Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Announcing the Hulu Award for "Best Videogame Coverage"



And the Hulie goes to....



Gamespot!








Any videogamer worth his salt is going to know that Gamespot is a mark of quality in an overcrowded cyberworld of games, platforms, and brands. What may surprise you instead is the laser-beam focus that Gamespot has brought to Hulu. Ever since it's inception on Hulu, Gamespot has focused on a three-pronged content scheme that brings gamers exactly what they're most interested in: Gameplay Footage, Video Reviews, and Game Trailers.

I would argue that Hulu is actually a better way to experience Gamespot than their own website, which can be a little overwhelming.

So, what does the best gaming review site say are the best video games on the planet? Here's a list of their coveted "Game of the Year" title holders from the inception of the system (as per Wikipedia):



After 20,000 audience votes, the audience favorite was also "Gamespot," with a whopping 52% of the vote.

The other nominees were "X Play," and "Game Reviews."

Announcing the Hulu Award for "Best Travel or Leisure Show"



And the Hulie goes to....



Destination Truth!









Ever since the awards were first conceived, I felt that, as long as Destination Truth won this category, the awards were going to turn out okay. That's right. This goofy little travel reality show has validated the entire year-long effort that is the Hulu Awards. Here's what I had to say about this show last year:

What is it about a reality show that makes it superb?

You need a format that is actually interesting throughout, and that doesn't rely on 90% filler leading up to that 10% of actual drama.

You need your lead personalities to be charismatic in a warm, genuine way, rather than just being the latest smiley fame whore.

Finally, you need a decent production crew that can take advantage of the situation they're dealing with for maximum impact.

Destination Truth has all three of these qualities in spades. The premise is simple: the amazingly fun and funny lead, Josh Gates, travels to exotic locales with a small team in search of real-life legendary monsters.

Each 43 minute episode is packed with travels to not one, but two exotic locales, usually some sparsely-populated village on the edge of a jungle.

In Act 1, the setup includes a computer animation of the supposed monster, which might be a giant bat with a monkey face one week, and an enormous lake serpent the next. Then Josh joshes around with the locals, where he shows that a winning personality can overcome significant cultural barriers.

In the course of talking to them, he usually ferrets out a local or two who swears, on camera, to have had a close encounter with the creature in question. This is the part of the show where I look at the native and think "Man, could it possibly be true? Could there be a giant unknown primate in this backwater land?" That's when I'm hooked for Act 2, which usually involves a remote campsite, some infrared cameras, and Josh getting freaked out by a large creature in the nighttime jungle.

For Act 3, Josh takes whatever footage he has and asks some biology expert to review it and try to deny that the shadowy footage might be the Loch Ness Monster.

Then it's wash, rinse, repeat for the second half of the program.

This is absolutely one of my favorite shows on Hulu. I can't recommend it highly enough.


Good job, Josh & Co.!

What has this offbeat show really contributed to the field of Cryptozoology? Most notably, some Bigfoot prints in the Himalayas. You can read about it at the most respected blog in the field, here.

After 20,000 audience votes, the audience favorite was also "Destination Truth," with 31% of the vote.

The other nominees were "After Hours With Daniel," "Any Given Latitude" "Bikini Destinations," "The Rachel Zoe Project," and "Uncorked."

Friday, May 22, 2009

Announcing the Hulu Award for "Best Family Movie"



And the Hulie goes to....



The Karate Kid!







Even though that clip is from the cartoon, don't be confused-- the winning movie was the actual original movie starring Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, and Elisabeth Shue.

Now, who would have thought that "The Karate Kid" would have been the first piece of content on Hulu to earn two Hulies?

Truth be told, the Family Movie category was a little weak during this first year. Next year, as Hulu broadens its content base, the competition should be much stiffer. That's not to take anything away from The Karate Kid, by the way. Just some of the other movies in the running.



After 20,000 audience votes, the audience favorite was "Jumanji," with a rocking 48% of the vote.

The only other nominee was "Dragonheart."

Announcing the Hulu Award for "Best Documentary Feature"



And the Hulie goes to....



Hoop Dreams!









Here's a word from the film company that brought this powerful documentary to the world at large:

Kartemquin Films is thrilled to receive this recognition from Hulu viewers. It’s fantastic to have our classic film reach new audiences through this emerging platform. Thank you for your support and for this award.


Congratulations to everyone involved with this film for this achievement. It's impossible to watch Hoop Dreams without wondering about the current status of the main characters. After all, fifteen years have passed since the movie was released.

Sadly, their lives have been a mixed bag at best. Both men have lost brothers, and Arthur lost his father as well. All three deaths were a result of violence, which reinforces the reality of the dangers of life in the hood.

You can read a synopsis of their current lives on Wikipedia, here. Or, you can check out Arthur's charity website, here. For a more pessimistic and in-depth look, read this Sports Illustrated article on the family.

After 20,000 audience votes, the audience favorite was "Split: A Divided America," with 39% of the vote.

The other nominees were "Burger Town," "Africa: The Serengeti," and "Cosmic Voyage."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Announcing the Hulu Award for "Best Dramatic Movie"



And the Hulie goes to....



The Karate Kid!







The movie has expired from Hulu's active roster, but the spirit of Mr. Miyagi and Daniel-san lives on. The fact that it's become an exhaustive movie franchise (watch next year for the latest incarnation, which will star Will Smith's son) can make us forget the fact that the seminal movie was genuinely fun, very touching, and one of the most eminently quotable movies of the eighties.

25 years later, the relationships in the movie still have some resonance. The exasperation between Ralph Macchio's Daniel and his mother, the sweet romance between Daniel and a young Elisabeth Shue, and, of course, the student/instructor relationship between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi are all masterfully handled. It's rare for a movie to explore warrior training as social healing, and even rarer for a movie to do so successfully. The friendship that forms between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi demonstrates that karate truly is a code of conduct rather than a means of destruction. School bully Johnny's relationship with his own harsh "sensei" provide a stark contrast between good and evil. Sure, it's all schmaltz, but who can resist the impulse to cheer when Pat Morita jumps over that fence to do a little ass-kicking?

Here are six things you might not know about this movie (with thanks to imdb.com):

1) DC comics gave special permission for use of the name "Karate Kid," because they had copyrighted the name for a member of their "Legion of Superheroes."
2) The yellow classic automobile that Daniel polishes in the famous "wax-on/wax-off" training scene, then later offered by Mr. Miyagi as Daniel's birthday gift, was actually given to Ralph Macchio by the producer, and he still owns it.
3) According to Joe Esposito, "You're the Best" was originally written for Rocky III (1982) which explains the lyric "History repeats itself". The song had been rejected in favor of Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger".
4) During filming in late 1983, Ralph Macchio was actually a hoary old 22 years old. Some of the cast did not believe him when he was asked about his age.
5) The studio wanted to drop the "drunk Miyagi" scene, feeling it slowed the pace down. Director Avildsen argued for it and has felt it was the scene that got Morita nominated for an Oscar.
6) The scenes in this film where Mr. Miyagi is using chopsticks to catch flies in midair is an obscure reference to the film Miyamoto Musashi kanketsuhen: kett├┤ Ganry├╗jima (1956) where a very similar scene is used.


After 20,000 audience votes, the audience favorite was "Lost in Translation," which squeaked out the recognition with 28% of the vote.

The other nominees were "Of Mice and Men," Sense and Sensibility," and "Sleepless in Seattle."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Announcing the Hulu Award for "Best Show of the Eighties"



And the Hulie goes to....



The A Team!







The above is the opening clip from the season one, episode 3, which die hard fans might recognize as the first appearance of Dirk Benedict as the hyper-cool scamster "Face Man."

Speaking of whom, we received a quick word of thanks from Mr. Benedict, who is a friend of the Hulu Review. He writes:

Can you imagine that? The A Team wins an actual "Award". And they said it could never happen.

You can see Dirk's impressively large collection of current projects (did you know he was an accomplished author, for example?) over at his site, http://www.dirkbenedictcentral.com/

We also got a statement from one of the bigwigs over at the main fansite for Dwight Schultz, who you will best remember as "Howling Mad" Murdock. The site is run out of Europe, so please forgive any slight grammatical awkwardness, and instead marvel at the boundless enthusiasm and excitement this series still generates, TWENTY SIX YEARS after making its debut.


It’s like Hannibal's famous one liner:"I love it when a plan comes together." That's how I felt when I heard the A-team was nominated for a Hulu award.

Who can forget those four guys, each with their own specialty?

Hannibal's crazy plans always seemed to work; there is no better way of starting an attack than going through the front door, remember, and afterward you smoke a cigar (never forget that cigar!)

B.A., being the muscleman of the team and the mechanic, was always fixing everything and creating vehicles that you would never believe would drive and do the trick (but they always did).

Face, the womanizer and conman of the team, was always getting Hannibal what he needed, and always kissing a girl (although his love for pretty women got Faceman in trouble sometimes).

And last but not least, the crazy pilot of the team, Murdock, who could fly anything with wings. He spends his time in the VA hospital pretending to be crazy and fooling the entire military with his act, while driving B.A. crazy.

Of course, the A-team had a little help from Amy and later on from Tawnia, and in season 5 Frankie showed up. But in the end everybody knows it was those four guys that were the A-team.

It was not only the characters, but the actors who brought the characters to life, that made the series the A-team such a success. There was a unique chemistry between the four actors, and that’s one important reason why a new A-team movie will never work. You never can replace those four actors with other actors. Remember: never change a winning team!

They gave us a mix of cartoon humor and fights. Usually nobody died, even though bullets flew all over the place, and explosions threw cars into the air like toys. Only a few times did someone (like in the episode "The Rabbit Who Ate Las Vegas").

Every episode gave children the message: in the end the good always wins over the bad. That combination of humor, action and cartoon violence still appeals to kids and most adults today. Kids get it. It’s like watching a cartoon (while some adults unfortunately don’t get that sometimes).

The A-team is timeless fun; it never bores you. As a kid you always know that in the end, thanks to a crazy plan, the good guys will win, so let’s be happy that the A-team won that Hulu Award. The guys earned it because they have been entertaining children and adults for more than 25 years!

Claudia "Choppercrazy," of http://www.dwightschultzfansite.nl/enghome.php


After 20,000 audience votes, the audience favorite was "Married With Children," which beat out the second-place A-Team with 34% of the total vote.

The other nominees were "Benson," Alf," and "The Facts of Life."

Announcing the Hulu Award for "Best Animated Short"



And the Hulie goes to....



Nun Fight Club!



Nun Fight Club, the clever animated short by Director Declan de Barra, gets past the artsy-fartsiness of the competition and goes right to our hearts. The name says it all: a silly concept taken to its ultimate, hilarious end.

Sadly, Hulu has taken the short down from their site, but you can still view it here.

Declan is an offbeat Irish musician whose creative spirit has rocked many platforms. You can check out his other projects, past and present, here.

After 20,000 audience votes, "Nun Fight Club" also took the audience pick, with about 47% of the vote.

The other, very worthy nominees were "Born to Be Alive," Far West," and "Metro," and "Carnivore Reflux." I invite you to view them all on Hulu. You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Announcing the Hulu Award for "Best Dramatic Short"



And the Hulie goes to....



Save The Children!






Terje Rangnes' thought-provoking creation is a masterpiece of drama. Amazingly, this is his short film debut. Our views of the children in question shifts a couple of times throughout the course of the six minute film, and every time we're about to let our chuckles ratchet up to an outright laugh, something else happens to throw us off of our guard.

Unfortunately, we were unable to get an acceptance speech from Mr. Rangnes, due to some cross-continental communications problems, but we are sure that he's cleared a space on his mantelpiece for his Hulie.

After 20,000 audience votes, the audience favorite was "The Rip-off," with a definitive 79% of the vote. The director of this excellent short is Mr. Kun Chang, a friend of the Hulu Review. Kun wrote us that he was "excited" about the distinction, and you can read more about his past and current projects on his site, here.




The other nominees were "One Down," Evol," and "Happy."

Monday, May 18, 2009

Announcing the Hulu Award for "Best Major Network"

(Please welcome guest presenter Tamara Brooks, a regular contributor to the excellent site Zap2It)


And the Hulie goes to....



NBC!






While the Peacock Network may not always pull the big ratings of the other networks, its online programming ranks first amongst our panel. Though the other networks have caught up since the voting period, NBC set the precedent. From new favorites like "Chuck," "30 Rock," and "Friday Night Lights" to classics like "ER," "Quantum Leap," and "The A-Team" (thanks to its partnership with Universal), NBC delivers over 570 full episodes and counting. NBC also offers clips from its late night talk shows and an extensive collection from "Saturday Night Live." From 1975 to today, you can check out skits by cast members like Dan Akroyd, Lily Tomlin, Eddie Murphy, Tina Fey, Mike Meyers, Gilda Radner, Adam Sandler, Jim Belushi, Will Ferrell, Bill Murray, and Chris Rock as well as current bits and original online content like backstage pieces and promos.


After 20,000 votes, the Audience Favorite was (somewhat ironically) FOX with 53% of the votes.



As a network, the FOX Broadcasting Company is young. But since its debut in the Fall of 1986, it has consistently been a programming force to reckon with. It's also become notorious for airing promising TV shows and canceling them seemingly hastily, especially sci-fi programs, and earning the ire of viewers. If you include shows that have been produced by FOX but aired on other channels, you can watch full episodes of "Remington Steele," "St. Elsewhere," "Doogie Howser, M.D.," "The Bob Newhart Show," "Buffy The Vampire Slayer," "Bones," "Roswell," and "Dollhouse" to name a few, plus over 4,500 clips.

NBC and FOX were the only two nominees in this category.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Taking a break

The Hulu Review will be on hiatus for one week beginning Saturday, May 9, 2009. Tune back in next week for more Hulie winners!

Announcing the Hulu Award for "Best Science Fiction Movie"

Please welcome guest presenter John J. Joex, who helps run the excellent SciFi website Axiom's Edge

And the Hulie goes to...


Men In Black!







Bringing us a menacing alien cockroach, caffeine addicted worms, and the classic (and brilliant) team up of Will Smith and Tommie Lee Jones, Men in Black takes the top honor as the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Movie on Hulu.com. Based on a comic book series by the same name, the movie exploded on big screens in 1997, becoming an instant classic in the genre and spawning a hit sequel in 2002.


The film benefited from a great concept, good script, high-dollar special effects, and expert direction from Barry Sonnenfeld. But what really made this movie soar was the chemistry between its two lead actors. Aping the age-old "buddy cop" formula, Tommy Lee Jones played the grizzled, streetwise veteran with Will Smith doing his best as the brash, upstart rookie. But this was no "buddy cop" movie as they dealt with a myriad of aliens disguised as everyday people (and dogs) while they casually went about their way saving the universe. Men in Black skewers Science Fiction movies and comic books and delivers plenty of laughs in the process.

Interestingly enough, the original ending for the movie had Agent K and the bug engaging in a humorous, existential debate. However this was scrapped as unexciting, in favor of a more action-oriented conclusion. Allegedly, this change perturbed make-up artist Rick Baker because his animatronic bug was replaced with CGI effects because they required more movement from the creature.

Along with its sequel, Men in Black also spun off an animated series that ran for four season (53 episodes) that became a regular part of the Saturday Morning Kid's WB lineup. Unfortunately, it has not made its way to DVD or to Hulu.com yet.

Men in Black grossed over $250 million domestically and is number 47 on the list of top grossing in the United States. On the Rotten Tomatoes movie site, it has a 91% "fresh" rating.

Unfortunately, its time on Hulu has expired so you can't catch it there anymore. But if you've never seen the movie, or just haven't seen it in a while, do yourself a favor and rent a copy from you local video store or buy one from your local megamart.

After 20,000 votes, the audience favorite was... The Fifth Element.

The other Nominees were:

Planet of the Apes

Starship Troopers

The Thing

John's Final Thoughts: I cast my vote for John Carpenter's The Thing in this category, but Men in Black is just as deserving of the award. In fact, if I have not already given MIB the nod for Best Comedy Movie, it would have been a real struggle to pick between the two. Still, I'm guessing that The Thing will take the award in Best Horror Movie, so everybody will be a winner.

The Fifth Element was a decent, if mildly overrated, movie and I can see where it would get the audience vote. Starship Troopers deserved its slot in the finals as it gives us a seminal action-adventure movie with a healthy dose of self deprecation. However, I don't know how Planet of the Apes made it all the way to the finals (this was not the original but the 2001 debacle of a remake) as I cannot find a single person who even thinks that movie even moderately good. Perhaps a large population dialed into the internet from the Bizarro World and cast votes for it . . .

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Announcing the Hulu Award for "Best Sports Programming"

And the Hulie goes to...





NHL!



Here are a few nice moments that NHL has brought to Hulu:







No major sport has been as involved with Hulu as the National Hockey League. Hulu viewers are treated to scads of full games, a handful of player profiles, and a consistently released weekly highlight reel. Even a NHL superfan can watch until his eyes are bleeding and his girlfriend has gotten the puck out of there. It's no wonder our panelists recognized this offering as prime sporting content.

The broader question is why the NHL has such a fervent fan base. Men on skates hitting pucks with sticks? Kind of weird if you think of it. Maybe the answer lies in the mind of Steve Ratinetz, who accumulated 120 hours of footage of fights between hockey players. "I only save decent fights," he said once to the New York Times . "I can't be bothered with every two minute penalty."

If the vital fluids of hockey players are indeed spilled to satisfy a deep, subconscious bloodlust in the viewing public, then you should take a gander at this list of extreme hockey injuries. Impalings, slap shots to the throat, severed carotid arteries, and other things your parents may not have been thinking of when they bought you that first hockey stick:

Read the gruesome list here!



After 20,000 audience votes cast in the Hulu Awards, the Audience Favorite was Ninja Warrior, which eked out the honor with just 26% of the vote.

Accepting this honor on behalf of Ninja Warrior is G4's own Daniel Whitehill, who writes:


On behalf of G4, we would like to thank the Hulu Review for recognizing "Ninja Warrior" in the "Best Sports Programming" category of the 2009 Hulu Awards.

Ninja Warrior has found tremendous popularity among our male audience and we look forward to seeing continued viewer support on the network and via online tune-in.

G4 staff and viewers regard Hulu as a premiere source of programming online and it is an honor to receive the “Best Sport Programming” nomination for Ninja Warrior.

Fans of the show who are interested in an opportunity to be part of “Ninja Fest 4” are invited to submit their videos on www.G4tv.com/ninjachallenge.


The other nominees were:

American Gladiators
A Shot at Glory
Firsthand

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Announcing the Hulu Award for "Best Comedic Short"


And the Hulie goes to...




Dentally Disturbed!







And here, to accept the Hulie, is a word from the amazingly talented
Craig Melville.

"The producers of Dentally Disturbed are very excited to have won "Best Comedic Short." The other films in the category were really great so it's awesome to be chosen from a selection of very funny films. We really appreciate the award and we wish the Hulu Awards all the best for the future. "

After 20,000 audience votes, the audience favorite was also Dentally Disturbed. It garnered a shockingly strong 63% of the audience vote.

The other nominees were:
How to Cope With Rejection
Laid Off
Music For One Apartment and Six Drummers
Shaolin Delivery Boy

With some of the categories in our awards, we all have preconceived notions about what will win, because the major networks have crammed their shows down our throats over a period of years. But in this category, our panelists and audience members went into the selections cold, and viewed about fifty different comedic short films before making their selections. The fact that Dentally Disturbed triumphed with both the panelists and the voting audience speaks to the quality of the piece.


Monday, May 4, 2009

Announcing the Hulu Award for "Best Show of the Seventies"

(please welcome guest presenter Stella Louise, who runs the excellent blog "Well Above Average")


And the Hulie goes to...




The Mary Tyler Moore Show!






Not only did Mary Richards and company win over the Hulu Awards
judges, but "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" garnered 24% of 20,000
audience votes as well, beating out fellow nominees "Barney Miller,"
"The Bob Newhart Show," "Charlie's Angels," and "I Dream of
Jeannie" for "Best Show of the Seventies."

Yes, Mary Tyler Moore was turning us all on with her smile; for
seven seasons, we all tuned in to watch the original single working
girl. The show was groundbreaking in its depiction of never-
married, independent career woman as the main character. Carrie
Bradshaw, of Sex and the City, owes much to Mary Richards paving
the way.

The ensemble cast included the gruff Mr. Grant, acerbic Murray
Slaughter, insufferably pompous anchorman Ted Baxter, street
smart Rhoda Morgenstern and sex-crazed Sue Ann Nivens. So
popular were the various characters that the Mary Tyler Moore
Show inspired three spin-offs: Rhoda, Phyllis and The Lou Grant
Show. But in the midst of it all was the unflappable and unstoppable
Mary Richards. Through bad dates, job crises and an array of changing
hairstyles, Mary Richards and company kept us entertained.

There have been dozens of stand out moments in the award-winning
show during its run: the iconic "You got spunk!" moment, the classic
"Chuckles Bites the Dust" episode and the teary-eyed series finale,
but ultimately The Mary Tyler Moore show was all about family, as
Mary Richards herself put it to Lou Grant:

"… sometimes I get concerned about being a career woman.
I get to thinking that my job is too important to me. And I
tell myself that the people I work with are just the people I
work with. But last night I thought 'what is family anyway?'
It's the people who make you feel less alone and really loved."


For millions of viewers, the cast of The Mary Tyler Moore Show felt
like family. And every moment spent with them was like taking a
nothing day, and suddenly making it all seem worthwhile.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Hulu Top Twenty




Lots of new movies to enjoy this week.

1. Three O'Clock High (1987)
Last Week's Ranking: 14
Weeks on List: 2
Notes: This is a funny, slick movie that relies on stylish camera tricks to form a cohesive tone. The movie spins out a simple story-- a high school student facing an imminent beating from a school bully-- to a feature-length movie. The slowness with which the scheduled fight approaches adds suspense to the climax, even if the climax can't deliver on the built up expectations. It moves up to the top of the list during it's first full week on Hulu.

2. The Future of Food (1984)
Last Week's Ranking: 1
Weeks on List: 2
Notes: Hey! I just paid money to rent this one from Blockbuster.com. Bad timing, Hulu! The documentary does some good scare-mongering about the presence of genetically modified foods. I'm not so convinced that GM foods will be bad for my health, but I was shocked at the legal power that GM foods give to massive research corporations, to the detriment of consumers and family farmers everywhere. If you have only a vague idea as to why GM foods are bad, this is a must-see.

3. Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: The tepid sequel to the surprising hit featuring Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves as heroes who find themselves romantically interested in each other even as a mastermind criminal puts them through their paces by threatening to kill civilians.

4. Waking the Dead (2000)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: Billy Crudup and Jennifer Connelly headline this eerie, supernatural drama in which the intense Crudup tries to find his dead, lost love, who may or may not still walk the earth in one form or another


5. Sex and Consequences (2007)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: Joan Severance and Corbin Benson start off what seems like an innocent affair between a younger man and an older woman, but the young man has to question his lover's motives when she seems to be tryin to incite a confrontation between himself and hher cop husband.

6. Cheech and Chong's Next Movie (1980)
Last Week's Ranking: 6
Weeks on List: 5
Notes:
This one is definitely on the downswing of Cheech and Chong 's storied stonerific career. While their earlier movies reveled in the goofy abuses of freedom that ran rampant in the seventies, this one can't escape the encroaching onset of Reagan's war on drugs. Still, stoner movies have their niche in moviedom, and that niche is bigger at Hulu than in the world at large.

7. The Manhattan Project (1986)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1 (5)
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.

8. Anastasia (1997)
Last Week's Ranking: 5
Weeks on List: 5
Notes: This animated Disney flick will be remembered as a good representative of the last vanguard of 2D animation. The voice talent is strictly all-star, with Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Kirsten Dunst, Kelsey Grammer, Christopher Lloyd, Hank Azaria, Bernadette Peters, and Angela Lansbury. A historic setting provides an educational component, the romance is light and believable, and the disintegrating Rasputin is the best villain since the Lion King's Scar.

9. Inside Special Forces (2003)
Last Week's Ranking: 7
Weeks on List: 7
Notes: Military geeks will enjoy pretending they're alongside the US Special Military forces spotlighted in this movie.
It's a lot closer to gun porn than you might expect from a classy outfit like National Geographic, but they do bring their signature awesome videography skills to the table.

10. Your Friends and Neighbors (1998)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: Ben Stiller is one of the ensemble cast that finds themselves in illicit dalliances of all sizes and shapes. It's billed as a dark comedy, but director Neil Labute is so good at characterizing the sadness of these people's lives that you might find it is more of a downer/drama.

11. Super Size Me (2004)
Last Week's Ranking: 8
Weeks on List: 7
Notes: Just weeks after documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock was nominated for a Hulu Award for his reality series "30 Days," his hit documentary film takes the number one spot on the Top Twenty for the week. Could this be a sign that Hulu viewers are brainier and more health conscious than the country at large? Maybe. At any rate, if you haven't seen this fantastic movie, you should. Spurlock uses himself as a guinea pig to answer the question: What will happen when an otherwise-healthy man eats nothing but McDonalds for a month? The answer to that question is probably somewhat obvious, but the film gets us to think about the factors that go into the decision to pull into that drive-thru.

12. The Blue Lagoon (1980)
Last Week's Ranking: 12
Weeks on List: 8
Notes: This movie has become notorious for two things: naked young people in the titular lagoon, and being very, very bad. Christopher Atkin's curly blond locks make him the iconic surfer boy, while Brooke Shields shows us why, after a quarter century, she still fails to engage the audience in any way that is not sexual (and even that's iffy).

13. National Geographic Specials: The FBI (2005)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: This is not a movie. Not sure why it appears on the list, but here it is.

14. Mad Dog and Glory (1993)
Last Week's Ranking: 3
Weeks on List: 3
Notes: Billy Murray and Robert Deniro both play against type in this offbeat comedy. Deniro is a meek cop who falls in love with Uma Thurman, a beauty who is in the clutches of gangster tough Murray
. Murray and Deniro have some really fun scenes together, as do Deniro and Thurman. The film's major fault is the lack of a climax.

15. Saints and Soldiers (2005)
Last Week's Ranking: 10
Weeks on List: 12 (18)
Notes: A Mormon sniper and an atheist medic clash as their platoon struggles to survive behind Nazi lines in this 2005 actioner. Stars Corbin Allred and Peter Holden. It looks decent, but I'm not sure what the lasting appeal is.

16. The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List:1
Notes: Acting heavyweights Willem DaFoe and Harvey Keitel knock our socks off under Martin Scorcese's able directorial hand. Scorcese takes the root story of the crucifixion, and presents it as a drama, which allows for a multi-layered reading that may or may notpiss off Christians and atheists alike.

17. Bad Reputation (2005)
Last Week's Ranking: 4
Weeks on List: 3
Notes: Featuring A no-name cast led by Angelique Hennessy, this horror flick centers around the lurid premise of a good girl who is raped and then uses the resulting stigma of wanton sexuality to entrap her tormentors. It didn't earn a single review on Rotten Tomatoes, but at least Hulu is putting up slight films that are relatively recent.

18. National Lampoon's Spring Break (2007)
Last Week's Ranking: 13
Weeks on List: 13 (14)
Notes:
Can you really call a 53 minute comedy a movie? Hulu has longer clips. The boobs of the hour belong to Nikki Ziering. Be sure to consider this one for the "Worst Movie" in the Hulu Awards, where it has been recognized as a finalist.

19. Jewel of the Nile (1985)
Last Week's Ranking: 9
Weeks on List: 5
Notes: Younger moviegoers may wonder how in hell Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner ever got famous in the first place. The Jewel of the Nile has all the answers you need-- a well-paced action comedy that shows off both actors to their best entertaining potential. It may not have aged particularly well, but it is a nice little representative of the era in which it was made.

20. Slaughterhouse Five (1972)
Last Week's Ranking: 2
Weeks on List: 2
Notes: A somewhat-surreal modern classic novel adapted into a bizarre film, Vonnegut's masterful handling of anti-war themes touch on the effects of war on a broad spectrum of society, not just the soldier who bleeds on the battlefield. Twenty odd years on, this movie may be difficult to access for a modern audience, but a little investment will get you a great return on your thoughts.

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

Cliffhanger (1993)
Last Week's Ranking: 11
Weeks on List: 3
Notes: Sly Stallone proves that he still has some guns (the muscley bicep kind, not the commie death-dealing kind) in this well-paced actioner about a group of high-altitude hikers facing down some gunmen on the unforgiving Alps. A decent movie for what it is, although there is a silly conceit we're supposed to swallow: Dex is the most important thing you can have to stave off hypothermia and certain death, yet no one carries it in adequate supplies. John Lithgow is the villainous foil. Hulu has it mismarked as coming from 2003-- nice attempt to modernize your listings, Hulu!

Totally Baked (2007)
Last Week's Ranking: 15
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: I can't keep track of the stoner comedies that continue to float down the pike
. This one tries to jump on the mockumentary bandwagon about five years too late, and earned exactly zero reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.

Shakedown (1984)
Last Week's Ranking: 16
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: A forgettable actioner in which an attorney and a cop have to join forces to stop an evil, corrupt cop. At least it has the eminently watchable Sam Elliott to keep things moving along.

Safe Men (1998)
Last Week's Ranking: 17
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: Two high-energy leads like Sam Rockwell and Steve Zahn bring a lot of promise to the screen, and they just barely save the hackneyed plot, which centers on two lounge singers who get mistaken for safe crackers.

Dig! (2004)
Last Week's Ranking: 18
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: With so many musical documentaries out there, a director has to go above and beyond to stand out. That's exactly what Ondi Timoney has done, culling through 2000 hours of footage to come up with the story of the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Dandy Warhols, two rival bands that are a tangled mess of humanity and music industry politics.

The Beguiled (1971)
Last Week's Ranking: 19
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: Critics rave about this old Clint Eastwood film that shows his raw sexuality against a gothic western background. Eastwood is a Civil War soldier who is injured and must recuperate under the care of a group of female boarding school students. Their loneliness combine with his lust to create a tempest of emotions.

Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Last Week's Ranking: 20
Weeks on List: 2 (11)
Notes: Do we give points to movies for excelling at depressing us? I'm not sure. But Ellen Burstyn in a downward spiral is too horrific to turn away from. Also: how about that arm? Features Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto, and one of those Wayanses.

American Virgin (2000)
Last Week's Ranking: 19
Weeks on List: 1 (14)
Notes: Bob Hoskins and Mena Suvari star in the lowly-regarded 2000 comedy. Why has it done so well? I'm guessing it's PSMSBs (People Seeking Mena Suvari's Boobs). You can see them in American Beauty, folks. They weren't anything special then. What, you think she retrofitted them with subsonic woofers or something?


HALL OF FAME:
The Hall of Fame has moved! If you're interested in seeing which movies have had the most long term success on this list, check it out here.

Announcing the Hulu Award for "Best Anime Show"


And the Hulie goes to...




Death Note!





What a series! What art! What a story! Death Note impressed our panelists, many of whom were not anime fans, with its overall quality and depth. Death Note has been scrawled across a variety of platforms-- it has been produced as a manga, a paperback, a novel, a video game, a live-action movie, and this anime series, directed by Tetsuro Araki. It continues to pick up fans in all of its many incarnations.

The story revolves around a student who finds a notebook from the realm of the gods. Writing a person's name in the book will cause that person's death.

The theme has led to some real wishful thinking on the parts of students in China, Japan, and the US. There have been several instances of students making their own replica "death note" notebooks and writing the names of teachers and peers within them. Wikipedia notes that eight children in four different US states have been suspended or expelled for owning such notebooks, while the school district of the Shenyang province in China has explicitly banned Death Note in order to protect the minds of its students from material that
"misleads innocent children and distorts their mind and spirit."

If you're thinking of contacting the gods of death and requesting your own Death Note notebook, keep this complete set of rules in mind.



After 20,000 audience votes, the audience favorite was "Mushi-Shi." You can read my tribute to this fantastic series here.


The other nominees were:
Astro Boy
Naruto
Speed Racer