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The Big Board
for Michael Bentley

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Championship Contenders
1. Pan's Labyrinth
    A powerful, visually stunning, and highly imaginative fantasy. This is what movies are about.
2. A Scanner Darkly
    Like a magnificent watercolor painting, it is a fascinating, engrossing, and highly impressive work.
3. The Departed
    With Jack, Matt, Leo and Marty it's almost as awesome as you might imagine. It loses some steam and focus near the end though.
4. The Queen
    A fascinating, and even-handed, account of the aftermath of Princess Di's death. You'll be hard-pressed to find a more well-acted movie.
5. United 93
    You know what happens, but the respectful and noble United 93 is thoroughly intense and frantic from start to finish.
6. Children of Men
    Very surprised this isn't getting more awards attention, it is a great futuristic what-if.
7. Cars
    The best animated movie since The Incredibles. A heart-warming story with good voice characterizations and exquisite details in the artwork.

Bowl Bound
8. Little Miss Sunshine
    Just like National Lampoon's Vacation, but funnier, sweeter, and smarter.
9. The Last King of Scotland
    Two outstanding lead performances, especially when they are on the screen at the same time.
10. Snakes on a Plane
    Pure fun; you'll have a smile on your face the whole time.
11. An Inconvenient Truth
    Whoever thought a movie-length slide show could be so entertaining? A film everyone should see.
12. Who Killed the Electric Car?
    It'll infuriate you, it's sad at times, and at it's best you'll feel very guilty.
13. Slither
    Provides a healthy dose of gore, humor, and scares. Less light-hearted than I was expecting, but well worth it if you like horror.
14. The Descent
    A dark, claustrophobic and very scary movie. Sort of like a female (and more horrifying) version of Deliverance.
15. A Prairie Home Companion
    This good, old-fashioned Altman film is a fitting way to go out.
16. Borat
    The inventive project is hysterically funny at times, but has its misses and you wonder whether a couple scenes were staged.
17. The Devil Wears Prada
    Good, biting performances from Streep and Hathaway. Too predictable though.
18. Clerks II
    Gone is the indie charm, but this sequel is still damn funny.
19. This Film Is Not Yet Rated
    An eye-opening account of the censorship, hypocrisy, and secrecy of the MPAA ratings board.
20. Hollywoodland
    The good murder mystery leaves you with more questions than answers. Affleck and Brody are both impressive.
21. Flags of Our Fathers
    Almost a great movie, though some of its parts are too fractured and the ending is a little flat.
22. Babel
    The acting is great and it is technically impressive, though emotionally draining.
23. Sherrybaby
    Maggie Gyllenhaal shows the rough edges, as well as the human side, to a woman that most people would regard as unredeemable.
24. World Trade Center
    A fine movie overall, but it plays things too safe - it's missing something. I miss younger Oliver Stone.
25. Bubble
    A strange movie with an underwhelming ending, but we ultimately wrap ourselves up in the atmosphere of the characters.
26. Feast
    Tries to be something like Evil Dead, but it falls short. The Project Greenlight feature is a genuinely good movie though.

Middle of the Pack
27. Fast Food Nation
    Strong and engrossing first-half seques into a second half that sometimes flails and forgets where or what it is.
28. Thank You for Smoking
    It's a smart, funny, and even warm-hearted look at lobbyists, but not quite as biting as it should have been.
29. Lucky Number Slevin
    It's a stupid title, but Slevin's story is stylish, fun, and well-paced. It tries a little too hard in the end though.
30. Why We Fight
    Very engrossing, often thought-provoking doc but it eventually gets lost in critiquing Iraq rather than wondering why we fight.
31. V for Vendetta
    A solid movie that refreshingly makes you think - something that is usually missing from big budget fare.
32. Inside Man
    Well-paced and exciting heist drama, but could have done without one of the plots.
33. Scoop
    It's a fun and quirky little romance-mystery story.
34. The Illusionist
    Solid film and Norton is great as always, though not as compelling or magical as it could have been.
35. The Hills Have Eyes
    It's a very stylish and creepy horror remake, but with violence that is often unsettling.
36. Poseidon
    If you don't mind a rather mindless popcorn movie that spans the emotions with excitement, humor, terror and tragedy, it might be right up your alley.
37. Invincible
    Pretty predictable and formulaic, but a good time nonetheless.
38. The Prestige
    Too muddled, too long, and too much effort for too little payoff keeps this from being enjoyable.
39. Idiocracy
    A good concept with some funny moments but... it's no Office Space. Sometimes stupid really is stupid.

Coach on the Hot Seat
40. The U.S. vs. John Lennon
    It is a very interesting movie, but feels like an A&E special stretched to film length.
41. Rocky Balboa
    An admirable ode to the first Rocky, but a bit too similar and mediocre in the middle. Still, a nice bookend to the saga.
42. Beerfest
    Beerfest is ridiculously stupid, but it's also quite funny in spots. Not Broken Lizard's best effort, though.
43. The Black Dahlia
    Some exciting and well-filmed moments, but nothing quite comes together in the end. Quite disappointing.
44. Monster House
    Tries to be like an animated cross of The Goonies and The 'Burbs - that's a good thing. But the story turned rather boring and unexciting.
45. Firewall
    There are a few fun moments, and some of the thrills work, but it's little more than ho-hum formulaic action.
46. Beer League
    Its amateurishly stupid at times with its middle-school humor, but still rather fun.
47. Miami Vice
    Visually nice, but still manages to feel uninteresting and almost stale. Falls short of the TV series.
48. My Super Ex-Girlfriend
    It has some funny moments, but it is too slapsticky, too absurd, and the acting too mediocre to be anything close to "super."
49. The Break-Up
    Masquerades as a romantic comedy, but is more drama. It's nasty too. Vince Vaughn is the best thing about it, as usual.
50. X-Men: The Last Stand
    Ratner's X-debut isn't bad, but it's not good either. Rather unoriginal, a bland plot, and generally not much fun.
51. For Your Consideration
    A big swing and a miss. A good idea, but takes a while to get going and just not funny when it does.
52. Bandidas
    The plot is pretty flimsy and stupid, but it does have some nice eye candy.
53. Superman Returns
    A limp effort with a poor plot and mediocre acting. Very disappointing.
54. Marie Antoinette
    The colorful New Wave look and sound can't save it from Dunst, or from being unengaging and uninspired.
55. American Dreamz
    Some inspired moments, but it comes apart fast and the ending is terrible.
56. Freedomland
    Julianne Moore cries and screams her way through a meager and cynical take on race relations.
57. Hoodwinked!
    At first it's a fresh take on the classic children's story, but ends up dragging into a barren story wasteland.

Empty Seats, TV Blackout
58. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
    Has some fun moments, and some pretty good effects, but is ultimately an overlong and aimless mess. Much of it felt like an extended game of Mouse Trap.
59. The Da Vinci Code
    A boring, tiresome, confusing mess that thoroughly wastes its strong cast and interesting premise.
60. 16 Blocks
    To think that Bruce Willis was once one of the world's leading action movie stars.
61. Click
    An interesting idea, with some fun moments, but I couldn't get over how stupid and illogical it often was - even for a Sandler pic.
62. Brick
    Is everything a noir shouldn't be: dull, uninteresting, and tiresome. It's a novel idea, but it lacks a pulse.
63. An American Haunting
    Commits two horror movie sins: it's not very exciting, and it's rather stupid.
64. Lady in the Water
    A well-intentioned fairy tale that devolves into a bumbling, self-indulgent delusion.
65. Hostel
    Atmosphere and tension are completely missing, replaced with gratuitous nudity and gore just for the sake of it.
66. Final Destination 3
    If you've seen either of the first two, you've seen this recycled, mass-produced one too.
67. Date Movie
    Terrible. I long for the days of Leslie Nielsen and the Naked Gun gang.
68. The Benchwarmers
    One of the worst movies I've ever seen. Remarkably unfunny in every way.



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Monday, September 28, 2020
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