Everyone knows that the Oscars have always been a terribly serious affair. The last real comedy that won Best Picture was Annie Hall in 1977, and before that there were only a handful of others throughout the ceremony's history. (I am not counting Shakespeare in Love, because that's more of a "wave fans and giggle" period comedy, which are never actually funny.) This year was a great one for comedy, boasting everything from the crass chuckles of Knocked Up to the quirkfest that is Juno. Sadly, these comedic achievements will probably go largely unrecognized during awards season, despite often unanimous critical acclaim. Hot Fuzz has the same Rotten Tomatoes rating as Sweeney Todd, The Simpsons Movie has the same rating as There Will Be Blood, and Superbad has a slightly higher rating than Atonement - the latter example in each pairing being the Oscar bait (check out http://www.rottentomatoes.com/ if you want to do your own sleuthing). So, until the Academy wakes up, I will make it my duty to honor the movies and people that brought the funny this year.
BEST FUNNY PERFORMANCE, FEMALE: Ellen Page as Juno MacGuff in Juno
Is there any contest here? It's sad that funny female performances seem so rare (or good female performances period). I can die happy the day a female Superbad comes out, because I know girls who talk and act like that (I'm one of them!). That being said, I'm not trying to downplay Page's excellent work in this film. She's kind of like a typical best friend - but with substantially better one-liners.
RUNNER-UP: Keri Russell as Jenna Hunterson in Waitress
A different kind of funny in a movie you can watch with your mom. Jenna's sweet and Southern, but also spunky enough to refuse her obstetrician's offer for a coffee date with, "I can't have coffee, it's on the bad food list you gave me. What kind of doctor are you?" She also names homemade pies after how much she hates her husband, which is amazing.
FUNNIEST PERFORMANCE, MALE: Jonah Hill in Superbad (and Knocked Up)
Is it fair to include someone with two movies? Maybe not, but the fact remains that Jonah Hill is one funny bastard. His vulgar and profane tirades and comments in Superbad are nothing short of hysterical, and he proved to be a repeat scene stealer in Knocked Up. The best part is, you can tell that he's improvising most of what he says, and that he's just a funny person in real life. (Note to Jonah fans: check out the bonus features on the Knocked Up DVD to see his character complaining about the lack of man-on-man action in Brokeback Mountain.)
RUNNER-UP: John C. Reilly in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (and Year of the Dog, briefly)
The funniest thing about Reilly's role in Walk Hard is that he actually plays it completely straight. While the other cast members are clearly just goofing around (see the "Beatles" cameo below), Reilly almost makes you believe that Dewey Cox is real. Having said that, he perfectly embodies a parodied version of several decades in American music, ranging from a mumbly and Dylan-esque Cox to a LSD-fueled Cox who needs indigenous chanting in all his songs. He's also great in Year of the Dog, as Molly Shannon's hunting-obsessed neighbor.
BEST RUNNING JOKE IN A MOVIE: Beard mockery in Knocked Up
Who knew something so simple could produce so many laughs? Ben (Seth Rogen) and his roommates spend the entire film teasing pal Martin (Martin Starr) about his beard, trying to persuade him to shave it so that he will lose a bet. The insults include, but are not limited to "Robin Williams' knuckles," "Martin Scorsese on coke," "Matisyahu" and of course, a vagina. There's even a deleted scene on the DVD where Jonah (Jonah Hill) just torments Martin for a solid three minutes about the beard.
RUNNER-UP: The sink gag in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Remember in Walk the Line, where Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) tears a sink off a wall out of rage and despair? Well, Dewey Cox does that EVERY time he's upset, culminating in ripping off all the sinks in a public restroom.
BEST MOMENT OF UNINTENTIONAL HILARITY: "Bad" Spider-Man in Spider-Man 3
I remember the uncomfortable wave of laughter that swept across the audience when I saw Spider-Man 3. Peter Parker gets possessed by the evil goo from space, which causes him to do such evil things as get an emo haircut, give suggestive looks to women, and...dance? Was this supposed to be funny? I don't know.
RUNNER-UP: Everything Billy Mitchell says or does in The King of Kong
Billy Mitchell would seem like the world's most poorly written character if he wasn't a real guy. His mannerisms and delusions of grandeur in this ridiculously entertaining documentary make you wonder how people like that exist functionally in this world.
BEST COMEDIC DUO: Michael Cera and Jonah Hill in Superbad
These two are like funnier versions of every adolescent male I know. Just when you thought the funny fat guy and skinny straight man pairing was getting old, Cera and Hill give it a fresh and raunchy spin.
RUNNER-UP: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in Hot Fuzz
Pegg's overachieving and devoted cop Nicholas Angel and Frost's slacker slob Danny are - hey, it's a fat and skinny guy again!
FUNNIEST CAMEO: Jack Black, Paul Rudd, Jason Schwartzmann and Justin Long as Paul, John, Ringo and George (respectively) in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
One of the main reasons I wanted to see this movie in the first place was from the oh-so-brief clip of this Beatles cameo in the trailer, and it was even funnier in context. The four guys all play their own Beatle with a fair degree of accuracy, but at the same time act utterly absurd.
RUNNER-UP: Sacha Baron Cohen as Pirelli in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
I guess this isn't technically a cameo, since he's billed fifth. But then again, he's in and out of the story pretty quickly. His role would be hilarious even if he didn't open his mouth, because his hair and outfit are sublimely ridiculous. The icing on the cake, however, is his outrageous singing voice and demeanor. Plus, in the back of your head, you're definitely saying, "OMG it's Borat!"
THE WES ANDERSON AWARD: Mike White, for writing and directing Year of the Dog
No offense, Wes, but I think it was all downhill after Rushmore. The person I believe most fit to carry on your legacy at this point is Mike White, creator of Year of the Dog. The film was saturated with your influence - right down to squarely framed shots of random objects - but had actual emotion instead of just hipster music. And doggies!
RUNNER-UP: Jason Reitman for directing Juno
Juno doesn't have a whole lot in common with the typical Anderson output, save one thing: the music. The soundtrack kicks in at unorthodox moments and features a slew of fresh, quirky artists and songs that define the tone of certain scenes.
FUNNIEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR: Superbad
I didn't say best movie, or best-written, or most likely to change your life. I said funniest. Sheer volume of laughter. And that title, my friends, goes to Superbad. Finally, a film that acknowledges how funny teenage boys can naturally be. No stupid subplots, no contrived love stories, no moralizing. Just hilarious, rowdy, clever, and even a little touching comedy. All written by a pair of 14-year-old boys (a young Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg). If that isn't a smack in the face to all other comedies, I don't know what is.
RUNNER-UP: Hot Fuzz
More people need to acknowledge the genius that lies in the triumvirate of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright. Together they do great things, such as the top-notch British cop spoof Hot Fuzz. Their brand of comedy is hard to classify - it's British but accessible, lowbrow but smart, gruesome but funny, honoring but parodying. It's like nothing else. And accents make everything funnier.
I acknowledge that this list is incomplete, because I have not yet seen four films I believe would have a place on here: The Savages, Ratatouille, The Simpsons Movie, and Lars and the Real Girl. What do you think? What are your picks for the funniest of 2007?