The Year in Movies: 2005’s two lead movie reviewers, David Medsker and Jason Zingale, have laid it all out there, giving their lists of the best and worst the 2005 movie menu had to offer. They couldn’t see everything — quite frankly, they didn’t want to see everything — but they still managed to catch damn near every movie that hit theaters in 2005. Some were good (“Kung Fu Hustle”), some were bad (“Aeon Flux”), some were just god-awful (“Brothers Grimm”), and some simply blew them away (“Batman Begins”).

Some of David’s best movies of the year included “March of the Penguins,” “Sin City,” “Wedding Crashers” and “Jarhead,” while his worst list included “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo” and “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

Jason, meanwhile, listed “Crash” as his best film of the year while also showing some love to “A History of Violence,” “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Brokeback Mountain.” “Last Days,” “The Aristocrats” and “Just Friends,” meanwhile, wound up on his worst list.

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The movies of 2006: Welcome to the suck

One of the nifty perks of my job is getting passes to all of the advance screenings for movies. However, that asset is looking a hell of a lot like a liability over the next couple weeks. This is the list of screenings that Tyler Durden and I have to endure:

Thursday, January 5: Casanova, Grandma’s Boy (I’m seeing the former, Tyler’s seeing the latter. I’m not sure which one drew the short straw.)
Wednesday, January 11: Last Holiday, the Queen Latifah she-thinks-she’s-dying-but-she-isn’t movie
Thursday, January 12: Tristan & Isolde, the alleged forfathers to Romeo and Juliet.

Oh, and on the horizon is “Underworld: Evolution” (we can only hope the dialogue evolved as well) and some silly Harrison Ford thriller (“Firewall”) about a software programmer that has to allow someone to steal a bunch of money or his family dies. The summer, with a “Poseidon Adventure” remake and “Mission: Impossible III” as tent pole movies, doesn’t look any better. Welcome to the suck.


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Hollywood Highlights, week of 12/26

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s name removed from hometown stadium over death-penalty flap: Death-penalty opponents in the California governor’s birthplace of Graz, Austria–“the City of Human Rights”–decried the politician’s refusal to block the execution of a convicted murderer. At the governor’s request, his name was removed from a local soccer stadium and from the city’s promotional web sites.

Apparently, Schwarzenegger’s hometown fans picked up not a hint of his pro-death stance via his roles in movies like “The “Terminator,” “Commando,” “Predator,” and “Conan the Barbarian.”

Food is the new ‘Sex:’ Gourmet magazine editor, bestselling author, and former New York Times food critic Ruth Reichl will produce a new TV show for HBO about a glamorous newspaper columnist who finds herself entangled in a series of complicated romances. The plotlines will be based on Reichl’s own life story, and she and her co-producers reportedly hope the program will become the heir apparent to previous HBO hit “Sex and the City.”

Of course, Reichl herself is a bit more Miranda Hobbes than Carrie Bradshaw in the attractiveness department…but central casting will presumably find a swan to play the story’s less-than-hot duckling. Whom would you cast as the bohemian foodie? Jenna Elfman’s got the bohemian part down, but is sorely lacking the necessary Jewish vibe. Other suggestions?

Mike Myers and wife Robin Ruzan to divorce after 12 years of marriage. As Myers’ cult Saturday Night Live character Linda Richman (who was based on Myers’ real-life mother-in-law) would say, “It’s coffee talk, no big whoop. I’ll give you a topic: Wedded bliss is neither wedded nor bliss. Discuss.”

Dick Clark takes on Regis Philbin in “Smackdown of the Dorian Grays:” Committed to appear on ABC’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve special for the first time since his stroke last December, 76-year-old Clark will face off against 74-year-old Philbin, who will headline FOX’s show after filling in for Clark last year. Third wheel in the mix, NBC’s New Year’s Eve host Carson “Does he still have a show?” Daly admitted for the record that even his father would probably be watching the cage match between Clark and Philbin.

Will Smith identity thief sent to prison. Carlos Lomax was arrested after opening 14 credit card accounts at Pittsburgh-area stores using the legal name of the “Men In Black” star. Lomax was apparently tripped up when a clever sales clerk questioned his Pittsburgh address, remembering that the Fresh Prince had moved from Pennsylvania to Bel-Air many, many years ago.


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Box Office Roundup: Apes rule, lions drool

Based on Sunday’s estimates:

1) King Kong: $31.4 million ($118.7 million, second weekend)
We’re still wondering how worms can go all “Deep Rising” on us when there is nothing on that island that is small enough for them to eat. With predators, there must be prey, yes?
2) The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: $30.1 million ($163.5 million, third weekend)
“Hey, Mouse House, this is God calling. What’s the deal with this overgrown monkey keeping us at #2? You want me to do something about that hobbit Peter Jackson? What? No, I suppose that would only make the movie even bigger. Man, I really want to smite someone, though.”
3) Fun with Dick and Jane: $23.5 million ($31 million, first weekend, Wednesday opening)
Well, there’s a third of the budget back. Only two more thirds to go.
4) Cheaper by the Dozen 2: $14.7 million ($20 million, first weekend, Wednesday opening)
Between this, “The Man,” and the “American Pie” straight-to-video (sorry, “DVD original”) movie, Eugene Levy is fast becoming the Michael Caine/Gene Hackman of the decade.
5) The Family Stone: $10.8 million ($30 million, second weekend)
This looks like a miraculous hold, dropping only 10% from the previous week, but in fact it is a mediocre opening followed by the big Christmas boost.


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DVD shuffle: 12/27/05

Out on DVD this week:

1) Dark Water – RENT: Please, no more horror films imported from Japan! That being said, this psychological scarefest is actually pretty good. Then again, what more can you expect from a cast made up of Jennifer Connelly, John C. McGinley, and Tim Roth? To those who have seen “Aeon Flux,” don’t answer that.

2) Into the Blue – RENT: For as much as I hated this underwater treasure-hunter popcorn flick, you can’t deny watching the mesmerizing Jessica Alba in a skimpy bathing suit for 90 minutes.

3) The Shield: Season 4 – BUY: Perhaps the next best season of the series since it’s sophomore year, season four gets back to the good ‘ol days of Vic and the Strike Team taking down the baddies.

Also out this week is the direct-to-DVD movie “American Pie Presents: Band Camp,” a special edition of “Toy Story 2,” and Wong Kar-Wai’s latest, “2046.”


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