The Movie Club

A Movie So Wonderful in Every Way It Boggles My Mind
Critic vs. critic.
Jan. 6 2011 11:31 AM

The Movie Club

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Still from Toy Story 3. Click image to expand.
Toy Story 3

DING! You guys! Oh my God, I respect and love you and everything, but please stop saying that The Fighter is not a boxing movie! Of course it's a boxing movie! Like all good sports movies, it's also about things other than sports, but that doesn't make it not a boxing movie. Dana! I'm sorry I'm shouting at you, but I am excited! You say that The Fighter"is no more about boxing than The Apartment is about the insurance industry," but I don't remember The Apartment stopping dead in its tracks for eight minutes so Jack Lemmon could sell insurance! America! This is what I am saying: If, like me, you find boxing movies and all their boxing-movie accouterments boring, there are parts of The Fighter—the boxing-movie parts!—that will annoy you. You may still like the rest of the movie! (I totally did!) But you will also be like, "Those people on the Internet said this wasn't really a boxing movie, but look, there's all this boxing." DON'T BE FOOLED, AMERICA! DING! Round over. Whew. Deep breath. Cut me, Mick! Cut me! I accept your selection of Greenberg for Most Awkward Sex Scene, but would also like to declare the Most Awkward No Sex Scene, which of course goes to the moment in the tent, up in the snowy mountains, when Bella is cold, so cold, and of course Edward cannot help her because he is a vampire, as chilled and beautiful as the finest Italian marble; and so a shirtless Jacob smirks, "I am hotter than you," and then, his eyes locked on Edward's, slides effortlessly into her um sleeping bag—she gasps at his warmth!—and sweet Edward winces in pain, real pain! and the whole audience just basically fucking dies. I found a lot of pleasure this year in movies—whether great, mediocre, or straight-up bad. The pleasure started in the opening credits sometimes—for example, in those of the amazing I Am Love, which baldly announces just what kind of movie you're in for with laugh-out-loud onscreen name-drops for Jil Sander and Fendi. The seizure-inducing credits of Enter the Void made my dog bark and were the perfect introduction to that ridiculous, phantasmagorical semimasterpiece. And, of course, there's the glorious opening of Jackass 3-D, as the gang gets machine-gunned with paintballs in super-slo-mo. Individual performances from 2010 will remain with me for a long time. Michael Fassbender, breathtakingly sexy, kind, and dangerous in Andrea Arnold's coming-of-age tale Fish Tank. Ferocious Michael Shannon, as deranged manager Kim Fowley in The Runaways, a creature so exotic, he could only live in a giant gold birdcage. Ben Mendelsohn, in Animal Kingdom, the year's most frightening villain, with something deeply wrong behind his dead eyes. And Ruth Sheen, in Another Year, the year's most inspiring heroine, a good and happy woman doing right at work and at home. So will individual scenes. The ecstatic arm-breaking in 127 Hours, more unbearable than the actual dismemberment. Isabelle Huppert finding her pharmacists dead, and still, for some terrible reason, sticking around, in White Material. Birgit Minichmayr and Lars Eidinger listening to that cheesy German pop song in Everyone Else, while we watch them fall forever out of love. Sad-eyed Hermione in Harry Potter 7A, her wand trembling, Obliviating her parents before she goes off to war. I loved every hilarious scene featuring Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as Emma Stone's parents in the teen comedy Easy A. They tossed off bons mots as effortlessly as Coward characters and respected boundaries like NATO peacekeepers. Sometimes, reviewing the stuff no one else wants to, you get to see a jewel of a performance that no one else notices. Shout-outs to four actors who I hope capitalize on having been way better than they needed to be: Joe Anderson, spindly and clever as the sidekick in The Crazies; Ginnifer Goodwin, warm and perfect as Ramona and Beezus' Aunt Bea; Brandon T. Jackson as a live wire in Lottery Ticket; and goddamn Craig Robinson, staring right at the camera and saying, "It must be some kinda … Hot Tub Time Machine."The year's biggest breakout, though, came not from a single person but from a company: Australia's Blue-Tongue Films, a filmmaking collective responsible for three wildly entertaining movies this year. David Michôd's crime saga Animal Kingdom was ghastly and outstanding. Even better was Nash Edgerton's The Square, a dusty noir that reminded me of Blood Simple. And even better than that was Spider, the nine-minute short that preceded The Square in theaters. Readers can watch it right now if you like— it's on YouTube. Make sure no one around will mind if you scream loudly and laugh hysterically, possibly at the same time. But the two movie moments that meant the very most to me this year were both in animated children's films. I'm pretty sure I witnessed the moment my giggling five-year-old daughter fell in love with cinema forever—while reaching for one of those gorgeous, bobbing lanterns in Tangled, Disney's sprightly spin on the Rapunzel story. (Complain about 3-D all you want; when it works, it works.) Seeing her excited face gave me hope that, no matter how content delivery changes, when I'm old and stupid, I'll still be able to go into a theater with her and hold hands in the dark. Which brings me to my film of the year, a movie so wonderful in every way it boggles my mind: Toy Story 3. Matt pointed out, in video form, how great that jaw-dropping scene in the furnace was. But the scene that got me every time—the one I'll never forget—happens after that. The toys have returned home safe from their epic journey, and upstairs, Andy's mom (Laurie Metcalf) walks through the door, nattering on about all the things that need to get done before Andy can leave for college. And then she sees her son's room, its bare walls, and her hand touches her heart, and she says, "Oh." And then I cry. This is a character, mind you, so unimportant to Toy Story that never in three movies has she been given a name. She is "Andy's Mom." And yet, watching an animated movie, a sequel, starring a bunch of talking toys—I weep, instantly, without shame, all four times I've watched it. To quote our hostess, Dana: "Shit—now I'm crying again."

Bye,
Dan

Dan Kois is a senior editor at Slate and a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine.