Friday, January 16, 2009

The Hulu Top Twenty

Here are the 20 most popular movies on Hulu this week.

1. The Manhattan Project
Last Week's Ranking: 10
Weeks on List: 2
Notes: This 1986 effort by Director Marshall Brickman (best known for writing Annie Hall) is about a high school student who builds an A Bomb for his school's science fair, after which he is branded a terrorist by the government. John Lithgow stars, alongside a pre-Sex And The City Cynthia Nixon. Critics gave it a tepid reaction, but Hulu viewers are loving it, putting it at #1 during it's first full week of release.

2. Picture Perfect
Last Week's Ranking: 3
Weeks on List: 3
Notes: This romantic comedy is a predictable trifle, but critics were pacified by the sweet matchup of Jennifer Aniston and Jay Mohr. The plot involves Aniston inventing a fictional fiancee in an effort to get ahead at work. To hold the number 2 spot after three weeks is a pretty remarkable accomplishment, so look for this one to make the Hall of Fame one day.

3. Someone Like You
Last Week's Ranking: 2
Weeks on List: 2
Notes: Ashley Judd and Hugh Jackman star in this 2001 romantic comedy, which features the requisite setting of a high-powered magazine company, and lots of schmaltz. It's nothing special, but the leads, along with Greg Kinnear and Marisa Tomei, are always fun to watch.

4. Kung Pow: Enter the Fist
Last Week's Ranking: 4
Weeks on List: 3
Notes: A goofy spoof of kung fu films in which director Steve Oedekerk digitally inserts himself into an already-laughable action flick. Critics largely hated the comedic effort, with the main criticism being that it's a 2-minute joke stretched out to an excruciating 80 minutes. It's holding strong on our list.

5. St Elmo's Fire
Last Week's Ranking: 12
Weeks on List: 2
An iconic movie of the 80s featuring all of your favorites, such as Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, and Molly Ringwald (among others). Last week, I said that if it moved up the rankings this week, we could draw conclusions about the Hulu viewer. Well it did, and we can--
welcome to Hulu, children of the 80s. You will find many crappy 80s flicks to keep you entertained during your visit!

6. Waking Ned Devine (1998)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: What if "Weekend at Bernies" was a decent movie? It would be "Waking Ned Devine", that's what. An Irish indie film about the requisite ragtag group of local oddballs who must pretend that the recently deceased Ned Devine is alive and well, so that they can collect his multi-million lottery winnings.

7. Toys
Last Week's Ranking: 11
Weeks on List: 2
Notes: When this came out, it seemed like an epic flop of Hudson Hawkish proportions, but the 25% approval rating from the critics of Rotten Tomatoes mean that it is simply, banally bad. It has all of the eccentricity of Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka movie, but none of the cleverness. Or maybe it's too much cleverness. I'm not sure, but look for this one to slip off the Top Twenty as if it were coated with teflon. L.L. Cool J and Robin Wright also star. Edited to add: WTF? THis movie climbed in the rankings!? What's next? Black Knight lasting a month in the top twenty?

8. Look Who's Talking (1989)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: Meet John Travolta 2.0. In between being cool as Vinnie Babarino, and cool as a Pulp Fiction gangster, he was known as a lovable blue collar schmoe who had a certain way with the ladies. Pair him with a still-somewhat-sexy Kirstie Alley, throw a baby into the mix, and you have a bona fide franchise. The fact that the franchise could only devolve into a limp mishmash of talking animals doesn't detract from the fact that it made serious money.

9. The Fifth Element
Last Week's Ranking: 13
Weeks on List: 7 (11)
Notes: Bruce Willis is a cab the future! Kind of. He and Milla Jovovich tear it up in this pure action adventure that keeps drawing in the Hulu viewers. With "The Girl Next Door" gone for good, this is the most popular movie of all time on Hulu. Strange, innit? I chalk it up to the promo picture on Hulu, which features Jovovich in a skimpy white costume. I think it's utterly unflattering, but I recognize that it will appeal to a certain group of people.

10. Wolf (1994)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: I have to admit that when this movie came out, I thought it was the definitive werewolf movie, featuring Jack Nicholson as a bone-crunching lycanthrope, and Michelle Pfeiffer. The dramatics and revelations don't really hold up to a more seasoned viewer, although it's always fn to see Nicholson sinking his teeth into a decent line. And now, 15 years later, I know that the definitive werewolf movie is Teen Wolf. Older and wiser, that's what I am.

11. Black Knight
Last Week's Ranking: 6
Weeks on List: 4
Notes: Martin Lawrence stars in this godawful stinker of a movie about a man who travels back through time to the days of King Arthur. Lame jokes, shameless mugging, and a general shredding of the comedic movie genre are the hallmarks of this effort, although calling it an effort may be too kind.

Last Week's Ranking: 15
Weeks on List: 10
Notes: Jim Carrey goofs it up in a decent comedy that puts all of his face-stretching talents on display. If you can get through his current offering, "Yes Man," without puking, then this will give you paroxysms of delight. With over 2 months in the top 20, this is showing some serious legs.

13. The Family Man
Last Week's Ranking: 5
Weeks on List: 3
Notes: Studio workhorse Brett Ratner directs this Nicolas Cage vehicle to predictable results. It's a Christmas story in which the financially successful but morally bankrupt Cage gets an opportunity to live an alternate version of his own life, one in which he is an average schmo happily married to Tea Leoni. The movie is well done, but brings nothing new to the table, and we know the outcome of the movie before our asses hit the theater seats (or, in this case, our computer chairs). Don Cheadle has a role as the mystic author of Cage's personal journey.

14. Speed 2: Cruise Control(1997)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: This is what the guy from the Matrix was known for before the Matrix and after the Bill and Ted movies. Reeves and costar Sandra Bullock milk every last drop out of the rehashed concept-- we're in a vehicle! And we! Can't! Stop!

15. Go
Last Week's Ranking: 14
Weeks on List: 5
Notes: I love this movie and everyone in it. There, I said it. Taye Diggs, Sarah Polley, William Fichtner, Timothy Olyphant, Scott Wolf, Jay Mohr, and a just-starting-out Katie Holmes are part of the ensemble cast that Director Doug Liman brings together in a fantastic blend of youth culture and Pulp Fiction. Other movies try to shock us by increasing the amount of money that's been stolen, or demanded in ransom, or whatever. Go shows us that, in certain circles, just a couple of hundred dollars can make the world go round. There are some great performances, a real sense of style, and a fun, fast-paced storyline that plays with the chronology in just the right way.

16. The Siege
Last Week's Ranking: 1
Weeks on List: 2
Notes: A pre 911 movie about Muslim terrorists attacking NYC starring Denzel Washington, who seems to continually evade the stink of the many, many bad movies he's made. This one is decent enough, with supporting roles by action movie icon Bruce Willis and Annette Benning.

17. Basic Instinct
Last Week's Ranking: 20
Weeks on List: 9
Notes: Sixteen years on, Sharon Stone's hoohoo is still drawing eyeballs in massive numbers. I hope she has that thing insured! At any rate, this is showing some serious staying power on the list. They should make a sequel. Oh, they did? It must have done really well.

18. American Virgin
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1 (4)
Notes: Bob Hoskins and Mena Suvari star in the lowly-regarded 2000 comedy. It makes a surpising return to our Top 20 this week, probably based entirely on its alluring title.

19. The Times of Harvey Milk
Last Week's Ranking: 9
Weeks on List: 3
Notes: Hulu is showing some savvy by timing their premiere of this 1984 Harvey Milk documentary with the Hollywood release, which stars Sean Penn as the gay rights activist turned mayor. That's not to suggest that this isn't a good movie, as it boasts an Academy Award for Best Documentary and a 100% approval rating over at Rotten Tomatoes.

20. 21 Grams
Last Week's Ranking: 16
Weeks on List: 5
Notes: Benicio Del Toro, Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, and Charlotte Gainsbourg star in this strangely-structured drama that warms the cockles of our cold, dead hearts. The critics give it high praise, but always with a hint of frustration that this good movie fell short of being a great one.

Notably Absent:
These movies have dropped off the list this week.

Last Week's Ranking: 7
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: Jesse Bradford and Erika Christensen in bathing suits? That seems to be the pitch that sold this humdrum Fatal Attraction redux, in which Christensen stalks Bradford after becoming romantically obsessed with him. My then-girlfriend had a policy of seeing all Jesse Bradford releases, so I actually plunked down box office cash for this one.

Muppets From Space
Last Week's Ranking: 8
Weeks on List: 2
Notes: Muppet afficianados saw this movie as the first post-Henson feature that managed to corral the early charm of the Muppets. Gonzo heads into outer space in an effort to track down his roots. As a Muppet vehicle, it's far from perfect, but it is nice to see a departure from the Kermit-centric, earthbound movies that came before.

The Bounty
Last Week's Ranking: 17
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: The HMS Bounty, captained by the infamously cruel Captain Bligh, was the scene for the most well known mutiny in history. This critically lauded dramatization recasts Bligh as the hero, played by a youngish Anthony Hopkins (the movie was released in 1984, 25 years ago). Mel Gibson is the villainous mutineer, while Laurence Olivier and Daniel Day-Lewis play supporting roles.

Last Week's Ranking: 18
Weeks on List: 4
Notes: Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany have turned in a serviceable romance centered around their lives as professional tennis players taking a shot at Wimbledon glory. Bettany is the down and out, past-his-prime player who is making the most of his last, best, shot to recapture the title. Dunst is a driven young competitor under the tutelage of harsh father/coach Sam O'Neill.

Howard The Duck
Last Week's Ranking: 19
Weeks on List: 2
Notes: It won a Razzie Award for the worst picture of 1987. And yet, there's something about this enormous flop that is compelling to watch (unlike Battlefield Earth, Hudson Hawk, or that Eddie Murphy on the moon flick). Tim Robbins, Lea Thompson, and Jeffrey Jones do their best to provide some ham amidst all the cheese; ultimately, the movie is a spectacular paeon to just how bad Hollywood moviemaking can get.

Hall of Fame:
These are the movies that have had the longest run on the list in the past. Right now, the threshold for inclusion is 6 weeks, but I anticipate that it will go up over time. No new inductees this week.

Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag
Last Week's Ranking: 20
Weeks on List: 8
Notes: There must be something I'm not getting about this I-Max documentary featuring fighter pilots. The message board for the movie has a lot of military folks chatting it up, so that may have something to do with it. After weeks near the top of this chart, it finally lost its' lift.

Underworld: Evolution
Weeks on List: 6
Notes: Kate Beckinsale as a goth-boy's wet dream can't save this dark and dreary action flick from the weight of its futuristic vampire world. Reappears on the list after a hiatus, but hurry up and watch! It has an expiration notice that should kick in tomorrow.

Weeks on List: 6
Notes: Ashton Kutcher and Jennifer Garner teamed up in this stoner flick just before they became breakout stars.
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