Random Movies: Best to Worst


Nothing could have prepared me to actually like Boyhood. I watched it out of a sense of obligation, because I respect the commitment that went into making it, because it was probably the most important movie that came out last year, and because I really, really wanted to be able to back up my instinctive conviction that it had to be better than Birdman.

I fucking loved it, and I don’t even understand why. Nothing happens, it’s not about my generation (I was already an adult at the time the story starts, and, watching the movie, I felt super old looking at these kids with their cell phones and their Harry Potter, and their having George Bush as the president), it’s not telling me anything I don’t already know, but I loved it.

I had this really intense emotional reaction to Patricia Arquette’s character that I can’t even parse for you, because I don’t understand it, but, basically, she’s a really good mom and, for some reason, that meant I couldn’t stop crying.

I also agree with all the intellectual reasons people have for liking the movie – but, seriously, I was not prepared to get so emotional about it, and that was the most exciting surprise.

Guardians of the Galaxy

I wasn’t prepared to like this movie, either. Even after hearing everybody rave about it for a year, I was pretty sure it wasn’t for me. As I’ve documented in this blog, I don’t really like the Marvel movies, so, when you put that together with some dude I’ve never heard of, because I don’t watch Parks and Recreation, green body paint, ironic use of “Hooked on a Feeling,” and a sassy, CGI racoon, it all added up to DO NOT WANT.

I could not have been more wrong. Guardians of the Galaxy is exactly what I want. In fact, it reminds me a lot of Farscape, which is, like, the ultimate entertainment-related thing I want.

It’s funny and fast-paced and irreverent, but also emotionally sincere – all things the other Marvel movies try not to be. It’s so much fun to watch.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

I did see this when I was a child, but all I remembered about it was that: a) it’s always Halloween for some reason; b) despite living in world where it is always Halloween for some reason, and therefore always the best holiday, the skeleton man wants it to be Christmas, which is the worst holiday; c) he sings a song about that; and d) there’s also this doll character who lives with a mean scientist and she tries to poison his soup but he makes her taste it in front of him so she has to trick him and I was so scared for her – so scared!

Watching it again, I now understand it as (probably) the most successful biographical film ever, where the biography is about Tim Burton learning to accept his niche as an artist. Because, see, the skeleton man is good at being creepy, but he wants to be good at making people feel a sense of warmth and joy. So he tries to make them feel a sense of warmth and joy, but, when he does that, it’s still creepy. He feels bad for being creepy at first, but then he accepts that being creepy is what he’s really good at and realizes that, in the right context, being creepy can also be a way to bring people joy. And then the B-plot is that he meets a creepy girl to share his life with.

I don’t really enjoy The Nightmare Before Christmas, but I find it strangely revealing.

Clouds of Sils Maria

I was so fucking excited to see this movie, and I enjoyed it a lot while I was watching it, but it erased itself from my brain right after.

I wrote about it for Bitch Flicks when I still remembered WTF happened, but the upshot is that it’s about ambiguity in relationships. You don’t always know how you feel about people – or you know how you feel, but you can’t explain it in words; the connection can’t be categorized in a simple way. That’s an idea that resonates with me, and I enjoyed the movie from an intellectual perspective, and thought the performances were great, but I have to confess that I didn’t feel emotionally invested in what was happening.

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

I probably shouldn’t count this, because I was watching it in one window while I shopped in the other, but it seemed like it was basically all right.

The thing I found most interesting about it was that it includes an unusually compassionate portrayal of a psychic, as somebody who doesn’t have supernatural powers, but who provides a worthwhile service by reassuring people and bolstering their confidence during difficult times in their lives. All we see this woman do is listen patiently while people talk about their troubles, before telling them that things will be okay – it made me think, “Yeah, I guess there’s a legitimate place for that; not everybody gets those things from somewhere else.”

I was much less interested in the other plot lines.

Begin Again

This also seemed like it was basically all right, before it erased itself from my brain. I remember liking one of Keira Knightley’s dresses. I remember that the movie is about Being Authentic. I remember that it was kind of cool when there was a montage of Keira Knightley recording her outdoor album in a bunch of different, creative locations. I remember being a little bit confused about why anybody listening to the album would care that it was recorded in a bunch of different, creative locations, when they couldn’t see any of the different, creative locations. I remember thinking, “Why don’t they just pick one with good acoustics and record the whole thing there, since it won’t make any difference to the listener?”

I get that the point of the story is that Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo are learning what they value in music, and that that’s authenticity, and the joy of making music, and the experiences they have putting their album together rather than the profit they stand to make when they sell it but, why couldn’t they videotape themselves and put it on the internet? That would also have made more sense to me.


This is the one where Melissa McCarthy starts out wearing unflattering clothes and has unflattering hair, and she’s a little bit mean and antisocial, but then, part way through the movie, we learn that she has real human feelings, and she gets a makeover where she starts wearing clothes that fit and straightens her hair, and we see that’s she’s really a beautiful person inside and out, and then she undoes all the bad stuff she did at the start of the movie and everyone forgives her. Also, there are jokes about her being fat.

I feel like it erased itself from my memory, yet all of that info’s still there.

Image: Boyhood; IFC Films| May 1, 2015