While Hollywood’s bean counters are all in a tizzy, scrambling to predict whether Avatar has a chance of smashing Titanic‘s record as the biggest box-office hit of all time, we here at EW are preoccupied with more esoteric questions — questions that reach beyond the mere philistine accounting of dollars and cents! Namely, is Avatar James Cameron’s best film? We realize there’s a lot of love out there right now for the visionary director’s brand new 3-D sci-fi-apalooza. And I think we can all agree that it’s a helluva lot better than 1981′s Piranha 2: The Spawning. But is Avatar a better movie than Aliens or Terminator 2 or even The Abyss?
Take a few moments to re-familiarize yourself with Cameron’s resume below and then let us know how you’d rank ‘em! (For the record, here’s how I’d vote — from best to worst: T2, Aliens, Terminator, Avatar, Titanic, True Lies, The Abyss.)
Nobody loves a good pop culture list more than us listamaniacs here at Entertainment Weekly, so kudos to the folks at Gunaxin Media for concocting this clever and certainly controversial compendium of the 10 worst Muppets. “Controversial,” because some of their picks seems flat out WRONG to me. Janice the guitar player from Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem?! At No. 5 on the list?!?! I reject this totally! Those big lips and that dopey voice never fail to make me chuckle. And think about all the little girls who’ve been inspired to pick up a guitar and become super-hot rock chicks because of her example!
And don’t get me started on the inclusion of Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, which Gunaxin criticizes for looking like “a yellow bowling ball with glasses.” That’s a problem? Nay! I say it’s a very clever point of visual distinction in a cast overpopulated with hairy monsters and cutesy animals! Besides, you need the straight-man that is Honeydew to best appreciate the comic brilliance of Beaker, which Gunaxin rightly hails as “one of the funniest Muppets.” But would we feel the same way without Honeydew serving as Beaker’s beleagered foil? The list also suffers fom some easy cheap shots, like Clifford at No. 3. If you’re asking yourself “Who’s Clifford?”, you’ve gleaned the essence of my objection. But some of the picks are spot on, including the cutesy abomination that is Robin, Kermit’s little nephew, which landed at at No. 2. As for No. 1… well, I won’t spoil Gunaxin’s entire list. But I do wish they had dared to go after bigger game. For example, my pick for worst puppet is — sorry, Ausiello — Miss Piggy. Never understood what Kermit saw in that screechy felt sow.
What’s your most loathed Muppet? Start the debate below!
We’ve been busy little elves compiling lists of our favorite (and least favorite) television shows of 2009. Of course we’re not going to give you any spoilers about what tops our list just yet (sorry!), but we’re oh so curious about which series you couldn’t get enough of this year. So tell us, faithful PopWatchers, in the comments below: Did True Blood sink its teeth into you? Are you crazy for Mad Men? Or Did Glee have you singing? Let us know your picks — and keep in mind this is a no-judging zone — and we’ll place you on our nice list!
I love a diva. So when I saw that Fuse was doing a special titled Top 20 Divas earlier this evening at 6 p.m., I immediately set my DVR to record. Truly, I had no idea what I was getting into: Would this be a video countdown with commentary? A VH1-style special that features talking heads—and sometimes the divas themselves—discussing what makes these Top 20 divas so damned special? A mix of the two?
Well, come to find out, it was just literally 20 videos from divas. But, honestly, it was one of the weirdest countdowns I’ve ever seen. To start with, let’s take a look at the show’s Top 20:
You have five more months to think about it, but ESPN's Bill Simmons has already crowned the Movie of the Decade. In a recent podcast with the sports network's Chris Connelly (scroll to 43:42 of the 7/15 episode), the two pop-culture vultures debated the "defining Great movie of the decade," based on Simmons' criteria: (1) Excellence when it came out; (2) Rewatchability; (3) Originality. Connelly proposed the corollary that the "defining" film must be loved, not simply admired. (Goodfellas and The Shawshank Redemption were deemed two exemplary examples from the 1990s).
Connelly chose the Coen's O Brother, Where Art Thou, and Simmons nominated Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous before settling on The Dark Knight. All solid choices. In fact, I have to agree with Simmons about Christopher Nolan's Gotham masterpiece. But I can't stop at just one. Here are my fab-five from the "aughts" that entranced me in the theater, with the classic scene that continues to thrill, tickle or tear me up every time it appears on television.
5. The 40 Year-Old Virgin – Steve Carell's field-trip to Planned Parenthood. 4. Almost Famous – Any scene with Philip Seymour Hoffman's so-not-cool-he's-cool Lester Bangs 3. Cast Away – Tom Hanks' painful reunion with Helen Hunt. 2. Michael Clayton – The moment you learn why the GPS in George Clooney's car isn't working. 1. The Dark Knight – Heath Ledger's police station interrogation with Gary Oldman and Christian Bale.
Your turn, PopWatchers: What's your film of the decade and what favorite scene will interrupt whatever you're doing and suck you in for the rest of the movie?
Ranked lists of pop cultural phenomena are an exercise fraught with peril — nobody knows that better than we here at EW do, as it is half of our job. But Rotten Tomatoes boldly, bravely compiled the "50 Best Reviewed Movies of All Time" anyway. And, well, come to think of it, it’s not all that brave, since they can’t really take the blame for the way things turned out — it’s simply a mathematical averaging of the critical responses to the ranked films. Maybe that’s exactly why it’s so oddly fascinating — you can’t really argue with it as much as you can conscientiously object.
For starters: No Casablanca? (That might fall under the caveat that also prevented Jaws from making the cut — no film with fewer than 20 reviews qualified.) Risky Business better than All the Presidents’ Men? (Maybe an apples and oranges situation, but still.) A Hard Day’s Night (pictured)better than The Wizard of Oz? Better, in fact, than any other movie ever? (Spoiler Alert!: Yes, the Beatles’ rock-and-roll romp is No. 1.)
The latter two bring up the inherent problem in such a ranking: Critics usually grade on a curve. And they should — you simply can’t judge, say, Hannah Montana The Movie the same way you’d judge The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Thus, reviews might be kinda positive for Hannah – as in: hey, this wasn’t nearly as painful as we’d expected! — while critics could spend time picking apart the nuances of pacing, writing, and acting in Button if it didn’t live up to inflated expectations. And voila! Suddenly A Hard Day’s Night far outranks the beloved Citizen Kane. Though that last one gave me a little jolt of pleasure — I’ve never totally gotten what all the fuss is about over Kane, though maybe that’s because I knew the whole sled thing before I saw it. Maybe critics did, too?
What do you think, PopWatchers? Which rankings surprise you? What movies have critics wildly misjudged — or overpraised — over the years? Is A Hard Day’s Night really the greatest movie ever?
Adam Sandler is Hollywood’s "most valuable comedian," according to a new list by Forbes. The list is derived from the results of a fall 2008 survey in which Forbes asked hundreds of entertainment professionals to rate the "financial metrics" of major actors and actresses. And it contains mostly every funny guy you’d expect:
1. Adam Sandler 2. Will Ferrell 3. Ben Stiller 4. Jim Carrey 5. Vince Vaughn 6. Steve Carell 7. Eddie Murphy 8. Sacha Baron Cohen 9. Jack Black 10. Robin Williams
But the list does offer a few oddities, too. First, where are all the women comedians? It’s not that they don’t exist — just last week, EW shined a spotlight on the 25 funniest actresses. I’m especially partial to Jane Lynch, whose supporting roles — in, for example, The 40-Year-Old Virgin or Best in Show — manage to stay in your memory long after you’ve forgotten about her bigger costars.
Second, what in the world are Eddie Murphy and Robin Williams doing here? True, they”ll probably always be liked by the general public — at least in a nostalgic manner — no matter how many debacles they appear in. But Murphy’s last movie, Meet Dave, earned a mere $12 million, while Williams’ last two flicks (August Rush and License to Wed) halted at $32 million and $44 million, respectively. I mean, Seth Rogen, who turned 27 on Wednesday, is much more deserving of a spot on Forbes‘ list: During the past four years, he has starred in seven movies that have cracked $100 million. And his Hollywood future looks just as bright: He’s costarring with No. 1 comedy dude Sandler in Judd Apatow’s Funny People (the trailer’s embedded below), and Rogen will be donning a mask for Michel Gondry’s The Green Hornet.
PopWatchers, what do you think? Why are female comedians always overlooked? Any other omissions surprise you? And does Ben Stiller deserve that No. 3 slot behind Sandler and Will Ferrell? My editor argues that he should be higher, but I’m still suffering from nightmares induced by The Heartbreak Kid.
We at EW are a particularly list-happy group. So it was with great interest that we checked out Turner Classic Movies’ just-published list of the 15 Most Influential Films of All Time (part of the network’s 15-anniversary celebration). Here they are, in chronological order:
The Birth of a Nation (1915) Battleship Potemkin (1925) Metropolis (1927) 42ndStreet (1933) It Happened One Night (1934) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) Gone with the Wind (1939) Stagecoach (1939) Citizen Kane (1941) Bicycle Thieves (1947) Rashomon (1950) The Searchers (1956) Breathless (1959) Psycho (1960) Star Wars (1977)
It’s certainly an impressive group (not to mention a terrific Netflix queue waiting to be created). And they did a nice job of covering their bases by including a musical, a cartoon, a Western, etc. But only one movie from the past 49 years? Really? Wouldn’t you say The Godfather influenced an entire generation of filmmakers? Or Pulp Fiction, for that matter? Which films would you add to TCM’s list? And which would you remove?
The trade magazine The Bookseller just named the year’s oddest book titles. The winner? The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-milligram Containers of Fromage Frais. (Available now on amazon for $795!) Other contenders include Baboon Metaphysics, Curbside Consultation of the Colon (really? You want to do that curbside?), and Strip and Knit with Style. My absolute favorite title though, was a previous year’s winner: People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It. Seriously, these are awesome! How about you? What’s the best-worst (or worst-best) title you’ve ever seen?