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2014 IN REVIEW: My Top Films of the Year

February 22, 2015 1 comment

The LEGO Movie - Batman and Benny

I saw so many movies this year, I honestly couldn’t pick the best movie. The selection was so wide because I saw so many, I honestly couldn’t pit movies I just enjoyed versus films I admired. So, this year, I’ve decided to do something different — I separated them into genres. it’s not exactly what you might expect – Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t in sci-fi, for instance, because it’s much more of an adventure film in space.

I’ve ordered these based on gut instinct overall, however, and so you’ll be able to see what I (currently) favored over others. That being said, however, all of these movies are fantastic.

I’m tired of explaining things, honestly. The process of doing the year in review this year was a lot longer than I intended. So, yeah. You know the drill. Read below! Read more…

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2013 IN REVIEW: My Top Films of the Year

February 16, 2014 1 comment

Rush - Chris Hemsworth

FINALLY! The moment I’ve been building up to for far too long! It’s been a busy month… and a half… for me, but I’m finally done, and this is my last of my 2013 in Review articles! (Consequently, while none of these are exactly final reviews, many of them may as well be and portions of what is stated here may show up in a future review. For the sake of my sanity and my time, however, I’ve decided to present what I felt the need to write without very many edits!)

The format I’ve chosen for my annual Year in Review articles is a bit insane, I know, but while it’s time consuming, its also quite fun, and it’s just as much about sharing all the films released in the last year (or at least most, as I probably missed some in the sections where I went over films I didn’t get around to seeing) as it is about me locating films that you and I have both overlooked, which is also why a lot of the films I didn’t see this year made repeat appearances, as I couldn’t resist the urge to watch them, and it’s not like I’d be able to do another year in review for them, too, you know? This year, one of those movies I didn’t see at first but did during my writing these articles even made it onto this list, My Top Films of the Year!

The Wolf of Wall Street - Jonah Hill, Marching Band

So why don’t I call it “The Best Films of the Year”? It’s simple, really – it’s subjective, yes, but it’s also because even I switch around the order at times. I guarantee you that at some point in the past and future, I might have ordered these films differently. It took some time and thought, and this is ultimately what I felt comfortable enough with to publish, but I’ll tell you that this was a hard process, particularly in the top 10.

All of this year’s Best Picture Academy Award nominees are on this list. Seriously – I’ve even decided to mark the Oscar nominations this year. They were all very good and justifiably nominated, and while I might have my preferences as to who should win, they’re all remarkable, worthwhile films if you should ever consider watching them. Some of the other movies on this list, however, are also quite awesome, some of which I like better than the films that were nominated, and one of which I’m still very annoyed didn’t at least get the tenth vacant slot in their nominees list, just out of principle for how awesome it was. (I’m just going to tell you now, that movie is Inside Llewyn Davis.) How annoying!

The World's End - Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan - beer

So what of the rankings? Lists like these tend to demand them, so I include them, and I do think they are helpful in making priorities in our very busy lives as to what to see first and give preference to. Since the rankings are so subjective and sometimes even arbitrary, my main rule is to go with my gut on these things. Seriously. That’s what it boils down to. It’s a mixture of favoritism, enjoyment, entertainment, and, yes, the actual skill behind the scenes and within them. As such, films that were without a doubt brilliant masterpieces that will go on to receive tons of accolades and be remembered forever may be outranked by flash-in-the-pan popcorn films that have very little to say except, “Hey, look at this awesome thing we did!” but were also very skilled at doing so and are films that I will revisit time and time again whenever I want to be entertained. It’s hard to rank films of these sorts against one another, and if I felt that I could be that much more objective about these things and take out the entertainment factor, I would probably top load this list with all the heavyweight dramas and such. But I don’t think I can, so I don’t put up any airs of being able to do so.

But, you know, I think that’s alright. Variety is the spice of life, you know, and to say that dramas should be exalted at all times above the comedies and action films is, I think, false doctrine when it comes to film criticism and lessens the true value of joy and wonderment that isn’t always found in those serious dramas – so long as that joy and wonderment is done very well, of course.

So, with that all in mind, I feel I’ve prepared you for this eclectic list of my picks for not just the best films of the year, but also the ones that are my favorites, the ones I find most enjoyable, and the ones that blew me away with their spectacle. Read more…

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Theatrical Review: “Man of Steel”

June 18, 2013 9 comments
Man of SteelDirected by: Zack Snyder
Produced by: Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven, Emma Thomas, Deborah Snyder
Written by: David S. Goyer (screenplay), Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer (story)
Edited by: David Brenner
Cinematography by: Amir Mokri
Music by: Hans Zimmer
Starring: Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon, Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne, Antje Traue, Ayele Zurer, Harry Lennix, Christopher Meloni, Richard Schiff
Based on characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
Year: 2013

 

That ringing in my ears right now? It’s from seeing Man of Steel, one of the year’s biggest tentpole films, one that is already breaking the record for the biggest June first weekend box office previously set by Toy Story 3. If you came out of Superman Returns seven years ago (Has it really been that long?) feeling like you had been ripped off in the action department (justifiably), then this is the Superman movie you’ve been waiting for. It seems almost repentant for the past films’ lack of scale in regards to their depiction of Superman’s power and compensates for it with some of the most kinetic, cataclysmic action that you’ve ever seen in any superhero film, including The Avengers. You may even be a bit overwhelmed. Read more…

2012 IN REVIEW: The Best Films of the Year

February 16, 2013 Leave a comment

At last, we come to the climax of my review of the films of 2012. To those of you who continue to keep up with me, I one again apologize for the slow updates — I saw so many movies this past year and have been doing so much this past month that it’s been hard to keep up with a regular update schedule!

This is how I felt ALL WEEK!

This is how I felt ALL WEEK!

I’m currently in the process of moving, with my best friend / roommate moving back to his hometown to be closer to family, so it’s been tough keeping up with the blog, hanging out with him a few more times after seven awesome years of being roommates, while also just figuring stuff out for the next period of my life living as a single person for the first time. It’s tough, but thankfully he lives where my family lives, and it’s only 100 miles away. Lucky for any fans I may have (Hello!…?), it’ll likely result in me doing more reviews, though the higher amount of rent I’ll be paying will undoubtedly impact my ability to go to the theatre as often as I have been.

On that note, before I get to the meat of this final entry, I want to thank everyone who has been reading this blog, regularly or even sporadically. I may not know you, but I appreciate you! This may be a hobby of mine, but it’s meaningful to me and keeps me sharp. I started The Viewer’s Commentary in September of 2011, after lots of personal setbacks and a good long while of feeling stupid and even being made to feel stupid for wanting to start a blog about movies, and by the time I finally decided to just go for it and not listen to the negativity, I still didn’t really know whether I was going to still be writing in even a few months’ time. So to already be in the middle of my second year and still be having a blast getting my thoughts and opinions out there about one of my favorite subjects has truly been a great experience. To those of you who have read, continue to read, and even to those of you I know personally who encouraged me and maybe don’t even share my passion and probably aren’t even reading this now but you supported me all the same, thank you again for being there! I’m definitely looking forward to what 2013 promises to bring! (STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS! FINALLY!)

The film's villain amongst a bunch of red shirts. This isn't going to end well...

The film’s villain amongst a bunch of red shirts. This isn’t going to end well…

Anyway, enough self-reflection! You’re here for the rundown of the best films of 2012, aren’t you? I assume so, since you are continuing to read this. I’ll let you get to that, but first, let me explain how this list is working, as I’ve changed it up a bit from last year and from most other “Best Of” lists.

First off, last year I did it in multiple parts (here, here, and, finally, here – in order). None of that this time. You’re getting this all in one big wave!

Secondly, and this is related to the third alteration, there are no longer just 10 films on this list, but rather a whopping 17. Why?

Well, that’s because the third alteration I made is that I’ve decided that a lot of the best films of the year weren’t necessarily my favorites, but I wanted to recognize their greatness by putting them on this list anyway, rather than lump them in with the films that were just average. (I did something similar with the “Films I Liked” this year after realizing I didn’t necessary love nor despise a lot of films enough to put them on the worst or best of lists.)

Honestly, what the hell?!

This did not make the list. This shouldn’t make any listsBECAUSE IT SHOULDN’T EXIST!

So, while the films below are all fantastic films and deserve to be considered among the best of the year, their order has everything to do with favoritism over quality. After all, lists like these are highly subjective, and while it’s certainly possible to objectively call a film “one of the best,” ultimately by ranking such diverse works against one another, you just have to acknowledge the fact that you’re playing favorites.

 

So, yeah, anyway to review and summarize: These are, in my opinion, THE BEST FILMS OF 2012, but they are ORDERED ACCORDING TO FAVORITISM. Make sense? I hope so! If not, then just keep reading on, ’cause I think you’ll get it, anyway! Read more…

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The Ultimate Evolving Superhero Movie List – Part 3

September 8, 2012 Leave a comment

It can be hard to discern which films are worth your time. Now, I’m no expert on comic books, having primarily grown up getting to know most of these characters from films, TV shows, and video games, but I do have a love for superheroes just the same, and I do consider these mediums to be a part of the ever expanding reach of these characters beyond their comic book origins. As I write this, I also admit I’m running on a superhero high these days, as I just came off a string of reviews for The Dark Knight Trilogy. Also of note is that The Viewer’s Commentary not only reached its 100th post with the first portion of this list, but it is also coming upon its first anniversary, and I figured that I would do something grand to celebrate!

Initially, I was thinking, “Why not do an updated Top 10 Superhero Films list?” but that just came off as being not grand enough, and doubling that number still didn’t feel ambitious enough. So I set myself on a much grander mission: To make an ever-evolving list of not just the best or worst superhero films, but of ALL the superhero films I had ever seen, leading to the creation of this list you see before you.

Currently, I am limiting this list to just theatrically-released films, as that still provides me with a lot of ground to cover, though it will definitely begin to include exceptions for non-theatrical features such as Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Furthermore, I am abstaining from listing films that I have yet to see or have not seen in quite some time and, thus, do not feel comfortable passing judgment on. As such, there will be omissions, some of them obvious, some of them not so much, but that’s the beauty of the idea behind this project: It’s an evolving list.

So, as I see newer movies, re-watch forgotten ones, and also discover the ones that have somehow gone unseen by me, I will continue to add them to this list, which is also being given its own all-encompassing page here on The Viewers Commentary. Films will be neatly separated into the five easy categories – The Awful, The Bad, The Average, The Good, and The Excellent – and each film within each category ranked from least to greatest in quality (all my opinion of course). Do not consider this list or the commentary to be definitive reviews, but if I do have a review for the movie, rest assured that it will be linked to.

In this, the third and final incremental portion of this list before it goes into periodic updates, I present to you the current films in the latter half of “The Good” films section and, finally, “The Excellent” films, as well. Read more…

Theatrical Review: “The Dark Knight Rises”

July 25, 2012 10 comments
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Produced by: Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven, Emma Thomas
Written by: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan (screenplay), David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan (story)
Cinematography by: Wally Pfister
Music by: Hans Zimmer
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman
Year: 2012

 

Foreword

In the wake of the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, I felt a bit odd about writing my previous review and preparing for my next, as I was writing it in the late night hours as the events were unfolding, unknown to me until the next morning. Much of what I wrote about The Dark Knight reflected a lot of what was happening there, none of it necessarily original or new information, but it was stirring, all the same.

I had no common connection to any of the victims there beyond our similar interest in seeing this new Batman film, all of us anxious in seeing how this trilogy would end, and, unfortunately, many of them never got to see this film, and many more will forever see this film and be reminded of the horrible things they saw that night. What was supposed to be night of fun and entertainment turned into a nightmare, and it affected me, and still does a great deal the more I hear about the events, much more than I thought it would — not because I thought of myself as some tough, emotionless, apathetic person but because it made me realize how even the most mundane things we take for granted can connect strangers based on a mundane commonality.

This just happened to revolve around a movie theatre, a highly anticipated film, and audiences across the world who waited, maybe not in the same proximity, but with the same spirit that united us all in excitement and, unfortunately, also in an unexpected tragedy. In that spirit, if there is anyone out there who is reading this and was affected in some way to those events, I hope you know that, even if I don’t know you, I send my prayers and condolences to you and your families.

Review

Let me just say this now: Christopher Nolan is destined to go down in history as, if not one of the most influential or important filmmakers in blockbuster history, at the very least one of the most revered and respected. The man hasn’t made a bad movie in… well pretty much ever! Some have varied in quality and appeal, of course, but none have been able to cross the general consensus threshold of being considered anything less than a quality film: FollowingMementoBatman BeginsThe PrestigeThe Dark KnightInception. All masterful works of not only high art, but high entertainment. No other filmmaker since maybe Spielberg has managed to pull this synthesis of style, spectacle, and skill as well as Nolan has. And now, with The Dark Knight Rises, we have been given this amazing film that not only provides plenty of thrilling action, but is also an intelligent and thought-provoking conclusion to what will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the greatest film series of all time, The Dark Knight Trilogy. Read more…

Special Review: “The Dark Knight” – An Essay on Ethics and Excellence

July 20, 2012 13 comments
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Produced by: Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas, Charles Roven
Written by: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan (screenplay), Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer (story)
Cinematography by: Wally Pfister
Music by: Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman, Eric Roberts, Ng Chin Han, Nestor Carbonell
Year: 2008

 

Can a film based on a comic book superhero really be considered a “masterpiece”? Even up until and including the amazing Batman Begins, this was a hard question to answer. While certainly a great feat of audience-pleasing entertainment and thoughtful craftwork merging together, Batman Begins was certainly more like a skilled adaptation of a popular character’s story than it was a profound examination of humanity. While this doesn’t inherently disqualify it, the film’s appeal and impact is limited somewhat as a result. The film was largely a study on how one man is driven to the point of becoming a masked vigilante, striving to become a symbol of hope and justice in a city infested with criminals and the morally bankrupt. Yes, Begins had scatterings of a universal message regarding the redemptive ability of humanity, but overall, it really was mostly Bruce Wayne’s story — and that’s really all it had to be. Read more…

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