As the tens of longtime readers of this column know, I keep track of the movies I see each year using my office wall and Post-it notes. The Movie-Ranking Wall of Stickies (motto: “Spreadsheets are for suckers”) is organized so that the titles of the best movies are at the top; having to reach my hand over my head is my version of “two thumbs up.” Right now, the film at the highest point on the wall — “No,” a Chilean film that has gotten nearly zero notice despite being nominated for an Oscar — is just over eye level. And I’m not tall.
The first quarter of any year is rough, moviewise, but I can’t remember a weaker year for films since I’ve had this job. Even the films I’ve liked, such as “Trance” and “Side Effects,” have flaws that prevent them from going from good to great. The lowest note on the wall is the execrable “Olympus Has Fallen,” but it’s pretty lonely at the bottom, too. Most of the films of 2013 have been the kind of solidly mediocre, safe, uninspiring works that I endorse with a “wait till it’s on Netflix.” Moviegoers have been living in a world of meh for four months.
Thank heaven for blockbuster season: The next three weeks bring “Iron Man 3,” “The Great Gatsby” and “Star Trek Into Darkness,” so things are starting to look up (and later comes Joss Whedon’s “Much Ado About Nothing” EEEEEE!). Summer may not deliver the Oscar bait that December does, but anything is better than the nothing that 2013 has been.