The AP Film Awards

Not another top-10 list.

AP Film Studies is not immune from the urge to make year-end lists. But rather than churning out another boring-ass top 10, I’m holding an alternate awards ceremony, one that encompasses more than just Gravity, 12 Years a Slave and whatever Meryl Streep did. Which certainly didn’t include clubbing giant monsters with ocean liners (but Jesus, imagine if it did!). 
Best Damn Movie, Period: The Wolf of Wall Street

Scorsese and DiCaprio out-gonzo Hunter S. Thompson to create the year's funniest film. And the scariest. And the most infuriating. It's a masterpiece. 

Smartest Stupid Movie: Pacific Rim

On the surface, Guillermo del Toro's blockbuster is the story of big-ass robots punchin' big-ass monsters. But simmering below is…well, robots punchin' monsters. But damn if they don't do their punchin' in a gorgeous, fully realized world—a world containing genius, for those willing to look for it. 

Dumbest "Smart" Movie: Elysium

Nothing—not the amazing special effects, not the stellar production design, not the insane battle sequences—could mask the fact that Neill Blomkamp's Elysium was the most ham-fisted response to the Occupy movement ever. This man made District 9, one of cinema's most thoughtful actioner-as-political-allegory films. Then he basically made Occupy: Space. 

Best Oddly Romantic but Still Highly Disturbing Scene: Sightseers

Ben Wheatley's underrated thrill-kill movie climaxes with a jilted woman dropping her boyfriend's new friend off a cliff. The lovers fight. They make love. She dupes him into killing himself. It's heart-melting. 

Grossest Sex: The Wolf of Wall Street

When Leonardo DiCaprio declares, "I fucked her brains out…for 11 seconds," it plays like Lord Byron compared to the sight of Hollywood's most gorgeous leading man tag-teaming his assistant with Jonah Hill. 

Best Nerd-Out: Room 237

A bunch of conspiracy theorists talking about all the hidden meanings of The Shining? Sploosh.


Best Drinking Movie: The World's End

It runs through all the motions of a drunken night out—excitement, nostalgia, sadness, the urge to punch somebody in the face—while offering up an actual narrative about dudes drinking. When somebody makes a drinking game based on this film, alcohol poisoning will run rampant in Britain. 

Worst Drinking Movie: 12 Years a Slave

Hey, bro, wanna go to the beer theaters and watch Steve McQueen's dissection of slavery? 

Biggest Horror: V/H/S 2

Everyone flipped out over The Conjuring, but the great anthology flick V/H/S 2 pulled off something incredible in a fever-dream sequence about journalists who infiltrate an Indonesian cult on Kool-Aid day. 

Best Sucker Punch: Iron Man 3

Fanboys were up in arms when it was revealed that Tony Stark's nemesis was a drug-addled cockney actor. But in upsetting expectations, Shane Black managed to sidestep the inherently racist and ridiculous qualities of the Mandarin character and allow Ben Kingsley to mold him into something terrifying and hilarious. 

Most Stressful Experience: Gravity

Sandra Bullock spends a whole movie running out of air. The audience spends the whole movie forgetting to breathe. All the while, we see the cinematic landscape changing around us. It's not the strongest narrative. It doesn't need to be—it's a game-changer of pure cinema. 

Best Villain: The Iceman

The movie sucks, but Michael Shannon is the year's scariest bastard. His performance makes his General Zod seem like a kindergarten teacher.  

Best Cameo: This Is the End

In a film that's basically a feature-length parade of cameos, the sight of Channing Tatum gimped up as Danny McBride's sex slave might be the best pop-up appearance since Bill Murray in Zombieland. 

Biggest Goddammit Moment: Only God Forgives

Following the insane Drive, Nicholas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling reteam for a gorgeous and utterly boring film that at least seems to promise an epic showdown between the Baby Goose and a man who might be the Angel of Death. They fight for a minute. He pouts. The movie proves itself a bust. Goddammit.


  1. Wait, the Academy actually got its new digital projector? INCONCEIVABLE! Celebrate by watching The Princess Bride. Academy Theater. Dec. 27-Jan. 2.
  1. Grindhouse Film Fest continues its New Year’s Day tradition of showing a secret movie. It’ll probably include violence, boobs, awesome music, boobs, violence and boobs. Hollywood Theater. 3 pm Wednesday, Jan. 1. 

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