The Guidelines: First viewings only. I count any movie in theaters, on DVD, or shown on TV (though miniseries lasting more than 3 hours are filed under the "tv commentary" tag and not listed here. Bold means I absolutely loved it, italics mean I greatly enjoyed and would recommend it, plain text indicates that it was average to just okay, and
Annual Goal: 50.
1. Go, 1999, R, 1:43 [1/3]
They air some weird movies on late night TV...but there were a number of delightful actors in it, so as long as I was bored I stuck it out. The best part, though, is (spoiler alert!) how everything turned out well in the end. Which kind of made the whole movie pointless, and yet hilarious in retrospect.
2. Toy Story 3, 2010, G, 1:43 [7/15]
(OH MY GOD I WATCHED A THING) Wonderful. Not quite so wonderful as the other two, since I'm still smarting over the things I need to fix, but definitely the most/only appealing animated movie produced in the last 5-8 years.
3. An Unfinished Life, 2005, PG-13, 1:48 [7/18]
Jennifer Lopez has no business being anywhere near a Wyoming ranch setting in the middle of...oh, gosh, that scenery is so pretty that I just hypnotized myself into watching the whole thing. And granted, it felt a bit like an unfinished story, with all sorts of little sharp rises that never had any particular consequential payoff, but I liked most of the characters and it was surprisingly arresting. Small towns and rural areas make for stories with the best heart.
4. Freedom Writers, 2007, PG-13, 2:02 [8/14]
Not exactly the most inspiring teacher story ever. Her personal life falls apart in stupid, ridiculous ways that cause me to hate her pathetic students. On bright side, Patrick Dempsey makes a very dreamy husband, which is really the only reason I watched it.
5. The Women, 2008, PG-13, 1:54 [8/22]
What started as a promisingly amusing chick flick seemed to get lost about halfway through, forgetting about Eva Mendes and wandering off in an extra-random, extra-boring tangent about Mrs. Haine's soul-searching or something, I don't know, it was decent and then suddenly it was so bad. I don't know how it is possible to squander so many great actresses at once.
6. Bride and Prejudice, 2004, PG-13 for some odd reason, 2:09 [8/22]
Blindingly bright costumes and Bollywood dancing are totally the key to P&P: The Indian Musical. The other key is Naveen Andrews, who was not in this movie enough but deftly stole the show as Indian Bingley when he was. Tons of fun. Another fun surprise: this movie is the most chaste thing you will ever see. There is no kissing anywhere. Everybody hugs! Even at weddings! It's kind of awesome.
Note to self: 90% of indie movies are terrible. If a major motion picture studio doesn't want it, there's probably a good reason. This film's reason is that the cover says it's about a homeless girl and a dog, excellent, but then suddenly it's rated R for language and the dog disappears for much of the film. The most glaring problem is that the movie seems to be left half finished. It ends right where the story should be kicking into high gear. End result: WTF? Maybe on paper it was a good concept, but it wound up looking like a film major's final project.
8. Made of Honor, 2008, PG-13, 1:41 [8/27]
Language and raunch, augh, augh. But McDreamy cuddles, babytalks and bestows kisses on all sorts of cute dogs, and Major McBadass (shown here as a ruggedly perfect Scotsman) isn't too bad either, so there are reasons to watch it.
9. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 2009, PG, 2:33 [8/30]
HP > all movies in general, though it was my least favorite of the franchise.
10. Penelope, 2008, PG, 1:30 [9/2]
James McAvoy, check you out being non-horrible! (defensiveness on behalf of picked-on women is a good look) Surprisingly lovely tale, and a good complement to Enchanted. Love the cracktastic blend of New York and London settings & accents with a timeline nobody can quite pinpoint.
After taking way too long for anything to happen, everything that could be good about this movie is ruined by the fact that the story is shown through a guy's handheld camera. Is that supposed to make me feel like I'm part of it? Because it just made me feel like I was wearing blinders and was intensely annoying. Just like all the non-Lizzy-Caplan characters, who I was way too anxious to see killed off ASAP. In other words, I badly misjudged this one. At least we got to see the monster?
12. Wild Hogs, 2007, PG-13, 1:40 [9/18]
Silly and entertaining romp, as expected, with much star power. Not expected: being scarred for life by John C. McGinley's brief part. Really should have watched this before I fell in love with Scrubs.
13. Inkheart, 2009, PG, 1:36 [9/26]
Oh my God, that was AWESOME. I was just in a Brendan Fraser mood at first, having initially shunned the dickens out of this film, but then instead of being predominately fantasy, the predominant theme was more like "books, and especially OLD BOOKS, are amazing!" Plus, he had a(n awesomely plucky and adventurous) daughter. And tragically-separated-from-his-wife motivation. And a wonderful sidekick. Plus there was a ferret, and Toto, and Helen Mirren being the woman I want to be when I grow up. Aside from the most upsetting scene of book destruction ever witnessed, I LOVE THIS FILM WITH ALL OF MY HEART. Dear Self, Brendan Fraser will never steer you wrong.
14. Nim's Island, 2008, PG, 1:36 [9/26]
Imagine if the Swiss Family Robinson were Abigail Breslin and her father, and the pirates were a cruise ship. It's like that, at least part of the time, with an adorableness multiplication factor of a zillion. Stealing the show away from even Abigail? Selkie the sea lion. Apparently I need constant reminding that many live-action kid's movies are completely wonderful. If I'd seen this when I was 10 I bet it would have been one of my favorites.
15. Confessions of a Shopaholic, 2009, PG, 1:52 [9/29]
Will never live down the humiliation of initially mistaking her for Amy Adams, which is a pity, because aside from some deeply embarrassing moments in the movie itself, this was like tailor-made for me in the rom com department.
16. Flicka, 2006, G, 1:34 [9/30]
ALL THE PRETTY HORSES. ♥♥♥ Oh, that was much better than the book. And I love the book, but this Flicka is SO beautiful and Katie is everything I want horse-crazy girls to be, and it's a gentler tale all around (which did not stop me from so much indulgent crying). Bonus, Danny Pino is randomly a cowboy. Hot.
17. School Ties, 1992, PG-13, 1:47 [10/1]
WOW, I can't believe how much I enjoyed that. Brendan Fraser in a serious role is kind of amazing, especially if he maybe punches some people over ethnic slurs in the process.
18. Dear Frankie, 2005, PG-13, 1:44 [10/1]
It wanted to be heartwarming, but it was just so SLOW. By the time Gerard Butler showed up even the Scottish charm had worn thin.
Yeah. It's actually more cheesy and melodramatically acted than the title suggests. It was just so LAUGHABLY BAD. Lone redeeming factors: a pretty horse and a prettier girl with enviable hair who really should be mainstream by now. Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to take this script and make it better in my head.
20. The Road, 2009, R, 1:25 [10/16]
I've been seeking a good (zombie-free) post-apocalypse survival story for nearly a year now -- thank you, this will do nicely. Slow but absorbing, not nearly as boring or gruesome as people said it would be, and with a weirdly optimistic ending for such a grim tone, but whoa, this the perfect setting for my daydream playground to apply to every context ever. Plus, Viggo. ♥
Is "psychological thriller" secret code for SO SLOW, NOTHING HAPPENS OR IS SCARY AT ALL? Such a waste of time, and I didn't even understand what was going on for 90% of it. Right, I'm never watching a Shyamalan film again. Is much better to just watch a theater trailer and then read about the surprise twists online.
22. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, 2009, PG-13, 1:30 [10/23]
Aw, that was actually pretty cute. And had a lot in common with 13 Going on 30 besides just the actress, weirdly. Little sleazier, but with bonus Emma Stone.
23. 10 Things I Hate About You, 1999, PG-13, 1:37 [10/24]
An unfortunate amount of gross humor or language (WHY), but so many pretty people. Especially Kat, Her Excellence with princess hair. Also, my love for Kat/Patrick is off the charts. Way off the charts. "Possible favorite movie couple of all time" off the charts.
24. Baby Mama, 2008, PG-13, 1:36 [11/8]
Huh, that was pretty ridiculous. But other than ever-godawful Amy Poehler, the cast was great (is anyone a more natural mom than Maura Tierney?). With unexpected heartwarming romance for ol' Liz Lemon! I mean Kate.
That was...more ridiculous, in a less fun way. (Maybe sometimes Brendan Fraser can steer you wrong.) I really wanted it to be the half sibling of George of the Jungle, but man, it was not. I normally only give strikethroughs for films that are offensive or infuriating, but this was too unspeakably bad to bear.
26. Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian, 2009, PG, 1:45 [11/10]
Is this only fun on the big screen? Because despite actor love for the people playing Al Capone and Amelia Earhart, this severely lacked magic sparkle. Needs more mini cowboy.
27. The Other Side of Heaven, 2001, PG, 1:53 [11/13]
That was a nice little film with much Pretty Factor (Christopher Gorham as a 1950s Mormon missionary, Anne Hathaway as his pretty poodle-skirt-wearing girl), but I'm not really sure why it was made.
I never realized how dull paranormal activity could be.
29. Dead Poets Society, 1989, PG (really?), 2:08 [11/14]
How have I lived so long without seeing this classic?
30.17 Again, 2009, PG-13, 1:35 [11/14]
Aw, super charmingly amusing! It's also the first time Zac Efron hasn't seemed perpetually 11. Obviously he should play 40 forever. Plus, it was so nice to see Melora Hardin play a relatively sane and accomplished professional again.
31. The Haunting in Connecticut, 2009, PG-13, 1:42 [11/14]
Now THAT is how you do a scary movie. *is now afraid of old houses* With bonus cancer-patient Kyle Gallner.
32. Sydney White, 2007, PG-13, 1:40 [11/22]
I don't understand why I have no recollection of hearing about this film. Sure, the 7 dorks are mostly so distasteful that you understand why they are shunned freaks, but our Prince Charming? Yes, please. It's not outstanding, but Amanda Bynes makes anything fun.
33. The Omen, 2006, R, 1:45 [12/2]
Despite a mostly ludicrous and cracktastic plot, it had its creepy moments (and nice, gruesome deaths). Still, most of the charm came from the high-class caliber of the cast. Especially my newfound love for the pairing of Liev Schreiber/Julia Stiles as the parents, whose surprise chemistry lit up my heart with warmth and sweetness and was the #1 draw. Again, again!
34. Junebug, 2005, R, 1:46 [12/3]
Don't think of it as a movie, per se (especially given how many scenes made me go, "OKAY, SKIP FORWARD"), so much as an excuse to watch Ben McKenzie play a surly, Southern, blue-collar high school dropout and Amy Adams play his pregnant, wide-eyed, totally naive/innocent/adorable Pollyanna-esque wife. Seriously, she's almost more precious here than in Enchanted.
35. Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, 2007, G, 1:33 [12/6]
Yet another cute live-action kids' movie. Magic and whimsy all the way. I may or may not have found it slightly boring, but Natalie Portman finally managed to pick a respectable role instead of her usual self-sabotage.
36. Australia, 2009, PG-13, 2:45 [12/13]
How did that look so average and then turn out SO GOOD? Once horses and cattle became a major plot point, I was ready to follow it anywhere. As for the romance portion, my talent this year seems to be in finding screen couples with mindblowing chemistry. I wanted to watch them forever -- and the film was more than happy to indulge me in everything. I request more rugged cowboy types who commune with horses and save children in their spare time. But would I watch it twice? Hmm.
37. New In Town, 2009, PG-13, 1:36 [12/17]
A fascinating study of my own culture, you betcha. Doncha know, we apparently have wild accents, are obsessed with tapioca, frequently encounter stray cows and/or freeze to death on country roads, and go caroling with our entire neighborhood. (Translation: you want to love it for being set in New Ulm and having Harry Connick Jr. as a fetching widower, but it's so difficult.)
38. Adam, 2009, PG-13, 1:39 [12/18]
Speaking of chemistry -- I think I have just witnessed the perfect screen romance. Its sweet development was pitch-perfect and even though I didn't expect the ending (well, I suppose I wasn't that surprised), not a note felt out of place.
39. Extraordinary Measures, 2010, PG, 1:46 [12/20]
Heartwarming and heartwrenching by turns, Brendan Fraser hereby qualifies for a place among the best fictional dads of all time. He works so well with kids it's ridiculous.
40. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1), 2010, PG-13, 2:47 [12/27]
Epic as promised.
SUMMARY: 40!!! So close to the lifetime record (43), in half the time, without hardly trying. I'm still not clear why I avoided films for the first half of the year; it just kinda happened when I quit the library. But boy, so many strikeouts. I was not discriminating in my picks at all. Or maybe I'm just judging everyone more harshly in an attempt to look fair this year. Who knows! Anyway, the only kind of statistics I feel worth mentioning this year: 7.5% G, 27.5% PG, 50% PG-13 and 15% R.