I left out a couple of demerits in my Best and Worst of the Year and feel a sacred duty to add a few kicks.
For example, the Worst Shot of the Year:
The runner-up is in Sam Mendes’s Away We Go. The young couple (she’s pregnant) is traveling the country in search of Meaning, and they stay in a cheap motel near the airport. They’re lying in bed, talking, on the verge of sleep, and as they discuss their future and where they might live, we see through the window the superhighway with its snarled traffic: a doomed ex-urban America. Only .. Who the fuck goes to bed (near or not near a superhighway) with the curtains wide open? It’s an egregiously bogus way to signal the couple’s — and the filmmaker’s — superiority to American culture. Yeah, I’m superior to it, too. But I’d close the damn curtains.
The winner in a walk is the close-up of greasy ham hocks going into the mouth of the heroine of Precious. The director, Lee Daniels, wants to connect the morbidly obese Precious’s eating disorder with her abusive mother, but to do so he ends up magnifying her grotesqueness. To hell with the claque that thinks the culture of victimization evokes the plight of the American experience for African-American women: This is up there with the plainest opportunism I’ve ever seen.
Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air. At the end, young Reitman wants to show us that the rich, isolated Ryan Bingham is much poorer than the people he has laid off — because they have the love of family and he has no one. Bull-fucking-shit. There is nothing in this world that destroys a family as much as a father or mother who can’t support his or her children. It’s not that the children hate them; it’s that they hate themselves. It’s the end of marriages and domestic harmony (in whatever form). Only a Hollywood rich kid who has always known where his next meal (and the domestics who will serve it to him) will come from could make an uplifting montage of people who have lost their jobs.