|Have You Forgotten Me|
Don't misunderstand me, I am not saying this is a bad thing or that mass production has under-cut art (maybe it has, but that's not the point). Honestly I like the fact that there are more movies but the constant wave of new movies, month after month, year after year, has had a horrible side-effect. As years pass we simply forget some movies. I am not talking about little indie movies that never found an audience or big blockbusters whose formulaic nature make them inherently forgettable (fun but forgettable). I am talking about good movies, movies that people found to some degree or another, that have fallen through the cracks of our memory and all the while USA Network forces us to remember Cameron Diaz's The Sweetest Thing by replaying it every third day (sorry, I'll just never understand how that movie has found a life on cable when it rightly bombed in the theaters - Cameron Diaz and Thomas Jane have less than 0% chemistry in that movie). Well, there are some movies that I see this happening to and I feel the need to intervene. Here are 23 from the last decade:
About a Boy, Minority Report, Dark Blue, Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Man on Fire, King Arthur, I Robot, Layer Cake, Lucky Number Slevin, The Prestige, Turistas, Zodiac, Reign Over Me, Dan in Real Life, Hitman, Definitely Maybe, The Bank Job, Smart People, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Watchmen, Big Fan, The Losers, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.
Honestly, I probably could have thought of 20 more. I am not suggesting these (or the 10 to follow for that matter) are my favorite movies of the last ten years, these are just the one's I liked that I am afraid are in danger of being forgotten and even though you may not see it, I think all of those movies could drift away soon. So, while cable TV makes sure there are some movies, not always good movies, that we wont forget, there are good movies that don't get on cable, end up in the 3 for $10 bin at Best Buy and become forgotten. These 10 movies from the last 10 years should not suffer that fate.
A Mighty Wind (2003)
Best in Show or perhaps Waiting for Guffman might be "laugh out loud" funnier, but none of Christopher Guest's mockumentaries have had the strong emotional beats that A Mighty Wind achieved. The build up toward Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara final number, and the emotion that song produces (see the clip below), is the single best moment in any of Guest's movies. A Mighty Wind may not feel like it is in immediate danger of being forgotten, but while Best in Show still pops up on cable semi-regularly A Mighty Wind's cable pressence is decidedly dropping (the first sure sign of being forgotten). What it does have going for it is that Christopher Guest has developed a rabid fan base who will never forget any of his movies.
Forgotten Danger Level: Yellow (conditions are beginning to deteriorate toward forgotten)
Intolerable Cruelty (2003)
When the Coen Brothers and George Clooney get together magic happens. Clooney is brilliant in O' Brother Where Art Thou? and he is even good in a movie that didn't entirely work, Burn After Reading. Intolerable Cruelty works, and Clooney definitely works in it. A love story about a divorce lawyer and a gold digger (played surprisingly well by Catherine Zeta-Jones) with all the surreal quirkiness you are looking for in a Coen Brothers flick Intolerable Cruelty was the highest grossing Coen Brothers movie ever after its theatrical run (No Country For Old Men passed it handily as did True Grit) but it is falling off of people's radar. Honestly, I probably used the wrong tense in the last sentence.
Forgotten Danger Level: Red (mostly forgotten)
Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
While I very much like both A Mighty Wind and Intolerable Cruelty, I don't think either would make my "Top 10 of the 10 years" list, Stranger Than Fiction would be near the top of it. No doubt it is a writer's movie and there are touches about writing that will resonate more with people who have aspired to being a writer than perhaps to those who have not (when Emma Thompson's character gives her manuscript to Will Ferrell, a manuscript she wrote on a typewriter, well, if you are old enough to have written that way you know what that meant). Still, I haven't known too many people who saw it that didn't like it. And yet, I can't remember the last time I saw Stranger Than Fiction air anywhere. I can't recall the last time I heard anyone other than myself mention it.
Forgotten Danger Level: Orange (better than 50% forgotten)
Of all the movies on here Brick's ... degree of forgotten-ness maybe, has vacillated the most. It didn't get much love in the theaters and then it slowly became a "cult hit" and then that faded a bit over time, but the Joseph Gordon Levitt started to get traction and Brick came back a bit. Still, I can easily see it drop right back off as we move further away from it and that would be a shame. A lot of filmmakers have tried to make a modern noir movie and very few have succeeded. Rian Johnson (who went on to write and direct The Brothers Bloom and the soon to be released Looper) put noir in high school and he made it sing.
note: the trailer below is a Red Band Trailer meaning it has all the colorful language you would get in the movie. Also Brick is available on Netflix Instant if you haven't seen it.
Forgotten Danger Level: Yellow moving to Orange
Hot Rod (2007)
I don't know what kind of career Andy Sandberg will have post SNL. It feels like he is hitching his trailer to Sandler which may be commercially great but creatively bland. The digital shorts on SNL were always best when they played like a surreal parody and Hot Rod is in a similar vein (think Lazer Cats). It is a silly story about a man child who wants to be a stuntman to prove to his dying father that he is a real man (you have to see it to get it). Hot Rod ended up following a somewhat similar pattern to Brick, but it is much further along the "post cult now forgotten" road.
Forgotten Danger Level: Orange but close to Red
Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Who could ever have guessed that the guy who was Daredevil was destined to be a far better director than he ever was an actor. Anyone who has seen Gone Baby Gone knows what I am talking about (The Town was good, but this is amazing). Be forewarned if you have not seen it it is a movie about a child abduction case and it does not hold any punches. Briefly, when The Town was getting some press Gone Baby Gone seemed to be gaining some lasting momentum, but that momentum seems to be dying fast.
Forgotten Danger Level: Orange
Charlie Bartlett (2007)
Robert Downey Jr. is so associated with Tony Stark and Sherlock Holmes that you can forget how good he can be doing, well, anything. His role in Charlie Bartlett as a massively depressed principal whose daughter gets involved with the boy who is causing him problems at school is one of my favorites, not because it is big and showy and funny, but because it is subtle and understated and funny. Kat Dennings is also terrific here as the daughter as is Anton Yelchin as the title character, a rich kid who finds himself kicked out of his private school and enrolled in public school. Of all the movies I have listed this may be the one you could argue can't be forgotten because it has never been remembered. No doubt, Charlie Bartlett is a tweener movie, almost on the movies that everyone missed list but squeaks in here instead do to the fame of its supporting actors.
Forgotten Danger Level: Red ... definitely Red
Neil Marshall is definitely making a name for himself with a certain type of movie/TV fan. The Descent (too popular for this list), Doomsday, Centurion (see my review here) and the Blackwater episode of Game of Thrones are all hailed to some degree or another by fans, well of shows like Game of Thrones. Doomsday is a post-apocalyptic tale starring the always fetching and in this instance bad ass Rhona Mitra. Is it violent? Absolutely. Is it very British? Yup. But it also really good without ever taking itself too seriously.
Forgotten Danger Level: Yellow
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008)
The three best movie soundtracks of all time (not including original scores) are Pulp Fiction, High Fidelity and Nick and Norah. Heck, I'm an old man who hadn't heard of half the bands and I still loved it. The story is a good version of of a story that has been done a bunch of times about young kids roaming NYC at night looking for a surprise concert. Somebody gets too drunk and gets lost. Ex boyfriends and girlfriends are bumped into to keep the erstwhile lovers apart. And in the end they find what they have been looking for and realize it wasn't that important. Like I said, pretty standard, but this one does it well. Side note, this is the second Kat Dennings movie on this list. I really wish she would get back to being the next Catherine Keener instead of the next generic sitcom star.
Forgotten Danger Level: Orange
I don't get the whole Kristen Stewart thing. Having said that, this is the only time it has almost made some sense to me. In some ways Adventureland is a slightly more successful Nick and Norah. They both have plots we've seen before (here we have a standard summer job/summer love plot) and they each seem to rise above the trite effortlessly. Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig are terrific in bit parts and Ryan Reynolds also does a solid job in a supporting role. It is just a movie that works. Sadly, it doesn't seem like it works well enough, even with Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart being the leads, to get a lot of cable air time and is slowly drifting away.
Forgotten Danger Level: Yellow but moving fast to Orange
I have done all that I can. I hope I am wrong, I hope some or all of these movies will survive beyond the 3 for $10 bin at your local video store. But I can't do it alone. Join me and save these films.
How did this become some horrible PSA?!
Truly in conclusion there are two movies that came out in 2011 that must stay off a list like this but seem destined for it - Hanna and Red State. They were my two favorite movies last year but they seem like they are almost forgotten already.
Then again, what do I know, I'm fat.