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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: Neither the Best, Nor the Worst Films I Saw

February 1, 2014 2 comments

Elysium - Sharlto Copley and Alice Braga

I apparently watched a lot more movies in 2013 than I had realized… The films below represent not the worst, not the best, but certainly not always good, but also certainly not always bad movies that I saw in and from 2013. Only films released theatrically were counted, and film festival debuts did not count. Some of these films were truly great, others were truly awful, but none of them were seen fit to be placed in “the worst,” “the best,” nor “my favorite” categories. And so, they go here. Here are some of the films I watched in 2013, in order of release! Read more…

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Review: “Titanic” (1997)

May 15, 2013 2 comments
TitanicDirected by: James Cameron
Produced by: James Cameron, Jon Landau
Written by: James Cameron
Edited by: Conrad Buff, James Cameron, Richard A. Harris
Cinematography by: Russell Carpenter
Music by: James Horner
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Bernard Hill, Jonathan Hyde, David Warner, Victor Garber, Bill Paxton, Gloria Stuart, Danny Nucci, Jason Barry, Suzy Amis, Ioan Gruffudd
Year: 1997

 

Titanic is responsible for exposing me to what is very likely my first experience with the phenomena of backlash toward something popular. Though I was just 11 when the film first released back in 1997 and had very little interest in actually seeing this 3-hour epic romance, I distinctly remember getting caught up with the other guys in my class who took great joy in teasing the girls who had begun bragging that they had seen the movie multiple times and memorized every moment. I even remember writing a sort of anti-fanfic of the film that I read in front of my 5th grade class for an English writing assignment wherein I was transported into the setting of the film and took the place of Jack and Rose at the end of the ship as it was sinking, thus dooming them both to a watery grave. There was also probably some destruction of a certain famous drawing from the film and the theft of the giant blue diamond. I hadn’t even seen the film at that point, but I had heard so much about it, I basically knew all the plot points and buttons to press that would set off the girls’ tempers and win the favor of the guys. 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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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…

Review: “The Departed”

November 20, 2011 Leave a comment
Director: Martin Scorsese
Produced by: Brad Pitt, Brad Grey, Graham King
Written by: William Monahan (screenplay), Felix Chong & Alan Mak (story)
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, Alec Baldwin, Anthony Anderson
Music by: Howard Shore
Remake of: 無間道 (Infernal Affairs, 2002)
Year: 2006

 

Can a film that tries to be a serious drama simultaneously be a popcorn film? I believe it can. The Departed certainly is. In fact, I was actually inspired to throw a bag in the microwave and toss in some Parmesan cheese for good measure while watching this remake of the Chinese gangster film, Infernal Affairs. Martin Scorsese, winning with this film what was somehow his first Oscar for Best Director, has crafted what is essentially an action film where all the action takes place in the flurry of words rather than bullets. Read more…

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