Sunday, March 05, 2006

Best Gut Wrenchers

I'm not impressed with the last year of films where Brokeback Mountain will actually win the Academy Award (and set some sort of nomination record to further highlight the lack of other quality films). It deserves an honorable mention and a script award, but not the Oscar.

The Oscars should seriously consider taking a year off when nothing even matches up to the bottom of their list in the previous 2 years. It degrades the award if a film wins simply because of timing luck.

I'm not suggesting Brokeback is a horrible film, though it could have definitely used more bare bottoms. It is a rare film in that it will win based purely on the story quality. There's nothing exceptional about it otherwise. The directing was above average. The acting is pretty much what you would expect watching a TV movie, and the director did little if anything to correct its problems. The subject, however, is controversial enough to cause people to cough up their popcorn while watching. Which brings me to my best-of list for you ...

Rare films that are actually capable of making you feel sick.

I won't say which one, to avoid any enjoyable surprises, but one is even about creating and using such films to cure criminals. We at Halliburton do not approve of any such psychological warfare unless it uses a petroleum based product.

Another oddity is how these films tend to group together. Clockwork and Deliverence were both released in the early 70s, then there were near decade-size gaps before another wrencher appears.

To add to the odd, there are no actual horrror films on the list, but 1 documentary did make it. The closest to the horror genre is Stephen King's reworked novel. I may have put Saw (2004) on this list, but it came after I saw all of these films and simply didn't have enough to overcome that. Another problem with horror films is that they tend not to draw the better acting talent (Misery was an exception), and the feeling that these films really happened/are happening to someone is a very necessary part that lesser acting talent can interfere with.

No 80s films, though Robocop (1987) is close. Some of you may find it more surprising that no pre-70s films are on the list. To me, because of the realism factor, that's not as surprising. Technical limitations were the major factor, though 20 years of war & post-war conservative censorship rules didn't help.

No repeats by any actor/director.

The final oddity is that it doesn't include any of the great 90s psycho-horror films like Silence of the Lambs, Seven, or American Psycho. All of those are capable, I'm sure, of deeply affecting some people, but they are all a bit too surreal and glossy.

All are great films, regardless of whether your stomach churns or not, but listed here in order of least likely to make you ill to the most likely:
Irreversible is the 1 film I'm actually scared to watch again. Which isn't a problem only because I remember it so vividly.

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