Top Ten Films of 2014

January 27, 2015

2014-logo

What a year of films we just had! It was somewhat more of the same in regards to the highest grossing films of the year. Last year, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire grossed the most ($424 million) and the money-makers were dominated by superheroes, animations, and an Oscar front-runner. This year… The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 led all movies ($334 million), the box office was dominated by Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America, Transformers, and X-Men, The LEGO Movie and Big Hero 6 both grossed over $200 million, and American Sniper was a huge hit.

And once again there were a bajillion sequels and remakes that cluttered the summer, such as another Spider-Man film, Godzilla, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and 22 Jump Street. There were also a number of book adaptations that were critically acclaimed, like Gone Girl, The Fault in Our Stars, and even The Maze Runner.

But what 2014 will be remembered for most is for its smaller films that will certainly be embraced by larger audiences once the word of mouth really starts to spread. A lot of those films made my list this year so let’s just get on with it. Below are my favorite ten films of the year…

10. American Sniper

american-sniper-poster

Clint Eastwood returns to form by telling the story of Chris Kyle, America’s deadliest sniper in history. Bradley Cooper gives the performance of his life portraying the Navy SEAL with a Southern drawl, but the power of the film comes two-fold: one for the incredibly tense war sequences when Kyle has seconds to decide whether or not to pull the trigger, and two for the trauma from the war that affects Kyle’s personal life. Is this a pro-war or an anti-war movie? It doesn’t matter because it’s one that everyone should see.

9. The Imitation Game

imitation-game-poster

Benedict Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing in this historical drama about the scientist and team who cracked the Nazi Enigma code that helped end WWII. The film was able to balance suspense, drama, and comedy quite well, keeping the tone mostly light-hearted until the end when Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley share a great scene together. But this is Cumberbatch’s show, as he plays the character with enough quirkiness for laughs but enough heart to win you over.

8. The Theory of Everything

theory-of-everything

Behind every great man, there’s a great woman. That was shown during The Imitation Game and is even more  relevant in The Theory of Everything. Eddie Redmayne gives a career-changing performance as Stephen Hawking and while there’s no doubt he was a great man, the film focuses in on his counterpart, Jane Hawking. Felicity Jones also gives an exceptional performance as the wife who stood by Stephen’s side, motivating him and making sure he never gave up on his dreams despite a crippling disease. On top of the film being a celebration to Hawking’s accomplishments, it also tells the tale of his personal life, a story that is less known.

7. The Drop

the-drop-poster

It might be known as James Gandolfini’s final appearance in a film, but The Drop is an excellent crime drama that was written by Dennis Lehane. Tom Hardy gives a powerful performance as Bob Saginowski, showing off some acting chops as he hones in on the quiet moments before the storm erupts. It’s a film that might feel like you’ve seen before, but will surprise you with plenty of unpredictable events. Nonetheless it was a solid, hidden gem in 2014.

6. Gone Girl

gone-girl-poster

There is so much going on in Gone Girl that it makes the 145 minutes go by in a flash. Credit that to the direction of David Fincher and the tight screenplay by Gillian Flynn for making a great thriller (just another great thriller to add to Fincher’s filmography). Rosamund Pike shines as Amy Elliott, the girl with dark secrets and a craving for revenge. It’s a grim film but it’s one of the year’s best.

5. The Grand Budapest Hotel

grand-budapest

Wes Anderson has always made quirky, small films for the indie-lover, but this year he hits a home-run with The Grand Budapest Hotel. The film is smart, quick, witty, and most of all entertaining as hell. Ralph Fiennes gives a fine performance as Gustave, one that you will thoroughly marvel at throughout but will possibly forget once the movie concludes. I thought Moonrise Kingdom was Anderson’s most mainstream to date, but Budapest trumps that film in all categories.

4. Interstellar

interstellar-poster

Christopher Nolan’s most ambitious film to date (and that includes films told backwards and based in your dreams) had the wow-factor across the board. With stunning visuals of space and an in-depth understanding of different dimensions, universes, and time traveling, Interstellar packed a powerful punch and was relentless with its story-telling. While the ending has divided audiences and critics alike, it didn’t take away the tremendous impact the film had on me.

3. Whiplash

whiplash-poster

I never would’ve imagined that a film about a student-teacher relationship in a prestigious music school would be so suspenseful. I was talking about JK Simmons’ performance for weeks after I saw this film, and the young Miles Teller is great in it as well. Damien Chazelle hits the jackpot with Whiplash and without a doubt it was one of the most memorable films of 2014. Now about sending your kid to band practice…

2. Birdman

birdman-poster

I love Inarritu, but Birdman steers away from his past, heavy dramas and towards a somewhat light-hearted, chaotic story of an actor trying to regain his status. Michael Keaton gives arguably the most important performance of the year (and of his career) as Riggan Thomson. And I must mention the direction of Inarritu that makes the film look like it was taken in one shot. Yeah, it’s quite mind-boggling and a daring decision to make. There was plenty of brilliance throughout Birdman, and to top it off, I love a film with a controversial ending.

1. Boyhood

boyhood-poster

Richard Linklater has provided me with some of my favorite films with the Before series, and now with Boyhood, he’s proven to be the master at showing us the passage of time and how it affects everyone in different ways. This project was incredibly ambitious for Linklater and everyone else involved, with its 12-year period of shooting. It’s a no-brainer to say that it has never been done before because there are just so many risks and challenges to shooting a film this way. But Linklater pulls it off and was able to draw the world into his little movie with a big, big heart.

Advertisements

My 1,000th Post!

August 19, 2014

post-1000

Well it looks like I’ve made it to 1,000 posts! Honestly, that never crossed my mind when I first started this blog in 2007. All I wanted to do was jot down some ideas and opinions about movies and TV shows so I could look back somewhere down the line and relive them. I never thought it would become so much fun to the point I considered it a serious hobby of mine. And now here I am at one thousand posts. It’s an accomplishment I’m proud of and one that made me look back at all of my previous ramblings through the years. Here are a handful of my favorite pieces:

First Review: Veronica Mars Season 1 on November 14, 2007 (https://entertainmentblur.wordpress.com/2007/11/14/veronica-mars/)

veronica-mars01It all started with my first review, which wound up being Veronica Mars Season One. I remember hearing about this show when I was in college, but looking back now the only shows I watched during my college years were The Office and Arrested Development. After I graduated, I had a lot more free time on my hands and I recall thumbing through an Entertainment Weekly and the full-page ad for Veronica Mars struck my eye. I still had no idea what this show was about and because of the title, assumed it had to do with aliens of some sort, but something intrigued me enough to rent the first season and give it a go. And I never looked back. Though the first few episodes were a struggle, I’m glad I stayed with it because to this day Veronica Mars remains as one of my favorite shows ever.

Horror Movies Suck on October 29, 2008 (https://entertainmentblur.wordpress.com/2008/10/29/horror-movies-suck/)

horror-screamI love movies, but I’ve never been a fan of the horror genre. So around Halloween of 2008, I decided to express my opinions in a post I titled, “Horror Movies Suck.” I can’t say that this was one of my more-appreciated posts, but nonetheless it was a post I wrote with passion. While I still watch a horror movie here and there, I’m still not that impressed most of the time.

First Oscar Predictions Post on February 21, 2009 (https://entertainmentblur.wordpress.com/2009/02/21/my-big-oscar-post/)

oscar-statuesFor anyone who knows me or has read my blog, you know that I love the Oscars. While they don’t always recognize the best films every year, it’s without a doubt a celebration of film and the great work the men and women in front of and behind the camera do. The 81st annual Academy Awards was the first Oscars that I wrote about in the blog, and every year I have tried my best to do a better job.

The Top 6 Bands I Saw at Bamboozle 2010 on May 6, 2010 (https://entertainmentblur.wordpress.com/2010/05/06/top-6-bands-at-bamboozle-2010/)

bamboozle-girltalkAside from movies and TV shows, I love music and love going to concerts. Here is one of my favorite pieces I wrote, about my experience at Bamboozle in 2010.

Inception Explained on July 22, 2010 (https://entertainmentblur.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/inception-explained/)

inception02If you were anything like me, which was obsessed with Inception in 2010, then you most likely tried to decipher the many twists and turns of the complicated film. Well, I put all my thoughts into a post and it has become my most-read post.

My Top Ten Concerts of 2010 on June 22, 2010 (https://entertainmentblur.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/my-favorite-concerts-of-2010-part-2-10-1/)

bamboozle-gaslightIn 2010, I attended 30 concerts (19 of them in the last four months of the year), so I decided to list my favorites in a post. Even though I love every concert that I go to, these top ten most definitely will stay with me for a long time.

Blue Valentine and Match Point Made Me Lose My Faith on August 4, 2011 (https://entertainmentblur.wordpress.com/2011/08/04/blue-valentine-and-match-point-made-me-lose-my-faith/)

bluevalentine4You know when there’s a film that just stays with you long after the credits roll? Two films that did that for me were Match Point and Blue Valentine, and so I combined my thoughts into one lengthy post. This is definitely one of my favorite posts I’ve written.

High School Movies of 2012 on April 19, 2012 (https://entertainmentblur.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/high-school-movies-of-2012/)

21-jump-streetThere are always a bunch of high school movies every year, but in 2012 there were a particular handful that I enjoyed and wanted to compare. These included 21 Jump Street, Chronicle, Project X, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

The Finale for HIMYM on March 31, 2014 (https://entertainmentblur.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/how-i-met-your-mother-last-forever/)

himym-last-foreverOne of my favorite shows that I actually watched right from the pilot through to the finale ended this past year. How I Met Your Mother was a rare sitcom that balanced jokes and quirks with lovable characters and heart-felt story-lines. I must say that this show will surely be missed. And while not everyone shared my glowing reaction to the series finale, I think I have a very good case at my reasons why I loved it.

The Ultimate ’90s Kids Movies Bracket on April 7, 2014 (https://entertainmentblur.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/90s-kids-movies-bracket/)

90s-kids-movies-blogArguably the most tedious series of posts I’ve ever completed was the ’90s Kids Movies Bracket. What started out as a podcast idea among close friends, I decided it would be best to showcase our results in a series of posts. We started with 64 films and we narrowed it down to one ultimate winner.

So that’s 1,000 posts down and many, many more to come! For those who have been with me since the beginning, I thank you for reading my blog and commenting. For those who might have stumbled upon The Entertainment Blur, I hope somewhere within my 1,000 posts I have at least kept your attention for a few minutes. I will continue to strive for writing better posts and hope you all continue to take the ride with me. Once again, thank you!


Films to Watch: 2014

March 26, 2014

It’s March, so the post-Oscar vibes are finally settled and now it’s time to look forward to the upcoming movie year! It’s going to be tough to beat 2013, but here are a bunch of films I’m looking forward to.

NOTE: I didn’t include many summer blockbusters for two reasons. 1. While they’re sure to make a lot of money, those aren’t the type of movies I enjoy for the most part and 2. Hopefully this will separate my list from the rest.

Foxcatcher

foxcatcher-photo

There’s no release date yet, but this film was supposed to be one of the stronger Oscar candidates in 2013 before it got pushed back. Starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo, the film is based off the Olympic wrestling gold medalist Mark Schultz’s autobiography.

Noah

Release Date: March 28

noah-photo

Darren Aronofsky has never shied away from the bizarre, so it makes sense he would be the one to tackle such an epic, Biblical story. Starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly and Anthony Hopkins, I’m a bit skeptical about this one, but am still excited nonetheless. From the man who brought you Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, and Black Swan, Aronofsky is one of the boldest directors of our generation.

Boyhood

boyhood-photo

Richard Linklater has written and directed arguably the first Oscar contender of the year. The film follows a child’s journey from boy to man in Texas. Word has it that star Ellar Coltrane is incredible. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Linklater.

Jersey Boys

Release Date: June 20

This musical adaptation is directed by the legendary Clint Eastwood. If that doesn’t intrigue you enough to get you to the theaters, then I don’t know what will. How about it stars Christopher Walken.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Release Date: July 11

dawn-of-the-planet-of-the-apes

With the surprise that Rise of the Planet of the Apes was in 2011, we get more of Caesar and the war between humans and apes this summer! Matt Reeves directs and the film will star Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Judy Greer, and Andy Serkis.

Gone Girl

Release Date: October 3

gone-girl-photo

You have to always keep your eye out for anything that David Fincher touches, and this is his next project. Starring Ben Affleck and adapted from the best-selling novel, this is one not to miss.

Interstellar

Release Date: November 7

interstellar-photo

Christopher Nolan is at it again with another science fiction film starring the hottest movie star in the business, Matthew McConaughey, plus Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, and more. Since everything Nolan touches turns to gold… well you get the picture.

Inherent Vice

Release Date: December 12

inherent-vice-photo

Whenever I see Paul Thomas Anderson’s name pop up anywhere, I think about the way he loves to challenge his audience with films such as The Master, There Will Be Blood, and Magnolia. His next film is an adaptation from a Thomas Pynchon novel, a crime story starring Jena Malone, Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, and more. This is a must-see.

Unbroken

Release Date: December 25

unbroken-photo

Angelina Jolie will take another crack at directing with this bio-pic of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who was taken prisoner by Japanese forces during World War II. Oh, did I mention this movie was written by the Coen brothers?

Into the Woods

Release Date: December 25

into-the-woods

Rob Marshall is back with another musical. He won big with Chicago but flopped with Nine, so there’s really no telling how good this one will be. But with the release date and the cast starring Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt, and Chris Pine, I’d say this has good Oscar potential.


Top Ten Movies of 2013

January 15, 2014

10. American Hustle

american-hustle-pic

David O. Russell brings back most of his acting favorites for one heck of a movie about a con-team who works with the FBI to bring down a number of politicians and mobsters in the ’70s. It’s a whole lot of fun with an ensemble that is second to none. What I enjoyed the most about American Hustle is how the film keeps you guessing around every corner. The plot weaves in-and-out, but never in a way that will leave you scratching your head. And you can just tell that most of these actors had the time of their lives being completely outrageous following the fun script. That just made it that much more fun to watch.

I foresee a lot of awards in its future, and while it’s somewhat worthy, I feel that the film substituted true substance for style. That’s why it found its way at the bottom of my list rather than at the top. But in a year full of great movies, American Hustle is definitely one of them.

9. Rush

rush-pic

One of the most underrated films of the year goes to Ron Howard’s racing bio-pic about the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda in Formula One competition. The film did a great job balancing Hunt and Lauda’s life and their passion for racing. Usually in films about rivals, the movie will nudge one character as the one you should root for, but not Rush. It’s a roller-coaster ride between Hunt and Lauda and I found my allegiance often swaying back-and-forth. This is what makes the film special.

Rush doesn’t shy away from exploiting their flaws either, and they both have plenty. Who do you root for towards the end? The handsome, playboy with pure talent but who doesn’t take the game seriously, or the douche-bag who has sacrificed and worked his whole life to perfect his cars and racing strategies? This isn’t your regular sports film. It’s much better.

8. Captain Phillips

captain-phillips-pic

I just noticed that my 10 through 8 picks are all movies based on true stories. Anyway, Captain Phillips is one firecracker of a film. Paul Greengrass is a master of suspense and it sure doesn’t hurt having Tom Hanks in the middle of all the action. What starts off as just a pirate hi-jacking of a U.S. container ship turns into an international spectacle with the whole world watching.

The actors who portray the Somalis give a ruthless quality to the pirates, especially Barkhad Abdi. But all through the journey you’re alongside Tom Hanks, putting yourself in his shoes and wondering how long can he survive. With a number of movies this year about survival, Captain Phillips is one of the best.

7. Nebraska

nebraska-pic

I’ve always been a fan of Alexander Payne (Sideways, The Descendants) and here he continues to explore the landscape of family dramas. The Grant family is a classic Payne product. Woody is losing it and truly believes he won a million dollars in a magazine sweepstakes while his son, David, reluctantly agrees to drive him to collect his winnings. Nebraska is funny, heart-felt, and like all Payne films a bit depressing.

Nebraska is an intimate look on the foundation of family, not just the Grants, but all families. While the film has its hilarious moments, specifically the scene where the sons attempt to steal back their father’s old air compressor, it’s careful enough not to make a mockery of the elderly. The father-and-son story-line drives Nebraska from the beginning and with Payne’s direction and the acting of Bruce Dern, June Squibb, and Will Forte, they all deliver an outstanding movie.

6. Mud

mud-pic

Matthew McConaughey has had a very impressive year, there’s no denying it. While his performance in Dallas Buyers Club is more noteworthy, Mud is the superior film. Tye Sheridon shines at the main character, a teenager named Ellis, who with his best friend Neckbone discover a mysterious fugitive living on an island in the Mississippi. The movie starts out simple, but pulls back layer-by-layer as the situation becomes more complicated. Every main character is fully developed and even the side characters offer a great deal to the background of the plot.

Enough can’t be said about this small, independent drama and how love is seen through the young mind of Ellis. There is also a lot of focus on the Southern rural setting the film takes place in, which provides Mud with a rich world these characters live in. And the ending is one of the most suspenseful sequences of all 2013. Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter) is becoming a true talent among the group of writer/directors. Look out for him to break out in the near future.

5. The Wolf of Wall Street

wolf-of-wall-street-pic

Martin Scorsese packs a punch in his new, lengthy satire full of chaos, debauchery, and offensive material. But boy, it was sure a fun ride! And has Leonardo DiCaprio ever been so good before? His performance as the out-of-control Jordan Belfort takes the rags-to-riches story to a whole new level.

In addition to DiCaprio, you have Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, and others providing their outbursts in small doses, but as a whole the overall performance of this ensemble is excellent. One thing that I didn’t anticipate from The Wolf of Wall Street was how legitimately funny it was. It’s impossible not to be mesmerized by the circus the movie creates, and you’re never bored during the three hours because everything is in constant motion. Sure, The Wolf of Wall Street isn’t for everyone, but it sure was for me.

4. 12 Years a Slave

12-years-a-slave-pic

This is the most powerful film of the year and on that merit alone it places as my fourth favorite film of 2013. It’s not an easy film to watch, but for those who can stomach the violent scenes you will be rewarded by a top-class film not just of 2013, but in movie history.

Then why isn’t this my top film of the year? Well, the same reason why it’s hard for me to admit that I love Million Dollar Baby and Amour, because it’s challenging and depressing. Without a doubt it’s a great film and on those grounds alone it would arguably be my top pick, but I can’t say it’s my favorite film of the year. 12 Years a Slave will put you through pain and agony while watching, but it’s bold and deserves much credit where it’s due. Steve McQueen doesn’t hold back with what many have said is the most realistic portrayal of slavery ever shown.

What shoots out as most memorable for me (aside from the gruesome whipping scene) was how McQueen tested your patience with extended scenes. Many directors would have cut a scene much shorter, and in your mind you expect certain moments to end, but instead they keep going on. The additional seconds seem like minutes, and it certainly boosts the intensity level and rounds it out with even more weight. 12 Years a Slave is a daring, taxing movie that is one of the most important non-documentary films in the decade.

3. Her

her-pic

It’s such a simple title, but it’s one complex movie. Her is Spike Jonze’s latest and certainly one that will linger in your heart and on your mind because it’s that good. The movie asks questions that will make you wonder exactly where you stand in the world of relationships and human intimacy. The twist in this slightly-futuristic world is how Theodore falls in love with his operating system. How can this be?

But as you watch the film, you don’t doubt the closeness the two have nor do you doubt that the feelings really do exist between Theodore and Samantha. Instead, you’re worried like a parent is for their child about someone getting hurt. We can’t understand the programming of Samantha and it’s even more frustrating listening to how she can’t understand it either. It’s a quirky film, but it has mainstream power with great acting and a unique premise.

Joaquin Phoenix gives another great performance as Theodore, a man struggling through life after a divorce. He’s a kind, soft man, someone who is easy to sympathize with. After watching Her, you’ll re-evaluate your life, where you stand with your friends, families, significant other, and compare them with Theodore and Samantha.

2. Before Midnight

before-midnight-pic

This is the third installment of the Before series by Richard Linklater, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. After the cliffhanger from Before Sunset, all the questions are immediately answered. And just like the previous two films, Before Midnight is dialogue-heavy as Celine and Jesse spend some time in Greece with family and friends.

It’s refreshing that movies like these can still be made. The budget is low but the characters are as rich as any in the past decade. What Before Midnight does that the first two of the trilogy hasn’t was include more characters than just the two of them. The scene with everyone eating lunch is a great one that encapsulates the whole idea of these movies within a scene. Everyone has their own story to tell and has their own opinion about life and love. It all pours out during that scene and it’s incredibly intriguing.

The words that are spoken in Before Midnight are honest and heart-felt. There are many times when you forget your watching a movie because it feels like a home video. This is only possible when the acting is great and the direction is flawless. After the movie ends it still left me wanting more. One of the greatest feats for this trilogy is how the conversations change through the different stages of their lives. I really hope there’s a fourth movie in the works.

1. Gravity

gravity-pic

My favorite movie of the year was also my most anticipated movie of the year. I love Alfonso Cuaron and when the buzz started forming around a movie set in space that has mind-blowing visuals and effects, I was sold. I saw the movie in my IMAX theater in 3-D and it most definitely didn’t disappoint. It’s rare for films to truly make me wonder how it was done, but Gravity provided me with plenty of head-scratching scenes.

In addition to it being a visual masterpiece, the acting was well done by Sandra Bullock, the story contained a lot of emotion and heart with a story about survival, and the pacing was exceptional. When I say Gravity is the movie experience of the century, I mean it. And how many movies can you think of that MUST be seen in IMAX 3-D to fully experience it? Gravity is number one on that list.

Sure, there are scientific errors that have been pointed out all over the Internet, but is that really the point? It’s the same thing when there are arguments that a “based on a true story” film is inaccurate. These are movies that are purely meant to entertain, and there isn’t another movie that I enjoyed more this year than Gravity.


Best Movies Halfway Through 2013

July 25, 2013

As July comes to an end, I know it’s past the halfway point of the calendar year, but it also marks the end of the summer blockbuster season. August serves as a purgatory of movies, ones not good enough to be released from May – July, and also not good enough to be released in the fall when awards season kicks off. That being said, it’s a perfect time to point out some of the best movies of the year thus far…

1. Before Midnight

before-midnight

The third installment of Richard Linklater’s romantic and greatly improvised Before series, here Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are now parents try to enjoy a family vacation in Greece, but of course not without conflict. Just like the previous two films, Before Midnight explores life, love, and time through a series of flawless conversations that are so well expressed, it’s impossible not to relate to them.

2. Mud

mud-pic

This gritty, American tale about a boy who befriends a mysterious man is so engrossing that you won’t realize how much you were enjoying watching it until the credits start to roll. Matthew McConaughey is inspiring in his role and continues his impressive streak breaking out from his romantic-comedy persona. Mud is old fashioned and it’s excellent.

3. The Place Beyond the Pines

place-beyond-the-pines

Derek Cianfrance’s ambitious crime drama has rewarded anyone bold enough to give it a chance. This powerful story starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and Eva Mendes starts out one place and ends up in a full circle even though you don’t want it to. There are bad decisions that drives the characters and the plot to an inevitable conclusion.

4. The Way, Way Back

way-way-back

This coming-of-age film from first time directing duo Nat Faxon and Jim Rash is like a combination of Adventureland and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Confused to find a place within his changing family, Duncan (Liam James) spends his summer working at a water park and makes an unlikely friend to help him cope with his domestic issues. It’s funny, but best of all the film commits itself to the details of every single character.

5. Star Trek Into Darkness

star-trek-into-darkness

JJ Abrams strikes again with another entertaining, sci-fi flick with Into Darkness, a suitable sequel from the Star Trek reboot. Everything is enhanced from Star Trek (2009) including the action, suspense, and intensity. What else could you ask for from a summer blockbuster?


Top Ten Films of 2012

January 21, 2013

How did 2012 treat you? For me there were really no big changes in my life, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing yet. I guess I’ll determine that a few years down the line, but as content as I am, 2012 was actually a very good year for films. It was a huge year for blockbusters with The Avengers and The Hunger Games and in addition, we saw some HUGE franchises come to an end with The Dark Knight Rises and Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2.

Also, it was a very good year for all genres across the board. While I’m not a horror fan, I have to admit that The Cabin in the Woods is probably my favorite horror since The Descent. As for comedies, while there wasn’t a film like Bridesmaids this year, there were still some good ones like Pitch Perfect, 21 Jump Street and even the darker Seven Psychopaths.

But now it’s time to get on with it. Here are my top movies of 2012:

10. Flight

flight-poster

Denzel Washington gives a powerful performance as an alcoholic pilot who saves many lives by crash-landing a damaged plane. Zemeckis returns to live action with a drama about a man’s journey to admit he is an addict. The opening plane crash scene is truly terrifying to watch.

My full review here.

9. The Impossible

the-impossible-poster

Based on a true story of a family who is separated by the 2004 tsunami that hit south Asia, The Impossible packs a huge punch that will hit straight to your heart. A great family drama that gives you hope when you believe all hope is lost. Excellent performances by Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, and Thomas Holland.

My full review here.

8. Moonrise Kingdom

moonrise-kingdom-poster

A story about two kids finding friendship for the first time and mistaking it for love, and how their parents don’t know how to handle themselves when they run away. This Wes Anderson feature was his most mainstream film yet while still maintaining his quirky characters. This was a delightful, little movie.

7. Silver Linings Playbook

silver-linings-poster

Jennifer Lawrence cashes in on her big year with a stellar performance in this crowd-pleasing dramedy. Dealing with mental illness, relationships, and dysfunctional families, Silver Linings Playbook had everything you want from an adult comedy.

6. Beasts of the Southern Wild

beasts-souther-wild-poster

The most poetic film of the year, but still mainstream enough to keep the audience’s attention, this indie-gem proves that there is still room for imagination in cinema. You will fall in love with Quvenzhane Wallis and marvel at Dwight Henry’s performance, neither with any acting credits prior. What a magical film this is.

My full review here.

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

perks-being-wallflower-poster

The most memorable high school film in a very long time, Stephen Chbosky (novelist, screenwriter, and director) makes his characters come to life in this film that hits upon several serious issues that high-schoolers face, such as discovering yourself, peer pressure, and personal trauma, to name a few. Complete with a trio of young, talented actors (Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller), this film will make you laugh as much as it will make you cry.

My full review here.

4. Les Misérables

les-miserables-poster

A marvelous adaptation of the beloved musical and novel, Hooper’s direction brings you up close and personal with the characters in Les Misérables. Full of tragedy, action, and love, the movie rendition of this epic is one that will last for many years to come. Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman give natural, show-stopping performances.

My full review here.

3. Argo

argo-poster

A true Hollywood movie, Ben Affleck constructs another hit with the “based on a true story” thriller of how a CIA agent rescued six Americans in Iran during the hostage crisis by developing a fake sci-fi film. Argo is funny, suspenseful, and very well-made from beginning to end.

2. Zero Dark Thirty

Zero-dark-thirty-poster

Kathryn Bigelow’s follow-up to The Hurt Locker takes on a grand project about the story of how Osama Bin Laden was finally located and killed. Lead-woman Jessica Chastain gives a controlled and confident performance as Maya, the CIA analyst who took a decade to compile enough intelligence to track down Bin Laden. The procedure plays out like a classic mystery, but the final raid from the Navy SEALs provides for arguably the most tense moments of any film this year.

My full review here.

1. Life of Pi

Life-of-Pi-poster

Truly my favorite and the most powerful movie experience in 2012, Life of Pi was able to transcend what you expect to receive from watching a film. The ideas that the film suggests remain embedded in my mind since my trip to the theaters. Ang Lee adapted a so-called “unfilmable story” with such success that should (if not already) cement him with legendary status as a director. Life of Pi simply makes you think about your faith and your life in a way that no other film has done before.

My full review here.

Honorable Mention (alphabetical order): Django Unchained, Looper, The Master, The Sessions, and Skyfall.


Top Films of 2011

January 27, 2012

So here it is, my ten favorite movies of 2011. Overall, the films of 2011 were very good, but not great. There were plenty of films that stood out as being better than average, but the year lacked that one or two films that you would really remember as being “the movie of 2011.” If I had to pick one, it might go to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, just because it marked the end of the franchise. If not, then possible 2011 will be remembered for releasing the polarizing, abstract film The Tree of Life by Terrance Malick. But neither of those films cracked my Top Ten List.

1.  A Separation

My favorite film of 2011 wasn’t a product of the incredible movie industry in America. A Separation is an Iranian drama set in modern day and focuses on a family with many tough decisions to make. First and foremost, does the family leave the difficult living standards of Iran to provide their young daughter a better future? The parents both want to, but the father is caring for his elderly father with Alzheimer’s. To admit that this is the least of their future problems displays how powerful this film becomes. A Separation is one of the best family-drama films I have ever watched and is the best film of 2011.

2.  The Descendants

This film had something that no other film I watched had: complexity. Most of the best films of the year were fairly simple and straight-forward, but not The Descendants. There were layers upon layers of conflict and consequences, and incredible depth within each character. George Clooney gave arguably his best performance to date, and newcomer Shailene Woodley complimented his performance very well. This is just a story about a normal family going through a lot of shit, and as a viewer you hope they can remain intact at the end. A brilliant film by Alexander Payne.

3.  Drive

This might be the most memorable film of the year, in my opinion. Everything about this movie screams “style” all over the place, from Gosling’s metallic, silver jacket to the stoic, unknown character with the credits of “Driver.” There is so much explained with so little dialogue. Also, this film contains one of my favorite scenes of the year: the elevator scene.

4.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

There’s no surprise that a David Fincher film would appear on my list. I was excited when this film was released and the film definitely met my expectations. Mara Rooney’s Lisbeth Salander took the world by storm and she has Fincher to thank for that. The 158 minute run-time breezed by, thanks to Steve Zaillian. Overall, this was a disturbing thriller that wrapped my mind around one of the most intriguing characters I’ve ever seen on the screen. I can’t wait for the sequels.

5.  Midnight in Paris

This actually might be my favorite film of the year, but ended up being fourth simply because there were better movies, imo. But what a joy it was to watch Woody Allen’s love poem to Paris. While I’m not a big Owen Wilson fan, he fit the part perfectly with his boy-ish charm and the way he wandered around the city like a lost puppy. Oh, and there’s what a fantasy aspect about the film that was the biggest surprise for me of the year. This was well done all-around.

6.  The Help

The Help does a lot of things right and was one of the two surprises of the year with a female ensemble cast (the other was Bridesmaids). The reason why this film is on my list instead of Bridesmaids is because there is a lot more meaning and power behind The Help than the raunchy-comedy. The Help features some of the best female performances of 2011 featuring Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, and Emma Stone. In a male-driven industry, it’s quite a feat what The Help accomplished as a movie.

7.  Beginners

What first peaked my interest about this movie was the premise: a 75-year-old man admits he’s gay six months after his wife of 38 years passes away. What I didn’t expect was a delicate love story starring Ewan McGregor who was trying to put the past behind him to start over. There were so many small, quirky things I loved about this movie that made this such a gem to watch. Oh, and that Christopher Plummer guy was pretty damn good.

8.  The Artist

This is a joyful film from beginning to end, and the fact that it’s a black & white, silent film just makes it more impressive. The two lovely leads share great chemistry with each other in all of their scenes. I loved The Artist because not only is it a reminder and a tribute to how films were in the past, but it’s also a very heart-felt romantic-comedy.

9.  Like Crazy

Easily the most romantic film of the year, Like Crazy dealt with the ups and downs of young love trying to blossom into “happily ever after” through life’s many obstacles. Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones are incredible throughout this highly-improved film. It’s this year’s Blue Valentine, but even more powerful.

10.  Hugo

Martin Scorsese’s first 3-D film shows his passion of the history of cinema and the importance of movie preservation. Aside from that, it’s a wonderfully imaginative film about a boy’s search to understand where he belongs. My favorite aspect about Hugo was when they explored the pioneers who realized you could capture dreams on screen. This was a very touching movie, but don’t mistake this for a children’s film.

11.  Moneyball

Moneyball is as much about baseball as The Social Network is about Facebook. With arguably the best dialogue in any film from 2011 (Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian), Moneyball showcases the business and aesthetic of the Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane. The film explores themes of social classes and thinking outside of the box to achieve a similar goal. Anchored by a great performance by Brad Pitt, this film is great entertainment.

12. Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol

One of the more pleasant surprises of the year was the fourth installment of the spy/action franchise, Mission Impossible. Going in I was interested in Brad Bird’s live-action directorial debut. Leaving the theater, I was left with such an experience that no action film has impacted me aside from The Dark Knight. The pacing was tremendous and there was a perfect blend of action and comedy. This should be the standard that all action movies will be compared to. Yes, this film is that good. In addition, this film had one of my favorite scenes of the year: Tom Cruise climbing the Burj Khalifa.


%d bloggers like this: