person; introduced the world to Rachel McAdams; tried to make “fetch” happen. This movie had a lot going on.
39 – Collateral
Tom Cruise is more fun to watch as a villain. Consider: Magnolia, Interview with a Vampire, Tropic Thunder, Vanilla Sky. Wait, he wasn’t the villain in Vanilla Sky? But then why was he trying to eat my soul with his mis-aligned upper teeth, serial killer mask and frightening intensity?
38 – High Fidelity
Lloyd Dobler grew up, got way into music and became a manic-depressive. A happy ending? Not quite. But it did result in a smart, hyper-literal movie with Tim Robbins getting a long-deserved beat down, totes supes CZJ side boob, Lisa Bonet singfucking us some Peter Frampton, Jack Black being actually funny instead of the not funny he’s become, the obliges John Cusack standing forlornly in the rain shot and maybe the hottest sex scene of the 2000’s (starring, shocker, Tim Robbins).
37 – Juno
Is it obnoxious writing? Yes. (I considered writing ‘honest to blog there, but didn’t really want to throw up on my keyboard, so you know.) Is Ellen Page too precocious by half? Correct. Is what the movie has to say kinda offensive? Pretty much. But I can’t take away the amazing work done by Jason Bateman, Jen Garner (her scene in the mall is a killer) and Allison Janney. And any movie that makes its male lead a Cross Country and Track star is all right by me.
36 – Old School
“He’s gonna do one!” Nuff said.
35 – Unbreakable
The best comic book origin movie that you didn’t realize was actually a comic book origin movie ever. I miss M. Night’s fastball.
34 – Atonement
If only for the score, the library sex scene and BRIIIIOOOOONNNNYYY! Also? Everything else about this movie.
33 – Moulin Rouge!
I can sing both parts of Elephant Love Medley by heart, nine years later. That has to count for something.
32 – Sideways
I hated this movie for a long, long time. And I can’t forgive the movie for causing a fungal rash of sad bastard men movies to be made (mostly all starring Paul Giamatti or PSH, obvs). But the movie got people into wine, my favorite hobby, and shined a light on Santa Barbara Wine Country, my favorite place in the world. And despite my issues with the story, THIS is amazing writing:
“I like to think about the life of wine. How it’s a living thing. I like to think about what was going on the year the grapes were growing; how the sun was shining; if it rained. I like to think about all the people who tended and picked the grapes. And if it’s an old wine, how many of them must be dead by now. I like how wine continues to evolve, like if I opened a bottle of wine today it would taste different than if I’d opened it on any other day, because a bottle of wine is actually alive. And it’s constantly evolving and gaining complexity. That is, until it peaks, like your ’61. And then it begins its steady, inevitable decline. …And it tastes so fucking good.”
31 – The Queen
A stunning picture, credits to credits. Gets extra credit for making me want to do to horrifyingly sexual things to a septuagenarian. (What? Helen Mirren is HOT. #fact)
30 – The Bourne Ultimatum
For the Waterloo Station sequence alone.
29 – Mission Impossible 3
Secretly the best action movie of the decade. And easily one of the best action movie teasers of all-time.
28 – Pride and Prejudice
The film that made me turn the corner on Keira Knightley. It’s a beautiful adaptation, has the most sweeping camera work, and the ensemble brings it with powerful yet subtle acting. Loved this movie.
27 – The Perfect Score
A perfect 80’s teen movie, twenty years too late.
26 – The Blind Side
The best movie of 2009. And it’s not even close. Saw it in theaters twice, cried both times. The best work Sandy has ever done, and she’s done a lot of great work. Hollywood doesn’t make movies like this anymore, but they should.
25 – Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
Shane Black at his sardonic, quippy, violent action best, RoDoJu bringing the funny, Val tapping into his Real Genius performance, AND Michelle Monaghan topless? How was this movie not a GIANT success?
24 – Zoolander
The movie I have quoted the most this decade. It isn’t a particularly good movie, but there’s not a person I know who doesn’t, every so often, cough lightly in public and say “I have the black lung, pop”.
23 – Taken
“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”*
*Gets extra credit for being the only time I went to the Bridge Cinema and didn’t have the worst movie-going experience in my life. What is WRONG with those people? Take your idiot conversations, text messaging and general hooliganery OUT of the theater. There are people trying to watch Liam Neeson kill foreigners here!
22 – The Core
Quite possibly the dumbest disaster movie Hollywood has ever put out, and that includes the one where Dennis Quaid runs away from weather, but I can’t help but love something that knows how stupid it actually is. And I can’t help but be charmed by a movie that has its hero pitch a full-on temper tantrum AT his love interest. That takes balls.
21 – Iron Man
The most fun of any blockbuster in the last ten years. Gets props for casting RoDoJu right off of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, when no one thought he had a Franchise in him. Made Gwyneth Paltrow fun again (no easy feat). And the scene of Stark testing out the flying mechanism in his workshop is an underrated special effects stunner.
20 – Minority Report
If for this scene alone:
You may weep now.
19 – The Aviator
As someone who has fought (and occasionally won) the battle of obsessive-compulsive disorder, I can relate to this film on a molecular level. And I could watch Leonardo dress down Cate Blanchett every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
“Don’t you ever talk talk down to me! You’re a movie star, nothing more!”
18 – No Country For Old Men
Was the Best Picture in the best year for Best Pictures of the decade. And putting this here means I get to link to my Javier Bardem Oscar post, one of my favorite things I’ve ever written. Done!
17 – Ocean’s Eleven
A compulsively watchable flick, the best star cast of the decade, an instant TNT New Classic and just plain, good old-fashioned fun. Brad Pitt eating in every scene, the wink wink lame ‘happily ever after’ kiss at the end, Julia emailing in her performance, “Whisky and a whisky”, the all of the everything that is Topher Grace and Matt Damon FINALLY making me like him (if not so much his pig nose).
16 – Catch Me If You Can
Some of the best work Spielberg has done in two decades, and it all feels tossed off, making me love it all the more. Haunting, genuine work by Christopher Walken (not easy at this point, if you think about it), the best knock knock joke ever, a game Tom Hanks, my favorite opening credits of the decade and Leo being Leo. There’s something about D-Cap’s work in the 2000’s that hit me hard. He played guys missing answers and trying desperately to find them, which I heart. You’ll notice that starts to be a recurring theme from here on out.
15 – Punch Drunk Love
A mesmerizing movie, if only for the pillow talk.
14 – Mr. & Mrs. Smith
The schadenfreude alone qualifies the movie for Best Ever status. Smith has no business being good, considering its troubled production, and the fact that the movie could have just put a close up on Brangelina’s faces for two hours and called it a day and we would have ate it up, and yet it is. Very good, in fact. The Brad on Angelina fight was fantastic, the freeway gunfight with Truths Revealed sequence was electrifying (“Art?” “History! It’s reputable.”), Vince Vaughn was stellar, Adam Brody got beat up (counts for a LOT), and I can’t get enough of Brad telling Angelina she “looked like Christmas morning”. I’m on Team Aniston, for the real, but this movie almost makes up for her trauma.
13 – Bring It On
The Citizen Kane of cheerleader movies. Also, the only movie Kirsten Dunst has EVER been likable in. And, um, hello, Eliza Dushku in a bikini, washing cars. My work here is done.
12 – Kill Bill ½
Part 1 is ultra-badass, Part 2 is exhilarating filmmaking. Would rank higher if QT had taken out the anime sequence (not interested, thanks), reduced the time Uma was trapped in a coffin (my greatest fear), and eased back on the foot fetish. We get it, Uma has great toes! Can we get back to the swords and exploitation now?
11 – The Notebook
I get that I’m a guy and therefore shouldn’t have this on my list. But you can’t tell me this wasn’t a seminal movie of the decade. That it didn’t change things. You can’t. Gosling and McAdams were the most watchable lovers in any movie of the last ten years. Period. I loved this movie the first time I saw it, and when I rewatched it again for this list, you know what I found out about my love for it? It wasn’t over. It’s still not over!
/makes out with this movie in the rain
10 – X-Men
I saw this movie in theaters five times, maybe the most I have ever seen any movie in the theaters. The movie is not without issues: the ending is small, Halle Berry is atrocious, Anna Paquin makes me Ralph and the pace is like an injured turtle. But man alive, Hugh Jackman’s arms. Hugh freaking Jackman’s. Arms.
Please excuse me while I go do 150 push-ups.
9 – Garden State
I make no apologies for this movie. It’s trendy to bash Garden State because of the weak, cliché writing, but you know what all you people? Go fuck yourself. This movie is GREAT. The Coldplay, the slow motion zooms, the WIDE establishing shots, the Natalie Portman, what’s not to like? Guys ding this movie unfairly because they are jealous Zach Braff got to make out with Natalie Portman in the rain, which is (not so) secretly our greatest wish in life. But we need to get over ourselves. And wannabe filmmakers hate this movie because they believe they could do it better. But if they could, they would, and they haven’t. Braff may be a King Douche, but he gets credit for doing it. And the doing is the whole point.
8 – The Royal Tenenbaums
Wes Anderson, irritating storytelling warts and all, is a singular voice in American filmmaking. This is his best work, and it’s not even close.
“The crickets and the rust-beetles scuttled among the nettles of the sage thicket. “Vámonos, amigos,” he whispered, and threw the busted leather flintcraw over the loose weave of the saddlecock. And they rode on in the friscalating dusklight.”
7 – Wedding Crashers
Any film that opens with a ten minute montage of partying, bare boobs, cake and great dialogue, and then gives us Walken being an oddball, McAdams being luminous, Jane Seymour MILF-ing it up, Bradley Cooper playing a character named Sack Lodge, and the everything of the all that is the stage-5 clinger Isla Fisher, with a truly hilarious Will Ferrell cameo to boot, automatically makes me Top Movies of the Decade list. Hey, I don’t make the rules, I just obey them. So no excuses, play like a champion.
6 – Anchorman
I submit to you the following:
It could be the dialogue. It could be the style. It could be the camera work. It could be the score. But really, it’s about the journey. Of a guy looking for answers. A guy who refuses to just leave it be. A guy who needs to know. And who pays the price for that information.
4 – Harry Potter 3 and 5
Parts one and two are kids movies. Four is easy to digest mainstream snore. Six is too insular for its own good. But 3 and 5, Prisoner of Azkaban and Order of the Phoenix? They’re about something. They have something to say. They are filmmaking of the highest order. Two harsh, magnificent, brutal chapters in the life of a tragic boy, who wants nothing more than to be normal, happy and loved, and continues to suffer for wanting those things and having the gall to ask for them.
It’s easy to write this franchise off because of its popularity, but never forget that this is a story of a boy whose parents were murdered, a boy being hunted down every moment of his life, a boy with the literal world on his shoulders, a boy who can relate to no one, but who never backs down for a fight and will stop at nothing to protect those he cares about, even if it means dying. Let’s see Team Bella do that.
3 – Spartan
I’m a doer. I see a job that needs to get done, I do it. No complaints, no questions. I will go to the ends of the Earth to make it happen. Spartan is a movie made for people like me. Gripping, intense, honorable and the best Mamet dialogue an aspiring playwright could ask for.
And if you ever wanted to pull life advice from a movie, this is the movie to do it.
“You had your whole life to prepare for this moment. Why aren’t you ready?”
“The hardest thing, y’know what it is? It isn’t going in the door, it’s coming out.”
“Why would I want to know? I ain’t a planner, I ain’t a thinker. I never wanted to be. You got to set your motherfucker to receive. Listen to me. They don’t go through the door, we don’t ask why. That’s not a cost, it’s benefit. Because we get to travel light. They tell me where to go. Tell me what to do when I get there.”
2 – The 25th Hour
I tend to respond the most to movies about conflicted characters reflecting on their past, trying to figure out where things went wrong, and considering how to fix it going forward. This is the finest version of that story.
I dream of writing something as beautiful as the last ten minutes:
1 – Before Sunset
I look at my Top Ten and I see a pattern. And the pattern is me. We love movies for all sorts of reasons, but the ones that matter to us, tend to matter for one specific reason. Their story, in a fashion, is our story.
I started this decade as a freshman in College. All optimism, energy and naïveté. I was a hopeless romantic, with not an ounce of practicality. I had done nothing, but believed I felt everything. I end this decade a professional. I am hardened, realistic, unlike that 18 year-old boy in every way. I spent ten years searching for answers. Trying to discover the right path to happiness. And I haven’t found it yet. But I can look back, see the course of my life and understand how things fit. Why they went the way they did. Why I am here, in this place, in this moment, today. Which is good.
But that doesn’t mean I like it. And it doesn’t mean I accept it.
Before Sunset is that story. Tracking your life across a long span, deciphering the choices made, from love to career to everything else. Seeing so clearly how it all went down, but being powerless to alter things for the better. And then, in the most perfect cinematic way, two people are given a second chance. They are given an opportunity to get it right, this time, knowing now what they wish they knew then. And it’s on them to make it happen.
Before Sunset is an escape in the best way possible. It’s fun imagining I’m Neo or Riggs or John McClane or the guys from Wedding Crashers, shooting guns, being a hero, getting laid, etc. But it’s better, and more fulfilling, to imagine getting that second chance. To imagine saying all the right things in all the right ways to the right person. And hearing them say all the right things back to you.
It’s a movie about hope, the one thing I take with me the most into the new decade. The hope that I will figure it out. The hope that I won’t need that second chance, because when it counts, I will get it right the first time.
Movies are and always have been my education. I learn who I am from what I watch. These 40 movies, more than any others, taught me the most about myself this decade. And I will take the knowledge I have gained into the next decade and try to better myself, little by little, every day.
I am smarter, stronger, kinder, and more able to survive and thrive. What’s the job? Find me. I’ve had my whole life to prepare for this moment.
After taking under advisement Beyo-err… Sasha Fierce’s sage advice that “if you like than you should have put a ring on it”, and worried that I might possibly have offended that which I hold quite dear by NOT putting a ring on it yet, even though I love it so, I would like to take this opportunity to claim full-on ring placement on the following people, places and things.
The Jay OFFICIALLY puts a ring on:
- “Sex on Fire” by Kings of Leon
- The cold, Nordic disenchantment of Betty Draper.
- The triumphant, MILF-tastic return of Britney Spears.
- Beyonce wagging her vagina at me (seconds :51 – :57).
- My friend Audiebird, currently rising the BFF charts, who not only introduced me to the Beyonce song and video in question, but carefully and patiently explained to me WHY the song and video are so great, as such is my ignorance of the language of pop music. And also for giving me 15% of all my material. And 8% of all my recent vocal mannerisms.
- The poem “Mayakovsy” by Frank O’Hara.
- Keanu Reeves (natch)
- Random text messages from friends you haven’t seen in forever that lead to spontaneous, fun plans.
- Canada Dry Diet Ginger Ale
- Chicago hot dogs with everything on it.
- My secret belief that Twilight will NOT be the megahit everyone claims it will be. Who REALLY cares about the story of a passive teen girl who falls for a vampire? Seriously, that’s a movie I need to see? Call me when someone gets attacked by a Dementor or plays some Quidditch.
- Old Barney
- Les Grossman on the phone, telling the bad guys to “take a step back… and literally fuck your face.”
- Andy Samberg as Mark Wahlberg talking to animals, resulting in Mark throwing a hissy fit in the press about being parodied, even though it’s a compliment on par with Don Draper holding the door open for you, and then mysteriously showing up on SNL days later to satirize himself, most likely at the behest of his Agent who told him: “you get your ass ON THAT SHOW and say hi to the mother of ANY animal they put in front of you. Even Fred Armisen! How DARE you get your git up about a skit about YOU when you’re BARELY an A-list star? Take a page from Alec Baldwin and go be a mensch. You got it? Good! Now take a step back and literally fuck your face!”
- The realization that if I’m white, I’m Ben Affleck.
- The 2006 Late Harvest Viognier from Zaca Mesa.
- Anything KT Tunstall has sung in her entire life.
- Mad Men (super natch), and related: Don Draper’s Guide To Picking Up Women.
- Nicole Ritchie on Chuck. There, I said it.
- Gmail’s new ability to block e-mails sent late at night as a precaution against your own poor judgment, a feature I wish T-Mobile would look into (it would save Drunk The Jay from having to write so many apology texts).
- The Miami Dolphins Wildcat Formation
- Facebook status updates that are written in the correct tense.
- The trailer for Australia.
- The trailer for Bride Wars.
- All you guys being cool about me taking a small break from blogging. Recess is over, I promise.
- And of course, OF COURSE, Eddie Murphy’s Giant Head.
Congratulations to all you way creepy older men out there who spent the last five years locking the basement door of your mom’s house and furiously downloading pictures of innocent, pre-approved hottie Emma Watson. Your years of wrist work, tissue burnination, glitter-y collage creation and overall general disgustingness in obsessing over an underage fantasy film actress has finally paid off!
Emma Watson turns 18 today.
She is officially legal. This means your Hermione Granger fetish, albeit still decidedly creepy, is now, in the eyes of the courts, completely above board. Yesterday you were but the overweight, pimply guy roaming the video store aisles in a plaid polo shirt that Moms all kept their kids away from, but today… TODAY, you are now just another overweight, pimply geek who happens to find Emma Watson attractive.
That’s an 8% decrease in creepiness!
It’s a celebration, bitches!!!
You no longer have this to fear:
Of course her being legal now probably makes her ruined for you, huh? Now that she’s just another 18 year-old, your gross fixation on her is probably déclassé in your mind. The same way Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Hayden Panetierre and The Olsen Twins came and went before her. If there’s grass on the field, play ball. But if the grass is 18? Time to switch fields.
Yeah, no reason to log into the “Erecto Patronum” chat rooms and cyber other overweight pimply dudes claiming to be 4th year Ravenclaw students, anymore. Writing Chapter 31 of your on-going fanfic series “Hermione and Ginny Show Each Other Their Gryffindor Pride”, is now pretty pointless. And forget drawing Napoleon Dynamite-style drawings of Emma’s pretty English face (It took you three hours to do the shading on her upper lip), who will see the non-irony in a 35 year-old greasy shut-in spending his ample leisure time on them?
Like Apollo said to Rocky, it’s just too bad we gotta keep getting older. The correct response: Just keep ogling tween actresses, Apollo!
And fear not my creepy online brethren; you still have three more years to drop some 2-ply Kleenex-destroying knowledge on that minx Miley Cyrus. So get those shrines ready, boys!
Bangarang! (And Happy Birthday Emma, From The Jay!)
I’m rip roaring and raring to go on ’0JAY8 like La Lohan on an extended weekend in Capri, so before a Celebritard does something so dissgrossting that I have to break my Lost Girls ban and dip into my bag of fake whore words to describe their actions (“whoreititude” being my current favs), let’s start launching some award bombs (be forwarned, this post is HUGE).
And away we go (Read the 2005 and 2006 YIF Awards post as a refresher to their awesomeness):
MOST OVERRATED MOVIE OF THE YEAR
Knocked Up – Universally loved by both sides of the Relationship Wars, personally loathed by this guy. As funny as it is to see Seth Rogen giggle like an idiot, smoke pot and heffalump all over that girl who used to be hot when she was on Roswell but now is a shrill harpy who’s about to banshee scream the awesome out of James Marsden in that exorable 27 Dresses abomination, I’d rather just watch the much better SSDD Judd Apatow manchild movie, The 40 Year-Old Virgin. Also, I liked it better when it was called Nine Months and it starred a far more charming bumbling idiot and a much better actress who was also slumming it in a lame romcom but still managed to show a modicum of gratitude for hit studio movie that launched her career, unlike some other wretched blonde yenta currently turning Grey’s Anatomy into a double-bloop fest. Yikes, this movie gives me the hatebumps. Apatow should have considered going to the Screenplay Smashmortion clinic and smashmortioning this twenty-minute too long unfunny fest like yesterday’s Spears bastard.
MOST UNDERRATED MOVIE OF THE YEAR
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Despite making nearly a gajillion dollars at the box office, I got the sense that most people considered this episode a toss-off. A hurdle they have to jump to get to the infinitely more awesome Half-Blood Prince and the revelatory Deathly Hallows. But let me learn you all an education, this may prove to be the most intelligent, well put-together flick of the bunch. Book Five was nearly unreadable. Two hundred pages too long, full of lame, angsty teen balderdash and an anti-climactic finale that didn’t advance the story enough to warrant the preceding 700 pages (we all knew Harry wasn’t gonna get to keep Sirius, the whole point of the series is that he stands alone). Too my surprise, I found the movie adaptation positively mesmerizing. From the totes sweet over the shoulder shaky dolly when Harry and Dudley are running from the storm, to the dark tunnel Dementor fight where Harry wielded his Patronus like some mighty Jedi. From the crazy evil child torture scenes to the ku-reep-E Brooks Brothers-clad Voldemort on the train platform fever dream. And that’s before I get to the wrenching “LOOK AT ME!” scene. This film was playing to win the game. They didn’t think it was a damn exhibition. I must not tell lies dear readers, The Order of the Phoenix pwned hard.
Hairspray – I genuinely don’t care about musicals and I’m even more indifferent to John Waters, so imagine my surprise when I popped in the DVD and found myself bopping my head like I was the Kattan Roxbury jagoff for two straight hours (him? you? me? me? no? heh?). Full of infectious energy and crazy slick choreography, I had a blast with this movie. I dug Travolta so much I even forgave him for Wild Hogs. But it was a tough decision. I mean he does wear a bandana through that pile of shite. A bandana. Seriously. On his head. For two hours. And it was intentional.
WORST ACTRESS IN AN OTHERWISE CRAPPY MOVIE
Kirsten Dunst, Spider-Man 3 – Tobey Maguire dyed his hair black, grew knock-off Petrelli-bangs and emo-Manero’d down the street in the most regoddamndiculously stupid sequence in blockbuster movie history and it was STILL not the worst musical number in the flick. That goes to Kristen Vampire Teeth McFlatboobs Dunst, who whilst singing in a play where she was the lead managed to sound like monkey shite even though she wasn’t actually doing the singing. Her performance was so terrible that the audience I saw the movie with actually applauded when Tobey decked her in that SECOND so so bad Dunst musical number. It was the one time in the movie where everyone got what they wanted: a scene where Tobey wasn’t weeping like a wee little girl and five fingers saying SLAP to the former Rancho Carne Cheer Captain who would NOT stop singing in the action-packed Comic Book movie.
WORST ACTOR IN AN OTHERWISE CRAPPY MOVIE
Tobey Maguire, Spider-Man 3 - Did I mention he cries through most of the movie and gay dances like Travolta in Staying Alive for the rest of it? Also, that he sucks? Oh I did? Good. I didn’t want to forget mentioning that he sucks.
WORST EXPERIENCE IN A MOVIE THEATER
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End - Not because of the actual movie, which was slightly better than Dead Man’s Chest, owing mainly to the Godzilla on Tokyo levels of kick ass rampage that is Chow Yun Fat, Keira Knightley in Asian Pirate fetish wear and Orlando Bloom getting dead, but because of how unbelievably long the movie was in relation to how much I had to pee. I was in the center row center seat of a sold out 400 seat theater and had to go pretty hard starting in minute 17. It was not pleasant. Here was a brief summary of events.
17:00 – Damn, gotta yazzer. I think can hold it, it doesn’t seem too bad.
24:00 – Maybe loosen the belt loop up one.
32:00 – Might be wrong about this. . .
46:00 – Shifty.
58:00 – Crap all, there’s ninety more minutes left!! How much more “Yargh-ing” can they do?
1:05:00 – Yayayayayayayayayay.
1:17:00 – If I hold my junk any more people are gonna think I’m actually enjoying the movie. Must be strong.
1:29:00 – And there goes the belt and top button.
1:46:00 – Starting to get numb.
1:53:00 – Slouchy slouchy, calm the belly.
2:06:00 – JUST FUCKING END ALREADY!!!!! Awesome effects and all, but can we just kill the Bloom already so I can save my kidneys?
2:15:00 – And my pants are officially off.
2:36:00 – Thank Jeebus it’s over. I survived. Eye of the Tiger saved me again!
2:45:00 – I will RAIN FIRE on you Valley bitches if you don’t leave the theater FUCKING FASTER!
THE TAINTED MEMORIES AWARD A.K.A. WORST SEQUEL OF THE YEAR
Live Free or Die Hard - Psych! Trick award, fools. This movie ruled! I was skeptical. I thought it would be a whole bunch of man ass. But it turned out to be a whole bunch of man awesome (yeah, that just happened). I was cool with bald McClane. I was cool with him Supermannig the fighter jet. I was cool with villainous plot. I was SuperCool with Mary Elizabeth Winstead. And I was Super-Sized cool with Maggie Q. Hell, I was even straight with Mac Guy Sidekick (which bodes well for Villa De La Beouf in Indy 4). I missed a Hans-level bad guy and I hated John not dropping F-bombs everywhere, but kids, it could have been A LOT worse.
MOST UNFORTUNATE THIRD ACT FLOP OF THE YEAR
I Am Legend - So how come the Fresh Prince left his interesting character study to walk onto the set of a bad Sci-Fi network zombie flick? Did the producers refuse to let him drop a “Ah, hell no!”? Were they blocking him from getting jiggy with it? These are things we need to know!
MOST DISAPPOINTING MOVIE OF THE YEAR
TMNT – Sarah Michelle Gellar should never be prominently involved with ANYTHING from my childhood ever again. I swear to Xenu I will burn my Buffy box set if she even blinks in the direction of Cheetarah and the Thundercats. Dude, I miss Ninja Rap. (Go ninja! Go ninja! Go!)
EIGHTH SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE A.K.A MOST SURPRISING PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR
Ben Affleck, Director, Gone Baby Gone - A subtle, powerful, beautifully photographed debut from the man who was the bomb in Phantoms, yo! I never had my doubts that he’d be a good movie director, but I never imagined he’d be that good. Wisely letting Ed Harris chew the scenery like they were yesterday’s egg bagels. Shooting close-ups all over the preternaturally pretty Michelle Monaghan. The brilliant credits sequence that established the reality of the Boston streets better than Mystic River could even dream of. Not to mention pulling an Oscar-worthy performance out of Amy Ryan. And that’s before talking about Morgan Freeman’s nuanced work and Casey Affleck’s surprise work as a commanding leading man. I’d love to have The Fleck in front of camera again, but I just may want him to stay behind it, more.
WEIRDEST MOVIE COUPLE OF THE YEAR
Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, Charlie Wilson’s War - There’s just something inherently creepy watching the Pretty Woman grab Forrest Gump’s ass. And something totally gross seeing Erin Brockovich and the voice of Woody, post-coital. I usually love seeing mega-stars onscreen together. But in this case I just wanted it to go away so I could see Phillip Seymour Hoffman cuss some more.
THE JOHN TRAVOLTA AWARD FOR ONE TIME BIG NAMED ACTOR WHO IS SOOOO OVER!
Anthony Hopkins - He’s now repeating himself worse than Tommy Lee Jones, and I’m pretty sure Tommy Lee Jones was actually credited as playing “Tommy Lee Jones” in that last Paul Haggis travesty. Ryan Gosling blew him off the screen in Fracture. It wasn’t even close. The Washington Generals put up more of a fight than Hopkins did. And with Anton Chigurh taking Hannibal’s mantle of most awesome screen villain we secretly love, what does Hopkins have to play for? Time to pack it in and start considering begging Aaron Sorkin to do a Welsh version of The West Wing.
THE “YES, YES YOU’RE BOTH HOT, NOW SHUT UP AND GO AWAY” AWARD
Tie – Jessica Alba and Scarlet Johansson - I was thinking about this the other day while I was checking Alba off the list of girls I am attracted to (The Jay does not date girls with baggage. And by “baggage” I mean “intentional career-boosting celeb babies fathered by doofy civilians”), when was the last time either girl gave pop culture anything worthwhile beyond an occasional sex-A magazine photo spread? Match Point belonged to Woody Allen. And The Prestige was about Bale and Jackman. Lost in Translation was nearly five years ago. As for Alba, she was the worst thing about a bad FF sequel. She did a Dane Cook movie this year. Which, hello, pretty much forces me to stricken from the record her bra and panties work in Idle Hands. And she refused to go topless playing a stripper in a graphic novel adaptation. In my boy mind, they are both dead to me until one of them drops an intentional nipple in an indie flick or I get more from them than lame-ass Paul Walker action flicks and sub par Woody Allen movies.
THE “WHO CARES?” AWARD FOR THE MOVIE ABSOLUTELY NO ONE WANTED TO SEE
Rush Hour 3 - Did anyone in the world need more of this nonsense? Did anyone in the world even notice than Chris Tucker dropped off the face of the Earth? Does anyone in the world really care about the words coming out of their mouths?
THE OFFICIAL “JANEANE GAROFALO PLEASE FIRE YOUR AGENT RIGHT NOW, OR AT THE VERY LEAST, PLEASE STOP SAYING YES TO EVERY SINGLE MOVIE OFFER YOU GET” AWARD
Nicolas Cage - I’ve already written at length about the CageMatch this year, so I’ll keep this brief. Nic should only make really absurd indie movies and National Treasure sequels. Any time someone asks him to play anyone with long hair, superpowers, a dysfunctional family not played for laughs, or a guy that has to say the words “Why’d it get burned?”, he should run the other way. Fast. Fast enough to rip his toupee off.
THE BEEN THERE, DONE THAT AWARD FOR BEING THERE AND HAVING DONE THAT
The Heartbreak Kid - Yes yes, we get it Ben Stiller, you are neurotic and awkward with insanely hot, out of your league girls. Stop complaining about having to bang a batshit crazy Malin Akerman before you turn into the Simian-looking older man version of Zach Braff. And as for the Farrelly Brothers, unless Matt Damon has a mortgage payment and agrees to a Stuck On You sequel, ya’ll can STFU and put down the movie camera. Gross out comedies haven’t been popular since Jason Biggs. And Jason Biggs was never popular.
BEST INTERSPECIES EROTICA SCENE
Phillip Seymour Hoffman doggstyling Marissa Tomei, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead - More on this in a moment…
BEST EXCUSE TO WILLINGLY HAND OVER TEN DOLLARS
Tie – Keri Russell in Waitress and Megan Fox in Transformers - My number one celebrity crush (despite having a half civilian half celebrity baby… a celivibaby?), was beyond reason fantastic playing a small town pie maker. I could watch her whisk chocolate for eight life times. And I could listen to her banter with Nathan Fillion in that wonderfully lyrical cadence until I ruined the spindles on my ears like a ten year old VHS player.
BEST USE OF GRATUITOUS (BUT COMPLETELY LAUDED BY EVERY GEEK ON THE INTERNET) NUDITY BY A BIG NAME ACTRESS THAT EVERY MALE UNDER FORTY HAS BEEN DYING TO SEE NAKED
Marissa Tomei, Before the Devil Knows Your Dead - She was always a hottie, but never in that “I MUST see her nipples immediately” kind of way. She was more sultry sexy. Jersey sexy. The kind of sexy where we dug seeing her in purple lycra showing how her biological clock is “ticking like this” or sweetly falling for Christian Slater and his untamed pig heart, but never where we would drive twenty miles out of our way on the rumor that she went topless in a Gothic Southern flick directed by Sam Raimi. So how were we to know how utterly delicious she looked without her clothes on? And after all these years, even! Her body was so smokin hot its mere presence negated the retina-searing image PSH throw his freckled ass all over the medium shot. Hell, it might be the only acceptable reason to ever see PSH’s ass. Lemme put it this way… Marissa Tomei in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead was eight Megan Fox’s hotter than Diane Lane in Unfaithful. True Story.
BEST REASON TO HAVE YOUR OWN POP CULTURE SITE TO MAKE FUN OF STUFF
Getting to drop the post title “Alvin and the Shitmunks” and make my mom laugh at it.
THE 2007 FILM I WILL NEVER EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE SEE. EVER.
1. Shooter - Marky Mark + Smart Action x Kate Mara in a see-thru shirt = The Very Definition of Awesome Sunday Afternoon TNT New Classic.
2. Superbad - “Fellashe” + The Jay = Overused movie quote of the year.
3. Ocean’s Thirteen - George Clooney’s Stache / No Julia Roberts x Matt Damon’s Nose – Don Cheadle in an Evel Knievel costume = Crap in a can, that threequel rocked!
4. Balls of Fury - Maggie Q in booty shorts + Christopher Walken imitating Christopher Walken = A missed opportunity for greatness, but thanks all the same for giving Jason Scott Lee some work.
5. Shoot Em Up - Clive Owen with guns + Monica Bellucci with tits + Paul Giamatti with villainy = Geek Splooge.
THE FIVE WORST PIECES OF CRAP I SAW IN 2007
1. Spider-Man 3.
3. The Reaping
4. Ghost Rider
5. License To Wed
THE JAY’S TOP TEN MOVIES OF 2007
2. No Country For Old Men
3. The Bourne Ultimatum
4. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
7. The Darjeeling Limited
8. Gone Baby Gone
10. There Will Be Blood
The most curious and wonderful thing happened to me last week. But first, a lead up…
My group and I decided to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on opening night at the Mann Chinese 6 (we chose the small theater instead of the giant Grauman’s because we wanted stadium seating). That day happened to be a phenomenally busy one for me. Eight hours of my day job that were abnormally packed, my lunch hour consisted of running around the Valley catching up on errands. After work I hit up a local wine tasting I had been meaning to try for some time ($1 Wednesdays at Vendome. It’s beyond worth it. I’m now a regular Wednesday resident. I walk in and they throw me a Cheers greeting. “JAAAAAY”.). So I raced from work to get to the wine tasting so I’d have enough time to taste, then grab dinner, and then hit the theater. I get to the wine tasting just fine, dig in to some great Chardonnay’s and try to plan my next move.
You see, I also needed to meet up with my best friend A-Train, who was delivering me my everyday shoes that I left in his car after we went white-water rafting for my birthday, a few days before (P.S. It was awesome. We even capsized in a class-three rapid. I was so Kevin Bacon in The River Wild. A-Train was my moronic sidekick, John C. Reilly.). So the situation was this: its 7:30, the movie starts at 8:30, I need to drive from North Hollywood over the hill to the heart of Hollywood, meet A-Train and grab my shoes, find dinner, eat, and meet my group at the theater. Also, I’m slightly buzzed form the awesome Vendome vino. I thrive on time constraints, so I wasn’t too worried. That is, until I got into Hollywood. I had forgotten that the ESPY Awards were being filmed at the Hollywood & Highlands complex that night (where the theater is located), and in response to the event, all access routes to the complex had been shut down. There was gridlock everywhere. I suddenly saw my chances of eating and getting my shoes back (a necessity as I’m trying to rehab a bum ankle and need the shoes for that end) going up in flames.
I struggled to get through the cabal of frustrated cars. Slowly but surely, and with enough time to find food and meet A-Train, I swooped into the complex, parked my Man-UV (it’s a Baby Blue Honda CRV and thus needs the testosterone qualifier), and was on my feet and mobile by 8:05pm. A-Train, however, was coming in from Westwood and was waylaid by the everyday traffic in West Hollywood and the added impact from the ESPY’s. Since roads were blocked off we had to try Plans B-Q to get him to a place where I could meet him. We set the location (a sidestreet that required a seven minute walk from the complex) and I waited for him to tell me he was close enough for me to set out. In the meantime, I tried to find food. All of the food places, though, were closed, closing or only accepting cash (I never carry around cash, because if I have it, I spend it). So I’m racing through the crowded complex, navigating through C-list athletes, skanks all skanked up to try and hook a C-list athlete and an above-normal amount of tourists, riled up at the prospect of snapping a digi pic of the LT of the Indy Colts (a quality sighting if there ever was one).
It’s now 8:15 and counting, I have no food and A-Train is still minutes away. Choosing on the fly to just suck it up and have a theater dinner (hot dog and a water now, toilet time and sit-ups later), I decided to race out to the meeting point so I’d have enough time to race back to the theater and not miss previews. A quick five-minute jog through the ESPY holding area (is that Jim Belush? Might have been. Didn’t care), and through the streets of H-Wood and I was at the meeting spot. A-Train rolled through minutes later, I yoinked my kicks and set feet to pavement. 8:27 and I’m finally in the lobby of the theater. My cell is blowing up, my friends wanting to know my ETA, but I ignore it and focus on willing the slow concession stand workers to fill the damn sodas faster so I can grab my unidentifiable meat in a bun, get to my seat and breathe for the first time in 90 minutes.
The worker finally sloths her way through the order of guy in front of me and I’m throwing my list at her before the guy is out of my way. She molasses her way to the hot dog window and procures me the awful item, snails over to the water area and gets confused by the size of the water bottle I asked for (that being “the one that will get you back here faster”), and then finally baby steps’ the credit card transaction. I’m free. I grab all of my gear (the shoes, the dog, the water, my dignity), pitch my ticket at the taker, find my group in the dark, sit down, say my hellos and apologies and begin hyper-speed eating my hot dog because 1) it smells like ass and I don’t want it to linger through the movie and ruin my groups experience, and 2) I’m so hyped up I don’t even realize I’m going this fast. Fourteen Harry Potter-ripoff trailers later (seriously, it looked like every studio in town puked up Chronicles of Narnia and slapped a title on it), I had blasted through my dog, stolen my buddy’s milk duds, hydrated and thankfully, stopped moving.
And that’s when it hit me. I was so busy getting through my life that I didn’t even remember what I was doing there in the first place. I was about to watch the new Harry Potter movie.
A feeling of such wonder and excitement passed through me. I couldn’t even sit still! Some movies you are excited to see (Oceans 13), others you cannot wait to see (Transformers), but then there are some that are so important to you, whether due to tradition or impact on your life, that it literally floors you when the reality hits that you are in the theater and the movie is about to start. I had that feeling with each of the Star Wars Prequels. I had it with the latest Die Hard. And I had it and then some with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Butterflies in my stomach (which might have just been the hot dog performing a coup-de-tat on my intestines), a big ass smile on my face and two hours of wonder waiting in front of me. It doesn’t get much better than that.
And as a bonus, the movie just happened to be great. My least favorite of the books, but probably my second favorite movie (Azkaban is still the tits for me). Great interpersonal moments between Harry, Ron and Hermione ( I especially liked the understated way they handled Harry’s growing anger problems), amazing special effects in the climactic Ministry battle, and some quality hottie time with a near-of-age Emma Watson, the pre-approved Katie Leung (Cho Chang), and surprising gonna-be-off-the-hook hottie Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley). I had such low expectations because I disliked the book so much that I was floored how awesome the movie turned out to be. Other favorite things about the movie: the overhead shot of Harry and Dudley running through the wheat field, “I must not tell lies”, all the meaningful looks Ginny throws at Harry, Fred and George’s exit from Hogwarts, Voldemort on the train platform, the entirety of Gary Oldman and Alan Rickman, and of course, “LOOK AT ME!”
Walking out of the theater, I knew I was back in the Harry Potter fold, a place I hadn’t been since I finished the sixth-book (the best of the series) a year and a half ago. A place I remember so fondly. I needed to get my head back in the world fast, so I immediately went home and started reading Half Blood Prince, eager to refresh myself in time for Book 7. I scorched through the 643 pages in a matter of days, enjoying the book just as much now as I did the first time. I even got emotional in two places, 1) when Harry kisses Ginny after Gryffindor won the Quidditch Cup without him (I was like “Yeah boy! Get yours, Harry!”), and 2) when Snape dropped the Avada Kedavra on Dumbledore. I knew it was coming and yet I still teared up. Such is the emotional effect these characters have on me.
Like many millions of other people, Harry Potter holds a special place in my heart. I found the books by accident. I was a sophomore in college, the third book had just barely come out, and the series had not yet broken through to the mainstream. I had read a review in EW and was intrigued, but not having read the books I didn’t think much of it. I picked up the first book on a whim, cracked it open one night and blazed through it in a matter of hours. I was hooked, lined and sinkered. I immediately set my quest to find books 2 and 3. The local bookstores didn’t have them so I went to the campus library. Now, I’ve been looked down on before, but never in my life have I ever been condescended to quite so douchebaggily as when the clerk/pretentious English Lit Major tried to “help” me find Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban. Everyone else in the place needed to find a textbook or a crucial biography or science study. I was looking for a children’s book. And the guy didn’t let me forget it (“Can you please spell… Azkaban for me.”). I raced up and down the eight floors of the library, FINALLY finding one copy of part two in a remote area of the second floor. I felt like Indiana Jones reaching the idol in the beginning of Raiders. Now I just needed to avoid the flying arrows, big ass rolling boulder, and all the snobby library attendants and I’d be on the outside, safe to go read my “children’s book”. I made it out, and the effort was worth it.
I was hanging out with a lot of English Majors at the time and they never missed an opportunity to give me shit about my reading selection. “You’re reading a book about a boy wizard who plays sports on a broom? What was your high school GPA, again?” And I was like: “Whatever, you pale-faced dick. Go wipe your glasses and get back to reading your D.H. Lawrence and never getting any, while I read my kick ass magic book and bang my hottie girlfriend. And it’s not a broom it’s a Firebolt, bitch!” I took my flaming with my head held high, proud that I was reading a book series that made me happy. And I was vindicated a year later when the world woke up and went crazy for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Nobody gave me shit anymore. Because they were all struggling to catch up. I was there opening day, sitting with a group of eight year-olds on the floor of a Santa Barbara Borders, all of us lapping up the events of the Tri-Wizard Tournament. It felt great to be amongst kids who were reading instead of playing video games. It felt great to be on the forefront of a pop culture event that I had found on my own before it all began (I felt the same way when I saw The Killers perform two months before “Somebody Told Me” broke and just knew that explode like a supernova, get overplayed and turn into crazy poseurs a year later.). And it felt great just to be reading something I liked, after being forced to read countless books I hated just to satisfy my UCSB general-ed requirements (though to be fair, the film books were a disappointment as well).
The great HP memories didn’t end there. Summer of 2004 found me hungrily (though eventually frustratingly) devouring Order of the Phoenix. The stand-out memory of my time reading that book was when I was staying at a beachfront hotel with my then-girlfriend to celebrate July 4th. She was asleep in bed, a place I should have been, but instead I was in the bathroom, quietly turning the pages, unable to join the beautiful naked girl in bed ten feet away, because I needed to see if Harry would at long last kiss Cho Chang. He did and I went back to bed. She asked me where I’d been and I lied and told her I wasn’t feeling well. You can’t always defend (or explain) the things you love.
Harry Potter also helped heal a fractured history with my older brother. We had our differences and objections for a variety of reasons, but with childhood long gone and both of us now adults and facing the real world, we were looking for ways to smooth things over. My brother started listening to the HP audio tapes, and eventually became a bigger Potter geek and me. We’ve had some great conversations over the years trying to decipher how the story will end. There’s not a lot we used to be able to talk about, 80’s WWF, white wine and The West Wing were pretty much the list, but Harry Potter gave us one more thing. And it was a big step on the road to our recovery as loving brothers (and we have a lot to talk about now).
The Harry Potter hits keep coming: my little brother dressed up as Harry for Halloween one year and looked totally awesome, I chose HP4 as my recommended Turkey Day Movie Choice back in 1995, I looked like the cool Uncle to my adolescent cousins when I matched their Harry-speak word for word. I even wrote a well-received ten-minute play about the release of Book 7 just last week. The crowd of geeks ate up the Potter love; my lead actress even told me that playing a Harry Potter fanatic was the most fun she’s ever had on stage. My love of Harry Potter gave her that moment.
And now I find myself on the eve of Book 7 Day, the last time I will ever wait for a new Harry Potter adventure (I think); the end of my long, happy journey is in sight. The anticipation of having the book in my hands, the excitement of turning the first page and stepping back into that wonderfully rich world, and the paranoia of worrying if I’ll read spoilers and ruin the experience, all these emotions are swimming through me, and my heart and mine are doing what they can to keep up. As a completist I’m glad I have been able to follow the story from start to finish. As a fan I’m both happy and sad to the see how it ends. And as a movie lover I can’t wait to see what Deathly Hollows will look like on-screen (not to mention Half-Blood Prince). But most of all I am thankful to have had Harry Potter in my life. To have been a part of this once-in-a generation cultural event. To have something so pure and enjoyable in common with so many people. To have something to look forward to at the movies. To have something to defend to the elitist book snobs. But mostly, just to have something good to read.
For those reasons and million more, I am proud to say I am a Harry Potter fan. I am thankful for Chris Columbus for casting Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, and for setting up the world so perfectly. I am thankful for Daniel Kloves and his deft touch in adapting the first four books. I am thankful for all the people involved in the making of the movies and the publishing of the books. And I am eternally thankful to J.K. Rowling for creating something so simple, yet profound. For always striving to make the books more eloquent. For never dumbing down the content when the mainstream picked up on it. For sticking to her principals and willing this entity into existence. For giving us all something to love.
And most of all, for giving us the boy who lived.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I do believe I have a book to read…