#2. Magic Mike
Especially attentive readers might remember that I listed Magic Mike as my favorite movie of 2012 in the roundup list of such things that Cracked publishes every year. If you read it, you should also realize that I was being sarcastic. Magic Mike is a terrible movie, but much like M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening, its terribleness is also unintentionally hilarious.
People didn't seem to take it that way, though. For example, while being interviewed about award nominations of her own, actress Rachel Weisz was asked who she thought should have received more attention for their work in 2012. One of her answers was Cody Horn, the lead actress in Magic Mike. She wasn't joking, apparently. Here's a quote:
"She wasn't acting. She was real. She was totally real."
While I do believe that to be somewhat true, I think the "not acting" part has more to do with ability than anything. Throughout the entire film, Horn seems to have one job, and that's to stare blankly into space.
This is not what our forefathers had in mind when they first yelled "Action!"
If there were an Oscar for the most aggressive attempt to not act at all in a supporting role, Cody Horn would win uncontested. You know how some movie trailers show every good scene of a movie? This trailer contains every instance of Cody Horn breaking from her trademark stare of disinterest in Magic Mike.
I doubt you could string together two solid minutes of footage showing Cody Horn looking any way other than borderline catatonic. It takes a lot to make Channing Tatum seem like the one with all the personality, but time and again, she somehow makes it happen.
Who doesn't smile at a strip club?
That doesn't make it a good movie, though, and it certainly doesn't make it Oscar-worthy. Nevertheless, all sorts of award buzz kicked up around Magic Mike thanks to Matthew McConaughey's portrayal of Dallas, the club owner/team coach who inserts himself as the "villain" of the movie when he demands that Channing Tatum wear a sailor costume onstage instead of the ATF agent ensemble he's got the gall to think he's going to go out there and dance in. Not with all those Navy wives in the audience, Muchacho!
The Oscar buzz was baffling to me, because every Matthew McConaughey performance is exactly the same. The Lincoln Lawyer was a cowboy hat and leather vest away from being Magic Mike. Yet for some reason, this particular performance got the critics all worked up. If I had to put my finger on why Matt Mac's performance in this flick is so beloved, it's likely because actors give their best performance when they're playing a role that closely resembles who they really are as a person.
Magic Mike is as close as most of us will ever come to knowing the real Matthew McConaughey.
#1. Silver Linings Playbook
Jennifer Lawrence won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Silver Linings Playbook, and she deserved it, because her presence is probably the only thing that kept this movie from being written off as the run-of-the-mill chick flick that it is. Which is fine, by the way. I'm secretly a huge fan of chick flicks. That doesn't mean you can show me 27 Dresses and convince me it's Citizen Kane, though.
It's almost Citizen Kane at best.
Yes, the movie is severely well acted. Bradley Cooper plays a great crazy person, and Jennifer Lawrence plays Jennifer Lawrence like no one else can. Adding DeNiro's name to the mix gives it even more acting chops legitimacy, even if it's been decades since that's been a valid indicator of a film's quality.
So, fine, I'll concede those points, but that doesn't change the fact that it's a stupid fucking movie. Heads up, here come some spoilers, if you care about being alerted to that sort of thing.
The entire climax of the film hinges on a bet DeNiro (Bradley Cooper's father, but only in the movie) places on a dance contest that Lawrence and Cooper are supposed to participate in as a team. He'd lost a ton of money earlier betting on a Philadelphia Eagles game (as most people do) that Bradley Cooper attended with him as a "good luck charm." DeNiro plays a compulsive gambler with a fierce superstitious streak. It's a movie about mental illness, you see.
Which is fitting, because you're crazy if you think this movie isn't dumb as shit.
When all hell breaks loose and the Eagles lose, DeNiro gets all lathered up over the fact that Cooper has been skipping games to practice for this dance contest. That's when Jennifer Lawrence swoops in like Superwoman and diffuses the situation by pointing out that his beloved Eagles actually perform better when Cooper is at dance practice with her. He falls for it and not only gives Cooper the go ahead to participate in the contest but also ends up placing a side bet with his bookie that if the Eagles beat the Cowboys and Team Lawrence/Cooper get at least a five from the judges in their dance contest, he's off the hook for the money he lost betting on the previous game.
Does that sound dumb? That's because it is. For one thing, both of the lead characters are depressed shut-ins who literally have no responsibilities outside of entertaining us by looking adorable onscreen. No jobs or anything of the sort. So why in the fuck can Jennifer Lawrence only practice her dance moves when the Eagles are playing? Is that the only time the dance studio they use is open for business? Nope. The "dance studio" is a room at her house.
Dance practice by appointment only.
And by "house" I mean "the guest house behind her mother's house." Like I said, zero responsibilities. The only reason their dance practice has to happen on football Sunday is because it makes for a convenient way to set up that pivotal bet.
Speaking of that, everything about the bet is dumb, too. This bookie has just taken DeNiro for a huge sum of cash and is now willing to risk it all on the belief that Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper won't get a five from the judges in a dance contest? Did I mention that's a five out of 10? Not five out of five, which would actually make for a bet I imagine most bookies would take. No, five out of 10. Anyone who's ever watched Olympic figure skating or high-diving (yes and yes, religiously) knows that you can break an ankle or crack your skull on the diving platform and still limp to the finish with a five. You get a five for showing up.
Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images
They weren't even watching!
No bookie on the planet takes that bet and no one builds a dance studio in their goddamn house so they can only practice two hours per week, conveniently in line with the NFL's always fluctuating schedule of start times. That's absurd. All of it.
Critics ate that shit up though. Roger Ebert described the ridiculous series of circumstances listed above as "ingenious" when he applied that lofty label to the screenplay in his review of the movie. He also called it "so good, it could almost be a terrific old classic."
Reading that kind of makes me wonder if I even watched the same movie. I know I did, though ...
... because it's literally the only place I've seen Chris Tucker in at least 10 years.