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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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2013 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (September – December)

January 25, 2014 1 comment

Inside Llewyn Davis - Oscar Isaac

Oscar season! This is when the studios want to release the best films of the year (or so they say). Why? Because they want the films to be fresh in the voters’ minds. Prestige films and the like. Indie dramas, historical period films, war films, controversial films… If it can make you cry, your heartbreak, your spirit lift with joy, make you see things from a new light, this is the season.

It’s also a good time for seasonal holiday films. You’ve got your horror films to cover Halloween, your Christmas films for Christmas, and this year we even got an animated Thanksgiving film (though I’m not certain that all you people looking forward to a big piece of juicy turkey are going to love it). Meanwhile, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa get left out, once again. For some reason, this season was also rife with Christian films, from Kirk Cameron, to Miley Cyrus analogs, to Christmas miracles, the industry that claims to represent my faith has got you covered in that area. Woo.

It’s not all your typical films, though. More and more, Hollywood is figuring out that you should spread your action films and your romantic comedies throughout the year, rather than bunching them all into the middle. Consequently, we got a few Sylvester Stallone-involved flicks this season, a sequel to Robert Rodriguez’s Machete, as well as the latest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor: The Dark World.

Nevertheless, as with the first and second entries, I couldn’t see them all, so, as with the last time, here are the films that, as of this writing, I did not see from May– August 2013, in order of release, as noted on Wikipedia. Please note that, as in the past, I still reserve the right to watch any film that is listed here and then re-remark on the film in one of the upcoming articles on films I did see from 2013. So, yes, again, you might see some of these films again, and soon, since this is the last of the films that I haven’t seen from the year. Enjoy! Read more…

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2011 in Review: Notable Films I Managed to Avoid, For Better or For Worse, October – December 2011

January 10, 2012 5 comments

<< Part 1 – January – April 2011

<< Part 2 – May – September 2011

Here it is — the final chapter of films I didn’t see in (or from) 2011. This time of year is usually considered the “Oscar season.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t some blockbuster hits still spilling out of the summer months, avoiding much bigger blockbuster hits in favor of taking on films more serious and, presumably, meant for a different audience.

After all, October is Halloween month, and so we usually get a spat of horror films which have a reputation, justified or not, for being generally awful but widely seen films. Since the Saw franchise presumably ended last year with Saw 3D: The Final Chapter, making 2011 the first year without a theatrical Saw release since 2003, perhaps many would consider it refreshing that we got two horror film prequels this year with The Thing and Paranormal Activity 3, with The Human Centipede 2 inexplicably filling in the gap for necessary sequels. Strangely enough, no remakes of horror films. Just a remake of Footloose, which, depending on your perspective, might be scary enough. Zing!

Personally, this was also the time of year where I didn’t really go see any films in theatres at all, having to save up to go see family for Christmas and, thus, get by without pay for work by the end of the year. And Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol nearly made this list, had I not gone and seen it at a 9AM showing this past Sunday, which, technically was seeing the film in 2012, but it’s still a 2011 film and I wanted to have it on my favorite list, as I was certain it would be on there. I spent most of this time engrossing myself with films rented and streamed, as evidenced by my focus on getting to know more established horror films I hadn’t seen before in October and my Christmas movie reviews in December (with a lone Thanksgiving film, for good measure) as well as getting more familiar with my own personal, neglected movie collection once again. (I forgot how good most of the films I own are!)

Closing out the year, we seemed to have gotten a lot of Oscar bait that wasn’t necessarily as promising as previous years. No Black Swans. No True Grits. Even the usually reliable Clint Eastwood, having directed Oscar gold for so many years, was having a tough time this year. Like a second coming of summer, the films of fall/winter 2011 were largely big name releases seemingly missed the summer window in production. Not all of them were bad, and some were even brilliant, but ultimately this felt like a season where there were very few worthy contenders for Oscar gold. Luckily, this might just mean that the types of films being released are just being spread across the year now instead of being concentrated all at once. Ticket sales are supposedly dropping, and the studios are possibly experimenting with timing, but only time will tell if the coming years prove whether this theory of mine that I admit I just came up with holds any water. Read more…

2011 in Review: Notable Films I Managed to Avoid, For Better or For Worse, May – September 2011

January 7, 2012 15 comments

<< Part 1: January – April 2011

Ah, summer. A time of blockbusters. The time of year that everyone looks forward to, even people who don’t necessarily like seeing a whole lot of films. 2011’s summer season for me was weird. I quit my job at an ice skating rink in Scottsdale sometime in June and began working full time at the warehouse I had also been working at, where I got a promotion from being a warehouse clerk to, of all things, a bookkeeper — a position my boss really took a chance with me on since the last time I did anything math-related was the easiest math class I could sign up for and still get the required credits to graduate on time with two years prior.

As such, I lost my movie-discussion buddy at the ice skating rink, which would then lead to my ignorance of several major releases in 2011. The friendships I forged there, particularly with my friend Lesley, continue to resonate with me but have also become a sort of symbol of my relationship with movies over the past year, as well, as I have grown to have fewer and fewer new encounters with both, much to my dismay.

I’m grateful for my current job, of course, as it is the first major promotion I’ve ever received, and I’ve gone on to also help in customer service, but without someone I am able to chat with and have meaningful, deep conversations about film with on a regular basis, the more disconnected I’ve grown from what is being released these days, including films I would have otherwise never heard about. Ultimately, this disconnect from what was happening would become so intolerable that I would force myself to start this blog, an aspiration that had been gestating in my heart for well over a year by the time I actually published my first article.

As with part one of this 2011 retrospective of films I didn’t see in theatres or at home, this is not intended to be my final say on these films, but rather a reflection upon what my impression of them was and why, if for any reason, I did not or chose not to see them.

Also, before I move forward, I want to to also thank everyone for the great response I’ve gotten over the past couple days. I never could have imagined  that I would get 3,333 views in one day, and the amount of comments I received on the first part by the first time I saw these figures was more than double the amount of people passing through on a daily basis without even leaving comments at all. To think that this has largely continued into the second day, as well, as I continued to be “Freshly Pressed” just floors me, and I’m more than touched and thrilled to have you all reading my site! Welcome to The Viewer’s Commentary, and I hope you’re enjoying your stay!

Now then, on to the article! Read more…

2011 in Review: Notable Films I Managed to Avoid, For Better or For Worse, January – April 2011

January 5, 2012 157 comments

A lot of people will say that 2011 was a dull year for film. Unlike previous years, there haven’t been very many huge Oscar-worthy films this year that I, personally can think of. Though The King’s Speech saw its wide release in 2011 (and I even saw it in theatres this past year), it was ultimately a film from 2010 and had, by this year’s Oscars, already won several Oscars and other accolades in the year prior, so it was no longer a contender for this spot.

Of course, 2011 had its share of noteworthy films, such as Moneyball and The Tree of  Life, both fo which I still have yet to see but hear fantastic things about. And there’s Hugo, which is a wonderful family film from Martin Scorsese and my top pick for the year. But 2011 was largely a year of recycling. Sequels aplenty, some great, some good, and some completely awful, with plenty of expected and unexpected revivals of old franchises, many of which were completely unnecessary and, yes, unwanted.  (Yes, I’m thinking of The Smurfs.)

2011 also saw the end of a few eras in film history, as well. The final Harry Potter released this year to high critical acclaim. For the time being, we’ve also gotten what is intended to be the final film in the Transformers trilogy (until Michael Bay decides he wants to have more money and toss in Jason Statham, who has been rumored to be taking over the lead human role for quite a while now). And we also saw Pixar release their first widely derided film ever in the admittedly-watchable-but-ultimately-thoroughly-mediocre Cars 2.

I went to the theaters plenty of times this year. Most of the films I did see were quite good, if at least enjoyable. A couple were quite bad. But there were still plenty of notable films that were released throughout the year that I didn’t see, neither in theatres nor in my own home. Before I tell you what were my least and most favorite of the year, I thought I’d go through the daunting task of a quick rundown of each notable film released in 2011 that I, for one reason or another, for better or for worse, did not see in theatres or get around to watching on home release. Read more…

Trailer Roulette – Creepy situations, eternal youth, and Anna Faris has trouble finding a good man yet again

September 28, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve had an exhausting few days at work and church, and I think I’m fighting off what may yet develop into a cold, so I figured I’d write something a bit more simple tonight.

First, though, I have a confession: As of right now, I’m a bit behind on what’s coming out this fall. It’s shameful, but you know, life obligations and all. It’s cool. I’ll get through it. But I figured I’d share the experience with you guys with a little activity I used to do all the time at the end of a long week of work and am now trying to revive. For the purposes of having a title, let’s call this “Trailer Roulette.”

Here’s how it will work. I’m going to browse the YouTube trailers page for random, upcoming films and work out with you guys whether these trailers look like they’re worthwhile. I used to do this using iTunes, but, frankly, iTunes is starting to hate my computer, and I’ve long been starting to hate it for hating my computer, so,while these trailers aren’t necessarily in as high quality as those, they work, load faster, and, best of all, they are shareable. Read more…

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