Hidden Track’s Lowbrow Movies of the Year

Whether it’s been the shift from five Best Picture nominees to ten, the general lack of epic movies or just an off couple of years, the Academy Awards have become a suck fest. Last year struggled mostly due to the failed attempt at going young with James Franco and Anne Hathaway, while this year they recognized last year’s foible, turned about face, and high tailed it back to highbrow. And that equally sucked.

As admirable as it was that a black and white homage to the silent movie era won top honors with The Artist, few observers would call that the most entertaining picture of the year. It was a bold project, sure, but it’s hardly a “can’t turn my eyes away” engrossing story that commands anyone’s attention span. Chalk it up to yet another elitist selection by the Academy.

Oddly, while the list nominees at the Oscars this year were among the weakest they’ve ever been, a lot of lowbrow films really delivered this year, captivating viewers from the moment the projector light went on until the last frame rolled.

So, today we’ll point you to some of the best films for those of us who like to be entertained at the movies, as opposed to just staring eye to eye with the bare ass of the emperor’s new clothes.

Best Picture: 50/50 – Among our lowbrow award winners, no film deserves to be considered lowbrow less than 50/50, but simply because Seth Rogen shows up and he’s funny makes it a long shot for serious consideration during awards season. Nevertheless, the story, based on true events between Rogen and one of his best friends, takes you through an emotional car wash. You’ll probably cry on average 14 times experience some serious sadness, but the best part about 50/50 is that unlike most tearjerkers, you walk away feeling nothing but good and probably dialing the number of your best friend.

Best Action Movie: The Warrior – We got clichés. We got comebacks. We got underdogs. We got a broken family. We got a protagonist out of work and in foreclosure, which is super timely. Go ahead, name the plot technique, the Warrior has it.  The Warrior essentially packed an entire season of being Brandon Walsh in a single movie. Nevertheless, pound for pound no movie this year can match The Warrior for pure entertainment value. Think of a Mixed Martial Arts version of Rocky. This movie moves fast and doesn’t let up until the final bell. It  also works because by incorporating the laundry list of clichés, it almost acts like a parody of itself, but it doesn’t, it’s hard to decide. Plus, you get an epic has-been recovering alcoholic Nick Nolte in one of his best performances in years, as well as a couple of unknowns playing some highly convincing meatheads. The Warrior is  just an awesome movie.

Best Music Documentary: PJ20 – When word spread that Cameron Crowe directed a Pearl Jam documentary with over 1,200 hours of rare archival footage at his disposal and a slew of new interviews, it was a done deal in this homer category. Forget it, what else could possibly complete? As expected, nothing came close. Crowe applied the same emotional approach that characterizes his narrative films to his inside look at the formation of the iconic Seattle band and the enduring qualities that have kept  them together. But what really made the film for diehard music fans and PJ fans was his intimate look at the early Seattle scene, the Mother Love Bone days that led up to the band, and the close relationships with the other groups like Soundgarden that help characterize PJ and their amiable nature.

Best Comedy: Bridesmaids – I hate to snub Cedar Rapids, because that was the unsung hero comedy of the year, but Bridesmaids brought the Hobbs treatment knocked the cover off the ball this year. In unheard of fashion, Melissa McCarthy’s raunchy portrayal of Megan actually did earn an Oscar nomination for a Best Supporting Actress. Comedy roles have been getting shafted for years, so at least some degree of recognition is a step in the right direction, but she didn’t win. Between Kristen Wiigs car gags, Melissa McCarthy’s hot game and the whole food poisoning scene, Bridesmaids brought a lot of quality laughs.

Best Idea for a Lowbrow Movie: Roadie – It’s so awesome that somebody a) wrote an entire screen play about a dude who got fired from his job as a roadie for Blue Oyster Cult, b) people actually threw down a lot of money to make a movie about a dude who got fired from his job as a roadie for BOC and C) the movie was really solid. The character development and acting are far from lowbrow, and this is great work and would make a really cool play, but cheers to everyone who got behind this lowbrow idea from the get go. The world needs way more people like you.

Best Children’s Film: The Muppets – The Muppets served as the ideal trip to the movies for families. The younger generation got the fun of meeting the Muppets for the first time, and old timers like us were treated to tons of references to the old days. It was the ultimate “We’re getting the band back together” movie. Admittedly, the new original music sucked, but it wasn’t overbearing and most of the songs we’re the originals. With a short run time and right to the point story, this was a succinct entertaining movie that satisfied everyone.

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5 Responses

  1. Good list… PJ20 and Warrior were both great, Bridesmaids was really funny, Muppets was enjoyable (but I was a bit let down). Still waiting to see 50/50.

    The overall Best Picture noms may not have been that great, but just having Tree of Life in there made up for it, best film of the year IMO.

  2. You’re nuts if you thought the songs in the Muppet movie weren’t good. Life’s a Happy Song is perhaps one of the catchiest songs ever (and IMO deserved the Oscar over Man or Muppet.)

  3. Man or Muppet is just as genius as the best FOTC songs, you must hate puppies and ice cream if you think it sucked.

  4. Yeah I was prob too harsh on those Muppets songs. I was primarily thinking that Life is a Happy Song felt pretty awkward early on in the movie. My nephew actually asked all bent out of shape, “is there going to be singing the whole time?” It did grow on me now that I think about it.

  5. I didn’t care for all the songs in the Muppets movie. Yes, having Brett as the author/composer was awesome and made it all the better, but it was still a little lame at times. Still think Muppets In Space was way better.

    Oh, and Horrible Bosses should have been on this list! We need at least one movie a year with Charlie Day. He’s so good.

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