Joe Queenan has written a Hollywood ripjob piece for the Wall Street Journal that basically says 2010 is the suckiest movie year since…ever. Maybe or maybe not, or (my view) unsupported by the facts. But the best portion of the piece reads as follows:
“Every year, by tacit agreement with the public, Hollywood is expected to produce at least one surprise hit, one out-of-nowhere dark horse or, in a pinch, one cunningly hyped movie that either exhumes a noted actor from the grave or greases the skids so some solid journeyman can ascend to the ranks of the Oscar Winners of yore.
“The movie doesn’t have to be especially good — Crazy Heart and My Big Fat Greek Wedding certainly weren’t. Nor does it have to be a homegrown product — La Vita e Bella, Slumdog Millionaire and Amelie — were all imports. Nor does it even have to be a financial bonanza –neither The Wrestler nor The Hurt Locker broke any box-office records. But it has to be the sort of sleeper hit that the American people start talking about, the kind of movie that leads to an unexpected comeback, or spirited blog postings or a fawning Barbara Walters interview.
“2010 doesn’t have one of these movies. The Kids Are All Right, arguably the most heartwarming lesbian romantic comedy ever, is trying to fill that slot, but whatever its merits, it’s no Sideways, no March of the Penguins. The only other candidates for this role would seem to be Robert Duvall‘s upcoming turn as a crusty old varmint in Get Low and Ben Affleck’s big-screen comeback in The Town. Critics also might start banging the drum for the latest film showcasing the ethereal Tilda Swinton or some heartwarming motion picture about lachrymose camels or motorcycling proto-totalitarians or English spinsters who inexplicably decide to become crack dealers, but so far nothing truly phenomenal like Slumdog Millionaire seems to be on the horizon.”
I say again: Chris Nolan‘s Inception, Amir Bar Lev‘s The Tillman Story; Alex Gibney‘s Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer; Lee Unkrich‘s Toy Story 3, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s Biutiful, Doug Liman‘s Fair Game, Olivier Assayas‘ Carlos, Aaron Schneider‘s Get Low, Noah Baumbach‘s Greenberg, Roman Polanski‘s The Ghost Writer, Charles Ferguson‘s Inside Job, Kate Davis and David Heilbroner‘s Stonewall Uprising; Vikram Jayanti‘s The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector.
As well as True Grit, The Conspirator, The Social Network, Hereafter, Mesrine: Killer Instinct, The Fighter, Everything You’ve Got, The Tree of Life , The American, London Boulevard, and possibly The Way Back, Somewhere, Conviction, Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps; Love and Other Drugs, and Paul Haggis‘ remake of Pour Elle.
Queenan is right about one thing: there hasn’t been any kind of 2010 version of Sideways. Not even close.