Sunday, March 05, 2006

Tom's Top Ten Films

by Tom Bozzo

In lieu of Academy Awards live-blogging, here are my top ten films of 2005, in alphabetical order.

1. Brokeback Mountain
2. Broken Flowers
3. Capote
4. Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room
5. Good Night, and Good Luck
6. Junebug
7. Mad Hot Ballroom
8. March of the Penguins
9. Serenity
10. Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Usual suspects not yet rounded up: The Constant Gardener, Crash, King Kong, Match Point, Munich, Murderball, The Squid and the Whale, Transamerica, Walk The Line.
Comments:
Kurt Eichenwald is of the opinion that movie demonizes the players; that they were more stupid and arrogant than malevolent (though Eichenwald has his own book to sell on the subject, and so may not be the most objective observer, yet he certainly knows a lot about the subject).
 
Depends on what you mean by "demonize." The problem I have with that is while "stupid and arrogant" describe the key participants to some extent (as well as I can tell from my vantage point), an assertion that Lay and/or Skilling were so shit-stupid as to have no idea about the divergence between reality and their cheerleading -- which the movie depicts to considerable effect -- defies my credulity.

I stand with my Colleague C that the main problem was the suggestion that weather hedges were some sort of crazy voodoo.
 
Finally saw (3) [theater] and (4) [Netflix] this week; might be inclined to argue you have them reversed.

As I have probably said earlier, weather derivatives have been commonly viewed as a Great Idea since at least the early 1990s. Richard Sandor presented the argument in favor at an ISDA conference in late 92/early 93.

More importantly, they are commonly used in energy trading among power-generating companies, since they directly relate to the expectation of power needed (and therefore needed to be generated).

Arrogant, yes (though no moreso than many traders); malevolent, absolutely (ibid.); stupid--under no condition.

And, yes, I am waiting for someone to do an analysis of the shots of Bethany McLean and that glass table and the credibility/lack of same the director means to imply. (Several different angles, with and without reflections--enough to be distracting on a 10" portable-DVD player, let alone a large screen.)

As with Greenwald's Wal-Mart movie and Lee Scott, #4 lets Skilling and Lay hang themselves. And they do so with hubris, not stupidity.
 
I wasn't going to attempt a non-alphabetical ranking given the variety of styles and subject matters.

I should note, in the interest of full disclosure, that I indirectly make some money off of weather derivative work.

Implicit in my comment is an old saw of mine that anyone may be "stupid" in the sense of (e.g.) being unable to think beyond ideological priors -- and hubris extends a tendril in the direction of this sort of stupidity, too -- but some accomplishments put one outside the realm of what I call "shit-stupidity." That would include getting a graduate degree from an accredited institution, however humble, being a top McKinsey consultant, etc. (Yes, that implies that I consider GWB to be the first kind of stupid, at least once upon a time, rather than shit-stupid.)

I'll have to re-viddy #4 at some point (I saw it in the theatre, and didn't notice the glass table issue; hey Kim?!), but there are already 50 films in the queue, so it won't be for a while.
 
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