Ever disagreed so strongly with a movie review that you were convinced you could change the critic's mind if only you had the chance? Movie review aggregating site Rotten Tomatoes gave a room full of cinephiles that chance at last weekend's New York Comic Con. "Your Opinion Sucks!: Rotten Tomatoes Critics Vs. Fans" leveled the playing field by opening up the dialogue between professional and armchair reviewers. Every member of the audience received a Tomato Meter paddle ("Fresh" on one side, "Rotten" on the other) to vote, and the bravest lined up to defend their unpopular opinions. Once that person made his or her passionate case, the panel, including Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman and Salon's Andrew O'Hehir, had the opportunity to give a rebuttal.
What followed was a rowdy back and forth, but all respectful and in good fun. Gleiberman offered his support to a brave teenager who nearly caused a riot by daring to dislike Wall-E. Opinions are your own, he assured the kid. That's the beauty of the variety we're lucky enough to have. An audience member who declared Twilight to be "Fresh" was greeted by a roomful of "Rotten" votes and a long silence from the panel. Cinema Blend's Katey Rich did eventually concede that at least Bella's high school friends were "pretty fun." (As usual, Anna Kendrick is the best part of anything she's in.) We found the one person in the country who actually liked Speed Racer (O'Hehir: "Some people get migraines and enjoy them.") and we're all still pretty divided on Man of Steel.
The critics were understanding of varying cinematic tastes, but rallied against one common enemy: mediocrity. When another participant defended The Purge as a "summer movie" that "did what it was supposed to do," Gleiberman insisted that we have to raise our standards. Democratized critical dialogues like this one will do just that.
The Canyons screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis recently said that, “Using social media as a way to help build a film is really like riding the wave into the future." Well, he’s been riding the Canyons hate tsunami hard on his Twitter, producing his very own meta review by cherry-picking feedback in the process. Check it out, "Generation Wuss," the sum of @breteastonellis’s tweets is the measured and faintly positive Canyons review you knew was out there...somewhere.
“THE NEW YORKER: Richard Brody loves “THE CANYONS”...while David Denby does not...”
“Extremely perceptive review by Justin Chang of THE CANYONS: Why Paul Schrader’s Reviled Thriller Merits a Closer Look...”
“Stephanie Zacharek's positive review of THE CANYONS in The Village Voice gets it: Vital, Messy, and Alive With Regret”
“Another smart take on the hysterical reaction from the press over THE CANYONS in EW by Owen Gleiberman ”
“Smart summing-up of the critical reaction: Exploring the Hellish Depths of THE CANYONS...and Liking It: Adi Tantimedh"
“Apologies if I telegraphed any spoilers. But I think THE CANYONS is about mood and a world and not plot points. The best movies are.”
And our favourite, tweeted straight from the Venice Film Festival, “Lindsay flaked.”
More:'The Canyons' TrailerCanyons Director Gives Lindsay Lohan AdviceBret Easton Ellis on 'The Canyons'
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In a surprising move, the members of the New York Film Critics Circle, an association of film reviewers from major Manhattan-based newspapers and magazines, selected "Topsy-Turvy" as the Best Picture of 1999.
Part biopic, part backstage drama, "Topsy-Turvy" is an opulent motion picture that focuses on the prickly relationship between librettist William Schwenk Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan. Mike Leigh was selected as Best Director for the same film, which now becomes poised with "American Beauty" (selected by the National Board of Review), "Three Kings" (the Boston Critics' choice) and "The Insider" (the L.A. Film Critics Association winner) as frontrunners in the upcoming Oscar race.
The top acting honors were awarded to two performers who portrayed real-life figures. Veteran Richard Farnsworth was named Best Actor for his turn as Alvin Straight, a man who rode a tractor several hundred miles across the Midwest in order to reunite with his estranged brother, in "The Straight Story," directed by David Lynch. Hilary Swank was cited as Best Actress for her superlative portrayal of Teena Brandon, a Nebraska woman who lived her short adult life as a man, in "Boy's Don't Cry."
The quirky, highly original comedy "Being John Malkovich" earned three awards: Best Supporting Actor for John Malkovich (for playing a character based on himself), Best Supporting Actress for Catherine Keener and Best First Film for director Spike Jonze.
For the first time in its 65-year history, the Circle voted to present a prize for Best Animated Film, bestowing the honors to Trey Parker and Matt Stone for the uproarious and irreverent "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut." As Circle Chairman Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly explained, "You could almost say that this award category created itself. There has been such an increase in animated features targeted at adults as well as children, that as critics we felt we had to recognize superior achievement in the field."
"All About My Mother," directed by Pedro Almodovar, was selected as the Best Foreign Language Film, marking a clean sweep in all the critics' prizes presented to date.
Other award presented by the New York Film Critics Circle include Best Cinematography to Freddie Francis' lensing of "The Straight Story," Best Non-Fiction Film to "Buena Vista Social Club" and Best Screenplay to Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor for the little-seen "Election." A special award for distinguished achievement in film criticism was bestowed on Manny Farber.
Gleiberman and Vice-Chairman David Sterrit of The Christian Science Monitor made the announcement of the awards. The annual presentation of the awards will be held at a dinner at New York City's Windows on the World at the World Trade Center on Jan. 9.