2010 Calvin Awards: Worst Picture
February 10, 2010
Award shows usually do their jobs well at pointing out what truly been the best of the year in their given areas (notable exceptions: the Grammys and the People's Choice Awards). Where they almost all fall down is in pointing out the parts of their industries that suck. Sure, it's great to know what you need to see in a year, but just as important is knowing what to avoid. That's where the Calvin Award for Worst Picture steps in, to point out the truly awful from this past year at the movies.
First place goes to one of our favorite whipping boys here (now that Uwe Boll films aren't getting wide releases anymore, that is), in Michael Bay and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The sequel to his remarkably-not-terrible-for-a-toy-commercial from 2007, Revenge of the Fallen turned up the excess to 11, creating incoherent messes of CGI and explosions that, quite frankly, induced headaches more than entertained. Add in a "make it up as we go" plot, some truly irritating human performances and a shameless racial stereotyped pair of robots that would make George Lucas blush and you have a truly baffling experience. And if not for Avatar, this would have been the highest grosser of 2009. What's wrong with you people?
Two horror remake/sequels are next up, in Friday the 13th and Halloween II. Bay makes an appearance here, as he's one of the producers of the first film and the brainchild behind the idea of remaking every successful (and non-successful) horror franchise from the '70s and '80s, so I feel justified in hanging this on him. For some reason, Hollywood just won't let these movie serial killers just die, instead just reinventing them as grislier and gorier, replacing even the modicum of suspense these films once had with pointless stings.
Rob Zombie takes the fall for Halloween II, moving from his sort of tolerable effort in Halloween into a completely unpleasant experience this time around. Even horror fans, normally a pretty stern group, seem to have had enough, as Halloween II made just $33 million and Friday the 13th redefined one-weekend phenomena, making just 1.5 times its opening weekend.
Is there anything sadder than the comedy without jokes? Other types of films can fail at their main goals but still be slightly entertaining, but 90 minutes ore more of "comedy" without anything to laugh at is simply torture. That's what we get with our next nominees, Year One and Paul Blart: Mall Cop. While Harold Ramis's attempt to mine comedy out of Biblical times wasn't entirely a failure in that department (Paul Rudd and David Cross do yeoman's work and there's a funny exchange about how you build a room that no one's allowed to enter), the bad stuff was so devoid of even potential laughter that it makes you wonder why thought this could possibly work.
In the case of Paul Blart, our reaction is admittedly a bit of a counter-attack against the inexplicable popularity of this movie (but bear in mind we actually have to bother to see things to vote against them), a bloated sitcom of a film that made us feel like Spalding Grays in a Rick Dees world.
Sixth spot goes to the second film in the abominable Twilight series, New Moon. Twilight escaped our list last year in large part because we couldn't bear to bring ourselves to take it seriously enough as a movie to see it, but the greater exposure of the sequel suckered a few of us in, to our eternal regrets. Our main discovery is that Stephenie Meyer's passive-aggressive love story that destroys the point of the vampire metaphor doesn't get any better when you add in werewolves. Might I suggest trying Frankenstein's monster?
Superhero films fare poorly (well?) on this list this year, with only the unwieldy-titled X-Men Origins: Wolverine on it, which tried to flesh out/reboot the Wolverine character. Shoddy CGI work was its worst offense, but it squandered some really effective characters (what happened with Deadpool is criminal) and somehow managed to throw under the plotting of X-Men 3.
Bearing in mind that Borat was one of our favorite movies of 2007, the appearance of Bruno on this list pains us somewhat. Sacha Baron Cohen maintains his genius for satire but misapplies it here with his militantly gay Austrian fashionista. The portion where he takes on the fascination with celebrity worship is spot on, but the rest of the movie is simply shock value and all the more disappointing for it.
The insta-parody movie phenomenon may have finally run its course, with none from a Wayans or the unholy duo of Friedberg and Seltzer due in 2010, but it had one last gasp in 2009 with Dance Flick, a lazy conglomeration of non-jokes about films like Step Up and Save the Last Dance. Hey, people who make these films, here's a movie trend to notice – your movies all suck!
Wrapping up our top ten is Knowing, a nonsensical numerologically-obsessed Nic Cage nightmare of a film that made us question if we were wrong in thinking Alex Proyas really did have talent.
Just missing the list this year were the other security guard comedy Observe and Report, the culturally-backwards Post Grad, the maudlin My Sister's Keeper, Sandra Bullock's non-Oscar nominated blockbuster this year, The Proposal and the high-finance action conspiracy film The International. (Reagen Sulewski/BOP)
Best Breakthrough Performance
Best Overlooked Film
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
||Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
||Friday the 13th
||Paul Blart: Mall Cop
||The Twilight Saga: New Moon
||X-Men Origins: Wolverine
||Observe and Report