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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 (May – August)

January 18, 2014 2 comments

Monsters University - Mike Wazowski

Blockbuster season. Typically the season where most of the most anticipated films of the year — the ones that were hyped perhaps years in advance — are released. Since 2012 was the year when The Avengers gave us the first superhero team-up film and the year when The Dark Knight Trilogy came to a close, 2013 looked like it was going to be rather underwhelming this time of year. I already mentioned that Iron Man 3 was released in April, starting the season early, but Thor: The Dark World wasn’t coming until October!

So that left us with two major superhero films to look forward to: Man of Steel, which divided audiences and critics alike in its more serious, violent portrayal of Superman, and The Wolverine, which made good on its promise to improve upon its abysmal predecessor and managed to be both coherent and quite entertaining. Pixar and DreamWorks continued their rivalries, however, with the release of Pixar’s first prequel, Monsters University, and DreamWorks’ first sequel to cash-cow Despicable Me. (The less said about Turbo, the better.) World War Z finally came out and, predictably, did very well for itself, what with people being starved for zombie entertainment until the next season of The Walking Dead started. Summer also saw the release of some fairly big “prestige” films, however, the likes of which you’d normally expect to come out during the fall and winter Oscar season: Fruitvale Station, The Spectacular Now, and Blue Jasmine each received widespread critical acclaim.

Perhaps my most anticipated films of the summer were Star Trek Into Darkness, Pacific Rim, and The World’s End, which were all released during this time, and I personally actually enjoyed each of them immensely, though to also varying degrees. This was the time period where I did get promoted at my job and also got a raise, so I was able to see a few more films that I just wanted to see during this time. Nevertheless, 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… Read more…

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2013 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (January – April)

January 11, 2014 3 comments

Iron Man 3 - Robert Downey, Jr.

With a few exceptions, this is the time of year when studios tend to dump lesser films and films not expected to do well during the blockbuster and Oscar seasons — stuff like low budget horror films, foreign imports, romcoms cashing in on Valentine’s Day, and films held off because the studios would rather market them at a time when nothing else is really out, and they might be able to get a few bucks out of those who crave a blockbuster but don’t want to wait a few months. Naturally, being the thrifty, frugal person I am, there were quite a few films I didn’t see during this time period, though with the summer blockbuster season creeping earlier and earlier into the year, such as with the high profile March release of Oz the Great and Powerful and the April release of Iron Man 3, it certainly seems like studios are catching on to the idea that, hey, there’s room to spread them all out. One can only hope that if that trend continues, filmmakers would be more likely to try harder and make films that standout in quality for your dollar… but that’s probably unrealistic.

Anyway, here are the films that, as of this writing, I did not see from January – April 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, you might see some of these films again, and soon… Read more…

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The 84th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony: My Rough Summation

February 28, 2012 1 comment

I always call the Oscars “My Super Bowl,” if only because it often comes around the same time every year and roughly has the same amount of buzz surrounding it, though I’m not so sure it has the same number of viewers. (That’s a lie. I know it doesn’t. Didn’t stop me from pigging out on a nice enchilada-style chimichanga like it was the Super Bowl!)

This year saw a decidedly milder ceremony, which some see as a nice turn after the somewhat disastrous choice to have Anne Hathaway and a mannequin host last year. They also brought back Billy Crystal for the hosting gig after Brett Ratner and Eddie Murphy left the production thanks to a disagreement about whether it was okay to call gay names. (It’s not.)

Gone were the musical performances of the nominated songs probably because there were only two, and they were silly songs that would have likely taken away from the retrospective feel of this year’s ceremonies. With 2011 being a relative disappointment for movie fans, there was much uncertainty as to who would be nominated and who would win for many of the categories, though there were a few more obvious than others. (Again with the songs.)

There were some major snubs (all things Drive and Shame) and some very unexpected choices (Extremely Loud & Very Close for Best Picture and Jonah Hill vs. Christopher Plummer). Overall, though, this was a relatively tame and bland ceremony that had me wishing they had at least tried something experimental again. I rather liked Hugh Jackman’s turn at the helm and its “creating a film” theme. This year’s “film nostalgia” experience felt like it was just Hollywood patting itself on the back while foreshadowing of the eventual winners.

Still, it was the Academy Awards, and I watched it all with relative interest. Below, for you, I have given my rough summation of each winner in my own eyes, whether I was familiar with the work (or even the category) or not. Why? Because I can. And frankly, this blog is as much about my growing film knowledge as it is yours, whoever you may be! 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: “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (2010)

October 28, 2011 4 comments
Directed by: Samuel Bayer
Produced by: Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Brad Fuller
Written by: Wesley Strick & Eric Heisserer (screenplay), Wesley Strick (story)
Starring: Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz
Music by: Steve Jablonsky
Year: 2010

 

I will refrain from mentioning Michael Bay… I will refrain from mentioning Michael Bay… I will refrain from… Oh! Hi! Welcome, my friends, to my final Nightmare on Elm Street review for this Halloween season. We end this streak with something more terrifying than a chainsaw-wielding maniac… more chilling than a ghost who doesn’t know he’s been dead the whole time… more evil than [EXAMPLE]. Today, we examine… A HORROR MOVIE REMAKE. *lightning and thunder*

Today’s feature is the 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, a modern day revival of that cult classic story that, as we all know by now, I wasn’t the biggest fan of, but always held a certain level of reverence for, in the same way I do for the Final Fantasy series, and yet I do not play. Read more…

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