Category Archives: Feature

How Wonder Woman Should Have Ended

(Warning: Here Be Spoilers)

Wonder Woman is a profoundly important film. The first female-driven superhero flick of the modern era is a soaring success, galloping on horseback to glorious box office numbers and critical acclaim.

But it had the wrong ending.

Before we dive deeper, let me just say that the film works on almost every level, often in poignant and meaningful ways. There are very conscious subversions of superhero tropes, and more importantly, there are scenes that are in no way subversions, which are refreshing thanks to being told from the female point of view.

For example, when Diana stumbles upon Steve Trevor in the baths, I was on the edge of my seat with joy. The number of times a male lead has lucked into seeing the female love interest naked while bathing is too many to count (never threaten that or someone on the internet will go and count them), and it was refreshing for a woman to get to enjoy a beautiful man—I think we can all agree that Chris Pine is indeed beautiful, or at least…above average.

Beyond that, Pine gets to play a fully rounded love interest, which is a great step in the right direction. He’s a three-dimensional character with his own story arc and narrative importance. Even more important, he’s not intimidated by Diana in some backwards form of machismo—in fact, none of the men are lessened because of her strength—just the opposite; he falls in love with her precisely because she is capable, forward-thinking, and entirely her own person (who knows how to dance and fight and experience pleasure sans men). But that’s just one of the cylinders Wonder Woman is firing on.

The setpieces are incredible, with memorable and emotional action. Each setpiece means something. The amazing battle on the beaches represents the moment when things can never go back to the way they were—it’s a heartwrenching moment of loss for the protagonist. Storming the trenches shows that Diana is able to lead by example and stir the hearts of men. Freeing the town allows Diana to experience humanity’s love. The beats are perfectly plotted.

That is, until act three.

And therein lies the rub. The premise of the film is that Diana is a godkiller created by Zeus to destroy Ares, and that Ares is the cause of all war, so if she can simply defeat him, war will end.

And then there is this beautiful, deep, profound, enlightening, powerful moment at the end of act two when she “kills Ares.” What a f*cking moment! She defeats Ludendorff, and…

War doesn’t end.

Because of course it doesn’t! War doesn’t exist because of Ares. War is caused by men because war lies in the hearts of all of us. We have the potential to do overwhelming good or enact overwhelming evil.

Diana kills Ares, but that doesn’t mean World War II doesn’t happen. It doesn’t mean we don’t go to Vietnam, or that there aren’t genocides or mass murder or terror attacks.

The moment when Diana is at her lowest, when she realizes that killing “Ares” won’t stop the war, is perhaps the most excited I’ve ever been in a superhero film. Steve Trevor tells her that maybe it’s not Ares. Maybe it’s us—but that doesn’t make a difference; things are still worth fighting for. And then he leaves to go try to do as much as he can to save lives.

At that moment, I was beside myself with how gutsy this film was, how powerful the theme. This was a superhero film that was going to exist WITHOUT A SUPERVILLAIN.

How incredible would it have been if Ares never existed, if Zeus truly had killed him all those years ago? And here Diana is seemingly without purpose, and then she must come to the realization that it’s not Ares who caused this, that men have the inherent potential to do evil, but they’re worth saving anyway? If the entire climax were about stopping that plane because even without a villain, saving lives and ending war are still worthy goals?

If the film needed a big bad for a boss fight, it should have been Dr. Poison. There could’ve been an explosion that blew up dozens of the small canisters Ludendorff was inhaling, and Dr. Poison could’ve gotten roided out on an overdose, and Diana could’ve had to fight her while Steve worked to down the plane. They could’ve worked together to complete the mission.

Because that’s all any of us can do. Our part. Our best to make a difference and lead by example.

How amazing would it be to see a superhero film discard the concept of a supervillain because villainy isn’t about supervillainy. Villainy is about being human, and at the end of the day, what matters is doing good in the moment.

This is the statement the film was making throughout. The underlying theme that elevated this piece of cinema. When Diana crosses No Man’s Land, it’s because she’s doing good in the moment because it’s the right thing to do. And the ending tried to have it both ways.

They tried to have a villain who was saying simultaneously “I am the supervillain” and also “none of this was my doing. It was their doing.” So if it’s their doing, why does Ares need to exist at all? You can’t have it both ways, Wonder Woman! Either he matters or he doesn’t matter. And my god, what a powerful film it would be if he truly didn’t matter.

I believe in my heart of hearts that somewhere out there exists a script without Ares, and it’s the blueprint for what could have been the greatest superhero movie of all time. But somewhere along the line, some exec comes in and says, you have to have a supervillain—Ares is the whole backstory! And so they shoehorn him in, but to attempt to maintain the theme, they force him to have endless doublespeak where he says he’s insignificant and irrelevant (and yet you still need to kill me for some reason and when you do all the soldiers will hug–but yeah, still they weren’t under my control or anything).

[Plus, their whole battle breaks Sanderson’s First Law–because we don’t know how fighting between gods works, we’re not invested. Every other fight sequence is amazing because we’ve been introduced to her shield, her lasso, her sword. God powers come from nowhere, and they can teleport and materialize weapons out of thin air and none of it is grounded in magic we understand, so we have no conception of when they’re in danger or how either one of them can win.]

This film is profoundly feminist. It is beautiful. It is moving. It is f*cking badass. And it was nearly the most interesting superhero film of all time. In an era when supervillains wreak endless destruction, decimating entire cities without a second thought, we nearly had a film that changed what it meant to be a hero.

So yeah, that’s how Wonder Woman should have ended.

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Top 5 Twist Movies

It’s that day of the week again, except oops, it’s not (twist!). Thanks to the insane atmosphere of college, this time, you’ll be treated to the first (and probably not last)

Top 5 Saturday!

Everybody loves a great twist ending. If you don’t see it coming, it’ll blow you away and change your entire perception of the film you just watched.

Today I’m gonna list for you the top 5 Twist Movies.

Now, it’s not necessarily the top 5 movie twists, and it’s not the top 5 movies that involve twists. We’re talking about the top 5 movies that rely on a major twist. So they’re great films, the twist is great, and without the twist they wouldn’t be anywhere near as good. And watch out. Beyond this sentence, there be SPOILERS.

If you haven’t seen the movie, don’t read the write-up!

 

 

The Usual Suspects

The name Keyzer Söze haunts us all, but who is he? Who is Keyzer Söze? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, Kevin Spacey plays a criminal with cerebral palsy, who, after having been caught, sits in the office of a police station, trading his testimony for immunity for his crimes. He weaves an intricate and gripping tale of theft, violence, and betrayal, all the while unraveling the mystery that surrounds the ominous and untraceable Keyzer.

In one of those, it’s-all-a-dream endings, right after Kevin Spacey walks out of the police station toward freedom, the officer glances around his office, suddenly realizing that every detail in Spacey’s testimony was improvised, inspired by the objects in the room. None of it was true. Kevin Spacey is Keyzer Söze! Whoa.

Mind-Blowing Level: 2.5/5

Yeah, that’s pretty crazy, but like, what were we watching that whole time? And it’s just basically one guy lying.

 

 

Planet of the Apes

Ranking in at #4, we have one o’ them old-timey movies, the kind my parents popped into the VCR (what’s that?) sometime during my childhood to help round out my classic movie knowledge. Unfortunately for me, those same parents also raised me on a steady diet of cat food, ramen, and most importantly, The Simpsons. We watched it every night, so I’d already had the ending spoiled in Troy McClure’s comeback musical version of the Planet of the Apes. The only youtube version is in Spanish (and for some reason, it’s reflected across the x-axis. Maybe that’s what keeps it from getting deleted?). Anyway, it’s still great.

Also,

Just like the movie itself. In fact, that last scene of PotA is so iconic, that the film inspired 6 follow-ups and 2 tv shows, including this summer’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes. If you missed my Super Simian review, you’re more than encouraged to check it out here. It was earth all along.

Twist! “Oh my God. I’m back. I’m home. All the time, it was… We finally really did it. You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!”

Mind-Blowing Level: 2/5

Damn. That sucks. I always thought we were one-up on those apes, but I guess that all changed with ALZ-113. I think people could’ve seen this coming.

 

 

Fight Club

I know I’m not supposed to talk about this, but as a self-declared film critic, that’s sort of my job, so my apologies, Tylers. Fight Club is an intense drama about a man who frees himself from the constraints of his blasé and unimportant life by, you know, blacking out and committing a bunch of acts of terrorism. The loyalty of his club members is fun to watch, and it’s interesting to try to figure out what the crap is wrong with the main character. Plus, the whole premise speaks to inherent tendency toward violence inherent in the nature of man. It’s so heavily suppressed in modern society, who wouldn’t enjoy the chance to blow off a little of that bestial energy?

Everybody knows the first rule of fight club, and everybody knows the twist.

Mind-Blowing Level: 4/5

If you didn’t see this one coming, don’t beat yourself up. And what’s that ending all about. I was dying to see one shot of Edward Norton’s wound. How the hell did he survive that?

 

 

Identity

When a freak storm strikes in the middle of nowhere, ten strangers are stranded at a creepy motel. In this Agatha Christie style movie, each character is picked off one by one, and the survivors have to band together in a desperate attempt to stay alive, all the while knowing that one of them is probably the killer. The greatest thing about this movie is the mood. From the beginning it is creepy as hell, and you’ll be completely captivated the whole way through.

And it stars John Cusack, who’s basically the most likable actor since ever (eh, maybe Jimmy Stewart). I don’t even want to say the twist because the movie’s so good, and of all of them on this list, it’s probably the least well known. Just go watch it. It’s one of the greatest who-dunnit mood piece thrillers around.

Mind-Blowing Level: 4.5/5

This will blow your mind.

 

 

The Sixth Sense

I know. I know. This isn’t a shocking choice, but it’s the best twist movie ever made. The acting and mood are incredible, and most importantly, nobody saw it coming. M. Night Shyamalan used the conventions of film to trick us into a false belief. Movies are short affairs, so almost all the action has to be skipped. Someone walks toward a building and you cut to that character sitting in an office. The audience fills in the rest: the opening of the door, the waiting for the elevator, etc. We don’t want to waste time watching it happen. In The Sixth Sense, Shyamalan skips over Bruce Willis’s death, and, since that would’ve been a major detail, we assume we just missed all the boring time in the hospital on the way to recovery instead. Brilliant.

Shyamalan is truly the master of the twist, though according to my screenwriting teacher, when he started writing The Sixth Sense, he was just setting out to make a realistic horror movie. It wasn’t until the 6th or 7th draft that he even realized Bruce Willis was dead the whole time! But he quickly learned his lesson and moved on toward the biggest twist of them all!

Mind-Blowing Level: 5/5

Shyamalan’s #1 twist was his prank on the world—making The Last Airbender Suck! We all thought it would be good. Nobody saw that utter travesty coming. Nobody.

Honorable Mention: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

I originally had this on the list, but I realized that the second Star Wars film didn’t rely on a twist, so much as happen to include a great one. The film would be basically the same whether or not DV was LS’s dad. Can you imagine tossing a ball around with the force? Man, father-son relationships must be so weird in the Star Wars universe.

Written by Russ Nickel

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W3 – Mystery Men – Shovels, Spoons, and FURY

Second ever

What to Watch Wednesday

Comin’ at ya.

This Week we’ve got Mystery Men, a fantastic comedy about a ragtag group of superheroes with no real powers who do their best to stop villain Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush) from releasing an absurd doomsday devic. The movie rips on superhero tropes with profound cleverness, sporting dialogue like

Mr. Furious: That’s because Lance Hunt IS Captain Amazing
The Shoveller: Don’t start that again. Lance Hunt wears glasses. Captain Amazing doesn’t wear glasses.
Mr. Furious: He takes them off when he transforms.
The Shoveller: That doesn’t make any sense; he wouldn’t be able to see.

Sound logic. Also, note the great superhero names. The cast of non-heroes is perfectly crafted. You’ve got…

Mr. Furious. Power: extreme anger. Played by none other than Ben Stiller (in one of his earliest leading roles!)

The Shoveler: “God gave me a gift. I shovel well. I shovel very well.” Pretty much sums it up. Played by William H. Macey (perpetual good guy).

The Blue Raja. Power: Throws silverware with precision, but refuses to use knives (that leaves forks and spoons, for those of you who are counting). Played by Hank Azaria, best voice actor on The Simpsons.

And we can’t forget Invisible Boy who only turns invisible when no one’s looking. Toss Eddie Izzard into the mix and you’ve got yourself one hell of a funny film.

Man, I want to see this again.

Score: 4/5

Alignment: Spectacular Fluff

In the words of their wise trainer, this movie is “number one. All others are number two, or lower.”

Written by Russ Nickel

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T5F – Action Thrillers in a Confined Space

It’s time for The Nickel Screen’s first

Top 5 Friday! (T5F)

 

There’s so many movies out there that fall into so many genres; they’re just dying to be grouped in oddly specific ways for your comparison-based pleasure. Plus, list-making is one of my favorite activities, so I figured I might as well do it with every Hollywood related thing I can think of.

And then if you and your friends ever get into a weirdly particular argument about some made-up subgenre, now you’ll be able to look to The Nickel Screen for all your answers. Heck, look to us for all your answers anyway, no matter what the problem is. I’m sure I can help.

This week’s T5F is all about Action Thrillers in a Confined Space (thus the title of the post).

Ranking in at one cent, we have

 

 

Die Hard 2: Die Harder

Set in an airport on Christmas Eve, this movie makes us ask, “How can the same thing happen twice to the same guy?” In fact, it even makes John McClane (Bruce Willis), most badass character in the history of film, ask the same thing. But who cares really? It can happen twice because it’s the movies and it’s fun to watch. We get to see ejection seats, snowmobile battles, betrayal, and a fight in a baggage sorting area.

Since this kind of movie is a breeding ground for dialogue gold, I figure I should pick the best line from each.

Best Line: John McClane: Hey, Colonel. Blow me!

 

 

Con Air

Nicolas Cage is great at picking over-the-top projects, and Con Air is no exception. Toss in Johns Cusack and Malkovich and you’ve got yourself one hell of a fun cast. Cage plays the criminal with a heart of gold who decides to help the feds when his fellow convicts take over the plane. Giant explosions, a plane crash-landing on the Vegas strip, and post-kill one-liners like “Why couldn’t you put the bunny back in the box” (about a stuffed pink bunny, for real) make this an excellent (using the term loosely) film.

Best Line: I guess I sort of already said it.

 

 

The Negotiator

This is the part in the list when things start to really get good. Starring Samuel L. Jackson and my personal favorite actor Kevin Spacey, this movie takes place almost entirely in a single room. Well, there’s cutaways to what’s going on elsewhere I guess, but all the action is an office. When Samuel L. Jackson, a negotiator who talks people out of killing hostages, is accused of embezzlement, he’s forced to take hostages of his own. During the film he must try to buy himself the time he needs to prove his innocence, if he really is innocent…

Best Line: Samuel L. Jackson: I am talking! Now did you or did you not ever dress up like a schoolgirl and get ya ass spanked?!

 

 

Air Force One

Harrison Ford is the president. Automatically the best thing ever. When the Russians hijack Air Force One, badass Mr. Ford stays behind to single-handedly dish out some justice to the terrorist bastards, doing his best to keep his wife and daughter safe in the process. The movie is high intensity throughout, there are some great setpieces, and some moments will even choke you up. And did I already mention it’s about the president? Movies are always more awesome when POTUS is involved.

Best Line: Harrison Ford: Get off my plane!

 

 

Die Hard

Of course! I mean, this is a no-brainer. It started the entire convention. After Die Hard, everybody in Hollywood tried to come up with the next small space thriller. Die Hard on a plane, Die Hard on a Boat (Speed 2). You name it. According to urban legend, someone even tried to pitch Die Hard in an office building, which sounds like a great idea. You know, probably because Die Hard was set in an office building. Like I said, John McClane is the most badass, tough-as-nails character since ever, and Bruce Willis is the man to play him. Plus, he still had a nice, intimidating full head of hair back then. Alan Rickman is a masterful actor and nails the terrorist role, Willis walks barefoot on broken glass in one of the most memorable scenes of film, and in general awesomeness ensues.

Best Line: John McClane: Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker.

Dead on? Do I have no idea what I’m talking about? Feel free to let me know in the comments!

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W3: Mumford – Quirky, Clever, and Totally Unknown

Howdy, internet people. I watched Mumford a couple of weeks ago, having, like you, never heard of it. Much to my surprise, what at first glance seemed like a pleasant and forgettable movie quickly got stuck in my head and refused to leave. Like some sort of witch’s curse or maybe a brain slug, I figured the only way to appease it was to spread it, and thus

What to Watch Wednesday (W3)

was born.

Every week, in my beneficence, I shall better your lives by imparting upon you a movie that you ought to watch. It’ll probably be obscure or old or weird or maybe it’ll just pop into my head for no reason. Anyway, W3’s inaugural post belongs to Mumford. It’s this quirky, light-hearted comedy about a psychologist who moves to a small town and starts treating the eccentric residents. All the characters are absurdly likable, the relationships are fun, and the way the movie portrays the patients’ neurotic stories is hilarious.

Maybe it doesn’t sound like there’s enough going on. Maybe you’re thinking you’ll give this one a pass, but the movie contains a deep, dark secret. Oh, and did I mention it was penned by Lawrence Kasdan? Yeah, the guy who wrote The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Return of the Jedi.

Fun Facts:

  1. For some reason, this $28 million budget film only made about four and a half at the box office and it quickly slid into obscurity.
  2. This is Zooey Deschanel’s first role. She’s only 19, so if you’re a fan like I am, it’s great to see her earliest work.
  3. The guy who plays Skip Skipperton is a pro skateboarder and is actually riding around in all those shots.

There you have it. The first What to Watch Wednesday. Go check it out, and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Score: 4.5/5

Alginment: Spectacular Fluff

Oh, and don’t watch the trailer, since it RUINS EVERYTHING.

Written by Russ Nickel

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The Nine Alignments Of Movies

If reading’s not your thing, click here to skip ahead a bit. Otherwise…

Before there were movies, before men and women gallivanted in front of a camera, tugging at our heartstrings, before Spielberg and Kubrick and Scorsese, before even time itself, there was a little thing called Dungeons & Dragons. At least, it started before I was born, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s right around when time began. My birth was apparently quite a hassle—I came out mouth first and the doctor thought I had a gaping hole in my head. I mean, I did, but he thought it was an unnatural hole when really I was just hungry. After that, it was smooth sailing for 12 or 13 years, until…

Doesn't a game that takes place in your collective imagination sound COOL?!

My friend, tempter that he was, showed me the magical world of D&D. And like any self-respecting nerd, I salivated over descriptions of Barbarians killing things in a raging frenzy, over Druids cavorting sexily with nature, and over Sorcerers who could bend the world to their will thanks to the dragon blood that coursed through their veins. Sure, at high school I was a pimply outcast, but in the game I could be whoever I wanted! I could be powerful! There was no way the jocks could defeat my level 13 Wizard and his maximized fireball spell.

Now I’ve grown up and of course become absurdly popular, but you know that. What you didn’t know is that I owe it all to Dungeons & Dragons. The tools I learned in those books were the keys to understanding and conquering life. Whenever I meet someone, I figure out what Character Class they would be. The hot girl at the party is a Rogue, trying to weasel drinks out of me but hiding her true motives. That guy everyone likes is a Bard, using his charisma and good looks to win hearts and minds, but deep down, he has no real skills. That dude wearing resplendent white full plate and wielding a dazzling longsword in one hand and an oversized cross in another is a Paladin, trying to stamp out evil in the name of God. You see, once I classify my competition, it’s easy for me to navigate the ins and outs of that daunting thing known as “basic human interaction.” But the most important tool by far is Alignment.

There are nine Alignments, each a combination of the two Axes.

I'm pretty sure Descartes died graphing on one of these.

On one side, Law and Chaos, on the other, Good and Evil. Put it all together and it looks a little something like this:

Take a moment to classify yourself, then let me know in the comments so I'll be able to interact with you socially.

If people, complicated beings that they are, could be broken up into 9 easy categories, then why shouldn’t movies? Exactly. They should.

Don’t worry, good citizens. Russ Nickel is on the job.

The system of giving movies stars, thumbs, and scores is as antiquated as it is uninformative. For years, we have abided by these subpar schemes, too afraid to stand up and say enough. But we need fear no longer, for I, intrepid innovator that I am, have devised an entirely new method of judging cinema, and I call it:



The Nine Alignments of Movies






Below, you’ll find each category expertly explained, if I do say so myself.

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Spectacular Gold

We know them when we see them—movies that spin tales so brilliant even Rumpelstiltskin would be proud. They win awards for their acting and direction, but they’re not so artsy that they bore us common folk (not that you’re common). Yes, these are the films that help critics and bumpkins set aside their differences and embrace in the joy of cinema.

My Pick: Gladiator. To answer Peter Graves’ question, I do like movies about gladiators, especially this one. Russell Crowe is a champion (just like all Russells), the plot is poignant, and the action is awesome. It’s nearly universally praised, and it boasts an award for Best Picture.

Other Examples: Forrest Gump, Groundhog Day, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Titanic, Pretty much all Pixar movies

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Spectacular Fluff

The acting may not be award-worthy, the plot may be absurd, and there might be a distinct lack of originality, but these movies are fun dammit! Of medium quality, film snobs will ignore them, but you and I know better. Good work, us.

My Pick: Independence Day. Will Smith entertains with his alien-punching and general badassery, Jeff Goldblum amuses with his ability to hack into a computer system of alien origin when most of us can barely make Windows Vista do what we want, and Bill Pullman rouses our patriotism with his epic speech. Plus, there’s an awesome Russell in this movie too. Unlike him, however, I certainly haven’t quit drinking.

Other Examples: Live Free or Die Hard, Troy, The Notebook, How to Train Your Dragon, Basically every good action movie

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Spectacular Crap

My personal favorite category. Riddled with terrible dialogue, these movies are endlessly quotable, and the outlandish setpieces are a blast to describe to your friends! Whether it’s wolves on a boat in the middle of a city street or a bus that has to ramp off a freeway because it can’t slow down, these films’ plots are laughably over-the-top, the characters’ motivations are bipolar, and there’s usually a preposterous amount of illogical action. What’s not to love?

My Pick: G.I. Joe. Just listen to this dialogue:

Cobra Commander: “This will only hurt a little. What comes next, more so.” Very reassuring, doc.

Zartan: “Oh. That’s right. You don’t kill women.” Storm Shadow: “For you, Zartan, I’d make an exception.” Buuuuuurn!!!

Storm Shadow: “When our master was killed, you took a vow of silence. Now you will die without a word.” How fitting!

James McCullen: “Once unleashed, the nanomites will not stop. Ever.” They won’t stop EVER?!? That doesn’t sound like a smart plan, seeing as they can eat entire cities.

As for ridiculous action sequences, the Eiffel tower explodes (a digitally embiggened version of the Eiffel tower, no less—you know, to make it more epic), there’s an underwater base that gets crushed when a bunch of ice sinks onto it, and two ninjas duke it out in a giant reactor core. That, my friends, is some Spectacular Crap.

Other Examples: Speed, The Day After Tomorrow, Speed Racer, The Core, Most disaster movies

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Standard Gold

They come out every year, the run-of-the-mill, Oscar-hopeful films. Brimming with great actors, these movies deal with whichever depressing issue currently holds the nation’s attention. The director is probably foreign and it’s almost certainly a period piece. Perhaps a young white boy with a mental disability learns to play the piano with the help of his black football teammate despite the fact that they’re both orphans and everyone on the team persecutes them for their friendship. Or maybe there’s a war on, and only the fastest warhorse the world’s ever seen can turn the tide, but how is it supposed to run with a degenerative leg condition, especially when the only one standing up for him is a plucky cavalryman who’s coping with his homosexuality in an oppressive and close-minded society?

My Pick: True Grit. Great actors? Check: Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges. Great director? Check: The Coen Brothers. Heartwarming and semi-tragic tale? Check: the drunkard who cares only about himself learns the value of caring about others. The problem is that there’s just not much to this movie. The acting and dialogue are superb, but the story is unexciting. There’s little emotional attachment, and therefore it’s only somewhat enjoyable, even if it is Gold.

Other Examples: Seabiscuit, The Blind Side, Brokeback Mountain, The Pianist, Movies about boxing

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Standard Fluff

Devoid of anything even bordering on original, these films leave absolutely no impression on you. Six months later, you won’t be able to recall more than one or two details, and that’s not a bad thing. It simply means your brain realizes it’s not worth committing the hard drive space to that hour and a half of mindlessness.

My Pick: Clueless. So my parents rented Clueless because they thought it would be an amusing diversion the whole family could enjoy. We promptly watched it and went on with our lives. A few years later, my parents rented Clueless thinking it would be an amusing diversion the whole family could enjoy. Not one of us realized we’d already seen it. After about 45 minutes, I start getting this dizzying sensation of déjà vu, and I say, “I feel like she’s going to get mugged.” My parents brush off the idea as absurd. A mugging in a light-hearted comedy? Never. Then, a few minutes later, boom! She gets mugged. My parents were amazed that I was a psychic, but then we went on with our lives. A few years later my parents rented Clueless, thinking it would be an amusing diversion the whole family could enjoy. Not one of us realized we’d already seen it. After about 45 minutes I start getting this dizzying sensation of déjà vu déjà vu. I say the mugging thing, parents brush it off, boom! She gets mugged. I kid you not—we watched this movie THREE times before any of us were able to remember having seen it. Man, were we Clueless. And that, my friends, is Standard Fluff.

Other Examples: I don’t even know. That’s the point right? Every romantic comedy ever. Every subpar action movie. Everything about werewolves, vampires, and zombies. Every animated Disney movie in between Mulan and Tangled and all but about three Dreamworks movies.

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Standard Crap

The acting is a few shades short of acceptable, the dialogue is just above cringe-worthy, and the plot is riddled with holes so big you could drive your Hummer through them. Still, you can’t help but enjoy yourself, mostly thanks to the fact that there’s probably a hot girl in it.

My Pick: Fantastic Four. Jessica Alba is good looking. We can all agree on that. And I think some basically entertaining stuff happened. There were special effects and fight scenes and…well I’m not sure what else, but it was enough.

Other Examples: Clash of the Titans, Tron: Legacy, Alexander, Season of the Witch, Most Adam Sandler movies

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Unbearable Gold

It wins all sorts of awards, but for the love of god, why?! Your parents think it’s the hottest thing since sliced bread, but apparently we’re jaded since we’ve never known a time when bread required effort on our part. You sit through it because you love your parents, but you’ll harbor that resentment forever. It’s just so slow moving, and there’s so much talking, and Nothing. Ever. Happens.

My Pick: 2001: A Space Odyssey. Monkeys banging sticks around, 15 minute scenes of a spaceship landing on a planet, 20 minutes of some guy re-experiencing his birth. Clocking in at well over 2 hours, this film is sure to bore anyone who’s seen Star Wars or virtually any other movie. It’s impossible to tell what’s going on, and whatever it is goes on for SO LONG. Sometimes I find it hard to keep on living when I know I’ll never get those hours of my life back.

Other Examples: Citizen Kane, Blade Runner, Ben-Hur, Master and Commander, Almost anything that’s over 2 hours that adults say you need to watch because it’s a “classic.”

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Unbearable Fluff

With Unbearable Fluff, you’re not quite sure what went wrong. You know you want to stab your eyes out, but you’re almost positive you haven’t slept with your mother. What could it be then? These movies have good actors, maybe even a good premise. You can see how some people might not be driven into a frothing rage by the inanity of it all, and yet you notice foam spewing uncontrollably from your maw. If it were better, maybe you could enjoy it; if it were worse, you could rip on it, but instead it’s in that horrible middle ground, a spiky, castrating, death trap that no one in their right mind wants to straddle.

My Pick: Dinner for Schmucks. ’Twas truly a movie for schmucks. Look at that poster. Even Paul Rudd is ashamed. The only reason he’s involved in this travesty is because he got paid a boatload of money. But what about us saps, the viewers? We had to fork over a very small raft of our own hard-earned moola just to sit through this torture. It had actors with the potential for hilarity, but instead of being funny, this movie was a plodding endeavor in mental anguish. Finally the situations got so painful I had to leave the theater. I wandered around, striking up conversations with the employees I encountered, because I literally could not bear to watch this film. On the plus side, the employees were very friendly.

Other Examples: Meet the Fockers, Across the Universe, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Transformers 2, Anything with Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Kevin James, or Ben Stiller that’s more about uncomfortable situations than about clever writing.

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Unbearable Crap

The worst of the worst. The lowest of the low. The unbearablest of the crappiest. These “films” have no redeeming qualities. By the gods, do they suck. Halfway through you have to run to the bathroom to wretch, and the only reason you don’t walk out is because you’re on a hot date. Even that wouldn’t be enough to stop you, but she’s also your ride. If you rented this, you’d watch it on fast forward and then throw the disc in the fire, fees be damned, because you’re doing the world a service by removing even one copy of that abomination from this world. And then you don’t even tell your friends you ever watched it. It’s that embarrassing. Or, if you’re like me, you spend the rest of your mortal existence bashing it, hoping that if you can get enough entertainment out of it that way, maybe, just maybe, the regret and guilt will stop and you’ll be able to sleep again at night.

My Pick: Fucking The Last Airbender. I already spent an entire review explaining why this is my least favorite film of all time, and then I proceeded to give it virtually all of the negative awards in 5¢S’s version of the Oscars, but I’m always willing to write just a little more, for I am driven by a hate so powerful that no matter how much I pour out, I can never be sated. The battle sequences are devoid of excitement and originality, the dialogue is delivered by children who clearly have no grasp on what emotions should look like, and the pacing is too terrible for words. The whole thing is narrated, presumably because Shyamalan was too lazy to explain things with actual scenes, and it was impossible to tell what was going on, though that may have been due to the fact that I spent a great deal of my focus driving a spork into my leg to help distract me from the much greater pain of watching the movie.

Other Examples: The Hottie and the Nottie, Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, Santa with Muscles, Everything by National Lampoon (ok, except Animal House), Everything by writing team Friedberg and Seltzer (Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, Date Movie, Meet the Spartans, Vampires Suck, and Scary Movie). If you ignore their first film (Scary Movie, after which they’d used up every idea they ever had), their remaining 5 films have a total of 16% on rottentomatoes.com. 16% total! For 5 films! They’ve been called “evildoers, charlatans, symbols of Western civilization’s decline” and “a plague on our cinematic landscape, a national shame, a danger to our culture, a typhoon-sized natural disaster disguised as a filmmaking team.”

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Phew, that was a mouthful. For those of you who managed to read this far, it is now your sworn duty to spread this wonderful, amazing, spectacular and golden new rating system as far and wide as you can manage.

Why? Because it is time for change, my friends. Time to move away from simple numbers and stars. You know as well as I that a 2.5 out of 5 could be a time-sucking romantic comedy just as easily as it could be a life-changingly eyegasming G.I. Joe. It is up to us, armed with this new system, to help viewers everywhere make more informed decisions.

Thus, I rate this post:

Score: 5/5¢

Alignment: Spectacular Gold

If somehow this post leads to internet fame, I swear by Cinæmus, god of film, that I shall sacrifice a small goat in honor of Dungeons & Dragons creator Gary Gygax.

Written by Russ Nickel

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The Nickel Awards: Part 1

In the wake of this year’s Oscars, we here at The Nickel Screen felt compelled to give out some awards of our own. All of those supposedly learned movie people obviously know nothing compared to us, so sit back, relax–actually, sit forward and pay attention. We put a lot of thought into this 3-post extravaganza, and you’d better enjoy it.

Nerd’s Fantasy Nominees: Scarlett Johansson (Iron Man 2), Olivia Wilde (Tron: Legacy), Gemma Arterton (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time), Emma Watson (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1), Rapunzel (Tangled)

Winner:

If there’s one category the Academy Awards blatantly lacks, it’s this.

Why do movies really, truly exist? To spin heart-warming tales of kings who grapple with their issues? To show people how tough cutting off your arm can be? I don’t think so. Movies exist to make money, and who has money? That’s right, nerds. We sit eternally at our computers, hiding from the day star and pitifully pecking at the keys that provide our sustenance, but you know what? We make bank.

But money doesn’t equal happiness. We understand that all too well as we sweep our gazes across our rooms, eyes alighting on our mint condition Millenium Falcon replica. It sits, dusty, right next to our extensive comic book collection. To its right, a poster of Captain Kirk looks outward, ignoring the Atari 2600 which rests just below him, unused. But we don’t see happiness. No, because happiness is more than belongings.

As The Beatles taught us, money can’t buy you love, and love is all you need. But unfortunately, no real woman can ever hope to win our hearts, for we have already fallen, fallen for the phase-shifting sublimity of Kitty Pryde, for the Amazonian intensity of Wonder Woman, and for the stripping strippiness of Stripperella. Human women be damned! If only we could somehow make these fantasy babes real!

And by god, movies are the closest thing we’ve got. If there’s one dangling carrot that can get us away from our apartments—make us sit up from the chair, change out of our pajamas, and face the daylight—it’s a film version of those girls we think about day and night. That’s why movies exist. They exist for the nerd.

This year was an excellent showing of sexy. Olivia Wilde donned a skin-tight, light-up, spandex suit, drove a futuristic light-car and kicked ass on a bunch of evil programs. Only problem was that she herself was a computer program, and that’s not really my thing. Gemma Arterton trekked through the desert as Tamina, a beautiful Persian princess who wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty, killing a bad guy by stabbing him in the eyes with a live snake. Emma Watson continued to age, making her hotter than ever, and more legal, and Rapunzel, despite being animated, was the epitome of purity and innocence (and the only blonde, a lot of blonde).

But despite the caliber of the competition, Scarlett Johansson won out. As Black Widow in Iron Man 2, I’ll let her catch me in her web any day. By the end of the movie, I couldn’t agree more with Tony Stark’s initial reaction of “I want one.” We get to see her change in the back of a car then run down a hallway filled with nameless henchmen, electrocuting the first one and backflipping off a table onto the second, snapping his neck between her legs. By the end of the hallway, she’s killed like 8 guys, no fewer than 3 with the leg around the neck method. Please god, I know I haven’t been the perfect person, but if you can hear me, if you truly are as benevolent as they say, that is how I want to die.

Worst Nerd’s Fantasy: Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)

Oh, and I’ve gotten some complaints about Hailee Steinfeld losing this category. I keep hearing things like “she’ll grow up,” and “standards were different in the old west,” but seriously people? I mean, I agree completely, but that doesn’t make her any less annoying.

Worst Picture Nominees: Dinner for Schmucks, The Last Airbender, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Winner:

I hate The Last Airbender. I hate him and his bendy friends and his stupid enemies and that weird-ass creature he rides. I loathe them all. I hate what they’ve done to my eyes. I hate the memories they’ve burned into my brain that, no matter the amount of therapy, I cannot remove. I want those hours of my life back. I want to return to a time of innocence, when I thought the world was filled with good and honest movies, that it was a place of joy and happiness untainted by the foul, festering, fetid touch of M. Night Shyamalan.

I hate The Last Airbender. There is no plot other than that which is condensed into interminable, emotionless, soul-crushing narration. There is no tension but the tension of whether you’ll be able to make it to the end without committing a gruesome, sinful, ritualistic suicide. There is no dialogue, save that which sounds as stilted as the mad gibbering of my great Uncle Wallace, whose father was a chimpanzee and whose mother fed him nothing but industrial grade turpentine. There is…nothing. No crime so heinous, no sin so foul, no soul so tainted that warrants the horrible fate of viewing the The Last Airbender. It is, without a doubt, the Worst Picture.

Most Epic Kill Nominees: B.A. motorcycle leap+neck break (The A-Team), Iron Man laser sweep (Iron Man 2), John Malcovich bullet to rocket launcher shot (Red), Perseus lightning sword throw (Clash of the Titans)

Winner:

Each year, blockbuster movies create increasingly evil and powerful antagonists for our heroes to face, but there’s only so many ways to kill a man. Iconic villains require iconic deaths, and even henchmen can earn some bit of glory by dying at the hands of a good guy’s masterful move. Iron Man’s sweeping laser that cuts a dozen evil drones in half (though can they really be called evil if they’re just drones) was memorable, but it invalidated all the fighting until that point. B.A. had some badass wrestler moves, and John Malkovich’s shooting a speeding rocket with a bullet required some serious precision, but Clash of the Titans walks home with the Most Epic Kill. Like I said, there’s only so many ways to kill a man, but how do you slay a god?! As Hades hovers ominously in the stormy sky, Perseus, standing atop the highest point in the city, raises his sword toward the heavens, drawing a sparking lightning bolt to the blade, then hurls it toward the god of the underworld. Lightning and sword strike the demon as one, sending him back to the land of the dead. Epic.

Best Fight Nominees: A-Team Flying Tank, How to Train You Dragon Final Battle, Inception Hallway, Scarlett Johansson Hallway, Scott Pilgrim Final Battle

Winner:

Inception’s magical world of dreams led to some iconic action sequences whose out-of-this-world physics were much better explained than in most movies. Standard action heroes seem to possess superhuman flexibility and strength for basically no reason, but because we could believe the fighting in Inception, it became much more memorable. The zero-gravity hallway battle between Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the security projections was by far the coolest thing on a screen this year. Jaded by the barrage of unoriginal action sequences that accost my eyes every year, very few things truly wow me, but watching Gordon-Levitt spin undaunted through a hallway of alternating gravity, using the fluctuations to his advantage as if it were the simplest thing in the world, that was a moment to behold.

Worst Fight: Random water benders lifting evil Zhao into air and dropping him like 10 feet

Best Line Nominees:

“Being Vegan just makes you better than most people” Vegan Todd Ingram, explaining the origin of his superpowers (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World)

“I Want One” -Tony Stark, after seeing Scarlett Johansson (Iron Man 2)

“It must be some kind of hot tub time machine…” -Nick Weber, upon realizing their hot tub must be some kind of time machine (Hot Tube Time Machine)

“Release the kraken!” -Zeus, before releasing the fuckin’ Kraken (Clash of the Titans)

Winner:

In a year with no standout line to claim a clear victory, we opted not for the powerfully dramatic nor the entertainingly epic, or even for the ridiculously bad. This year, we give the award to a line that broke the fourth wall, because we need more of this literally outside-the-box thinking in comedies nowadays. Too often, movies follow their formula, forgetting the audience that craves something inventive. Having Craig Robinson say “It must be some kind of hot tub time machine,” then turn and face the camera showed that the writers clearly understood the absurdity of the movie’s conceit but just didn’t care. It might have been silly, but it was also hilarious.

Worst Line: “Earthbenders! Why are you acting this way? You are powerful and amazing people! You don’t need to live like this! There is earth right beneath your feet! The ground is an extension of who you are!”

That was just Part 1! Click Here to Continue to Part 2: The Continuation.

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The Nickel Awards: Part 2

Best Scene Nominees: Cunnilingus (Black Swan), Confrontation (True Grit), Cursing Scene (The King’s Speech), Melting Scene (Toy Story 3), Ruffian’s Singing Their Dreams (Tangled)

Winner:

For best scene, we wanted to find those moments in movies that stuck with you long after you’d left the theater. There were no specific criteria, but you know the scenes when you see them. An aging teacher, coaxing a king to let fly a string of profanities. A young fourteen-year-old confronting her father’s killer. Mila Kunis going down on Natalie Portman. In the end, however, we decided to go with the climactic scene from Toy Story 3, when Woody and friends are about to be melted into indistinguishable plastic goop. One often wondered throughout the span of this trilogy of films, watching various plastic anthropomorphs undergo bizarre dismemberments and mutilations…how do toys die? Well here it is, folks: utter annihilation in the form of slow, melting torture. The moment went on for a shockingly long time, and we watched, horror struck, as realization dawned on the characters and each one accepted their death. And then at the last moment, an impossible, uplifting salvation from above. We would never have imagined that our beloved toys would be faced with such an implacable mortal peril, but the fact that it was so heart-wrenching was proof of the power of Pixar to move our hearts. Well done, good sirs. That took balls.

Worst Scene: Aang explaining to the earth benders that there was earth all around them (The last Airbender)

Best Dialogue Nominees: The King’s Speech, The Social Network,  True Grit

Winner:

It’s hard to look at True Grit in the context of the Coen’s recent triumphs such as No Country for Old Men and A Serious Man. Compared to them, True Grit is a by-the-numbers film, much less ambitious, and surprisngly simple and short. But like all the Coen’s films, it was made with a perfectionist’s attention to detail, particularly the dialogue. Not only is it historically accurate, it’s dense with characterization and flavor. Jeff Bridges is simply a joy to hear talk in his rustic grumble, and Hailee Steinfield is pleasurably precocious as a girl far more mature than her years belie. A true actor’s piece, the dialogue becomes the star of this film, revealing cultural insights and illuminating interesting power dynamics. While not a show-stopper in terms of action and spectacle, True Grit is meaty and satisfying for its brilliantly written dialogue, given to actors who know what to do with it.

Worst Dialogue: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Best Story Nominees: Inception, The King’s Speech, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit

Winner:

While the accuracy of The Social Network’s biographical content is clearly debatable, no one can deny that the story was compelling. We loved it for its writing and plot, the way each line worked overtime adding layers, and how every scene advanced the plot in a new, crucial way. The structuring of the film within two intense legal battles focuses themes of ownership, friendship, power and success, and its unconventional, almost anticlimactic ending has echoes of Greek tragedy. Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue may be unrealistically verbose, and at times he forced melodrama upon the story, but the clear attention to detail and overall polish make this a screenplay worth paying attention to.

Worst Story: The Last Airbender

Best Sci-Fi / Fantasy Nominees: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Iron Man 2, Inception

Winner:

With Inception, we reached new depths of science fiction invention. Dreams within dreams within dreams, all linked together—a matrix where only some are aware, a crime scene that leaves no evidence, an idea that stunned the world. This concept created unforgettable sets set in zero gravity, arctic fortresses, and, of course, “Limbo.” For days, the world spoke of nothing but unraveling the mystery and the science behind this mentally stimulating film. We watched over and over again, picking out every detail: the ring, the music, the top.
Christopher Nolan gave us what we’d all been dreaming of: great science fiction.

Worst Sci-Fi / Fantasy: The Last Airbender

Best Comedy Nominees: Easy A, Hot Tub Time Machine, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The Other Guys

Winner:

2010 was a particularly weak year for comedies, but Scott Pilgrim vs. the World displayed a very special brand of humor that wryly embraced the hypersaturated modern sensibilities, riffing off of indie music, video games, and awkward relationships. Though Michael Cera probably wasn’t to best choice to play this movie’s eponymous hero, the clever script, snappily edited by the talented Edgar Wright, kept the laughs coming steadily throughout the film. While 3rd act sloppiness and some apparent last-minute rewrites prevent this film from being a classic, we at The Nickel Screen think that this was the funniest and most original comedy to hit theaters this year.

Worst Comedy: Dinner for Schmucks

Best Drama Nominees: Black Swan, Shutter Island, The King’s Speech, The Social Network, True Grit,

Winner:

While we may have a flare for the dramatic, dramas themselves are not our strong suit. I tried to watch 127 hours on a plane one time, but my headphone jack was broken. And nobody even got close to making it to The Fighter, but we saw a few, and while they all had virtues that spoke for themselves, The King’s Speech rose above the rest.

The Social Network and True Grit had undeniably excellent acting and dialogue, but in the end, neither was as rousing as George VI’s change from stammering duke to dominant sovereign. Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush played off each other perfectly, the plot was well-paced, and the story was riveting.

So Much for Part 2! Click Here to Continue to Part 3: The Culmination.

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The Nickel Awards: Part 3

Best Directing: Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky), The Social Network (David Fincher),  The King’s Speech (Tom Hooper), True Grit (Ethan Coen and Joel Coen)

Winner:

Best Directing is a tough award to determine, because even though a director might have their fingers in every part of a film, it’s not always clear whether credit is due to them or the hundreds of people that work under them. We chose Darren Aronofsky for his work on Black Swan because, of all the directors, his personal mark was apparent throughout the film. Because of its focus on the creative process, Black Swan seemed more intensely personal that any of the other nominations, which were excellent but straightforward stories. The nod goes to Aronofsky because the story of Natalie Portman’s tortured ballerina is told as much through the camera work and the editing as it is through plot.

Worst Directing: M. Night Shyamalan (The Last Airbender)

Best Animated Feature Film: How to Train Your Dragon, Tangled, Toy Story 3

Winner:

Unlike their live-action counterparts, animated films are usually a little more, well, animated. High energy, fun, and light-hearted, these movies exist to make people happy, but that in no way lessens them. Toy Story 3 is just as poignant and heart-wrenching as any film this year, and it’s made better by its wide appeal. How to Train Your Dragon threw us into a world of dragons and created the cutest creature ever. Tangled brought us back to the Disney of old, singing us a charming tale of romance. These three films were some of the best animated features to date, but Toy Story 3’s snappy dialogue, ceaseless humor, and perfect pacing, not to mention its wild emotional swings, make it the best animated film of the year. Honestly, who could resist Buzz’s Spanish setting?

Best Supporting Performance Nominees: Andrew Garfield (The Social Network), Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech),  Matt Damon (True Grit)

Winner:

Geoffrey Rush’s performance in The King’s Speech was simply sublime. His portrayal of failed Shakespearean actor turned elocutionist Lionel Logue was a delight to watch, his pleasant attitude masking a deep-seated determination. Rush was able to conjure up many laughs throughout the film, and yet his was also a deeply moving character, drawing us seamlessly into the king’s plight. Seeing him treat the king as an equal—making him swear and do silly vocal lessons—was just as excellent as watching his interactions with his family, be they acting out plays for his sons or hiding the truth of who he was training from his wife. In my opinion, Geoffrey Rush stole the show, even from a supporting role, and proved yet again how truly talented he is.

Worst Supporting Performance: Dev Patel (The Last Airbender)

Best Lead Performance Nominees: Colin Firth (The King’s Speech), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), Natalie Portman (Black Swan)

Winner:

There are those who would argue Darren Aronofsky’s schlocky ballerina psych-thriller is not a great film, and they would have plenty of ammunition. But Natalie Portman’s incarnation of protagonist Nina is indisputably flawless. Though her character is thoroughly unlikeable, the audience still finds themselves reeling from Portman’s relentless disorientation, fear, and brittleness. Her confusion and her apprehension chill us so that we the audience tiptoe like our fragile star through the plot.

“Stop being so fucking pathetic!” Vincent Cassel’s instructor shouts at her, finally giving voice to the audience’s sentiments in the first act. Portman’s exquisite weakness is intentionally what makes her so ugly in the film, so repulsive. But as her mind and body come apart in the film’s acceleration, Portman imbues her character with a haunting and resounding spirit. That transformation is so believable in Portman’s face that one almost forgets the incredibility of the plot. Even beyond this, Portman communicates the underlying fear that lingers behind the mask of the Black Swan.

And the scene in which Portman calls her mother after getting the starring part–we dare you to name another actress in her generation who can display that level of genuine emotional complexity. Congratulations, Ms. Portman.

Best Picture Nominees: Inception, The Social Network, The King’s Speech, Toy Story 3, True Grit

Winner:

Even though year after year we face the stifling wasteland of unoriginality, even though most films are born only to die a quick death, crippled by their lack of creativity, even though Hollywood’s fear of greatness keeps new ideas mired in the backwaters of production hell, even though all we see is sequel after sequel of popcorn-selling eye candy, I still had a dream.

I had a dream that one day someone would rise up against the confines of Hollywood orthodoxy and say “enough is enough.”

I had a dream that one day in the deserts of Southern California, sweltering with the heat of bureaucracy, writers and producers would sit down at a table of imagination.

I had a dream that one day movies would be made not because of the marketability of their branding, but because of the character of their content.

I had a dream…fulfilled.

Hollywood’s been looking increasingly weary this year, and in case you haven’t noticed, they’re all out of good ideas. But a welcome break from the churn of vampire-robot-action was Christopher Nolan’s Inception. Not only did Inception exceed every action film to have been released this year, it revealed the very structures by which our thrillers are created. In fact, it can be read as a meta-commentary on the nature of film itself. By incorporating filmmaking techniques into the structure of the story (with its random setpieces, effortless culmination of tension, and possibly untrustworthy protagonist), Inception became an action movie that was its own formula. At the same time, it offered a compelling love story, a thought-provoking concept, and bad-ass action, all wrapped up in one incredible movie. Inception immediately became one of our favorite movies of all time, and we predict that it will be appreciated for its many many layers for years to come.

The End!

There you have it. Those are our picks for 2010. From all of us here at 5¢S, we sincerely hope you enjoyed your time here at The Nickel Awards.

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The Inception Trilogy!

Christopher Nolan is far too classy to discuss this himself, but the powers that be at Warner Bros. are undoubtedly racing furiously to figure out how to milk everything they can out of the creative masterpiece that is Inception. Since all lucrative film epics come in threes, I decided it would be fun to speculate on the ways we can expect our fond memories of this movie to be bastardized in the years to come.

Inception II: Deception

Three years after the events in Inception, Dom Cobb (DiCaprio) is a happy single father working as a dream researcher. But someone doesn’t want the world’s greatest dream thief out of the game that easily. They kidnap his children and blackmail him into doing one last job: to convince Miles (Michael Caine) to release the patent on his invention, a dream machine that can connect all of mankind’s subconscious to a collective limbo. But is any of it real? Or is Cobb in a dream of his own devising? Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt return as a dream-hopping super spy couple with a dark secret.

Inception III: Conception

Cobb (DiCaprio) averted disaster and saved his family in the last film, but he has unwittingly released a startling new technology on the world: the ability to enter dreams wirelessly. Now dream hoppers everywhere are gearing up subconscious armies for all-out war. Everyone wants control of the dream-world, and Cobb’s mind is ground zero for the battle. Cobb, Arthur (Gordon-Levitt) and Ariadne (Alexis Bledel) have the ability to stop it, but the dream world isn’t enough this time. With the help of energy tycoon Saito (Chow Yun-Fat), they have to find the dream hoppers in the real world, and bring them to justice.

This would bring the whole series to a nice, explosive conclusion. But of course, that’s never enough…

Inception IV: Reception (Written and directed by Brett Ratner)

Cobb (Hayden Christensen) is the Chief of Dream Police, the organization that regulates “Heaven”, the shared psychic space between all of humanity.  During a routine sweep of an unconstructed area, Cobb is contacted by an alien consciousness with dream-constructing powers unlike anything he’s ever experienced. How will mankind respond to these creatures from outer space visiting their dreams? Are they benevolent, or will they brainwash everyone on Earth in their sleep? Will Ariadne and Arthur’s marriage go off without a hitch? Does any of this make any sense? No one knows!

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