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Criticwatch 2009 - The Whores of the Year
by Erik Childress

Another year, another accoutrement of whores to accompany those who put some actual thought into film. The death of the film critic has been greatly exaggerated, but as always the rise of the quote whores and anonymous fanboy bloggers has gone ruefully under-reported. Perhaps everyone just counts on Criticwatch to do all the heavy lifting, to which is to be considered a great compliment indeed. But if true, serious film journalists want to see the profession continue on into the next decade, they must ensure that the line between true criticism and probing interviews are not blurred into the other side of the pond into mere marketing where the majority of the scum resides. The rallying cry is now. At the Movies did the right thing in dumping Ben Lyons in August. We know the usual suspects. But where one, such as Lyons or Earl Dittman, falls dramatically off the radar of ad copy, another two appear. And it's not always for the better as with Michael Phillips and A.O. Scott. So here we are again to let you know who to keep an eye out for. And then avoid.

Loyal readers are aware that our top whore award has been named for Rolling Stone's Peter Travers. The sheer volume of quotes that he manages to provide for film ads is enough to justify such an honor. Since Criticwatch's existence, Travers has never failed to get into over 60 quotes a year and this year he topped his personal record of 74 (under our eye), grabbing 77 quotes in 2009, including three in the final week for Sherlock Holmes, It's Complicated and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Some of the web have questioned why we pick on Travers, as they cite him as a favorite reviewer. So while he may not be in the running anymore for Whore of the Year, we do like to provide a reminder of why his name runs atop the trophy, and you can make the call. Is he fashioning his copy to look good on an ad? Or is he simply just a pathetically unimaginative writer?


Coraline - Dazzling!
Nine - Dazzling!
Every Little Step - A thrilling dazzler!
Away We Go - Don’t let anyone spoil the secrets in this delicate dazzler.
Public Enemies - Depp, one of the most exciting and original actors this country has ever produced, dazzles.

Duplicity - Fun! Elegant.
Cheri - Elegant and witty.
Easy Virtue - Director Stephan Elliott uncorks a rare vintage of laughs! A comedy of bad manners done by experts. The elegant barbed wit of Noel Coward bubbling up in a time of wolverine grunts.
Tetro - There isn’t a frame of this raw and riveting movie that Coppola doesn’t invest with feeling.
Drag Me To Hell - Raimi’s job is to keep us…riveted. Consider the job done.
Public Enemies - Director Michael Mann shines at revealing the behavior of complex men doing corrupting jobs.
A Single Man - Tom Ford is a true visionary.
Nine - Rob Marshall's work is visionary and electric.
The Last Station - Energetically directed and written by Michael Hoffman.
Funny People - Judd Apatow writes with warmth and wit. It’s the work of a major talent.
Extract - Mike Judge has a rare talent.

Notorious - A new star is born in Jamal Woolard, who defines what it means to hypnotize in this compulsively watchable biopic of rap icon Biggie Smalls.
Sugar - Sugar lights up the landscape of film. Practically defines independent cinema.
Invictus - Invictus is a movie that matters.
Summer Hours - A lyrical masterwork. A near perfect blend of humor and heartbreak.
Is Anybody There? - Blending humor and heartbreak in a performance that makes Is Anybody There?
Crazy Heart - A juicy, career-crowning role.
State of Play - It’s jolting, juicy stuff made juicier by the actors.
Nine - Daniel Day-Lewis acts like the maestro he is and Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman and Fergie are smashing! Penelope Cruz is sizzling! Marion Cotillard is perfection! Judi Dench is a sassy delight! Sophia Loren is the iconic face of Italia!
The Road - Robert Duvall is superb and Charlize Theron captures the power of Cormac McCarthy's words.
I Love You, Man - Paul Rudd and Jason Segel are howlingly funny.
The Men Who Stare At Goats - George Clooney is hilarious.
Observe and Report - Rogen is nutso hilarious.
Pirate Radio - There's no denying the comic energy of the cast.
An Education - Alfred Molina is a comic force of nature.
Jennifer's Body - Megan Fox shows a comic flair.

(500) Days of Summer - I feel mad love for this film and its stars.
Public Enemies - Want to get inside Dillinger’s head?
Julia & Julia - Yum! This movie is a chance to find your inner Julia!
An Education - Prepare to be wowed by Carey Mulligan who is sensational and incandescent.
Cheri - Michelle Pfeiffer radiates uncommon beauty and grace.
Two Lovers - Gwyneth Paltrow is a luminous fusion of grace and grit. A tender and terrific film with one of Joaquin Phoenix’s best performances.
Phoebe In Wonderland - Patricia Clarkson is at her brilliant best.
The Soloist - Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx raise the bar with two of the year’s best performances.
Funny People - Adam Sandler’s best performance ever.
Julia & Julia - Meryl Streep is at her brilliant, beguiling best!
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men - The best of the Sundance best!
An Education - High on the list of the year's best movies
Tyson - ...one of the best movies of any kind so far this year!
Public Enemies - One of the best movies of the year.

Is Anybody There? - Caine truly is magic.
(500) Days of Summer - 500 Days of Summer is magic.
Up - Up works miracles.
An Education - A miracle of a movie!
Moon - Duncan Jones pulls off sci-fi miracles.
Drag Me To Hell - Drag Me To Hell is horror movie heaven!
The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 - This baby is popcorn movie heaven.

State of Play - State of Play keeps the twists coming.
Duplicity - Devilishly clever plot twists.
Observe and Report - Funny as hell
Crazy Heart - Bridges - a master of subtle brilliance - plays the hell out of it.
Broken Embraces - Hot-blooded, haunting and totally embraceable.
Nine - A hot-blooded musical fantasia full of song, dance and simmering sexuality.
Capitalism: A Love Story - A fireball of a film that might even change your life
Jennifer's Body - Hot! Hot! Hot!

Lymelife - Lymelife sends off sparks.
Nine - Nine fires on all cylinders!
Public Enemies - It’s movie dynamite. Explosive!
A Single Man - Julianne Moore is explosively good.
Drag Me To Hell - The laughs are as explosive as the screams.

Bruno - Bruno ist outrageous. You’ll hoot and holler.
Funny People - Seth Rogen, wonderful throughout, is a hoot.
I Love You, Man - Hugely enjoyable. It’s sweet, sweet hanging.
(500) Days of Summer - Sublimely smart, sexy and seriously funny.
Extract - Smart and potently funny.
In the Loop - Fast and furiously funny. You will laugh loud and often.
The Hangover - The breakout comedy of the summer. A comedy cure-all. The beginning, middle and end are all killer funny.
Bruno - A comic call to arms. Bruno defies you not to see yourself in its funhouse mirror. And then dares you to laugh it off. Make the shameless sidesplitting Bruno numero uno on your funny-time list.

Rudo y Cursi - A rowdy ramshackle comedy!
Pirate Radio - A rip-roaring comedy! Philip Seymour Hoffman has a rowdy good time.
The Last Station - The sight of these two acting giants going at each other should come under the heading of pure, rowdy pleasure.
Crazy Heart - it offers the pleasure of watching a great actor at the peak of his form.
A Single Man - Colin Firth gives the performance of his career
Duplicity - Julia Roberts and Clive Owen are at the top of their game.
The Messenger - Woody's full-out emotional range here ranks as a career pinnacle.
The Road - Viggo Mortensen is astounding!
The Last Station - The incomparable Helen Mirren is simply astounding. Christopher Plummer is her match.

Observe and Report - Observe and Report revels in creeping you out and making you laugh-hard.
Paranormal Activity - Paranormal Activity is a potent frightfest that will fry your nerves and creep you out.
An Education - Peter Sarsgaard is shockingly good.
It Might Get Loud - Electrifying!
Bronson - Brilliant...Electrifying...Amazing.
Moon - A mesmerizing mindbender! Sam Rockwell is brilliant.
Is Anybody There? - A richly satisfying film
9 - Richly imaginative.
Up - Wonderfully funny and touching…
Sunshine Cleaning - Funny and touching.
The Boys Are Back - A funny, touching and vital film.
Capitalism: A Love Story - Will have you laughing through your tears.
The Boys Are Back - Clive Owen gives a heartfelt, award-caliber performance.
Crazy Heart - Crazy Heart may finally win him the Oscar that's unfairly eluded him

Passing Strange - A knockout in every way…
Crude - A powerhouse of a documentary!
Inglourious Basterds - A Tarantino power punch!
Tyson - This power punch to the gut...
The Hangover - See this gut-buster...
The Hurt Locker - Director Kathryn Bigelow gives the film an intensity you won’t shake
Crude - This one shakes you.
Two Lovers - It will get to you.
(500) Days of Summer - It will own you.
The Boys Are Back - Be ready: This movie will take a piece out of you.
Away We Go - Away We Go sneaks up and floors you.
Jennifer's Body - The smarts sneak up on you!
Public Enemies - Public Enemies comes at you like Dillinger did: all of a sudden.

Drag Me To Hell - The movie never stops spewing scares at you.
Terminator: Salvation - McG pulls out all the stops.
The Hangover - This movie starts at hilarious and lifts off into the comic stratosphere.
Bruno - The hilarity is stratospherically outrageous.
District 9 - Soars on the imagination of its creators.
Precious - Precious leaves you moved like no film in years and then lifts you up in ways you don't see coming. It has a spirit that soars.

Up - A breathtaking ride.
Tetro - Images that take your breath away.
Avatar - Thunderously exciting.
The Cove - Filmmaking at its most exciting...
Star Trek - Star Trek is a burst of pure filmmaking exhilaration and an irresistible invitation for fun!
Watchmen - Watchmen pulsates with emotional intensity.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Harry is better than ever, a triumph of visual wonder and emotional storytelling.
Where the Wild Things Are - A visual and emotional tour de force.
Public Enemies - A landmark crime saga.
The Road - A triumph!
Bright Star - Sweeps you up on waves of ravishing romance.
Passing Strange - Passing Strange blows the roof off!
Pirate Radio - ...the ship is unsinkable.

Moon - You don’t want to miss it!
Whatever Works - No true movie fan will want to miss the comic mind-meld of Woody and Larry.
Michael Jackson's This Is It - An unmissable film.
Every Little Step - Don’t even think of missing it!
Tyson - It is elemental essential viewing.
Ponyo - Just see Ponyo.

Inglourious Basterds - What’s better than action, hair-trigger suspense, and a machine-gun spray of killer dialogue? If you love movies, you can’t resist!
Me and Orson Welles - What do you say about a movie that launches a charm assault that is damn near irresistible? I say see it!
Star Trek - What more could you ask of a summer movie?
Summer Hours - That rare summer movie – one that matters.
The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 - A summer movie that has everything – non-stop thrills, laughs, and top tier acting.
Fantastic Mr. Fox - This movie deserves to be called groundbreaking.
Invictus - Eastwood's achievement is something rare: He's made a film that actually is good for the soul.
The Hangover - See this gut-buster before your friends do because they’ll be talking about it for weeks.
Away We Go - See it and then start talking. You will.

Peter Travers, ladies and gentlemen. For whom the Whore of the Year is named after. Who will have this honor? Let the countdown begin.



#10 - GREG RUSSELL (5 Quotes)
Greg Russell has only cracked the Top 10 once from Criticwatch. That doesn't mean he hasn't been looked down upon in the five years since. In 2008 he was only quoted four times, including such gems as Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins and the universally maligned Al Pacino thriller, 88 Minutes. He was only quoted five times this year, but it was certainly enough to earn him a spot on this year's list. Don't let Greg's association with WB-TV suggest that he's more than happy to accept Warner Bros.' junket invitations and reward them with a positive recommendation for the Kate Beckinsale disaster, Whiteout. Maybe he just really likes bad mysteries. If that's the case, then just look in the mirror, Greg, and wonder how in the hell you're allowed to cover film.

17 Again - Make you feel young again.
Astro Boy - Astro Boy is an out-of-this-world hit!
Orphan - Suspenseful and thrilling with an ending you won't see coming.
Next Day Air - Action, comedy and excitement...all in one package.
Whiteout - Ice cold thriller.



#9 - SANDIE NEWTON (9 Quotes)
Another virgin to the Criticwatch Top Ten is this sporadic cheerleader for the studios. Don't let all her Emmy and Los Angeles Press Club nominations fool you, there is a major difference between "critic" and "entertainment reporter." If you want to get your 15 minutes with a celebrity and ask inane questions to Simon Baker like wondering if he agrees with a review that The Mentalist is "thoughtfully executed", by all means have at it. But leave actual reviews to the professionals who know something about thought. Sandie was on her usual pace in 2009, only getting quoted three times in the first nine months. But then another six since October helped cement her over such longstanding staples to this list. A few more positive recommendations of the likes of films such as New Moon and Old Dogs and we'll all be looking for a way in which Miss Newton can be thoughtfully executed.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Run, don’t walk! This epic has thrills, chills and plenty of romance.
The Invention of Lying - Funny, poignant and very clever.
A Christmas Carol - A spectacular mind-blowing achievement. Jim Carrey was born to play Scrooge...and is brilliant in several other parts as well.

Duplicity - A very smart and sexy spy vs. spy caper! Julia Roberts is at the top of her game!
Fighting - Channing Tatum and Terrence Howard are perfect!
Brothers - Tobey Maguire gives the performance of his career.

Astro Boy - An irresistible superhero!
Old Dogs - Seth Green is a comedy stand-out.
The Twilight Saga: New Moon - More action. More romance. New Moon delivers a powerful and passionate punch.



#8 - AVI OFFER (7 Quotes)
There are colleagues of mine who follow Criticwatch and half-heartedly joke about wanting to get mentioned on it after being quoted on some indie festival flick or the occasional mainstream title. They're only half-serious though, more in search of a goof than the lasting impression left with being called a whorebag for the marketing tit. We're happy to be quoted when it comes to a film we really believe in, but some people just like to be quoted. The New York City Movie Guru appears to be one of the latter. Mr. Avi Offer has made it a point in the past to contact Criticwatch and let us know that he's in the paper this week. That's called pride. Although I don't know how proud I would be for happily recommending at least five films scorned by four out of five critics. In 2009 Avi became the anti-Dentyne.

District 9 - Exhilarating!
Robert Blecker Wants Me Dead - Profoundly illuminating.
Oh My God - Provocative, captivating and profoundly illuminating. You'll be talking about it for weeks. (21% positive)
The Lodger - Chilling. A riveting and provocative thriller. (19% positive)
An American Affair - Captivating, witty and poignant.[br] Gretchen Mol sizzles. (20% positive)
The Strip - Outrageously funny. An absolute laugh riot. (20% positive)
My Life In Ruins - The comedy surprise of the summer! (12% positive)



#7 - STUART LEE (7 Quotes)
Back on May 1, Criticwatch asked readers to keep an eye on Stuart Lee of WNYX-TV. You can try Googling him, but in true whore fashion you're going to find nothing but the occasional quote attached to a movie. No bio to be found. No listing on any WNYX website that is easily found. His sole contribution in 2008 was letting us know that WB's Nights In Rodanthe was "the most romantic movie of the year." In 2009 he was part of a whore trifecta for the studio along with Mike Sargent and Jeanne Wolf when the trio was used in the ads for WB's He's Just Not That Into You, Ghosts of Girlfriend's Past and Shorts. If that wasn't bad enough, how about recommending the little seen (or heard about) Mischa Barton psycho thriller, Homecoming, currently sporting an 0-for-19 record on Rotten Tomatoes. Is that as bad as calling The Mysteries of Pittsburgh "one of the best coming-of-age movies ever made?" while 34-of-38 critics at RT went negative on it? Welcome to the Whore list, Stuart.

Homecoming - Nasty, nasty fun!
Law-Abiding Citizen - A breathtaking thrill ride.
Shorts - Hilarious from start to finish.
He’s Just Not That Into You - Deliciously witty and laugh-out-loud funny.
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past - Funny and charming…a must-see film!
The Men Who Stare At Goats - One of the funniest comedies of the year.
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh - One of the best ‘coming of age’ movies ever made. Beautifully done!



#6 - MARIA SALAS (8 Quotes)
We honestly and hopefully thought we were done with Miss Salas after her singular quote in 2008 told us that Nothing Like The Holidays was "a Christmas feast you won't want to miss." Instead she came back with a vengeance in 2009, nailing eight quotes for not a single film with a positive recommendation at Rotten Tomatoes. Her best reviewed movie? My Sister's Keeper with a 44% positive rate, a film she told women everywhere to grab their girlfriends to get their heart warmed. "Hey Nancy, let's get the Sex and the City gals together and go see the movie about the Cancer girl and the sister who won't help her anymore. Bring the Cosmo mix." Fun! You are a whore's whore, Maria. Hard to believe this is only the second time you have made the Top Ten.

The Time Traveler’s Wife - A rare gem.
New In Town - Legally Blonde meets Sweet Home Alabama.
My Sister’s Keeper - Grab your girlfriends and go see this summer’s most heartwarming film!
Did You Hear About The Morgans? - The perfect holiday couple.

Knowing - An action-filled thriller! It will keep you on the edge of your seat. Riveting.
Next Day Air - Lethal and explosive...Full of laughs!
Angels & Demons - Better than The Da Vinci Code.
Fast & Furious - The best of the Fast & Furious movies.


#5 - JEFF CRAIG (16 Quotes)
Can you believe this is the first appearance of the Sixty Second Preview guy on Criticwatch's Top Ten? The guy who makes Earl Dittman look like Jesse Jackson, Jeff Craig may be the most elusive "critic" in the world. His literal 60-second movie previews magically show up on CD to radio stations once a month. Notice the "P." Not REviews but PREviews. Since the average screenings throughout the year are about 5-10 days in advance of their premiere, it's right to assume that even as a junket whore, ol' Jeff hasn't even seen most of the films he's PREviewing on his CD. According to a 1991 article by Entertainment Weekly, Craig doesn't even write all of the previews. But because he reads them, he gets the credit on the ad. Is he reading other whore's reviews and getting credit for them? Nobody seems to know. But if he's getting the credit, time to give it where it's due. Whore.

Tetro - **** An extraordinary film in every way, Tetro is in a class by itself.
Monsters vs. Aliens - ****
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian - ****
Easy Virtue - ****!
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs - ****
My One and Only - ****
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee - ****

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian - A summer smash. Fun for the whole family. You won’t have a better time at the movies.
Cheri - A splendid antidote to this summer’s mindless spectaculars. Michelle Pfeiffer’s finest performance.
My One and Only - A terrific, star-studded film. A pure delight!
Easy Virtue - Jessica Biel is a sassy knockout! Kristin Scott Thomas is perfection! Colin Firth is in top form!
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee - Robin Wright is perfection

The Road - Riveting!
Sherlock Holmes - Spectacular entertainment.
A Christmas Carol - Magical, fun and dazzles in 3D.
Cheri - Deliciously witty and seductive.
Easy Virtue - Smart, tart and terrifically funny!
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee - Wonderfully observed, terrifically affecting and exceptionally well-acted...
Taken - Intense! A relentless thriller.
The International - An electrifying thriller that will pin you to your seat.
Angels & Demons - …a pulse-pounding thriller that keeps springing surprises.

Monsters vs. Aliens - This year’s coolest comedy!
My Life In Ruins - An irresistible comedy that will put a big fat smile on your face.
Planet 51 - A funny and inventive comedy. Planet 51 is loaded with funky cool animation and off-the-wall comedy. It is lots of fun.



#4 - SHAWN EDWARDS (23 Quotes)
Not a year has gone by without Shawn Edwards finding his way onto the Criticwatch Top Ten. One of the few whores that has earned that distinction along with winning both the Whore of the Year and its runner-up prize. That is elite status. And in the coming years we may have to replace him on the list with the studio marketing departments that continue to use his worthless words. Since a whore's true nature is to give it up to whomever is willing, perhaps it's time to start calling out the actual johns who are enabling this joker. So Sony, Dreamworks, Miramax, WB, Rogue, Summit, Universal, Focus, Magnolia, Fox Searchlight and Lions Gate - you are all on notice in 2010. No more Shawn Edwards. Plenty of respectable online and print journalists you can use to offer praise. The only one allowed to use Shawn in their ads next year is Tyler Perry as he might enjoy the sucking that Edwards has to offer.

District 9 - *****
Adventureland - ****!
The International - ****!
Monsters vs. Aliens - ****
Sherlock Holmes - ****

17 Again - Wildly entertaining.
Fighting - A winner!
2012 - Phenomenal!
Astro Boy - Awesome! A total blast.
Fast & Furious - Turbo-Charged.
A Perfect Getaway - Shocking! The twists and turns will keep you guessing until the very end.

State of Play - A razor-sharp thriller.
The Uninvited - A creepy and intense thriller.
The Soloist - Powerful and inspiring!
State of Play - Sophisticated, intelligent, powerful.
Where the Wild Things Are - ...creative, original and visionary...
Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant - Clever, original and totally entertaining!

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs - The coolest 3D experience of the year!
2012 - The most exciting film of the year!
The Twilight Saga: New Moon - The most romantic movie of the year!
The Soloist - Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. soar in the most moving film of the year.[br]
Did You Hear About The Morgans? - Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker are a perfect combo.

Where the Wild Things Are - A true masterpiece. One of the most creative, original and visionary movies ever made.
Public Enemies - Public Enemies is a gangster movie classic.
Adventureland - It’s an instant classic.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Better than the original.
Fired Up - Totally hilarious! The funniest, craziest and zaniest teen movie ever.



#3 - JEFFREY LYONS (27 Quotes)
It's been a tough year for poor Jeffrey. Back in May he was fired from Reel Talk as the television show went kaput. A few months later his son, Ben, the subject of year-long scrutiny as the co-host of At the Movies, was fired as well after just a single season. The Lyons quote machine continued on with surprising strength, garnering 12 of his 27 in the seven months after his firing. Still a far cry from his initial 15 through the first five months of 2009 and well below the 50+ quotes he's put up each of the last four years. Could the Lyons brand of "sub-literate" film criticism be on its way out? Those quotations come courtesy of one Glenn Kenny, the film critic you may have seen as the sleazy sex reviewer in Steven Soderbergh's The Girlfriend Experience this year. The full quote is actually "uniformly sub-literate" as Kenny describes his experience editing the copy Lyons turned into Video Review back in the mid-80s. How else do you describe the guy who called Roger Ebert "an old putz" when the Pulitzer Prize winner dared to challenge his son's questionable ethics? If you're Mr. Kenny, "high-handed prick" suffices. Again, not my words. But here are Jeffrey's uniformly sub-literate ones:

Gotta Dance - I loved it!
The Burning Plain - I loved it.
Valentino: The Last Emperor - I’m mesmerized. I love this movie.
Paris 36 - A marvelous movie! I adored every single solitary frame. It’s enchanting. A work of art. It’ll be one of my favorites of the year.

Departures - Unforgettable.
The Stoning of Soraya M. - A movie you’ll never forget.
Oh My God - A fascinating journey.
Under the Sea 3-D - A lovely excursion into another world. Superb entertainment for family members of all ages.
Crossing Over - Superb! Deeply absorbing.
Local Color - a very absorbing film.
Looking for Paladin - The film is absorbing and offbeat
Shrink - Intense and absorbing!
The Burning Plain - Compelling and absorbing.
New York, I Love You - Heartwarming, poignant and absorbing.
My Sister’s Keeper - Enormously touching and genuinely poignant.
Departures - A deeply touching movie exploring an incredible range of emotions.
Motherland - Incredibly moving and inspiring!
Local Color - Powerful, heartfelt and nostalgic
Fifty Dead Men Walking - Powerful and engrossing.
Reunion - The acting is forceful and powerful.
Shrink - Kevin Spacey heads an excellent cast, which thrusts the viewer deep in the lives of the well-drawn characters.
New York, I Love You - Some of the finest ensemble acting in a long time.

The Caller - A quiet but powerful drama.
The Education of Charlie Banks - A tense and compelling drama.
The Merry Gentleman - An edgy, intelligent crime drama.

12 Rounds - Move over Jackie Chan…
The Pink Panther 2 - It's better than the first one.
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian - One of the best family films of the year…as engaging as the original…and with one of the funniest screenplays of the year
Fired Up - Funny…Hilarious!



And now, the winner of 2008’s Kevin Thomas Sloppy Seconds Award


#2 - STUART ALSON (15 Quotes)
So you don't recall ever seeing this name in a newspaper ad? How about in a commercial? Nope? Well if you didn't see our write-up of him from back in July then an introduction is in order. Mr. Alson is the founder of the New York Independent Film and Video Festival, now in its 16th year. He’s also the publisher and editor-in-chief of Independent Film Quarterly. And just happened to be quoted as many times as Ben Lyons this year and even more than such Criticwatch staples as Mark S. Allen, Paul Fischer and Jim Ferguson. If it wasn't for Jeff Craig he would have been in the Top Five for total quotes amongst known blurbites. Better yet, he's now the runner-up to Whore of the Year.

You see, unlike Allen, Fischer and Ferguson, Alson doesn't pimp for the theatrical set. All of his quotes have come on DVD boxes, mainly on films that never saw the light of day in a theater. At least in a major city or outside of a festival. And to think how much crap we give Pete Hammond for all his praise of the direct-to-video American Pie sequels.[br]

Bob Funk - Rachael Leigh Cook’s best film since She’s All That!
Ghost Cat - Ellen Page shines as the lead in this suspenseful supernatural drama.
Ghosts of Oldfield - Kellan Lutz outshines his performances from Twilight and Prom Night.

Sam’s Lake - The producers of Twilight bring you this true supernatural horror that will leave you trembling.
Carnivorous - Bone-chilling serpentine terror ensues in this classic that outdoes the Anaconda series from the get-go.
Simon Says - The best horror film of 2009!
Drifter: Henry Lee Lucas - The most effective portrayal of a serial killer to ever be put to film!

Ghost Month - The Grudge meets Haunting In Connecticut in this terrifying supernatural shocker!
The Perfect Sleep - Goodfellas meets Chinatown in this modern gangster masterpiece.
Bounty - High Plains Drifter meets Young Guns in this shoot em up tale of revenge.
Angel and the Badman - Delivers gunslinging action in the vein of 3:10 To Yuma.
Come Hell or High Water - In the vein of Broken Trail with the shoot em up action of 3:10 To Yuma
All Hell Broke Loose - David Carradine delivers in this post Civil war western reminiscent of The Outlaw Josey Wales.
The Showdown - In the tradition of High Noon and Dances with Wolves comes another soon to be classic.
Redemption - High Noon Meets Unforgiven in this soon to be classic tale of guns, revenge and redemption.


Heard of any of those? Bob Funk and The Perfect Sleep are two Magnolia titles that actually got an ultra-limited release a few months before hitting DVD. Angel and the Badman, Drifter: Henry Lee Lucas, Sam’s Lake, and Simon Says were distributed by Lions Gate Home Entertainment. The other nine titles belong to a fresh new company called North American Motion Pictures. (We've even done some promotions for them.)

Festival organizers have a tendency to oversell the films they’re showing. Obviously you’ll never see a bad write-up in a festival program book and no one is going to introduce a film to their audience with anything but praise. Occasionally it makes you wonder if some of them actually saw the films or if they’re just towing the line and following the copy. But I think Alson could have at least found some better comparisons than The Grudge, Haunting In Connecticut and Young Guns, right? Look, we understand that independent films need their champions – but a giant snake film with DMX? A film Bill Gibron stated that “a day in the life of DMX would have been a lot scarier than this attempted frightmare.”

Alson I’m sure has his hands full with his festival. That’s a year-round ordeal. But as editor-in-chief for Independent Film Quarterly, the magazine that is listed next to his name on every one of those quotes, perhaps he might want to have a website that featured some actual current reviews. I don’t know precisely where their quarters begin and end, but the only films from 2009 that have any coverage on their theatrical page are Gigantic, Rudo y Cursi, The House of the Devil and The Girlfriend Experience (which is also listed under the CineVegas Film Festival where it never played.) I’ve written more reviews THIS YEAR as they have TOTAL on that page. On their DVD page they have separated what reviews they have into their respective studios. One that’s not on the page – North American Motion Pictures. No reviews for them. Guilt? Laziness? No matter. We didn't think we had seen the last of Mr. Alson back in July and that proved correct. He's already getting a headstart on 2010 as well.

13teen - Seven meets Paranormal Activity.
D.C. Sniper - From the trunk of a car, he terrified a nation. Enemies of the state: Manson, Unabomber, D.C. Sniper


Now he's just listing bad people on the DVD cover. That seems easy enough.

Kevin Thomas Sloppy Second Award Winners: Bill Bregoli, Jim Ferguson, Stuart Alson

You know who else won that award? The guy who is the 2009 Peter Travers Whore of the Year




#1 - PETE HAMMOND (49 Quotes)
Whether it be Maxim, Hollywood.com, Boxoffice Magazine or Backstage Magazine, Pete Hammond is going to get his quotes out there. The man is the embodiment of pure shame (or no shame depending on which angle you are coming from.) This marks a very special year for the Whoremeister though. Pete Hammond not only becomes the first blurbite to win the Whore of the Year twice (along with Earl Dittman), but he is the very first to have achieved that feat while also winning both the Runner-up Prize as well as the Bag O'Douche Award for his record-breaking 88 quotes in 2007. That's the trifecta for Hammond and he's done it in just the last four years since hitting the Criticwatch radar in 2005 (where just six months worth of quotes were good enough to finish 4th that year.)

This is not a case of us picking on Hammond, trying to pigeonhole him into a system to call greater attention to this problem. The numbers just don't lie. 29 of the 49 films for which Hammond was quoted on in 2009 received a ROTTEN tomato. That means less than 60% of the critics who posted reviews for the film gave it a positive review. 21 of those 29 films were at less than 50%. We'll see where the consensus swings on The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond which is currently languishing at 60% with only five reviews posted. And another hanging at 50% (with only two reviews) - the straight-to-video Scooby Doo: The Mystery Begins - again, recommended by Pete Hammond.

Hammond will likely argue that this makes him less of a snob than the average critic and how I'm just a hater jealous of his name recognition. Listen pal, just because more people know the name of Balloon Boy's Dad doesn't mean that I'm envious of his attention. Criticwatch earns attention amongst those that care about the state of film criticism and consumer affairs. And in that company you will always be a punchline to a bad joke; a member of the traveling Aristocrats of Whores taking a dump on the industry we love with worthless praise like this:

Inkheart - Whimsical, exciting and entertaining...
Alien Trespass - Highly entertaining!
It's Complicated - Smart, sophisticated and hilarious.
Extract - Flat-out hilarious. A terrific, smart and really funny comedy.
The Answer Man - A sparkling, wickedly funny comedy.
My One and Only - An exceptionally good comedy loaded with laughs, heart and wonderful performances.
G-Force - Hilarious! Pure family fun: Action, laughs and heart.
The Princess and the Frog - Pure holiday entertainment.
17 Again - Hilarious and heartwarming.
Fanboys - Hilarious! It’s a blast!
Fired Up - Fired Up is a total blast.
Monsters vs. Aliens - The year’s funniest comedy.
Up - The funniest movie of the summer.
The Proposal - Riotously funny!...The Proposal is without question the year’s best comedy.
Old Dogs - Riotously funny!
It's Complicated - Movies don't get any funnier than this!

Angels and Demons - Movies don't get more exciting than this.
Taken - The best action movie since The Bourne Ultimatum. Get ready for the ride of your life. Move over Bourne.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - ...this Potter tops them all!
Earth - Remarkable in every way...even better than March of the Penguins
Coraline - Henry Selick...tops even his brilliant Nightmare Before Christmas.
Angels and Demons - Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard have topped The DaVinci Code in every way imaginable!
Amelia - Amelia is grand entertainment in the best tradition of the movies.

Coraline - A visual stunner that takes animated films to thrilling new heights!
Battle for Terra - Mind-blowing 3-D animation.
Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs - The most purely entertaining and inventive animated comedy of the year.

Race To Witch Mountain - Race To Witch Mountain has it all!
Fighting - The real deal.
Angels and Demons - Perfect summer entertainment.
The Time Traveler’s Wife - McAdams and Bana are the perfect pairing.
(Untitled) - A comedy surprise! (Untitled) has style, laughs and attitude. The ensemble cast is just terrific.
Crossing Over - Harrison Ford is terrific. An engrossing, thoroughly entertaining movie with great performances from a first-rate ensemble cast.
The Burning Plain - A powerful, compelling and shocking drama that will keep you hooked from beginning to end.
The Uninvited - A truly frightening movie experience with a 100% certified shocked of an ending.
The Boys - The incredible jaw-dropping story behind the songs we’ve been singing for a lifetime.
Earth - Earth is a breathtaking motion picture achievement.
Race To Witch Mountain - A fun, heart-racing adventure
The Uninvited - The twists and turns will send chills down your spine.

Earth - Spectacular.
A Christmas Carol - Spectacular!
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Spellbinding! Spectacular! Sensationally acted and brilliantly directed...
The Maid - First class...simply superb!
Whip It - Juno's Ellen Page is superb
Invictus - Matt Damon is extraordinary.
The Boys - Extraordinary!
A Christmas Carol - An extraordinary new 3D version of the greatest Christmas story of all.
Lymelife - Funny, touching and quite extraordinary.
The Blind Side - An inspiring and extraordinary true story.

Invictus - A true story that lifts our spirits and gives us hope.
Paris 36 - ...a Parisian dream that will have you walking out on air and feeling great about the joyous possibilities of movies.
Is Anybody There? - A true gem of a film.
My Sister’s Keeper - Exceptional! This film is unlike any other you will see this summer.
The Stoning of Soraya M. - Unforgettable…Sure to be one of the year’s most controversial films.

The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond - Bryce Dallas Howard is remarkable.
Invictus - Morgan Freeman was born to play Nelson Mandela. Morgan Freeman is remarkable.
My One and Only - Renee is at her best!
The Blind Side - This is the best performance of Sandra Bullock's career.
The Burning Plain - Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger deliver explosive performances.
Fighting - Channing Tatum’s raw star power blasts through the screen.
The Boys Are Back - **** One of the year's most satisfying and rewarding motion picture experiences. Clive Owen delivers a moving and unforgettable portrayal.
Tennessee - Tennessee is a rewarding and moving drama with exceptionally fine performances all around. The real revelation is Mariah Carey. She’s completely authentic and memorable in a movie that’s well worth seeing.
My One and Only - This is one to see!
The Burning Plain - A certain must-see this fall!
Brothers - An Oscar-worthy must-see movie for our times.
It's Complicated - The date movie of the holiday season

Amelia - Amelia simply soars.
Fighting - A total knockout!
17 Again - Zac Efron shoots and scores!
Monsters vs. Aliens - Monstrous laughs!
Hotel for Dogs - One comedy will have you begging for more!
Confessions of a Shopaholic - Hilarious! Confessions is a nonstop laughing spree.
Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs - It's raining big food and big laughs.
Fanboys - The comic force is with Fanboys.


PETE HAMMOND - YOUR 2009 WHORE OF THE YEAR


***************FIVE TO WATCH IN 2010***************

PAUL CHRISTENSEN (Movieweb.com)
Three quotes on the year. Two for Warner Bros. and a third that just about instantly put him on this list. The oft-delayed and ultimately dumped straight-to-DVD Uma Thurman comedy, The Accidental Husband, boasts a quote from Paul. However you define "romantic comedy", in a year with (500) Days of Summer, Away We Go and The Invention of Lying, I think Paul's quote speaks volumes about him.

Sherlock Holmes - Explosive
Orphan - More shocking than The Sixth Sense.
The Accidental Husband - The funniest romantic comedy of the year.



KELLI GILLESPIE (CW-TV/San Diego)
Kelli was not mutually exclusive to one studio or another. She was just exclusive to crap. Her recommendation of Old Dogs alone was almost enough to bump her up to the Top 10. But we're going to give her a chance to go away. Scoot along now, Kelli.

Bandslam - If you loved School of Rock, you’ll love Bandslam. Entertaining and fun, plus full of great music.
Sherlock Holmes - Sherlock Holmes is a must see.
Terminator: Salvation - Intense…Terminator Salvation will blow you away.
Bride Wars - Grab all your girlfriends and go see this movie! Hilarious and heartwarming.
Old Dogs - Full of humor and heart!



JAKE HAMILTON
It's not that the films Jake recommended through his quotes this year we're all that bad. But you would unlikely be able to tell the difference between what's GREAT and what's just good. For Warner Bros alone, Jake announced two as the best of the year, two as epic and one as a masterpiece. And The Blind Side is about as much of a "sports movie" as Christine is. Be careful in 2010, Jake.

Inglourious Basterds - The best film so far this year! Prepare yourself for another Tarantino masterpiece! Brad Pitt is viciously fun!
Where the Wild Things Are - A magnificent film that ranks among the year's very best.
Sherlock Holmes - One of the best films of the year.
Watchmen - Epic! A cinematic masterpiece.
Inkheart - An epic adventure for the entire family!
Monsters vs. Aliens - Hilarious fun for everyone.
State of Play - Will totally blow you away.
The Soloist - This is a movie that must be experienced. Simply flawless.
Bandslam - Smart, funny and cool.
The Blind Side - Shows future sports movies how it's done.




SHELLI SONSTEIN (Clear Channel Q104.3)
Look up Shelli Sonstein's Movie Chat and you will learn that The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is "an instant classic" - because of the parallels to Heath Ledger's tragic young death. An instant classic only worth 3 stars by the way. Crazy Heart gets four but the too long eye-gasm of Avatar gets 3 1/2 and makes her Top 10 list. Just because you are connected to New York's Classic Rock station Q104.3 - doesn't mean everything is a classic. Not everything is "the best" or "the most." Some things just are. Like how eager you are to praise.

Duplicity - Outrageous and hysterical
Shorts - One of the best family films of the year!
Crossing Over - The best new film of 2009! In the vein of Crash with a stellar ensemble cast – this thought-provoker will challenge and haunt you.
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh - The most provocative love story of 2009 with knock-out performances by Peter Sarsgaard, Sienna Miller and Nick Nolte.
The Time Traveler's Wife - The most romantic film since The Notebook.



MATT SULLIVAN (In Touch Weekly)
We placed In Touch Weekly Magazine (the poor woman's US Weekly) on our Top Ten list a few years back. This year we're calling out the name frequently associated with the blurbs. It's not like you can just easily look up Matt Sullivan's work online at the magazine's website, so whether or not he's directly responsible for the praise on Cirque Du Freak and the universally maligned Gentlemen Broncos is up for speculation. The rest are credited to Matt though. And I know this is essentially a magazine for women, but that doesn't mean this fool has to condescend and recommend every bad romantic comedy out there.

Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant - A fiendishly funny fantasy-adventure.
I Hate Valentine's Day - Adorable!
The Proposal - Hilarious and a lot of fun.
The Ugly Truth - The battle of the sexes is fought by two tough foes in this sassy, sexy screwball comedy! It’s wicked fun.
Gentlemen Broncos - Inspiredly absurd, it's a lot of fun.



**********THE BEN LYONS “NEW GENERATION” WHORE AWARD**********
GERRAD HALL
Gerrad is a segment producer for Reelzchannel. According to a 2008 profile piece on him, he is roughly allowed about four minutes with each guest for his interviews. That's barely enough time for two puffy questions let alone anything of value. When he was given a whole 10 minutes in London with the cast of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix though, Hall had a chance to prove ReelzChannel's mantra by asking questions "not being asked (at) 40 other junkets." He went on to ask Daniel Radcliffe such probing questions about making an idiot of himself on set and how it was to work with a new director and what the mood of the set was and if he hoped that Harry died in the final book. Obviously that was then and this is now. In the now, Gerrad Hall is the guy who suggested that watching the film Chicago might have persuaded the IOC committee to give the Olympics to the Windy City. He may as well have been on the corner of Rush St with a sign that read "Will Blow WB For Quotes." Of course, few things can blow as hard as Whiteout. Not that Gerrad would admit that.

The Invention of Lying - One of the most original comedies this year.
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past - McConaughey and Garner have perfect chemistry.
Whiteout - Will keep you guessing right up until the end.



**********THE MICHAEL MEDVED “BAG O'DOUCHE” AWARD**********
ROGER MOORE

Mr. Moore has likely already tuned out, deeming a branding with anything associated with douche as childish, but actually becoming of some lowly online critic as myself heard every week on a lowly 50,000-watt radio station known nationwide as one of the first superstations, WGN. But this is not about me. It's about Mr. Moore and the number of professional critics out there who make their living away from the world of "print" that he slammed earlier this year.

In June, Roger wrote a brief commentary on a John Horn article from the LA Times about how review aggregator sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic were now being used by studios in their marketing materials. More or less the modern equivalent of "Two Thumbs Up", Horn's article focused on the positive-to-negative numbers and how they were being used. Moore took a different approach. He wanted to go inside the numbers and how they came to be.

"I've complained for years about the way Rottentomatoes weights its measurements of the pulse of the movie reviewing community, leaning heavily on the self-published members of self-policing, self-puffing online reviewer societies to credential a lot of critic-come-latelies, causing mediocre fanboy friendly fare to earn higher tomatometer "ratings" than worthy films..."

And the man has a point. Despite these sites having standards over who is included in the ranks; standards that don't exclude anyone good enough to be a member of a professional critic's group, it's easy to pinpoint that some of the reviewers can be a soft sell if it plays into their particular genre wheelhouse. It's right to ask questions. Oh wait, there was an ellipsis on that quote.

"than worthy films...that veteran critics (professionals, most of them print) see as worthwhile."

Like when he took issue with Criticwatch for naming him as a blurby to watch a couple years back and slammed my taste as uncouth because I praised Knocked Up and went negative on The Kite Runner. OK then, so in his mind most of the professionals are in print - a sentiment that has been echoed for the better part of a decade while a contingent of online writers struggled to gain respect with them.

"This issue of "credentials" and credibility is becoming murkier partly because the studios have done what they can to pump up online fan reviewers (Ain't it cool, etc.) and partly because newspapers and magazines have laid off so many critics that any critic's society, from the National Society of Film Critics on down to the Florida Film Critics' Circle is peppered with folks who no longer review. We've all turned into the Hollywood Foreign Press Association."

And we don't want that. We also don't want an egomaniac in his position continually trying to prop up his own status as the premier critic in Orlando by slamming an entire group of writers. The Online Film Critics Society, a membership to which I belong, wanted some clarification from Moore about his less than flattering comment towards internet-based critics. Agreeing with some of his concerns but disputing his assertions of non-professionalism, the Governing Committee e-mailed Moore only to receive a snarky response dismissing paid online writers as "hobbyists" who don't count because they sell ads which amount to a conflict of interest. The four paragraph e-mail to Moore was also not as "concise" as he would have liked, to which he responded with a chippy, "Lotta time on your hands, I take it?"

The Governing Committee responded back, casually wondering about his own hypocrisy of a print critic writing in a medium that depends on ad copy to pay their employees, but it was to no avail as Moore continue to shoot back at MaryAnn Johanson (as respected an online writer as there is) with needing an editor to get her concerns down to, dare I say, a more blurb-worthy length.

Normally, the Bag O'Douche Award has gone to a critic who has displayed a single instance of douchebaggery. The late Joel Siegel walking out and causing a scene in the middle of a Clerks II screening and Lou Lumenick smacking Roger Ebert with a binder on his knee at the Toronto Film Festival when being asked to move his head are examples. Moore though, it seems, is just a year-round D-bag. When Universal couldn't get him time with the cast of Cirque Du Freak when they were coming to town, Moore threw a tantrum and wrote a rant until he was given access. The rant was subsequently taken down. But when a local colleague a few months earlier questioned the practices of the local PR agency over misinformation and who got access to Woody Allen's Whatever Works and when, Moore went ballistic on HIM. The writer did nothing to demean Moore, but simply was asking questions over where the benefit was in keeping out (and in some cases, directly lying to) all the local Orlando critics but Moore who is always the first in line for any screening invite. He wasn't saying that Moore shouldn't be invited or that anyone was more important than the Floridian God. He was just echoing a sentiment held by critics nationwide that, simply put, adheres to the notion of "invite one, invite all." Potentially two positive reviews are better than one, right? As long as they are "professional", of course. Moore wasn't having it though and took it as a personal affront, threatening to have the writer removed from all of the Orlando screening lists and nearly succeeding, until the considerably cooler heads of the region's PR reps prevailed.

If the print world is such the end-all, be-all of integrity, then how do you explain Peter Travers and Pete Hammond? Is he even aware of the irony of questioning the blanket integrity of writers who make their living online by ranting about it on a BLOG? Of course not. Moore's behavior is simply uncalled for. He believes he's God's gift to the print world because he's syndicated. So is Christy Lemire, pal. Big deal. Moore is a petulant child clinging to the last clangs of his rattle and shaking it wildly. Critics have enough issues out there with layoffs and being forced into, God help them, an online medium to make a living and stay relevant. We're opinionated. We can come off as smug or out-of-touch with the masses. But what we don't need to be - what NOBODY NEEDS TO BE - is an asshole. There's simply no excuse for it. But there's a Bag O'Douche waiting for each of them.


Finally, a look back at the entire year in quotes. Just click on over HERE and judge for yourself which critics are worth following and which belong on this list for 2010.


link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=2904
originally posted: 12/31/09 01:57:25
last updated: 12/31/09 03:41:14
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